Monday, 29 May 2017

Hirst, John "The Shortest History of Europe" - 2009

Hirst, John "The Shortest History of Europe" - 2009

An interesting book about the origins of European history. First there were the Greeks, then the Christians and then the Germans. If you say it like this, it all sounds a little simple but this is a collection of great lectures by a very dedicated professor of history. The Australian John Hirst gives a great oversight over anything you always wanted to know about European history and how we became what we are now.

With just under 200 pages and talks starting in the classic times and ending in the present, with lots of maps, tables, drawings and pictures, this is probably the best book if you want to know about this topic.

Interestingly enough, when my son (who has just finished his B.A. in European Studies) saw the book, he said, oh, John Hirst, I've read a lot by him. And when his girlfriend (who still does European Studies) saw it, she said, I had to read this for one of my lectures.

In any case, this book is worth picking up. The subtitle "Read in an afternoon. Remember for a lifetime." is certainly more than correct.

From the back cover:
In this short, entertaining and thought-provoking book, acclaimed historian John Hirst provides a fascinating exploration of the qualities that have made Europe a world-changing civilisation.
Starting with a rapid historical overview from the ancient Greeks to the present day (the 'shortest history' itself), Hirst goes on to explore in detail what makes Europe unique: its political evolution; the shaping influence of its linguistic boundaries; the crucial role played by power struggles between Pope and Emperor; and of course the great invasions and conquests that have  transformed the continent.
Written with clarity, feeling and wit, The Shortest History of Europe is a tour-de-force: read in a single afternoon, it will be remembered for a lifetime."

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Bryson, Bill "Bill Bryson's African Diary"

Bryson, Bill "Bill Bryson's African Diary. A Short Trip for a Worthy Cause" - 2002

I had a hard time obtaining this book. I usually try to find my foreign literature in local bookshops that carry them. And there are lots of Bill Bryson books to be had. However, not the "African Diary". So I ordered it at that online book shop everyone orders all their stuff from, you know, the one named after a South American river. ;) Even they couldn't deliver, After a year it was still on back order.
But I was lucky and found it in the end. Of course, a hardback that is smaller than a paperback but costs at least as much as a hardback. Maybe that's what holds people back. However, about the money: ALL the money goes to CARE International, so you make a donation AND get a book for FREE.

And it was totally worth it. Even describing the poorest people, refugees, slum dwellers, Bill Bryson finds such a gentle way of describing it, even makes you laugh from time to time. Not that this is the aim of the book, he just can't help himself.

I still think it is sad that the book is so short but he covers everything and it might get people to read him or at least read about the subject who are not much into reading. If that is the idea and it works, I'm totally behind one of my favourite authors.

In any case, even though it is so short, it's a MUST read for any Bryson fan.

From the back cover:
"Bill Bryson goes to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, the charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty around the world.

Kenya, generally regarded as the cradle of mankind, is a land of contrasts, with famous game reserves, stunning landscapes, and a vibrant cultural tradition. It also provides plenty to worry a traveller like Bill Bryson, fixated as he is on the dangers posed by snakes, insects and large predators. But on a more sober note, it is a country that shares many serious human and environmental problems with the rest of Africa: refugees, AIDS, drought and grinding poverty.

Travelling around the country, Bryson casts his inimitable eye on a continent new to him, and the resultant diary, though short in length, contains the trademark Bryson stamp of wry observation and curious insight.

All the author's royalties from Bill Bryson's African Diary, as well as all profits, will go to CARE International."

Friday, 19 May 2017

Book Quotes of the Week

"The mere brute pleasure of reading - the sort of pleasure a cow must have in grazing." Lord Chesterfield

"I don't think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. It's tosh. It's snobbery and it's foolishness. Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child's love of reading. We need our children to get onto the reading ladder. Anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy." Neil Gaimain

"Books amuse and touch. And they can distract - not least from ourselves." Andrea Gerk "Reading as Medicine" ("Lesen als Medizin")

"Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keep friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment." Greenville Kleisser

"To survive, you must tell stories." Umberto Eco

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Half of a Yellow Sun"

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Half of a Yellow Sun" - 2006

I remember the time when we were teenagers and I was a member of a youth group at church. We bought oranges, wrote "Biafra" on them and sold them after mass. We wanted to help all those poor children that were dying of hunger in Biafra.

I don't think many of us knew where Biafra was. After all, it was a new country. We learned the African countries at school but Biafra hadn't been among them.

And even though I am sure many others have collected money for Biafra, I totally can relate to the quote "The world was silent when we died." Yes, we were silent, we are still silent. Many of us don't know what happened and I am so content that I read this story and learned a little bit more about a part of this continent that still has to overcome so many problems thrown at them by us Europeans. Biafra is just one of the areas, I can think of many others, Rwanda, for example.

This book has been on my TBR pile for a while. Why? I think the only reason is that my TBR pile is too large. The book is marvelous. The story just throws you right into the lives of Ugwu, Olanna and Odenigbo, Kainene and Richard. You are in the middle of their struggles, their problems, their will to survive. What a fantastic story. You want to finish it within a day but you also don't ever want to finish it because you are afraid of what is coming at the end. You get to know not only the characters but the whole situation, you get to know the country and the history. Just brilliant.

The title of this novel represents the flag of Biafra, a flag I had never seen, therefore the title didn't tell me anything at all. But if you know the flag, all becomes clear. Look it up.

I will surely read more by this wonderful author.

