Breathe To Read

Breathe To Read

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Things I Like To Eat or Drink While Reading

Top Ten Tuesdays was started by The Artsy Reader.  Check out her blog HERE, and play along!  It is fun.

Today's Top Ten is: Things I Like To Eat or Drink While Reading.

I will say this.  I read quite a bit in two places:  On our public trams here in Basel, and in bed.  I do read during the day when I have some time, but mostly - it is the other two.

I say this because here in Basel - you are not allowed to eat or drink on the trams.  Ever.  It is an extremely strict rule and it is why the trams in Basel are immaculate.  Pretty sure they are cleaner than my house.

And I don't eat or drink in bed.  I read right before I go to sleep, and I have tried tea or water, but that just ends up being a long night of constantly having to use the bathroom.

So that leaves during the day.  Here are my favorites.   I am only listing 5.

1) Coffee

       This is number one.  And most mornings is a full meal.  I love coffee and would drink it all day long if it wouldn't keep me up all night.  I will sit at my kitchen table or in my hammock and sip coffee (okay sip a little coffee with a lot of cream and sugar) while I read.  It is a great way to start a day.

2) Chips

      This is my second favorite thing to munch on while I read.  I mean the American style chips - not French Fries.  Pretzels, Salt and Vinegar Chips, Sour Cream and Onion.....mmmmm.  Any go well with a book I am reading.

3) Tea

      In the evenings and I have a chance to sit and read, I like a cup of tea.  I love flavored teas with a little sugar and sometimes a little milk.  Even in the summer months, I enjoy a hot cup of tea.

4) Gummy Candy

      Don't laugh.  If I am reading an intense story -  scary or mystery for example - a pack of Hairbo gummy candy does the trick.  I like to munch when the story is suspensful, and gummy candy fits the bill.  Want to know a little secret?  "Gummi" in German means rubber.  Fun fact to know before you ask someone for Gummies at the grocery store.  You're welcome.

5) French Bread

       The foods I am mentioning and the amount I read, makes me wonder if you think I weight 8000 pounds.  Luckily I have a pretty active life style in the city, and that keeps me from becoming the shape of a circle and able to enjoy some of my favorite foods.
         I love hard, French Bread.  Each day our bakery makes fresh batches and about once a week I snatch a loaf for us to enjoy.  We eat it sometimes just plain or along with some of our favorite Basel cheese.  But mostly I just rip off a piece and munch while I read.  Especially if I don't have a lot of time. 

What are your favorite foods while you read?


Monday, September 16, 2019

Read The World - Suriname - The Cost Of Sugar

Book: The Cost Of Sugar
Author: Cynthia McLeod
Pages: 265
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: YES
I have visited: NO

This is my 103rd read for the year

I actually didn't know where Suriname was when I started to read.  Again - that is a great reason to read the world.  I am learning about countries that I knew very little to nothing out, AND I am getting a geography lesson.

This story takes place in the late 1700s in Suriname on two plantations.  The story is told through two step sisters named Ezra and Sarith who are part of a wealthy Jewish family in the area.  They are the same age, and grow up together, but end up leading two different lives.  Their husbands, their plantations, their slaves - all play a part in their life stories as they live through the slave war in Suriname.

This was an okay book.  I know it has been translated, and I think that was part of the problem.  The writing was just very juvenile, and the story was choppy.  I didn't really like any of the characters.  There is an interesting story underneath the so-so writing, but I really had to trudge through this book to finish it.  

Stars: 3

Friday, September 13, 2019

Read The World - Serbia - The List Window Giraffe

Book: The Last Window Giraffe
Author: Peter Zilahy
Pages: 130
Book takes place in the country - YES
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: NO

This is my 102nd read for the year.

I think the easiest is the Amazon review for this book: "This book is about the madness of everyday life under a dictatorship.  It shifts in theme and time, testing the borderlines of prose and poetry, fiction and non-fiction, history and autobiography - all in the unassuming guise of a child's ABC.  Filled with his own striking photographs, Peter Zilahy gives fascinating insight into a whole other universe behind the Iron Curtain."

This very short book reads mostly like an poetic encyclopedia.  It isn't an easy read, but an interesting one.  It is sad, creative, historical, informative, and beautiful all in one.  Would I recommend giving it a read?  Can't really tell.  The style is very hard - even in this short book - to keep your attention.  It took me awhile to get into it.  But I am glad I gave it a try and it will be a nice addition to the shelf.

Stars: 3

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Extra Book - Prognosis

Book: Prognosis
Author: Sarah Vallance
Pages: 275

This is my 101th read for the year.

