On Bulgaria and libraries

So it all started a while ago when I posted my praise for a bookseller called Wordery. They somehow found my blogpost, tweeted me and…as of today I am officially a  affiliate. What does this have to do with Bulgaria and its libraries you might ask. Well, here’s the deal.

Bulgarians don’t read that many books; and the books they do read, they mostly read in Bulgarian. Unfortunately foreign literature severely lacks in Bulgarian libraries, especially in the ones located in the smaller towns in my country. Bulgarian libraries have almost no financial support and almost zero budget for new books (especially the smaller ones I mentioned), and, of course, buying foreign literature in the original language is not their top priority.

I recently spent several months in one of the smaller Bulgarian towns; a friend of mine there works at the local library and man, is the situation tragic…

So I’ve decided to use the funds I accumulate trough this affiliate thingy to buy and donate books in English to local libraries in Bulgaria. I’m not saying you need to go and buy all your books via the Wordery link above. What I’m saying is that if you do use this link to buy at least one book (ever), the money will be used for spreading the love of books. Since I’m unable to visit all Bulgarian libraries, I will be mailing the books to them and I’ll be posting updates on how my small humble cause is growing.

So yey for books and being good to others (and I’d greatly appreciate if you reblog)! 🙂


Hector and the Search for Happiness by François Lelord

happinessSo I studied to be a psychologist, a cognitive scientist, mind you, but as it turned out later I didn’t become one. The moment came when I had to grow up and choose a profession and, being as I am, I chose one that didn’t bring me a lot of happiness, but had a considerable influence on the amount of my alcohol-intake (which, if you ask Hector, can be really beneficial for your levels of happiness). Still, in this pain-in-the-ass job of mine I find happiness because my paycheck is big enough for me to spend on books that I don’t even have enough space to store in. And as we all know books=happiness.

But this is supposed to be a review of the book and I don’t want it to end up being deleted >> decrease of my levels of happiness >> increase of alcohol-intake to make it up, you know how it goes. So let me say that I bought this book because I liked the cover, it is very pretty and yes, I am superficial like that. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but at the end of the day, it wrapped up pretty nicely and I can say that I enjoyed it. It also made me think about happiness and how different people define happiness. Of course, back in the day when I studied to be a psychologist, my colleagues and I used to have many a drunken discussions on the matter, but books that you don’t have to read for school are always better!

François Lelord tells a very simple story through Hector. It’s about how grown-ups, being all serious and businesslike, forget what happiness is, and that you can find happiness everywhere, if are not, by nature, a grumpy old fart (then you just need to take pills, man). You shouldn’t expect to find the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything (which is, as we know, 42), but you can pick up this book with an open mind and, who knows, it may help you change the way you perceive stuff.

I know what happiness for me–it’s having crazy wino friends, it’s buying books, it’s my possessed cat that likes to sleep on my books, it’s hearing the screaming ‘I’m so happy!’ ringtone of my email at 6 am (I still wanna kill you though). What the book says is: Just don’t take stuff too seriously, try to smile more and find something positive in everything around you, and, you know, law of attraction.

The verdict:


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By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño

1993567So I have this friend who writes books. He used to read books too, until one day he found himself in a relationship and stopped. He told me once that I would probably like his last book, the conversation went something like:

Me: Bitch, when did you publish this last book, and why don’t I have a copy?
M: A few months ago….
Me: What is it about?
M: You know, stream of consciousness…
Me: Man, you are so sick in the head, I don’t ever want to read a book about your issues.
M: You’ll love it.

But anyways, it’s now last Saturday and, as usual, I am out hunting for something I need to buy. I end up buying Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile (Mike Puma says that you better start with it (sorry, Amulet, your day hasn’t come yet)), I meet the said friend and he’s like ‘What the fuck is this book, Tina; you are stupid’ and I’m like ‘If I ever have to read your brain d***, I better have something sophisticated ready to repair my brain damage!’

“I am dying now, but I still have many things to say.”

Of course nothing of what I said so far makes any sense or is in any way connected to By Night in Chile, but if you’re still reading this, then you must really be interested in what I have to say. What I can say about it is that I really enjoyed my first Bolaño, it was something new to me both literary- and story/history-wise, but one has to expand his horizons and here I am…expanding. I would recommend that you read this in one sitting, though, as the padre jumps from recollection to contemplation within the same sentence, and one can easily lose track (especially if are like me–drunk most of the time I was reading it). So, since this is nowhere near smart-reviews-land, I just want to show you something:

He was cute, right?

“And then the storm of shit begins.”

The verdict:


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A Rant: When life gets in your way…

So I recently changed jobs: I took one that’s even more responsible and time-consuming…Yeah, that’s me. And that’s right when I was doing so well with my reading challenge for this year, and honestly believed that I could squeeze 100 books into a year of my life. But a girl has to do what a girl has to do–let’s face it people, we need money to buy these books. And the more we make, the more we can afford to buy. Consumerism, right?

But anyway. It’s the end of week two on my new job, I’ve been seeing my crazy wino friends almost every night, trying not to be anti-social or anything…Bottom-line is: Since October 1st I’ve managed to read only one book…that’s 150 pages long. I know, I know, I could sleep less read more, right? Just how I wish! With all that work, friends, drinking, movies, how does one find a couple of hours to sit down and read when they can hardly stay on their feet?

