Thursday, 28 July 2016

Emma's Book Club - Our shared shelf




Every Harry Potter fan or anyone who has children that are Harry Potter fans (I belong to the latter group) knows Emma Watson. But even if you have never heard of her, she is a young British actress who became famous by portraying one of the three main characters in the Harry Potter movies, Hermione Granger.

But she has gone a lot further than that. She has not only spoken up for women all around the world, especially promoted education for girls in the poorer countries but became a UN Woman Goodwill Ambassador.

As part of that work, she started to read books about equality and thought it was great to start a book club online to encourage other women to read them. She called it: Emma's Book Club - Our shared shelf. So far, she has suggested six books (of which I read five) and then given the readers the possibility to vote for one. So, we are on book number seven right now.

Due to my migraines, I can't always be on the PC that long, so I have not participated in the online discussions but I enjoy reading all these books about women around the world and their conditions, even if I don't always like a particular one. The only reason I didn't read "The Argonauts" was because it wasn't available in our library. It is on my wishlist, though.

And these are the books we read so far:
Steinem, Gloria "My Life on the Road" - 2015
Walker, Alice "The Color Purple" - 1982
Hooks, Bell "All About Love: New Visions" - 1999
Moran, Caitlin "How to be a Woman" - 2011
Nelson, Maggie "The Argonauts" - 2015 (Goodreads)
Satrapi, Marjane "Persepolis. The Story of a Childhood" (French: Persepolis. Vol 1) - 2000
Satrapi, Marjane "Persepolis. The Storay of a Return" (French: Persepolis. Vol 2) - 2000
Brownstein, Carrie "Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl" - 2015
Kristof, Nicholas D. & Wudunn, Sheryl "Half the Sky. How to Change the World" - 2009
Angelou, Maya "Mom & Me & Mom" - 2013
 
Ensler, Eve "The Vagina Monologues" - 1996
Pinkola Estés, Clarissa "Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype" - 1992 

Atwood, Margaret "The Handmaid’s Tale" - 1985 
Wolf, Naomi "The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women" - 1990

I will carry on reading more books with the group but also want to give everyone the opportunity to choose their own. Therefore, I put the list of all the books in the poll in alphabetical order. There are so many fantastic books included, I would love to read them all, well, most of them.

POLL
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Americanah" - 2013
- "We Should All Be Feminists" - Speech 2013
Aleramo, Sibilla "A Woman" (Italian: Una Donna) - 1906
Amoruso, Sophia "#Girlboss" - 2014
Angelou, Maya  "Letter to My Daughter" - 2009
Angelou, Maya "Mom & Me & Mom" - 2013
Anzaldúa, Gloria E. "Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza" - 1987
Atwood, Margaret "The Handmaid’s Tale" - 1985
Bates, Laura "Everyday Sexism" - 2014
Bates, Laura "Girl Up" - 2016
Beauvoir, Simone de "The Second Sex" (French: Le deuxième sexe) 1949
Blank, Hanne "Virgin: The Untouched History by Hanne Blank" - 2007
Blume, Judy "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" - 1970
Brantenberg, Gerd "Egalia's Daughters: A Satire of the Sexes" (Norwegian: Egalias døtre) - 197
Brownstein, Carrie "Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl" - 2015
Bulawayo, NoViolet "We Need New Names" - 2013
Carmon, Irin; Knizhnik, Shana "The Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg" - 2015
Chopin, Kate "The Awakening" - 1899
Cosslett, Rhiannon Luce "The Vagenda: A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media" - 2014
Dew, Sheri L. "Women and the Priesthood" - 2013
Diamant, Anita "The Red Tent" - 1997
Dirie, Waris "Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad" - 1998
Dundy, Elaine "The Dud Avocado" - 1958
Ensler, Eve "I Am An Emotional Creature" - 2010
Esquivel, Laura "Like Water for Chocolate" (Spanish: Como agua para chocolate) - 1992
Featherstone, Liza "False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton" - 2016
Felscherinow, Christiane (Christiane F.) "We Children of Bahnhof Zoo" (German: Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo) - 1979
Feinberg, Leslie "Stone Butch Blues" - 1993
Ferrante, Elena "My Brilliant Friend" (Italian: L'amica geniale) - 2012
FitzHenry, Tiffany "The Oldest Soul" - 2015
Frank, Anne "The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition" (Dutch: Het Achterhuis) - 1942-44
Friedan, Betty Friedan "The Feminine Mystique" - 1963
Frieze, Carol; Jeria Quesenberry, Jeria "Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University"
Gappah, Petina "The Book of Memory" - 2011
Garden, Nancy "Annie on my Mind" - 1982
Gay, Roxane "Bad Feminist" - 2014
Gordon, Kim "Girl in a Band" - 2015
Greer, Germaine "The Whole Woman" - 1999
Gyasi, Yaa "Homegoing" - 2016
Hailey, Elizabeth Forsythe "A Woman of Independent Means" - 1978
Hardy, Thomas "Tess of the d’Urbervilles" - 1891
Hegland, Jean "Into the Forest" - 1996
Hirsi Ali, Ayaan "Infidel: My Life" (Dutch: Mijn Vrijheid) - 2006
Hurley, Kameron "The Geek Feminist Revolution" - 2016
Hustvedt, Siri "The Blazing World" - 2014
Jong, Erica "Fear of Flying" - 1973
Kaysen, Susanna "Girl, Interrupted" - 1993
Kincaid, Jamaica "Annie John" - 1985
Kristof, Nicholas; WuDunn, Sheryl "A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity" - 2014
Lawson, Jenny "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" - 2012
Lee, Harper "To Kill a Mockingbird" - 1960
Le Guin, Ursual K. "The Left Hand of Darkness" - 1969
MacPherson, Myra "The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age" - 2014
Madison, D. Soyini "The Woman That I Am: The Literature and Culture of Contemporary Women of Color" - 1994
Matis, Aspen "Girl in the Woods: A Memoir" - 2015
Morrison, Toni "Sula" - 1973
Muscio, Inga "Cunt: A Declaration of Independence" - 1998
Nafisi, Azar "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books" - 2003
Nagoski, Emily, Ph.D. "Come As You Are" - 2015
Naked, Big "I, Bificus" - 2016

