BookVoyage review: Traveling the world by books

While now I am living a little bit distance from the central Tokyo, and it is very expensive to go out of the town. It takes about 25 USD (3000 yen) for round trip between my town to Tokyo. While I really love books, and I feel depressed if I am not reading books (and it will be very bad because I have lots of deadline to catch, no time to get depressed, stress, or whatever is that name). So, I tried to subscribe book subscription boxes. I already have some which provide non-fiction books to feed my brain hunger. But I also need some fiction books, to entertain my soul. I don’t really like YA genre… so it is also a little bit challenging for me.

One of the most interesting book subscription box I tried is book voyage.
What is this? Here, their short description…

“BookVoyage is a monthly subscription box for avid readers and global citizens. Each box is country-themed and contains a foreign book written by a critically-acclaimed local author and translated into English, tea or coffee from that country, as well as a sweet or savoury treat to go with the hot drink, giving you what we like to call a truly global immersive reading experience.”

So, yes! Every month you will get a book from different country. And for me, it is very exciting! Last month I got Lebanon box… and of their coffee was awesome (can’t forget that).

This month, they give me German stuff. I made a little unboxing video for this one. You can check this out if you have time.

So here is the full spoiler for this month box.
The hanuta is awesome, the coffee also good but still I prefer the Lebanese coffee…
and the book? They always make a good choice. It is a classing fiction “No Way Back” by Germany writer Theodore Fontane. However, the story is also taken place in Copehangen, Denmark. Well… but Germany and Denmark are neighbor country.

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Like any classical story, it is a romance with lots of conflict and well… I think quite tragic. I haven’t finish read all of this while I should concern to my research this time. But my first impression, it is beautifully written, with classic poems, letters… a combination between historical fiction, classic, and romance.

I always excited with how book voyage will surprise me every month. I review this, because I hope their business can be survive, and they will always be able to surprise us.

 

 

[Just a little bit of] my reading history…

Happy world book day everyone 🙂 (Opps… a little bit late)

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So, how is it? How many books you already read this month?
I am the one who believe that you don’t need to be hurry in reading, the most important thing from reading is you can contemplate what the writer wants to deliver. Reading is not a competition, you no need to hurry for that. Read is feed for your brain, and as we do a “right and healthy eating“, we never eat in hurry and we eat from varied sources.
You may love fiction books, but read non-fiction as another “multi-vitamins” for your brain. You may rarely read fiction, but read it sometimes to let your brain relax and have another kind of entertainment, just like us who really love to eat chocolate and ice creams sometimes.

But, well… just like foods, we might also have some books we really don’t like. I don’t like young adult genre just the way I hate banana (yes, I don’t like banana). But, hmmm… I still eat banana in some case. However, not kind of fruits I will buy often. I read young adult and romance genre when they have very unique and special story, but well I rarely choose it by default.

People always ask me why I keep reading books, and spend a lot of money for those. Personally, books are my first friends… along with cats. I don’t have lots of friends since I was kids, and while my family are really love to read, and they gave me books. I sleep with my books and cats. When I am alone, books accompany me, and help me to create my own world.

My family also not such a rich family, and another sad fact is I was living in such a remote village when I was kid. we can’t travel far… Books helped me to see the world outside my home windows.  I even read my grandfather’s Encyclopedia Americana although I didn’t understand English. My Dad gave me some comics, then along with my reading ability increased he bought me a novel by Alan Lightman: Einstein’s Dream. My mom told me that the outside world is full with adventures and quite tough… the she introduce me with all Detective Novels like Sherlock Holmes and bought me all series of Agatha Cristie’s Novel. She also introduced me with Winnetou and Kara ben Nemsi by Karl May.

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But did reading always give a good experience for me? Not really… at least in Indonesia.
People kept thinking that I am such a weird person. I remember once, people in my classroom laughing so hard to me because I told them, in front of everyone, that formerly toothpaste was made by using urine. Then people said I am stupid, just because I read something that no one in that classroom ever read.

I also remember, in a class, the teacher asked all students to mention any terms in music and art. I remember I raised my hand and answered “SONNET”, and everybody again…again… and again laughing on me. They said I am very “dangdut” person, because in Indonesia there is a Dangdut Band “Soneta Group” which lead by the King of Dangdut in Indonesia: Rhoma Irama. No one in that class ever read that “sonnet” itself means a kind of poem.

Books is my best friends, read is my hobby… but in the same time it is also make me looks strange sometimes.

Am I mad with that? Yes! At first…
Because it was hard to look and sounds “stupid” while you believe that you are right.
But then I realize that in my country, where reading is not such a national hobby, it is very hard to find a good book. The themes… the genre…. everything are so limited. In my village, when I was kid, if I want to read something we should wait second-hand books from the schools in the town. Lucky me because my parent routinely bring me to the bookstores in the town, at least once a month.

Not like Japan or China for example, they translate almost all great literature from all around the world to their language. In my country, yes… of course there are several translation of worldwide books, but not much.
We still have limited non-fiction books…
limited books for kids….
Everything!

