Posts Tagged ‘books’

Unusual finding at the bookstore…

… ok, for those of you who don’t know about it yet, I got a job working at a medical center as a medical assistant (today was my fifth day, and the first day on my own :) 

[oh, there’s something else I might have forgotten to tell you… I’m on the verge of dropping Medicine and dedicating all my energy to Education alone (right now I am studying both), but that’s a story for another day. I know, I have quite some explaining to do :P ]

Anyway, as I came out of work today, I passed by a bookstore that’s right in front of the bus stop, looked quickly at the books exhibited on the window and kept walking…

Bookstore window

I kept walking for as long as the visual cortex in my brain took to connect to the part of the cortex that deals with memories. Then I stopped, suddenly, and walked a couple of steps back, to give the books a second look. And this is what I found!

Socorro Diez

Socorro Diez, by Elsa Bornemann      :D

What a recurring topic in these last days!!

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The Horror genre is dead.

(Probably half of the people reading this post were caught by the bold statement I used as a title, and figured they’d argue in favour or against it. Sorry, it was just a catchy title and I thought it was nice, that’s it… I won’t be theorizing on the essence of the horror genre… The other half are probably my faithful friend-readers, who read whatever I write out of friendship and support. You, unlike the other half, might find this post interesting, but even if you don’t, I know you’ll be nice enough to read it… so thank you!)

 

I’ve spent many of the last days at my uncle’s house, going through my aunt’s* books, deciding which ones I’ll be keeping, which ones I’ll give away and to whom, and which ones just have no chances of ever being read again (understand me, I love books and I wouldn’t think of myself as capable of throwing books away, not even a bad a piece of literature… but some are so old that they basically disintegrate as you hold them). The amount of dust that covered those books and turned them into objects of unrecognizable shapes was such as I had never seen before. So much, that it made me think that there might be some truth in that story of a supernatural being who created other beings out of dust… who knows, I could have built a city from it, but I’m too lazy…

I took 20 to 30 books at a time out of the shelves, then cleaned them with a cloth (or basically sculpted them out of their dust into books again) and separated them in piles according to genre, audience and possible destination. I couldn’t help feeling that as soon as I took some books out, new ones would emerge from who knows where and take their place on the shelf; the job seemed endless. In fact, I still haven’t finished such task, and I am afraid of returning to the house and finding that no shelf is empty anymore… [maybe the books have a life of their own and the ability to move, and they make full use of their attributes while I’m distracted operating on a single one (who sacrifices its place in the shelf for the benefit of the wider book-community)].

Hmm… did I mention that I am allergic to dust? (Maybe you should have been warned before you started reading the post…)

Anyway, the last time I was at my uncle’s I went through the shelf of literature for children and adolescents (my aunt was a teacher), and found many of my favorite books from when I was little. She kept all my favorite books… in fact, she would always ask which books I had liked every year and use some of them with her students.

I found books all the way back to when I was four and just learning to read. I was especially happy to find the classics (my classics..) I read when I was between six and eight, and crazy about reading. Their pages yellow, two or three layers of dust on top, but still the same magic contained between two covers. I went through my favorite ones, and cleaned them with special care:

Matilda and The Witches by Roald Dahl: I loved these books, I remember reading them over and over, and wanting to be Matilda and own a mouse that played tricks… hehe

– The whole collection of The Little Vampire, by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg: I was absorbed in the reading of these books. I remember I bought the first one at the big book-fair of Buenos Aires. I bought it because it was on sale and no one would buy it. I would tell my classmates about it and no one knew the characters. At some point, later on, I even doubted that the book really existed, because even now I talk to people of my generation and nobody seems to know this collection. But then I found it at my aunt’s house and I confirmed it was not an illusion… Now I look it up, and it turns out that it was a big bestseller from the 80s… Maybe the Harry Potter of the 80s? I wouldn’t know, I haven’t read the latter  but from what I’ve seen in short bits of the movies, I would say the recipe is pretty much the same, uh… (yeah, those against -or in favour of – this statement, feel free to post comments!)

