A mental health booklist

I’m developing a list of resources that you can use to make sure your life is exactly what you want it to be. These are mainly free resources as you don’t need further obstacles when you have decided that you need some me time.

I have started to use the Artists Way by Julia Cameron. This comes highly recommended by many famous patrons that have benefited from the information inside. It is also stuffed full of quotes from pretty anyone who ever lived that said something quotable. I have borrowed the book from my brother in law who didn’t like it as he said it was too simplistic. I can see what he means if I compare to Metahuman by Deepak Chopra but I think this is unfair since they are for completely different audiences.

I also have the accompanying workbook that he bought to see what if anything it does for me. The Artists Way is a 12 week course consisting of daily morning pages and artist dates amongst other activities. Morning pages are 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing to clear your mind for the day ahead. Artist dates are where you set aside time to indulge in culture. There are also other tasks such as reading as detailed in the book.

I have also ordered one of Melanie Beattie’s books on Codependent no more. I found the online version beneficial. Having now endeavoured to use technology less where possible, I now going to try to switch over to the paper copy. It provides space to write what you think about the daily devotional as it’s called. This allows you to develop your ideas about the concept better.

I have the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which was instrumental in me starting down this path and being that I now have a physical copy means I can read it and make notes where necessary. It’s so much easier to bookmark, read and absorb the information in a proper book rather than an e book. They may be more expensive and less portable but you get far more from them than their electronic copies.

In addition to these I have the Little Prince by Antione St Expury when I want something lighter and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. Fiction is a necessary compliment to non fiction. There is something much more reassuring and relaxing for a bed time story in an actual book rather than a Netflix series or YouTube video.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This is a book I read at college but I didn’t like it. It was shocking and terrifying. I also didn’t like the way the book was constructed but I don’t think it could be done in any other way. It was meant to illustrate the power that such a revolution would have on you and it certainly did that for me. I was confused as to how such a thing could take place but so is Offred and everyone else. That is why they fight to overcome the system. Offred is very strong and resistant to the new regime but sensible enough to know that you have to act a certain way to survive. I don’t want to give the game away to any of you who haven’t read it or seen the TV series. I expect the follow up The Testaments is where the material for later series comes from.

Have you found any unexpected novels that you persevered with and later understood them much better?

Feminism

This is quite an unusual article to me to write based on my past history but I feel now is the time to start exploring it. I have realised that actually I’m a strong woman. I need to start embracing this characteristic of mine. A person can only go so long not recognising who they are before they start to develop their inherent potential.

The woman’s struggle has existed since the dawn of time and I have been guided through my mother and others to study the Suffragettes at college, to see exhibitions about them, to gather information about Virginia Woolf, visiting Sissinghurst where she stayed and acquire lots of books about the subject. This also led to me reading a Handmaid’s Tale as it was on my high school book list and later on watching the TV series. I will get the Testaments later. Other books that are on my list are Vox, The Farm, etc.

As I got quite into feminism through an alternative viewpoint on classist history I wrote several articles on what I discovered. I think it’s a novel idea because history is written from the standpoint of the victor. This traditionally has been male so to put another spin on it is quite good. It also helps me to learn about myself as my mother and my grandmother have been very strong influences on me. I’m only starting to realise the extent that impact has had on me.

Dovlatov on Netflix

This is a film set in 1970s Russia based on a real life author struggling to get published. It’s in Russian with English subtitles. I love the authenticity this provides and how it correlates with other films I have seen of this era. From what I can remember of when I was previously very interested in Russian films; the 1960’s and 1970’s was a good time for Russian film making as lots of good films that are available on YouTube were made. Since I don’t speak or write Russian here is a list compiled by someone who does

I added this in as a bonus because I like to listen to foreign songs as they tend to be more realistic and you can figure out the gist even though I have no clue what they are saying. Russian songs on YouTube.

As I’m struggling to occupy myself right now due to the enforced isolation; I thought I needed the challenge of watching a Russian program from another era. As you know I love history and languages so why not?

As I sit and write these various articles at different times and moods it reminds me of War and Peace as that’s very clear to me it was written and rewritten several times. It doesn’t flow well in many places to my mind and it appears very disjointed like his own mind and life no doubt. Perhaps that is the beauty that I’m missing. The imperfections as that’s what makes us all real at the end of the day.

