Rosie Barton is a contributing London-based writer.

Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith
As Brexit is dragged towards or across some kind of nondescript line and yet nothing seems to have changed, let us turn to the more sensical news that it is Count Your Buttons Day today – the younger, more prudish sister of Lost My Marbles Day, (which I believe happens sometime around the 31st of this month). That, in addition to the news that Cadbury has removed words from their packaging in partnership with Age UK to highlight loneliness in the elderly, and the poll that suggested that lying about your age is the most likely way to alienate your date, got me thinking about the inevitability of growing old that lies before us all. So what better accompaniment to these ruminations of the transient nature of life than Patti Smith’s
Year of the Monkey. A profoundly beautiful book, poetic in its prose and metaphysical in its meaning, it’s quite a stunning read. 

Primarily a memoir, Year of the Monkey follows Smith around her 2016. From New Year gigs in San Francisco she moves around the U.S, in somewhat of a dreamlike trance, taking cues from the discarded candy wrappers as to the unkempt state of the country and conversing with the sign of the “Dream Inn” Motel, like Alice with the Cheshire Cat. Whilst playing with these metaphoric ideas, Smith also writes of love and loss, with her old friend Sandy Pearlman, who lies in hospital never far from her thoughts, or Sam Shepard, a former partner, also approaching the end of his life. There is a constant hum of mortality chasing Smith round on her wanderlusting travels from state to state. Her own 70th birthday provides her with some discomfort but a long life, fully lived is exactly what the year of the monkey, in Chinese culture, signifies. So as she searches for some breath of fresh air in what is loud and unhappy world, “respite from the clamouring, the cries”, we gain a sense of wonder and awe from her magical descriptions of the mundane. 

The year itself a pivotal point in both the UK and US’s history, with Smith ending the book days after the inauguration of “the bully”, Trump. Yet, despite a greyness and feeling of damp despair, there is also an acceptance. Smith writes of her sorrows but is not swallowed by them and leaves us with the notion that whilst we can all wander through dreams, lingering in imagined realities, we cannot do so forever: we must all wake up. 

Click here to discover Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith.

Podcast: Talking Tough with Georgia Moot by Dr Marten 
From meandering memory lane, to tackling tough conversations with even tougher individuals. This week's podcast recommendation is Talking Tough, launched by Dr Marten this month and presented by model and presenter Georgia Moot – covering all the issues of the day from body positivity, diversity, mental health and sexuality. Unfiltered and frank, this one is all about taking the knocks and bouncing back, tough as old boots – or new boots, but essential black lace up Dr Marten boots. Short and sweet too, with episodes running for 25-30 minutes, this one gives you quick morning boost, similar to a turmeric and cayenne pepper shot, but much less expensive, and wholly more enjoyable.

This episode features Tori West, Editor of Bricks Magazine and writer on topics such as classism, sustainability, inclusivity and success, who pioneered #instagramtransparency to target the facades and misconceptions that this social media age engenders. Titled I’M NOT GOING TO PRETEND, the two discuss the disconnect between IRL and social media and the need to uncover that dislocation or else fall into a spiral of comparison and unnecessary pressure to overachieve. West talks about her work as a cleaner, and how that breaks down some of the preconceptions of her glamorous life as a magazine editor and how important it is to emphasize the other side of success. From how to properly fold loo roll to how it is ok to move back in with your parents, advice and real chat are the bread and butter of this podcast. So listen to Georgia and Tori for a down to earth conversation and march on into work, whatever that work may be, setting your own standards for success, not based on what society might tell you is success, and by doing so, achieve for yourself. Did I mention it was Self-Motivation week…? 

Click here to discover Talking Tough with Georgia Moot by Dr Marten.

Also on Because Magazine:

+ Angella Nazarian is reminding us that men aren't all bad with her new book Creative Couples Collaborations That Changed History.

+ Hot tip: holiday out of season, says Josephine Platt.

+ Sinéad O'Dwyer features in our latest Woman Crush Wednesday thread.