From the back cover:
"In 1960s Nigeria, a country blighted by civil war, three lives intersect. Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, works as a houseboy for a university lecturer. Olanna, a young woman, has abandoned her life of privilege in Lagos to live with her charismatic new lover, the professor. The third is Richard, a shy Englishman in thrall to Olanna`s enigmatic twin sister. When the shocking horror of the war engulfs them, their loyalties are severely tested as they are pulled apart and thrown together in ways that none of them imagined ..."

The author lists a lot of books that she used for research. I think all of them would be worth reading, as well, though I doubt I will ever manage to finish them all.

Achebe, Chinua "Girls at War and Other Stories"
Amadi, Elechi "Sunset in Biafra"
Brandler, J.L. "Out of Nigeria"
Collis, Robert "Nigeria in Conflict"
De St. Jorre, John "the Nigerian Civil War"
Ekwe-Ekwe, Herbert "The Biafran War: Nigeria and the Aftermath"
Ekwensi, Cyprian "Divided We Stand"
Emecheta, Buchi "Destination Biafra"
Enekwe, Ossie "Come Thunder"
Forsyth, Frederick "Biafra Story"
Gold, Herbert "Biafra Goodbye"
Ike, Chukwuemeka "Sunset at Dawan"
Iroh, Eddie "The Siren at Night"
Jacobs, Dan "The Brutality of Nations"
Kanu, Anthonia "Broken Lives and Other Stories"
Madiebo, Alex "the Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War"
Mok, Micheal "Biafra Journal
Niven, Rex "The War of Nigerian Unity"
Njoku, Hilary "A Tragedy Without Heroes"
Nwankwo, Arthur Agwuncha "The Making of a Nation"
Nwapa, Flora "Never Again"
Nwapa, Flora "Wives at War"
Odogwu, Bernard "No Place to Hide: Crises and Conflicts Inside Biafra"
Okigbo, Christopher "Labyrinths"
Okonta, Ike and Douglas, Oronta "Where Vultures Feed"
Okpaku, Joseph "Nigeria: Dilemma of Nationhood"
Okpi, Kalu "Biafra Testament"
Soyinka, Wole "The Man Died
Stremlau, John J. "The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War"
Uwechue, Ralph "Reflections on the Nigerian Civil War"
Uzokwe, Alfred Obiora "Surviving in Biafra"

There are more books mentioned at the end by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and other African writers that are worth reading:

Achebe, Chinua "Arrow of God"
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Purple Hibiscus"
Chinodya, Shimmer "Harvest of Thorns"
Oguibe, Olu "Lessons from the Killing Fields"
Wainana, Binyavanga “How To Write About Africa.”

She also mentions this book several times in the novel:
Douglass, Frederick "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave"

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Ballantyne, Tony "Dream London" - 2013

Ballantyne, Tony "Dream London" - 2013

I love London and I love reading about it. I also love dreaming about it but this book was not my thing. Too much fantasy, too little of anything else, the plot goes all over the place and makes no sense at all. Not my type of book.

I doubt I will read another book of "The Dream World" series, looks like Paris is the next one. I think I rather read something historical about them, like anything by Edward Rutherfurd.

From the back cover:
"Captain Jim Wedderburn has looks, style and courage. He's adored by women, respected by men and feared by his enemies. He's the man to find out who has twisted London into this strange new world.

But in Dream London the city changes a little every night and the people change a little every day. The towers are growing taller, the parks have hidden themselves away and the streets form themselves into strange new patterns. There are people sailing in from new lands down the river, new criminals emerging in the East End and a path spiralling down to another world.

Everyone is changing, no one is who they seem to be."

Friday, 12 May 2017

Book Quotes of the Week

"Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write." John Adams

"When you read a classic you do not see in the book more than you did before. You see more in you than was there before." Clifton Fadiman

"He that loves reading has everything within his reach." William Godwin

"Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow." Plato

"Usually, when people get to the end of a chapter, they close the book and go to sleep. I deliberately write a book so when the reader gets to the end of the chapter, he or she must turn one more page." Sidney Sheldon

"I like big books and I cannot lie." 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, 11 May 2017

Scott, Mary "It Was Meant" - 1974

Scott, Mary "It Was Meant" - 1974

Another reread of the pleasurable books by Mary Scott. Since I read her novels as a teenager, I always dreamt of New Zealand. Not that I would have loved to live during the time Mary Scott and her husband had to run their farm but the author makes it sound so pleasant and lovely.

As in all her other books, there is so much humour in this one, even thought she doesn't even mention a library, usally one of the locations her heroines are seen in. This story shows us a bus tour, a pre-school, a gas station, a hospital and a farm. And a dog, of course, there always has to be at least one animal in her stories.

Maybe these books are outdated but they are a reminder of my youth and I always like coming back to them.

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: (translated)
"A storm can be good for many things, as witnessed by Elizabeth Mortimer, called Liz, on an adventurous bus trip to the north of New Zealand. She meets a group of enterprising women from Windythorpe, and these newfound friends give her life a new meaning.
Liz decides to start her new life in Windythorpe. And, of course, this decision is right. Firstly, she unexpectedly rediscovers her friend Kay and secondly she finds the man of her life. In the end there is even a nice double wedding - to the delight of the people of Windythorpe."

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Grass, Günter "The Box: Tales from the Darkroom"

Grass, Günter "The Box: Tales from the Darkroom" (German: Die Box. Dunkelkammergeschichten) (Autobiographical Trilogy #2) - 2008

I think I can easily say that Günter Grass is one of my favourite authors. This novel is the sequel to "Peeling the Onion", the first book in his autobiographical trilogy.

