Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal's Journey from Down Under to All Over

by Geraldine Brooks | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 9780385483735 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingBoekentrolwing of Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on 1/27/2010
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
25 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingBoekentrolwing from Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Recommendation from one of my pan pals. Since I love reading and corresponding, she thought it would be just the book for me. And she was right :-)

"Born on Bland Street in a working-class neighborhood of Sydney, Australia, Geraldine Brooks longs to discover the vivid places where history happens and culture comes from. She enlists pen pals who offer her a window on the hazards of adolescence in the Middle East, Europe, and America. With the aid of their letters, Brooks turns her bedroom into the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, the barricades of Parisian student protests, the swampy fields of an embattled kibbutz. Twenty years later - and worlds away from her sheltered girlhood - Brooks is an award-winning foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, reporting on wars and famines in the Middle East, Bosnia, and Africa. But she never forgets her earlier foreign correspondence. Traveling full circle to attend her dying father, Brooks stumbles on the old letters in her parents' basement. She embarks on a human treasure hunt to find her pen friends, and to retrieve her own lost memories of the shy Sydney girl who wrote to them. One by one, she finds men and women whose lives have been shaped by war and hatred, by fame and notoriety, and by the ravages of a mysterious and tragic mental illness. It is only from the distance of foreign lands and against the background of alien lives that Brooks finally sees her homeplace clearly. This intimate, moving, and often humorous memoir of growing up Down Under speaks to the unquiet heart of every girl who has ever yearned to become a woman of the world.

Journal Entry 2 by wingBoekentrolwing from Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The first part of this book was nice, but rather hard to plunge into. I would want to compare it to a steam engine that needs time to gain speed. Geraldine describes her youth, the dull (in her eyes) world of Sydney, at the end of the world.
When Geraldine grew older, her world grows and her writing takes the reader along. Finding friends to write to, growing up, going to work and finally going to look for the pals she wrote to in her youth.
The more pages I turned, the more interesting, recognizable the story and her life became.
I felt connected to the story, although we are a world apart geographically speaking, and also a few years in time.
The further I read in the book, the more I liked it. And now I've finished, I'm almost sad to close it and stop reading.
I think I'll read it again. Too bad that I know now how it ends. But the joy of reading this again will make up for that

Journal Entry 3 by wingBoekentrolwing from Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Monday, February 1, 2010
The reading order I suggest:

bookguide (NL), EU
LiniP (D), intl.
OriginalMulli (UK), intl
sorche-sidha (AUS), intl
Sherlockfan (NZ), intl
a3ana(NL), ?
rapturina (NL), intl
aunt-sophie (CAN), ?
Booklovinglady (NL), rapturina very kindly replaced the book because it probably got lost in the mail from Canada back here.
via home to
raluk68 (ROM), ?
iwillrejoice (USA), ?
hyphen8 (USA), US
wildflower37 (USA), US/intl. if neccessery
Kally93 (CAN), intl
Kiki66 (Germany), EU-shipping
Cherokee2000 (CAN), Can / US (if neccessary intl.)
angelface46 (US),?
thegoaliegirl (US); US/CAN
imawinn2 (US), intl.
ababaigalit (ISR), intl.
Chania, (Finland), ?
penelopewanders (CH), EU-shipping
VictoriaWagtail (Sweden), intl. (moved downwards, asked to be skipped in Feb., still likes to read the book though)
lunatum, (Finland), intl. (moved downwards, asked to be skipped in Feb., still likes to read the book though)

Book is home again!!

Journal Entry 4 by bookguide from Wijchen, Gelderland Netherlands on Thursday, February 4, 2010
Today is a good day! I went to look in my postbox, and found two envelopes from Bookcrossers, which automatically makes it a good day! The other one contained two books from Soloo's Virtual Bookbox, sent by PaperAeroplane: 'De sariwinkel' (The Sari Shop) by Rupa Bajna, and 'Zwellend fruit' (Swelling Fruit) by Peter Verhelst. And this evening I'm going to the local spa with my friends to celebrate somebody's "hen night". As I said, today is a good day!

I'm really looking forward to reading 'Foreign Correspondence', and for the first time for about a year and a half, I didn't have a single ring book left, so I should be able to start it almost immediately.

