Tuesday, November 27, 2018


"Content curation" seems to be the new buzzword nowadays. In the era of information overload, when not only information abounds but also misinformation, it seems essential to have a trustworthy filter that will select the most relevant data for us. Forbes indicates four reasons why content curation has gone mainstream:

- Growing quantity led to sinking quality
- We live in a social world
- Trust is invaluable
- Content is powerful

 This has a direct impact on our work as educators, we are no longer expected to be a repository of contents as much as a curator of contents. To exemplify, in the past, if a teacher wanted to explain some cultural aspect, let's say the British tea ceremony, he or she would explain his or her first-hand experience, give out a worksheet or show a video. If we are to be content curators, though, following the picture above, we would need to inform ourselves first, maybe browsing different websites and contents, organizing them into a coherent logical sequence, commenting on them and maybe adding an activity or quiz created by us, but we would let the students group the pieces together, very much in line with the flipped classroom model.

However, since we are all individuals, with our own personal tastes, political, cultural, religious orientations, I guess we run the risk of filtering in a biased way... therefore the importance of the community, as this blog article points out, it's important to actively "network with other content creators to develop planned curation, with an end goal of increasing your audience".

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Sound of Stories - FINALISTS

We had a lot of entries by students from Negreira, Ordes, Ribeira, Sar and Vite. Thank you very much to all of you for your stories, they were really interesting to read. High literary level too, so it was difficult to choose the finalists, but here are 15 stories for your enjoyment. Please, read and vote for your favorite!

1. The daily melody
Today it was also with me. It’s the daily melody that accompanies me a long time ago. A melody that mixes the horrible noise of the alarm clock or phone, with the soft sounds of the water of the shower or walk through the field. It’s always there, accompanying me, always faithful, day after day. Sometimes I wonder how I have come to this situation. And, suddenly, I remember: It’s the melody of civilization. It is the price to pay for living in it. And I stay quiet again. And tomorrow, as a merry-go-round, return to start.

2. Bad
This is the sound... the bad sound, this is the day... the bad day. I need to be clean today, after I am going to be dirty... maybe tomorrow. Before I need to have a dirty breakfast... like my life. Am I afraid...? No, not really. The phone!!!... the bad sound of the phone... Nobody answers, but it’s better, I am a bad man, and I have a bad goal today. It is the moment, people call me, maybe a good day for a bad day for somebody. I am a bad boy in a bad day.

3. Never alone
I’d always wanted my grandmother´s house. It’s cozy and has a small garden. Five months ago, I moved there. Since then I don’t live alone. When her alarm clock rings, I rise and we start our daily routine. I’m a writer and work at home because this house is very inspiring. But when she’s bored she plays around. She phones me or rings the doorbell. There’s never anybody. She makes me walk around the house like a cat and mouse game. I can hear my grandmother’s ghost steps on the bed of leaves going away through the garden.

4. Back in Wonderland
It's a sunny day. I'm with Alice, the Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. A lovely carousel goes round and round. The alarm sounds. Damn! It's Monday! I get in the shower thinking about the beautiful feather hat of the Mad Hatter, I prepare coffee while I´m thinking about the White Rabbit... I would like to live adventures every day in Wonderland...The phone rings, but it's too late. Who was it? Don't know... The doorbell rings. I open the door and... here's the Hatter. While I leave home the music sounds, the carousel appears and here I am, in Wonderland.

5. IN LATE AUTUMN (mixed feelings)

Another day, another lie
This time, I’ll dare tell you.
I don’t want to hear that voice, again.
I’ll make this all just one dream!
Ding, Dong!!! Who will it be!!!
Can´t I cry my pity?
I can’t read, my tears hinder.
I walk slowly, hearing a squeak in autumn.
The sun is still in the sky and shining above me
I feel like shouting, laughing, singing, loving....
I hear the child’s smile

6. Sophie
From my bed I could hear neighbours going into the stony path to feed the birds. When the alarm clock went off I was still awake, in my head was beating the tick-tock of the clock and the picture of Sophie in the bath. I could still feel her blood running down my body while I was hugging her tight against my chest. Later chaos came; the phone and doorbell rang steadily. Quickly the house was full of people, dolls, toy carousels and sweets. I still don't quite understand how my wife could give birth to Sophie in the bath.

