Into the Fairytale Forests

Did you know that all over Germany, there are about 40 Fairytale Forests?
How cool does that sound?

Actually, there’s a “Märchenwald” in my hometown Solingen. These “forests” were some of my favourite places to visit when I was a kid. Ah, childhood memories! Sometimes, they are actual forests, sometimes they are parks, but they are all filled with little huts, and each hut tells the pivotal scene of a fairytale.

If you’re lucky and the huts are well-maintained, you may even get a voice telling you the scene when you press a button, and the puppets inside the hut move to act it out. There are usually petting zoos filled with goats and donkeys and for kids, it’s magical! Some huts even look like gingerbread houses! My local one has definitely seen better days and has declined every time it has changed hands, but there’s still a huge lake with old-timey water carousels, and in the summer you may even row boats across it.


Scene from Snow White at Märchenwald Ittertal in Solingen. ©Cornelia Kaufmann

Growing up in Germany, you grow up with the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm. That’s just a fact of life. So needless to say my childhood was filled with fairytales. Mainly Brothers Grimm, of course, and Hans Christian Andersen, but many others as well. The better-maintained forests explain which fairytale you’re seeing in the hut. My local one unfortunately tests your fairytale knowledge to the extreme – unless it’s Snow White or Hänsel & Gretel your best guess is as good as mine. I’ve always liked the lesser known fairytales better and thought I actually knew my way around them – The Star Money, All-Kinds-Of-Fur, Rumpelstiltskin, Mother Hulda, and The Seven Ravens were always among my favourites – but even my sister and I were stumped.

Fairytale Forests can be very charming indeed.  The sun shining just right through the foliage, tinting everything it touches in a soft glow and giving it that old-timey feeling and look. Children dashing about from hut to hut, pressing buttons to make the puppets inside come to life and the narrator tell the story.

That’s how I remember them. Mostly.

Because I also remember a night-time walk in the Deutsche Märchenwald Altenberg while on a choir practice weekend there with school. I must have been about 11 or 12 and we had several older students and teachers with us. We were staying in a convent just opposite the entrance of the Fairytale Forest and – for some reason or other – decided it’d be a fun idea to walk through the forest by moon and torchlight (as if an ancient convent at night isn’t scary enough).

And it was alright. At first. Until the older students jumped out into the path from behind the huts while we walked past, and pressed the buttons so the puppets would move and the noises start at just the right time.

I screamed. It was the single most creepy thing I have ever experienced! Given that a lot of the huts have paint flaking off and the puppets have all seen better days, they make for a very eerie atmosphere late at night.

I never liked them quite as much as before, after that night. But in the daylight, they’re quaint little places in which fairytales come to life.



#WeekendCoffeeShare: If We Were Having Coffee… On September 24

Hello my lovely booklovers,

how are you? Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

If we were having coffee today, we’d sit in the garden underneath the tree and enjoy the autumn sun while it lasts.

After handing in my master thesis last weekend, I’ve had the first relaxing week in two years! It’s taking a bit of time to adjust again, to actually have evenings off from studying and the pressure of finishing before a deadline. There’s so much I’ve neglected during my studies (this blog included). It’s nice to catch up on sleep for starters.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that next to finding a job that’s in my actual field and looking for PhD options, I’ll now concentrate on some self-care in the form of regular yoga and gym, cleaner eating, creative journaling and reviving my social life a little bit.

But you know what? It was worth it. All the sleepless nights, the all-night study sessions, the deadline pressure, frustrations and low-energy. Because my awesome professor already graded my thesis! … And I got 100% on it!! She even wants to show it to her own students as an example of how it’s done right, and she has sent it to a friend who teaches English Literature at the University of New York (not sure whether it’s CUNY or SUNY and which campus) who really liked my thesis too. I am so happy and relieved right now that all the hard work paid off, you have no idea! So thank you for keeping your fingers crossed for me, it worked!!! I’m still waiting to hear back from my university regarding my final grade and when I’ll get my transcript and diploma, but, yes, I am done and I did a lot better than even I thought I would when I first started. Now I can’t wait to finally graduate!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I have plans for this blog, so I hope to update regularly from now on. I’m also looking forward to reading for fun again. Analysing 12 novels over and over was not as much fun as expected, though I have learned a lot about Australian Literature in the process.

