2017 in Retrospect

book-2911140_640For some practical reasons I only started computing stats about my reading on Tuesday and got interrupted (sigh). I’m not going to bore you to tears with analytics, but I definitely surprised myself by reading more than I expected. I thought 2017 would be busy and stressful, and that I would have less time and energy to read. On the contrary I needed the distraction and the release of stress and I read more than ever! And it’s not that I only read short novellas, I read big novels and novellas and graphic novels too.

What worked for me in 2017 (and will go on in 2018):

  • short story collections. It was actually a relief to know what I should choose in priority in front of crowded library shelves and massive new release tables in bookshops. I very often feel paralyzed in bookshops. This focus gave me the freedom to say “I’m trying it, but just for one bite”. Of course, more than once I ended up licking off the plate.
  • parallel reading. I did it only once, but it was so much fun. Reading two novels with similar main characters, or themes, gave me plenty to think about. If you have suggestions for book pairings, I’m all ears!
  • reducing the number of Netgalley books. I tried to be more moderate and I don’t regret it. I usually read in full those books I have downloaded, and I don’t want to just go “DNF” on titles, so I owe myself to be more selective and arbitrary.
  • going back for second helpings (can you see the food metaphor once again? I apparently haven’t eaten enough during the holidays, ahem). When I discover a great book, I always say that I want to read more of that author, but I rarely do. Whenever I have done this in 2017 (Elizabeth Strout, Michael Connelly, Maylis de Kerangal), I have never regretted it. So 2018 will probably be the year of the backlist, like Ann of Café Society sets about to do.

What didn’t work for me in 2017:

  • A definite book list as a goal. I’m notoriously bad at reading challenges, I’m bad at planning ahead what I shall read, but I shan’t feel guilty about it and I won’t apologize. I’d said I would read 10 books, and I read nearly 80 in total last year, but I still couldn’t bring myself to read 4 out of 10, and some of those 6 I didn’t really enjoy.
  • Javier Marias short story collection: While the women are sleeping (1990) – yes
  • Dorothy Whipple, The Priory (1939) – yes (although nearly quit!)
  • Wallace Stegner, Crossing to safety (1987) – no, although I should try again
  • Maylis de Kerangal, Réparer les vivants (2014) – yes
  • Emmanuel Carrère, Le royaume (2014) – no
  • Mikhail Bulgakov, the White Guard (1926) – started 30 pages
  • Alison Lurie, Real People (1969) – yes
  • Pawel Huelle Short story collection in French “Rue Polanski” – yes
  • Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, Deconstructing penguins – no
  • Barbara Vine, the Child’s Child (2012) – yes

So in 2018, I won’t give myself any deadline or pressure. Instead I will have a list of writers to pick from and keep that list close by for when I visit libraries and bookshops.

Without further ado, my few favorite books of last year:

Happy reading everyone!

 

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Season of Stories Roundup

season-of-styories-logo-fall17One of my goals in 2017 was to read more short stories. I was indeed intentional in selecting short stories collection whenever possible, but I was also helped by the fantastic e-mail list “Season of Stories”, sponsored by Penguin Random House, which started mid-September, sent out stories in 4 daily installment every week and ran until yesterday! (Or so I believe, maybe they will go on sending out their good stuff forever and ever…).

It was very diverse and eye-opening for me. Even if I didn’t enjoy every story, I enjoyed discovering them all! So here is a little roundup from the latest to the first.

1 – “Crocodile Shoes” by Jojo Moyes from her collection, Paris for One and Other Stories: the only one I had previously read (and reviewed just recently). Such a heart-warming, glowy story.

2 – “Plague of the Firstborn”, by Etgar Keret from his collection, The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God. I know Etgar Keret through This American Life, I own a collection of stories of his. This one was about the Bible plagues, but viewed from an interesting angle. Funny, but with an emotional twist.

3 – “Best of All Possible Homes” by Annabelle Gurwitch from her collection, Wherever You Go, There They Are. This one remains unread in my mail box. Perhaps discouraged by the story of the previous week, I had no time that week or since, sorry!

4 – “The Largesse of the Sea Maiden” by Denis Johnson from his eponymous collection. This one I didn’t get. at. all. I tried, and tried, but I threw the towel on day 3. It’s a loose collection of memories, but I didn’t get into any of them.

