My Top 5 Non-fiction Reads of 2017

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I made my Top 10 Books of 2017 list a few days ago, but it was actually a list of my favourite novels from last year. This was intentional, because I’ve read some great non-fiction books in 2017, and I wanted to make a separate list for those books.

These are, of course, books that I’ve read in 2017, not books published in 2017. And this list is in no praticular order since these books are all quite different, and all great. Anyway, here’s my list:

1. Romantic Outlaws; The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon

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This book is the most “bookish” one on the list. As it says in the title, it’s a dual biograpy of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, and it’s just perfect. It’s very detailed, and it really gives the reader a sense of everything these women went through, and the world they lived in. I would highly recommend it to everyone interested in these two writers and thinkers, Romanticism, feminism, and just literature in general.

“[A Vindication of the Rights of Woman] outlined the evils of the present state of society, and introduced solutions that would redeem men as well as women. Yes, men. From the first page to last, Mary emphasized that women’s liberty should matter to everyone.”

2. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

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This book left such an impression on me that I wrote my longest post ever after reading it. Even if you’re not a vegetarian or a vegan, I think you would learn a lot from this book and the things that are happening not only to animals, but to the entire environment because of factory farming. It’s well-researched book, and the author talked to many people on different sides of the debate. And no, there are not just two sides – things are not that simple. I think that the fact that Jonathan Safron Foer writes novels also helped to make this book very readable, and well-written.

As told by Kafka’s close friend Max Brod:

“Suddenly he began to speak to the fish in their illuminated tanks. ‘Now at least I can look at you in peace, I don’t eat you anymore.’ It was the time he turned strictly vegetarian.”

3. The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben

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This is a book I would recommend to everyone who loves nature. It was very interesting and I learned so much from it! We, humans, are destroying everything. And our lack of knowledge isn’t helping, either. So, let’s learn! The point of this books it that trees (and plants) are living beings and they deserve respect. They also deserve that we try to understand them better.

β€œIf we want to use forests as a weapon in the fight against climate change, then we must allow them to grow old, which is exactly what large conservation groups are asking us to do.”

4. The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer

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If you like reading about everyday life in different historical periods – this is the book you’ve been looking for. Also, it’s a perfect book for anyone interested in the Middle Ages. I always thought history should be taught this way – give students a real sense of how it was like to live back then. History is nnot just a list of kings and queens, a list of conflicts and wars. And it’s interesting to compare other time periods to our own. For example:

“When people declare that ‘children have to grow up so quickly these days’ they should reflect on this fact. Medieval boys are expected to work from the age of seven and can be hanged for theft at the same age. They can marry at the age of fourteen…”

5. De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

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This is a different kind of non-fiction, so if you’re someone who likes to read memoir-like non-fiction, this is my recommendation for you. De Profundis is a long letter Oscar Wilde wrote to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas  while he was imprisoned in Reading Gaol. It’s his reflection on his sentence, his life, his plans for the future, philosophy and literature. It’s amazing to read Wilde’s deepest thoughts during the probably hardest time of his life. I wrote a little post about what he says about nature which you can read here.

“But it is a very unimaginative nature that only cares for people on their pedestals.”

And that’s my list! Do you have any non-fiction recommendations? I’d love to know!

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Quote for Thought: Nature in Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis

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Well, I may be misusing the title. Yes, this quote might spark some questions, but more than anything it’s a quote so beautiful you’ll want to simply enjoy it.

“Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none ay track my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”

De Profundis is a long letter Oscar Wilde wrote to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas, whom he called Bosie, while he was imprisoned in Reading Gaol.

I may not agree with Oscar Wilde on everything, but I found De Profundis very captivating. I loved reading Wilde’s thoughts on art as much as I liked reading about his feelings and the way he’s coping with his imprisonment. His final words, the ones quoted, left a lasting impression on me. Just a paragraph ago, I was reading his interpretation of Hamlet, and than he turned it all around, and became very personal. The entire text is like this. It’s scholarly and emotional at the same time, it’s personal but with many universal thoughts.

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The idea of finding comfort in nature has always co-existed with alongside the idea of technological progress. Humans have always tried to separate themselves from nature. We built houses, towns and walls. We developed a civilisation (or civilisations). But, of course, we cannot live completely divided from nature. Sometimes, it seems like we’re not aware of that. We are destructive. We suck the life out of our planet. And, apparently, we choose to deny that any of the problems we’ve created even exist, or we just don’t care. Yes, there are many people who are trying to make a difference, but they are still just individuals. Not much is changing on the global scale.

People get scared of spiders, flys, and other insects, though most of them are completely harmless. We fear nature. We always have. We don’t want anything to disturb our secluded lives, without relizing that the world we have created is probably just as dangerous. Society doesn’t treat everyone fairly. “Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me”, Oscar Wilde says. How many people have felt the same?

