Saturday, 27 December 2014

Everybody's Right by Paolo Sorrentino

Maybe one day I will learn to not buy books written by non-professional-book-writers.
I love Sorrentino, but I hated this book.
Well I am actually being unfair, 'cause I think I read only 30% of the all book before deciding to close it. So maybe I didn't hate the book, I simply didn't like the main character. Annoying, arrogant, selfish, you feel like slapping him from the first pages.
I am sure it would have been a great character for a Sorrentino's movie but in a book was just too annoying.

Sorry, not for me!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

I bought this book having no clue what was the story about , maybe just for the cover, so I had absolutely no expectations. Must say, it was a nice discovery! The book is about the value of time and how it is important to have priorities in life.
The first couple of pages are quite confusing, then the story goes on his path and everything becomes clear and quite emotional, especially toward the end.

Not the most original book I have read, it made me actually think of "The Christmas Carol" by Dickens, I could not stop thinking of the Disney's cartoon version picturing Dor, the main character in the book, with the ghost that hunted Scrooge. Despite all a nice reading, that makes you think.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Remembering Mandela...

“I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise.” 

R.I.P. great man!!!

If you are interested in reading my review about his inspiring autobiography, this is the link

Friday, 5 December 2014

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

If you had been thinking your life was crazy, absurd, nonsense and so on, this book would definitely change your mind! Why? ‘Cause no matter how many weird things have been happening in your life, nothing can even remotely compare to the one that have been happening to Augusten!!!
At the beginning you think it is all just a result of the great fantasy of the author, but that “memoir” written on the cover keeps on ringing a bell in your mind, so just to make things straight: "Mesdames et Messieurs, after an extended research I can confirm this is indeed a true story!!!!"

So when in the book you read of kids making a hole in the ceiling with the parents cheering them for their fantasy, or when you read about a doctor that treat their patients by “adopting” them, or even more when you read about a family finding God’s sign into their faecis, do not even wonder, it is all true!!
But who is Augusten (apart from being the author of the book)? He is a teenager as many, facing the divorce of his parents and the hysterical crisis of his “artistic-mother” who gives him away to be raised by her psychiatrist's family. What makes this memoir so special is the fact that Augusten at first unwillingly, then maybe even enjoying it a bit, is the “victim” of the craziness of people around him. In his journey looking for normality he would be surrender by a crazy bunch of people with the most weird characteristics.
How he will survive to all this is even more crazy than the all book itself.

The book would be very funny, if it was not a true story, actually to say the truth it is still at times hilarious (seeing it happening to someone else, of course).

I read there was actually a legal case issued by the psychiatrist's  familyafter the publication of the book, for invasion of privacy, defamation, and emotional distress caused by the "most fictional" book on the life of the characters. The cause was at the end won by the author, that was "forced" just to change the acknowledgement of the book, that was declared a non fictional memoir.

I am definitely going to watch the movie based on the book, I am very curious to know how this craziness would be transposed in a film.

“I told myself, 'All I want is a normal life'. But was that true? I wasn't so sure. Because there was a part of me that enjoyed hating school, and the drama of not going, the potential consequences whatever they were. I was intrigued by the unknown. I was even slightly thrilled that my mother was such a mess. Had I become addicted to crisis? I traced my finger along the windowsill. 'Want something normal, want something normal, want something normal', I told myself.”

Friday, 14 November 2014

My sister's keeper by Jodi Picoult

When I feel a little down I need to read books somehow sadder than me, it give the right prospective to things, and I can see problems from the right angle.

In this sense this was definitely the right book.

This is the story of Anna, a little girl that was conceived "in vitro" with the purpose of saving her sister affected by a rare form of leukaemia.
Being born with already a path in life affected the growth of this girl, who fights to find her identity, wondering between the love for her sister (that bring her to constantly give her blood, bone marrow and cells), and the love for her self.
In this struggle she decides one day to sue her parents, to acquire the right for her body and to be able to decide for herself about what and when she should be a donor for her sister. This decision lead to a big break into the family, with not always predictable implications.

Each chapter see the story from the point of view of a different character, and this, even if at times breaks the story, it's quite nice and engaging.

I was hoping in the famous "good end" to bring the spirit up, but unluckily, and trust me I am not doing any spoiling, it ends in a quite sad and unpredictable way.

I had seen the movie few years ago, with a great Cameron Diaz.
I suggest both the book and the movie.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Shadow Line by Joseph Conrad

I wanted to read this book for long, mainly because there is a song inspired by the book written by one of my favourite Italian singers (Lorenzo Cherubini) that I listen every time I have to take an important decision in my life. I couldn't find any English version or subtitle of the song, but you might still enjoy it "La linea d'ombra".

Both the book, and of course the song, talk about crossing the line between youth and adult life, with the mixed feelings of enthusiasm, fear, enjoyment, courage and temerity.

