Places with books: an old telephone cell in Berlin

Last week I went to the Dutch embassy in Berlin to get my passport renewed. On the drive there, a couple hundred meters before arriving at our destination, I spotted a telephone cell, lined with books. Obviously, I had to go back there after renewing my passport. It’s between the river Spree and the Kupfergraben, a canal. Besides all the work that’s being done on the streets, it’s quite a lovely part of Berlin. The telephone cell was right next to Novotel Berlin Mitte, on the B1 (Bundesstraße 1). It looked absolutely lovely, so you’ll understand that I had to take a picture and have a look inside. By the time I got there, I had to wait… someone else had just gone in. And there’s just not enough space for more than one person in these things.

It’s not too far away from the Alexanderplatz and the Fernsehturm. So, if you’re ever in Berlin and need something to read, or perhaps want to drop off a book. This is at least one place you could visit.

Of course I had to pick up a book. I’d never heard of this one before, but the premise sounded very intriguing. Hopefully it’s a good one, because it’s huge (800+ pages). If not, you’ll all remember how I finally managed to DNF books, so I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Ps. I don’t really go looking for any of these, but I’m always very excited to see them and like to have a look around. Perhaps I’ll find my next favorite book there!

Reading for Mental Health

Most of you will know reading as something you do for fun, or because you have no choice if you want to pass that exam. Maybe without reading, you wouldn’t understand most of the movie you’re watching (hello subtitles!) or the game you’re playing. Reading helps us in so many ways to make sense of the world around us, while also being a fun past time.

For me, reading is all of that and more. I’ve decided to write a couple of blog posts and the ways in which reading helps me keep mentally stable. I don’t have any diagnoseable mental health issues. However, life isn’t always easy to deal with. That’s why it’s life. Reading helps me deal with life just a little bit better.

Before I can start explaining the first way in which reading helps me, I’ll have to tell you a couple of things about myself. I have an IQ of 135. No, this doesn’t mean I’m smarter than a lot of people. It means that, usually, I can process the information I have a bit (or a lot) faster than others. It means I can understand things more quickly.

Because of this, I often overthink things. I go from consequence to consequence to consequence. Most of the time, at the end of this spiral of thought, it means I don’t post what I’ve just written in a comment, or I completely restructure my thoughts. It also means I’ve got a hard time being spontaneous with new people around, because of the overthinking: what if they think I’m weird?

The boyfriend has pointed out, how I can go on and on and on and on for half an hour to an hour about the tiniest things that bother me. This is of course, when I speak out those thoughts to someone that I trust. A couple of weeks ago, it involved a traffic sign. There had never been  a sign here on my way back from work and now there was. It just didn’t make sense to me at all (they changed it a couple days later, so I was right), but I kept turning it over in my head to try and figure out what the logic behind it was and what it meant to me driving there. What frustrated me, is that I couldn’t see the logic. I was so glad when they changed the sign a couple days later!

Another example is me freaking out in the dressing room. Not because the clothes I was trying on didn’t fit. It was because I was stressed. I had gone over all the things I still had to/wanted to do in my head and there just wouldn’t be enough time for all of it. That makes sense when you have a list with a million things on it, but none of those were particularly important. I don’t even remember all of the things I felt like I had to do that time. In that moment though, in the middle of that spiral, it’s just too overwhelming.

What reading a good (!) book does, is calm my brain down. It stops the thoughts from spiraling all the time. Only a good book does this for me. If it’s not exactly to my liking, I put it down to often and start doing other things, which doesn’t always keep my head occupied.

If I’m reading a good book, all of my brain seems to be occupied, I won’t even notice when you start talking to me. Or I’ll answer without knowing that I’ve answered or what I’ve answered. (It’s also awesome to ignore people under the pretense of reading!). It’s like my whole being is focused on the story. It really helps me, that my eyes are doing something, as well as my hands. I notice that when listening to audiobooks or watching movies my hands need something to do. A book has all that. It’s amazing to give my brain a break and be so completely immersed in something.

 

PS. the spiraling is probably also related to my overactive beta-waves, which don’t get any less when asleep. Thanks brain!

PPS. There are not just negative consequences to my weird brain, that just wasn’t what this post was about though.

Review: Vegetarische Barbecue by Ross Dobson

 Book review | Tijd voor een vegetarische barbecue by Ross Dobson | 4 stars

Tijd voor een vegetarische barbecue by Ross Dobson

Design and photography: Murdoch Books
Deltas 2016
ISBN 9789044745610

Synopsis

Ross Dobson turns traditional barbecue recipes into a refreshing and versatile selection for anyone who savors good food.


