Mandatory Reading: A Family History

My grandpa, who turned 90 this year, used to have a habit of reading all of the books on the “Spiegel Bestsellerliste”, which is the German equivalent of the New York Times Best Seller List. “Spiegel” is a weekly current affairs magazine, which means the lists (one for fiction, one for nonfiction) got updated weekly.

Sometimes, this led to some interesting pairings between my conservative, elderly grandpa and the book he was reading: I still remember how appalled he was about Charlotte Roche’s ‘Wetlands’ (which was on top of the list for weeks on end) and how amused I was when I saw it on his shelf.

On the other hand, however, I am still impressed by his ability to be so open as to give everything a chance, even ‘Wetlands’. I admire this and I have been thinking for a while about a way in which I, too,could widen my scope in terms of reading material and I think I have found it. Not so long ago I found out that Amitav Ghosh was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize 2015. I simply adore that man. The original Man Booker is not new to me either and many of my favourite authors were short or longlisted for it at some point.

So, here we go: From now on I shall read a work from every author

  • on the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize (6 books a year)
  • on the list of finalists for the Man Booker International Prize (10 authors every 2 years)

This way, I will stay on top of what’s hot in the literary world in a manageable way (6 to 16 books a year can’t be that hard, especially considering that I might also have read some of the authors before).

Of course, as I have only just vowed not to read any books that aren’t to my liking, I don’t have to read books I really don’t want to read (after all, my grandpa never finished ‘Wetlands’), which generally includes any kind of crime fiction.

Wish me luck (please, don’t let this become yet another empty promise to myself)!

B x

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Paperworld

It must be my German blood coming through, but not only do I take great pleasure in the acquiring and possession of stationary, I also find something deeply satisfying in filling out forms. Just now I am organising the paperwork for moving within Germany and boy, there is a lot of administration to such a small task. I mean, I am literally just moving my shit back into my parents’ house before going to university in Scotland in autumn. It’s not even that much stuff. Yet, so many forms.

Even I am perplexed when people ask me about what I like so much about filling out forms. But it’s just SO GOOD. Everything has its place and it’s all neat and orderly. Real perfection, if you ask me.

It has gone so far that I ended up applying for a new passport, an EHIC and insurance for a friend (after having done most of her UCAS form). But, although it may be odd, it is certainly not an unpleasant quirk. I mean, forms drive most people mad. They cause a considerable amount of frustration and panic, and here I am thinking “Oh I need a visa? YAY!!”.

So yeah, at the moment making good use of this pleasure by helping asylum seekers with all the forms necessary to grant them permanent residence. I still love it.

B x

Tying Loose Ends

I don’t know if it’s just me or if everybody gets them, but I have days where I feel like cleaning the bathroom or doing laundry or filing the piles of paper on my desk. I should clarify though, that these are single, very rare occasions among endless days where I find myself too lazy to take a shower or eat breakfast (it’s more the preparing of the breakfast… it involves going to the kitchen).

Today, you guessed it, is one of those days. As I am still staying with my parents, I have not had an outlet for my cleaning energy (my Dad, I’m pretty sure, suffers from an undiagnosed case of OCD and would go batshit crazy if he came home to find that I “messed up everything” – I am not even allowed to hoover) and it has accumulated over the course of the day. Around midday I found a source of relief in my laptop: when was the last time I tidied up my files? How long has it been that I de-fragmented my c-drive?

I went a bit too far, I guess. I accidentally deleted a file that apparently my email program depended on (causing a moment of terror) and my I had to re-install some programs that I had enthusiastically de-installed moments before. Everything is now up to speed, I have run a complete check for viruses and as we speak I am performing my first ever back-up. Hooray!

Somehow having accomplished something (ANYTHING) makes this day a success. And as we all know, success is highly addictive. So I shall give in and dedicate some more attention to this lovely little blog that has been so horribly neglected in the last few weeks. I’ll start now by tying some loose ends: I’ll update my record of books I’ve read, write reviews of the books I’ve been reading as part of my “Around The World Reading Challenge“, maybe a happiness update and finish some drafts that I’ve left unfinished. Well, let’s wait till I’ve done it. Promises are just promises, aren’t they…

B x

The Gilmore Girls Therapy

Whenever I have to sort out my life I do so watching Gilmore Girls. It is perfect. It is practically made for running in the background while I pay bills, clean my flat and make big life decisions. I’m not sure why. I guess it’s the perfect blend of interesting and trivial.

Plus, 77 episodes is the perfect length for a series that you can watch again and again: It is long enough that although I watched it a thousand times already I still can’t speak along the dialogue. And it is such a strong independent woman show. It motivates me to get a grip and move on with my life, live it. Okay, yes, that sounded a bit melodramatic. After all that would mean ‘living my life’ is checking emails, making doctor’s appointments and mobbing the floor. But, after all, sorting out my life, however boring, is better than sleeping all day and putting off showering for too long (to justify it, I tell myself that I’m giving my hair an all-natural conditioning… I know, sad). Plus, when I watch episodes of Gilmore Girls it isn’t even boring.

