Tag Archives: books

La misura della felicità – Gabrielle Zevin

Il sottotitolo “Come una bambina insegnò a un libraio ad amare i libri” lascia un po’ perplessi, dopo aver letto il romanzo. In realtà, Maya, la bambina, insegna al libraio Fikry ad amare un po’ tutto, persone comprese; ma non c’è una parte del romanzo in cui lui “odi” i libri, dunque Maya non gli insegna molto, da questo punto di vista…

Ma ecco la storia. Fikry è un libraio di mezza età rimasto vedovo da poco. E’ diventato un misantropo: cinico e dalla battuta velenosa, non è ancora alcolizzato ma non tralascia di ubriacarsi una volta alla settimana per permettersi di sognare meglio la moglie morta.

Dopo uno di questi eccessi alcolici, si accorge che qualcuno gli ha rubato un libro raro, il Tamerlane, scritto da un diciottenne E.A. Poe e stampato in soli cinquanta esemplari. Era l’unico oggetto di valore in suo possesso, qualcosa che gli avrebbe permesso di vendere la libreria e andare in pensione.

Il giorno dopo il furto, Fikry trova una bambina di due anni nella sua libreria: il biglietto che ha con sé è stato scritto dalla madre, che si dichiara disperata ma desiderosa che la figlia cresca attorniata dai libri.

In America le adozioni non vanno per le lunghe come da noi, e Fikry diventa… padre.

Ma chi è Maya? Sua madre viene ritrovata pochi giorni dopo morta sulla spiaggia: presunto suicidio. E il padre?

Non è un giallo, questo. Scivola più nel genere rosa, quando Fikry si innamora di una rappresentante e i due si sposano. Tuttavia, un lato “giallo” si scorge proprio sulla vicenda del Tamerlane e del padre di Maya… ma non vado oltre, sennò vi rubo il gusto di leggerlo.

Il romanzo è leggero (non spiacevole, dipende da cosa cercate e dal momento in cui lo leggete), ma, con una pila di libri in copertina e avendo un libraio come protagonista, mi sarebbe piaciuto che si parlasse più di letteratura… Si parla di libri, sì, ma poco, rispetto alle aspettative create. Gli apporti più numerosi sono quelli all’inizio di ogni capitolo, presentati sotto forma di note che Fikry scrive alla figlia (note che lasciano capire già a metà libro come finirà la storia).

Ad ogni modo, la copertina e il sottotitolo sono scelte editoriali, e non posso farne una colpa all’autrice.

E’ un romanzo leggero anche perché non indugia sui drammi: ci sono molti dialoghi, ma niente di sentimentale; piuttosto, un umorismo bonario, di quelli che ti fanno sorridere perché ti piacerebbe davvero prendere la vita come fanno i personaggi della storia.

Valutazione complessiva: 3,5 punti su 5.

Nella vita, quasi tutte le cose negative sono frutto di una tempistica sbagliata, e tutte le cose positive sono frutto di una tempistica giusta.

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Lady of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley

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I am very sorry: I tried, I strove to read this novel, because I decided that I had to read a fantasy classic, at last. But I cannot go on…

Women are all equal and tasteless, all beautiful and with long hairs. Gawen, the main character, is a boy who doesn’t seem to be able to take a decision after some thinking: then, suddently he does something. People don’t act like this.

Then, there is a lot of useless scenes, one among the other is when Gawen and the Fairie lady and Sianna go to see the King Deer. What does this scene stand for? Same opinion about all the chants and the rituals of the priestesses:no pathos, just movements and trances and sleep to get visions and dreams. By the way: how much do these people sleep?

The first 100 pages, when Gawen arrives in Avalon are simply boring. I have no other adjectives. Flowers, rituals and sacred stones.

I read that the author was a feminist: but if so, why all her female characters are so meaningless?

I read that this novel serie should talk about the Nature powers. But if this Avalon people loved nature so much, why do they eat meat? And what do they do to help the Earth? Just rituals?? Hands up to the sky?

What a silliness.

I discontinued the reading on page 140 (of 563).

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How a writer can be Dangerous…

… By showing the little scraps of truth that each of us carries in the body.

Alice Munro, The Beggar Maid.

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Book challenge of the week…

… Or of the month?

Aniway: to read Alice Munro in English!

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The heretic’s daughter -Kathleen Kent

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I have read some reviews that are spread out through the web and all of them agree that there was an incredible quantity of jealousy and fear in those day when the Salem witchcraft trials were held. Some of the reviewers were very astonished about this fact.