And like the vicious circle, because of limited good books, limited good readers, then there are also limited good writers.
If teenlit is become a trend this month, then everyone will write teenlit.
If a handsome vampire is a trend, then everyone will write about the vampire.
If a romance is the trend, then everyone write about romance.
So, if our taste is far away from the recent trend, then it will be very hard to find an alternative for us to read.

In this opportunity, I wish for nothing except I hope the literacy awareness in my home country can be increase.
I hope people start to realize that, reading is cheaper way to travel around the world.
This year, I think I am already read much classics so my reading target I want to read books from all around the world. Finally in the end of my PhD study, I want to go travel and visit the place from my favorite books 🙂

I think it is kind of motivation also for me ^O^b don’t you think so?

(sstt… a bit of my want-to-read list)

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A story behind a snowy day

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“Not one word, not one gesture of yours shall I, could I, ever forget…”
― Leo Tolstoy

Just finished my research presentation. In one word: “meh”
I thought it was a little progress, in fact? Nope… I still need to learn another bunch of text books and mathematical modelling.

“No, Marissa… you can’t use this one.”
“Mmm… you should modify all of the model…”
“Well, we should think how to construct everything further. Okay… forget this agriculture part and forestry, move on to the energy sector. Finish it first, one journal, then we construct for the agriculture and forestry”

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.
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“I can see your hard work, well… I know you can overcome all of these. We just need time and we have it, don’t you think so?”

The last sentence, at last,  was warming my heart in the middle of snowy day.

My mom said every person who has achieved mastery has started their journey to expertise by feeling stupid. By feeling green, you know that you need to learn more. To read more. To exercise more.
And I know that, understand that very well.

But, as an ordinary human, I also think “Oh come on, why it took so long for me to master this?”

Then sometimes, I started to complain… to make a question to God “Why you didn’t bless me mmmmm…. more?”
Silently, become more and more ungrateful human being.

Now, in this point, I realize something…
To be success in studying, you are not only need to focus learn about any specific subject…
but also you need to learn about patience
also need to learn about time management
also need to cheer yourself up when you feel down
also need to smile
also need to…. accepting your self.

In the end, it is more like a process to be a humble person. To learn that “Hei, you are not such a super human”,
to learn that we are not perfect, we will always do some mistakes, we need other people to help, and we always have a chance to stand up again and again and again every time we fall.
In the end, it is about a process to develop our maturity.

In my life, I am already got 3 new year cards from my professor… it means I entered my third year working with him, learn from him. It is my third year to study far from home, just bringing a huge box of my family’s dreams and hopes.
In these period of time, I never forget every single words they already said to me.
I believe, in a certain point in the future, I will make them smile and proud of me 🙂

I know I can make it, it is my promise… witnessed by the snow
absorbed by the earth…
Hopefully, delivered and heard to the God.

Re-interpreting Rumi’s poem

In a book, I found one Rumi’s poet:

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” In generosity and helping others, be like a river
In compassion and grace, be like the sun
In concealing others faults, be like the night
In anger and fury, be as if you have died
In modesty and humility, be like the earth
In tolerance, be like the sea
And either appear as you are, or be as you appear”

I don’t know whether it was truly spoken by Rumi, while from what I read it was presented in such oral tradition something. I read lots of books, including Rumi’s but as I remember, I never read that one (although it is everywhere in pinterest and internet). But, whatever… I think that’s sweet enough.

I was thinking, why I should be a river in the term of generosity?
why should be like the sun in term of compassion?
why?
why?
why?
I mean, lots of things in the world if you just want to make the poet beautiful you can put any world on it. Then, I believe there must be a “philosophical” insight on it. So I tried to re-read it again, and find another place to satisfy my curiosity.

I found a simple explanation from one Indonesian writer, Maman Suherman in his page:

1. In generosity and helping others, be like a river, flows endlessly and never expect back
2. In compassion and grace, be like the sun.Giving warmth to anyone, regardless.
3. In concealing others faults, be like the night. Covering tightly without ever leak any of it.
4. In anger and fury, be as if you have died. Silent, don’t do anything
5. In modesty and humility, be like the earth. Always put yourself “lower” and elevate others.
6. In tolerance, be like the sea. Be tolerant. Ready to accommodate the views of a different view
7. And either appear as you are, or be as you appear. Just be yourself, as authentic as you are. Consistent between inner and outer.

Well, I don’t know.
I believe that understanding Sufism is not such an easy work to do. It is like me reading the Odyssey, usually I sleep after read about 1-2 pages. It is more effective than a sleeping pills to make you feel tired and sleepy :p

But, just like any other forms of art and culture, I believe that Rumi’s works also try to give another advice and insight to the community in that period, and even for today’s people.
The main problem is, we… we already access every good quotes, poems, advice, and so on from everywhere. But do we getting better? Do we change?  Some yes… some nope.