7. The signal
The silence of the room was only broken by the ticking of the alarm clock, but she didn't open her eyes. Later she had a shower, prepared a cup of coffee and drank it while looking through the window . It was raining. How long had she been hiding there? Days, weeks… The insults, the punches, his cruelty... resounded still inside herself. Somebody phoned her, but nobody uttered a word. The signal! The bell rang, she opened the door anxiously and walked along the gravel path towards the car. The cheerful music of a new life began to sound!

8. HopeAfter thinking of her all night, he knew there was no way back. The ticking of the clock was his only friend during useless thoughts. He turned off the alarm clock and woke up, maybe a hot shower and a hot cup of coffee would turn him back to reality. It was pouring, the sound of a phone broke the silence. He picked up but nobody answered, he looked at the door and the bell rang, he opened it hoping she was there. Love’s like being lost in a forest, hope is the music that allows us to keep dreaming.

9. Flying high
Like every morning for the last sixty years, Ana turned off her alarm clock and woke up; prepared to face another routinary day. While having her breakfast, the doorbell broke the silence. Ana picked up the phone but nobody answered. ‘Would it be the call which she’d been waiting for so long?’ After a while, somebody knocked on the door. Ana smiled; the moment had come! She opened the door and walked to the big circus tent. In the end, she would be able to fulfill her dream. Just little before she died, Ana would become a trapeze artist.

10. Oh Alice!
An alarm clock? Where am I? I see a bathroom, I take a shower, MMMMM smells good! Coffee, eggs, who made breakfast? Riiing! Hello!­, no one, ding dong, my red shoes knock on the floor, I find the door and open it, a chorus of birds greets me, a man with a long white beard looks at me, gives me a ring, smiles and goes walking on the grass, I follow him to a village, what is Gandalf doing in Oz if the music I hear is from another film?

11. Lady Duplo
Lady Duplo truly thinks that her lucky number is two. For that reason she waited so long for today, the second of the second, to be the greatest day. Her clock rang twice and she went to take a shower and soaped herself two times. She let the phone ring twice before answering it and she prepared a bouquet with two flowers, but when Tom knocked on the door............ only once!......... lady Duplo worried............. but she, looking at him, felt doubly happy, because Tom, who will be her husband in two hours, made two hearts beat inside her.

12. Trapped
My heart’s beating faster than the alarm. A shower? What for? What I did has stained me forever. Now that he is absent, the coffee maker, the frying pans, breakfast time… everything turns so unfamiliar… The phone rings. My mother. She knows what I have done. No more blows now, no more cries. I get out. As I penetrate into the forest, the sound of the leaves makes me feel more alive. Am I free? Perhaps I am more imprisoned than ever. Trapped inside myself, entrapped by my conscience.

13. Destination unknown
The day everything was over began like any other day two years ago. That night, as usual, Leia barely slept. After switching off the useless alarm, she started her routine: a quick shower, scrambled eggs and coffee for breakfast… Then, her phone rang. Leia answered it, expecting to hear the voice of another agent. Instead, somebody hung up. She immediately knew what it meant, and the doorbell ringing confirmed her suspicions. She opened and no one was outside. Strangely calm, she took out her guns and walked into the forest. Maybe they caught her, but she wouldn't make it easy.

14. Yellowknife
“Morning awakening is the time I expect the most everyday. I love how Miley stretches herself to leave the warmth I breathe in. She moves into the bathroom and feels how water gives her a new, fluent, appearance. We left Tri-Cities under an unusual rain."

‘Jared, please, stop scribbling and answer the phone, will you?’ ‘Too late, no answer’ Someone’s just rung. Miley opened the door. Surprised, she could see an old man crossing the backyard. Miley´s (formerly Rayon´s) childhood spun one more time in the carousel. Stared at by his father, hieratic. He turned as pale as snow.

