Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Twelve Titles or Covers That Made Me Want to Read/Buy the Book


"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish".

It is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

This week's topic is: Titles or Covers That Made Me Want to Read/Buy the Book

I don't really buy books because I like the cover or the title but they make me aware of them and then I check whether it would be a good read for me. So, here are a few books that I didn't buy because it was a book club read, winning a prize, someone told me it was a great book, I love the author or whatever but because something drew me to the title or the cover. Often, not always, this was the first book by that author but it always was the first book I bought by them. I loved them all. And quite often, as you can see by the links, this was the beginning of a great "friendship" between me and the author.

Abulhawa, Susan "The Blue Between Sky and Water" - 2015

Croker, Charlie "Løst in Tränšlatioπ. Misadventures in English Abroad" - 2006

Falcones, Ildefonso "Cathedral of the Sea" (Spanish: La catedral del mar) - 2008

Grenville, Kate "The Secret River" - 2005

Hislop, Victoria
"The Island" - 2005

Lee, Min Jin "Pachinko" - 2017

Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" (Turkish: Benim Adim Kirmizi) - 1998

Roberts, Gregory David "Shantaram" - 2003

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Shadow of the Wind" (Spanish: La Sombra del Viento) - 2001

Seth, Vikram "A Suitable Boy" - 1993

Smiley, Jane "The All-true Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton" - 1998

Turner, Nancy E.
"These is my Words, The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901" - 1999

Monday, 2 August 2021

Neruda, Pablo "The Captain's Verses"

Neruda, Pablo "The Captain's Verses" (Spanish: Los versos del capitán) - 1971

I mentioned it before, I'm not much into poetry, I don't enjoy it much. But my book club chose it, and I am always committed to read everything on the list.

The only plus is that my edition has both the Spanish as well as the English version, so I could practice my Spanish a little. And Pable Neruda is a Nobel Prize laureate that I hadn't read, yet. I probably won't read more by him.

If this book has taught me anything, I'm REALLY not into poetry.

Some comments from our members:

  • Reading the book and widening my own experience was well worth the read anyway.
  • What a heart! Neruda opens his heart to love again and again, bringing his readers' hearts along no matter what. Even across all these distances and all these years, Neruda loves the very essence of love in these poems. And I don't even like poetry.

We read this in our book club in July 2021.

Pablo Neruda received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams".

From the back cover:

"Pablo Neruda finished writing The Captain's Verses (Los versos del Capitán) in 1952 while in exile on the island of Capri - the paradisal setting for the blockbuster film Il Postino (The Postman), that centers around this period of Neruda's life. Surrounded by the sea, sun, and the natural splendor of a thousand vineyards, Neruda addressed these poems of love, ecstasy, devotion, and fury to his lover Matilde Urrutia, the one "with the fire/of an unchained meteor".

Later the same year, Neruda published The Captain's Verses anonymously in an edition of fifty copies, fourteen years before he and Matilde legally married. The first 'acknowleged' edition would not appear until 1963.

This complete,bilingual collection has become a classic for love-struck readers around the world - passionately sensuous, and exploding with all the erotic energy of a new love.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Happy August!

Happy August to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch

"Kleines Anglerglück"
"Little Fisher's Luck"

Look at the happy face of this little girl who caught a fish, quite big for her size, I think. Isn't it cute?

* * *

The Low German name for August ist "Arntemaond", the English translation is "Harvest Moon". Now, it might seem a little early to speak of harvest in some regions but not here. You see tractors driving around all day carrying the fruit of their fields to the barns.

* * *

No national holidays in Germany in August but summer holidays almost everywhere. Since Germany has 16 states (Länder) including 3 city states, the can't all start and end their holidays at the same time. The motorways are too full as it is. So, they have divided the country into five groups that always have the same holidays:

I: Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), Hamburg, Brandenburg, Berlin
II: Thüringen (Thuringia, Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt), Sachsen (Saxony), Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Bremen
III: Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine Westphalia)
IV: Saarland, Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate), Hessen (Hesse)
V: Bayern (Bavaria), Baden-Württemberg

They last between six and seven weeks and start in the middle of June (earliest) and end middle of September (latest). Every state determines how long certain holidays are, so some have longer Easter holidays and shorter holidays in the autumn or some have holidays at Pentecost and the other holidays are shorter.
The states alternate with their time except for group V since Bavaria has holidays at Pentecost and the time between the two would be too short if they alternated. But the Bavarians always have to have an exception.

* * *

Weather lore (or farmers' rule) for August:

Stellt im August sich Regen ein, so regnet's Honig und guten Wein.
If it rains in August, it rains honey and good wine.

