Laura Recommends

September Recommendations III

October 5, 2019

Through what can only be explained by the work of magic, in September I managed to change almost everything about my life.

I switched faculties by starting a pre-master in Business Administration that will hopefully prepare me well for a Master next fall. While it is stressful, it is intellectually challenging (it activates parts of my brain that have been dormant for the past 5 years), so I am happy with my choice so far. I started yet another internship, working 3 days per week in a position that allows me to learn a lot about sustainability, communications and various sorts of media. These two choices alone dictated a new rhythm – going to bed before a certain hour, meal prepping even more relentlessly than before, scheduling house chores for the evenings and the weekend and so on.

But hold your breath – I didn’t stop there.

I decided to cut my meat consumption by 80% and eliminate as many animal-based products as possible from my diet. Then I decided to do something about the anxiety I was feeling and the lack of physical mobility I was experiencing – so I got myself a Classpass subscription, meaning I am now going to a pilates or yoga class at least once a week. I am already feeling much better and each training leaves me wanting for more.

I made one more decision, but that will only start impacting my life towards the end of November/beginning of December, so I will tell you about it at the right time.

Meanwhile, let me walk you through my favourite places, books and documentaries from the past 4 weeks:


Hunger: A Memoir of my Body – Roxane Gay

This summer this book was everywhere on my Instagram feed. I have to admit, Roxane Gay’s name rang a bell, but I didn’t know much about her. This was obviously my loss because she is one of the most moving authors whose work I ever got the chance to read. Her biography shows so much depth, complexity and pain it’s impossible not to finish the book with a complete change of perspective on morbid obesity. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

The Reading Cure – Laura Freeman

I was not planning on reading this book in September, but after reading Hunger, this book was the most obvious choice from my nightstand pile. The Reading Cure is the autobiography of Laura Freeman, a woman diagnosticated during her teens as anorexic. Despite losing her appetite for food for years, she remained devoted to her books, hence her remedy for her mental and physical state. It is an incredibly painful book as well, but also knowledge-heavy since the author is referencing plenty of books and their connections to the world of food writing. You have to add this book to your list too!

No is not enough – Naomi Klein

I picked up this book from Libreria in London and realized only half a day later that it was not the book I wanted. In reality I wanted to read ASAP Naomi Klein’s ‘”This Changes Everything” , but my brain mixed them up. I was so convinced it was the right book I didn’t even check the back cover. However, once bought and started, I had to finish it. And I am happy I did. “No is not enough” tackles the ways in which we need to oppose the current fast-rising racist, overly-nationalistic and far right political movements, and what happened that lead us to these moments in US, Europe, South America and more. It’s not hard to read and I personally appreciated Naomi’s way of writing – her calling Trump a buffoon was one of the sentences I highlighted in the book.


Huis van Brienen

As part of my plan to visit as many canal houses as possible, I obviously had to pay Huis van Brienen a visit during Monument Weekend. The entrance was free and the place could have easily been a museum and not a privately-owned house. Their ballroom and garden views enchanted me for life and I can only suggest you go there next time they open it for the public.

Huize Frankendael

Another place I have seen during Monument Day – this is a beautiful restaurant, cafe and special events place with a magical garden. It’s crazy to think I biked on its street for a year and never stopped to see it on the inside, so I am happy I could remediate that. A true gem in Amsterdam East.

Pand Industria

Last place ticked off during Monument Weekend was this massive building in Dam square. I always thought it was the HQ of Ghassan diamonds, but apparently it is a hotel and a club, formally for gentlemen only, but now open to women as well. The tour was lovely and the history of the place is absolutely insane. You should definitely go inside if you ever get the chance.

Horta Museum, Brussels

While exploring Brussels on a weekend trip, I got a recommendation to go to this museum (thank you, Irina!), one of the most iconic buildings in the Art Nouveau style. It must have been one of the most magical experiences I ever had – the details, the light, the mirrors, the quirkiness – I loved absolutely everything in this house and it triggered my appetite for more art-deco museum visits.

Tropismes, Brussels

This bookshop is specialized in French books only, so I lingered there quite a lot because I was stumbling across so many titles and authors I did not know. The place in itself is absolutely stunning and jaw dropping, so you should definitely visit this place if you are ever in Brussels. It is part of the most popular and touristy gallery, however it is tucked in a sidecorridor, so it feels very intimate and cozy. It made me search for my French books in my bookcase, so now I am holding myself accountable to read at least one small book in French in October (around 180 pages).

Video Express, Brussels

While walking around Brussels, I stumbled across what I thought was a time machine shop: a video renting store! They claimed it was the right place for people who wanted to stop browsing streaming services mindlessly and instead switch to a curated list of videos recommended by cinephiles. If I would have lived in that neighbourhood, I would have probably been at the store at least once a week 🙂

Although you have to live in Brussels to fully enjoy this recommendation, I still wanted to add it here because I like the idea of a higher quality screen time, social connection based on advice and of course, supporting local businesses instead of soulless tech giants.

