Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Lamb, Wally "We are water"

Lamb, Wally "We are water" - 2013

I have only read four books by Wally Lamb so far but I can honestly say that  he belongs to one of my favourite authors. He is not just a good writer, a writer who can only be admired for his talent, he manages to put so many different subjects into his stories, every single one could be a whole series. A friend mentioned that she has the feeling that he is talking to you rather than her reading his story. I think that is an excellently accurate description of the author and his writing. I also love how he goes back and forth between characters and time, thereby building up the suspension until you can hardly bare it anymore. Still, he does not confuse you with his writing, he makes it easy to follow the story. And it feels real, you feel included. That's why I love Wally Lamb. And he is one of the successful authors I've read from the beginning of his career.

This is a highly interesting story of a family full of secrets. Old secrets and new secrets. Secrets outside of the family and secrets inside. This is a very intense novel that brings up all kinds of emotions and fears. It is written from many aspects, most of the main characters have a possibility to describe their view of the story. We can see both sides of alcoholism, for example, of child abuse (not that anyone wants to defend the "other" side but it's interesting to see how these stories develop), of almost any negative side of our society, racism, prisons, drugs, anything you can imagine, it's in there. A family, mother, father, three children, all mostly successful in their jobs, looks nice from the outside. But Wally Lamb shows us the inside. Intriguing.

Now I only have one question: Mr. Lamb, when are you going to write your next book?

From the back cover: "Anna Oh, mother of three and successful artist, is picking out her wedding dress for the second time in her life. In the pretty, rustic town of Three Rivers Connecticut, where she raised her kids, Anna is preparing to marry Viveca, who is the opposite of her ex-husband in almost every way. But the wedding provokes very mixed reactions, opening a Pandora’s Box of toxic secrets – dark and painful truths which will change the family dynamic forever.
We are Water is a brilliant portrait of modern America, written by a beloved and bestselling author who tackles life's complex issues with his trademark humour, wisdom and compassion."

While looking up this book, I have learned that there is another fiction novel by Wally Lamb that I have not read (Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story) as well as two non-fiction books about women prisoners that I have not yet read. Will have to put them on my wishlist.

My reviews to his other books are here.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Book Quotes of the Week



"The relationship of a girl and her favourite novel can be complex indeed." Andrea Cremer

"The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village." Roald Dahl, Matilda

"To read in bed is to draw around us invisible, noiseless curtains. Then at last we are in a room of our own and are ready to burrow back, back to that private life of the imagination we all led as a child and to whose secret satisfactions so many of us have mislaid the key." Clifton Fadiman

"He liked to read with the silence and the golden colour of the whiskey as his companions. He liked food, people, talk, but reading was an inexhaustible pleasure. What the joys of music were to others, words on a page were to him." James Salter, All That Is

"The great thing about a library is that it's large enough to fit the entire world inside, yet small enough to fit in your town." N.N.

[If anyone can tell me the originator of this quote, I'd be very thankful and would happily include the name.


Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lahiri, Jhumpa "The Namesake"

Lahiri, Jhumpa "The Namesake" - 2003

A very interesting book about an immigration family and their children born in their new country. The author has the same background as the protagonists and you can tell that from her writing.

Anybody living in a different country than the one they originally come from has some sort of similar experiences and even though the differences are not so big in my case, I could understand the background quite well.

I loved everything about the book, the characters, yes, all of them, the story itself, how the Bengal couple tries to set up their life in the United States of America, how their children try to juggle their lives between being Indian and being American, how they try to find their identity.

There are so many different characters in the story, Ashoke who decides to leave his country, Ashima who accompanies him because that's what a wife does, Gogol who is never happy with his given name, who has a problem when in India where he doesn't feel Indian and in the US where he doesn't feel American, or at least doesn't look American, his sister Sonia who seems to have fewer problems than her older brother. And then there are the friends, the other Indian families, the Americans.

The book also contains some funny stories, for example the one how Gogol receives his name, how everything has not been intended this way.

All in all, a memorable read, I would recommend it to anybody.

I read this has been made into a movie, one that stays with the book, this is one I would love to watch.

From the back cover: "Gogol is named after his father's favourite author. But growing up in an Indian family in suburban America, the boy starts to hate his name and itches to cast it off, along with the inherited values it represents. Gogol sets off on his own path only to discover that the search for identity depends on much more than a name."

This is also a book that mentions a lot of other books, both the protagonist and his father like to read.
Buck, Pearl S. "The Good Earth"
Crane, Stephen "The Red Badge of Courage"
Fitzgerald, F. Scott "The Great Gatsby"
Gogol, Nikolai "The Overcoat"
Maupassant, Guy de  "The Necklace"
Wharton, Edith "Ethan Frome"

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List

"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". 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.