Hitze an St. Dominikus – ein strenger Winter kommen muss.
Heat on St. Dominic - a severe winter must come.
(That would be the 8
th of August)

* * *

We've had changing weather in Germany last month. Hot days interchanged with rainy ones. But our weather was halfway normal compared to further South. You certainly all heard about the terrible floods in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria. We never had weather like that. I hope more people understand that we have to act against climate change.
Now!!! It might be too late already.

Corona has abated a little in Germany so we could go to some restaurants and other places. However, it's not good in some other countries, so there still was no way we could visit our sons in the Netherlands and Belgium without any danger and major complications. Hopefully soon.

* * *

Have a happy August with this beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch. I wish you no Corona, no floods, no other catastrophes.
Just a lovely month.

You can find many more wonderful pictures on their website here.

You can also have a look under my labels Artist: Frank Koebsch and Artist: Hanka Koebsch where you can find all my posts about them.

Friday, 30 July 2021

Clarke, Stephen "Merde actually"

Clarke, Stephen "Merde actually" (aka In the Merde for Love) - 2005

After reading "A Year in the Merde", I was sure I'd want to read more of his books (as mentioned in my review).

So, this one made it onto my TBR pile and since it sas "Paris in July" month, I had to read it now.

Paul West, the author's alter ego, I suppose, is still in Paris and has opened a British tea room. He struggles with the French authorities who don't accept anything not precisely written in French and with French girls, their families and the French in general. He picks on everyone, though, his English compatriots as well as any kind of tourists he comes across in his tearoom. Still quite funny, not as hilarious as the first one but a good sequel.

Again, a nice book to read as an expat but also for those who love to travel or France. The Times said he is "edgier than Bryson, hits harder than Mayle". While I agree with the latter, nobody can beat Bill Bryson, he is the best travel writer there is.

From the back cover:

"A year after arriving in France, Englishman Paul West is still struggling with some fundamental questions:

What is the best way to scare a gendarme? Why do French job applicants put sexually transmitted diseases on their CVs? Why are there no public health warnings on French nudist beaches? And how do you cope with a plague of courgettes?

Paul also mutates (temporarily) into a Parisian waiter, samples the pleasures of typically French hotel-room afternoons, and on a return visit to the United Kingdom, sees the full horror of a British office party through Parisian eyes. Meanwhile, he continues his search for the perfect French mademoiselle. But will Paul find l'amour eternel, or will it all end in merde?

Stephen Clarke has written more sequels to this story in the meantime (in addition to the ones I mentioned in my other review):

"The Merde Factor" - 2012
"Merde in Europe" - 2016

And some non-fiction:
"Dirtily Bertie: An English King Made in France" - 2014
"How the French Won Waterloo (or think they did) - 2016
"The French Revolution and What Went Wrong"- 2018

I think I will have to get at least one of them for next year's "Paris in July".

Book Quotes of the Week

"What makes a good book? Simply put, a good book is one that you enjoy reading." Carmela Dutra

Totally right! I can recommend you my most beloved classic, for example, but if you're not into classics, you will think it's trash.

"Don’t buy books for your shelf, buy them for yourself." Saji Ijiyemi

That's one of the reasons why I buy paperbacks. They might not look as great on a shelf as a hardback but they are kinder to my hands, to my handbags (and hence my shoulder) and to my bank account. I once had a colleague who went to the bookshop and asked for the books with the best reputation. Not because she wanted to read them but because she wanted to look good when people came to visit. Bleurgh!

"The problem with books is that they end." Caroline Kepnes

And most of the times, that's the saddest part of them all.

Find more book quotes here

Thursday, 29 July 2021

McLain, Paula "The Paris Wife"

McLain, Paula "The Paris Wife" - 2012

A couple of years ago, everybody seemed to be reading "The Paris Wife". But I had read "The Time Traveler’s Wife" which I hated and I neither was too happy with "The Railwayman's Wife". So, I thought maybe I should keep away from "wife" books, as well. But at some point, I bought a copy. It still stayed on my TBR pile for a couple of years.

Then, one of my blogger friends introduced me to "Paris in July" and I thought it was time to read it. First of all, it has the word "Paris" in its title and it takes place in Paris. Also, I have read a few books by Ernest Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls) and have a few more on my wishlist. So, why not give it a go?

I was positively surprised about the book. Written from the perspective of the first of his four wives, we learn a lot about Hadley as well as Ernest and his second wife, Pauline.

The author remarks: "Although Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway and other people who actually lived appear in this book as fictional characters, it was important for me to render the particulars of their lives as accurately as possible, and to follow the very well documented historical record."

I was aware throughout the whole book that this is a novel written in the form of a memoir, not a biography. That didn't change the fact that it was highly interesting to read about the lives of some extraordinary people. Hemingway was in an interesting circle of authors and artists and they all appear in the book.

