Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Books, Books and Merde.

This year I decided to set myself a challenge. Too many New Year's Resolutions seemed to involve giving things up which seemed all too negative for me. My challenge wasn't to eat healthier or to give up alcohol. I like gin and crisps too much for that. Instead, I decided to read one book a week for a year. Considering I had only read 20 books the year before, I entered into this with trepidation. I had to come up with a plan of action that I could actually stick to and that was realistic. First, I needed to pick a few books I knew I would enjoy so that I could start off on a high note. I plumped for some David Sedaris and Agatha Christie. Then, I signed up to a bookclub. I didn't end up going to the meet-up for a multitude of reasons but it forced me to read something outside of my comfort zone and read it to a deadline. Finally, I needed to buy some more books! Luckily, I won a competition run by The Earful Tower to win a copy of Stephen Clarke's novel A Year In The Merde. A very tongue-in-cheek take on what it means to be a Brit living in Paris, I couldn't help but become engrossed in this laugh out loud tale following newcomer to the City of Light Paul West who has been tasked with opening up a chain of English themed tea shops for his colourful French boss! I found myself chortling away on the metro at the scrapes this hero gets into whilst also thinking how similar some of the tales where to those I have from my first few months in Paris. 
I'm now on my 16th book of the year and surprisingly A Year In the Merde has been my most French book so far. Usually my list is littered with an assortment of literature inspired by la belle France, but this time around I seem to be ready weirder and more eclectic fiction than ever before. Challenging myself to push my boundaries by reading outside of my comfort zone has been a good test for me and has opened my eyes up to genres I would never have considered reading previously. It feels good to be reading so much and to be on track to hit my goal by the end of the year. Still, who knows I might even beat it! In order to stay on the right track, I always have a book on me so that I can spend any free moment racking up a few more pages. The morning commute tends to be where I get the bulk of my reading done, but the occasionally I'll have an afternoon spent sitting at a pavement café with a beer by my side and a book in my hand! 
While I'm doing very well to find diverse and different books to read I am always on the look out for out of the ordinary novels. If you happen to have any recommendations for me then comment on the post! 

Monday, 10 April 2017

April In Paris

Yesterday was delightful. Usually, a weekend with absolutely nothing whatsoever planned tends to strike the fear of God into me. What am I going to do? Will there be enough things to occupy my time with? Will I just end up sat on the sofa watching re-runs of Judge Judy instead of something productive? I was having a crisis just like this on Friday as the whole weekend opened itself up to me. Do you know what my savior was? The sunshine! It seems clichéd to talk about Paris in springtime being the most magical time of year but I'm pretty clichéd already so I'll bite that bullet. 
Blossom blowing in the breeze, friends frolicking and children playing with carefree abandon, the atmosphere was so ethereal that it was only when I remember to check my phone's pedometer than I realized that I had walked nearly 10km without really having a purpose. My mind was on enjoying the moment and soaking up the happiness around me. If there is one thing the Parisians do well, it's Sunday afternoons in spring. All of their plans seem to be so perfectly planned yet spontaneous. They profite-bien from the short spell of fantastic weather so that going into the office on Monday morning you have a spring in your step safe in the knowledge that you truly made the most of the weekend.
I was in a bit of a creative rut last week so I was in dire need of some fresh air and a good stretch of my legs while pontificating on life and meandering the streets of Paris. The Marais had been mostly pedestrianized so I could saunter along at my own pace while basking in the glorious weather. For a split second I felt like I was in a Nouvelle Vague film, high-waisted trousers on and sunglasses artfully placed in my freshly coiffured blonde hair. I must have looked the epitome of an English girl in Paris believing she is the first to have discovered all of the sights. I browsed shops I wouldn't usually go into and I sat with a plate of saucisson sec and une pinte de blonde like the French do except I did have a cigarette in hand, I had my book instead. Is there any better cure for Writer's Block than returning to your initial idea? To your raison d'etre? This is exactly how I thought my life in Paris would span out so it felt good to actually get out there and to enjoy this life I have created for myself. Even in the lows times, I relish the opportunity to take a good book down to the river or to a park and to half-read half-people watch. 
Now that this flaneuse has recharged her batteries ever so slightly, she can get back to the important tasks at hand. Enjoying life. Eating well. Self care. And finally embracing becoming More Native Than The Natives.