REVIEW: Saints & Sinners by Edna O’Brien

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“She said the reason that love is so painful is that it always amounts to two people wanting more than two people can give.”

Edna O’Brien, Saints & Sinners (2011)

Love takes many forms in Edna O’Brien’s Saints & Sinners but disappointment is often intrinsically linked with it. It’s not all that surprising really, because love means expectations. Its basic human nature to want, what we have will never seem as promising as what we imagine, and isn’t that where the problem lies?

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BOOKISH FINDS: Literary Things

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I was doing so well, really well actually. I almost got the number of books I had bought but hadn’t read under a two digit figure (not including the library books I loaned) and I went and ruined it all with a trip to my trusty local Oxfam shop. The best (and the worst) thing about going to charity shops is that you end up finding things you hadn’t known you wanted. It’s a great way to discover a new book or author. Maybe thats why I find it physically impossible to stop myself from stepping inside once I’m on the right street. Here are my buys:

  • Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
  • Going the Distance edited by Alan Beard
  • Blaming by Elizabeth Taylor
  • The Oxford Book of Short Stories by V. S. Pritchett
  • How to be a Dragonfly by Patricia Debney
  • The Floating Man by Katherine Towers

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REVIEW: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

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“I can remember the day the old me died.”

Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive (2015)

I meant to pace myself when reading Reasons to Stay Alive but somehow I opened it late one night and found myself finishing the last few lines the next evening. On one hand, I’m slightly annoyed with myself for not relishing in the writing more, but on the other hand I think it’s a testimony to how compelling a read it was.

Haig is brutally honest about his battle with depression and anxiety- something we still seem to shy away from today, even worse something we still struggle to understand. The moments in which he describes his struggles to do everyday things like getting a pint of milk are particularly poignant. The book is split into sections that detail his thoughts, his worries and his gradual recovery. In between these sections are lists that Haig has compiled detailing different aspects of his illness. For me, the most profound was the list entitled Things people say to depressives that they don’t say in other life-threatening situations which brings to light how much we trivialise mental illness in our society. It’s this attitude; this assumption that if we can’t see the effects then they can’t really be there, that proves that when it comes to mental health we’re still not quite there. Maybe Haig’s book can help put us in the right direction.

There were moments when reading that I related to. Not to make light of what he clearly went through, I know that my own worries are small by comparison, but there’s always something reassuring in knowing that you are not alone in what you feel. Maybe this initial spark of empathy will help those who don’t understand depression to finally comprehend and provide support for those who are continuing to fight.

Rating: 4/5

BOOKISH BITES: Leaf

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Leaf has become one of my favourite places in Liverpool. They have great food, cosy nooks, fresh bakes, but most importantly they have a selection of teas that will make the most stalwart tea-lover weep. Black tea, white tea, herbal, oolong, rooibos. They literally have it all and more. There glass infuser tea pots are also on the top of my wish list, right now.

What’s great is that they also sell the tea leaves in tins or sample packs so you can take them home with you. I picked up a couple of samples to try at my leisure. I’ll probably end up splurging on more!