In honor of World Book Day here are top 10 book recommendations

I just couldn’t resist. Here are my bite-sized reviews of top ten books you should read. There should be something for everyone except the non-fiction fiend. For those doubting fiction, let me clarify that reading fiction can help improve some fundamentally human qualities:

  1. Fiction helps us explore abstract human experiences
  2. Fiction deepens our appreciation for concrete human experiences
  3. Fiction expands our range of experiences
  4. Fiction provides beauty and creativity to be enjoyed

“Literature is a form of discovery, perception, intensification, expression, interpretation, creativity, beauty, and understanding. These are ennobling activities and qualities.” Leland Ryken

And with that! Here comes a list that is STILL related to travel, because with an excellent book you can significantly improve the experience of your travel trip. Also, what else would you be doing on those train rides from A to B? Below is a list that I experienced in different places in the world… About different places of the world.

  • For a Paris filled with anecdotes about famous writers (did you know that Hemingway and Ezra Pound vowed to save T.S. Eliot’s position at the bank) and to learn that you don’t need a lot of money to have a good life, read Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast”:  And if you travel to Paris, head to 6th arrondissement to at 113 rue Notre Dame des Champs, which is where he lived.


  • A tour de force vomit on the twisted world of fashion, celebrity & derangement, go to Bret Easton Ellis’s “Glamorama”. Bret Easton Ellis have recently become the best writer of tweets and made a lot of enemies in his lifetime, but I still find his work interesting. It flows with such hedonistic abandon and completely dysfunctional moral compasses. (This is a fucked up book, avoid if you can’t stomach obscenity). I read this book during the hot summer of 2010, in Toronto.


  • I work in digital advertising. Which ads changed the world? If you think, none, you’re wrong. And chances are, the top ad that you are thinking is not the one that is featured here. An excellent treatise spawning from the dawn of advertising is James Twitchell’s “20 Ads that Shook the World”. I read this in Toronto in 2009.

  • On the true face of Stalinism and fallen idylls of communism, read the startling “Darkness at Noon” by Arthur Koestler. I read this dark piece of intelligent and astute writing on a sunny trip to Los Angeles in 2010. This is one of the few books that deeply shook me and made me question the past of the country I come from (Russia).

  • For a beautiful treatise on memory, friendship, ageing and life in London after the Great War, immerse yourself in Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs Dalloway”. I first read it as a teenager back in Vancouver, but since moving to London, I re-read it and fell in love.

  • A progressively lunatic capture of LA hills, an early Hollywood & celebrity culture: Nathanael West’s “The Day of the Locust”. This is the book that starts sunny, full of the energy of the film industry and sunshine. Gradually, things start spinning out of control. There is a particularly gruesome description of a cock fight. There is a murder. There is madness. It spins out of control (like most of West’s books, which are only 4 because he died young in a car crash 😦 )

  • For a dirtier, sexier, sincere take on life in XX century Paris, read Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer”. Inhibitions, be gone! This was the book that I read the moment I returned from Colombia, as my friend recommended it to me. I knew about Henry Miller and his notoriety, but I did not anticipate how much it would affect it. After reading the first few chapters, I sat down to type out angry words of my own. I had a good reason at the time. I still view this book as the bridge that transported me to London. Unfortunately, I gave away my copy to someone who probably did not appreciate it.

  • Skip “Master and Margarita” and go for Mikhail Bulgakov’s lesser known novel “Heart of a Dog”. It’s an absurdist parable of the Russian Revolution: Professor Preobrazhensky and his young colleague Dr. Bormental inserted the human’s hypophysis into a dog’s brain. Couple of weeks later the dog became “human looking”. The main question is “Is anybody who is looking like a man, A REAL MAN?” Read the book to find out for yourself. There is an excellent film based on this book, check out the Mubi page.

  • Immerse yourself in a futuristic Russia where technology & draconian codes of Ivan the Terrible rule Moscow of 2028: Vladimir Sorokin’s “Day of the Oprichnik” is a straight spit in the face of what the Putin administration is becoming. This is advanced reading and requires some knowledge of the Russian history and what oprichniki were (basically, they were czar’s thugs, Wiki). There is also a lot of drugs, sex and rock’n’roll.

  • And the final recommendation to those with strong hearts and open minds: the most beautiful book ever written, and the one that made me feel more emotions than any other books: Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita”. I believe that Vladimir Nabokov was the greatest master of Russian AND English language, for the way he wrote is so articulate, scientific, precise and trembling that it borders magic. I also realized that I did not like any covers for the book, because they convey something other than what I got out of the book.



London Calling


The moment it sunk in that I am moving to London, my memory sent an electric shock down my spine. I vividly recalled my obsession with the Great Britain, Londinium, United Kingdom, Big Ben, high tea. I  remembered that from when I was 11 till I moved to Canada (where new elements started occurring to me), I was completely bonkers about Britain! I wanted to live there, I wanted to be British, I wanted to brandish the Union Jack everywhere I could.