Journal Entry 5 by bookguide from Wijchen, Gelderland Netherlands on Thursday, February 18, 2010
Oh, I'm glad that 'Foreign Correspondence' is coming to visit me! When I was a teenager, I had two French penfriends, one in New Zealand and one in South Africa, and my sister had a penfriend in one of the new black South African homelands. I still enjoy writing and receiving long letters, but nowadays I only write one long letter a year which I send to all our friends and family at Christmastime. So it's quite disappointing that most people only send us an impersonal Christmas card. Apart from that I keep in contact with Facebook, and that is another good way to send each other our news, but still not as fun as a real letter in a real envelope with real attractive stamps.

I never became as close to any of my penfriends as Geraldine Brooks did to Joannie, but it is not surprising that their relationship developed in the way it did, as they were both shy, lonely and intense youngsters obsessed with the same things and had the same idealistic view of the world. Joannie's story was tragic and particularly poignant for me, as one of my sister's childhood friends (also the sister of one of my best friends) fell victim to the same disease when she went to university. I recognise Geraldine's feeling of living in a different world from Joannie, as although my New Zealand penfriend started off with me as an enthusiastic girl, she left the schoolgirl world behind long before me, going to live with her boyfriend in a mobile home, and later getting married, at which point we lost contact. I do sometimes wonder what she is doing now, but I don't think I'd go to the extreme of trying to find her in real life.

Just as Geraldine had some penfriends with whom it didn't really click, I had a much shorter and less interesting correspondence with one of my French penfriends, and I can remember very little about her. I still write (at Christmas) to my other French penfriend, but we have joint family history (her grandparents sheltered my grandfather and his friend in WWII when they were cut off from their regiment, we visited each other every summer in our teens, and she came with her mother and sister to my wedding).

Back to the book. Geraldine Brooks writes very well, and I found the description of the differences between an American and Australian childhood and teenage years very moving. I also enjoyed the stories of how she went to search for her other penfriends, especially the tale of how she finds her penfriend in Nazareth when the lady at the tourist information office asks the local taxi drivers, as they know every family! I was also surprised to learn that there are Christian Arabs, as one tends to assume that all Arabs are Muslim.

I apologise to BoekenTrol (Totje2 as was) and the other people on the list for holding on to this book for so long. I read it quickly so that I could pass it on in a timely fashion, and then held on to it from February to May, which was really thoughtless of me. I'm very sorry.

26th October 2012. After a brief visit to ElizardBreath in Oregon during our summer holiday, our 12-year-old daughters have started to write to each other. So their correspondence started the other way round with a meeting first. This is the first real post my daughter has ever had, and she's as thrilled as I was when I was her age. There's nothing quite like ripping an envelope open and speed-reading the letter to find out what your penfriend has to say, then reading it again slowly and looking at the stamps.

Journal Entry 6 by bookguide at on Monday, May 10, 2010

Released 11 yrs ago (5/11/2010 UTC) at



Posted to LineP. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and sorry for keeping it for so long.

This book has been released as part of the following BookCrossing challenges:
- The Ultimate Challenge - read and release books, with extra points for a monthly theme
- Pages Read Challenge - read a self-set target number of pages in 2010. My goal is 24,000.
- Set It Yourself Challenge
- 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die Challenge

Journal Entry 7 by LiniP from Harrow, Greater London United Kingdom on Monday, May 24, 2010
Got the book in my mail when I came back from a long weekend with my parents. Looking forward to reading it. Will start shortly after I have finished a short crime story.

Journal Entry 8 by LiniP at Schwäbisch Hall, Baden-Württemberg Germany on Monday, May 31, 2010
Finished the books in two days. Really enjoyed the story. It was funny but I read the book just after I had come back from my parents where I had read a lot of letters written by my friends in the States and France. I intend to release the book to the next person today.

Journal Entry 9 by LiniP at By mail, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Monday, May 31, 2010

Released 11 yrs ago (5/31/2010 UTC) at By mail, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases


The book is on its way to the UK. Have fun reading the book.

Journal Entry 10 by Originalmulli at Llandyfriog, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, June 3, 2010
Received this today - thank you!

Journal Entry 11 by Originalmulli at Newcastle Emlyn, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, July 22, 2010
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I found it really quite gripping, although I can't say exactly why! I liked Geraldine's journey from believing that interesting things only happened to other people in other places, to discovering how much pleasure there is in the simplicity of home. I also liked how on re-reading her own letters from decades before there were things she didn't recognise about her former self - like having once called herself Gez. :) I am an avid journal keeper and that reminded me of similar moments of non-recognition when I look back at my younger self.

