How to define love

I am still amazed about how fast music can change my mood. One song can make me feel happy, confident, or nostalgic. Just through text and rhythm. Despite the striking similarity of subjects in music. Take the top 20 popular songs at this moment. At least half of these songs are in a certain way about love. Why? I think, because it is something intangible, but also something everyone desires. I do not just mean romantic love. The Meriam-Webster dictionary talks about four forms of love you can feel:

1. strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
2. attraction based on sexual desire
3. affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests
4. warm attachment, ethousiasm, or devotion.

It is true that love can be divided in love for family, romantic love, friendship and seeing or doing something you love. At the same time I have the feeling that words as “attraction” or “affection” cannot do entirely justice to love. I think this is the reason why people write and sing about it. With a few songs I have attempted to make a better definition for love. Not a universal definition, because love is different for everyone. But I have chosen lyrics from 8 songs that form my personal definition of love.

How to define love

“Well I didn’t mean to do it
But there’s no escaping your love”
(Accidentally In Love by Counting Crows)

“And as the world comes to an end
I’ll be here to hold your hand”
(King and Lionheart by Of Monsters and Men)

“When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace”
(Make You Feel My Love by Adele)

“I don’t quite know how to say how I feel
Those three words are said too much
They’re not enough”
(Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol)

“I just wanted to let you know
That someone else has stolen my heart
And now another girl has caught your eye
That doesn’t mean I don’t think of you”
(Michel by Anouk)

“I see your true colors, and that’s why I love you”
(True Colors by Phil Colins)

“He’ll find his own way to tell you
With the little things he’ll do
That’s how you know”
(That’s How You Know from the movie Enchanted)

“Oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do”
(Hey Brother by Avicii)

Bonus: the Dutch song Mag Ik Dan Bij Jou by Claudia de Breij

I would like to see how you define love! Post your lyrics or a link to your blogpost in the comments.

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Six hidden gems in YA literature

The idea for this post came from the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, created by The Broke and The Bookish. The original topic was “ten books I really love but feel like I haven’t talked about enough/in a while.” I gave my own twist to the topic and have chosen six hidden gems, or in other words six lesser known books I really enjoyed. To tell when a book is “a hidden gem” I have used Goodreads. I only included YA books in this list with less than 20,000 ratings.

Six hidden gems in YA literature

1. Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor
A lot of people read or heard about the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. But Laini Taylor wrote more amazing books. Lips Touch for example, which consists of three different stories with the titles Goblin Fruit, Spicy Little Curses and Hatchling.  All of them are original and beautifully written stories with a set of unique characters.

2. City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende
I already mentioned this Chilean writer in one of my other posts. But I want to repeat that I adore her books, especially City of the Beasts. Isabel Allende is an amazing storyteller.

3. The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove
Only the world where this story is set, is enough reason to read it. Due to the Great Disruption parts of this world were flung to another time periods. Which means that when Sophia travels to other places, she also travels through time. Moreover, maps play a crucial role in this story.

4. The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt
The Letter for the King was one of my favourite books as child. I am so glad it is finally translated to English! I do not understand why it took so long, because in the Netherlands this book is very well-read. It tells the exciting story of Tiuri who goes on a dangerous mission to deliver an important letter to the king of the neighboring kingdom.

5. Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman
Thea Beckman is another Dutch writer who has written some great children/YA books. This one is about Rudolf who participates in an experiment with a time machine. Accidentally he arrives in a Children’s Crusade. Because he is not able to go back to his own time, Rudolf decides to help the children. Crusade in Jeans starts out as a science fiction book, but I would rather classify it as historical fiction. As it describes the conditions in which the children have to walk across Europe very accurately.

6. The Little White Horse by Eizabeth Goudge
This is a lovely story that reads like a fairy tale. I liked the dreamy atmosphere and the extensive descriptions of the landscape, the houses and the food. It was first published in 1946. This made The Little White Horse different than most books I know, and sometimes a little old-fashioned. But it was definitively worth my time.

The Book Courtship tag

Marie from drizzleandhurricanebooks invited everyone to do the Book Courtship tag. So here is my own Book Courtship.

Phase 1 – Initial Attraction: A book that you bought because of the cover?

Phase 1 - Initial Attraction: A book that you bought because of the cover?

Usually I resist the temptation. I always read the summary on the back, and I often research the book I am planning to buy. But sometimes the cover was a big reason to buy the book, with Boneshaker by Cherie Priest for example. It has a gorgeous cover!

Phase 2 – First impressions: A book that you got because of the summary?

Phase 2 - First impressions: A book that you got because of the summary?

I remember finding the dutch version of the City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende in my parents’ bookcase when I was around ten years old. The summary on the back sounded intriguing: a boy who is about to join his fearless grandmother on her journey to the Amazon to document the legendary Yeti.  When I read the book a few years later, I was not disappointed!

Phase 3 – Sweet talk: A book with great writing?

Phase 3 - Sweet talk: A book with great writing?

When I got And the Mountains Echoed for my birthday, I did not expect it to be such a good book. Khaled Hosseini has a beautiful writing style.

Phase 4 – Fist date: A first book of a series which made you want to pick up the rest of the series?

Phase 4 - Fist date: A first book of a series which made you want to pick up the rest of the series?

Lots of people on tumblr recommended The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. It indeed sounded like a good story. So at the beginning of the year I decided to read Cinder myself. It made me definitely want to read the rest of the series!

Phase 5 – Late Night Phone Calls: A book that kept you up all night?

Phase 5 - Late Night Phone Calls: A book that kept you up all night?

I could not stop reading Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. I actually tried to sleep, but I had to know the end of this book first.

Phase 6 – Always on my mind: A book you could not stop thinking about?

Phase 6 - Always on my mind: A book you could not stop thinking about?

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher was quite an impressive book. Through cassette tapes Hannah explains the thirteen reasons why she ended her life.

Phase 7 – Getting Physical: A book which you love the way it feels?

I adore fantasy books with maps inside!

Phase 8 – Meeting the parents: A book which you recommend to your family and friends?

Phase 8 - Meeting the parents: A book which you recommend to your family and friends?

Since everyone enjoys different kinds of books, my recommendations depend on the person. But I recently lend All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr to my aunt, because it is a beautiful book.

Phase 9 – Thinking about the future: A book or series you know you will re-read many times in the future?

Phase 9 - Thinking about the future: A book or series you know you will re-read many times in the future?Phase 9 - Thinking about the future: A book or series you know you will re-read many times in the future?Phase 9 - Thinking about the future: A book or series you know you will re-read many times in the future?

It was always hard to choose my favourite book. Since a few years though, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor is a quite stable number one. I cannot explain how enthusiastic I am about this fantasy series! It has everything I am looking for in books: a good and exciting story, incredible characters and a beautiful writing style.

Phase 10 – Share the love: Who do you tag?

Everyone who likes book-dating! 🙂

What to celebrate on International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. Maybe in Europe or the United States it seems no longer necessary to think about the rights and achievements of women. Feminism exists quite a long time. You would think that men and women have the same rights by now.

In reality women are paid just 79 percent of what men are paid in the United States. Also in European countries women earn between 29,9 and 3,2 percent less than men. In politics still far more men than women are found. The House of Commons of the United Kingdom becomes almost empty if you would take out the male members of Parliament. Only 2 women, and 21 men were running for president in the United States this year. Rape victims (women as well as men) are still accused of provoking the rape themselves.

Enough reasons why feminism is still important. Fortunately gender equality notably improved in the last 100 years. This is the day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. And to tell which women’s right activists you admire. Here is my (by far in-exhaustive) list of women who did and do some great things for gender equality:

What to celebrate on International Women's Day
On the top row: Malala Yousafzai, Susan B. Anthony and Wangari Maathai. On the bottom row: Coco Chanel, Aletta Jacobs and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Malala Yousafzai (1997)

Malala was only 11 years old when she started to campaign for education rights. Therefore she was shot in the head by the Taliban. But Malala survived, and continued to fight for girl’s right to education. She also wrote a book I want to read.

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

This American woman dedicated her life to the fight for women’s rights. She campaigned for women’s right to vote, for equal education opportunities regardless of gender and race, and she advocated for women’s labour organisations.

Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)

She was the first women in Central and East Africa who earned a doctorate degree. In addition, Wangari was a women’s right and environmental activist. She was, among other things, chairman of the National Council of Women of Kenya, and she founded the Green Belt Movement. This environmental organization empowers communities, particularly women, to conserve the environment and improve livelihoods.

Coco Chanel (1883-1971)

As fashion designer she popularized a new kind of fashion, so women no longer were obligated to wear skirts and corsets. This may not sound really important, but I am glad that I can wear whatever I want.

Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929)

This Dutch doctor was the fist female student that successfully finished university. She also fought for women’s right to vote.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977)

Definitely listen to her TED talk about why we should all be feminists. I already written about how one of the books by this Nigerian writer is on top of my TBR list. Her amazing TED talks are one of the reasons.

I like to see more posts about International Women’s Day! So leave a link in the comments if you celebrate the achievements of women today.

Seven books to read if you are in the mood for bookish books

The idea for this post came from the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, created by The Broke and The Bookish.

