“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A reading list

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

If you want to follow along in Facebook, copy this note and then go to 'write a new note' and paste into your notes then... Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read once. Enter a number for the number of times you read something. Make sure you delete my x'S!

OK fellow bookworms, let's fight dirty!
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen X
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling X2
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible -
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens X
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy X
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell X
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams X
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis X5
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis X5
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini X
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne X
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell X
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding X
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zifon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon X
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck X
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold X
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas X
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson X
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton X
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery X
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factoy - Roald Dahl X
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Total: 23
Interesting collection here...

Sunday, February 22, 2009


This week is Mother Tongue week, and we've decided to celebrate it at my work/school, TISA. In my homeroom alone, we have 1 Spanish speaker, 4 Russian/Azeri speakers, 1 Mandarin/Cantonese speaker, 1 Italian Speaker, 1 Russian/English speaker, 7 English speakers (one with a Persian/Iranian background, and another whose parents speak Italian and German), and 2 Scottish speakers. What a diverse group!!

That last group was contentious -- is Scottish a dialect or a language in its own right? Scots, of course, insist it is a language, yet it is based on an English grammatical structure where many English speakers can understand large parts of the language. Sure, there are unique words in the language, but even New Zealand English has its own words - jandals, crook, chook, wagging, etc, although to be fair Scottish has more words than most dialects!! Wikipedia said that there is no accepted definition for where to draw the line between a dialect and a language, so there is no final answer. Heated discussions, though!! :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lenin: the couch-surfing cat

Recently, when a friend was out of town on business, I had the joy of cat-sitting Lenin the cat. She'd recently been neutered, and had a delightful costume to prevent scratching, which Nina aptly said made them look like Christmas presents!

Calm and quiet for the first few days, after a strip-tease of the "corset", Lenin enjoyed her freedom by leaping over every item of furniture in my living room withing 5 minutes, continuing repeatedly for the next week. Lively and fun, but a bit of schizophrenic personality with flashes of calmness interspersed with attacks on limbs to karate-style leaps from couch to couch.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Baku news -- not much

So Baku in February seems like the longest month, despite the irony of it being the shortest. Not a single holiday, not a single break. January and holidays are a memory, but March and future holidays are still distant. Many of my students are off to Dubai this weekend to play or watch siblings/friends play rugby, so it'll be a different mood at school.

Hmm... I'm still trying to decide where to go for my two week holiday in March. Iceland, Tanzania, Turkmentistan, Yemen, Socotra, Ethiopia, Cairo, Tunisia, Balkans, Baltic, London, Myanmar, Iran, Azerbaijan and others have all been considered, but I'm waiting for the tug to pull me to where I should be going. Possibly a ski trip to Georgia and to Armenia?? All sorts of plans. I got a new passport, so it's feeling a bit empty at the moment, though I did get the "Arabic" stamp so I can go to Libya (it's such a joke, and will still require other action).

I'm going to go to New Zealand in July. I am excited and can't believe this will be my first time home in winter in 9 years. Wow, time flies. Visitors are welcome!! I would love to share my home with you. I'm planning on hiking and skiing and other fun things. I am still deciding where to go via and where to come back through--nothing can be simple, of course! Lauren, I think I'm coming to your wedding! Who else lives in New Jersey?

I have a couchsurfer staying with me at the moment -- his name's Eric and he's cycling from Aberdeen to Adelaide. Check out his blog: http://www.aberdeen2adelaide.blogspot.com/. I haven't done so many activities in such a short time in Baku for ages, but it's great as I'm meeting all sorts of different people. Sunday, for example, I went on my first Baku hash through the Industrial Zone near Ulduz metro station (which has no other reason to ever cause people to go there), and I went to a quiz night tonight and my team won. I do believe that's the first time ever.

Okay, M4 will demand a good reason why I haven't marked their papers, so I'd better go and do some to pacify them!