The Art of Asking

The_Art_Of_Asking_Book_CoverThis is the life of Amanda Palmer, singer and member of the Dresden Dolls. Palmer became widely known when she was asked to speak at a TED talk, and her theme was The Art Of Asking.

Palmer teaches as through her life’s stories that asking for help or support (whether financial, psychological or social) is not the bad thing we believe it to be.  Asking can help us reach where we wouldn’t be able to on our own. Besides, have you ever stopped and wondered whether people want to help you but are afraid that you are not letting them do so? , Amanda asks.

Palmer is considered a controversial artist because she uses fundraising methods in order to publish her music. She also uses couch surfing while on the road for tours. What is couch surfing? Asking for her audience to take her in for the night, crashing on their couch. It sounds dangerous to most of us, but not to Palmer. And this is the second lesson of the book; trust.  A quality so rare nowadays, being able to trust is so liberating, Palmer tells us. Through her stories, you realize that maybe you should be just a little bit more trusting.

And then, there is the Fraud Police. The common thought that any occupation that is not on a nine-to-five basis is not a real job, the “get a job!” comment that so many street artists hear every day, and the guilty feelings that come along with it. Palmer started off as a street artist and is very familiar with the concept. In the book she makes us all familiar with it, and explains why not all jobs are nine to five, and how they are as important as an office job..and sometimes even more.

This is an autobiography, but also a self help book in disguise. It brings you face to face with a multitude of things you think and do every day subconsciously. Fears, hesitations, trust issues. Palmer’s own life stories will help you see some of the things you do, think, believe, and give you some different perspective on the matter! A book certainly worth your time, The Art of Asking will make you laugh, cry, feel closer to its author, and learn.

Remember,remember the 5th of November: Literature on Guy Fawkes

Remember, remember the 5th of November

 

…and it is that time of the year again. Have you heard of Guy Fawkes? Since I live in Greece, it was years before I heard of him, and I was lucky enough to find about him through books. For anyone unfamiliar with the figure, he was an English soldier living in the era of King James. In a time of persecution of Catholics, he gathered a small group and decided that oppression should and would stop only in one way; the assassination of the King. So they planned to blow up the Parliament. The plan failed, however, and Guy Fawkes was arrested, tortured and sentenced to death. This is a really really short and simple version of it, so if you want to know more about the persona that inspired (and still inspires) thousands of people, here are some books on Guy Fawkes.

 

Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot

The author narrates in details the era of King James I, the conditions of the Gunpowder Treason, and the life of Guy Fawkes, in the form of a detective story.

 

The secret life of Guy Fawkes

This book’s mains focus is the life of Fawkes. What do we know about him? What secrets did his life hold? Why was he against the reign of King James I?  A book that is as close to historical documents as possible, it is certainly worth a read.

 

V for Vendetta

No, not the movie. The graphic novel the movie was based on. This is not the story of Guy Fawkes, but it is highly inspired by it. In a post-apocalyptic United Kingdom, a strange man in a Guy Fawkes mas, V, decides to overturn the fascist  British government. One of the most beautiful and meaningfyl (in my humble opinion ) graphic novels of all time.

 

Guy Fawkes

Probably the earliest piece of literature about Guy Fawkes, the novel was written as a serial between January and November 1840. The story is based on the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, for which the writer relied on historical documents describing the trial and execution, but he also enriched the facts with characters of his own.

Wuthering Heights

518A0CQ6VVLOne of the most beautiful and yet tragic love stories of all time and an all time classic, Wuthering Heights is the story of the difficult upbringing of Katherine and Heathcliff and their love – and – hate relationship from the moment they met, to their death (and beyond!). Emily Bronte’s one and only novel takes us to an isolated cliff of the English countryside, which is known as Wuthering Heights due to the strong winds around the estate. Katherine’s father, who has found Heathcliff roaming the country alone and adopted him, will soon die, and she will be placed under her  alcoholic brother’s protection along with Heathcliff. Abuse and fear will bring them together and they will fall in love, only to be parted when Katherine decides to marry in a rich family instead. But this will not be the end of their story.

