Me, Anna Louise

Hello, I am Anna Louise. You might know me as ‘neverwordless’ from around the internet. The sound of turning pages paired with the smell of freshly brewed coffee, ink stained hands, rain forming a soft rhythm against a window and a liking for french and the cool weather of autumn results in me, Anna.

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I believe in the power of kindness. And kind words cost nothing. But I do am one of the quieter kind in person. One and a half years ago I discovered poetry and prose as a way to express myself. To spread my word, I am working on my debut novel, ‘Of Coffee and Longing’, a collection of poetry and prose that reaches out to the people around the world.

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If I could I would spend all my days sitting at cozy, little Cafés, writing and reading, while listening to the chats of Baristas and sipping a Latte Macchiato. Or dozing off in my bed by the window, lulled in heaps of white sheets, to the audio version of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which has become like a kind of bible for me for it’s worldly wisdom.  But just as often one might find me wandering the streets of Berlin, letting the flow of strangers carry me to unknown places, a camera always at the ready. Reality looks a bit different though, but life’s just like that. Busy.

One thing is left to say, wherever you are, whoever you might be, whatever you’re going through, please be kind. Carry out kindness and it will find it’s way back to you. No-one should feel uncomfortable about the way he is and to make that possible we have to accept everyone as they are. So start now and tell your loved ones that they are just the way they should be- themselves.

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You want to reach out to me?

Equal if for collaborations or just to talk, you are free to reach out to me anytime. I will always be there to connect with you. Please don’t be upset if it takes me a few days to get back to you, but we all know life can be really busy, so I hope you can understand that.

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Anna Louise

eMail- anna-louise-kunz@gmx.de

Instagram- neverwordless

Pinterest- the vintage kid

senior year advice & thoughts on starting university

Look, another personal one. Well, I hope it’s one you end up being a little wiser after reading. I have absolutely no clue if that will be the case (or if it should be that way, since I definitely don’t know if any of the stuff I have to say is to act upon). But before you skip this one right here, just let me say, I lived and I downright didn’t think I would. So, that’s something.

Processed with VSCO with a4 presetI’m a natural worrier. I over-think a ton. I’m also a perfectionist. Yet, a lot of things don’t come easily to me. I’ve always had to work a lot to do well. To some gifted humans out there it’s all quite natural, they can do well in all different kinds of fields without making the greatest possible effort. I’m not one of them. My special field is languages, no matter if it’s my mother tongue, which is German, English or French. I have a sense of feeling to rely on there, but I still worked so much for them, yet that was more due to my sense of perfectionism and wanting to do more than just well in assignments, exams or class in general. But no matter whichever type you are, if you have a special field or if you don’t, senior year can be quite overwhelming. I’ve been there, but I lived. Here’s what I believe helped me get through in one piece:

  • Don’t study with the same notes you wrote in class. I know, this might sound strange and sometimes there isn’t enough time to do it, but at least re-write your notes for an exam. I will never stop talking about how much more effective this is. If you study with the notes you took in class, you don’t have to think about the content again and you’re likely to just learn the words by heart. If this is what you do, then it’s possible that you don’t fully understand a topic, even if you’ve studied it several time. So, if a bigger exam is approaching, take the time and go through your notes again. Think about what knowledge you really need for it. Collect it, rearrange it, if it makes more sense in a different order (yes, that can happen!!). Read about it in books and on the internet to widen your knowledge or solve problems you might have with the topic. I’ve been doing that all the way through middle school and high school for almost every exam in all kinds of different subjects. It really helps. I promise. It gets you to a whole new level of understanding.
  • But I have another tip to add here. Everyone studies differently. There are people who memorize information best by listening, others by looking at it, …and far more than only these two kinds. Try to figure out which study-type you are. At the very start of high school a teacher of mine had my class turn the information of a text into little pictures, using as little key-words as possible to support them. I still have the sheet from that class and it was only a little later that I realized I was that kind of visual type. When I studied for an exam with my class notes I’d often know how the paper with the information looked like or where on the page it was situated, even if I could not remember the content. But not only do I still have that sheet of paper, I still remember the illustrations and the information they stand for. Visualization makes me study more effective, a lot faster. I need a lot of time to remember things, normally. I have to start studying far in advance to even have a chance to really get the knowledge through to me. Often times that time is simply nonexistent during A-levels. So I got back to doing doodles and it saved my life. Never would I have been able to pass my advanced history exam without it. The trick behind it is simple and you really don’t have to be a talented artist. The little symbols you come up with to remember content are for yourself and yourself only. Strangers often aren’t going to figure them out and they don’t have to. What’s important is that you do. The illustrations are something your mind can cling to while reproducing the knowledge during the exam. There are three steps to take when you want to study like this. 1) Make up the doodles based on the key-information. 2) Repeat the information to yourself only by looking at the symbols. 3) Repeat the information in your head only, going over the symbols in front of your inner eye …and there you are. (If you have any further questions about this, sure let my know and I’ll do my best to help!)
  • Take time off (even if it’s hard). I can’t say I really mastered this myself, but I highly recommend you to at least try. The point I’m trying to make is that breaks can be more effective than studying straight on for hours. Sit yourself down and tell yourself you’re going to take on one topic for thirty minutes and power through. Get something done and then go for a walk. Or read a few pages. Do whatever you enjoy, but find something that relaxes you, that takes your mind off things for a bit. My go to options during A-levels were taking a bath, going for a walk, journaling, napping, going out for coffee, meeting a friend or doing yoga, but it can be anything. Just maybe make sure to stay away from your phone, because when you spend all of your break scrolling through Instagram feeds of people doing anything except for studying that’s not going to brighten your day. Actually do something during that break, act like you’re not going back to work in a few minutes. Then sit yourself down again and study actively for another short amount of time. If you feel like you’re in a zone, keep going. You’re doing an amazing job xx.
  • Try not to over-think and don’t dwell on what belongs to the past. It’s that nudging feeling going out of an exam that didn’t quite go as we would’ve wished it would have gone and then thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it. Then crying. Then thinking some more, going through all the What-If-Situation. “If I would have studied even harder, stayed up longer, this might have gone differently.” Going through all the questions in your head, counting points, googling answers. I’ve done this. Several times. It’s definitely not healthy and it doesn’t help your overall progress. It gets you right to the academic bottom you never want to hit. All you can do is write it off. It happened. You tried. You did your best. Move on. Just keep going. You’re still going to get there. It’s all going to be okay and believe me, one exam, maybe even one whole subject, or two, are never going to give your certificate the death blow you imagine right now.
  • Get organized. This is one of the basics, but it just had to make this list, because planning and organizing and writing a hundred To-Do lists partly got me through too. I even got a little note pad that says “I love lists” and I really do. To make it easier just get a nice calendar or planner you will enjoy carrying around and writing in. Keep track of everything going on. What you want to do (to relax), what you want to do if there is time (school work only due in a week, for example), what has to be done (school work due the days ahead) and what you need to do (like cleaning, going to an appointment, ect.) for example. Get it all mapped out. Make lists. Tick things off as you go. Feel achievement setting in as you get things done.
  • Take naps. Yes, I know, there’s not much time for sleep, but if you are tired take a nap in the afternoon. When I came home in senior year I took a nap every single day. Half an hour already helps. Even twenty minutes would help and if it ends up being an hour, so what? You need sleep. I was really sleep deprived during my last year of school. I only got to bed between 0 and 1 am and had to get up at 6. It was great fun, but yet, here I am. Thank you for getting me through, naps! This one goes to you! Which brings me right to…
  • Always carry coffee and food with you. Fuel your brain, fuel your body. Don’t skip eating and no, not even breakfast. Breakfast is where it all starts. Yes, I get the no time thing, but then have something simple. An apple, a banana, yoghurt, cereal, juice, toast. Or have something ready the night before! There is a genius thing called overnight-oats and it’s really good. I’m serious, please eat. And don’t get me started on coffee. I don’t think I would’ve graduated without coffee (I’m kidding, a little). No, my point is, if there is something that can accompany you while studying, that you’re passionate about then that’s to you what coffee is to me. Sitting down to study with a cup of coffee always felt better than sitting down “alone”, if you get what I mean. This brings me to my last tip…
  • Create an atmosphere you feel motivated working in. Keep your desk clean, but make it a little personal too. Decorate it, if you feel like it. Put up photos, line up your pens, whatever. You name it. This is your space. This is where you’re going to get that work done. Make it yours. My most loved study-setup will always be Ava (my dog) sleeping beside me, a cup of fresh coffee, a crisp breeze coming from the open window, a lit scented candle. Some people love studying in pajamas. I’m not really one of them. I’ve definitely done it, but if I have the time then I prefer getting a little more “ready”. I don’t get dressed up, definitely not, but putting on a fresh shirt and a comfortable jeans already does a lot for me. So, figure out which kind of person you are, what you need to have with you to get you behind that desk to get some work done.
  • But also remember that a change of scenery can do wonders if you are stuck. Or if there is just so much course work and studying to do you don’t really have time to take breaks and you’re in that non-stop working grind. I liked moving out to coffee shops once in a while. Though I was usually most productive behind my desk at home, going out to a café and taking some work with me at least helped me feel less guilty about leaving the house (yes, I was that deep in the zone). And hey, coffee shops serve coffee and food! What’s more motivating? If that still doesn’t do it for you, invite a friend. Have a study-date. I’ve had a few during A-levels and I really recommend you to do it. The presence of another working human next to you sometimes is all it takes to get you going too. Try it out.

But senior year is far more than just the studying, the tons of assignments and important exams. Because suddenly there is this unknown darkness lurking at the of the tunnel, the future, that time after graduation. I’ve been there, god, I probably still am in the very mid of the whole transition. Graduating was hard for me. It was an emotional rollercoaster. The day I had my last real classes before leaving to prepare for finals I lay on my bedroom floor and cried. It only took me two days to start missing class. The first Monday after I wanted to go again. I wanted my routine back, I wanted everything to go back to normal. But there was no going back. So I immersed in studying for finals. I studied and studied and then they were there and a whole month had passed. The day after my last written final I started preparing my oral one. I went all in, studied every single day for another month. The moment I walked out of that exam I was ready to burst into tears of relief. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. I took a weekend off from studying before going right back in, because I had signed up to do DELF B2, but I was downright exhausted. Time was running. A week from there I finished DELF and all of a sudden it was June with only a few more weeks to graduation and prom. I expected the emotions to hit me, but they didn’t.