In some ways this made me want to encourage my daughter towards penpals when she's older, but also I think this role of broadening our world-view is filled even more effectively by the new social networking and the internet in general. In the last few years I've 'met' people from places I would never have imagined being able to get to know about so well, notably Iran and Israel.

Because she jumps about in time, there were a couple of places where I was confused momentarily. But I would really recommend this book simply because it inspires the reader to seek for that wider world view.

Journal Entry 12 by Originalmulli at Newcastle Emlyn, Wales United Kingdom on Friday, July 23, 2010

Released 11 yrs ago (7/23/2010 UTC) at Newcastle Emlyn, Wales United Kingdom


Posted off to Australia today. I think this will be an even more fascinating read to an Australian!!

Journal Entry 13 by sorcha-sidhe at Quorn, South Australia Australia on Monday, August 9, 2010
Arrived in the post last week from Originalmulli. Will start very soon: Just have to finish my current read first.

Journal Entry 14 by sorcha-sidhe at Quorn, South Australia Australia on Monday, September 13, 2010
"But the huge spaces, the deep silences, the vast paddocks free of road rules and stranger danger could never be transported to the black-bitumen blocks of suburban Concord. The great dark mass of movement from country to city is made up of little specks like me: children who don't have any land left to visit, except in their parents' memories."

Thanks to Totje2 for sharing this book as I enjoyed it immensely.

I have been penpalling since I was 7 years old and am still in touch with my first pen pal. As a shy child growing up on a farm in South Australia, penpalling was a convenient way to make friends and learn about the world beyond my own, and over the years has taught me many things about people and the world in which we live.

This is pretty much the experience shared by Geraldine Brooks in her memoir, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE. Her desire to learn more about the world through penpalling created the framework for the rest of her life, growing up to become a journalist and Foreign Correspondent.

After many years of silence, she decides to seek out the long-lost pen pals from her youth, the results of which are both unexpected and insightful. Through these people, strangers but not, she learns more about herself than she could have possibly imagined.

An interesting memoir, beautifully told.

Journal Entry 15 by sorcha-sidhe at Port Augusta, South Australia Australia on Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Released 10 yrs ago (9/15/2010 UTC) at Port Augusta, South Australia Australia


On its way to New Zealand!

Safe travels, little book. :)

Journal Entry 16 by Sherlockfan at Upper Hutt, Wellington Province New Zealand on Monday, September 20, 2010
Hi sorche-sidha,
The book did travel safely and arrived here yesterday. I'm not sure how quickly I'll get to it as I have a couple of others that arrived last week but it shouldn't be too long.
I've always regretted losing touch with the two penfriends I had during my childhood. Maybe this will inspire me to try and track them down.
I'm looking forward to reading this.

Journal Entry 17 by Sherlockfan at Upper Hutt, Wellington Province New Zealand on Monday, October 4, 2010
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I only had two penfriends one in England and one in Barbados and unfortunately lost touch with them both when I went away to boarding school. I well remember the excitement when letters arrived though.
Very pleased to have been part of this bookring, thanks to all involved. It was great to learn more about Geraldine herself as previously I'd only known her as an author. I never think of authors as shy people but she certainly was that. I'd like to buy a copy as a Christmas present for an Australian d-i-l but rather suspect she might have already read it.
Like one of the other journalers I did occasionally have difficulty with the jumping about in time and space a bit but otherwise no complaints. I have another GB's book waiting patiently on Mt TBR. and will enjoy it all the more from having read this one.

Journal Entry 18 by Sherlockfan at Upper Hutt, Wellington Province New Zealand on Monday, October 4, 2010

Released 10 yrs ago (10/4/2010 UTC) at Upper Hutt, Wellington Province New Zealand


Postin to next person on the Bookring list.
Travel safely little book.

Journal Entry 19 by a3ana at Weert, Limburg Netherlands on Thursday, October 28, 2010
The book arrived safely today all the way from New Zealand. I'm really looking forward to reading it, expecially because I loved having penpals from all over the world when I was a teenager. I hope to finish before leaving for Africa in 3 weeks time, because I don't want to take the book there in fear of damaging it.

Journal Entry 20 by a3ana at Weert, Limburg Netherlands on Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I enjoyed the book thourougly. Made me realize again how differently people's lives can go, according to geographical position and circumstances. I liked the parts about Australia, a country we visited last year, because my daughter spent a year there as an exchange student.
I'm going to PM rapturina and send the book on as soon as I have the address.

Journal Entry 21 by rapturina at Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Sunday, November 14, 2010
It's here! I actually just finished a book last night, so this one is going to be up next. Looking forward to it, as pretty much everyone else here I've been penpalling since I was a kid so this book should be really interesting. :D

Journal Entry 22 by rapturina at Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland Netherlands on Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I finished reading this a while ago, but forgot to write a journal entry, sorry about that! I enjoyed this book a lot. It was very interesting to read about the author's childhood, especially about her experiences with her penpals when she was young. I recognized quite a lot. :D I also very much enjoyed the second part of the book, where she goes to visit her penpals and starts seeing them in a completely different light.

This book is now on its way to one of my penpals, aunt-sophie, as I think she'd enjoy reading it too. :D

Journal Entry 23 by rem_VSP-560485 at Gatineau, Québec Canada on Friday, December 31, 2010
This reached me today. I should be able to read it soon.

Journal Entry 24 by rem_VSP-560485 at Gatineau, Québec Canada on Monday, January 31, 2011
I tried to read the book, but couldn't really get into it, so I'll be sending it back to rapturina soon (along with something else I have to mail her).

Edit: I mailed it sometime in late February via surface mail, but I forgot to update this.

Journal Entry 25 by Booklovinglady at De Rijp, Noord-Holland Netherlands on Friday, July 1, 2011
Thanks to Totje2 for adding me to her list and to Rapturina for sending me the book.

I received the book today but will have to finish reading Molly Keane’s ‘Loving and Giving’ first before I can start in ‘Foreign Correspondence’.
My German penpal has read ‘Foreign Correspondence’ and mentioned the book to me at the beginning of 2007. It has been at the back of my mind ever since, as I have been penpalling since 1998 (not counting a brief penpal spell when I was a teenager). As I am an avid reader, I’m sure the book will make an interesting read.

Journal Entry 26 by Booklovinglady at De Rijp, Noord-Holland Netherlands on Monday, July 4, 2011
Personally, I think the remark/subtitle ‘A pen pal’s journey from Down Under to All Over’, as mentioned on the front cover of the book, is slightly misleading. It certainly gave me the wrong impression and I enjoyed the book a lot more than I had expected. Before I read the book, I had interpreted this remark literally which turned out to be a wrong interpretation :-) as Geraldine’s physical journey from Down Under to All Over only takes up a relatively small part of the book.

Most of the book is about Geraldine growing up in Sydney. To me, this made the book more interesting than I had expected. I have a strong interest in Australian literature and have read lots of Australian books. Adding to this the fact that I have friends and relatives in Australia and have visited the country several times during the past 13 years, it won’t be a surprise to anyone that Geraldine’s story was not only very recognizable but also highly interesting to me.

I’ve read most of the books she mentions, like Patrick White’s ‘Tree of Man’ and Jill Kerr Conway’s ‘The Road from Coorain’, and it helped me see the ‘bigger picture’. To me, Geraldine managed to paint a very vivid and interesting story and I’m glad I was given the opportunity to read this book.

Finally, one last remark for future readers ;-) Don't forget to read the 'Reader's Companion' at the end of the book. And do have a look at the 'recommended reading' list as there are several very interesting titles to be found there (both Australian and non-Australian).

Journal Entry 27 by Booklovinglady at De Rijp, Noord-Holland Netherlands on Monday, July 4, 2011

Released 10 yrs ago (7/4/2011 UTC) at De Rijp, Noord-Holland Netherlands


Read the book over the weekend and will be sending it to Totje2 this afternoon.

Safe travelling!

Journal Entry 28 by wingBoekentrolwing at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Received the book today :-)
Thank you very much, Booklovinglady, for the note and the booklabel that accompany it. You're right, I won't use that, because this book travels as a ring. I love the label itself, though. And, I'm glad you finally got the chance to read it and that you liked it. :-)

I'll contact the next one in line to send the book on a journey again.

Journal Entry 29 by wingBoekentrolwing at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Thursday, July 14, 2011

Released 10 yrs ago (7/14/2011 UTC) at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands


After a little rest here at home, this book will be travelling on to tis next reader, raluc68.

I hope you enjoy this book! The person in line after you is listed in one of the earlier journal entries with this book.
Happy reading!

