SS Book Club: #1

SS Style Tip 101: A well-dressed mind is the prerequisite to any OOTD. 

I’ve been investing time in one of my first loves recently, reading ❤ Since 3yo it’s been one of my favourite past times (to the point that my nursery had to re-stock our bookshelf, lols). Thought I would share a few of the books I’ve finished/am in the midst of and would absolutely love you to share yours with me too. Here’s to the start of our virtual book club… tchin tchin!

Most of the below are actually non-fiction books which is something I’ve got more into over the past few years (since finishing my crazy book-heavy degree), I do love the immersiveness of fiction but I’ve found so many incredible books written by people I admire coming out of late that I had to purchase. My tastes are pretty varied, I enjoy the most trashy young adult novel as much as Proust en français, not about book snobbery! Books can be entertaining, educational and escapist so you just do you. I know not everyone loves to read, but in this day and age of instant gratification and endless gazing at blue-lit screens, it can be unbelievably refreshing to get into a good, old-fashioned paper and ink book, so I encourage you to try it at least once, meanwhile fellow bookworms, let’s keep on keeping on. I’ve linked where to buy below each book.

1. Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan

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As hilarious as the title suggests, this book is fun and unapologetically frivolous. The majority of it spans the social strata of wealthy Singapore, a love triangle and an ABC (American-born Chinese) girl who is thrown into the midst of these crazy rich Asians. Highly recommended and highly enjoyable, also pretty educational for someone who may not come from an Asian background to understand more about the history, economy and society of Southeast Asia generally, as well as learn your nasi lemak from your nasi goreng. It’s currently being made into a Hollywood movie (praise the Lord for representation beyond ‘tech geek’ and ‘subdued friend’ at long last) so read it before it comes out–always the best way!

On Amazon: Crazy Rich Asians

2. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

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I am a huge fan of Sheryl Sandberg and her first book, Lean In. I was obsessed to the point of incorporating it into two of my university final essays despite it not being on the syllabus (poor Prof. Shapiro). It is an incredible book for both men and women to read. I get the criticisms of it also, but it doesn’t override the overall impact and gold that is found within its pages. I was so devastated for Sheryl upon hearing that her husband Dave had passed away in a tragic accident a few years ago. Option B is a book based upon the journey of grief she is on since his death and has highly practical and in-depth research on how to create not only post-traumatic growth but pre-traumatic growth. It explores how resilience is a psychological tool we can develop in a lot of life’s struggles ranging from abuse, sexual assault, grief, divorce and more. There is a lot of her human story in this too which only serves to drive home all the practical advice and theory more. I highly recommend this for anyone who has themselves experienced grief or has a good friend or partner to support in it. It is written as much for those who are in the thick of it as well as those who are supporting them and a part of their community.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

3. The Wait, by DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good

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So yes, this book deals in some way with sex and relationships, more specifically putting the physical on the back burner in favour of prioritising spiritual, emotional, mental and intellectual compatibility first (yep, virtually a taboo/seen as a disempowering subject in my generation). However the book is actually a really good read for sceptics, it details the couple’s journey and experience and speaks to women and men in the modern, heterosexual dating game today. I love hearing Devon’s experiences as a man, especially a successful Hollywood producer who in some ways embodies what has traditionally been seen as masculine, and his opining and revelation on sex and its role within a relationship and society. It is so refreshing to hear a different and open conversation on manhood and sexuality. I get that the concept of “wait” and sex are very alien and almost blasphemous to some, trust me, I so so get it, but it’s one of those books that is worth reading even as a thought experiment on hearing the other side of the argument, a lot of treasure in here.

“The first woman came from a man, and every man since has come from a woman”

The Wait: A Powerful Practice

 

4. The Smart Money Woman, by Arese Ugwu

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My good friend Seun lent me this book which focuses on finances, in particular being female, millennial and managing your finances, though I think anyone could learn a lot from reading this. Based in Lagos, Nigeria, it follows the story of a woman and her friends (in a kind of Sex and The City-style format) who all have very different attitudes and backgrounds surrounding how they spend, make and invest their money. I loved being immersed in this world and honestly it made me rethink and reevaluate a lot of things. There are practical lessons contained within each chapter that are broken down at the end, from good debt, to bonds, diversifying your portfolio and more–this is an essential read on finances for every 20-something.