March 24: Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR List

Aaronovitch, Ben "Whispers Underground" - 2012
Eco, Umberto "The Name of the Rose" (Il nome della rosa) - 1980
Gaskell, Elizabeth "North and South" - 1854/55
Krone-Schmalz, Gabriele "Russland verstehen" [Understanding Russia] - 2015
Lahiri, Jhumpa "Interpreter of Maladies" - 1999
Mak, Geert "In Europe. Travels through the twentieth century" (In Europa: Reizen door de twintigste eeuw) - 2004
Moore, Michael "Stupid White Men" - 2001
Scott, Mary "Families are Fun" - 1957
Shteyngart, Gary "Absurdistan" - 2006
Yousafzai, Malala; Lamb, Christina "I am Malala. The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" - 2013

Monday, 23 March 2015

Scott, Mary "Board, but no Breakfast"

Scott, Mary "Board, but no Breakfast" - 1978

The farmer's wives Susan and Larry in New Zealand have seen many ups and downs in their life and thanks to Mary Scott, the world has been able to watch them. This time, times are tough again, farmers don't earn a lot so their wives think about a way to earn a little extra to contribute to the costs of a family.
They both happen to have little cottages on their land, places where helpers used to live. Now, what could be easier than to rent them out to people who want to take "holidays in the countryside". Well, it's not that easy but that's the fun part for the reader. Just as hilarious as the author's other Susan and Larry books.

This is the eighth book in the series by Mary Scott. And this is the list of all of them:

"Breakfast at Six" - 1953
"Dinner Doesn’t Matter" - 1957
"Tea and Biscuits"  - 1961
"A Change From Mutton" - 1964
"Turkey at Twelve" - 1968
"Shepherd’s Pie" - 1972
"Strangers for Tea" - 1975
"Board, but no Breakfast" - 1978

Unfortunately, they are out of print and only available second hand. I have heard in the meantime, that you can buy some of them as ebooks. And don't worry, Mary Scott has written more than just the Susan and Larry series, there will be more reviews in the future.

From the back cover (translated): "When two farmers' wives want to earn a little extra money in their own way ...
The life of the New Zealand farmers is not easy, especially at a time when money is tight and they no longer know where something can still be saved. The two friends Larry and Susan decide to earn something extra in order to make their husbands' lives easier. But how to realize the good intention? After long long time of contemplating, the two have an idea: they will rent out the vacant houses on their farms as holiday homes. And there are quite a few answers to their ad »Holidays in the countryside". Larry and Susan have no idea that they will have the funniest, craziest, most tumultuous weeks of their lives ..."

Friday, 13 March 2015

Book Quotes of the Week

"I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves." E.M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, 1951

"The scholar only knows how dear these silent, yet eloquent, companions of pure thoughts and innocent hours become in the season of adversity. When all that is worldly turns to dross around us, these only retain their steady value." Washington Irving

"Books are the plane and the train and the road.They are the destination and the journey. They are home." Anna Quindlen

"There’s nothing to match curling up with a good book when there’s a repair job to be done around the house." Joe Ryan

"Every book contains a life. The more we read the more we live." N.N.

Find more book quotes here.


[If anyone can tell me the originator of this quote, I'd be very thankful and would happily include the name.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Le Monde - The 100 Books of the Century


The 100 Books of the Century according to Le Monde
Another country, another list. Even though I am European, I probably should have read more of these but there are only 22. Some of the others have been on my wishlist for ages so I might add more after a while.

