Some time ago, a friend of mine asked me what I wanted for a Christmas present. The answer took less than a second: The collection of notes about food by Leonardo Da Vinci.
My friend gave me a strange look, but said nothing. Later on, when we met again, he came with the book all wrapped up, and then he told me: “Only because you said the book existed, but I went to the bookstore fearing the clerk would laugh at me. Anyways, I asked for the book, and I got all surpised when he actually put it on my hands”.
The book, printed in Madrid under the title of Notas de Cocina de Leonardo Da Vinci, is a collection of the notes that the Italian painter made during the time he lived in Milan, working for Ludivico Sforza, duke of that city by the end of the 15th century.
Thanks to this experience, Leonardo started to write down the things he saw regarding the meals that were served for the upper class and the manners that were kept while taking those meals.
But the painter also jotted down all sort of notes about the eating habits of the people with less money. The collection refers as well to some plates created by Leonardo himself, mixing the ingredients the same as he used to mix the colors on his palet.
It’s hard to think on only one book that has influenced or changed my life, as my literary memories go back then when I was just a little girl. So, many titles come to my mind right now. The first one I recall is a children’s version of Thousand and one nights. I still remember picturing in my mind the fantastic scenes of this collection of Middle Eastern stories that talked about genies and merchants, and people discovering new places and travelers going to unimaginable lands! Oh! How much I loved those stories! They certainly cleared my path to writing.
Another fantastic book that marked my reading life is L’Avare (The Miser). I still recall that rainy afternoon when I first got this book in my hands. I went through the whole story while the storm was out there. It was absolutely fantastic! After that, I got the whole works by Moliere, and he’s still one of my favorite authors.
Along Moliere, Alejandro Casona took me to theatre books with his plays that touched really closed the humand condition by describing in a very detailed way his character’s fears, hopes and dreams. The name of the Rose by Umberto Eco is also included in my “Top 10”. With this Italian author I first discovered what it was to exercise brain gym in order to handle in my mind all the facts and happenings of the story and still being able to keep going on. But I must say that I loved the story so much that I’ve became a huge fan of Eco’s novels.
Another book that changed my life was The unbearable lightness of the being, by Milan Kundera. This book took me into the Easter life, which culture I’ve always liked. Then it came more Czech works to my hands with books written by Jan Neruda and, of course, Franz Kafka.
One more book that comes to my mind that has had a deep effect on me, is Love in the time of Colera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Besides the love story, I got absolutely amazed by the way the Colombian author works with works, creating with them a unique place where the reader’s mind can travel and stay there regardless of the outside world.
The list of changing lives books could go on and on, but I think the last ones I’ll talk about it’s a group of books I recently bought about Eastern philosophies. I like them so much because they gave me peace in the time when the world around me was upside down.
When I was a little child I was given as a present a book about typical Mexican stories. The book wasn’t famous and the author wasn’t known worldwide, but it talked about animals. I’ve always liked them, so I remember myself getting all fascinated while reading the story by Martin Cortina about a wild horse that used to go around the prairies and the valleys. However the story that really took my breath away (because all the laughs I had from it) was the one about a possum that liked to go around the forest of Veracruz (Mexico) chasing the good and easy life, getting all the free food he could get. In the story the animal is called Little uncle possum, and even though he’s funny and charming, he’s often chased and cursed by the people he has taken food away, but in the end, he gets all sort out and manages to live a happy life!
When I was little I also used to love (I still do) all sort of stories about bunnies. My very first favorite bunny tale was Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter. Back then I got amazed by how beautiful the bunnies were and how alived they looked. I totally loved them, and I still do it. Later on I discovered the Velveteen Rabbit, a story by Margaret Williams, with drawings by William Nicholson. What got my heart from this story was the idea of Williams about the rabbit wishing to stop being a toy and become a living rabbit, only by the love of its owner. According to the story, the more kids play with their toys, the more alive they become! I quite like it!
Yes!, I’ve just finished the Rule of Four that I started a while ago, and I have to say that I’ve kept the same comforting and happy feeling that I had back then when I posted that I was surprised to see how much I was enjoying the book this time, after the dissapoinment I got years ago when I read the story for the first time. I’ve found the book really interesting and absorbing. So I’m really glad I gave the book a second chance!
And now that the story is over, and the month is brand new, I have lots of titles to choose from. Of course I’ll continue with The last Dickens. The story’s great, so I really want to spend more time reading it. I’m also the proud reader-to-be of The cementery of Prague by Umberto Eco, and the other day I got all courious about the original story of Little House on the Praire written by Laura Ingalls, so I got the whole collection of the nine books and I can’t wait to start with them. So… lots of happy readings are waiting for me!