The last month, I finished my bookish recommendations with the promise to get updated with everything Jane Austen as I was preparing a trip to Bath that did not take place (yet). As a serious girl I am, I did my home works and prepared the literary part of the visit – that was just rescheduled for a next time. I acquired Emma and Persuasion from my rich public library but I was not extremely impressed by it. There are a couple of interesting observations about the local British society and some furtive descriptions of the cities of Bath and London, but overall, I decided that it is enough for now and if necessary, will read more Austen books after my visit. The word ‘boring’ was also mentioned when evaluating my ‘Austen experience’, but for now, I will not develop too much this anti-literary observation.
After so much serious reading, I needed something easy, very easy, as easy as possible to help me survive the long dark hours of the winter. Just to keep the pace with the standards set by the previous books, I switched to the chic-lit genre with the Jane Austen Marriage Manual. A journalist for glossy magazines wants to try a modern version of Austen’s recommendations (who ended up a single lady, anyway) and will find the big love (this is why many chic lit are so successful, anyway). The book has little bit of travel, kitsch romance and some glamour in St. Moritz and a lot of English countryside that can convince even a sophisticated reader that there is a reason to continue reading this book. I did and I can hardly give the book 2 bright stars.
Let’s talk about the books I loved. This month, I have two favourites. One is the book mentioned every 3 travel blogs: Love with a Chance of Drowning. This sailing memoir by Torre DeRoche is full of humour, suspense and awesome travel recommendations. The style is alert and keeps you awake till late in the night, curious to see if and where she will land next, together with her free minded boyfriend. It is a lesson in exploring differences and diplomatically managing a relationship and going far beyond one’s limits – both physical and geographical. The writing is authentic and the story captivating and would be more than curious to read a follow-up of more trips. My only disappointment was that there were not enough travel stories, especially from the awesome Pacific islands. Maybe one day I will be able to conquer my seasick and sail in such beautiful corners of the world too.
Another lovely reading adventure was Yemen, by Tim Mackintosh-Smith, written in the good tradition of English travel memoirs in the Middle East. As in the case of Iraq, I was told beautiful stories about the land and the people of Yemen, but unfavorable political climate and instability makes a trip in such lands an unlikely adventure for now. Mackintosh-Smith loves Yemen as its own country, and even moved there to better explore and learn how to read the local dictionary. He combines the curiosity of the explorer hiking in the mountains with the balanced writing of the scholar that cannot live without a direct contact with the real life. Approaching it’s topic with love does not diminish the quality of the research and the reader itself becomes curious to feel the land. I only can hope to live better times when a visit in Yemen will be possible. This is why good books are about, isn’t it?
For the next month, I do have some interesting books on my bucket list, but will focus a lot on various memoirs and stories about Berlin.