The act of crossing the line here is seen as a young sailor that, unexpectedly, is asked to take charge of a sailing boat as a captain in a difficult trip against hostile weather and bad human conditions. The trip will bring to the personal growth, and mainly to a self awareness, of the main character.
A nice little book!

Monday, 20 October 2014

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

I have a bit of difficulty in reviewing this book 'cause I feel whatever I would say will not make it justice.

So I begin from the end by suggesting just to go to a bookshop and buy it, without thinking twice, 'cause Malala's story has to spread around the world!!!

Malala, who is Malala? Is the question that the book try to answer. The story of a little girl born in a free Pakistan  that quite fast and  very subtly is taken over by the Taliban.
Imagine, just like that. One day you can walk freely on the street, and the day after you (as a woman) are not allowed to go out without a male member of the family, even if he is your 3 years old brother! The book explores the main steps of this change in a political, social but mainly personal point of view. All starts with a radio program that point out publicly all the behaviours that according to the Taliban go against the Quran, this generates first worries but then somehow a general consensus, which makes people forget the real principle of the Quran, or of any other Holy Book, regarding the role of the women in society.

How all of this affect the life of a teenager? The first aim of the Taliban is to prohibit education (ignorant people are more silent), and in particolar they are against girl education, claiming the Quran affirms their role is just to mind the male components of the family. Supported by her father, that with this intent had opened a school for both boys and girls, Malala starts her fight for her (and every child) right for education! She starts to write a blog for the BBC with the pseudonym of Gul Makai, to describe the life of a Pakistani girl during the regime. Quite soon she become an icon for girls' education and, of course she starts to be thorny for the regime, therefore one day while coming back from school she is shot on the head by the Taliban.

While reading the book I kept on thinking one main thing: what was I thinking when I was 14-15? How many times I complained about going to school, seeing it as time taken from friends and fun? Which were the thoughts and the ambitions of an average western girl during her teenage years?
All these thoughts made me feel very small and careless.

Among all the important messages in the book, it has also the merit to explain quite well the difference between being Muslim and being a Taliban. A difference that too often is forgotten in western culture.

How can we help Malala? Mainly by spreading awareness!
You can join her cause in the Malala Fund.
You can also keep yourself posted on the facebook page of the association Malala Fund FB

Here there is one of her most inspiring speech, that she gave in 2013 for the Malala's day at the United Nations Youth Assembly.

We are ALL Malala!!!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

We are in a bar in Lahore (Pakistan) where a local man starts to talk with an American tourist. He start to tell him his story and his personal experience as an American business man. We discover that he was there during the 11 September and that he had to face the consequences of being a Muslim in New York.

The way the book is written is quite interesting, you never hear the voice of the American tourist but from the one-way dialogue you still understand his thoughts, his facial expression, his ideas.

Based on the "Event" that changed the world, we are brought to the imaginary dialogue every American would have probably liked to have with a Muslim and, most of all, that every Muslim would have liked to have with an American.

On the background a love story that somehow mirrors the internal change of the main character.

The book is very easy to ready, but quite hard to digest. Highly recommended.

Here  the movie based on the book, I heard it is a very nice one.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Non dirmi che hai paura (Don't tell me you are afraid) by Giuseppe Catozzella

I just finished to read this book and I feel the need to share it with you. It has not been translated in English but I read it will soon, so keep an eye on it.

This is the true story of Samia Yusuf Omar born in a poor family in Mogadishu (Somalia) during the war and the Islamic regime. Since very young, 6-8 years old, she had just one dream and a great talent: running. She trained her self together with her best friend Ali in the street of  Mogadishu, or at night in the stadium to not be discovered by the regime. With lots of determination and sacrifice she partecipated to the Olympics game of Beijing 2008. Even if she arrived last, the all stadium started to cheer and support for her (as you can see here).

She wished to participate to London games in 2012 and to fulfil this dream she decided to start the "Trip", through Ethiopia and Libia to reach finally Italy and her sister in Helsinki.
She died, very close to her dream, near the Italian coast in a rescue operation.

Her story of courage and determination is so touching, I found myself crying many times during the reading.

She became  an icon of freedom and female liberation.

Here you can find the book description in English
Here a tribute to her

"We know that we are different from the other athletes. But we don’t want to show it. We try our best to look like the rest. We understand we are not anywhere near the level of the other competitors here. We understand that very, very well. But more than anything else, we would like to show the dignity of ourselves and our country."- Samia Yusuf Omar (2008)

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Story of My Experiments With Truth-An Autobiography by Mahatma Gandhi

I have recently been to India, a wonderful country, and I was wondering which book to bring back that would somehow represent the country. Then I saw this book and I thought that nothing better could come home with me.

I feel kind of guilty in reviewing this book and that's why this post is coming after actually a week I had finished it.

What to say? And most of all where to start!

