...or for those of you who don't speak Spanish, The Book Thief. I'm not a book thief, but that's one of my favorite books (written by Markus Zusak, if anyone is interested).
Speaking of books, I started reading my 23 new books just before my 23rd birthday. I'm nowhere near my magic number, 23, but I'm off to a decent start. I'll update the booklist in another post (or two) but here's where I am so far. If you have any recommendations or want to weigh in on the texts I've already read, leave a comment or shoot me an email.
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The Books (so far):
The Happiness of Pursuit (Chris Guillebeau)
This book is a mix of how-to (logistically) and anecdotal evidence of people who have set out on all sorts of quests. The author's quest was to visit every country in the world, and he achieved this over the course of 10 years. One quester (is this a word?) spent more than a dozen years not speaking, another cooked a meal from every country in the world, and yet another produced the world's largest symphony. This book was recommended by a friend months ago, but when I got around to reading it, the timing ultimately couldn't have been any better. I had recently decided to start this blog/year of challenges, and while my project isn't really a quest according to how Guillebeau defines it, but I'm definitely applying some of his tips and tricks to this challenge.
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding (Kristin Newman)
Written by a sitcom writer, this book had me laughing and relating to much of what the author shared in this text. Not only did she travel around the world a LOT, but Kristin Newman also discusses the challenges and glories of being a single woman while her friends are getting married, settling down, and having kids. Though my international experiences aren't anywhere near as crazy and sex-filled as those in this book, I sure can relate to feeling like I'm on a different life track than everyone else. This book has been mentioned in the comments section of several (read: probably dozens of) posts on the GirlsLOVETravel Facebook group, so I figured it was time to see what all the hype was about.
Cat's Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut)
This text has been on my list since high school (thus implying how long it has been since I've had time to read for pleasure). The satire begins by explaining what the "father of the atomic bomb," Dr. Hoenikker, was doing at the precise moment when the bomb exploded over Hiroshima in 1945 (twisting string to make a "cat's cradle" for his youngest son, who was not so amused), and catches up with the scientist's children following his death. According to a New York Times review from 1963, this book is "an irreverent and often highly entertaining fantasy concerning the playful irresponsibility of nuclear scientists." While I didn't find it that entertaining, ultimately I think it was worth the read after all this time. (And perhaps, not being a literary expert, I missed something somewhere.)
Dreaming in Cuban (Cristina García)
Told through a series of narrators, this is the story of three generations of Cubans (living in both Cuba and America) and their relationship with/responses to revolution. The family's drama – from abuse to mental illness, and the relationship of mothers and daughters – all links together as they each learn different secrets about their relatives. A friend of mine recommended this book, and I give it a thumbs up. It was a relatively quick read, but one that is definitely worth taking the time to do.
Wild (Cheryl Strayed)
As a self-proclaimed travel nut, it almost surprised me that I hadn't yet read Wild (or seen the movie, for the record). I was in a secondhand bookstore in Chicago called Armadillo's Pillow when I finally decided to take the plunge, thanks to a $3 copy. Cheryl Strayed's retelling of her experience on the Pacific Crest Trail (or PCT) made me want to go to REI and stock up on hiking gear. I've always loved the idea of going on a trip like this, since I read Halfway to the Sky back in elementary school and convinced my mom to take me hiking on part of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Pennsylvania one summer. I still hope to hike El Camino de Santiago in Spain someday, and I'm looking forward to hiking more once I move to Leipzig in the fall.
The Alchemist (Paul Coelho)
More people than I can remember have recommended The Alchemist to me over the last year, and now I understand why. The main character, Santiago, goes on a quest (think The Happiness of Pursuit) to find treasure that is rumored to be in Egypt. Originally from Andalusia, Santiago must make his way across northern Africa and picks up a variety of skills on his way. The people that he meets all have a purpose in his life, as do all of the challenges he faces. I don't want to spoil it, but seriously – go read this book.