A MOVEABLE FEAST – HEMINGWAY

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

A moveable feast is an autobiography written by Ernest Hemingway and dating back to 1964. During his old age in the fifties, Hemingway decided think back to what happened when he was young by writing this book.
He depicts his life in the 1920s when he arrived in Paris. He was then 22 and began to live a bohemian life in France. When he arrived in Paris, he was a journalist but soon gave up to be devoted only to literature.
He tells us how he managed to live for next to nothing, wishing being known for his writing. In Paris, he met some famous authors, who were also expatriates, such as Fitzgerald, Ezra Poung and James Joices to name a few. Hemingway made his own way through literature world by earring advices of these writers who became his friends.
The readers discover a new Paris, so far away from the one we know nowadays. A Paris where everything is possible, a cheap and a friendly one, with parties and cosy clubs everywhere. In brief, he depicts a city full of culture and artists. As the author said :

“this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy”.

This is what I loved about it: it is a hymn to life. What’s more, it had a special resonance after the terrorist attacks of 13th November given that this book symbolizing the French art of living.

A FAREWELL TO ARMS – HEMINGWAY

A Farewell to arms is the third novel written by Ernest Hemingway which dates back to 1929. Hemingway, well-known for his famous writings such as for whom the bell tolls, a moveable feast, the old man and the sea, is also a nobel prize laureate in literature.

The novel depicts the twentieth years of Frederic Henry during the First World War. Frederic is a young American who volunteers to work for Italian ambulances. One of his comrade (friend during this war), Rinaldi, introduces him to a young British woman, Catherine Berkley. He starts to seduce her, and gradually falls in love with her. After he gets hurt at the front, he is sent to an hospital where Catherine is also assigned. Here, their relationship begins and they both fall in love with each other. Afterwards, he tells their life where they try to survive with Catherine’s pregnancy and their urge to escape from this war. They will try to reach Switzerland where, they think, they can be free and happy… I think it is also worth noting that the tittle has a double meaning. First, there is the question of the war, then arms can also imply Catherine’s arms, that he will have to leave… This book is quite a moving one: during the war, love is not an easy thing.

A farewell to arms can be considered as an autobiographical novel. Indeed, Frederic’s characters is quite similar to Hemingway. Like him, Hemingway was also volunteer for the Italian Red Cross, he also gets hurt and also met a British nurse during his convalescence.

SNOW ANGELS – STEWART O’NAN

Snow Angels occurred in a little town of Pennsylvania, in 1974’s winter. It deals with 2 different characters and 2 different stories. On the one hand, there is Arthur Parkinson devastated by his parents’ divorce. On the other hand there is Annie Marchand, Arthur’s babysitter. She is now facing a series of tragic events, especially with her husband Glenn.
There is a beautiful symmetry of the death of these two marriages. ?The story begins with Arthur telling the day when Annie Marchand was assassinated by his husband, 15 years after the drama. Since then, there is a flash back in Arthur’s and Annie’s life. When Arthur heard the gun shot, he knew what had happened. Shortly after his dad divorcing his mum and leaving home, it was now the turn of Annie. Annie, whom Arthur was secretly infatuated with, had left as well, for ever.?Throughout their life, Arthur wonders about his destiny. Why was everything he loved most destroyed? How can he fight his way in this world?
What I particularly love about this book is the fact that O’Nan depicts Middle America, far from the American Dream. What’s more, O’Nan captures the reader even while depicting the tragic daily life of Arthur and Annie.

FACTOTUM – BUKOWSKI

Hello, I’m going to talk about Factotum, a book written by Charles Bukowski in 1975.
As the title suggests, it is a story about a man who does everything, or almost everything. We follow the wandering of Henry Chinaski, a fallen writer during WW2 in America.
Chinaski is like Bukowski’s alter ego, written in the first person narrative, we discover a wandering life from New Orleans to New York, by way of Los Angeles or Philadelphia. So Chinaski jumps from one job to another without being concerned about it, spending his time drinking and writing about his disappointments, his frustrations, women… For him, what matters the most is to have a place where you can live your life : it doesn’t matter whether it is on the street or in a slum. This wise guy doesn’t care about money, social conventions and so on, thinking that it is reserved for special people.

What I love about this book and this author, it is the way of wrinting of Bukowski : combining obscenity and provocation, in brief, what he is famous for. He writes without any judgments, with honest and straight-forward manner. Moreover, he depicts America of the 40’s and its lost and marginal generation.

