BOOK REVIEW: Inside Vogue

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There couldn’t be a better time to review Inside Vogue: A Diary Of My 100th Year by Alexandra Shulman than now – just as the Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue has announced that she will be stepping down from her post after more than 25 years, which means that her diary is of even more importance. Last year was British Vogue’s centenary year – they produced the iconic 100th anniversary issue featuring the Duchess of Cambridge on the cover and threw various events in celebration.

Alexandra Shulman wrote a diary during this year, which mostly follows the inside workings of the magazine as they prepare for the 100th edition of Vogue, as well as her home life and personal reflections. Her diary was a pleasant surprise – I expected her to only discuss work and not divulge any personal opinions about anything. I think of her as like the Queen – a very important person with a very important job but doesn’t give anything away. So, I was very surprised when she wrote honestly that she was disappointed that Victoria Beckham doesn’t show her collection in London anymore. I was heartened that she wasn’t afraid to express her opinion on people – even if they are a formidable celebrity with legions of fans.

What really struck me about the diary was not Alexandra’s writings about the glamorous events that she was preparing for, but her writing about normal every day things. Throughout the book she laments on an ongoing plumbing issue that she has at home and I just love her for it. Who’d have thought that the editor of Vogue would have no hot water? It just goes to show that even Alexandra Shulman cannot escape dodgy plumbing.

I felt that I really got to know Alexandra the person rather than Alexandra the editor of Vogue. It was nice to find out what she gets up to in her spare time and realise that her interests such as running, reading and cooking are no different to most. It made me think that really she’s just a normal person with an extraordinary job.

I must also add that I’ve always been intrigued by how high-flying and successful people spend their days, especially an editor of Vogue. And this book made me feel like a fly on the wall – privy to all these behind the scenes editorial conversations which the public wouldn’t normally hear about. As someone that also works on a magazine, I’m really interested in reading about how other magazines are run and this book didn’t disappoint.

It was also good to hear her side of the story on the Richard Macer documentary, Absolutely Fashion about Vogue. The BBC documentary provided a very one dimensional view of the fashion world and offered little insight into Alexandra as a person. I can only imagine how daunting it must be when someone shoves a camera in your face and asks you to talk about your job, however the diary gives Alexandra a chance to fill in the gaps and let us into her world beyond the office.

Inside Vogue is a real page-turning treat and I’d recommend it to anyone that is curious about the fashion and magazine world.

Inside Vogue: A Diary Of My 100th Year by Alexandra Shulman, published by Fig Treat.

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My top reads of 2016

I read quite a few books in 2016, so it’s hard for me to pick my favourite reads. However I’ve managed to whittle it down to a top 10 which includes memoirs, autobiographies and a book on feminism (in no particular order). Happy reading!

Becoming by Laura Jane Williams

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If you follow Laura’s blog (superlativelyrude.com) then you’ll know that she’s a very honest writer and says some wise things, so when I heard she was releasing a book I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! I really loved Becoming, a memoir about how Laura turned her life around after her long-term relationship broke up. On the book’s jacket cover, journalist Daisy Buchanan is quoted as saying; “If you’ve ever felt a little lost, I hope this book finds its way to you.” I was feeling a little lost when I read this book, as my relationship had also ended, so I felt like I really connected to Laura’s story and went on the journey with her. The book gave me a real feeling of hope – that everything’s going to be alright in the end.

Becoming: Sex, Second Chances, and Figuring Out Who the hell I am by Laura Jane Williams

Jo Malone: My Story by Jo Malone

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I am very much partial to an autobiography and Jo Malone’s did not disappoint. I actually knew nothing about her background other than that she created an international perfume brand, so her story was fascinating to me. I also found it really inspiring reading about how she developed her business and made her skincare products and perfumes. If you have a desire to set up your own business then this book will provide you with bags of inspiration.

Jo Malone: My Story by Jo Malone

Ctrl, Alt; Delete: How I Grew Up Online by Emma Gannon

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Blogger Emma Gannon’s memoir is about her experiences of growing up with the internet and how it shaped her teenage years. As a millennial, I found this book very entertaining, partly because it brought back so many memories of awkward MSN chat conversations and internet “boyfriends”.

Ctrl, Alt; Delete: How I Grew Up Online by Emma Gannon

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**k by Sarah Knight

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In this “Life-Changing” book Sarah tells us about the things we shouldn’t give a f**k about. Basically the overall message is that you’re here to please yourself and you don’t have to give a f**k about some things. This book is a great kick up the arse to people pleasers like me – to maybe think of myself and what I want a bit more.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**k by Sarah Knight

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

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Amy Schumer’s memoir was a really interesting read for me because I didn’t know anything about her other than that she’s a comedian and written her own film which she also stared in called Trainwreck. Her book is so insightful, not only into her own world as a comedian but into what it’s like to be a woman. Amy has such an intelligent perspective and some of her thoughts about relationships really hit home to me. She has such a strong, funny and wise tone that I really hope she writes another book.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

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I’ve always been intrigued by Anne Frank’s story, so how its taken me until the age of 25 to read her diary, I’ll never know. I expected her writing to reflect the time of the age and be very restrained in the subjects she tackled, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that Anne discusses her sexuality and romantic feelings. I also love how honest she is about everything and everyone in her life.

