Our Shared Shelf

‘As part of my work with UN Women, I have started reading as many books and essays about equality as I can get my hands on. There is so much amazing stuff out there! Funny, inspiring, sad, thought-provoking, empowering! I’ve been discovering so much that, at times, I’ve felt like my head was about to explode… I decided to start a Feminist book club, as I want to share what I’m learning and hear your thoughts too.’ /Emma Watson, actress, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador/

The Club chooses a book for the month and it is being discussed vie Goodreads, Instagram and Twitter.

The book club’s current list includes novels like:
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca
The Door by Magda Szabó
Common Ground by Justin Trudeau

Feminism’s goal is to establish the same opportunities for women that are provided for men. Equality is the key. The feminist movement started back in the 19th century with the sufragettes who fought for women’s right to vote. Then Simone de Beauvoir, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis followed. Today’s activists include Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female Supreme Court justice, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Emma Watson.

By discussing the current situation of women, Emma started a long and rocky conversation. She encourages people to get to know more about equality and feminism in a good way. By hiding books on the streets of London, by doing interviews with iconic women such as Gloria Steinem and Malala Yousafzai or by bringing Marai Larasi, the executive director of Imkaan to the Golden Globe as her date.

Wish there were more famous people like her who use their popularity for good.

Our Shared Shelf (Official)
Our Shared Shelf (Youtube)

Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale

Who is Margaret Atwood?
The Canadian writer was born in 1939 and is mostly famous for her novel, The handmaid’s tale which was published in 1985. The feminist activist also has poems, short stories and children’s books. She received many acknowledgements including Man Booker Prize.

What is The Handmaid’s Tale about?
The story takes place in a dystopian world called Gilead. Everyone has his or her cast in Gilead and has to follow serious rules. Men are office-holder or soldiers while women are wives, housekeepers or handmaids. A serious disease spread trough Gilead that caused infertility among men which resulted in worshiping fertility. Women who already proved their fruitfulness have to bear children of the commanders.

Why did I like this book?
If I would have to sum this book up I would say it slaps you in the face. And it slaps you very hard. The reason for that is because all the things happening in the book are happening to women every day right now. Having to be silent, not being allowed to use our abilities, being seen as a walking uterus or even being raped… I hope that confronting people with the truth will make them think more about their behavior and decisions. And decisions might lead to change in the future…
This story is about power, hope and at the end, life.

The Handmaid’s Tale series
Hulu released a series based on the book in 2017. A wonderful actress, Elisabeth Moss playes the main role of June Osborne / Offred and Joseph Fiennes is Commander Waterford. Gilmore Girls’ Alexis Bledel also appears in the series playing a heartbreaking role which earned her an Emmy Award. The series currently has 2 seasons but 1 more is coming soon. 

Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter

Recently I’ve been having a classic vibe, so these are the kind of books that are coming.

Who was Nathaniel Hawthorne?
The American writer lived from 1804 to 1864. He wrote his first novel when he was only 28 years old! His art is considered to be a part of dark romanticisim and the location of most of his novels is New England, where The Scarlet Letter takes place as well. One of his ancestors was a judge in the Salem witch trials and most of his works is about the sin. The Scarlet Letter is considered his masterpiece and it was published in 1850.

What is the Scarlet Letter about?
It’s about a woman, Hester Prynne who has to face trials because she had a love affair with a man who is not her husband. She has to wear a scarlet letter A on her chest as a sign of her sin and she is living an isolated life with her illegitimate daughter, Pearl. She works very hard as a seamstress and often helps the unfortunate. Her husband turns up from a long journey and asks her not to reveal his identity. As time goes by, her lover gets unmasked and the whole town has to face the truth.

What kind of question does the book raise?
Can we call someone a sinner when we are sinners as well?
Is it better to come forward with your sin or hide it for years?
Who is a true friend and who isn’t?
Do we have to care about what other people think?
Is it possible to live happily when society rejects you?

Why did I like this book?
I always liked historical novels and this one gives us a very detailed description about the 19th century’s puritan American society and religious beliefs. Although the book is 167 years old it still makes very accurate points about the hypocrisy of people. I also liked how the story unfolded and when it began to dawn on me who Hester’s lover was, I has another interesting character to pay attention to. Even though it is a sad story the whole novel has a very peaceful sentiment.

What kind of movies did the book inspire?
There are two film adaptations of the novel. The earlier one is from 1995 and the main actors are Demi Moore and Gary Oldman.

The latter one is from 2015.

But it also inspired a romantic comedy with Emma Stone and Penn Badgley.

Favourites of April 2018

Book experience of the month:
I was very curious about Margaret Atwood’s The handmaid’s tale, so I started the month by reading that. It turned out to be less disturbing than the series, but I’ll get to that later. Even though the book sets place in the dystopian America, it poses painfully real questions the current situation of women.
When I was in Budapest, I bought a Poket book called Dairy of a madwoman by Géza Csáth. Although I like the novel, I think it can be very hard to read and understand for people who has never learned psychiatry before.

Audiobook experience of the month:
I got to the 6th Harry Potter book, the Half blood prince, and I know it means that this series will soon end… So I try to enjoy the story as much as I can. I still can’t forgive Ron for fooling around with Lavender Brown. Seriously, what was he thinking?!