This is the true story of the author and her life after a severe head injury.  She was working on her Ph.D. when she was thrown from a horse.  Not wearing a helmet, she hit her head hard on the ground and quickly found that she was suffering from a severe concussion.  She was having trouble with simple tasks.  Short term memory was shot.  She felt angry, depressed, and frustrated.  Her IQ dropped significantly.

She spent the better part of a year trying to figure out what to do.  And then she started to rebuild her life.  She got a job, she started her Ph.D. work again.  She moved to a new country.  She found love.  And while her troubles were never far behind, she was able to regain somewhat of a normal life.  It was easy for her to hide from others what was really going on in her mind.

It has been almost 20 years since her accident, and according to her, she has hardly had any improvement.  She has atrophy in parts of her brain that constantly keep her concerned.  She has really not found the answers that she was hoping for to improve her brain function, and she doesn't know what the future holds.

This was a fair book.  I really, really don't want to judge it because it was written by someone who states her IQ is around 90, and was able to accomplish so much.  The writing isn't great, but I didn't really expect it to be.  Actually - based on what the author is going through, it was good.  The story is sad and frustrating.  She doesn't get a lot of help for her head injury, which is frustrating to the reader.  She doesn't have a lot of support, and she had a rocky childhood.  She went through several failed relationships.  At the end of the book she ends up in a permanent relationship that is still in place today.  But her mother was someone she could never please.  She came across a lot of people who didn't really understand what she was going through, and had little patience for her.  

It would be a good read if you have ever known anyone who had a head injury.  What goes on behind the scenes in incredible.  They find that it is very very hard for the adult brain to bounce back after a severe injury like the one the author had.

Stars: 3 1/2

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

100 Books Read In 2019 - What are the stats

Now that I have read 100 books, I want to recount what I have accomplished so far this year.

So in 8 months that was

Books: 100


Words: 31,217


Read The World Challenge Books
 (that I read since January): 84


The rest have been fun "off challenge" books.


The shorted book I read: Ada's Violin at 40 pages


The longest book I read: Fire And Blood at 736 pages


The biggest reading month: February with 25 books read


The slowest reading month: July with 7 books read

This was a lot of fun!  How has your reading year been so far?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My TBR List That I Am Avoiding Reading And Why

Top Ten Tuesday was started by That Artsy Reader.  Check out her blog and try this fun game for yourself!

Today's topic is: Books On My TBR List That I Am Avoiding Reading And Why.

This one isn't a complicated one.  People recommend books to me all the time.  I stick them on the list and then I think....I will get to them at some point.  And then months or years go by and I still haven't read them.  Reasons are always varied.  But they don't seem to get any closer to the top of the list.

These are in no particular order.

1) Middlemarch

        This one was recommended to me by a friend.  And it is on the list of "Top 100 Books to Read Before You Die".  It is a classic.  So I put it on the list.  Even though, truthfully, it may remain there for a long time.  I have read several classics, and really struggled with a lot of them.  BUT - I do try to read at least one every year, so maybe this year this will be the one I pick up.  Maybe. 

2) War And Peace

        Okay- this one will probably remain on the TBR list until I get to the end of time.  SO BIG.  Which I shouldn't use as my first reason not to read it, considering I have read the Game of Thrones series.  I am not sure it would even interest me.  I keep it on the list partically because I feel like I have to.  Shouldn't EVERYONE read War and Peace?  I would say no.  But then I, maybe someday I will be bored just enough to pull this one out and try it.  Maybe.

3) The Lord Of The Rings

        I am actually interested in reading this series.  After reading Game of Thrones, I feel like I would really enjoy this series if I gave it a chance.  I did watch the movies.  Didn't love those, but they weren't terrible.  I mean it is JRR Tolkien.  I am just not sure I want to start a heavy trilogy.  And those books never seem to fit into the challenges I am trying each year.  So it might need to stay on the TBR a little longer.

4) The Devine Comedy

       Another one that is on the 100 To Read list.  I have it on my shelf.  I look at it all the time.  I even bought a cliffsnotes guide to help me get through it.  I pull it down, I look at it, and I put it back.  It is just daunting.  But I WANT to read it.  We have seen Rodin's sculptures in Paris and Botticelli's art related to the book, and it intrigued me.  I need to make a point to read this one.

5) Dark Tower Series

       I am a huge Stephen King fan.  I have read almost all of his books.  These sit on my shelf (my husband read them) and I still have not got to them.  I really need to, but there are a lot of them.  I keep thinking that one year I am going to do a challenge where I just read book series.  Maybe then I will get to this one.

6) A Brief History Of Time

        Stephen Hawking is amazing.  There is no denying it.  I have seen the movie and several documentaries, but have never read this book.  It is HUGE.  And it seems like it would be an incredibly hard read.  I think I would be really proud of myself if I conquered it.  PLUS - I am extremely interested in the content, so I think that would help.  So.......someday.

