5 novels to get through the cold season

Five books to read to get through the cold season

It’s the end of January and there is a feeling of unrest in the air. No matter who you talk to, everyone has enough of winter and the cold, dark days. We are ready for Spring.

Still, I’m trying to embrace this, mostly unloved season of the year. I’m trying to take it slow, rest a lot and spend my evenings reading instead of out in the cold. From time to time, I challenge myself to go on a weekday Netflix fast (so I only watch on the weekends) and I started again this January. This way, I have freed up a few of my evenings for some great books that have been waiting on my nightstand. Extra bonus: Reading in the evenings is so much more fun and relaxing than any Netflix show could ever be.

Dogs at the Perimeter – Madeleine Thien

I just finished this novel and it’s a great, engaging weekend read. You might like it, if you’re looking for an interesting story and some lessons about Cambodian history. I have read another novel by the same author last fall and it quickly became one of my favourite books („Do not say we have nothing“, in case you’re curious).

Dogs at the Perimeter tells the story of Janie, who as a child experiences the terrible violence of the Khmer regime in Cambodia. This is a point in history that has completely escaped me so far, so it was really interesting – yet grueling – to learn more about it. Thien has a wonderful way of making her characters and their pain seem real and it’s just a pleasure to read her books. This one will leave you with a lump in your throat, but I highly recommend it.

The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd

I read „The Invention of Wings“ while in Mexico last year and never got around to recommending it to you! It tells the story of two girls, Handful and Sarah, as they grow up together in early nineteenth century Charleston. Despite being the same age, their prospects of life couldn’t be more different. Handful is an urban slave, and Sarah gets ownership over her for her 11th birthday. As the years go by, both of them fight against slavery in their own way. It’s a great portrait of a devastating time in history, so I would recommend it to everyone – and I normally don’t even like reading historical fiction. Extra-bonus: Sarah’s character is actually based on a real woman, one of the first feminists speaking up in the anti-slavery movement.

The Group – Mary McCarthy

Now for a novel that is purely entertaining! The Group focuses on a group of women and follows them as they make their way in life after college. It’s set in New York in the Thirties, so the atmosphere made me long to go to Manhattan – and maybe travel in time. I was a bit surprised by how modern the characters acted, so it might not be completely historically correct. The Group is fun to read though, if you’re looking for something light and easy. Plus, it was really interesting to see the characters find their place in a world that didn’t regard women very highly.

Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

Yes, this is a children’s book told from the perspective of a small pig. Hear me out. It is also a story that is beautifully written, sets an example for the importance of friendship and sticking up for others and it makes you long for a slow life in the country. All factors that make a great winter read, in my opinion. And as the prologue says: Everyone who ever wants to be a writer, needs to read this book. I definitely second that and urge you to pick it up as well.

Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

Another children’s book, another favourite of mine. You probably know the story of Anne of Green Gables already, but if you haven’t yet read it or if it’s been long ago, you should definitely pick it up (again). Anne is an orphan girl, who gets adopted by chance and slowly but surely enchants the lives of everyone around her. She has a highly active imagination and oftentimes changes her circumstances for the better just by imagining. In my opinion, making the most of this time of year definitely requires some imagination! So, we can all learn from Anne in this aspect.

These are a few of the books I recently finished. It’s such a good time of year to read, so it won’t be long till the next roundup post! Did you read anything great lately, that I need to add to my reading list? Do tell!

How to spend a relaxing weekend at home

How to spend a relaxing weekend at homeAnd just like that, it’s November. Beautiful, golden October is over and it’s definitely time for the cold and rainy season. A lot of people don’t like November for exactly that reason. In my opinion though, November is the perfect time to slow down and spend a relaxing weekend at home.

On cozy, slow weekends like this, I try to put a few fun things on my daily agenda, so I don’t end up mindlessly scrolling through the internet all day and somehow missing the weekend. There are so few days I truly have for just relaxing, so it’s quite sad to just waste them. These are my favourite activities for a hygge weekend at home.

Read a cookbook

If you watch my Instagram stories you might know that I love testing recipes on the weekend – big pancake breakfasts, chutney adventures or homemade bread, everything. I prefer to actually read a cookbook instead of taking a recipe of the internet on the weekend. It inspires me to try something (seasonal) I normally wouldn’t and I get to read all the little stories going along with the recipes.

One of my recent favorite cookbooks is Molly Yeh’s book “Molly’s Kitchen”. She talks about how she met her husband, her life in New York and the Midwest. It’s just the coziest thing to make a coffee on a Saturday morning, think about which recipes to try and then start cooking. I have already tried a few dessert recipes from her book and the homemade hummus is the best I ever had. Another bonus of trying recipes on the weekends: You have cake!
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My favourite podcasts to learn new things

New podcasts worth listening to

Do you love podcasts as well? In the past few years, they have made a real comeback. I love listening to them while cleaning or riding the bus. They are the perfect combo of entertainment and learning new things. A few years ago, I shared a list of podcasts I listen to regularly with you. Here’s an update with some new favourites.

Planet Money

Apart from what the title suggests, Planet Money is not about financial tips. Instead, it’s a really fun podcast telling kinda weird stories about the economy. Recent episodes I enjoyed have been about funding for academic projects or the resurrection of a well-loved cookie. The hosts are all really funny too, so it’s great entertainment.

How I Built This

This podcast is one of my very favourites. It talks about successful people and how they started their businesses. The show covers entrepreneurs like the guys who started Kickstarter, BuzzFeed or the Rolling Stone. It is so interesting to learn how people got where they are now and truly inspiring! If you like great stories, this one is for you.
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Why I stopped eating superfoods

Why I stopped eating superfoods on Hanna's Places

As you might know, I try to live more sustainably by changing my behaviour in small steps, bit by bit. I buy organic whenever I can, use public transportation or take the train instead of a plane. Still, on my journey to a more sustainable lifestyle, there’s one issue I’ve grappled with for a while: superfoods.

Whenever you look at the recipe of healthy chefs or bloggers, they contain „superfoods“ – avocado, chia, acai, quinoa, coconut oil… . Please don’t get me wrong, I am not writing this article to judge others or point fingers. It’s just that lately, I couldn’t ignore the harmful effects of superfoods on our environment any longer. So I decided to stop eating them.
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My autumn reading list for cosy evenings

My autumn reading list for cosy evenings

For me, autumn is the perfect time to cosy up inside with a fresh, new book and read. My favourite evenings are those without any commitments, some hot tea and a book I can get lost in. Preferably with the rain pouring down outside. Those evenings don’t happen too often, but when they do, I always cherish them.

Now that the colder part of autumn and the rest of the year is coming around, there’s no better time to stock up on some new books. After reading much non-fiction this summer, I’ve included some more fiction on my autumn reading list.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (Blessing Verlag)

Some of you might know Trevor Noah as the really funny stand-up comedian who hosts the Daily Show. You probably don’t know (at least I didn’t) that he had a pretty rough childhood in South Africa before becoming a famous comedian. He grew up in the townships of Johannesburg to a white father and a black mother – at a time, when such a union was punishable by a couple of years in prison.

Trevor Noah tells the stories of being born a crime, living with a violent stepfather and actually going to prison one time. Between all the horrors and hardships, it is still a light-hearted book. I cannot recommend it enough, as it is such an enjoyable read and you actually learn more about the absurdities of the apartheid regime.
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Meet Hanna
Hanna's Places - a green lifestyle blog

Hanna’s Places is a green lifestyle magazine written by Hanna Ulatowski. It’s all about slowing down in a fast-paced society and finding ways to live a more sustainable, simple lifestyle.

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