5 – “What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky” by Lesley Nneka Arimah from his eponymous collection. Set in a dark futuristic Africa (somewhat post-apolyptical), it was a stunner. Totally heart-wrenching and full of images and sensations.

6 – “Babies in Limbo”, by Patricia Lockwood from her collection, Priestdaddy. I read it through but couldn’t relate to this weird, dysfunctional family

7 – “The Christmas Dance”, by James McBride from his collection of short stories, Five-Carat Soul. Loved it. Set in New York with a young PhD candidate trying to interview Black WW2 veterans, only to unearth a deeply moving old story that still reverberate to this day.

8 – “Reindeer Mountain” by Karin Tidbeck from her collection of short stories, Jagannath. Impressed and so wanting to know more about Tidbeck’s world, full of Swedish myths!

9 – “Yeoman” by Charles Yu from his book of short stories, Sorry Please Thank You. It was plain fun. I don’t normally do SF, but I didn’t exactly know comic SF was a subgenre.

10 – “Everyone talks”, by Lee Child from his collection, No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Short Stories. I know of Lee Child but have never read him. Crime and police procedurals are hardly ever short story material, so I was doubly impressed. Suspense and twists galore in such a short format.

11 – “But Also Bring Cheese” by Kate Tellers, from the collection The Moth Presents: All These Wonders. A daughter faces her mother’s death, but I didn’t quite relate to it.

12 – “The Plastic Surgeon” by Josh Barkan from his collection Mexico. The hero of the story is an ambitious American plastic surgeon in Mexico, who suddenly as a gangster in his surgery waiting room, requesting a total makeover, with difficult consequences.

13 – “Why Were They Throwing Bricks” by Jenny Zhang from his collection Sour Heart. Chinese American kids (the narrator hits puberty) confronted to their Chinese mainland grandmother with her intrusive and demanding love. I found it so, so true (I know some Chinese grandmas just like this character), and yet so disturbing.

14 – “Dreaming in Polish” by Aimee Bender from her collection of short stories, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt. A confirmation that Aimee Bender’s stories are not my thing.

15 – “Prom” by Hasan Minhaj from the collection The Moth Presents: All These Wonders. An awkward coming-of-age story heavy with race prejudices but still so funny.

Happy holidays to you all and merry Christmas!

Six Degrees of Separation: December Edition

I missed several months, but the game is always so fun, as Marina Sofia reminded me in a recent post! This meme is hosted by Kate from Booksaremyfavouriteandbest and this month’s starting book is Stephen King’s It. I’m going to take an easy route, because December is a hectic month and we all need a bit of comfort. So it’s all so natural that I want to get away from “It” as quickly as I can!

I don’t have anything personal against clown, but I have plenty against books that give you trepidation for years. I never read this one, and I don’t think I ever will, because I am so a chicken with horror books, but I can say that I read some Stephen King after all. Last year I read 11/22/63 and I loved it!

Much to my surprise, I was sucked in by the characters and the plot line. I would never have bet anything on a time travel story.

This guy knows how to write! Well, I never doubted that, because quite a number of years ago I read On Writing, and it is such a good reference book. Along the years I pared down my collection of books on writing, but this one remained in my mind…

Along with my beloved hardcover edition of Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird, which I found on a “Take One Leave One” shelf in the Beijing Bookworm Café, many years ago. Anne Lamott and I are very, very different and I’m not sure I relate to anything in her world (San Francisco, hippie Christian faith, single motherhood, addiction and alcoholism are typically not my cup of tea) but her voice is so friendly, her pep-talk so effective that I return to this book regularly, just to turn a few pages and be reminded that I can write shitty first drafts as long as I show up to write a few more words on the story that matters to me.

Another warm voice that comes to mind whenever I doubt my writing is Elizabeth Gilbert, whose book Big Magic I read during the writers retreat I joined in 2016. I wanted to highlight so many pages in the book (that was from the library!), and the book remained in my mind a long time thanks to the podcast she released.

I have been quite conflicted with her book “Eat Pray Love”, and rather more interested in her follow-up book on marriage “Committed” (which I now find equally problematic following Gilbert’s divorce), but I want to finish with a fun twist and not give you yet another self-help non-fiction geared towards women.

