Cărți de citit – pentru o călătorie în jurul lumii, cu mintea

*listă de 195 sau 200 de cărți de citit prin care am mers  în jurul lumii

Pentru o serie de motive listate mai jos, care includ cuvinte ca ”descoperire”, ”imaginație” ”sinestezie” sau ”dezvoltare”, am început și o să tot adaug acestei liste de cărți cele care mă duc în anumite țări, anumite culturi, scrise de autori din acele țări, până le descopăr pe toate.

Așa că pentru cine vrea să călătoarească, și să nu se oprească, să fie acolo și să asculte acel ”acolo”, cam asta ar fi lista în #cuvinteetc de #cărțidecititlumea. 

În pandemie, undeva în martie 2020, mi-a venit ideea de a pleca cu mintea. Mi-a fost mereu ușor, pentru că dacă am ceva din plin, e imaginație. 

Mai mult decât faptul că ”văd” locuri când aud cuvinte, miros lucruri când le citesc descrise, cărțile au fost mereu pentru mine jumătăți de experiență reală. Unele mi-au dat lecții atât de puternice încât, după ce am citit o carte anume, am reușit să fac un lucru de la nivel de intermediar, având deja învățate bazele. 

Așa că o călătorie în jurul lumii, la care știu deja cum se simte gălăgia pe străzile din Istambul sau de ce trebuie să caut lumea mlaștinii în North Carolina, la atât de multe obiceiuri, feluri de a fi, de a reacționa, de a gândi fraze și conversații, cărțile pe care le-am pus pe listă sunt modurile mele de a nu începe de la zero descoperirea. 

Avem o planetă și deocamdată o viață. Dar avem și o minte extraordinar de complexă care poate ghida călătorii întregi de pe un scaun. Așa că le-am pus una lângă alta și am plecat în lume. 

Jos, pe harta asta, am loc de răzuit 195 sau 200 de locuri. În timp, cu răbdare. 

În timp, adaug cărți, așa cum adaug amintiri și călătorii reale, care sunt fie noi, fi inspirate de aceste cărți. REGULI: Și încerc să nu fie SF sau de fantezie sau de călătorie, ci să suprindă momente autentice acelei țări, acelui popor, acelei culturi. Și să fie scrise de autori ce aparțin acelei țări. 

Și poate unele țări vor avea mai multe reprezentante, și poate unele inițial vor avea ca reprezentante fantezii, până la noi descoperiri. O să văd. 

Și vă recomand o astfel de listă, de challenge, de călătorie, doar și pentru plăcerea de a bifa lucruri pe  listă. 

 O listă în creștere de #cărțidecititlumea

 

  • 1. Japan – ”The Travelling Cat Chronicles” de Hiro Arikawa

Though a short novel, it makes for a beautiful story of drawing a character, a life and customs.
It’s recent in history, because it tells about the transition from letters to phones but feels like every old anime I watched as a teenager. And it also came with its little bit of serendipity (so often happening for me nowadays) and it tackled the same subsevj as my latest read The house of broken angels.
Through the eyes of a cat and its voice, it tells of relationships, customs and that special way of being Japanese makes the book at times play out in my mind like an old anime from the Gibli studios.
The cat is at times more apprehensive than a human and this part is cute, the cat trying to distract a human from her grief.
„‘You don’t use them, so why take them out?’ Good point. But as you focus on your anger and on tidying up the floor, don’t all your sad feelings begin to lift a bit?”

There are tidbits of traditions and special food and beliefs and it made for the perfect book to make it onto my Traveling list.

So 4 stars for that and the little tears in the end there, with a cat pretending to be strong.
Favourite quotes
✅ It’s kind of inconvenient that humans only understand each other.
✅Guddo rakku! This from the chinchilla, in some language I didn’t understand. Guddo … what? It means ‘good luck’. My master often says it

Favourite quote: ”It’s kind of inconvenient that humans only understand each other.”

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  • 2. Turkey – ”10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World” – by Elif Shafak  

Loved the first part, slowly went over the second.

An interesting take on life and death, crime and social interactions in Turkey, with all the clashes of cultures and mix of people. Wish the other characters got some more background, they feel only like sk

etches.

A sad story, but a happy ending story, because Leila can be free.
Recommended for the insight into the culture and some Istanbul descriptions to take you there.
Some quotes I liked:
„Never in a thousand years would she agree to be spoken of in the past tense, tequila Leila.”
Favourite quote:”It seemed to Leila that human beings exhibited a profound impatience with the milestones of their existence.”

