My essentials: Lara Calleja’s cultural picks

No 67 | Lara Calleja, 34, Author, Writer, Activist

1. Book

Not easy. But if I have to choose, it will be’ Stories of Eva Luna’ by Isabella Allende (not to be mistaken for ‘Eva Luna’ by the same author). This collection of short stories from strong women from all corners of the world – has taken me through all sorts of places and emotions. There’s a sense of magic, awe and inexplicable inspiration derived from these humble stories of women, who are far from perfect,  who are simply doing their best to survive, and whose strengths and weaknesses remind you of the beauty of being unapologetic to whoever you choose to be as a person.

2. Film

‘Non Ti Muovere’, by Sergio Castiletti. It’s a film about love, obsession, conflicting characters and traumas. As the movie shifts through different time frames, the characters evolve drastically; and there’s a sense of longing and redemption that tags along. This movie is definitely one of the most ‘improper’ yet most beautiful love stories I have ever watched on screen.

3. TV/ Internet 

I follow Russell Brand’s ‘Under The Skin’ podcast. I follow The Guardian and Al Jazeera news platforms. I like silly animal reels on Instagram – where I laugh wholeheartedly and remind myself that I have to extend my animal family once I move into my new home. Maybe two elderly dogs, and a parrot? As long as they all go well with my 15-year-old cat, Fragu.

4. Music

‘Tutti Morimmo a Stento’, by the late Fabrizio De André. This album has accompanied me through the many different phases of my life. It gave me a beautiful symphony to relate to whenever life felt a bit too much. I love De André in general – his kindness and intelligence resonated through his voice; his human and political sensibility exuded through his music.

5. Place

There’s a place by the sea in Marsaskala. It’s by the salt pans and has a rock cavity facing the sea. This has been my favourite spot since I was 15. I call it ‘my little cave’ and in it, I have shared a glass of wine with all sorts of friends over the years. It was also a place I liked to go by myself – to cry, to be angry, to be by myself. In this cave, I scribbled more than enough teenage-angst-fuelled poems and prose – my very first attempts at writing literature. I still visit this place – sometimes I even go for sunrises or go watch the violet sky during a thunderstorm. It’s my go-to place – for both the saddest and happiest of moments.