Dear memories from a lost place

The closing of Borders.
It was my last day in Honolulu. I had being traveling all around the Hawaiian island, at least as much as I could, but there was a place I hadn’t been yet: the big Borders store at the Victoria Ward Centre.
It wasn’t on my way, but I took the bus anyway to go there. I had seen the store the very first day I arrived to the island. Ever since, I knew I had to stop by, as I used to do it in any place I was visiting. The bookstore tour is a must always in my to-do list whenever I’m planning a trip.
So, I took the bus and after a while I got there. I walked a little bit to find the entrance to the store, but once I managed to get there… it was really hard for me to go out.
I wander around the aisles to get familiar with the distribution of the shelves and to locate the areas I was more interested in and to shop a few books. Then, I stopped by the Seattle coffee and had was I’ve loved: a hazelnut latte. Absolutely yummy.
I took my coffee outside to enjoy the beautiful views from the terrace. The weather was magnificent, as it was expected, and right in front of the place, across the avenue, it was the ocean! What else could I asked for, I loved bookstore which I had visited frequently for over a decade in different places, my first bunch of book just acquired, a delicious latte, and me enjoying the view. I was truly satisfied.
After some time outside, I went back to the store. Then the book-attack started again. I totally got lost in the Hawaiian section, and did, as usually lots of walking around the fiction area. The end of the tour was in the music section.
During one of the day tours I had taken, the guide played on the bus for us a cd of Hawaiian music. I liked it a lot but I never had the chance to ask him what it was its title or who were the performers. So I told the clerk: I’m looking for a cd of Hawaiian music that sound a little bit like those chorus presented by Perry Como… Ok, I know it wasn’t the most precise description, and of course I was expecting the guy to give me a weird look… but he didn’t! He took some time and picked up a bunch of cd that might fill my sort of description, and let me listen to them. it worked like magic!
In the end.. I left the place carrying a heavy load of books, a cd of Hawaiian music, a big smile and a happy spirit.
Through the years, I’ve collected several happy stories like this coming from the huge amount of time I spend in bookstores. Many of them are related to Borders, but this one, in Hawaii is the most special one, and that’s why, it’s the one I chose to share with everybody, now that it’s being announced that this charming bookstore it’s going out of business.
There’s no doubt that it’s gonna leave a huge sense of emptiness next time I stop by one of the places a Borders store used to be. But from now on I’ll always treasure the fine memories I’ve collected in so many cities where the stop at Borders was a part of my trip. For now, it’s only left to say Aloha Borders, mahalo for the good times.

The book of our lives

A moment in time.
After reading the question “Can a camera truly capture a moment in time?, I took a moment to go through some of the photos I’ve taken in different places and times.
Looking at all those landscapes, dear friends, and places that have become dear to me, I started to realize that all these collections of photos that we take throughout the yearw become at some point the book of our lives, like a living memoir that keeps on growing as time passes by.
As we add more and more images to these pages, this book full of stories written with no words, keeps experiences and moments frozen in time, guarding them, and sheltering among all those fun or sad chapters in our lives that have impacted us in such a way that have made us feel like capturing those precise moments in a photograph to remember them by, as only books (or a travel machines) can do it.

About horses and good luck

An unexpected novel.
After reading some books such as Amador and The Questions of life, by the Spanish writer Fernando Savater, in which current issues and everyday situations are analyzed from the point of view of different philosophers, it came as a fun surprise to read The Brotherhood of Good Luck (La hermandad de la buena suerte), a relaxing novel in which the main character, an Irish jockey is kidnapped.
Throughout the story, the jockey is missing, this situation makes the other characters, a group of peculiar people involved with the Brotherhood of the Good Luck, do the unimaginable in order to find him, as he’s the only one capable of wining the most important race in town.
Each chapter of the story takes a special turn as it’s told by each one of the characters, what makes the reader get to know them more closely, because at the same time that they talk about the current situation and their efforts to find the jockey, they reveal little pieces of their past, their worries and their hopes and dreams.
The story advances in a relaxing pace keeping the interest of the readers as their curiosity arise with all the little details that are uncovered by the author chapter after chapter.
When the story gets to the end, the taste is that this book was written by Savater with a lot of knowledge about horse races, and mainly with lots of enjoyment.

A story I’ll never forget

The Perfum.
Some time ago, while reading the newspaper a story caught my attention. It started with a little baby living at a street market by the Seine River. His days passed surranded by all kind of death fish parts that were disposed by the merchants while selling the rest of the fish to the costumers.
As the year pass by, the baby grows up in not much better conditions and those first days of his life at the market marked his life forever.
Then the first installment of the story published in the newspaper got to the end. However, the way it was written made me go straight to the bookstore to get this book called The Perfum.
It didn’t take long for me to go through the whole novel written by Patrick Süskind. It was just one of those books that you can’t put down, no matter how rough the story becomes.
So, as the time passes in the story, the main character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, notices that his sense of smell allows him to differenciate all the scents that are around him, even the most subtle ones.
Then he starts mixing those scents to create new ones or to recreate some others, until this becomes an obsession.
Once he’s becomes a young man he gets strongly attracted to discover all the singularities that come from the smell of the women he meets.
And then, he becomes a murderer.
This is the time when his life turns into a spiral of compulsion and violence that only ends with his own sacrifice.
When I got to this point, I was feeling totally and completely sick. Even more because I read the last 250 pages in one go, before going to sleep, what clearly I couldn’t do after finishing the book.
Although the experience wasn’t a pretty one for me, specially at the end, the way the author managed to present every single part of the story as if it was something real, is something I’ve always admired.
I don’t really think I’ll be able to read again this book, however, I’m always going to remeber the way words were used here to create all those images in such a clear and vivid way.

