A month of books, reading and writing

During May we tried something new, with a theme of books, reading and writing throughout the site. In case you missed anything, here’s a roundup of PocketCultures book month. Thanks to Celia, PocketCultures contributor in Kazakhstan, for suggesting the topic.

Art installation at ArteBA 2012. Photo by Ana O'Reilly

On Picture Postcards we peeked at a free library housed in a container from New Zealand, the oldest public library in Paris, a chalkboard in Kazakhstan and a children’s culture section in a public library, again in New Zealand.

For a special collaborative post on books from around the world our contributors recommended books which represent each of their countries in some way.

On People of the World we interviewed a couple of people who are writing books: Alexey from Russia, who wrote his novella on his frequent train trips between Moscow and St Petersburg whilst working for a telecoms company, and Marcel, who is writing a book about the extraordinary life of his grandmother.

On Topics of the World, our Italian contributors Simona and Caterina both had something to say. In Italy is younger than you think, Simona explains a bit of Italy’s recent history, including origin of the Italian language as we know it, while Caterina shares her love of books, in particular one well known book about Italy, Forster’s A Room with a View.

And finally, some good news for book lovers: Ana wrote about the stunning Libreria El Ateneo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is housed in an old theatre, and full of people buying books.

Read more:
Jorge Luis Borges: Argentina’s most influential author
Games for kids of the world: a free ebook from the PocketCultures team
Hand gestures from around the world

May 31, 2013 Comments disabled

My favourite book: an English book about Italy

It is always difficult to talk about our favourite book: we could be considered too romantic, too naive or even not deep enough if we like something too childish or a cutting-edge best-seller.

View of the Arno River in Florence (Photo: Ana O'Reilly)

As far as my personal experience is concerned, when I say that my favourite book is A Room with a View by the English author Edward Morgan Forster I might in a way be considered a little bit ‘nationalist’, as the story at the very beginning deals with the city of Florence where the main characters meet for the first time. But there is much more than this: the books is at once a mixture of different genres in less than 200 pages: ‘coming-of-age’ novel, romantic story, and even touristic guide in a way, and it can be easily read for the enjoyable way it is written. (more…)

May 29, 2013 Comments disabled

A Buenos Aires bookshop in a theatrical setting: Libreria El Ateneo

A few years ago, Librería El Ateneo made the top ten best beautiful bookshops list. I couldn’t agree more, it is stunning both inside and outside.

The cafe on the former stage

The bookshop is housed in a 1903 building which was originally a theatre called Grand Splendid. Years later, it was converted into a cinema and remained as such for many decades. I watched a few films there in the nineties and I used to buy chocolates from the little shop outside the foyer.

Now, customers can choose to sit in comfort in one of the original boxes or take a table at the café located in what used to be the stage. There’s a lot of gold leaf that adds to the thespian feel but nothing is as dramatic as the frescoes painted on the ceiling.

There are always a lot of people milling around, browsing the shelves, admiring the architectural features, snapping photos and generally taking in the elegant atmosphere.

Oh, and buying books as well.

Address: Avenida Santa Fe 1860. Opening hours: Mon. – Thu. 9 am to 10 pm; Fri-Sat, 9 am to 12 am; Sun. 12 pm to 10pm
May 24, 2013 2 comments

Books from around the world, recommended by our contributors

In a recent online chat between PocketCultures contributors from around the world, we talked about books which reflect our countries and cultures. Here are our recommendations.

Art installation at ArteBA 2012. Photo by Ana O'Reilly


May 22, 2013 1 comment

Author Tash Aw on moving to China and the South Asian novel

Recently I had the privelege of interviewing Malaysian author Tash Aw for the review site Bookmunch.


April 11, 2013 Comments disabled

Games for children around the world

It started with an email from Marta, PocketCultures contributor in Spain. “Is a book feasible?” she asked. The idea caught fire – for the next few weeks our contributor mailing list was a flurry of ideas, discussions, details and shared experiences of childhood games.

We decided to make a book collecting games we played as children. Today, after a lot of hard work we are very excited to share it with you.

There are games from fifteen different countries – Spain, UK, Nigeria, Costa Rica, USA, Argentina, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Romania, South Africa, Italy, India, Turkey and China – and we’ve chosen games that don’t need much equipment, that way you and your children or students can play them no matter where you are in the world. We’ve also introduced the players from each country and illustrated the games to help you imagine more about life in each country.

We’re very happy about how it came out – please take a look, let us know what you think and share with all your friends! The ebook is completely free to download.

Find out more and download the book on our Games for Kids of the World page.

May 30, 2012 1 comment