In this book, he lets his children tell his story, or rather the part of his life where he has the children. There are quite a few of them, six of his own, two of his last wife, they all get together during various events and tell their side of their youth, of growing up together and/or apart. They also tell us about the mysterious photo box of one of the author's friends, Maria Rama. Her camera can show you the past and the future. It shows the wishes and desires of everyone on the pictures. It makes the story even more interesting, more imaginative. What could happen, what could have happened, I like that.

Even though this is more a novel than a real autobiography, I still think it tells a lot about the author's life and that time in Germany. A fascinating story.

I'm looking forward to number three of this series "Grimms Wörter. Eine Liebeserklärung" (Grimm's Words. A Love Declaration).

From the back cover:
"'Once upon a time there was a father who, because he had grown old, called together his sons and daughters—four, five, six, eight in number—and finally convinced them, after long hesitation, to do as he wished. Now they are sitting around a table and begin to talk . .'

In an audacious literary experiment, Günter Grass writes in the voices of his eight children as they record memories of their childhoods, of growing up, of their father, who was always at work on a new book, always at the margins of their lives. Memories contradictory, critical, loving, accusatory—they piece together an intimate picture of this most public of men. To say nothing of Marie, Grass’s assistant, a family friend of many years, perhaps even a lover, whose snapshots taken with an old-fashioned Agfa box camera provide the author with ideas for his work. But her images offer much more. They reveal a truth beyond the ordinary detail of life, depict the future, tell what might have been, grant the wishes in visual form of those photographed. The children speculate on the nature of this magic: was the enchanted camera a source of inspiration for their father? Did it represent the power of art itself? Was it the eye of God?

Recalling J. M. Coetzee’s Summertime and Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, The Box is an inspired and daring work of fiction. In its candor, wit, and earthiness, it is Grass at his best."

Günter Grass "whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history" received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.

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

Monday, 8 May 2017

Laker, Rosalind "The Golden Tulip" - 1989

Laker, Rosalind "The Golden Tulip" - 1989

The members of our book club wanted to read something about the Netherlands, so I suggested this one that I had recently found.

Francesca is the daughter of a late 17th century Amsterdam painter and an aspiring painter herself. She begins an apprenticeship with a not so famous painter, later better known: Johannes Vermeer.

I had never heard of Rosalind Laker but when I checked what she had written, I wasn't surprised, most of the titles of her books sound like "threepenny novels" or rather chick lit to me.

However, this was a pleasant enough story about how life was in the 17th century, especially for women. Add a little bit of Dutch history, a little bit of art, and you have a story.

Not a bad story, certainly a book that can initiate a lot of talk.

We discussed this in our book club in March 2017.

From the back cover: "Francesca’s father is a well-known painter in the bustling port city of Amsterdam; he is also a gambler. Though their household is in economic chaos, thankfully the lessons she learned in his studio have prepared her to study with Johannes Vermeer, the master of Delft.

When she arrives to begin her apprenticeship, Francesca is stunned to find rules, written in her father’s hand, insisting that she give up the freedoms she once enjoyed at home- including her friendship with Pieter van Doorne, a tulip merchant. Unaware of a terrible bargain her father has made against her future, Francesca pursues her growing affection for Pieter even as she learns to paint like Vermeer, in layers of light. As her talent blooms, 'tulip mania' sweeps the land, and fortunes are being made on a single bulb. What seems like a boon for Pieter instead reveals the extent of the betrayal of Francesca’s father. And as the two learn the true nature of the obstacles in their path, a patron of Francesca’s father determines to do anything in his power to ensure she stays within the limits that have been set for her.

The Golden Tulip brings one of the most exciting periods of Dutch history alive, creating a page-turning novel that is as vivid and unforgettable as a Vermeer painting."

Other books I read on the same subject:

Chevalier, Tracy "Girl with a Pearl Earring" - 1999
Dash, Mike "Tulipomania: The Story of the World’s Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused" - 2000
Marini, Lorenzo "The Man of the Tulips" (Italian: L'uomo dei tulipani) - 2002
Moggach, Deborah "Tulip Fever" - 1999
Pavord, Anna "The Tulip" - 2004
Vreeland, Susan "Girl in Hyacinth Blue" 1999

Monday, 1 May 2017

Happy May!

Happy May to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture
with this beautiful watercolour painting 
by Frank Koebsch

 "Rape blossom" "Rapsblüte"

On the First of May we celebrate International Workers' Day to acknowledge the achievements of labourers and the working classes. 
Where would we be without them. 
Enjoy this month with the beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch.

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

Friday, 28 April 2017

Book Quotes of the Week

"Begin to read a book that will help you move toward your dream." Les Brown

"A man is known by the books he reads." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Browsing the dim back corner

Of a musty antique shop
Opened an old book of poetry
Angels flew out from the pages
I caught the whiff of a soul
The ink seemed fresh as today
Was that voices whispering?
The tree of the paper still grows."
Terri Guillemets

"Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river." Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." Thích Nhất Hạnh

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon"

Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon. The True Queen" - 2015

I always found the Tudor period captivating, I have read about Elizabeth I in Margaret George's great Novel "Elizabeth I" and other works about the Virgin Queen, I have read Hilary Mantel's novels "Wolf Hall" and "Bring up the Bodies" where I learned about the Boleyns, Thomas Cromwell, I have read about Shakespeare in the time of Elizabeth I. but I have never read a whole book about Katherine of Aragon, I have always seen her through the eyes of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, the "old" wife who didn't want to get divorced and therefore forced her husband to break with the church.

Now here is a chance to see it all through Katherine's eyes, learning her side of the story, how she came to England to become the wife of Henry's brother Arthur first but then was taken by Henry after his brother died. Only to be cast aside when she couldn't provide a male heir.