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It took me almost another month to sink in. There were so many tears. I just missed class (I still do) and even though school often brought me to absolute rock-bottom I was desperate to go back. Not everyone feels like this, but this is what graduating was like for me. I just couldn’t imagine how life was supposed to keep going. I was afraid of letting things go and changes and breaking out of routines and leaving familiar surroundings. Graduating meant all of this. I’m still afraid, but I’ve come to the point of accepting that there is no going back and that it’s okay. I’m still afraid, but I know where I’m headed towards. I’m still afraid, but I know I’m going to be okay. I know that I’m going to love studying at university. It’s what I’ve always imagined myself doing. I know that I’ll grow to love the surroundings university provides, even though they are entirely new to me now. I know that it will take me some time to get there, to stop being downright terrified about the change, about having to meet a ton of strangers, getting lost trying to find a class and being late. I know that I probably won’t make the transition without shedding a couple of tears, may it be out of fear, panic or stress. But I know that I’ll get there. I know that I’m going to be more than just okay. I know that university will take a special place in my heart. I just know and I can’t wait for the adventure this journey provides. I thought I would never be ready for it, but sitting here finishing writing this, tears are stinging my eyes and just like that I know. I know that I’m ready for this.

May you live bravely.

Love to you all, Anna Xx

the reason behind why I do what I do online

There are a ton of reasons behind why people do what they do on the Internet, but self-staging plays a role quite often and I genuinely hate that. The Internet has become, or rather always been, the one and only place where everything can easily be faked; identities, lives, looks, personalities, relationships and things far beyond my knowledge. But even if we stay realistic, most people only tend to share the positive and I can downright understand why they do. We want to share our happiest moments, memories, our best selves for the world to see, blending out the negatives. Fact is, those negatives are part of our lives all the same. Flaws make us human. Life consists of ups and downs; it’s never a straight graph. But that’s not what people see when they scroll through their news feed on social media and I, among quite some others, want that to change. That’s my reason number one behind why I do what I do on the Internet.

Ever since I started Instagram roughly around five years ago, it has been my sanctuary. I probably don’t have to go into detail about being unpopular in middle and high school, but it is what it is. It’s not really the others fault though, I guess I myself am to blame here. Growing up I became more and more shy. I was quite straightforward as a kid, always talking, always longing for attention, blabbering to complete strangers, making friends anywhere. I don’t know what changed, but I have never been that way again since I was about seven. The years around 7th and 8th grade have probably been among the hardest ones of my life up until today. I had immense trouble opening up to classmates. I didn’t behave childish, but since I have always been among the youngest, I felt I didn’t belong. At that time I would go straight up to my room when I got home from school and cry. It was only about a year later that I set up my Instagram account. After some getting used to the platform I went all out. It was the first time in a while that I felt understood. I started publishing short stories, joined group chats about books and eventually started photography. That took me about two years, but I was happy. I had people who truly appreciated who I was and what I was doing. My follower count was at 500 by then. I wanted to scream it out into the whole world, but it was a close-kept secret. I didn’t want anyone near me to know. But my account kept growing and I kept going and then I hit 1000 and I felt like I was going to burst if I didn’t tell my family and closest friends, so I did. The support was immense and I started to be downright passionate about what I was doing online. I shared simple photos of books I took with my phone, captioning them with personal words and stories or my opinions on books. After four years my follower count hit 5000. I was over the moon, started using an actual camera. Within only another year that follower count doubled. Roughly another twelve months have passed since then and here I am. Through it all Instagram has been my sanctuary.

So yes, the selfish reason behind why I do what I do on the Internet, is because it was the only place where I felt like I belonged, felt safe enough to open up. I am more than just thankful I took this step all those years back. It helped me find out who I am, and who I wanted to be all along. But that’s only the reason behind why I did what I did when I  first started my journey. The Internet, and the people behind the screens all over the world, has done me a lot of good and lately I have been trying to give something back. Which brings me to the reasons why I do what I do on the Internet today.

The reason why I do what I do on here is to make the world just a little better, a little kinder, day after day. I do what I do on here to raise awareness; no matter if that awareness is about body image issues or social media perfectionism or mental health. I do what I do to spread kindness. I do what I do to motivate, no matter if I motivate to study or to read or to be creative. I do what I do to make the world, a few peoples lives, just a little better. I do what I do on here as a kind of thank you, to help others reach what I reached, am still reaching; self-acceptance, self-confidence and self-love. This community helped me see the power of kindness, helped me realize the value of all the small things in life. But most importantly this community was able to teach me what everyone I know personally, failed to assure me in, and that is just how worthy I really am. I do am, and always was, endlessly loved by the ones close to me, but sometimes that just isn’t enough growing up. Sometimes you’re just so lost within yourself, so uncertain because of all the people who don’t seem to be okay with who you are, you can’t believe the ones closest to you. This community had the power to prove me wrong about myself. Strangers behind screens from around the world were able to teach me that I deserve to be loved, that I deserve to love and respect myself. They showed me that there is beauty within me. I am who I am and where I am because of them, because of you. I am writing  because of you. Without this community, I would have likely lost all faith in myself during this past year. You never ceased to support me and I wish I could do every single one of you as much good as you did me. Thank you. Thank you for making me all the things I haven’t been before. Braver and bolder and kinder and even more sensible, because I swear I can feel all of your hearts beating, can see your dreams hidden inside of them. Let them out, share them. Be braver and bolder, but above all be kind. Because kindness has more power than hate.

