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.

Ten songs I wish that were books

The idea for this post came from the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, created by the The Broke and The Bookish. Since I like lists, especially about books, you can definitively expect more Top Ten Tuesdays on this blog.

When I think of stories, books are the first thing that come to my mind. But songs can tell stories too. And how amazing would it be if you could read books about your favourite songs? Here are 10 songs that would make good books:

Continue reading Ten songs I wish that were books

First things

For more than a week I have thought about the first post on this blog. In that post I had to introduce myself, write something about my interests and maybe tell the reasons why I started this blog. That first post seemed really important, just like other first things. The first day of high school, the first kiss… Afterwards the second, the tenth or maybe the thirtieth time were often better than that first time. I am sure that will be the same with blog posts. But sometimes the first time really is the best. Therefore three of my favourite first times:

1. Reading a book for the first time
I read and love books for as long as I can remember. Opening a new book and being introduced in a new story is without question the best first thing. It is kind of exciting. You do not know if you are going to like this story. Maybe it is going to make you cry. Maybe it will be the best book you ever read.

2. Watching a disaster movie for the first time
My boyfriend and I share a love for movies about tornadoes, overflowing cities and sinking ships. Those movies are always excited and often have characters you want to cheer for. Sometimes I watch them more than once. Some of my favourites are Flood, San Andreas and Poseidon. But the first time, when you do not know the ending yet, disaster movies are the best.

3. Eating new food for the first time
The second time I eat something I really liked the first time, it is almost never as good as I remembered (except for pancakes). Nachos are delicious, but not as good as that first time I ate them in Guatemala.