This novel certainly makes us more acquainted with Katherine, her life, her love, her desires, her problems. She was a strong woman, courageous, someone who tried to make the best of what life threw into her way but in the end, her husband was more powerful. Not better, not stronger, he just had more power behind himself.

Alison Weir manages to write about all this and more, how life in Tudor times was, especially in the court, of course, but she introduces so many characters that you can well imagine life anywhere, you even think it was better to be poor and have nothing to do with aristocracy at all.

So many occurrences during Katherine's life determine history and the way we live today.

What if?
Katherine of Aragon had died on her way to England?
Prince Arthur had not died?
Prince Arthur had died before marrying Katherine?
Prince Arthur had died after having had a son?
Katherine had not married Henry after Arthur died?
One of Katherine's sons had survived?
Ann Boleyn had married at the French court?
Henry and Ann Boleyn had never met?
Ann Boleyn had died of "the sweat"?
Queen Mary had not died?

If either of these incidents had or had not occurred, there would be no Anglican church today. At least not the way Henry created it.

It's interesting to follow Katherine's life and ask yourself those questions. A phenomenal book.

I can't wait for part II of this "Anne Boleyn. A King's Obsession" and have already ordered the non-fiction book that introduces all of the ladies to us: "The Six Wives of Henry VIII"

From the back cover:
"A Spanish princess. Raised to be modest, obedient and devout. Destined to be an English Queen.

Six weeks from home across treacherous seas, everything is different: the language, the food, the weather. And for her there is no comfort in any of it. At sixteen years-old, Catalina is alone among strangers.

She misses her mother. She mourns her lost brother.
She cannot trust even those assigned to her protection.

KATHERINE OF ARAGON. The first of Henry’s Queens. Her story.

Acclaimed, bestselling historian Alison Weir has based her enthralling account of Henry VIII’s first wife on extensive research and new theories. She reveals a strong, spirited woman determined to fight for her rights and the rightful place of her daughter. A woman who believed that to be the wife of a King was her destiny.

History tells us how she died. This captivating novel shows us how she lived."

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Grimm, Hans Herbert "Schlump"

Grimm, Hans Herbert aka Emil Schulz "Schlump. The Story of an unknown soldier" (German: Schlump. Geschichten und Abenteuer des unbekannten Musketiers Emil Schulz, genannt 'Schlump', von ihm selbst erzählt) - 1928

I have never read "All Quiet on the Western Front" even though it has been on my wishlist forever whereas I never heard about this one. The author writes about the same war as Erich Maria Remarque but he decided to publish his book anonymously under the name "Schlump".

An interesting read, Schlump describes the various faces of war, the different kind of jobs a solider is forced to do, from sitting in an office to fighting in the trenches. We have it all first-hand, from someone who saw it all with his own, very critical eyes. Therefore, it was a good idea he didn't tell anyone his name at the time, he certainly would have ended up in one of Hitler's concentration camps. This way, he survived.

Highly interesting read.

From the back cover:
"Schlump is seventeen, a romantic, a chancer and a dreamer. It's 1914 so naturally he volunteers for war. In France he is assigned an administrative position in a small town and has a marvellous time. But when he gets to the trenches, where death and mindless destruction are the everyday, he starts to understand something about war."

Similar Books:
Remarque, Erich Maria "Im Westen Nichts Neues" (All Quiet on the Western Front) - 1929
Renn, Ludwig "Krieg" (War) - 1928

Friday, 14 April 2017

Book Quotes of the Week

"A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself." Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

"In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time: the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream." Thomas Carlyle

"The multitude of books is making us ignorant." Voltaire

"The reason a writer writes a book is to forget a book and the reason a reader reads one is to remember it." Thomas Wolfe

"I'm a bookaholic on the road to recovery. Ha, not really. I'm on the road to the bookstore." 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, 13 April 2017

Pinkola Estés, Clarissa "Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype"

Pinkola Estés, Clarissa "Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype" - 1992

The latest book that was suggested by Emma Watson fro the Goodreads group "Our Shared Shelf". There have been good and bad books, in my opinion, in this group. This is one of the better ones. Dr. Pinkola Estés talks about myths about the Wild Woman, she tells us fairy tales, folk sagas, anything that has to do with women standing on their own feet, defending themselves and their offspring and explains the symbolism behind it. Highly interesting.

The author explains so much about the human being so that this book should not just be read by women, also a great selection for men who would like to understand women better. You can tell this is written by a professional who knows everything about the human psyche, has studied it for a long time and always tries to look at every aspect of every story. Dr. Pinkola Estés is a Jungian analyst and even if you have never heard of Jung, she explains everything very detailed so that anyone can follow her stories and her analysis.

I have read a lot of fairy tales and there were quite a few stories that I heard in a similar version but every story the author retold was like new to me the way she explained them.

I borrowed this book from the library but might want to buy it for myself to read it again some other time. That's how good it was. And encouraging book that teaches us a lot about ourselves.

