Broere (or “Brothers” in English) was written by Bart Moeyaert and published in 2000. It’s a collection of autobiographical short stories about the author’s childhood: every chapter is a new story, another memory. He is a Flemish writer that grew up as the youngest of seven sons. His writing style is heavily influenced by Aidan Chambers, who he wrote his dissertation in university on. He published his first book Duet met valse noten (Duet with false notes) in 1983, and his 44th book, and last one to date, in 2015: Voor we met z’n allen uit elkaar vallen. He has won numerous literary awards, including the Woutertje Pieterse Prijs for Brothers in 2001.
It is a light, fun read with every chapter detailing a new and interesting childhood memory. Bart never names his brothers, but only refers to them as: “the oldest, the quietest, the realest, the furthest, the sweetest, the fastest, and me.” This makes it easier for the reader to identify with the youngest brother, the author himself, who speaks in the form of a first person narrator. The stories detail both the advantages and disadvantages of growing up with 6 older brothers, a strict father and a mother who means well. The many layers to the stories, make this a good read both for adults and children alike. And it’s perfect for bedtime, since every short chapter is a story in itself.
I don’t really have anything else to say about this book, except for: go read it! The reason I really wanted to do this post however, is to talk about how I got it in my possession. I didn’t buy this book, get it as a gift or lend it from the library or a friend. I exchanged it in a book swap box or what is more commonly known as the little free library. There is one not too far from where I live and I’ve been driving past it for weeks. About three weeks ago, I knew I was going to be driving by it again, so I went prepared with a book to swap: Perfume by Patrick Süskind (a review of which will follow later).
I just adore this concept! The idea is to put a nicely decorated letter box somewhere in the city and fill it with free books. Readers can then come to the box, pick out a book they like and leave another one in its place. The goal is obvious: encourage people to read more. At the same time, it is also a way to create a sense of community and to get people talking about books. What is not to love?
If you want to set up your own little free library, or if you want to find the ones that are close to you, be sure to check out the official website! And don’t be discouraged if you can’t find one close to you, because not all of them are registered on that website (the one I went to for instance, is not registered).
Have you guys encountered these book swap boxes before? And did you swap a book? Please let me know in the comments!