On reading everything and not taking myself seriously

I am always scouring websites, blogs and newspaper articles on books – looking for recommendations by readers, writers, bloggers,…Oprah!
My FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is not socially-related, it is about the books. As a result I am plugged into everything to do with books. It is not just news about the new that holds my attention, it is also everything about the old. But lately I have grown rather weary of those lengthy lists drawn up by a somebody of the literary world, listing the books that one can read, tick off,  and comfortably declare themselves as well read after.

Books: FRANCE’S GOT TALENT by Peter Gumbel

Title: France’s got Talent : The woeful consequences of French elitism
Author: Peter Gumbel
Published: 2013
Genre: Non-fiction

I have been sitting on this review for a while. Whilst I really enjoyed Peter Gumbel’s book, in it giving me a whole new understanding of some of the workings of the french education system, it left me hungry for more.
Peter Gumbel writes of his experiences as the Communications director of Sciences Po, under the then director of the university Richard Descoings, who was a fire-brand and controversial anti-elitist figure.

Paris gets arty and controversial

Winter’s finally come and with it enough art exhibitions to see us through to January. We have set our clocks back and are once again familiarising ourselves with the shorter days and longer nights. This is not my favourite season but I am approaching it with a positive attitude and  a fuller appreciation of what it can also offer.

The art of tattoos at Musée du Quai Branly

There is an interesting array of shows and exhibitions currently on and upcoming at the Musée du Quai Branly – making for a potentially busy autumn and winter. I quite enjoy the exhibitions at the MQB ,more so than at other museums because it showcases art and music of African, Asian and Oceanic origin, adding a bit of flavour to the extensive other museums which focus solely on European art. It has exhibitions that are always interesting for both children and adults alike.
I took my daughter to the Tatoueurs, Tatoués (Tattoists, Tattooed) exhibition. The exhibition is an extensive presentation of the world of tattooing from the Oriental, African, Oceanic and Western worlds; from the ritual to the purely decorative.

Books: QUIET: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain

Title: QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Author: Susan Cain
Published:2012
Genre: Non-fiction

I am an introvert, or more accurately as I have recently discovered, an ambivert. I can fake it like an extrovert, but long before all the excitement of socialising and the exuberance of any highly stimulating environment wears off, I am quietly seeking a corner to recharge.

Reading Susan Cain’s book was an eye-opener. It explained a lot about my own personality, and gave me more insight into my children’s personalities. I am raising both an ambivert and a highly extroverted-introvert – my own term here because my son does not seem to fit into any of the moulds described. It was also the kind of book that I would normally not have read had the subject matter not been close to my heart.

Wine pairing at the Brasserie Les 110 de Taillevent

On a random walkabout on Sunday, my husband and I, sans les infants, decided to detour for lunch to one of our favourite places, the brasserie of Les 110 de Taillevent.  Note: The restaurant of Les 110 is on rue Lamennais and serves more haute cuisine, with an ambiance more suitable for a more formal dining experience. The brasserie worked well on our casual detour for Sunday lunch.

The 110 is the number of wines they have available on their menu – all for your pleasure. Theirs is an ingenious way of selling their products, their truly sublime food and their many and varied wines.

NON! to school on Wednesdays

Photo: Lionel Bonaventure / AFP / Getty Images

French parents and teachers have been up-in-arms again about the government’s  reforms to the education system. Not to a drastically changed school curriculum, but to the new system that means that the French scholarly weekly calendar will now be five days.

That age-old system that gave primary school French children Wednesdays off was done away with last year, causing quite a furore amongst teacher trade unions and the parents who felt that the longer school week would prove to be too disruptive to their little ones’ lives.

Street Art at the Panthéon

The powers that be of French Institutions did something surprising a couple of months again. The hallowed floors and ceilings of the Panthéon were opened by to the French photographer JR to play with as he wished. Shock, horror! “They let him do this?” was my daughter’s incredulous response when she saw it. By this, she was referring to the large black and white photos of faces that have been used to cover the entire floor of the Panthéon and the ceilings below the dome. It looks amazing just because one realises that, this is after all the Panthéon that has its walls covered in this manner. 

Books: AN UNQUIET MIND by Kay Redfield Jamison

Title: An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
Author: Kay Redfield Jamison
Published: 1996
Genre: Memoir

Kay Redfield Jamison is an academic. She is, according to the bio in her book, a Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, who has written extensively about manic-depressive illness. She also suffers from the illness. I expected the book to read more like an academic text given the author’s background. It does not. It is a candid piece of writing about a widely misunderstood illness from the viewpoint of someone who suffers from it, and who has found a way to live with it.