Wednesday, 18 July 2018

LeSieg, Theo (=Dr. Seuss) "The Cat in the Hat"

LeSieg, Theo (=Dr. Seuss) "The Cat in the Hat" - 1957

An absolute classic. A children's book that is just as much enjoyed by the adult reading it to them as to the first reader who manages their way through the pages. It is not surprising that it still belongs to every kid's library after more than half a century. We can tell that nothing has changed, children still like to hear of mischief but love to learn from it to. An early "stranger danger" story but with a lot of fun.

So, whether you have little children or not, this is a cute book for the hidden child in all of us.

From the back cover:

"Join the Cat in the Hat as he makes learning to read a joy! It’s a rainy day and Dick and Sally can’t find anything to do . . . until the Cat in the Hat unexpectedly appears and turns their dreary afternoon into a fun-filled extravaganza! This beloved Beginner Book by Dr. Seuss, which also features timeless Dr. Seuss characters such as Fish and Thing 1 and Thing 2, is fun to read aloud and easy to read alone. Written using 236 different words that any first or second grader can read, it’s a fixture in home and school libraries and a favorite among parents, beginning readers, teachers, and librarians.
Originally created by Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books encourage children to read all by themselves, with simple words and illustrations that give clues to their meaning.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Crwys-Williams, Jennifer (ed.) "In the Words of Nelson Mandela"

Crwys-Williams, Jennifer (ed.) "In the Words of Nelson Mandela: A Little Pocketbook" - 1998

A lovely little collection of quotes by Nelson Mandela who has received the Nobel Peace Prize and whose "Long Walk to Freedom" has given us so much inspiration. Here is a short version of what hes has said about all sorts of different subjects, about hope and freedom, racism and love, Africa and the world, shortly, about everything.

One of my favourite quotes:
"When we read we are able to travel to many places, meet many people and understand the world."

And another one which is especially interesting.
"There are men and women chosen to bring happiness into the hearts of others - those are the real heroes."
Nelson Mandela is definitely one of them.

From the back cover:

"Through his words and deeds Nelson Mandela has been embraced by the whole world as a symbol of courage, hope and reconciliation. Collected in In the words of Nelson Mandela, his comments on subjects as diverse as humanity, racism, friendship, oppression and freedom provide an insight into the man and all he stands for. By turns moving, generous, humorous and sad, this title eloquently conveys his warmth and dignity. It will be both an inspiration and a source of strength for all who read it."

Nelson Mandela received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993 "for ... work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa".

Friday, 13 July 2018

Book Quotes of the Week

"Books, books, books... all of them were necessary to me. Their presence, their smell, the letters of their titles, and the texture of their leather bindings." Colette

"My parents, and librarians along the way, taught me about the space between words; about the margins, where so many juicy moments of life and spirit and friendship could be found. In a library, you could find miracles and truth and you might find something that would make you laugh so hard that you get shushed, in the friendliest way." Anne Lamott

"I'm always amazed at friends who say they try to read at night in bed but always end up falling asleep. I have the opposite problem. If a book is good I can't go to sleep, and stay up way past my bedtime, hooked on the writing. Is anything better than waking up after a late-night read and diving right back into the plot before you even get out of bed to brush your teeth?" John Waters, Role Models

"Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners." Virginia Woolf

Find more book quotes here.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018


Dia dhuit
("Hello" in Gaelic)

Last month, our family took a trip to Ireland. We visited Belfast where my son did an exchange semester but mainly, we spent our time in Dublin (or Baile Átha Cliath, as it is called in the native Gaelic), capital of the Republic, largest city of the Emerald Isle. Its original name means Blackpool in English. With a little over 1 million inhabitants (1,173,000 to be a little more precise), Dublin is a lovely city with lots of cultural and touristy sites but not too large to get lost in it.

My husband and my sons loved the opportunity to try all sorts of different Irish beers, visit the Guinness brewery and the Jameson distillery, but for me the most important part was its approach to literature.  Slàinte! ("Cheers" in Gaelic)

First, there is the old library in Trinity College which dates back to the times of Queen Elizabeth, the first, not the current one. It was really full, so you couldn't take any nice pictures like the ones you always see online (after all the tourists are out, I suspect) but I still managed to capture a few.
Then there were all the locations I remember from "Ulysses", "Dubliners" or other Irish novels like the ones by Ernest Rutherfurd, "Dublin. Foundation" and "Awakening".

