Saturday, 31 January 2015

10 Upcoming Books to Get Excited For

As my to-read shelf on Goodreads is slowly getting bigger and bigger, so does my list of things to do. As a result, I have less time to read and more time to add books to my reading list. Oh well…

So, I thought I would round up 10 of the books that are coming up in 2015 and that excite me the most. Without further ado, here they are, in no particular order…

First off, any book that is about Sisi, the Austro-Hungarian Empress, has my attention. Seriously, if you haven’t heard of her you really should. There are of course plenty of films, tv series, even a cartoon series, dedicated to the Empress, but reading a book about her is always a bit more informative. Anyway, reading the synopsis for The Accidental Empress already got me excited for this historical fiction:
“Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young emperor. But shortly after her arrival at court, Sisi finds herself in an unexpected dilemma: she has inadvertently fallen for and won the heart of her sister’s groom. Franz Joseph reneges on his earlier proposal and declares his intention to marry Sisi instead.
Thrust onto the throne of Europe’s most treacherous imperial court, Sisi upsets political and familial loyalties in her quest to win, and keep, the love of her emperor, her people, and of the world.”

What I love equally as much as reading books, is reading books dedicated to the lives of novelists. After all, who wouldn’t want to know a bit more about the saucy/dramatic/tragic/funny lives of the people who have created hundreds of pages, to make us feel all those things? A novel about the ever so scandalous George Sand? Yes, please.
“George Sand was a 19th century French novelist known not only for her novels but even more for her scandalous behavior. After leaving her estranged husband, Sand moved to Paris where she wrote, wore men’s clothing, smoked cigars, and had love affairs with famous men and an actress named Marie. In an era of incredible artistic talent, Sand was the most famous female writer of her time. Her lovers and friends included Frederic Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugene Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and more. In a major departure, Elizabeth Berg has created a gorgeous novel about the life of George Sand, written in luminous prose, with exquisite insight into the heart and mind of a woman who was considered the most passionate and gifted genius of her time.”

Yet another piece of historical fiction and yet another book dedicated to a popular writer. What can you do… This one though quickly grabbed my attention as it is the story of Virginia Wolf told by her sister, Vanessa. Plus, some insight into the Bloomsbury Group. Cannot. Wait. To. Read.
“London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.
 Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf’s book review has just been turned down by The Times. Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.”

Did you read the title of this book? Did you read the title of this blog? Ok, I am just going to drop the synopsis here:
“Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.
   After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels down the river, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.”

I know I must be getting a bit repetitive with all those historic novels but I just love a bit of nostalgia (and a bit of French charm), so bear with me. Coco Chanel is just one of those enigmatic women that you always want to learn more about. Idolised, loved by many, questioned by even more, and always raising someone’s eyebrows, she is the epitome of style.
“Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to orphanage after their mother’s death. The sisters nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.
 Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.”

Second World War. France. At this point I might just give up and leave you with the synopsis. There is no hope for me. I should have graduated in French and Francophone studies instead…At this rate, I might just be awarded the degree anyway.
“In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real--and deadly--consequences.”

This one I find interesting as it is one of those books that connect its characters through time, entwining past and present. The story sounds compelling, so let’s hope it was executed perfectly.
“When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.
Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.”

Now, this is a bit more different to the previous titles (is that a sound of relief I hear?). Still set in the past but offering a refreshing concept, Funny Girl is a book I cannot wait to pick up from my local bookstore.
“Set in 1960's London, Funny Girl is a lively account of the adventures of the intrepid young Sophie Straw as she navigates her transformation from provincial ingénue to television starlet amid a constellation of delightful characters. Insightful and humorous, Nick Hornby's latest does what he does best: endears us to a cast of characters who are funny if flawed, and forces us to examine ourselves in the process.”

A group of tourists celebrating the holidays in a French chateau? Yes and yes.
“A group of hedonistic tourists--from Algeria, England, Poland, Germany, Italy, France, and America--gathers to celebrate the holidays in a remote French chateau. Then a woman is brutally murdered, and the sad, eerie child Tatiana declares she knows who did it. The subsequent inquiry into the death, however, proves to be more of an investigation into the nature of identity, love, insatiable rage, and sadistic desire. The Unloved offers a bold and revealing look at some of the events that shaped European and African history, and the perils of a future founded on concealed truth.”

