reto mag

about the land and the people

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traveling pages: Wild Truth – Carine McCandless

May 18th, 2015 by nina · books, review

Carine McCandless
Wild Truth
First publication: 2014 

Nearly everybody knows the story of Chris McCandless. The young man who went into the wilderness of Alaska to find….well, whatever he was searching for. I read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer years ago and I was fascinated by the story. I also watched the stunning movie when it came into the cinemas and bought the soundtrack by the amazing Eddie Vedder one day later. The story of Chris McCandless touched me deep inside and the way the movie and the soundtrack try to give him justice is beautiful.
I always understood why a young man wants to leave society and life with the nature. I thought it was brave and courageous. But I never could decide if Chris was wild and free or in some way lost. I always had the feeling that there are pieces missing of the puzzle.

Last year a new book was released which unveils new details. Carine McCandless, Chris’ Sister, writes in Wild Truth about the story behind Into the Wild. The true story about her and Chris childhood which was marked by physical and psychical abuse by both mother and father. It is not only the story about the background of Chris’ dropout but also her story of overcoming all childhood obstacles to become a warmhearted and honest grown-up. And it is also the story of a whole bunch of brothers and sister who against all odds became a strong and caring family.

Everyone who loved Into the Wild should read this book. It will make you cry and laugh, it will make you think and set your world on fire, it will make you understand better and deeper and maybe it will even make you love your life more. It is a sincere, hopeful and brave book which I recommend highly.

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traveling pages: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah

April 23rd, 2015 by nina · books, review

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
First publication 2013
translated into thirty languages

What did I know about Nigeria and Nigerian people? The honest answer had to be: nothing.
But then I read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A book about a young Nigerian woman called Ifemelu who is accepted to study in the USA. Ifemelu has high hopes about studying in the US, about getting a better education, a better life and about keeping her boyfriend Obinze who had to stay in Nigeria. But things change and Ifemelu become an americanah, she starts to adjusts herself, to relax her hair and dress like everyone else. But then again things happen and Ifemelu remember who she was. She starts a blog and writes about being black in a non black country. In the end Ifemelu moves back to Nigeria where she is a stranger again. Can she adjust one more time? And what will happen with her and Obinze who is married and a big man into business?
There are some parallels between Ifemelus Life and the one of her creator. Like her protagonist Chimaanda Ngozi Adichie is born in Nigeria. She is raised in Nsukka and moves to the USA when she was 19.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I learned a lot about Nigeria and the Nigerian way of life. This book gives an inside of so many things I never truly thought about because they just didn’t touch me. I am a white German who grew up in small town with some turkish and arabic people who are already born here. It hit me when Ifemelu writes about becoming black the minute you enter a mostly white country like the US. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie got me thinking about how I would feel entering a mostly black country. Where I am the one that is different. Where I have to be the one trying to adjust. Knowing what the black women do to look less african I can see it everywhere. The relaxed hair, the american way of life. And I love that there are a lot of women that just don’t want to do this anymore. they don’t want to fit in at all cost. They have their curly hair and their own way to dress…and I love it!

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traveling pages: why reading?

March 16th, 2015 by nina · books, review

Working at a school I often hear things like “i hate reading” or “books are boring”. My whole time working I try to talk the children into reading. Because I think reading is important. Researches of the last years showed that not only do children who read have more phantasy and know different ways to solve a problem but also that reading ability is a key competence for life. If you are not able to understand and reflect what you are reading you will have a hard time getting settled in the work world and it is nearly impossible to get on higher educational qualification level.
These are just the obvious reasons. The reasons why grown ups say things like “You have to read more, it is important.” But who ever have worked with children will know that they don’t do things because a grown up tells them that it is important. They mostly don’t care about important, they simply want to have fun. The really important thing is to make children recognize how much fun a book can be.
A book is not only an item for education. It is a door-opener to different worlds, different point of views, different lifestyles. Within a book you can travel where ever you want and you can be whom ever you want. You can be a well educated young lady in the 18th century in Britain, or a magician going to Hogwarts. You can travel to Egypt, France or even Narnia. You can be a superhero, a witch, a hobbit or just a normal teenager facing life. Books give you so much opportunities. More than life can ever give you. It can show you how different life is somewhere else. It can make you realize how blessed you are with the life you have or make you stand up and change things. It can change who you are, who you want to be.
A book is not only something you read because you have to, it is a place where you can go when you don’t know what to do and it can be a friend when you have no one else to turn to.

