2015 Reading Challenge – Book #10 – The Diary of a Young Girl

Book #10 – A book originally written in another language – The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Genre: Autobiography
Published: 1947 as Het Achterbuis Dagboekbrieven 14 Juni 1942 – 1 Augustus 1944
Originally written in: Dutch
Country: Netherlands
Book to TV/Movie Adaptation: Adapted for theater in 1955 and for film in 1959. Also dramatized for television in 2001.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank 2This is a real life epistolary novel of Anne Frank, a 13 year old Jewish girl living in Amsterdam who went into hiding with her family in 1942, two years after the Nazis occupied the Netherlands.

Anne recounts all her experiences of living in the “Secret Annexe”, the hiding place in Anne’s father’s office building with her parents, elder sister and four others that included a family of three and a dentist. Living a secret existence for two years until 1944 was by no means the easiest thing to do but the eight fugitives had the constant support of a handful of close friends and co-workers who would risk their own lives and supply them with food, news and books from outside.

Like any young girl of a similar age, Anne goes through many several first-time experiences including reaching puberty, discovering her life’s purpose and surprisingly, even falling in love during these two years of being cooped up in the secret quarters. In this unabridged version, she even touches upon a few adult subjects which pique her interest. Her conflict with her mother is also described in great detail, where Anne claims that her parent does not understand her at all. She also ends up saying some very foolish and hurtful things to her father which she regrets later on. Having gone through similar troubled teen years myself, I could relate and sympathize with her parents for bearing with her and loving her unconditionally at the same time.

Despite the turbulent times, Anne was quite mature and wise beyond her thirteen or fourteen years. She was a deep thinker and keen observer of human behaviour,  painting such a vivid picture of all the different members of the house that it was easy to see their individual personalities through her eyes. Anne was a voracious reader whose interests lay in history, Greek and Roman mythology, art, poetry and searching for family trees. She also was a huge fan of film stars, the photos of whom she pasted all over her room’s walls.

I found Anne a very colourful and interesting personality – a girl with a great sense of humour, someone who maintained her ideals, had lots of opinions about everything and who could carry out deep conversations at great length. Towards the end of the book, she herself mentioned that although she sometimes acted superficially with her school peers and friends, she badly wanted someone with whom she could talk about subjects that hadn’t seen the daylight.

Only one thing was going through my mind when I read this surprisingly easy and funny book. It was how bold and fearless Anne was for a girl her age in those unstable times. She had a zest for life and an inimitable spirit that many would have lost in such a precarious situation. Despite the dismal circumstances, Anne talked of only hope, positivity and a beautiful life that was meant to be enjoyed. Anne also described in great detail, the goings on of the shared household from the conflicts that arose from living under the same roof with another family to almost being discovered by burglars and other workers in the building as well as the plight of the Jews who were not so fortunate and were caught by the Nazis.

There comes about a vast change from the thirteen year old Anne in 1942 to the almost fifteen year old in 1944. She becomes more sensible and less prone to acting out which results in some very quotable quotes. Her last entry spoke of how everyone called her a ‘little bundle of contradictions’ and how she was fighting to bring out the real Anne in her which everyone was trying to suppress. All in all, this book was a wonderful read. It took me on a roller coaster journey of happiness, misery, helplessness, fear and hope and I was left with a heavy sadness in my heart after I read the epilogue. The diary was retrieved from the Secret Annexe and given to Otto Frank, Anne’s father and the only surviving member of the family, after her death in a Nazi concentration camp. Otto edited the diary and got it published in 1947, thus fulfilling her wish of  ‘going on living after her death’.

Anne was a treasure trove of wisdom. I had a really hard time deciding which of her passages to include in this post but after much deletion, I selected the below:

1. Riches can all be lost, but that happiness in your own heart can only be veiled, and it will still bring you happiness again, as long as you live. As long as you can look fearlessly up into the heavens, as long as you know that you are pure within and that you will still find happiness.

2. And in the evening, when I lie in bed and end my prayers with the words, “I thank you God, for all that is good and dear and beautiful,” I am filled with joy. I don’t think then of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains. My advice is: “Go outside, to the fields, enjoy nature and the sunshine, go out and try to recapture happiness in yourself and God. Think of all the beauty that’s still left in and around you and be happy!” And whoever is happy will make others happy too. He who has courage and faith will never perish in misery!

3. Keep your courage up! Like I do. Although it’s not always easy, your time may come sooner than you think.

4. I want to go on living even after my death! And therefore I am grateful to God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me.

5. How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then, without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time. Anyone can do this, it costs nothing and is certainly very helpful. Whoever doesn’t know it must learn and find experience that: ‘A quiet conscience, makes one strong!’

6. Because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are good at heart. I simply can’t build my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death.

