My first Russian masterpiece! Or at least the first I finish, once upon a time I started reading ‘Lolita’ but I never managed to get through it. The spectre of Alexander Wolf is not typical ‘Russian’ as I always hear people talk about: long, loads of characters with many names and very intense. I’m still gathering the courage to start ‘Anna Karenina’.

However, my boyfriend got this book as a present, read it and gave it to me to read it. He specifically mentioned it’s not like Lolita, or other Russian literature so ‘I would probably like it’. He was right. The story starts in the Russian Civil War with an incident, which haunts the protagonist for the rest of his life. He moves to Paris, but can’t escape his past, especially when he reads a story detailing exactly what happened to him in the civil war, but written from the perspective of his victim.

I don’t know how I found this book. Besides from seeing it on the shelves of the bookstore, of course. I saw the announcement for the movie, but it struck me more like a teen story, something more like Lizzy Mcguire or the fault in our Stars. So I didn’t pay it much attention but was somehow intrigued by it. So when I saw it in the bookstore and had a massive coupon, I bought it. And yes, that was an amazing idea.

The book thief is about Liesel, who lives in the fictional town of
Molching, near Munich, Germany. With her foster parents and her neighbors, she’s living an ordinary life during the second world war.

I wanted to do a little overview of the last year and which books really made an impact. I chose five of my favorite books I read last year, which all have different reasons and ways in which they affected me. Some because the writing was just amazing, some because it made me think. It’s a bit late to post an overview, I somehow lost December and didn’t have time to write at all.

So a little late, but HAPPY NEW YEAR. May it bring nothing but good times.

Where I live (the Netherlands) we have a holiday tradition called Sinterklaas. Nowadays mostly known for the inability of some fanatics to change the racist part of it (black Pete), but when one removes/replaces ‘black’ Pete with just normal Pete or no Pete, Sinterklaas is an actual fun tradition. The story goes like this: Saint Nicholas is a saint from Turkey who lives in Spain. Each year a month before his birthday (the 6th of December) he gathers his helpers, his horse, and his steamboat and floats over to the Netherlands. Here he gives the nice children some  ‘strooigoed‘, chocolate letters and small presents, until the 5th of December when he sent his helper to bring the kids a sack full of presents and they sing songs etc.  Traditionally, the ‘naughty’ kids go with him in a sack to Spain.

When you’re a bit older, and (spoiler alert) you find out Sinterklaas isn’t real, people draw names and make ‘surprises’ for each other. This normally consists of a funny poem makes fun of something you did in the last year, and a gift. Some go all out and make something to emphases the poem as well. This year we celebrated Sinterklaas and my brother got me a book, because I read a lot and because this book is about a world without cats. So the ideal book for me!

Some years ago, I found the movie Coraline in the DVD store, bought it, loved it. It became one of my favorites and it got me into Tim Burton (well, Coraline and the nightmare before Christmas). However, I had no idea that it was also a book so when I saw it on Instagram, it became an instant bucket list item! And because I have zero patience, so I ordered it the same month.

Coraline is a girl who wanders into an alternate universe and meets her ‘other mother’, who is everything her real mother is not: attentive, always available and loving. Or so it seems…And Coraline has to learn to be brave, even when she’s alone and scared. While getting to know herself and her ‘ old’ life, she also manages to help some old souls and give them the closure they need.

Last summer my boyfriend and I were visiting a friend of his, who is a smart man. My boyfriend is also a smart man. I’d like to think I’m somewhat smart, but my boyfriend is the thinking-about-things kind of smart. Just as this friend who is also an avid reader. He and my boyfriend often talk about books, what the writer has been trying to say and what they think of it. I’m normally just listing to get a new recommendation for my intellectual pile. The last title I got was Nooit meer slapen, by Willem Frederik Hermans. A Dutch book, but translated to English (Beyond sleep is the translated title).

Beyond sleep is about obsession, suffering and getting to know oneself. I found it a hard read especially in the beginning, it really needs some focus to get in there, but after a while, it’s strangely addictive.

Once upon a time, when I was about 13 or so one of my then-friends came over with a movie to watch. ‘The Princess Bride‘ to be specific. I had never heard of it, didn’t necessarily think I’d enjoy it and was more hoping for ‘Pirates of the Caribean‘, because Orlando Bloom. Boy, I was wrong. I fell in love with the movie, but it took me about 14 years to realize it was a book as well. 

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure: The “Good Parts” Version Abridged by William Goldman. Quite a mouthful! In the book, Goldman pretends to be a fan of the book (as it has been read to him by his father, enlighting his interest in books and writing), who wants to inspire his son. He finds the book, gives it to his son who finds it very hard to read. As it turns out, Morgenstern has put a lot more in the book than his dad read to Goldman so he decides to abridge it, as a gift to his son.

What defines a ‘normal person’? Is that when you have the same ideas and opinions as everyone at your high school, but then: what happens when you leave home and get out in the world? Or are you more normal when you’re unapologetically you, even if that means people don’t understand you?

The book is a story about love, but it’s not a romance. No prince or princess, and a whole lot of real world. It’s about growing up, leaving life as you knew behind and moving on, about fate and how to deal with that. I hadn’t heart about Sally Rooney before, but I saw a review of the book in a newspaper and it spiked my interest so I went out and bought it.