If we were having coffee today, I’d show you these lovely flyers I designed:

Flyers I designed for the seminar on refugee politics by Prof. Dr. Saggau at NFH Solingen-Theegarten.  ©Literati Girl

Flyers I designed for the seminar on refugee politics by Prof. Dr. Saggau at NFH Solingen-Theegarten.
©Literati Girl

As  the assistant secretary of our local Solingen-Theegarten chapter of the Naturfreunde (Friends of Nature), PR work, flyer design and the likes falls within my range of responsibilities. We’ve invited Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Saggau for a seminar on the crisis of European refugee politics and what causes people to flee. I’m quite proud of how these flyers turned out! What doy ou think?

Anyway, just a short Coffee Share today, on account that I have been taking it easy outside of work this week because I could. I’m sure the other Weekend Coffee Sharers would love to see you too!

Thank you for having coffee with me. Same time, next week?

Happy #HobbitDay!

The entire Shire is buzzing today, because it’s Hobbit Day! Not only that, but two lovely Hobbiton residents celebrate their birthday today.

I am of course referring to Messrs. Bilbo & Frodo Baggins, the uncle and nephew duo from Bag End who are entirely too adventurous for their own good.

Of course it’s been a while since Bilbo’s eleventy-first and Frodo’s thirty-third birthday. But that doesn’t stop me from decorating the Party Tree, gathering the entire Shire for the party – possibly with the exception of the Sackville-Bagginses, of course –  and bringing out keg after keg of Southfarthing Ale from the Green Dragon.

Here’s a reminder of how hobbits celebrate:

Happy birthday, Bilbo & Frodo, my dear Bagginses!

Frodo (Elijah Wood) and older Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) at the birthday party in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Frodo (Elijah Wood) and older Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) at the birthday party in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.


Oh, and if this is you right now…

What is Bagginses

… we can’t be friends.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Audiobook Narrators

Top Ten Tuesday is the brainchild of The Broke & the Bookish. Every Tuesday, we compile a list of our literary Top 10, and then add it to the blog hop.

This week is all about our Top 10 Audio Freebie – I chose Audiobook Narrators.

1.) David Tennant
David Tennant narrates A LOT of audiobooks! They include the entire How To Train Your Dragon Series, various Doctor Who audio adventures that feature him as the 10th Doctor and BBC Radio 4 productions such as Mansfield Park, which feature him as part of the ensemble.


2.) Martin Freeman
He hasn’t done a lot of audiobooks, but some that he did do include Mostly Harmless, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, as well as Life, The Universe, And Everything. I don’t think I expected him to be this good at doing voices and accents, but he really is!


3.) Stephen Fry
I just love the sound of Stephen’s voice and I still think he is the perfect narrator for the entire Harry Potter series! To be honest, he could read out the phone book and I’d listen. He has done loads more, and reads his own books as well.


4.) Sir Tony Robinson
He has recorded most, if not all, of Terry Pratchett’s work! His enthusiasm bubbles over into his work, which makes for a very engaging listening experience.


5.) Rufus Beck
This one is a German narrator, who I feel narrates every second German audiobook. On his massive list of titles are all the Harry Potter books as well. This is basically the voice of my childhood.

It won’t let me embed the video for some reason, but here’s Rufus beck reading Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens


6.) John Simm
John Simm has not done much audio work, but he did narrate Billy Liar and The Damned Utd. He’s got a surprising range of pitches and accents, though he’s brilliant in Billy Liar with Yorkshire accents of varying thickness. I guess you can take the boy out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the boy.

(Sorry, can’t find anything on Youtube, but there’s a bit of audio on this Amazon listing.)


7.) Tom Hiddleston
He has recorded various poems before, but eventually ventured into full-length books as well. He’s perfect casting for refined, English gentlemen, so it’s no wonder he read James Bond in 007 – Octopussy & The Living Daylights. Other works include The Red Necklace, and an audio version of his movie hit High-Rise.


8.) Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman often narrates his own books and participates in full-cast radio productions of his works as well. My favourites, in which he takes on speaking roles, are the full-cast Radio productions of Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book.


9.) James Marsters
Here’s someone I didn’t know did audiobooks! I grew up watching him as Spike on Buffy, so imagine my surprise when I came across The Dresden Files read by none other than James Marsters!


10.) Mark Gatiss
Mark Gatiss is a master at voices. He not only reads his own books from the Lucifer Box trilogy, he also reads comedy, horror and participates in radio productions.


Other people I love to listen to (often as part of full-cast productions): Anthony Stewart Head, Bernard Cribbins, Roger Allam, Sir Ian McKellen, and Andrew Scott.