No. "Title" Author (Year) Language

1. "The Stranger/The Outsider" Albert Camus ** (1942) French
2. "In Search of Lost Time/Remembrance of Things Past" Marcel Proust (1913–1927) French
3. "The Trial" Franz Kafka (1925) German
4. "The Little Prince" Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1943) French
5. "Man's Fate" André Malraux (1933) French
6. "Journey to the End of the Night" Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1932) French
7. "The Grapes of Wrath" John Steinbeck ** (1939) English
8. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" Ernest Hemingway ** (1940) English
9. "Le Grand Meaulnes" Alain Fournier (1913) French
10. "Froth on the Daydream" Boris Vian (1947) French
11. "The Second Sex" Simone de Beauvoir (1949) French
12. "Waiting for Godot" Samuel Beckett ** (1952) French
13. "Being and Nothingness" Jean-Paul Sartre ** (1943) French
14. "The Name of the Rose" Umberto Eco (1980) Italian
15. "The Gulag Archipelago" Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn ** (1973) Russian
16. "Paroles" Jacques Prévert (1946) French
17. "Alcools" Guillaume Apollinaire (1913) French
18. "The Blue Lotus" Hergé (1936) French
19. "The Diary of a Young Girl" Anne Frank (1947) Dutch
20. "Tristes Tropiques" Claude Lévi-Strauss (1955) French
21. "Brave New World" Aldous Huxley (1932) English
22. "Nineteen Eighty-Four" George Orwell (1949) English
23. "Asterix the Gaul" René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo (1959) French
24. "The Bald Soprano" Eugène Ionesco (1952) French
25. "Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality" Sigmund Freud (1905) German
26. "The Abyss/Zeno of Bruges" Marguerite Yourcenar (1968) French
27. "Lolita" Vladimir Nabokov (1955) English
28. "Ulysses" James Joyce (1922) English
29. "The Tartar Steppe" Dino Buzzati (1940) Italian
30. "The Counterfeiters" André Gide ** (1925) French
31. "The Horseman on the Roof" Jean Giono (1951) French
32. "Belle du Seigneur" Albert Cohen (1968) French
33. "One Hundred Years of Solitude" Gabriel García Márquez ** (1967) Spanish
34. "The Sound and the Fury" William Faulkner ** (1929) English
35. "Thérèse Desqueyroux" François Mauriac ** (1927) French
36. "Zazie in the Metro" Raymond Queneau (1959) French
37. "Confusion of Feelings" Stefan Zweig (1927) German
38. "Gone with the Wind" Margaret Mitchell (1936) English
39. "Lady Chatterley’s Lover" D. H. Lawrence (1928) English
40. "The Magic Mountain" Thomas Mann (1924) German
41. "Bonjour Tristesse" Françoise Sagan (1954) French
42. "Le Silence de la mer" Vercors (1942) French
43. "Life: A User’s Manual" Georges Perec (1978) French
44. "The Hound of the Baskervilles" Arthur Conan Doyle (1901–1902) English
45. "Under the Sun of Satan" Georges Bernanos (1926) French
46. "The Great Gatsby" F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925) English
47. "The Joke" Milan Kundera (1967) Czech
48. "A Ghost at Noon/Contempt" Alberto Moravia (1954) Italian
49. "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" Agatha Christie (1926) English
50. "Nadja" André Breton (1928) French
51. "Aurelien" Louis Aragon (1944) French
52. "The Satin Slipper" Paul Claudel (1929) French
53. "Six Characters in Search of an Author" Luigi Pirandello ** (1921) Italian
54. "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" Bertolt Brecht (1941) German
55. "Friday" Michel Tournier (1967) French
56. "The War of the Worlds" H. G. Wells (1898) English
57. "If This Is a Man/Survival in Auschwitz" Primo Levi (1947) Italian
58. "The Lord of the Rings" J. R. R. Tolkien (1954–1955) English
59. "Les Vrilles de la vigne" [Never translated: The Tendrils of the Vine] Colette (1908) French
60. "Capital of Pain" Paul Éluard (1926) French
61. "Martin Eden" Jack London (1909) English
62. "Ballad of the Salt Sea" Hugo Pratt (1967) Italian
63. "Writing Degree Zero" Roland Barthes (1953) French
64. "The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum" Heinrich Böll ** (1974) German
65. "The Opposing Shore" Julien Gracq (1951) French
66. "The Order of Things" Michel Foucault (1966) French
67. "On the Road" Jack Kerouac (1957) English
68. "The Wonderful Adventures of Nils" Selma Lagerlöf ** (1906/07) Swedish
69. "A Room of One’s Own" Virginia Woolf (1929) English
70. "The Martian Chronicles" Ray Bradbury (1950) English
71. "The Ravishing of Lol Stein" Marguerite Duras (1964) French
72. "The Interrogation" J. M. G. Le Clézio ** (1963) French
73. "Tropisms" Nathalie Sarraute (1939) French
74. "Journal, 1887–1910" Jules Renard (1925) French
75. "Lord Jim" Joseph Conrad (1900) English
76. "Écrits" Jacques Lacan (1966) French
77. "The Theatre and its Double" Antonin Artaud (1938) French
78. "Manhattan Transfer" John Dos Passos (1925) English
79. "Ficciones" Jorge Luis Borges (1944) Spanish
80. "Moravagine" Blaise Cendrars (1926) French
81. "The General of the Dead Army" Ismail Kadare (1963) Albanian
82. "Sophie’s Choice" William Styron (1979) English
83. "Gypsy Ballads" Federico García Lorca (1928) Spanish
84. "The Strange Case of Peter the Lett" Georges Simenon (1931) French
85. "Our Lady of the Flowers" Jean Genet (1944) French
86. "The Man Without Qualities" Robert Musil (1930–1942) German
87. "Furor and Mystery" René Char (1948) French
88. "The Catcher in the Rye" J. D. Salinger (1951) English
89. "No Orchids For Miss Blandish" James Hadley Chase (1939) English
90. "Blake and Mortimer" Edgar P. Jacobs (1950) French
91. "The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge" Rainer Maria Rilke (1910) German
92. "Second Thoughts" Michel Butor (1957) French
93. "The Burden of Our Time/The Origins of Totalitarianism" Hannah Arendt (1951) German
94. "The Master and Margarita" Mikhail Bulgakov (1967) Russian
95. "The Rosy Crucifixion" Henry Miller (1949–1960) English
96. "The Big Sleep" Raymond Chandler (1939) English
97. "Amers" Saint-John Perse ** (1957) French
98. "Gaston Gomer Goof" André Franquin (1957) French
99. "Under the Volcano" Malcolm Lowry (1947) English
100. "Midnight’s Children" Salman Rushdie (1981) English

