So Many Books

Many of you will know books are a great love of mine. I can’t get enough of them. I love books, the more the better.

One of my hobbies is reading, another is BookCrossing. BookCrossing is a site where I have registered more than 700 books to this date. The idea is to read (if I like them) and release those books. So people can find them and read them. And later hopefully release them again for the next reader.

I’ve been a BC member for 4 and a half years and I love it. I had heard of it before, but never gotten around to try to find the site.
But one day, when I was at work I found a book. I remember clearly I saw it, but couldn’t stop at that particular time. I hoped it’d still be on that bench by the time I got back. And it was.
From that day I was hooked. The idea of releasing books and reading people’s notes is so rewarding. People are mostly very happy when they find a book.

Ballycumber
If you like a book, let it go!

The first few books I released were from my own bookshelves. Books I had read, books I didn’t particularly like and books I bought from a charity shop. The first box was from CreativeChaos. After that I’ve been getting boxes from anywhere and everywhere. I’ve got friends, family, colleagues, even complete strangers giving me (boxes of) books. Just because they like the idea of BookCrossing.

In the 4 and a half years on the site I’ve been fairly active. I released hundreds of books, I’ve registered hundreds more. I’ve read more books than I ever could’ve dreamed. And I’ve met some wonderful and generous people. Many of them I call my friends. I hope to be part of this community for a long time!

This post has been made for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

Boxes and boxes of books…

Last week I bid on a bunch of books. One seller sold 2 boxes for € 1. The other sold 8 for € 10. I didn’t think I would get them, so I was a bit surprised when I got 2 emails telling me I could come and collect them.

Yesterday we set off for a city some 25 kilometers away to collect the 2 boxes. The woman who sold them didn’t want any money when we came there. I had told her in an email I’d use the books for BookCrossing and she liked the idea so much I got them for free. She did put all of the books into one box, so I only collected 1 box.
We then drove to a small town closer to home where we collected the remaining 8 boxes. I paid them a tenner and we loaded the boxes in the car. It fit. Just.

Today I went to look what’s inside them. It didn’t disappoint. A few aren’t crossable, but 99% are very much crossable. I’ve decided to give a bunch of boxes away to fellow BookCrossing members, as I have lots of books left in the attic. I know many people will want a box, so I think they’ll fly out of here. This will make Jay very happy as he was worried about the room we have left up in the attic.

Best Book Forward

“I want to be free!”
This book said to me
(Its previous owner),
And I just said, “Gee!”
“I didn’t know books
Could be quite this vocal.”
But I set the book wild
In vicinity local.
Now the book writes to me
On a regular basis,
From across the world,
From desert, oasis!
BookCrossing.com
Emails me without cease
Whene’er a new owner
Does Read and Release.
So, if you’ve some tomes
That aren’t done talking,
Stop staring in shock,
Let your books begin walking!

Ballycumber

This poem is written by Robin Payton. She places it as a journal entry (JE) for the books she sends on their journey around the world.

De Kameleon

Today’s Daily Prompt asks:

What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?

I’ve always been reading. From the moment I read my first words there has always been a book nearby. I went to the library at least once a week, more often than not twice or three times a week.

My mom and dad both had books from their childhood which I read. I liked my moms books, but they were a bit too girly for me. I was more of a tomboy. I climbed trees, I built huts, I helped my dad with his carpentry.

So his books appealed more to me. When I was about 7 or 8 I started reading the Kameleon books. The books are about twins who go on all kinds of adventures with their boat which is called “De Kameleon”. I loved those books. I could spend hours with them, in their boat. I was there, every step of the way.

Kameleon

My dad had 4 or 5 of the books, so I started reading the others from the library. When I got older many of the books were given to me on my birthdays. People didn’t care that they were considered boy books. I got them, from everyone.

When I was 18 I started collecting them. The writer, Hotze de Roos, had died a few years earlier and hadn’t finished his last book. That book had been finished by another writer. And I hated it. The boys, who were never interested in girls, suddenly got girlfriends. They went to middle school, where they had never been before. New places were introduced, making the map of their world completely different. I decided that I wouldn’t collect any books that hadn’t been written by any other writer than H. de Roos.

So in my bookcase (actually, they are in boxes in the attic right now) are two whole shelfs dedicated to De Kameleon. I’ve got all 60 books written by H. de Roos and 2 more by the second writer. They were Jay’s so they are there, but I never read them. They’re too modern for my liking. I like those books how I know them best, placed in the fifties and early sixties.

old cover (1955)
old cover (1955)
new cover (2001)
new cover (2001)

Paperback or eBook?