Let’s face it. 


I am moving TO LONDON! This is happening. 


I am so absolutely excited about the possibilities of London. Of the busy and dynamic current of lives that it is, of the immense history, world class culture of all types, of the multicultural mix of people that I am delighted to meet, of the prime location and Heathrow, Heathrow, Heathrow that is the hub to everywhere else in the world. One of my most amazing friends (Kat!) is living there right now, and she loves the city. My other European friends are a stones throw away. This is it. THIS is the change I’ve been wanting, THIS is the godsent gift to my present situation. This is the fate grabbing me by the the collar and presenting me with the pearl of my twenties. Living in London in your twenties is probably one of the best things that can happen. 


I am immensely grateful to life. I am immensely grateful to my company that is moving me to work in our London office (in Camden, no less!). I am excited! 

London Callings

Oh, crossing the streets is a major nuisance here. I feel like I’m breaking all sorts of laws when crossing. Even Zoe said that she still doesn’t quite know when she is allowed to cross or not, because very often the pedestrian light turns red, but so does the light for cars. This is when I usually run across. I’m obviously confused as to which way to look, but luckily there are directions painted on sides of the roads: “Look left”, “look right”. I find it strange that back in 1999 I didn’t find the “right” side of the road to be a problem. In Russia the same sides as in Canada and US are the “right” sides, but I never took notice. Perhaps I didn’t cross the streets enough.

Well, alas, tomorrow I have to return to North America. I may be that sapping young woman on a plane that everyone is going to think said good bye to her boyfriend and is now sad. Whilst in fact, I will be sad about leaving Europe. I’m from here, and I will be back (for good)! Terminator said so, and he returned, see.

Ah yes, stay tuned for the art and literature reviews. I picked up so many fabulous books! I’ll have to work my charms at the British Airways check-in desk tomorrow, making sure they don’t charge me extra for going over the allowed bag weight.

From one of my new acquisitions: “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the park. Aim for the company of immortals.” David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man.

You Sound Like Youre From East London

I just got a haircut from a man who’s been cutting hair for 28 years (including frou frou Kitsilano in Vancouver and 1985’s Spanish Harlem), and I realized than instead of going to hipstertown and seeking out the gayest, skinniest youngster with amazing hair, you should go to men of experience. Just make sure you explain your dreamcut really well. So yay to Islington’s Rough Cut!

I am currently sitting in Wellcome Collection, which is a unique mix of galleries, events and meeting, reading and eating places spread over six floors. Its goal is to engage public with health and well-being; it brings modern art, medicine and peoples ordinary lives to create and exciting place of interest. I am here, so should you when in London.

I went to Camden yesterday evening and had quite a good time. Besides picking up some flaming vintage pieces and trying Moroccan food (my next travel place of interest), I met some nice folks and managed to keep the happy hour prices in a bar way past the happy hour time. Camden is full of Italian daddy’s girls looking for bargains, handsome punks, prima donnas of the burlesque scene who will never see 30 again, skater boys, American Apparel sect members and random misplaced people. It’s heaps of fun, as my Australian friends would say!

By the way, I haven’t been updating a lot lately because I have been busy experiencing life here, but I have certainly been taking notes on what to post about. My autumn schedule will be busy, but calm busy, so expect posts very often!

Party in Style (N. America excluded)

While working on compiling Travel Packs for PlanetEye, I found some pretty interesting spots. Reading Forbes Travel makes me so much more excited about traveling in general. First of all, their writers are amazing. Second of all, they really do know what to select, especially if you have your AmEx ready to pay for the recommendations.

The story on Insomnia in Style a.k.a. after hours locations from Madrid to Hong Kong. What caught my eye is the fact that people start partying later, and go all the way to the morning, ending a night on town with breakfast. The place I wanna go to in London after hopping from place to place is “London’s first 24-hour upscale brassiere, Vingt-Quatre, is a cross-Channel import meant to fill the hungry stomachs of Chelsea’s party clique with staple French food.” Yeah! Yeah!

I’m not a big fan of extremely upscale venues, because usually the music is not so good and it becomes more about your designer outfit or a quid stack. Maybe I’m too young 😉 Oh yeah, since this post is about “partying in style”, London’s Intercontinental recently started to offer the “3am to 10am exclusive experience” priced at $7,000. It buys you one of the four Signature Suites at the Park Lane property and plenty of Belvedere vodka, mixers and soft beverages for you and 9 others.

Oh, also a while back when I had an issue with squirrels, I wanted to find out if any restaurants cook it. And what do you know, London’s St John Restaurant offered squirrel. Apparently it’s like tender rabbit, or a very gamey chicken or something like that. Point being, why not try that. Unfortunately, it seems that August is not the squirrel season, and I won’t get to try it. When I live there, then.

PS. Jebus Christ, I really do blog about food too much. Well, excuse me, fine food, company and conversation are some of the most important things for me. As are respect, productivity, health and trendhunting.