Niven, Jennifer "All the Bright Places" - 2015
Nordberg, Jenny "The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan" - 2014
O'Neil, Louise "Asking For It" - 2015
Oyeyemi, Helen "Boy, Snow, Bird" - 2014
Pepe, Victoria "I Call Myself A Feminist: The View from Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty" - 2015
Plath, Sylvia "The Bell Jar" - 1963
Pollack, Eileen "The Only Woman in the Room. The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boys' Club" - 2015
Russ, Joanna "How to Suppress Women's Writing" - 1983
Sasson, Jean "Princess Sultana's daughters" - 1994 (follow up to "Princess")
Scully, Diana "Understanding Sexual Violence A Study Of Convicted Rapists" - 1990
Serano, Julia "Whipping Girl A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity" - 2007
Smith, Betty "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" - 1943
Solnit, Rebecca "Men Explain Things to Me" - 2014
Strayed, Cheryl "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" - 1995
Talbot, Jill "The Way We Weren't: A Memoir" - 2015
Tingey, Allan "The Adventures of Copper Wild" - 2012
Tolstoy, Leo (Толстой, Лев Николаевич) "Anna Karenina" (Russian: Анна Каренина = Anna Karenina) - 1877
Valenti, Jessica "The Purity Myth" - 2009
Valenti, Jessica "Sex Object" - 2016
Vincent, Norah "Self-Made Man. One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again" - 2006
Walls, Jeannette "The Glass Castle: A Memoir" - 2005
West, Lindy "Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman" - 2016
Williams, Terry Tempest "When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice" - 2012
Winterson, Jeanette "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" - 1985
Wolf, Naomi "The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women" - 1990
Wolf, Naomi "Vagina. A New Biography" - 2012
Wollstonecraft, Mary "A Vindication of the Rights of Women" - 1792
Wood, Charlotte "The Natural Way of Things" - 2015
Woolf, Virginia "A Room of One's Own" - 1929
Yanagihara, Hanya "A Little Life" - 2015
York, Alice N. "Game-Faint Signals" - 2011
Yousafzai, Malala; Lamb, Christina "I am Malala. The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" - 2013

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Aaronovitch, Ben "Whispers Under Ground"


Aaronovitch, Ben "Whispers Under Ground" (Rivers of London 3) - 2012

I don't think I ever would have picked up the first book of this series "Rivers of London" if I had seen the US edition "Midnight Riot". Doesn't have the same feeling. Also, I might have looked a little closer at the contents of the book.