Movie experience of the month:
I want to catch up with the Oscar movies, so I watched Three billboards outside Ebbing. Previously I thought this will be a very sad movie, but I was positively disappointed. The movie focuses on the characters, they have enough time to develop until the end and all together gives a great opportunity for the actors in it. I really liked the performance of Woody Harrelson.
Then I moved on to The shape of water and I liked that movie even better. This one became the best movie of 2017 and it won three more Academy awards: for directing, best music and best production design. Very impressive, isn’t it? The story takes place in the 1960’s and is about two extraordinary lovers. Extraordinary, because Sally Hawkins plays a deaf cleaning lady who falls in love with a creature from the sea.
Last but not least I finally got to see last year’s fashion movie, Phantom thread. It is a very interesting story about a dressmaker (Daniel Day-Lewis) who meets a woman, Alma, who becomes his muse. But is it enough for Alma as well? Can she become a real partner to the artist?

Series experience of the month:
After reading the book, I started watching The handmaid’s tale by Hulu as well. I have to tell you, it’s more shocking than the book and it has many changes as well. For example, Luke doesn’t survive in the book and Ofglen kills herself. I’m very excited to see Alexis Bledel in such a role, amazed by Elisabeth Moss and I can’t wait for the second season!

Travelling experience of the month:
I went to Budapest this month to see the Daalarna Fashion Show and it was the best fashion experience ever! Find out more about it here.

Book vending machines opened in Budapest

I would have never guessed, but the world’s first book vending machine was made already in 1822 in England. Currently they can be found in several places around the world such as Spain, Germany and Sweden.

And finally the magic happened on 11th April, the day of Hungarian poetry, when 7 vending machines became open to business in Budapest. The current places where you can find the machines are:
– Madách Square
– Széll Kálmán Square
– Móricz Zsigmond Circus
– Southern Railway Station
– Eastern Railway Station
– Vígszínház
– Stadiums

Each book costs 990 HUF. The idea came from young actors, Miklós Vecsei and Attila Vidnyánszky who call themselves ‘theatremakers’. The first series of these books consists of 5 Hungarian literary masterpieces:
– The Paul Street Boys from Ferenc Molnár
– Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb
– Diary of a Madwoman by Géza Csáth
– Endre Ady’s Night by Gyula Krúdy
– Then I started to yarn by Péter Esterházy

Some internet sources say more machines will be installed in the capital, but they will appear later in other university cities.

I visited 3 of the vending machines on 12th April (so only the day after the opening!), and most of them were almost hollow, which means people like the idea of having their own ‘Poket’ books. I bought the Csáth book at the end and I’m very excited to be able to tell all my followers about this fantastic initiation.

Don’t forget that #readingiscool!

Find out more about the Poket books on:
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Photography books II.: Mihaela Noroc

Mihaela Noroc: The Atlas of Beauty

This 32-year old photographer from Bucharest has been travelling all around the world in the last couple of years to take pictures of beautiful women. Singapore, France, Brazil, Iran, Tibet, Ecuador, Myanmar and Mexico are just few of the places she has already visited. According to Mihaela’s Instagram, she is currently in India to ‘explore the unnoticed beauty which lies in people around us’.
She also tells stories about the women she photographs. What it is like to be working as living statues in Ukraine? What it is like to live with a birthmark on your cheek? What are the days like in a refugee camp? These stories reflect not only the situation of women, but also the world we currently live in. What we only consider today an anecdote will become history tomorrow.

Follow Mihaela on her journey:
The Atlas of Beauty (Official)
The Atlas of Beauty (Instagram)
The Atlas of Beauty (Facebook)

Favourites of March 2018

Book experience of the month:
First of all I read The white king written by Hungarian writer, György Dragomán because I saw the trailer of the movie that was made from the novel last year. I haven’t seen the it yet because I wanted to wait until I read the book. The book reminded me of Imre Kertész’s Fateless because it explains a tragic period of history from the point of view of a young person and the way he sees that world doesn’t seem as terrible as it actually was.
Then I moved on to something completely different with Alice Wonder’s Paris, c’est le vie. Alice is a Hungarian lady who spent 7 years living in the ‘City of lights’ and she shares her experiences with her readers in a smart and funny way. I loved it, can’t wait to read the other three books of her series.

Movie experience of the month:
If you want to just sit down and laugh, Central intelligence will be a great choice for you. It stars the Rock as a wierd but lovable CIA agent who gets in touch with his old high school pal.
Planetarium tells the story of the sisters (Nathalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp), who make a living from performing paranormal seances. Very sensitive story.
To see the reflection of current society’s, watch Manifesto with Cate Blanchett starring in 13 different roles. A teacher, a homeless guy, a scientist… all played by her.

Cinema experience of the month:
March has been a very busy month. First I saw Fifty shades freed, but it was a bit of a disappointment for me… It was a crime story filled with some romantic scenes. I still think the first movie was the best of the trilogy.
I absolutely loved the new Tomb Raider movie! Alicia Vikander is such a lovely and talented actress, I really adore her.
And finally, Red Sparrow. Most of the scenes were shot in Hungary, it was amazing to see Jennifer Lawrence walking to Nyugati Railway station, where I’ve been a couple of weeks as well. Some Hungarian actors appeared in the movie too. The thriller is about an Russian ex-ballerina who becomes an intelligence officer because she has to support her mother. I don’t want to make spoilers but it is a great movie if you want to get to know more about true human nature.

Travelling experience of the month:
15th March is a national holiday because of the Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence 1848-49. So that weekend I went to a Hungarian spa town, Harkány with 3 of my very best childhood friends. A blog post come soon with pictures, I promise! 🙂

Food experience of the month:
It recently became clear that I’m lactose intolerant, so one of my friends suggested me to try almond milk. Yummi, yummi!