adventure Tag

Elizabeth is missing

Elizabeth is missing

Elizabeth is missing

written by Emma Healey, published by Penguin
genre fiction, 275 pages

 

The title and cover of this book immediately triggered my imagination. Both suggest there’ll be an adventure and probably the solving of a mystery. Having read the book I can say that I was absolutely right!

 

 

The story in short

Despite her failing memory, eighty two years-old Maud is sure about one thing; Elizabeth is missing. Ignoring the discouragement from her surroundings, Maud can’t let go of the nagging feeling that something’s totally wrong and keeps on looking for her friend. Even her forgetting sometimes what she’s looking for – she finds herself at a police station or in a newspaper’s office not knowing how she got there in the first place – doesn’t stop her from her quest to find back her best friend.

Maud’s confused mind keeps mixing up reality with memories and makes it quite hard to keep track of what is really going on. A very strange sensation, painful even at times, especially on moments when she realizes she must have done something wrong or asked the exact same question over and over again.

 

“When the woman turns back I look at her face properly.
The tears have been wiped away. It’s Helen.
The seat seems to tilt under me. It’s my daughter, Helen.
I’ve been sitting in a bus shelter with her, not knowing who she was.” 

– Maud

 

During her search for Elizabeth, another mystery comes to the surface; a case that has been unsolved for many decades and kept Maud and her family occupied for years. Somewhere the answers lie hidden inside Maud’s confused memories and bit by bit pieces start falling into place. Will Maud find back her friend and on the way solve another mystery, or will it all be lost forever…

 

Why you should read this book

‘Elizabeth is missing’ is a very humorous, engaging, but also confusing story. You just have to keep reading because you want to know what really happend; what happend to Elizabeth and what has happened many decades ago.

On top of the mysteries that have to be solved, the difficulties Maud has to face because of her condition, really gave me a good impression of what it must be like for some of my loved ones who also struggle with failing memories. All in all I think ‘Elizabeth is missing’ is an excellent story; touching, fun and even educational.

 

“I feel in my pockets for notes, but there’s nothing there,
just a few threads and emptiness. I’ve no notes at all.
The lack makes me feel sick; I’m cut loose and whirling about in the wind.
I wring the fabric of my coat, scrunching up and down in panic.
And then, inside the ripped lining, I find one small blue square with my writing on it:
Where is Elizabeth?”

– Maud

 

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A survival guide for life

A survival guide for life

A survival guide for life – How to achieve your goals, thrive in adversity and grow in character

written by Bear Grylls, published by Transworld Publishers
genre non-fiction / self-help, 284 pages

 

Since my boyfriend kept mentioning this book I decided to give it to him as a birthday present. Not having any clue who Bear Grylls is and what the book’s all about. But as soon as I bought it, I realized I’d love this book as much as my boyfriend would.
The 284 pages are filled with 75 precious life lessons, personal experiences and hard-earned wisdom. Written down by a man who not only knows how to stay alive in extreme circumstances, but also knows how to translate these experiences into the most down to earth, to the point and valuable life lessons. A book that had to be read!

 


The story in short

Even though I’d not yet heard of the man, it turns out that Mr. Grylls is one of the most well known people around the world, when it comes to survival and outdoor adventure. Starting with training martial arts as a child, Bear joined the British Special Forces as a young man. While serving the 21 SAS he gained many experiences, perfected his skills and trained his heart and mind.

Over the years Bear Grylls has written 20 books and this one is an insider’s guide on how to follow your heart and live an empowered, effective, fun-filled life. As a former member of the SAS, Bear knows first handed how hard life’s challenges can be and how good it feels to keep holding on and to not give up.

A book filled with so many useful lessons can be hard to summarize. Picking my 5 favorite lessons might give you an idea why I loved this book and its author so much. So here they are :

  1. Be the most enthusiastic person you know. Enthuasiasm sustains you when times are tough, encourages those around you and rapidly becomes a habit.
  2. The will to win means nothing, without the will to train. Or as Winston Churchill put it: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
  3. To get, you first have to give. A beautiful lesson Bear learned as a child from his mother. Please make sure to read this chapter in the book, I loved the explanation.
  4. No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. The real value of a team is the people and the relationships between them.
  5. It’s all about that little bit extra. Reaching our summits only requires us to hold on that little bit longer than most people are prepared to endure.

 

And because it’s incredibly hard to pick only 5, I decided to give a little encore :

  • You’ve got two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion. Listen twice as much as you talk, don’t listen to reply but listen to understand.