Six months and counting!

Half a year posting once a week.
Yes! It’s being six months since I’ve started posting once a week and I’m totally thrill about the next six months to come.
This posting once a week has been a complete experience for me, one I’ve enjoyed a lot.
During this time I’ve literally turned my bookcase upside down, grasping the books I’ve read a long time ago and the recent ones I want to write about.
This has also helped me out to keep on reading avidly, as I always like to do it and to keep my dear books always at hand.
Posting once a week has given me a huge sense of commitment to my blog. And the best part is that it’s something I do not because I have to do it, but because I want to do it.
It’s true that from time to time it’s hard to accomplish this goal, specially when I’m really tired due to the daily chores, but it’s also exciting looking at the pages and how they are coming along. It’s also really great to see how some of my posts have a positive response from other bloggers and exchange some comments with them.
In this time, I’ve written about many things from cooking books, to ghost stories and traveling to exciting places and imaginary worlds. I’ve also posted about children’s books, tragic and interesting lives of famous writers and painters and I’ve also had the chance to share my thoughs about some characters.
And now, I’m totally ready for the other six months to complete a year blogging once a week. I have plenty of ideas and lots and lots of books I want to talk about. So…
Cheers! and Let’s keep blogging! 🙂

A great place to go book-traveling

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Edimburgh by NVS
A city to get inspired.
Either if you’re a passionate reader, a writer looking for ideas, or a tourist willing to get inspired, Edinburgh is diffinitely a place to go.
Just the city view from the castle on the top of the Castle Rock, is a breath-taking experience.
But getting around the city, looking at its landscapes full of gray buildings that mix their shapes with the blues and soft pinks sunstes is something difficult to resist.
Once the mood is set for writing, Edinburgh offers different options to take the composition to the next step: a literary tour.
For this, there are several options, from the bus tour, to the pub tour, and the walking tours. These tours take the visitors to the doorsteps and main places related to writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island and Strange case of Jekyll and Mr. Hyde); Robert Burns (Auld Lang Syne), Walter Scott (Ivanhoe and The Lady of the Lake), and J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter).
Once the tour is over, or before it starts, another great stop to get inspired is The Writers Museum, a place that houses original manuscripts, corrected proofs, books and personal objetcts that once belonged to Scottish writers.
After that, the only thing that’s missing, it to take a notebook and a pen and start wandering around the streets of Edinburgh until a collection of ideas get together to begin the next literary personal adventure.

The invention of the flying carpet

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Traveling to a world beyond the real life.
Not so long ago, I read this question: What invention do you need the most right now? My answer came right away: A flying carpet!
And this is because ever since I have a memory, I’ve always recalled all those stories about flying carpets that were described in the One thousand and one nights book.
Ever since, as well, I’ve also frequently asked myself why an actual flying carpet hasn’t been invented yet?
I don’t quite have an answer yet, but my hopes are still high that one of these days there will be a real magic carpet. Until that day comes, I won’t get tired of searching for stories that talk about this charismatic object.
So far I’ve found that apart from the One thousand and one nights, some Russian stories talk about magic carpets, however the best reference I’ve found about this objects come not from the books, but from some XIX century paintings by the Russian artist Viktor Vasnetsov, who depicted several images of people riding magic carpets.
The next reference I’ve found in books about these flying carpets come from a novel published in 1991, called King Solomon’s carpet, by Barbara Vine. The story describes a social drama in which the lives of the characters move around the London tube, which works as a metaphor of the carpet.
There are also two books under the title The flying carpet. The first one, was written in the middle of the previous century by the Russian author Lasar Lagin, and took the original title of the Old Khottabych. It tells the story of a boy who finds a genie in a vessel.
The second one, is a story by the American traveler and writer Richard Halliburton. In this case, the book is about Halliburton’s experiences while traveling around the world on his bi-plane.
In all cases, even though the magic carpet take different shapes or its spirit is incarnated in different objects, the authors keep the magical essense of the flying carpet that is able to transport people beyond the boundaries of the real world.

Stories of a violin

Text by Nora Vasconcelos

The red violin movie, an intriguen story
An instrument of destiny
One of those days in which everything was calm, I came across an absorbing movie. It caught me from the very start, and I just couldn’t go away until the end of it.
The screenplay for this movie, called Le violon rouge (The red violin) was written by Francois Villard and Don McKellar, and even though it wasn’t based upon any book, it made me feel that I was going through the pages of a fascinating novel.
The main character of the story is a red violin with a matchless sound that impresses everyone who’s around and marks an inexplicable or fatal destiny for its owner.
As the story goes on, the violin passes from one owner to another throughout the centuries, involving each one of them into stressful and dangerous situations.
Nobody knows what makes this violin sound so perfectly and nobody knows how its fine red color was achieved, but as the time goes by, and its fame for haunting its owners grows, the value of the violin becomes higher and higher, as the piece is coveted both by music lovers and powerful people who want either to posses or to destroy the instrument.
Many characters emerge along as the story develops until the end, when the mystery and the secrets of the red violin are unveiled. Then it’s probably the time when the viewers are already haunted too for the red violin and its intriguing story.