August’s Book Club – Life Is Tough But So Are You: How to Rise To The Challenge When Things Go Pear-Shaped (Aka, Level 4)

In partnership with Villa Maria 

Welcome to Capsule’s new book club! We’re SO excited to bring you a new book each month to devour and savour. Whether you indulge in a few hours of luxurious alone time each Sunday, or finish your day with a chapter or two, we invite you to relax and enjoy, and if you’re so inclined, connect with fellow Capsule readers and your own family and friends to have a yarn about the book you’ve just read. We’ll be mixing up the titles we feature every month, so you’re in for an eclectic monthly journey.

And, thanks to our partners Villa Maria, each book will be expertly wine matched with a great bottle of Villa’s finest – this month, we bring you their divine Villa Maria Hawke’s Bay Reserve Chardonnay 2019. 

We’ll also provide discussion points on our Instagram @capsule_nz throughout the month, and for more exclusive offers, event invitations and bonus content, please do sign up to our newsletter here!

The title alone of this brightly coloured book was enough to both grab our attention and make us do a heart-felt ‘heck yes’, and when we selected Life Is Tough: But So Are You for our August book club, it felt like it was a very appropriate sentiment. Then we went into another lockdown across the country and it felt even more appropriate.

But whether you’ve been affected by the latest lockdown or not, the fact that life feels harder right now is a fairly universal thread. Throw in the rainy, windy and chilly months of August and September – right when winter has stopped feeling warm and cosy and started feeling like an endless stretch of grey – and it’s all feeling a bit too hard. This is exactly when you need to read the book from someone who has been through the trenches before and author Briony Benjamin is exactly that. At the age of 31, Briony was diagnosed with cancer, she experienced the kind of Life 180° that can hit so many people and leave them wondering: what the heck do I do now? How do I get through this hard part? And how do I rebuild afterwards?

At the age of 31, Briony was diagnosed with cancer. she experienced the kind of Life 180° that can hit so many people and leave them wondering: what the heck do I do now? How do I get through this hard part? And how do I rebuild afterwards?

It is truly impossible to live a life on God’s green earth without experiencing your own Life 180° and if the amount of communication our Capsule community has been sending us about the state of their mental health right now is anything to go by, there are a lot of people feeling like they’re going through their own annus horribilis right now (and yes, the global pandemic has exacerbated things very quickly!)

Some of the absolute cornerstones of mental health are knowing that a) you’re not alone in your pain and b) it’s not going to last forever. Unfortunately, when you’re in the damn thick of it, both of those pieces of information can float up, up and away and you’re left thinking that no-one understands you and that life is always going to be this hard. Reading about stories of people who have experienced the darkest days and come out the other side more resilient than ever is helpful, but when the author is also very honest about the wobbly bits that come into play during those dark days, that’s when a book can really help you feel less alone in the world.

Even though Life Is Hard is shaped around Briony’s own experience and it’s told in a very honest, heartfelt and also funny way – the cancer diagnosis chapter is called ‘This wasn’t on my vision board’. But, as a journalist, Briony also looks at trauma and mental health from a wider perspective that makes this book not only helpful for those in the middle of hard times, but also those who are acting as the support person to someone in crisis. 

Whether it’s illness, loss, grief, a sudden life change… you name it, there’s an entire host of bad things that can happen to good people on no notice and this book is the warm, witty and comforting companion, while also offering practical tips and how-tos. 

The book covers the main arc of living through a traumatic event: The shock, the hard struggle, the gradual shift into better times and then looking at your life through a new, post-trauma lens. Whether it’s illness, loss, grief, a sudden life change… you name it, there’s an entire host of bad things that can happen to good people on no notice and this book is the warm, witty and comforting companion, while also offering practical tips and how-tos. 

There’s advice on the specific ways well-meaning friends can help you, how to find the mental health tool box that suits your personal situation, how to find hope when you’re missing it but also how to lean into the harder emotions – like rage and sorrow – rather than fear them. There’s info boxes, colourful diagrams, several great Harry Potter references and tips and tricks from experts along the way. It’s also written as a book for people who are feeling overwhelmed, so it’s designed to dip in and out of, rather than read in one full swing (although you can do that to, it’s your book!) Life is Hard manages to be serious, empathetic and joyful (which is a hell of a combo to pull off) and is the perfect reading companion for an unexpectedly tricky time.

VILLA MARIA WINE MATCH with Villa’s Wine Expert, Jessica Bell

There is the growing hint of spring peering through those grey winter days and yes, spring in Aotearoa may mean more wind and more rain for a while, but it’s the sign of warmer days ahead, nonetheless. With daylight savings mere weeks away, and the To match the growing optimism for brighter times building, Villa Maria’s Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2019 is here to deliver a wine that brings a brighter aromas of bouquet of citrus and stone fruits, mint and buttery, woody notes for a with an elegant toasty oak influence. 

The dynamic layers of flavours in this wine are thought provoking in itself. An elegant and unique wine, this is a special drop that suits an air of looking forward to celebrations ahead and with the ‘Reserve’ label name, you know you’re getting the best of the best that Hawkes Bay has to offer. Invoking the comforting warmth of a peach crumble on a spring night, this is a Chardonnay with a capital ‘C’.

Missed last month’s book club? Check out our mix of thriller False Witness, and the sensational EarthGarden Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon

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