But before I end this, let me show you that there do is hope for the Internet. That there are people alongside me, who are doing what they are doing online for very similar reasons and the world deserves to see that. We are not alone and we are willing to be here for the long run. Love, Anna xx

“I do what I do to try to be kind, to share my passion with people, to show them what I think is beautiful, because it’s always better to share beauty than to keep it for yourself, to feature the little details of life, the ones people might not always notice, and I do what I do to make my little Internet place a safe and kind and accepting place.” by Zoé Hoibian (lechoixdezoe)

“The interner is my source of self expression. I want to share my story and I want to share with people what it feels like to be a real human, what it feels like to love and give love, what it feels like to be kind and a good person. I want people to feel connected or at least like they’re not alone in this world because there is someone who goes through the same things. I want to share what it’s like to feel deeply, to feel everything. And most importantly, what a blessing and a curse it is to be human. And also to inspire people to never give up on themselves or their lives because we all have bad days, but we can start over the next day and make it even better than yesterday.” by (fromjupitertomars)

“This little corner of the Internet is one of the few parts of my life in which I don’t feel self-conscious being entirely me. I started this account without telling anyone I knew, so everyone who’s turned up did so because they appreciate what I create, not because of any sense of obligation, and that’s quite a special thing! I feel valued for my words, thoughts, and photography, and that means the world to me. I also love how easy and encouraged it is to leave nice comments or send messages to make people smile. With only a few moments of your day you can improve someone else’s, and that makes me so happy.” by (meandmagnolia)

Four books to read this autumn

The season of seasons has almost come upon us. Stores are flooded with leaves and pumpkins, there is rarely any food or drink that has not been seasoned with pumpkin spice, the trees are shedding their first leaves and the air is getting crisper. If you are an autumn-enthusiast just like I am, this is about the right time to think about what books to get cozy with this fall. May I present you my top four picks, including If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, The Diviners by Libba Bray and The Immortals by S. E. Lister.

If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio- Imagine dedicating your whole existence to Shakespeare. That’s what Oliver and his classmates at Dellecher do. Or rather, once did. It’s been ten years since Oliver has last been at Dellecher, serving ten years for a murder he may or may not have committed. Being released after all, he finds that he is not the only one who cannot forget and after ten years, he might finally be ready to share what happened a decade ago. As they start their fourth year of acting at the elite conversatory Dellecher they think it is going to be just as it has always been. The seven of them, never apart, playing the same roles in life as on stage. But then everything begins to shift, castings get changed and the friends seem to drift apart. And all of a sudden they find themselves actors in a tragedy they never intended to play. Their every-day rivalry becomes more and more present until one of them is found dead, while the rest of them have to face their most significant role yet. Convincing the police, and each other, that they are innocent.

“Halloween approached like a tiger in the night, with a soft rumble of warning. All through the second half of October, the skies were bruised and stormy, […]. As the ill-omened day crept closer, it was impossible to suppress a buzz of mounting excitement among the students. The morning of the thirty-first, whispers chased us around the refectory as we poured our coffee. […] When witching hour arrived, we set off through the woods, one by one.”

If you have read The Secret History by Donna Tartt you’re probably suspicious. Yes, If We Were Villains is similar to it, I cannot deny it, but I personally liked it better than Tartt’s work. I know that quite a lot of people consider The Secret History a very fall-appropriate book and I do too, but M. L. Rio took it a step further. Halloween, especially the night of it, plays an important role as the story unravels, but I don’t want to forestall anything. If We Were Villains has just the right amount of poetic fall passages, the darkness that comes with obsession and an overall stunning sense for plotting the perfect crime. You will have to see for yourselves, but having a glimpse at this one probably won’t let you down.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik- As long as tales exist, the darkness of the woods has awakened fear in people everywhere. The forest close to Agnieszka’s home is no different. Her whole life people around her have been living fearing it, but there’s more to it than just it’s darkness. No-one comes back from the Woods unchanged. So for as long as Agnieszka can remember every ten years a wizard, the Dragon, comes down to her village to choose a young woman to serve him for the next decade, in exchange for providing the villagers safety. Already fearing her friend Kasia to be taken during the Dragon’s next choosing, for she is the most perfect of them all, Agnieszka’s world is turned upside down when it turns out, it’s not Kasia he takes.

“On the last day, I found us a clearing in the woods where the trees still had their leaves, golden and flame-red rustling all above us, with ripe chestnuts all over the ground. We made a little fire out of twigs and dry leaves to roast a handful. Tomorrow was the first of October, and the great feast would be held to show honor to our patron and lord. Tomorrow, the Dragon would come.”

Uprooted is like an old children’s tale you’ve never come across before. Every word in it is heavy, as if drenched in magic. Reading this book, one feels like knowing what is going to happen next and constantly ending up being surprised by how differently from ones own imagination the tale unwraps, one page after another. Uprooted is a novel unlike any other. At most times it is strange and dark, intensely fantastic and magical. Yet sometimes manages to authentically include friendship just as love along the way. Uprooted is a fall must-read.

The Diviners by Libba Bray- It’s the 1920s. Evie O’Neill gets sent off to live with her uncle, curator of the “Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult”, in New York City after getting in trouble at home one too many. By the time she gets there a series of mysterious murders is troubling the city and Evie finds herself diving headfirst into investigations.

“She knew she could try to read any of the objects to find out more about Sam Lloyd, but it wasn’t worth the headache. She’d trust that he’d come back looking for the coat. It was September, and the weather would turn soon enough.”

The Diviners just had to make the list. This book is kind of spooky and dark with fantastic elements, but not in a way as serious as the other three books. It has humor, a kick-ass female lead with a well-developed male character right by her side. Beside that it’s gripping and mysterious, only revealing what has to be revealed in order for the reader to still understand the main plot, but there sure is a lot more going on. This would definitely be my go-to Halloween pick for a book.

