Archive for ‘Lifestyle’

June 14, 2017

Calm by Tim Parks

by Team Riverside

Paperback, Vintage, £3.50, out nowvintage-minis-window-170614.jpg

“Don’t think, Tim.  Do not think!  Do not give yourself commands not to think!  Silence!”

In this short delicious extract from his book Teach us to Sit Still, Parks is a very funny and very honest guide to the world of meditation.  In response to serious health issues including chronic pain, he decides to learn to meditate, in a relatively extreme way, by attending a silent Vipassana retreat for multiple days.

He struggles with many things that will be familiar to meditators.  His legs feel like they are on fire from the unfamiliar poses.  He is enraged by catering trollies outside the meditation room.  He is suspicious of some of the ideas promulgated and often tries, unsuccessfully, to suspend critical judgement: “I remembered something I had translated once from a book on pre-Vedic philosophy: ‘so as not to be hurt, before coming near the fire, the wise man wraps himself in the meters’. The arcane instruction had impressed, I remembered it, and I had a vague idea it might now be appropriate in some way, but it also sounded like something from Indiana Jones”.

Alongside the funnies there is a serious endeavour to learn something new and take a different approach to suffering, which makes for engaging reading.  If you fancy giving mindfulness and meditation a go yourself, you can always try London teacher Tessa Watt’s excellent Mindfulness book.

This is part of a brand new series of extracts called Vintage Minis, out now for only £3.50 a pop.  Read Nigella Lawson on Eating, Joseph Heller on Work and Roger Deakin on Swimming.  Full list here, or see how many you can spot in the attached photo of our lovely shop window! (https://www.penguin.co.uk/vintage/vintageminis/)

Review by Bethan

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August 29, 2016

Cabin Porn – Inspiration for your Quiet Place Somewhere, by Zach Klein and Stephen Leckart

by Team Riverside

Paperback, Penguin, £10.99, out nowKlein and Leckart CABIN PORN

What do you need for your ideal hideaway?  A mountain view and an icy lake?  Dense woodland and a log burning hot tub?  A warm nook for reading, or a breezy beach veranda for birdspotting?  If this is the kind of thing you dream of, this book will make you smile from the beginning to the end.  Stuffed with great photos of boltholes all over the world, the combination of escape and nature plus contentment is irresistible.

The book is a selection of highlights from the blog http://cabinporn.com/, where it is possible to spend an inordinate amount of time looking at beautiful places and sighing wistfully.  This lovely paperback also has short essays with enticing titles such as ‘how to live 30 feet in the air’ and ‘how to make a homestead in the wilderness’.  However, I must confess to not actually having read a single one of these most-likely-excellent pieces, as I have fallen into the pictures and can’t get out.  I don’t think I have ever reviewed and recommended a book in which I’ve not read any of the words!

I prescribe one volume of this topped up with occasional dips into Danish cosiness manual Hygge (which we also have… see https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1112343/the-book-of-hygge/) for maximum comfort and consolation.  Curl up and enjoy.

Review by Bethan

November 10, 2015

Carl Cattermole, H.M. Prison: A Survival Guide

by Team Riverside

Carl Cattermole HM PRISON A SURVIVAL GUIDECarl Cattermole’s short, sharp, shockingly good guide to life on the inside is without a doubt one of the best books I’ve read all year. Unlike so many of the squillions of things that get ushered into print each month, H.M. Prison: A Survival Guide is a book that feels like it urgently needed to be written, and equally urgently; needs to be read. It’s the upshot of a truly generous impulse; to demystify the prison experience and to offer pragmatic help to a huge amount of people who are often vulnerable, confused and scared. It should also, of course, be required reading for anyone and everyone on the outside.

Eschewing the lurid tales and grim machismo that characterize so many prison memoirs, 20-something Londoner Cattermole’s nifty book is a straight-talking, utterly no-nonsense account of what life is like if you get sent down. It’s beautifully and wittily written, and indeed beautifully and wittily illustrated; by Private Eye’s very own ‘Banx.’

The ‘Survival Guide is eye-opening, at times eye-watering, and thoroughly educational in every sense. Like all the best books; it works as a kind of empathy generator. It’s also dirt-cheap (£4!). And it’s not-for-profit. And it looks and feels great. What more could you want? This is that rare kind of book that actually helps to make the world a better place.

Review by Stuart

January 9, 2011

The London Cookbook

by Team Riverside

Jenny Linford, £14.99

Food writer Jenny Linford combines her own recipes with those of other food-loving Londoners -delicatessan owners, market stall owners, chefs and restaurateurs – in this celebration of London’s food culture.

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