An atlas of natural beauty by Victoire de Taillac and Ramdane Touhami
What an absolute treat it was to receive this book by post. The packaging alone makes you feel like you’re unwrapping some wonderfully kept secret, and when you open it, it’s pages are full of magical sounding mixtures, which have been formulated to transport you to a more relaxing and organic place. The temptation was to rush out (aka open my Amazon app) and buy all the ingredients so I could make my own face masks and potions, but sensibly, I held off. I would have bankrupted myself. Instead this, for me, is a reference book, a pick up and flick through book and obviously a coffee table book (if I had a coffee table).
It’s beautifully illustrated and quirkily written - the authors run the ‘chicest beauty emporium in the world’ (Vogue Magazine) - L'Officine Universelle Buly in Paris and although they have had a counter at Dover Street Market since 2016, this is the year that they launch their products in Selfridges. They consistently recommend that you take a bath and relax and that for me, makes it a winner! It would make a lovely gift for someone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world or for someone with leanings toward a more plant based approach to beauty. An atlas of natural beauty by Victoire de Taillac and Ramdane Touhami
Sarah Ramos is an author, illustrator and London based yoga teacher, and ‘Lily Lightbulb lights up’ is her third book. It’s a sweet story, with a theme of friendship and sharing, which would appeal to younger kids as a story book, but also as a read alone (or with help) book for older kids, which is what my 6 year old did. Lily Lightbulb lights up by Sarah Ramos
I constantly laugh at Mother Pukka’s (aka Anna Whitehouse) Stories on Insta and think she is doing wonders for the flexible work appeal, as well as appreciate her on going keeping-it-real method of parenting, but I was slightly sceptical about this book.
It seemed to me that when you become a parent, there is no manual and you do just muddle through and in many ways that has been the making, (and the breaking) of me. But what Anna and her husband Matt Farquharson have done, is document their trials and tribulations of not just trying to become parents, but the everyday-ness of being one.
I really felt PTSOOL comes from the heart and is clearly a really good way of connecting with their parenting audience. And yes, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would - they can both write (obviously, Anna has a background in journalism and Matt is a copywriter - amongst other things) and the book is a pretty neat split between the two of them, often writing about the same subjects but obviously from different angles, which was a really nice touch.
I think this book is a bit like a good NCT group. When you pick it up, you find people who have gone through the exact same thing you are and are not afraid to discuss it. It’s a fabulous way of feeling less lonely at some of the hardest and yet most rewarding times of your life. It’s funny, well written and there are some useful tips in there. If you or a friend are about to set off down the parenting path, and think you might like a bit of realism and humour along the way, this is for you. Parenting the Shi* out of life by Mother and Pappa Pukka
So here’s the thing. I love these kind of books. They’re not self help as such, they’re more of a reminder as to how to be a better you. I’ve tried a few real self help books before and they don’t really work for me - I end up feeling self conscious and self indulgent and my inner Brit just tells me to pull my bloody socks up and get on with it, because, much like childbirth, no one else can do it for you.
But Sarah Knight has somehow come up with a magical formula (I haven’t read the other two, maybe I should, maybe I will, but I don’t think it matters) where she uses humour and her knowledge of people, and their foibles and insecurities but also their strengths, to create a book that I can pick up, read a few pages, either nod my head in recognition, chuckle to myself in understanding or shake my head in exasperation, but basically end up feeling quite empowered, and a little bit more in control.
I actually feel like I’m at quite a good level of ‘me doing me’ at this stage in my life. I love the freedom of not feeling like I have to go to everything or do everything that people expect of me and I am a calmer person as a result. However, the danger of picking up these sort of books is that I fool myself into thinking it's going to be a magic bullet and after reading them, I will no longer be unnecessarily grumpy with my children, or husband or just generally down on life, but of course I will be, because I am a bloody human and sometimes I am not the best human I could be. As long as you can remember that whilst reading this, you’ll be fine.
So yes, after reading this book, I felt like I wasn’t just being selfish by saying no to things, I was just joining in with a new movement of recognising that perfect isn’t an option, and that is OK.
If you feel like you could do with a bit of help to do the same, have a read. If nothing else, it will make you chuckle and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll get something out of it. You do you by Sarah Knight
All book reviews were written by Hannah @alondonviewofbooks . If you would like to submit a book for review please drop her a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.