 

 

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  • 3. India -(south India)- ”The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy

Favourite quote: „Instinctively colluding in the conspiracy of their fiction, taking care not to decimate it with adult carelessness. Or affection. It is after all so easy to shatter a story.”

I got to know the climate, from sentences like this one> „Paper folded like cloth. She had forgotten just how damp the monsoon air in Ayemenem could be”.
And I got to read about the struggle in their minds, from phrases like this one> „He didn’t know that in some places, like the country that Rahel came from, various kinds of despair competed for primacy.”
And some heartbreaking things, like the existence of India’s „Untouchables” who Face Violence, Discrimination. More than 160 million people in India are considered tainted by their birth into a caste system that deems them impure, less than human.
And on the other side, the high class of people, old money or old principles, displays of wealth and perceptions like: „Questions signified a vulgar display of ignorance.”


Religion, class, and manners, are all explored and vowed into the story that can very easily break your heart by the end. Because in the end, the god of small things is only small because of the:
„Man’s subliminal urge to destroy what he could neither subdue nor deify.”

The way it’s written made me love the language from the beginning.
„Thirty-one. Not old. Not young. But a viable die-able age.” And it’s not shy in the face of some realities, and that makes the book powerful: „The one who had once led her (swimming) through their lovely mother’s cunt. Both things unbearable in their polarity. In their irreconcilable far-apartness.”

Beautiful phrases and painful too. So much melody and senses triggers, like in this phrase> „Edges, Borders, Boundaries, Brinks and Limits have appeared like a team of trolls on their separate horizons.”

The structure is a little complicated, going backward in time and forward again. But not so complicated to ruin the story. It did make me wonder and try to guess what the backstory was with the characters, so that’s good.

 

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  • 4. Mexico – „The House of Broken Angels” by Luis Alberto Urrea 

A real tear-jerker, I had a hard time parting ways with this book. It’s the first in my new challenge to read a book immersive for every culture. And it was more than I expected, it was, like on the best of times, a serendipity with it, because of a little element I encountered in it that I do in real life myself.
It’s about how a Mexican family already for a generation in America deals with death and celebrations.



How the main character, withered in sickness explains how to be a man, to be a better America and just to be better you have to suffer, to Never late, to have good teeth, perfect speaking English and a The boss mug.

„And so, with verbs and nouns, they built their bridge to California.”

I loved every little detail in this beautiful story of two days and so many lives, family drama and history and those little random things making you love life.

It made me cry and laugh and smell things right out of the pages.

Favourite quotes
✅“This ain’t what we are, homes,” Lalo says. “This is not us. This is the story they tell about us, but it’s not true.”
✅ Angel’s favorite definition of Mexican was “Out of nothing, food.”
✅ They thought he was stupid, as parents often do. Well, he was as kids often are.
✅“Ay Dios,” she said, as had every generation of Mexican women back through time.
✅He had seen only sixty-nine Christmas mornings. Goddamn it! Sorry, Lord. Not enough. Not nearly enough.
✅His bones wailed deep in the midnight of his flesh, as white and hot as lightning.
✅That comfortable old silence spread between them, as warm and luxurious as a well-fed cat.
✅But what mattered was how you said it. “Dayum!” Like it was made out of caramel and would stick to their lips.
✅Families came apart and regrouped, she thought. Like water. In this desert, families were the water.
✅Ay Dios. Dios mío. Por Dios.” God, being worn down by faithful repetition. There was some evidence that he might be deaf.

 

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  • 5. Afganistan – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 
It’s a 3 and a half stars for this.
Going to Afganistan in the 50’s and coming to the present in a saga like this felt quicker than I initially imagined. And as I expected it to, it taught me some things about the culture and made some impressions on my image about Afganistan.

It’s not the sandy hot place I imagined, because descriptions of green wheat fields of Herat and orchards and vines „pregnant with plump grapes” pop up to ruin the image of a barren country. And the cities are crowded, „vaulted bazaars” only destroyed bit by bit in a senseless war.


It’s a story with kisses on the cheek 3 times and a princess or two „on horseback, smiling shyly behind a veiled green gown, her palms painted red with henna, her hair parted with silver dust, the braids held together by tree sap.” As custom asks, as it should be.

And then, it isn’t, because some women are dealt a hand that says> ” But I’ve seen nine-year-old girls given to men twenty years older than your suitor, Mariam. We all have. What are you, fifteen? That’s a good, solid marrying age for a girl.”