Book Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Have you read a translated book originally written in another language that you highly recommend? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
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Blogging Event: The Book Worm Club by Jumbleskine

God Never Blinks  2

I’m very excited to be taking part in a new blogging event called The Book Worm Club that the lovely Mariella of Jumbleskine is hosting every Friday starting from today.

In this club, readers are invited to:
1. Blog about a favourite book they have read or one that they are currently reading and enjoying and would like to recommend to others.
2. Post a picture/image of the book.
3. Pingback to Jumbleskine’s post and use the hashtag #thebookwormclub.

When I decided to write this post this morning, I looked at my bookcase to decide which book I would talk about. In the past few years, I have read a lot of inspirational and motivational books to help me understand a lot more about myself. I have mentioned about this period of my life in an earlier post as well. An inspiring book that was on my to-read list was God Never Blinks by Regina Brett. A friend of mine who knew I wanted this particular book very kindly got this copy for me from a trip to Canada a couple of years ago.

This book is a compilation of 50 lessons that the author Regina Brett has learned from life. She had gone through some very difficult times in life from raising her child as a single parent to battling cancer and the lessons were originally published in a newspaper column she wrote when she turned fifty.

I consumed this book on the metro on my way to work every morning and the heartwarming personal stories and the wisdom that came out of them resonated deeply with me. The situations she has gone through are both general and specific, that thousands, including myself might have also experienced.

I found this book to be so charming, in the way that it is written and how inspiring it is without being over-bearing. One day, an elderly gentleman standing behind me on the metro even asked me the title of the book and I was pleased to be able to tell him about it. I think he may have read a page or two with me as I was reading it and obviously enjoyed it. Even my dad found this collection to be a winner.

Some of my favourite lesson titles are, “Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks”, “Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save anything for a special occasion. Today is special enough.” and “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up for life.” 

But my favourite one that I loved was one I could definitely relate to completely right from the start. It was as if it was meant for me. The lesson is written in an anti-version of a “How to be a writer” and the title is, “A writer is someone who writes. If you want to be a writer, write.” I have mentioned a little bit about this lesson in my very first post.

How not to be a writer -Wait until a doctor says you’ve got six months to live. Die with your words still inside of you.

Final words – Please find some way to acquire this book. It’s relatable to all and a gem that everyone needs in their bookshelves.

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
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Blogging 201 – Branding and Growth – Setting Goals

cropped-blogging-201If you’re new to blogging or need some guidance on creating blog content or putting yourself out there (like I do), then make sure to follow The Daily Post on WordPress and register for their Blogging U. courses.

You’ll be given daily assignments for the duration of the course which you will have to complete and publish on your blog everyday. I’ve signed up for the Blogging 201 – Branding and Growth course and my first assignment is to set three goals that I want to achieve for my blog.

Sounds pretty simple, but there’s some deep thought that goes into narrowing down three specific goals. For the longest time, since its inception about three years ago, this blog was about nothing in particular. I wasn’t even sure if I was ready to take on the regular responsibility of sharing my personal thoughts and/or opinions with the whole world. I would read lots of blogs ranging from food to travel to anything that caught my fancy but wouldn’t attempt to seriously write about anything.

This year, I have been working on developing and personalizing my blog and acknowledging to myself and the world that yes, I am a writer. So what if the last time I got published in a real magazine was in 8th grade? The writer in me still has a voice which I intend to use, hone and hopefully make a difference.

So my blog is about two things I am most passionate about. Reading books and watching films. These might seem like trivial pursuits to many, but to me they are the reasons for my overactive imagination and the reason why I love to write. Although in recent years, I haven’t experimented in various genres of either activity, preferring to stick within the comforts of a selected few genres of my liking. This has been one of my intentions this year – to experiment more in the literary and the reel world.

My goals therefore, are centered around writing book and film reviews analytically and hopefully finding a like-minded audience out there who is equally interested to read about my thoughts as I am about reading theirs. These are:

1. To blog at least four times a month using a blog content plan and schedule.
2. To read other blogger posts, learn from their experience and get inspired to read, watch and write more.
3. To increase my followers by 50% in the next three months through posting meaningful content and by using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads and Bloglovin’ to the optimum.

So fellow bloggers, I would really love to know your tactics on putting yourself out there. How do you do it? How do you plan your schedules and where do you get ideas from? Would love some advice and suggestions.

Till then happy blogging! 🙂

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
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So what’s your story?

Every hobby has a reason behind it. Every passion has a story.

My hobby of reading and subsequently my interest in writing stemmed from my dad’s bedtime stories that he would faithfully relate every night. He would always weave stories of kind kings who would sometimes dress up as villagers to make sure their kingdom was well-looked after, big palaces and arty thieves that stole from them managing to baffle the royal security guards. I would love his made-up stories often impatiently asking “And then what happened?” while he thought of the next twist in the tale. Sometimes he would fall asleep in the middle of the story and I would wake him up and make him finish it.