15. Synesthetic breath
These four windowless walls of my writing protect me from the stabs that sunlight settles on my ears, soaking me completely deaf facing the brightness of your lifestyle which blinds my eyes with just a clock whisper. I ask whether this faint hypoallergenic world of silence where I'm captive may become better than the outside world you perceive, in which you want to talk but nobody listens, where your steps make you the companion of death during the stroll to the end of everything and nothingness, where our worlds become the chilling smell of scream of the last breath.

LINK to the sound file that served as inspiration.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

THE SOUND OF STORIES - Short Story Contest

Short story contest of the year!
Do you feel like writing but the muses don’t visit you anymore? Listen to the soundtrack we suggest and get inspired! We can think of no better way to celebrate World Book Day than reading and writing stories. And, of course, winning prizes for writing them!
To enter the contest, read the Terms and Conditions and download the Soundtrack

Problems? Send an email to: thesoundofstories@gmail.com

Thanks to Mariló Vélez for the idea and for organising it!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


The FINALISTS of the 3rd MINI SAGA CONTEST have already been chosen. 

Thanks a lot to all the 70 participants for their great stories!

Please, read the mini sagas below and vote for your favourite one. You can also watch the video of the song by the same title.
The THREE WINNERS will be announced on Friday, 26th April.

Thanks for your collaboration and ENJOY YOUR READING! 

A Dark Desire
I tiptoe silently. Nobody must hear me. I feel my heart beating faster and faster... Until I reach one last threshold… I stop and tell myself: “You don’t have to do IT. You really don’t” I feel awful… but it´s my fate. Only one time and no more... sweet Chocolate.

  A Dark Desire (Loudness)

Because You Love Me
You were always around me. Just calling your name and you were willing to do whatever I ordered, ready to obey, always happy. Today is different, I call you aloud once and again but you do not come. My eleven year old dog has gone and will never come back.

Because You Love Me (Celine Dion)

      Last Night
Suddenly, an unexpected feeling takes over me as your arms wrap me up warmly. Your strong body, your big sword… tell me to let go while the deafening storm hinders my flight. Sunrise. I must fly south immediately while you’ll stay rooted here forever. Just a bird and a statue.
 Last Night (Strokes)


Lost in the Echo
He opened his eyes. Where was he? Who was the unknown person beside him? He was afraid. He couldn't remember his last steps. His son, who was sitting next to him, was crying. Drying his own tears, he said “I think I should introduce myself.” Again, he thought.

 Lost in the Echo (Linkin Park)

More Than Words  
They pass one by one leaving their marks in our spirits, opening our minds to distant places, making us feel utterly insignificant. They go through us as softly as a whisper and, all of a sudden, time becomes infinite in their midst. Every book is a conquered piece of ourselves.

More Than Words (Extreme)

One Way Ticket
George walked impatiently and looked nervously at the clock. The train was ready to leave. Where is she?  He thought. They would go far to start a new life, he had never stolen anything and would never do it again; suddenly he turned around and there she was...a policewoman.

One Way Ticket (Boney M)

       Only teardrops

The old stone oven, our house door frame, the tree on which my swing used to hang are still standing. Longing for money drowned my childhood. Now, the drought allows me to see my past memories. The reservoir began to fill again. But tears were too salty for the earth.

Only Teardrops (Emmelie De Forest)

     Quando, quando, quando.
Last minute of injury time.
- “Be extremely careful with Garrincha, he always dribbles toward the right!”
-“Yes sir, understand”.
End of the game
-Did not I tell you HOW Garrincha dribbles?, so, why the hell … 
- Yes sir you did, but you did not tell me WHEN!!!.

Quando Quando Quando (Michael Buble)

Red Dead Bodies
The sun’s burning while her body remains suspended, high and inert. Her end is about to come. After waking up, the man sees her, approaches and jumps up to release her. She immediately falls to the ground. His eyes sparkling, his mouth watering… he exclaimed: “Come to me, delicious cherry!”

Read Dead Bodies (Brotha Lynch Hung)

She was very impatient, shifting restlessly in her seat. Suddenly, she jumped up and left in a hurry. When she returned, the painter glared at her and muttered: “What’s wrong?” – “Leonardo, I needed to use the toiled” – she said, sitting again. Her face lit up with an enigmatic smile.

