World Book Day 2019

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It’s finally World Book Day – or Sant Jordi, if you like Catalan traditions – at the EUI Library.

As promised, we’re sharing your book recommendations on our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) all day. If you can’t wait, the complete list is below. We have an excellent variety, so thanks everyone for you collaboration!

One last thing: World Book Day-Sant Jordi is not only virtual. Come to the Library today, we are handing out 100 roses and some very bookish gadgets to our users.

Cato – Il gattopardo by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Ciara May Burbridge – Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
Corinna – 1979 by Christian Kracht
Cornalijn – Tonio by A.F.Th van der Heijden
Dario – Influence: The psychology of persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
Diana – The left hand of darkness by Ursula le Guin
Jackie – La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert by Joël Dicker
Léon – Radetsky march by Joseph Roth
Misia – Lalka by Bolesław Prus
Pep –  Todos los colores del sol y de la noche by Reinerová, Lenka
Pierluigi – 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Ruth – Petit pays by Gaël Faye
Silvia Fiore – Trees die upright by Aziz Hakimi
Thomas – Il giardino della mente by Emily Dickinson

Cato recommends Il gattopardo by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
First of all, it gives a great insight into the Risorgimento and the sea change it caused in Italy. But it’s also beautifully, sensually written and unexpectedly (thought maybe doubly) funny!


Ciara May Burbridge recommends  Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa is a book which tells the story of how several generations of one Palestinian family coped with their loss of land and loved ones in the post 1948 Palestine. Often when we read about war, we see it through a sterile lens with facts and figures rather than the names and individual stories of the people who suffer. What is so special about this book is that you quickly fall in love with the characters and become fully invested in what happens to them, sharing their many moments of grief and their short spurts of happiness. You see and feel the real life impact of war from a personal perspective, told from a Palestinian perspective. Verses from Kahlil Gibran and Rumi are often dispersed in the text which reflect the high level of poetic writing that the author seemingly effortlessly accomplishes. I would recommend this book to everyone. Regardless of the fact that this book is about the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, for me it is a book which succeeds in reflecting both the beauty and flaws of humanity. Be prepared to cry, but in a very good way.

Corinna recommends 1979 by Christian Kracht
It starts perfectly normal and then it sucks you into its mysticism, before you even notice – it’s just so enjoyably weird and atmospheric.


Cornalijn recommends Tonio by A.F.Th van der Heijden
Tonio beschrijft het intense verlies van een kind. Nadat Tonio, de zoon van A.F.Th van der Heijden, overlijd ziet hij geen andere opties dan al zijn emoties en gedachten op papier te zetten. Dit lijdt tot een indrukwekkend en aangrijpend boek waarin primaire emoties meesterlijk worden beschreven. Van der Heijden beschrijft het leven van zijn zoon en de laatste uren voor het ongeluk en zoekt tegelijk antwoord op de allesomvattende vraag waarom? Dit boek behoort tot een zeldzaam soort en laat je niet meer los. 

Tonio describes the tragic loss of a son who dies after being hit by a car. His father, the author of the book, sees no other option than putting down all his emotions and thoughts after the accident. Van der Heijden creates an impressive and touching book in which the primal emotions of parents are defined. The book tells the life of Tonio and tries to reconstruct his final hours before the accident but is mainly a quest for the comprehensive question of why? This book belongs to a rare category: once you have read them, they will always stick with you.

Dario recommends Influence: The psychology of persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
I read this book for the first time when I was 15, and it’s been my first reading about one of those which I consider the most interesting parts of psychology: persuasion. The author perfectly manages to explain very complex concepts really simply and clearly, exposing many interesting mind traps we often fall into. I think this is one of those books that everyone should read at least once, as it’s thanks to this that I started studying this topic as well as others related to it, and that I still carry on.

Diana recommends The left hand of darkness by Ursula le Guin
If indeed a book is a chance to try on a different life for a change, then ‘The left hand of darkness’ treats us with an extraordinary one, full of discovery both inside, but most importantly outside of the narrative itself. It is a book both about gender and not about gender at all, revolutionary in its’ approach to it, perhaps the very definition of gender-bending. A book about war and politics, but equally about the strength of cooperation. It is, all in all, relevant and what I enjoyed most was the seamless way in which ideas, action and feelings were intertwined in its’ pages. It is life-like, personal and almost transforms the reader into a witness. Intimate and therefore powerful.

Jackie recommends La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert by Joël Dicker
This was a very fun ‘whodunnit’, with a good number of plausible perpetrators, all set on the marvelous New England coastline of the United States. I also enjoy metafiction and books on writing, and this book offers more than one book within, as well as appealing writer characters. A little bit Philip Roth/Nathan Zuckerman/Ghost Writer, a little bit (as one reviewer said) Murder She Wrote.

Léon recommends Radetsky march by Joseph Roth
I know no other book that so clearly shows the reader the “old Europe”. A family history spanning the reign of Franz Joseph, it paints a vivid portrait of life, politics and the romantic tragedy of this era. It is a great book to indulge in fantasies of the past, but seeing our roots also helps in better understand Europe today.