From the back cover:
"Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species. Though the gifts of wildish nature come to us at birth, society's attempt to 'civilize' us into rigid roles has plundered this treasure, and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls. Without Wild Woman, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative, trapped. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., Jungian analyst and cantadora storyteller, shows how woman's vitality can be restored through what she calls 'psychic archeological digs' into the bins of the female unconscious. In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Dr. Estes uses multicultural myths, fairy tales, folk tales, and stories chosen from over twenty years of research that help women reconnect with the healthy, instinctual, visionary attributes of the Wild Woman archetype. Dr. Estes collects the bones of many stories, looking for the archetypal motifs that set a woman's inner life into motion. 'La Loba' teaches about the transformative function of the psyche. In 'Bluebeard,' we learn what to do with wounds that will not heal; in 'Skeleton Woman,' we glimpse the mystical power of relationship and how dead feelings can be revived; 'Vasalisa the Wise' brings our lost womanly instincts to the surface again; 'The Handless Maiden' recovers the Wild Woman initiation rites; and 'The Little Match Girl' warns against the insidious dangers of a life spent in fantasy. In these and other stories, we focus on the many qualities of Wild Woman. We retrieve, examine, love, and understand her, and hold her against our deep psyches as one whois both magic and medicine. In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Dr. Estes has created a new lexicon for describing the female psyche. Fertile and lifegiving, it is a psychology of women in the truest sense, a knowing of the soul.."

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Hislop, Victoria "Cartes Postales from Greece" - 2016

Hislop, Victoria "Cartes Postales from Greece" - 2016

Victoria Hislop has become one of my favourite authors. I loved all of her books so far.  And this one was just another brilliant one by this writer whom I've come to love after reading her other books beginning with the "The Island" until "The Sunrise" and this one is no different. First I was a little apprehensive since it was described as a "collection of short stories" and I don't really like short stories that much. But I had already liked her other collection, "The Last Dance and Other Stories", so I was determined to read this.

And I was not disappointed. Like in all her other books, the author manages to describe her characters so well and makes you want to get on a plane and go visit the place right away.

So does, Ellie, the "reader" of this story who receives postcards from a stranger. Well, they seem to be to a previous person living in her flat but since she doesn't know where S. is now, she has no idea where to send them. She starts loving the places described and goes on a trip to Greece. Quite a lovely story through which we get to know a lot of Greek folk stories and tales of contemporary Greek people.

Great read. If you like Greece or want to know more about it, the authors novels are all brilliant but this one gives you quite an overview since it travels through the country.

From the back cover:
"Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.

With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.

On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man's odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A's tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.

Beloved, bestselling author Victoria Hislop's Cartes Postales from Greece is fiction illustrated with photographs that make this journey around Greece, already alive in the imagination, linger forever in the mind."

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The "Piggybank" Challenge 2017

This is my fifth year of taking part in this challenge 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 2017 to 1 March 2018

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

• 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 care and you will certainly not regret it.

Just write in the comments or by email to 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

Last year, I read 81 books in that timeframe which resulted in €192 to spend on something nice. :-D

My progress (I add the German title, if available, for my German friends):
Falcones, Ildefonso "Das Lied der Freiheit" (The Barefoot Queen/La Reina Descalza) - 2013
Hislop, Victoria "Cartes Postales from Greece" - 2016
Lippe, Jürgen von der "Der König der Tiere. Geschichten und Glossen" - 2017
Pinkola Estés, Clarissa "Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype" (Die Wolfsfrau: Die Kraft der weiblichen Urinstinkte) - 1992
Grimm, Hans Herbert aka Emil Schulz "Schlump. Geschichten und Abenteuer des unbekannten Musketiers Emil Schulz, genannt 'Schlump', von ihm selbst erzählt" (Schlump. The Story of an unknown soldier) - 1928
Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon. The True Queen" - 2015 
Laker, Rosalind "The Golden Tulip" - 1989
Zweig, Stefanie "Heimkehr in die Rothschildallee" (Familie Sternberg #3) [Homecoming to Rothschild Avenue] -2010
Grass, Günter "Die Box. Dunkelkammergeschichten" (The Box: Tales from the Darkroom) (Autobiographical Trilogy #2) - 2008
Scott, Mary "It Was Meant" (Zärtliche Wildnis) - 1974
Ballantyne, Tony "Dream London" - 2013
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Half of a Yellow Sun" (Die Hälfte der Sonne) - 2006
Bryson, Bill "Bill Bryson's African Diary. A Short Trip for a Worthy Cause" (Mein Afrika-Tagebuch) - 2002 

Hirst, John "The Shortest History of Europe" - 2009
Schrobsdorff, Angelika "Du bist nicht so wie andre Mütter" (You Are Not Like Other Mothers) - 1992
Murakami, Haruki "Kafka am Strand" (Kafka on the Shore) (海辺のカフカ Umibe no Kafuka) - 2004

Woodruff, Elvira "Dear Austin: Letters from the Underground Railroad" - 1998
Machfus, Nagib/Mahfouz, Naguib "Zwischen den Palästen" (Palace Walk) (بين القصرين/Bayn al-qasrayn) - 1956 (Kairo Trilogie 1) - 1956
Weir Alison "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" - 1991
Rosner, Elizabeth "The Speed of Light" - 2001
Lenz, Siegfried "Deutschstunde" (The German Lesson) - 1968

Solstad, Lexidh "Catpasity" - 2015
Machfus, Nagib/Mahfouz, Naguib "Palast der Sehnsucht" (Palace of Desire) (قصر الشوق/Qasr el-Shōq) - 1957
Tsao Hsueh-Chin/Cao, Xueqin "Dream of the Red Chamber" (Hung lou meng/aka The Story of the Stone) - ca. 1717-1763 (18th century)
Vance, J.D. "Hillbilly elegy: a memoir of a family and culture in crisis" (Hillbilly Elegie. Die Geschichte meiner Familie und einer Gesellschaft in der Krise) - 2016 

Whitehead, Colson "Underground Railroad" - 2016
Herbert, Xavier "Capricornia"  - 1938

My lists of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Falcones, Ildefonso "The Barefoot Queen"

Falcones, Ildefonso "The Barefoot Queen" (Spanish: La Reina Descalza) - 2013

As with his former books "Cathedral of the Sea" and "The Hand of Fatima", Ildefonso Falcones does not disappoint with his newest novel. Whether he talks about Barcelona in the 14th century, Muslims in the 16th century or gypsies in the 18th, he seems to know all the characters personally and introduces us to their lives and struggles. This time, it's the gypsies and their problems in a country where they are not welcome, well, where are they ever? They can't make a living by staying somewhere because they are not allowed to work in many many jobs but they also can't travel. And when the Spanish crown decides to lock them all up in order to conduct the perfect genocide. Well, luckily, there is no perfect genocide, there are always members of a race that are willing to fight until the very end.

