Ryoan-Ji zen garden in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

Jisei: Haunting Japanese death poems from history

Japan has a long history of jisei, or death poems. Jisei is the “farewell poem to life.” These poems were written by literate people, often monks, royalty or courtiers just before their death.  A Jisei from Prince Otsu in 686 BC is one of the earliest recorded death poems. Not all death poems are written…

Every picture tells a story: The library made of gigantic books

The book blogger confessions tag

I saw this tag at the wonderful book blog by Diana Ideas on Papyrus.  I simply had to do this book tagging exercise, even though this apparently happened AGES ago. Still, it's a very cool and fun idea. So here are some books that have imprinted themselves onto my soul. Please share the love and do…

Ancient Word of the Day: Whelm

Ancient Word of the Day: Whelm

Whelm originates from Old English and it means to overturn or capsize a hollow vessel (a boat, a heart); to bury by wave, flood, storm, avalanche. The etymology is from the Old English hwelfan, to 'upheave'. This explains the modern use of "overwhelmed" and "underwhelmed". No voice divine the storm allay'd, No light propitious shone;…

Book Review – Word to the Wise by Mark Broatch

Book Review – Word to the Wise by Mark Broatch

Although I am an experienced writer, sometimes I get it wrong, either through laziness, tiredness or ignorance. The first two are under my control which is why I tend to circle back the day after I write, to re-edit professional work before I send it out. I’m the first to admit that I make mistakes.…

Book Review – Men without women by Haruki Murakami

Book Review – Men without women by Haruki Murakami

* Contains no plot spoilers Short fiction can be a fickle thing and sometimes difficult to love with some not so polished or ridiculous moments. Yet Murakami’s short fiction is an exception.  He can weave magic better than anyone about the intricacies of human relationships, the vagaries and oddities of the human heart and dark…

Historic Jukebox: Henry David Thoreau & Fleet Foxes http://wp.me/p41CQf-9V

Thirty great medieval epithets for people and beasts

Why do we say a gaggle of geese, a flock of sheep, a pride of lions or a swarm of bees? Well it harks back to medieval times when sportsmen grouped together collectives of beasties to refer to them in movement or attributing a quality to them - presumably while the poor creatures ran away…

Travel: Walks along the Water of Leith, Edinburgh

Ambient Album Review: Place Language by Various Artists @RobGMacfarlane

Sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy this one. It's a compilation album inspired by the themes and evocative words in celebrated nature writer Robert MacFarlane's book Landmarks. The book focuses on showcasing poetic landscape words, gathered from the dialects of Britain and Ireland. Ambient Album Review: Place Language by Various Artists The…

Adventures on the Isle of Skye

Franz Kafka on reading books

A book must be the axe to crack open the frozen sea within us. We need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves. We need books like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. Five Creepy Islands in…

Book Review – South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

*Contains no spoilers This is a slim book. In little more than 200 pages you are able to sink into a well-rounded and thoroughly immersive story. In the hands of a less-skilled writer, this would be impossible. For Murakami though, 200 pages is more than enough to captivate and absorb. Big in scope, the story…

So long, Marianne: Leonard Cohen and his muse Marianne Ihlen

So long, Marianne: Leonard Cohen and his muse Marianne Ihlen

In November 2016, the singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, renowned for his melancholic and romantic ballads, died a few months after the woman who inspired many of his famous songs - his Norwegian lover and muse, Marianne Ihlen. On the summery idyll of Hydra, Greece in 1960, there was a bohemian community of artists and musicians living…

I Collect Images of Paintings Like Others Collect Treasures

Ancient word of the day: Cirrocumulus

Origin: 1650s. Cumulus " a heap, pile, mass, surplus " in Latin *keue "to swell" in Latin. Cirrocumulus are flocks of fleecy clouds that whisk past us on a glorious spring day. Often their appearance in the evening foretells of a stormy morning the following day. At least thats old shepherd’s wisdom. German Schäfchenwolken: Little…

The Most Exquisite Tiny Books in the World

For all of the bookworms, here are some of the most exquisitely rendered miniature books in the world. As a warm up, here's a picture of the bombed-out Holland House library in London during WW2. The message was loud and clear. Readers won't be perturbed from doing what they love, no matter what else is…

Book Review: The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Book Review: The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

^ Contains no spoilers  Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez is more known for his stunning works for fiction. However this short novella his first published peice of work is non-fiction. Garcia wrote this essay in a series of newspaper articles in Bogota over 30 years ago. He tells the dramatised story of a sailor Luis…

Book Review: Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh

Book Review: Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh

The narrator of this novel is an elderly Eileen who looks back on her mis-spent youth in 1964. This book is the blackest kind of noir, but does away with the usual noir narrative tropes. It tells the story of Eileen's entanglement with the enigmatic and beautiful Rebecca who is more a mythological figure than…