The Book, the Bucket and the Challenge.


If you are a social media addict (unlike me, of course!), I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about a new type of challenge, which followed the hype of the ice bucket one (which I haven’t done and I have no intention of doing it). The book bucket challenge, however, is not about throwing a bucket full of books in your head and then nominate some others to do the same. Well, the second part is true, and you can also try to throw some books at yourself if you think that makes you smart. But the book bucket challenge is about simply telling the world (or your Facebook ‘friends’) a list consisting of 10 books / authors that either changed the way you see life, or have a special place in your heart. I myself have been nominated to do this challenge – a few times actually – but I simply ignored it.

First of all, I doubt anyone is really interested in these lists. I mean yeah, X likes that, Y likes this, but in terms of raising the awareness for reading good books, I’m not sure it really works as intended. Well, perhaps some people will indeed read a book just because they’ve seen it in one of those tops, but let’s be honest, most of us just read the list and keep scrolling. Plus there are some who haven’t read those books they have in their list, but they just want to make an impression (on who, I don’t know). I detest that, pretending to have read a book just for showing off.

And about lists, indeed I have one. I’ve always enjoyed reading, and when the literature teacher asked us at the beginning of high school what books we read, I was surprised I hadn’t thought about such a list before; I’m into numbers and lists and keeping everything safe, so I realised I needed to keep a list of all those books. So I spent quite a lot of time searching for all the books I had read, in order to create that list and ‘impress’ the teacher. Then years passed and I continued the list without trying to impress anyone else except myself, cause after all reading for pleasure is more important than reading for quantity. But I do have lots of books on that list, and I still haven’t found anyone with more books read per the same amount of time (I haven’t actually searched for such a person, although to be honest I’d like to meet someone like me).

You may think I could easily create a top 10 and post it. But how could I…? How could I choose 10, out of so many? That’s the challenge, you may say. To try and reduce the number. I could for instance talk about 10 books just by Agatha Christie, starting with And Then There Were None, Endless Night, After The Funeral, The Murder of Roger Akroyd, Murder on the Orient Express, and then continuing with Five Little Pigs, A Murder is Announced, Appointment with Death, Cat Among the Pigeons, Evil Under the Sun, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas… and much, much more, in no particular order (actually there are 11 instead of 10, but oh well).

See? It’s hard. I like them all, but indeed some remained in my memories more than others. I’ve always said that some of them will always have a special place in my heart. Then why can’t I just post that top?! Well, to be honest I’m a little concerned about what people would say. I know I shouldn’t care about their opinion, I mean it’s my personal top 10, right?… But when I see so many posts which include such well known books, like, I don’t know, by Tolstoi, Dostoievski, etc etc, I kind of feel a little bit, just a tiny little bit ashamed with not having them among in my list – cause yeah, I’ve read lots, lots of books, but none of those… The thing with reading is that I’ve always read for pleasure. And I avoided difficult books, cause I read in order to escape from the ordinary life (cliché, I know), and I don’t really care if most of my list consists of fantasy books for teenagers. Yes, I did enjoy them. I enjoyed reading about assassins, detectives, dragons, Jules Verne’s adventures, kitesnannies, sorcerers/spooks, star-crossed lovers, Terry Pratchett’s world, tunnels, Ursula K. Le Guin’s fantasies, wardrobes, wizards, writing (and something else by Guillaume Musso), young women with specific problems… (this time, alphabetically sorted; and yes, you can hover them to see the specific titles – except the last category, which includes way too many, i.e. Jane Eyre). How could I choose, when all these and much, much more, are simply tangling inside my mind and represent the whole essence of what I enjoy about reading? They tangle until they all get lost, and I suddenly wonder what was that book about a magic forest, or what happened in The 35th of May anyway?

However I know that you really, really love some books when you decide you want more people to read them. But you’re just a middle school girl, you’ve started reading that series of books in your mother language, then, frustration, you have to order the rest of them in English, cause apparently they’ve decided to stop translating it after only 4 books. So, after finishing the series, what other better thing to do than starting translating it by yourself? And that’s what I did. I’ve managed to translate only two other books – obviously not for selling them. So another unfortunate event was added to A Series of Unfortunate Events: not all the 13 books are in my mother language… If, instead of Top 10, the challenge was about 13 books, I would immediately add Lemony Snicket’s series without thinking twice. What other better proof is needed than the choice for my profile picture? I’m not sure I can say those books changed my life, though. But they played with my imagination, and for me that’s the most important thing when reading. To open your mind for new worlds, new ideas, new perspectives, new types of people / characters (who didn’t find themselves really liking some character, as if it was a real person?), new adventures, even new words… They’ve all changed me, as a whole.