 

Do you get what I mean? It all sounds very logical and sometimes even funny. But we all struggle with motivation or inspiration sometimes. According to Bear, champions never stay down for long. That’s why we need to keep feeding motivation into our brains and souls every single day, that’s what this survival guide is all about.

 

Why you should read this book

Having read quite a lot of self-help books, this one is definitely one of the quickest and easiest reads of all. The 75 chapters are very short and concise, they all add a new lesson or insight and together they add up to one overall story. It’s a book that can be read in just a day or two, or to have laying around to pick up every now and then for just that piece of  advise suitable for your specific situation or mood. If you’re in an instant need of motivation, this book will be the perfect cure!

 

“Life rewards the dogged, not the qualified.” 

– Bear Grylls

 

* Picture in header from Bear Grylls’ Facebook.

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The readers of Broken Wheel recommend

The readers of Broken Wheel recommend

De boeken van Sara Lindqvist/ The readers of Broken Wheel recommend

written by Katarina Bivald, published by Boekerij
genre fiction / novel, 399 pages

 

When stumbling across the dutch translation of the ‘The readers of Broken Wheel recommend’, the book cover was reason enough for me to start reading right away. Even though people always say you should’t judge a book by its cover, this one (just like the english versions  you can see below) was a perfect representation of the story and its atmosphere; a sweet and funny story about a tiny American town, books, love and friendship. Just like I expected by judging the cover, I fell in love with the readers of Broken Wheel at once!

 


The story in short

When Sara, a young Swedish woman who just lost her bookselling job, arrives in Broken Wheel (Iowa, USA) to visit her old and fellow book loving pen pal Amy, it turns out to be the day of Amy’s funeral. Being Amy’s guest, the residents of Broken Wheel decide Sara has to stay and welcome her as their guest.

Finding it hard to just relax and enjoy Broken Wheel’s hospitality, Sara soon finds a way to contribute to everyone’s wellbeing. After discovering Amy’s book collection she decides that opening a book shop will be the perfect way to honor Amy and to give something back to the generous people of the town. With everybody helping her to make the bookshop a success, the project brings the whole community back together.

Sara’s enthusiasm and conviction that there is a book for everyone, helps them to open up their hearts for books, for each other and for themselves. Broken Wheel and Sara turn out to be a match made in heaven.

 

cover designs of the english versions

 

Why you should read this book

This book turns out to be one of the loveliest feel good books I’ve read in a long time. The story is both sweet and funny and despite the predictable ending, it never gets boring or lengthy in any way. I loved how we get to know more about Amy and her villagers through Amy’s letters to Sara and how the characters evolve during the book. It’s simply impossible not to fall in love with this town, just like Sara did. On top of that, the many  references from famous books helped reminding me how much I love reading books!

 

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Wild

Wild

Wild. From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

written by Cheryl Strayed, published by Luitingh-Sluithoff
genre Memoirs / non fiction, 384 pages

 

With a fascination for traveling, especially in combination with soul searching and the contemplation of life, my boyfriend chose very well to give me the book ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed as a birthday present. Having seen the movie shortly after it came out, I hadn’t read the book yet. And as soon as the wrapping paper came off I couldn’t wait any longer and started reading immediately.

 


The story in short

It’s the summer of ’95 when 26 year-old Cheryl makes one of the biggest and probably most impulsive decisions of her life. Four years after losing her mother, Cheryl finds her family scattered and her marriage broken. Accidentally coming across a book about the Pacific Crest Trail at a gasstation, she decides this is what she wants to do, this is what she needs to do. Not knowing what she is getting herself into, her adventure starts then & there.

With nothing left to lose, Cheryl sells most of her belongings and without any experience or training starts her 3-month journey. During those months she hikes 1700 km / 1100 miles from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to end at the ‘Bridge of the Gods’ in Washington State, all by herself.

During the book, we get to know Cheryl as a strong and independent woman, who’s determination helps her to heal her broken heart and become the woman she wants to be. The book presents a mixture of all the emotions, pleasures and terrors she has to overcome during her solo hike. We are there with her when she feels lonely, when she meets wonderful people, when she feels overwhelmed and when she’s terrified. Cheryl shows us a wonderful and inspiring example of how you can’t always control your circumstances, but can control the way you’re dealing with them.

 

Cheryl Strayed near the PCT in Old Station, California, July 1995

 

Why you should read this book

Even though I read the Dutch translation, it’s obvious to me that Cheryl is a very good story teller. I loved how she intertwined passages from her past into the story of her hike, without becoming unnecessary personal or emotional. We get to know Cheryl and her situation very well and therefore get even more respect for the guts she shows and the choices she has made.

