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World Cup of Books

 

 

Has the World Cup been distracting you from your reading?  Do you hate or love it? Regardless, let’s use it as an inspiration to read more internationally!  

 

Cressi has come up with a fiction and non-fiction book for each of the 16 teams that made it through to the knock-out stage.  Sometimes the books are set in the country, sometimes they’re by a local author, sometimes the link is a little more tenuous – but this has been a labour of love!  She's not read all of them but a few of her favourites have crept in.

 

There's a wide range of genres and interests so we doubt anyone will love all 32 books – let Cressi know what you think and what you would have put on the list instead.


France

Suite Francaise – Irene Nemirovsky written in 1942, this has a freshness about France in the Second World War, a lightness of touch.    

A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway – do we think the struggling writers in Paris in the 1960s were better off then struggling writers are now?

Argentina

Labyrinths – Jorges Luis Borges – This collection of stories and essays by one of Argentina’s best known writers includes The Library of Babel

The Honorary Consul – Graham Greene is the classic story of an incompetent diplomat in a country he is failing to understand

Uruguay  

Football in Sun and Shadow - Eduardo Galeano – ‘an unashamedly emotional history of football’ by a best-selling Uruguayan author.

The invisible mountain by Carolina de Robertis – sweeping story of a mother and her daughter, starting at the turn of the century in Uruguay.

Portugal

A Small Death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson  - Murder mystery set in the Second World War and the 1990s.

Conquerors by Robert Crowley  - A comprehensive history of Portuguese exploration

Brazil

Futebol Nation – David Goldblatt –  Why are Brazil so enamoured of football?  Read the history of their love for the beautiful game.

Crow Blue by Adriana Lisboa – Award-winning Brazilian novelist’s book about a young girl who leaves Brazil and finds a new home in America.

Mexico

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel  - a magic realist love story with added recipes -a bestseller from the 1990s.

Bandit Roads – Richard Grant – travel writing by a reckless author dicing with the most dangerous regions in Mexico.

Spain

Sleeping Arrangements – Madeline Wickham – a summer holiday read about a double-booked Spanish holiday villa – fun and malicious.

The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston – an in-depth meticulously researched account of the Spanish Civil War.

Russia

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – one of my favourite books recently, the gentleman is placed under house arrest in a Moscow hotel after the Revolution.  A beautiful read.

Caught in the Revolution – Helen Rappaport – Foreigners’ accounts of the events of the Revolution.

Croatia

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht – this debut novel examines the roles of doctors during the Balkan Wars.

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon – Rebecca West – history or travel writing or journalism or all three,  Yugoslavia during 1937.

Denmark

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow – Peter Hoeg – the original Scandi-Noir is also a keen-eyed look at Danish history.

The Year of living Danishly – Helen Russell  - what’s it like living in the happiest nation in the world?

Sweden

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larsson – the first in the famous trilogy featuring the unconventional and uncompromising Lisbeth.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning – Margareta Magnusson – the latest trend in decluttering with additional planning for helping your relatives after your death.

Switzerland

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is partly set in Switzerland but if this feels too tenuous a link – try the Chalet School series instead!

Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes – I was shocked to discover the trains don’t actually always run on time…

England

The Lido by Libby Page – what could be more English than a threatened lido?  Set in Brixton the story makes you want to swim outdoors.

A Very English Scandal by John Preston is the staggering true story of Jeremy Thorpe’s private life and his possible involvement in a murder attempt.

Belgium

The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah  this has made it in as new incarnation of Poirot, Belgium’s most famous son.

King Leopold’s Ghost – Adam Hochschild – away from the chocolate and the cuddly detectives is a horrific colonial history.

Colombia

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez -  the landmark original magic realist novel deeply rooted in the cultural history of Latin America.

Oblivion – Hector Abad Faciolince – a memoir of the author’s father, killed by the right-wing militia, but also a love letter between a son and his father.

Japan

The Guest cat by Takashi Hiraide – the cat that adopts and changes a freelance writer in a beautiful little novel

Geisha of Gion: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki – the autobiography of the subject of Memoir of a Geisha speaks for herself.