** This author was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Tanpınar, Ahmet Hamdi "The Time Regulation Institute"


Tanpınar, Ahmet Hamdi "The Time Regulation Institute" (Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü) - 1961

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar was not known to me until now. Except that one of my favourite authors, Orhan Pamuk, says that he is his favourite author. Could there be a better recommendation?

The story is satire at its best. What do we not need? Bureaucracy. And what do we need even less than bureaucracy? An institute that is worth nothing, that does not serve any purpose and that is full of people who are related to its creator.

The author manages to tell a hilarious tale of an adventurer who uses mankind's weaknesses against itself. The protagonists Hayri Irdal and his opponent Halit Ayarci could not be any different and, yet, they complete each other perfectly. They represent both the old and the modern Turkey, the bridge between Orient and Occident. Together they form "The Time Regulation Institute" that wants to ensure that everyone has the correct time. Even read without the background, it is a hilarious story and Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar manages to get you interested every single second you are reading the book.

It's as contemporary now as it was more than half a century ago when it was written. Next to a pleasurable story, it gives you a brilliant insight into Turkish culture and history.

If you like Turkish authors, this is a MUST.

We discussed this in our book club in January 2015.

From the back cover: "A literary discovery: an uproarious tragicomedy of modernization, in its first-ever English translation
Perhaps the greatest Turkish novel of the twentieth century, being discovered around the world only now, more than fifty years after its first publication, The Time Regulation Institute is an antic, freewheeling send-up of the modern bureaucratic state.
At its center is Hayri Irdal, an infectiously charming antihero who becomes entangled with an eccentric cast of characters - a television mystic, a pharmacist who dabbles in alchemy, a dignitary from the lost Ottoman Empire, a “clock whisperer” - at the Time Regulation Institute, a vast organization that employs a hilariously intricate system of fines for the purpose of changing all the clocks in Turkey to Western time. Recounted in sessions with his psychoanalyst, the story of Hayri Irdal’s absurdist misadventures plays out as a brilliant allegory of the collision of tradition and modernity, of East and West, infused with a poignant blend of hope for the promise of the future and nostalgia for a simpler time."

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Ten Books For Readers Who Like Classics


"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". 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.

March 10: Top Ten Tuesday ~ Ten Books For Readers Who Like Classics 

I had no problem to find the genre of which I would like to present my top ten favourites. However, as usual, I did have a problem finding ten. It's eleven, as so often. And no, I could not possibly leave one of the out. I had to leave out so many others. A lot of those have written more than just one fantastic book and I have a few of my favourite authors among them. For some of them, there is a link to all their novel, just click on their name

Alcott, Louisa May "Little Women" Series - 1868-86
Austen, Jane "Persuasion" - 1817
Brontë, Anne "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" - 1848
Collins, Wilkie "The Moonstone" - 1868
Dickens, Charles "Great Expectations" - 1861
Dinesen, Isak/Blixen, Karen "Out of Africa" - 1937
Dostoevsky, Fyodor "Crime and Punishment" (Преступление и наказание) - 1866
Eliot, George "Middlemarch" - 1871-72
Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (Buddenbrooks) - 1901
Tolstoy, Lew Nikolajewitsch "War and Peace" (Война и мир = Woina I Mir) - 1868/69
Trollope, Anthony "Barchester Chronicles" - 1855-67

Monday, 9 March 2015

Montagu, Ewen "The Man Who Never Was"

Montagu, Ewen "The Man Who Never Was. World War II's Boldest Counterintelligence Operation" - 1953

"Operation Mincemeat". This could have been a great title of the book, as well but it was the title of the British plan to make the Nazis believe they wanted to invade anything but Sicily.