Also, Gilmore Girls is infinite inspiration. Rory Gilmore is my spirit animal. Just watching this show with its innumerable literary and pop culture references makes me want to do the things that I love doing. You know when you’re miserable and you know exactly what to do to stop being miserable, but you’re to miserable to do it? Yeah. Well, Gilmore Girls helps me escape that vicious circle. Who needs therapy, ay?

B x

Oh Liebster….

Here we go, finally. This is loooong overdue. Back in the day (like a month ago or so) Tezzy over at The Tezzy Files nominated me for a Liebster Award (thanks again and sorry for leaving it so long!) and I’ve put it off until another nomination kind of forced me to get moving. Thanks for finding me Lost Girl!

What do I do now? The more or less official rules state that one should mention the person(s) who nominated you, answer their 11 questions and then nominate 11 other bloggers to answer 11 questions that you made up. Well, I guess I just gotta answer 22 questions then.

Let’s start with Tezzy’s questions, shall we?

  1. What is your biggest blogging inspiration? Life, I guess. All the rumblings going in and out of my brain. Books and TV and food and songs and all of that.
  2. What is your best kept beauty secret? Oh, I’m a bit helpless when it comes to make up and all of that. But, I do believe in moisturizer. For me, moisturizing is almost a sacred process, it makes everything better.
  3. Describe your personal style in 5 words. Casual, confused, comfortable, (I’m running out of words starting with C, sorry) low-brow, spontaneous
  4. If you had all the money in the world, what would you be doing? Travelling the world, although that’s a cliche. I guess after some time I’d buy a nice flat in central London, enroll at UCL (seriously who can afford nine grand a year plus living in London) and study various languages for a decade or so.
  5. List three things you’d want to have on you if you were stranded on a deserted island. A really good friend (preferably someone who could double as a lover), sun tan lotion (aka moisturizer with SPF) and a fully stacked e-reader with a million good books (and some bad ones so I can have a bit of a rant from time to time).
  6. Who is the one person you’d want with you on that island? Hm. I haven’t really found that really good friend who can double as a lover yet…
  7. Name a celebrity you aspire to be. Scarlet Johannson. I adore/idolize/worship her.
  8. The genie in the lamp grants you three wishes. What will they be? Ok. For starters, I’d like to be more capable of everyday life. Stop forgetting or losing things or always being late, for example. Then, I wish I could cook. For that, I would not only need the skills of a master chef, but also the patience to spend more than 10 minutes in front of a stove. Oh, and I’d like some self-confidence, please. Not too much, but a decent amount.
  9. What is your fondest childhood memory? I remember the books I read as a child as if the plots were my own memories. My favourite author was Astrid Lindgren, so when I think of my childhood, I always think of the Swedish countryside.
  10. Name a food dish that takes you back to your childhood. I was an extremely picky child. I didn’t eat meat or most vegetables, so whenever I went to dinner at my grandparents’ all I ate was potatoes with gravy, and it was my favourite dish in the whole world.
  11. What is your biggest food craving as an adult? Um. Any kind of Greek food. Especially gigantes, giant beans.

That was only the first batch, friends, hang in there. Moving on… Here are Kassandra’s questions:

  1. Why did you start your blog? To relieve my friends and family of some of the thoughts that cross my mind and need to be shared with the world.
  2. If you could make a living blogging would you quit your current job? I’m a student, so no. Also, I think it wouldn’t do me good.
  3. What topic do you wish you could blog about, but are too afraid? Um, hard to say. I played with the idea of writing a post titled “10 extremely unhealthy (but effective) dieting tips”, which I, as a former anorexic, am an expert on. But it’s a bit of a downer and I hate the idea that someone might be influenced negatively by it, so no no.
  4. Do you share your blog with family and friends? No. The idea is to find another outlet for my crazy thought processes. Also it’s quite liberating not to.
  5. Has your blog ever upset a family member or friend? Hence, no.
  6. Everyone on earth subscribed to your blog, what would your next blog post be about? How awesome the Netflix series ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ is.
  7. Name one celebrity you wish was reading your blog. (This person can be living or dead.) Scarlet Johannson (see above)
  8. Who/what is your favorite blogger/blog? I love Flavorwire.
  9. Would you ever want to collaborate on a post with another blogger? Hm… No. I’m more of a solitary worker/writer/blogger. I love interacting with others, but teaming up isn’t my strong spot.
  10. Which blog topic is your guilty pleasure? Ugh this is easy. There is something perversely satisfying in blogging about blogging (about blogging).
  11. What is the one thing you really dislike about blogging? The guilty feeling in my throat when I don’t tend to my blog regularly.

I MADE IT!! Just gotta come up with my own stuff now, very sorry if it turns out to be a bit random…

I nominate:

100 Days Of Sunshine     Tenure, She Wrote     That’s So Jacob     Dark Roast     Paige Hanson     Ellis Goes On Holiday     Finding My Inner Zen     Stories From The Belly     Some Type Of Artist     I Refuse To Follow Your Blog     Storyshucker

And here are my questions:

  1. What is your signature dish?
  2. Your favourite Britney Spears song?
  3. What do you catch yourself doing when you think nobody is looking?
  4. If you started a cult, who (or what) would you worship?
  5. Who is your weirdest celebrity crush?
  6. Honestly, what do you think was there first, hen or egg?
  7. Imagine you could ban one phrase that people keep saying (like “What up” or “That’s what she said” or “Zu Risiken und Nebenwirkungen fragen Sie Ihren Arzt oder Apotheker*”), which one would it be?
  8. Would you rather live in a house or a flat? And why?
  9. What’s your favourite meme/gif?
  10. What’s the most tasteless item you own?
  11. Which 11 bloggers do you want to nominate for the Liebster Award?

