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 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 (20th June).

What’s your favourite author?

My answer:

My favourite Polish author is definitely Małgorzata Musierowicz, I’ve written about her loads of times on here, she’s an author of a lovely book series that I just love to pieces. And my favourite foreign author is Lucy Maud Montgomery. But I find “Anne Of Green Gables” slightly overrated. I do like her but she’s written so many other great books that are underappreciated because everyone sees only Anne who’s not as interesting as some other of her heroines like Emily Starr from “Emily Of New Moon” or Valancy Stirling from “The Blue Castle” for example. And I don’t like that people always think that her books are only for children. Well my Zofijka is a child, a tween, and she doesn’t even understand “Anne Of Green Gables”. I think with Montgomery’s books is a bit like with “The Moomins” or “Winnie The Pooh”, everyone associates them with children and reads them in childhood, but it’s only when you grow up that you start really understanding them and seeing them from a different angle.

How about your favourite author? 🙂

Question of the day.

Are there any “beach reads” you recommend?

My answer:

It hugely depends on what you mean by a beach read and what you generally like to read on the beach. As for me, beach is one of the few places where I don’t ever read anything just because of my desperate dependency on my PlexTalk, I respect it way to much to let it wallow in the sand and get soaked by the waves, what would I be without it? So I can only tell you what my Mum reads on the beach. My Mum usually reads light things on the beach, that don’t require much thinking, but make you laugh easily, that are interesting, but not too addictive because you have to put it away once a while to change your position if you want to tan evenly, and you need to keep an eye on Zofijka and find things to do for her, because no one else will do it for you. 😀 As for her I guess she mostly likes interviews or biographies, right now she’s reading Sylvester Stallone’s biography I suppose. But I also think a not to trashy so called women’s literature will do on the beach as well, and that’s what pops in my mind immediately when I think about a beach read.

That being said, I actually can’t remember when was the last time I read any beach read, not because I not read them, I like to do it, but because I never read them on the beach and don’t have a habit to evaluate the book as for whether it is a good beach read or not. 😀 But I think what I can recommend you with a clear conscience are my all time favourite authors’ book – Małgorzata Musierowicz – from her series “Jeżycjada”. The thing is though, I highly doubt they’ve been translated into English. I read once an article on English Wikipedia about Musierowicz and there were English titles for some Polish books, but I couldn’t find them anywhere else. I guess it wouldn’t be an easy work to translate these books, they’re maybe easy but very speciffic at the same time and Musierowicz’s style is very significant and characteristic, and it is so Polish, which is good, but I’m not sure whether such books with so much of a particular nation’s mentality are actually really translatable and can be successful anywhere else, there would have to be tons of translator’s notes to make it intelligible. Oh well, but I don’t know what else I could recommend.

Maybe something from Rosamunde Pilcher? I’ve read a few of her books as a teenager and wasn’t in love with them but it was quite cool, and I guess it could be a nice choice for a beach read.

What are your recommendations? 🙂

[category  Diary,Books]

If We WeRE Having Coffee… #WeekendCoffeeShare

Time for another Weekend Coffee Share

hosted by Eclectic Alli.

If we were having coffee, assuming it would take place in my house, you’d hear children screaming, running and playing. Zofijka is having her birthday party for her friends and cousins. TOmorrow she’ll make a more serious one, with dinner and all, for her God parents and grandparents. It’s a pity those skunk slippers I got for her haven’t arrived yet, but hope it’ll happen soon and that she’ll like them. Today I’ve heard her confiding to one of her friends how much she likes skunks, and they now call her Sophie Skunk. 😀

If we were having coffee I’d tell you we have Mother’s Day today, so, happy Mother’s Day to all of you mummies. 🙂 Never mind that for most of you your actual Mother’s Day has already passed this year, let’s celebrate once again. So if you consider yourself a mum – be it a mum for your own children, heart mum for someone, adoptive mum, mum to be, pet mum or any other kind of mummy, feel free to have some extra coffee and an extra muffin. Yes, we have muffins today because of Mother’s Day. They’re shop bought but still. Very yummy. And we have lots of other stuff – a very yummy, homemade chicken soup with dumplings, jelly with grapes and strawberries, Zofijka’s yucky Soy Luna birthday cake, well I haven’t tried it, it’s for the kids, but all those shop bought overly decorative birthday cakes for kids are always yucky and from what this one apparently looks like, I wouldn’t expect it to be different. But we also have some nice sponge cake with strawberries and other stuff that my Mum has made and it’s brilliant. And a lot of fruit and other things. So well, help yourself, particularly all the mummies here.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you I bought my Mum a new speaker which she can connect to her phone and play her own music in the kitchen. She always wanted to be able to listen to something else than just the radio, like her Spotify or something, so hope she’ll be happy, but it haven’t arrived yet either.

If we were having coffee I’d ask all of you how you’re doing…

If we were having coffee I’d tell you I’m not doing the best moodwise today. Don’t really know what happened, I just woke up and felt like again I’m slipping into that awful hole from where I’ve barely got out recently. I know I had some yucky dreams tonight and maybe that’s what pushed me down, and then some thing happened later on today that made my slip ride even quicker. I’m not down there yet and managed to stop the slide somewhere at the beginning of the last lap though so that’s good at least now I’m wondering which way I’ll go from here, up or down into the hole again. Of course I hope for the first, the more that I’ve been feeling really good over the last week, but guess nothing lasts forever, meh that’shit you have to feel blah for most of the time, but that seems to be the main rule for my flippin’ brain. Anyways…

If we were having coffee I’d tell you Misha’s with me all the time today. The kids are playing on the balcony and Misha can’t go there because then he jumps on the roof and Misha is generally crazy in the fresh air, poor child, and there would be no one to keep an eye on him there in all the comotion we have here today, so Mum told me to close him in my room and so I did. Thought he won’t be glad of it, but he just went to bed and still is sleeping very heavily. Guess he didn’t sleep the best at night, I don’t know where he was then, not with me anyway and not in any of the hideouts that I know of. He’s so so sweet when he’s sleeping.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that yesterday there have been new books added to our Polish digital library for the blind and there was one I literally couldn’t wait for, the new book by Małgorzata Musierowicz. Małgorzata Musierowicz is one of my most favourite writers, I absolutely love her series “Jeżycjada”, and my Mum told me a few months ago that she’d seen her new book in the bookshop. I knew it will be in our library because all the books by Musierowicz are and they are scanned and added pretty quickly, but it seemed so long for me and I just couldn’t wait. My Mum suggested that maybe we could read it together which I’d be very happy about, but finally it didn’t happen. Plus my Mum isn’t a good reader, whenever she starts reading a book, her eyes become heavy and she feels sleepy, so reads a single book for quite a long time so I felt that the book will be available for me maybe even before we’d get to half of it. And yesterday it came! And I’m reading it right now. Maybe Musierowicz is the one whom I should be thankful too that I haven’t yet slipped down into my gloomy hole. Her books are always so full of warmth, happiness and yes, positivity, but not the kind of positivity you usually think of while hearing this word, a foolish optimism, kinda artificial one and for all means, just to not be negative. It’s very natural so that when you read her books you just have to smile or even laugh at times. And you get a lot of stuff to ponder on, during and after the reading so your brain has something more productive to do than overthinking, overanalysing, rethinking, freaking out, overloading itself etc. And you get hungry immediately, they eat so so so many yummy things. They are so many that she’s even written a whole book with recipes of the dishes her characters eat. I only wish her books were longer. They read so quickly. You want to read more and more and more and suddenly it’s over. There aren’t many other writers that I love as much as Musierowicz. and I know her in person and I’ve even been to her and I was in her house and it was sooo cool.

So how are you doing guys? What happened to you this week? 🙂 What would you tell me if we were having coffee? 🙂


Question of the day.

What are you reading, right now?

My answer:

I decided that I should now take some time for rereading some books I enjoyed while reading and that are very important for me for some reason. This also includes my two all time favourite authors, Lucy Maud Montgomery and Małgorzata Musierowicz, and all their books. I really enjoy going back to their books. and right now I’m reading one of Musierowicz’s books called “Język Trolli” (“Trolla’s Language), Trolla is the surname of the main character, or maybe not main, but still very important in this book. And of course it’s a cool book.

How about you?