What a story. I had heard about it. But it has been described in so much detail by someone who was actually involved, it was a great read. The work, the idea to give a dead man false papers and false information so the Nazis would believe in a plan that wasn't there. Fantastic.

This is what the real "James Bond" is like, this is why "intelligence" and "intelligent" have the same root. Cunning ideas mixed with a lot of imagination and some thoughtful planning. An intriguing story, fascinating read.

From the back cover: "The Man Who Never Was provides an exciting and accurate record of the counter-intelligence conspiracy, Operation Mincemeat, which paved the way for the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943. Ewen Montagu, who masterminded the whole scheme, gives his personal account of the audacious and innovative plot to outwit the Germans by washing up a dead body on Spanish shores, complete with apparently confidential information concealed about his person. The preparations were fraught with tensions, as unforeseen difficulties were faced in creating a life persona for 'the man who never was'. Furthermore, as the new introduction by intelligence expert Alan Stripp reveals, failure of the operation could have had devastating results."

Friday, 6 March 2015

Book Quotes of the Week



"Books support us in our solitude and keep us from being a burden to ourselves". Jeremy Collier 


"When I get a little money I buy books; if any is left, I buy food and clothes." Erasmus 


"Do they sense it, these dead writers, when their books are read? Does a pinprick of light appear in their darkness? Is their soul stirred by the feather touch of another mind reading theirs? I do hope so." Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale 


"To read a book for the first time is to make the acquaintance of a new friend; to read it a second time is to meet an old one." Chinese Proverb 


"The problem with reading a good book is that you want to finish the book but you don't want to finisht the book." N.N. 


[If anyone can tell me the originator of this quote, I'd be very thankful and would happily include the name.]


Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The "Piggybank" Challenge 2015

I have taken part in this challenge for two years now (see here my result from last year including a link to the previous one) and decided to carry on. Why? You will discover once you read this text:

This is a challenge idea by a German blogger. I have translated her text and you can find the original site here at "Willkommen im Bücherkaffee".

How long does this challenge last?
1 March 2015 to 1 March 2016

What goes into the piggybank?
For every book I've read - €2.00 into the piggybank
(Amount can be individually altered, of course)

Rules
•    For every finished book, the amount chosen is inserted into the piggy bank/ money box.
•    This money is then off limits until the end of the challenge, i.e. the piggybank stays closed.
•    On 1 March the piggybank can be opened and you can go shopping extensively - or carry on reading and saving.
•    Be consistent and put the money into the bank immediately, otherwise you will lose track easily. (Personally, I put the books I read right next to the money box  until I drop the money in, otherwise it gets forgotten very quickly. Only after that do i put the book back on the shelf.)
•    A list of books read would be very nice because you can perfectly observe the savings success.
•    In addition, it would be great if you post a challenge post on your blog. This way, everyone can follow the progress of the other challenge participants so much easier. If you don't have a blog, then just leave a comment here in the comments from time to time about your opinion or your progress.

Would you like to join us?
Go ahead ! It is worthwhile in any case and you will not regret it.

Just write in the comments or by email to buecherkaffee@yahoo.de and send your link to the post. You may use the challenge logo with a link to the challenge in the Bücherkaffee.

The hashtag for the Twitter exchange : # Sparstrumpf

Would you like to join?
Go on. It is worthwhile in any care and you will certainly not regret it.

Last year, I read 72 books in that timeframe which resulted in €144 to spend on something nice. :-D