It also would be nice if WordPress told you who was reading your blog other than 1 person in Greece reads this etc. Is that the same person all the time? If it’s who I think it is thankyou for the inspiration and recommendations and if it isn’t thankyou anyway for checking out my blog on a regular basis. Thankyou to all the other people who participate in my blog too.

The Girl under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming

This is a historical romance ie chick lit book I have been reading to cope with the social isolation that we all have to perform right now to rid ourselves of Corona Virus. Its in a similiar style to the Victoria Hislop books that I have read and tried to emulate.

This is a very interesting book as it documents the fictional life of Penelope Angelika Georgiou or Penny George as she goes by when in the UK. Pen as she is called in later years recounts her life as a Red Cross nurse in Athens, Greece during the Second World War. Its thoughtfully written with an accurate portrayal of what an upper class debutante would have to face going it alone with only her Greek heritage and looks for protection against an uncertain world.

It seems that the books that I enjoy most inadvertently tend to evoke my own life as Leah is in the Yorkshire Dales while writing these books which is where I originally hail from. The character Penny has for a middle name, my name in Greek and she reminds me greatly of myself. Very much like when I was reading Angelology and Angelopolis about 5 years ago. That was on my other blog as this one didn’t exist then.

Parsis and Zoroastrians

This is a book I started reading in my hotel in Mumbai as there is a big population of them there and I was curious to find out more about them. As far as I know they don’t exists anywhere else in the world.

Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Balsara) was the most famous one as far as I can tell but I didn’t even know that myself until I had watched Bohemian Rhapsody which is an awesome movie. Zoroastrianism also turns up in Nietzsche as he wrote Thus spoke Zarathustra which is the name of their God. Although it’s a much changed version according to the book’s author which I’m afraid I don’t recall.

I had a spare day since Covid 19 had cancelled my city tour so I settled down to read through a photographic journey of the life of the author so far. The writer grew up in the Parsi culture in Bombay but was educated elsewhere so that is why they were able to explain in English so well a religion that is not well known in the rest of the world.

Parsis is the cultural name given to Zoroastrians to separate them from anyone else that was living in India. The Parsis are originally from Persia but left due to persecution from Islamic forces long ago. However, they were followed much later on so became very insular. Where as before they were at the forefront of business and became very rich a bit like the Jews of Europe .This fear and persecution has contributed to their downfall in the eyes of the author since they will soon no longer be numerous enough to be considered a community (30,000+). At this point (25,000) they will now be labelled a tribe. There is a very big emphasis on staying within your community and they will provide for you that’s why this downgrading of their status is such a big deal to them.

I was unable to get more than half way through the book as I had to leave the next day but the information about the lives of the children who were becoming priests was fascinating. It is part of the culture for at least one boy in the family to learn how to be a priest even if they subsequently decide that is not the field that they want to go into.

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

India – Delhi (part 1)

Best wishes

Angela

Machines like Me by Ian McEwan

This is an Audible book that I listened to recently while I was on holiday. Listening to an enjoyable story that is engaging makes long road journeys pass so much more quickly!

It’s alternative history based on the fact that Alan Turing wasn’t turned insane by taking oestrogen tablets to cure his homosexual urges. With this in mind we end up with a very different 1980’s. We have advanced sufficiently with AI to build completely life like humans that tests what it is to be human after all. They are an exercise in humanity as it teaches us whether we can accept machines into our lives as equals.

I loved the philosophical debates that Adam engages in with his housemates Charlie and Miranda. I also loved the technical, mathematical and physics details along with the anthropological studies. Adam raises a lot of interesting questions and provokes strong emotions which you wouldn’t expect a machine to be capable of. He is not really a machine though; but a conscious being capable of existing all by himself as along as he has the same comforts were used to like shelter, sleep and fuel.

This is essentially an exploration of the contradictions of being human. This is what every child has to learn and what autistics struggle with greatly. The same things that Adam can’t comprehend are also what we have difficulties with. There is however no real solution to these issues as life is such a messy business.

Best wishes

Angela

Michael Pollen – Cooked

He is a famous author and chef who has written several books on the history of food that are on Blinkist and I’m working my way through them. He also has a four part series on NetflixCooked after the title of his book that it follows. The episodes deal with the effects of Fire, Water, Air and Earth. It comes as no surprise that he has worked closely with Samin Nosrat on her Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat cookbook. He taught her how to write while she taught him how to cook.