I feel bad. Because I can’t spend all the time I want in fictionland. Because I want to read more books and buy more books. Because I need books to chillax and have a chunk of time where I don’t have to be a crazy professional or the best drinking buddy. And it seems that I can’t find the time or the strength to read more than 5 pages before dying in my bed. Perhaps I don’t manage my time well enough, or maybe I’m just lazy and use my work and friends as a poor excuse for not reading the books that I, just by the way, I keep buying…

So this post is about the pain I feel from being deprived from my books, and to ask you guys how do you do it? How does one with a crazy-busy schedule find the time to read the books they want to read? Do share your crazy ways, bookfriends! 🙂

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

giovanniI don’t feel like I can properly review this book. Not because it’s not relatable or anything; it is, even if you are not a gay man fighting with your sexuality in a community where being who you are is not acceptable. But mainly because the book is an absolute heartbreaker. I really didn’t know much about it, nobody recommended it to me and, apart from reading the short blurb on the back, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.

This is a story about a man, living in a time when being gay was a crime, who fights with everything he’s drawn to, wanting to push it aside and live the ‘normal’ life society expects him to have. Then one night he meets another man, another human being that he connects to, and this is basically where it all starts falling apart.

Maybe the vast sadness of the book and the beautiful way in which the whole story was told made it sink so deep while I was reading it. Maybe I just needed a story like that, one that makes you sympathize with the protagonist, feel sorry for him and hate him at the same time. But the love, the getting to know a human being you’re drawn to, the way this love develops and then falls into pieces; how love sometimes gives you wings that later turn into chains; how sometimes you chain your own mind and then project to everything around you…These moments are captured so well, and this is why I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough. To people without any experience with gay fiction I can say just go with this classic because it is a beautiful piece of literature.

The verdict:


goodreads (1)

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Wordery: A bookseller I officially love!

Please note: I am not in any way related to the company I’m about to talk about; I don’t get any commissions or any benefits for talking about this bookseller. I simply want to share how happy I am with them with people who love books as much as I do.

So, to start this post I should tell you that I live in Bulgaria, a place where Bulgarian is the official language, and books in any other languages are often hard to find and are really pricey.

I completely understand how commerce works and that selling stuff needs to be profitable for you. However, I am a book collector, I buy books really often AND choose the editions (because of translation, quality, covers) very, very carefully. Of course, there are a lot of books in English (the language I mainly read in) sold in Bulgaria, but in 99% of the cases the book I want to buy is either not available at all, or is an edition that I don’t want to buy and own.

So in the last couple of years I’ve been buying my books mainly from eBay UK. Don’t get me wrong, I want to support local sellers and economy, but the situation with bookstores in Bulgaria is like we only have Amazon and that’s it. What I mean is that there are literally only two big bookstore chains that offer the same titles on similar prices. And more often than not these prices are very, very high…

At the beginning of this year I discovered a UK seller on eBay called Wordery that i grew to love very quickly. They offered very cheap books (compared to price standards in Bulgaria), quick delivery and great quality of the books. So, imagine how delighted I was when their website wordery.com officially started offering free  delivery. I already ordered and received my first book via the new website, the books was perfect as always and arrived in 5 business days (which is about the best delivery time-frame to Bulgaria EVER).

So the main point of this post is: If you live in a God forsaken place such as myself, I recommend that you check this website. Since the page is new, they have a running promotion for 10% off of your order by using the code BOOKS at the checkout.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

13487398Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose is probably the one book I’ve read so far that I’m really proud of finishing and not giving up on. To some this may sound stupid, but believe me when I say that I have 10 years worth of reasons to want to drop this book and never pick it up again.

It can happen to anybody: you have a high school teacher that wants to broaden your mind, give you something to make your teenage mind wander and explore the literary world, enjoy some good writing. I had this teacher. She was constantly referencing Umberto Eco’s work (although he wasn’t in any way included in the list of literature we were supposed to read and study), I can see why she enjoyed him so much and why she wanted to pass to the stupid lambs the experience of reading Eco’s masterpiece. But is the age of 15 appropriate for reads like this one? And more specifically, can a 15 yo brain comprehend everything that Eco does in The Name of the Rose?

To answer this question, I must first go into details about the book itself. I had seen the movie 3 or 4 years prior to picking up the book, and I remember that it was about some kind of a murder mystery and that there was a girl. Period, nothing else. The novel, however, has two main plot lines that, although completely different, blend together perfectly as the story progresses: while one of them is indeed related to mysterious murders and their investigation, the other one, surrounding the religious debates that are to take place in the abbey, requires that you’ve previously read of lot of big and important books, which would help you understand what the actual hell is going on. I don’t mean to say that you need to be like some kind of walking encyclopedia to read, understand and enjoy this book. I simply mean to say that reading this book will require a lot of additional page-turning and research (if you are like me and your knowledge on these topics is very, very limited).
2013-09-26 11.55.08

I can see why The Name of the Rose can be intimidating, and you may have moments when you don’t want to continue with it. I had a lot of these moments because somewhere deep in my mind I had this “hate” for Eco simply because I associated him with school and my crazy-add Lit teacher. But, believe me when I say, this book is simply a great work of literature that needs to be read. It is a book about books and knowledge, and I honestly wanted to get lost in the abbey’s labyrinth of a library and just spend the rest of my life surrounded by all of its goodies. We can call it historical fiction, mystery, philosophy; regardless how you categorize it, Eco did a superb job creating a magnificent setting and filling it with just the right characters, and I am really glad I followed through with this one.

So finally, to answer my question, I really don’t believe that a young teenage mind can comprehend this work to its fullest, but it definitely needs to try. Because it’s literature like this that reminds me why I love books and reading. And since this review completely sounds so not like me, I have a small addition that I want to call “Notes to self”:

1. Research books and always buy editions with footnotes when Latin is present
2. Learn Italian so that you can reread the original
3. Next time you approach Umberto Eco remember he’s no longer your high school archenemy
The verdict:
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