The cute story about some postcards and the pirate ship

Now, I know. I know. I did promise you a cute story about some postcards and a pirate ship. And here it is:

The story of the smile that travelled from Penza to Linn Valley, by way of Stockholm (including the pirate ship)

So one day not too long ago I was exceptionally good. Not only did I clean my bathroom drain, I also wrote on my book. And in one of those rare instances of instant karma, I immediately got my reward: an increadibly charming letter from a young woman in Russia. She had read my book, found my adress on my webpage, and decided to write a real letter, since far too few people do that nowadays. She wrote that she was convinced that my book could only have been written by a person who believes in miracles (very true), and that it had inspired her in her own creativity. She writes prose and poetry and makes beautiful postcard from her home town, Penza, and prints them at the local print shop. And she included with her letter three amazing photos of coffee, plums and a paris wheel over beautiful autumn trees, and she hoped they would be a reason for me to smile.

And while I was sitting there, grinning like an idiot over the postcards, I got a message on Facebook from a teacher in Kansas. She told me that every Monday she began the week by asking her young students what they had done during the weekend, and when the time came for her to tell them, she said that during the weekend she had travelled to Iowa and met a friend from Sweden, Sara. Sara was in Iowa to meet a pen pal, but unfortunately, when she got there, the pen pal had already died!

Being children, they immediately seized upon the most important thing: how did her friend die? They asked, and the teacher answer: Do you know, I don’t think the book ever told me that. I love that story because it so perfectly matches my own view on what books give you (what have I done this weekend, you ask? Helped miss Marple solve several murders), and since I had the beautiful postcards from a Russian town in front of me, I naturally offered to send some postcards and a little greeting from Sweden to her pupils. She answered: ”you can’t imagine how big my smile is right now!”

Which means that a smile has been sent all the way from Penza in Russia, via a short stopover in Stockholm, to Linn Valley, Kansas. I went a bit overboard with the postcards and the greeting (but I did TELL the pupils not to swim to Stockholm, since their parents might not like it), and the teacher told me afterwards that one pupil had decided to travel to Sweden by way of pirate ship.

People travel much too seldom by way of pirate ship, if you ask me.

Do you have any good hymns for me?

Yes, yes, I know. I’ve been terribly quiet lately. So quiet, in fact, that an friend of mine got in touch and carefully asked me if everything was all right. And it is. I’ll just have you know that I have been writing this summer!

And speaking of which, my American friends out there, do you have any good hymns for me?

(Yes, I did return to my blog only to beg for help. I’ll return again and actually, eh, write something. But you will have my eternal gratitude etc etc. and one day I will share with you a very cute story about some postcards and, perhaps, a pirate ship. But not now. Now I’m off to write!)

Memoirs of an imaginary friend

was recommended to be my Caryn in Illinois, and I loved the amazing idea of telling a book through the voice of an imaginary friend:

I absolutely love Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks.  It is narrated by a young boy’s imaginary friend.  What a creative way to set up a story.  This friend goes above and beyond for this boy as he navigates his school year.  I just loved how the author came up with this idea

It seemed like such a great idea at the time

It was a brilliant plan in all its simplicity: get book recommendations, send out own books, and get more shelf space for new ones.

So for the past month or so I’ve happily treaded back and forth to the post office, sending out books, clearing out space, all going very well according to plan. Or so I thought. Of course, I hadn’ really though about all the new books I would be ordering based on the recommendations. More trips to the post office. Definitely less shelf space.

On the other hand – the books! I knew I did promise to blog about all the recommendations I’ve received, but honestly, you should have known I would be too busy reading them to blog about them.

Still, I have started to feel sort of bad about it. It just seems so selfish to keep them all to myself. So here are just a few of the many brilliant recommendations I’ve received. Warning: may cause ordering of books and many, many trips to the post office.

Alberta, New Jersey wrote:

One book that I really love is…The Captive Heart by Mitchell Griep
This book filled me with all kinds of emotions . As I read thru the chapters -some times I just had to shut the book for a moments and breathe, absorb the words , digest the chapter, it’s words and emotions that it filled me with.
Full of surprises, frightful happenings, entwined with laughs, raw emotions, teases of love starting to grow,pains and tears.So, you see this book is wonderful and christian so you don’t have to deal with profanity and such, don’t hesitate to read this.

Marie, from France, wrote:

Initially, I had the idea to write to you to complain, I confess! I’ve just spent a part of my morning looking for one of the books you suggested: “un lieu béni” (Fannie Flagg) and it’s just impossible in France to find it!!! (but “Beignets de tomates vertes” is available).

The problem with a very good book, is that you’re so sad to leave it when you arrive at the end of the travel, and you think “what am I going to read now???”. So thanks again for all the books you indicated. But what can you do for French readers with that incredible news?

If your deal is still OK, I recommend you “Regain” from Jean GIONO. It’s an old french author, who survived to first world war as he was 21,  and became a writer as he was initially working in a bank (but may be, I hope, you know him already?). It’s my favourite book, and may be I’ve read it 5 or 6 time…specially when I feel depressed with how the world is running. When I’m “inside”, I feel it’s my place, and I can imagine I would have done the things exactly as the people did in this book. And I can say I felt the same with your book! The subject is about the same as the one of your book, even if the place is very different: how do people to create new things in a place where nobody wants to live anymore…
Another good tittle from the same author is “Le hussard sur le toit” (but I’ve just read it 3 times…too many new good books to read!!!).

And from Elizabeth, in California:

I recently re-read Julian Rubinstein’s BALLAD OF THE WHISKEY ROBBER, and was amazed all over again by it. It has everything: a compellingly flawed (yet strangely likeable) protagonist, eccentric side characters, interesting sociological analysis of post-Communist Hungary, bad romances, heists, crazy chase sequences, heart-stopping escapes, and (a big draw for me!) hockey. (Plus, it’s a completely true story.) I also love Samantha Ellis’ HOW TO BE A HEROINE, which is a brilliant book recommendation vehicle in itself (like a one-woman book club). She reads everything, from scholarly tomes to classics to bodice rippers, and discusses the female characters in each with great care and enthusiasm. (It could be argued that there are lots of book spoilers in it, but it’s not really done in a way that wrecks books. Also, if you really don’t want to know, the synopses are long enough that you can stop partway through and move on to another chapter.)

Ps. I was especially glad to see How to be a heroine recommended, since it is a splendid book. I once read a quite that said something like this: “When someone likes the same book as you do, it’s like seeing the book recommending another person.”