Sunday, July 13, 2014

Reading material--just can't get enough

Since Yulia and I moved to Ukraine, I have found myself with one deficit that I am constantly battling against--a lack of reading material. When we were still living in the States you could give me a library card, and I would be as happy as a pig in mud. I would check out stacks of books and travel to all sorts of library branches to get what I needed. For example, before leaving for our honeymoon to New Mexico, I went to the library and looked up books about the state. I found one excellent book called Farewell, My Subaru. It is an autobiography of a man who moves to New Mexico and embarks on a new lifestyle centered on ecological living and homesteading.

When we came back to Ukraine after our trip to the US last year, I came armed with a few books. I saved what I thought would be my favorite--Robert Kaplan's The Revenge of Geography--for the trip back and move into the house. It helped temper the shock of moving into a new house in an unfamiliar village. I think reading about geography in particular is very appropriate while traveling. It sharpens your senses about your physical location and helps you understand where you are in the world.

But a few books will only last me a few weeks. Then I come across the problem--What to read next? Here in Ukraine I've adapted in several ways.

I have tried replacing reading printed material (like books and newspapers) in English with Ukrainian texts. While printed material in Ukrainian is obviously prevalent here, I am still learning to read instead of reading to learn. I do not read Ukrainian with quite the ease that I read English, although it is one of my long term goals to change that. I look up to Ukrainian intellectuals and aspire to be like them one day (Along with women and artists, I think intellectuals are under appreciated in Ukraine today).

To get enough English language material to read I have turned to the internet. For a while I was reading e-books, but I realized the habit would become expensive quickly considering the quantity I would want to consume. During a trip to Kyiv I discovered the Kyiv Post in the lobby of our hotel and learned they also published their paper online. When we came back to Lviv I continued reading the newspaper and found that it really helped me understand the riddle of a  place I was living in--Ukraine.

It wasn't until Yulia and I started to consider writing our own blog that we realized that there must be other blogs out there that we may enjoy. Along with the news, I have realized that blogs are ideal for me because bloggers constantly update their sites with new reading material.

Yulia and I have a list of the blogs we read most frequently on the sidebar of this page in the section titled, "My blog list." Yulia got me hooked on Melodyfairitale, which is written by a young woman who writes about being a "strange teenage vegan" (as she puts it) and life in Latvia. I also eagerly look forward to updates from Lee Reich, who writes about gardening. He is a professor at Cornell University, and we learned about him through his book about no till gardening.

While our list of blogs may seem long, I am still looking for more to read. I am especially interested in finding more personal blogs about homesteading and life in different countries. I find personal blogs to be the most interesting because they are autobiographical. I enjoy connecting with people through their personal experiences. It makes me feel less "alone" when I read about their daily lives and their everyday triumphs and struggles.

Of course, if you have any recommendations, please let us know. :)

7 comments:

  1. I found the Kindle to be one of the best things ever for living overseas. No more scrounging for things to read (out of copyright texts are free, and Amazon offers a lot of free book promotions - a lot of them are awful, but there are some really great ones, too.) I would've gone mad in the village out in rural Kyrgyzstan without my Kindle.

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    1. These seemingly small things help a bundle when you are in a new place far from home. This is good advice.

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  2. Hello Michael, the Runet is full of free (i. e. copyright infringed) texts in many languages. Sure, English ones are not as easy to find as the ones in Russian, but quite easy. You might want to give it a shot - type the name of the book you're looking for and then читать онлайн or скачать. I use this a lot (*blush*) for trash lit.
    Plus, there's always the Gutenberg project.

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  3. To be specific here is one http://lib.ru/TRANSLATION/ - it looks and smells like the old library)) that you like and does not seem to have been updated for last 10 years or so
    Thank you guys for the wonderful insight.

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  4. To be specific here is one http://lib.ru/TRANSLATION/ - it looks and smells like the old library)) that you like and does not seem to have been updated for last 10 years or so
    Thank you guys for the wonderful insight.

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    1. There's lots of websites out there! Thanks!

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