This month I've been working on my new (4th!) book, spending these long Swedish summer nights reading and thinking, filling page after page. As always when I'm writing a new book or writing for an album I find myself reading a lot of lyrical prose and poetry, or literary fiction with a slow mellow pace. It's something about the rhythm and choice of words in prose poetry or verse that makes me read it with a songwriting state of mind. And now as I'm writing a book of prose, I'm drawn to interesting characters, rhythmical poetry or just prose that makes me sigh in wonder.
A few weeks ago my beautiful friend Maxime emailed me and said he had sent a surprise gift with a few books he saw that I had put in my "To Read" list on Goodreads, and the books were like sent from heaven for this month of creativity. Andrea Gibson, Fernando Pessoa & a book on Holistic Nutrition. Thank you Maxime for providing the inspiration this month and for being a beautiful friend ♡
Okay, let's get to the books !
The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson
Andrea Gibson is one of my favourite contemporary poets and spoken word artists. I’ve been admiring her words for many years and grown a deep admiration for how she’s built her life as a writer. She's publishing books (through one of my favorite independent publishing companies Write Bloody Publishing!), but she has also embraced the touring life as a spoken word poet, touring the majority of the year together with other poets and musicians. I admire how hard she's working to get to do what she loves, and her talent is undeniable.
I’ve read Andrea Gibson’s poems and writings scattered around the internet, picking up book excerpts here and there and had all her poetry books in my Amazon shopping cart for probably 4 years by now… To find this book in Maxime’s little package made my heart flutter, and it came in perfect timing to spark some inspiration while writing my own new book :)
Okay, enough of my story… If you’re not familiar with Andrea Gibson, check this out:
you will never be let down
more than you will be let down
by the one
you love most in the world
it’s how gravity works
it’s why they call it “falling”
it’s why the truth
is harder to tell
you have more
but you can choose
to bury your past
in the garden
beside the tulips
until it’s so alive
it lets go
and you belong to yourself
you belong to yourself
And this one, ”Asking Too Much” is probably one of my favorites >>>
"… I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with
Tell me why you loved them,
then tell me why they loved you
Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through
Tell me what the word “home” means to you
And tell me in a way that I’ll know your mothers name
just by the way you describe your bed room when you were 8
See, I wanna know the first time you felt the weight of hate
And if that day still trembles beneath your bones
Do you prefer to play in puddles of rain
or bounce in the bellies of snow?
And if you were to build a snowman, would you rip two branches from a tree
to build your snowman arms?
Or would you leave the snowman armless for the sake of being harmless to the tree?
And if you would, would you notice how that tree weeps for you
because your snowman has no arms to hug you every time you kiss him on the cheek?"
Spoken poetry that makes your chest turn inside out, that’s how beautiful this collection is.
Amazon UK / Amazon US
Always Astonished - Fernando Pessoa
Three years ago I moved to Berlin with no more belongings than my guitar, a suitcase and two books in my hand. One of the books was The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, and it's fair to say that book sat the whole atmosphere for how I experienced Berlin, that new city of mine. I kept it with me as a companion, read one chapter at a time whenever I needed something to fill my aching heart, and I grew a strange love and friendship with this mellow character in the book. I also fell in love with his poetry, but I never made my way to this collection of prose. Always Astonished became another companion of mine through this summer, keeping it with me while sitting on cliffs on the coast in Sweden, or long trains in Germany. Pessoa writes through his invented mysterious character, meditating on art, literature, history, life and love through manifestos, letters, journal notes, and critical essays.
It’s poetry in prose form, philosophical and slow in pace. Literature as beauty.
“My soul is impatient with itself, as with a bothersome child; its restlessness keeps growing and is forever the same. Everything interests me, but nothing holds me. I attend to everything, dreaming all the while.”
Amazon UK / Amazon US
The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz
I’m working through my spiritual books to prepare for my yoga certification training next month, and this book was on my list. It’s become a bit of a classic on the spiritual/self-realisation shelf, and I was not disappointed.
Don Miguel Ruiz says there are four choices you need to make with yourself, and your whole life will open up. Seemingly obvious and simple concepts at a first glance, but as you start reading the book you will find yourself going deeper into these short statements.
The four agreements we all should do with ourselves are:
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.
Pretty simple, huh? Well, it seems simple enough but when you let Don Miguel Ruiz explain the impact these choices have on your day to day life, your relationships with other people and your relationship with yourself, you will come to read these four lines with more wonder.
• Be impeccable with your word.
Words are powerful things. A small word you didn’t think twice about can change the whole direction of someone’s day. Speak with integrity and only say what you mean. Every word you let slip through your mouth brings energy with it. Every time you complain about the weather, steal someone else’s happiness by not appreciating their success, or say ugly little things to yourself in the mirror, you send out bad energy around your own self and it will affect your day and life. Instead, start by watching the words you speak at all times. Make a promise to only speak words of courage, excitement, hope and intelligence. Just make a small effort to think a little more before you throw out words.
"Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use your power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”
• Don’t take anything personally.
“Whatever happens around you, don't take it personally... Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”
“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.”
Realise that when the busdriver throws off an arrogant comment, or someone steals your parking lot right in front of you, it’s not about you. It’s not personal: it’s about them.
• Don’t make assumptions.
You never know someone else’s mind and thoughts, and it’s a waste of energy to think up cenarios about what other people think of you or a certain situation. Learn to communicate in a clear manner, ask straight questions, and don’t waste energy dreaming up lies just to make yourself angry or worried.
• Always do your best.
It is said that if you read through a 300 page book and only walk away with one single great idea that made a difference in your life, that book was worth it. I did enjoy the whole of this book, but this chapter about always doing your best really changed something in my mindset. I wrote it down in my notebook and I will remind myself of this every morning as I wake up.
“Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you’re expecting a reward. Most people do the exact opposite: They only take action when they expect a reward, and they don’t enjoy the action. And that’s the reason why they don’t do their best.”
If you do everything you do throughout your day — from cooking, talking with your friend, writing an essay, cleaning your closet — if you do everything you do with full attention, passion and love, just for the sake of always doing your best, you will free yourself from judgement or the feeling of wasted time. Forget about outcomes or wanting things to lead anywhere, just do your best, in all things. This will change your days.
Here are some more of my favorite passages from the book:
“You can only be you when you do your best. When you don’t do your best you are denying yourself the right to be you. That’s a seed that you should really nurture in your mind. You don’t need knowledge or great philosophical concepts. You don’t need the acceptance of others. You express your own divinity by being alive and by loving yourself and others.”
“Action is about living fully. Inaction is the way that we deny life. Inaction is sitting in front of the television every day for years because you are afraid to be alive and to take the risk of expressing what you are. Expressing what you are is taking action.”
“The world is very beautiful and very wonderful. Life can be very easy when love is your way of life. You can be loving all the time. This is your choice. You may not have a reason to love, but you can love because to love makes you so happy. Love in action only produces happiness. Love will give you inner peace. It will change your perception of everything.”
“When you feel good, everything around you is good, when everything around you is great, everything makes you happy. You are loving everything that is around you, because you are loving yourself. Because you like the way you are. Because you are happy with your life. You are happy with the movie that you are producing, happy with your agreements with life. You are at peace, and you are happy. You live in that state of bliss where everything is so wonderful, and everything is so beautiful. In that state of bliss you are making love all the time with everything that you perceive.”
Amazon UK / Amazon US
Next week I'm going to try out doing some video blogs, reviewing and recommending some fine works through this camera of mine :) If you have any suggestions, please let me know!