I know the last one is a cheat, but I’m really hungry now and I’ve decided to treat myself to sushi today, so I need to go 😉

B x

Of Horses And Men… Or Why Artsy Cinema Just Isn’t For Me

I have this vision of myself: creative, open-minded and cultured. Every once in a while I try and expose myself to the kind of things that I suppose would enhance this self-image, I see live music and visit a gallery and eat fancy food and all of that. Except, most of the time, I have to find that I am very much not cultured and hip. I prefer classic food (as in the kind of food that 6-year-olds enjoy) to innovative cuisine, art in museums is just a bit full-on for my taste and I get intimidated if I don’t know all the words to all the songs that a band plays like everyone around me seems to.

Today I have encountered another excellent example for this. Instead of sitting on my sofa watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory I went to the cinema. The cinema itself made me feel the way I wanted to feel: serious and thoughtful. Not only did it show funky off-mainstream films, but the whole make-up of it was unconventional. I mean, it didn’t even sell popcorn. And if you did decide to buy a soft drink, you were presented with an organic lemonade by a small local business. Also, no trailers! What a shame! I love the trailers and at that precise moment, organic lemonade in hand, I would have been eager to see what other artsy movies were coming to the cinema. But no.

Let’s cut to the chase. The film I went to see is called ‘Of Horses And Men’ (I know: “Of Mice And Men”, “Of Monsters And Men”, “Of Horses And Men”…? What next??). It is and Icelandic production and, according to the Guardian review “deserved its cult status”. Well, let’s see about that, shall we? Because she’s been riding Icelandic horses for years and because organic lemonade isn’t cheap (I’m just a poor student, ok), I brought my mum with me. When the film was over and the lights were turned on we both sat there, stunned.

You might want to see the film for yourself, but brace yourself. I’m fine with the dark, dry humour, but the film is just too graphic and grisly for me. They just never panned out, and lingered way too long. The disclaimer that followed the film “No horses or people were hurt during the making of this film” was truly needed, which is just really not a good sign. Here are my two top worst moments in this film (spoiler alert!):

  • A farmer cuts through a barbed wire fence that another farmer had built over a public road. The second farmer, enraged by the ruined fence, chases after farmer no. one with a small tractor. Riding away on his horses, this farmer, fleeing, encounters yet another fence, which he tries to cut through in a hurry. The barbed wire slings back and whips across his face. Blood everywhere, farmer blinded. Still, he manages to get up on this horse, instructing it to just bring him home. At this point, the other farmer catches up to him, is horrified by when he sees the bloody zombie-like face and drives off the cliff in his tractor.
  • Having met “la mujer de mi vida”, a South American tourist decides to learn how to ride a horse to impress the Swedish horse lady he met. To do so, he joins a horse travel trip, but not knowing how to spur on his horse, he soon get’s left behind. A struggle for survival ensues, in the midst of a snow storm. He kills his horse, cuts it open, removes its insides and crawls inside it. Days later, they find the horse and pull him out, alive. In the ending, he proceeds and encounters the Swedish girl.

Afterwards we found the film was open to anyone aged 12 or over. I mean, twelve!! If I’d seen this film at the tender age of twelve, I would have been scarred for life. Also, I would probably avoid Iceland and its inhabitants at any cost. Which brings me to my next point: What is wrong with those people?? I imagine that when you live on a quite isolated island near the arctic, things do get weird. It’s like a friendship group that develops its own ‘a little too dark’ and ‘a little too dirty’ private jokes when they spend a lot of time together, but this is just beyond normal (I do realise that this is some hard-core generalizing, soz).

So, no more artsy cinema for me in the near future. This morbidity is gonna last me for a while.

B x

If Only I Had Mons

For a while now I’ve been keeping a list on my phone titled “If only I had mons”. It started out as a collection of items I could possibly purchase if I had money left at the end of the month, but soon evolved to including things I’d buy “If I won the lottery” (for which I’d have to play the lottery in the first place) and “If I didn’t think these are totally overpriced/useless/unnecessary”. Ladies and gents, here it is so far:

Cross trainer
Trail running shoes
Books
Really good olive oil
An infinite supply of razor blades
Water filter
Really expensive cosmetics: clinique, benefit, bumble&bumble and the like
A wine glass
Laser eye surgery
First aid kit
Lingerie
A car
Philips alarm clock
Membership for workaway
Sushi
Magazine subscriptions
Hiking socks (they are literally SO comfy)
Wine decanter
Yoga clothes
A tortoise
An apartment in an expensive city (London or Copenhagen or something)
An armchair

What items make your “if only” shopping list?

B x