What I loved about the book was that it immediate takes you into the mindset and atmosphere of travel, the feelings of adventure, despite the discomfort and loneliness. This book resurrected in me the itch to travel again, starting on my couch reading lovely books like this one.

 

*Picture in header is still from the movie ‘Wild’ based on this book, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, released in 2014 by Fox Searchlight Pictures

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De Amerikaanse Prinses

De Amerikaanse Prinses

De Amerikaanse Prinses / The American Princess

written by Annejet van der Zijl, published by Querido
genre literary nonfiction, 280 pages

 

During an interview on the Dutch television last year, Mrs. Van der Zijl – one the most famous authors of literary nonfiction in the Netherlands – mentioned that she just finished writing this book. She told the presenter how she, like most people, always is searching for something. How the writing of her books, the searching for the stories, keeps bringing adventures, new worlds and beauty into her life. This interview made me curious to read her newest work, a book about the amazing life of a beautiful woman.

 


The story in short

Being the first biography I’ve ever read, ‘De Amerikaanse Prinses’ (the American Princess) totally blew me away. Allene Tew (1872-1955) was a woman who used her limitations as a motivation to give shape to her own life and managed to live the lives of many people in one single lifetime.

Growing up in Jamestown as a descendant of the first settlers in America, Allene was raised in an entrepreneurial environment. This childhood in combination with her good looks and adventurous character, were all that was needed for a life like no other.

Reading her story, we not only get to know a lot about Allene, her family, her friends and the social scenes she was being a part of. The book also tells us a lot about our history and gives an overview of the world as it was during Allenes life; the First and Second World War influencing daily life in both Europe and America, industrial revolutions, technical discoveries and developments and social changes making enormous differences to the lives of the people during the different eras of Allene’s life.

An informative and fascinating biography that tells us the story of a woman that was decades ahead of her time. A woman who despite many disappointments, sadness and difficulties, never let go of her dreams and ambitions. A strong and independent woman who, thanks to her resilience and perseverance, never lost courage and always kept moving on. A woman who can still be an example for women today!

The book was completed with pictures of Allene and her family during different life stages.

 

Allene Tew Hostetter | 1892

 

Why you should read this book

Reading this book was an absolute pleasure. Not only is Allene Tew’s life very intriguing, the way it was written, with all the background information, was as beautifully as the story itself. It could easily have been an overkill of information, a complex and exhausting book to read, but it was not like that at all. As soon as you start reading this book, you just want to know what is going to happen, how the life of this woman evolves, how she deals with the difficulties that come her way and how she keeps standing strong, no matter what.

 

En misschien was dat wel Allenes grootste prestatie – meer nog dan haar rijkdom,
haar titels, haar vele huizen en haar imponerende gastenboek.
Dat ze, wat ze allemaal ook had meegemaakt en doorstaan,
zich nooit het vermogen had laten afpakken om van het leven te genieten
en er dankbaar voor te zijn.” 

– Annejet van der Zijl

 

“Maybe Allenes biggest achievement – even more than her wealth, her titels, her many houses and her imposing guestbook.
Was that she, despite what she had experienced and endured, had never lost the ability to enjoy her life and be grateful for it.”
– Annejet van der Zijl

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Factor 25

Factor 25

Factor 25

written by Eva Daeleman, published by Manteau
genre autobiography, 239 pages

 

My friend Katrien, with whom I travelled through Australia after meeting her in New Zealand, told me: “I’ve read an amazing book and you just have to read it!” And so I did. I read this Dutch – Flemish actually – book and have to admit; after reading Eva’s travel stories, I can’t wait to book my next journey. Adventure is calling, again!

 


The story in short

Eva Daeleman, a 24 year old Belgian radio and tv presenter, decides she needs a break from the rat race her ‘perfect life’ has become. She wants to travel, alone. And so her adventure takes-off. An adventure that will last 7 weeks in Vietnam and Thailand and many, many more weeks back at home.

Only minutes after arriving in Vietnam, Eva finds out that traveling alone is something completely different to being on a holiday. Quickly Eva ends up in her own personal roller coaster, consisting of a spinning head, a bleeding heart and a country that’s so different from home. During her journey, many tears will be shed and courage and insights will be gained.
At the same time Eva discovers that traveling alone brings many joys and pleasures. Next to getting to know herself better than ever, she meets interesting people and makes new friends for life.

