Recent Posts

.The Flu My Colleagues At Work Gave Me.

Heeeeeey! What’s uuuuup? It’s me! The flu your colleagues at work gave you. Are you gonna let me in or what? You’re hoping I leave you alone? Impossible because everybody comes to work sick as a dog. Sneezing and coughing around you and I am…

.Book Thursday.

‘Unless I’m cured, normal people will expurgate me.’ Sayaka Murata’s novel Convenience Store Woman is a darkly comic look at the life of a 36-year-old woman working in a convenience store and the many ways she is looked down upon by ‘normal society’. Having surpassed a…

.Signs You Should Give up on a Book.

You may know by now that I love to read. There are so many good books out there and time is limited to read them all. Every day thousands of new books get published. So what can you do? Usually, I will give a book fifty pages to convince me to read on or put it down. After years and years of passionately reading, I know the language and style that catches my attention in a heartbeat. But overall I believe, fifty pages in is a good way to decide if the book is good or not. Here are some other options and signs you should give up on a book. Enjoy.

You can’t stop thinking about the characters and how you’d like to rewrite them as characters from books you’ve actually enjoyed reading. Like the books I have written, for example. You find yourself regularly reaching for the book to squash the silverfish in your apartment.

You keep having to reread the first chapter because you’ve been distracted by an article about Dwayne Johnson’s movies, ranked from best to worst.

You’re ten pages into the book and think a murder investigation would really liven things up right about now. (You are reading “Little Women.”)

You’re twenty minutes into reading the book and just now realize you’ve been asleep the whole time.

You’re twenty years into reading the book and it’s the only book that hasn’t been burned or rewritten by robot overlords, and yet you still can’t seem to get emotionally invested in the story.

The book has been described as “thrilling” and “captivating,” but by readers who play badminton or golf.

You want to stick with the book for the first hundred pages before deciding whether you should abandon it, but at your current pace it will take you a year to get through a single page.

You wait for the book to initiate physical contact.

The blurb on the back of the book says, “It will catch your attention eventually, I promise.”

You stay up all night, tearing through the pages of the book, only you’re not reading the actual words, you’re just looking for the page in which you tucked a piece of scrap paper with your Gmail password on it.

You were thinking about Dwayne Johnson’s performance in “The Tooth Fairy,” which leads you to Google whether he was nominated for an Oscar for that film, which then somehow leads you to click on an article about the best hand creams for mature skin, and now you can’t remember what the book is about and have to start over from the beginning.

You would rather get into a conversation with your neighbour who likes to go into very specific detail about Helene Hanff books before she finally asks, “So what’s going on with you?” and her eyes glaze over as soon as you start talking about your work and so you end up asking her about which Hanff book is her favourite in order to reëngage her in the conversation, just to avoid reading your book.

You are reading “David Copperfield” before starting on “Demon Copperhead,” which was inspired by “David Copperfield,” because you think this will give you a feeling of accomplishment that will make you feel better about how you’ve been cold e-mailing these health insurance people without getting any responses, probably because your only viable skill is reading books you can’t seem to finish.

There’s going to be a film adaptation of the book you cannot finish starring Dwayne Johnson. You should watch that instead. 

Also, what’s going on with Dwayne Johnson and I? In any case, purchase my books if you need a good laugh and when in doubt what to read. 😉

.Book Thursday.

Psychologie interessiert mich brennend. Ich liebe es mein Wissen zu erweitern denn nach oben gibts es keine Grenzen. Das Buch welches ich heute rezensieren möchte ist von Sandra Konrad und heisst “Nicht ohne meine Eltern”. In diesem Buch findet der Leser heraus wie gesunde Ablösung…

.Emails From My Dentist that Would Actually Make me Schedule an Appointment.

I hate going to the dentist. Hate it! With a passion! And I am always scared and avoid appointments like the plague. There were times when I was in so much pain but I still didn’t go. Every thought of going to a dentist’s office…

.Book Thursday.

“Heroes go forth. To be alive is to go forth.” 

What this book is about:

Johannes is a free dog who lives in a park on a small island. He loves running and keeping track of everything that is happening in the park including human activity as well as the other animals. He is the “Eyes” of the park, reporting back to the three Bison who are the “Keepers of the Equilibrium”. He has a team of Assistant Eyes – a seagull, a raccoon and a squirrel to help him with his duties.

