On the Shortness of Life – Seneca

The writings of the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca offer powerful insights into stoicism, morality and the importance of reason, and continue to provide profound guidance to many through their eloquence, lucidity and wisdom.

Picking this book was entirely thanks to a video by PewDiePie, who, in between his usual meme and gaming content enjoys indulging in books, and particularly those of a philosophical nature. This time he explored Stoicism.  Being at a loose end for a book, and not having a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations to hand, this slim tome was the next best thing.

Of the three essays on offer, those being On the Shortness of LifeConsolation to Helvia, and On Tranquillity of Mind, the first was my favourite, mainly because of all the famous Roman military and political figures that have become familiar over many books about that empire. The message of bettering oneself is always one that resonates strongly as well and writing that encourages reading is already preaching to the converted.

Each essay is written to a particular person, the first to Paulinus talks of spending time fruitfully in the timeless pursuit of wisdom through philosophy, the second consoles his mother on his exile to Corsica, and the final essay is written in letter form to Serenus, in which he offers advice on how to achieve a peaceful mind with moderation and self-control. Continue reading “On the Shortness of Life – Seneca”

Get Yourself A Free Book

Everyone loves free stuff, and what can be better than a good book bargain to take your mind off whatever is on currently on it?

I have been informed by my good friend Estelle – who runs a blog for the books of Indrajit Garai – that The Bridge of Little Jeremy, is currently on a free giveway on Amazon, which you can find at the link here.

I have also read and reviewed Indrajit’s two short story volumes, The Sacrifice,  and The Eye Opener, which I enjoyed immensely. Both of which I can happily recommend to you.

Here’s the blurb for The Bridge of Little Jeremy, check it out and indulge yourself in a story about family, the changing face of Paris, and the meaning of beauty, for absolutely no pennies.

Jeremy’s mother is about to go to prison for their debt to the State. He is trying everything within his means to save her, but his options are running out fast.

Then Jeremy discovers a treasure under Paris.

This discovery may save his mother, but it doesn’t come for free. And he has to ride over several obstacles for his plan to work.

Meanwhile, something else is limiting his time…

Renaissance Books

Wandering around the websites of various publishers, I was delighted and a little surprised to find one of my reviews was featured on the website of Renaissance Books, hereRenaissance Books are academic publishers offering a new, robust and independent platform for peer-reviewed scholarship on Asia Pacific, in particular East Asian Studies – principally in the Humanities and Social Sciences

From the website:

Renaissance Books was established in 1996 to promote gifted, aspiring authors and books of general interest. Later, its focus moved to East-West themes relating to people, culture and way of life.

In 2015, the imprint was re-launched in order to concentrate on scholarly reference in the Humanities and Social Sciences, publishing especially in the field of East Asian Studies, notably Japan and Korea, as well as Central Asian Studies. To this end, we have launched a new peer-reviewed Renaissance Books Asia Pacific Series drawing on recognized authorities from within the region and beyond, offering a platform for comparative and interdisciplinary works on historical and cultural themes as well as those relating to contemporary issues, especially in Politics & Economics, Conflict Resolution, Globalization, NGOs, Security, Human Rights and Media Studies.

As someone interested in learning, especially in light of the proximity to the subject area in my adopted home of the Philippines (where I look forward to being later in the year again), it is a publisher that deserves a lot more attention for the body of work that they are putting out.

Life Goals

This time of year makes me feel old, first my birthday, two days ago means I gain a year, then the new year happens, and another year goes by (or so I am told) so I double in age. In order to get a head start on things I will have a stab – but most likely fail – at, I decided to make some resolutions now to complete by the end of 2020.

