Question of the day.

Who is a character from a classic novel you really like, or at least relate to?

My answer:

If Anne of Green Gables is considered a classic, can all L.M. Montgomery be considered as such? If yes, then it’ll surely be one of her characters. While my favourite book/series by Montgomery is Emily of New Moon, my favourite female character from her books is actually Valancy Stirling, from The Blue Castle. I don’t know what it is about her, but I like her SO, sooo much, she was one of my first literary fazas. Also I find her and her life oddly relatable, and I can’t even put my finger exactly on why, but I suppose it’s more about the details rather than the full picture. I find Emily even more relatable, but slightly less likeable. My favourite male character created by L. M. Montgomery is Dean Priest from the Emily books, whom a lot of people consider to be a creep because he was in love with Emily even though she was I guess like twelve when they met and he was over ten years older than her, but I’ve never really seen it this way and I don’t think their relationship is creepy even though it doesn’t work out in the end. I think Dean is a very interesting character, and I also had a sort of faza on him, and when I first read Emily I was actually quite disconsolate to find out that, in the end, despite having planned to marry Dean, she chooses to marry Ted who has no personality imo and is absolutely meh. It took me some time to understand that it probably really would be a bit of a disaster with Dean and all Emily’s writing dreams would fly out the window. Also Pat Gardiner from Pat of the Silver Bush. I don’t love her, and the books are meh compared with some of the better books by Montgomery but I nevertheless found her extremely relatable when I was a kid because of her love for her home, and I was away from mine at the time, and I understood her need for stability and being where she belongs to, and her fear of changes.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

I recently bought…

My answer:

…Well, the books for my Mum and Sofi that I’m going to give them as Christmas gifts. Other than that, our house continues to be a hospital (now it’s also my Mum who is sick with something that looks like it might well be Covid, she had a test today so we’ll see) and me and Sofi order food for lunch for ourselves every day and today I got us some pierogi which were really yum.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

I am reading…

My answer:

…Actually re-reading, at the moment. I am re-reading a Norwegian family saga called Livets Døtre (there is no English translation but the title means Daughters of Life) by May Grethe Lerum, in Polish. I came across this series a couple years ago in our Polish blind library and I felt super ambivalent about it! On one hand it’s just so interesting, it takes place in like 18th century Norway and follows the lives of women in quite a particular family living in a Norwegian village, who have extremely weird, tangled and overly and sometimes totally unnecessarily complicated life paths, but there’s 35 volumes in total if I remember correctly so if not all that it would probably take up much less, it sometimes feels rather forced though. I love historical fiction which portrays people’s lives and not necessarily all the political stuff and things like that but simply what life was like then, for different kinds of people. And that’s what these books show very well. Well, I don’t know if they show it thoroughly from a historical point of view and whether a historian would approve, but what I mean by well is that it’s interesting and sounds quite convincing to me. These women have some kind of gift or curse or what you may call it in their family that enables them to heal people or at least help them when they’re sick, and that’s both in terms of that they’re really knowledgeable about herbs and all the medical knowledge that was available to people there and then, but also something more like a superpower or something that they sometimes use. So they help people and treat them from all sorts of things, and it’s really interesting to read about in fiction. The characters are mostly portrayed very colourfully and feel almost alive although sometimes you can feel a lot of something that feels like some bias from the author as if you could figure out whom in the series she likes more and whom she likes less and sometimes it’s a little annoying. And then there’s Ravi Reinsson, or Reinsen or I don’t really even know what his surname is in the original, Ravi son of Rein anyways, on whom, when reading that series for the first time, I got quite a strong faza. I had several literary fazas before but this was definitely the strongest and longest-lasting. It’s partly because of Ravi, and partly because of my current affair with the Norwegian language, which wasn’t a thing back when I read it for the first time, that I decided to re-read this saga. On the other hand, despite enjoying so many aspects of it a lot, I had some problems with this series and a lot of little things and a couple bigger things that I found really annoying and sometimes even quite disturbing with this series and this hasn’t changed now that I’m re-reading it and some of that maybe even is more glaring. And the translation… ugh! I mean, overall it’s not bad, but some bits literally have such awful grammar, or just really awkward. Yet at the same time the aspects of it that were enjoyable for me the first time, are no less enjoyable for me now, and maybe even more so. I have been racing through these books, I can’t recall now when exactly I’ve started reading this series but I think more or less around the time when I got sick with that bronchitis thing, and since I had a lot of time for reading, as well as because it’s interesting while not being very challenging at all, especially that I read it once before, it’s going really fast, and I’m now on volume 15. There’s no Ravi yet but I’m curious if my faza is going to reactivate or something and how my brain’s gonna react. But yeah, overall it’s an interesting experience to reread this.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

I want…

My answer:

…to do some book shopping tonight, or tomorrow. I buy books all the time but this time, for a change, they’re not going to be for me, and they’re going to be actual, physical books rather than ebooks or audiobooks. Christmas is slowly approaching, and my family have a problem with presents every year. I mean, we never know what to give each other, because we’re very self-sufficient folks, maybe except for Sofi who LOVES getting presents, and if someone needs or wants something, they simply buy it for themselves rather than wait for the next Christmas or birthday or what not when someone else will be able to buy it for them as a present. After all, it is yourself who knows best what sort of things you like, and for me personally the whole present business feels a little awkward. So we never know what to get for each other, and we never know what we could want from each other. 😀 And Christmas shopping is stressful. I guess it’s my Mum who finds it especially stressful because she’s a bit of a perfectionist where family is concerned, but I think it’s stressful for everyone else too, again except for Sofi who absolutely loves shopping for presents just as much as receiving them herself, both because of all the joy of giving and because she loves visiting huge shopping centres which she isn’t allowed to do often. If it wasn’t for Sofi, we could do totally without presents, but Sofi would be disconsolate. So when we were talking with each other recently, Mum and me decided that this year, everyone will be getting each other books. I’m particularly happy about that because for a long time I’ve been wanting my Mum to read the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy by Sigrid Undset, and generally make friends with Sigrid Undset’s books, because I think my Mum and Sigrid Undset’s books are a really, really, really good match for each other. I first heard of Kristin Lavransdatter in the Jeżycjada series by my favourite Polish author Małgorzata Musierowicz, whose character Mila Borejko really loves Kristin and reads it numerous times in the series, and I think I read it there, or perhaps it was Musierowicz herself who said it, that every woman should read Kristin. I have read Kristin Lavransdatter twice, and then also The Master of Hestviken once and I loved them both for so many different reasons, though if I had to say what specifically, I’d have a hard time naming all those reasons because while I enjoyed the plot and all the Nordic vibes, it was something else that I can’t quite put my finger on that made me love these books so much. Sadly I have not been able to read more Undset’s books so far but I really hope I still will, maybe even will be able in the original at some point, who knows, although right now I feel like this is a super bold dream. Anyways, I’ve been drilling it into my Mum’s brain for years that she should read Kristin Lavransdatter, that she would LOVE it, probably even more than I do, but she still hasn’t so far. My Mum loves to read and always says how she would like to read more, she values literature very much and always encouraged Olek and me to read a lot when we were children, but she has not very much time for it, and when she does read, she has a real problem that she starts feeling sleepy real soon. Also she usually does it so that she is reading multiple books at once, which in the end means that she reads each book for a really long time. And these days she has a strong preference for non-fiction as it seems, she mostly reads biographies/autobiographies, books in the form of an interview, or some Christian books or from fiction she mostly reads old, Polish classics at the moment, most of which I had to read not so long ago as school compulsory reads so they haven’t gained much appeal for me yet. 😀 So maybe Norwegian fiction is a little bit outside of her comfort zone. Still, I know that if she makes this step out, she WILL love it. My Mum loves Scandinavian movies, used to read more Scandinavian literature too, like Mika Valtari whom we both love, loves Scandinavian landscapes and there are plenty of nature descriptions in these books by Sigrid Undset, basically she likes quite a lot of things Scandinavian. Besides, Undset was Catholic and her books are very Catholic. And they just have this kind of quality that makes me think it’s something for my Mum. So I’m going to buy her both Kristin Lavransdatter and Master of Hestviken.

And then there’s Sofi, who, as I wrote a while ago, has started to properly develop her passion for horses. Sofi isn’t the most passionate reader and is easily bored by books, but she already has a few books about horses from Mum and likes to read a bit from them once in a while and seems to be very fond of them even though I’m not sure if she has read any of them in its entirety. So I thought I could buy her at least a few books from the Heartland series for starters. Heartland is a series by Lauren Brooke about a girl called Amy Flemming who lives on a ranch called Heartland with her family where they take in all kinds of traumatised horses that they work with in a rather unconventional way. I was introduced to Heartland at school, where one of our boarding school staff read it to us in the evenings, there was one girl who was madly into horses and I guess the idea came from her. From what I remember we haven’t read much of that or not very regularly, but then some years later when I was already out of there, a Polish website which is kind of like an equivalent of GoodReads recommended Heartland to me and I was able to get all the 26 books that are in this series and read them. They are short and not very demanding really. Actually when I read them I was like 16-17 so to me they seemed rather infantile in some aspects and the characters were not the most multi-dimensional I’ve ever seen and either black or white and very wishy-washy, I remember that generally something about the writing style was a little grating to me or maybe it was due to the Polish translation, but all the stuff that concerned horses rather than people was very interesting, especially that I myself have gone to a stud where there are only horses who have been through a lot of yucky stuff before they ended up where they are now. I thought it could be a really good and not too challenging read for Sofi and Mum agrees with me so that’s what I’m gonna get her.

I have still no idea what I could get my Dad and Olek, my Dad likes historical books, especially things like albums, like books with photos of what some places used to look like, or other historical non-fiction, especially regarding WWII. I like historical books too, but they’re vastly different from what my Dad likes and our tastes are 100% incompatible so I just have no idea, maybe Mum will give me some suggestions. Olek also likes similar historical books to Dad plus a lot of adventure/mystery, crime novels etc. so mostly also not my thing and here I’m not even sure if Mum will be able to help. So I’m going to order the books for them later on when I have some ideas.

How about you? What is it that you want at the moment? 🙂

Question of the day.

Who, in your opinion, is an author or poet more people should know about?

My answer:

There’s tons of authors writing in less popular languages than English who don’t get translated, or even if they do, I guess literature translated to English only gets some little bit of the attention that the actual English-language literature gets. Many of these authors are really good, so it’s sad to think what people are missing out on. And it’s not even just English speakers because while I believe there’s more literature that is translated between other languages, it’s still not all, and here in Poland, most of translated literature that we have is from English. I’m now trying to think when was the last time I read a book that was originally written in, for example, Hungarian. I can only think of two. Or say Icelandic. Nothing comes to mind except sagas. Or even, so as not to venture too far away, in some of my favourite languages like Finnish or Dutch. Well, for Finnish there’s mostly just Mika Valtari and Tove Jansson whom I both love, but not much more than that, and with Dutch even less than that. As for non-European languages if I ever read anything in any of them I think it was mostly stuff like fairytales or the like but even that I’m not sure if it’s always been translated directly from the original. Oh wait, I did read a book translated from Arabic earlier this year, but even the translator wrote that there aren’t many books translated from Arabic to Polish. Now I even remember once reading some article in a magazine where it said that it’s quite sad that there aren’t many Polish translations of Czech books, despite we’re neighbouring countries, after all. There are some classics and stuff but it feels like given the relationship between our languages we should share more literature with each other. I don’t think they’ve translated a lot of ours either, . So yeah, there are definitely a lot of great authors and poets that many people don’t know and often they’re only known within their country. I always feel sad that my favourite Polish author, Małgorzata Musierowicz, isn’t better known abroad. I don’t think there are any English translations of her books. There are Italian ones, Japanese ones, I believe even Russian, but not English. Perhaps her colourful language, plus the quintessentially Polish vibe of her books and all the Polish nuances are difficult to translate. Actually not perhaps, but for sure. Still, it’s sad and I suppose if it was possible to transfer into Japanese, there should be a possibility to do it in English and someone who’d be able to do it.

But actually, the first author that sprang to my mind when I thought of the answer to this question was an English-speaking one. Namely another of my all-time, most favourite authors – Lucy Maud Montgomery. –
Yeah, I know, Anne of Green Gables, she’s super popular everywhere, and while I like her very much, I also think she’s a tiny bit overrated compared with her other heroines, and what I don’t like about her is that she’s not very realistic, at least as a child. How many people, who aren’t specifically and very hugely in love with her books, are even aware of those other heroines, or any of her other books existing, or of what they are called? Most people I’ve talked to about her have no idea she wrote anything else. And this is so sad because, like so many authors, she’s just been labelled as children’s author, even though, in my humble opinion, most of her books are actually better to read or re-read when you’re older as you get more out of them this way, and some, like The Blue Castle or A Tangled Web, I don’t think are suitable for children at all. Perhaps only Magic for Marigold is a proper children’s book. Then there are also all those short stories she wrote, some are better, some are worse, but I think they’re also definitely worth reading, perhaps unless you’re the type like my Sofi who needs instantly developing, quick-paced and adrenaline-filled action, then maybe you’ll feel underwhelmed with most of them. 😀 And her diaries are also a very interesting read.

As a bonus, I’ll also add Norwegian author and Nobel Prize winner Sigrid Undset, because I’ve read several of her books and now that I’m kinda sorta learning Norwegian I feel like I’d like to refresh them soon, not in Norwegian, I’m too scared for that just yet and I don’t know where to get Norwegian books from online, but in Polish or in English. Her books are probably not for everyone but I wish she was better known so that people could at least find out if they like or dislike her books.

Who’s such an author in your opinion? 🙂

Question of the day.

What are three books on your to read list?

My answer:

I have quite a pile of books to read so let’s look at it and see what’s going to be next. The three books that I’m going to read next, unless something else comes up in between that I’d be interested in enough that I’d want to prioritise, are quite diverse in their topics, but they’re all non fiction. First there’s a Polish book – “Wampiry, Potwory, Upiory i Inne Nieziemskie Stwory” (which translates to Vampires, Monsters, Phantoms, and Other Unearthly Creatures) by Sylwia Błach and Paulina Daniluk, which is, as one might guess from the title, about all sorts of monsters and scary creatures from various mythologies and other folklore that has accumulated in the world over time.

Then I’m going to read another book about the Miracle of Fatima (I’ve read quite a few before). It’s Fatima: My Immaculate Heart Will Triumph by fr. Joao Scognamiglio Cla Dias, however I’m going to read it in Polish. For those who may not know, the Miracle of Fatima took place in 1917 in a small village of Fatima in Portugal, where, over the course of a few months, three children – Lucia Santos and Francisco and Jacinta Marto – had apparitions of the Virgin Mary. These apparitions have since then been declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church, and the cultus of the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Fatima has been approved, and the children have been canonised.

And then the next book I’m going to read is in English, and it’s And I don’t Want to Live This Life by Deborah Spungen, mother of Nancy Spungen who was the girlfriend of Sid Vicious from Sex Pistols, and who was murdered by him, she also struggled with mental illness since childhood.

So yeah, a lot of diversity here.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What are three things you’re reading?

My answer:

These days I usually try to read one book at a time, and so is the case right now. I’ve just started a new book this morning, and this is Your Brain Explained by Mark Dingman, if I remember the English title correctly as I’m reading it in Polish. I found it among the newly added books to our online blind library, as an audiobook (or should we say talking book as the audiobooks specifically for blind people are called), and since I like reading brain books, even as basic as this one seems to be so far, I picked it up along with several other new books that I found interesting when looking at their synopses. I’m only a few chapters into it but it’s interesting and easily digestible.

Other than that, I’m about to catch up on some blogs I follow and emails I’ve got, so will be reading all that too very soon.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?

My answer:

Village School by Miss Read. I’d been wanting for the longest time to read something from this author, particularly Miss Clare Remembers and No Holly For Miss Quinn, which are two books in her Fairacre series which inspired Enya (one of my faza people) to compose two pieces of music with the same names. Just listening to those songs I always thought that if they have book equivalents, they must be great, and reading their synopses made me think they were right up my alley, but there was no Polish translation, or at least I couldn’t find any, and it’s fairly recently, some two years ago I guess, that I’ve seriously started reading English-language books of all sorts more regularly and casually, that is not solely for learning the language and new vocabulary. GoodReads must have also figured that it would be right up my alley, because recently I’ve found the first book from this series (the aforementioned Village School) in my recommendations on there, and since now I have access to different places where I can get English books and I read them regularly, I figured I really need to give this series a go now. It took me some time to get into it properly, but I really did enjoy this book and I felt really at home in it by the time I finished. It was really sweet and charming and I absolutely loved her way of describing characters, I love authors whose characters I can actually imagine and who seem life-like, her way of describing things in general is amazing, and I liked her sense of humour.

At more or less the same time I happened to learn that a guy I used to follow quite regularly some years ago, who teaches Swedish online and is a Swede himself and generally seems quite crazy about languages, has written a handbook for Swedish learners, called A Lagom Guide To Swedish. I figured I could really use some good Swedish offline resource that I wouldn’t need to scan or anything, so I bought the ebook right away. And while it’s a handbook, so generally not something you’d just read like from cover to cover, that was precisely what I ended up doing, in just a few sittings. 😀 I was quite curious how much of the things in this book I would have already known, so I started just skimming through it, but then got positively surprised that I actually know SO much of the stuff he covered in it, and even more surprised and happy whenever I came across something I didn’t know or realise, that I just didn’t want to put it aside. It really boosted my self-esteem in terms of Swedish, because ever since my English has leapt so much forward, I’ve been feeling less confident about my Swedish than I was before, even despite I managed with it quite well in Stockholm and I can get along with people just fine, I always have an impression that my Swedish, compared with my English, feels kind of clunky and it’s not as easy for me to express everything in it as it is in English, even though there was a time when my Swedish was waay better than my English. So I’m really glad I came across that book, even for this one reason. And it’ll definitely still be useful in different situations.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What was the last thing you took the time to really enjoy? It can be anything – food, beverage, film, etc.

My answer:

I was reading a very interesting Polish book that I just finished today. Perhaps it may not sound interesting for most people, and would likely even be infinitely boring for many, especially if you’re one for quick pace and a lot of action, and don’t like non-fiction, but it was interesting for me, mostly because I’d never come across anything similar before, and always sort of wanted to. It was a book from (I believe) 1843, called Dwór Wiejski (Rural Manor House) by Karolina Nakwaska. It’s essentially a retro self-help book for women – women who were mistresses of rural manors. – Why would I even want to read something like this when I’m not even a housewife or a mother or anything that the potential reader of such book would be, except a woman? Well, language, mostly. 😀 Have I ever said before how delicious, interesting, full of character, or just funny, archaic/obsolete polish words and sentence structure can be? I absolutely love reading old Polish books, but I rarely get a chance, because such stuff is usually only sold as physical books, or not easily available at all, unless some second-hand bookshops, forget ebooks. And I really don’t like scanning and usually can’t achieve satisfying enough results by myself. I wasn’t hunting for this particular book or anything like that, it just happened that someone added it to the section in our blind library where people can add their scanned books, and I was interested by the excerpt. I like learning about how people used to live before, I like books about what people used to eat, what they used to wear etc. etc. about specific groups of people and their situation. I’m also quite into women’s history as well. Here, it’s not some historian’s book or a historical novel, but pretty much a first-hand account. I love love love reading old recipes! I love etnography. So this was, essentially, the perfect book for me, and I relished it properly. Well, the scan was pretty bad, so I would have relished it more if not the abundant spelling errors and unreadable fragments, but still it was great. The first volume is about all sorts of different things from how to serve and go about meals as well as good manners relating to that, to how to raise children, charitable activity and giving a good example to people, taking care of the ill and treating in the absence of a doctor, treatment of servants etc. The second was all recipes, and the third was an alphabetical glossary of all things possible that, according to the author, women should be knowledgeable in and on which she had some advice to give them. It’s from a very strongly Christian perspective. The author emigrated from Poland as far as I know during or after the November uprising and lived in several different countries – Switzerland, Germany, England and France – the book was written in Switzerland I guess, so she also had a good idea not only about manor life and a manor mistress’s life in Poland but in other European countries and had quite a modern perspective for her times. She often makes comparisons between how all these different countries she’s lived handle specific things like toilet training of children or cleanliness in the house. Apparently, she was quite ostracised by people before the publishing of her book as they thought she simply wants to promote and imitate foreign ways of life, but I think she really just wanted to introduce the good things from other countries that could be adopted in her motherland. And it seemed to be successful because eventually her book became quite popular with women.

In the third volume, there’s a mini section about language mistakes and how it isn’t appropriate for a lady to make them, and she mentions a lot of particular mistakes that apparently were common at the time. Interesting to see what was considered a language mistake over 100 years ago, especially that some things that were considered appropriate or some words or phrases that she uses in the book are now considered incorrect and some of the things that she says are incorrect are now normal, but most of those mistakes I’ve never ever heard in today’s speech so it was quite funny. Or when talking about table manners, she writes in such an indignant tone how it’s absolutely hideous to eat more than one dish with the same fork, and even proceeds this comment with the warning that she’s about to say something extremely hideous. Or she says things like how it’s not appropriate to make balls from bread and throw them around, or spit or eat from someone else’s plate. You’d think she writes for kindergarten children or some barbarian vikings, not the gentle women in the age of romanticism. But my Mum has a pre-Vatican Council II book for lay people about the Mass to help them understand it better, and there is also a fragment about how one should behave, what to wear etc. and spitting in church, (or rather, not spitting) is mentioned, which she found rather hilarious.

My Mum also loves old books like that, and old recipes, and as I read it I thought that she would be interested in it even more than myself. I mentioned it to her and she said she’d love to read it. So, tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and I decided to buy a physical version for her, which is exactly what I did yesterday.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

How old were you when you learned to read? Did you learn by sight memorisation, or sounding out letters?

My answer:

I wrote a post answering a similar question before, so I won’t write a lot in detail here. If I remember correctly, I was about 7-8 when I learned to read and it was through memorisation.

How was it with you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What was the last book you read?

My answer:

Hm, lemme see… Ah yeah, Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman. I think I was mentioning in some coffee share or something like that a few months ago that I was reading The Brothers of Gwynedd quartet by Edith Pargeter, which my penfriend recommended to me, about the Welsh prince Llywelyn (or Llewelyn as he’s spelt in the book) the Last. I really enjoyed that, even just because it was the first historical novel set in Wales that I didn’t cringe at. I’m not a history buff or anything like that, not even an expert in the history of Celtic countries, but even I was able to see some – sometimes quite glaring unrealistic-ness in historical novels set in Wales that I read before, and if I can spot something like that it often peeves me in fiction, or at least certain kinds of books. But also I really enjoyed that series for a lot of other reasons and it was a delicious read, so I went on a quest to find something at least a bit similar in that it would be reasonably realistic and also well-written and just enjoyable for me. So that’s why I decided to read Here Be Dragons, which is the first book in the Welsh Princes series, telling the story of Llywelyn the Great, who is not to be confused with Llywelyn the Last whom I mentioned earlier.

That was a great book too, although I think I prefer Edith Pargeter’s writing style, well, at least for this kind of books. But I didn’t have to cringe at it either, and I liked that the characters were well-developed and not wishy-washy. It was a bit difficult to get actually involved in for me and the beginning felt very slow-paced, even though I normally have no problem with slow-paced books if I like them overall because I don’t mind relishing a book and not racing through it, because I usually feel like I read too fast anyway and that I would have liked to be able to enjoy a book for longer. 😀 This one really did drag a bit in some places. But, overall, it was a very positive experience.

You? 🙂

Question of the day.

What is your favourite book written in the last 20 years?

My answer:

That would have to be one of the books by Polish author Małgorzata Musierowicz from her series called Jeżycjada. The series has been going on since 1970’s until now and we’re just awaiting what is said to be the last book in this series, but somehow its release date keeps being postponed, and looking at the author’s website it seems that she hasn’t even finished it yet, as recently she’s been busy writing two other books which are like a sort of illustrated encyclopaedia of the series. Because it’s highly visual and people seem to enjoy it most because of the illustrations and pictures, I haven’t read the first one which has been released so far and I don’t think I will, I don’t really know how much I’d have out of it.

Anyway, Mrs. Musierowicz’s books are definitely among my most favourite books ever and have been for years, ever since I was a teenager – no, wait, earlier! I was already devouring them when I was recovering from the Achilles tendons surgery that I had when I was 10 and Olek – who was 8 at the time – was reading them as well, because I was borrowing them on tape books and then giving them to him, but he’s no longer into this kind of books. –

I only regret so much that, while there are some Japanese translations, and I’ve also heard of Italian and Russian ones, I don’t think any of her books have been translated to English. The series takes its name from Jeżyce, a district of Poznań, where most of the plot of the books takes place (it’s a joking reference to Iliad, Iliada in Polish). They are classified as YA books and most people think about them as books for teenage girls, and I think they are written primarily with such audience in mind, but I know many people who are not teenage girls yet who enjoy her writing and like to come back to it, and I don’t think the fact that this series is almost 50 years old and the characters who were teens at the beginning are middle-aged now is the only reason behind this phenomenon.

This series is like a family saga, with the Borejko family at its core, also involving their friends or some more distant relatives. Reading this series can give you an impression that the world (or at least Poznań) must be seriously very small, as almost everyone knows everyone there. 😀 Mr. and Mrs. Borejko (Ignacy and Melania “Mila”) have four daughters (Gabriela, Ida, Natalia (also known as Nutria) and Patrycja (aka Pulpecja, her nickname doesn’t mean anything but it sounds like pulpet which is meatball in Polish or humourously may refer to someone who is plump and roly-poly like she is). They were teens/children at the start of the series, but now are mums and wives in their forties and fifties. Typically, one book is particularly focused on one specific character, usually a teenager, who usually is more or less seriously in love with someone, but we also get to have very close encounters with a lot of other characters and see things through their perspective and catch up with their lives.

The Borejko family is quite peculiar, a lot of people who aren’t fans of the series say they’re a bit intellectually snobbish, with the grandfather – Ignacy – being a classical philologist and stoic obsessed with ancient culture and ancient philosophers and quoting them (in latin) obviously, looking down especially upon so called women’s literature and crime novels. His wife can obviously also speak Latin, as can all his daughters (Gabriela is also a classical philologist) and grandchildren, they’re also all very well-read people, even those who are not necessarily very academically inclined like Pulpecja who failed her final exam the first time and after she passed it she went on to study forestry and now is leading a bucolic life in the countryside as a fulfilled wife, mother and makes yummy food all the time. I get how that intellectual stuff can be annoying for people, and I think it could be very likely annoying for outside people in real life that you only seem to be a valuable conversation partner when you know enough Latin and have the right taste in literature, but somehow in the books it doesn’t bug me personally too much, maybe because I started reading her books when I wasn’t able to have so much insight into all this so it now seems just normal, or maybe because, while my own grandad isn’t well-versed in ancient philosophers and doesn’t brag with his Latin all the time, nor is he particularly similar to Ignacy at all, he also knows Latin and I’ve picked up a lot of bits and pieces from him over the years, as well as from going to Tridentine Masses and learning about names’ etymology, so it maybe isn’t as glaring to me or something. Besides I find them a very warm family (if a bit too hospitable, with their kitchen overflowing with people regularly 😀 and their house being always full even without additional people since their family is so huge by now), who all have very well-developed, realistic personalities, most easily likeable but not without flaws (well, except for Gabriela – the eldest of the Borejko daughters, who is a bit of a Mary Sue or has become over the years). I like how they’re all very close to each other yet they’re all very distinct individuals, and that they always have so much yummy food. Seriously, you can’t read any Musierowicz books without feeling hungry or getting wild cravings for whatever they’re eating.

They are amazing books if you just want to escape from the world around you and read something that is light and rather utopian but also stimulating and actually absorbing unlike a lot of so called light books. They are full of strengthening and heartening warmth and I love Musierowicz’s sense of humour and generally her way of seeing people. I’ve re-read all of her books at least a dozen times and they still often make me laugh when I re-read them.

I do have to admit that I think her earlier books were better overall. A lot of people got so discouraged that, although they used to be dedicated readers, they stopped reading her new books altogether because they think her writing has worsened so much. I wouldn’t go as far as that and I generally don’t like criticising her books (I was almost like brought up by them in some way so I guess it feels almost as awful as if I were criticising my parents or something 😀 ) and I think a lot of what people consider to be caused by her worsening writing style is just that times are changing, the characters are evolving, and so the series is changing, which is sadly inevitable but it’s as unfair to say that it’s worse because of this as if you said about a real life person that they are becoming worse and somehow lower-quality just because they are getting older and also adjusting to the changing times. There are definitely flaws to Musierowicz’s writing, most prominent one in my opinion being that she doesn’t seem to think things through carefully and does very little research beforehand when it would really be needed. But still, I really love her books.

It would be really difficult though to pick just one book of this series of those written in this century that I like the most. I don’t think I have a favourite. Sometimes when people asked me that I would say Kalamburka (which is a book about Mila Borejko’s life which starts in 2001 and then goes back in time gradually all the way to 1935 when she was born) but I usually said that just because Mila is one of my most favourite characters of the series rather than because I love the book itself much more than others.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What was the last book you read?

My answer:

I’ve just finished a great non-fiction Polish book “W Salonie I W Kuchni. Opowieść O Kulturze Materialnej Polskich Pałaców I Dworów W XIX Wieku” (In the Salon and Kitchen, the Story of Material Culture of Polish 19th Century Palaces and Manors). I like to read about how people used to live in terms of daily lives, and I just got this book a few days ago in our online library for the blind over here, it was just added I believe, so I grabbed it straight away. It was all about how those palaces and manors looked like, what all the rooms were for, what people did in each of them, what the furniture was like, how people started using different things in their households and how they were changing over the years, what people ate, when, in what way, how different customs of that time had evolved, how the cuisine was changing over time etc. etc. etc. It was written in quite an engaging way so that made it an easy read, and I read it in no time. There were also some interesting new words for me that I liked. 😀 I got also strongly convinced that 19th century Poland wouldn’t probably be a place where I’d like to live, or at least not in a palace/manor. 😀 For one very simple reason. Too many people everywhere! I’ve heard a lot about Slavic/Polish hospitality but only reading this book I ttruly realised to what kind of extends it went, how people had guests or were visiting someone ALL the fricken time, plus there were a lot of people in such households anyway – big families, servants, residents and the like. – I’d go crazy in a week.

How about you? 🙂

Reading Wrap-Up (January 4, 2021) #IMWAYR

And the first MIMRA is with its winner now!
I’m thrilled that Astrid received her readership award today, which she mentions in this post.
It’s her reading wrap-up post, so go check it out to find out what she’s been reading lately, and is planning to read next. Maybe you can find some books here that you’d also like to read. 🙂

A Multitude of Musings

#IMWAYR

Hi readers and fellow book lovers! I have been reading relatively much lately, so I can do another reading wrap-up today. As usual, I’m joining in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR).

Life Update

I’m doing pretty well right now. Got a lovely package from Emilia of My Inner MishMash in the mail today. It’s for her readership award. The package contained some great food and non-food items. I must admit though that I ate all of the caramel fudge and am now a bit nauseated (or is it nauseous?).

What I’m Currently Reading

Still reading Hatch by Kenneth Oppel. I had let it lie there for a bit while reading other things, but I started it back up and it’s really intriguing.

I also finally picked up Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I previously finished two of her other books and had started in

View original post 203 more words

Question of the day.

What was the first book that scared you?

My answer:

Again, can’t think about the FIRST, but the one I remember most vividly is Himmelsdalen by Marie Hermansson (the English title is apparently The Devil’s Sanctuary). It was a thriller about a guy whose identical twin brother lived in a luxury facility for psychopaths, and who got invited there for a short visit by his brother and then tricked into changing identities with him and trapped in there for an indefinite time.

In hintsight, I guess it wasn’t even the book itself that has such a power over me but I was also reading it in sort of wrong circumstances, it was recommended to me by a friend and I didn’t have much of an idea what it’s about exactly, and not the most fortunately picked it up at night when I couldn’t sleep and also happened to have a fair bit of sensory anxiety which makes me jittery and overstimulated in a general sense as well. So it did make a huge impression on me, but while it did feel very scary at times, overall I really enjoyed reading this book despite the accompanying circumstances, luckily somehow it didn’t make me feel muchh worse, and read it whole in one night, and also later I recommended it to my Mum and she read it as well. She read it in much more relaxed settings and over a much longer period of time, typically in the kitchen while having her morning coffee, but found it rather chilling in some parts as well and we talked about it a lot.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day (19th October).

What was the first book that made you cry, or at least feel very, very sad?

My answer:

I’ve been thinking about this for a while but can’t think of a book that was the first. While books often affect me strongly and I may easily feel sad if a book is sad, I don’t cry very easily at all because of a book even if I fee like I’d like to be able to sometimes, it’s just a super rare thing, same with movies and music. While on one hand I’m glad I’m not an easy cryer and at least in some part it is the effect of my own considerable efforts over the years of bottling things up, on the other hand I actually envy people who can cry when they’re moved by things as it seems a very healthy mechanism and seems to be generally seen as a very sincere reaction by people. So basically because it’s very frequently that a book moves me very deeply and I find it very sad, but at the same time ultra rare that it would make me cry, I can’t think of one particular example that would be either the first or even just one that would stand out particularly. I remember that the last book that I was crying a little bit when reading it was Maggie Hartley’s book Battered, Broken, Healed that I read last year, when for some unexplained reason one specific thing made me feel particularly sad, namely when the mum of a baby whom Maggie was taking care of at the time was telling Maggie about how whenever her daughter cried at night, her abusive husband wouldn’t let her see to her and how difficult it was for her and for little Jasmine as well. I don’t know why it made such a very strong impression, it’s definitely not my typical reaction even when I hear sad things like this and it’s not the most difficult thing I’ve heard definitely, but it just made me feel so sad I suddenly started crying but only a little bit. I guess I must have generally been feeling down.

Oh, yeah, now I remember a book that made me feel particularly sad, but it definitely wasn’t the first one, actually quite recent, and it also made me feel a whole spectrum of all sorts of feelings and, despite a rather difficult topic of the book, quite a few fragments of it also made me laugh a lot and overall the experience was very positive. It was Room by Emma Donoghue.

So, how about you? Also, are you easily moved by books at all? If so, is it to such a degree that you just easily absorb emotions that are in the book, or does it also mean that you cry easily when you read something particularly moving, be it positively or negatively? 🙂

Question of the day (18th October).

What was the first book that got you hooked on an author? Do you still like that author?

My answer:

I believe the very first one would have to be The Six Bullerby Children by Astrid Lindgren. That’s where my love for Sweden, Swedish language and Astrid Lindgren’s books has started. And yes, she’s still one of my all-time favourite authors that I like to go back to sometimes. I haven’t read all of her books or haven’t reread all of those that I read because not all of them speak to me but the ones that do, do really strongly and I love the idyllic feel in them as well as Lindgren’s sense of humour and just generally the feel of her books.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

What was the first book that made you feel like you really identified with the protagonist?

My answer:

Don’t know if it was the first, but it was definitely the book that made me identify with the protagonist the most of all books, and it’s the Emily of New Moon series. Which I actually wrote about on here before quite often, for example in the context of my name change, as I changed my name to Emilia at least partly because of Emily of New Moon. We aren’t totally alike of course – that would be scary – and also have a lot of differences, but still it’s such an unbelievably relatable character to me – and the whole series really, not just Emily herself – and has been over the years, it’s crazy!

What was such a book for you? Do you still identify equally strongly with the protagonist, or has it changed over the years? 🙂

Question of the day.

What was the first adult book you ever read? How old were you? Did you ever read YA when you were age appropriate, or did you jump from children’s books to adult books?

My answer:

I was thinking hard about it and it took me really a long time. Probably both because I read a lot, and I don’t really have memory for such details like which book was first and when exactly, I’ll typically remember the plot line of the book, or other things that happened around the time when I read it, what was going on in my life, what were my reactions to/associations with the book etc. But actually when I thought hard enough I figured the answer was much easier than I thought, because one of the first books I read was a proper, very adult, very difficult book. And I’m pretty sure I’ve even written about it on here not that very long ago. I just got signed into the school library and was reading my first, short children’s books, but they weren’t particularly interesting and too short for me to be enough between the times when I was able to go to the library. So I wanted to try something longer and something that I knew I’d actually like, and asked about brothers’ Grim fairytales. I got a huge book, but, to sum it up, because as I said I wrote about it earlier in more detail, there was a mistake and the book I got was nothing like brothers Grim’s fairytales! And the funny thing was that, despite as I read on and couldn’t get myself at all engaged into the oh so boring, dull plotline, and it wasn’t at all like the brothers Grim book my Mum had read to me, no alarm went off in my brain that, uh oh, perhaps I’ve got the wrong book. I thought perhaps it was some really long introduction (though why it was completely off topic I had no idea either). Finally, a young girl who was volunteering in our boarding school group at the time once came over to me and asked just out of curiosity what I was reading. I complained to her that I got brothers Grim from the library but it’s so much more boring than when my Mum read it to me and actually seems like a whole different book, and there’s a lot about animals. She wanted to have a look at the cover and we were both surprised to realise that it was actually some very fancy book about… white lions? if I remember correctly, something like that. Super geeky! I was still very much learning what the whole literature thing was about and how to deal with books, and while I could read the title page myself and did, it must have probably been too disorientating for me yet. I don’t think I’d be into something like that even nowadays, although I’m sure I wouldn’t keep on reading it for as long as I did, it wasn’t really very much like me, I generally get discouraged with books quickly and give up on them ’cause why read something that’s not particularly interesting if there are so many more interesting books out there, I hate being bored.

Anyway, I must have been about 7-8 at the time it happened.

As for adult book in the context of a book containing so called adult content, when I was maybe a preteen, I was a member of our local talking book library. I loved to read and I would happily to it all the time but I could hardly have enough Braille books at home even with all the different sources I got them from, so mostly I listened to talking books on tapes. The library ladies liked me very much and were very nice, but I don’t think they really knew themselves what they had in their library, what the books were about and what ages they were appropriate for. Because I got lots of books from them that, even though I was quite a smart kid, were often for one reason or another not really appropriate for my age either intellectually or emotionally, in hintsight. That particular “adult” book was about a 15-year-old girl, so actually it could probably classify as YA only it did have a lot of sexual scenes that I absolutely wasn’t ready for then, and found all of that quite shocking, together with that the protagonist’s family was very much pathological, and she herself had a sort of lifestyle that I didn’t realise a 15-year-old could live. I think I did knew the basics about the birds and bees by the time, but not much beyond that, and it was just something very new and very overwhelming to me. I don’t think there was anything pervert or anything like that, just very graphic and the whole book overall had a sort of rough feel to it the way I remember it which made it feel even more overwhelming. In a way though, this new world was even quite fascinating. But I felt very much disturbed and after some time I talked about all that with Mum, and she reassured me, explained some things to me that were in this book and that I was wondering about, and said that if I didn’t feel like reading it further, I didn’t have to, and so I left it. I don’t remember the title of it now, I only have a vague recollection that it was German but I’m not even sure of that.

And as for YA, oh of course I read it! A lot! Since quite an early age, and enjoyed it a lot. Moreover, I still do and read a lot of it.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day.

Hi people! 🙂

What is something that is making you feel good, these days? 🙂

My answer:

Misha’s presence is always making me feel good. Right now he’s sleeping on the wardrobe and he has spent almost the entire day with me.

The cooler weather is making me feel good, too. The summer heat has been quite exhausting for me, and for Misha too, also for my Mum and I think for a lot of people as it was really a long time and at times felt insanely hot, and I’m really glad that it’s cooler now, it feels very pleasant outside.

The fact that my Dad’s at work so I don’t have to deal with him for a few days 😀 – he’d had quite long holidays recently and now he’s gone back to work yesterday. It gets unpleasant and stale when you’re spending so much time with someone and you’re not really on the same wavelength at all.

Music. I’ve been listening to lots of great music, but that’s nothing new. Also my great speaker and headphones that I’ve got myself recently and that I use with my iPhone. I really love my computer speakers as well, but, as I always listen to something quietly at night, it wasn’t as much of a pleasure listening to something at night on them, with all the accompanying hum of my desktop computer.

Food always makes me feel good as well. Today we had very yummy chocolate budyń with Mum. Mum makes it on her own, it’s not the instant, shop-bought budyń. I think I’ve explained somewhere on here earlier what budyń is, but if you don’t know, it’s kinda like a creamy Polish pudding. Only Mum put a bit too much chocolate into it, and while it was extremely delicious, it was really, really sweet, and neither of us was able to eat a lot. 😀

Books make me feel good. Right now I’m reading a very amusing Polish book, which is basically an anthology of different texts from mostly Polish literature, but not only, from different time periods and genres, all about cats! I’ve just started it today in the morning but I think it’s going to be very enjoyable for me. And the last book I read was “Harriet and the Cherry Pie” by Clare Compton, a lovely English children’s book, the style and plotline of which reminded me very strongly of Noel Streatfeild, and I like things like these. Since the main character lived in her great aunt’s cafe, there was lots of food involved.

How about you? 🙂