The Smart Money Woman

 

5. Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts

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Still in the midst of reading this one but had to put it on the list as it’s quite incredible already. Based on the true story of the author who was an Australian fugitive (imprisoned for bank robbery and a heroin addiction) who upon escaping fled to India and ended up learning Hindi, Marathi and becoming a part of Mumbai gang. Apparently the manuscript was trashed twice by prison guards and he rewrote it from memory, which considering it is close to 1000 pages is no small feat! The style of his writing is beautiful and the level of detail is insane, you feel as if you are on a journey of discovery in Mumbai with him and his experiences detail a life lived to the max. I love the sense of being foreign and accepting that status with humility and not pride as you navigate a new place that is inherent in his writing. Apparently there have been disputes about the verity of the account but I’ve avoided reading much about the book until I’m finished, sometimes you just have to enjoy the experience for what it is. Shantaram is a study on humanity, urbanity and a really damn good read.

Shantaram

 

6. A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty & Power Look Like, by Ashley Graham

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A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like

I was incredibly excited to get my hands on this part-memoir, part manifesto by Ashley Graham, and it didn’t disappoint! I’ve been following her career for a while now and I love all that she stands for, her unashamed confidence and razor-sharp vision, she’s also hilarious and brazenly funny. Having read and seen interviews with her about growing up and working within an extremely close-minded industry when it comes to body image and representation I knew that she had gone through struggles to reach the point she is at now in her career and mindset about her body. From the hyper-sexualisation of the curvy female body to abusive relationships, daddy issues, talking through divorce to thriving in marriage she is so raw, real and honest in this book and I for one can’t thank her enough. So much more than just a book about being a model, the fashion industry and even body image, she speaks about the intersection between the female form, diversity, sexuality, power and self-worth in a way that makes you feel like you’re having tea with your best friend. Learnt so much from this and passed it onto my bestie straight away! Must-read tbh.

Please let me know if you want to borrow any of these books, always more than happy to lend, some of them are already in circulation! (Bar Crazy Rich Asians, unfortunately that’s on my Kindle)! 

Women of Style & Substance: Alice Trow

Feature image: Jack Sain

 

Alice is a fireball of energy and light. It’s hard to describe unless you have met her in person, but she one of those rare people whose energy brings warmth to a room and radiates positivity. Funnily enough myself and a good friend who doesn’t know Alice very well but has met her a few times (via me) mentioned how incredible an aura she has just the other day. I think you will see what I mean via her words on this page.

As a general rule of thumb, I avoid saying what people ‘do’ in a 9-5 sense in this series as I think we tend to place too much value today upon the identity of someone through their doing rather than their inherent being. However, in this unique case, Alice’s passions and personal interests overflow so much into her work life that I couldn’t help but mention them. She is an incredible actress who I love watching in her element, an inspiring yogi (check out her classes at Blok, Frame and more via ClassPass where she unsurprisingly has rave reviews), part-time fairy (yes, wonderfully and seriously) and a full-time giver who sprinkles a little glitter and fairy dust wherever she goes. She inspires me as she is beating her own path and breaks every and any preconception you may have of how life and work should look and intertwine. She has the hardest work ethic of anyone I know and her energy is effervescent.

 

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Image by Naina Bajekal. Taken at the amazing art-deco era Bouillon Racine bar in Paris
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Alice and I in Paris, 2012 (I remember that spectacular skirt or hers made her the subject of a fashion blogger’s street style pics that day!)

 

We met through mutual friends way back when we were about 16 (!) and were also in some of the same dance classes, becoming sisters in a friendship that has endured, deepened and blessed my life in countless ways ever since. Crazy to think that it’s been almost a decade since our stars aligned, but she is most definitely someone who I know in my bones I was meant to meet, a kindred spirit, fellow fighter and a woman who has blossomed and flourished before my very eyes. She is someone I can enjoy getting my nails done with as much as I can sharing a bottle of wine and an intense DMC (deep, meaningful conversation). We’ve shared many adventures together and she’s graced me with her presence in my adopted homes of Paris and Singapore over the last few years. My love and respect for this woman are ever-growing; I hope the little and large things that shape her thinking below will resonate and inspire you. She is so generous and giving in every way, that I am truly privileged to be able to honour her in this small way.
SS: What did you last Google?
AT: The actress Emma Thompson. I was explaining how amazing she is to someone who knew little of her. She is definitely one of my idols. Infectiously adorable and powerful on and off screen/stage. She’s one intelligent woman, effortlessly beautiful and elegant. She’s managed to balance an incredible career with family life that I feel is in itself so impressive and inspirational.