Being in India I had to face a weird truth that I was completely ignoring: not everybody likes Gandhi! As simple as that. This news kind of shocked me, how can you not love a person that freed your country from repression? I was told "read the book and you will understand!". So as soon as I came back I started it mostly for a principle of contradiction.
I was expecting to find the reasons behind the great peaceful battle, the principle of it, the portrait of a "holy man" that somehow was destined to become the Mahatma (big soul).
I disappointingly didn't find any of this in the book. From the first pages you find a troubled man that is looking for his way in life. A man in the constant look of the satya (truth) through tries and fails. I was shocked to realize Gandhi was very "human" and full of mistakes. He did not respect his wife, didn't find any God for many years, had prejudices and faults as any of us.
But what I really didn't like in the book was the "story" itself, I think it is wrong to call it an autobiography, 'cause it really isn't. And maybe the main title was suggesting it. I wanted to know more about his battle, his struggle but the book is more about his trials with food and medicine, his fight against civilization and western culture.

The writing was a bit (if it was not Gandhi, I would probably say, quite) boring and I really didn't like the way in all the book he was trying to preach his truth as a teacher.

Well, it was just not the book for me. And I am sorry.

Said that I still bring with me the emotions of when I visited the place where Gandhi was imprisoned in Pune, the Aga Khan Palace where I could see a bit of his daily life till finding the garden where his remains are kept. It was very touching...

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Manual of Painting and Calligraphy: A Novel by José Saramago

Here we are with my other favorite writer: Saramago.
The love for him grew really in the last couple of years and I wonder how I could have ignored him for so long!

The way he can enter the human brain is fascinating, and at times, quite scary.

This book came with me on holiday, and I am sorry for it 'cause I couldn't give the right concentration and time that Saramago always deserves!

This is the story of a so-called-painter, Mister H, specialised in portrait of rich families. Mister H is perfectly aware of his poor skills and his poor ability so he decides to try another form of art, writing.
In the way from a white canvas to a white page he slowly discover himself in a personal and artistic growth.

Must say, not the best reading of Saramago I did. The first few pages I barely recognised his style; but I discover this was one of his first book, so clearly he had still not found his unique style. Said that, the book get very interesting after the first part and toward the end I couldn't stop reading it, as it happen always with Saramago's book.

Therefore, it wouldn't be the first book I'd recommend for this writer, but if you already love him, like me, you would still enjoy the reading quite much.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie is a little kid born in a very poor  and simple family. Despite his poor destiny he has the eyes full of dreams and hope for the future.
One day he wins the Golden Tickets that opens for one day for him and his Granpa the gate for a great adventure inside the marvelous Willy Wonka's Factory

This is the classic children book of all times. I always wanted to read it and I finally did in a long wait to the dentist.

It is almost impossible to read the book without thinking of Johnny Depp and the great interpretation he did in the movie adapted from the book. It is also quite hard to read the songs of the Oompa-Loompas without trying to give them a singing tone.

A nice, magic reading! I am gonna watch the movie soon again!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

The little hero by Crofts Andrew

This is the true story of  Iqbal Masih. We are in Pakistan where Iqbal is forced into slavery in a carpet factory in order to pay a never-ending family debt. With courage and determination Iqbal free himself from this situation and join the Bonded Labor Liberation Front, with the intent of studying to liberate the other thousands kids in slavery situations in his country.

Iqbal became an internationally renowned opponent of child and slave labor and, with his charisma and determination, he helped to save many children from slavery.

The story and the reality don't have a happy end for Iqbal but his life opened the eyes to a big problem of our society.

Here you can find more info about him and here you can find a very well done comic strips about his life.

The book is intense and very touching and makes you think a lot.
How many of the things we buy on a daily basis are done by kids forced to labor? How much are we contribuiting to the kid's slavery? Those are questions that should be addressed more carefully from each of us and we should demand a more clear labeling of the product we buy.
No more Iqbal should be forced to work!!!!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Sigh by Marjane Satrapi

"Whether this tale be true or false, none can tell, for none were there to witness it themselves".

A little book for kids and adults or for the kid inside every adult, with the unique touch of Marjane Satrapi.
The drawings are just simple but intense. I like the cover, the type, the smell.
I feel like I always repeat myself when I talk of Marjane Satrapi, but her graphics novels are all so constantly nice that there is nothing more to add. I think that it is the third time I read this little book and it is still able to touch the right strings.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The girl who saved the king of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

Nombeko is born in a shanty of Soweto with a very low life expectation. One day she is hit by a not-very-clever engineer driving his car and her life changes, we still don't know if it is for the better.
She will become the cleaner of the engineer who is in charge of a vital project for South Africa’s security. With three Chinese girls, two twin brothers-half-existing and other very absurd characters she will be responsible for saving the king of Sweden and the peace among countries.

