Top five books that were written before I was born

‘Trowback freebie’ is this week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Most of the books I read are published during the last twenty years. With the theme in mind I want to talk about the older books I read. To distinguish between “new” and “old” books, I have chosen the year I was born: 1994. As a kind of happy coincidence the writers of the five books I chose all have a different nationality.

Top five books that were written before I was born

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I start with the oldest book on this small list. The Secret Garden was published in 1911. It is a beautiful children’s book about a girl named Mary who discovers a walled garden. While Mary and her friend Colin restore the garden, not only the garden but also Mary herself changes. I love the old writing style and how the book shows the importance of positive thinking.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
This historical novel was first published in 1936. It is still a popular classic in the United States. I got this book from my grandmother after she died. I knew almost nothing about the story, not even if my grandmother liked it. I just wanted to read it, because she read it. Gone with the Wind was not an easy read, but it was interesting, beautiful and sad. Interesting, because Scarlett O’Hara is what you would call an unlikable character. She is a rich, spoiled and selfish daughter of a plantation owner. At the end of the book I felt sorry for her anyway. It was also interesting to read about the American Civil War. Since I live in the Netherlands, I did not learn a lot about it at school.

Top five books that were written before I was born - The Letter for the KingThe Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt
One of my favourite books in elementary school. It is a Dutch classic published in 1963. The story begins in the night before Tiuri will become a knight. He gets an urgent request to deliver an important letter. This is how his secret and dangerous mission starts.

The Neverending Story by Michael EndeTop five books that were written before I was born - The Neverending Story
Another book I loved as child, and still cherish. The book is written by a German writer in 1979. It tells the story of a boy named Bastian. He slowly becomes part of the book he is reading. Fantastica, the world Bastian discovers, is amazing! It is very high on my list of fictional worlds I would like to visit (what do you mean with “that isn’t possible”?).

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The first book of this Chilean writer, originally published in Spanish in 1982. The book follows three generations of the Trueba family: Clara, her daughter Blanca and granddaughter Alba. The House of Spirits is a nice mix between magical realism and historical fiction with some romance. I love the writing style: beautiful and captivating.

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Three books I initially did not finish

In my opinion buying books is one of the best ways to spend money. It is also a risk. What if the book is not as good as you expected? What if you don’t like it? You will only find out by reading it! Fortunately I rarely read truly bad books. I really try to find something I like in every book I read. It happens that I do not finish books. Sometimes I find the main character or writing style annoying or I am bored by the plot. More often I rather read something else at that moment. In most cases I save the book for later. In this post I want to write about those books. I was inspired by the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, created by The Broke and The Bookish. Here are three books I only finished the second time I read them.

Three books I initially did not finish

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
I found this fantasy book in a hostel in Guatemala. I took it with me because I followed someone on tumblr who was a fan of this book. I started reading it on the way back. After a few chapters I was bored and quit. Last month I went on another trip. It seemed like a good moment to read the The Lies of Locke Lamora (again). I still did not find it an easy read, but I came to like it. The main characters, a band of thieves called The Gentlemen Bastards, are amazing. They are incredibly smart and funny.  I am glad I gave The Lies of Locke Lamora another chance.

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott
This book was a birthday gift. It is the first part of a fantasy trilogy set during the Industrial Revolution. I stopped reading due to the slow pace. Usually I like good world-building, but there is just too much of it in the beginning of the book. This year I read Cold Magic again. I still think there are too much infodumps, but I do like the world. The book also has some good and strong characters, some of them not who you think they are. I wouldn’t say I love Cold Magic, but I did like to read and finish it.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The premise of this book sounded so interesting: The year is 2059. Paige works in the criminal underworld of London as a dreamwalker, someone who can break into people’s minds. One day she is drugged and kidnapped to Oxford, the city that has been lost for two hundred years. I cannot remember the exact moment I put away the book. It definitively had something to do with the romance. Both times I read the book I hated the romance part. I read The Bone Season for the second time after some bloggers recommended it on tumblr. The book is pretty exciting, so finishing the book was quite easy. However, in the end it wasn’t really my thing, despite the fascinating world.