The Immortals by S. E. Lister- This is a story of falling through time, of an uncontrollable journey, of lost wanderers. This is the story of Rosa Hyde, of the Immortals. Due to a traumatic event in her father’s past Rosa Hyde has never left the year 1945. During all her seventeen years of life she and her family are forced to live through the same year time after time, from beginning to end and over again. For most of those seventeen years, she doesn’t have a clue about what is going on, how something like that is possible, until she escapes, falling through time. But she finds company in Tommy Rust, a man certain that he will live forever. An Immortal, like her. Roaming the millennia they wander, ever admiring the places, wherever the tides might take them. But as easily as the tides brought Tommy and her, and the other Immortals, together as easily do they fall apart all the same, leaving her falling through time all over again. But from that point on something is different. It seems that the tides too are aware of it’s travelers, and that the harder they hold on to anything that is dear to them, the faster it all falls apart and there seems to be nothing they can do about it.

“They were sitting out on the balcony in the late afternoon, sipping hot coffee, coats about their shoulders. The autumn sunlight cast a rosy glow over the rooftops and the cobbled street below […]”

The Immortals manages the perfect balance between being intensely fantastic and magical and at the same time spreading a very realistic aura. It’s a mixture I have never seen so well developed in any other novel and that’s exactly what makes this book so special. The warm feeling you experience when reading about magic intertwined with pure every-day life wrapped up in a layer of stunningly beautiful wording. All of the four books I am introducing in this review are dear to me, but out of them all, this is my favorite pick. Partly because it seems to be so unknown, but mostly because I just genuinely love it’s writing style and the complexness of the plot, just as the characters. But above all, because it really reminds me of autumn. It has this certain feeling to it that makes me think of crisp air and crunchy leaves. I am holding onto myself desperately to prevent myself from begging you to read it. You’re welcome, but please still do so.

With that said, I wish you the most memorable of autumns! May you have golden days, just as rainy ones and may you find the perfect read to keep you company, no matter the weather.

Five young adult books that spread hope

After taking an almost-one-year-long break from reading young adult books and contemporaries, I finally had my come-back this summer. I just could not read them, for whatever reason. They felt too bright, unrealistic, and I was deep in the phrase of reading brutally honest, life-lesson-teaching tomes (a.k.a. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which actually is kind of like a bible to me). Any young adult felt like a particular joke to me at that time, which is utterly stupid, because young adults can often be just as serious and life-lesson-teaching. The five books I am meaning to introduce definitely belong among those. But they share another strikingly beautiful character – they spread hope. And hope is something we strive for many times in life. These five books are for the seekers of the light in moments of darkness. May I now introduce you to Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven, Wonder by R. J. Palacio, The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella and Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone.

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven- Jack Masselin has been play-pretending half of his life. Play-pretending to be someone he is not. Careless and confident, and anything that goes along with the two. Play-pretending to hide what must stay hidden at all costs, even if that means he can’t ever let anyone get close to him, to the real Jack. But if people claim to know Jack, they would say they know Libby even better. Libby Strout, the girl who got so heavy a crane had to cut her free from her house. But instead of Jack, Libby is done with hiding, and getting out into the world unexpectedly changes both of their lives forevermore.

“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”

Only a few pages in I knew I was barely going to be able to put it down, because I was downright afraid of how it would end. I won’t speak no more of this now, to prevent myself from spoilering anything. But the message of this book got right through to my heart. I wish body shaming or bullying due to any, no matter which kind of, differences in general would occur on a rarer basis, but the point is that they don’t. The way Libby stands up to anyone that gets in her way makes me feel a spark of hope. I hope her (or Jennifer Niven’s) message gets carried out into the world. I, at least, will do my very best to make that happen.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio- August Pullman is actually just a normal ten-year-old. He does stuff most ten-year-olds do, yet he isn’t exactly normal. In his ten years of life August has already had twenty-seven surgeries and still most people won’t touch or at least look him in the eye. It has never been any different and after ten years everyone around August, himself among them, has done a decent job at getting used to the stares, the whispering and everything beyond that. But the time has come that August has to face his yet greatest fear – starting middle school. And by getting out into the world he changes the lives of the people around him once again, without even knowing.

“[…] he continued, “is the sure knowledge that, in the future you make for yourselves, anything is possible. If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.” He paused and shrugged. “Or whatever politically correct spiritual representation of universal goodness you happen to believe in,” […]”

Kindness costs nothing. “Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.” as Robin Roe described it in her book “A List of Cages”. And a book that spreads word about the power of kindness and the influence of other peoples strength, of their bravery, like “Wonder” here does, makes me hope all the same. Because this is what I am wishing for. I am rooting for kindness. Rooting for it just as someone rooted for Libby, just as Mr. Tushman rooted for August. Because if there would only be a little more kindness, “the world really would be a better place,” and that is all I can say here.

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout– The past is what ties Mallory Dodge and Rider Stark. But years have passed since Mallory has last seen him. Ever since then everyone around her, she among them, is working hard on making her better, trying to help her overcome the brutal childhood she had to experience, the brutal childhood Rider always fought to protect her from. But one can’t erase the past and just when Mallory is finally ready to face the world, to shape her future, Rider is right there at her side again. With him she can’t keep all the memories from coming back to her anymore and eventually Mallory has to face the fact that the past is a part of her, and yet it does not define her, but, as it turns out, so has Rider.

“Forever. I used to believe it didn’t exist. But now I knew, in many small ways, that it was real, but it didn’t scare me anymore. […] Forever wasn’t pain and grief. Forever wasn’t a problem. Forever was my heartbeat and it was the hope tomorrow held. Forever was the glistening silver lining of every dark cloud, no matter how heavy or thick it was. Forever was knowing moments of weakness didn’t equate to an eternity of them. […] Forever was simply a promise or more. Forever was a work in progress. And I couldn’t wait for forever.”