WHAT WE SEE WHEN WE READ – PETER MENDELSUND

Today, I’m going to talk about a book I read a long time ago which is What we see when we read, released in 2014. It was written by Peter Mendelsund, an American art director and classical pianist.
This book is neither a novel nor an art book. Indeed, it includes big print text and illustration (made by the author), so it makes the book easy to read. Despite its 440 pages, it takes about 3 hours to read it.
You may wonder, what does it deal with? Actually, the title fully describes the topic. It asks questions about the way we read. What is the role of our imagination? Of our memory ?  Why don’t we see the same thing than our neighbor ? What happens in our head when we read ?
Through all these questions, the author never gives an answer. He just wants us to find the answer. It makes us think about the power of words and literature. He explains all of this on whites and blacks pages. In other words, he tells us how to read to develop increasingly our imagination.
What I find interesting about that, is the fact that he provides examples which are meaningful to all such as Tolstoï, Flaubert, Herman Melville, Marcel Proust… but you don’t have to read these books to understand what he is talking about. I advise you to read this book if like me you don’t have time anymore to read anything else than Sophocle and Gide!

WINTER JOURNAL – PAUL AUSTER

For my first article, I’m going to talk about Winter Journal, a book written by Paul Auster. He was an actor, a filmmaker but mostly an author.
Winter Journal was released in 2012 and was his last book. It is not really a novel, neither an autobiography nor a brief. Thirty years after his first book, Auster depicts fragments of his life since he was six.

The author himself said that his book was like a poem, written at the 2nd person. It is as if he were talking to someone (which could be anyone). Given that he was himself a director, he scrolls his life as a scenario, with long sentences which sometimes have not a real sense of the rest of it.
He talks about the passing of time and his sensory data. He tells us about feelings that were lost and found, life’s pleasures and accidents, women reciting Baudelaire’s poems from New York to Paris. Moreover, the book ends the same way it starts.
To sum up, although the author doesn’t consider the book as an autobiography, there is all his life in it and also all his feeling about every important moment of his life such as what he likes eating, place where he lived, his dreams…

“We are all aliens to ourselves, and if we have any sense of who we are, it is only because we live inside the eyes of others.”

THE ALCHEMIST – PAULO COELHO

For my last article I want to talk about my favorite book ever which is The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian author wrote many books that are all bestsellers. Nevertheless, it is this masterpiece, The Alchemist, which made him famous. Indeed, it has been translated into more than 73 languages and more than 135 millions copies have been sold in 168 countries.

Anyway, The Alchemist deals about an Andalousian young shepherd who is seeking a treasure near the Egyptian Pyramids. He wants to go there because he had a dream, twice, but he doesn’t know how to reach it. One day, he met an old man on his way, called the Alchemist. He becomes his mentor, his spiritual father. Over time, the young boy named Santiago learns to listen to his heart, to be sensitive to nature, and above all, to follow his dream. Indeed, this book is all about that : reaching one’s dream, trying every possible way to make it come true. This bildungromans teaches us that if one wants to be happy in his life, one must not be afraid of failure, and just keep going. The author calls this our “Personal Legend”. On top of that, there is a quote that Paulo Coelho cannot help saying, which sums up his theory:
“when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”

Well, I am a huge fan of Paulo Coelho, and I have (and still do) loved this book because it is a real life lesson, we learn more about ourselves and it is full of poetry and philosophy. I advice you to take a look at this book, it is easy to read, not really long, and you have to know that it changes a man to read Paulo Coelho!
To finish, this book is in my top 3 of Paulo Coelho’s books, with Eleven minutes and By the river Piedra I sat down and wept.

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S

Today I’m going to talk about a contemporary classic book, which is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This is a novella published in 1958 by Truman Capote. You may know what I’m talking about, because you have already seen the movie with the gorgeous and fabulous Audrey Hepburn, but this is not the topic. Breakfast at Tiffany’s deals about a young writer and a barman. One day, they discover a picture and recognize an old friend : Holly Golightly. The story is narrated from the point of view of the writer. He describes his life when he lived in the same apartment than Holly.

Holly is a worldly, fascinating, beautiful, slender women. She lives in Manhattan with her cat, called “cat”. She has a completely disorganized life, composed of love affair and drugs : above that, she secretly dreams about a luxurious life. The writer, who is also her neighbor, is fascinated by her and very caring. As regards Holly, the writer reminds her of her brother : so their relation is a little bit awkward.

The novel is called this way because Tiffany is a jewelry shop, Holly enjoys going there given that « you know that nothing wrong can happen when you are at Tiffany’s ».

In a word, this is a book easy and fast to read, in an ironic writing style. Besides, Holly’s character is very interesting because it embodies an independent woman. Moreover, Truman Capote mentions here a subject very interesting between liberty and possession.