I remember, once in Indonesia there was an ulema* who had a speech in a prostitution. He simply asked “Ok, everyone.. raise your hand if you don’t know that prostitution is prohibited”
No one raised their hand.
Then the ulema said “See? Then every bad things done by us mainly not because we don’t know it is bad, but more because ‘exogenous’ variables. It can be social, economics, or cultural factor”

Back to the Rumi’s sweet quote. Take for example:
” In anger and fury, be as if you have died.
Well, sorry Rumi… in fact, sometimes we should to show that we angry. There always people who will keep doing their mistakes again and again and again if we just do a silent. A mom should get mad sometimes to her kids when the kids do something bad or dangerous.
A best friend should get angry to her friends sometimes, to remind them if they are on the wrong track.
Sometimes, we need to get angry for someone we truly love. Just to make them getting better.
Although, personally I prefer anger as the last choice after you discuss and give your advise.

Well…
But no one from us can guess what really inside Rumi’s head. There always more than one commentary for every poet. That’s why it becomes one branch of art, because it become sweet and beautiful base on your own interpretation. It is like your read a good book and your imagination tried to figure out all of the situation and people in that book. Once there is a movie try to adapt that book, you will started to say about how bad that movie was… not really because the movie is bad, it just because it different with what you already imagined.

So, let this poet flows beautifully in our calm mind, soul, imagination, and interpretation.

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ulema: Islamic scholar recognized as having specialist knowledge of Islamic sacred law and theology.

Enjoying the china town …

To be honest, I always love China town…
It is like you can find everything in China town 😀

I have an intensive class in Suzukakedai area which is very far from my house in Tsukuba. So I took a week days off from my office and decide to stay in Yokohama. What a great decision, while I really love Yokohama so much.

Yokohama always makes my camera gives its big smile. Yesterday, I spent my night to go around the Yokohama China town. I really love the light of China town on the night

Also the artsy building


Oh Gosh! I really really love it… I think it is really refresh my mind, and remind me with my hometown in Bogor, where we also have “Suryakencana”as our China town.However, Chinatown in Japan (maybe) different from any other chinatown in another country. It is very clean and tidy and I guess not as crowded and noisy as any other Chinatown in your country.

I also love to found lots of unique shop around 😀


Hahaha…it is fun, but mmm… maybe as a person who always love cute stuff, it is considered not healthy enough for my wallet hahaaha.

My short trip this weekend: Sagamiko Illumination

I don’t want to write lots of thing today. My head is full with lots of things. This Saturday, I went to Sagamiko because I want to refresh my mind and see one of the biggest illumination in Japan. And well… it is so beautiful.
I will give you a look 🙂 it is a hill full with LED light.
If you want to see more, you can visit my instagram account: @emonikova
If you need lots more, better come here 🙂
Enjoy 🙂

“Smarter Indonesian marry faster”, really?

I don’t understand why but there is always random person who come to me and ask something or just do a random chit-chat. Except to my family and best friends, I am very quiet, so sometimes I am impressed by people who started conversation to me. But, I am not in a mood because I need to prepare my presentation, and as I told before I need to recover my health. I should cook healthy meal, have a healthy lifestyle, and warm my room so I can recover fast.

Tadaaaa… then I got a short chat from someone tonight. About what? About marriage. It is not my first and second time people talking about this thing with me.  So, he shows me a recent study that people in Indonesia, whom more educated, marry faster.
Mmm… so I am not really educated Indonesian because my only boyfriend is my fat fluffy yellow cat in my home (he has obesity problem now, so my brother always bring him to do some exercise :p I still love him). Because I am lazy to write about it so I simply made a comic strip to describe our conversation.

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It is worrisome about Indonesian health condition.
Whenever you go in Indonesia, they will be proud “We are so healthy and strong, although there are lots of street snacks mixed by textile dyes, formalin, borax, etc.”

I remember when my mom entered hospital, there was also foreigner from Japan who entered the ICU after ate meatballs :’D Of course, in Japan everything are clean and hygienic. I am not kidding, you can see me as an example, I feel good but I am sick inside. You should be very careful to choose street snack in Indonesia.

So, are Indonesian healthy and strong? Not really, our life expectancy rate only 65-67 years old. While in developed countries it is already 70-80 years old. Here in Japan, you can see elderly above 80 years old still healthy and do their activity as usual.

I don’t want to debate my nice friend but, I have another two points to criticize:
1. Making conclusion in scientific research is not easy, especially in social science. You need to consider every cause and probability. So, be mind about that.
2. I am not an expert, but marriage…. ah marriage. I think people should marry when they are ready, not because they are lonely, or because they afraid of sickness in the future. You want to make someone happier isn’t it? So, I think if then I decide to marry someone, it might be because he can persuade me that he can make me happier, and in the same time I am ready to make him in better off condition, it is about a long term commitment to be friend forever. I am not sure this “heart” things can be quantify by statistic or any quantitative research.

However, if you already love someone, you ready, kindly marry her/him, be happy. When you really in love sincerely with someone, you will have no reason to leave them 🙂 trust me…