#Me, The Holidays and A Boy Called Christmas#

Hello Friends! I recently started another blog devoted entirely to my obsession with books. It is a love affair that has spanned decades, with each and every book leaving it’s imprint on my life and my perspective of the world. I posted my first official post today, I hope you check it out!

Thank you!
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The Book In My Purse

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Every year, after the holiday has come and gone, I like to take a moment to just sit by my Christmas tree and reflect on how the season played out. Overall it was a nice Christmas and New Year-with moments of warm cheer, generosity and spirit, but also moments of loneliness, worry and solitude.

The holidays tend to be advertised as “the most wonderful time of the year”, but just like everyday life, it is an emotional rollercoaster, with its beautiful highs and lows amidst the softly falling snow.

While pondering these thoughts by the tree, the following book came to mind. “A Boy Called Christmas” by Matt Haig was gifted to me by the lovely Harper Collins Canada this season and it was wonderful, it completely mirrored my own Christmas spirit. Whenever those polarizing emotions  took over me, this book read like a favourite Aunt; empathizing with me…

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# A Poet’s Piece#

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The brilliant Nayyirah Waheed brings it home again.

Straight to the heart.

 

 

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#Small Days#

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Today was a small day. Or at least, I felt small today-hence it was a small day. I know social media is generally used to display only the ups in life-the weddings, the birthdays, the promotions, the vacations, the fancy bags, the love stories, the fun times etc. But life isn’t Facebook. Sometimes there are the down days, and by talking about those down days too hopefully someone else out there can take comfort in the fact that they aren’t alone in living them.

Lately, I’ve been feeling very anxious about life. Scared for my family, my friends, my puppy. Ashamed and regretful about the stagnant place I am in right now, while others are moving forward in life. Anxious about the daunting goals mapped out that I must complete. Uneasy about the uncertain future ahead of me and apprehensive about the changes to come. It was all very overwhelming today. At night, I can feel it right in the middle of my chest- a pressure on the brink of a dull ache with my heartbeat drumming in my ears.

I went for a drive, but it didn’t really help. I took a break from my diet and indulged in some Micky Ds; not so hot. And finally, I came across my copy of the Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I had started it earlier today just for the heck of it and then picked it up again to finish, and…it helped.

So how did it help, you ask? It didn’t shed some magic wisdom and erase my anxiety or depression. It wasn’t so riveting that it distracted me from my own reality for a few hours. No none of that. What it did do was describe the loneliness, the regret, the confusion and the sadness of the Little Prince very sensibly and very simply. And in that description, I felt like someone else understood me. They also knew what it felt like to feel sad and confused and alone and scared. The camaraderie in that made me feel less isolated in my own smallness-I’m not alone in it. And the matter-of-fact demeanor in which it was told, made me look at it objectively so I could tell myself, “This will pass. Tomorrow is a new day”. There is a lot of comfort in that.

All in all, it was a small day today. I felt down, alone, weak, scared, anxious, ashamed, guilty and despairingly hopeless. But knowing that I am not alone in this made me feel less isolated and allowed me to look at my illness more objectively which in turn, kept me open to seek help when I am ready. And that keeps me hopeful for another tomorrow t

Hopefully, this isn’t too much honesty here but I did open this site to be as authentic as possible, so I thought I’d share this too.

Thanks for reading, good night.

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When Two Book Lovers Meet…

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It’s an amazing thing really, when two book lovers meet. Only good things ever come out of such an experience, and the energy from it radiates out far longer than one would imagine.

I was at the store the other day and I came across a young lady in the Teen section, browsing our selection. I asked if she needed help. She asked for some suggestions. And pretty soon we were declaring our love for books galore. We exchanged opinions and ideas about our favourite books, chattering excitedly about why we liked this one and why we hated that one. We pulled out our book lists we always carry around, she at 252, me at 327, and wrote in some must-haves to eachother’s collection. We laughed over the countless sleepless nights spent reading  just because we cannot bear to return to reality just yet;  that world between the pages refuses to let us leave. It was just a really great conversation and I left her with, hopefully, some great reads and a big smile on my face.

Little did I know, our conversation didn’t end there. I was called up to Front Cash later and when I approached the desk, my friend said that very same customer bought me her favourite book, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, as a thank you for such a great experience. I was so touched.  Never in my time at the store have I experienced such a kind and amazing gesture from a customer. I was happiness personified.I couldn’t contain it.It was absolutely wonderful.

Regardless of whether I end up enjoying the series or not, I will always keep this book as a lovely memory of that great meeting with a kindred spirit. Books really are amazing things. Not only do they introduced us to colourful worlds and vivid characters, they bring people together. That experience has carried me on cloud nine throughout the week and will probably keep me going throughout the year because, well let’s face it, only good things can happen when two book lovers meet.