I didn’t know what I thought about this book at the start of it. It was pretty slow and I honestly did not go where it was going until I had read about half of it, but please, keep reading all the way to the end, because the second half makes up for it all. It gets honest and real about life. It gets emotional. Even if it seems like a classical High School romance, this is honestly not it, but I don’t want to spill the beans here. The hope through it all it strong though. It teaches that the past is the past, that it shapes one, but is not what one is defined by, that whatever lies in ones past, there can still be hope for tomorrow and sometimes, that hope for another day is as golden as forever. And sometimes the only hope ones needs, is the hope for a bit of that forever.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella- Something happened and suddenly, just like that, Audrey got sick. Not sick in a cold kind of way, but mentally, and actually it has not been all that suddenly either. That has been a while ago, but ever since then, she hasn’t been outside, she can’t make eye contact. It’s not like she isn’t trying to get better, she is, but it seems like being-well is a whole world away. Until Linus shows up. It all changes again. A normal life suddenly seems more than possible, the graph of Audrey’s life is heading straight for the stars. But to get better she first has to face the fact that getting better sometimes involves a few setbacks too.

“I think what I’ve realized is, life is all about climbing up, slipping down, and picking yourself up again. And it doesn’t matter if you slip down. As long as you’re kind of heading more or less upwards. That’s all you can hope for. More or less upwards.”

I first read this one the summer I finished tenth grade. I was only fifteen, the same age as Audrey. I was shy, so much younger than most of my classmates and nervous about starting a-levels at a new school. I was unpopular, disliked by fellow students, but liked by teachers, which is a pretty classical problem. I saw myself in Audrey, not quite literally, but I swallowed this book whole. It gave me hope. Just like Audrey hoped for better days, I did. I hoped for a straight-upward graph. But like Audrey I had to understand that life is not like that, straight-upward. Life’s graph is jagged and one can only hope to head more or less upwards.

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone- Samantha is fighting against her own self or more specifically, her mind. With Purely-Obsessional OCD every-day-life is a constant struggle. The feeling of abnormality is her constant companion, especially among her at school well-known friends. Until she meets Caroline. Until she is introduced to Poet’s Corner, a secret hide-away of wallflowers at her school and for the very first time she is starting to feel more or less sane. But it’s only until shortly after, that she learns something that makes her doubt her sanity more than ever before.

“All these words, On these walls. Beautiful, inspired, funny, Because they’re yours. Words terrify me, To hear, to speak, To think about. Wish they didn’t. I stay quiet. Keeping words in, Where they fester, and control me. I’m here now, Letting them out. Freeing my words, Building better walls.”

This book had me in utter shock and tears and emotions all over the place. I devoured it in one sitting. Especially the poetry in it had my heart and soul. I am downright craving to re-read this, writing about it now. I think that it displayed the downsides of mental illness well, but it was still hopeful. It held the hope to get better, to get a hold of ones mind, to be more than ones illness.

Here we are. A thousand and seven-hundred words later, you know about five wonderful young adult contemporaries yielding hope. I hope they end up meaning just as much to all of you as they do to me. All the love, and especially hope, to you.

Anna xx

The Future is a Room with it’s Walls painted Black

maybe i don’t want this to end, because i can’t imagine my life after. no matter how much it hurts me, i don’t want to let go. my future is a room with it’s walls painted black. it’s a place i can only but imagine missing what i once did and longing for it while my heart is still healing from leaving.

after all she was afraid, afraid of the unforeseeable, afraid of the day it would happen, afraid of having to open up to the new, afraid of finishing what had seemed to last forever, afraid of the entirety of that sensation, because she was not yet ready and maybe she would never be, but somewhere deep down, she expected that to change or maybe she did not and that was why she was so afraid, she did not know and it did not matter, because with this she did not have a choice.

it hit me right then: it was really over, it belonged to the past, a past that had me sleepless at night, drowning in sorrows, and still I found myself longing to return to it, simply out of fear of the uncertainty of the future.

Letting go of things can be hard. Changes can be. Yes, those two things might be crucial to keep moving, but that does not make them any easier. To let something go can be one of the hardest challenges life has to offer. Because sometimes it’s only when you have to let things go that you seem to see their true worth. But most times letting go is inevitable. The door of the room you came from is being closed, shutting you out, leaving you on the doorstep to a room with it’s walls painted black – an uncertain future. And now this is where you are, in a bare room with it’s walls painted black, and you’re stuck. You are afraid to move, because the lack of light makes seeing impossible. You are afraid to turn back, because there is nothing to return to. You are afraid to get left behind, because you are standing still.

The futures feels that way sometimes. Sometimes it takes just a bit of time and waiting until it reveals itself. Until night ends and morning light fills the room with it’s walls painted black through a small window. And sometimes it takes a little courage. Sometimes you need to step out into that room, roaming, until you find that window. Because in this room, curtains are preventing the sun from enlightening it. Only you can fix that. So be brave. Step out there and draw back the curtain. This is your future, even if it’s a room with it’s walls painted black. Even if that means you have to open up for changes, if it means you have to let things go. If you don’t, you never know what you were set out to do. This is your future. You might as well re-paint those walls, make them look whichever way you want them to look. Paper them with the pages of all the books you’ve read or the photos you took or tear them down and forget all about them, letting the sky be your only limit. Because this is your future. It doesn’t have to be a room with it’s walls painted black. It can be whatever you want it to be. But that room is where you start. You leave, you let go, change happens, inevitably, and a door is closed and you have to step out into that corridor. And there you are. On that doorstep to that room with it’s walls painted black and it’s okay to be afraid. I am too. I am stuck here, at the edge of that room waiting for the morning sun to light it, waiting for fate to do the job for me so that I don’t have to be brave, because I’m not. I’m not brave and right now that room, my future, doesn’t feel like it can whatever I want it to be. It just feels like a room with it’s walls painted black and I’m afraid I won’t be able to change anything about that. I’m afraid I will be stuck here in darkness, unmoving, getting left behind. I’m afraid I won’t be able to choose. Afraid, that room holds a plan someone else chose for me, one that I have no say in. But I’m also afraid that I do have a say in this, because I know I do. I’m afraid I’m not brave enough to take the opportunity, to tear down those walls. I’m afraid I’m stuck here forever, because I’m too afraid to get moving, too afraid to take actions for myself. But I know I will have to. I know I will have to somewhere find the strength to do just that, just as I have to accept the few things that I might not have a say in. Because future is just that. It’s yours, you get to decide, you will have to stand up for it, but there will always be things you won’t be able to veto. That’s what life is like.