Christmas Reading

Did you have a lovely relaxing reading Christmas break?  Or did it go something like this…

 

There are delicious book-shaped parcels under the tree.  Some of them are even for you.  One is a box of chocolates – good – but no cigar.  One is a cunningly wrapped box of socks.  Three are books – hurrah!

You wait impatiently for the others to finish opening their presents.  You make all the right noises.  You play a game of Star Wars Top Trumps with your nephew to show willing.

Finally, the teenagers are drifting back onto their phones, your father has started ‘listening’ to the Queen’s Speech with his eyes shut, snoring gently, and you carefully, quietly, surreptitiously crack the spine on the best of the books.

‘Would anyone like a cup of tea?’

You put it down.  You talk tea.  You boil the kettle, you make one decaff, one herbal, one Earl Grey and one coffee with sweetener.

You slink back into the corner of the living room where the children aren’t and open up your book again.

‘I do think children today don’t read enough, don’t you?’

You agree with your uncle that children don’t read enough.  You look longingly at your book but he doesn’t get the hint.  He then explains why your views on the government need to be corrected.  You wonder about taking him to see The Death of Stalin.  He heads off to the loo with yesterday’s paper.

You open your book.  It’s great.  It’s as good as you were hoping it would be, you’re transported, you’re away, you’re in the fifteenth century and all around is the bustle of the marketplace and the sound of the passive-aggressive washing up and the tuts of your spouse.

You put your book down.

‘Would you like me to do the washing up?’

‘No, it’s fine.  Just keep reading.  I know how much you enjoy sitting around doing nothing at Christmas.’

 

You try and continue reading but there’s a wispy fog of guilt hanging over the pages now.  Maybe Boxing Day.  

 

A Soul Enriching Weekend

Kellie was one of our guests at our recent Suffolk retreat, and has written this lovely blog about her experiences.

A Soul Enriching Weekend

I have just returned from one of the most enjoyable, luxurious and soul enriching weekends in my life – a Reading Retreat.

If you were to climb into my mind and discover my fantasy weekend, it would be a 3-night escape to a beautiful country house where my every need would be met and all I had to do was read, and that was what I experienced at Reading Retreat.

It started on Friday afternoon where I was met by my two hosts for the weekend Sara and Cressi. They took my bags from the car, showed me to my gorgeous room and then had me settled in the kitchen nook with a mug of herbal tea while we waited for the others to arrive. They also presented me with a very well thought-out goody bag for the weekend and beyond.

I had already spoken with Cressi as she had called me before the retreat to give me my “reading prescription”. I was amazed how quickly Cressi “got me” and my reading taste with a 10-minute conversation. I also felt no judgement from Cressi about my taste in books – I am not really into highbrow literature preferring true crime novels, psychological thrillers, and a bit of chick-lit. Not once was I made to feel inferior about my tastes and Cressi gave me a great selection of books to choose from.  I chose all of them!

I was then shown around this beautiful house. They had very cleverly set aside 2 quiet reading rooms, both with very comfortable chairs and great light and one with a wood fire. The house rules were that if you were in those rooms you didn’t disturb anybody reading. It was lovely to sit around a room silently reading with like-minded people, although you could also read in your own room if you wanted. At any time, you could go into the kitchen where you would find our hosts, who were quick to offer a snack, drink, and a bit of conversation.

The food was amazing. 3 beautiful home cooked dinners, 2 lovely warm but light lunches and a hot or cold breakfast every morning and an abundance of home baked snacks whenever you got a bit peckish, including a midnight snack menu for reading into the early hours.

Dinner and prosecco with a visiting author, Guinevere Glasfurd, on the Saturday night was a major highlight. At first, I felt a little overwhelmed and shy (see above about my reading tastes) but she was lovely and made sure everybody at the dinner table was included in the conversation.

There was also some really lovely little touches that the hosts had thought of – a box of toiletries in case you had forgotten anything and little reading lights to borrow if you needed one but I think the best thing about the whole weekend was the freedom I felt to be myself and do nothing but eat, drink and read. I stayed in bed reading both Saturday and Sunday until lunchtime and on Sunday I stayed in my pyjamas all day until dinner and no-one raised an eyebrow. The hosts had very thoughtfully planned a walk for each day but had no problem with me skipping it to read in bed.