As the narrative progresses, we follow Johannes and his friends as they encounter several disturbances to the Equilibrium-the construction of a new structure in the middle of a park, the “rectangles” that fascinate Johannes, the hundreds of goats that are new to the park, the Trouble Travelers and the Control- the- Animals people and the Parks People who are on the lookout for a coyote that has been seen in the vicinity. Johannes also embarks on a quest to free his Bison friends who are fenced in an enclosure in the park. Not everything will go according to his plans and he will face a series of obstacles in the process, learning much about the way the world works and himself in the process.

Please note that this story does not employ anthropomorphism as a narrative device or metaphor. This is a story about animals that coexist in the same habitat, each with their own habits and rituals, and in no way are meant to represent human behavior in any form. The author makes this clear at the beginning of this story. “And, most crucially, no animals symbolize people. It is a tendency of the human species to see themselves in everything, to assume all living things, animals in particular, are simply corollaries to humans, but in this book, that is not the case. Here, the dogs are dogs, the birds are birds, goats are goats, the Bison Bison.”

The story is presented to us in Johannes’ first-person. In turn moving, reflective and humorous and touching upon themes of friendship, family, freedom and change The Eyes & the Impossible by Dave Eggers is a delightful read, full of heart and humor, that readers of any age would enjoy, despite the target audience being younger readers. Johannes is an endearing narrator with an interesting worldview. His observations on human behavior, compassion for his fellow animals (though he isn’t quite sympathetic to the ducks in the park) and his inquisitive nature kept me hooked till the very last page. Illustrator Shawn Harris adds Johannes to the classical landscape paintings interspersed throughout the narrative which are beautiful and perfectly complement the prose. 

“If we go through life assuming everything will be complicated, and then it is complicated, doesn’t that make us better prepared? What I mean is, if we expect life to be complicated, and life is complicated, then life is simple, right?”

Why I loved this book:

This is the single most delightful book I’ve read in quite some time!! It is delightful, with adventure and strong themes of friendship. And I laughed out loud all the way through this book. Johannes directly addresses the reader in a very casual voice throughout the novel. And whether it’s his inability to estimate numbers or his antipathy towards ducks (Don’t trust the ducks!), I was there for it.

In short, this book brought me joy. Absolute joy. And I know that I will be revisiting it. And, hopefully sharing it with many, many people along the way.

Finally, a note on the format. So, the photo all the way above is the version of the book I have. But there is a special edition published that is one of the most beautiful books that I have ever seen, and it’s being sold exclusively in independent bookstores. It has wood front and back covers, with a painting showing through burnouts on the front cover. There are full-color, edge-to-edge painted illustrations all throughout the novel. And there are gleaming gilt edges on all sides. It is simply stunning! And the most impressive thing of all? The beauty on the inside exceeds the beauty on the outside. Get to your local independent bookstore and grab one fast. Also, the audiobook read by Ethan Hawke (which is also amazing) highlights every single bit of the considerable charm, humor and poignancy this novel has to offer. It is well worth listening to. Personally, I think every library needs multiple editions.

.The Easter Bunny.

Okay, fine. You caught me. Congrats on catching the real Easter Bunny in the act. Yeah, I’m real. As real as Santa Claus. You know what else is real? My hatred of Santa Claus. Seriously, screw that guy. Like his job is any harder than…

.Book Thursday.

“She had repeated this trip every August 16 at the same time, with the same taxi and the same florist, under the fiery sun of that destitute cemetery, to place a bouquet of fresh gladioli on her mother’s grave.” Until August (Wir sehen uns im August)…

.My Tips on Raising a Boy.

This article is dedicated to my son Joel. Even though he drives me nuts sometimes, I have to admit that overall he is a very cute, smart, sweet kid. He will be eleven years old this year and leaving elementary school with flying colours to join Gymnasium here in Austria. Today, he came home and showed his math test with zero mistakes and a straight A (1 here in Austria). Be still my heart.

Sometimes I worry about losing the connection with my funny, vulnerable little boy as he gets older, and, when I mentioned this to a friend the other day, she replied: “It will be just the way it is now, only he’ll be a sweet-hearted young man, and you will feel very short.” Here, I share completely subjective rules for raising a pre-teenage boy…

I hadn’t realized that raising a pre-teenaged boy would involve all the tenderness of a violin spilling out a persistent heartbreaking melody in the background — and also, of course, all the crash-banging of a drum set. But it’s both things all the time. And, come to think of it and according to a good friend of mine, that’s true of raising a pre-teenage girl, too, a scenario to which most of these rules also apply. The main rule, which you already know, is to love these big kids fiercely and excessively.

