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Book Review: How to be Parisian Wherever you are

Title: How to be Parisian Wherever you are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits

Authors: Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas

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Four French women wrote a book with hints on how to be a Parisian, even if you were not born in Paris. Because as we know, French women, especially Parisians, are famous for their beauty, for which they don’t have to bother at all, for their fashionable style, the whole world imitates, and so on. The book thus touches on various areas of everyday life, where the authors provide us with (concrete) directions how to behave, act, what to do or even what to say in various situations.


I read a translated version of this book, and I borrowed it from the library because it was a hit on my Instagram feed.

I read it in one day because it was fun and honestly, there was not much text. The text is also enriched by beautiful photos and illustrations, so reading is really a pleasure – at least from an aesthetic point of view.

And although I was entertained while reading, I quickly realized that I don’t really know how to interpret this book. Should I take it seriously? Is it actually a well-written book with a lot of sarcasm, which the reader must recognize and then can really enjoy reading? And the fact, that there is no clear indication of whether the book should be taken seriously or not, is spoiling the pleasure of reading.

Because, if this book should be taken seriously, it’s very disturbing. Instructions on how to cheat a man or how to be something more than everyone else, are not something I would like to read about. On the other hand, I imagine someone who takes this book literally and thinks it’s a modern Bible that will change (her) life. Do we really want to be so dumb?

Yes, the book is a quick read and it’s fun at moments. But I would still describe it as “that” IG profiles (we all know which one we are talking about, do we?). Profiles, where we admire a fancy everyday life, so easy and carefree and wish our lives could also be as fancy and beautiful as the ones on photos. But at the same time, we know that reality is completely different. And so it is with this book … the reality is totally different, no matter how hard we try that our everyday life would be like a movie version filmed in Paris.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Did you read this book? What did you think about it? I would love to hear your thoughts in comments!

 

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Book Review: The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

Title: The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe

Author: Romain Puertolas19347251

This is a story about Fakir from India, who comes to France, where he wants to buy a bed of nails in IKEA. He only has a fake one hundred euro banknote in his pocket and this is the only money he has. The first victim of his fraud is a taxi driver but he’s not the only one. However, things get complicated in Ikea and fakir lands on the fantastic journey through European countries, where he meets new friends and, of course, enemies.


This book was published in our country a few years ago if I’m not mistaken and I heard it’s entertaining and worth of reading. Unfortunately, I didn’t have same feelings while reading it.

First, something about the plot. I think that author exaggerated in every possible way. Yes, fakir journey was fantastic but more in a sci-fi way. Everything was so contrived that I had troubles following the plot. Ignoring this fact, this is a book about a man who was living as a fraud all his life and then, one journey and people he meets, change his life and his views. Quite a cliche, which is not exactly my thing.

But most of all, I was disturbed by writing style. Just like among the people, even among the books, there are two categories. The first category includes those who are funny and know how to tell jokes, but they are also spontaneous and enjoyable. In the second category are those who want to be funny, so they tell memorized jokes, which is unnatural and anything but funny. And this book belongs in the second category.

Furthermore, I found the book very racist. The author very directly exposes the European superiority of race and civilization and humiliates others by joking about them. Certain things must be read in context, and therefore I will not write about it here because it would take too long. But while reading I also keep noticing “innocent” jokes which should be funny (?!?). Just a few examples: five black people were automatically named Jackson Five, Roms are named Gipsy Kings, Roms women were more than once called prostitutes (once only on the basis of their clothing styles). These are the things that upset me and are also a reason why I wouldn’t recommend this book.

After reading I was surprised that this book was so successful and popular. I know that I may have a different sense of humor than most, but I still think that people should know where is the line between good and bad taste.

Rating: 1/5 stars

Did you read this book? What were your thoughts about it? I would love to hear your opinion in comments!

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Book Review: Laika

Title: Laika

Author: Nick Abadzis

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This graphic novel intertwines stories about Sergej Pavlovich Korolev, Yelena, and Laika.
Korolev was released from a Siberian gulag. While wandering around the deserted countryside, he heard a dog barking. Following a sound, he found a village and that saved his life. After a few years, he becomes a leader of the Soviet Space Program and he is the one, who chooses Laika to be the world’s first space traveler and to enter into orbit on Sputnik 2.
At first, Laika was just an abandoned puppy that wandered around through Moscow streets. Until she was put into a shelter and from there to laboratories where animals were prepared for space missions. On the same day, that Laika arrived at the laboratory, a young woman named Yelena started working there.
Yelena becomes very attached to Laika through all the preparations. And finding, that Laika was chosen for a particular mission, breaks her heart.


I must admit, I don’t know much about this particular period in history and reading about it was interesting. I’m aware that reading a graphic novel is not the most reliable material for learning a history but you have to start somewhere.
Space program itself was interestingly described – rivalry between the Soviet Union and America, competition for dominance in the space program and desire to succeed no matter what were all interestedly illustrated.
Nevertheless, I expected that Laika would have a bigger role in this graphic novel. I’m aware that everything about Laika’s life is fiction but still I think that she should be in front, not everyone else. I wanted to read about her, not about other characters. Who are, in my opinion, in the foreground.
Also, the illustrations were not appealing to me and I just couldn’t get into the story.

Otherwise, an interesting read but nevertheless I had felt that something was missing and, unfortunately, this book didn’t convince me as much as I thought it would.

 

Rating: 3/5 stars

Do you have any other graphic novel recommendations? I would really like to read more of them but I just don’t know which are worth reading.

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Book Review

American Born Chinese

Author: Gene Luen Yang

It’s been a while since I put this book on my to-read list. I actually wanted to buy it while I was in China this year. When I saw it on bookshelves of one of Beijing bookstores I wanted to buy it so badly. But after a thought or two I decided that I will buy some other books instead. So the book stayed there, on that shelve and also on my to-read list.

Yesterday it crossed my path again and because I was in a mood for a graphic novel I decided to give it a chance. And I was not sorry because this book was just fantastic!

There are three different stories in this book and at the end they all connect. First is a story about American born Chinese Jin Wang, who moves into another place with his parents and starts to attend a new school, where he’s the only Asian. The second story is about Monkey King – Monkey King is also figure from famous Chinese fable. The third story is about Chin-Kee who represents a typical Chinese stereotype. I had problems when I started reading this book because I didn’t know how all three stories are connected and it was disturbing a little bit. But like I already said, they all connect at the end very well and make a fantastic ending.

This is a story about identity issues and how hard is (sometimes) to combine two different cultures. It’s especially hard for young people like Jin who is in a particularly difficult period of his life – he’s a regular teenager with all the problems teenagers have. And he has one more – he’s different because he’s Asian. Everyone in his school is making fun of him and he has no friends. Because of that he isolates himself and he’s ashamed of who he is. But after a while he tries to fit in in the worst way possible – he tries to be/become somebody else.

But the whole story is written in such an amazing way. It’s funny but in the same time it’s sad because of seriousness of the topic. It’s also worth to think it over and the best thing is that author succeeded to pass the story without moralizing. But not only the story, illustrations are also really nice. I read this book in one sitting and I would say that it’s appropriate for all kinds of readers. Because anyone can find himself in this story.

5/5