Book Review: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Many years ago I lived in Romania for 16 months as a young American volunteer. It was in the mid-nineties; communism (as it only shortly before existed in Romania) was a thing of the past, but its shadows still loomed large. Huge, half-built ‘hunger domes’ — that had been intended as neighborhood mess halls — … More Book Review: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Peace Like a River: How the Seine Feeds My Soul

One of my favorite songs is ‘Peace Like a River,’ an African-American spiritual that has brought me hope and peace in hard times. This song always carries me to a village on the banks of the Seine River, in France, called Les Andelys. My family and I have been visiting this little-known spot nearly every … More Peace Like a River: How the Seine Feeds My Soul

We Sang Our Way to Freedom: The Singing Revolution of Estonia

As part of our online book club, ‘Travel Europe Through Books,’ we’ve been reading The Last Train From Estonia, the harrowing personal story of Jaak Jurison. In it he describes his experiences, first growing up in peaceful Estonia, then witnessing first-hand the Soviet invasion, purges, and censorship in Estonia that coincided with the Second World … More We Sang Our Way to Freedom: The Singing Revolution of Estonia

Introduction to Finland in 5 Books

Perhaps because of its pristine landscape, or the tendency of its residents toward verbal restraint, Finland has an understated national character that has kept generally out of the international limelight. However, this largely forested country has much to offer in the way of culture and literature. Its language has developed since ancient times, and now represents a growing literary entity on the world stage. … More Introduction to Finland in 5 Books

A Sampling of Sardines

Two years ago, during his last trip to Lisbon, Val made the following social media post: “TODAY in Lisbon: An amusement park for canned sardines. (This is not a joke!) “I came across this unusual shop, ‘O Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguese,’ which literally means ‘The Fantastic World of Portuguese Sardines.’ It’s located on one … More A Sampling of Sardines

Spain: A Natural High After a Finishing a Novel

There’s a place in this world that’s like no other. It’s a place of both breathtaking beauty and absolute peace. It’s a place where one can enjoy the pleasures of every sense: beautiful seascapes for the eyes, peaceful waves for the ears, floral fragrances for the nose, warm sunshine on the skin, and mouthwatering delicacies … More Spain: A Natural High After a Finishing a Novel