Dinosaur of the week: Brown-hooded Kingfisher

brown-hooded-kingfisherHere we have a Halcyon albiventris. We found him/her perched on a tree in Kruger Park. There are lots of different species around the world, many of which are forest species and under threat from humans. However, this particular species is still classified in the group Least Concern.


Dinosaur of the week: King Penguin

king-penguinToday is Penguin Awareness Day. So, I proudly present an Aptenodytes patagonicus. This one was wandering around South Georgia with lots of fur seals for company, plus tens of thousands of his/her own kind in the rookery. If you want to do something good for penguins you can go to www.penguinwatch.org and count them. It’s easy and fun!

WorldBookProject – (Not so) Fresh from the Shelf

91 Chile: Isabel Allende – Das Geisterhaus

‘The House of Spirits’ had lived on my shelf since my last year at uni, my first uni that is. Having read it now, more than 15 years later, I think it was rather good that I let the book lie there and wait. Back then, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated the grotesque characters who can communicate with spirits. What’s more, it’s likely that all the political implications would have gone straight over my head. Whereas now, I just loved it and devoured the 500 pages within a couple of days.

92 Faroe Islands: Heðin Brú – Ketil und die Wale

Here’s another book that came from a shelf where it had been living forever, in this case from my dad’s. ‘The Old Man and his Sons’ was short. Nevertheless, I thought it was a marvellous introduction to what life was like on the Faroe Islands in the early or mid-twentieth century. It also reminded me of the book I read for the Basque Country in a way that the story was set in a small contained space, but expressed sentiments which ring true for any community of humans. Interestingly, the book was selected ‘Book of the twentieth century by the Faroese.’

93 Laos: Outhine Bounyavong – Mother’s Beloved

To continue the shelf-motive, this book came from my husband’s shelf were it had hibernated for at least a decade. It’s a collection of short stories. So, as so very often happens with this kind of book, I liked some better (especially the ones with an environmental touch) than others (which crossed the line into communist propaganda from my point of view). All in all, the book offered a glimpse into rural and urban life in Laos and how it developed over the years.

94 Lesotho: Mpho ‘M’atsepo Nthunya – Singing Away the Hunger: Stories of a life in Lesotho

Now, this is a book that I got from a second-hand seller off the internet. And guess what, it came with an autograph by the author, what a lovely surprise! The stories in the book encapsulated all aspects of life with all its ups and downs. Although the author is not a professional writer, her way of narrating was gripping and I really enjoyed reading about her life. I think that the editor, K Limakatso Kendall, had a brilliant idea when she helped Nthunya publishing her book.

WorldBookProject – Madagascar, Malawi & Northern Ireland

The year started off with some very good books for my undertaking of reading a book from each country/dependent place on this planet. Many thanks to Shona Potts for recommending Lucy Caldwell.

88 Madagascar: Michèle Rakotoson – Dadabé

This was a short but powerful book. It contained a novella and two short stories, one of which dealt with the plight of people who lived in a refugee shelter. Where and how do you get clothes, food, privacy, education, work, hygiene …?

89 Malawi: Tiyambe Zeleza – Smouldering Charcoal

Another rather political book which I found immensely gripping. Dealing with corrupt people in power (morally and otherwise), getting by when living below the poverty threshold or having to live with ill family members were just some of the topics explored.

90 Northern Ireland: Lucy Caldwell – All the Beggars Riding

This was my audiobook of the month, and it was wonderfully narrated by Catherine Harvey. At first I found the stream of memories of the main character quite confusing, especially since she didn’t remember the facts and eventually made up things that could have happened. In the end, however, all of this came neatly together as an intriguing example of how we create stories, professionally or just the every day ones. Like the other two books, I can definitely recommend this one.

Reading around the World

Dear Reader:

Happy New Year!

Yes, of course, WorldBookProject is still ongoing – I’ve so far read about a third of the places on my list. At the moment I’m at:

87 Cuba: Alejo Carpentier – Barockkonzert

It turned out to be a rather short novel, based on an opera by Vivaldi. Baroque Concerto seemed about music, conquest, travel, carnival in Venice, and how humans get to grips with new experiences. I found it rather quirky.

After having read 87 books, I can also tell you that 34 had been written by women (that’s roughly 40%), and 5 by a mixed group of female and male authors. So, when it comes to equality, I’m doing much better than when I did my first count (under 20% female authors back then). I certainly hope to reach 50:50, and I’m also already looking forward to the #Womenintranslation month in August.

Now, what to expect soon? I got some lovely books as Christmas presents – some places in the Caribbean, some small European countries, a couple of the Gulf states … Of course, if you’ve got a suggestion what book I should read for your country, please leave a comment.