Anyway, I am happy I did. I carried on with "Moon over Soho". And even in his third book about special policeman Peter Grant who works his magic in one of my favourite cities, Ben Aaronovitch shows his humour and his talent of writing a gripping story. I will definitely read the next book, "Broken Homes".

From the back cover:
"A Whole New Reason To Mind The Gap
It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher - and the victim's wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom - if it exists at all - is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer's apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as 'the Faceless Man,' it's up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and - as of now 'deadliest subway system in the world.
At least he won't be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She's young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born - again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh yeah - that's going to go well."

The whole series:
"Rivers of London" - 2011
"Moon over Soho" - 2011
"Whispers Under Ground" - 2012
"Broken Homes" - 2013
"Foxglove Summer" - 2014
"The Hanging Tree" - 2016

I found a good site about this series: The Follypedia

Monday, 25 July 2016

Sendak, Maurice "Where The Wild Things Are"


Sendak, Maurice "Where The Wild Things Are" - 1963


I think everyone born after the year 1960 must have had this book read to them when they were little. At least those in the English speaking world. Even though it has been translated into several languages in the meantime, I don't think it was around when I was little.

Anyway, the story reminds me a lot of the fairy tales we used to listen to and read when we were little. I loved them all but never became a fantasy fan. But this story is different, it IS a fairy tale, even though it wasn't written at the times of the Brothers Grimm.

Definitely a classic that is still worth picking up.

According to Wikipedia, "in a 2012 survey of School Library Journal readers, it was voted the number one picture book - and not for the first time."

From the back cover: "One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him 'Wild Thing' and sends him to bed without his supper. That night a forest begins to grow in Max's room and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the place where the wild things are. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king, and then the wild rumpus begins. But when Max has sent the monsters to bed, and everything is quiet, he starts to feel lonely and realises it is time to sail home to the place where someone loves him best of all."

Friday, 22 July 2016

Book Quotes of the Week



"It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it." Jacob Bronowski

"A good title is the title of a successful book." Raymond Chandler

"There is no such thing as a bad book, I just like some books more than others…" Chris Geiger

"No man understands a deep book until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents." Ezra Pound

"I nearly always write, just as I nearly always breathe." John Steinbeck

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Aciman, Alexander; Rensin, Emmett "Twitterature"


Aciman, Alexander; Rensin, Emmett "Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books Retold Through Twitter" - 2009

An interesting concept. Read all the classics in Twitter form.

Well, the idea is alright but the book itself ... Let me say it like this. "There is room for improvement."

First of all, I would not read any of the descriptions for the books I haven't read. Not only do they ruin the end, they don't really tell you a lot about it. They can be funny if you have read the book but not all of them are. They are certainly no "CliffsNotes". A nice little "bathroom book", so you have something to flip through if you have a minute.

From the back cover:
"Perhaps you once asked yourself, 'What exactly is Hamlet trying to tell me? Why must he mince his words, muse in lyricism and, in short, whack about the shrub?' No doubt such troubling questions would have been swiftly resolved were the Prince of Denmark a registered user on Twitter.com. This, in essence, is Twitterature.

Here you will find seventy-five of the greatest works of western literature - from Beowulf to Bronte, from Kafka to Kerouac, and from Dostoevsky to Dickens - each distilled through the voice of Twitter to its purest, pithiest essence. Including a full glossary of online acronyms and Twitterary terms to aid the amateur, Twitterature provides everything you need to master the literature of the civilised world, while relieving you of the burdensome task of reading it.

From Hamlet: WTF IS POLONIUS DOING BEHIND THE CURTAIN???

From Dante's Inferno: I'm havin a midlife crisis. Lost in the woods. Shoulda brought my iPhone.

From Oedipus: PARTY IN THEBES!!! Nobody cares I killed that old dude, plus this woman is all over me. Total MILF.

From Paradise Lost: OH MY GOD I'M IN HELL.

'The classics are so last century' Guardian."