More podcasts I like

A year ago I did a post about my favourite podcasts. I still really enjoy listening to them. In the meantime I discovered three new podcasts.

The Bright Sessions (link)

The Bright Sessions

This is my favourite podcast at the moment! Every episode is a session in which Dr. Bright talks with one of her patients. The patients are not “normal” people, they all have some kind of supernatural ability. The characters are amazing! It is very interesting to hear about those abilities and how the characters struggle with them sometimes. The podcast also has two LGBTQIA characters: one of them is asexual and another is still questioning his sexual orientation. By now I listened to almost all episode, but every two weeks a new episode is released. All the episodes together form a story, so if you are interested, start at the beginning.

Slow German (link)

Slow German mit Annik Rubens

In a month I am going on vacation to Berlin! As preparation I practice German. I did learn German in high school, but since I never use the language, I forgot a lot. I like Slow German, because the podcast teaches me both the language and interesting facts about the country. In every episode a subject regarding Germany is discussed in slow German. The topics vary from historical persons like Sissi and King Ludwig II to holidays in Germany.  The episodes are short, only 5 to 10 minutes. You can also find the scripts, so you can read along or look up words.

Myths and Legends (link)

Myths and Legends

The host introduces this podcast as “original tales behind legendary stories.” It turns out that the original is often better than the popular tales you know! The podcasts tells the story behind fairy tales, the Knights of the Round Table and other legends. I only listened to a few episodes, but my favourite at the moment is 4-Mulan: A Likely Hero. Mulan was actually not insecure at all! She was trained by her father and so good nobody even questioned her gender.

What are your favourite podcasts? Tell me in the comments!

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Finally a new post! Now my holiday started, I hope to find more time to blog. The Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag seems like a good way to give an update about what I read so far this year. I wasn’t tagged, but inspired by the amazing Cait from paperfury and Marie on drizzleandhurricanebooks to do this tag. Here we go!

Best book you read so far in 2017?
An impossible question if you expect just one answer. I read many good books this year! Three books seems more manageable:

Best books I read so far in 2017

I was quite surprised to discover how few people heard of Exodus by Julie Bertagna. I loved it so much! This book is set in the year 2100. Due to global warming big parts of the earth have flooded. The island of Mara is also drowning. The inhabitants need to flee, and Mara may be able to save them. Exodus would fit in the category dystopia, but this one felt more real than other dystopian books I read. It offers a very interesting view on the consequences of climate change.

I discovered The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier in my library.  The book has two story lines. The first one follows Diana on a journey to prove that Amazons actually existed. The other one is set thousands of years ago. It tells the story of Myrine who became the first Amazon. The Lost Sisterhood is well-researched and made me curious about Greek history!

I am a big fan of Laini Taylor, and I fell in love with Strange the Dreamer from the first page. It is a heart-breaking story about a librarian obsessed with a mystic lost city. I can’t put in words how absolutely perfect the worldbuilding and the amazing writing style are!

GeminaBest sequel of 2017 so far?
Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff was fantastic! I had high expectations after Illuminae, but the book totally lived up to them.  This book is set in Jump Station Heimdall. I must admit that I didn’t immediately like the main characters, but that changed pretty soon! The story was just as exciting as the first part and I am still in love with the format. I can’t wait for Obsido!

New releases you haven’t read yet, but want to?
I did not really keep up with all the new releases, but I am quite curious about The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana. That may have something to do with the fact that the word ‘library’ is in the title…

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
The newest book by Philip Pullman, La Belle Sauvage! I am not sure what to expect, but hopefully it is just as good as His Dark Materials!

Biggest disappointment?
A few years ago I read the debut of the Danish writer Mikkel Birkegaard. Recently I found his second book: Death Sentence.  The main character is a famous crime writer. One day he finds out that someone is committing the crimes from his books. Sadly I find this writer a very unlikable character. The story also has a weird and unsatisfying end.

