#GetLit: Peace, Pasta & the Pulitzer

#GetLit

This week’s biggest news: the Pulitzer Prizes! Even bigger? Black Pulitzer Prize winners:

Screenshot of a tweet from my favorite person/poet/writer ever, Saeed Jones AKA @theferocity.

I was elated to find out that Colson Whitehead won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with The Underground Railroad (Amazon | Indiebound), which I read and reviewed on this blog last year (Read: A Lifetime of Remembering with Colson Whitehead).

I have yet to read Tyehimba Jess’s book of poetry Olio (Amazon | Indiebound), but I am planning to while getting into this month’s poetry books. We’re about midway through April, National Poetry Month, so are you getting your daily dose of poems? Check out a girl’s lifelong affair with poetry.

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If you’ve been weary from the news these days, from Trump’s brand of all-the-things-your-worst-dreams-are-made-of, here’s a little reprise: hope. I’ve been using Deepak and Oprah Winfrey’s latest meditation series (cost: free) called Hope in Uncertain Times and it’s been giving me the kind of peace and calm I need. I’ve been a fan of these series since 2013, and trust me — this stuff is gold.

Me on a Saturday, at Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

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After doing the necessary inner work, there’s a ton of things happening around us we can always be plugged into. Unless you’re a monk, of course, but for folks like me (brown, queer immigrant activists in the belly of the beast) there’s this: Peace Tour 2017.

In this week’s book review (War and Turpentine by Steffan Hertmans), I wrote about reading the story of the author’s grandfather, who was a soldier and a painter. I intentionally omitted the war years, because 1) honestly not a fan of war novels and 2) here we are in another war again, dropping missiles on other nations (Syria).

What I don’t see in the realm of international geopolitics are attempts to address the root causes of conflicts, which is why the Peace Tour 2017 gives me infinite hope. As a Filipino, I’ve long wondered about the longstanding civil war between the government and the “other government,” led by the Communist Party of the Philippines. If you’re interested in finding out more, look up to see if the tour will be making a stop in your city!

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If you follow me on Instagram (and I think you should 😉), you’ll know that I like to eat my feelings. Here are a few things that have brought me joy in the past few days:

Damn good homemade pasta at Affina.

Also: live music in someone’s living room in San Francisco (yes, like the good ‘ol days). Lattes in the rain, specially turmeric lattes like the one pictured below from As Quoted in San Francisco.

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Have you ever fallen in love with a magazine? Because I have, four times a year for three years now. Kinfolk magazine, to be exact, which is one of a kind. It’s a lifestyle magazine filled with thoughtful pieces on philosophy, music, culture, art, design, fashion and cooking. Reading it is almost meditative; you can’t help but be completely present to the page. 

Imagine my joy at As Quoted cafe with Kinfolk as pictured above, as I read and learned about Shoshin, a Buddhist concept of “a beginner’s mind which refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions.” Total hyggeligt.

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Please say hi.

Until the next post,
your friendly Libromance creator + curator, Pia

#GetLit: Bibliotherapy

#GetLit

I’ve long been a fan of writer and philosopher Alain de Botton  who founded The School of Life (TSOL), which is devoted to creating emotional intelligence with the help of culture. One of the many services of TSOL is called Bibliotherapy, a therapy session that “helps you explore your relationship with books and guide you to anew literary direction.” I gushed at this idea because, well, this whole blog is dedicated to literature.

Ceridven Dovey wrote about her experience with TSOL’s Bibliotherapy, calling the session a “gift” after corresponding with Bibliotherapist Ella Barthoud.

We had some satisfying back-and-forths over e-mail, with Berthoud digging deeper, asking about my family’s history and my fear of grief, and when she sent the final reading prescription it was filled with gems, none of which I’d previously read.

It’s not the first time that I’ve read about this idea — I had, once, a delightful and enchanting experience reading Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop. I wrote about it here too, and it was such a joy to meet Monsiuer Perdu, the bookshop’s owner.

It turns out that this is not a new practice, as Dovey references A Literary Clinic that first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly back in 1914. She points out that today, bibliotherapy comes in different forms such as literature courses and reading circles. The demand for literature, it seems, is growing even as we move towards an age of instantaneous information. There’s Oprah’s Book Club, and there’s also classes like The Craft of Reading at the UC Berkeley Extension.

In the Spring of 2015, I enrolled in the online class where I was introduced to the work of Alice Munro, Marguerite Duras and Iris Chang. Engaging in discussions with other readers in class was exhilarating — demystifying Duras’s The Lover was a thrill, and so was crossing Munro’s verbal landscapes.

I’ve also engaged in mini-bibliotherapy sessions myself: recommending Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements to a friend and my sisters; how I’ve given bell hooks’s All About Love to previous lovers at the beginning our soon-to-fail relationships (since 2012, a period of turmoil); gifting Michael Pollan’s Food Rules one Christmas to my mother’s siblings (all nine of them); giving a copy of John Perkins’s Confessions of an Economic Hit Man to my father, so he could see the scope of American imperialism from a different lens; and countless other times.

Below are a few of my musts, books that I’ve gone back to several times, titles that I’ve shared with loved ones and strangers. They are timeless, generous and full of illumination. From my bookshelf to yours, here’s my version of literary prescription.

Bibliotherapy: Straight from Libromance

 Autobiography of a Yogi  The Lover  All About Love: New Visions  The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?  The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

 How Proust Can Change Your Life  Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches  Letters to a Young Poet  Zami: A New Spelling of My Name  The Sympathizer