Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Bookshop of Kabul- Bookshops Of the World

The Bookseller of Kabul was one of many books listed on my bucket list of books to read and quickly became one of my many favorite reads.

This post was inspired by The Bookseller of Kabul, with real photo's of the bookshop itself.  Pictured opposite is the real man behind the story Shah Muhammad Rais.

Yes it's an International bestseller, but what I've come to learn since having read this extraordinary book first published in 2002 is how much controversy the Author Asne Seierstad caused due to telling the story of Sultan Khan (Shah Muhammad Rais).
It surprises me that Shah Muhammad Rais found this account of his life so incorrectly depicted, especially when the Author shared four months of her life in Shah's home to write of his and his families experiences as Afghani's. How welcoming they had been, how open, honest they were with Asne, and how careful Asne consciously made the effort in telling their story through their own words and feelings.

Asne writes the foreward appearing  to be so aware in maintaining anonymity, telling a story as she puts it, in literary form, while based on real events.

It's easy to read this story wondering if it's actually fiction or fact; sign of a good writer many would agree!

There's always two sides to every story though isn't there?

It's reported that Shah Muhammad Rais and his family sought asylum in Norway as political refugee's after things revealed about them from the publishing of the book made life in Afghanistan unsafe. Shah then went on to publishing his own book, Once upon a time was a bookseller in Kabul, which tells his own story.

September 10 2003
By: Shah M Rais
It was my heartfelt desire to come to Norway and say hello to newfound Norwegian friends who had read a book, which was supposed to accurately depict my lifelong struggle against fundamentalism, tyranny and illiteracy in Afghanistan from the window of Asne's home. I never dreamed that the opposite circumstances would have arisen, circumstances that I never could have imagined when I extended to her my hospitality, precious time, and the benefits of my experience during a moment of tragedy and crisis for my country and the world. Instead of writing a true portrait of my family, my country, and myself she has closed the window on truth, defaming all of us in her cold desire for money, believing that the low and the salacious would sell better than the high and the honest. In this she has proved temporarily correct, but there is too much light flowing through the many windows opened by honest people during the global ordeal that terrorism has caused for such a hollow victory to last.
She has told the press that she has written or said nothing to put me in danger.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Bookshops of the World

Shakespeare & Company Paris- Most photographed bookstore in the world!
A Brief History of a Parisian Bookstore
"I created this bookstore like a man would write a novel, building each room like a chapter, and I like people to open the door the way they open a book, a book that leads into a magic world in their imaginations." —George Whitman
I just love George Whitman's definition of how he came to "create" this bookstore, it conjures an immediate imagination of your own, one where you can see rooms filled with favorite genre's, favorite all-time classics just waiting for your presence, to spot them silently awaiting your perusal, your excitement in meeting them, in stepping through into a universe of it's very own - and how wonderful does that feel.

Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookshop located in the heart of Paris, on the banks of the Seine, opposite Notre-Dame. Since opening in 1951, it’s been a meeting place for English speaking writers and readers, becoming a Left Bank literary institution.

The bookshop was founded by American George Whitman at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, Kilometer Zero, the point at which all French roads begin. Constructed in the early 17th century, the building was originally a monastery.

When the store first opened, it was called Le Mistral. George changed it to the present name in April 1964—on the four-hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth—in honor of a bookseller he admired, Sylvia Beach, who’d founded the original Shakespeare and Company in 1919. Her store at 12 rue de l’Odéon was a gathering place for the great expat writers of the time—Joyce, Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, Eliot, Pound—as well as for leading French writers.

From the first day the store opened, writers, artists, and intellectuals were invited to sleep among the shop’s shelves and piles of books, on small beds that doubled as benches during the day. Since then, an estimated 30,000 young and young-at-heart writers and artists have stayed in the bookshop, including then unknowns such as Alan Sillitoe, Robert Stone, Kate Grenville, Sebastian Barry, Ethan Hawke, Jeet Thayil, Darren Aronfsky, Stephen Rea, David Rakoff, and Linda Grant. These guests are called Tumbleweeds after the rolling thistles that “drift in and out with the winds of chance,” as George described. A sense of community and commune was very important to him—he referred to his shop as a “socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore.”

Three things are asked of each Tumbleweed: read a book a day, help at the shop for a few hours a day, and produce a one-page autobiography. Thousands and thousands of these autobiographies have been collected and now form an impressive archive, capturing generations of writers, travelers, and dreamers who have left behind pieces of their stories.

In 2002, at the age of twenty-one, Sylvia Whitman, George’s only child, returned to Shakespeare and Company to spend time with her father, then eighty-eight years old, in his kingdom of books. In 2006, George officially put Sylvia in charge. On the shutters outside the store, he wrote: “Each monastery had a frère lampier whose duty was to light the lamps at nightfall. I have been doing this for fifty years. Now it is my daughter’s turn.”

