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. 🙂

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 €.