Ildefonso Falcones is a great storyteller, he can make you love the characters and feel with them through their dramatic lives. And in addition to that, it's also a fantastic history lesson. We don't just learn about Spain in the 18th century, we also learn about slaves in Cuba, tobacco planting and and working, trading and smuggling. There is so much in this story. Even though Caridad, a former slave, is supposed to be the protagonist, her friend Milagros with her grandfather Melchor and their family are also quite important to the story.

Can't wait until his newest book "Los herederos de la tierra" (2016), the follow-up to "Cathedral of the Sea" is translated.

From the back cover:
"A historical epic full of bravery and romance that follows two women as they make a life for themselves in 18th-century Spain.

It's January of 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wondering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When her path crosses with Milagros Carmona's-a young, rebellious gypsy-the two women are instantly inseparable. Milagros introduces Caridad to the gypsy community, an exotic fringe society that will soon change her life forever. Over time they each fall in love with men who are fiercely loyal and ready to fight to the death for their rights as a free people. When all gypsies are declared outlaws by royal mandate, life in their community becomes perilous. They soon find themselves in Madrid-a city of passion and dancing, but also a treacherous one full of smugglers and thieves. Caridad and Milagros must help in the gypsy's struggle against society and its laws in order to stay together; it's a dangerous battle that cannot, and will not, be easily won. From the tumultuous bustle of Seville to the theatres of Madrid, The Barefoot Queen is a historical fresco filled with characters that live, love, suffer, and fight for what they believe."

Friday, 7 April 2017

Book Quotes of the Week

"That place that does contain

My books, the best companions, is to me
A glorious court, where hourly I converse

With the old sages and philosophers;
And sometimes, for variety, I confer
With kings and emperors, and weigh their counsels;
Calling their victories, if unjustly got,
Unto a strict account, and, in my fancy,
Deface their ill-placed statues."
Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher

"If you love a book, write a nice review. It gives the author encouragement for bad days, when they want to take up scorpion petting." Liana Brooks

"Never put off till tomorrow the book you can read today." Holbrook Jackson

"Think before you speak. Read before you think." Fran Lebowitz

"A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life." Henry Ward Beecher

Find more book quotes here.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

2017 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

I have joined quite a few reading challenges since I started my blog but this one sounded the most interesting of them all.

As Evie from the Bookish Blog says: "We all have those books. We buy them, win them, they're gifted to us. Then we put them up on a bookshelf and there they stay, collecting dust, waiting for the time when we'll finally decide to pick them up."

Okay, I admit, my TBR (To Be Read) pile is a lot longer than it should be and I can't resist buying any new books but I will attempt to read more old books than buying new ones this year.

I could, of course, try to tackle the 50+ challenge but we all know that is not going to happen, instead, I will try to do at least 11-20 old books in addition to the new ones I'm buying and those I get from the library and hopefully be pleasantly surprised at the end of the year. In 2016, I managed to read 37 of the books that had been waiting to be read for more than a year. Let's see how many there are going to be next year.

So far, I have already read these of my "old books" in 2017:
Fredriksson, Marianne "Simon and The Oaks" (aka Simon's Family/Simon och ekarna/Simon) - 1985
Bohjalian, Chris "Midwives" - 1997
Laker, Rosalind "The Golden Tulip" - 1989
Zweig, Stefanie "Heimkehr in die Rothschildallee" (Familie Sternberg #3) [Homecoming to Rothschild Avenue] -2010
Grass, Günter "Die Box. Dunkelkammergeschichten" (The Box: Tales from the Darkroom) (Autobiographical Trilogy #2) - 2008  

Ballantyne, Tony "Dream London" - 2013
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Half of a Yellow Sun" (Die Hälfte der Sonne) - 2006
Bryson, Bill "Bill Bryson's African Diary. A Short Trip for a Worthy Cause" (Mein Afrika-Tagebuch) - 2002
Schrobsdorff, Angelika "Du bist nicht so wie andre Mütter" - 1992
Murakami, Haruki "Kafka am Strand" (Kafka on the Shore) (海辺のカフカ Umibe no Kafuka) - 2004
Lenz, Siegfried "Deutschstunde" (The German Lesson) - 1968 

Monday, 3 April 2017

Hansen, Dörte "This House is Mine"

Hansen, Dörte "This House is Mine" (German: Altes Land) - 2015

I don't think I would have ever found this book if it hadn't been suggested as a book club read by an American book club member. I had seen it but thought it looked more like a chick lit book and I had plenty of books on my TBR pile already.