Smile (Nat King Cole)

Sweet Sixteen
“Doc, this headache’s gonna kill me. I feel sick and I have a strong stomachache too.” Shit!! I can’t stand the pain. “Well, you’ve lost several neurons, but don’t worry girl, sleep, rest, tomorrow you’ll feel better. A hangover isn’t dangerous.” Oh, God! I’ll never drink again…until next Saturday.

 Sweet Sixteen (Billy Idol)

Vengeance is Mine 
It had been a long journey.  Countries, deserts and even a sea, looking for revenge. It had been harsh but thirst for vengeance spurred him on. When he got to Madrid, he walked up to a man: “Excuse me, could you tell me where the King lives? asked the elephant.
Vengeance is Mine (Alice Cooper)


Sunday, March 22, 2015


I was just checking to see how long we have been writing this blog, and it's already been 5 years! Not too shabby :)

How are you enjoying the book club experience this year? I love the format we are following, discussing the book half-way through and then meeting again once we finish the novel. Thanks for proposing the idea, I think it is enriching and it adds more to the reading experience. It's hard to stop at a certain point, but it builds suspense too, it helps create some expectations, and it keeps us guessing! I think it has definitely been an improvement.

I have been thinking and reading some articles about the benefits of joining a book club, like this one or this other one. I am going to write the ones I share and some of my own:

1. The people factor. Some of you are regulars of our book club, and I love that. We have moved from a teacher gathering with students to discuss a book to a group of friends exchanging impressions about a text. Love that dimension!

2. An enriched reading experience. It seems you always notice some details that have escaped me, some lines, some aspect of the character, or a different interpretation of some aspects of the plot.

3. A wonderful linguistic workout. I can't but feel proud of all the processes that come together each time you express your opinion, summarize an extract or judge a character. And it fills me with joy to see your fluency, the variety of structures and vocabulary you have, and how you seem to enjoy the reading experience more and more without being so concerned about understanding every single word.

4. A path intersecting with so many others. I am thinking of the connections books have led us to make: with other books, movies, songs, personal experiences. 

5. It has forced me to read slowly. Let me bring in this quotation by Sir Francis Bacon, which I love: "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention". It felt like lately I was kind of gulping down books. I got so excited I tended to read in bouts until I finished it! Book club has forced me to take it slowly, to "taste" and "digest" again.

6. Let's not forget the sheer enjoyment and the nerdiness of just being able to get together with a group to discuss books, drink tea and eat cake. Love Tuesdays at 8pm in Room 101! :) 

What about you all? What have the benefits of our book club been for you? Feel free to comment!

Finally, what do you think of the idea of having a rotating roster of leaders in our book club, maybe next year?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

SCOUT AS AN ADULT. Harper Lee to publish new book, Go Set a Watchman

Last year we read the novel To Kill a Mockingbird in our book club and I think most of you liked it, so what do you think of this piece of news? Apparently Harper Lee wrote this novel before To Kill a Mockingbird, but it is set 20 years later, when Scout is already an adult.

Penguin Random House said that the new novel sees Scout “forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood”.

It will definitely be in my reading list!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


As some of you know, I am still not a convert to e-books. I hold on to paper books and only occasionally have I read books using an e-reader. The Hundred Foot Journey is one of them, but I must confess I had my notebook and pen close to my borrowed Kindle :) I still need to take notes and to have a visual, touchable map of what I'm reading.

That is the reason why I like this Ikea campaign to promote their paper catalogue. Having set foot in one of their stores only once, and unable to buy anything at all, I am still a fan of their advertising campaigns :)

Friday, November 14, 2014


So, this is the first book we are reading for book club this year, and ain't it interesting? The first part of the book takes us to India. You can feel the pungent smells, the spicy scent of cinammon, curry and cardamom...

The expeditions to the markets with Hassan's mom and dad (and how different those trips are). I thoroughly enjoyed this first part, and it is also a fast historical overview of the British Empire losing grip of India.