Though if there’s one person I wish would record audiobooks, it’s got to be Simon Baker. There are not enough Australian accented audiobook narrators out there, and especially not available in Europe.

#WeekendCoffeeShare: If We Were Having Coffee… On September 18

Hello my lovely booklovers,

how are you? Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

I apologise for being so late with this Coffee Share, but I’m sure you’ll understand… Because I just submitted my Master Thesis!!

Master Thesis and a glass of red wine. As it says on the clip: Erledigt! (Done!) ©Literati Girl

Master Thesis and a glass of red wine. As it says on the clip: Erledigt! (Done!) ©Literati Girl

So instead of sharing a cuppa, you’re welcome to have a glass of fruity red wine with me to celebrate!

It’s been a long time coming, as I am sure you’re aware. Actually, today two years ago I was accepted by Horizons University onto the M.A. Cross-Cultural Communication degree. It took a few weeks to sort everything out, so I didn’t actually start classes until mid-October, but I’m filled with a sense of accomplishment that I have handed in my thesis two years to the day after being accepted.

So, suffice to say that over the past week I didn’t get anything else done. And I mean: nothing. My flat looks like a bombsite, I’m running low on dishes, and I just forgot my laundry is still in the washing machine… it’s been there all day. Whoops. I’ve pulled several all-nighters, two of which were back-to-back. No matter what the outcome of this thesis – I’m glad this is over, at least for now. I love studying, but distance learning was not for me. I’ll be writing a more detailed post later.

For now I’m looking forward to creative journaling, reading for fun, catching up on this blog – I owe you about 100 reviews – catching up on sleep and sending out applications.

Thank you for sticking with me through all this. I probably owe you more than a cup of coffee. Your encouragement has helped a lot! I don’t really have much more to say other than Tank you, so why don’t you head over to the other Weekend CoffeeSharers?

So thank you for having coffee (or wine) with me today! Same time, next week?

“There’s no post on Sundays…

… except when next door signed for it yesterday!”


Man In The Corner by Nathan Besser. Vintage Books, Australia (2016). ©Literati Girl

Man In The Corner by Nathan Besser. Vintage Books, Australia (2016). ©Literati Girl

It’s not even available in Europe yet, and it was only published in Australia and New Zealand on August 1, 2016. When I ordered this book (because I’ve been looking for more Australian Literature), the cover did not yet contain a recommendation.

So imagine my delight to find that actor Simon Baker recommends this book as “a brilliant modern noir, an intriguing thought experiment and an addictive read.” And not only that, Baker and his wife Rebecca Rigg have optioned the rights to the screenplay, and Rigg provided editorial assistance on this novel. It keeps getting better and better.

I can’t wait to get stuck into this book!

#WeekendCoffeeShare: If We Were Having Coffee… On September 10

Hello my lovely booklovers,

how are you? Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

If we were having coffee we’d meet in town, because it’s our annual city-wide flea market “Zöppkesmarkt” this weekend! I love a good flea market, and I’ve put aside a few hours today to browse around for English-language books. I’m really trying to limit myself – the last two years, I bought about 40 books each time, but most were German and I still haven’t read those. But I know a few stalls that usually have English books, so I’ll go straight there. We’ll stop for waffles at the local church (no visit to the Zöppkesmarkt is complete without their Bergische Waffeln, in my opinion), and maybe get some Bratwürste to go later on. There’ll be all sorts of knick knack and I love going through all that stuff, but this time I’m on a mission (English books), don’t have much time (got a thesis to complete), I’m trying to save money (basically, I’ve only budgeted for books) and the only thing I’d make an exception for is a retro typewriter.

(Update: Found 14 English language paperbacks for €8 total, including 8 Classic Penguin Books, the oldest from 1953. My feet hurt. Inhaling the icing sugar on your waffles is never a good idea. Town is packed, so be prepared to shuffle along in 28°C basically brushing against people every step of the way… I think I need a cold shower.)