 

 

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Emma Thompson, image courtesy of Hamilton Hodell

 

SS: What’s one app you love that we might not know about?
AT: I have so few apps. I’m an old fashioned girl and try and embrace the ‘less is more’ approach to most of my life, including my phone. I avoided all dating apps, for example, for numerous reasons but mainly because I didn’t want or need another reason to look at my phone! I would say though that I’m a fan of ‘Y plan’. It gives you great, alternative day or nighttime ideas on how to spend your time. It’s also great for date inspiration too, for when you meet people in the actual flesh right?!

 

SS: What is your happy place?
AT: Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath have always been my happy places in London. So close but yet so far from all the hustle and bustle. I’m a born city girl but have a thirst for nature and need space to clear my head and simply breathe. Primrose Hill gives me a bit of both. A patch of serenity and space in what feels like a snow globe city.

 

 

SS: What book are you currently reading or did you most recently finish? Would you recommend it?
AT: The last book I bought but haven’t yet read is called ‘Assholes – A Theory’ by Aaron James. I bought it in America at the best bookshop I’ve ever been to – Powell’s in Portland. I was instantly drawn to it by the title and how there is a concept behind people’s behaviour that simply makes them assholes [Ed note: hilarious! Mental note, must visit this bookshop when in Oregon!] I was intrigued. I look forward to reading it. I’ve been studying a lot of yoga recently so my reading time has been taken up by that department [Ed note: Alice is always teaching me so much beautiful yoga knowledge from her learning and teaching. Most recently the sacred heart mudra which acts as a meditation by using a physical gesture to connect with your heart and consciousness.]

 

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SS: Who embodies style with substance for you?
AT: It would be a crime if I didn’t say Sarah Jessica Parker! Being the avid Sex and the City fan-since-birth that I am, it would be fundamentally wrong to not bow down to her on and off screen. She breaks the rules without trying to make a statement. It’s always done with grace and subtlety that I truly admire. You don’t have to be loud to be heard, you don’t have to push to make someone feel and I believe that is the same with fashion. When something grabs your attention for all the right reasons it doesn’t need to be abrasive or aggressive to get a message across. [Amen!!!] Her style is expressive but approachable. However not always affordable. The day I can easily afford 12 pairs of Manolo Blahniks will be a momentous day. [Yes, yes and yes again!]

 

 

SS: What is one lesson that you’ve learnt in the past year?
AT: Patience. Simple as that. Patience really is a virtue.

 

SS: Do you have a favourite podcast?
AT: Yes. Check out Greg Proops – ‘The smartest man in the world.’ I had the pleasure of watching him live in Portland at The Helium Comedy Club and he was both hilarious and fascinating. He’s a satirist and hands down gave me the best low-down of the US election I could have possibly wished for having been there at the exact time that sh!t was hitting the fan. He knows all the facts and is determined to spread them with laughter and anger running through his veins. A truly outstanding three hours were spent listening to the man hammer down on white supremacy, racism and misogyny.

 

SS: The first thing I do when I wake up is:
AT: Look outside.

 

SS: What is your guilty pleasure?
AT: Chocolate. I’m addicted. It’s a problem and I’m working on it. It’s all about control.

 

 

SS: If you could travel the world in a day, what pitstops would make and why?
AT: I would love to spend half a year ‘chasing the sun’. So I would start in Italy where I feel my heart belongs, in the summer (probably the Amalfi Coast) and continue eastbound through Asia and Indonesia. I’d have to spend Christmas on the beach in Australia and then find my way to the West Coast of America, drive all the way across until I find Manhattan and then back home. My yoga mat would be my companion.

 

SS: Any final words of wisdom?
AT: Have me as I am, or don’t have me at all—you are enough. That’s it.

 


I can’t think of a better thought to start the new year with (calendar and Lunar!) Wishing you all a blessed week wherever you are in the world, thank you Alice for sharing so honestly, hilariously and beautifully!

See Alice’s yoga blog and class schedule here. Follow her adventures on Instagram @alicetrow

Namaste,

Jenn

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