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traveling pages: Cheryl Strayed – Wild

January 25th, 2015 by nina · books, review

Cheryl Strayed
Wild – From Lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail
First publication 2012
Translated into: over 30 languages

At the age of 26 Cheryl Strayed found herself being lost, divorced and addicted to heroin. After loosing her mum to cancer she decided that it can’t go on like that. So she sold the most things she owned, packed her backpack and left to hike over 1000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. In her 2012 published book Wild she describes her experiences on her hike. From purifying water over nights in the tent and loosing toenails to the amazing people she met on her way. She even finally could mourn the death of her mother.

I read Cheryl Strayed’s book while staying at the Bay Area in California. I even visited the Yosemite National Park where I could see the mountain chain through which the PCT passes. Even though we just did some day tours without hiking backpack I felt closer to Cheryl Strayed as I would have sitting at home in Germany on my sofa. I am really impressed by the courage and the commitment of this young woman. I don’t think that I would have the guts to do what she did.
To me Cheryl Strayed is a role model, a strong and brave woman who faced her fears.
So if you like non fiction travel and adventure books, written by strong and brave women, books that can actually teach you something about life, you should definitively read this book. Read it now and soak up the strength, the bravery and the lesson you can learn from it.

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traveling pages: what to read

December 21st, 2014 by nina · books

the time has come. christmas is nearly here and we are looking forward to some peaceful days at home with family and friends. with some mulled wine, tasty dinners and a good book.
in case you have no idea what to read between christmas and new years i have some all time favorite recommendations for you. or maybe you are still looking for a present to give? a book is always a good idea.

harry potter
i love reading harry potter during christmas time. because there is nothing more festive than hogwarts at christmas. i think there is no need to explain what harry potter is about. my favorite is the prisoner of azkaban because there is a lot of snow and butterbeer in hogsmeade. i also really love the order of the phoenix.

carlos ruiz cafón – the shadow of the wind
i am obsessed with this book. since i read it for the first time there hasn’t a year passed without rereading it. the shadow of the wind is thrilling and really well written. to be fair at the beginning you ask yourself when this book will finally start but then you find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night reading till dawn because you have to know how it ends. It is the story of daniel and the book the shadow of the wind by julian carax. a story about books, a father and son relationship, betrayal, love and real friendship. it will leave you with a giddy feeling only the beauty of words can give you and the wish you would know the way to the cemetery of lost books.

jack kerouac – on the road
on the road is a modern classic. written by the beatnik jack kerouac it is the language which makes this book so special. it seams like karouac has managed to put the beat of bebop into the rhythm of words. the story is about a group of young people in the early 50′s who travel through the usa and abandoned themselves to sex, drugs and jazz music. once you get the very different way the language sounds in your head it is an awesome ride.

stephen chbosky – the perks of being a wallflower
this is referred to be a youth book but i think it is for adults too. the book is about the freshman at high-school charlie who tells his story in letters to a stranger. he writes about his family, his aunt helen, his best friend who killed himself and that he has no friends at the new school. but then he meets sam and patrick and his life is about to change. in the end an old childhood trauma breaks through and charly has to face his fears. i really love this book because there is so much wisdom in it and it reminds you how it was to be young. there is also an amazing movie version with logan lerman, emma watson and ezra miller which i highly recommend.

haruki murakami – norwegian wood
what should i say about murakami. i think he is the serendipity of my adult life. norwegian wood was my first murakami and is until today my favorite. there is so much i like about murakami’s books. the very reduced but at the same time really poetic language, the fragility of the persons and their relationships and that you will be left with an indefinable but good melancholic feeling. if you haven’t read norwegian wood you really should. it is one of those books, one of those stories that enrich your life.