Works included in Twitterature
Milton, John "Paradise Lost"
Kafka, Franz "The Metamorphosis"
Sophocles "Oedipus the King"
Lord Byron, George "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"
Stendhal "The Red and the Black"
Shakespeare, William "Macbeth"
Fitzgerald, F. Scott "The Great Gatsby"
Homer "The Iliad"
Shakespeare, William "Hamlet"
Gogol, Nikolai "The Overcoat"
Hemingway, Ernest "The Old Man and the Sea"
Alighieri, Dante "The Inferno"
Lermontov, Mikhail "A Hero of Our Time"
Unknown "Beowulf"
Voltaire "Candide"
Marlowe, Christopher "Doctor Faustus"
Austen, Jane "Emma"
Dickens, Charles "Great Expectations"
Conrad, Joseph "Heart of Darkness"
Shakespeare, William "King Lear"
Aristophanes "Lysistrata"
Capote, Truman "In Cold Blood"
Euripides "Medea"
Orwell, George "Nineteen Eighty-Four"
Kerouac, Jack "On the Road"
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor "Notes from the Underground"
Defoe, Daniel "Robinson Crusoe"
Shakespeare, William "Romeo and Juliet"
Tolstoy, Leo "Anna Karenina"
Conan Doyle, Arthur "Sherlock Holmes"
Pushkin, Alexander "Eugene Onegin"
Unknown "The Epic of Gilgamesh"
Homer "The Odyssey"
Wilde, Oscar "The Picture of Dorian Gray"
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "The Sorrows of Young Werther"
Sterne, Laurence "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman"
Sacher-Masoch, Leopold von "Venus in Furs"
Woolf, Virginia "Mrs. Dalloway"
Dostoevsky, Fyodor "Crime and Punishment"
Brontë, Emily "Wuthering Heights"
Swift, Jonathan "Gulliver's Travels"
Austen, Jane "Pride & Prejudice"
Pearl Poet "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"
Twain, Mark "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
Shelley, Mary "Frankenstein"
Proust, Marcel "Swann's Way"
Virgil "The Aeneid"
Radiguet, Raymond "The Devil in the Flesh"
Stoker, Bram "Dracula"
Tayler Coleridge, Samuel "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
Lawrence, D.H. "Lady Chatterley's Lover"
Brontë, Charlotte "Jane Eyre"
Carroll, Lewis "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
Shakespeare, William "The Tempest"
Flaubert, Gustave "Madame Bovary"
Mann, Thomas "Death in Venice"
Dumas, Alexandre "The Three Musketeers"
Melville, Herman "Moby-Dick"
Cervantes, Miguel de "Don Quixote"
Chaucer, Geoffrey "The Canterbury Tales"

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Oates, Joyce Carol "Sexy"


Oates, Joyce Carol "Sexy" - 2005

It's always a pleasure to read another book by Joyce Carol Oates, even though most of them are not happy books about happy people. They are real books about real people.

Like here. It's fascinating how she manages again and again to get into people's brains, how to explain to us how others think, what their ideas are, their conviction. Her grasp of language is just as great as her empathies.

This is a young adult novel but can be enjoyed by adults alike. Actually, I think it should be read by any adults who have a teenager in the house, there is so much to it, so much insight that your own children will not give you. Says the mother of two boys. I know a lot of teenage boys who never talk about anything personal to their own parents and this is depicted so well in this story. The confusion going on in their heads is brought to paper but in a way that we can begin to understand their confusion and how they try to deal with it.

As most of my readers know, JCO is one of my favourite authors and this story, like all her others, is fascinating.

From the back cover:
"North Falls swim team member Darren Flynn is a guy' guy, a jock. He 'shows promise' and has integrity in the classroom - just ask his teachers. He's shy, but sexy. Just ask the girls who are drawn to him like moths to a flame.
Darren Flynn is something different to everyone he encounters, and that’s fine by him. Until something disturbing, something ambiguous happens that rocks Darren to the core, making him wonder: Who is Darren Flynn?"

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Ten Books Set Outside The US



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.

July 19: Ten Books Set Outside The US 

This should be an easy topic for me since I read a lot of books from outside of the US. However, there are so many to choose from, so it's not that easy again. So, I tried to put some of my favourite books from all the continents on here. Let's see. 