Journal Entry 30 by raluk68 at București, Wallachia Romania on Thursday, July 21, 2011
Thanks Totje2 for including me in the ring!
I got the brand new coy of it! I'm honored :)

Journal Entry 31 by raluk68 at București, Wallachia Romania on Friday, August 5, 2011
The story of Geraldine turns out to be very interesting, when you come to the end of the story :) I liked that part better then the rest of the book. I am pen-paling myself and I can't imagine how would it be to meet my pen-friend from, say, Kuwait!!... You never know where life takes you, do you?
G.Brooks is not a great writer, if you ask me; her style did not catch me.

All in all was not a bad experience, on the contrary - I enjoyed the story.

Thank you Totje2 for this opportunity!

Journal Entry 32 by raluk68 at București, Wallachia Romania on Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (8/9/2011 UTC) at București, Wallachia Romania


Traveling to US.

Enjoy! :)

Journal Entry 33 by wingiwillrejoicewing at Fort Myers, Florida USA on Saturday, September 3, 2011
Received safely from Romania -- Thank you! And thanks for the cool stamps. :-) I'm reading another one right now, but I'll happily read this next. I like Geraldine Brooks!

Then I guess it goes back to the Netherlands?


As others have said, this was pretty slow going for most of the book. Good at the end, though.

Thanks for sharing!

Journal Entry 34 by wingiwillrejoicewing at -- Mail or by hand-rings, RABCK, meetings, trades, Florida USA on Friday, September 30, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (10/1/2011 UTC) at -- Mail or by hand-rings, RABCK, meetings, trades, Florida USA


Photobucket Releasing to hyphen8 in Hawaii as next in this book ring. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 35 by hyphen8 at Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Friday, October 7, 2011
Sorry, this arrived yesterday, but I didn't see it until this morning, so I wasn't able to journal it until tonight. I had a number of pen pals once upon a time - I even got to meet one of them. I like the concept, but I've always been a procrastinator, so I was never a very good correspondent. Generally they were better about writing to me than I was about writing to them. Still, I do wonder sometimes what became of my pen pals..

Thanks for sharing this with me..I'm in the middle of something but I'll get to this as soon as I can.

Journal Entry 36 by hyphen8 at Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Saturday, October 22, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (10/22/2011 UTC) at Honolulu, Hawaii USA


I have yet to read one of this author's books that I didn't like, and this one was no exception; it made me want to look for my old letters from my penpals. A quick search for the one whose full name I remember did turn up a few links..but I'm not sure if it's the right person because I didn't think she was that much younger than me (5 years).

I found a brief writeup of this book in our local newspaper here which I found interesting.

Traveling to the next person tomorrow via media mail..which might take 3 weeks.

This book was set free to find a new reader; I'm so glad you've found it!

If you're new to Bookcrossing, I hope you will take some time to explore this wonderful free and anonymous community and learn about what it has to offer.

Please make a journal entry and let the book's previous readers know it's safely in your hands.

Free your books - help spread the words!

Journal Entry 37 by wildflower37 at Montclair, New Jersey USA on Saturday, November 19, 2011
This book arrived while I was on a business trip. So happy to receive it and look forward to reading next. thanks!

Journal Entry 38 by wildflower37 at Montclair, New Jersey USA on Sunday, November 27, 2011
I loved this book! I have been a fan of this author's fiction (particularly March and Year of Wonder). I found her descriptions of her childhood in Sydney to be so engaging and interesting. It also amazes me that she kept up her pen pal relationships for extended periods of time. I remember having 1 or 2 international pen pals but I did not ever achieve her level of intimacy or exchange of ideas with those with whom I corresponded.

Thank you BoekenTrol for making this book available, for those who kept the ring going, and I think to one particular member who replaced the book when it went on its own journey. ANd thanks, hyphen8 (I assume) for including the bookmark and labels. I traded some labels and sending a batch to the next reader.

I have requested the address of the next recipient and hope to send along this week.

Journal Entry 39 by wildflower37 at -- BookRing, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- USA on Monday, November 28, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (11/28/2011 UTC) at -- BookRing, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- USA


Send to kally93 today.

Journal Entry 40 by Kally93 at Brantford, Ontario Canada on Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Book arrived in the mail today! Thank you wildflower37 for sending it to me and for the labels and bookmarks! Thank you also BoekenTrol for sharing this book. Just finished another ring book last night so the timing was perfect.

Journal Entry 41 by Kally93 at Brantford, Ontario Canada on Friday, December 30, 2011
Finished this book last night. There were times when the story dragged a bit but overall I really enjoyed it. I really like Geraldine Brooks' books, so it's interesting to learn about her as a person. This memoir is interesting in that she chose to focus mainly on her relationship with her pen-pals and family, whareas she could have gone into great detail about her work as a journalist or how she started writing novels. I think because its focus is her pen-pals and family, it demonstrates how important the people in our lives are compared to careers/money/fame. I love how she bravely went and visited each one of her pen-pals. I often wonder about my own and would love to know what they are doing now.

Sending on to Germany in the next couple of days.

Journal Entry 42 by Kally93 at Bookring/Bookray, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- Canada on Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Released 9 yrs ago (1/3/2012 UTC) at Bookring/Bookray, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- Canada


Mailed yesterday to Kiki66 in Germany. Thank you for sharing this book with me.

Journal Entry 43 by kiki66 at Gauting, Bayern Germany on Sunday, January 15, 2012
This time the book made the journey from Canada to Europe!! :-)

thanks for sending it my way!
will read it asap.... (one bookring before)

Update February 3rd: nearly done! asked for the next address...

Journal Entry 44 by kiki66 at Gauting, Bayern Germany on Sunday, February 12, 2012
I really liked reading about Geraldine's life and pen pals. I always had pen pals - and with one of my oldest we're now in our 30th year! :-)
I got to knew her and some others which was nice, but some of them I only know by writing but they all have accompanied me through my life...

Isn't it interesting how she found life and growing up in Sydney boring and dull only to find out that her friends in Israel longed for a life just like that!
And I thought it amazing that her oldest pen pal from Sydney turns out to be THE Little Nell from the Rocky Horror Picture Show... what a long way from the suburbs of Sydney!

And now I have a problem.. to whom I send the book!
VictoriaWagtail and lunatum are both swamped in bookrings..

Journal Entry 45 by kiki66 at Gauting, Bayern Germany on Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Released 9 yrs ago (2/15/2012 UTC) at Gauting, Bayern Germany


Finally on its way to Canada - send it as a letter so it shouldn't
take too long!

Happy Travelling!

Journal Entry 46 by Cherokee2000 at Edmonton, Alberta Canada on Friday, February 24, 2012
The book arrived today in my snow-covered Canadian mailbox from Kiki66 in Germany. Thanks for sending it Air Mail!

I just started the 765-page "Don Quixote" yesterday. But since I've only read the Preface, I will hold off on starting Chapter One of it till after I read "Foreign Correspondence."

Journal Entry 47 by Cherokee2000 at Edmonton, Alberta Canada on Friday, April 13, 2012
I have now finished the book (after experiencing some down-time due to illness). I will be contacting the next person on the list today!

Journal Entry 48 by Cherokee2000 at Edmonton, Alberta Canada on Thursday, May 3, 2012
I really enjoyed this book. Unlike some of the other readers, I didn't find the first part slow-moving. I found it a charming story of growing up. That said though, I definitely sensed a change in tone in the second part. I think Geraldine Brooks did a great job in setting the tone first as a child trying to get some excitement into her "Bland Street" life, and later as an adult with an almost obsessive goal in finding out how her pen pals had turned out, and how they were now living out their lives in their corners of the world.

Joannie, Nell, Mishal, Cohen and Janine became real to me as Geraldine described them first as adolescents and then as adults. It makes me wonder about Mary, my pen pal from England in the 60's/70's. I lost touch with her and sadly lost all her letters too. Maybe with the help of the Internet, Facebook, etc., I could find her again.

The book is packaged up and addressed. I will mail it tomorrow. Thanks, Boekentrol, for starting the bookring, and thanks to everyone who has kept it going!

Journal Entry 49 by Cherokee2000 at Edmonton, Alberta Canada on Friday, May 4, 2012

Released 9 yrs ago (5/4/2012 UTC) at Edmonton, Alberta Canada


The book is on its way to angelface46 in Colorado. Watch your mailbox, my dear, and I hope you enjoy the adventures from Down Under and all over!

Journal Entry 50 by angelface46 at Montrose, Colorado USA on Monday, May 14, 2012
Just arrived - a couple in front but will shoot to get back out shortly

Journal Entry 51 by angelface46 at Montrose, Colorado USA on Thursday, August 2, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (8/2/2012 UTC) at Montrose, Colorado USA


didn't finish but will look for a copy later this year - mailing on to goaliegirl

Journal Entry 52 by wingthegoaliegirlwing at Spokane, Washington USA on Monday, August 13, 2012
This book arrived safely in Spokane. Since I've been wanting to read this book for ages, think I will take a break from my current read and start this one.