My progress (I add the German title, if available, for my German friends):
Follett, Ken "Winter of the World" (Winter der Welt) - 2012
Scott, Mary "Families are Fun" (Fröhliche Ferien am Meer) - 1957
Hugo, Victor "Les Misérables" (Die Miserablen/Die Elenden) - 1862
Setterfield, Diane "The Thirteenth Tale" (Die dreizehnte Geschichte) - 2006
Follett, Ken "Edge of Eternity" (Kinder der Freiheit) - 2014
Scott, Mary "No Sad Songs" (Kopf hoch, Freddie!) - 1960
Shteyngart, Gary "Absurdistan" (Snack Daddys abenteuerliche Reise/Absurdistan) - 2006
Yousafzai, Malala; Lamb, Christina "I am Malala. The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" (Ich bin Malala: Das Mädchen, das die Taliban erschießen wollten, weil es für das Recht auf Bildung kämpft) - 2013
Scott, Mary "Freddie" (Wann heiraten wir, Freddie?) - 1965
Eco, Umberto "The Name of the Rose" (Der Name der Rose/Il nome della rosa) - 1980
Scott, Mary "Pippa in Paradise" (Es tut sich was im Paradies) - 1955
Dugain, Marc "The Officer's Ward" (La Chambre des officiers/Die Offizierskammer) - 1999
Munro, Alice "Runaway" - 2004
Brown, Eleanor "The Weird Sisters" (Die Shakespeare-Schwestern) - 2011
Mak, Geert "In Europe. Travels through the twentieth century" (In Europa: Reizen door de twintigste eeuw/In Europa. Eine Reise durch das 20. Jahrhundert) - 2004
Burton, Jessie "The Miniaturist" (Die Magie der kleinen Dinge) - 2014
Krone-Schmalz, Gabriele "Russland verstehen. Der Kampf um die Ukraine und die Arroganz des Westens" [Understanding Russia. The battle for the Ukraine and the arrogance of the West] - 2015
Regener, Sven "Neue Vahr Süd" [Neue Vahr South] - 2004
Moore, Michael "Stupid White Men" (Stupid White Men: Eine Abrechnung mit dem Amerika unter George W. Bush) - 2001
Modiano, Patrick "La Place de l'Étoile" (Place de l'Étoile") - 1968
Brontë, Charlotte "Villette" (Villette) - 1853
Roth, Charlotte "Als der Himmel uns gehörte" [When heaven belonged to us] - 2015
Matheson, Richard "I am Legend" (Ich bin Legende/Ich, der letzte Mensch) - 1954
Patchett, Ann "The Patron Saint of Liars" - 1992
Butler, Octavia E. "Kindred" (Vom gleichen Blut) - 1979
Coory, Kasey "Pious Evil. Condemn not my Children" - 2014
Oates, Joyce Carol "The Sacrifice" - 2015
Azevedo, Francisco "Once Upon a Time in Rio" (Der Hochzeitsreis/O Arroz de Palma) - 2008
Dickens, Charles "Little Dorrit" (Klein Dorrit) - 1857
Sendker, Jan-Philipp "Drachenspiele" [Dragon Games] – 2009
Lahiri, Jhumpa "Interpreter of Maladies" (Melancholie der Ankunft) - 1999
Eliade, Mircea "Marriage in Heaven" (Nuntă în cer/Hochzeit im Himmel) - 1938
Doerr, Anthony "All the Light We Cannot See" (Alles Licht, das wir nicht sehen) - 2014
Zweig, Stefanie "Nirgendwo in Afrika" (Nowhere in Africa) - 1995
Schoemperlen, Diane "Our Lady of the Lost and Found" - 2001
Multatuli (Eduard Douwes Dekker) "Max Havelaar of de koffiveilingen der Nederlandsche Handelmaatschappy" (Max Havelaar oder Die Kaffeeversteigerungen der Niederländischen Handelsgesellschaft - Max Havelaar, or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company) - 1859
Bryson, Bill "Notes from a Small Island" (Reif für die Insel. England für Anfänger und Fortgeschritten) - 1995
Ghosh, Amitav "Flood of Fire" (Ibis Trilogy #3) - 2015
Lind, Stefanie (Hrsg.) "Reise nach Norwegen: Kulturkompass fürs Handgepäck" [Trip to Norway: Cultural Compass for your Hand Luggage] - 2010
Orsenna, Erik "Grammar Is a Sweet, Gentle Song" (La grammaire est une chanson douce/Die Grammatik ist ein sanftes Lied) - 2001
Shakespeare, William "Hamlet" (Hamlet) - 1599-1602
Scott, Mary "Yours to oblige" (Na endlich, Liebling) - 1954
Raddatz, Fritz J. "Dann wird aus Zwein: Wir beide. Kurt Tucholsky & Mary Gerold" [Then two will make the two of us] - 2015
Fowler, Karen Joy "The Jane Austen Book Club" (Der Jane Austen Club) - 2004
