September wrap-up

It’s not late for a September wrap up, is it?

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The Arctic Incident, Artemis Fowl #2 by Eoin Colfer
rating4
I’m trying to keep up with this series I didn’t have the luck to stumble upon when I was a kid. I’m enjoying it like I’m 8 years old nonetheless. I honestly found this specific part of the story not that interesting, but Colfer’s writing is so good I could read the decline and fall of the Roman empire if he wrote that.

All The Birds in The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
rating5

I’m so glad I bought and read this book. Both magic and science are part of this near-future world, incarnated by the two protagonists: a young witch who can talk to animals and a young scientist who found the blueprints for the two-secs time machine.
The story follows the friendship they form in school and later, their lives as adults in a world that is going to be destroyed by pollution and humanity’s exploitation.
The story does get a bit slow in the second half of the book, but I particularly love the writing style. This book has a lot of it.

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
rating3
I’ve seen this around for a while, and then bought a copy of the Italian edition at a library sale. I enjoyed the story, with its eerie atmosphere, and the characters – they’re not that rounded, but the focus is on the narration and the magical happenings, so it isn’t in any way an impediment. Pleasant writing, as well, although I found it a bit flat at times.

In Altre Parole (In Other Words) by Jhumpa Lahiri
rating3
I initially intended to read both the Italian and English version of this book (for pretentious scholarly purposes, ok?), but decided to stick only with the former. The author recounts her experience with Italian, a language she fell in love with, but that she struggles to learn. It is her battle against a language she longs for, but it is also a reflection on language and on what it can mean to us.

dear diary,

The pressure of everything that has happened in the past three weeks left me with a sense of detachment from myself. I feel like I’m thinking about everything and nothing at the same time, like I want to do everything but do not know how to start. In moments such as this, it is like my entire being is trying to escape my body so anxiously and in such a hurry, that it gets stuck at the exit. Pressing at whatever hole there might be.
I’m glad that it does, because imagine if I were left with nothing, but I am lucky enough to know that this feeling means I forgot to be in contact with my true self and that I need to take cover and rest. Be with myself.
University does not help. I have a lot of work to do, and my life became again so frenetic that I can barely keep up with the (light) shadow work that I was doing and that was helping me so much. I can barely hear my thoughts, let alone dig into them.

There are not only bad things, though. It’s October. I love October, with its chill hair and crispy leaves.
The rains started last week and I have this strong impression that the Cailleach has put her veil onto the world – it’s not white snow, but it’s that grey of the rains announcing November and colder temperatures. Like a promise, something to look forward to.
I feel the world became so quite, and I marvel at the silence and the calmness that I perceive. I’d like to feel that peace, too.
I have to let my leaves fall. As always, though, I start over-thinking about what I should do and that does not allow me to see what I can do.

I need to go outside. Yesterday I wanted to, but the rain was so thick I couldn’t see an inch from my nose. I crave nature, that I once again left behind.

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To: a person who has influenced you the most – 30 days of OLW

​Dear O.,
It may seem odd that I’m writing to you. We’ve known each other for about six years, but we are no friends. For all this time, we remained mostly acquaintances and it is with regret that I say so. In this light it is probably surprising that I have chosen you for this piece, but although I thought about it a lot, there is probably no one else I’d like to write such a letter. Despite everything, you were a big influence for me – even if you do not know it.
Let’s trace the story of our non-history, which began around 2010 when both ended up in the same website, writing about more or less the same things and with more or less the same interests. We never became close, but I always respected you. I held you in high regard because of the wisdom that you shared freely with everyone and I, a newbie thirsty with knowledge, couldn’t but be grateful for it. Most of all, I saw in you something that was akin to what I felt: a longing for a world that does not exist, a longing for “home”.
Between my seventeenth and eighteenth, reading your words helped me gain a better insight of polytheism and paganism, of magic and the occult. I learned a lot from what you said, but I also learned something more than notions: your attitude helped me standing on my own feet, your eagerness to not let other take you as someone who held the truth, your understanding of others, your patience in explaining.
I looked at you as someone I aspired to be: gentle, yet firm. Knowledgeable and wise, kind and compassionate. I probably saw the best part of you. I probably saw what I needed to see at that time, leaving out all the things I don’t know or can’t imagine about your life. My portrait of you probably isn’t complete and I’m sure that you would believe I’m stupid for thinking such things of you.
I cannot decide what to feel, however. On my path, there are not many people who influenced me, but my experience with you – albeit indirect – helped me become a better person and maybe even a better practitioner.
If you can, accept at least that. Although not much, it is still a beautiful thing to have such an impact on other people’s lives. If you can mean that much to a stranger, imagine how important you are to those you love.