The Diary of a Young Girl: Definitive Edition by Anne Frank

Dear Stranger by Various

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You may recall me mentioning this on my blog in an earlier post, but I just can’t resist giving Dear Stranger another mention. The book really unlocks what it’s like to feel depressed, lonely and lost through a series of letters and it’s authors beautifully explain what happiness means to them. Maybe we can all learn something from this book.

Dear Stranger: Letters on the Subject of Happiness by Various

I Call Myself A Feminist

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I was excited to read this as it contains various different women’s opinions on the subject of feminism. What I liked about the book is that the editors have picked some relatively unknown young female feminists to write chapters; feminism is so often dominated by the same voices so it’s refreshing to hear new one’s.

I Call Myself A Feminist: The View from Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty. Edited by Victoria Pepe, Rachel Holmes, Amy Annette, Alice Stride and Martha Mosse

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

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I really enjoyed Cheryl’s famous book, Wild so I was pretty confident that I’d like this. Cheryl used to be an anonymous agony aunt called ‘Dear Sugar’ for an online publication and this book contains some of the letters which she received along with her replies. It was so comforting reading people’s letters and Cheryl’s advice, which is so incredibly wise that it made me totally re-think some things.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Someone Who’s Been There by Cheryl Strayed

No Lifeguard on Duty by Janice Dickinson

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Janice Dickinson’s autobiography is such a page-turner. It’s everything you’d want from a celebrity autobiography – hugely revealing, honest and direct. It’s also a great insight into the world of modelling and celebrity in the seventies. It was such a good read that I was gutted when I’d finished it.

No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World’s First Supermodel by Janice Dikinson

What are your top reads of 2016? I love book recommendations so please do comment in the box below with any or tweet me @Anna_Fearon

BOOK REVIEW: Dear Stranger

Dear Stranger

If you’re anything like me and you struggle with your mental health then you will identify with having a battle in your head and the feeling of frustation every time you see a happy and glowing person. How is it possible to be that happy? What do they have that I don’t? It’s very easy to feel discontent but not understand why or how to fix the problem. Sometimes it can feel like everything is going wrong in life, like the whole world is conspiring against you; everyone looks so happy and you’re not. Happiness can be hard to feel and obtain, but Dear Stranger might help you to re-evaulate what happiness is.

*****

Dear Stranger is published in aid of the mental health charity, Mind with profits from the book going to the charity (at least £3 for every sold). It’s a wonderful book for anyone that is going through a hard time and/or struggles with their mental health. It includes a collection of letters written by some notable authors, bloggers and Mind ambassadors such as Arianna Huffington, Marian Keyes and Caitlin Moran to an imagined stranger.

With the majority of the letters I felt like I was being personally spoken to, which was a really nice feeling. It was like the book was on my side. The tone of most of the voices were kind; I felt like they wanted to reach out and help me by imparting their words of wisdom. For me, it felt like the voices were collectively saying, “You’re not alone. It’s not unusual to struggle to feel happy. I’m hear for you, I care about you and understand your struggle.”

The book made me re-think the way I think about some things. I learnt that its not possible to be happy all the time and that our happiness comes from the small things like a cup of tea or spending time with family.

It also imparted that we don’t get our happiness from other people – we have to create our own happiness and that suffering and going through hard times is part of the human experience. I used to blame myself when things went wrong and as someone that believes in karma would wonder what I had previously done wrong, but some letters in this book made me realise that horrible things do randomly happen and it’s how you deal with it that matters. As the comedian Francesca Martinez states in her letter, (which is one of my favourites), “A pain-free life doesn’t exist. And if that’s what you’re after try not to love.”

For me, the book was hugely comforting. It was reassuring to know that other people had had smiliar thought patterns to me and also encountered difficulties in life, but got through it. I think it’s great how some suprising voices were chosen for this book, such as Richard Branson. As he outwardley appears as someone that is rich and successful with no worries, so it was reassuring to find that he had faced some struggles throughout life.

I often feel disillusioned with the world and struggle to think there’s much good out there. But the letters in this book reminded me that there are kind people out there who care and understand.

If you struggle with your mental health or even just to feel happy, its important to know that you’re not alone. There’s no magic solution, but this book will provide so much comfort to you.

Dear Stranger, published by Penguin UK.

If you’ve read Dear Stranger I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Or if you want a book recommendation then tweet me @Anna_Fearon or leave a comment below.