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: 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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A stone for the world market – LUC FOLLIET – Nauru

December 22nd, 2013 by sophie · review

Everything had its origin in a strange stone which did not serve any purpose than to keep the door open. But this stone was much more than mineral mass. Because of it, the fate of the island Nauru took its course. A fate that also reflects a piece of human history: the human greed for more, for money, for wealth.

Nauru, located in the Pacific Ocean northeast of Australia, is the world’s smallest republic and today one of the poorest. The island has indeed experienced very different times. Times in which the island had the highest gross domesticproduct. Today there is not even a bank on Nauru that has cash reserves.

French journalist Luc Folliet describes this development in his book “Nauru – The desolated Island”. He tries to find out how it could lead to this small state’s decay and who would be to blame. Folliet reported in detail which different influences and power interests played a role. And hereof there are many because Nauru has become a global village over time. Not in the sense of McLuhan. Nauru did not become global because of the electronic age; it became global because of the desires of the world market which slowly started off with the colonization of the island by the British Empire in the mid-19th century. Folliet’s description of Nauru’s history reveals this and is therefore so exciting. There were times when the island was taken by the British, the Japanese, the Australians, “but the Nauruan’s fate was relentlessly connected to phosphor.”

Nauru finally became rich because of excrements, specifically bird droppings, skeletons and corals, which were the basis of the emergence of huge stocks of phosphate on the island. In 1896 the Australian captain Henry Denson took a strange stone from Nauru to Sydney and there he used it to keep his office door open. This stone, whose story has become a legend, consisted of nearly pure phosphate which is the most important ingredient of all fertilizers. Eleven years later the digging of the mineral material began on a grand scale. “Who controls the phosphor supplies, indirectly controls Europe’s agriculture”, Folliet writes – which explains why it is to no one’s surprise that European colonial powers were fighting over the island. The Germans, the English and the Australians – they all benefited from Nauru’s mineral resources with the exception of the local population.

That first changed with Nauru’s independence in 1968 and the government takeover of the phosphate industry. The life of the Nauruan people now took on an entirely new dimension and they reveled in wealth and unbridled consumerism. Although there was only one street on the entire island Nauruans owned up to three cars on average. The government built ginormous skyscrapers but no one thought about working, foreign workers were responsible for that. The principal activity of the locals was to purchase luxury goods from abroad and to do nothing. “The phosphate money has changed our lives and our culture” summed up Violette McKay who works today at the Women Affairs Office and tries to restore women to an independent and more responsible life. She is one of many that Luc Folliet has spoken. He lets politicians, locals and foreign workers have their say which makes his book an authentic and highly interesting reportage. Thematic jumps encumber temporarily the flow of read without disturbing it blatantly.

Therefor the issue is too exciting and the development of Nauru too notable – cause in the 90s finally follows the rude awakening: The phosphate reserves were depleted up to 80 percent and Nauru was threatened by bankruptcy. The government has lived for years beyond their means and backed the wrong horse. The money that was put into a variety of investment projects was gone. Financial sharks took advantage of those responsible and their ignorance. The following attempts to avoid a national bankruptcy were desperate and not always legal. In shell banks Mafia cash was laundered, trade with false passports was practiced and finally Nauru took in exchange for financial support refugees from Afghanistan who Australia did not want to have in his own country. But all this could not modify the situation of Nauru which fell back into the status of a developing country. The previous lifestyle of the Nauruan people takes revenge because the majority of the population is meanwhile obese and diabetes is the number one cause of death. Today the life expectancy is less than 50 years; the once ultra-modern hospital is degenerated into a “field hospital”.

Who bears the actual blame for the miserable situation of Nauru cannot be clearly identified. Folliet is also unable to do so. One Nauruan poses the question “Who wouldn’t want to be rich?” and simultaneously gives the answer that fits not only Nauru and its population. This island’s story could have been told anywhere else. Luc Folliet deserves the credit having told this extreme interesting story. With his brilliant portrayal of the rise and fall of Nauru he shows what the greed for money can wreak. In Nauru and around the world.

And what does the future of the small state look like? Nobody knows exactly. Only this: The legend of the stone lives on.

Nauru, die verwüstete Insel – Wie der Kapitalismus das reichste Land der Erde zerstörte. – Luc Folliet, Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, ISBN-10:3803126541


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traveling pages: paradiso magazine

July 21st, 2013 by nina · france, print, review

this time it’s not about a book but about a magazine. lately i was at the huge magazine-store at the central railway station in frankfurt. i always go there when i am hungry. hungry for words, good paper, the smell of ink and new stories. hungry for adventures, recipes and holidays of my life. so i go there quite often. and let me tell you this: it is really hard to find a good travel magazine. one which is not only for a special area like australia or the german island sylt. but at my last visit i spottet a magazine called paradiso. mainly i took it with me because of its handy size and the way the paper feels to the touch. my magazine was the second issue and all about france. i liked it so much that i came back to buy a second one for my sister but it was already sold out. so i bought it online, along with the first issue about italy. what should i say? i love this magazine. i love the fact that it is small (din a5 – it fits in every bag) and that the paper feels so good. i love the pictures and the stories. stories about favorite places. about holiday-houses at the côte d’azur and vineyards. about tending sheep and crément. with a lot of good tips in different cities, recipes for a gallic four-course meal and interviews with alfred grosser and charlotte ginsberg.
i read paradiso from the first page to the last and i can really recommend it! so go and get it.

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