Books that come from where I do

     Hello guys. You probably don't know this, because I don't think I've ever told you (ups): I come from this little country right at the edge of Europe: Portugal. 
     As many tourists have told me, it is a lovely land, with amazing landscapes and places to visit, but it's more than that: it's an incredible country with a fascinating history. All kinds of people have walked through the places I grew up in, bringing new products and traditions from everywhere around the world for centuries. 
     Portugal has existed independently since 1143, which means its history is much longer that some other country's. Today, it still has its problems, like every country does, but - as always - it's also the homeland of great artists, including writers. I decided to share with you today three amazing books that come from the same place I was born in. 
     Two of them are books I read when I was younger, and that I still reread and recommend to people my age because they're so good; the last one is a bit more complex, and it relates more closely to Portugal.
   


The Tree 
by Sophia de Mello Breyner Andersen

     The Tree is a wonderful book that I used to read all the time when I was younger, and that still impresses me when I read it today. It tells two different stories, both set in Japan. The first one (that shares its title with the book itself) is about a village that grew around a tree and what the people in the village did with the wood when the tree started to rot and die. The second one, my favourite, is called "The mirror or the living portrait". This absolutely beautiful story full of emotion tells us about a girl that looked so much like her mother, she believed the mirror her mom gave her before she died was a living portrait of her, with which she spent entire days.



The White Planet
by Miguel Sousa Tavares 

     The White Planet is also a book I read many times when I was younger (but not too much because it used to give me chills), although I haven't read it in years. Just like The Tree, it's a book for kids as much as it is for adults. It tells the story of a group of astronauts that are lost in space and being pulled faster and faster by a mysterious force; when they've lost all hope of returning home, they take pills that will allow them to sleep and have a painless death... but they don't die. Instead, they discover something else. 


Message
by Fernando Pessoa

     This is a less childish book from a more international author (I even found an English Version here). Fernando Pessoa is considered one of the best portuguese poets and he wrote both in English and Portuguese, so you should have no problem finding some of his work. This is the one I recommend. Message was published for the first time in 1934, when Portugal faced a period of oppression, so Pessoa wrote this anthology, where every poem (or practically) is dedicated to an important figure of Portuguese History, mostly people that still symbolise our spirit nowadays. This book takes a bit of knowledge about portuguese history, as there are many references to events and people I didn't know about myself, but you don't have to worry about that, as many editions of the book come with little explanations on the side. Besides, these are still wonderful poems when read by themselves, so you can just read one at a time and enjoy them, without putting too much thought into it. I'll leave one here:



ULYSSES
Myth – nothing, everything. Brute 
Sun throwing skies wide
Is a myth, brilliant, mute –
The dead body of God

Living and nude.

This man who here came ashore 
Was by way of not being. 
Came? Was here before.
Did us proud by not being. 

Made us, what’s more.

So legend trickles, tries 
To seep into real life. 
And runs, can fertilise. 
Down below, life – half 
Nothing – dies. 

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