I do not like to make lists of books, maybe it is because I sometimes do not succeed in reading many books every year, or just because I think that every book has its way of being…that is what actually I do, I do not make list to say which one is the best. Therefore, I will try to give you a short summary of the books I read during this year, and at the same time I will try to express the feelings and the meanings each of them has given to me during this year.
I will start con “La Bestia” (“The Beast, by Óscar Martínez). A famous Italian journalist and writer recommended it for some months ago. This writer, Roberto Saviano, inquires on mafia events in Italy and in different parts of the world (even though Italy could count for twenty countries regarding this). I started to read the book in May, and for some reasons I did not finish it. I had the final exam at my upper secondary school, then I visited my host family in Sweden in July, and while there I got accepted at Karlstad university, where I came back after some week in Italy, the 21st of August. During my first semester in Karlstad I met many many many exchange students, including one from Mexico. I remembered about the places in the plot of the book “The Beast” and talked about them, exchanging comments between “mafia’s” witnesses (Compared to a Mexican I do not have experience at all about mafia!). Differently from Italy, when immigration, drugs and mafia mix together, the setting does not stay “low” but start to become the same where “civil” and daily life happens, not to tell about the unfair difference between Mexico and U.S.A.. Look at this image to see the border between the two countries. The wall you see in the Mexican side on the left was built in 2006, not to let immigrants from Central America go through U.S.A.. This is just an insight of what the book tells about, and I really recommend it to you. By the way, when I came back to Italy to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with my family, I was really curious to finish this book…I did it with a completely new and at the same time strange and sad feeling.
The first book I completely read in English for the first time, was The White Lioness, by Henning Mankell. He was a Swedish thriller writer who sadly passed away this year…I love his books for they give an incredible insight of what Swedish society is, and always has been. Most of his stories are set in Southern Sweden, in the region of Skåne. Close to Denmark, this region is often influenced by the big flew of immigrants who enter, without any checks until this December, into Sweden. Skåne is a region with a big business of drugs, and the situation is far from being “easy”. His stories exaggerate this situation creating breathtaking pages with many murders. I feel it every year closer since I learn to know about the Swedish culture more every year.
Egenmäktigt förfarande: En roman om kärlek (Unauthorised procedure: A novel about love) was the first book I read in Swedish since I learnt this language. I actually did not get every word I read, but the general meaning and many sentences I could understand. I will take some weeks before reading another one in Swedish, but at least the first, and always most difficult step of reading in another language than yours, has been done.
Noa Noa by the painter Paul Gauguin was a collection of letters and travel book pages written during his journey in Polinesia. Maybe was for the cover or the slightly opaque color of the pages, or probably for I was reading it to write a final essay to be presented orally at the final exam of my last year of school, but the book gave me the chance to totally get into the surroundings Paul Gauguin had been experiencing, feeling the feelings he was living. For great travelers/dreamers/globetrotter/writers/readers I really recommend to read this book!
Another book, again in Italian, was Vai e Vivrai (Live and Become) by Radu Mihaileanu and Alain Dugrand, which I also read for the final essay at school, which has the title of “Il Viaggio” (The journey). Telling about immigration, racism, love and persecution, the book relates to the historical moment of the Operation Moses in 1984, which was organized by U.S.A in order to migrate a group of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, moving them through Sudan. In one of the refugee camps, the mother of a Christian Ethiopian let the son travel to Israel with a Jew mother hoping for a better life for him. The whole story develops fast and is very interesting because it really gives a basically explanation of what happened during this year, which I totally ignored! One of the meanings of the book is that of the racial distinction between white and black Jews.
Sulla Traccia di Nives by Erri De Luca is about a climber who practice her sport/life choice together with his husband since many years. The climber is interviewed by the author, which is on his side a very talented climber and sportive person. Nives Meroi is one of the few women on Earth to have climbed seven one fourteen peaks over 8000 ms, and this book is very special!
Ok, I probably did not read that many books in 2015, I will do my best next year! What I already have in my bucket list is “The Brothers Ashkenazi” by Israel Joshua Singer, a novel settled in the end of 1800s to present the reality of Polish Jews during a hundred year before the Olochaust. While this one is in Italian and I will probably leave it in Italy if I do not finish it before getting back to Karlstad (I never succeed in reading in Italian when abroad!), “About a boy” is the first English book I will read in 2016. I got it free from an exchange student leaving from Karlstad after the first semester. It is a little funny how so many exchange students/free-mover/erasmus have full luggages at the end of their period abroad and need to lighten them!
By the way, even though I just read six books in total in 2015, there are many books of which I miss to read just a few books…which are:
Le vie dei Canti by Bruce Chatwin (The Songlines) which I also read in Italian, is about an Australian old myth which says that for aborigines the Earth was created thanks to the existence of natural elements and figures which embodied Gods, and walked and sang throughout all the lands. Nowadays, only the aborigines closest to Australia have the ability to hear the songs which still are played, and orientate through the lands. Bruce Chatwin experienced the “walkabout” in this wonderful land of Australia, meeting aborigines and old people during his travel. Still need to read the very last pages of this book, I will do it, or probably not, but I still really recommend to read it, as well as I recommend to see the film “Australia”, “Into the Wild”, “The Way” and “Tracks”.
The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World. I received this book from a exchange student in Karlstad, which on his side borrowed it from a friend. So, some months have gone and I still have to give it back, even though I did not read a big part of it. Generally, the book gives some pillars for why introverts should not think they are worse than extroverts, tells the differences between introverts and shy people and other interesting things. I do not know for which reason I did not finish it, or maybe it was to scientific sometimes, but otherwise I would recommend it.
So, this was my list of books I read in 2015, I really hope I will do better next year, especially regarding books in another language than Italian.
I will not list any resolution on this blog, I prefer to keep them personal, and instead I will write about the activities I will do during the next semester at Karlstad university. Firstly, I will try to find a job/jobs. The Swedish university system give students the possibility to organize their weeks both with study, work and pleasure, and I try to get the best of it. Moreover, days are getting longer since the 21 (Hip hip hurrà!) and doing more activities in a day will be easier and less tougher both for mind and body. Secondly, I have a take home exam of a week as soon as I will leave from Rome, then an oral presentation to finish the course of English for International Students, as well as an academic essay to hand in a week after. Thirdly, I will be host for the international students coming to the university in the middle of January. Fourthly, I will help to organize the woman concert our choir will held in May, being in the “producer group”. Finally, but actually one of the most satisfying things, I will continue to work in the student pub in Karlstad, getting very little money but much training and language exercise.
I keep resolutions for me, I hope you will try to fulfill yours as best as you can, not just showing them to the people, but try to believe that you can make it. And in bad moments, think about you reaching this day, you will probably realize that you are not that bad as you probably think!
I wish a very very happy New Year’s Eve, and I will see you next year!