Reading on the road: Bookish recommendations of the month

October was a very busy month, with many trips and thus, more time to taste good books while filling the long delays of the trains or while waiting my buses.

My travel reading list of the month includes a variety of topics and geographical areas, as usual. Compared to the other months, I had a lot of African related topics which means that I am getting ready to explore new continents the next year.

Baking Cakes in Kigali describes about a slice of life in post-war Rwanda. Angel Turgaraza is a skilful cake baker whose life bears the scars of a complicated geography. The customers visiting her home shop are telling stories and sharing intimate worries while flipping through the photo album of cake models. Even though I did not enjoy the style very much, the stories made me more curious to explore the local histories.

Too many cakes and so little possibilities. I kept the foodie feeling while reading about the secret life of a restaurant, as seen by Scott Haas. Psychologist by training, Haas spent 18 months researching the recipes, power games and management secrets of the famous Boston restaurant Craigie on Main. I was given a complimentary copy that I will review in the next days on my foodie blog.

A different view of a completely different part of Africa is the one shared by Arkadi Fiedler, in The Madagascar I Love. Born in Poznan and a philosophy student, he also loved to see the world. He wrote this book in 1946. In some places, the perspective is too eurocentric for the 21st century reader, but it offers an interesting historical and geographical testimony on the island.

Those who spotted me laughing on my bus back from Bayreuth maybe saw that I was not crazy, but was reading Tony Hawks’ irresistible Playing the Moldovans at Tennis. Only the successes against the soccer players from Moldovan National Team can save the honour of Tony’s unsuccessful achievements as a tennis player. Tied by a bet, he went to Moldova – a country that I hope to see the next year – and after complicatedly ridiculous adventures he wins. Even though understanding this corner of Europe may not come at hand for a Brit, he won also lots of friends and decided to create a charity to help local people.

The train trips can take longer than expected and preventively I have at least one full book in my bag. Thanks to the beautiful autobiography of Mark Twain, I did not suffer that my train from Jena was delayed for one hour. I love Twain’s travel stories that I used while preparing my trip to Heidelberg, and the account of his life was not less enjoyable.

I am trying to plan more travel for the next months and a cruise is always on the back of my mind. The only problem preventing me to do so right now is my extremely bad experience I had till now, due to me being seasick all the time (this was always the case when cruising in the Mediterranean). On a sunny afternoon I decided to have a short lecture in German of a booklet about everything you need to know before booking a cruise. Maybe if I will try to write something similar I will be more focused on writing and less on the shaking ship.

My cruise plans are advancing with the speed of the thought. What about a trip by ship from Haifa to Rhodes? Or from Haifa to Cyprus? Once upon a time I used to dream about going from Europe to America by ship, but when you gather more life experiences, you get used with less. The Lost Worlds of Rhodes made me dream anyway about discovering the last traces of rich cultures. Especially in South-Eastern Europe, the tragedies of war destroyed and alienated cultures and I want to see as many as them before the traces are lost for ever. Rhodes can be a good choice for the next summer. I was given a complimentary copy for an academic review, but I enjoyed sharing the travel inspiration too.

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I am very cautious when I pick up political thrillers, but I am familiar with JF Penn’s writing for a while and her novella One Day in Budapest has not only beautiful descriptions of one of my favorite cities, but also a quality narrative and a lot of action that makes a lot of political sense. It is well researched and can be read very easy on the road.

If you travel with teenagers, Poison by Livia Blackburne is easy, short and with a carefully construction of the narrative. Personally, I was expecting more action and courageous characters, but I am not the main target of this book. For those who travel with children between 3 and 7, I strongly recommend the English book by my dear friend Maria Ellis, the Golden Cheese. A beautiful story with beautiful illustrations. I am biased, but when I really love something, I cannot keep only for myself.

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Very often in the last months, I wondered myself why I don’t feel happy enough. I have all the reasons to be happy and smile more each day, and usually I am at peace with my lot, but not always as much as I should be. Thus, my curiosity to read Gretchen Rubin’s similar experience. The Happiness project, my favorite book of the month, is about symbolic and practical cleaning of your inner house from all the bothering thoughts and habits that can confuse your understanding of happiness. It takes time to do it – she made a plan for 12 months – but being happy is a reason to life for.

There are some reading surprises for the next month – among which the collaboration with Danielle Hugh for the promotion of her True Stories of an International Flight Attendant . As in one week from now I will be in Bath, my reading priorities for the next days are books by Jane Austen. Right now, I am trying to finish Persuasion, but it is just the beginning.

Till the next month, happy reading!

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