From Russia with Books and a Kick in the Butt (Alternatively You Can Just Scroll Down to Get a Book)


April 8, 2013 by Katia

Cats, dogs and Encyclopaedia

Cats, dogs and Encyclopaedia

An entire wall in my mother’s apartment in Tel-Aviv, where I was born and grew up, was covered with book shelves. Rows and rows of them. Some of the books were placed so high you couldn’t even reach them without an adventurous spirit like my auntie’s and standing on a ladder. In the 70’s when my family was immigrating you had to apply for a special permit to leave the Soviet Union. They were given three days to pack up their shit and scram. Most of their valuable possessions stayed behind, but the books, including a dark covered 19th century encyclopaedia describing realities that were no longer relevant, fallen governments, extinct species and renamed cities, successfully relocated to a barren white wall in a stone tiled, humid, brightly lit Tel-Aviv apartment.

One of my early childhood memories involves me playing by the elevators of our apartment building with my next door neighbour. A man stepped out of one of the other apartments, which housed a small accounting business, exactly at the same time as the door to my apartment opened. He peeked in and asked “is this a library?” “no, it’s a private home” was my six year old response. Books were the landscape of my childhood and the (only) adventures I went on, growing up in a slightly over protective family consisting of three motherly figures: mom, grandma and grandma’s sister – auntie. 

I love books. I get excited discovering new authors. I’m one of these book pervs, who will sneak a peek behind your shoulder on the subway to find out what you’re reading and come up with the most awkward tactics to hide what they’re doing. I also read the book ads. This is how I learned about Lev Grossman. On the Toronto subway.

Here are some of my favourite books in no particular order.

Newest discoveries – a.k.a. Duh a.k.a. Да

  1. Neil Gaiman – American Gods
  2. Lev Grossman – The Magicians series
  3. Jeffrey Eugenides – The Marriage Plot
  4. James Ellroy – American Tabloid
  5. Elsa Morante – House of Liars

Older discoveries

  1. Amos Oz – The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
  2. Hanif Kureishi – The Buddha of Suburbia
  3. Zadie Smith – On Beauty
  4. Amy Tan – The Opposite of Fate
  5. Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt
  6. Anne Fadiman – Ex Libris
  7. Mikhail Bulgakov – The Master and Margarita

Have you read any of these books? What are your favourites?


BOOK GIVEAWAY: I wrote two posts about being a parent and they ended up in a book! If you’re a parent, I think you’ll enjoy reading it. To win one of the five copies I’ll be giving out join my Parenting Signs contest – thanks, Jenn, for the idea!

Some of the unexpected ways in which my life has changed since having kids ended up in those two  posts featured on Life Well Blogged: sometimes people step on my boob, I usually have company when I use the washroom or shower but when I don’t, I never forget to put the kiddy protection sleeve on the faucet.

Share some of your own funniest parenting signs. I’ll post the best entries with links to your blogs and 5 readers will win a copy of Parenting Gag Reel. I’ll announce the winners  next Monday.

You can send your parenting signs to me via email:

Tweet them to: @KatiaDBE

Or post them on my Facebook wall at:



18 thoughts on “From Russia with Books and a Kick in the Butt (Alternatively You Can Just Scroll Down to Get a Book)

  1. I’ve just found you and your story is fascinating! I also grew-up in a house that had many books- but they lined a wall in the dining room- it was like eating in a library everyday. I’m on my way to check out your list- all new titles for me. Thanks!

    • Katia says:

      Thanks so much, Cheryl! I love library dining! I’d be curious to hear your thoughts if you end up reading something on my list! 🙂

  2. Stephanie Sprenger says:

    I won’t enter because I already bought it! 😉 But I too love books- reading has always been my favorite hobby, along with writing. And three days to pack and scram? Wow.
    Oh, hey did you get my email submission? Just wanted to make sure I didn’t send it to the wrong address! That, and I’m neurotic! 🙂

    • Katia says:

      OMG, it’s in my spam folder!!! I was waiting to get it and didn’t want to bug you because I know you’re juggling so much. I would never have ignored it. So sorry, thanks to you I’ve opened my spam folder and found so many messages there!!! SO SORRY!

      Yes, three days, I know! Crazy.

      • Stephanie Sprenger says:

        Oh phew I was worried you hated it. And me. Just kidding! Let me know what you think!

      • Katia says:

        Impossible 🙂 I LOVED it. Funny coincidence with my FB message! 🙂 I’ve sent you a long email, check you hotmail! 🙂

  3. Anya says:

    Me! Me! Pick Me!
    A book story: I too grew up in a house full of books, and reading is one of the biggest loves of my life. Lately I’ve been reading more kids books than books for myself, but I have to admit – looking at gorgeous and imaginative illustrations sort of makes up for the obvious plot lines 🙂

    • Katia says:

      Thank you! I love a good book story! And yes some of the illustrations to children’s books these days are SO gorgeous I try to steer 3 Year Old toward my favourite ones. It usually fails.

  4. DrFrood says:

    Yo, finally got it done, thought I’d send you a link on the offchance you’re interested…

    Salmon of Doubt is excellent as is American Gods.

  5. michellepond says:

    Wonderful story, Katia. So glad the books got to move with your family. Visiting from TALU.

  6. I just bought that book! I’ve only read two stories so far (Kristi’s from Finding Ninee). I know it’s going to be a hilarious read. I look for your stories next. What chapters are you in? – TALU

    Oh and though I’m primarily a digital reader now, I’m always in awe of a wall of books.

  7. Chris Carter says:

    Wow – what a beautiful story!! I can tell you have a rich history and an amazing hunger for books. LOVE that!

  8. Chris Carter says:

    Oh good GRAVY! I didn’t follow the rules… I know I am a parent when I can hardly stay focused enough to follow the rules. 😉

  9. Mike Robbers says:

    Great story Katia and very interesting book list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Between 2014-2015:

BlogHer '13 Voices of the Year Community Keynote Honoree
Scary Mommy
The Epistolarians


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 15,589 other subscribers

No Instagram images were found.

Blogarama - The Blog Directory
Finish the Sentence Friday
%d bloggers like this: