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Peaches and daydrinking
July round up of beach reads and aftersun lotions
Reading time: about 7 minutes
I spent a month in Izmir with my family in a lovely summer house frequented by the most vicious mosquitos that in my opinion were unnecessarily unyielding in their efforts. Very rude. Any strategy we developed against them was met with a stronger pushback, which proved once again that I am just an urban baby who loves controlled, manicured environments.
Despite the mosquitos, it was a month of recharging and finding peace in routines after the whirlwind of a year I had. I am aware of the Eat Pray Love-esque tone of this sentiment but please note that I really needed it :] I struggled quite a lot with replacing the disparaging convenience of a stable income with precarious freelance work and writing, while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world in a time when the political and economic outlook of the country categorically affected our livelihood. Quite fun!
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So the month of July was about letting the people I love the most in this world take care of me, while I took the time to enjoy each day without worrying about what the fuck I am supposed to do. We co-existed in a hedonistic flow of IDGAF — do you want to nap 3 hours? Of course you can. Wanna swim in the dark? Yeah, I’ll come with you.
My mum batter-fried fish almost twice a week, caught fresh by the local fisherman and cost really nothing compared to the prices in the city. I could almost taste the salty sea in each bite I washed down with Göbek rakı (the best!) and home-made şalgam. It is safe to say we had a drink every single day, our favourite time of the day being 7-8 in the evening to hit the beach with gin & tonic I made and stored in plastic water bottles, then swim while headbutting waves and unattractively laughing at each other.
Every week I made a purslane salad with peaches, which encapsulated my holiday philosophy — just have/do anything I want. In this case, it was tossing purslane (alternatively baby spinach or watercress) in a huge bowl with toasted cashew and pumpkin seeds, very sweet peaches (apricots I found a bit meh, but Duygu says mangoes work too!), fried halloumi & dressing with olive oil and pomegranate molasses. It is heavenly and hits all the sweet (and sour) spots.
I had no pressing TBR list that I usually save for summer nor a particular theme in mind, bar my uncoordinated dive into modern-contemporary Turkish short stories.
Uzak Değil by Eylem Ata Güleç (YKY). AHHHH this one. Shame on me for missing out on EAG. One minute her stories seem calm and collected and the next they gush out loss, grief and violence, cascading down on you. I was unable to find her debut in the wild, so please please please buy one for me if you happen to find it :] ✩✩✩✩✩
Gizli Kalmış Bir İstanbul Masalı by Ali Teoman (YKY). Not a big fan of Ali Teoman, I feel he is too outdated (sorry) but the last chapter is worthy of a Sherlock-Moriarty fanfic. ✩✩✩
Aslında Cennet de Yok by Kerem Işık (YKY). Reminded me once again why I don’t enjoy reading men, stories of men by men, or men in general. ✩
I worked every day, usually when it was too hot, religiously followed the UV status of the day and cautioned everyone to leave the beach at odd hours: ‘We must go back at 10:24 the latest’. We did the crossword that my mum collected over the years, which usually left us hazarding a guess over the celebrities in question, who were once cool and famous. Then I went back to whatever book I was reading whenever I had the time.
Şeylerin Masumiyeti by Orhan Pamuk (YKY). This has been on my shelf for the longest time and I wanted to finally get to it after a recent visit to the museum in January. I am just in awe of his dedication and the fact that very casually he bought a building after the 1999 earthquake. I made so many mental notes as one of my dreams is to curate a similar museum/exhibition for Aslında Yüzü Güzel and Onlyherstory hehe. ✩✩✩✩✩
My local library (actually there are two, one of which I thought was non-existing and fiercely gaslit Burak who kept saying there was another library in Dulwich) has a pretty good selection of books, so I grabbed the following that were on my list for a while then, which I deemed to be beach read-y.
Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors (4th Estate). Absolutely not interested in navel-gazing (straight) love triangles but I see the appeal. ✩✩✩
Real Life by Brandon Taylor (Daunt Books). He is now rightfully added to my list of ‘American powerhouse authors’. It made me ache all over. ✩✩✩✩
I read all my review copies on Burak’s Kindle, which is MINE now, and I don’t know why I thought Kindles were crap for so long.
Welcome to the Hyunam-dong Bookshop by Hwang Bo-reum (Bloomsbury Publishing, to be released in Oct ‘23). Maybe it is because I’ve recently started working as a bookseller, this book literally sang to me and as a result, I may have romanticised the life of a bookseller a bit too much. It is about a (depressed) woman who opens a bookshop, and how she starts pulling through and navigating the business while meeting/employing people who orbit this safe space she fosters. Although I don’t enjoy books that are preachy (and this book certainly has its advice column moments), I loved how it wasn’t just about people restarting their lives/reigniting passion or purpose. The bookshop grounds all characters where modern life fails them, whether it is studying, working or relationships. It feels natural how working without burning out, refining your craft and taking time to actually listen to people can do wonders for you. I hope it gets wide recognition and many interviews with the author! Crossing my fingers for a mini TV series too. ✩✩✩✩✩
Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS (Pan Macmillan). It is no secret I love BTS (well, since everyone now knows I flew 12 hours to see one of the members), so I was looking forward to the ‘official story’, and devoured it in a couple of sittings when it was released. I have to say I already knew about 95% of the milestones and episodic events of the book so it wasn't quite groundbreaking for me, but I loved all the quotes and actually wished for more of their POV. It is a bit too journalistic to my taste, but it is BTS so ✩✩✩✩✩.
I finished Selçuk Baran’s Bozkır Çiçekleri (YKY) (✩✩✩) the day before the end of our holiday and it soured my mood tremendously. I don’t really get the love for Ankara (sorry) nor could I understand the characters, or maybe I was just sad to end the sweet gusto my family and I savoured in such a short time.
Also I got a piercing, and a haircut that I question about five times a day as I am fighting years of people saying ‘short hair wouldn’t suit your round face!’ I worked on a couple of Aslında Yüzü Güzel comics, which you’ll hopefully see soon. Belkıs and I also started a beautiful collaboration with dear Gözde of Atölye Ren: ‘Kalıpdışı Buluşmalar’, where we meet every month to talk about fashion and inclusivity, which we feel is lacking. In case you don’t know how cool they are, Atölye Ren is an inclusive fashion brand which makes everyday clothes that fit people and aims to create a community of kindness. We’ll be announcing the second meeting in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
ICYMI, a final round up:
Belkıs and I posted our latest Aslında Yüzü Güzel comic ‘Meditasyon’, read here.
If you are feeling extra generous, you can always buy me coffee on Ko-fi 🐸
See you next time.
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