Week 6 – Readings of the week, from Kids Travel Guides to Naples Based Novel

The good news is, the 52 Weeks Challenge is in fact pushing me to look for new subjects and start or pursue new activities every week. Bottom line is, these activities are not one week long activities so I am becoming kind of overwhelmed . In a good way of course.

I have been going out every day these past weeks, trying to be more present in my different groups of friends, I have been watching at least 2 hours of Gilmore Girls in Brazilian Portuguese every other night, I have been writing this blog (the articles have actually become shorter which is not that bad since I tend to be too verbal if I am not restricted), and I have been buying lots of books on Amazon again. I am not shopping for clothes anymore but my money is being spent on social interaction, traveling (planned for the upcoming months) and books. Many books, which I guess is also an addiction since I buy every book people are advising me to.

Of course before ordering anything on Amazon I look for all the comments I can find on the Internet and sometimes I end up buying a different book with better feedback but on the same subject. I like this research part, and the excitement of finally receiving the book I have read so many positive comments about!

But then I find myself with a pile of readings and no clue about which one to start first. I am used to reading several books at the same time, depending on the time of the day: one lightweighted self-improvement book when traveling on the subway to work or to a night out, one novel for the evening to relax, multiple children travel guides read simultaneously to get inspiration for my new project and one book in Portuguese for my learning sessions. It feels like there is so much to learn and to enjoy and not enough time to. I remember only a few months back thinking that I had nothing left at home to bring along for my holidays. Now I am dreaming about a long work leave just to have time to read all this material.

Anyways, I just dropped down the list of the latest arrivals that I am very excited about or that I am currently reading. I hope you enjoy it, each book is selected with care and has been praised by many readers on the Internet or by my friends and family.

For my new project:

A few weeks back we decided, my mother and I, to start a project together. For that I bought the best children “travel” guides I could find online, based on the ones praised by parents and those loved by children.

I do not have kids but if you do but do not know yet the Geronimo Stilton series (more than 80 books to date) just look it up. I have first heard about it from one of my friend children, 10 and 6, and they are crazy about the playful writing, the puns and the little mouse-detective crazy adventures around the world.

If you are looking for some actual children travel guides, Lonely Planet and the Michelin series propose many city and country guides in shorter and playful versions.

Finally, one collection that I really appreciated is proposed again by Lonely Planet, it is for younger children and includes books like Adventures in famous places, Adventures in smelly places, and so on. The books are  in a big format, full of colorful drawings and not too many texts. All pages are glossy for the children to put the stickers also included in the book. I really love it, the drawings are beautiful and it is a very nice way to start discovering the world at a young age.




For my holiday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil:

As written in my previous post Week 5 – Keep Calm and Learn Brazilian Portuguese I have recently been invited to a wedding in Buzios, near Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. As I have always dreamt about living in Brazil but actually never traveled there, this was the perfect time to learn Brazilian Portuguese, mostly because I want to understand the speeches from family and friends during the wedding (besides that I know that everyone will speak English).

One of my techniques to learn a new language is to read in that language, possibly novels or compelling stories to keep the motivation high. Therefore I decided to buy novels from the most famous Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho, in their original version. Na margem do rio piedra eu sentei e chorei is the original title of By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept. I haven’t finished it yet, but I am reading the English version in parallel to help me understand the story. The writing is simple, clear but also very fair and describes well the condition, happiness and pain, of being in love. It is a short classic easy to read especially if read in ones mother tongue.

“Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.”
― Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Additional quotes.

The second purchase is a Travel Guide to organize my trip once in Rio. I often travel in places where I have friends or family so I tend to rely on them to choose the activities and visits. I buy the most complete guide and then barely use it. This time I found a new concept by Lonely Planet: each page is actually cut in 3 parts, representing the Morning, Afternoon and Evening. Each part of the day is a set of “cards” with different possible activities and addresses. You just need to flip the pages to mix and match until you create the perfect day. The guide contains minimum information about culture  and history but it is efficient and lightweighted, perfect for keeping it in your bag during the day.



To have a break and to change air:

This month, while cutting on self-improvement books, I needed some novels to think about something else, to stimulate my imagination again and forget about the all the pressure I have been putting on myself lately. Most of all I love romantic stories so this month was very “Valentine’s Day-ish”.

The first novel is Devdas, not that famous in Europe but one of the most notorious novels of all times in India. Like any timeless classic, Devdas has a timeless story and timeless characters and has become synonymous with passionate and intense love that does not find consummation and leads to self-destruction.

“Devdas is a young man who is in love with Paro. They have been together since childhood, and their love spans their entire life. However, Paro s parents have other plans for her. They want to marry her off to another man, and this marriage will prove destructive to Devdas sanity. His grief, and the story of his drunken stupor as he pines for his beloved Paro, is a classic story that has been told and retold throughout the decades since its first release. This English translation brings out the wonder and tragedy of the original Bengali novel for a new generation of readers.”

Because I am a huge fan of Bollywood movie I actually learnt about the very famous 2002 movie adaptation starring Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Miss Universe Aishwarya Rai first. The movie of Devdas was declared a hit in India and was included in Time Magazine’s top 10 movies of the millennium worldwide. Besides the tragic story which is explored more deeply in the movie, the movie’s success is mainly due to the heartbreaking acting performance and includes some of the most incredible dance performances of all times.

The novel is short but efficient and depicts simply the tragic impact of early 1900s customs in Bengali society. The theme is universal and explored in many other books and movies since then but I really appreciated the simplicity with which the story was told. Now I am eager to finally watch the movie.

The second book I devoured in less than a week is a romantic, witty and charmingly relatable debut novel from Lauren Graham, the beloved Lorelai of Gilmore Girls. Someday, Someday, Maybe is the story of a struggling young actress trying to get ahead―and keep it together―in New York City. It is the perfect summer book that keeps your mood light and cheerful.

Finally, My Brilliant Friend,  the first book of trilogy and of a literary phenomenon in Italy and France, is a modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors (the author is also keeping its identity secret to add some mystery around the novel). To put it short it is the story of two friends, Elena and Lila, from childhood (Book 1) to old age when Lila, the rebel and hard one, disappears on purpose (Book 3). The writing is simple whereas the story is violent, and while the author takes us through the lives of these two women, she also tells the story of a neighborhood, a city (Naples), and a country (Italy) as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists.

“Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.”

Do you have any books that you particularly enjoyed this month? Do not hesitate to write about it in the comment section. From my side, more books to come on the next post.

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