I must say this first part made me think of a Hindi movie I watched some time ago, The Lunchbox, mostly at the beginning when they talk about the dabbawala business. The Lunchbox is an epistolary romantic movie, but I think it also taps into many different issues in Indian society, such as loneliness, unhappy marriages or women's emancipation.

I have only just started the second part, which moves to London.

I am actually quite enjoying the book, especially the graphic images Morais uses, like the one about the octopus which appears at the beginning of the second part. You'll know what I'm talking about when you get to it :) or if you have already read it, I am sure it's made an impression on you too.

I certainly hope you book clubbers are also having a good time whilst reading the book. In Ribeira we will be meeting on DECEMBER 9th to discuss just half of the book so that will certainly be exciting. Can't wait!

Monday, October 20, 2014

UPCOMING MEETING: 2014 Food Book Club starting!

Can't wait to start this year's book club! Remember to vote for your favorite books on the right after you've read the info on the previous post.

Our first meetings will take place in Ordes 29th October and in Ribeira November 4th (THIS DATE HAS BEEN CHANGED, REMEMBER!) both days at 8pm. Looking forward to seeing you!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Club Selection 2014-2015: Cuisine

Goodread Reviews

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain 
3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 · rating details · 106,953 ratings · 6,014 reviews 
A deliciously funny, delectably shocking banquet of wild-but-true tales of life in the culinary trade from Chef Anthony Bourdain, laying out his more than a quarter-century of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine—now with all-new, never-before-published material. 

Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl 
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 · rating details · 12,782 ratings · 748 reviews 
In this delightful sequel to her bestseller Tender at the Bone, Ruth Reichl returns with more tales of love, life, and marvelous meals. Comfort Me with Apples picks up Reichl's story in 1978, when she puts down her chef's toque and embarks on a career as a restaurant critic. Her pursuit of good food and good company leads her to New York and China, France and Los Angeles, and her stories of cooking and dining with world-famous chefs range from the madcap to the sublime. Throughout it all, Reichl makes each and every course a hilarious and instructive occasion for novices and experts alike. She shares some of her favorite recipes, while also sharing the intimacies of her personal life in a style so honest and warm that readers will feel they are enjoying a conversation over a meal with a friend. 

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 · rating details · 19,310 ratings · 1,657 reviews 
The novels of Joanne Harris are a literary feast for the senses. Five Quarters of the Orange represents Harris's most complex and sophisticated work yet - a novel in which darkness and fierce joy come together to create an unforgettable story. When Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous Mirabelle Dartigen - the woman they still hold responsible for a terrible tragedy that took place during the German occupation decades before. Althrough Framboise hopes for a new beginning. She quickly discovers that past and present are inextricably intertwined. Nowhere is this truth more apparent than in the scrap book of recipes she has inherited from her dead mother. With this book, Framboise re-creates her mother's dishes, which she serves in her small creperie. And yet as she studies the scrapbook - searching for clues to unlock the contradiction between her mother's sensuous love of food and often cruel demeanor - she begins to recognize a deeper meaning behind Mirabelle's cryptic scribbles. Whithin the journal's tattered pages lies the key to what actually transpired the summer Framboise was nine years old. Rich and dark. Five Quarters of the Orange is a novel of mothers and daughters of the past and the present, of resisting, and succumbling, and an extraordinary work by a masterful writer. 

Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton 
3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 · rating details · 19,668 ratings · 2,759 reviews 
Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion. 

