30 days and 4 books (actually 5, but 1 is in English)

Meu querido leitor e/ou leitora,

I’ll write in English because as odd as it sounds, I am fluent in Portuguese, but my grammatical skills are not the best – not yet. Therefore I’ll write this post in English, the language I learned by listening to Adele, watching “The Seven Year Itch“, and singing along with Nikki Blonsky’s songs in Hairspray (2007).

You might know it already. My native language is Italian, followed by Portuguese. I speak also English and Spanish – the last one I’m still learning, but I’m pretty confident. Like I can go to a panel or follow an academic discussion, ask questions and stuff. But yeah, tengo mucho que aprender. I’ve studied German for three years, but I stopped once I got in high school, focusing more on English. I learned Latin and ancient Greek too, but you don’t learn those because you actually want to speak them… unless you want. Damn, I want to learn French. Or Japanese. Chill Giulia, chill.

I started speaking later than other kids. They say it’s a common thing among bilingual children. When my mom would speak to me in Portuguese I would answer her in Italian and vice-versa. When I would spend months in Brazil (I’ve never lived there an extended period of time) I would take at least two weeks before speaking to my cousins only in  Portuguese without my mom’s help. When I was in Italy I would speak Portuguese only with the few Brazilians friends, including some other bilingual kids with whom I would speak half and half – Italiguese (??).

Anyway, my earliest memories of learning how to read and write in Portuguese go back that time I used to look at Mauricio De Sousa’s comic strips. Thanks to that I developed three passions: art appreciation, storytelling, and reading – in different languages.

At first, I only looked at the drawings because I just didn’t know how to read in Portuguese. But one day I just started reading it in Italian. Yes, I was reading the Portuguese words in Italian. As I would read all these words slowly and out loud I would repeat them over and over again and I remember this exact moment:

“tomate” is “toma – ci”  and “não” the little wave must be “não” (it’s a nasal sound and that wave is called “til”).

Big time revelation, woah! I can actually read it in Portuguese now. It’s just a matter of phonetics, I would think. The journey of me reading in Portuguese started in this way, then. For many years I’ve read only children’s books and comics. Since I never properly studied Portuguese grammar – only on my own – I’ve always avoided reading novels or adult books.

But things sometimes change. It’s the first month of a new year and I’ve been reading four books in Portuguese, written by Brazilian writers. In just one month (and one week). What I gained from these readings:

  • Reading (or communicating) in another language gives you multiple chances to explore your feelings, social interactions, and moods. I naturally associate Portuguese – its sounds, rhythm, and morphology – to ideas like family, heart, sensuality, and passion. I think Portuguese is a lovely language. I got a chance to test these emotions while reading these books, even when the topic was not light, sweet, nor novela style. This was especially achieved with Thati Machado’s “Poder Extra G” (2016).
  • I finally and definitely upgraded my grammar. New words, idioms. More historical facts, more cultural knowledge. This was with Maria Ribeiro’s “Tudo o que eu sempre quis dizer, mas so’ consegui escrevendo” (2018)
  • Representation matters: when I say so I mean black culture, African roots, beauty standards, diversity appreciation. Hairstylist Sabrinah Giampa’ did a really good job with her work in “O livro dos cachos” (2016). I was able once again to embrace and see the beauty in my heritage’s features, colours, and textures.
  • I practiced some self-love through the words and prayers of Luiz Claudio Siqueira’s “Melhor que sexo” (2017). Yes, I’m not the only one who believes that sex is the only thing good or worth living for in this life. And hello, I’m young. Do I have an old mind or is there something wrong in me? This book helped me find some answers, exactly when I was not looking into them. Probably this was my favourite reading since I was not expecting to find some gems in there – short stories about romantic love, religion, friendships, and so much more.

I also finished “How to be alone” by Lane Moore. That’s in English, though. It deserves a unique review.

What I hope for myself is that I keep being this kind of a bookworm. I really do, because being able to read and have access to do it is a privilege and a gift at the same time. So yes, I hope to not get lost again and stop reading. I lowkey want to be that small (chubby – for a couple of years) girl who used to read tons of books. I was like that and it was a good thing.

2019 will not be my year, I mumbled myself while looking at the fireworks in Copacabana during the reveillon. 2019 will be the year of silence. I’m going to keep my standards high (actually they raised, a lot, for all life aspects) and I’ll spend my wealth, time, and love on only people I care and love unconditionally – family and friends.

I suggest you do so. It might be good stuff. But I’m just a curly flower, right?


euzinha, a curly flower






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