Books of the Week: Winter Walks, Counselling, Apéros and Voodoo

This year I have a lot to read, which is exciting. I’m starting uni this week, which I’m sure will bring its own reading list; I’m working on a couple of new papers; I’m writing a novel; and of course there’s the usual TBR pile of things I’ve found that looked interesting.

Last week I read four books, although the first one is cheating a bit; it took me a full two weeks to read because it was a textbook, so although I finished it this week even I am not quite a fast enough reader to manage fitting in a textbook around working full-time. 

An Introduction to Counselling by John McLeod

I bought this book a few years ago and apparently have already read it, because when I opened it at the beginning of January I discovered highlighting and annotations in my handwriting in the margins. I’m fairly sure I first read it in 2009 when I was living in a falling-down house in Oxfordshire; I have a vague memory of sitting on the wooden stairs, which had a giant hole in them, reading it while I was waiting for BT to pick up the phone and tell us when they were going to bother coming out to install the internet.

Re-reading it was interesting; there was a lot in here which I already knew, because I’ve been studying psychology for a long time and there’s a large overlap between psychology in general and counselling / psychotherapy in particular. But it’s always good to look back over topics you know; it helps to solidify them in your mind. It’s interesting to see which bits I picked out this time, too; they weren’t always the same as the bits I’d underlined last time.

This one’s a hefty tome, weighing in at around 800 pages, but I still found it a bit simplistic. I get that you can’t dive in deep with every topic when you’re writing an overview of a subject area, but I’m always a little suspicious when people recommend not reading primary sources, which happened in this book quite a lot. Nonetheless I think it’s a good introduction to counselling and psychotherapy; probably better suited to people who have no grounding in psychology at all, though it makes an adequate refresher too.

The Light in the Dark by Horatio Clare

I adore winter, but a lot of people find it hard. For me, the darkening of the days represents the cold coming back, which in turn means that I’ll finally be a reasonable temperature for a while.

Despite Clare’s book being written from the perspective of someone who struggles with the colder, darker seasons, it’s a lovely book that’ll be relatable if you’re a fan of wandering around in nature and noticing the little things. I read it sitting on my couch, and within the first few pages I knew I’d have to read it again someday. It’s a book to be read in front of a roaring fire, when you’re wearing a big fluffy dressing gown and you’ve just come back from a stinging walk in the storm which is still raging outside. I want to take myself off to a remote country cottage for a week just so I can read this book again.

Beautifully evocative in its descriptions of the natural world and the human condition, The Light in the Dark is a lovely book; the literary equivalent of drinking a hot chocolate on a cold day.

Les Apéros de Trish by Trish Deseine

Someone left this on the book swap wall outside my house, and I thought I’d take a look since I’m trying to up my cooking game this year.

It’s a pleasant little cookbook with beautiful photographs, and although a lot of the recipes aren’t exactly groundbreaking, I’ll probably be referring to it if I ever decide to have people over for cocktails + nibbles.

The Book of Vodou by Leah Gordon

I’m doing quite a lot of research into voodoo at the moment; a visit to New Orleans last year sparked my interest and when I got home and continued reading I discovered it’s a fascinating topic.

The Book of Vodou is aimed at people who know very little about the subject area but are interested in creating their own charms and incorporating vodou rituals into their lives. Personally I’d be reticent to recommend that people actually do that: if you genuinely believe this stuff works, then it’s probably best to have a proper grounding in it before you mess around with it; and if you don’t believe in it, then why bother doing it?

The book does provide a nice overview, though, and is beautifully illustrated all the way through. I posted my immediate thoughts in my ‘NOLA Voodoo’ story highlight on Instagram.

What have you read this week? 


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