But in the end, there is nothing to be afraid of. The future is yours and yours only. So what are we even fearing? Yes, at the start, at the edge of that room with it’s walls painted black, because that is where it starts, the darkness seems intimidating and the letting go will still hurt and the change will be as strange as suddenly seeing the world upside-down, but once you enter, that room won’t be just a room with it’s walls painted black, it will be your room. It’s your future and it will be okay. That room will start to grow dear to you. It will hurt less, feel less strange. But in that corridor, between those two closed doors, it’s okay to be afraid, to feel blue. But a few steps from there, behind that door ahead, is a bright new future even if at the start, it might just look like a room with it’s walls painted black. I promise.

body image issues

To get this straight at the very start of this- this is going to be a little different from what I usually post, but then again, maybe it actually isn’t. This belongs into the category “fledging or coming off age”, but it’s an issue far beyond the process of just that. This is about what is going on out there these days. This is about something I feel passionate about, about something I think I have the right to a say in. It’s about something I personally struggle with, something that a lot of people struggle with, something too may struggle with, in my opinion. I am talking about body image issues, body shaming, and anything that is only vaguely related to it.

Body shaming isn’t “new”. Most think that it is, but it isn’t. It has always been there. It’s been there ten years ago, when I was eight years old in third grade and was picked at for being chubbier than others. It was there when I was in seventh grade and was chosen last for group activities in sports. It has always been there. It’s been there from the first posters and ads on tv, from the first fashion shows. So no, body image issues aren’t new, but body shaming is worse than ever before, primarily because of the media. It was bad back then, but today it’s getting worse and worse every single day and it pains me so much to write this and I think I actually have to stop writing for a second, because I can’t even see what I’m typing through the tears of anger and downright grief that are burning in my eyes.

I feel endlessly emotional about this topic. Every single time I re-watch “Killing us softly” by Kilbourne Jean I can’t hold back tears and by now I’ve seen it at least five times. The difference between then and now is that today there are body images wherever you look. They are everywhere, but what’s fatal is that most times, people all look the same in them and they have been actively manipulated. They simply are not real. They teach us a perfection that in reality does not exist or simply cannot be achieved. I used to tell myself, like most people still do, These images have no effect on me. and that is the absolute worst mistake one can do, the biggest lie one can tell oneself, one can believe, because no matter what you think or how sure you are about your shape and size, when you see those images you experience them and they effect you, even when you don’t think they do. So because there is no way around taking in those images the only thing we can do is to make them change. This change is going to be a hell of a fight, I know that, but I hope that some day I can look at a billboard and think Wow, this woman is a fighter. I wish I’d get to know her. instead of Wow, this woman’s body is perfect. I wish I’d look like her. We need representatives of all kinds of body types in ads, on tv, on the internet, in the model industry. We need this change. We need it in order to move something, to make a change. We need to see what is real, we need it in order to accept our bodies and the imperfections we see in them. But how did we get to this point? How is it possible we got carried so far away from the representation of reality in the media?

For starters, photoshop. That’s what got us here and that’s where we are right now and we’re stuck. Right at this point. Everywhere we look we see unreal images of inexistent perfection and all over the world real people suffer to reach that perfection, a perfection that doesn’t even exist. But how are they, how are we, to know? Who is going to tell us if what they are sharing, what they are spreading throughout the whole world, is real or actually the product of an hour-long session behind a screen? There are only a handful of people who do. Who share what is going on, who raise awareness, but that awareness should have been raised years ago. That awareness still doesn’t reach enough people out there. It doesn’t make up for all the lives lost due to body shaming. It simply doesn’t and I don’t even think we have yet reached the top of this, I think this is still becoming bigger, becoming worse every day. We should have started to act on this long ago, but we haven’t or maybe I should rather say we haven’t done enough, because I know, things are moving. They have to, but for the first time I feel like something is actually changing and maybe we can turn things around. Maybe it’s us, this generation right here. Maybe we have to finally pick up the pieces and save the ones after us. Because when I look at my thirteen year old sister my heart stops beating and some days all I can feel when I look at her is fear. Fear of what society, what the media, is already doing to her and what is still to come. When I was thirteen I played with stuffed animals, I watched Disney movies all day, if I could, I ran around the house with her, play-pretending anything. I gave a damn about what I wore, I didn’t even know what I weighted and I washed my hair once a week. I was never one of the popular kids, especially not at that time, but I was okay. Whatever, I was just a kid, I didn’t know a thing, but that, that’s what’s changing and that’s the worst part. Because that generation is suffering. With the amount of media there is so much social pressure, I would never be able to handle it, but they do. They have to. Those teenage years are hard on everyone, no matter which generation they are a part of, but it’s getting harder and most times no-one even realizes. People give a damn about it. People say it’s their fault, sharing everything and anything on the internet, putting themselves out there like that, but it’s not. It’s what they have to do, because if they don’t, they’re out-casts, they don’t even exist. It’s what they are influenced by every single day. Those generations grew up or are still growing up looking at the unreal images of inexistent perfection of strangers from all over the world thinking that’s what real life is and imitate that, striving to reach what it seems like other already have. And that’s what’s most toxic about this, because if we aren’t able to stop this, those young people are going to wreck themselves about it and it’s going to end badly, it already is ending badly in a lot of cases.