In no particular order:

  • Become passably fluent in Tagalog as its high time I was, even though I am a poor language learner.
  • Have two articles minimum published somewhere, whether that be something to do with books, or to do with football.
  • At least have a working draft of the novel finished, or start with a completely new and workable idea.
  • Volunteer somewhere, probably somewhere bookish, a library or bookshop.
  • Visit a new country. Japan, Vietnam, and India top my list now, but we are always open to suggestions. Also do some more hikes too.
  • Do something else that involves books that I don’t do now, what that would be yet, I have no idea. Any suggestions?
  • Keep up with the blogging, being more focused and writing/editing posts quicker. Visit my fellow bloggers more regularly too.
  • Master some new cookery dishes, especially Filipino food but anything new will be good. This means trying more food which makes me even happier.
  • Delve deeply into culture, so aside from travel, watch more documentaries, read different authors, discover new music, different voices, and generally be more involved.
  • Be better at keeping in touch with people, which means finding time, and there are certainly things I can cut out to free some time up.
  • Make time to read every day, at least an hour, and a regular time would help too.

Woken Up

I recently had a moan about all the meaningless (and prolific) ‘inspirational’ posts that clog my Facebook feed, when all I want to do is have a quick and peaceful nosy into what people are doing in their lives.  I’m sure some find such slogans helpful and positive but stop to give even a brief thought to the actual content and it quickly becomes irritating.

After posting a somewhat, ‘grumpy’ status about the situation, (and having no one really react which, perhaps, tells its own story) I came across another nettlesome post on Instagram, that was originally a Tweet.  I’m assuming some of you came across this statement over the last week or so,

You’re not well read if all you read is white authors. 

It didn’t take long to analyse the flaw in that statement.  Whilst it is probably (hopefully) a well-meaning encouragement to people to read widely, the stench of identity politics is overwhelming. Substitute the word white for fantasy, people of colour (or your group of choice), gay, women, or men, and the point could still be taken.

White is the word that will get the most traction in terms of comments though and is most likely the reason behind the wording which will guarantee the fifteen minutes of internet viral fame so craved.  On reflection it strikes me as lazy, picking an easy target. Like Trump or George W. Bush jokes back in the day, for example, it lacks finesse and plays only to the easily pleased crowd. Continue reading “Woken Up”

House About That!

At last we have the internet connected!

Having moved house this time last week (not the one above, which is our holiday home, Hardwick Hall), its been a torrid time with the usual accompanying stress and chaos.

The most important thing to do has been to order the books, this was achieved by placing them in a haphazard arrangement, as I rather enjoy browsing through the collection these days, rather than going straight to where I know a particular title will be.

Next up has been to explore the local library, which is adequate, and to sample the closest Chinese takeaway. They made a decent effort but it wasn’t overly impressive, except for the reusable containers. Continue reading “House About That!”

New Editions

To keep in theme with the blog, a book pun is always welcome start.  After going into hospital on a Tuesday, we got to see our Amelia Cyrene three days later when she finally arrived via C-section on a Friday at 4.22am and weighing 7 lb 14 oz, in old money.   It was a long ordeal but we got there in the end and have been well supported by friends family and all the workers, midwives and phalanx of other helpers from the NHS.

Before we went to the hospital we just has to time to find out which of those two Michelin star chefs had made the most accurate Kit Kat on that TV show, and then it all went a bit mad.  There was inducing, sleeping through contractions, a Tikka Masala, random bleeping alarms, and finally with baby refusing to come out, some surgery, just to make sure that our stay in hospital didn’t get too uneventful.

Having been surprised with the speed with which baby was extracted, I had the ordeal of walking around Crissy’s still being operated on body to get my hands on little Amelia.  I admired the painted walls intensely so I wouldn’t see anything to make me pass out. I had in mind a vision of the surgeon with Crissy’s intestines slung over his shoulder as he worked to pop everything back in.  In my peripheral vision I did see the surgical team hurriedly moving things like instrument tables out of my way as I keep my eyes firmly on the lovely white paint and blundered about.

Its been a hectic week.  We are still extremely dishevelled (the photo below is pretty much how we look now, minus Crissy’s sexy hospital gown) but elated to be well into day six, with our hungry, bundle of joy.  Amelia has already been enjoying the cool breezes and the sun, as well as discussing when she is allowed a boyfriend and in which order she will be accomplishing her career goals, which are: model, astronaut, ninja, spy, and pilot.