 

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#Europe My Love#-Leeuwarden, Netherlands

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When I was a teenager I fell completely under the spell of romance author Betty Neels, a retired nurse who started writing romance novels in the 1960s. The main character was always a young nurse, well-built, not too pretty but with beautiful eyes who somehow got tangled into a sweet romance with a handsome Dutch physician in the Netherlands. I liked her books so much, I bought out my local library’s entire collection at their annual Summer Sale! I still have a drawer filled with her books.

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However, like most Harlequin Romance fans, I outgrew Betty Neels’ books, but her description of the Netherlands stills stays with me and has become a significant stop on my Europe Bucket List.

Photographer Bas Meelker photographed the winter canals of Ljouwert , Netherlands (Leeuwarden in English)  just beautifully. As soon as I saw this, I had to share it. It captures the Dutch city exactly as Betty Neels described it in her books.

One day. One day…

In the mean time, maybe I’ll pull out one of Betty’s old books and go back in time for awhile…

Enjoy!

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#The Book In My Purse#

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I love books. So much so that I keep a book in my purse at all times. I pull it out when there’s a long line at the bank,  if I’m waiting for my friend for lunch, I even pulled out my book in Starbucks while waiting for a blind date to show up. Books are literally and figuratively a part of me, they’re my dreamworld come to life.

While my entire being feels beaten down by the fact that my other passion, being a Family Physician, has yet to be fulfilled  ( I am a Canadian IMG waiting for a Family Medicine Residency), I have to admit that my heart loves being at the bookstore. For a few days a week I can escape my daily struggles of becoming a Family Physician and spend a few hours surrounded by thousands of books! In between customers, I browse the aisles, checking out what’s new, what’s old, what’s making a come-back, what needs a thorough re-read because the last time I read it, it sucked. I get to test out the new releases, I have dibs on the last copy available, and I love love love helping kids find the right book for them. I am thrilled when both parents and kids come back and tell me I was right on the money and to recommend more stuff to them. It’s fantastic really.

I think my passion for books started when I was 2 years old. My mother used to buy me those read-along Disney paperbacks, you know where the cassette goes ding and you turn the page? From that moment on, books were my world, not real life. Even today, books are my thing. I play out their stories according to my own imagination and emotions, like a movie running through my head, perfectly directed by the author for me.

Books are also fabulous teachers. I grew up very sheltered and protected and despite being in my 3os, I feel like I’m still 22-clueless about the real world and real life. Books teach me things. Other peoples’ experiences, opinions, thought processes, choice of words-they all teach me things. And when those lessons collide with a life experience of my own, an explosion of understanding and awareness sets off in me, and I can see and feel things in a different way.

In short, books are amazing and I hope to share my reviews of the current book in my purse right here with you. They are one of the most enjoyable ways to relax and learn,seriously. But the best thing I love about books is that, no matter what you read or how many hours you devote to it, you always come back to real life just a little bit different. You are not the same you before you opened that cover and read that story. That book generates a spark and changes you; and most times, its for the better.

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#Think About It#

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This is one of my favourite quotes from Maya Angelou, a poet that I am really into these days. i just finished reading one of her books entitled “Letters to My Daughter and the one thing that struck me is how deliberate she was. In every piece of her work, each word is significant, carefully chosen, alone or in combination, to create an impression. Her words paint pictures for me, not flashes or bursts of clarity, but slow and progressive thoughts, that become understood  and absorbed with time.

If you cannot read the above quote properly, let me write it out for you.

“Stand up straight and realize who You are. That You tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight”

Any time I begin to feel down or ashamed about my circumstances,  I think about these words. Slowly, steadily, sort of like building a wall, they re-inforce me. Brick by brick, little by little, my foundations of self-confidance, self-respect and self-love return and I become stronger and happier and more mindful of the life around me.

And the best part about these words is that the feeling it creates in you, isn’t just a fleeting thing-it establishes roots. It stays with you and grows until eventually it changes you. You become strong and resilient, attuned and steadfast. And you realize that you are a person of significance, a person meant to last.

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“The Hedgehog, the Fox and His Seventy-Seven Brains”

Hello hello! I found this great post from the blog Biblioklept-a Serbian fable translated into English. Cute story and lovely illustration. Check it out!

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Biblioklept

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A Serbian fairy tale retold by Alena Benesova and translated into English by Ruth Shepherd. The marvelous illustration is by Karel Franta. From Animal Fairy Stories.