I have lived in four different countries and I came from a small village into a big foreign town in my early twenties but life was different in our time. We didn't have the internet but there were books, there was the television and people had moved around, not many and often not far but nothing compared to the difference between Hadley's sheltered, very remote life before she met Ernest Hemingway and life in Paris. It must have been really, really hard for her.

There are also some small parts where Ernest tells us his side of the story. Of course, he has already been through and survived one war which always changes a man. But you also can tell there that they were two completely different personalities not just with different ideas but also with different goals. It's probably a miracle the marriage survived as long as it did.

The book is not just interesting concerning the life of the Hemingways but also the other characters are interesting as is the life in Paris in the twenties. We hear so much about it. This book helps us understanding it a little better. Definitely brilliantly written.

I'd love to read more of Paula McLain's books but definitely her memoir: "Like Family. Growing Up In Other People's Houses".

One quote by Ernest Hemingway: "I want to write one true sentence", he said. "If I can write one sentence, simple and true every day, I'll be satisfied". I think his writing shows that this was his goal and he achieved it.

At the end of the book, Paula McLain adds a list of her sources, all of them would be interesting to read if you like the subjects:

About the Hemingways:
Alice Hunt Sokoloff, Alice " Hadley: The First Mrs. Hemingway"
Diliberto, Gioia "Hadley"
Kert, Bernice "The Hemingway Women"
Baker, Carlos "Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story and Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961"
Reynolds, Michael "Hemingway: The Paris Years and Hemingway: The American Homecoming"
Brian, Denis "The True Gen"

About Paris in the twenties
Wiser, Willam "The Crazy Years"
Flanner, Janet "Paris Was Yesterday"
Tomkins, Calvin "Living Well Is the Best Revenge"
Milford, Nancy "Zelda"
Fussell, Paul "The Great War and Modern Memory"

Other books by Ernest Hemingway:
"A Moveable Feast"
"In Our Time"
"The Sun Also Rises"
"The Garden of Eden"
"Death in the Afternoon"
"The Complete Short Stories"

From the back cover:

"Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a shy twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness when she meets Ernest Hemingway and is captivated by his energy, intensity and burning ambition to write. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for France. But glamorous Jazz Age Paris, full of artists and writers, fuelled by alcohol and gossip, is no place for family life and fidelity. Ernest and Hadley's marriage begins to founder and the birth of a beloved son serves only to drive them further apart. Then, at last, Ernest's ferocious literary endeavours begin to bring him recognition - not least from a woman intent on making him her own."

Ernest Hemingway received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 "for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in 'The Old Man and the Sea' and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style" and the Pulitzer Prize for "The Old Man and the Sea" in 1953.

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Masood, Ehsan "Science & Islam"

Masood, Ehsan "Science & Islam: a history" - 2009

I had never heard of the BBC TV series "Science & Islam" but I thought the book sounded interesting. And it was. Very much so. We always hear about the Greek scholars, the Italians, the other Europeans who came afterwards but we are never told that a lot of their discoveries were started by scientists in another part of the world had found long before them, that they were not just encouraged but also supported by the Islamic world.

As a non-scientist, I often find it hard to understand books about science. Not that I'm not that interested, my mind just goes another way. This one was different, it was written for people like me who might want to hear about the topic but usually blend out after the first paragraph because it goes over our heads.

And if you're interested, you can also learn a little about the history of Islam, the geography of that area since the author included it if necessary for the chapter.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I had it on my TBR pile for a while and brought it out for my Xanadu read in July with the topic "Science".

"Knowledge has no borders, wisdom has no race or nationality. To block out ideas is to block out the kingdom of God." Aristotle
Something, we all should keep in mind.

From the back cover:

"Long before the European Enlightenment, scholars and researchers working from Samarkand in modern-day Uzbekistan to Cordoba in Spain advanced our knowledge of astronomy, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medicine and philosophy.

From Musa al-Khwarizmi, who developed algebra in ninth-century Baghdad, to al-Jazari, a 13th-century Turkish engineer whose achievements include the crank, the camshaft and the reciprocating piston, Ehsan Masood tells the amazing story of one of history’s most misunderstood yet rich and fertile periods in science, via the scholars, research, and science of the Islamic empires of the Middle Ages: the extraordinary Islamic scientific revolution between 700 and 1400CE.

"Today it is little acknowledged that the medieval Islamic world paved the foundations for modern science and the scientific institutions that now form part of our everyday world. The author provides an enlightening and in-depth exploration into an empire's golden age, its downfall and the numerous debates that now surround it."

"History's least-known yet most fertile period in science was the extraordinary Islamic scientific revolution between 700 and 1400. The story of the scientists and inventors is woven into a journey through the Islamic empires of the middle ages that enabled this revolution, and its contribution to science in Western culture."