So if not for ourselves, we need to make something change for those people and I’m willing to, I’m going to try my best and if I have to, I’m willing to stand in the streets naked, if that means something is going to change for them. I’m willing, I’m trying, to share that I am imperfect, that imperfection is real and the most beautiful thing about a human body there will ever be. I have been willing to share photos of my back, raising awareness on scoliosis, because that’s what it is. That’s imperfection. I have a curved spine. I won’t be able to unsee how crooked I stand when I look in the mirror, how one of my waists is smaller than the other, how rounded my back is due to bad posture. I won’t be able to unsee that my breasts aren’t the same size, that my knees have a strange shape, that I do have a tummy, that four years ago my hair thinned out and will never be as thick as it used to be, that I have, dark, visible hair all over my arms or that my skin actually has pores and isn’t clear. I am aware of all of this. Some days more aware than others, some days some imperfections bug me more and some less. But usually, I am the only one who sees them and in the future I am going to keep quite about them. I will not complain, but praise them, because if we want to change something, this is where each and everyone could start. By spreading love about ones insecurities, because there is at least one person out there who your body is similar to and if you keep calling out it’s imperfections, or the things you see as those, you make that one other person aware of them too and that’s the worst thing we could possibly do. So if I could I would turn back time and erase every single negative comment I made about my body in my sisters presence. I really wish I could do that. Because that girl has seen me naked and has told me I am beautiful without hesitating, has told me, she wished she’d look like me. I just wish I could have shown her how to be proud of her body, but I was too focused on myself, we all were, and we will have to look out for our daughter and sons. We will have to move focus away from us, because society is going to be just as hard on them, maybe harder. It’s about us now if we can make a change about that, no matter how small in the start.

For example, this is a start. Spreading this will be a start. Just talking about body shaming and body image issues will be a start. Being real and honest on any social platforms will be a start. Dealing with the influence of the media on the body in schools or simply reading about it for oneself will be a start. Anything is better than what we are doing now, because yes, we are stuck and if we don’t make a change, if we maintain silence about this, it will stay this way, if not get worse, and we can’t just let that happen, not for the sake of us nor the sake of all the generations after and still to come.

[I apologize if this did not make any sense. All I did was ramble on about something I feel passionate about, hoping that someone somewhere someday cares about this, listens up about this. If you feel the need to share this, I very much welcome you to do so.

All the love, Anna xx]

How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

“[…] it didn’t really matter how many years or decades or centuries had passed, because you were always living within the parameters of your personality. No expanse of time or place could change that. You could never escape yourself.”

Imagine being close to immortal. How would you spend your days? A question Tom Hazard has to ask himself over and over again. He has lived hundreds of years, dozens of different lives, has seen it all, done it all. Worked for Shakespeare himself, complimented Fitzgerald on his “Great Gatsby”, but then again he saw his mother being accused and drowned for practicing witchcraft, experienced his great love die of the pest. Yes, Tom Hazard has seen it all and he is tired of it, but a promise he has once given, hundreds of years ago, keeps him going, one day after another. But when you know there’s always a tomorrow to have another try, do you even know how to live? Because after all those hundreds of years Tom is nowhere near sure he does and there is not a day he does not struggle with his past, the memories of it.

“I need to get over everything. I need ‘closure’ as people say these days. Though you can never close the past. The most you can do with it is accept it. And that is the point I want to reach.”

They have never left him after all and every single passing minute adds up to them.

“So here I am, with my head full of human fears and pains, my chest tight with anxiety, thinking about how much future I have in front of me.”

 

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my thoughts- I was recommended this book by a dear friend of mine, Ophelia. She really liked it and since she knows my taste told me to read it, because she was sure I’d enjoy it and I did. I enjoyed it immensely. If you know my tastes in books from around the internet you could most likely even skip this part of the review or check out my last one on “The Immortals”, since it’s always similar things I cherish a book for. For me those include the writing style, for example. The writing style I enjoy most is a very wise one, one that is a little poetic, very figurative, that has an eye for the little details. If I dog-ear pages or underline passages, sentences in the process of reading, then it most likely turns out to be a book I end up recommending to others. So basically I enjoy works I can quote, that hold sequences which contain a deeper message, that teach me something about life. “How To Stop Time” hides quite some like that and that’s why I ended up loving it as much as I did. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the plot, it was really well structured, though a little confusing, always going back into the past, but randomly into all different kinds of eras. It supported the concept of the book though, since Tom was caught off guard by his memories all the same and it gave the reader insight in what he was constantly going through. I liked that. But as I said, I liked it best for it’s wise words. You can’t imagine what I mean by that? Well, look at this.

Last but not least, if you have read this book and you’re looking for one that’s similar to this one, then head right over to my review of “The Immortals”. You will soon realize both the plot and the beautiful writing style are a little similar to the one in “How To Stop Time”. And just like “The Immortals” I believe this would be a very decent autumn read, but yeah, I’m just saying. Maybe I’ll re-read in autumn and see for myself.

Wishing you all out there a great summer! And to all fellow autumn-lovers, hold on just a little longer, it’s the next season to come.