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#The Book In My Purse# – An Irish Country Novel Series by Patrick Taylor

 

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One of the series I’ve been really into lately is the Irish Country Novel series by Patrick Taylor. If anyone is bowled over by a picturesque small-town in Northern Ireland, a handful of colourful characters entangled in endearingly quirky scenarios and a lovable, charming, bear of a hero by the name of Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly at the centre of all the mayhem, then these books are for you.

Taylor, a retired MD living in British Columbia, Canada, reflects his own experiences of studying and practicing Medicine through the  protagonist, country G.P Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, against the back drop of a changing Ireland from the 1930’s to the 1970s.  I love this series for several reasons.

Firstly, as an M.D myself who is enthusiastically trying to pursue a career in Family Medicine, these books sum up all that I love about this specialty. The ability to get to know your patients as people and taking an interest not just in their healthcare, but in their families, interest, jobs, hobbies and their lives. Taylor captures  the genuine care and concern Family Physicians have for patients and beautifully illustrates how that care extends to all facets of a patient’s life and makes a positive difference in life.

Secondly, I am a huge fan of the small-town setting (Yes, I am a Gilmore Girls, Murder She Wrote and Doc Martin fan!). I love the familiarity, the closeness and the neighbourly kindness that small towns exude and, again, Taylor invites you into the homes and lives of the residents of Ballybucklebo with a sense of warmth, heart, sometimes a little solemnity and loads of mischief that you a page-a-night turns into a-chapter-a-night kind of reading. My cup of tea.

And lastly, apart from the daily on-goings of the village that Dr. O’Reilly deals with, Taylor manages to weave some of Ireland’s most significant historical and sociopolitical history into O’Reilly’s own personal story, making the rich history of Ireland come to life before your eyes. While reading  An Irish Doctor At Peace and War, I got a very vivid description of what it felt like to be apart of the Irish contribution to the Allied Forces in World War II. The first-hand accounts make the war understandable, relatable and very very human.

Overall, I love the Irish Country Novel series, and I am just so inspired by the author Patrick Taylor, who embodies both my dream jobs as physician and author, and creates such an entertaining and mesmerizing series.

I whole-heartedly recommend these books to everyone 🙂

Slainte mhath!

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#The Book In My Purse#- The Inspector Gamache Series by Louise Penny

 

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If there’s one thing I love most in this world, it’s books. Although Children Literature is my favourite genre, as you may have noticed with my Kids Lit Series, in the past year I have been delving deeper into other genres–mystery, fiction, biography, Travel Lit, Business, history etc. So I thought, why not share some of my reads with you? Welcome to My Book Bag!

Last year, I was introduced to a fabulous Canadian author by the name of Louise Penny and her Inspector Gamache mystery novels. I read the first book  in the series, Still Life, and was hooked, buying out the entire 10 book series within the month. Penny’s novels revolve around the main character Inspector Armand Gamache, chief of homicide for the Surete du Quebec, his team, and a delightful village called Three Pines, hidden away in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

This was my first time delving in to the Mystery Genre and I thank all those who recommended Louise Penny’s books, for they could not have chosen a better book to spark my latest obsession. I love Louise Penny’s novels for so many reasons. Firstly, the fact that it is a Canadian read already gives it 3 stars in my eyes–I love the  “Canadianisms” she includes in the narrative that only Canadians would get, ie. Tim Horton’s double double; it makes me feels so proud that a global best seller originated from the True North.

Secondly,  I think Penny’s descriptions of landscapes, scenarios and characters are just spectacular. The way she pens the details about the people, the village and their thoughts and emotions shimmering beneath jump out at you so vividly; you really feel like you’re right there sitting on one of the porches off the village green or eating croissants with Inspector Gamache and the charmingly quirky yet soulful characters of Three Pines.

And lastly, the thing I love the most about Louise Penny’s novels is the humanity of her mysteries. I don’t know how she does it, but Penny captures the emotions, thoughts and sentiments of the characters, even the killers, with such sensitivity and compassion, it’s amazing. She created characters that you can relate to as a whole–understanding and accepting the good and the bad in each of them. And despite some of these fatal flaws, Penny uses Three Pines to draw out the goodness in the characters, leaving you with the comfort that good does triumph over evil.

An interesting thing to note, after finishing the series I followed Louise Penny on her blog and she mentioned something that really stuck in my head. She said that if there’s one thing she wants her readers to take away from these books is that  kindness, goodness, humanity, compassion–they all exist and if we look closely at the little everyday details of our lives, we’ll find them. I couldn’t agree more. Her books help you remember that.

All in all, I highly recommend the Inspector Gamache mysteries, they are a delightful read and re-read. Please check them out, you won’t regret it!

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