What does Big Magic’s subtitle “Creative Living beyond Fear” and “Committed” inspire me? I give you Stephen King’s Misery, which I haven’t read. I understand that both main characters are equally (but not in the same way) committed to the creative process, and it is a reference when it comes to writer’s block and how to overcome it, right? So here I come full circle, and who knows, perhaps I’ll try another Stephen King in 2018?

Library Haul

You might think I have abandoned the library at my workplace because I rarely mention it. No, I still volunteer there every week! But I have been so busy with the real estate snafu in the first semester that I didn’t find the time to order any new books in English for the library.

And believe it or not, people have been noticing! “Oh, you actually don’t have the latest [insert writer / title]?” “Well, I have read all the [writer / title] available…” Still, I have a budget envelope to use up, so I have started to catch up!

Without further ado, here is the latest delivery of books in English (sorry about the poor quality photo!). I have tried to focus on bestsellers with a rather straightforward language, because most readers have English as a second language and they are easily spooked by specialized vocabulary and stylistic flourishes. Still, I find it very hard to judge a book by its vocabulary level. The ones on the far left are Snoopy and Peanuts collections, because people are less impressed by short comic strips. I have also ordered a whole bunch of bilingual editions (left page in English, right page in French), but they are not in yet.

Can you guess which book went out first?

The State of the Nightstand

from decoist (not from my place…)

The thing is, I’ve been rather restless with my reading and blogging since the beginning of the month. I don’t want to blame it all on social media (actually more on personal and professional upheavals), but my attention span is really reduced to… well, I won’t say a figure because the moment I tried to compute it I was already turning to another subject. Let’s say that one minute (sixty full seconds!) is the extent of my focus time these days.

Oh well. I do have a million things to do, and a million books are crying out loud for my attention too. It’s true that September is the new January, and I go to a new library now, with so many tempting shelves!

Of course, the more books I start in parallel, the less progress I make on any of them at any given time, which makes me even more restless. And makes my nightstand ever so crowded. So, in no particular order, I give you all those books that I hope to finish some day soon:

  • Balzac: A Mysterious Affair (also known as A Historical Mystery). It’s set in the first years of Napoleon, just after the revolution, and the beginning was mysterious indeed, because I know next to nothing to this period and Balzac doesn’t make it easy.
  • Xu Zechen, Beijing Pirate. the murky business of small-time crooks in contemporary Beijing. I’ve wanted to read more Chinese novels for quite a while. It makes me a bit nostalgic on Beijing though.
  • Dorothy Whipple, The Priory. Everybody in the blog world praises Dorothy Whipple, and it’s a Persephone bestseller, so I had to try. I’m slow to warm up to it because I don’t “get” British humor very easily at first read, but everyone is lovely in there so I might stay until scones and tea are served.
  • Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table. A memoir of travelling from Colombo to England as a boy alone on a ship. Many anecdotes and coming-of-age revelation. The atmosphere is so warm and tender.
  • Tracy Chevalier, New Boy. Which is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello at a grade school in the 1970s in the US. The problem is that I’ve never read Othello, I’m relying on having watched the classic movie with Orson Wells one or two decades ago. And I keep trying to figure out the grade system in the US (how old are these kids exactly?). It doesn’t make for a smooth reading. But I will persevere.
  • Fun Home, the first tome of the graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel who grew up in a dysfunctional family in the 1960s-1970s. Her father worked in a Funeral Home (hence “Fun. Home”) and was a closeted gay man. Things didn’t exactly work well. It’s dark and funny and oh so clever. I started with her second memoir and am working my way backwards, but it’s not a quick read.

Oh, I also kind of forgot… I started a collection of short stories by Chekhov but didn’t finish. And started a collection of short stories by David Sedaris and didn’t finish. Really Checkhov and Sedaris don’t have much in common, and yet… Both stuck.

And, just because it was so tempting, I have just started a crime mystery by the Swedish duo Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö… [Shaking my head] I have no good reason, I know, but… Lucky for me, Goodreads doesn’t roll its virtual eyes when I add yet another title to the Currently Reading category.

