Taking the award, ignoring the rules

It doesn’t happen everyday, getting an award. I remember that when I first started blogging, I so enjoyed those. They showed you you were doing a good job. These days I’m less focused on more readers, more views and more awards, but I still like to be awarded, of course.
Now I’m not the best one at taking them. Something I just thank you and don’t post about it – it’s nothing personal, I just kind of forget about it, and I believe I’ve awarded almost all of my blog friends six times already at least – so the need to pass on the awards is not so big anymore. Still, I appreciate each and every compliment you give me, because I’m an attention whore, truth be told.

When I have run out of inspiration and I see someone is giving me interesting questions to answer though, I can give in to the award-craziness, which will happen now. I would like to thank Osyth once more for nominating me this time! If you are interested in more Russia, certainly check out her blog. It’s what got me into hers, and it’s definitely worth a read.

Of course, I’m still a rebel, so I’m not playing this by the rules. I nominate every reader of mine, but no one specifically. You know I like you! I’m not making up any questions either. I know, I know, how dare I?
But what I will do, is answer Osyth’s very interesting ones. So here we go!

  1. Why should people read what you write?
    Because I like to have feedback and response actually. And because sometimes I write interesting stuff – but above all because I tend to write better if I know people are reading.
  2. Fruit or cake?
    A cake with fruit? I like both… (Does this remind anyone else of Cake or death?)
  3. What is success?
    Success is getting what you want, whether it’s a grade or buying a house. It’s being happy – after all, that’s what we all strive for in the end.
  4. Advice to your 14 year old self
    Other people don’t always care about what you do, so do what you want. Don’t be afraid to be a little different, to have your own opinion, your own taste in things. In the end it will only make you feel better if you embrace these odd things about yourself.
  5. Favourite place on earth
    There are many places I can feel good – but I do want to return to Prague very, very much, because I remember it as a very nice place. Though I can also thoroughly enjoy a good bar for example, or a bed.
  6. Pictures or words?
    I’m better at words, and words for me can often do a little more than pictures. I like good photography as well, but give me a good book and I’ll be gone for longer than just a few minutes. I can express myself way better by words than by pictures too.
  7. If you could spend an afternoon with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
    This is a very hard question. In my current situation, I would like to spend my afternoon with my friends who are abroad at the moment. Sometimes I really, really miss them, and it would be nice to go for a drink with them.
  8. First love
    I’m not sure if I’m supposed to name a person, but I’m not going to do that. My first love is dance. I started dancing before I could properly read or write. I adore reading and writing, but dancing is something so necessary, something that lives in me, something that will never fully leave my body.
  9. Town or country?
    Town. I like nature and calm, but in the end I always need to see people, to feel like I’m surrounded by them. It takes away loneliness, even when I don’t talk to them. Just to know they are around is enough sometimes.
  10. The greatest invention of the last 100 years
    Maybe the Internet, if that counts? For making it possible to write this to you. For making music and information so close. Of course it’s also a curse, but it has very good sides.
  11. What is content?
    Content as in satisfaction – that would be this moment for example: looking forward to a nice evening. Doing what you want to do. Feeling loved. Feeling like you did exactly what you wanted to do. Finding the perfect shoes. A nice cup of coffee. A good song.
    There seems to a lot to be happy about, maybe it’s just because I’m in a cheerful mood 🙂

 

This was written yesterday, while looking forward to spending the night with a friend at a bar. It was a great night indeed, which helps a whole lot to be cheerful and positive in general. Maybe I should add to ‘what is content’ that going for a midnight snack (french fries) at 2 am is very satisfying.

So, that is as far as I will take this award. Thank you, Osyth, for the interesting questions! And feel free to answer these questions yourself in the comments – I’m curious as to what you guys would respond.

I just killed Eva Braun

It’s been a sunny, warm Monday in July, holiday, summer, and I have witnessed the Third Reich fall. I killed Hitler. I killed Eva Braun. I dropped bombs on the others. They fell from my hand, slipped through my fingers.

You see, exaggerating is also an art. Of course I killed no one, especially no people that have been dead for ages now. But I was reading a book about Eva Braun’s niece, and when I put it away, it felt like I had a choice. Will I let her live? Or will I let her die? I didn’t have to continue reading, I didn’t have to kill these people.

On the other hand I knew that the end is always inevitable. They would have to die anyway… So I read on. And watched it all happen. And felt a very weird kind of guilt.