It is impossible to not link this book to the previous one, as the structure and the atmosphere are very well kept here, but the story itself stands on his own. The leitmotifis of course is the presence, I actually would call it more obsession of the author for explosives, which are always the true protagonists of his books.
I found an improvement in this second book in the flow of the story; the jumping from one situation to another in every other chapter is easier to catch and the flow is not stopped as in the previous book.

I loved it, it is hilarious, CLEVER. There are some parts that make you laugh out loud. The historical background of apartheid in South Africa with Mandela and the freedom fighter is seen from such a different and absurd point of view, that it becomes almost funny. 

I think Jonasson is a genius!!!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared -the movie

Today I want to talk of a movie, but of a movie, of course, adpated from a book. The book in question by ‎Jonas Jonasson was released couple of years ago in English language and soon became very famous and appreciated. I found it by chance in a book shop soon after it was released and the cover and the title were just so clever (to see what I am talking about click here). After starting reading it I just felt in love!!!
A old man named Allan on the day of his 100th birthday decides to escape the retirement home by jumping out of the window and, almost by chance, he starts a series of absurd adventures that put him in danger.

The book, and the movie, are set in two different time-line: one is the present of his escape, the other is Allan's past, and his casual involvment in the most important episode of our history.

I had big espetations in the movie, despide the fact that I generally get disappointed by the Film adaptations. I thought this book would somehow fit as a movie, and I was right. The movie doesn't lose the clever comic sense and sarcasm of the book. Of course it lacks of many aspects that shaped the various characters in the book, but at the end the athmosphere of the book is well adapted and the overall is quite successfull. The movie end complitely differently from the book, and this was a bit disappointing, cause in the book there was such a clever end, but overall my review is positive.
I was very surprised that I was among the few to laugh all the time in the cinema, but I noticed the same reaction with people reading the book. I think for both is a matter of love or hate, nothing average.

So if you get the chance go to watch the movie, even if you still did not read the book. You might appreciate the scenario and decide to read the book; for me was one of my best reading in the last couple of years.

I am reading his second book now, almost finished, so next review coming soon...

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Don’t fall in love with a woman who reads...

Don’t fall in love with a woman who reads, a woman who feels too much, 
a woman who writes...

Don’t fall in love with an educated, magical, delusional, crazy woman. 
Don’t fall in love with a woman who thinks, who knows what she knows and also knows how to fly; 
a woman sure of herself.

Don’t fall in love with a woman who laughs or cries making love, 
knows how to turn her spirit into flesh; let alone one that loves poetry (these are the most dangerous), 
or spends half an hour contemplating a painting and isn't able to live without music.

Don’t fall in love with a woman who is interested in politics and is rebellious 
and feel a huge horror from injustice. 
One who does not like to watch television at all. 
Or a woman who is beautiful no matter the features of her face or her body.

Don’t fall in love with a woman who is intense, entertaining, lucid and irreverent. 
Don’t wish to fall in love with a woman like that.
Because when you fall in love with a woman like that, whether she stays with you or not, whether she loves you or not, 
from a woman like that, 
you never come back…

Martha Rivera Garrido

Monday, 23 June 2014

Scheherazade Goes West: Different Cultures, Different Harems by Fatema Mernissi

Fatema Mernissi is a feminist Moroccan writer. I had the possibility to discover her with the book that had made her famous, Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood, many years ago.
The current book is a discovery of the western world by an eastern female eye. The writer goes to travel around the West world trying to understand why in the western culture there is a happy idea of the harem, seen as an earthen paradise of sex and seduction, while in reality they are places of slavery and submission. This research touches philosophy, art and literature from France to New York, in a very fascinating way.
What emerges eventually is that the west is not the 'women happy world' as it is in the fantasy of every one. Women might not need to wear a veil but they are "forced" to respect a precise beauty standard that prevent them of another kind of freedom: the freedom to appear as they want!!
Of course the matter is not so simple and maybe the book lacks many other aspects that in my opinion define the concept of freedom. However, the broader point of view from the western culture is interesting and brings to discussion.
What is sad is that in 2014, in every country we are still discussion women rights, as something to conquer and not something that should be part of every culture and country.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

We are in Australia where a family is hosting a bbq with friends. The atmosphere is relaxed and joyful, till one of the guest slaps a kid: he is not his son! The scene gets tense and all the guests get affected in a different way from the incident. Or at least this is what they think you should expect from the book.
But there is only one real thing happening in this book: SEX!! But not in a way that fits and adds something to the reading, no, just sex. The most used words in the text, and you don't need to count them to realize, are: fxck, cxck and cxnt; and don't think that things are subtle, NO! They are thrown on your face in a silly and sick way. I finished the book 'cause I was too shocked to think the book would be all like this, but yes, no hope, it is, till the end, where, if possible, gets even worse.