But let’s reason just a little bit more deeper: is the nowadays situation very different?

Nowadays we are just a little more sensible and the law system is just a little fairer, but to tell the truth, I do not see that big difference between a Mercy and some of the people I know. Of course, you would not see me hanging from a tree in the middle of a square, but there are a lot of ways to hang a person, to separate her from the community, to chat about her supposed faults. I mean: the core humanity is still the same, no matter if there are not indians raids, abductions and ransoms anymore.

If you refuse to defer to people in power (wichever power it may be, official or not), you are signed.

One of the most remarkable features in this book is… the end. The part in wich you find questions that allow you to discuss Abou this book and the Salem trials. One of the questions is the following one:

Are you aware of any social intolerance in the community in wich you live? If so, discuss the nature of that intolerance (for example, religious, ethnic, xenophobic). Do you think this intolerance could ever rise to the toxic level of the Salem witch hunts? Why or why not?

If they have reported this questions, it means that my comment is not that odd…

And let’s see one of the ideas that I do not agree with: the custom to dress like a witch in the places where the Salem Trials took place (I saw some videos in youtube): people were killed for stupid reasons and fears. I do not think it is a kind custom…

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The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracy Chevalier

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I started reading this book a couple of years ago, but I stopped after one of the first scenes, when the daughter of the rich customer tried to make sex with the Painted under a table, just after having exchanged few words. But I began again to read it in these days because I am exploring through other books the art worlds: this novel is made up, but I know that Tracy Chevalier is an accurate history researcher in this branch.

Actually she clearly showed the links between the artists (in this case, a painter) and the craftsmen (in this case, the weaver, the Lissier who prepares the arras), but also between the customer (the rich bourgeois) and the merchant, and she explained the odd rules that bound the Bruxelles craftsmen that worked in the guilds.

What I understood from this novel is how the artist role was transparent in thos years (end of XV century) and far away from ours. Nicolas Des Innocents, the painter, is not so famous and he doesn’t consider his art as something miracolous or divine: it is just the way he earns money. He must obey the client and the merchant and the weavers do not consider him like a very important person, except for the fact that he comes from Paris.

I appreciated that the painter did not “compromise” the virtue of the customer’s daughter: it was more realistic that he went with prostitutes and the blind daughter of the weaver! As all those successions were made up by the writer, I like that they are not too exhagerated!

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Better Than Before – Gretchen Rubin

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I do not like the way the title of this book has been translated into Italian: it means “It is easy to change”. You just wait that the title goes on with “if you know how to do it”… but this is the way italian editors work.

Well, at first sight it seems that the author is obsessed with self-improvement, and this can give you the impression that she is rather perfectionist and fuss-pot, thas she is Always looking for a better way to spare time, read more books, write more, meet more people, be lean, be a good mother and wife and so on. I must admit that this first impression did not let her be very funny to me.

She often uses phases and episodes taken from the lives of her fans in internet or from chats with her friends, because she like to share her current passions with everybody to test if her opinions are true. Anyway, this method is rather subjective.

This is why I do not consider this book as a real self-help book. I rather consider it like a good chat with someone who is trying to improve herself. This is not little.

How many people do you know wich purpose is to become better than before? Maybe you know someone who tries to be the best in something, the best manager, the best mother, the best athlete and so on, but this is not the same thing. I would rather consider it like the opposite, in a certain way.

Gretchen Rubin does give you some nice tips on how to get good habits. The first tip is to work on yourself, to know yourself (although I think that her classification method is rather strict). One of her mantra is “be Gretchen“. We must learn to know ourselves and be ourselves.

What I do not agree on, is her diet habit.

I became vegan after having read a lot of books on diet and health, not only by vegan authors. I think I discovered the true secret to understand if a scientific research is good or not, and this secret is the time.

I bet that she has lost weight with a high protein diet. Of course she did, everybody does, it is physiological because our body normally works by carbs burning. And if you look at all high protein diet researches, you will see that they are tested on the short run (max one, one and a half year). On the long run, people either gain again their initial weight or they develop illnesses. At the end, I do not think that Rubin’s diet habit is better than before. Maybe better than the standard american diet, but in this case she is just leaner than before.

I hope that she can read some books of plant-based doctors (Esselstyn, Campbell, Barnard, McDougall, Fuhrmann and many Others). She is a book lover, I do not doubt that sooner or later she will put a question mark on her high protein diet habit.

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Der Fall Collini – Ferdinand von Schirach

 

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In this period of stressfull worktime, I really needed some fiction to read: I needed to change place and time. So I “went” to Germany with this book.