I don’t remember the first ever book that I picked up, all I knew is that once I started reading, I never stopped. I devoured Enid Blyton books like they were the delicious cucumber sandwiches, fruit cake and ginger ale she wrote about in her lovely, cosy tales. I fed on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Three Investigators and I consumed Nancy Drews. I read Archies comics, Tinkle Digest and Champak magazines. I read the local magazines – Junior News and Young Times. I was unstoppable. I think my library card in school had the most books issued. I don’t know if that’s true but I did read a lot.

My dad never stopped me. In fact he was the one who encouraged me to read, read and read some more. He took me to local libraries and got membership cards for me everywhere. I was always surrounded by books. In school too I would be borrowing and lending books with friends who shared the interest.

My dad would always encourage me to write too. He would ask me to write letters to my cousins and other family members. He made me send letters to the editor, opinions and stories to those local magazines I mentioned. He had the proudest and the happiest face when they got published. I had a typewriter that I would tap away on. One that he had gotten for my sister but since she was studying in India for a couple of years, I was using it. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tappity tap….chiiiing !

My love for books was indescribable. I was so captivated by them that I didn’t want to put them down when it was time for meals or for bed. And so I would get under my snug blanket and read by torchlight until the last word had been read. And then I would hug my book and drift off to sleep with my glasses on. I often re-read my books because I just couldn’t get enough of the adventures of the Secret Seven, The Famous Five and The Five Find-Outers. They made me happy and the food described in them would make my mouth water even though I had no idea what scones, macaroons and root beer were. Was it alcohol for children? I would always wonder. My heart would skip a beat when the Five Find-Outers got into trouble with the villains or Mr. Goon and I would cheer when Fatty solved the mystery.

In my mid-teens, I had advanced into books like Agatha Christies and Harry Potter and Mills & Boon. I enjoyed all of them. I admit that I am not a very adventurous reader so I didn’t read what everyone else was reading – Sidney Sheldon, Michael Crichton, John Grisham and Jeffrey Archer. They were all a mystery to me and still are. I always stayed within my comfort zone.

My sister has an equally voracious appetite for books so we had a joint membership in our neighborhood library for 11 years until it finally closed down in the summer of 2008 because people were just not reading anymore. That year became a huge turning point in my life in many ways. I had just graduated and was looking for employment. I was feeling lost in many ways and I didn’t need the loss of my happy place – the library.

Pretty soon, I realized my love for printed books weaned. I am not proud to say this but I moved on to read free online books which were mostly romance novels that had repetitive story lines. My happy place gone, I was lost. I was incredibly depressed and I read one trashy novel after another. I sometimes re-read some of my old comforting collection again, though not so much. I was impatient and irritable. Since I didn’t have an eBook reader, my laptop provided me no comfort that the feel and smell of a book does. I could no longer feel the crispy or the yellowed-with-age paper, dog-ear my pages or be able to hear what the words spoke out to me.

Since my ties with my books are so severed, I am trying my best to have the healthy relationship that I once had. It’s harder than I thought it would be because the urge to pick up a book and finish it had reduced. I hope that I can soon get back on the same familiar footing I had with them.

I now realize what power my books had on me, how much they shaped my life and how they made me who I am. I realize that your friends may come and go but books that have made a special place in your heart will never leave you. For they become part of you. Always and Forever.

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
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A Writer Writes

I’m a “writer” who is afraid to write. Yes, you read me correctly. I worry incessantly about my choice of language, content, whether anyone will be interested in what I have to share etc. that I don’t even bother to type a single word. I think too much. In other words, I’m just too lazy.

I recently started doing my Masters in Media and Communications and needless to say, I will have to start writing regularly soon. Otherwise, what’s the point?Ah, growing up, I had great hopes and dreams just like anyone else. I wanted to be a good writer while I still had a voice. I wanted to finish the novel I had started when I was 14. But I merely hid my de-motivation behind a shield of “writer’s block” and my lack of goals and focus did not help one bit.

Recently, I came across this amazing little pocket book in a local bookstore called “God Never Blinks : 50 Life Lessons” by Regina Brett.

Intrigued as I was, I started reading the small chapters right then and there at random. I came across Lesson no. 18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write. This lesson struck so close to home. It told me everything I had been doing wrong or “How not to write”. I had been taking endless classes, courses and what not but I had not been doing the most important exercise of all – writing.

Regina’s last line really woke me up, “How not to be a writer -Wait until a doctor says you’ve got six months to live. Die with your words still inside of you.” 

You can read the whole chapter here

For the 50+ lessons (she has added 6 more to her list since getting her book published), you can click here

This blog post is a re-entry into this beautiful world of expression. I hope I can continue to pour my heart out without the little voice nagging me all the time. I hope I can continue to express myself through penmanship. And lastly, I hope I can just write fearlessly. After all,”words are all I have….”

You can email me at thistlesandwhistles@hotmail.com
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