The concept and the idea of the book was nice and also the fact that every chapter evaluates the event in the perspective of one of the guest of the bbq, but the story itself could have been written in 50-70 pages, the other 300 are an offense to the intelligence of the reader.
Let's get things clear, if i want a porn book I buy one (and I am sure there are much better on the market), but if I buy a novel where nowhere is clarified to be a porn, I get pissed.

Dear Christos Tsiolkas I would like to "slap" this book on your face!

p.s. If someone here has read the book and found some deep meaning I didn't see, without rhetoric, I would like to discuss about it, really!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The Family Way by Tony Parsons

I started this book with no expectations; I was going through the phase of opening and closing books after few pages losing interest. This book got me from the beginning so for sure it has the merit to bring me out of my reading block.
The book is about 3 sisters, but is also about 6 men that cross, willingly or not, the life of the 3 protagonists. The 3 sisters have all different personalities but the family bond keep them together to face first youth and then adult life. The thinking and the behaviours of the protagonists are described so much in details that I find it difficult to believe the book was actually written by a man.

It was a nice reading, nothing exceptional; but if you are looking for something light and not demanding this might be the right books

p.s. be prepared to hate a bit the man kind during the reading!!!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

I decided to buy this book 'cause I loved Life of Pi, I read it when it was just released, so long before the book became actually famous due to the movie- which, by the way, is a rare case of a great movie from a great book.

From the first pages I thought: "Wow, it seems like another writer", but not in a negative way, I liked the fact that a writer can write with such different styles but can still keep you reading and loving the book.
The common factor is, of course, the presence of animals as strong characters in the book(s). In this case they are a monkey and a donkey, two animals that you would probabily never see together in nature but that here seem somehow a good match. The first half of the book is magic, it is a story in a story, the story of a writer which helps another writer, a book in a book, but I would not spoil much the plot here 'cause the book is quite small.
What I have to spoil though is that in the last 40-50 pages the story changes so much, that all the sweetness and the trust you had in human, and animal relationship is lost like a slap on your face!
For what I understood the book is suppose to be a metaphor of the Holocaust and I guess the idea was to bring the reader to find the truth with violence, like during the war, where people were brought on a train for "freedom" and then they had to realize on their skin which kind of freedom was awaiting them.
 I just thought the book was very pretentious, and a bit disappointing, but I like and want  to believe that was the actual aim of the writer.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

He is gone, his books are not, there is no better way to remember him than through his books. So here it is my second reading of this masterpiece. A slow, emotional, touching one...

Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza fall secretly in love during their youth, a love made of letters, flowers, poems, a love at first sight that grew with time. But when a rich doctor (Dr. Juvenal Urbino) comes into the picture, this passionate love is forced to be put on hold, for more than 50 years...
And those 50 years you feel them all, coz the reading is for some sort of magic extended in time. I felt the last 100 pages lasted forever, every time I thought I was about to finish the book, still some pages where there to be read. And I think this is what can make you love or hate this book. Yes, this, along with the fact that nobody wishes to have to wait 50 years to embrace their love, coz you wish nobody sane would allow himself to such suffering for so long. But Florentino does, and I didn't feel for one single page to tell him to do otherwise.
As for every Márquez book, the engagement of different senses is the key, the first time Fermina and Dr. Juvenal Urbino make love are one of the most intense pages I have ever read on the topic, without rhetoric or explicit sexuality.

“Together they had overcome the daily incomprehension, the instantaneous hatred, the reciprocal nastiness, and fabulous flashes of glory in the conjugal conspiracy. It was time when they both loved each other best, without hurry or excess, when both were most conscious of and grateful for their incredible victories over adversity. Life would still present them with other moral trials, of course, but that no longer mattered: they were on the other shore.”

p.s. maybe one day I should convince myself to watch the movie adpted from the book, or maybe not...

Thursday, 17 April 2014

If you follow a bit thig blog you'd know how hard is for me to share this news: Gabriel García Márquez is no more.
I grew up with him, I started to truly love books thank to him. There is a deep bond with me, his books, my family and lots of people I love.

Thanks Márquez, for all you gave us...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Green Parrots-Gino Strada

Did you know that there were land mine created specifically to target kids? They have a shape of a parrots, they are green and they look like toys. They don't explode when you take them from the ground, they have a mechanism that starts loading after they are collected and release after a little while. Now, imagine a kid in a poor part of the world seeing a "cute" thing on the ground, taking it and bringing it home, or maybe showing it proudly to his friends with joy. And now imagine what happen when the "bomb" explode. There is a chapter in the book when all of this is described step by step and you seriously cannot believe you are not reading a novel!
'Cause behind all this, there are some minds designing these things: they are drawing the best shape to be attracting and appealing, they are studying the best mechanism of explosion, probably the one that can make more damage.
It is insane!!!!! INSANE!!! Every war is insane, every war kills innocent people and bring to more violence and to more tragedies.