1. Teach them to respect women. Not in the pretty-object-on-a-pedestal way of things and art; in the way of real, human equals with a right to their self-determination, intelligence and space on the subway.

2. Enjoy the same funny conversations you’ve always had, especially while walking in the woods or cuddling on the couch. “How many pieces of Kinderriegel do you think you could eat?” he might ask, and then look aghast when you say ten. “What? Twenty at least.”

3. Love them for sleeping late. The only other option is to not love them for sleeping late, since sleeping late is itself a given. They’re creating many inches of new human flesh a day, and it’s exhausting! (Remember pregnancy?) When they stagger out at 2 p.m. with their man-sized arms and legs and their sleep-creased baby faces, you can just say, “Did you have a good sleep, my love?” instead of “Good AFTERNOON,” like all of our own passive-aggressive parents did. And you might be treated to a languid smile, a comfortable stretch, and the simple pleasure of the words, “I did.”

4. Be kind to your child, even if it seems like he doesn’t notice or care. He does. Treat him to doughnuts, to barbecue, to a big smile, a cup of hot chocolate, the benefit of the doubt. When he lies down in your bed to be near you and the cats, you can go ahead and keep reading your book — the cats are purring enough for all of you — but it’s okay to brim with joy.

5. Prepare for cranky questions to emanate from the open fridge: “Is the ham all gone?” “Wasn’t there leftover steak?” Answer with your sunny good nature. “It is!” “You ate it!” Remind your son that he is welcome to restock the fridge.

6. Enjoy the beautiful, gentle, funny boy who says things like, “Herro,” to make you laugh after you muse aloud that work today was killing you. 

7. Be trustworthy. Be respectful. If he turns to you with something bad or hard, the first message should be, “I’m so glad you told me.” The second message should be, “How can I help?”

8. Assuming you actually want your son to join you, whatever it is you’re doing, the answer to the question, “Is it okay if my friends come with us?” is always yes. Also, because you will remember when he was too shy to invite people over.

9. Relatedly, keep around plenty of games and books to give the kids lots of fun things to fill their time with besides the kinds of fun things that you might be less excited about.

10. For everybody’s sake, knock before entering. In fact, maybe even, like, bang a gong outside the door before you get near enough to knock.

11. Take a picture of the heap of gigantic shoes by your front door because one day they will not be there and you will want to tearfully reminisce.

12. Teach him the important life skills: How to send a thank-you note. How to listen and ask questions. How to walk into a kitchen and say, “Put me to work.” How to call their representatives about an important issue. How to clean a bathroom, do a load of laundry, scramble an egg. How to sit patiently on the sofa between their two grandparents with their two new iPhones, nodding slowly and saying, “Here, let me show you,” when the grandparents are convinced the Google has gone missing.

13. Substance-wise, consider moderation over prohibition. That said, if you make one rule, let it be this: “Don’t ever try meth, crack cocaine, or heroin. Ever, ever, ever.” Explain the way these drugs permanently mess up your dopamine receptors (if you need to learn about that first yourself, do).

14. Pick your battles. Personal style is a pretty low-stakes form of self-actualization; if the way they wear their hair or jeans (hello, bum crack!) is not your very favorite, complain about it to a friend.

15. Pretend you’re just tying your shoe so they won’t notice you leaning in to sniff the still-intoxicating smell of their scalp.

16. Lying in bed at night, scanning around to check for various dangers and unhappinesses, you will mentally find your son safe in his bed, in his room, in your house. And you will remember to be so, so grateful. Because one day you will buy him a memory foam mattress topper and a set of twin XL sheets and, poof, he will leave behind a heartbreaking boy-shaped hole.

17. Wherever they go, physically or emotionally, understand that they’ll come back to you. And when they do, go ahead and fling your mama arms — your mama heart! — wide open. Wide, wide open.

What would you add?

.Book Thursday.

I love Japanese authors and their style of writing. Many stories are unique in that they utilize magical realism, a style of writing that combines mystical elements with real-life experiences. Usually, there is a mix of fantasy and reality, which Japanese authors use to explore themes…

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