This week’s writing challenge is asking: How do you prefer to read, with an eReader like a Kindle or Nook, or with an old school paperback in hand?

That’s not a hard question to answer for me. Paperback!
I like the feel of an actual book. The scent of an old book (or a new one) makes me happy.  I love going in a bookshop and just browse. I can spend ages in a charity shop, going through books. I love to see row upon row of shelving filled to the brim with books.

And, think about it. What am I supposed to do with my spare room when I don’t have books?
What about BookCrossing? I’m an avid BookCrosser. How are we going to make the world one big library when we don’t have real books anymore? It’s simply not possible.

I can see the advantages of eBooks over real books. If you travel a lot you can bring as many books as you like without the added weight. And if your book is a thick book, an eBook is easier to bring with you on a train, but there’s no joy in eBooks for me.
I’d rather take a FlipBack with me while travelling then an eReader.

So, no eReader for me. Just give me a good book and I’ll be happy.

Photo courtesy of jurvetson: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/4239651/
Photo courtesy of jurvetson: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/4239651/

If you do decide to get rid of some books, please think about donating them to BookCrossing. There are lots of BookCrossers who are always on the look out for new books to set free!

My Reading Room

A genie has granted your wish to build your perfect space for reading and writing. What’s it like?

You couldn’t have come up with a better subject, Daily Prompt. This is a very easy question to answer. I’ve thought about this often and I wish I had sufficient funds to build my own library room. If this was the case it would look a bit like this:

We are planning on turning the spare room into a craftroom/library. Right now, most of my books are stored in the attic, still in boxes. But when we finish the spare room it will be a heaven of books. All the walls will be covered in shelves and all my books (hopefully they’ll fit) will be in there. I’ll post pics when it’s done, but it might take a few months years to finish completely.

Photo’s courtesy of www.bookshelfporn.com

Lifebook

When my grandmother went to a carehome my dad got asked to make a lifebook for her. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s’ and the book would be a great way for staff to get to know her a bit better. And for her to look back on her life.

I’m writing this blog post in hopes to help people who are looking into making such a book for their relative.

What would be included in a lifebook?

  • Full name and preferred name (if needed)
  • Date of birth and place of birth
  • Photos and names (and birth dates/death dates) of other family members
  • Family tree
  • Photos of schooldays (if possible)
  • Photos and name (again with dates) of the spouse and children from the marriage
  • Places and houses the person has lived in (photos, maps)
  • Photos and names of much-loved pets
  • anecdotes about their life
  • Occupation of the person
  • Photos and names of friends
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Birth certificate can be included too
  • Favourite music
  • Letters

Why is all this important?

The full name and preferred would be already in the files of the nursing home where your relative is staying. But sometimes your relative will only listen to a pet name from their childhood. Many times that name is not recorded in the files. Make sure you included that name.

Date of birth and place of birth should, again, be in the files. But sometimes it’s hard to find out the exact place of birth. Maybe the village doesn’t exist anymore. Or maybe the records don’t show the right place of birth (it happens).

Photos and names of other family members are important. A person with Alzheimer’s travels back in time. They’ll start asking about people who have long since died. It’s nice to have photos and names at hand. A family tree will come handy for carers, as they can see how people relate to your relative.

Schooldays are a really important part of a person’s life. Teachers have probably had a great impact on a person’s life. Photos will bring your relative back to those days.

One of the most important days of your life. That’s how almost everyone describes their wedding day. Almost anyone has at least one picture of their wedding day. Makes sure not only to include pictures from the spouse (if not alive anymore) later on in life. They won’t recognize them anymore. Harsh but true. But they’ll know that boy in the soldier uniform or the lovely girl in the long dress is the person they are going to get married to. These picture are very important.
As for the children. If you are visiting and you tell your mother/father you are his/her daughter or son, it might happen that they don’t remember you. This will hurt, a lot. Talk to the carers about it. You’ll find they are talking about you when you’re not around. They see you as the little boy/girl you once were. the grown person who stands in front of them doesn’t look familiar. Although they won’t mind a cuddle, as they somehow know you are close to them. How they know? They have no idea, but they feel love if you’re around.

Include photos of much-loved houses your relative has lived in. Have they moved like a 100 times in their life? What would they choose as the most important place they lived in. Think the house they bought when they first got married, the house the children were born in. The house the last lived in.

