Did you know that there are really splendid ferry connections from and to Algeria? Besides places in France and Italy one can go to Alicante in southern Spain, and that’s exactly what I did. One needs tons of patience to go through the boarding procedures, mainly because there’s a lot of waiting for something. I’m not sure what, but I managed to listen to several hours worth of podcasts.
I’m in the extremely lucky position to have friends who, although I hadn’t seen them for seven long years, allowed me to crash on their sofa and it was as if barely a week had gone by since last we met. Thanks Mr and Mrs Paella for existing! They took me around the local sights including hot chocolate, tapas, red wine, Phoenician archaeology and, for the first time in my life, avocets. If you, like the WordPress spellchecker, don’t know – avocets are the most lovely birds ever. Note to WordPress: not avocados.
Alicante is well worth a visit because of the views, the great graffiti, the yummy vegetarian restaurants and lots of history to explore. Alicante is where the Spanish civil war ended.
I just really fancy the idea of a place called Joyeria. Make of that whatever you want. I also got to see a very local bit of culture because the parade of the Three Kings was on. I felt a bit like in a live version of the opening of Life of Brian. Always look on the bright side of life!
This time, we’re visiting two very different places. Macao was sponsored by my parents and Antarctica by the brilliant volunteers of Project Gutenberg. Thanks all!
174 Macao: The Bewitching Braid by Henrique de Senna Fernandes
I’m generally not a fan of love stories, and as far as this book is concerned, the development of plot was fairly predictable. But I enjoyed how the writer created the atmosphere in the different parts of the city. I had a craving for wonton soup and jiaozi several times during my reading experience.
175 Antarctica: The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctic 1910 – 1913 by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
This book was an odd one. A lot of it was excerpts from people’s diaries, like Scott, Shackelton or the author’s own and a huge part of that was ‘it was cold, it was windy, it was cold and windy’ (paraphrasing only slightly), the repetition of which made for rather dull reading. Having said that, I enjoyed the parts about the Adelie and Emperor penguins and thought the final chapter really touching (when they found their dead companions just a few miles from the next depot). The analysis of why so much had gone wrong was full of insights into the dangers of a polar journey and the necessity of planning for as many eventualities as possible.
The next places (hopefully): Kazakhstan (yes, still reading) and probably Grenada.
Yep, still reading and still posting. The books in this post were all sponsored by my parents – thank you 🙂 . On the nightstand at the moment are Kazakhstan and Antarctica.
171 Suriname: Surinam by Cynthia McLeod
I thought this was a fascinating historical insight into that particular part of Suriname’s history, especially the relationship between Jewish and Christian settlers. However, there was not enough voice given to the slaves but too much white perspective. On the whole, a somewhat flawed page-turner with good female characters.
172 Uzbekistan: The Devil’s Dance by Hamid Ismailov
This book requires undivided attention with its immersive frame story and core story, which become more and more intertwined as you read on. The mix of Stalinist prison with kings and queens and all the murderous plots are captivating and gruesome. Even more so, when you remember that the main character actually lived through this (although I don’t know how much artistic freedom the writer made use of).
173 Curaçao: Doppeltes Spiel by Frank Martinus Arion
I’m not a fan of dominoes, so this book had a slow and awkward start – a story about a day when four friends meet for a game. Having said that, the pace picked up a few chapters in and it turned out to be immensely enjoyable and gripping. You’ve got to read all through the end to understand the dedication to ‘brave women who fight’, and it’s totally worth it, I think.
Reading the world has been exciting from the word go. However, sometimes there’s a book which is particularly gripping and keeps haunting me long after I finished it. And every now and then, there’s a book which really isn’t my cup of tea. In this blog post, I’m writing about both kinds of book. On my nightstand at the moment are Uzbekistan and Antarctica (still). Thanks to my parents who sponsored all three countries 🙂 !
168 Bahrain: Yummah by Sarah A. Al Shafei
The basic premise of the book (child marriage and a resulting life story) was good. However, sometimes really odd writing was off-putting, e.g. people ‘screamed’ very often and the only thing important seemed to be a beautiful woman with a rich husband. Better editing help might have been a very good idea for this inexperienced writer. I felt this book was a missed chance.
169 Equatorial Guinea: La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono
I first heard about this book on www.ayearofreadingtheworld.com and was glad when it finally appeared in English translation. What a read! It is basically an exploration of gay people’s lives in the traditional Fang society. I started reading it while sitting in a dentist’s waiting room and was halfway through by the time the anaesthesia had worn off. The ending was a bit rushed, but apart from that it’s one of the best books I’ve read for this project so far.
170 Paraguay: Die Nacht der treibenden Feuer by Augusto Roa Bastos
Another book which is still haunting me! This collection of short stories managed to draw me into its pages from the very first sentence. The jungle, the river, the mid-day heat on the fields – and then invariably something horrible would happen. I had to take a break after each story because it was so nerve-wracking. Still, I’d love to read much more by the author who was a master of catching his readers and characters alike.
Our local patch of forest and shrubs is also home to Muscicapa striata. According to the IUCN the species is threatened by biocide-induced reductions or contamination of insect populations, removal of old trees and general habitat deterioration.
I spotted this Dendrocopos major in Luxembourg. The species seems to be doing well. However, deforestation and air pollution can cause problems.
This Linaria cannabina was perching in the dunes of Dunkirk in France. The species is in decline because of ‘the intensification of agriculture, resulting in destruction of hedgerows, improved harvesting of cereals, and the eradication of fallow and weedy fields through application of herbicides‘.
The bird is also commonly mentioned in popular culture, e.g. mentioned by Charles Dickens or Oscar Wilde. Thanks to the people on birdforum.net for their help with the ID.