A good wife that gets her life complicated due to a number of secret affairs. Need I say more.
“Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno—a banker—and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her.

But Anna can’t easily extract herself from these affairs. When she wants to end them, she finds it’s difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.”

What books are you looking forward to? Do give me recommendations for some more modern novels by any means...would be most welcome and truly needed. In the meantime, will be stuffing my face with macarons, crisp baguettes and smelly cheese. Ta! 
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Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Husband's Secret: Review

Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Chick Lit
Originally Published in: 2013
Pages: 406

"People thought that tragedy made you wise, that it automatically elevated you to a higher, spiritual level, but it seemed to Rachel that just the opposite was true. Tragedy made you petty and spiteful. it didn't give you any great knowledge or insight. She didn't understand a damned thing about life except that it was arbitrary and cruel, and some people got away with murder, while others made one tiny careless mistake and paid a terrible price."

Based in Australia, The Husband’s Secret tells the story of three quite different women, whose fates are bound to meet due to one significant event.

Cecilia might be seen as the typical housewife – mother of three, heavily involved in the school’s committee, busy taking care of the whole household, popular among the whole community. One night, however, she finds an old envelope in her husband’s writing, which reads “to be open only in the event of my death.” Of course the problem is her husband is still very much alive. So, Cecilia begins to wonder what could be in that letter and should she open it anyway?

Tess is happily married to Will, has a cute little boy, and her own company with her husband, and cousin Felicity. That is, until one night Will and Felicity admit that they are in love with each other. Ouch.

Rachel is the oldest out of the three and the least happy one. She has lost her daughter when she was brutally killed at the tender age of 17, she has lost her husband a few years later, and now her only happiness in life comes from her little grandson Jacob...Until one night her son and his wife, present her with the news that they are all moving to New York.

Yes, all these women’s lives completely change due to events that happen on the same night, but what is going to bring them together eventually is the husband’s secret. John-Paul’s secret is so great it has the power to impact a lot of people’s lives. So, when Cecilia opens the letter she has to make the greatest decision of her life – to stick to her principles, or to save her family.

The plot of the book is quite intriguing. However, “the husband’s secret” is not that hard to guess once you are a few pages in the book. So, the novel turns out to be quite predictable although there are a few surprises here and there.

A book and a dessert for breakfast!

What the book lacks, however, is a great literary style. Moriarty is not a bad writer but there is definitely space to improve. There is some repetitiveness and the style as a whole needs some polishing. It is not great literature by any means, but for a chick lit – it is still one of the better ones as it is quite funny, yet sad and compelling. A common theme that goes through the whole novel is also the fall of the Berlin wall. It might sound a bit strange and as if it does not make any sense but it somehow works as often different people's lives can be marked by the grand event of the days. Even if they do not realise it at the time.

I have to admit it is quite catchy and despite its flaws, I could not put it down and read it pretty fast. So, although it is predictable, the story manages to also be quite engaging, mostly due to its characters. A lot of readers might not find them exactly likeable but this does not prevent a book from being enjoyable. Personally, I thought they all had their good sides and eventually found myself caring for them. Plus, the book reflects on some quite dark matters such as loss and murder – the way its characters deal with them is the novel’s biggest strength, and where its humanity lays. The choices some of this characters make can be sometimes questionable and yet they feel very much real and believable. Especially when dealing with any kind of loss, there is rarely a right or wrong way to deal with it, which makes some of these people's mistakes easier to comprehend, if not to excuse.

Ultimately, The Husband’s Secret is a good read as it offers some interesting ideas on life and marriage. Even though it lacks in some departments, it is still a book that you can easily enjoy in your leisure time.
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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Oscar Worthy Books

As you might have noticed the 2015Academy Awards nominations were revealed earlier today. Usually, I try to keep this blog away from my other big passion in life – cinema (although I do have a post dedicated to Benedict Cumberbatch) – but I think I do have an excuse today as there is at least one category in the Oscars that is strictly connected to literature. As you might have already guessed – that is Best Adapted Screenplay
So, this post is dedicated to the five books that inspired the five film contenders in this year’s Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar category.

