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A Celebration of Love & Books – Saint Jordi in Barcelona

It is no ordinary Monday here in Barcelona, but the beautiful day of Saint Jordi. And as most of the national holidays do, this special day, too, has a legend of its own.

The legend of Saint Jordi is set in a very unfortunate city of Montblanc, which had a terrible dragon as one of its residents. In order to secure peaceful and happy life, locals had to provide the dragon with an offering. The animals were sacrificed first, and once they ran out, it was people’s turn. One fine day the king’s daughter drew the short straw and was destined. However, like many legends, this one also has a happy ending. The life of the precious princess was saved by Jordi, one of the king’s knights. According to the legend Jordi cut the dragon’s throat and witnessed dripping dragon’s blood turn into roses. Jordi picked the most beautiful rose and gave it to the princess. And ever since, the rose is gifted to loved ones as a symbol of love. It is estimated that 40% of all the roses sold in a year are sold on this single day!

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In the 15th century, Saint Jordi was named the saint of Catalunia, which meant that festivities of love and roses were combined with the celebration of Catalan culture. Coincidentally, Saint Jordi died on the same day as two famous writers, Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. And so the 23rd of April is also celebrated as the World Book Day.

We know that you don’t really need a special day to give somebody a book. But should you want to follow the tradition, we’ve prepared a list of our favorite book gifts. Share your favorites with us in the comment section!

  • The Little Prince”- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“It is a book full of little simple discoveries about life. Adult wisdom through the eyes of a child – good in any language, at any time!” – Patricija

  • “1984” – George Orwell

“It is creatively fictional and easy to read, but genuinely critical and frighteningly realistic.” – Louise

  • “Homo Faber” – Max Frisch

“This Book of an inspiring Swiss personage (author, architect, and philosopher) tells the story of a successful engineer working for the UNESCO and traveling throughout Europe and America when his super-rational and technical oriented ideology gets shaken up by a sequence of unexpected incidents.” – Louise

  • ‘At the existentialist Café: Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails’ – Sarah Bakewell

“It tells the story and main ideologies of existentialists philosophers in Paris in an easy, fun to read and comprehensive way. It is good for people interested in philosophy.” – Louise

  • ‘The World as I See It’ – Albert Einstein

“I am a big fan of Albert Einstein. I understood something about the perception of God after I’ve read this book. I used to think of myself as an atheist (or at least very much confused about how to perceive God), but the way he saw the Universe and his relation to God felt so true, logical and beautiful to me. I saw a like-minded person in him.” – Katya

  • ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ – Paramhansa Yogananda

“This was one of the books Steve Jobs recommended to read. To me, it gave me some answers about the meaning of life. I felt so much at peace with myself, everyone, and everything around me. I could literally feel Love with my skin. It even inspired me to do this piece. “I’m in love” – not as me being in love with somebody, but as if Love is the ocean and I am swimming in it.” – Katya

  • All the Light We Cannot See’ – Anthony Doerr

“There are many WWII books out there, but this one is truly special. It tells the (mostly fictional) account of a teenage girl in France and a teenage boy in Germany during the war, and the trials they underwent. It was a truly moving novel with vivid, bright chapters.” – Molly

  • ‘The Big Smoke’ – Adrian Matejka 

“I worked with Adrian on a project back in the States. He is now the poet laureate of Indiana and a strikingly imaginative wordsmith.” – Molly

  • ‘El país Bajo mi piel’ – Gioconda Belli

“The author is from Nicaragua and was part of the Sandinista Revolution. The book tells the history about how she got involved in the revolution fight while also telling her biography and her love stories. She has a magnificent way of expressing things and I will always remember a phrase of the book that went something like: no individual human being will ever understand the happiness that one can achieve when a collective dream is fulfilled.” – Lia

  • ‘Catch-22’ – Joseph Heller

“The only book where I’ve laughed out loud the whole way through.” – Robin

  • ‘100 years of Solitude’ – Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

“This is pure magic, it takes place in a land where everything is possible. But especially the reason why this is one of my favorite books, and gifts is that despite the title implies you loneliness, solitude, etc, this book is a promise – for 100 years you will not be alone, you are always going to have me as a friend.” – Laura

  • ‘Love in the Times of Cholera’ – Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

“Is hard not to fall in love with Marquez, I tried!. But there is something about this book and the way he describes love. I think the main reason why I recommend it is because somehow you learn that love takes many shapes, but most of all that love doesn’t have an age, or a time it just happens” – Laura

  • ‘All the Pretty Horses’ – Cormac McCarthy

“I remember becoming completely immersed in ‘All the Pretty Horses’, to the extent that I was considering becoming a cowboy. The story is gripping, but the writing is just masterful – several passages have stayed with me for years. For example:”They heard somewhere in that tenantless night a bell that tolled and ceased where no bell was and they rode out on to the round dais of the earth which alone was dark and no light to it and which carried their figures and bore them up into the swarming stars so that they rode not under but among them and they rode at once jaunty and circumspect, like thieves newly loosed in that dark electric, like young thieves in a glowing orchard, loosely jacketed against the cold and ten thousand worlds for the choosing.” “McCarthy’s talent for prose is godlike.” – Pierce

Written by Patricija

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