harper lee – to kill a mockingbird
i think harper lee should be a must read for english class in school. in fact i think everybody should know the story about atticus finch. it is his daughter scout who tells the story of her dad, the lawyer atticus finch. the story is placed in the 1930′s in alabama where finch dared to conduct a black farm worker. of course the white people of the town are appalled and racism and intolerance start to intrude into the childhood of scout and her brother. what i love about the book is the childlike way to see these things. and i love atticus finch who is an amazing father and role-model. alway when you are in a situation where you have to decide between the morally right and the socially right ask yourself what would atticus finch do?

j.r.r. tolkien – the hobbit
to be honest, i wish i would be a hobbit, living in shire, wearing colorful clothes and eat a lot. shire is the one place out of a book i would move to without missing a beat. sometimes i think i love the hobbit a bit more than the lord of the rings. maybe because it is “just” a tiny, beautiful story about a little guy who is braver than he ever thought he could be. i am going to reread the hobbit this year because i miss shire and i miss bilbo and the dwarfs and of course gandalf. although i think everyone should read the hobbit over and over again i would particularly recommend buying it for youth people. i wish i would have read it earlier in my life, it would have been a great role model.

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traveling pages: travel guide california

June 18th, 2014 by nina · books, california, review, san francisco, usa

traveling to california i had two travel guides. one for the southwest of the us with california and one for san francisco. before buying one i went to the bookshop and through a lot of travel guides for california, the bay area and san francisco. depending on what kind of traveler you are you can choose between travel guides for moneyed persons, backpackers, tourists and travelers. I chose the national geographic traveler for san francisco and the usa southwest with whole california by reise know-how. both have been very helpful.
since i stayed in berkeley i wanted a san francisco travel guide with more background informations and better maps than a whole california guide could give me. the national geographic guide has a lot of that. you find informations about the districts, historical backgrounds and portraits like the one of the beatniks. further there are some small day trip recommendations to napa, sonoma and others. if you only stay in the bay area i would warmly recommend this guide.
if you plan a road trip the usa southwest guide by reise know-how is a really good choice. it is with 24 euro a bit pricy (and also a bit heavy) but worth it. the reise know-how has all the informations you need. even if it is only a very packed version of everything you can do there is nothing missing. it gives you short informations, maps, recommendations and some suggestions for travel routes.
looking back i probably only needed the usa southwest guide because we did some trips on the weekends and i could have looked up the missing informations on the internet. i am impressed by the reise know-how travel guides. this one has been my second (i already had one for amsterdam) and it will not be my last. the guides are neat, organized and with an easy system. they give all the informations you need and are really compact. the only disadvantage that there is only a german version of it.

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traveling pages: kindle paperwhite

May 14th, 2014 by nina · books, review

for christmas i got a kindle paperwhite. me, the girl who love books more than many things on the planet. i was really skeptical about having an ebook-reader and it took me some time to get used to having one. and still i am in a conflict about if i love it or not.
there are a lot of practical aspects about an ebook-reader. specially for traveling it is a very handy equipment. you can take a lot of books with you. it is light, small and fits in even the smallest bag (or even purse). the kindle paperwhite has a very pleasant display – it is very gentle to the eye (even for me – i hate reading on displays). but it won my heart the moment i discovered that i can actually have books for free (the copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author).

but is an ebook-reader as good as a book? no, not for me. i love to flip through pages, smell and feel the book. surface feeling is irreplaceable. printed books tell stories about who they belonged to, where they have been and what they have witnessed. in my books you can find cookie crumbs, sand, entrance tickets, notes, subway tickets, postcards, letters,… if i see the stain of tea in solo’s journey i know exactly that i read this book while camping with my dad and my sister at the age of 14, when i look at anna karenina it reminds me how i read it for my exams in short amount of time and my edition of kitchen looks so worn because of me and all the people i gave it to.

a long time i had the feeling i need to choose. but i actually don’t, i decided to stay in the middle. an ebook-reader is neither a blessing nor a curse. it is what it is – an ebook-reader. and it can make life more pleasant and easy but it can not replace a printed book.