Socorro and Socorro Diez, by Elsa Bornemann: I had completely forgotten about this book… I hadn’t seen the cover in at least 18 years, but as soon as I saw it again, images of my childhood irrupted in the room, and I could see myself in the same setting in which I read it originally. Horror stories for kids: great stuff! Roald Dahl’s horror was probably better quality, but these were short stories that you could finish in a break between lunch and going back to school. I loved them! I remember being inspired by the style of this author. But I haven’t read her stuff since then, maybe now I wouldn’t like it.

socorro

So I left my uncle’s house with a couple of boxes full of books, but I left even more books in big black bags in my aunt’s room. The next day I drove with the boxes to the house of my aunt’s favorite student, who ended up also being a good friend of hers. I left with her all the books about theatre and all the theatre plays she had, and some other that she might find interesting. Then I also left some books to give away, which she promised to pass on to people who’d appreciate them.

—————-

As I was going to uni today, I got on the bus and sat on the very last row of seats, next to a woman who was reading a book. As she went through the pages, I immediately recognized some lines and the font of the book. This woman was reading Socorro, the same out-of-print, 1989 edition as the one my aunt kept in her house, which I had forgotten about for 18 years!

The pages were yellow, the edges were worn… just like the book I had had in my hands some days ago. I couldn’t help reading a bit of it over the woman’s shoulder. She looked at me a bit annoyed, and I told her that I hadn’t read the book in a very long time, but that I had very fond memories from reading it in my childhood. She smiled. I asked her where she got it from, and she said she got it from a friend who had inherited it from another friend. 

My heart started beating fast… could the book have mysteriously made its way back to me? I had to find out. I asked the woman if I could check the first pages, my aunt always identified her books by writing her full name on the first four or five pages…

.


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*my uncle used to live with his sister (my aunt): Manuela.

Post-on-demand, or Unusual airmail.

I have just received an email from fellow-blogger-ex-classmate Ninx, in which she urged me to update the blog. She’s right…. so this post is on-demand.

Truth is I’ve been studying (trying to, at least), so I didn’t feel it was appropriate to procrastinate on the blog… Yeah, I know, who am I kidding? Anyway, since I’ve been a bit out of unusual happenings lately, I’ll dust out an old anecdote I had planned to write about and then always ended up forgetting.

>>>>
It is at least once a year since I finished high-school in Swaziland, and returned home for university, that I review this decision and wonder whether I should have continued my studies abroad, whether I should have chosen a different career, whether I… well, I basically question everything. I spend close to 24hs (all in one go) hooked up to the internet, researching academic opportunities in other universities- universities that seem, at least through the screen, a lot more appealing that the institution where I am currently doing my studies in medicine. I go through all the so-famous stages of grief in one single day (and in random order). My mood swings drastically; I tell myself I should drop uni and apply somewhere else, I get frustrated, disappointed, angry, hopeless… I start looking into student loans, visa requirements, academic credit, housing, campus facilities, student associations, and in some opportunities I even signed up for a different career at the public uni… ehm… Eish, now that I write it all down, I realize I must have a couple of loose screws in my head. I keep doing this year after year, sometimes more than once a year.

And why haven’t I dropped out of uni yet? Why haven’t I taken a plane to Europe and applied to one of those beautiful “choose-your-own-adventure” courses if I am so frustrated? Out of an impulse, I would say it’s because I’ve always chickened out (which is partially true), but the main reason is because every time I set my mind to dropping everything and taking new roads that will direct me somewhere else in this pursuit of happiness, I realize that I actually love the job of a medic, and that I can’t picture myself doing something different. I don’t love medicine as a science, but I am eternally fascinated by the human and social aspect of the practice of medicine.

Sometimes the fascination gets clouded by what seem to me to be non-transcendental matters (which inevitably accompany the academic demands of our university curricula). Luckily, I always get a reminder that I, indeed, like what I’m doing.

