Reading in German for the First Time

Forgive me for my unannounced hiatus – believe me, it wasn’t for lack of inspiration. You could say I was busy, though not much more than usual. But in my absence I found my way back into an old hobby – reading. I had procrastinated on my reading for a few months this year but I slowly found my way back in – a topic for another blog post.

So to really prove to myself that I am definitely back on the horse, I decided to come out of my comfort zone:

I read my first German book.

Actually, that is a lie because I have read Vater Bär kommt Heim when I was six, making it the first book I have ever read in my life but that was at a time when German was the only language I spoke.

The reason why I’m writing about this is because people who know me know that this is a breakthrough for me. I have avoided books that are written in / translated into the German language for years and years, for the same reason I don’t (usually) watch movies that are dubbed into German – especially if it has originally been written/filmed in English. I just don’t see the point in reading/watching a translated/dubbed version when I’m already able to understand it in its original version.

Another reason is because I did not feel confident with the language. I know I have been living here in Germany again for more than six years now after having been away for 13 years and I speak German everyday – at work and even at home – but it’s still not the language I feel most confident with. My thoughts are all in English and it remains as the language I prefer.

The thing is, I never learned German at school because I have lived my school years in the Philippines. It’s confusing for many people because they don’t hear an accent when I speak but sometimes I still have trouble finding the right words because I’m just missing a whole decade of practise, something that people would not know unless I tell them.

That being said, a couple of days ago I decided to be brave and downloaded Sebastian Fitzek’s first thriller – Die Therapie for my Kindle. It seemed like the perfect choice for a German author, and I have no regrets! It is fast-paced and well written and made me realise that it wasn’t an impossible task after all. I finished it within a few days and I really surprised myself with that because I’m a slow-reader. I was pretty sure I’d get bored after a few pages – possibly for lack of comprehension but it just wasn’t the case and I understood the story perfectly well. I’d love to read a few more of his books because this one just blew my mind and I decided to only worry about translated books from now on and welcome more German authors into my shelf.

I highly recommend this author to everyone whose first language isn’t German but is inspired to learn and get better. Reading really helps in shaping one’s knowledge of a certain language, giving them a chance to read a word for the first time and look back on how it was used in a sentence. After all, my English wasn’t any good until I started reading all those books. Time to use the same trick on my German. 🙂

Not a Travel Blog – Here’s my life nowadays

I know… Shocking, right? I just scrolled back through my last five posts and all of them are travel-related. Well, I really don’t want to give out the impression that all that I do (or at least all that is worth mentioning) is travel. It’s really not. And even if I had the money to do just that, I don’t think I would because that will just remove the excitement from it all. Don’t you think?

I was at my sister’s 30th birthday party the other weekend and witnessed a packed pub filled with her guests, all of them are people close to her. I didn’t even know most of them, some I’ve never even heard about. I realised that by the time I turn 30, it will be unlikely that I throw a party like that. By that time, I will have been about just as long here in Germany as she is now but I’m just sure I will not even know that many people let alone be close with them. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for her and for her eventful social life and I have long accepted the fact that I am not the outgoing and friendly one in the family – probably also because growing up, I did not have much of my own friends until the time I got to school and I usually just tagged along whenever my sister wanted to go out with her friends because she wasn’t allowed to go unless she brought me with her. Sometimes I still find it easier to befriend her friends than making my own. Trust issues? Probably.

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But first, check out this unicorn fondant cake my cousin and I made for sestra’s birthday.

Now, getting to my point: I am at a time in my life where I am actually truly happy. My marriage is doing well, I have a job that I love, I get to spend time with the few good friends that I have here, and I live in this vibrant city with a lot of opportunities to be a more open and better person. So I guess, for my own standards, my life is pretty exciting as well.

You see, traveling is not the only exciting thing in my life, but rest assured it’s the one thing that inspires me the most to do everything else. In fact, I have just started an A1 language course in Spanish which I am really stoked about! Every Monday and Wednesday evening I go for a couple of hours to the community college downtown for fast-paced lessons in Español. It took little convincing for my employer to give a little more flexibility on my work hours on these particular days (because I work shifts) – I told them I intend to use this foreign language for work as well so I hope I learn fast.

So why Spanish? When I was 12 years old, I’ve found some of my father’s course manuals which he had bought back when he took a language course himself. He’s never finished the course but he was happy when I told him I wanted to pursue it. I had been to Spain myself, and the goal is to go there or to any Spanish speaking country at least once a year. This is something I had kept up since 2015 and this year in December we’re going to Tenerife. It will also be my first time flying with the airline that I work for, finally!

Just the day before my first Spanish class, we were on our way back to Berlin from Bonn and I asked the wife to make a stopover in Kassel for documenta14, an exhibit I had been wanting to go to for months that was about to end. The most significant exhibit on this year’s event is the Parthenon of (Banned) Books, which is a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, covered in thousands of banned books from all over the world.

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And because the exhibit was nearing its end, they started giving away the books on that very day and I picked up one of the many copies of El Príncipe. There were not many options because they only put out a limited amount and most of them were copies of the same book but it felt like a good omen to me because it’s in Spanish and, who knows, maybe about a year from now I will be able to read and fully understand it!

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Coincidence? I think not!!!

#MysteryMonday – Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

I’m sure I’m not the only one that gets turned off by baits like “a gripping psychological thriller…” added at the end of every new book title. I know I had seen this book on Kindle-Shop around spring last year but didn’t buy it only because of this headline. It wasn’t until the price went down to 2,99 € that it really caught my attention!

Mystery Monday – (n.) A series of hashtags I wanted to try out and share with you. Why? Because I can’t stop talking about books anyway so I thought I should just talk about them here. I have been reading on a few mysteries (thanks to Goodreads Choice Awards nominations) and I’ve been wanting to write some reviews anyway, so…

My first book of choice for this series is Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. It’s not the last book I read but it’s the one that stuck with me the most. As I have mentioned before, I am quite the slow reader but I’ve finished this one within 36h so I guess it’s safe to say that I was hooked. I had trouble putting it down, dreading the 8-hour gaps I had to take for work and sleep.

The conflict in the story was revealed about 30% into the book. By that time I thought: okay, mystery solved, what now? Well, that’s exactly the point. The rest of the story was about solving the problem, and it left me curious the whole time.

I don’t want to reveal too much but, from the title itself, this book will leave you claustrophobic. Very.

Ending

The ending has left me hanging. I read this on my Kindle and the book ended at 91%. By this time I was calculating how much sleep I will lose to finish the book that same night when one revealing factor has just concluded the story. My wife was in the same room while I was reading and I just said “Oh” and looked up and that caught her attention. I must have looked miserable because she automatically came over to comfort me because it’s probably safer to do so, considering I might smash my Kindle against the wall.

This book got me to read more of the nominees under the Mystery/Thriller category on Goodreads. I eventually voted for it for best Mystery/Thriller and best debut but it didn’t make the cut for either category. I especially loved the style and technique of the author’s storytelling and I will make sure to read some of their work in the future. It’s absolutely brilliant.

If you want to read this book, it’s probably cheapest in Kindle edition at 3,99 €.