This book is from Gino Strada, co-founder of the organization Emergency, that provides free, high quality medical and surgical treatment to the victims of war, land mines and poverty. He has been in first line in most of the war of our ages, with courage and dedication. In this book he talks about random stories from different part of the world where he has been working, of the people he has been curing and of the people he couldn't cure.
The book is touching and it seriously make you angry, and Gino Strada is inspiring! Every body should have at least 10% of his courage and dedication.

Here you could listen to an interview where Gino Strada explain better his project.
And here you could support his work if you wish.

The entire author rights on the book goes to Emergency, so by buying this book you can already contribute.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Too Loud a Solitude- Bohumil Hrabal

I won this book in a reading challenge. I like to read books I never heard about, and this was surely the case.

Hanta is a man working in a dusty, dirty, full-of-mice, paper crusher in Prague, he loves books in an almost obsessed way and try to save the most beautiful and intense one from the crusher. This results in the fact that books invade his mental and physical space, by filling every single free spot in his house and every single thought in his mind. Everything goes in a big routine, till an episode will change forever Hanta's life...
The book is very short, is more a short novel, but every line is quite intense. If I have to find something "wrong" with this book is that it is written (or maybe translated) in a quite complex way, I had to go back many times to read again the same line and this made the reading not very fluent, and probably it would have been quite annoying in a long book, but this was not the case here.

Surfing the internet I found out the did also a movie about it, might be worth seeing it.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Graziella- Alphone de Lamartine

Graziella is the daughter of a fisherman, she lives in a simple and poor way with her family. The story is set between Naples and one of its island, Procida. Lamartine, in a trip to discover himself and get new inspirations, meets Graziella and among the two start an utopian relationship made of whispered words and sweet gazes.  A love story of other times, written with a classic and old language.
The book is nice also 'cause it describes quite well the atmospheres in Naples and the views of Procida, both places worth a visit. If you go to Procida you will find a nice reconstruction of Graziella's house, where you would be brought through the rooms that she lived while reading extracts from the book. A very nice experience. You can also buy the book from the place itself, which is what I did.

I read most of this book while listening to this classical Neapolitan song, a melancholic song about a fisherman. I thought it was a perfect soundtrack for the book.

“To love for the sake of being loved is human, but to love for the sake of loving is angelic.”

Friday, 4 April 2014

The corrections- Jonathan Franzen

It had been a while I wanted to read this book, it had everything to be liked: the story, the cover, the smell, the print. Then, why I didn't like it???

Let's start with the fact that the book is 653 pages. Now, I surely don't mind reading big books, I actually love them if the story is intriguing and not ending that fast, but in this case after 200 pages I was still trying to understand where the writer wanted to go. At page 300 I was still trying.
The story itself is clear at page 10 I think, it is just that after 300  pages has just not yet developed in an interesting way. So I felt cheated! The other thing is that he uses a weird trick to bring the attention back: while you are almost falling asleep in the story he bring some wild sex inside, at times I was actually so uninterested that I took a couple of lines to understand it was actually sex what he was describing.
Sorry Franzen, I know most people think this book is a masterpiece of psychology, that analyse the modern family, but did you really need all these pages to analyse the personality of characters that was almost clear after 100 pages??
So since the book cheated me, I decided to cheat it back and apply Pennac's rule number 2 (if you don't know the Pennac's rules of reading go here). So I skipped to the last chapter hoping it would be so interesting to make me read the 200 pages in between. It was not, so without regrets: Goodbye Franzen!! I would like to say it was a pleasure but it really wasn't. But don't worry it is not your fault, I am sure I was not in the correct mental stage to understand fully the story behind the book and in between the lines.

To better books and better revoir!!!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The growing pains of Adrian Mole

"Took stock of my appearance today. I have only grown a couple of inches in the last year, so I must reconcile myself to the fact that I will be one of those people who never get a good view in the cinema"

I have just discovered Adrian Mole by chance, in the second hand shop in front of my house.
Well, if you want to read something easy and funny, this is the right book. I found myself laughing out loud many times while reading: it is hilarious!
Probably you already knew, but I have just discovered that there is a full range of books and this is the second one from the series. I will have to buy the others also now!! (What a brilliant excuse to buy more books)
It is the story of a British teenager, dealing with growing up and family issues in a dramatic, yet hilarious way. The book is in form of a diary, so very easy to read.
Surfing the internet I found out there is also a TV series, you can find it here on youtube (Although not as funny as the book I'd say).