And it’s a beautiful country, with herb shops, open-fronted cubbyholes where shoppers bought oranges and pears, books, shawls, even falcons. And „where children played marbles in circles drawn in dust. Outside teahouses, on carpet-covered wooden platforms, men drank tea and smoked tobacco”.

But it’s also the country where „Mariam wondered how so many women could suffer the same miserable luck, to have married, all of them, such dreadful men. Or was this a wifely game that she did not know about, a daily ritual, like soaking rice or making dough?”

It’s my Afganistan choice for the traveling through Reading challenge #cartidecititlumea and it wasn’t as hot as I imagined. But it was sad and a little happy too. And I’m already curious to try some borani, aushak, quimad and sabzi.

Tabreek! (congratulations to the author)

Favourite quotes:
” each snowflake was a sigh heaved by an aggrieved woman somewhere in the world. „

„People, she believed now, shouldn’t be allowed to have new children if they’d already given away all their love to their old ones.”

„Mariam had never before worn a burqa. Rasheed had to help her put it on. The padded headpiece felt tight and heavy on her skull, and it was strange seeing the world through a mesh screen.”

„Here was a woman, she thought, who had understood that she was lucky to even be working, that there was always something, something else, that they could take away.”

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6. Scotland – Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

My Scottish stop into the #aroundtheworld in books challenge. And what a lovely new friend to make in Eleanor.
Born in 1987, she’s the definition of strange and the way she talks to us in the book makes you want to laugh, and cry and scream at her.

She does things like this, to salespeople on the phone „I whisper I know where you live to them, and hang up the phone very, very gently.”
And if it made you laugh, know you’ll also cry. The backstory, slowly unraveling, is beautiful: „Pain is easy; pain is something with which I am familiar. I went into the little white room inside my head, the one that’s the color of clouds. It smells of clean cotton and baby rabbits.” As beautiful is the language of the prose.
„I feel so lightly connected to the earth that the threads that tether me to the planet are gossamer thin, spun sugar.”
From feeling sorry for her, to considering her a stalker, to new and new feels, you’ll love this if you like characters slowly healing and becoming.
I loved the fact that every 10 pages or so there’s another surprise about her and her life waiting for you. And some Scottish “Will ah fuck, Jodi—ahm talkin tae ma lassie here, and ahm no gonnae curtail ma conversation for a wee skank like you.” : )))
And some tidbits about life in the UK: „My nails are a tribute to the culinary excellence of the British high street” the fact that Eleanor can’t buy vodka before 10 am or that this is considered proper „He wasn’t using a knife but held a fork in his right hand like a child or an American.”

I loved it and it made my day, a contemporary story about an office worker, a woman that is completely fine. 🙂

Favourite quotes:
„The goal, ultimately, was successful camouflage as a human woman.”

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7. Ghana – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This is my stop into Ghana, on the #aroundtheworld in books tour. And it had me at the first page, even if I knew I will probably need to read another to „see” Ghana today.
I welcomed it into my days and I went there, with its lines, in the history of 5 generations, 2 sisters as roots and enough pain and suffering and hope for a lifetime.

 

The book is a historical fiction novel, a journey following generation after generation from 1775 to modern days. And captures the voices and needs and pains and demons of these generations as shaped by the history happening to them and history being shaped by their beliefs.

From the despicable dungeon the Cape Coast Castle (one of about forty „slave castles”, or large commercial forts, built on the Gold Coast of West Africa ), home to one sister and root to a branch of the descendants, to unforgiving sun and lashes in Alabama, to Stanford University where this branch leads, from the lavish rooms of this despicable place to Edweso to Alabama and back again, you read and feel sick and feel sorry.
You see history and learn that „The Asante had power from capturing slaves. The Fante had protection from trading them.” And you witness customs and believes sometimes making people feel at home and sometimes cursing them to be and do as told: „The Asante puberty rites were a serious matter. There was a weeklong ceremony to bless the girls’ fresh womanhood. „

Favourite quotes:
„As though love were as simple an act as lifting food up from an iron plate and past one’s lips.”
„He could see the large, proud gap that stood between her two front teeth, and he found himself training his gaze through that door as though he could see all the way down into her throat, her gut, the home of her very soul.”

„Marjorie was made aware, yet again, that her „white” could be the way a person talked; „black” the music a person listened to. In Ghana, you could only be what you were, what your skin announced to the world.”

 

 

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8. Nigeria – The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

My Nigerian stop in the #bookstoreadtheworld challenge. And the first book in a long time to get a 4 + review.
It was, just like any other treasured memory I have, unexpected and sweet and bitter and too soon gone.
I learned about Udara the fruit and foods like garri and koha soup and jollof rice and ugba.


