My this Year’s Birthday Gifts from the Best People

Time went by way too fast again. I just realised during a phone call with my mum that my birthday had been two weeks ago and not just the other week – which made us both just slightly panicky because that means we’re getting closer to our trip to the Philippines later this month – but I’ll write about that soon. And speaking about Mum, it’s Mother’s Day today and aside from the fact that she gave birth to me, I am thankful to her for finally handing me down her 20+ year old Ray-Bans, after only asking her for it countless times for over two decades.

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And she gave them to me as a birthday present (but that’s because she bought herself a new pair), and I love them!

We went to Cologne for the Easter weekend where my sister had her house-warming party and she had to give me her present already because she was to leave for the Philippines a few days later. She put it in a paper bag with a note explicitly saying: “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL APRIL 30!”. My family of course knows me best and the evil sister knew just how to torture me. She even warned the wife to keep an eye on me just to make sure I don’t slip.

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She even took the time to harass me with these text messages. Big sisters are just the absolute worst.

So I took the paper bag all the way to Warsaw so I can open it as soon as the clock hits midnight.

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… and this was inside and I sincerely love it! I opened the bag about 20 minutes before midnight and sent her this selfie with a timestamp, because I’m a rebel like that.

Speaking of rebels, aside from the trip to Warsaw, I had been given this amazing book full of bedtime stories about badass women in history by my very badass wife:

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I actually recommend it to everyone. We got it off Amazon for 15,99 €. Please read this to your children and/or partners or just to yourselves! These stories are really empowering!

And what I also got from her a few months prior were tickets to The Addams Family musical here in Berlin which is due next week, finally!

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I am too stoked for this!

When we got back from Warsaw, a package from my dearest friend had been waiting for me. Inside were a pair of sunnies and a purple dress (because I had been bugging her with my search for the perfect purple dress for my grandma’s birthday for weeks, will write about that soon!).

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Thanks, M.!

Moreover, on the 1st of May we had lunch reservations at a Chinese restaurant with my aunt (who also happens to be our neighbour), so when they picked us up she handed me her gifts:

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This very adorable froggy doorstopper and matching necklace and bracelet from one of her many travels to far away places.

I finally went back to work the next day after 3 days off and I had to report straight to a morning shift. We each get assigned to a “birthday godparent” from our team so my godparent had been waiting for me with this:

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She even remembered my favourite flowers – carnations! Along with it a box of chocolates and a L’Occitane en Provence gift box with hand soap and cream that smell like magic.

Lastly, people who have known me for quite some time now know how much I love shopping at TKMaxx for just everything.

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My cat loves it, too!

#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 €.

Print VS eReader

I was asked some weeks ago by a colleague why I owned a Kindle and whether it made much of a difference to reading an actual book. I kind of hoped that people’s stigma towards the eReader would have died down by now. By this, I don’t mean that I thought we would have gone digital one by one after the eReader first came out, but I assumed that people would eventually get the hang of the whole idea. I often get, “yeah, I don’t know if I can read a book without actually feeling its weight” or “I need to smell it while I’m reading it” etc etc.

In my case, I have decided to partially go digital four years ago for practical reasons. Some of which include:

  1. Access to books written in the english language. There’s a very limited selection of english books in your regular bookstore here in Germany.
  2. Price. They vary. Your advantage with printed books is that you may choose to buy them second hand, which of course is a lot cheaper. With ebooks, you pay full price for each book, but it’s usually cheaper than the full price in print (brand new), and sometimes you catch them on great discounts! Classics are often for free or cost 99c each.
  3. Speed of delivery. Of course, downloading an eBook will only take up to a few minutes to complete and you don’t have to worry about running to the next bookstore or worse, wait a few days for a printed book you bought online to reach your home.
  4. Reading in the dark. Its built-in lighting helps me read without having to turn on the lights in the room and risk waking up my wife who is sleeping next to me. But don’t get me wrong, the Kindle Paperwhite’s lighting is not there to hurt your eyes! Its sole purpose is to illuminate the text on the screen that is why the lighting is built to face only that direction to seem like you are reading your book under a lamp and it’s easily adjustable too.

My Kindle

It was a birthday present from my wife four years ago and I have been using it since. It’s my favourite gadget along with my phone, laptop, and camera – a few of the material things I refuse to live without. I filled it with some classics, the latest mystery/thrillers, and a few other books that I didn’t find at the bookstore (brand new or second hand), or were cheaper in digital version.

Being able to dress it up, of course, is the fun part.

My Bookshelf

As you can see, my most important books are here. My collection of Sheldon, Anne Rice, copies of The Bell Jar in different editions (don’t judge) and books that I usually pick up from the airport or from the cities I travel to. A few of them I know I’ll let go of some day to make space for new ones. I like knowing that one day, someone else will enjoy reading the same lines I’ve read, touching the same page corners I’ve touched.

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Now, I really can’t tell which one I like better. Both have great qualities that I look for in my reading material so I leave it up to you to decide — but don’t feel like you have to! At the end of the day, what’s important is that you read. The content is not affected by whether it’s in print or in digital and you will be thankful for the experience a good book will let you have regardless of its form.

How do you feel about the eReader so far?