In Fire he ventures around America looking for the secrets to bbq and grilled meats. He compares traditional methods to the ones used to industry. He goes in for the science and analyses the proteins present in meat with the transformation they undergo when being cooked – denaturalisation. He also indulges in some male bonding too while learning the secrets of southern cooking in addition to the history which is rooted in slave culture.

In Water he looks into the changes that have taken place in the American food industry since the 1950’s. He also tackles the rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes. I’m shocked to find that there is no longer an adult onset diabetes as type 2 used to be called. It’s now often found in children. This is directly linked to the fact we spend less time the kitchen and more time working. Even in India, one of the poorest countries in the world, you can’t live off one income and processed food is becoming the norm.

In Air he looks at the importance of bread to the daily diet in Morocco. He gets political about what happens when the price of bread rises too much; and how these conflicts cause shortages all over the world. Due mostly to over reliance on imports from bad harvests because of changing climatic conditions. He also gets scientific examining the role that gluten performs and why it’s so difficult to get a good gluten free loaf.

In Earth he examines the process of fermentation. Here he discovers that cacao beans are first fermented for a week before they are dried and then turned into chocolate etc. I didn’t know it was necessary to do this because the raw beans are so bitter as to be unpalatable. If you’ve ever eaten cooking chocolate you might know this taste. In contrast to chocolate, cheese is a another food that undergoes fermentation that we all know about. Here still there are more secrets to be discovered by looking into the science of the rind on cheeses. He also experiments by making his own beer to continue on from when he learnt to make bread.

I have found this series fascinating to watch to realise that there is a lot to learn from traditional methods of cooking that we can’t replicate in our modern high tech kitchens. The culture of disgust in relation to the French appreciation of stinky cheese is an amazing topic to have a discussion on. Our overuse of antibacterial sprays to clean with and antibiotics to cure to disease is causing a backlash in the health of our gut biome which is only just starting to be looked into seriously. I liked the anthropological look into ancient cultures and how they would pickle vegetables to get through the winter which is why vegans need to eat kimchi etc to remain healthy. Its a source of b vitamins and even vitamin c.

Best wishes

Angela

Advocating for autism

As a proud autistic adult I have written 2 new books and these are about how to deal with the traumatic and emotional events that life throws at us like dealing with grief, social occasions, adolescence etc

Imagina and A Life of Ice and Fire.

This is in addition to Autistic Communication and Autistic Education.

My other books are on How to learn the Greek language, Greek life, More Greek, How to learn languages and finally A Life of Halcyon Days which is a romantic chick lit book set in Greece.

Best wishes

Angela

On finding out the reasons for things – cookery edition

When I was just starting out to cook for my self I made the usual student meals. Everyone knew that bacon and cheese were wonder foods that could pretty much rescue anything disaster that you happen to make in the kitchen. Bacon was also the cure if you had drunk too much. What those experiments teach you is the importance of salt and fat to your food.

You don’t realise this then as the object of food then is fuel that is to be cooked quickly and eaten just as quickly so you can get on with whatever activity you were doing before.

I also realised why you always eat pancakes with honey and lemon. There soft, sometimes chewy but also crispy and sweet so all your taste buds are covered.

I’ve have had Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s 3 good things cookery book for a while. It’s another textbook sized cookbook that goes into detail about the ingredients that chapter is focused on. I’ve used it quite a lot as it’s simple and quick to put together but the results are amazing. I have his River Cottage cookbook and his Bread cookbook too. Bread is a thing the British don’t do particularly well as anyone who has even eaten a slice of white sliced bread will know.

I also like Jack Monroe as I bought her first book about cooking on a budget. She it turns out is autistic and has some Greek heritage too so that might have something to do with it. It’s a good book as the receives are simple to follow and there all costed and portioned well. They use some unusual ingredients like tinned peaches but if your as limited on funds as she was you have to improvise.

Another one of my favourite chefs is Jamie Oliver as when he first came on the scene he was known as the Naked Chef due to his stripped down style of cooking. He has made many a book and program since his Jamie’s Great Britain but I find this a brilliant book.

I also have a Readers digest book on potatoes which I find quite authoritative when coming up with new ideas for what to do with spuds.

I thought I would list the best books that I have found for autistics to use so that they can learn some independence. It works for students just as well as there are no fancy ingredients unlike Nigella Lawson.

Thriving Autistic Adult Series

  • Best wishes
  • Angela
  • Circe by Madeline Miller

    Circe by Madeline Miller
    Circe by Madeline Miller

    This is the Retelling of the story of Circe from her birth to her involvement in the Odyssey and beyond.