But one of the best parts here was seeing the Statue of James Joyce. I know he is not the easiest writer and maybe not the best liked one, but I love his books and was happy standing face to face with him. He lived from 1882 to 1941 and even though he spent quite a large part of his later life on the continent in Trieste, Paris and then Zurich, Dublin plays a major role in all of his novels. I can imagine how you can never forget this city, especially if you've grown up here.

My only regret was that I wasn't well enough to join the Literary Pub Crawl because I wasn't well enough to walk a lot. Maybe next time.

So, I hope you enjoy these pictures at least a little.

Slán! (which simply means "safe" in Irish but also "Good-bye")

Monday, 9 July 2018

Greer, Andrew Sean "Less"

Greer, Andrew Sean "Less" - 2017

So far, I have never read a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that wasn't interesting. I guess I had to come across one at one point. This was it.

If the author had expanded more on the fear of the protagonist of turning old, or even on the fear of being left alone since his boyfriend got married, this could have been a good story. Or if he had concentrated on the different events he visits in the different countries, it could have been a good "holiday story" or "summer read". But this way, it was nothing at all. The story jumps from the present into the past and while I usually like that, I still would like to know where I am at the moment.

According to the notes on the back cover, this book is supposed to be funny, hilarious. I didn't laugh even once.

The only difference between this book and chick lit? They don't talk about shoes all the time.

From the back cover:

"Arthur Less is a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the post: it is from an ex-boyfriend of nine years who is engaged to someone else. Arthur can't say yes - it would be too awkward; he can't say no - it would look like defeat. So, he begins to accept the invitations on his desk to half-baked literary events around the world. 

From France to India, Germany to Japan, Arthur almost falls in love, almost falls to his death, and puts miles between him and the plight he refuses to face.
Less is a novel about mishaps, misunderstandings and the depths of the human heart."

Friday, 6 July 2018

Dickens, Charles "David Copperfield"

Dickens, Charles "David Copperfield" - 1850

Full title: The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account)

Every time I read another book by Charles Dickens, I have the impression, this is definitely my favourite. But, I do believe I have found the best ever now. Apparently, it mirrors Charles Dickens' life the most of all his books.

Somewhere I read "I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child, and his name is David Copperfield". I couldn't agree more.

I loved all the nice characters and hated all the bad ones, as it should be but this was really a very story where you could get immersed. The language is as beautiful as the flow of the story, the details as great as the English countryside. We can follow our hero from his childhood into maturity, get to meet everyone who is important in his life. Even though the book is more than 150 years old, we can still retrace the steps, feel for the protagonist and his sidekicks. That's what constitutes a real classic.

As always, his names are always hilarious. But nothing really tops Uriah Heep!

Of course, the disadvantage of reading such a big book of 1,000 pages always is, you feel like you lost a friend when you finish it.

I will definitely have to find my next Dickens book soon!

Even if you're not much into classics or chunky books, if you ever considered reading a Dickens novel, take this one.

From the back cover:

"Dickens's epic, exuberant novel is one of the greatest coming-of-age stories in literature. It chronicles David Copperfield's extraordinary journey through life, as he encounters villains, saviours, eccentrics and grotesques, including the wicked Mr Murdstone, stout-hearted Peggotty, formidable Betsey Trotwood, impecunious Micawber and odious Uriah Heep.

Dickens's great Bildungsroman (based, in part, on his own boyhood, and which he described as a 'favourite child') is a work filled with life, both comic and tragic."

Monday, 2 July 2018

Happy July!

Happy July to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch


July - most kids have their school holidays this month, at least in the Northern hemisphere so we all know what that means - full roads! 

One of the birthstones of this month is the ruby, one of the cardinal gems together with amethyst, sapphire, emerald, and diamond. The word comes from the Latin word for red because that's is colour. It's always been considered a stone of nobility, "the queen of stones and the stone of kings". 
Apparently, it is good to counteract exhaustion and stimulates circulation, helps to reduce fear and sharpens the mind.

 Another one, and a lot more mine because it's green, is the aventurine, a quartz stone. Its name from the Italian "a ventura" meaning "by chance". It's supposed to be have a soothing and comforting energy which is understandable given its green colour. 

Enjoy this month with the beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch. 
My favourite flowers are peonies but hydrangeas come a very close second. And we have a lot longer to enjoy them, as well.

You can find a lot more wonderful pictures on their website here.

Soon the new calendars will be on sale again. 
If you are interested, have a look at their website.