A lit weekend at the Cordis

A long-standing fave for vacationers and staycationers looking to celebrate a special occasion with an equally special hotel experience, Cordis Auckland can be counted on to pull out all the stops for a luxurious stay. But as Remix knows, it’s also the perfect place to disappear off the grid for a peaceful weekend of indulging in all those things that life gets in the way of. 

Whether it’s sleeping in, spa treatments, sitting down to a delicious meal or – as The Lit List’s Rachel Soo Thow discovered – simply nestling into one of the hotel’s many cosy nooks to read a good book, make a reservation for one at Cordis Auckland and use your ‘me time’ to do it all – or nothing.

Hi Rachel! You run one of our fave local ‘bookstagram’ accounts, @thelitlist__. Tell us a bit about its origins.

I started this account in early 2020 with the sole purpose of it being a visual diary of sorts – a point of reference to keep track of what I’d read so I could more easily share those recommendations with friends and family. Another source of inspiration was my love for ballet. Watching ballets when I was younger and mimicking those movements… I wanted to capture that momentum and the introspective relationship between body and mind through my photography. 

And now you have a community of over 13k followers! What do you think it was that people really started engaging with? 

It never ceases to amaze me how much it’s grown! Reviews and ramblings seem to be the most engaging; or rather that’s where everything began, and I think just providing that space for conversation about literature to happen and inspiration to flow freely is what’s seen it evolve beyond my wildest dreams. 

Let’s state the obvious – you read A LOT. What’s your average per week? And talk to us about making time for reading…

On average, I’m probably reading about a book a week but it’s all about the ‘mood-reads’ for me – the pieces of writing that just suit your mood at the time over books you’ve specifically appointed time for. When I first started this account books were definitely being devoured, but as life has picked up pace I’ve definitely had to put aside time to read. I’m a bit of a night owl but also an early morning riser, so I do take advantage of those tranquil evening and early morning silences.

Tell us about your stay at Cordis – for someone with a busy work/life schedule, what was it like being able to shut out the world for 24 hours?

The Cordis was absolute bliss! It was amazing being able to pop my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and escape for the night. From the city views to enjoying the newly established Club Lounge and waking up in a King-sized bed to a beautiful sunrise, the experience was truly the epitome of self-care. As an art school graduate I was also blown away by the art displayed on every floor of the Pinnacle Tower. The works of New Zealand artist Jae Hoon Lee were a favourite – the incredible light boxes showcased a technique that could only be likened to ‘having your head in the clouds’. 

What book(s) did you bring with you, and why them?

I brought three with me! The lucky ones that made the cut were The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, Five-Part Invention by Andrea J. Buchanan and All Men Want to Know by Nina Bouraoui. From an African-American historical saga to an exploration of love through trauma to a novel about shame and sexuality, it was a varied selection chosen to facilitate the freedom of ‘mood reading’. The best kind of reading! 

The Cordis also has a library available to guests, which we love. Did you explore these shelves/find any gems to take back to your room? 

I loved seeing this library in the Club Lounge! As soon as I walked in, the books on the shelves were like a beacon to me and I found a few that I couldn’t wait to flick through right then and there with a glass of wine. From The Art of Beer by Garage Project, to books on cabin design and explorations on New Zealand artists, it’s definitely a space worth checking out.

What are three books on your TBR (to be read) list right now?

Oh gosh only three? Haha! I’m currently looking at a TBR of over 100 books and it is very intimidating! If I had to narrow it down, 2666 by Roberto Bolano, The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk and Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. 

What was the last truly breathtaking book that you read? 

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart – the harrowing story of three children struggling to navigate life in 1980’s Glasgow with an alcoholic mother on a wayward path, whose addiction only serves to eclipse its very demise. Every page was heartbreaking and addictive and Young Mungo by the same author, which I read more recently captures a similar moment in time with the epic portrayal of a working class family battling sexuality and love. 

Do you have a favourite genre? 

Definitely contemporary fiction. The plethora of new and emerging authors dipping into varied genres themselves really excites me. Right now I’m also drawn to books exploring and reflecting on love in all its forms, from friendships to dating to one night stands to marriage. Conversations on Love edited by Natasha Lunn and All About Love by Bell Hooks are a couple of my recent faves. Also, I love graphic novels! There’s something beautiful about flicking through squares of vivid art and the details are always so exquisite.  

What is your favourite reading environment/is there anything that levels up the experience?

Great question! I would say this depends on the season. Summer – on a beach or by the pool or in a park on a picnic blanket with a bag of snacks. Winter – snuggled up in blankets with a cup of tea. I’ve also discovered ‘brown noise’ on Spotify, alongside other soundscapes including the sounds of a library(!) and I’ve found this really helps to flick the switch and aid the end-of-day wind down.

With more than 13k followers currently, what are your goals for @thelitlist__?

To continue putting my thoughts out there for the world to read. I don’t see this account as simply a platform for people to agree with my views, but rather an avenue where open conversation can thrive and where new members can comment and have their voices and opinions heard. I’m also really passionate about buying secondhand. I would say about 99.9% of my reading material is thrifted, and that’s something I’d love more people to know. As well as the sustainability factor, I love the tangibility of a used book and thinking about the journey it’s been on to make its way into my very hands. 

What’s one book/character/passage of writing that has resonated with you lately?

A quote by Natasha Lunn from her book Conversations on Love

“We need to stop tying ourselves so narrowly to this punitive vision that we’ve got to date in our twenties, find the ideal partner by twenty-eight, and have our first child at thirty-one, otherwise our life will be miserable. If that sort of narrative happens, it’ll be great in some ways and it’ll be awful in others. We need to show more imagination about what a good life might look like.” 

This passage continues to be at the forefront of my mind as I navigate similar conversations with others in their thirties. This ‘checklist’ that lingers and overwhelms and induces anxiety in all of us… and it’s like if we take a step back, we will realise that this checklist is just thriving off our imaginations, and imagination is itself a thief that seems to rob us of truth and perspective. At the end of it, we are all just winging it really.