Project Gutenberg – Free Books For All
Years ago, before moving to the UK (and building a beloved library of almost 1,000 books), I treasured every chance I got to read and own a book in English. Whenever I visited, I would buy as many as I could carry back with me, and although I will always prefer physical books, I loved my Kindle for allowing me to re-read Harry Potter in the language it was written one magical Christmas, some seven years ago.
I wish I had known when I was back in high school (what was I doing with all my time then?) about Project Gutenberg and all the free ebooks they make available as they enter the Public Domain. Here are their top 100 books and authors. The pickiest reader will find something to indulge in for sure, as it covers philosophy, non-fiction, classic literature for both children and adults, and everything in between.
And because this entry is about free books, I have a bonus exquisite find of free audiobooks offered by Audible. As expected, the Timeless Listens category, which includes 33 titles, from Austen to Wilde, not forgetting to add some essential Bronte, Fitzgerald, Tolstoy and Shakespeare, was the first one I checked. But in the meantime, I’ve ventured to Folk and Fairy Tales for All and after listening to Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales, somewhere on my never-ending list I have the Japanese Fairy Tales, along with pretty much everything else in this category.
Jeans with a Twist
Since I started sending out these letters, I’ve been ‘dusting’ my Pinterest boards, some more than ten years old. Or maybe it was the other way around, and my Pinterest filled nights finally fueled my yearning to write about all the things I find exquisite? In any case, this has allowed me to spot some trends in my archives that I hadn’t noticed before. One of my favourite finds was this selection of jeans that are just a bit different and really lovely. And the best part is that all these examples seem to me to be fairly easy DIY projects as well. I just need to find a pair or two of those basic, amazing-quality and flawless fit denim trousers, to make it worth the trouble. Simple, huh?
I’ve also had some pretty serendipitous moments while scavenging through my boards, including finding I owned (randomly purchased from a charity shop this year) a skirt I pinned a few years ago. If nothing else, at least my style seems to be very consistent.
The Treasure that is a Thesaurus
Whether I write for my work or just for pleasure, I like my texts to read easily and flow naturally. Still, I make no economy with words and I try to always avoid repetition if I can. For these reasons, I sometimes feel like the best word is escaping me, or I want to explore different connotations and nuances of the same idea through the various words used to describe it. That’s when I turn to the Thesaurus, a habit I’ve cultivated in recent years.
The word itself, from Ancient Greek θησαυρός (thēsaurós) via Latin’s thēsaurus, originally meant ‘treasure’ and it truly feels like opening a treasure chest whenever I use it. An encyclopedia of synonyms and antonyms, I find it to be an essential resource for the perfect turn of the phrase!
Just look at these whimsical pictures! Who wouldn’t want to live in a fairytale house, with hand-painted walls? This is the country home, #MaisonAtelierSuzanne, of french artist Nathalie Lété and over the past few months, she has been unleashing her folk-inspiration and imagination, bringing nature inside through colourful flowers and wonky plants of all sorts.
Her story reminded me of this 90-year-old Czech Lady transforming her village one building at a time with her vivid blue intricate floral designs that make me think of traditional needlework from my home country. And on the same note, this Polish village that simply looks out of this world, like the setup for some vintage cartoons where everything is beautiful and peaceful.
Of course, one couldn’t talk about painted walls and houses without mentioning Maud Lewis, who’s entire tiny home, which she shared with her husband for 40 years, a work of art in itself with almost every available surface hand-painted, is now housed by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and who inspired the movie Maudie.
The Poetic Dimension of Money
In my last letter, I was hinting that in an ideal world I would work half of what I’m expected to work now but be paid double than what I am. And it might have seemed like I was just trying to be funny, but in fact, I wasn’t. Studies have shown that happiness does indeed have a sort of price tag and it comes just under $100K per year (roughly €85K or ₤75K). Apparently earning more is actually linked to a slide downwards in happiness levels.
I am not there yet, but I totally resonate with this math! I have never imagined myself a millionaire, having more money than I know how to spend. I simply want enough money to allow me the freedom of doing and buying what I like (ideally also when I like it) or maybe even more importantly, the freedom of not having to do anything that I don’t like. And as long as that is my motivation, a life of earned leisure and indulgence, money takes almost a poetic dimension in my mind.
The revival of Florence’s Wine Windows
Centuries ago, a law allowing people to sell wine directly from their homes prompted an architectural development that might have helped prevent the spread of the bubonic plague outburst in the 17th century and is seeing a revival during our current pandemic.
Wine Windows, openings just big enough to stick one’s arm through with a glass of wine in hand, often decorated with small wooden doors in the past, are now being used by a small number of restaurants as an alternative to counter deliveries, for a range of other items, in addition to wine, like gelatos, cappuccinos, cocktails and even food.
Context aside, how lovely is it to see this bit of history brought back to life, to allow people to enjoy their favorite drinks and treats? This just makes me look forward to my next trip to Italy even more than I was already!
Bread is not something that is nor needs to be beautiful, there are other essential qualities people normally look for in this every day, one could say basic item. Taste comes to mind…
Still, in the true spirit of an artist, Linda Ring has made me simply exclaim ‘What a beautiful loaf of bread!’ I find it very special how she almost added a new dimension to bread. This is definitely not your average sourdough.
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