If you are a busy person who loves to read, I can recommend going on one of Sara and Cressi’s retreats. It really is the perfect way to spend 3 nights and I think I’ll be planning a once a year retreat from now on.

 

We're All Going on a Reading Retreat

Cressida and Sara started working together to create reading retreats after Cressida had been unsuccessful in finding one for herself. She created her own and this became the embryo of Reading Retreat.  Below is a copy of her blog about that first retreat....

 

We’re all going on a reading retreat.

 

By ‘we’ I mean me.  And by ‘reading retreat’ I really mean me and fifteen books going on a little holiday.

I have cleared a space in my work, got my home responsibilities off-loaded, and I’m going to stay in a residential library – for four days.  I’ve never been on a reading retreat before so I’m making it up as I go along.  Here are my initial rules on how to have a reading retreat:

It must be somewhere else.  A trip purely for reading.  Not a holiday where you have to squeeze precious reading time away from trivialities such as seeing the Grand Canyon and so on.

You must be able to be anti-social.  I’m going on my own and don’t intend to make any friends.

Travelling there must involve reading.  I’ll be taking a very lengthy train trip to start me off on the right track.

Someone else is going to do the adult-stuff for you.   I will not be making any of my own food for four days (or cooking for anyone else!)

Technology needs to be absent or at least reduced.  I adore my Kindle but I want to get back to reading basics and there’s something about a crisp new book that a crisp new electronic file can’t compete with.  I’m also intending to only be online for a short window each day.

Comfort is key.  We can safely say I will not be dressing to impress, I don’t want a belt digging in while I’m nose-deep into my book of choice.

Take notes – not an essay on each book but just a few quick notes to remind you when the retreat is done.

I am going to try and do a short walk once a day to refresh my reading palate too – a little bit of moving stirred in to some serious sloth.

Snacks (I have a serious reading + eating habit.)

No burn out – I often find myself crashing through work and house and admin in a desperate attempt to take a few days off, and then I sleep through those few days or come down with an exhaustion cold or fever.  Not this time.  I’m tapering off with work and leaving the washing up for someone else.

 

 

Blog

World Cup of Books

 

 

Has the World Cup been distracting you from your reading?  Do you hate or love it? Regardless, let’s use it as an inspiration to read more internationally!  

 

Cressi has come up with a fiction and non-fiction book for each of the 16 teams that made it through to the knock-out stage.  Sometimes the books are set in the country, sometimes they’re by a local author, sometimes the link is a little more tenuous – but this has been a labour of love!  She's not read all of them but a few of her favourites have crept in.

 

There's a wide range of genres and interests so we doubt anyone will love all 32 books – let Cressi know what you think and what you would have put on the list instead.


France

Suite Francaise – Irene Nemirovsky written in 1942, this has a freshness about France in the Second World War, a lightness of touch.    

A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway – do we think the struggling writers in Paris in the 1960s were better off then struggling writers are now?

Argentina

Labyrinths – Jorges Luis Borges – This collection of stories and essays by one of Argentina’s best known writers includes The Library of Babel

The Honorary Consul – Graham Greene is the classic story of an incompetent diplomat in a country he is failing to understand

Uruguay  

Football in Sun and Shadow - Eduardo Galeano – ‘an unashamedly emotional history of football’ by a best-selling Uruguayan author.

The invisible mountain by Carolina de Robertis – sweeping story of a mother and her daughter, starting at the turn of the century in Uruguay.

Portugal

A Small Death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson  - Murder mystery set in the Second World War and the 1990s.

Conquerors by Robert Crowley  - A comprehensive history of Portuguese exploration

Brazil

Futebol Nation – David Goldblatt –  Why are Brazil so enamoured of football?  Read the history of their love for the beautiful game.

Crow Blue by Adriana Lisboa – Award-winning Brazilian novelist’s book about a young girl who leaves Brazil and finds a new home in America.

Mexico

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel  - a magic realist love story with added recipes -a bestseller from the 1990s.

Bandit Roads – Richard Grant – travel writing by a reckless author dicing with the most dangerous regions in Mexico.

Spain

Sleeping Arrangements – Madeline Wickham – a summer holiday read about a double-booked Spanish holiday villa – fun and malicious.

The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston – an in-depth meticulously researched account of the Spanish Civil War.

