Around the World in Words: Poland

The Pianist is Polish musician Władysław Szpilman’s memoir of his brutal survival in Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto during World War II. Sixteen years ago I watched the film adaptation by Polish director Roman Polanski, and its harrowing images and poignant emotion left a profound effect.

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Review: Night School

One of the things I find painful to watch in movies is stories where everything goes wrong for the main character. Think Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents or Will Friedle in The Trojan War. Kevin Hart’s situation in Night School is not as consistently dire or desperate, but the story is still set off by a series of stupid events that just make you cringe for the poor guy while sighing in exasperation.

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Review: Johnny English Strikes Again

Move over James Bond, Johnny English is back! In 2003, Rowan Atkinson portrayed the title character in Johnny English, giving us a slightly more sophisticated, but by no means sophisticated, rendition of Mr. Bean. Fifteen years later he’s back for his third outing as the bumbling spy, in Johnny English Strikes Again.

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Around the World in Words – South Korea

Quite by chance I recently ate a meal which included kimchi, a Korean dish consisting of fermented vegetables. Kimchi also made an appearance in the South Korean book I bought for my reading challenge, The Vegetarian by Han Kang. However, my dish also had pork in it, which would not have passed muster with the book’s title character, Yeong-hye.

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Around the World in Words: Bosnia and Herzegovina

This reading challenge is not about favourites. After all, the forms and styles of each book range greatly, from fiction to non-fiction, from magic realism to historical adventure, from short stories to novels. But it’s not a question of quality or style when it comes to my favourite, but rather of impact. And the book that’s had the greatest impact on me in this challenge so far, is Aleksandar Hemon’s The Book of My Lives.

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Around the World in Words: Norway

Every Christmas Eve’, my family would make pickled herring for what is meant to be the grandest meal of the year. Growing up, I had only a short list of things I wouldn’t eat, and herring was one of them. My argument was that herring is actually part of Norwegian cuisine, not German, and we should really be eating turkey. Clearly I’d watched one too many adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

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Around the World in Words: Malaysia

Scraping the sky at a lofty 450+ metres, the Petronas Towers may no longer be the tallest buildings in the world, but they remain an impressive feature of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. Some of the action in the book for the Malaysian leg of my reading challenge takes place here.

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