Self Love Club Volume 2 – A Book Chat

I decided to write a post about Self Love Club Volume 2 before I actually fully finished it.  I did this for multiple reasons.  One is that this book is a collaboration of stories written by different women, focusing on their journey to self-love. Books like this, in my opinion, do not need to be read in one sitting.  I plan on picking up the book and reading different chapters from time to time.  Secondly, a very good friend of mine wrote one of the chapters of this book. I truly feel her story needs to be heard, especially by other moms who have similar experiences.  She wrote her chapter on the unexpected struggles she faced during her first journey to motherhood.  

Early on in her pregnancy, she learned that her baby was going to have some heart complications and most likely would need a heart surgery once it was born. This was obviously devastating news for her and she describes what she feels when hearing this news, her fear throughout her pregnancy and then her time at the NICU with her new baby girl.  I should also mention, her beautiful daughter goes home eventually but the whole process was not at all what Lisa had always envisioned for her first pregnancy.  It is an incredible story of courage and resilience and I think it is important that women who encounter similar situations have stories like this to bring them comfort.

I hope you take the time to read this book!


How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division – Book Review

Author: Elif Shafak — My Rating: 5/5 — Genre: Current Events, Non Fiction — N. of Pages: 90

This is a very short read but an important one.  I find that in today’s world of division it is sometimes hard to see where you fit.  To see where your ideas, values and opinions meet.  Society focuses on the “us vs them” narrative leaving little room for people in the middle. How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division by Elif Shafak encourages people of all different opinions to communicate. 

This book was very recently published, so recent, that it includes commentary on the current protests in the United States and the ongoing global pandemic- COVID.  I recommend everyone read this book, in hopes that it will underline the importance of understanding the views of others.

Since this book is short, I will not detail what it is about (the title gives the plot away anyway!).  Instead, I will list below the quotes that impacted me the most.

Book Quotes:

Part 1: Introduction

“We are made of stories — those that have happened, those that are still happening at this moment in time and those that are shaped purely in our imagination through words, images, dreams and an endless sense of wonder about the world around us and how it works.  Unvarnished truths, innermost reflections, fragments of memory, wounds unhealed.  Not to be able to tell your story, to be silenced and shut out, therefore, is to be dehumanized.  It strikes at your sanity, the validity of your version of events.  It creates a profound, and existential anxiety in us.” (page 9)

“… when you feel alone don’t look within, look out and look beyond for others who feel the same way, for there are always others, and if you connect with them and with their story, you will be able to see everything in a new light.” (page 14)

“The moment we stop listening to diverse opinions is also when we stop learning.  Because the truth is we don’t learn much from the sameness and monotony.  We usually learn from differences.” (page 16)

Part 2: Disillusionment and Bewilderment 

“Whether in public or digital spaced nuanced debates are not welcome anymore. ”  (page 29)

“In the aftermath of the pandemic fewer tourists will be able to take overseas trips, fewer international students will apply, and fewer immigrant workers will be welcomed.  It worries me immensely, seeing the walls rise higher and higher.” (page 45)

Part 5: Apathy

“When we are indifferent, disconnected, atomized.  Too busy with our own lives to care about others.  Uninterested in and unmoved by someone else’s pain.  That is the most dangerous emotion —  the lack of emotion.” (page 77)

“One of the greatest paradoxes of our times is the hardliners are more passionate, engaged and involved than many moderates.  When we do not engage in civil discourse and public space, we become increasingly isolated and disconnected, thereby breeding apathy.” (page 77)

Part 6: Information, Knowledge, Wisdom

“Perhaps in an era when everything is in constant flux, in order to be more sane, we need a blend of conscious optimism and creative pessimism.” (page 87)

“It is natural to seek out a collegial and congenial group who will reinforce our core values and primary goals, and bring us closer to the stories we want to hear and prioritize.  That can be a good starting point but it cannot be the entire destination.” (page 89)

About the Author:

Elif Sharak is a British – Turkish author, that has published 17 books.  She advocates for women’s rights, minority rights and free speech.  Sharak is a founding member of the European Council of Foreign Affairs.  She has also spoken at TED Global.

Other books she has published: 

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World 

Three Daughters of Eve

The Forty Rules of Love 


Beautiful Bookstores of Switzerland

When I moved to Switzerland, one of the first things I did was visit all the bookstores near me. It was a bit intimidating at first knowing these stores would mostly (or only) sell German books but, I had to take a tour anyway. To my surprise and delight, many of the bookstores in the area sold English books! Most of the shops seem to be small family-run businesses in Switzerland, which added a layer of charm to these bookstores. 

Below are some of the small bookstores that I have explored around my home in Switzerland:

The Travel Book Shop

This is one of the most unique bookstores in Switzerland because it features one primary genre: Travel. From fiction to non-fiction, all the books in this store have to relate to travel. This shop also sells old and new maps of places all over the world. They have some antique maps on display that were quite beautiful.

Buchhandlung Beer & Co.

This bookstore is laid out more recognizably. Most of the aisles are coordinated between fiction and non-fiction. A small section near the back features English books. Once I began scanning the titles, I noticed pretty quickly that they were a bit different. I barely recognized any of them. It seems this shop focuses on books centred around Anthroposophy, a philosophy which was created in the 20th century by Rudolf Steiner. This would explain why the authors were not familiar to me. Beer & Co. is a fascinating shop to visit and explore.

Peter Bichsel Antiquariat/Peter Bichsel Fine Books

Visiting this bookstore is like stepping back into history. Peter Bichsel Fine Books sells fine/antique books. Some of them date back to the 15th century! As a history buff, this fascinates me. They look so delicate, fragile and exceptional. The old fashion step ladder in the center of the store added more charm to this little space. Although I do not dare touch any of the books, I explore each aisle and love viewing all the featured titles. This is a beautiful bookstore.

Pile of Books

Pile of Books is the only all English bookstore in Zurich (maybe all of Switzerland?). This shop features all the recognizable authors and bestsellers. For English speakers like myself, Pile of Books suits my needs the most, while also keeping the appeal of a small European bookstore.

Hirschmatt Buchhandlung

This bookstore has a fabulous selection of German books from all different genres. Their English section is pretty small, but they have an online store you can order from. Although this is a pretty small shop, they have managed to squeeze in many aisles. Hirschmatt offers the coziness of a small shop but with an extensive book catalogue.

What are some of your favourite bookstores?

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Educated- Book Review

My Rating: 5/5 – Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction — N. of Pages: 334

How I came across this book:

I had seen this book on many bookshelves for a while. Every time I read the summary, truthfully, I just wasn’t that interested. I thought I’d heard this story before, a brainwashing family keeping their children trapped by not educating them, ; been there, heard that. Despite my disinterest, something kept drawing me back to the to its cover! I don’t know what it was, but I finally caved. After digging into the first few pages, I started kicking myself. This book is awesome. What was I waiting for?

My Review and what I learned from the book:

Educated by Tara Westover is a remarkable memoir about a Morman family living in Idaho. Each chapter entangles you deeper into her story. It follows Westover’s family life living in their farm house by the mountains.  You see the complexity of the life they lived following their father’s strict interpretation of Mormonism.  She details the physical and psychological abuse she endures from her brother, during her teenage years.  Then we read about the beginning of her exodus from her family as she chooses to go to college and leave home.  Her seclusion from the world is then magnified in college when she learns about world events that she had never heard of, like the Holocaust. In the end you follow her through the final stages of her excommunication from her family.   I kept reading, hoping that things would get better for Tara and her family; I was hoping that something would be done about her brother. Westover keeps you holding on to hope, the same way she holds hope today that she will one day be reunited with her family (under her terms).

Westover wrote about her feelings and thoughts in great detail and clarity. It was easy to read through this book and get a glimpse into her life.  

I especially liked that she emphasized, from the very beginning, that this book was not about Mormonism or any other type of religious belief. She wanted to make sure it was clear that she was not putting faith or religion down because, in many situations, other Mormons or people of faith had tried to help her. To me, the real problems were the mental health issues her father and brother faced. Westover shows how bad things could get if people don’t get the treatment they need.  

This book taught me more about mental health and how it impacts not only the people who have these health issues but also how it can affect the people around them. I think this lesson is so important for our world right now as we try to gain a clearer understanding of what mental health is and how we can support people who suffer from it. 

The themes of this book:

There are many different themes in this book. Some of the themes that stood out to me were: male patriarchy, mental health, physical abuse, psychological abuse, the power of manipulation and the impact of family love. I know that seems like a lot, but, honestly, I don’t think that even covers half of the themes of this book.

Patriarchy:

In her household, Mormonism was the practiced faith, but as she makes very clear, her family’s version of Mormonism was not standard and far more strict than most other Mormon families. Her father was the clear head of the household, and the wife and children had to listen attentively to the father at all times. She was raised with the idea that the man would be the head, and the women would raise children and tend to household duties. A woman’s role would only be in the kitchen. Throughout the book, her father and brother make many comments to her reminding her that she should be focusing on redirecting her life to be a proper woman and become a housewife. 

Mental Health

It is clear from the very beginning that her father has severe mental health problems. His version of Mormonism teeters between faith and insanity. The way he treats his wife and children seems to change daily, rotating between kind and fatherly to authoritarian and angry. I noticed his mental health problems the most during his spats of paranoia. He spent so much of his time and money preparing for the end of time. The whole family spent many days preparing for the end of time, canning fruits and vegetables and storing gasoline. He also forced his children to stay home from school, which is another way he tried to control his family. Many Mormons attend school, and many go on to continue their studies in college and university. In my opinion, her father is a perfect example of what happens when people who suffer from mental health don’t get the help they need.