What about you? How high is your pile these days?

 

Six Degrees of Separation: August

I have a lot of blog posts to catch up, but one post by Marina Sofia reminded me that I had not contributed to the fun meme hosted by Kate from Booksaremyfavouriteandbest for this month… yet. Technically, it’s still August, so I can still play, right?

Especially as this month’s pick is no other than Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Who am I to resist another attack of Mr. Darcy’s wet shirt? But funnily enough, the first thought I had about Pride and Prejudice was not for the dashing gentlemen, but for the Bennett household full of five sisters!

There are so many novels with sisters, and somehow I skipped the most obvious one that would be Little Women, to go right to another set of favorite sisters of mine: Mary, Laura and Carrie Ingalls from The Little House on the Prairie. I know, that’s a bit of a stretch to come from British reception rooms to the great outdoor of the American prairie, but besides the obvious point that there’s a lack of money in both books, the second sister is in both books the spunky main character who achieves unexpected things!

Once I was outdoor, there was no going back indoors! Minnesota’s frontier and Ma Ingalls’ nerves and resourcefulness made me think of Elinore Pruitt Stewart, another homesteader who was determined to make it on her own in the empty territories of the West. I recently read her Letters of a Woman Homesteader, that she wrote in Wyoming at the beginning of the century (from 1909 to 1913). She was determined to show that a woman had it better in the wilderness than if she remained in poverty in the city slums.

And I can believe that living in city slums was quite hard when I remembered the fate of young Francie Nolan growing up in Brooklyn in the same period (The book starts when she’s 11 in 1912). Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn doesn’t sugar-coat the life in tenements, but her main character is resourceful and always positive, and I’d like to think that she and Elisabeth Bennett would get along fine together. I read this book several years ago as an adult, and I can see why this is a classic.

Francie Nolan is Irish-American, her parents are immigrants of the first generation, and although New York tenements weren’t great, they probably were a step up from dire poverty in Ireland. That’s how I crossed back the Atlantic to reach…

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. It’s ironic that I give this book’s title in this meme because I didn’t like the book. At. All. It was a real tear-jerker and I didn’t like being emotionally manipulated into feeling sorry and depressed over little Frank. But it is so full of whiny clichés for Irish poverty memoirs that it is a reference and a jumping-board to define what you don’t want when it comes to poverty novels, and books about Ireland in general…

And so I leave this book behind to turn to Tana French’s Faithful Place, the one book that introduced me to Tana French in the first place. Another Frank, another dysfunctional Irish family, another case of sordid poverty, but a lot more nuances than in Angela’s Ashes. In Faithful Place, the move that Frank and his girlfriend Rosie want to attempt is not to get to America like Francie Nolan’s parents and Franck McCourt, not to settle down into new territories like the Ingalls or Elinore Pruitt, they just want to go to London (like one of the Bennetts sisters?).

Another spunky Irish girl who wants to go to England and whose fate is dark and mysterious is April Latimer, a friend of Dr Quirke’s daughter Phoebe in The Silver Swan, the third Dublin mystery by Benjamin Black, aka John Banville. I loved reading those books and I quite enjoyed the series with Gabriel Byrne. April is supposed to have crossed over to London, and just like Rosie, no one has heard from her ever since. Benjamin Black’s 1950s mysteries are filled with atmosphere, dripping with rain and Catholic repression and guilt. A whole different tone from Jane Austen, but the language is just about as refined.

Well, the game didn’t make me travel far geographically, but the last book is about as far from the first in terms of genre and tone and period as you can get!

 

Inventory: a Bullet Point Post

I’m I was in full moving mode right now last weekend as I wrote this post:

I’m not sure I can write a proper box post instead of filling yet another box, but it’s nice to take a break. I’m not quite sure how long our internet connection will be working, so here’s a little bookish inventory:

  • Books I have set aside for the moment: David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day. Some stories made me laugh hysterically, but I’m usually pretty bad with foreign humor and I’m not in the mood for satire and self-parody right now. But I’ll return to it as soon as the summer is over, because reading a few pages at a time feels refreshing.
  • Books I need to review here for about… three or four months? I can’t seem to be able to sit down and write about Black House and Lewis Man by Peter May. Why? No reason at all. They’re great and entertaining. Perhaps you’ll know about them whenever I’ll finish the trilogy (with The Chessmen)
  • Books in paper that lay around here: less than 10 as of tonight for the whole flat. Sigh… Therefore…
  • Last minute bookish impulse purchase on Kindle: 3 – as if I was anywhere near deprivation, I stocked up on free Kindle classics in the form of two Balzac novellas, and I was grateful (for once) that Amazon had my credit card number stored as I bought a Michael Connelly’s thriller with defense lawyer Mickey Haller teamed up with Harry Bosch in The Crossing.
  • Last minute impulse download from Netgalley: 2 – A Cold Day in Hell by Lissa Marie Redmond and Mask of Innocence by Marion Shepherd, because I need some comfort read. Classic police procedural and a historical fiction seem to tick all the boxes (sorry for the pun)
  • Books in my Kindle that I have started: 5 – A Cold Day in Hell, out of curiosity, then a Balzac, called A Historical Mystery and I have 3 others: The Diary of a Chambermaid by Octave Mirbeau; a short story collection by Chekhov, and Letters of a Woman Homesteader, by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. From Russia to France, from Wyoming to Buffalo, New York (I had to check where it is exactly), from the French revolution to the present time!

Edited to Add: The move went smoothly and we are settling down into our new home. You’ll be relieved to learn that I’ve been reunited with my tons of precious paper books (otherwise my Kindle would have exploded soon). As you can see, the internet got fairly quickly reconnected too. More soon!

Six Degrees of Separation: July

I had so much fun last month, so I’m taking a few moments off from filling up boxes to think about book titles (always better than wasting time on Instagram or Pinterest, right?). The meme is hosted by Kate from Booksaremyfavouriteandbest and picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps.

866451-HangingRockThis month’s pick is Picnic at Hanging Rock, a Joan Lindsay novel set in Australia, in a stifling all girls’ boarding school. (Unless last month’s novel which I didn’t know at all) I read the novel and saw the movie waaay too early as a teenager, and it was very striking and memorable to my young self. I remember the frilly dresses (completely inappropriate for the rocky wilderness) and the heated atmosphere. I have a thing for novels set in boarding school and so I thought of…

76817-LittlePrincess1. Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the first novel I read about boarding school. The Japanese anime series was totally addictive when I was a kid, and I reread many times the book. Another gloomy view of boarding school that marked me as a teenager was of course…

10210-JaneEyre2. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, that starts with some memorable chapters set in Lowood charity school. Jane’s indomitable character, both unflinching and idealist, made me think of another girl on the cusp of adulthood, but seen this time from a cynical, satirical point of view:

581559-CharlotteSimmons3. Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe. Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch, but Charlotte Simmons is portrayed as a naive, idealist, pure girl from a small-town highschool entering an elite university, and I can’t help but think that Jane Eyre, if not for her Victorian moral backbone, could easily have turned out into a Charlotte Simmons. At any case, that was exactly what Jane was determined not to become.

9844-Prep4. Another outsider thrown into a cut-throat school environment is Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld. I read it a few years ago, back to back with Charlotte Simmons, and I must confess my memory is a bit hazy. It’s set in a boarding school so we definitely stay in the same setting. Still I remember loving more…

6185835-AmericanWife5. American Wife, by the same author Curtis Sittenfeld, on a banal, bookish, rather conventional Midwestern middle-class girl who ends up marrying the future President of the United States (not Trump, obviously, but a fictional Bush). I remember liking this soft-spoken main character who teaches elementary school and works as a school librarian a lot. The presidential train of thought was a tough one to follow, so the best association for this book would be…

11806495-SummerWithoutMen6- A Summer without Men, by Siri Hustvedt, for the recurrent setting in the Midwest. Many books by Hustvedt reference her native Minnesota, but I chose this one because, well, an all-female cast of characters was a nice allusion to Hanging Rocks’ school, and the main character in this novel also teaches girls during the summer.

From Australia, to London, to Yorkshire, to New York and the Midwest, hopping from one girls school to the next, I have somehow come full circle, haven’t I?