If we were having coffee, I’d ask R U OK? Thursday was R U OK? Day in Australia, and you may have seen my post about why I fully support this campaign. Reaching out to people and asking them whether they’re ok can make all the difference.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about a party I went to last night. One of my high school classmates turned 30 yesterday, and she had invited me to her party. I’m not sure what I expected, but somehow I didn’t expect a leisurely backyard BBQ. My friend’s husband was also in our class (although they weren’t high school sweethearts), and I hadn’t seen him since we graduated. Back then, I don’t think we’ve exchanged more than 10 words in 9 years unless we were forced to on group projects. So imagine my surprise when he gave me a proper bear hug, like so tight he kinda squished my glasses. In hindsight, he may have had a few to drink. We’ll all go for coffee soon to catch up properly. There were two other friends from school there and to be honest, if someone had told me 10 years ago that I’d spent the loveliest evening with this particular group of people I would have laughed. I liked them back then well enough, we just didn’t have anything in common to talk about, so to finally meet them and get to know them better now we’re all grown-up was very nice. My friend (the same one I went to see David Duchovny live in concert with back in May) also had the most epic playlist for those of us having grown up during the 90s. The music ranged from Vengaboys, No Angels, Tic Tac Toe, Backstreet Boys, Loona, Spice Girls and Robbie Williams to Britney with some token Bon Jovi thrown in. Needless to say, everyone there knew every song by heart! I’m sure the playlist at my 13th birthday party was similar.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my thesis is almost done now. Just a few things to tidy up, a few things to add here and there, format and then it’s off to three friends who have kindly agreed to proof-read for me. I hope that the writing part is done by Sunday night if I can get stuff done today and work through the night to get everything done. I’m so close, I can feel it! Writing the case studies was the hard part. The rest is child’s play, I just need to tie everything together.

If we were having coffee, I’d leave you to browse the market stalls some more, while I have another waffle. I’m sure you’ll find something you like! Check out the other Weekend Coffee Sharers as well, I’m sure they’d love for you to stop by!

Thank you for having coffee with me. Same time, next week?

R U OK? Day 2016

Today is R U OK? Day in Australia, and while I am on the other side of the world, I whole-heartedly support this campaign and I wish other countries would take it on as well!


I want all my friends and followers to know that you can always talk to me about anything, and I will always listen. You will never hear “Suck it up” or anything along those lines from me. And what you feel comfortable sharing with me will stay strictly between us, I will not betray your trust! It is perfectly OK to say that you’re not OK, and you never have to put up a front with me. I won’t think any less of you just because you’re going through a hard time. In fact, I’d be very proud of you, for carrying on, getting up every day and facing your demons instead of giving up. That’s an immense strength, and I admire you for it!

I’ve got my own mental health issues to battle, so I feel you, I really do. And I know how hard it can be to open up to someone and admitting you’re not doing as well as you worked so hard to make everyone believe. So I  promise to ask “R U OK?” more often, to initiate the dialogue. Just checking up on someone can make all the difference. Having someone who’ll listen without judgement. Don’t be afraid that you’d be “dragging me down too”, you never could. A little bit of gloom won’t damage our friendship in the slightest. It’d rather strengthen it, because we trust each other with our problems. And we’ll be able to work on a solution together, side by side.

A while ago, I wrote the following in my journal on a particularly bad day:

I’m not OK.
But nobody wants to hear that.
So I’m “fine.”

I’d been brushed off so many times. I had tried to reach out to friends because my mind that day was a dangerous place, but nobody picked up the phone all night. I pleaded in text messages, asking whether I could call real quick but got no replies. I spent that night crying and talking to myself to get everything out, because the only other option my mind came up with was one I will never entertain. And it scared the shit out of me that all I could come up with – in the lack of a real conversation – were those two options. Don’t be alarmed, and don’t worry about me. I put a stop to that thought as soon as it entered my mind. I am stronger than that, and that moment actually showed me just how strong I can be. But I thought that nobody would want to sit and listen to me cry anyway, so I’d just fake a smile the next day, and pretend all’s well and maybe people would tolerate me enough so I wouldn’t feel so alone.

That was before a friend asked me sincerely whether I’m OK, made me tea, and let me talk, and kept probing until I revealed the source of the problem. It took a few conversations and a lot of tears and encouragement, but it was so worth it in the end. And I am so grateful to her for doing that. I never want anybody else to feel like I did the day I wrote that quote. So helpless and ignored.

You matter, your problems are real. If you need to reach out to anyone, I’ll be there. And if you’re afraid that I won’t pick up, text me “RUOK” or “Help” or “Emergency” (or any other distress signal) and I’ll pick up the phone (or come over, depending on where you are) immediately. Sometimes, all it takes is a hug, a shoulder, and a willing listener to make the world a brighter place again.

So let me start by asking: R U OK?


Depression poster