You see, it kind of feels that I’m the one who does all this because I am reading on. I felt that quite clearly when I was reading Bring up the bodies, a book about Thomas Cromwell. I knew we were reaching the point were Anne Boleyn has to be executed. When I put the book down to do something else (which was hard, sometimes, though I knew what was about to happen), I suddenly felt the guilt creeping upon me.

You are killing here. But you have a choice. Will you let her live?

No… No, I want to read on.

But you will kill her. And there will be no turning back.

But… But…

No. You have to choose. Choose wisely.

Needless to say, I kept reading. Because ignoring the end doesn’t make it any different. The last page was waiting for me and the scaffold was waiting for her. I could only apologize to her, inside my imagination.

Is there some kind of word to describe this? The feeling you are killing the people who die in your book? And do you feel the same way?

Three toughest books I’ve ever read

1. The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

This novel was meant to look like a medieval document, and I must say the author, Umberto Eco, succeeded. Like, very well. That’s really impressive, but it does make this book at times hard to read. Eternal descriptions of a church, or endless discussions on ‘did Jesus laugh or not?’ are a great part of this book. Plus: people are killed, and you’d better be not too sensitive for the vivid descriptions of the corpses. But overall the story is interesting, a decent thriller. You would never guess the ending! And that’s what keeps you going. So if you know how to skip or read quickly over certain parts in a book and you like thrillers, then go for it. I never regretted reading this, not at all. And when you say you have read this, you will immediately gain the respect of those who know this book. It’s like becoming a part of the Elite That’s Read This Book. All you need is some stamina. Good luck!

2. Crime and Punishment – Dostoyevsky

As someone studying Russian, this is real blasphemy. This semester (but actually that means three months) I had to read ten Russian books. Translated, yes. But still. I started with this one, and set a deadline for when I had to finish it. But it was a struggle to finish these 600 pages… The perseverance was gone after this. The initial idea of this book is very interesting though: a student kills a woman, a pawnbroker, so that he can continue his studies and his mother and sister will have a better life. But he starts to feel guilty… Very interesting, but to fill such a giant book with just this? It ends up being like this: guy kills two women, gets away, fever, fever, talking about God, fever, God, God, guilt, sister, fever, punishment.
I was so glad when I finished this book… If you are more like me and like stories that are to the point, I’d suggest you read Father and Sons. That was a good Russian book, one of my favourites so far.

3. We didn’t mean to go to sea – Someone who should be forbidden to write

I had to read this book for my English class, and after that I had to resume it in three minutes. The point is, how are you going to resume a book in which nothing happens? Here’s what happens: a few children, overly attached to their parents, end up on a boat, and o lord, there are no adults around when the boat leaves, and o god, they’re heading for the sea… But they promised not to go there! O my! So they sail on… And on… And on… O look, a cat, floating on the sea! And they sail on… And on… And on… Until someone they knows enters the boat and brings them home.
Such a happy end.
So little happens that I was totally focusing on talking for three minutes, and then I even forgot about the cat… I never found out what grade I got for this assignment, but I hope it was a good one ’cause I read this damn dull book ’till the end.

Luckily there are still good books as well, and what gift is better for a poor, bored student than a free book? So thanks again to Michael Cargill for helping me retaining my sanity. Though I had read these stories before, I was still pleasantly surprised by how good they are. Recommend much!

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What tough books have you read? Were they worth it?

The Devil and Miss Prym

Is human nature bad? Would we kill for the greater good? Even when the greater good will turn out to be egoism? Paulo Coelho asks us this when reading his book The Devil and Miss Prym. A small village full of hard-working people is offered a great opportunity that could save them from their good but boring lives. But they have to kill someone. Anybody. Chantal Prym is the messenger of this deal, made up by a strangers that stays in the village for a week, whether she wants it or not. She starts struggling with good and bad, angels and devils. The villagers are struggling to get the possible murder justified. All because of the stranger, he wants to know if human nature is bad.
While reading, you can’t escape asking yourself the same question. Will they kill someone? Is it possible to murder when you take somebody’s innocent live? Would I be able to do that?
The answer is mostly frightening: we don’t know, but we will all try to get our choice justified, whether you kill are not. As soon as you suceeded in justifying, you could do anything.
To know how it ends, read the book, you probably won’t regret. It’s written in an accessible way, it doesn’t feel as a ‘heavy’ book. At the same time it makes you doubt human standerds, human moral, compassion and choices.
Would you kill for a better live, even when you always liked your ‘old’ live?