7) Great Expectations

            Ah, Charles Dickens.  I read "A Christmas Carol" and did enjoy it very much.  Different than the movies, which was a nice surprise.  (not a lot, but some).  We did a Charles Dickens tour the last time we were in London, which was a lot of fun.  I watched the movie about his life.  I wanted to put all of his books on my list.  And there they sit.  Haven't moved them up to the top yet.  Again - other things just get put in front of it.  Reading challenges, popular books......the classics just keep circling the bottom of my TBR pile.

8) Les Miserables

          I just recently bought a beautiful, leather bound edition of this book.  This is one of my husband's favorite stories.  I have seen the musical on Broadway 4 times.  I do not love it.  I don't.  It is depressing.  The music?  Beautiful.  The story?  Haunting.  I do have the book on my TBR list.  I keep wondering if it will be better than the musical.  More depth.  More character development.  But it is so big.  And so sad.  Not sure I really want to tackle it.

9) The Complete Sherlock Holmes

        My husband is the biggest Sherlock Holmes fan.  We have visited the house in London.  He has read all the books.  We have a beautiful leather bound collections book.  I have not ever opened it.  I look at it all the time.  Run my hand over the book, pick it up occasionally.....and then put it back.  I am sure the stories are amazing.  I need to read them. I WANT to read them.  I just can't bring myself it get into them.  No good reason.

10) Americanah

          I had actually put this on two different reading challenges for two different years.  And then I never got to it.  Well - actually for the one reading challenge, I discovered it wasn't going to fit where I needed it to, so I took it out.  BUT - it still remains something that I really want to read.  The reviews for this book were incredible, so I want to get to it.  Soon.

That is my list.  What is on yours?

Monday, September 9, 2019

Read The World - Kiribati - The Sex Lives of Cannibals

Book: The Sex Lives of Cannibals
Author: J. Maarten Troost
Pages: 272
Book takes place in the country: YES
Author is from the country: NO (but he lived there)
I have visited: NO

This is my 100th read for the year

I made it!  100 books by the beginning of September.  Not too shabby!

This is the story of the author's time on the island of Tarawa in Kiribati.  He and his then fiance (now his wife) were tired of the day to day work of their jobs, and decided they needed a change.  His fiance took a job with FSP to help improve the lives of the people of the island, and off they went.  Deep in the South Pacific - truly at the end of the earth - they jumped with both feet into another world.

The island becomes not what they expected.  A tiny atoll, he struggles wtih heat, polluted waters, toxic fish, and terrifying weather.  There are constant power outages and water shortages.  There is nothing to read.  There is nothing to eat beyond fish and rice.  He and his fiance spend the next two years reveling in the pros and cons of living as basic vagabons on a tiny corner surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean.  

I loved this book.  This is the second book I have read from this author and it has covered two small countries that I needed for my reading challenge.  This book actually comes BEFORE the one I read about Vanuatu, but I am so glad I went back and read this one about Kiribati.  I do learn a significant amount about the island itself and among the history of the island is a hilarious, well written story of the author's time there.  He is a brilliant writer.  Truly.  

This book does not disappoint.  Do NOT let the title keep you from reading this book. (it really has nothing to do with the book itself, and the cannibals he speaks of are animals!) It is a riveting story of this corner of the world, and you will be happy to read it.

Stars: 4 1/2

Thursday, September 5, 2019

July and August Book Wrap Up

I didn't get to do a wrap up for July because we were in the midst of traveling between the United States and back home to Switzerland.  It was a 4 day ordeal to get home, and the wrap up got list in the shuffle of things I needed to do.

This was a better summer reading month than I expected.  I had hoped in July and August to read 10 books total, and I came away with 17.  I had made a summer reading list HERE, but didn't read all the ones I thought I would - I picked others to take their place based on availability. 

In July I read 7 books.  If you click on the book title, it will take you to my review.

East Timor


A Whole New World - Disney's Twisted Tales

The Farm

A Fish Caught In Time

The Snows of Kilimijaro

The Island of the Sequined Love Nun

4 of those books were from my Read the World Challenge I am participating in.

My top reads for July were:

A Fist Caught In Time
The Island of the Dequined Love Nun
A Whole New World

At the bottom were:

The Farm
East Timor


In August I read 10 books.  If you click on the book title, it will take you to my review.

Nine Perfect Strangers

Getting Stoned With Savages

Island of A Thousand Mirrors

So Long A Letter

Only God Can Make A Tree

Things You Save In A Fire

A Carpet Ride to Khiva

6 of these books were from my Read The World Challnege

My top reads from August were:

Getting Stoned With Savages
A Carpet Ride To Khiva
Island of A Thousand Mirrors

My bottom reads from August were:

The Wall
Only God Can Make A Tree