I asked my friends, Romans, and countryfolk (i.e. Twitter and Instagram) to give me a “mood” as a prompt for book recommendation articles. My second request came from someone I met six years ago whilst studying on exchange at McGill University in Montreal: “trying to forget someone”. Whoever it is that you are trying to forget, my heart goes out to you. Forgetting is a feat of strength, and I have nothing but admiration for anyone who achieves it.

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Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

A follow-up to his 2015 mental health memoir, this book is for anyone whose everyday struggles are all tinged with the anxiety that modern technology brings. I read this book two summers ago, on that one really hot day where it somehow reached 38 degrees Celsius. I had gone for a solo swim at the Hampstead Heath Ladies Ponds, to clear my head shortly after having my heart broken. If you can recreate these conditions, I promise you will forget whoever it is you’re somehow still unwillingly tied to. …

For Emily Aboud AKA Trinidad and Too Gay Though

I asked my friends, Romans, and countryfolk (i.e. Twitter and Instagram) to give me a “mood” as a prompt for book recommendation articles. My first request came from legendary Drag King Trinidad & TooGayThough, and could not be more apt: “dressing more masculine to be taken seriously.” A quandary I face on those occasions when I have an important meeting to attend, and find myself changing outfits six times before leaving the house in the first one I put on.

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Photo by Hardini Lestari on Unsplash

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

This is my current read! I’m about halfway through listening to the audiobook on BorrowBox app (connect with your library card and borrow ebooks and audiobooks completely free!), which is narrated by the author. This debut novel follows the titular protagonist from the coach house on an estate in Jamaica, where she is forced to assist in performing experiments on other black people, to London, where she starts a love affair with her new cross-dressing, laudanum-addicted mistress. …

A manifesto for the advancement of online LGBTQ+ communities

I was recently added to a social media collective now known as “Budget Queer Big Brother” (a name I came up with upon realising that half our Zoom calls involved us going about our daily lives on camera to each other). In my first week of daily Zoom and WhatsApp conversations with this group, I asked if I could join their “Hype House”. Extremely inebriated, one of the “OG”s told me that I must write 1,250 word essay as an application. …

On death and dying

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The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy © Cartoon Network

I don’t believe it’s possible for anyone to be an expert on death.

Ask a physician about death, and they may give you a response based in medical science or religion, depending on their own beliefs and experiences, or they may tell you it is simply a part of their job. When I was in my first year of university, I lived with two medical students. One day, they came home and told us what they had just learned about death: that the average medical doctor will kill 50 patients over the course of their career as a direct result of their own negligence. …

On Parenting

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Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

“Heel, toe. Heel, toe.”

My mother walks in step with her grandson in the early afternoon heat, his tiny fist clenched around her index finger. He shuffles beside her, scuffing his little orange sandals against the pavement.

“Heel, toe,” she tells him. “Heel, toe.”

She demonstrates with an over exaggerated step, ensuring that her heel hits the ground far before she rolls forward on her toes to take her next step. Her feet fall silently on the hot tarmac — heel, toe, heel toe. …

No Matter How Busy You Are

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The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla — a canyon in Utah (just in case we got lost during the hike and had to wait to be rescued)

When I have a morning meeting or rehearsal in town, and an evening shift at my bar job, with a few hours to kill in between, I will spend that time reading. I live in Zone 5, so there’s never any point in going home, and there are many wonderful reading spots I have scouted out over many years of living in London. One of my favourites is the bar where I work, which tends to be pretty dead in those middling hours between pints-at-lunch and the after-work crowd. It’s quiet, the coffee is free, and there are always at least a couple of work-friends around to provide good company who know not to disturb my reading. Elvis the puppy and Miso the cat (the pub’s resident pets) will sometimes make an appearance. …