Journal Entry 53 by wingthegoaliegirlwing at Spokane, Washington USA on Sunday, August 19, 2012
When I first saw the title I knew I had to read this book as I love travelling and pen palling. The book didn't end up being quite what I thought (more about her growing up and details of her live and that of her pen pals and less on the travel aspect of things) but I really enjoyed it. I find it interesting to hear about why different people start writing to pen pals.

I feel like I can't write a review of this book without sharing a little of my penpal background. In 1992 I had an ad in Horse Illustrated magazine and got about 300 responsese the first week. By the end of the month I had over 1,000 and by the end of the year I had about 5,000 responses. I went from wanting a penpal to having more penpals all over the world than I could even possibly keep track of! It was a little overwhelming since I had just turned 12 when the ad happened. I lived in such a small town that for that first year I had more mail per week than the rest of the town received per month (or more) combined!

Over the years the number has gotten down to a managable number (around 30 currently) and while I don't have any of my original pals, I do have some that I've been writing to since 1994. I've met one of my Canadian friends and several of my American friends. I spent one summer visiting my penpals in Europe and staying with them. My trip centered mainly on where my friends were (Scotland (1), England (2), Germany (4), Finland (2) and Sweden (1)) instead of anything else. I did add other countries into the mix but my focus was meeting my pals as that was my dream from the time I received my first letter from someone overseas. I'm still in contact with all but 1 and that is because she doesn't want to penpal anymore and isn't on facebook as life has just gotten in the way of everything. Penpalling has definitely shaped who I am today and it was a lot of fun to read about her penpal experience and that of all of the prior journalers. :) Thank you Boekentrol for starting this bookring!

Journal Entry 54 by wingthegoaliegirlwing at Book Ring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Sunday, August 19, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (8/18/2012 UTC) at Book Ring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases


sent out to imawinn2 to continue on its journey

Journal Entry 55 by imawinn2 at Neenah, Wisconsin USA on Friday, August 24, 2012
The book has arrived! Thanks for sending it over my way thegoaliegirl. Looking forward to reading this tale. :-)

Journal Entry 56 by imawinn2 at Neenah, Wisconsin USA on Monday, September 3, 2012
I enjoyed this memoir of Geraldine Brooks. I can't say I've had her experience with pen pals. The only one I had (for a very short time) was with a girl in Mexico who didn't speak English and I didn't speak Spanish and we relied on "interpreters" to translate our letters. Anyway, I do share some of the "wanderlust" of Ms Brooks and loved hearing about her life in Australia and her travels as she reconnected with her pen pals after so many years. It only took me a week to read this as I was captivated by her story. To add to this reading experience, I was in the process of writing several postcards to folks in far away countries via a fun postcard exchange group called In this world of emails, it is refreshing to actually write about some little details of my life to others and creating our own foreign correspondences. And yes, I do share, with some, my love of reading and Bookcrossing. :-)

Journal Entry 57 by imawinn2 at Neenah, Wisconsin USA on Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (9/5/2012 UTC) at Neenah, Wisconsin USA


Sent this book out to the next participant yesterday. Happy travels! Happy reading!

Journal Entry 58 by ababaigalit at MODIIN, Modiin Israel on Friday, September 14, 2012
The book was picked up yesterday from the post office that was waiting for me to picked up. I will start reading it right away so I can keep it mooving.
Have a greating weekend.

First of all I want to say I am sorry about the delay, but I finished and it's ready to continue it's journey. The book is a nostalgic look into the author's past. She was able to relate what was going on in different parts of the world at the time of her childhood and as an adult through the letters of her friends and visit the changes in the world and the characters as she and the world matured. It was a wonderful trip around the world. The most interesting part, for me, was the author's descriptions of growing up in Sydney, AU in the 60's and 70's.

Journal Entry 59 by ababaigalit at Kokkola, Keski-Pohjanmaa / Mellersta Österbotten Finland on Thursday, October 25, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (10/25/2012 UTC) at Kokkola, Keski-Pohjanmaa / Mellersta Österbotten Finland


The book is on it's way to Chania from Finland. Enjoy the book Chania & enjoy your travel little book.

Journal Entry 60 by Chania at Kokkola, Keski-Pohjanmaa / Mellersta Österbotten Finland on Monday, November 5, 2012
Thank You! I had forgotten about joining this book-ring, so it was a pleasant surprise when ababaigalit contacted me! And it looks lovely - I will start it as soon as I've finished my current book - hopefully this week!