THE LONGEST RIDE

Today I’m going to talk about a movie released this year, which completely broke my heart. The longest ride is a film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks novel entitled as well ‘the longest ride’.
This film was directed by George Tillman Jr. You may not know the movie; however, it features two actors having a pretty great fam thanks to their names. Those actors are Scoot Eastwood (son of the famous director Clint Eastwood) and Oona Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter).
Well, if we just watch the movie poster, we can suppose that the film is only about a love story. Yet, more than a simple romantic film, it shows two similar stories, two different lives which have many similarities. Sophia and Luke, two young people, live in North Caroline and had just fallen in love. But because of their life’s aspirations, they thought they could never be together. Indeed, Luke lives for rodeo whereas Sophia lives for art and has to go to Manhattan for her studies. Nevertheless on a rainy night, just after a dinner they had together, an unexpected event brought them closer together: not only did they save an old, they also save his whole life story that had been put into letters. Since then Sophia befriended with this old man. Afterwards, she became aware of all the concessions that the old man and his wife had to make to love and live more. In the same way, the old man’s experience will have an impact on Sophia and Luke’s life.
I admit that the first quarter of the movie didn’t really appeal to me. But since the emergence of Ira (the old man) the story takes a new turn. Indeed, we see his life since he met his first love at the beginning of the forties. This movie shows us that life is all about choices and decisions, and that why I love it.

THE SEVEN HABITS OF EFFECTIVE PEOPLE

This book, written by Stephen R. Covey, was named as one of the Most Influential Business Book of the 21 century by the Times, the german newspaper Der Spiegel… It covers 7 habits which deal with personal development and self management, and has become a reference for many influential men. Thus, it is recommended by international business schools: indeed, it is considered one of the most inspiring books ever written. Not only does it provide some helpful advice to be a successful manager, but it also tackles how to be successful in your family setting, with your friends, and more generally in your social contact.

To begin, a habit in general, is the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire.
As the title indicates, the book consists of 7 habits. It helps us define our priorities and learn to distinguish what really matters in our life. For example, the third habit explains how to put first things first: to succeed, you have to take into account the first and the second habits. In other words, each habit is build upon the preceding one. The first is about making choice and taking responsibility, and the second deals with your imagination and creation. You have to know if you don’t enforce the first and second habits you can’t achieve the third habit: which consists in making things you find most worth. Then, you are organized and you can manage time to be effective. I won’t go further in my explanations because you have to read it to understand the book’ stakes.

When you read it, this piece of advice seems easy to understand, but not easy at all to apply (indeed, I wrote this article at the last minute haha). But anyway, I advice everyone to read it because it contributes to an important self awareness.

WHATEVER YOU THINK, THINK THE OPPOSITE by Paul Arden

Paul Arden was a famous creative director, a legend of British advertising, and also an author of bestselling book.
When I saw the international bestseller ‘Whatever you think, think the opposite’ at the book shop, I was first attracted by the funny cover page, then I took a look on the ‘inside’ and I found it as much interesting as the cover. This book contains advertising, advice… Actually it is not really a book with a story and different characters. Each page is composed of picture and phrase from artists or scientists, unexpected anecdotes, amazing photographs and so on.
It is intended to provide a better life and a better mind. Indeed, it questions the vision we have of our work and our world. To recap, it’s a concise collection of quotes which leads us to think that making bad decisions, being unreasonable, taking dangerous risks is unavoidable to have more confidence and to enjoy our work more than ever.
I’m advising everyone to read this book: it’s a good lesson life. Moreover, it’s a good way to learn some English words.
“The world is what YOU think of it, so think of it DIFFERENTLY and your life will change.”

LONESOME TRAVELER

Hi ! For my first article, I want to talk about one of my favorite author, who is Jack Kerouac. More precisely, I’m going to talk about the Lonesome Traveler, published in 1960.
This book, I read one year ago, is pretty typical of the beat generation. Indeed, it deals about travelling, wandering and so on. It’s a collection of short stories, travels through the road of America and Europe. Here, we are following the life of Jack Kerouac, a railroder who lives on the fringes of society. He makes us discover the America of fifties, Mexico, New York, Paris, the UK, with his point of view, which may be ironical, accusing but always interesting.
In spite of the long sentences for the descriptions (it can extend over two pages) which could be boring from time to time, we are never tired of reading the beat generation’s master. A far as I am concerned, I particulary love his way to describe his life: on a train, as a cook on a ship, at the top of a mountain, in the New York of the deep beat generation. Moreover, he always got the right word to catch his readers’s interest and I that’s what makes a very good writer.
To conclude, I will end with one of my favortite phrase of the book “Happiness consists in realizing it is all a great strange dream”.