There was this one time, at the beginning of last year, when I had another “crisis” and luckily I had the chance to share with Euri my vocational doubts (it wouldn’t be the last time, believe me). We discussed about how we could contribute to society from different fields and how I had maybe rushed my decision to study medicine. We reminisced our days in Africa and wondered if we were ever to go back, if we should go back…

He gave me some words of advice, and following a long-standing tradition, recommended a book for me to read. He told me I should read “The Poisonwood Bible”. The name instantly rang a bell. Someone had actually told me to get that book already, and only a couple of weeks before this. I couldn’t remember exactly who, but it seemed to me like it had been Jason, another ex-classmate from Waterford Kamhlaba. Euri gave me a short summary of the story, and I promised I would look for it.

If you know me well, you could guess what happened. Indeed, I completely forgot about the book and it went straight to the list of “books I’d love to read but I’m too lazy/busy to do so right now”.

Thing is, I moved on and continued studying medicine, trying to get the best out of uni and searching for the rest on my own (a task that has proven to be much harder than I expected- but it’s probably because, truth be told, I’m lazy). I had a relatively good start, this new year had a novel experience for me, since I began hospital practices and got to be in contact with people on a day-to-day basis.

One day I finished my lessons at the hospital earlier, and went home for lunch. As I was in the toilet, I heard the bell ring and I heard my mom and dad a bit agitated.

After five minutes (yes, I like to take my time in the toilet, thank you), my dad knocked on the door and told me that a strange-looking package had arrived for me. Tha package had no senders address but my address was written in a handwriting I somehow seemed to know from somewhere.

I speeded things up and went to the kitchen, where with all eyes staring at my hands I carefully opened the package (OK, I admit it, I wore gloves!). There was a letter, which said: “Thank you for your order. Should you have any questions or complaints please contact us at …….” (Yes, I was stupid enough to lose the paper and now I don’t know the email address). Finally, it was signed: “The beverly hills book club”.

I went back to the envelope and unpacked the second part of the parcel. It was a pinkish, soft-cover, thick book with yellowish pages.

Mystery book- The Poisonwood Bible

I would say I was shocked, but truth is I was extremely excited!! These are the kind of unusual events that give me enough smiling material for at least a month! In fact, this particular one still makes me smile when I think about it.

The main reason is… I still don’t know who sent it to me! First thing I did was ask Euri if he had sent it, to which he said no. It made sense, the little circle on the cover that reads “Oprah’s book club” is really not Euri’s style. I still had another chance at finding the mystery sender… someone else had mentioned the book to me. Was it Jason? Next step was asking him. It could be him, since he was in the US doing his bachellor’s degree.

He also said no.

Next thing I did was ask absolutely everyone I know or anyone I ran into if they had sent me a book by post. Yeah, everyone looked at me a bit clueless… Why would I send you a book? In fact, why would I send you a book anonymously?

I was very curious about finding out who had sent me the book. I couldn’t help being amused by the fact that someone had sent me a book that two other people had recommended to me before, without me ever mentioning the book again. In fact, I myself would have forgotten about the book had it not forced itself into my life!

I figured I could write an email to the “Beverly Hills Book Club”, but by the time I came up with the brilliant plan, the letter had disappeared (I probably threw it away convinced that someone would sooner or later take credit for sending the book).

A couple of months passed and I still didn’t know who had orchestrated this surprise. Finally, I remembered I had once signed into a penpal webpage and I had posted my address in that page. Maybe an unusually kind mystery penpal had accessed my info and sent me a book for no particular reason?? And how weird was that someone who didn’t know me had sent me a book that two friends told me I should read? But the question that was really tearing me apart was: how would I ever find out who this person was?

Indeed, I never did. Time passed and I got used to not knowing. The book now rests on my bookshelf, surrounded by diverse, yet somehow related, literature- what I call the “books I’ve started and hope to finish someday”.

Books I've started and hope to finish reading one day.