Europe
Austen, Jane "Persuasion" - 1817
Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (German: Buddenbrooks) - 1901
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" (Turkish: Benim Adim Kirmizi) - 1998

Africa
Le Clézio, Jean-Marie Gustave "The African" (French: L'Africain) - 2004
Paton, Alan "Cry, The Beloved Country" - 1948

Asia
Ghosh, Amitav "The Glass Palace" - 2000
Seth, Vikram "A Suitable Boy" - 1993

North America
Lawson, Mary "Crow Lake" - 2002

South America
Allende, Isabel "The House of the Spirits" (Spanish: La Casa de los Espíritus) - 1982
García Márquez, Gabriel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (Spanish: Cien años de soledad) - 1967

Australia
Grenville, Kate "The Secret River" - 2005

I have read many more novels about and from countries outside the US. If you are looking for a specific one, you can always click on one of the "Labels" on the right hand side of my blog.

Happy Reading.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Shakespeare, William "Macbeth"


Shakespeare, William "Macbeth" aka "The Scottish Play" - 1599/1606

After reading "Romeo and Juliet" and "Hamlet", I thought I should tackle "The Scottish Play". It's one of those plays that always get mention and you know what it's about but since I had neither seen nor read it before, there is always something missing.

I still believe plays should be seen and not read but since I don't have the Globe around the corner, this will have to do for the time-being.

I enjoyed reading the book in the end, although "enjoy" isn't really the right thing when talking about murder and slaughter, am I right?

Having said that, the characters in this play are magnificent. There is a strong woman who influences her husband and thereby history. Interesting how this worked already half a millennium ago (probably even longer).

In any case, if you enjoy reading classics, this is a must. If you don't enjoy reading classics, you should still try to try this one, you might just change your mind.

From the back cover: "Encouraged by his ambitious wife and the prophecy of three witches, Macbeth, a brave warrior, murders the rightful King of Scotland and seizes the throne for himself. However, in achieving his ambition, Macbeth has upset the natural order and soon discovers that power cannot suppress guilt.
Macbeth remains one of the most powerful plays about worldly power, greed and ambition - and all the resulting psychological consequences."

Friday, 15 July 2016

Book Quotes of the Week



"A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. " John Milton

"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers." Harry S. Truman

"Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures." Jessamyn West

"O for a Booke and a shadie nooke, eyther in-a-doore or out; 

With the grene leaves whisp’ring overhede, or the Streete cryes all about.
Where I maie Reade all at my ease, both of the Newe and Olde;
For a jollie goode Booke whereon to looke is better to me than Golde."
John Wilson

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." W. B. Yeats

Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Grossman, David "The Zig Zag Kid"


Grossman, David "The Zig Zag Kid" (Hebrew: יש ילדים זיגזג/Jesh Jeladim) - 1994

A fascinating story about a boy growing up and finding his way, finding answers to so many questions he didn't even know he had. Nonno, the zig zag kid, the kid that is different from other kids, and not only because his mother died when he was little.

He is meant to go and visit his uncle in Haifa but instead gets kidnapped by a Romanian criminal. Only, he doesn't have the feeling he is kidnapped, it's all a big adventury.

The story is mysterious, I couldn't stop reading. It's funny, there is so much to laugh about. I especially like Felix Glick, the kidnapper whose first and last name both mean luck, one in Latin, the other in yiddish. David Grossman manages to write in a fascinating way, he captures your attention, makes you think about what will happen next. We try to follow the mindset of the 13 year old Nonno who is impressed by his new surroundings. And with the help of this brilliant writer, we even achieve that.

I read this book in the German translation. This was only the second book I read by this author but certainly not the last one.

From the back cover: "Twelve-year-old Nonny Feuerberg's father is the world's greatest detective, wholly dedicated to the war on crime. Nonny aspires to follow in his father's footsteps but, to his father's dismay, his wild side keeps breaking out. Then all of a sudden Nonny finds himself traveling on a train with the magnetic, elegant Felix Glick, international outlaw extraordinaire. Not until Felix has hijacked the locomotive and whisked Nonny off on a quest for the trademark purple scarf of the great actress Lola Ciperola does Nonny realize that he is in the hands of a kindly and fascinating kidnapper - and that, though he himself knows almost nothing about his own mother, who died when he was a baby, both Felix and Lola seem to know a lot about her.

