Tag Archives: journeys

The World in Books – 2018

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” —Anna Quindlen

Each book is a journey through space and time, allowing a glimpse into other worlds and their stories. A possibility to discover new countries, continents, universes. An opportunity to connect with different, often parallel lives, to visit new horizons, and perhaps to understand just a little more about the world we live in – and about the human condition.

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“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” —Dr. Seuss

It is, perhaps, a never-ending journey, because after all, to paraphrase Einstein, the more we learn, the more we realize how much we don’t know.

In 2018, books have taken me to various corners of the world in a somewhat haphazard, random way; much less organized and systematic, yet at the same time much more spontaneous, than any real journey could ever dream to be. Some allowed me to venture along new roads, while others made for discoveries of the unknown along well-trodden paths. Each and every one was a little miracle, or, in the words of Stephen King, a piece of uniquely portable magic.

There was, I realize now, a concentration of books written and set in Northern Europe, mostly crime novels, but not all. They took me to Norway (Joern Lier Horst), Iceland (Ragnar Jonasson) and Sweden (Cilla and Rolf Bjoerlund), while a little real-life trip to Aarhus and its phenomenal bookshops opened my eyes to the Danish world – Helle Helle, Elsebeth Egholm and Dorthe Nors (Mirror, Shoulder, Signal).

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In the footsteps of a penguin I travelled to Argentina (Tom Michell – The Penguin Lessons), while I visited the USA through the eyes of Richard Ford (Canada), John Steinbeck (Of Mice and Men) and Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird). I was fascinated by “Educated”, the memoir of Tara Westover, and it was an American writer, Paulina Simmons, who invited me to explore Leningrad during the harrowing times of WW 2.

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Familiar ground was trodden in Germany (Jan Seghers, Juli Zeh), Portugal (Jose Saramago) and Spain, where I found myself exploring the Basque Country through the novels of Eva Garcia Sáenz de Urturi (Trilogía de la Ciudad Blanca) and Fernando Arumburu (Patria). There was a Dolores Redondo book set in Galicia (Todo Esto Te Daré), and Benito Olmo took me to the streets of Cadiz in Andalucía (La Maniobra de la Tortuga).

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The two French authors I had the pleasure to discover were Christine Féret-Fleury (Das Mädchen, das in der Metro las) and Laetitia Colombiani, whose story “The Braid” took me to India, Italy and to the US. Again to Italy, this time its northern parts, I ventured with Paolo Cognetti (The Eight Mountains), as well as Jan Morris (Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere).

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With Murakami I escaped to Japan (Killing Commendatore) while another Japanese author, Yoko Tawada, took me to Berlin (Memoirs of a Polar Bear).

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And then there was Africa. I was introduced to the Angolan author Ondjaki, who took me to his street in Luanda (Os da Minha Rua), and greatly entertained by Oyinkan Braithwaite from Nigeria and “My Sister the Serial Killer”. Mongane Wally Serote’s classic about the Southern African struggle for liberation, “Scatter the Ashes and Go”, was a journey in time as well as in space.

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Last but not least, here a quote from one of my favourite book journeys in 2018, which took me to Zimbabwe:

“There was a freedom, beauty even, in that kind of knowledge. It was the kind of knowledge that finally quieted you. It was the kind of knowledge that allowed you to fly.” – Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, “The Theory of Flight.”

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The journey continues; may we never stop learning!

P.S. The early days of 2019 have taken me to explore the Azores with Joel Neto: Meridiano 28

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Reading Countries: Journey to Portugal

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All things going well, in exactly one month from today, I’ll be saddling up my trusted ‘Steppenwolf’ and start cycling. Viva Portugal, here we come!

What better way to prepare for an upcoming journey, than to read about the destination? Not just travel books – novels, travelogues, short stories, crime fiction, anything goes…

After a quick browse on real life bookshelves I came up with the following pile:

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Monica Ali: Alentejo Blue

Barry Hatton: The Portuguese, A Modern History

José Saramago: El Viaje del Elefante / The Elephant’s Journey

José Saramago: La Caverna / The Cave

Pascal Mercier: Nachtzug nach Lissabon / Nighttrain to Lisbon

Ines Pedrosa: In Deinen Händen / Nas Tuas Mãos / No English translation available?!

Francisco Jose Viegas: O Colecionador de Ervas / No English translation available?!

Cees Nooteboom: Die folgende Geschichte / The Following Story

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Not bad for a start! On the virtual bookshelves the choice is as usual near limitless…

There are of course the literary giants, Jose Saramago, Antonio Lobo Antunes, Eça de Queiroz and Fernando Pessoa.