Anyway, I read it and loved it. A great description of some women who try to find their way in this world, starting with the mother who has to flee East Prussia after WWII, the daughter who will always be the foreigner in the new part of Germany they start to live in, a granddaughter who tries to find her roots. A lot of women's problems are mentioned in the novel but also the change of the countryside, the German word "Landflucht" (fleeing from the countryside) probably describes it best, the children of farmers who have cultivated their land for generations leave their home and settle in the towns, they don't want to be farmers anymore. Those who stay behind have to fight a lot of battles, those against nature and its harshness but also against laws and newcomers who would love to have everything done a different way, a new way, until they find that sometimes that is just not possible.

I come from an area not too far from the "Altes Land" (the German title, translated: Old Country although that wasn't the original meaning, situated to the southwest of Hamburg) and I grew up speaking the low German in which the old people in the novel talk. Therefore, reading this book, was a little bit like home to me. The English title comes from the inscription on the gable of the old house:
"Dit Huus is mien un doch nich mien, de no mi kummt, nennt't ook noch sien." (This hoose is mine ain and yet no mine ain, he that follows will caw it his.  = This house is mine and yet not mine, whoever follows still calls it his.)
The author is a journalist and this is her first book. I do hope that more will follow because I intend to read them all.

I read this in the original German language.

We discussed this in our book club in March 2017.

From the back cover:
"A bestselling German novel about two women connected by their experiences in and around a special old house.

Told in skillfully-crafted alternating points of view and a non-linear storyline, Hansen's bestselling debut novel showcases her impressive talent for characterization and dialog in an unusual book that combines emotional depth and humor. She immerses the reader in a series of brightly lit or obscure scenes that call for close reading and offer many rewards. The author's sparse language and sometimes oblique references make for a deeply immersive reading experience, and the characters will resonate long after the last page has been turned. Readers of Anthony Doerr and M.L. Stedman will find much to love here.

All her life Vera has felt like a stranger in the old and drafty farmhouse she arrived in as a five-year-old refugee from East Prussia in 1945, and yet she can’t seem to let it go. 60 years later, her niece Anne suddenly shows up at her door with her small son– Anne has fled the trendy Hamburg neighborhood she never fit into when her relationship implodes. Vera and Anne are strangers to each other, but have much more in common than they think. As the two strong-willed and very different women share the great old house, they surprisingly find what they have never searched for: a family."

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Happy April!

Happy April to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch

 "Into the Garden" * "Ab in den Garten"

April showers bring May flowers. Let's hope so, there is usually quite a bit of rain in this area. But at least we can enjoy some of the beautiful flowers in this watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch

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

Friday, 31 March 2017

Book Quotes of the Week

"Books are the most loyal and trusted friends you can ever have." Birgitta Hassel

"Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?" John Milton

"To be successful in life what you need is education, not literacy and degrees." Munshi Premchand

"When I cannot read, when I cannot think, when I cannot even pray, I can trust." J. Hudson Taylor

"Books are the answer. What was the question?" 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, 29 March 2017

Lamb, Wally "I'll Take You There"

Lamb, Wally "I'll Take You There" - 2016

If you have followed my blog during the years, you will have learned that I really love Wally Lamb. His stories are always different and always interesting.

Well, this one is certainly different. But it really lacks the quality of his former novels. I liked the idea, a guy can see his life in a movie, every single scene if he likes, but I was distracted by all the "name-dropping", movies I had never heard of, probably because I didn't grow up in the same country as the author, not all the famous movies he mentioned made it abroad, but I doubt the younger US generation has seen all those movies that are mentioned or knows of all the actors he praises. There are far too many in the book, I don't like to read lists and lists of names and titles, especially if they don't mean anything to me.

You can still tell that the author is a great one, his language is fantastic but overall, this book is too short, it lacks the in-depth description of the characters, I missed getting to know them, or even the narrator through those films. It didn't happen.

Even though this is certainly my least favourite book by Wally Lamb, I will still give him the chance the next time he publishes a book. Compared to many others, this is a good novel.

From the back cover:
"Behind every good man is a great woman - or three
Every Monday evening, Felix Funicello sets up a new film at an old vaudeville theatre for his weekly movie club. But one night, as this sixty-year-old scholar prepares the projectionist booth, he is confronted by an unanticipated guest: the ghost of Lois Weber.
Once a trailblazing motion picture director from Hollywood’s silent film era, Lois invites Felix to sit back and watch a new feature on the big screen – scenes from Felix’s life.
Though unnerved by these ethereal apparitions, Felix comes to look forward to his encounters with Lois. And as these magical movies play before him, he begins to reflect on the trio of unforgettable women who have profoundly impacted his life: his troublesome yet loving sister; his Generation Y daughter; and Verna, a fiery would-be beauty queen from the 1950s.
An evocative and kaleidoscopic convergence of Hollywood, feminism and family secrets, I’ll Take You There is a radiant homage to a single life and to the resiliency, strength and power of women."

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Reading Challenge - Chunky Books 2017

I can't believe I've taken part in this reading challenge since 2013. It is still the most interesting challenge to me. I signed up for the highest of the four levels "Mor-book-ly Obese" which meant eight or more chunksters (books over 450 pages) of which three must be 750 pages or more.

I have carried on with that challenge without setting goals, I love big books and I will always read some. And I am more than willing to tell my friends about them.

If you are interested in the challenge, check out this link. I don't think they even do one this year, so I just use the link for 2015.

They also give you suggestions by page number, in case you can't find any chunksters yourself. ;-)

Or you can check out my lists from the previous years (below), maybe you are interested in a couple of them.