A journey that starts chaotically; with Eva’s thoughts and feelings almost exploding within her. A journey that ends peacefully; as the weeks pass by, Eva starts to finally find confidence, peace and pleasure with who she really is.

 

Why you should read this book

When I started reading this book, it was a bit hard for me to get used to the short sentences and ever changing subjects that fill the pages. But after getting used to her writing, reading her story gave me the feeling that I was there, in Eva’s head, during her journey through Asia.

What I loved about the book is Eva’s openness and honesty. Especially considering the fact that she is a famous person and has to deal with people’s opinions and criticism every single day. I think the fact that a celebrity who’s life seems to be perfect, is willing to open up and show the world her deepest insecurities, is probably the most valuable aspect of this book.

What I did miss was a deeper layer to the story. To me it maybe was a bit too personal, like reading someone’s diary instead of a well thought out story. Nevertheless did I have a good time reading this book, especially because her struggling while traveling alone was very recognizable to me and I’m sure to everybody who’s ever traveled on his/her own.

 

“Ik heb het gevoel dat de grond onder mijn voeten is verdwenen.
Dat ik als een vis op het droge lig te spartelen en snak naar water.
Al is het maar een druppel. Eén druppel herkenbaarheid.
Alles is hier anders, zelfs ik.” 

– Eva Daeleman


“I feel like the earth is disappearing from under me.
Like a fish on the land, longing for water.
Just one drop. One drop of recognition.
Everything is different here, including me.”
– Eva Daeleman

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Miss yellow hair, hello!

Miss yellow hair, hello!

Miss yellow hair, Hello! – The adventures of an unstoppable world traveler

written by Iris Hannema, published by Arbeiderspers
genre non fiction / travel, 213 page
s

 

As a digital nomad, the Dutch Iris Hannema travels the world while writing articles for newspapers and magazines such as National Geographic. The combination of a job as a (traveling) journalist/photographer, her humour and adventurous mind, makes that she ends up in unfamiliar places and the craziest of circumstances. Therefore this young woman has countless of stories to tell and already published two books that are filled with her experiences. Stumbling across her first book ‘Miss yellow hair, Hello!’ in the local library left me with no other option; this book had to be read.

 


The story in short

If you want to read a book about traveling, the real traveling, ‘Miss yellow hair, hello!’ is the book you should read. This collection of short stories that take place all over the world, might be the ultimate inspiration source to go and explore the world yourself, or it might help you to decide to rather stay home and enjoy all the comforts that come with that.

There really isn’t a subject that has been overlooked in this book. Iris dares to share with us very personal and sometimes even shameful experiences and is brutally honest about the pleasures and pains traveling can entail. She is funny and practical and shares handy tips and tricks that we might be thankful for one day, when we find ourselves somewhere far from home. The addition of the pictures she took during those travels and refers to in some of the stories, only makes reading her stories more fun and real.

I think her Dutch mentality can easily be detected while reading the book. Iris is in no aspects subtle or subdued and goes for what she wants, the good way or the bad. That might seem a bit offensive to some readers, but I personally thought her way of dealing with the diverse and absurd situations was not only amusing, but mostly very human.

 

Why you should read this book

This book is easy to read because of the variety of stories and the personal tone of voice. Iris turns out to be a raw and realistic traveller and isn’t scared to share with us the funniest, dirtiest and sometimes painfully honest details of the crazy reality a traveller has to deal with. I really liked that she makes fun of herself and dares to acknowledge some of her weaknesses (especially when it comes to men) and at the same time turns out to be a very brave and adventurous woman.

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Barcelona City Guide

Barcelona

Barcelona City Guide

 

Last summer my friend Katrien and I, both in desperate need of inspiration and adventure, went on a city trip to Barcelona. Barcelona had been on my ‘places I definitely have to visit-list’ for a really long time so I was curious whether it would meet my expectations. Well, it for sure did! I’ve been to amazing cities, walked on beautiful beaches, visited historic sites and seen many churches, Barcelona has it all and on top of that also houses some of the most wonderful buildings I’ve ever seen, thanks to mister Antoni Gaudi.

What to do & see in this wonderful city

 

Although there really is so much one can do and see in this fantastic city, I couldn’t stop myself from making a short list of some of the must do’s for whoever is about to visit to Barca and can use a bit of inspiration and advise.