The Imitation Game – Screenplay by Graham Moore. Inspired by: Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges.

A must see as a film, this is also a must read as a book. Telling the real life story of World War II hero Alan Turing, Alan Turing: The Enigma is a read that needs to reach more and more people – especially in the UK. That is, people should know and value their history, and Alan Turing proves to be one of the most underrepresented figures in the new history of the world. Not only was he a brilliant mathematician who created a very early version of what we now call a computer, be he also helped breaking the German Enigma code during the Second World War. Arguably, because of him the war was shortened by two years, saving around 20 million lives.
Of course the outrageous thing is that up until recently he was not famously recognised as the hero, he deserved to be. In his lifetime Turing did not enjoy any peace of mind either. In the early 50s he was investigated for his homosexuality, which was still at the time a criminal offense in the UK. As a result, Turing was chemically castrated and regarded as a security threat. In 1955 he ended his life with a cyanide poisoning.
If you want to know more about the life of the misunderstood genius, or if you want to pay this hero a homage, I do recommend Alan Turing: The Enigma. And do not forget to watch The Imitation Game as well – a great film, with an amazing performance by Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Theory of Everything – Screenplay by Anthony McCarten. Based on Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking

Again: watch the film and read the book – in whatever order you want. Another genius, this one though is a lot more recognised – after all, who hasn’t heard of Stephen Hawking? (Speaking of which, his bestseller A Brief History of Time is another book that you should read in its own merit – it is a scientific piece but it is a bestseller for a reason, so do give it a try.)
The Theory of Everything is based on his first wife’s memoir. Jane Hawking lets us have a peek at their extraordinary marriage, marked by "motor neuron disease and genius" (as she herself points out). Telling such a personal story can seem rather hard, but she does it effortlessly and with a good sense of humour, making it a thoroughly enjoyable read. Ultimately you come to see what a strong woman Jane is as for 25 years she was not only taking care of her disabled husband, but also looking after their three children. What is remarkable about the book is how honest it is as the author is not afraid to talk about some of their most intimate moments.
It is a story about love – even though their marriage ends, when Stephen leaves her for one of his nurses. Love does not end when marriage ends, and Jane’s story is above all highly optimistic. A moving read about the effects of fame, about sacrifice and the strength of love – My Life with Stephen is what we want to get when we reach for a memoir: honesty and emotion.
As for the film, its main qualities include not only the story, directing and the music, but mainly the brilliant leading performances by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

American Sniper – Screenplay by Jason Hall. Based on American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwan and James Defelice

Chris Kyle is a navy SEAL sniper, who was sent to Iraq after 9/11. It was there that his accuracy turned him into a world-class sniper and a hero. However, his main issue lies back home where he struggles to cope with the reality of war – something that proves damaging to his marriage.
American Sniper is another very personal story as Kyle tells about war as he witnessed it. Not only the atrocities of the war in Iraq, but also about the consequences of war staying with you. It is a book that does not rely on great writing style, sophisticated metaphors or grand thoughts about the meaning of life. It offers something far simpler, but all the same enjoyable – it is one man's honest story about war, shootings, honour, family, friendships, and life after war. To get a better idea of what it is to be a modern day sniper, and how he copes with his daily life back home – American Sniper is the one for you as it is a great first-hand account on the matter.
The film is directed  by Clint Eastwood, with Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller as its leads.

Inherent Vice – Screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson. Based on Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon.

Situated in the seventies, Inherent Vice is the story of Doc Sportello. Here is the plot, borrowed from Goodreads: “It's been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It's the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that "love" is another of those words going around at the moment, like "trip" or "groovy," except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists.”
If that sounds interesting to you, you should check out the film as well, as it features great performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston, Benicio Del Toro, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, and Jena Malone.

Note: The fifth nominated film, somewhat controversially, is Whiplash (screenplay by Damien Chazelle), which is not based on a book. Truth is 'Chazelle directed a short film of the same name that was merely a scene taken from the already-written feature in order to raise funds' to make it (read more here). However, it is good to mention that J.K. Simmons gives a brilliant performance which is worth the watch.

So, what do you think? Have you seen the films and would you give these books a chance?
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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Emma: Book Review

Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Romance, Fiction, Classic
Originally published in: 1816
Pages: 474

“Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.”