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Tell a Story, an awesome little mobile bookshop in Lisbon, recommended a bit of a younger selection:

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Jacinto Lucas Pires: The True Actor

Jose Luis Peixoto: The Piano Cemetery

Afonso Cruz: Jesus Christ Drank Beer

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See you soon, Portugal! More about the travel plans coming soon!

 

The Big 7 for 2017 – or – Times Fly…

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Originally I had planned to start this year with a blogpost on my Seven Goals for 2017; but Times Fly and – and now I think the first goal should be called, “Stop procrastinating and just do it!”

But here I am, still ruminating, and thus the second goal should be, “Kiss perfectionism good bye!”

They go together with their cousins:

“Live, love, laugh & learn more!”

“Be kind, be generous, be free, be me”

“Simplify, travel light and tread lightly!”

And finally

“Be creative!” and “Keep walking…”

But these goals, incidentally also seven, are not what this is about, as they have been the same for a number of years now, and probably rather fall in the category of life choices or a kind of a manifesto; more personal than professional.

The goals I planned to write about before procrastination and perfectionism got the better of me are of a different kind; more tangible, and in one way or another all connected to “Travel, Books and Bicycles”. Now I think I should refer to them as the seven “Adventures” or “Journeys” or perhaps even “Experiments” for 2017.

Adventures, because they are challenging and fun – and because I love what I’m doing, although at times, it is not easy. But then, nobody ever said it was going to be easy…

 “Nobody who says, ‘I told you so’ has ever been, or will ever be, a hero.”  Ursula K. Le Guin

Journeys, because I love traveling – and am hoping to cross boundaries; personal, cultural, physical, geographical.

“Not everybody who wanders is lost!” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Experiments, because:

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.”  (Ralph Waldo Emmerson)

 

And here they are… My Big Seven Adventures/Journeys/Experiments for 2017:

Adventure/Journey/Experiment #1:

Release Healing Rhinos and Other Souls as Podcast and Audio book. (Just let it go! It’s been ready for a while, but my old friends, Mr Perfectionism and Ms Procrastination interfered… see above!)

Adventure/Journey/Experiment #2:

Release »Deleted Scenes« of Healing Rhinos and Other Souls. (This should be a lot of fun! And perhaps I’ll include »The Making of…«)

Adventure/Journey/Experiment #3:

Publish the German Version of Healing Rhinos and Other Souls. (This is close to my heart. Nearly done, but still searching for the perfect title!)

Adventure/Journey/Experiment #4:

Finish writing, compile and publish the first in a series of Travel Books

Adventure/Journey/Experiment #5:

Create a »Magic Co-Production« with a great friend. (It’s still early days, “We are going to do something together… “ Watch this space!)

Adventure/Journey/Experiment #6:

Create an app relating to »Travel, books and…« (Although I’m not quite sure yet where the bicycles will fit in here…)

Adventure/Journey/Experiment #7:

Write the first draft of THE novel which has been fermenting in my mind for many years

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This adventurous list is by no means final; there might well be changes, because after all, change is the only constant!

And now that I’m thinking about it, I could add a list of the ‘Other Seven’

Here goes:

#1 – Write every day

#2 -Publish seven books (see above)

#3 -Create a journal

#4 -Delve deeper into translations

#5 -Learn something new – and write about it (NOT every day)

#6 -Create seven reading projects

#7 -Be open to new adventures, journeys, challenges and experiments!!!

And how about the seven books I’d love to read, seven destinations I’d like to travel to, seven passes to cross, seven marathons to run, seven habits to master, seven languages to speak, seven…

Anyway, I’ll be back for more soon, with updates on how the adventures are unfolding.

In the meantime, I’d like to wish you all the best, with lots of love and laughter,

What are your Big Seven for 2017?

 

A Promise…

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Bicycles in the sun and in the rain. Leaning against a wall, a fence, propped up on a stand or on the beach. Laden with fire wood, carrying a child’s seat or touring panniers. Blue, green, purple, black or red. New or old, cheap or fancy, city cruiser, mountain bike or tandem… the possibilities and variations are endless. All with their own character, everyone a piece of beauty.

But it’s just a bike, isn’t it? Like there are many millions more, six million bicycles in Beijing alone? Probably more.

Each and every one has a story to tell; carries a load of questions and answers.

Each and every one carries a promise.

The promise of a journey, an adventure, of going somewhere…

Home?

Away?

Does it matter?