The Book of Salt by Monique Truong 
3.48 of 5 stars 3.48 · rating details · 2,951 ratings · 462 reviews 
Binh, a Vietnamese cook, flees Saigon in 1929, disgracing his family to serve as galley hand at sea. The taunts of his now-deceased father ringing in his ears, Binh answers an ad for a live-in cook at a Parisian household, and soon finds himself employed by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Toklas and Stein hold court in their literary salon, for which the devoted yet acerbic Binh serves as chef, and as a keen observer of his "Mesdames" and their distinguished guests. But when the enigmatic literary ladies decide to journey back to America, Binh is faced with a monumental choice: will he, the self-imposed "exile," accompany them to yet another new country, return to his native Vietnam, or make Paris his home? -Barnes and Noble Spring 2003 Selection 

My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 · rating details · 7,315 ratings · 885 reviews 
A cross-cultural tale of two women brought together by the intersections of television and industrial agriculture, fertility and motherhood, life and love—the breakout hit by the celebrated author of A Tale for the Time Being Ruth Ozeki’s mesmerizing debut novel has captivated readers and reviewers worldwide. When documentarian Jane Takagi-Little finally lands a job producing a Japanese television show that just happens to be sponsored by an American meat-exporting business, she uncovers some unsavory truths about love, fertility, and a dangerous hormone called DES. Soon she will also cross paths with Akiko Ueno, a beleaguered Japanese housewife struggling to escape her overbearing husband. Hailed by USA Today as “rare and provocative” and awarded the Kirayama Prize for Literature of the Pacific Rim, My Year of Meats is a modern-day take on Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle for fans of Michael Pollan, Margaret Atwood, and Barbara Kingsolver. 

The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
3.64 of 5 stars 3.64 · rating details · 16,259 ratings · 789 reviews 
Ever since her engagement, the strangest thing has been happening to Marian McAlpin: she can't eat. First meat. Then eggs, vegetables, cake, pumpkin seeds--everything! Worse yet, she has the crazy feeling that she's being eaten. Marian ought to feel consumed with passion, but she really just feels...consumed. A brilliant and powerful work rich in irony and metaphor, The Edible Woman is an unforgettable masterpiece by a true master of contemporary literary fiction 

The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman
3.22 of 5 stars 3.22 · rating details · 2,368 ratings · 537 reviews 
Mark your calendar. It's the Christmas Cookie Club! Every year on the first Monday of December, Marnie and her twelve closest girlfriends gather in the evening with batches of beautifully wrapped homemade cookies. Everyone has to bring a dish, a bottle of wine, and their stories. This year, the stories are especially important. Marnie's oldest daughter has a risky pregnancy. Will she find out tonight how that story might end? Jeannie's father is having an affair with her best friend. Who else knew about the betrayal, and how can that be forgiven or forgotten, even among old friends such as these? Rosie's husband doesn't want children, and she has to decide, very soon, whether or not that's a deal breaker for the marriage. Taylor's life is in financial freefall. Each woman, each friend has a story to tell, and they are all interwoven, just as their lives are. On this evening, at least, they can feel as a group the impulses of sisterly love and conflict, the passion and hopefulness of a new romance, the betrayal and disillusionment some relationships bring, the joys and fears of motherhood, the agony of losing a child, and above all, the love they have for one another. As Marnie says, the Christmas Cookie Club, if it's anything, is a reminder of delight. 

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living by Julie Powell 
3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 · rating details · 94,743 ratings · 6,674 reviews 
Powell needs something to break the monotony of her life. So, she invents a deranged assignment: She will take her mother's dog-eared copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and cook all 524 recipes in the span of just one year.

The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
3.55 of 5 stars 3.55 · rating details · 9,395 ratings · 1,810 reviews 
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Helen Mirren and Om Puri, directed by Lasse Hallstrom, and produced by Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Juliet Blake, DreamWorks Studios, and Participant Media. "That skinny Indian teenager has that mysterious something that comes along once a generation. He is one of those rare chefs who is simply born. He is an artist." And so begins the rise of Hassan Haji, the unlikely gourmand who recounts his life's journey in Richard Morais' charming novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey. Lively and brimming with the colors, flavors, and scents of the kitchen, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a succulent treat about family, nationality, and the mysteries of good taste. Born above his grandfather's modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumière, a small village in the French Alps. The boisterous Haji family takes Lumière by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restaurant opposite an esteemed French relais (that of the famous chef Madame Mallory) and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family, does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restaurant, and a slew of new adventures. The Hundred-Foot Journey is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. A testament to the inevitability of destiny, this is a fable for the ages; charming, endearing, and compulsively readable.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SALMAN RUSHDIE on García Márquez

I did not want to make the previous entry too long, but this is a really good essay by Rushdie paying homage to Gabriel García Márquez, "Gabo". I love the parallelism he establishes with Faulkner too.