Emma Woodhouse is a young, beautiful and rich woman – the perfect match for any gentleman in search of a wife. However, Emma has decided that she will never marry, never fall in love – 'I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.' Instead, she wants to dedicate her life taking care of her father and using her ‘matchmaking skills’ for the good of the others – because, of course, Emma knows best when it comes to the romantic lives of the people around her! Busy arranging a suitable match for her very own protégée Harriet, Emma will often get herself and the objects of her aforementioned skills in complicated and bemusing situations. Add to that the much wiser Mr Knightley, the chatty Miss Bates, Frank Churchill, everyone’s favourite charmer, and a whole bunch of colourful characters, residing in the village of Highbury, and you might get the fuller picture.

“I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like”

Was Jane Austen right! Emma Woodhouse is probably one of the most unlikable protagonists you are going to have the pleasure of knowing. She is more often than not quite self-centred and selfish. Not only is she pretty narrow-minded and arrogant, but she is also openly dismissive of people’s qualities if they do not belong to a high social class. It is not helping that her reading of people (and especially of men) and their intentions is the worst of any self-proclaimed matchmaker. Add to that her naïve best friend (or should I say best project) Harriet, and Emma manages to lure another human being into her terrible misjudgements of character. So bad is her reading of common situations that she turns into a very unreliable narrator. And here it gets good.

Yes, Emma is deeply flawed, and this is what makes the novel great. The narrative keeps changing – at moments we see everything through Emma’s eyes, refracted in the prism of her own mind, and yet, at others, the narrator is distant again. As a result, not everything that you see is necessarily true. Just like when you are in a social situation, involving a lot of people, and you happen to misread someone’s remark, you might find yourself, reading, misunderstanding completely a character’s intention, just because of the way Emma has already read it for you. Quite different from what we get in Pride and Prejudice, but a great concept nonetheless.

It is important to point out, that although Emma is highly unlikable at the beginning-to-the-middle of the novel, she does eventually grow on you. With the unravelling of the story, she changes for the better – with each awkwardness, with every confusion, Emma grows up to be the woman she thinks she is at the start of the book. She never was stupid at the first place, but she outgrows her naivety, and with that stops looking like a spoilt little brat.  

As for the story, this is one of those novels where it does not feel like much is happening. Some people get married, some do not, there are a few balls here and there, and lots of little meetings in between, but nothing major. At first I thought the novel really dragged at points – how many times can you possibly read about Emma visiting Miss and Mrs Bates, or sitting in the drawing room giggling with Harriet? But then I realised what made this book such a great piece of literature on the first place. Actually, what makes all Austen books classics? They are a biting social commentary, showcasing women’s dependency on good marriage in Regency England. And when you put Emma into the concept of Jane Austen’s work everything is crystal clear – when you remove all the humour and masterful satire, what Austen is showing us quite clearly is that this was all there was to show! For a woman in Emma’s position – a young single girl of good means, living in 19th century England, there wasn’t much more to do. Apart from occasional visits to the neighbours, organising a ball maybe once a year, and having a picnic when the weather allows it, there were not a lot of things and places available to her. The novel feels a bit claustrophobic at moments – 400 pages and such a limited space, makes you feel for Emma – especially looking at her life from the perspective of your own time. At first glance, the book might seem limited at its scope, but is in fact illustrating what would have been a woman’s whole world.

Lastly, the characters are, as per usual with Austen, very versatile and utterly believable. It is impossible not to recognise yourself or people from your own family in those characters. And this has to be the best part to Emma – without all those types of everyday people, this look into English society would not be full. At the end, regardless of where you are, you realise that people are not that different. Plus, add to that the usual heavily romanticised English gentleman in the face of Mr Knightley.

To sum up, I do like Emma and would recommend it. It is not my favourite Austen piece, but it is a good piece nonetheless. A clever satire, a masterful look into English society, and a great character study, Emma is not for everyone, but if you stick to the end, you might just enjoy it. 
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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Cosy Time In: Winter

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” ~  Edith Sitwell

As I previously shared with you how I like to spend my October Sundays, I thought it would be a good idea if I turned this into a series of posts. Personally, I do consider winter time as the cosiest time of the year, so I really hope you enjoy this cosiest of posts.