Bullet-point review

★★★★☆

+ includes vegan recipes
+ mostly simple to make for those new to veggie barbecues
+ includes sides, dips and salads

 – certain things are left to the cook


Full Review

I don’t do a lot of barbecuing. In fact, this was the first time where I tried vegetarian recipes for the barbecue instead of just buying those fake-meat sauages and hamburgers. I must say, taste-wise, it’s a definite step up. Not the least, because it doesn’t taste like meat anymore.

I’ve tried three recipes from the book, which all were fairly time intensive. Mostly due to the fact, that they had to marinate for a couple of hours. I followed the recipes to the letter, and mostly came out with amazing results. We had a really stunning sweet potatoe and pickle salad, as well as very-yummy and flavorful potatoe-burgers.

The tofoe on the other hand didn’t quite turn out the way I had wished. I had already cut the block of tofoe in half, so the marinade could soak in a little better. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Most of the tofoe stayed a little flavorless. Luckily, these are things that can be easily helped next time. The marinade tasted amazing though and the parts of the tofoe that it soaked into were very worthwhile.

All in all, I’m quite happy with the way the recipes turned out. They’re not too difficult to make and they have amazing tastes.


How To Read More (Or At All)

So, you’ve finally gotten to the point where you’re reading books, or maybe you’ve loved reading forever. However, finding the time to read is not always easy. So, how and when can you read?

On your way to work/school/where ever you’re going

This one is especially easy when you’re using public transport. Reading on a train or a bus is one of the easiest ways to spend the time you’re there. Even if you don’t want to carry a heavy book with you, there are lots of ebook readers you can install on your phone, so you can read those ebooks you’ve been dying to read.

Even in the car, you can ‘read’. Driving to work is so much nicer when you’re listening to an audiobook after all. At least, I quite enjoy it. Of course, I wouldn’t pick anything too heavy, since you also have to pay attention to traffic, but there are plenty of books that are just great for on the road. I’ve listened to my fair share of books, while driving to and from my parents (about 4 hours one way).

Plan

Yes, planning can be quite helpful. Not just what you’re doing throughout the day, but also when to read. Plan in some time for reading. Reading is helpful and good for you in so many ways (I’m planning on writing a blog post about this some time). It is definitely not a waste of time to plan to read 30 minutes everyday. It brings us right to my next suggestion…

Make it part of your routine

Instead of just having it it on your daily list of tasks, make it something that fits right in with the rest of your routine. Whether when waking up on the weekend, or right before bed throughout the day (my favorites). See where you could make it part of your routine. It really helps me relax and get ready for bed, so it’s part of my bedtime routine: brush teeth, pj’s, reading and sleeping. Not to mention it’s so much healthier than staring at the blue light of your phone right before going to sleep.

Make it a priority

If you want to read more, it has to be a priority. I hear people say this all the time about fitness, but the same goes for everything. If you really want to do something, it is a priority. Perhaps, if you don’t read (as often as you would like), it’s not a priority. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone has different activities or interests they prioritize. To read more, it must be a priority.

Bring a book

Bring your books everywhere you go. You never know when you’ll have a dull moment and you need something to do that’s not just mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed. Whenever I have a doctor’s appointment, I take a book; waiting times are ridiculous even with appointments, so a book is a nice way to stay entertained. Plus, there are a lot of old people where I go to doctors, so I feel a lot of judgy eyes when I’m on my phone there. So, I read to prevent old people from looking at me funny. Yes, this happens.

If you still have no idea how to read more, here are some more drastic measures you could take:

  1. Quit your job or school and read all day.
  2. Get a job where you can read books all day (i.e. where you have a boss who doesn’t pay any attention to you).
  3. Pretend to be sick, so you can have a sick day and spend all of it reading.
  4. Unplug all electronics, shut the blinds and don’t open the door; pretend not to be home and read all day, instead of spending time with friends. 
  5. In fact, send all your friends breakup letters, so you can read more.
  6. Do not get involved in any fandoms, they take up too much of your time.
  7. Also, book clubs are a big no-go for the same reason.
  8. Hire someone to read to you all day, while you do other chores.
  9. Or ever better, hire someone to do the chores, so you can read.

I hope you’ve gotten some new ideas, or bit of a laugh. Let me know in the comments how you try to read more.

Book Unhaul 2017 Part 1

I’ve written a couple of posts before, about unhauling books. It definitely feels very freeing to just let go of the ones I didn’t like, or the ones I’ll never read again. 20160920_192848

Unhaul #1 (2015)

Unhaul #2 (2015)

Unhaul #3 (2016)

Unhaul #4 (2016, Mari Kondo)

Like I did the end of last year, I’m planning to go through all of my books again at the end of this year. Before that though, there are a lot of books I’ve already said goodbye to this year.