Thursday, 6 March 2014

News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel García Márquez

People often ask me who is my favourite writer. As for music, sometimes it is difficult to answer 'cause I like whatever makes me feel something,  famous or not it makes no difference. But yes, when they ask me this question at the end I always answer: one is for sure Márquez (the other is more recent and you will discover soon I am sure). It is a old love, started many years ago and never weakened. All started by reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, I was quite young and lots of people thought the book was boring, long: I simply loved it. Since then, once in a while I read another book from him. I don't like to read books of the same authors in a short period of time, I like to take a break from them, sometimes also long, in order to enjoy better the reading. This year was the time for News of a Kidnapping. If you ever read something by Márquez you will know all his writings are magic, they bring you in another world. This one is different 'cause it is a true story. It describe the kidnapping of ten leading people in Colombia by one of the "most important" drug trafficker in the world: Pablo Escobar.  It is a kind of written documentary; but I must say, evendo this book is surely different from the others, you can still catch the touching style of Márquez. The way he brings you into the story making you imagine all the characters, the situations, the emotions, it is typical of him. I always tell everybody that the only way to read him is with all your senses, and this book is no different. You could smell the dirty in the rooms, hear the whispering, see the darkness. Toward the end I felt like I knew a little Pablo Escobar, and I could enter into his mind.

It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there's not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination.

Gabriel García Márquez

 p.s. It is a case, but not completely, that I finished the book today in the metro, as today is Márquez's birthday and I am happy I could "celebrate" with him by reading his book.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


I am not very fond of short stories, they generally leave me with a feeling of incompleteness,  but they are very handy when you travel to go to work as you can finish one in the metro.
This was my first approach to Yoshimoto, and I did enjoy the reading. But somehow all the stories have some weird things happening inside, something supernatural and spiritual. I felt a bit like reading Murakami, and at the end you are not quite sure if you liked it or not. Will have to give Yoshimoto another try to decide if I like the writing.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Housekeeper + The Professor

The Professor is a man who has been suffering from memory loss after a car accident. His short memory lasts 84 minutes, not one second more; whereas, he has a very clear memory of his past before the accident, when he was a Math professor, deeply in love with numbers, in particular prime numbers.
The Housekeeper, as you can guess, is the woman who takes care of him. Well, maybe it is better to say, the last (in chronological order) woman who tries to take care of him. 'Cause, can you imagine to take care of a person that in less than 2 hours doesn't remember who you are and what you are doing in his house?
In this book there are no names, as it is not necessary to spend time on talking about particulars that would be forgotten in 84 mins. Therefore, also the little son of the housekeeper will just have a nickname in the all story: Root, as the Math symbol 

The relationship among these 3 characters is of course made of numbers, and of the beauty that can be hidden behind a date of birth, or a shoes size. But, despite all, there is a true bond among them that is created during the reading. It is a very sweet book, silent, emotional.
 I highly recommend it!

"The Professor never really seemed to care whether we figured out the right answer to a problem. He preferred our wild, desperate guesses to silence, and he was even more delighted when those guesses led to new problems that took us beyond the original one. He had a special feeling for what he called the "correct miscalculation," for he believed that mistakes were often as revealing as the right answers."

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Maybe in another life....

Do you remember the "red surprise bag"? Well, the bag itself broke filled with my grocery shopping on the road. I won't be here describing how I had to carry all in my hands till I found a shop to buy a provisional bag. I will, instead, tell you about another book that was in the surprise bag. This:

You are not seeing double, they are really two: one is the book, and the other is the CD that comes with the book. How amazing is this? How many of us read while listening to a particular song or how many of us think of a song that describe what is in the book? Well, me for sure. I like to associate books with nice music (and generally a tea), so for me this book was an amazing discovery.
The story in the book is quiet simple, nothing that won't make you sleep. I read it very quickly between the wait at the airport and the flight itself. But it is a nice reading. Of course what makes it good is the fact that  every chapter has his soundtrack, which I found very clever, even if I didn't have the possibility to listen to the songs while reading.

The book and the CD are both from a composer, a musician, that wanted to give "words" to his music. Here you could watch the video of the song that close the CD and give the title to the book Magari in un'altra vita

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Long (but very long) walk to Freedom by Mandela

I have walked a long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.

All started with this book "A rainbow in the night" by Lapierre. I read it few years ago and I start growing a pure love for Mandela, better known to friends-and to me- as Madiba. I started loving his courage, his flight for a freedom that is so "normal" for me, for us. I started loving the battle of a country that was wildly conquer from the oppressor.
I had in mind to read Long Walk to Freedom for years, but I have all a particular conception about books: it's them that decided to be read by me. So after his death, that affected me deeply, I realized it was the right time to live again his life, to make him live through his own page. The book is huge, at first you feel you are never going to finish it; but, you then start reading and from the first pages you realise this book is gonna live with you and change you.
The book explore all his life starting from when he was a kid. And from the stories for his youth you already understand that such inspiring people are born like that, and that they decide to carry the weight of this responsibility for their entire life. This make them great!
I love Mandela not only 'cause he carried a battle against the big "enemy", but especially 'cause he carried a battle in the every day life, trying to change things starting from the small problem of segregation and racism around him, and by changing firstly himself and constantly questioning his actions. He carried most of his battle behind the gate of a jail, one of the worst in the world, but his strength for the cause did not diminish, and his fight for the freedom of every citizen of South Africa, of every colour and race was never affected by his personal problems and struggles.
It is important to keep Mandela's teaching in every day life, that we all become permanent freedom fighter, against the injustice of our life.
A very inspiring book that everybody should read it in his life.