No Sunday post of mine would be complete without a bit of pampering. Certainly not one that is dedicated to cosy winter days in. This January I have chosen to rely on the Body Shop - this rich Vanilla Brulee shower gel from their Christmas collection is simply divine. I am a huge fan of vanilla scents, plus I happen to love Crème brûlée, making this one the perfect shower gel for me (the only downside being it makes me very hungry for a dessert). Add to that a Peach Vineyard body scrub and a delicious chocolate lip butter, and my day is totally made!

The Food

Speaking of sweets, I definitely indulged into this sweetest part of life over the Holidays...When desserts talk, words are unnecessary. So, here is what I enjoyed most...

Some lovely herb tea with lemon and a homemade cake (my grandma spoiled us as always!).

Homemade 'peaches', courtesy to my other grandma (the honey and lemons in the background prove we did, indeed, have lots of tea).

The first dessert I had in 2015 is officially this lovely biscuit cake - I am sure you do understand that sugar was much needed after the heavy celebrations?

The Drinks

 To me, winter just screams wine and hot chocolate...sometimes both at the same time.

Also, I got to try this lovely hot chocolate+biscuits concoction...

The Book(s)

Ah, the scent of new books on a Sunday morning! As I was shopping the other day, I picked up those two beauties: Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist and Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret. Both books turned into bestsellers, both were really hyped about last year, both are into my hands now. Naturally, reviews coming up as soon as I finish them...

The View

As me and my boyfriend were back at mine for the holidays, we got to experience both the warmth of the sun and the coldness of the snow. Here is what Bulgaria looked like, when we went there over Christmas:

So, what about you? Do tell me how you like to spend your cosy winter Sundays in (or out?).

P.S. Yes, this post made me hungry.
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Friday, 9 January 2015

Je suis Charlie.

"There is a public interest in the freedom of expression itself."

The attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier this week left 12 people dead, among whom some of the best cartoonists not only in France, but in the world. Today, in the aftermath of the massive manhunt around Paris, it is important we remembered what these journalists died for. As fanaticism, radical Islam and questions on organised religion continue to be the leading headlines of today's and tomorrow's newspapers, we should be grateful that we are able to publicly discuss sensitive topics like these.

It is freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and with that - the free press - that these journalists died protecting, and it is the duty of our society to keep protecting those great civil rights. 

Liberte d'expression

France has been a pioneer in these democratic values for centuries. This is why an attack in Paris feels so personal as this is often viewed as the heart of freedom. Long before Brussels turned into the capital of Europe, there was Paris - the capital of revolutionary France. The state which led the world to democracy. Where people stopped bowing down to the monarchy and created the forever living example of the ordinary man, fighting for his freedom and for his rights. The face of the République. 

Speaking of which, we cannot overlook some of the Enlightenment's main values - individualism, general will, and tolerance. During this era, former institutions were challenged, literacy became more wide-spread, science trumped religious orthodoxy. In France, free thinkers such as Rousseau, Montesquieu and Voltaire, to name but a few, turned into the pillars of free speech. 

Furthermore, in one of the most important documents of the French Revolution, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789), is stated that:

"The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law."

It is in this same France, where Charlie Hebdo exists and it will continue to exist despite the violent attack. And it doesn't really matter if we liked or agreed with all its caricatures. Chances are, if you look at one of its issues, you will find a good number of stuff that you would find offensive as well. However, the point to satire is, it is sharp and it cuts to the bone - otherwise, it is not such a good piece of satire. What is important now, is that we continue to live in a world, where magazines like Charlie Hebdo exist - even in the 21st century, millions of people around the globe cannot even imagine that their countries would ever allow such outlets to exist. Consider yourself lucky if you are able to read Charlie Hebdo and the likes.

Journalism will always be dear to me and the loss of those brave men, feels like a great loss to journalism as a whole. This was above all a terrorist attack on our free press, on our freedom of speech. And yes, these are values that people would die for. Without these values, even this little blog post would not exist.

Meanwhile, choose not to be offended by cartoons. Choose to have a mind as free as the ideal of free speech. Being able to express your opinion is not given, it is a right that has been fought for.

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”  ~ George Washington

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