Misia recommends Lalka by Bolesław Prus
Zastanawialiście się, co się stanie, gdy XIX-wieczny biznesmen spotka na swojej drodze piękną i okrutną femme fatale i bez pamięci się w niej zakocha? Tak, to nie może się dobrze skończyć… Właśnie ten wątek to główna os wydarzeń „Lalki” Bolesława Prusa, jednej z moich ulubionych klasycznych polskich powieści. Bogaty kupiec Stanisław Wokulski zakochuje się w arystokratce Izabeli Łęckiej i postanawia powiększyć swój majątek, aby być godnym jej ręki. Książka to jednak nie tylko wątek miłosny – znajdzie się w niej też miejsce na niesamowity wynalazek i mnóstwo ciekawostek z życia Warszawy pod zaborem rosyjskim, a wszystko to by ukazać przekrój zróżnicowanego polskiego społeczeństwa końca XIX wieku. Brzmi ciekawie? Jeśli planujesz wycieczkę do Warszawy, koniecznie przeczytaj książkę, a potem wybierz się na spacer śladami opisanych ulic, kamienic i miejsc!

Have you ever wondered what will happen when a nineteenth-century businessman meets a beautiful and cruel femme fatale and falls in love with her? Yes, it cannot end well … This is the main topic of “The Doll” by Bolesław Prus, one of my favourite classic Polish novels. Rich merchant Stanisław Wokulski becomes fascinated with an aristocrat Izabela Łęcka and decides to increase his wealth to be worthy of her hand. The book, however, is not only a love theme – there is also a place for a breakthrough invention and a glimpse on the life of Warsaw under the Russian partition, all to show the diverse Polish society of the late nineteenth century. Sounds interesting? If you are planning a trip to Warsaw, be sure to read the book first and then have a walk and see the streets, tenements and places described!

Pep recommends Todos los colores del sol y de la noche by Lenka Reinerová
Se trata de una autobiografía de una de las últimas escritoras checas en lengua alemana. Cubre principalmente sus memorias del periodo en que fue presa política víctima de la depuración estalinista, aunque le sirve como excusa para repasar otros episodios de su vida, marcada por su actividad revolucionaria contra el régimen nazi.
Son una memorias escritas en una clave muy distinta a como suelen ser los relatos de literatura carcelaria. Análogas a obras de otras tantas víctimas del totalitarismo y contemporáneas de Reinerová, como Liana Millu o Evgenia Ginzburg, la autora mantiene un tono de ironía entre naif y desafiante que hace este libro distinto a cualquier otro.
Merece la pena destacar la traducción de Juan de Sola, recientemente galardonado con el premio de traducción Ángel Crespo 2018.

It’s the autobiography of one of the last Czech writers in German. It covers mainly his memories from the time when he was a political prisoner victim of the Stalinist purge, although this serves as an excuse to review other episodes of her life, marked by her revolutionary activity against the Nazi regime.
These memoirs are written in a very different key than the usual prison literature. Similar to works by other victims of totalitarianism and contemporaries of Reinerová, such as Liana Millu or Evgenia Ginzburg, the author maintains an ironic tone, somehow between naïve and provocative, that makes this book unlike any other.
It’s worth noting the translation of Juan de Sola, recently awarded the Ángel Crespo 2018 translation prize.

Pierluigi recommends 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Per il World Book Day di quest’anno, ho scelto 1Q84 di Murakami. Ho scelto questo libro perché lo sto ancora leggendo; ho quasi finito il secondo volume e non vedo l’ora di divorarmi il terzo. L’ho scelto perché Murakami nelle sue opere, e in questa in particolare, dà sempre qualcosa che finisce per diventare cemento armato nel muro portante delle persone che lo leggono.
I protagonisti del romanzo iniziano a vivere la loro storia con un cambiamento: dai primissimi passi, un avvenimento porta alla fine della realtà come la conoscevano e alla creazione di un’altra realtà, che si sovrappone a quella preesistente. Nel corso della narrazione, i protagonisti cercano sé stessi e l’altro, in un ottovolante di emozioni e realizzazioni.
In 1Q84, Haruki ha l’abilità di affascinare il lettore con una storia intrigante che si sviluppa pigramente risaltando i caratteri e i motivi stessi che muovono le sue persone e il suo mondo. È capace di spiegare con una dolce razionalità l’insensatezza dell’uomo e di mettere in dubbio la moralità e l’etica comune utilizzando anche citazioni ricercate e idee originali. Leggere 1Q84 dà a momenti l’impressione di coprirsi con una vestaglia di seta durante una tormenta e, in altri, di imparare a nuotare senza essere spinti in acqua, ma seguiti da un abile istruttore. Credo che tutti noi abbiamo bisogno di un 1Q84 nella nostra struttura, ve lo raccomando. Buona lettura.