There is a lawyer who decides to defend Collini, who has killed Hans Meyer, a famous and rich old man. The story is not long: it seems that there is no defence space in this case, because Collini doesn’t want to speak. On the contrary: he admits his fault. But then the lawyer finds out that the victim was his family friend the grandphater of her nice looking nephew (of course she is nice looking…).

Well, at the end, Leinen, the lawyer, manages to find the reason why Collini killed Meyer, and all the situation seems different: of course, Meyer had been a nazi who has killed Collini’s father.

Rather boring.
Above all, I think that I would hardly find a woman more stupid and banal than Johanna, Meyer’s nephew. She speaks max three times through the whole book. She is there just to make some sex with the lawyer. Dephtless at all. Almost invisible. Less than a cliché.

But, like in all book, you always learn something. In this case, the EGOWIG LAW, that, at the end of Sixties, prescribed a lot of nazi crimes. Yes. That’s it. And once the public noticed it, there was nothing else to do, because once a crime is prescribed, you cannot consider it a crime anymore.
Very well. And two days ago was the Memory day, wasn’t it?

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The 21 Success Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires – Brian Tracy

 

imageIn this book I found some things that I liked and some other ones that I did not like at all.

I liked that many suggestions do not refer to money alone.

Tracy tells you to find a job that you love, so that you do not need to work (actually, this was a Confucio’s suggestion), to write down your goals, to make big dreams that nobody is more intelligent than you, that it is not necessary to be rich to be happy, to read a lot, to stay with positive people, to avoid plaintive friends, to take care of own health

On the other hand, when he explains what to do to become richer, I am in dismay.
What? Shall I save 10% of my wage each month? Why does he need to tell you this? Does it mean that in the USA it is normal to live without saving anything, through debits and credit card and overdrawn accounts?
Frugality is the keyword for Tracy. Spare and invest, spare and invest.
OK, but why should I live sparing and investing? The goal is to become rich in the mature years, it seems. To enjoy the life when you are old and retired.

Above all I did not like the chapter about the maximum commitment. I mean: I commit to my job, I like to go home after having done what I had to, but Tracy is going much further. He tells you to work harder and harder, much more than the 40 hours each week: self-made millionaires work around 59 hours each week, you should do the same!!!

And then: do not waste time. Do not chat with your colleagues and tell them that you cannot talk, if they try to involve you in some kind of time wasting. Work all the time, do not lift your head, stay on the paper and you will drawn attention on you… go to work one hour earlier, work during the break, stay on the workplace one hour later…

what??

Yes, says Tracy, this is how you can build your best reputation on work.
Well, best reputation with the boss, maybe, but what about relationship with colleagues? This guy is worse than me.

I still have the bad sensation that, when he says that you must take care of other people, he always says this because you myst then get something back.

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Rejection Proof – Jia Jiang

imageDo you lack in self-confidence? Then you must train to get rejections. You have to do like Jia Jian, a young chinese who left his country and came to live in the USA. He got a very well paid job and abandomned it because he wanted to become an enterpreneur. Then he noticed that he could not become the new Bill Gates because he was too afraid to get… rejections. This fear blocked him and made him tremble.

He therefore started a strange journey: he decided to do odd requests to people, so that they would tell him “NO!”: in this way, he would get accustomed to rejections. Yes, self-confidence can be trained like a muscle.

Some of his requests were really strange: for instance, he asked to play football in the garden of an unknown man; to welcome passengers on a plane; to borrow some money from a warden; to teach in a university class; and so on. But stranger than his requests, were the answers of people: some of them said “yes!”, and this was a total surprise to him.

Actually, he learned a lot of thing about rejections. Not only he learned not to desperate; but also how to handle the requests or the following chat to obtain a positive reaction.
Instead of being too shy to go on with discussion, for instance, he learned to ask the reasons of the naysayer. Or not to bother about results and to do nevertheless his best.

A negative answer is rarely a rejection of your personality. It is often due to moment or personal story.
Anyway, although I understand what Jian did, I think… Well, no, I would never find the courage.
I already have my problems in asking the colleague of purchasing department when we can despatch some products, and this is my job! You can imagine the color of my face or the tone of my voice if I had to ask the postman to deliver the post on his place…

But try to imagine: what could you do if you had no such fear?
You could do almost everything.

I could start inviting some of my beloved Writers to come dinner here! Oh, well… I think it would be rather difficult to convince them to eat plant-based. Ok, I got it. Let’s go to next book.

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