A hijacked train whisks an imaginative young boy on an unforgettable adventure, in which he makes discoveries about his own family's past and a wild woman who rescued his Israeli policeman father from a vat of chocolate."

I also read "To the End of the Land" (אשה בורחת מבשורה/Isha Nimletet Mi'Bshora) by David Grossman.

David Grossman received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 2010.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The 10 Greatest Books Ever, According to 125 Top Authors


The 10 Greatest Books Ever, According to 125 Top Authors (Download Them for Free)

125 Authors have chosen the 10 greatest books ever written. A fantastic list has come together. And if you have an e-reader, you can download them all for free here.

1. Tolstoy, Leo (Лев Николаевич Толстой) "Anna Karenina" (Russian: Анна Каренина = Anna Karenina) - 1877
2. Flaubert, Gustave "Madame Bovary (French: Madame Bovary: Mœurs de province) - 1857
3. Tolstoy, Lew Nikolajewitsch (Лев Николаевич Толстой) "War and Peace" (Russian: Война и мир = Woina I Mir) - 1868/69
4. Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Влади́мир Влади́мирович Набо́ков] "Lolita" - 1955
5. Twain, Mark "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" - 1884
6. Shakespeare, William "Hamlet" - 1599-1602
7. Fitzgerald, F. (Francis) Scott "The Great Gatsby" - 1925
8. Proust, Marcel "In Search of Lost Time" (French: À la recherche du temps perdu) - 1913-27
9. Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich (Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов) - Stories, any of them
There is a list of them here.
10. Eliot, George "Middlemarch" - 1871-72

So far, I have read 6 of them but they are all on my wishlist.

A very international list. 4 works by Russian authors, 2 by French, 2 by English, 2 by Americans. I'm just sad there is no German book among them but I suppose if there was, it would be this one:

Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (German: Buddenbrooks) - 1901

Monday, 11 July 2016

Perkins, Sue "Spectacles"


Perkins, Sue "Spectacles" - 2015

Sue Perkins is one of my favourite comedians. She is witty, she is funny, she is smart, she is kind, there is nothing about her not to love.

When I saw her memoir, I just had to get it. After all, I try to see anything that comes up on television with her, whether she turns up on her own in shows like "QI", "The Big Fat Quiz of the Year" or with her comedy partner Mel Giedroyc - yes, the one with the unpronounceable last name - in The "Great British Bake-Off" or other shows, she is just great.

I was only reading the back cover and was already captivated. Read the text below and tell me it's not an invitation to read the book.

I was not surprised that I liked the book but I can honestly say that I think Sue Perkins is also a great writer, she can tell a story on the page as if you are right there. You have the feeling, she is sitting there right next to you and you can hear her voice.

And a lot of things are just so hilarious, even if they wouldn't seem like that if you came across this in real life. But she just makes it so funny. One of the books that you don't want to read in public if you have a reputation to save. I had to laugh out loud so many times and couldn't even prevent tears running down my face.

So, it was fun to see how she got to be on the show: "The World’s Most Dangerous Roads" even though she claims she doesn't like driving. Well, they hired her for a show called "The World’s Most Interesting Roads" and then conveniently "forgot" to tell her they'd changed the concept. Everyone else would make a big deal of this, Sue Perkins turns it into the funniest story ever.

Little anecdotes about her school life, her family, just the things that could happen to any of us, made the book even funnier.

I also really love the cover "picture", a brilliant design just highlighting the most important parts of her face.

From the back cover: "When I began writing this book, I went home to find what my mum might have kept of my stuff. What I found was that she hadn't kept some of it. She had kept all of it - every bus ticket, postcard, school report - from the moment I was born to the moment I finally had the confidence to turn round and say 'why is our house full of this shit?'

Sadly, a recycling 'incident' destroyed the bulk of this archive. This has meant two things: firstly, Dear Reader, you will never get to see countless drawings of wizards, read a poem about corn on the cob, or marvel at the kilos of brown flowers I so lovingly pressed as a child. Secondly, it's left me with no choice but to actually write this thing myself.

This, my first ever book, will answer questions such as 'Is Mary Berry real?', 'Is it true you wear a surgical truss?' 'Does orchestral conducting simply involve waving your arms around?' and 'is a non-spherically symmetric gravitational pull from outside the observable Universe responsible for some of the observed motion of large objects such as galactic clusters in the universe?