As well, her brother Shawn clearly suffers from mental health. The way he manipulates and abuses women and finds joy out of their embarrassment are all signs of severe psychological problems. The fact that her brother is still living in Idaho with his family is terrifying.

Physical and mental abuse 

This theme was probably the most obvious. The violence that Shawn showed towards multiple members of his family was genuinely frightening. After each physical altercation took place, he would manipulate his victims into thinking they were at fault or that he was just playing with them. This was indeed the most frightening part of her brother. Through her portrayal of these incidents, how she felt and how quickly she forgot what he had done, the reader sees why so many abused women go back to their abuser. For this reason alone, I think it is a book that many people should read to gain a clearer understanding of the mind of those that get abused by someone they love.  

Power of manipulation

In the final part of the book, Tara and her sister confront their parents about the abuse they have experienced from their brother. This is the most shocking moment in the book. The way their mother cowers to their father, the way their parents refuse to believe what they are saying, really upset me. Later on, Tara’s sister is manipulated into thinking she was wrong about what she said about Shawn abusing her. Tara’s sister blocks out all of the abuse because of the parents’ manipulation. It is scary to see what the human brain can convince itself with just a bit of encouragement.

Family love

Tara struggles so much near the end to figure out how her new educated life can fit into her life with her family. She doesn’t want to lose her family because, ultimately, she does love them. This love keeps her tied to her family; this love keeps her returning to her home town. In the end, she realizes that despite the love she has for them, she cannot go back to that life. 

I believe the book’s overall message is by becoming educated; you free yourself to feel and understand the way you want to. Only through this freedom can you live your own life and make your own decisions.

Author Info:

Here is a link to her website: https://tarawestover.com/


Mom Truths – Book Review

My Rating- 5/5 Stars — Genre: Nonfiction, Parenting, Humour — N. of Pages: 224

Why I read this book…

As a new mom, I felt like my emotions were playing tricks on me. Some days I would feel great, and other days I would feel really low. I found myself feeling alone and isolated, and I was scared to express what I was feeling. None of my friends had babies, so I couldn’t really turn to them for support, and if I did vent to them, I ended up feeling like a terrible mom. I thought my friends would think I didn’t love my baby, so I stopped expressing my emotions. I needed an outlet; I needed another mom’s perspective and opinion on all the feelings I was feeling. That is when randomly (unless Instagram can hear my thoughts), I stumbled upon the Cat and Nat Instagram page. I saw some of their hilarious videos, and I knew I needed to learn more. I did some ‘Googling’ on these two moms and realized they had written a book about motherhood, and it included REAL feelings and perspectives on their motherhood journey. I was a bit apprehensive about reading any ‘mom books’ because I thought they would just tell me I was a bad mom, but I gave this book a chance, and I am glad I did. The book is called Mom Truths, and I recommend it to all new moms!

About the book… 

Cat and Nat speak so candidly about their feelings and emotions about motherhood. Motherhood is a wild ride, sometimes you feel like you are acing it (very few times did I think this way), and sometimes you feel like a terrible mom (I mostly felt this way). Cat and Nat make you feel amazing about who you are as a mother and give you helpful tips on how to go through your Mom journey in your own way.

Cat and Nat take the time to speak separately throughout their book and provide the readers with their different approaches to motherhood. They compare and contrast their methods, which was very interesting to read. Each chapter dives into vital topics about modern motherhood. For example, Chapter 11: Instagram is Bullshit; this is something every mom (actually everyone) in the social media world deals with daily. You’re having a bad day, you scroll through social media, and people are posting these glamorous amazing pictures of their fantastic baby. This instantly puts you in a bad place. In Chapter 11, they break down these thoughts and feelings that you have and how common it is to feel that way! This is just one example from their book, but honestly, every chapter is so helpful.

This book was a fun, sassy, humorous and, most importantly REAL book about motherhood. I really recommend this book to all moms.

What I learned from the book…

I learned some excellent tips for motherhood and raising children, but most importantly, I learned to trust my motherly instincts. I learned that every mom goes through the same thoughts and feelings that I have gone through and that I am not alone. I realized the importance of having people in my life that will bring me up, not down. I knew what kind of mom friends I wanted, and I felt more confident to be myself and to discuss what I felt were my shortcomings as a mom. If you have the right group of friends, they will be there for you and bring you up when you’re feeling down. After reading this book, I began to feel much more comfortable in my new mom skin!

Follow Cat and Nat on Instagram for more real mom moments!

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