I’ve noticed that I often bring up in conversation one or more of the fascinating books I’ve been reading lately, only to fail utterly at recalling titles or authors’ names. I’ll take this opportunity to at least make a handy reference available for anyone who cares to follow up on something I’ve said.
Just check my blog!
Culture & Geography
The Alps: a human history from Hannibal to Heidi and beyond by O’Shea, Stephen
Austria (juvenile non-fiction) by Sheehan, Sean
Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands (juvenile non-fiction) by Needham, Ed
Europe by Eurail 2018 by Ferguson-Kosinski, LaVerne
Germany (juvenile non-fiction) by Coddington, Andrew
Let’s Visit Liechtenstein by Carrick, Noel
Switzerland (juvenile non-fiction) by Rogers Seavey, Lura
The White Stallions: the story of the dancing horses of Lipizza by Van der Linde, Laurel
Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century (Kindle book) by Graham, Peter
The Orient Express: the history of the Orient Express service from 1883 to 1950 by Burton, Anthony
Pimsleur French I (audio CD)
Pimsleur German II (audio CD)
Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass (Vintage International Kindle edition) by Dinesen, Isak
The Collected Plays of Neil Simon, Volumes I – IV by Simon, Neil
50 Best Plays of the American Theatre.selected by Barnes, Clive
The Glass Menagerie by Williams, Tennessee
Heidi by Spyri, Johanna (also film directed by Alain Gsponer)
New Zealand Stories: Mansfield Selections (Kindle book) by Mansfield, Katherine
The Star of Kazan by Ibbotson, Eva
Rumination on women authors sojourning in strange lands
Though my trip to New Zealand is in the past, I’ve continued to dwell there just a little by reading more of its authors’ works. Specifically, I’ve become enamored with Dame Ngaio Marsh’s Detective Alleyn mysteries, and with the short fiction of Katharine Mansfield.
Both were born in New Zealand, but also spent significant portions of their lives in Britain. I find their work tantalizing as it relates to both the work of women in a different, less egalitarian era, and also for the way it reflects the effects of colonization, sometimes explicitly, but always in the shadows.
The other, the outsider, by sex or by accident of birth. Hmm…
Reading about an infamous murder in Christchurch, New Zealand committed in part by a teenage girl who would grow up to write bestselling mystery novels under a new name, Anne Perry, belongs to this thread, too. She was born in England, but clearly her sojourn in the colony was consequential.
See Peter Jackson’s film, “Heavenly Creatures,” to get the story without cracking a book. Make it a double feature with sweet family film “Her Majesty” and see if you find them as weirdly complementary as I do. Girlhood, good & grim; Christchurch, paradise or perdition?
My mind hitches these works by this insider/outsider woman/writer kind of thinking to the copy of Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass that I’ve been reading, s-l-o-w-l-y, for the past couple of months.
It was a “take in small doses and mull it over” read for me; a not-every-night to-lull-me-to-sleep read, but a can’t-sleep carry-me-away type of thing. I was also compelled to research Dinesen online for biographical information from a less biased than herself source when I was done with her memoir.
Though flawed like the rest of us and a product of her age and station as a European aristocrat, she sure strung together some beautiful words. I’ve enjoyed many of her short stories, too. Recommended for those who like some literary with their fiction.
The Alps, the Orient Express, Vienna, and European micro states
It’s true that I always hope my kids will pick up one of my enthusiasms and/or delve into a similar self-directed unit study of something else, but I find these slim volumes a handy way to grab a quick overview of a place I’ve never been.
This time, the big boy and I were thinking about European micro states, and particularly the several who use German as an official language. It ties in with his studies, and my attention got grabbed. I requested half the books in the library, and in we dove.
Yes, I’ve heard of Wikipedia, but I have a thing about big maps and full color photos on heavyweight gloss. If I don’t have to spread a map out on a table in front of me, it doesn’t delight half as much. Most of my adventures begin with the unfolding of a paper map. Opening a book and flipping through pages of pictures offers me the same kind of thrill.
Well, that, and because I love trains…
And, when speaking now of Austria, how can one avoid pondering The Alps?.Though one could be forgiven for never having heard of the book by the same name. O’Shea’s cultural history/travel narrative is an easy to read, enjoyable road trip through a series of the storied mountain range’s high passes.
I haven’t finished sharing this journey with O’Shea yet, but here’s the best bit so far: Musée de l’horlogerie et du décolletage. I and my infinitesimal iota of French translated it just like he did, but, if you want to know what it means without reading his book, you’ll have to ask me in the comments!
If we’re in the Alps, how can we fail to recall the classic by Joanna Spyri, Heidi. While I didn’t re-read it this month and he’s a bit old for it, I made DS1 acquaint himself with the book. I can’t imagine a childhood without it. As a family, we watched a lovely modern (2015) film adaptation available to us in the USA in its native German. Don’t worry: there are English subtitles, and I think its offered dubbed as well.