Russia

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – one of my favourite books recently, the gentleman is placed under house arrest in a Moscow hotel after the Revolution.  A beautiful read.

Caught in the Revolution – Helen Rappaport – Foreigners’ accounts of the events of the Revolution.

Croatia

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht – this debut novel examines the roles of doctors during the Balkan Wars.

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon – Rebecca West – history or travel writing or journalism or all three,  Yugoslavia during 1937.

Denmark

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow – Peter Hoeg – the original Scandi-Noir is also a keen-eyed look at Danish history.

The Year of living Danishly – Helen Russell  - what’s it like living in the happiest nation in the world?

Sweden

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larsson – the first in the famous trilogy featuring the unconventional and uncompromising Lisbeth.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning – Margareta Magnusson – the latest trend in decluttering with additional planning for helping your relatives after your death.

Switzerland

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is partly set in Switzerland but if this feels too tenuous a link – try the Chalet School series instead!

Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes – I was shocked to discover the trains don’t actually always run on time…

England

The Lido by Libby Page – what could be more English than a threatened lido?  Set in Brixton the story makes you want to swim outdoors.

A Very English Scandal by John Preston is the staggering true story of Jeremy Thorpe’s private life and his possible involvement in a murder attempt.

Belgium

The Monogram Murders – Sophie Hannah  this has made it in as new incarnation of Poirot, Belgium’s most famous son.

King Leopold’s Ghost – Adam Hochschild – away from the chocolate and the cuddly detectives is a horrific colonial history.

Colombia

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez -  the landmark original magic realist novel deeply rooted in the cultural history of Latin America.

Oblivion – Hector Abad Faciolince – a memoir of the author’s father, killed by the right-wing militia, but also a love letter between a son and his father.

Japan

The Guest cat by Takashi Hiraide – the cat that adopts and changes a freelance writer in a beautiful little novel

Geisha of Gion: The Memoir of Mineko Iwasaki – the autobiography of the subject of Memoir of a Geisha speaks for herself.

Christmas Reading

Did you have a lovely relaxing reading Christmas break?  Or did it go something like this…

 

There are delicious book-shaped parcels under the tree.  Some of them are even for you.  One is a box of chocolates – good – but no cigar.  One is a cunningly wrapped box of socks.  Three are books – hurrah!

You wait impatiently for the others to finish opening their presents.  You make all the right noises.  You play a game of Star Wars Top Trumps with your nephew to show willing.

Finally, the teenagers are drifting back onto their phones, your father has started ‘listening’ to the Queen’s Speech with his eyes shut, snoring gently, and you carefully, quietly, surreptitiously crack the spine on the best of the books.

‘Would anyone like a cup of tea?’

You put it down.  You talk tea.  You boil the kettle, you make one decaff, one herbal, one Earl Grey and one coffee with sweetener.

You slink back into the corner of the living room where the children aren’t and open up your book again.

‘I do think children today don’t read enough, don’t you?’

You agree with your uncle that children don’t read enough.  You look longingly at your book but he doesn’t get the hint.  He then explains why your views on the government need to be corrected.  You wonder about taking him to see The Death of Stalin.  He heads off to the loo with yesterday’s paper.

You open your book.  It’s great.  It’s as good as you were hoping it would be, you’re transported, you’re away, you’re in the fifteenth century and all around is the bustle of the marketplace and the sound of the passive-aggressive washing up and the tuts of your spouse.

You put your book down.

‘Would you like me to do the washing up?’

‘No, it’s fine.  Just keep reading.  I know how much you enjoy sitting around doing nothing at Christmas.’

 

You try and continue reading but there’s a wispy fog of guilt hanging over the pages now.  Maybe Boxing Day.  

 

A Soul Enriching Weekend

Kellie was one of our guests at our recent Suffolk retreat, and has written this lovely blog about her experiences.

A Soul Enriching Weekend

I have just returned from one of the most enjoyable, luxurious and soul enriching weekends in my life – a Reading Retreat.

If you were to climb into my mind and discover my fantasy weekend, it would be a 3-night escape to a beautiful country house where my every need would be met and all I had to do was read, and that was what I experienced at Reading Retreat.