REVIEW: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

October is the month of spoopy things and I couldn’t help but add at least one spoopy book to my reading list for this month.
Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark by Alvin Schwartz is a collection of horror stories for younger readers, but it will make adults shiver as well. It’s a super short book and I found it entertaining and yes, a bit creepy.

Ghosts, monsters and strange creatures are hidden in this book ready to scare the readers who will venture through its pages. I found the stories rather creative and, although I’m not a reader of the genres, I don’t think they play too much on horror tropes even though you can definitely see them here and there (i.e. the girl’s ghost who seeks revenge for her death). The narration is quite simple and direct, but still hooks you up. Suffice to say I found myself staying up to read until 1am, so I would describe it as “rather addicting”. And yes, I was reading the book in the dark (well, with a little light to see obviously!). There are also some “stage directions” telling you when to stop or when to scream if you’re reading the book out loud, maybe to your children or your friends. It’s a detail that makes this book a nice guest at a Halloween party or a sleepover.

illustration by Stephen Gammel

The illustrations by Stephen Gammel are a great addition to the mix and 80% of what drawn me to this book in the first place. They are beautifully grotesque and scary enough, especially for a children’s book. Nothing too horrible, however, just the right mix to make your blood chill in your veins. I actually got scared when flipping the page during the story of the already mentioned ghost girl, when the illustration unexpectedly popped up!

Pleasantly scary, it is the perfect book to get into that Halloween mood!

To: your best friend – 30 days of OLW

Dear best friend,
Do you exist?

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I’ve been in search of a best friend since I was eleven years old or something, looking for that kind of friendship that links you to someone for all your life. Someone with whom I can speak and be myself and tell everything about me, be completely open about my being and free. To me, this is the kind of bond that I look forward to find. Yet, I do not think that I ever been luck in my research. Don’t get me wrong, I have called best some friends I did believe where the best I had in my life, although for a reason or another most of them left (they are all coming back, how peculiar). I do not have a problem with people leaving me, I understand that, as free human beings, we move as we please through life and sometimes we need to move in a direction that is far apart from those we love. However, it is inevitable for me to ask myself if those best friendships were a product of my mind or if they were real.
I probably idealise too much the whole concept of a best friend, as everything else. Idealising something always means making up a pretty image in your head that probably won’t be in any way close to reality. It’s a sort of strange fantasy that you project into real life, but it is inherently false and you end up being so stuck in that process, that you are prevented from seeing reality for what it really is. In this case it prevents me to see if there is anyone around me who is trying to be meaningful in my life. And there probably is.
It’s hard to admit that I may have been overlooking people. People who longed to be part of my life as much as I wanted to be part of other’s. People who would be willing to listen to me, while I am too stuck in my own narrative, telling myself that no one is interested in what I have to say. That I’m too strange. That everyone is too busy to care for me. It is not true. I know that, now more than ever.
I am willing to make an effort to spend more time and be more open with those people who make my heart sing. People to whom I can really give something, as much as they can give to me. Regardless of what I will ever call them, those are the person who are important in my life.
Dear best friend, I don’t know if you’re already in my life or if you will ever be here. But I am ready to let you step into my circle, whenever you will feel it is the right time to show up.

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