  1. Antoni Gaudi : Barcelona has Gaudi’s handwriting all over it. Some of the buildings and areas that he designed can only be seen from the outside, others can also be visited. We decided to visit Palau Güell, the Güell family home, of which you probably recognize the beautiful mosaic chimneys, Park Güell (in case you want to sit on the benches and see ‘El Drac’, the famous dragon, make sure to buy your tickets beforehand) and the Sagrada Familia (also make sure to buy tickets online). But there are many more options.
  2. Mies van der Rohe Pavilion : originally designed and build in 1929 for the Barcelona International Exposition, the pavilion got disassembled shortly after the expo was over but got resurrected at its original spot in the 1980’s. If you’re interested in architecture and design, this building and of course the Barcelona chairs that were designed for the expo as well, won’t be a disappointment! To see and read more about the pavilion, have a look here.
  3. CaixaForum : right across the street from the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion you’ll find the CaixaForum. This museum and cultural centre offers a wide range of events such as exhibitions of ancient, modern and contemporary artists, concerts, lectures and more. The museum is located in a former textile mill that was completed in 1911. After the factory closed its doors in 1918, the building was used as a warehouse and a police station and finally transformed into a museum in 2002. You can visit the CaixaForum website here.
  4. Even though the current exhibition at the MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporary de Barcelona) didn’t allure us to pay the museum a visit, the mural by Keith Harring at the left side of the building made it all up for us. MACBA website for more info.
  5. Tiles : this might seem a bit odd, but walking through the city I found the different tiles that were covering the streets of the city very charming. Some of them even made it to my Barcelona moodboard.
  6. Tapas : although I’m not that interested in food and being a vegetarian sometimes have to miss out on local dishes, in Barcelona I had the option of trying all kinds of different tapas. These typical Spanish appetizers can be found everywhere. There are so many options that there’s something for everybody. My advise would be to try as much tapas as you can.
  7. Sagrada Familia : even though the Sagrada Familia was already mentioned in the Gaudi-chapter on this list, this church deserves it’s own attention. There are simply no words to describe this mind blowingly beautiful building. It is the most amazing church I have ever seen and the only thing I can say about it is to, when you go to Barcelona, not forget to pay it a visit. I promise you won’t be disappointed! For tickets and more info have a look at the Sagrada Familia website.

 

Of course my short list doesn’t cover it all and many other interesting sites and options could have been mentioned. But I hope this will give you an impression of my visit to this wonderful city and maybe even inspire you to go and discover Barcelona yourself!

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Brooklyn

Brooklyn

Brooklyn

 

written by Colm Tóibín, published by Penguin
genre novel, 252 pages

The first time I saw Colm Tóibín’s novel Brooklyn, I was looking into the books of a bookshop at Dublin Airport, while waiting for my plane to go back home. I was immediately drawn to the title, as only a few weeks earlier I had spend a couple of weeks in Brooklyn, celebrating Christmas and NYE with the man I was dating at the moment, a man who lives in Brooklyn.

 

 

The story in short

Brooklyn is a novel that follows the life of Eilis Lacey. The story takes off in Ireland in the 1950’s. Eilis, a young girl living with her mother and older sister Rose in the small town she grew up in, studies bookkeeping. Despite her excellent qualifications she cannot find a decent job and when her sister Rose arranges an opportunity for her to leave Ireland and go work and live in Brooklyn, Eilis knows that there’s no other option than to go.

For Eilis, who is leaving her home and family for the first time, crossing the ocean and moving to a big city on the other side of the world is a big adventure. Even though her new life is quite different from the life she had in Ireland and despite feeling homesick every now and then, Eilis starts to feel more at home as the months pass. And when she finds love with Tony, her future in America certainly begins to take shape.

Devastating news from Ireland forces her to go back home, where Eilis awaits an alternative path for the future. Thorn between two different lives and responsibilities, Eilis once more has to make a major decision; will she go back to Brooklyn or stay at home where new opportunities are rising…

 

Why you should read this book

I can only say that I loved this book from the moment I started reading it. Not only does it tell us the story of a young girl coming of age, dealing with new responsibilities and falling in love for the first time. It’s mostly the adventure of a life time, all the insecurities and opportunities that come with emigrating to the other side of the world, that makes this story so appealing.

Even though it is a short read, you get to know Eilis very well. And as the story moves on, you notice her changing from a unselfconscious young girl into a smart and confident young woman. The story is very moving and stays with you for a very long time.

*Picture in header is a still from the movie ‘Brooklyn’ based on this book, directed by John Crowly, released in 2015 by Fox Searchlight Pictures

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