Sylvia introduced several new literary endeavors. In June 2003, Shakespeare and Company hosted its first literary festival, followed by three others. Participants over the years have included Paul Auster, Will Self, Marjane Satrapi, Jung Chang, Philip Pullman, Hanif Kureishi, Siri Hustvedt, Martin Amis, and Alistair Horne, among many others.

In 2011, with the de Groot Foundation, Shakespeare and Company launched the Paris Literary Prize, a novella contest open to unpublished writers from around the world. In recent years, the bookstore’s had cameo appearances in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Shakespeare and Company also continues to host at least one free literary event a week, and has been delighted to welcome young and emerging writers along with today’s leading authors.

The shop’s latest projects include a Shakespeare and Company publishing arm and an ongoing search for a farm and writers’ retreat in the countryside around Paris.

Although George Whitman passed away on December 14, 2011—two days after his 98th birthday—his novel, this bookshop, is still being written, both by Sylvia and by the thousands of people who continue to read, write, and sleep at Shakespeare and Company.

If I ever visit Paris, this will be a must visit on my bucket-list of places to see before I die.

Notes shared in this post have been resourced from Shakespeare and Co's website titled "History."

Saturday, 2 January 2016

January's Author Spotlight

Each month I hope to introduce you to a special author whom I've come to love and perhaps even resonate with his or her writing on a very personal level; it might even include an author I have either just experienced or endeavor too via spotting a read of new interest. Some of you may already know some of these authors from having already read their books. Some authors we may get to know together for the first time, sparking a common interest in wanting to read something completely different to the usual genres we're use to.
Either way I hope you enjoy this new addition to my blog for 2016.

Just for the record, Paulo Coelho has become one my most read and favorite authors. His writing brings deep emotional attachment and thinking, it makes you want to live a better, fuller life; a purposeful life. After reading one of his books, I'm left pondering my own life's purpose, life's value and I feel much alive with this experience I never want to let go.

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho is considered one of the most influential authors of our times, he's also become one of my all time favorite authors having read a huge line-up of his books including 'The Pilgrimage' and 'The Alchemist.' His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages; what author could ask for anything more.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947 he soon discovered his vocation for writing. His career includes working as a director, theater actor, songwriter and journalist. His collaboration with Brazilian composer and singer Raúl Seixas gave some of the greatest classic rock songs in Brazil.
In 1986, a special meeting led him to make the pilgrimage to Saint James Compostela (in Spain). The Road to Santiago was not only a common pilgrimage but a turning point in his existence. A year later, he wrote 'The Pilgrimage', an autobiographical novel that is considered the beginning of his career.

In the following year, Coelho published 'The Alchemist'. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time much to Coelho's surprise. The story of Santiago is a testament to how powerful our dreams can be and the importance of listening to our hearts. It really is a must read for any avid reader, believer or anyone looking to transform or add true meaningfulness to their lives.

Other titles include 'Brida' (1990), 'The Valkyries' (1992), 'By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept' (1994), the collection of his best columns published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo entitle 'Maktub' (1994), the compilation of texts 'Phrases' (1995), 'The Fifth Mountain' (1996), 'Manual of a Warrior of Light' (1997), 'Veronika decides to die' (1998), 'The Devil and Miss Prym' (2000), the compilation of traditional tales in 'Stories for parents, children and grandchildren' (2001), 'Eleven Minutes' (2003), 'The Zahir' (2005), 'Like the Flowing River' (2006), 'The Witch of Portobello' (2006), 'The Winner Stands Alone' (2008), 'Aleph' (2010), 'Manuscript found in Accra' (2012) and 'Adultery' (2014).
You'll love them all!
Coelho has received numerous prestigious international awards, amongst them being inducted into the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 2002 and Messenger of Peace by the United Nations since 2007. In 2009 he received the Guinness World Record for the most translated author for the same book (The Alchemist).

This title is one I have not yet read, however will make it one of my priorities for 2016; here's a little look at what it's all about. If you've already read it please leave your comments and thoughts.

Synopsis by Foyles Bookstore London
The new novel from internationally acclaimed author Paulo Coelho - a dramatic story of love, life and death that shows us all why every second of our existence is a choice we all make between living and dying. Veronika has everything she could wish for. She is young and pretty, has plenty of boyfriends, a steady job, a loving family. Yet she is not happy; something is lacking in her life, and one morning she decides to die. She takes an overdose of sleeping pills, only to wake up some time later in the local hospital. There she is told that her heart is damaged and she has only a few days to live. The story follows Veronika through these intense days as to her surprise she finds herself experiencing feelings she has never really felt before. Against all odds she finds herself falling in love and even wanting to live again...

Over Sixty-Shades of Gray: A Journey Through Life's Later Years

Here is one of the latest titles I've recently had the pleasure to review, I enjoyed this read and highly recommend it to anyone 50+ ...