Tag Archives: book review

“An elephant in the garden” by Michael Morpurgo

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My child recommended this book to me. I loved it. Such a good story line.

With the war in the background of the story, the author puts empathy towards humans and animals at the forefront. It is the story of an ordinary German family from Dresden, who saved an young elephant from being killed before the city’s bombings by allies. Their refuge to west to meet the Americans was filled with hurdles, yet a certain magic enveloped them: “we must have been a strange sight for those who caught sight of us: Peter and I, stomping along together ahead, an elephant behind us with two or three children aboard, and, following them, Mutti and her cavalcade of signing children”.

This is a good book for small and big, to be read aloud on a long winter night. To remind ourselves about forgiveness and resilience.

“The single ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village” by Joanna Nell

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That was a fun reading. Light and thoughtful, loving and self-ironic. An introspective and retrospective view into inter and intra-generational relationships. An ode to youthful playful souls even when the replaced knees and pacemakers demand otherwise.

“Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine“ by Gail Honeyman

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When I finished the book, I wanted to start reading it again. It delighted my soul. I laughed and I shed a tear, as I traveled in Eleanor’s shoes through her good days and bad days. It’s a good reading for those who believe in empathy and for those who want to give it a try.

The story touches one of the tabu’s in many societies – a mother’s violence against her own children. And the ensuing guilt of the child who tries not to upset her violent mother, even as an adult, even in her own imagination… And all it takes to overcome it – friends, a cat, a good boss and permission to say “enough is enough”.

My favorite line I’ll take with me: “It was such a strange unusual feeling – light, calm, as though I’d swallowed sunshine.”

“Who cooked the last supper? The Women’s History of the world” by Rosalind Miles

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The history is written by winners. We hear that. We repeat it. And what it does it actually mean is often left unspoken.

I always wondered what would we find in history books if they would have been written by a young girl or an elderly, who actually lived through, let’s say, the French Revolution, crusades, Renaissance, wars, inquisition, colonisations, industrialisation and so many other moments of human glory and shame on all continents. Perhaps, the glory we find in history books today would not be that shining. Perhaps, there would be other heroes… Perhaps we would understand differently the world of today…

The book presents a perspective on the role of women in the history of the world from first women gatherers to todays “daughters of time”. It is based on the author’s beliefs system and the research she did.

It was fascinating to discover the stories of many amazing women and their contributions to the development of the world as we know it. We owe so many firsts to so many brave souls.

Some view this book as a work of a feminist, others – as a long-awaited redress for a more balanced history of the humankind. We all find in a book what we already have inside. I have different perceptions on many accounts and this does not diminish the value of the book in my eyes.

As always, read, analyse and think for yourself.

“Good night stories for rebel girls” by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavalo

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I would recommend it as a good night reading by adults for children. Read it aloud to your child, even if he/she can read.

For me this book is an illustration of leading by example. And I do not see it only for girls. We can all learn from examples of tenacity, courage in face of adversity, faith in good, friendship, perspiration, relentlessness, creativity and many other beautiful manifestations of humanity.

“Wow, no thank you.” by Samatha Irby

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Upfront disclaimer: the book is not for puritans. You have to have a certain level of tolerance for f* and b* words, as well as of naked truth about body fluids.

By far, Samantha Irby is the epitome of self-irony, sarcasm and humanity combined. She describes her book “Meaty” as « a gross book about a dumb slut”. How many of us have the guts to be that open?

Some essays will make you laugh loudly, some are a honest truth about the life of a black gay in the States, sitting on the luggage of a disturbed childhood. Samantha’s writing style reflects all that and more. Her stories are not about her past only. I see them as manifestos of future aspirations. There is more than meets the eye, they say, and that’s what I saw in “Wow, no thank you.”

“What I loved” by Siri Hustvedt

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“What I loved” is a work of fiction rooted in research on human behaviour in a variety of disciplines. Leo, the narrator and one of main characters, tells us the story of his family and his closest friend’s family in the decor of the art world of New York.

The human tragedies entangle in seemingly distinct yet interconnected stories. Female and male friendships, the integrity of art dealerships and the father-son relationship will touch any reader’s mind in a sophisticated way, infused with the sadness of human failure to love one another.

“Lost for words” by Stephanie Butland

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“A book is a match in the smoking second between strike and flame” – a marvelous opening line. One can say the same about the human life on Earth.

“Lost for words » is a story of a long path to self-love and empathy. Loveday – the name of the main character – moves in the blink of an eye from a carefree childhood into the world of a child in foster care, as a result of domestic violence.

The story line is nonlinear and the flashbacks are moving as they are narrated through the eyes of a 10 year old caught in a family drama, which keeps reverberating in her adult’s life through the choices she makes. The story ends a bit abruptly to my taste, as if letting you wonder about what’s next. There is a charm in that, I think.

“What’s left of me is yours” by Stephanie Scott

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Did you ever hear about “wakaresaseya”? It is a business in Japan which delivers broken marriages and divorces through agents who play the lover to elicit “evidence” of adultery. In short, they are breaker-uppers. People with pecuniary interests and/or desire to keep the child often make recourse to such services. This novel is inspired by a real murder trial in Tokyo in 2010.

« What’s left of me is yours » is a story told through the eyes of a child caught in the middle of this adults’ game. It is also a story of a woman who was pulled in the game by her bitter and broken husband. It is the story of the agent who fell in love with his target and their mutual love. It is the story of a man who had to become a father again when his grandchild lost her mother in this cruel manipulation. It is a story of choices between getting stuck in revenge and building a future, hide away or embrace humanity.

I loved Scott’s beautiful writing style. It made me witness events, feel the emotions of characters, smell the ocean and hear the sounds of places where it took me.

“The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene

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If you are looking for a book on sexual seduction, this is not the one. By this book, “Seduction is a form of persuasion that seeks to bypass consciousness, stirring the unconscious mind instead”.

The book abounds with historical examples from ancient times to nowadays, from western to eastern cultures, literary characters to real life humans. I probably missed a chapter on the virtual world. Maybe in a next book.

This reading can inspire you to transform how you position yourself in the interaction with others. As with every book, you can only find there what’s already inside you. I take this reading with a grain of salt for my perspectives in every encounter in my milieu, personal or professional: “Nobody in this world feels whole and complete. We all sense some gap in our character, something we need or want but cannot get on our own.”

To wrap it up, in any relationship, adopt tact, style and attention to detail. Proceed.