Here there is a link to his speech when he was finally realised from prison, without compromising his beliefs and his ideas.

It is from these comrades in the struggle that I learned the meaning of courage. Time and again, I have seen men and women risk and give their life for an idea. I have seen men stand up to attacks and torture without breaking, showing a strength and resilience that defies the imagination. I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. I felt fear myself more times than I can remember, but I hid it behind a mask of boldness. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Monday, 27 January 2014

To not forget...

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Martin Niemöller

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Three Men in a boat (Jerome K. Jerome)

Despite the big success of this book, I found it a bit boring at times! 
The idea is nice: 3 friends in a boat along the Thames with a dog ( the dog actually is the funniest character). 
Sometime there are very long descriptions, not that interesting, but I must say some stories are very funny and make the book readable.

“I opened the bag and packed the boots in; and then, just as I was going to close it, a horrible idea occurred to me.  Had I packed my tooth-brush?  I don’t know how it is, but I never do know whether I’ve packed my tooth-brush.
My tooth-brush is a thing that haunts me when I’m travelling, and makes my life a misery.  I dream that I haven’t packed it, and wake up in a cold perspiration, and get out of bed and hunt for it.  And, in the morning, I pack it before I have used it, and have to unpack again to get it, and it is always the last thing I turn out of the bag; and then I repack and forget it, and have to rush upstairs for it at the last moment and carry it to the railway station, wrapped up in my pocket-handkerchief.”

Friday, 10 January 2014

week end plan

 Survived to the first week of work after Xmas holidays:
 I am ready to face the week end!!!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Pablo Neruda and the creative bag

When I was little and I had flu, my mum would gift me a surprise bag from the kiosk near my home. It was a little bag with different toys and cards inside, and the "surprise" was you never knew in advance what was inside: I loved to be sick just for that!
Would I ever think that I would get older and get a book surprise bag? No, I didn't! It was a Xmas present from somebody who knows me veeeeryyy well. It is a red shopping bag with: 3 random books, 1 cd, 1 ebook and 1 movie to download. Every bag apparently has a different set of books. I got this red bag and felt already happy, I opened it and felt again like a kid!
Why is this bag even nicer? Coz it is made by people of Scampia -to say it very grossly the Bronx of Naples (have you watched the movie Gomorrah?)- by buying this bag you become  a supporter of a local book shop and book editor. For more infos (sorry in Italian) you can go here:

Among the books in the creative bag there was one about the life of the poet Pablo Neruda in Italy. One of those books I would never have bought myself, but indeed very interesting.
Have you have watched the movie "Il postino" (The postman), well if you didn't...DO, it is one of my favourite movies, with my favourite actor (Massimo Troisi, who died very young) and it also talks about Neruda, who was exiled to a small island in Italy. Actually, after watching the movie you should also visit the island I would say. Well, thanks to this book I discovered Neruda was friend with a lot of "important" people like Picasso, who helped him many times, or  Carlo Levi. I discovered that Italy made a mark on his life and his poetry and that he had a secret lover who inspired most of his love poems. A different reading for sure!

Desnuda eres tan simple como una de tus manos,
lisa, terrestre, mínima, redonda, transparente,
tienes líneas de luna, caminos de manzana,
desnuda eres delgada como el trigo desnudo.
Desnuda eres azul como la noche en Cuba,
tienes enredaderas y estrellas en el pelo,
desnuda eres enorme y amarilla
como el verano en una iglesia de oro.
Desnuda eres pequeña como una de tus uñas,
curva, sutil, rosada hasta que nace el día
y te metes en el subterráneo del mundo
como en un largo túnel de trajes y trabajos:
tu claridad se apaga, se viste, se deshoja
y otra vez vuelve a ser una mano desnuda.

Nude, you're as simple as one of your hands.
Smooth.  Earthy.  Tiny.  Round.  Transparent.
You have lines of the moon, streets of apple.
You're as slim in the nude as the undressed wheat.
Nude, you're blue as the Cuban night is blue.
There are vines and stars in your hair.
You're yellow and enormous, nude,
like summer in a church of gold.
Nude, you're as small as one of your nails,
curved, subtle and rose-colored till the dawn of day,
when you place yourself in the underworld
as in a long tunnel of clothing and work.
Your clarity fades, drops its leaves, and dresses itself,
to turn once more to being just a naked hand.

[Pablo Neruda Sonnet XXVII]

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy 2014!!!

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions (Joey Adams)

How good was your reading year?