Lenz, Siegfried "Landesbühne" [Province Stage] - 2009
Hislop, Victoria "The Sunrise" - 2014
Levithan, David "Every Day" (Letztendlich sind wir dem Universum egal) - 2012
McCarthy, Pete "The Road to McCarthy: Around the World in Search of Ireland" - 2002
Titchmarsh, Alan "Trowel and Error" - 2002
Petrowskaja, Katja "Vielleicht Esther" [Maybe Esther] - 2014
Lawson, Mary "Road Ends" - 2013
Wilde, Oscar "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray) - 1890
Talshir, Anat "If I Forget Thee" (Im Eshkahekh/Über uns die Nacht) - 2010
Scott, Mary "One of the Family" (Onkel ist der Beste) - 1958
Fowler, Christopher "Hell Train" - 2011
Gaskell, Elizabeth "North and South" (Margarethe/Norden und Süden) - 1854/55
Roberts, Gregory David "Shantaram" - 2003
Littger, Peter "The devil lies in the detail: Lustiges und Lehrreiches über unsere Lieblingsfremdsprache" - 2015
Hay, Ashley "The Railwayman's Wife" - 2013
Kerkeling, Hape "I'm off then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago" (Ich bin dann mal weg. Meine Reise auf dem Jakobsweg) - 2006
Tyler, Anne "A Spool of Blue Thread" (Der leuchtend blaue Faden) -  2015
Hammond, Richard "On the Edge: My Story" - 2007
O'Faolain, Nuala "Almost There: The Onward Journey of a Dublin Woman" 2003
Murakami, Haruki "Norwegian Wood" (Noruwei no mori, ノルウェイの森  - Naokos Lächeln) - 1987
Pagnol, Marcel "Jean de Florette" (L'eau des collines #1) (dto./dto.) - 1963
Ferri, Jean-Yves; Didier Conrad, Didier "Le Papyrus de César" (Asterix and the Missing Scroll/Der Papyrus des Cäsar) - 2015
Scott, Mary "The White Elephant" (Zum Weißen Elefanten) - 1959
Schimmel, Betty with Gabriel, Joyce "To See You Again. A True Story of Love in a Time of War" (Werden wir uns wiedersehen. Eine Liebe in den Zeiten des Krieges.) - 1999
Funke, Cornelia "Tintenherz" (Inkheart) - 2003
Lalami, Laila "The Moors' Account" - 2014
Paull, Laline "The Bees" (Die Bienen) - 2014
Fleischhauer, Wolfram "Schule der Lügen" (aka "Die Inderin") (translation of title: School of Lies) - 2014
Dickens, Charles "Hard Times" (Harte Zeiten) - 1854
Delacourt, Grégoire "La liste de mes envies" (The list of my desires/My Wish List/Alle meine Wünsche) - 2012
Hawkins, Paula "The Girl on the Train" (The Girl on the Train - Du kennst sie nicht, aber sie kennt dich) - 2015
Doron, Lizzie "Who the Fuck Is Kafka" - 2015
Mantel, Hilary "Wolf Hall" (Wölfe) - 2009
Kristof, Nicholas; WuDunn, Sheryl "A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity" - 2014
Scott, Mary "The Long Honeymoon" (Flitterwochen) - 1963
Schami, Rafik "Eine Hand voller Sterne" (A Hand Full of Stars) - 1987
Bryson, Bill "The Road to Little Dribbling: more Notes from a Small Island" (It’s teatime, my dear! Wieder reif für die Insel) - 2015
Ulitzkaya, Lyudmila "Imago" or "The Big Green Tent" (Das grüne Zelt/Zelenyi shater/Зеленый шатер) - 2010
Weizsäcker, Richard von "Drei Mal Stunde Null? 1949-1969-1989" [Three Times Zero Hour? 1949-1969-1989] - 2001
Perry, Anne "A Christmas Odyssey" - 2010
Twain, Mark "The Innocents Abroad" (Die Arglosen im Ausland) - 1869
10
Steinem, Gloria "My Life on the Road" - 2015
Zweig, Stefanie "Irgendwo in Deutschland" (Somewhere in Germany) - 1996
Anonymous "Lazarillo de Tormes" (Spanish: La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades) - 1554
Camus, Albert "L'étranger" (The Stranger/The Outsider/Der Fremde) - 1942
Smiley, Jane "Early Warning" (Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga #2) - 2015
Ephron, Nora "I Remember Nothing. And other reflections" (Ich kann mir alles merken: Nur nicht mehr so lange) - 2010
Grass, Günter "Mein Jahrhundert" (My Century) - 1999
Scott, Mary "It’s Perfectly Easy" (Es ist ja so einfach) - 1963
Pleschinski, Hans "Königsallee" (dto.) - 2013
Mistry, Rohinton "Family Matters" (Die Quadratur des Glücks) - 2002