Bronte’s story is so beautifully described, that it makes you believe that you are there, in Wuthering Heights, along with young Heathcliff and Kathy while they grow up. It is a heart breaking story, but in the same time it is so beautiful that its powerful lines will move t is a heart breaking story, but in the same time it is so beautiful that its powerful lines will move you beyond the horrors of the heroes. Imagine a love story that doesn’t end, even when death comes; it is this story. But there is more to this book than a love story. Religious hypocrisy, fake morality, marriage for social status and wealth and racism are some of the issues dealt with in the novel. Taking into consideration that it was written in the Victorian era, this is a radical piece of literature.

Should you read this? Yes, yes, yes! Whatever the genre you like the most, this is one of the literature treasures you need in your heart, mind, bookshelf. It is a transforming and inspiring piece of literature, and, although gloomy (we have to be honest, here), it is something you will not regret reading.

A game of thrones

a-game-of-thronesHow does someone write a review of a book that has been too big of a success and is currently also a huge success as a TV series? It is, admittingly, very difficult. The Game of Thrones phenomenon has spread throughout the world in a very short time and has become one of people’s favorite stories.

But let’s just focus on the book for a while. In the land of the seven kingdoms life is more than hard; it is cruel and borderline psychotic.  After the suspicious death of the King, every ruler wants the Iron Throne, and we have to give them credit- everybody tries! The means are different; some lie, some cheat, some kill, some bribe others. Some of them believe they have a claim to the throne, some know they do not and still yearn the power. Hopefully, despite them all, there are also the honest people, the ones that want to do what is right, so the balance becomes somewhat better.

This is not a book for the faint at heart. Yes, what you have heard (or watched) is accurate. There are a lot of murders, and I do mean…well, a lot. More than you would have to meet while reading the Silence of the Lambs. And there will be a lot of violent scenes, heartbreak, anger and many many rivalries. It is , however, consistent with the world George Martin has set up. It is practically Middle Ages, and that was a cruel time with zero romance and 100% violence and treachery. If you are into that sort of reading, you definitely should read this. If you watch the series, again, read the book. It is much better than the series (isn’t that always the case?). Fair warning, however; if violence is not your thing, this book isn’t your thing either. This is well written, with beautiful descriptions, but it needs a very strong stomach.

Silver in the Blood

silver-in-the-bloodDacia and Loulou are maternal cousins, whose mothers are from a high nobility family of Romania. Born and raised in New York, two years before their eighteenth birthdays they are  ordered to travel to Bucharest in order to meet with their maternal family. The year is 1897, and Romania has recently become a whole nation under the reign of King Carol. Beautiful country as it may be, though, the girls quickly realize that something is very, very wrong with their Florescu relatives. And why is everyone so persistent as far as Dacia’s acquaintance with Prince Mihai Dracula is concerned?

There are a lot of supernatural stories out there nowadays, since it is a trending genre. I can assure you this is one of the good stories, the well written ones, one that – especially if you have read Stoker’s Dracula – you will appreciate.  Written in Stoker’s style, with letters between the heroes and extracts of their diaries, it is a truly well composed story. The big secret of the Florescu Family reveals itself only halfway through the book, and although the words silver, blood, Romania and Dracula make you obviously very suspicious, thing are not exactly what you imagine they will be. Which for a book, I believe, is a very good thing.

 

Should you read this? If you are a fan of the supernatural element, you should definitely give it a go. If you like fiction but you’re not a big fan of mysterious things/creatures/circumstances…well, I still say give it a go, you might end up liking it. Besides, trying a different genre from time to time is a great way to enhance your preferences!

The giving tree

givingtreeAn apple tree and a child play together every day. While the child grows things start to change. He starts being concerned with other issues, leaving the playing behind.  The apple tree , however, never stops loving him. So every time the growing man appears, the apple tree makes a sacrifice for his happiness, whether it is her leaves, her branches, or her heart.

A highly controversial children book, it has been a subject of both criticism and praise ever since its first publication in 1964. The Giving Tree teaches the act of selfless love and complete devotion, yet it seems just a tiny bit difficult for a child to grasp. The story seems to not be exactly for children, yet a little bit too simplified for adults. The concept of never being satisfied and materialism are points too hard for a child to understand.  The_Giving_Tree

Whatever the criticism concerning the book, it is worth a try for your child as well as yourself. It is a small, melancholic but beautiful story that is certainly worth giving devoting a little time on.