On being Jewish at Christmas

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

When I was eighteen years old, I celebrated Christmas for the first time. I was at university, and my flatmates organised a Christmas meal at the beginning of December before the end of the semester. We cooked an enormous feast complete with turkey, trimmings, cranberry sauce and pigs-in-blankets, decorated the kitchen with tinsel and fairy lights, and even got a little tree to put our Secret Santa presents under. From the time I woke up that morning, I was full of beans. I bounced around the kitchen with the excitable energy of – well, of a kid on Christmas morning. My flatmates were entertained by my fervour but confused as to why I was acting like a five-year-old child. It was an alien concept to them that this was my first ever Christmas. …

The unique art of secondhand gifting

Note: this article requires a very rudimentary understanding of the KonMari decluttering technique, which you can read about briefly here.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

It’s the second week of December, smack bang in the middle of the joyous festive season. Whether or not you choose to celebrate Christmas, if you live in a Western country it’s highly likely you’ve already been bombarded with its aggressive, in-yer-face, tinsel-strewn, twinkling, glitter-clad Joy.

It’s the time of year when we see consumerism is at its finest: Christmas sales, Yuletide bargains, stocking filler packs, gift guides, and Advent calendars stuffed with chocolate, makeup, or even electronics. It’s not like birthdays where you celebrate the continued longevity of a loved one with something you know they want or will use – it’s a time for showing people exactly how you feel about them in the form of mini “stocking filler” items and one big “main present” – plus an additional one for each of your children if you have them, that you don’t even get to take credit for, but which they will believe is a symbol of how good they have been, as judged by a giant bearded Coca-Cola mascot. …

Part apology, part love-letter

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My dad, who is extremely cool

Last week, I published an article on alternatives to mindfulness. In the section on climbing, I described my dad as “old and weak”. A few days later, I went over to my dad’s for breakfast. He held up a glove, and asked: “Do you know what this is?!” I shook my head. “A gauntlet!” He promptly threw the glove on the ground at my feet. “Do you accept my challenge?” I did. I picked up the glove. “I challenge you to a feat of strength — any feat of strength,” he told me. “Including bouldering.”

So we went bouldering. I took my dad to my local climbing centre and we spent two hours challenging each other to routes of increasing difficulty. I showed him the routes I liked to start on, and explained how the grading system worked. Over the past year or so, I’ve been climbing sporadically and have mainly stuck to V1–2, the black and tiger-coloured routes at my local centre. I’ve never been too bothered about “advancing” as a climber, because it’s something I do for fun, rather than to compete or for sport. But the last time I went climbing I decided to challenge myself a little. I went for a V3 that required a tricky little jump towards the end. A friend filmed my failed climb and I put it on Instagram mostly for the comedic caption “me @ the end of my to-do list”. Well, on Thursday, I got that sucker. …

Where to find cheap and free books

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Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

I own a lot of books. As I have already established in my previous article about book organisation, they are all neatly organised into twenty-three sections across four bookcases, a piano, and three side tables. It’s a lot. “Too many,” as my old housemate liked to say. “Nobody needs that many books,” she would tell me, every time I came home from a fruitful haul, arms laden with weighty tomes ready for shelving. And while that may be true (I buy them faster than I read them, and I also own a library card where I can borrow them for free), I don’t see it as any different to other habits and hobbies that people spend money on. I don’t take drugs, I’ve never bought a video game, and high fashion has never interested me. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but I’ve never heard anybody ask a gamer how they can afford to keep up with buying the newest Fortnite game or a fashionista how they can afford to buy a new wardrobe each season. That’s something people ask me all the time — “how can you afford to buy so many books?” The easy answer to that is that it’s how I choose to spend the money I earn — the same way other people might spend theirs on money, clothes, travel, or the newest iPhone. Another simple answer is that I come from privilege, that I was raised by parents who believed that books were a fundamental right, could afford to buy them for us, and encouraged a healthy love of reading from a young age. But I’m an adult now and therefore responsible for my own finances (terrifying) and budgeting my income and outgoings accordingly (more terrifying). …

About

Kayla Martell Feldman

Anglo-American atheist Jew. Director & writer for stage & screen. Book person, intersectional feminist, poet. Living with OCD. Not an Expert. she/her

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