When writing the post ‘2017 in a nutshell’, in which I look back at the milestones reached last year, Magnus’ birth announcements had just been send out and I promised that it wouldn’t take long before I’d share pictures of the end result with you as well.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
– 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
written by Iris Hannema, published by Arbeiderspers
genre non fiction / travel, 213 pages
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.