Often I am in a good mood, sometimes I am in a bad mood, but I am (almost) always in the mood for books. I enjoy reading about characters who are bookworms like me. I find books that make references to other books irresistible. I am fond of books within books. Therefore 7 bookish books:

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1. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

This book is one of my childhood favourites. The Neverending Story is about a boy named Bastian who slowly becomes part of the book he is reading. I like to re-read it now and then, because secretly I still dream about being able to go on adventure with my favourite book characters.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is a beautiful and heartbreaking story set in the Second World War. In my opinion it is best to read this book with knowing as little as possible about it. But a small warning: it will probably make you cry.

3. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Inkheart is all about books. Meggie herself is a bookworm, her father repairs books and her aunt collects them. Furthermore they have to deal with characters that escaped out of books. I adore the fact that every chapter starts with a quote from another book. Inkheart is the first part of trilogy, but it can be read as a stand-alone.

4. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

This is the charming story of the web-designer Clay who discovers some secrets about the bookstore where he is working. I am crazy about the cover, since it glows in the dark!

5. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

A book named The Shadow of the Wind, found in the “cemetery of books”, is the beginning of this exciting story. It is a mix between mystery and historical fiction set in the beautiful Barcelona.

6. The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard (not included in the picture)

Mikkel Birkegaard is a Danish fantasy writer I did not know about until my aunt lent me The Library of Shadows. Not only is this book about a second-hand bookshop. It is also about a group of people who have the power to affect thoughts and feelings through reading.

7. Matilda by Roald Dahl

I have watched the movie Matilda at least ten times, possibly more. But for the book it is another story. This is one of those rare cases in which I liked the movie more than the book. I wanted to include the book it in this list anyway. After all, without the book there would be no movie.

Quotable quotes

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Most people collect something. I know people who collect stamps or book marks. Some people even collect pencil sharpeners or tea bags. I have a (relatively) small book collection, and I also collect feathers and lucky dolls. Next to that I collect something that is not a thing: quotes. The reason why is maybe best explained by a quote:

“We cling to music, to poems, to quotes, to writing, to art because we desperately do not want to be alone. We want to know we aren’t going crazy and someone else out there knows exactly how you’re feeling. We want someone to explain things we can’t.”

– unknown

It is strange how a person who does not know me, sometimes describes my feelings better than I can. Feelings seem more usual than we often think. It is comforting to read that I am not the only one who feels a certain way. Therefore it depends on my mood which quote is my favourite. When I feel sad I usually want to read quotes that make me happy. When I feel lazy I need quotes to motivate me to do what I need to do. I believe quotes are most powerful when you read them for the first time. But I do want to share a quote with you that helped me when I once felt really miserable, and maybe you have not read it yet:

“Stop minimizing and discounting your feelings. You have every right to feel the way you do. Your feelings may not always be logical, but they are always valid. Because if you feel something, then you feel it and it’s real to you. It’s not something you can ignore or wish away. It’s there, gnawing at you, tugging at your core, and in order to find peace, you have to give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you feel. You have to let go of what you’ve been told you “should” or “shouldn’t” feel. You have to drown out the voices of people who try to shame you into silence. You have to listen to the sound of your own breathing and honor the truth inside you. Because despite what you may believe, you don’t need anyone’s validation or approval to feel what you feel. Your feelings are inherently right and true. They’re important and they matter — you matter — and it is more than okay to feel what you feel. Don’t let anyone, including yourself, convince you otherwise.”

– Daniel Koepke

Five books that are on top of my TBR list

I do not literally keep a list of books I want to read this year. In my experience it works better to choose a book that matches my mood. But I do intend to read particular books this year. Either because they have stand unread on my bookshelves far too long or because I want to read more books of a specific type. Here are 5 books I definitely want to read in 2016:

5 books that are on top of my TBR list

1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I was introduced to this writer due to her amazing TED talk about The danger of a single story. Although I came across this speech a few years ago, I still have not read one of her books. Another reason for reading this book is my resolution to read more books by writers who are not from Europe or the United States. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie came from Nigeria, a country I know very little about.

2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

I also would like to read more books with LGBTQIA (in other words Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual, Queer, Intersexual and Asexual) characters. Only a few books I read have gay or asexual side characters, but I have never read books with LGBTQIA main characters. I do think it is important to read about (fictional) people who are different than we are. Whether they come from another part of the world or have a different sexual preference. Just to discover that they are more alike then we thought. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe seems to me like a good starting point to read more books with LGBTQIA main characters.

 3. The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

This book was somewhere recommended for fans of Harry Potter. That made me curious. When I read this is a story about a girl who learns to animate paper creatures and to bring stories to life, I knew this was a book for me.

4. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

When my grandmother died a few years ago, this book ended up in my bedroom. Now and then I like to read classics. This seemed like a good one. But it already have lied far too long in the pile of books next to my bed.

5. 1984 by George Orwell

Another classic I want to read. I have this book as an e-book on my tablet. Usually I enjoy reading about dystopias, so I think 1984 will be an interesting read.