Pets are a very important part of life. Don’t think about the guard dog that wasn’t allowed in the house, think of the cat whose kittens were born in front of the stove in the kitchen. Think of the lamb that had to be bottle fed every few hours. Those are the important ones.

anecdotes, things your relative might suddenly start talking about. My grandmother suddenly started talking about a family where she had worked when she was about 14. Nobody remembered anything about that family, only her youngest sister did. She shed some light on my grandmother’s  behaviour when she talked about this family. This family had a massive (negative) influence on her. She hadn’t talked about them for over 70 years, but she remembered.

I think you’ve now got a pretty good picture of the important things that might help your relative to remember. And help the carers to care for your relative even more.

I can’t do this alone. Who can help me?

Ask help from friends and family. As I stated above, asking your aunts and uncles is a great way to find anecdotes from their childhood. Things they might have never talked about. Ask the nursing home if other families have made lifebooks. Ask them if you can view those for ideas. Nowadays you can make great photo books online. Use those services to your advantage.

Maybe there are volunteers in your local area who can help you. Or maybe there are organisations that can help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A lifebook isn’t something easy to make. It’s hard.

If you think you’re done, ask someone to go over your work. Ask them for input. It’s easy to include too much information. Maybe you’ve included stories that are important to you, but aren’t so much to your relative.

Is it really worth it to include negative parts of my relative’s life?

Yes, it is! Negative events are just as important as positive events. Let me tell you a short story.

In a nursing home where I worked was a woman who had severe dementia. The last few weeks of her life, when she was in bed, she was screaming and crying. The only thing we could understand were the words: “Don’t take him, don’t take him.” We had no idea what triggered this. And the only way to get her quiet was to give her a babydoll. When she didn’t have the babydoll in bed with her she would try to get out. We found her on the floor, on her hands and knees more than once, trying to get her babydoll.
We asked her daughters, she had 3 girls,  what she might be talking about. They had no idea and didn’t ask other family members for clues, despite us asking them to do so.
After the woman died, her brother dropped a bombshell on her daughters. It turned out that she had gotten pregnant when she was just 15 and had a baby boy in a home. That boy had been taken away from her right after birth. She had never spoken of this. Right until she died. When one of her daughters told us this news, we could finally understand her erratic behaviour towards the babydoll, who was, coincidentally, dressed in a blue jumper.

If the daughters had asked their uncle if he could shed some light on the womans behaviour this story would have reached us much sooner and we could have made sure she had that babydoll with her at all times. We might have been able to give it a name with her, making her feel more comfortable with this sad story. Sadly they didn’t and we tried to get that doll away from her on multiple occasions, for example when we needed to wash her or give her food. Which made her even more upset without us knowing.

So yes, negative details of someone life are important. Of course you don’t want the whole book to become negative, so don’t include too much.

I really hope this will help you make that lifebook for your relative. If you have tips, don’t be afraid to share them in the comments. I’d love to get as much feedback and tips as possible!

This post has been inspired by yesterdays Daily Prompt.

What’s on your Christmas Wishlist?

In 35 days it’s Christmas. And while I never enjoy putting up a christmas tree I love making a christmas wish list. Jay and I hardly buy each other presents for christmas. We just buy what we want when we want or need it. We don’t wait until christmas to buy it. But if we were to buy each other presents, this is what would be on my list:


This sweater from H&M. I’ve already got 2 of those, but they’re so comfy and warm. I simply love them. One more wouldn’t hurt.


I’m a big fan of Katie Fforde. This new book would suit me fine.


Okay, I really need two of these. I’ve managed to set fire to mine one too many times. There’s a hole in one of the thumbs and they smell… bad…


I haven’t got any glass bowls and I really could use one for my cooking. So yeah, this would be on my list as well.


And last but certainly not least this self-draining dishrack by JosephJoseph. I have a much cheaper dishrack, but the plastic that’s covering the wire is falling off and the wire is rusting like mad. It’s becoming a health hazard soon. So a new one would come in very handy.

What’s on your christmas wishlist? Share yours here or on your blog and leave a link. I’d like to check them out.

My all-time top five favourite books

These books are my five favourite, in no particular order, as I simply can’t choose which I like the best.

Lost Nation – Jeffrey Lent

Description: A man known only as Blood guides an oxcart of rum towards Indian Stream. An ungoverned territory high in rural New Hampshire, north-east America, Indian Stream is the place where the luckless and the lawless make their way in order to make a fresh start — and Blood’s reason for heading there is no different. A man with a past he’d rather forget, he hopes to establish himself as a trader. But on their arrival, he and Sally — a beautiful sixteen-year-old won in a game of cards — soon find their presence there is the trigger for conflict within the community; conflict that finally forces Blood to confront his ghosts. Jeffrey Lent carries us deep into conditions of desolation and hardship, but at the same time maintains the relentless beat of hope. Written in lucid and seductive prose, LOST NATION resoundingly confirms Jeffrey Lent’s place in the front rank of modern novelists.