I’m not pretending to be better or more intelligent that other people. I’m exactly the same. (Except for the fear of spiders. I like spiders, but there are insects that make me feel uneasy.) I don’t have a solution, nor do I think there really is one. A perfect world doesn’t exist. Still, we should think about it. Try to do little things, or even big things, that may make a difference. The idea of nature as something wild and dangerous may be woven into the very fabric of our being, but the idea of nature as a nurturing mother is just as powerful. And I think it’s a very important part of who we are.

The Goddess of Winter (A Short Story)

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People think that gods don’t listen. Truth be told, mostly we don’t.

People think that gods are self-centered and vain. Mostly, we are. But so are people. They only see themselves, the mightiest of creatures, in the centre of it all.

How could it be that the Sun does not revolve around the Earth? Surely, there cannot be any other creatures in the universe, at least not beings as intelligent us? Yes, it’s bad to kill an animal, but not as bad as killing a person, of course…

Did gods create humans, or did humans create gods? I don’t know the answer. I exist, in a way, though no one worships me anymore. Vesna exists, too, the goddess of the spring. Of is it Persephone who makes the flowers bloom, when she ascends from her underworld throne?

The only thing that I can tell you, without any doubt, is that Nature exists. Call her any name you want, but she is there, and she rules us all. Yes, even me. It was her who gave me my task. A wonderful task! I was to make frost.

You grin now, and you scoff. Frost? What is so glorious about frost? It’s a task no one will thank you for.

Well, you only think that becuse you’re a mortal. Mortals never see the big picture. That’s why you destroyed it all, unable to see you’re also destroying yourselves. Global warming. It doesn’t sound so bad, doesn’t it? How can warmth be bad?

It’s hard for me to make frost these days. The gods are not all-powerful after all. I want to sing in the white snow, underneath the gentle snow flakes. Let me spread my arms and dance! Think of the winter creatures, creatures like me, creatures you destroy! Think of the creatures completely unlike me, those who will perish next!

The time has come for the gods to beg for the mercy of mortals.

Captured Moments… Northern Ireland

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So, as I mentioned in a previous post, I went on a vacation to Ireland this summer. We were staying in Dublin, but we also made two bus tours outside the city. The first one was to Northern Ireland, so I decided to dedicate this post just to that one tour. It would be to much to fit everything in just one post. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, we left Dublin early in the morning, 7:30. It was a quiet ride until the first stop – the Dark Hedges.

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Now, if this isn’t gorgeous, I don’t know what is. The hedges were planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century. It was intended to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their home, which I think they succeeded in. And, yes, Game of Thrones was filmed there.

The next stop was wonderful as well – Carrick-A-Rede island which is connected to the coast by a rope bridge.

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It was really fun to cross it! And the nature there was perfect.

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That’s me in the last photo, trying to make my own version of Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog. XD

The next stop was at the Giant’s Causeway –Β the 37,000 basalt columns whose tops form β€œstepping stones” leading from the cliff foot and disappearing under the sea. It’s a real wonder of nature! The legend says it was built by the giant Finn McCool who wanted to cross over to Scotland to fight the Scottish giant. The Scottish giant proved to be much bigger than Finn, so he ran away and hid himself in his son’s nursery. When the Scottish giant came and saw how big the baby was, he deduced that its father must be enormus, so he ran away, destroying the causeway behind him.

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That’s me and my brother frowning behind me. XD

And finally, we had a little bit of time to walk around Belfast. The city is very beautiful, both old and modern, unfortunately we didn’t have the time to see much of it.

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We were back in Dublin in the evening, a little before 9 p.m. And I plan to take you to Dublin as well, soon. πŸ˜‰

Going to Ireland :)

So, just a little update from me. Tomorrow morning I’m going on a trip to Ireland! Yaaay! Anyway, this means I’ll be absent from my blog for eight days. I might still have some time to browse my Reader page, but not as much… I promise to bring you some pictures! πŸ™‚

I’m leaving you with a couple of photos from my previous trip, to Scotland. Enjoy the loveliness:

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Colourful Edinburgh.
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Beautiful Edinburgh.
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Castle in the distance.
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Magical nature.

Once more…

She thinks of him once more,
Of all the times they shared,
She thinks of him once more,
As he sleeps –
Unaware.

She thinks of dirt underneath their feet,
Soil damp and soft, a living thing,
She thinks of leaves floating in the air
Trees greeting them with a wave,
She thinks of the wind brushing her hair,
Songs of birds and crickets’ chirps,
She thinks of the cage she used to wear,
Gown caught by brambles, lacerated,
She thinks of the woods, cruel and kind,
Silence, music; warmth and cold.

She thinks of him once more,
Of the honesty they shared,
She thinks of him once more,
And then she leaves –
Far away.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com