For this year’s World Book Day I chose 1Q84 by Murakami. I chose this book because I’m still reading it. I nearly finished the second volume and I cannot wait to devour the third.  I chose it because in his works, in especially in this, Murakami always gives something that ends up being like reinforced concrete in the bearing wall of his readers.
The protagonists set out in their story with a change: since the very first steps, an event takes them to the end of reality as they knew it and to the creation of another reality, overlaying the old one. In the course of the narration, the protagonists seek for themselves and the other, in a roller-coaster of emotions and epiphanies.
In 1Q84 Haruki is able to fascinate the reader with an intriguing story that lazily develops, enhancing the characters and the reasons moving people and his world. He is able to explain with a gentle rationality the meaninglessness of man and to doubt the morality and the common ethics, also by using sophisticated quotations and original ideas. At times, reading 1Q84 gives you the feeling of wrapping yourself in a silk robe in the midst of a storm; in other moments, it feels like learning to swim, not with a splash in the water, but with a skilled instructor. I think we all need a 1Q84 in our structure, I recommend it. Enjoy your reading.

Ruth recommends Petit pays by Gaël Faye
Ouvrez “Petit pays”. Vous allez y retourner pour 6h en silence non-stop.
Dans ce roman, on s’y roule comme dans un édredon qu’on voudrait encore plus épais. Vous ne manquerez pas toutes les émotions décrites dans Larousse. Du début jusqu’à la fin. Un chefs-d’œuvre et je vous promets, le mot n’est pas trop fort. Pourrait être triste et dramatique mais pas pour moi, non. C’est un livre d’espoir à travers la vie de Gaël dans notre petit pays et on ne peut pas ne pas se réconcilier avec le genre humain… En fermant le livre après la dernière ligne je me suis demandée combien de Gaël avons-nous dans notre petit pays? Alors cherchons à sauver notre tendre et beau petit pays. Combien en ce moment sont en train de vivre la même chose que Gaël il y a 20 ans? Petit pays se dévore, on ne peut pas arrêter. On sourit et on rigole, on a un gros nœud dans la gorge, le cœur bat, on a de l’empathie, on veut savoir ce qui suit. Au Burundi, on est à ce jour dans la même histoire de nos enfants innocents comme Gaël et ses amis qui vivent dans la terreur et un semblant d’héroïsme chaque jour parce que infligés dans la souffrance.
Merci merci et merci 1000 fois Gaël pour le petit pays et pour nous. C’est un bel héritage et un beau cadeau pour les enfants du petit pays. J’espère que nous pourrons encore une fois dire du tac au tac “Ça va”. Qualificatif: Emouvant, Excellent, Epoustouflant…

Open “Petit pays”. You’ll go back to it for 6 silent hours uninterruptedly. You can be wrapped in this novel like you’re wrapped in a quilt that you’ll want even tighter.
You’ll experience all the emotions described in the dictionary. From the beginning to the end. It’s a masterpiece, and I promise, this is not overstating. It might be sad and dramatic, but not to me. This is a book of hope through the life of Gaël in our little country (Burundi) and you can’t avoid being reconciled with the human race… By closing the book after the last line, I wondered: how many Gaël do we have in our little country? So let’s try to save our tender and beautiful little country. How many are currently living the same thing as Gaël 20 years ago? You’ll devour “Petit pays”, and won’t stop. You’ll smile and laugh, and will have a big lump in your throat, your heart beating fast, you’ll empathise, you’ll want to know what follows. Nowadays in Burundi our innocent children are living the same story as that of Gaël and his friends, living in terror and pretending to be heroes, as every day pain is inflicted to them.
Thank you, thank you and thank you 1000 times Gaël for Petit pays and for us. It’s a beautiful legacy and a beautiful gift for the children of this small country. I hope we can once again say “it’s alright”. Adjectives: Moving, Excellent, Breath-taking…

Silvia Fiore recommends Trees die upright, Aziz Hakimi
I hadn’t shed tears reading since One thousands splendid suns, but this book touched my heart. Once again the setting is Afghanistan, but it’s hard to believe that it’s a fiction. Delawar and his friends have all the kindness and the pain of a real life story. This book is an intimate letter of love and hope to a country of innocent victims. We are lucky to have writers like Aziz Hakimi who interpret their colourful but war-torn culture and history for us.1

Thomas recommends Il giardino della mente by Emily Dickinson
This new parallel text, English-Italian translation of selected Emily Dickinson poems is a reminder of the poet’s universality and enduring appeal. Translator Silvio Raffo has chosen the title ‘Il giardino della mente’ (The Garden of the Mind) because Dickinson (1830-1886) was a keen gardener.  The concise and enigmatic language of the poems is rendered faithfully in this translation, which will introduce new readers to an extraordinary writer.

By Chivalries as tiny,
A Blossom, or a Book,
The seeds of smiles are planted –
Which blossom in the dark.

Da sì minuscoli cavalieri –
una gemma, od un libro –
sono deposti i semi dei sorrisi
Che nel buio fioriscono.