Post Tagged with "book month"

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

Marcel, writing and discovering his own heritage

Today we’re talking to an author among our own contributors, and following last week’s interview with Alexey, today we also have a Russian connection. Marcel (PocketCultures contributor in Berlin, Germany) is currently writing a book about his grandmother, who spent five years in a Soviet labour camp before settling in West Germany.

To research the book Marcel traced his grandmother’s journey from Poland to Russia by train. Although his first language is German, Marcel writes in English, blaming his proficiency on several years of small talk with the Irish whilst living in Dublin.

Marcel slightly confused in Russian traffic

Why did you decide to write a book about your grandmother? Can you tell us a bit about her?

I’m carrying the idea of writing about my grandmother Cäcilie, short ‘Cilly’, with me for quite a while now. Mostly because her story is an extraordinary one: in 1945, when she was 23, she was taken by the Red Army from her parents’ farm in East Prussia (a former part of Germany that is now Polish) and spent five years in a Soviet labour camp in the Urals before she returned to West Germany where she met my grandfather, and never returned to her home country. She died in 2009 at the age of 86. But I also wanted to learn more about her native country as part of my own heritage – when I was a child, she always kept telling stories about East Prussia, of wolves in the woods and sleigh rides in the snow and deep cold lakes, so I traveled there myself last year.


May 27, 2013 3 comments

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

Alexey’s amazing adventures in Russia and abroad

We’re talking about books this month on PocketCultures, so here on People of the World we’ve got some interviews with authors for you.

Today’s interview is with Alexey Subbotin, whose novella A few hours in the life of a young man describes life in contemporary Russia. Alexey had a pretty eventful life so far; here he tells us about surviving the breakup of the Soviet Union, studying and working abroad, selling a telecoms company and writing on the Moscow-St Petersburg railroad (phew!).

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in 1975, in Nyandoma – a small district center in Northern Russia. Both my parents worked for the local railroad. In 1977, we moved to Arkhangelsk – the capital of the Russian North, a place with lots of history and traditions. Then in late 90’s the whole world around me collapsed – whatever people may say nowadays about the break up of the Soviet Union, it was rather unmerciful and unpleasant experience. Luckily for me my parents kept sanity and raised me and my brother in spite of all the challenges stemming from a failed economy and disintegrating society. My father was unemployed for a number of years doing some dull temporary jobs despite his excellent engineering background.

In 1992, I graduated from middle school and began to study management at the Saint Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance. In my third year there I got an opportunity to study in Germany at the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Bernburg. DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) recognized me as the Best Foreign Student in 1997. Upon graduation I started to work as an auditor in the St. Petersburg office of Arthur Andersen.


May 23, 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

An introduction to Chinese calligraphy

The formation and development of crafting Chinese letters, Chinese calligraphy or 書法 (shū fă), is strongly connected to the history of China, both having a long and rich history. Chinese Calligraphy is one of the greatest kinds of Chinese art, showing communicating ideas as well as abstract style of words.

A fine example of Chinese calligraphy - photo credit

Calligraphy is one of the four standard abilities and subjects of the Chinese culture, along with painting (畫huà ), stringed musical instruments (琴qín) and Chinese chess (棋). Rhythm, lines, and framework are more completely symbolized in calligraphy than in the various other three abilities. Chinese calligraphy of different periods had its specific types and designs. (more…)

May 15, 2013 1 comment