    Circe here reminds me of myself as her company is unwanted by all who surround her as she is different from all the others. She is not interested in the great parties, the gossip or the other guests. Instead she is prone to wondering the great halls alone wanting her fathers attention while avoiding her mother.

    This lack of attention causes great loneliness in herself as she has no purpose. She has great strength but doesn’t believe in herself because of the ridicule she has previously received from her loved ones. Her innocence and naïveté cause her to fall in love with the first man she sets eyes upon. This is unrequited love but she cannot see it until he falls in love with another. All she wanted was to help another because she cared for him but it wasn’t to be. She repeats the pattern as she cannot help the fact she has so much love to give it spills over. She needs an outlet but without children what is an Ancient Greek girl to do?

    You can listen to a sample of this book if you are not too sure about buying it on Audible. It is alternative history as the female side of things tends not to survive. Hence we have history or his story.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Telling tales in Greek

    For Christmas I got this book. It is a children’s book to help English speakers learn the Greek language. It is the tale of the Odyssey and Odysseus. However the Greek that is taught in this book is the original Ancient Greek. This means extra learning of words that they no longer use. It’s interesting looking at the origins of the language though. Some words however remain the same.

    The best part of this book is it’s focus on grammar including the most difficult point I have come across so far – the genitive sandwich.

    This is very difficult for an English speaker because we don’t really have cases, declension or even gender in our language anymore. We therefore don’t ever need to worry about genderised conjugation or even really conjugating.

    English is a hodgepodge of rules that have been adopted from all of the different invaders. This makes it a difficult language to learn because it’s not as pure as older languages are. You do however get compensated by having many cognates with other newer languages.

    Another reason for the inherent difficulty in processing Greek from an English speakers perspective stems from the genitive case being the one that you use to indicate possession. In our enlightened times we wouldn’t ever think of saying ‘of Daniel’ to indicate that something belongs to Daniel unless we were referencing The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s anti feminist and very archaic to think in terms like this.

    Grammar wasn’t taught much in schools when I was attending in contrast to previous eras. I believe they have changed that now with an emphasis on more exotic foreign languages like Mandarin instead of just European. This means that today’s school children are better equipped to handle the linguistic diversity that is present in the world. At least in my opinion.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Ebooks vs real books vs audio books

    This is an interesting conundrum as there are positives and negatives for all sides. I have addressed this previously in my books here on My author page. I have also written several articles about reading – Different types of Reading, The to be read pile etc. As it’s such an essential skill there is always more to examine so, today I’m going to delve into what happens when I read an ebook as opposed to the real version and add in a little about audiobooks too.

    When I had a Kindle and started reading the e versions of books as it was too expensive for me to continually buy the real versions I noticed that I wasn’t enjoying them as much. I’m not one of those that particularly goes in for the smell of old books, the feel of the paper, the weight of the book or the cover design but the fact you can disconnect from the digital world is brilliant. This doesn’t happen if you have stopped working using a screen but progressed to reading using a screen. The book may be fiction and it may be an author or subject you really enjoy but the electric light interferes. Your not relaxed because the photons don’t allow that. You also can’t go to sleep reading an ebook as the light does the opposite in keeping you awake.

    I used to think that the reasons I didn’t finish books was because of the style, subject matter, author but the format also has some input into my overall enjoyment. I read the paperback version of Organised Mind by Daniel Levitin. Or tried to read it as I should say because although it’s a very interesting book it was like trying to walk through a quagmire. I gave up. Then I come across the book on Blinkist. I read it very quickly as with all books on there because there designed like that. However, to me it didn’t feel like I was reading the same book at at all. It was summarised so it had all the salient details but as far as I know, by someone else. Therefore, to me, it doesn’t have any of the authors insight or stamp on it. It’s just a collection of words that teach you something, albeit better than the original, but bearing little resemblance to it. I’m really starting to dislike abridged versions of books.

    I remember listening to a Jane Austen audiobook and it was enjoyable but since it was abridged it skipped out a lot. Sometimes when traveling my attention is diverted elsewhere so I lose the thread of the story and I found this happening frequently. I think I need all that extra information to keep my focus as it’s a bygone era.

    I don’t like listening to audiobooks much as I have sensitive hearing that seems to be affecting me more than when I was younger. I could however just be noticing it more. I know alcohol dampens the senses but it’s not good to use that to cope with noisy situations. Anyways I find I pay less attention to an audiobook but it’s more relaxing that way as I can just switch off.