  1. 10335308The Farm by Emily McKay
  2. Dem Tod auf der Spur by Michael Tsokos
  3. In Defence of English Cooking by George Orwell
  4. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
  5. The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer
  6. Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly
  7. Computer Angst by Steven Klamm
  8. De Jongen die niet Bestond by Steven Klamm
  9. Enge Buren by Steven Klamm
  10. Overal Spinnen by Steven Klamm
  11. 28245487Stemmen in je Hoofd by Steven Klamm
  12. Tirza by Arnon Grunberg
  13. Ich hab’s euch immer schon gesagt by Alex Hacke
  14. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  15. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
  16. Leven na Haley by Jonathan Tropper
  17. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
  18. Haantjes by Kluun
  19. Nach(t)sicht by Jo Jansen
  20. Der Totenleser by Michael Tsokos
  21. Mind Games by Teri Terry
  22. Jungs sind wie Kaugummi by Kerstin Gier
  23. The Circle by Dave Eggers
  24. Is everyone hanging out without me by Mindy Kaling

A lot of them, I’ve read but didn’t like. Others I liked, but I know I won’t read them again. Some, I wasn’t even able to finished, so they ended up on my DNF list. There’s too many books in the world and too little time to give those books another chance. So, I’m moving on!

June Wrap-Up

June didn’t go as well, reading-wise, as the previous months. I finished a total of 6 books, which doesn’t sound to bad, until you realize, that of those 5 books, 2 were cookbooks. Cookbooks are really quick to go through, so I’m not even sure if you should count them, but I do (because I really want to have read 5 books!). Then, I also finished an audio book. Meaning I only really read 2 books this month, and finished reading one that I started in May. Not really my best score. Actually, my worse score since I started keeping track. There was however a book that I started but then DNF’ed. I just couldn’t get through it.

Anyway, there must be times, where reading just isn’t a priority and obviously this was one of those months.

Here are three books I finished:

  1. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery – By far my favorite book this month! I loved Anne’s voice. You can find my review here.
  2. The Circle by Dave Eggers – I wasn’t very impressed by it, but I can imagine they might’ve made the movie a lot better. I haven’t seen the movie yet though, maybe it’s a bit mwah too.
  3. Jungs sind wie Kaugummi by Kerstin Gier – This was the audio book I listened to on the way to my parents. It was kinda funny, but definitely not one of her best works.
  4. Die Laufmasche by Kerstin Gier – Also not one of her best works. Funny, but a little predictable.

Seeing the three books I read lined up, it makes more sense why I didn’t have a good reading month. I just didn’t have a lot of great books to read after Anne of Green Gables. I even DNF’ed another one. The epiphanies one has while blogging, right?

I hope you’re reading month has been a bit better than mine. More books, better books and maybe both! What did you read this month?

Ps. I’m hoping to do a review of the (vegetarian) cookbook once I’ve tried some of the recipes.

Review: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

 Book review | Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery | 4 stars

Anne of Green Gables  by 
L. M. Montgomery

Cover illustration: Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co.
Creative direction: Kristin Logsdon
Puffin Books 2014
ISBN 978 0 11 751400 4

 

Synopsis

Puffin in Bloom A new line of classics with gorgeously illustrated covers by renowned stationery brand Rifle Paper Co.s lead artist, Anna Bond. Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her.


Bullet-point review

★★★★☆

+ witty main character
+ elaborate language
+ ‘good enemy’
+ Anne’s elaborate descriptions of what everything looked like
+ Anne’s naming

-last years were written about only briefly


Full Review

Yes, I loved this book. There’s only one thing that bothered me. It bothered me to deduct a star. The last years we read about have only been described so briefly. Honestly, most of that I could’ve done without. It didn’t feel as much as the beginning and was thus disappointing to me. The very last two chapters however felt like the beginning again.

The story of Anne is amazing. I loved her over-the-top descriptions of everything she sees and experiences, including the new names she gives everything. The other characters are great as well. I especially liked Marilla: stoic on the outside, because she’s been brought up that way, but with lots of love to give.

It’s an coming-of-age plot, which becomes clear throughout the book, as Anne learns more and more about life at Green Gables. The new Netflix series (definitely worth watching!), doesn’t quite stick to the book. I’m not sure which plot I liked better. On the one hand, the book seems more realistic. The show however, always has something dramatic going on, which has it’s own merits.

Definitely would recommend. Especially if you like wise-beyond-their-year, smart-aleck characters, who eventually are appreciated for who they are.