Most of this book is true. I have, of course, amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me.

Thank you for reading."

Friday, 8 July 2016

Book Quotes of the Week



"No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books." Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"My imagination doesn't require anything more of the book than to provide a framework within which it can wander." Alphonse Daudet

"It is not true we have only one life to love, if we can read, we can live as many lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish." S.I. Hayakawa

"Teaching reading IS rocket science." Louisa Moats

"I have friends whose society is delightful to me; they are persons of all countries and of all ages; distinguished in war, in council, and in letters; easy to live with, always at my command." Francesco Petrarch

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Eliot, George "The Mill on the Floss"


Eliot, George "The Mill on the Floss" - 1860

As a big admirer of classic literature, I always look forward to another one I have not read, yet. George Eliot has given us many novels, and I have read "Middlemarch" and "Daniel Deronda", so far. I enjoyed both of them, and I also liked this novel.

The first part was particularly interesting, a story about a childhood in the early 19th century, not a poor family, but also not a particularly wealthy one. You might want to call them middle class nowadays.

There is a lot in this book about the education at the time but it is also a great story about a family relationship, not just the sibling rivalry between Maggie Tulliver, our protagonist, and her brother Tom but also that of her parents and their respective siblings. As so often when reading a classic story, I think  that not much has changed.

Then there is the love triangle which we see in many novels but here it is especially poignant, makes us think a lot what it means to fall in love with the right person who also falls in love with you and is free. How many coincidences have to come together for a great relationship!

George Eliot was a very early feminist and she cannot deny this in either of her novels. Same as George (or Mary Ann Evans), Maggie struggles with the limitations that are put on girls. In that respect she very much resembles my favourite author, Jane Austen.

The mill plays a huge role in the whole story but the Floss seems to flow aside the novel for a long long time until it comes back in the end to bind the beginning and end together. Not a happy ending, the story didn't really "flow" towards that but I didn't expect this one.

A great read.

From the back cover: "George Eliot drew on her own anguished childhood when she depicted the stormy relationship between Maggie and Tom Tulliver. Maggie’s often tormented battle to do her duty and belong on the one hand, and to be  herself, wild and natural, on the other, propels her from one crisis to another. As the Tulliver fortunes decline and fall, the rift between Maggie and her family becomes almost irreconcilable. But Maggie’s biggest mistake of all is to fall in love with Stephen Guest who is engaged to another woman.
Both a sharp and observant picture of English rural life and a profoundly convincing analysis of a woman’s psychology,
The Mill on the Floss is a novel that tackles the complexities of morality versus desire."

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Potter, Beatrix "The Tale of Peter Rabbit"



Potter, Beatrix "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" - 1902

I absolutely love the Beatrix Potter Stories. "Peter Rabbit" is probably the best known one but there are also many many other animals we get to know through this talented artist.

Her stories are delightful, her pictures bright and beautiful, the most lovely illustrations throughout the whole book. Throughout all of the books. You can tell she studied animals, loved nature. You just have to love the drawings as well as the cute names she gives her creations, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, just too cute.

The story itself has a message to always listen to your parents, something we can find in many children's books, especially of that time.

The stories make us feel at home, make us remember cozy winter nights in front of a fireplace, sitting on mum's or dad's lap and listening to a story. Although I am sure this didn't happen to me in childhood, not growing up with English as my mother tongue, I only learned about Beatrix Potter in later life, more or less through my own children. But I still seem to "recall" those moments just when looking into those books. Beautifully made.

From the back cover: "The quintessential cautionary tale, Peter Rabbit warns naughty children about the grave consequences of misbehaving. When Mrs. Rabbit beseeches her four furry children not to go into Mr. McGregor's garden, the impish Peter naturally takes this as an open invitation to create mischief. He quickly gets in over his head, when he is spotted by farmer McGregor himself. Any child with a spark of sass will find Peter's adventures remarkably familiar. And they'll see in Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail that bane of their existence: the 'good' sibling who always does the right thing. One earns bread and milk and blackberries for supper, while the obstinate folly of the other warrants medicine and an early bedtime."