But mostly I learned about love and pain and hidden truths that tear you apart.
It’s narrated in first person and third person and the change from chapter to chapter is sometimes painfully illuminating.

More about culture, like nigerwives and their support group for women married into the culture and despite the different cultures, how xenophobia still persists and a homosexual needs exorcism.

You can get into the local minds when they say things like: ” joked that he looked like a refugee from Niger one of those children always begging in the markets”.
And how Nepa is the electricity company that takes the light sometimes. And how Akvete cloth is a specific Nigerian cloth.

And something that surprised me because we have those in our culture too…”Ghana must go bags”, the sturdy checked bags into which 2 million undocumented west African migrants half of whom were from Ghana were expelled from Nigeria in 1983. And the bags became a symbol of exclusion and intolerance.

The book is perfect and sad and very much a discovery journey for more than one character and what is said in the end is that we tend to believe the most dreadful things. Sometimes even when we should just focus on living.


Favourite quotes:
👉that hot angel like pepper going down the wrong way
👉We lay together like that until all the tears had wrung their way out of me, until we both fell asleep, wet with each other’s salt
👉”I died at his mouth”
👉”That act of putting nourishment into his body it was such an alive thing to do.”
👉” Terrible, Kavita thought. What a word. Did it feel like terror? More like horror actually. Terrible sounded like it had a bit of acceptance in it, like an unthinkable thing had happened but you’d found space in your brain to acknowledge it, perhaps.”

Daalu is thank you in igbo and so trust me, you’ll say „Daalu” for this book.

 

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9.  Great Britain – Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts by Mary Gibson

It’s a bittersweet story taking place near the WW2 when men not joining the war got white feathers and shows how women fight for love for family and for equal pay. And how they measure their love by the Blighty wound they wish on their husbands and livers, so they can come back home from the war.

It’s the story of a little girl who turned necessary mother to her brothers and neighbors and the way she navigates job and famine and sickness and love and ptsd.

It’s a time when promises matter and it shows you that promises vand come true in ways you can’t imagine.

The language is a delight and you sometimes like you live there, in this shaddy London neighbourhood with them all. And it all tastes like…custard.
Favourite quotes:

„Just remember, Nellie, when you open your eyes in the morning and you’re still breathing, you know you’ve already had a bloody good day.”

„The day she became a motherless child, she’d stepped into the role of childless mother, and she would protect Alice and Bobby and Freddie as if”


„I’m bloody living the evils of poverty, nobody needs to give me a lecture on it”

„I thought I’d be a singer.’ It felt a long, long time since Nellie had been young enough to dream so impossibly.”

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10. Nepal – Arresting God in Kathmandu by Samrat Upadhyay

A short stop in Nepal in my #cartidecititlumea around the world challenge. I was searching for the local Gog getting arrested and was intrigued by his crimes. Turns out, he never showed.

Instead, in the short stories, I got to see, through the eyes of different medium-class characters „this city with so many worried people. They walk around not looking at anyone, always thinking, always fretting.”
The point of the book is class and customs, internal dialogues and lines of thought. „Hiralal knew how his society viewed such matters: better to have an alcoholic son-in-law than no son-in-law.”

And how the locals view visitors> „she was like many of the Nepal-crazy foreigners he knew, people who lived in the country in a romantic haze, love-struck by the mountain beauty and simple charms of the people, but grossly naive about their suffering.”
The bustling of people is as I imagined> „driving in Kathmandu had become increasingly nerve-wracking. Hiralal was always having to avoid ricksaw-pullers, pedestrians who crossed the street with abandon, reckless taxis, bus drivers who smirked as they tried to run him off the road.”

And you can say “Aiya,” as a Nepali would instead of Ouch and see how old ways are still present in their family life „the way old men and women stared at her when she walked down the street wearing pants, the way her married friends carried babies in their arms, the way their husbands wore expensive but ill-fitting suits and ordered their wives about in sweet voices.”

So after this sequence of short stories, I found no God arrested in Khantmandu, but I did get into 10 or more normal, small households and now I dream of the Balaju gardens and Budhanilkantha, at the northern edge of the valley, the huge statue of Vishnu reclining on a bed of snakes and the Swayambhunath Temple, perched on a hillock. And to eat dal bhat and listen to Puja in the morning or witness a representation of „Malati Madan was one of the oldest and the most popular Nepali musicals; it was performed in the local theaters at least four or five times a year”.

 

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To be continued

 

 

 

 

 

 

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