Six Degrees of Separation

I first heard of the Six Degrees of Separation meme through Marina Sofia of Finding Time to Write. And then I noticed that Elle played too ! It seemed so much fun that I had to try. The meme is hosted by Kate from Booksaremyfavouriteandbest and picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps.

This month’s pick is Shopgirl by Steve Martin, a title I had absolutely no clue about. All I knew about it was Marina Sofia’s short description, about a satire of life in Los Angeles. But it was enough to let my bookish imagination run wild as I immediately thought of…

 

1- Bret Easton Ellis’ Letters from L.A. It’s a short story / novella that I read years ago (like 10 years!) but memorable, because I don’t usually read about L.A. and I don’t really enjoy satire, which I often mistake for grotesque tragedy (oh, wait, maybe that’s what it is about?). Letters from L.A. is one story from the collection The Informers. Of course this is not his best-known book nor is it the most shoking one…

2- American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis was a book that shocked me as I read it in my early 20s. I didn’t read graphic violence or porn or gore, or anything in the horror genre, and it was physically hard for me to read on. I was sure it was going to be an important book, although maybe for the wrong reasons.

3- Which led me to The American Pastoral by Philip Roth, another title claiming to be the “Great American Novel”. Especially as a non-American, these titles always seem daunting and I waited way too long before starting this novel which proved engrossing and sensitive. But after one Roth I couldn’t stop, so I had to pick…

4- Philip Roth’s Plot against America, an alternate history novel that imagines what would have happened if anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh had won the US elections over Roosevelt, stopping the US from entering the war against Nazi Germany. Of course, it made me think of another alternate history bestseller…

5- 11/22/63 by Stephen King, that left me breathless and reeling after 30 hours on audiobook last year! To a French person of my generation, the series of numbers of the title doesn’t automatically mean J.F.K., but once my mind was set on the 1960s and the Kennedys, I thought of another one…

6- Black Waters, by Joyce Carol Oates, is the retelling of a famous deadly event of the late 1960s, in which a girlfriend of Ted Kennedy’s drowned in a car accident on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts near Martha’s Vineyard.

In 6 steps, I moved from the West Coast to the East Coast, and from light satire to dark psychological terror! It was so much fun, I might want to try taking another detour… What about you, what are your 6 degrees?

Monday List

I know I have finished many, many books that I should write about first, but… this Monday being one of these days, where nothing goes exactly as planned, I just have the energy for book lists.

These are the books that dear Mr. Smithereens spoilt me with for Mother’s Day:

Agatha Christie, Absent in the spring. Published in 1944 under the name of Mary Westmacott. Mr. S read it from the landlord’s bookshelf at our rental in London back in February and declared it great. The back cover says that it is among her “six bittersweet novels with a jagged edge, as compelling and memorable as the best of her work”. I wish there were some undiscovered Miss Marple’s for me to read, but this is the next best thing. I’m quite intrigued!

Chloé Cattelain, Ma vie à la baguette. (My life with a rod of iron, which in French sounds like a baguette bread, or a chopstick) Two Chinese-French teenagers (born in the north of France from Chinese parents) have to deal with family secrets and intercultural adjustments. I had noticed this one (from the publisher Thierry Magnier – did I mention how great this publisher is?) at the YA library, and apparently Mr. Smithereens had noticed it too! The weird thing is that I was born in the north of France too, and during my childhood there were very few Chinese immigrants there!

F.R. Tallis, The Voices. Mr. S and I both had loved Frank Tallis Viennese mysteries, but Tallis had grown fed up of this particular era and genre (or so I interpret), because he launched himself into a totally new genre: a terrifying ghost story! I don’t read horror, but now that I have dipped my toes into Stephen King, I can’t say never. It’s set during the 1976 heat wave, and Paris has been very very hot these last few days… Should I wait for October to start this one? Or maybe Mr. S. wants me to run hiding into his arms?

Yang Liu, East Meets West. This one is a tiny design book full of simple infographics, the left page for Western culture, the right page for Eastern culture. I had loved the Paris / New York book by Vahram Muratyan, this is the same principle. Of course, it’s full of clichés, but it should be a lot of fun too!

I also got a piece of “pencil art” from my 3-year-old and a poetry with lots of glitter from my almost 9-year-old! Wow, despite Monday woes and stress, I am indeed lucky!