"The trouble with the term “magic realism,” el realismo mágico, is that when people say or hear it they are really hearing or saying only half of it, “magic,” without paying attention to the other half, “realism.” But if magic realism were just magic, it wouldn’t matter. It would be mere whimsy — writing in which, because anything can happen, nothing has effect. It’s because the magic in magic realism has deep roots in the real, because it grows out of the real and illuminates it in beautiful and unexpected ways, that it works. "


The Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, who has died aged 87, helped to ignite the worldwide boom in Spanish literature with novels such as 100 Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. Here The Guardian celebrates his life with a selection of images charting his journey from childhood in northern Colombia to global literary titan.

And an interview with Isabel Allende where she remembers the life and legacy of late writer Gabriel García Márquez. She reads from his landmark novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and talks about how García Márquez influenced generations of thinkers and writers in Latin America and across the world. "He’s the master of masters," Allende says. "In a way, he conquered readers and conquered the world, and told the world about us, Latin Americans, and told us who we are. In his pages, we saw ourselves in a mirror." Allende describes the first time she read "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and how it impacted her. "It was as if someone was telling me my own story," she says. We also air video of García Márquez in his own words and hear Democracy Now! co-host Juan González read from "The General in His Labyrinth."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird and Censorship

Remember we were talking about this book being censored in some states? Here's a website with some details on the subject.

Even though it has been deemed classic literature, “To Kill a Mockingbird” still finds itself on the banned books list. The racial content, profanity, and references to rape have caused many to challenge the book and have the novel removed from school libraries and classrooms.

Throughout the novel, vulgar language is used causing many to disagree with the use of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in classrooms. Words such as “damn” and “nigger” are used over and over which many find offensive. The fact that the young children characters are the one’s using this profanity causes many to question the novel and don’t want their children using that type of language because children in the book do.

Race is a constant theme in “To Kill a Mockingbird” which parents find as an excellent example to challenge the book. The Tom Robinson rape case shows that even though he is innocent, he is convicted because of his race. It’s stated several times throughout the book a black person will always be convicted if it’s a white person accusing them. Colored women are depicted as the “help” because they cook, clean, and take care of children for the white families. Racial slurs such as “nigger lover” are used which many find offensive and promotes racism and inequality of the races. This term is a main reason for challenging and banning “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

While Lee presents the idea and concept of rape in a mature way, many find the discussion of rape inappropriate for their children to read. The entire second half of the book is dedicated to telling the story of Tom Robinsons’ rape case and the trial which most find unsuitable and use against schools to ban the book.

The Time Keeper and After The Quake

I love reading while traveling, it makes the flights endurable and it adds value to my trips, because it brings together two of my greatest passions, reading and traveling. This was one of those books that I just grabbed because the blurb looked interesting. It is VERY EASY to read - short sequences, direct language, simple plot - so it's a good one to read even if your English level is not that high. I mean, you'll learn English and still enjoy the fun of a good plot.

Here's an extract from a review, whose opinion I share.

The Time Keeper is one of those books that, despite almost farcical sequences, works because of its message. Albom’s style of writing is fluent, simple and with an emphasis on brevity. It explores time from various aspects: its creation, its use and abuse and how its value varies from person to person.

It is not easy to imagine a world without timekeeping and yet, Albom’s right: the more we count time — and there are many ways of counting it — the more misery it creates. “Man alone measures time. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”

Another lovely, easy-to-read book. And a pleasure to read too! Here's an extract from a review too.

Each of these stories, as their collective title suggests, takes place in the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake, but because none of them is directly linked to it, they allow Murakami to examine its effects obliquely, from within his own infinitely nuanced metaphysical world.

If an earthquake is what happens beneath the ground, beyond our sight and immediate comprehension, then so too are our individual lives shaped by psychological and emotional tremors that we find hard to grasp, and subject to numerous unpredictable and violent aftershocks.