Journal Entry 61 by Chania at Kokkola, Keski-Pohjanmaa / Mellersta Österbotten Finland on Monday, November 12, 2012
What a lovely and well-travelled book! I enjoyed reading this very much, I liked both the childhood-part and of course the life-stories of Geraldine's pen pals. It made me think of my pen pals - the earliest ones (Joanne from Scotland and Gisela from Germany) with whom I've lost touch ages and ages ago. I still keep contact with several "old" pen pals though, some I have met, some I feel close to otherwise. I really should write to them now... the Facebook is just not the same!

Now sending this to penelopewanders!

Journal Entry 62 by wingpenelopewanderswing at Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Tuesday, November 20, 2012
I think I signed up for this one a while ago. It has now arrived in the Alps and may have to enjoy the scenery here a bit because I have at least one other ring ahead of this, and am flat-out work-wise, so little reading time.
Thanks for sending - hopefully it won't have to wait to long before the next leg of its journey (although it's not terribly clear who I'm meant to send this to next??).

Journal Entry 63 by wingpenelopewanderswing at Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Sunday, December 9, 2012
This is here as a ring, and quite fittingly arrived with a newsy postcard from one of the other bookcrossers. I'll try to include one as well.
I found this story quite moving, especially the end. I am intrigued by the concept of the "happiness set point" - it goes a ways towards explaining the perennial moroseness of some people I know, and the unflappable optimism of others.
As a child in boarding school, I too had many pen-friends. I only ever met one I think (Seems to me we met at Jones Beach on Long Island one summer, and although I recall that day as pleasant enough, our chatty letter conversations didn't quite cross the divide and petered out after the meeting).
The concept of looking up old friends x years later is by no means particularly original, but Brooks' narrative reads well and this is nice premise for an autobiography of sorts. This technique reminds me of a super French film I once saw - Un Carnet de Bal by Julien Duvivier (1937)- where the heroine looks up all the beaux on the dance ticket of a ball she attended when she was 16...
Thanks for making this available - I'm waiting for confirmation of VictoriaWagtail's address.

Journal Entry 64 by wingpenelopewanderswing at Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Saturday, January 12, 2013

Released 8 yrs ago (1/12/2013 UTC) at Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland


Two skips and finally a jump - back to the Netherlands. I liked the idea of adding a card with a more pen-pally tone than usual - so I did as well. Thanks for making this available - perhaps it will find a way to continue its travels. All the best for a 2013 full of glorious stories - on the page and elsewhere.

Journal Entry 65 by wingBoekentrolwing at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Wednesday, January 23, 2013
This book has arrived home safely again.

Thank you all for your comments, sharing memories, experiences on penpalling etc. I loved the postcards that arrived along with it too :-)

Thanks, penelopewanders and imawinn for the 'correspondence' and chania for the postcard.

But, most of all, thanks for treating the book so well that it is still in great shape! You rock!

Journal Entry 66 by wingBoekentrolwing at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Thursday, May 2, 2013

Released 8 yrs ago (5/2/2013 UTC) at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands


This well travelled book caught the travel-virus again. I'm therefor sending it out into the world again, to DubaiReader as a wishlist tag. I hope you like the book as much as I did!

Safe travels, little book. I hope you arrive safe and soon!

Journal Entry 67 by wingBoekentrolwing at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Saturday, June 7, 2014
Sadly this book has gone missing while travelling to Dubaireader (UK address). I have replaced with a new copy, this is the link or path to the replacement book:

Journal Entry 68 by DubaiReader at Dubai, Dubai United Arab Emirates on Monday, July 20, 2015
This book has just turned up at the bottom of a box my Dad emptied while looking for some car documents. He's 86 so I have to forgive the odd transgression!
If I'm counting correctly it's had 23 readers and it's still in amazing condition!
I'm embarrassed to say that Boekentrol kindly replaced this when it first went missing, so it is now a duplicate, but I will offer it in BookCrossing so it finds another home.

Journal Entry 69 by DubaiReader at Dubai, Dubai United Arab Emirates on Saturday, July 25, 2015
I'm very happy that this book is now travelling to Linguistkris in Germany.
Chosen on the Reverse Tag Game.
Will be sent from UK this week before I leave.

Journal Entry 70 by winglinguistkriswing at Solingen, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Wow, thank you! This book is in great condition still, especially considering how far it has travelled. I'm very curious for this, considering I have a drawer or two of collected teenage foreign correspondence myself -- and because I really enjoyed my first encounter with Geraldine Brooks.

Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.