    So in conclusion Real Books are best for absorbing information information, e books if you want a wide variety that doesn’t take up any space and audiobooks if you need a distraction from every day life.

    Do you agree with my conclusion?

    Best wishes

    Angela

    An alternative perspective on autism

    This article is about an amazing book I have read about autism and this is one of the best descriptions I have come across. It’s certainly the best from someone who isn’t personally on the autism spectrum themselves.

    transformingautism.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/eBook-TAP-May-2017.pdf

    Shadowing

  • This is a new technique that I have learnt that helps to address what is usually lacking in your language studies if your an introvert like me and really dislike talking to people.
    1. You need to get hold of some clear audio (an audiobook) that is at your current level.
      You also next to get hold of the corresponding text (e and physical is the most beneficial but you choose which is the best for you).
      Next you need a recording device, there is one on your phone.
  • When choosing your text make sure that the subject matter is interesting to you otherwise it will not be as useful to you and you will be wasting your time.

      Have the text in front of you and listen to the audio at the same time.
  • If you are someone like me this is quite difficult because I absorb information at light speed. I’m not really reading but seem to pick up the gist as quickly as a sponge sucks up water. (Most of the time)

    1. In this example though we are going for pronunciation practice here. So we’re trying to assimilate as much of the sound in terms of its physical qualities. By that I mean it’s intonation, spacing, pitch, rhythm, accent, emotion etc as possible. All of the different components are important here to get an authentic sound which is what we are aiming for.This is so that we can repeat it into the recorder as accurately as possible. This round is on a phrase by phrase basis.
      Then we try to repeat as much of it as possible listening to the audio recording from the beginning again. This is so that we can get a flow to the whole piece rather than isolating each sentence.
      Next we are going to compare our recorded speech with that of the prerecorded speech to check for differences.
      Finally we repeat the process until we cannot distinguish our own speech from that of the recording. (This maybe optimism as you may get bored if this doesn’t happen quickly).

    Again if you are like me, your reluctant to listen to your own voice recordings because what you hear doesn’t sound anything like you think you sound. It’s sounds pretty awful as it’s weak, pathetic and indistinct a bit like a newborn mewling kitten.

    This is the link if you wish to learn Russian from Max its creator Shadowing.

    If you have been following my blog you will know that this approach is next to impossible to apply in Greek. I have recently found audio books on YouTube but I have had to separately purchase the e and physical books from Amazon. It took quite some time to arrive as even though they were on Amazon UK, it had to be shipped from Germany.

    I have started to follow a lady on WordPress un petite bibliophile (this platform unless your reading this on my fb page) who reviews Greek children’s books in Greek. However, without access to the texts themselves; they are of limited use to me for this particular technique. They are simple children’s books but they can still teach valuable concepts. I like to use them for grammar and reading practice. It helps my comprehension and understanding having her texts there to consult.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    A simple Russian comprehension with related activities

    www.youtube.com/watch

    If you wish to watch and listen to the worlds most expressive Russian check out the above video. It’s a simple story with questions afterwards. There are subtitles to help you out as well as pictures and his actions.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    The to be read pile

    This is a common phenomenon that we all face if we like to read. We also like to collect books as there is nothing quite like settling down to read our latest find. However life frequently gets in the way of this so we forget where we are. This may cause us to neglect the half finished book in favour of something shorter or easier to read. This does not help when we are forever acquiring more books as they all seem so interesting!

    I am a terrible hoarder when it comes to books as I just have so many. They cover a variety of subjects as you never know what mood your going to be in when the reading bug strikes. This is why challenges like the GoodReads reading challenge is useful. You can decide how many you are going to read in the year and then next year your goal is to beat it. It’s gamification to try to incite you to read more and to do it quicker as it’s now a competition. Although this is one you will never win since there is an infinite amount of books out there and your time is rather more finite.

    In order to make this more achievable I suggest you utilise the Ultra Learning technique as proposed by Scott H Young. This was today’s free book on a Blinkist but I have been a fan of his for many years. This lists the steps that you need to follow in order to be able to do all that you want to in a day. If you are follower like myself on his email list; you will get access to the first chapter for free. There are other benefits like early access to courses too.

    Are there any common problems that you have faced and found a solution to?

    Best wishes

    Angela