Biggest surprise?The Color Purple
I read The Color Purple by Alice Walker, because I wanted to read more diverse. I didn’t expect it to be so good. I needed some time to get used to the way Celie writes. After that I came to adore her. Celie has a miserable life, but she always stays optimistic and hopeful.

Favourite new author? (debut or new to you)
Firebird trilogy
Claudia Gray, because the Firebird trilogy was amazing! I was hooked when I read about the firebird: an instrument which can be used to travel to other dimensions. I enjoyed reading about the different dimensions and loved the plot twists.

Newest fictional crush?
That must be Lazlo from Strange the Dreamer! A kind-hearted librarian with a talent for telling the most amazing stories.

Newest favourite character?
It was hard to choose just one character, but I think I will go for Marguerite from the Firebird trilogy. I liked the relationship she has with her parents and how loyal she is to her family. I also enjoyed reading about the Marguerites in other dimensions. It was interesting to see what certain choices and incidents did to her character.

Book that made you cry?Love Letters to the Dead
With a few exceptions, books usually do not make me cry. But Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira did made me feel very sad. It is a moving story that deals with some pretty heavy stuff. I really liked the  format: Laurel writes letters to famous dead persons. YA contemporary normally is not my cup of tea, but this one was better than I expected.

Book that made you happy?
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald was such a lovely feel-good story! An ideal book for book lovers.

Favourite book to film adaptation you saw this year?
A few months ago I saw The Book Thief. I loved the book and also really liked the film adaptation! The producers stayed true to the story and the actors did a good job.

Favourite review you’ve written this year?
I don’t really write reviews, but I like my post for Valentine’s Day.

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)?
I nominate Strange the Dreamer for both cover and story. That book is so pretty that I would have bought it just for the cover!

What book do you need to read by the end of the year?
Lots of books! I am planning to reread some of my favourites: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and His Dark Materials. After that I want to continue with The Lunar Chronicles and the All Souls Trilogy.

Top five favourite non-fiction books

I used to read non-fiction for school and fiction in my leisure time. Not that I didn’t like it. I love to learn new things! But with the exception of drawing books, I would rather read stories in my free time. It felt easier and there were so many fictional books I hadn’t read yet. That hasn’t changed and probably never will. But since the beginning of this year I tend to read more non-fiction by myself. I found some amazing books! Here are my five favourite non-fiction books of this moment:

Top five favourite non-fiction books

1. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
I really enjoy listening to the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin. In this podcast Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth Craft talk about all kinds of subjects related to happiness. While listening I became curious about the book that prompted them to start the podcast. In The Happiness Project Gretchen describes how she tried to become happier in one year. Each month she focused on another area of her life, for example boosting her energy in January and leisure time in May. For each month she chose activities based on scientific research. In this way she found out that that small changes can make a big difference in your life.

Favourite quote:
Although we presume that we act because of the way we feel, in fact we often feel because of the way we act.

2. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
This book was recommended to me on tumblr as “the best and most reassuring book that I’ve ever read on mental health.” So I had high expectations, but the book lived up to them. In the first hundred pages Matt Haig tells how he became depressed and how it felt. This was a sad part of the book, but crucial in understanding depression. In the other half of the book Matt describes how he rose out of it and lived again. I loved this part, because it was full of metaphors, included a list of reasons to stay alive and tips on how to be there to someone with a depression. I would recommend Reasons to Stay Alive not only to people who have depression, but also to people (like me) who know someone with depression.

Favourite quote:
“The key is in accepting your thoughts, all of them, even the bad ones. Accept thoughts, but don’t become them.

3. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
With no experience or training, Cheryl Strayed decides to hike more than thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, all by herself. Her story reads like an exciting fiction book with a funny and strong protagonist. You probably aren’t planning to hike thousand miles, but believe me, you will consider it while reading Wild.

Favourite quote:
“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”

4. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
This is the story of a girl who stood up for education and was shot for it by the Taliban at the age of fifteen. As I wrote earlier, Malala is one of my personal heriones. In this beautiful book Malala tells about her family, her fight for girl’s education and her life in Pakistan before and during the Taliban occupation.

