Bookish recommendations for December

December was a very busy month for me, with many events scheduled in Berlin, intensive travel planning, but also a lot of books waiting to be read and reviewed on my virtual or physical shelves. 

I started the reading month with an excellent novel that involves discoveries, travel to Tahiti and other remote corners of the world, women in science and a lot of beautiful botanical histories. I attended Elizabeth Gilbert’s reading in Berlin and besides the opportunity to discover the world of the book, I also met a very warm personality. 

I was very busy commuting in the city and I needed some bookish companion. Danielle Hugh’s Confessions of a Hostie (1 and 2) were for a couple of days my daily doses of humour and optimism and adventures in the sky. I published an interview with Danielle early in the month about the main challenges of being a hostie.

My curiosities about the anthropology of culture and language were partly answered by RWB McCormack’s book Travel Overland (read in German) about the histories of English language all over the world. Curious about who and why English is spoken in Sierra Leone? You may be offered some hints.

I promised myself in November to read more books about Berlin and its people and succeeded to go through different perspectives and travel through different historical times. Ulriche Sterblich tells the stories of her trips as a schoolgirl around various parks and iconic streets in the Western half of Berlin. I wanted to read for a couple of years the tragic stories of children caught in the maze of drugs and prostitution in the Zoo Station of Western Berlin. Having fresh memories about the world of early teenagers in the unified Berlin I might say that there are some frightening similarities that probably has to do with a certain dark cultural and educational side that I refuse to fully understand. ‘Two’ seems to be the number of the city and one sunny day of December I took my camera trying to identify a place mentioned in a book about Jewish life in Germany and hidden stories after the war. Two lives by Vikram Seth is an interesting literary reconstruction of historical times through the story of her aunt. Except the misplaced references to current events taking place in the Middle East, the story is catchy, informative and well written. 

For the foodie writer and reader and chef-in-the process, Coletter Rossant’s Memories of lost Egypt disclosed a world of flavours and memories of world that it is no more. Each stage of the story of a Jewish family in Egypt in the 1940s is well flavoured with Mediterranean recipes, many of them very doable at home. 

I am trying hard to keep in touch with various theories and advices on social media for businesses and my big achievement for December was to finish Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff insights about how to include social media strategies into business plans. What I liked about the book was the plethora of examples offered that can be inspiring for a variety of domains. 

I ended up the year with a book that I didn’t want to finish: Sihpromatum by Savannah Grace. Sihpromatum means a blessing that initially appears to be a course and this is can happen in the case of many teenagers not extremely enthused about the adventurous travel plans of their parents. This book is the first of Savannah’s announced series of travel memoirs describing her experiences as being part of a Canadian family’s adventure of discovering the world. The beginning covers mostly China and Mongolia that are extensively explored with a very limited budget and an anti-touristic approach. For a 14-year old girl, a 22-hour train trip is not appealing at all, but at the end of the journey she is growing up new skills, including by acquiring the pleasure of reading and learns more than in years of traditional schooling. She also learn to know herself, to set up goals and achieve them and find out the real priorities in life. The style is authentic and alert, with many dialogues, based mostly on the memories saved in the diary kept during the trip. The follow-up will be ready soon, I hope, as I can’t wait to read up the new episodes. 

That’s all for now. The reading plans for January are ready and will be revealed soon!

Happy reading, everyone!