It's autumn in Sweden and the roads are coloured in layers of leaves. The air is pure. It gets dark at 6pm, and I'm spending the morning hours in big cosy sweaters, drinking too much coffee, listening to peaceful music. This season draws me back into reading, and this month I'm sharing two wonderful books with you that I hope you'll decide to spend some time with yourself.
Zoo, or Letters Not About Love by Victor Shklovsky
“She is the only island for you in your life. From her there is no turning back for you.
Only around her does the sea have color.”
This month I revisited one of the most beautiful books I’ve had the pleasure to find. The book is not very well known, which makes me feel like I own the key to a golden treasure. I remember stumbling upon this title a few years back, and it was just so intriguing that I had to pick it up. I'm so so glad I did.
This is an autobiography of the author, Viktor Schklovsky, but through a collection of his real letters that he sent to the love of his life, Elsa Triolet. Elsa is called Alya in the book and she is the one he’s writing it for: "This book is being written for you, Alya; writing it is physically painful."
When Alya no longer could answer to Viktor’s love, Viktor started sending letters to her, sometimes several ones in one day. He couldn’t stop it! Alya finally told him that he could keep sending her letters under one condition: he was forbidden to write about love.
The book is hereafter all the letters Viktor writes to her, with a beautiful heart-staggering way of both expressing and concealing his love and missing. Sometimes he oversteps, write his heart straight out and then consciously tweak some words so that he still can send it without breaking his promise. Sometimes it feels like the title of the letters could be THIS IS NOT ABOUT LOVE, I PROMISE!
But the writings are not just about love and heartbreak. He’s discussing art, literature, life in the city, German and Russian politics. Viktor Schklovsky has also published some great books on art- and literary criticism. If you're into that I recommend his book Theory of Prose. There are some beautiful passages in there that always inspire me to sit down and write myself.
No matter what kind of books or literature you normally read, get this book and read it. I promise it will become a golden treasure on your book shelf.
Amazon UK / Amazon US
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
One of the things I've learned after being a full-time creative person for a few years now, is that creativity is something you need to take care of. You need to nurture it, feed it and keep it awake and alive. I've read a few books on creativity and the habit of sitting down to enter the flow, but this is by far the best book I've read on the challenge of being a writer.
This is a workbook of sort, for writers and creative people. It’s a workbook towards creativity, freedom to create and exercises to unblock the blocks that stop you from writing (or producing, singing or whatever it is you’re doing).
To go through this book you first make a promise to yourself to actually go through all the exercises and commit to this challenge. Every week she will give you new exercises, but you also need to commit to something called Morning Pages.
Every morning you sit down with a blank paper and a pen and just simply write. For five minutes, just write anything and everything that comes to mind. This is not about writing something you will ever publish, or going back to edit grammar etc. this is literally just writing for the sake of filling the paper.
I’ve had a habit of writing first thing in the morning for a long time, but still some days when I don’t find the inspiration I let it slide. My commitment to my morning pages has been a really cool experience these 3 weeks I’ve stuck to it. Some days I’ve literally filled the paper with ”i’m tired i’m tired i want coffee why do i do this?” and others I’ve written some really nice writings that I’ve saved for later editing. The purpose of the exercise is to wake up your creator mode, your emotion center, your ability to simply create something.
The book is like a 12 week course to unblock your creativity. I’m currently in week 3 and I already feel my writing muscle getting stronger. The flow of writing is not so far away anymore. I’m excited to give you an update after I've completed the full book and let you know my final thoughts on it :)
I really do recommend this to anyone who’s interested in either taking up their creative pursue again, or just finding new motivation to keep writing. Don’t get put off by the spiritual aspect of this book. If you have a spiritual practice, this can be included in your philosophies, but if you’re not into that kind of thing the book will still be a great tool to help you grow as a writer.
Amazon UK / Amazon US
What are you reading this month? Please share with me in a comment below, or let's chat books on any of my online sites Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr :)