Monday, May 11, 2015

reading notes: books from Japan, Bahamas, France, Baltic Sea + august at 11

"If this would have been a year like the ones before, I would be in Mallorca right now. Walking along the ocean. Enjoying the island atmosphere... But it isn't.." - that's how the blog post from last week started (here's the whole post: If. Then., Bravery + Joy + Fear, and May.). Now, looking through the books I read this month, I had to smile: 3 of them are set at the ocean. And the fourth is.. a travel memoir. 

"Journey of Self: Six Months in the Japanese Countryside" by Nate Golon .
In April, I read the Granta "Japan" collection - and just some days after finishing it, I came across this travel memoir about Japan. Written by Nate Golon, who left Hollywood disheartened after some years of first success, and tried a very different life for six month. The book is a bit slow in some places, but the parts with the larger reflections on life are wonderful.
Here's the book description: "Nate Golon sells everything he owns and takes a job teaching English in a small country town, Arida, in Wakayama Prefecture in southern Japan. ... An introspective and transformative fish out of water tale, about the importance of taking the road less traveled, and being open to new experiences."

"Sail With Me: Two People, Two Boats, One Adventure" by Rebecca Burg
This book took me to places I never been, with a way to travel I that I don't know much about: taking one's own boat to sail from A to B. Or rather: from Florida to Bahama, and to other exotic places. What is missing a bit for me are the journey / travel / life reflections, it's a bit too much on the fun side for me. But the list of places visited is remarkable, they include: Florida's nearest exotic ports: Bimini, Grand Bahama, the Abacos, Elutheria, Marquesas, and Florida Keys island chain.

 There's also a website photos from the journeys, and with more about the book:
And here's the description: "A fun, sometimes funny, adventure for boaters and non-boaters alike. Get swept into a journey through exotic, tropical islands. Hide from hurricanes, an outlaw ghost, and craze."

Ocean Books - Back in Time
In addition to those books, I read two German books that both are set at the ocean. The first book leads to France, to the Atlantic coast there - a place with settlements that date back thousands of years ago. Reading it made me think of the book I read in Mallorca last year: "Talayot". Here's the reading note from that book:
"Mallorca has a rich history that reaches back to Neolithic times - to the time of the Talayot culture, with tribes living in early settlements. Nothing is left of them but the stone buildings, and some artifacts. But none of their stories survived. There's no book, no carved wall, no wall painting. Nothing. In her book "Talayot", the German author Maike Hempel tries to bring back that time, weaving the real places into a story that is told in flashbacks, and merges the now and the past."
Turns out, very similar settlements can be found in France. So reading the book both took me to the ocean, and back in time, to last year's real-life-ocean moments: island reads

D√ľnenmond / Dune moon The other book is an easy read, a love story with some twists, leading to the Baltic Sea - the "Ostsee" how it is called in German: "Eastsea", which belonged to former East Germany and the neighbouring states. In not-real-logic, the coast of West Germany is called "Nordsee" (Northsea). I havn't been to the Baltic Sea so far, but the Norhtern Sea is actually the very first place where I stood at the ocean. That moment, it later turned into "august at 11", published in eclectica. So here's the ocean, from memory:

august at 11

in summer, we always headed to the mountains—
to Austria, Switzerland—following alpine paths
earning the amethyst needle, the chamois badge
for multiple stays in the same place

then, one august, we drove to the northern sea
the wind was freezing while we sauntered the sand dunes
yet people ran through the waves in bikinis and shorts
you get used to it, everyone said, it's not that cold

in the evening, we walked to the harbour
to see the metal sailboats, to watch the fishermen
leave on night cruises, catching shrimp and crabs
to sell, to boil alive for tomorrow's supper

the water was almost transparent
there were starfish, everywhere
an army of them, lingering silently
at the edge of the ocean

i kneeled and watched them, urged them
 to make a move, to acknowledge my presence
come, my mother said, they will still
 be here tomorrow

but of course, the next day they
were gone, to never return
leaving but a premonition
of all the things waiting
to be missed


Global Reading Challenge 2015 + Currently Reading:

For 2015, I try to read books / authors from different countries, the idea is to visit all continents. Here's more about that plan: 7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books.

In a previous book post, I put together some reading statistics and book memories of 2014 - so if you are into geeky reading statistics, try this link: A year in reading in geek statistics +  book memories

For more reading notes, click here: life as a journey with books. A reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

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