…and now about nominating. Should I use a cliché and say “I nominate YOU, whoever’s reading this right now”? Should I use kind of a paradox, and say “You’re nominated if and only if you haven’t read this”? Should I nominate the only person I know who could easily add some of our childhood favourites which I missed in this article? Or should I perhaps nominate myself, to try and create a proper top 10 for a proper participation to #thebookbucketchallenge?..


Living Amongst Past Memories

“…And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of a little piece of madeleine”

I’ve never read Marcel Proust and, to be honest, I have no intention of departing In Search of Lost Time too soon. But I remember this quote that my former literature teacher told us, and for some reason I kept thinking about it. What makes our mind wander in the past? In the case above, the taste of a long forgotten cake, but in reality there’s a mixture of so many possible factors…

Firstly, songs. Music and lyrics. Melodies that I used to listen at some point in the past, such as the one described in another article, but also others. I’ve recently discovered that in my hometown they’ve started playing music in the city centre, and at first I thought it’s a good idea, in a funny way. But soon I changed my mind, cause there’s nothing funny at all in trying to keep you eyes dry when you’re forced to listen to certain songs while you’re walking alone through the crowded city centre…

But when you touch me like this…
And you hold me like that…
It was so long ago but
It’s all coming back to me now

Cause indeed, that’s another way of going back with your memory: re-living the moments. It’s in fact one of the easiest way of remembering the past; whether it’s good or not, decide for yourself. It depends on the type of memories, I guess, and how easy it is for you to let go and don’t get lost amongst past memories. You can simply watch a child playing and remember of your own childhood, or see a couple that looks perfect together, and you’re about to tell them that, when you remember someone else used to tell you the same…

Specific words that had a specific meaning in a past life. Familiar scents and places, and feelings, and loneliness. Quotes, photos, and things that happen to other people, be them real or just characters from books and movies… All these make my mind wonder, and I can’t say I particularly enjoy it, or at least not always. But sometimes my mind is like a kite up in the sky, a kite that I’m struggling to move tenderly, without sharp movements that may cause a swirl of air to take it, to take my mind somewhere on unknown paths without me being able to control it… And here it goes again.

Perhaps you’ve tried to spend some time without thinking at certain memories, perhaps you’ve waited for time to distort them, cause that’s what time does. But one day you see/smell/hear/taste/feel/think something, and… it’s like Pandora’s box. Once the memories start coming, there’s no way you can stop them from overwhelming you. And rather than trying to force them back in, back to some hidden corners of your mind where you can barely reach them, why not spare that room for other memories that are soon to come? I prefer not to keep all the memories inside my mind, cause I’m afraid that I’ll get lost amongst them, that they’ll perish in time, vanish or perhaps mix with other memories… And I prefer to try and keep them intact. So rather than storing them somewhere in my brain, why not put them on a paper, and let them there?… And when you want to remember, you can read about them. It’s better like that instead of thinking about them uncontrollably, which may make you live in the past.

This idea reminded me of a quote: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Do we keep thinking about past memories because there were far better times than now? Perhaps. But we don’t always walk down the memory lane and find ourselves surrounded only with pleasant thoughts; or perhaps they were pleasant at some point, but not so pleasant now. This, again, reminded me of something. Of an idea I wrote down at some point before starting this blog, and I’m a little afraid to read it cause I expect memories to start flooding. But anyway, here it is:
It’s not fair to love someone for how they used to be. It’s not fair and right to live in the past. The thing is that it’s involuntary. It’s not your fault that your brain gives you those memories when it remembers something.[…] Should you live in the past, lying yourself with feelings that existed then, and now are becoming altered by your memories and by how many times you’ve overused them? No, or else you risk to remain caught there, amongst memories. And you’ll miss the present, and the chance to a proper future.

So whether your everlasting memories are about that sweet forbidden kiss or about when you found yourself surrounded by waves crushing you to the rocks and you had no idea how that happened to you, stop right there. They’re all long gone and not coming back for real. Just try to keep up with life.