Women’s Prize for Fiction
If you are looking to read more exceptional books written by women, this is a great place to start – The Women’s Prize for Fiction has been going on since 1996. This year’s winner, announced last week, is Susanna Clarke for her book Piranesi and I am intrigued by the synopsis, especially after just revisiting the Ancient Greek myths through Fry’s Mythos. You can see all the other shortlisted and longlisted books here, as well as all the winners from the past 26 years!
I have personally only read one of the previous winners, namely The Power, by Naomi Alderman and I absolutely loved it and would wholeheartedly recommend it, even though it doesn’t fall under my go-to genres. It just shows I should explore more, let myself discover new bookish exquisite finds.
I hope this keeps you busy in the long evenings ahead of us, now that Autumn is officially here!
Museum Visits Prescribed for Stress
Belgian doctors will be able to prescribe free museum visits to alleviate stress in a three months trial designed to rebuild mental health amid the Covid pandemic. This news has been making headlines this week. I am happy to see all this buzz and I am looking forward to when the results of the trial will be made public.
I absolutely believe in the therapeutic effects of art and culture, museum visits and other such past time activities! But it’s not just me, this is backed by science, as the responsible for culture in Brussels highlights.
The initiative was inspired by a scheme in Quebec, Canada, where doctors can prescribe up to 50 museum visits a year to patients. Now that is the dream, but in fact, we don’t have to wait for a doctor to prescribe anything, we can just plan a visit this weekend, it’s that easy!
High Society (1956)
There is a lot I need to catch up on when it comes to cinematographic oldies but goldies and I am not setting any big goals for myself for the immediate future. Still, I hope I spend more time thoroughly enjoying feel-good classics, like I did this week, watching High Society on an impulse.
I think what made me really press play was all the jazz, quite literally, and the chance of seeing Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong all play, sing and act together. I thought I will at least enjoy a lovely soundtrack in the background if I don’t find the movie captivating enough. But, with all the predictability of the plot and the characteristic exaggerations and over-acting of the period, it was captivating and delightful.
Do watch it if, like me, you haven’t yet! I’ll be back with more recommendations from that era, I just got a taste of what is out there waiting for me!
Parisiens in Paris
I was missing a brilliant street style account in my life and I didn’t even know it until I found Parisiens in Paris! It’s exactly what you would expect from the name, the best French style inspiration straight from the streets of Paris – unedited, candid, sometimes blurred, always authentic and chic.
Pretty much at the same time, I started following Watching New York and the difference is amazing. I suppose it’s mainly due to the distinctive aesthetic preference of each of the photographers, but one seems to show you everyday life, while the other is going behind the scenes at some cool festival I haven’t even heard of.
They are both brilliant sources of inspiration, but Parisiens in Paris is the one giving me all the aspirational vibes! I am excited for all the fall outfits they will hopefully capture!
I am on the market for a cashmere red sweater as an investment piece this autumn and I decided to understand better what makes cashmere so special. As with many other things lately, I want to make sure I make informed decisions and not just go with the trends or the buzz.
Cashmere is special because it’s scarce, it’s luxurious, it’s durable and it’s comfortable in either cold or warm weather. It apparently takes four goats to make one sweater. I found this video by the Gentlemen’s Gazette very informative.
But there are also many warning signs that come with cashmere and probably the most important is the source and animal cruelty-free status. There are farmers in Mongolia, for example, that have been breeding goats for cashmere for generations and rely on this as their main source of income. They treat the animals with respect and attention. But like with any other lucrative sector, there are many more producers that do just the opposite and a quick YouTube search will make you reconsider very thoughtfully where or even whether you are going to buy cashmere.
In my case, as with most of my purchases nowadays, I will go the sustainable way by trying to find a pre-loved vintage piece. I happen to prefer the designs from the 70s and 80s better than the modern minimalist ones anyway – think balloon sleeves, marked waists, golden buttons etc.
Wish me luck in my searches and if you too might want to understand more about the sometimes shocking difference in price for a cashmere item, read this!
How to Buy a Little Happiness
Most fittingly right after talking about cashmere, I want to share this article about ways that money can indeed buy at least a little happiness. This is, of course, an unpopular view to hold, but I resonate with it. In the first part of the article, you’ll find a few interesting insights from statistical analysis, science and literature, including reference to a study I also featured in letter No 5 about the average yearly ‘price tag’ for happiness.
At the end, there are a few examples of how you can buy happiness and the ones that stood out most for me were buying time by paying other people to do the things you don’t enjoy doing (quite a few home chores come to mind!), investing in experiences, as well as spending money on pursuing varied hobbies and interests.
I don’t see how anyone can disagree with this!
Late Summer Flowers
I’ve been feeling very inspired by the late summer flowers spotted in my neighbours’ gardens over the past few weeks. For some reason, it’s the tall hollyhocks, gladiolas and anemones, as well as my all-time favourite, the hydrangea, all in white, that have got me actively thinking of preparing my own front garden for next year! Who would have thought?
Of course, there are many other beautiful blooms in a rich variety of colours that are making everything pretty and happy at the moment, but I think I am drawn to these because they are familiar, I have seen them growing up in my mom’s or neighbours’ gardens, and I am drawn to all white because it’s simple and I find this whole gardening affair quite complicated and daunting, to begin with.
This article in New York Times about why we should plant in the fall, rather than in spring, has found an interested audience in silly old me and I think I will soon be visiting the local gardening centre. For more September gardening to-dos, you actually can’t do better than listening to the mighty Monty Don and the Royal Horticultural Society.
If this letter has offered you a moment of inspiration, kindly forward it to others who might enjoy it too. And if you have been forwarded it, indulge in all previous Miss Onion’s Exquisite Finds and subscribe to the weekly letter.