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads



"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

July 5: 
Top Ten Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads *

Such a wonderful idea. I thought surely I can get ten that have fewer than 2,000 ratings. So, I started at the end and finally stopped at 500, I still have a few more than 10, I have 18, to be precise. But I'm not going to take any of them out. A lot of those books belong to my favourites but are not so well known world-wide. I still hope that some of my friends will find a few of them and manage to read them. They are all worth it.

Aboulela, Leila "The Kindness of Enemies" - 2015
Barnes, Valerie "A Foreign Affair. A Passionate Life in Four Languages" - 2004
Borchert, Wolfgang "Das Gesamtwerk" (complete works) - 1945/47
Bush, Catherine "Claire’s Head" - 2004
Carter, Jimmy "We Can Have Peace In The Holy Land. A Plan That Will Work" - 2008
Dai, Sijie "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" (French: Balzac et la Petite Tailleuse Chinoise) - 2002
Fleischhauer, Wolfram "Schule der Lügen" (aka "Die Inderin") (translation of title: School of Lies) - 2014
Forest, Jim "The Road to Emmaus. Pilgrimage as a Way of Life" - 2007 - and any other books by Jim Forest
LeBor, Adam "City of Oranges. An Intimate History of Arabs and Jews in Jaffa" - 2006
Levy, Andrew "A Brain Wider Than The Sky: A Migraine Diary" - 2009
Powers, Charles T. "In the Memory of the Forest" - 1997
Rasputin, Valentin "To Live and Remember" (or: Live and Remember) (Russian: Живи и помни = Zhiwi e pomni) - 1974
Rosendorfer, Herbert "Letters Back to Ancient China" (German: Briefe in die chinesische Vergangenheit) - 1983
Simmonds, Jeremy "Number One in Heaven - The heroes who died for Rock ‘n’ Roll" - 2006
Scott, Mary "Breakfast at Six" - 1953
- and all other books by Mary Scott
Stewart, Sheila "Ramlin Rose" - 1993
Stroyar, J.N. "The Children's War" and "A Change of Regime" - 2001/2004
Zweig, Stefanie "Nowhere in Africa" (German: Nirgendwo in Afrika) - 1995

* (we've done underrated books a bunch of times in the past 6 years but thanks to Lenore at Celebrity Readers for suggesting this topic as a new way to talk about underrated books especially when underrated is subjective. An easy way to find this -- go to Goodreads, your read list, at the top of your read list where it says settings you can add a column for # of ratings, then you can sort by that. If you aren't a Goodreads user you can look up books you think are underrated and see what their # of reviews is on Goodreads? Or if that's too hard you can spin it some other way!)

Monday, 4 July 2016

Scott, Mary "Strictly Speaking"


Scott, Mary "Strictly Speaking" - 1969

Time for the next book by Mary Scott. This time, two friends buy an old house in the middle of nowhere to open a tea shop. But Mary Scott hardly needs any setting or concept in order to start writing a lovely little story about friendship, love, trouble and a happy end. Like all of her other books, this was a nice read.

Unfortunately, Mary Scott's books are out of print and only available second hand. I have heard in the meantime, that you can buy some of them as eBooks.

From the back cover: "So often, delightful and pretty Vicki O'Brien would begin her sentences with the words 'Strictly Speaking'. And it was one thing that Vicki rarely did, for she would tell lies - harmless little fits she called them - in order to keep everybody happy. Although this irritating habit frequently led her into trouble, even her great friend Lucy thought she would never be cured of it..."

Friday, 1 July 2016

Book Quotes of the Week



"Let's be reasonable and add an eight day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading." Lean Dunham

"Many people, other than the authors, contribute to the making of a book, from the first person who had the bright idea of alphabetic writing through the inventor of movable type to the lumberjacks who felled the trees that were pulped for its printing. It is not customary to acknowledge the trees themselves, though their commitment is total." Forsyth and Rada, Machine Learning

"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us." Franz Kafka

"I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go into the library and read a good book." Groucho Marx

"Books don't change people; paragraphs do, sometimes even sentences." John Piper

Find more book quotes here.

Happy July!



I wish you all a happy July * New Calendar picture with this beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch "Zeesenboot and traditional sailing ship in the Gager harbour".

Same as last year, I'd like to share the wonderful watercolour paintings from Hanka and Frank Koebsch with you every month. I have bought their calendar every year for five years now and have loved every single one of their pictures. I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do.

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