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traveling pages: will schwalbe – the end of your life book club

April 2nd, 2014 by nina · books, review

will schwalbe
the end of your life book club
first publication 2012
 translated into german, french, spanish, italian and chinese


the end of your life book club is a wonderful book. will schwalbe writes about his mother mary anne. about their relationship, about the life after her diagnosis with pancreas cancer and about the books they read together. and they read a lot of books, it was their both passion. they recommended books to each other and talked about them in waiting rooms, on vacations and at home. while reading i got to know will and his mother mary anne a bit. she must have been a truly inspiring person with a lot of love and passion for others and their needs. a friendly and loving woman with a great humor. her sickness and her death was never a taboo. will schwalbe’s book is not only about the life book club he had with his mother but also a warm and loving memorial to her.

i bought this book because it was a book about books. but i had to realize it is so much more than that. i learned a lot about life from the way mary anne shaped hers after her diagnosis. at the same time the book is never too sad or in any way stereotyped. it is just a beautifully written book, a tribute to life.

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traveling pages: philip pullman – northern lights

February 21st, 2014 by nina · books, review

  philip pullman
  northern lights
  first publication 1995
  translated into german, french



i have a book hangover. do you know this feeling when you are just about to finish a wonderful and compelling book and before you turn the last page you already know that you can’t start a new book right away? because you will miss the characters like old friends? that’s how i feel about northern lights (the golden compass). i just left lyra’s world and of course i could follow her and pan into the next book but what about the others. i miss the gyptians and iorek!

but one after another. northern lights was first published in 1995 as the first part of a trilogy which is known as his dark materials. the story has its beginning at jordan collage in oxford where the girl lira belaqua lives. her world is different to ours. specially because every human has a daemon which has the shape of an animal and represents the human soul. the daemon never leaves the side of his human. at life’s beginning the daemon can change its shape but when the human grows up it determine it. the name of lyra’s daemon is panthalaimon and he can still be everything between a moth and a wildcat. lira has a wild and wonderful life among the scientists at jordan collage. after she overhears a lecture of her uncle asriel and the children in the town start to disappear lyra’s journey begins. a dangerous journey which leads her away from jordan collage into the house of the beautiful and fascinating mrs. coulter and on the ships of the gyptians, always in the direction north. in quest of the disappeared children and the secret of the dust lira finds new friends and enemies not knowing that destiny is in her hands.

the book is full of surprises. always when you think you have figured it all out another piece of the puzzle appears. the thing i liked the most about the book was lyra’s transformation from a disobedient and wild stubborn person to a responsible girl. a girl who demonstrates greatness and bravery in the right moments, who says the right words and asks the right questions, who never stops trying to understand and who easily finds a place in the hearts of her fellows.

i would recommend northern lights to anybody not only fantasy fans. it is a wonderful book with lovely characters and an exciting plot. i just wished i had read it 15 years ago.

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traveling pages: jon krakauer – into the wild

July 7th, 2013 by nina · books, review

jon krakauer
into the wild
first publication in 1996
translated in german, french, spanish, italian, portuguese, turkish and many more

it’s the true story about chris mccandless. a young, affluent college graduate from virginia who decided to leave his former life behind and started living as a dropout, try to equal his idols henry david thoreau and jack london and traveling through the usa with only a view things. he worked as a harvest hand and met a lot of people living in hippie collectives. every now and then he stayed away from the people discovering the wild with its beauty, eating fish and things the nature has to offer. after two years of peregrination chris decamped to the real wild in canada, fairly dewy-eyed without the most necessary items he left the civilization in april 1992. after some days he came across an old bus wreck which was going to be his home. september 6th a group of moose hunters found his about 20 days old corpse.

the story about chris mccandless shows the beauty of the pure nature, living an easy life without luxury and advantages. but it also shows its cruelties and the sacrifices you have to make. his death stays unresolved until today. krakauer abides to the assumption that chris died of poisoning because he ate the wrong plants. but the other, more likely cause of death would be starvation.

by jon krakauer’s book chris mccandless won notoriety. many young men emulate him traveling through alaska’s wild.
what should i say? it is a really good book, you need to read it. and there is this beautiful movie made by sean penn you shouldn’t miss too. the recordings of the landscape are just breathtaking. and it wouldn’t be a great movie without a great soundtrack. composed by pearl jam’s frontman eddie vedder the album is very atmospheric and moving.

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