My opinion: This is a great book. The plot has so many twists I couldn’t believe it. I bought it in a clearance shop for little to nothing. I haven’t seen this book ever since, but it sure deserves better then be put on sale. If you can, please have a go and read it.

 

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

Description: This is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

My opinion: I’m so glad I’ve decided to buy this book. I’ve read Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry before and up to the third part I’ve enjoyed that book. The third part let it down for me. So I wasn’t too sure about this book, but ever since I started reading I couldn’t put it down. I’ve read every single minute. And I’ve thought about letting it rest when I found out the inevitable turn of events, but I simply couldn’t. And I’m glad I didn’t. This book has made me cry over and over again. And still I want to read it again. The switching between times is sometimes a little hard to follow, but otherwise it’s a lovely, lovely book.

 

The Unburied – Charles Palliser

Description: Dr Courtine, an unworldly academic is visiting an old friend in the Cathedral town of Thurchester in the late 1870s. On his first night he is told the story of the town ghost, a legend deeply mired in the medieval intrigues of the Cathedral when two prominent churchmen met their deaths in unexplained circumstances. The story of dark deeds in the ancient close captures Courtine’s donnish imagination, and he is also embarking on some amateur sleuthing of his own – attempting to track down an elusive 11th century manuscript to prove his theories about the life of King Alfred. Suitably distracted, Courtine becomes the unwitting witness to a terrible crime committed on his own doorstep…

My opinion: After reading it at least ten times, I’m still no closer to solving the riddle that is this book. The description says it’s situated in the late 1800’s, but it could so easily be somewhere between 1700 and 2020. There’s no clue to what era this book is situated in. It gives me a uneasy feeling every time I read it and yet, I love it. This, again, is a book I picked up in a clearance shop, years and years ago. I’ve been asked to lend it out a couple of times, but I’m so afraid to loose that it stays on my shelves, until I pick it up and read it again.

 

The Lost Book of Salem – Katherine Howe

Description: While clearing out her grandmother’s cottage for sale, Connie Goodwin finds a parchment inscribed with the name Deliverance Dane. And so begins the hunt to uncover the woman behind the name, a hunt that takes her back to Salem in 1692… and the infamous witchcraft trials. But nothing is entirely as it seems and when Connie unearths the existence of Deliverance’s spell book, the Physick Book, the situation takes on a menacing edge as interested parties reveal their desperation to find this precious artefact at any cost. What secrets does the Physick Book contain? What magic is scrawled across its parchment pages? Connie must race to answer these questions – and reveal the truth about Salem’s women – before an ancient family curse once more fulfils its dark and devastating prophecy…

My opinion: I love witchcraft and this book is a great witchy story. From the beginning you are bombarded with curses, random stuff happening and more that simply hasn’t got a simple explanation. The names of the women are great and they’re apropriate for the times that their lives are set in. Again, I had a really hard time to stop reading. If you are into witchcraft, read it. I think you’ll love it. And if you’re not into witchcraft? Still read it!

 

Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay

Description: Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old Jewish girl, is arrested by the French police in the middle of the night, along with her mother and father. Desperate to protect her younger brother, she locks him in a cupboard and promises to come back for him as soon as she can.
Paris, May 2002: Julia Jarmond, an American journalist, is asked to write about the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv’–the infamous day in 1942 when French police rounded up thousands of Jewish men, women and children, in order to send them to concentration camps. Sarah’s Key is the poignant story of two families, forever linked and haunted by one of the darkest days in France’s past. In this emotionally intense, page-turning novel, Tatiana de Rosnay reveals the guilt brought on by long-buried secrets and the damage that the truth can inflict when they finally come unravelled.

My opinion: This book was given to me by a friend as a BookCrossing book. I’ve since given it to the next reader and I can’t help but think that was a mistake. I so want to read it again. The wonderful writing really sucks you in, makes you feel like you are part of the book. Part of the lives of little Sarah that’s so desperately wants to go back to her little brother. I was so mad when I found out the truth. I remember thrwoing the book through the room whilest tears streamed down my face. I’ve had lots of nightmares about this book. I really wanted to help Sarah.