It started on Friday afternoon where I was met by my two hosts for the weekend Sara and Cressi. They took my bags from the car, showed me to my gorgeous room and then had me settled in the kitchen nook with a mug of herbal tea while we waited for the others to arrive. They also presented me with a very well thought-out goody bag for the weekend and beyond.

I had already spoken with Cressi as she had called me before the retreat to give me my “reading prescription”. I was amazed how quickly Cressi “got me” and my reading taste with a 10-minute conversation. I also felt no judgement from Cressi about my taste in books – I am not really into highbrow literature preferring true crime novels, psychological thrillers, and a bit of chick-lit. Not once was I made to feel inferior about my tastes and Cressi gave me a great selection of books to choose from.  I chose all of them!

I was then shown around this beautiful house. They had very cleverly set aside 2 quiet reading rooms, both with very comfortable chairs and great light and one with a wood fire. The house rules were that if you were in those rooms you didn’t disturb anybody reading. It was lovely to sit around a room silently reading with like-minded people, although you could also read in your own room if you wanted. At any time, you could go into the kitchen where you would find our hosts, who were quick to offer a snack, drink, and a bit of conversation.

The food was amazing. 3 beautiful home cooked dinners, 2 lovely warm but light lunches and a hot or cold breakfast every morning and an abundance of home baked snacks whenever you got a bit peckish, including a midnight snack menu for reading into the early hours.

Dinner and prosecco with a visiting author, Guinevere Glasfurd, on the Saturday night was a major highlight. At first, I felt a little overwhelmed and shy (see above about my reading tastes) but she was lovely and made sure everybody at the dinner table was included in the conversation.

There was also some really lovely little touches that the hosts had thought of – a box of toiletries in case you had forgotten anything and little reading lights to borrow if you needed one but I think the best thing about the whole weekend was the freedom I felt to be myself and do nothing but eat, drink and read. I stayed in bed reading both Saturday and Sunday until lunchtime and on Sunday I stayed in my pyjamas all day until dinner and no-one raised an eyebrow. The hosts had very thoughtfully planned a walk for each day but had no problem with me skipping it to read in bed.

If you are a busy person who loves to read, I can recommend going on one of Sara and Cressi’s retreats. It really is the perfect way to spend 3 nights and I think I’ll be planning a once a year retreat from now on.

 

We're All Going on a Reading Retreat

Cressida and Sara started working together to create reading retreats after Cressida had been unsuccessful in finding one for herself. She created her own and this became the embryo of Reading Retreat.  Below is a copy of her blog about that first retreat....

 

We’re all going on a reading retreat.

 

By ‘we’ I mean me.  And by ‘reading retreat’ I really mean me and fifteen books going on a little holiday.

I have cleared a space in my work, got my home responsibilities off-loaded, and I’m going to stay in a residential library – for four days.  I’ve never been on a reading retreat before so I’m making it up as I go along.  Here are my initial rules on how to have a reading retreat:

It must be somewhere else.  A trip purely for reading.  Not a holiday where you have to squeeze precious reading time away from trivialities such as seeing the Grand Canyon and so on.

You must be able to be anti-social.  I’m going on my own and don’t intend to make any friends.

Travelling there must involve reading.  I’ll be taking a very lengthy train trip to start me off on the right track.

Someone else is going to do the adult-stuff for you.   I will not be making any of my own food for four days (or cooking for anyone else!)

Technology needs to be absent or at least reduced.  I adore my Kindle but I want to get back to reading basics and there’s something about a crisp new book that a crisp new electronic file can’t compete with.  I’m also intending to only be online for a short window each day.

Comfort is key.  We can safely say I will not be dressing to impress, I don’t want a belt digging in while I’m nose-deep into my book of choice.

Take notes – not an essay on each book but just a few quick notes to remind you when the retreat is done.

I am going to try and do a short walk once a day to refresh my reading palate too – a little bit of moving stirred in to some serious sloth.

Snacks (I have a serious reading + eating habit.)

No burn out – I often find myself crashing through work and house and admin in a desperate attempt to take a few days off, and then I sleep through those few days or come down with an exhaustion cold or fever.  Not this time.  I’m tapering off with work and leaving the washing up for someone else.

 

 


"An entire weekend of 

luxurious accommodation, gorgeous food and hospitality. Such a beautiful, soul enriching way to spend a weekend. I read constantly"

Kellie

 


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