What is this blog all about?

The main purpose of this blog is to give an overview of the things I do, in my everyday life, in order to improve my English. Since I am a very lazy person, I mostly read, and watch movies, and do things which make it possible for me to improve my vocabulary, my grammar and my accent without getting bored... So this blog is going to be about the books I read, the movies I watch, and some other things which I find relevant (or not)...

I hope you'll like it! Don't hesitate to leave comments if you have any suggestions concerning what I should write about!!

mercredi 27 janvier 2010

Defying gravity

Hi, reader ! I'm writing this both from my hotel room in Limoges and from my brand new eeePC, so, please forgive the typos, which can tonight be blamed both on the tiny keyboard and on the weird location (is that not a valid excuse for bad spelling ? Ah, well. Will have to do.)

I had a huge allergy problem yesterday night, asthma so bad it made my head hurt, and a terrible case of the sneezes. I learnt my lesson, and will leave my friend A's cat alone next time, even though it's cute and I compensate never having a pet of my own.

Anyway, I felt a little weird when I got up, and today, as I was on my way to my next contract (in Limoges, as I said), many weird things happened to me. I think I saw a baby elephant in a garden on the train (in a garden I saw from the train. Not a baby elephant in a garden on the train), I think I saw the blond woman from Fringe staring very hard at me from an old Renault when I was crossing the street, and I think everyone looked at me in a weird way. Also my brand new eeePC had a terrible blue-screen episode, which I hope won't happen again. I just mean to give you more explanation as to why the following post might be a little weird. Oxygen deprivation and all, I think I may be a little high.

Anyway. Today's top 5 is : "The top 5 questions about books that I asked myself on the train from Colmar" I hope you'll like it, though it is a very self-centered post. If you do not like it, I'm very sorry, I blame it on the boogie.

1. Is it true that I like books written by women more than books written by men? I always thought I did, but come to think of it, some of my favourite books and stories were written by men. Even though Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë will always be my favourite, I really love male authors too. William Goldman's The Princess Bride, Neil Gaiman in general, John Irving, Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy and Stephen King (though I must admit I mostly only really liked Dolores Claiborne). So I don't really know anymore. And William Shakespeare, though I can't honestly claim I know anything about him. He still wrote that line in Hamlet which is so beautiful it makes me shiver.

2. Would I still love The Princess Bride as much if I read it again now ? Did I only love it that much because it was the first time I really read a book in English ? Did I only love it that much because I liked the movie ? Will I ever be brave enough to read it again to find out, or had I better just let it be, in case I do not love it as much re-reading it ?

3. Can you establish a link between a book's popularity and its quality ? I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society that I just finished on the train, and it was a huge success. I really liked The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie that I read coming back from Finland, and it was a success too, I believe. I kinda like the Charlaine Harris books, and they're very popular. I like to think that when something is really, really popular, it means there is something particularly good in it. Might not be the best thing ever, and all, but I figure there is always a fair reason why people love something.

It's a comforting thought, somehow. Take Brad Pitt, for example : He's a superstar, and though you may like him or not, you can't deny that he's a really good actor. He doesn't owe it all to his good looks. (Then again, Avatar is a huge box-office success, and I think it's a really sucky movie...). My point is : Do I really have abysmal taste in literature, or is there some hope yet ?

4. How much of my liking a book is owing to the environment I'm in when reading it. I told you about reading Jane Austen in an old military club a few months back, and today I read through half of The Guernsey Literary... in the train, while being slowly steam-cooked by the SNCF's crazy heating system, and listening to some classical music on my MP3 player, so focused and so into the book I would not swear I was really conscious. Did I really like the book, or is it only the artificial, heater-and-comfy-jumper-induced fever that made me so enthralled? (How I hate that word...) Is there any way of knowing if a book is really good without reading it twice?

5. I think I should have brought The Shining with me, seing how the hotel I'm in is the perfect location to read it. Would that have been a good idea, do you think ?

mardi 19 janvier 2010

Fire and snow

Well, reader, it's me again. Why, you ask ? Because, I've... got... chills, they're multyplyin', and I'm looooooooosing controwowol... No. Sorry.

Actually, it's because I've got... some serious work to do, so it's started an irresistible impulse to come over here and blog. It's pavlovian. In any case, I came over here to tell you about the top 5 things I found out hanging around in temperatures below zero over the last two months. Started in Copenhaguen, went on in Colmar, continued in Berlin, and kept on freezing in Rovaniemi, Finland (which was not so bad, even though it's in the polar circle). Did I tell you I love my job? I do. I'm not being ironic.

1. There are not many things prettier than a tree covered in snow. Not many things prettier than a quiet city street covered in snow. Not many things calmer than the sound of snow falling on snow. Not many things that look more comfy than a newly snowed layer of snow, all puffy and soft under your feet.

2. Even if you are feeling at peace with nature and romantic and ice-princess-like, it's best to resist the impulse of touching the snow, for several reasons : it turns into muck, it's wet, it's cold and it makes you trun lobster red. Also, even though everyone knows that suitable snow-shoes are for cold-footed sissies, it's best not to go out with stupid city-chick boots. Keeping your balance hurts your hips and makes you really tired, really fast. As well as look very stupid. Especially when surrounded with tough Samis who are very, very far from being cold-footed sissies.

3. Even if you are feeling at peace with nature and romantic and ice-princess like, it's best to remember that you have chapped lips, a red nose and that your hair is a mess : in a word, you look more like Rudolf the Reindeer than like the ice-princess. This, to avoid a dreadful shock the next time you encounter a mirror.

4. Forgetting your scarf in Brussels when going to the arctic circle is very, very stupid. Still, I bought a cool new scarf, soft as a feather and warm as... a scarf, which is nice. I now have two of those...

5. Danish socks and my DocMartens are all I need to be happy in the Arctic. And a crash course in deer-hunting, I guess.