I read 96 books in this timeframe which resulted in €192 to spend on something nice. :-D

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Dickens, Charles "The Pickwick Papers"

Dickens, Charles "The Pickwick Papers" - 1836

The first novel of one of the greatest authors in history. As many novels at the time, it appeared in instalments in the newspaper. This makes the novel so easy to read, even though it has about 1,000 pages. Every chapter had to be finished in a day and you don't end up with some that go over several days.
Dickens has probably become so widely known and loved because he had a certain way to keep his readers in suspension but also because his language was easy to understand which does not necessarily mean it was simply written, not at all.

As in his other novels, he can make a big story out of any little occurrence, there is a lot of humour in his writing which is critical at the same time.

You can hardly believe that the author was only 24 when he wrote this work. Samuel Pickwick, Esquire, has three good friends, Messrs. Nathaniel Winkle, Augustus Snodgrass and Tracy Tupman with whom he starts "The Pickwick Club", a group that wants to explore the country by travelling through it and then report back to the other members. On their different voyages, they experience several bigger and smaller adventures but they always make us laugh. At the same time, Dickens draws a great picture of the different classes and life in the middle of the 19th century in the United Kingdom. He shows again why he is one of the greatest authors that have ever lived.

My favourite is still "Great Expectations" and I also read "A Tale of Two Cities" and "A Christmas Carol". You can find all my Dickens related posts here.

From the back cover: "The Pickwick Papers is Dickens' first novel and widely regarded as one of the major classics of comic writing in English. Originally serialised in monthly instalments, it quickly became a huge popular success with sales reaching 40,000 by the final part. In the century and a half since its first appearance, the characters of Mr Pickwick, Sam Weller and the whole of the Pickwickian crew have entered the consciousness of all who love English literature in general, and the works of Dickens in particular."

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books you would classify as "All time favourite books" from the past 3 years

"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". 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.

March 3: Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books you would classify as "All time favourite books" from the past 3 years *

Tough one but I did find ten (well, one German, so I extended it to eleven) books that I really can see as classics in the next century. Hope you will enjoy a few of them as much as I did. 

Follett, Ken "Winter of the World" (Book One of The Century Trilogy) - 2012 
Hislop, Victoria "The Last Dance and Other Stories" - 2012 
Hosseini, Khaled "And the Mountains Echoed" - 2013 
Kingsolver, Barbara "Flight Behaviour" - 2012 
Lamb, Wally "We are water" - 2013 
Oates, Joyce Carol "Mudwoman" - 2012 
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "Der Fürst des Parnass" (El principe de parnaso) [The Prince of Parnass] - 2012 
Rutherfurd, Edward "Paris" - 2013 
Smiley, Jane "Some Luck" (Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga #1) - 2014 
Tartt, Donna "The Goldfinch" - 2013 
German: Roth, Charlotte "Als wir unsterblich waren" [When we were immortal] - 2014

(you can extend it to 5 years if you need to).

Monday, 2 March 2015

Vermes, Timur "Look who's back


Vermes, Timur "Look who's back" (Er ist wieder da) - 2012

I have always wondered what my grandmother, who died in 1982, would think if she came back to earth today. What would she think of people walking around in a town, obviously talking to themselves. What would be her idea when she saw an internet shop? What sort of things are they selling there? And what are these weird little black or sometimes colourful boxes everyone stares at all the time.

Timur Vermes went one step further. He brought the worst person back ever, Adolf Hitler. What would he think about today? Hopefully he'd be disappointed in the fact that his dream did not come true, that nobody believes in his "values" anymore. The author describes it in a somewhat funny, satirical way and even though I like the idea of this, reading it gave me a sort of shiver, a strange sort of feeling.

I hope he would see a Germany where foreigners or any nationality, religion, and colour, are welcome. Were gay people are treated the same way as everybody else. Where nobody minds the gypsies. Or someone with a different kind of political idea. Because the Nazis discriminated against anyone belonging to any of these groups. And many more. My own grandfather was called a communist, only because he wasn't a Nazi and had said so pretty openly.

I remember thinking about this a couple of years ago when our new government consisted of a female (!) divorced and remarried chancellor (replacing one who had been married four times), a gay vice president and foreign minister, an Asian born finance minister, a handicapped finance minister, and several women. Hitler would not have approved of any of them and I am happy that none of his "values" matter anymore today, that their knowledge and expertise mean more to us than their private lives.

I usually enjoy alternate history books, after all, my favourite one is "The Children's War" and "A Change of Regime" by J.N. Stroyar where we just assume the Nazis had won the war. But in that story we all learn how bad that would have been for everyone.

Still, this novel is well written and keeps you in suspense I'm still not too happy with it.

From the back cover: "Berlin, Summer 2011. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of open ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman.
People certainly recognise him, albeit as a flawless impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable happens, and the ranting Hitler goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own T.V. show, and people begin to listen. But the Führer has another programme with even greater ambition – to set the country he finds a shambles back to rights.
Look Who’s Back stunned and then thrilled 1.5 million German readers with its fearless approach to the most taboo of subjects. Naive yet insightful, repellent yet strangely sympathetic, the revived Hitler unquestionably has a spring in his step."