Waanders in de Broeren, Zwolle

This bookshop has been on my list for 3 years now and during a weekend trip I finally got to tick it off. It is hands on one of the most beautiful bookshops in the Netherlands due to the fact that it is housed inside an old church. I must have spent an hour there, going up and down the stairs, watching people and constantly adding new titles to my neverending TBR list. Definitely worth alone the trip to Zwolle.

P.S. If you do decide to visit Zwolle, please pay a visit to Lindeboom, one of the best small pastry shops I stepped foot in.


The Miniaturist (2017)

This two episode series was based on the eponymous book by Jessie Burton. I think I read the book 2 or 3 years ago in my fever to read all recent pop books about the Netherlands, but somehow the news it got turned into a micro-series did not reach me. It is nicely done and a very pleasant way to spend a weekend evening. Plus, the story has loads of potential. It is not a flawless production, but I still liked it enough to recommend it 🙂

Years and Years

WOW. I was looking forward to watching this series ever since reading about it in an article few months ago. It is a family drama with plenty Black Mirror-like tech inserts and twists and it skyrocketed my anxiety levels considering it takes a pessimistic approach over the next 10 years. There are only 6 episodes, which I guess it’s the threshold the producers decided people will hit before they get too physically sick to watch it anymore. I’m not selling it well, but it’s really good. Really good. And the cast is one of the best I have seen in a while – incredibly talented and playing truly diverse characters.

How Alexa Meade Makes People Look 2D with Body Paint – WIRED

I have been following Alexa Meade on Instagram for a while and I find her work to be very playful and dynamic. I never really knew how she got to be a visual artist, but this WIRED interview tells her story pretty well.

Why your brain thinks these strawberries are red – WIRED

Another pick from Wired, just because they really killed it this month – this video is about our weird and incorrect perceptions over colors. It’s a bit trippy and fascinating and it finally made it clear for me why people went crazy over The Dress image few years ago.

Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates – Netflix

One of the documentaries I truly enjoyed this month – this three episode series about Bill Gates is a brief insight into one of the most interesting public people in the world. The documentary tackles his childhood, his years at Microsoft, his relationship and marriage with Melinda and the many topics and world issues populating his mind. There were a lot of things discussed in only three episodes, so I never got bored. In fact, I probably could have watched 10 more episodes like these 3.


Mesmerizing photos of Vietnam from above – National Geographic

This slideshow is instantly uplifting and awe-inducing. These shots and their colourfulness and symmetry reminded me of Samsara, which is one of the most beautiful visual expressions of all time. Please look up Samsara and stream it on the biggest screen you have in your house.

Top 100 – the Guardian

In September the Guardian started recapping the best culture of the past two decades (can you believe it is going to be 2020 in less than 3 months?!) and all their lists are fascinating rabbit holes where you can discover plenty gems. Have a look at Top 100 movies, Top 100 books, Top 100 series, and also don’t neglect looking over their art, architecture and theatre shows rankings.

My father had a lifelong ticket to fly anywhere. Then they took it away – The Guardian

I binge read this article because it sounded like something out of movies. It is deeply captivating and quite divisive (who is right in this conflict? is there such thing as being right in such a case? where is the line between maximizing an investment and fraud in the case of this lifetime pass?). It is almost unbelievable that the events presented in this article are real, but they for sure make a very enjoyable read.

I Was Caroline Calloway – The Cut

This article made the rounds on social media and I have to say that even without knowing the people involved, it was still a fascinating read. All the drama ensuing later and the articles that followed it only made it juicier. This is not necessarily an intellectually stimulating piece, but sometimes we simply need something well written and with thrilling action.

Hello From the Year 2050. We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change — But Everything Is Different – TIME

This article wanted to be that triggering point to make us realize that if we want a happy future we must start taking action now. I don’t yet fully know how we individuals can make sure that companies and governments will implement carbon-neutral practices, but I do know that I am trying my best to reduce my own carbon footprint. If you want me to write more about this, let me know.

Climate Action Tracker

If you care about the climate and what countries around the world are doing to protect our planet, Climate Action Tracker is an independent organization tracking emission pledges and action. Even though they haven’t got yet accounts of all countries, their findings so far are mind boggling: only 2 countries are on their way to satisfying the 1.5 degree Celsius warming set as a target by the Paris agreement. Everything over this could be highly disastrous for the entire planet, so have a look at what Morocco and The Gambia are doing to set a climate example.

That’s all folks! Thanks for reading and see you in a month!


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