Tag Archives: reading

When books and cooks have lovechildren

Reading has a barrow in the marketplace
Baking is the singer in a band
Reading says to Baking girl I like your face
And Baking blogs this as she takes him by the hand


Rarely have I loved the internet more.

(Ob-la-di Ob-la-da is one of my favorite songs – straightforward, sweet and cheerful, like love itself should be)



I love looking at this chart because in my view, it simply serves to reinforce the notion that we alone can know ourselves and, consequently, what is best for us. There is no one right way – to produce, to love, to live – but only our way.

(chart from the ever-superlative http://www.brainpickings.org)

Reading Russians

My reading list is currently dominated by the Russian authors of yore. It all started when I first read Anna Karenina about a year ago. I’d always thought it was an overdramatic tale of unrequited love… boy, was I wrong. I just could not put that book down. I lugged it with me everywhere I went, stealing a furtive read every second I got the chance – in the subway, queuing for the cash machine, anywhere – even a few pages would do. It had been the first time in years that a book enraptured me that way. I absolutely loved it – Tolstoy’s intricate characterization brought each figure so alive, which reminded me of the paradox that the more one expresses one’s most intimate thoughts, the more “universal” our experience becomes. It’s one of those books I can imagine reading and rereading again, and there will always be a new theme, a new image, a new reflection to be found. It’s more than a plot with colourful characters: because it speaks to the psyche, it’s a book about life itself. [You can imagine how sore I was when I found out that a girl I’d just met was reading it and her response to my gushing was a diplomatic grab to find something good to say, which was “yeh, yeh, the author is clever, I see what he’s doing”. I found a whole lot of post-(only post?)colonial self-centredness in this. The finding was not dispelled by the fact that when we visited a bookshop in an ex-colony, which was renowned for focusing on lit from that ex-colony, MsClever only browsed white Western authors. Honey, you can’t even pronounce “th” properly, and it’s one of the defining sounds of your language. But this will be the subject of another post.]

Right now, I’m almost halfway through Nikolaj Gogol’s “Dead Souls”. I decided to buy it because (a) he’s Russian (as much as I find national labels vacuous, for the above reasons it seems to be something of a guarantee for me lately) (b) walking home after a rejuvenating night out, I chanced upon a plaque commemorating the place where he wrote part of it (c) the name was intriguing. Solid reasons, eh? So I dug into it, expecting a dark tale of despair and depravity. Well, not the case so far. I’d say that the predominant tone is rather caustic sarcasm and cynicism, which sometimes take a downright hilarious turn. Yesterday I laughed out loud at a description of an heavily drunken party among men, whose conversations grew in a crescendo of absurdity; when the discussion turned to politics, “they effortlessly solved a multitude of intractable problems” thanks to the sweet nectar. Unfortunately, many English versions available online seem to be rather stuffy and omit this genius phrase. The power of a good translation!

A cor do invisível – Mario Quintana

“And in the end you will see that the lightest things are the only ones
That the wind could not take away
An old refrain
A caress at the right time
Turning the pages of a book of poems
The scent the wind itself once had…
– which the wind did not take away”

– Mario Quintana, 1989; translation liberally my own.

2015 discoveries

  • Tiffany’s – am now a total sellout to the little blue box, though more for everyday trinkets rather than monumental jewelry. The fact that they have handsome, well-groomed young men ply you with bubbly, coffee and chocolate as you shop miiiiight have something to do with it.
  • Original-language cinema – especially Saturday nights early in a run, the crowd is abundant and it feels almost normal. I’ve always liked a crowd; you can strike the right balance between contact and anonymity. Also, there I once saw a tv journalist who’s notorious for being somewhat caninely ferocious when interviewing – except that she was on a date there! It was rather sweet to watch this completely unexpected – and unexpectable, from her tv demeanour – side to her.
  • (this is a rediscovery) Reading – it’s so nice to become completely absorbed by the world that is a book – a world spun by its author – to learn new perspectives, new ideas and notions, new styles. But more than this, reading is a real need of mine, as fundamental to my soul and mind as food is to my body (and mind). Without it there is a real void.
  • My other absolute need: to write.
  • Cooking and, to a much lesser degree, baking. I prefer the former because there is more space for tinkering as you go.
  • The relaxing power of Frank Sinatra and that whole school of singin’.
  • Star Wars.

Quote of the day

My God, a whole moment of happiness! Is that too little for the whole of a man’s life?

-F. Dostoevsky, White Nights