Favourite quote:
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

5. Shadows of War by Caroline Nordstrom
I read this book a few years ago while studying Cultural Anthropology. War is a quite complicated subject, because it is complex and hard to imagine if you never experienced it. Caroline Nordstrom manages to show what it is like to live in a war and explain the deep politics. In her research she looks at war from different sides: from soldiers and businessman to NGO’s and war orphans.

Favourite quote:
“Peace does not wait for the end of the war to make its debut. It takes its greatest definition on the front lines. As one war orphan living on the streets told me during the years of war in Angola: I carry a little bit of peace in my heart wherever I go, and take it out at night and look at it.”

Top five subjects that will make me want to read a book

There are some subjects that make me love a book, without having read it yet. With this post I link up with the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday (of last week, I know…), created by The Broke and The Bookish.

1. BooksMr. Penumbra's 24-Houre Bookstore
This won’t be a surprise, but I love to read about characters who are bookworms like me. Books with the words ‘library’, ‘bookstore’ or ‘book’ in the title will definitively get a place on my TBR-list.
Book-tip: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

2. Magic schools
As a true Harry Potter-fan I cannot withstand books about magic schools. Stories about magic are good, books with characters learning to do magic are even better!
Book tip: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

3. Parallel universes
I am fond of books in which characters can travel between our own world and another magical world. It gives books a sense of realism I like. It’s also interesting to read about the variety of objects that are used to go to parallel universes: from a wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to a mirror in Reckless by Cornelia Funke.

4. The future of the earth
After reading Exodus by Julie Bertagna I developed an interest for books set around the year 2100. It is fascinating to read how our future will look like. Especially books that show the consequences of climate change have my interest.

5. Unique fantasy worldsThe Glass Sentence
Reading about worlds that are completely different than our own is fantastic! I just love it when a writer came up with a world I would have never imagined by myself.  Good world-building is essential for this kind of books, but if it is done well I’m hooked!
Book-tip: The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

Climate change 101

Today is an important day: Earth Day. This is a day on which thousands of people take action for the environment. You may not have heard of Earth Day, but I am quite sure you are aware of climate change. You probably know it has something to do with higher temperatures, droughts and floods. Maybe you also heard about the Paris Climate Conference in 2015. Perhaps you already know climate change is an important subject. But you may not know why. Or you just want to learn more about it. Than this post is for you! I have collected some interesting stuff about climate change. I hope this will help you understand why it is important and how you can help to save our earth!

Before the Flood (2016)
In this epic documentary Leonardo DiCaprio goes on a journey to witness climate change firsthand. Everything is very well-explained, and Leonardo DiCarpio also gives solutions that could help to stop it. Before the Flood shows the threat of global warming, but also gives hope for the future. It is one of my all time favourite documentaries!

Screenshot Before the Flood
Screenshot from Before the Flood

TED talk – The case for optimism on climate change | Al Gore
It is important that influential people like Al Gore battle climate change. As a politician he talked a lot about the subject, made two movies about it and is vegan himself. In this informative TED talk he explains why we have to change and that this is totally possible.

TED talk – How we’re growing baby corals to rebuild reefs | Kristen Marhaver
I love TED talks, because you can learn so much in only 20 minutes. Especially the videos about lesser known subjects are interesting, like this one about coral reefs. Kirsten Marhaver told me about a consequence of global warming I wasn’t aware of.

Sustainable baby steps
This website already helped me a lot, and still does. It is the place to be for people who want to live a more sustainable live, but do not know where to start. The site explains why it is important and which steps you can take. It can be as easy as buying a reusable water bottle!

Reduce Footprints
This blog gives simple ideas to reduce your ecological footprint. It is no longer updated, but still has a big list with challenge to live a greener live. The footprint they are talking about measures the quantity of nature that is needed to support you. The problem is that humanity uses more natural capital than Earth can renew. You can measure your own ecological footprint with the Footprint Calculator.

Happy Earth Day! And remember:

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can do little.
Do what you can.”
– Sydney Smit