I read in
2013: 38 chunky books, 13 of them chunksters
2014: 37 chunky books, 15 of them chunksters
2015: 25 chunky books, 8 of which chunksters
2016: 28 chunky books, 3 of which chunksters

I will be posting the books I have read here:

Ephron, Nora "The Most of Nora Ephron" - 2014 - 571 pages
Bohjalian, Chris "Midwives" - 1997 - 480 pages
Witzel, Frank "Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969" (The Invention of the Red Army Faction by a Manic Depressive Teenager in the Summer of 1969) - 2015 - 803 pages
Falcones, Ildefonso "The Barefoot Queen" (La Reina Descalza/Das Lied der Freiheit) - 2013- 752 pages
Pinkola Estés, Clarissa "Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype" (Die Wolfsfrau: Die Kraft der weiblichen Urinstinkte) - 1992 - 608 pages
Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon. The True Queen" - 2015 - 640 pages
Laker, Rosalind "The Golden Tulip" - 1989 - 668 page
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Half of a Yellow Sun" (Die Hälfte der Sonne) - 2006 - 560 pages
Murakami, Haruki "Kafka am Strand" (Kafka on the Shore) (海辺のカフカ Umibe no Kafuka) - 2004 - 891 pages
Schrobsdorff, Angelika "Du bist nicht so wie andre Mütter" (You Are Not Like Other Mothers) - 1992 - 557 pages
Machfus, Nagib/Mahfouz, Naguib "Zwischen den Palästen" (Palace Walk) (بين القصرين/Bayn al-qasrayn) - 1956 (Kairo Trilogie 1) - 687 pages
Weir Alison "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" - 1991 - 694 pages
Lenz, Siegfried "Deutschstunde" (The German Lesson) - 1968 - 576 pages
I read 13 chunky books so far in 2017/18 of which 3 are considered a chunkster.

Happy Reading!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Bohjalian, Chris "Midwives"

Bohjalian, Chris "Midwives" - 1997

This book has been on my TBR pile for quite a while and I am glad I finally read it. A well-written novel about a midwife in trouble, her daughter who lives through it all and an old question, is it better to be born at home or in hospital. I was born at home and quite a few things went wrong so that my mother had my younger siblings in the hospital. So did I.

I don't want to judge anyone who opts for a home birth, I think it is a great idea when mother and baby are healthy. I was happy that I could leave the hospital on the same day after the birth of my second son in England as opposed to staying in for a whole week in Germany where my oldest was born.

I think this book is a good idea to instigate discussions about home birth versus hospital birth but in the end, I think everyone should decide for themselves. I would not want to judge over anyone like the jury in this book has to do over the midwife after one of her homebirths goes wrong.

The author has a great talent to portray both the feelings of the midwife as well as her 14 year old daughter. It's amazing for a man to be able to write like that. If I hadn't seen his picture in the front of the book, I would have sworn that Chris must be short for Christine. Certainly an author worth watching.

Like all the other books I read from Oprah's book club list, I have enjoyed this a lot.

From the back cover:
"On an icy winter night in an isolated house in rural Vermont, a seasoned midwife named Sibyl Danforth takes desperate measures to save a baby's life. She performs an emergency caesarean section on a mother she believes has died of a stroke. But what if Sibyl's patient wasn't dead - and Sibyl inadvertently killed her?
As Sibyl faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do."

Friday, 24 March 2017

Book Quotes of the Week

"A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others." Abraham Lincoln

"Even in the most stressed times there is always time for reading." Emilie and Stephanie

"A good book tells you there’s a pink house and lets you paint some of the finishing touches, maybe choose the roof style, park your own car out front." Karen Marie Moning

"I whispered the thrilling words to myself, then lifted the book to my nose and breathed the ink from its pages. The scent of possibilities." Kate Morton

"After three days without reading, talk becomes flavourless." Chinese proverb

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Scott, Mary "First Things First"

Scott, Mary "First Things First" - 1973

Like all of Mary Scott's books, I have read this before, I managed to buy most of those that were translated into German years ago. I do remember this as being one of my favourites, probably because the protagonist is a librarian.

Also in this case, Mary Scott drew from her own life, she did take care of a village library for a while during the time one or several of her kids attended school far away from home.

Again, this book is funny from the first page to the last, always a pleasure to read novels by this great author.
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 (translated):
"Robert Henderson and his granddaughter move to the countryside. In an idyllic small village, the girl takes a job as a librarian. Assisted by her ardent, sometimes somewhat old-fashioned, but certainly very well-read grandfather, she supplies the not so uneducated rural community with everything her poorly equipped library provides.
But Jill does not want to read about love just in books and therefore decides to marry a farmer. But suddenly she falls in love with the busy young veterinarian ..."

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

My Favourite Books 2016

Abulhawa, Susan "Mornings in Jenin" - 2010
Alexievich, Svetlana "Second Hand Time. The Last of the Sovjets" (Russian: Время секонд хэнд = Vremja sekond khend) - 2013
Bryson, Bill "The Road to Little Dribbling: more Notes from a Small Island" - 2015
Bryson, Bill "A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail" - 1998
Kulin, Ayşe "Rose of Sarajevo" (Turkish: Sevdalinka) - 1999
Mercier, Pascal "Perlmann's Silence" (German: Perlmanns Schweigen) - 1995
Mistry, Rohinton "Family Matters" - 2002
Oates, Joyce Carol "Carthage" - 2014
Oates, Joyce Carol "The Man Without a Shadow" - 2016
Perkins, Sue "Spectacles" - 2015
Schami, Rafik "A Hand Full of Stars" (German: Eine Hand voller Sterne) - 1987
Trollope, Anthony "The Way We Live Now" - 1875

I have already published my list in my statistics here and my reading challenges wrap-up here but I like to have a link with just the favourite books that I can refer to.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Munsch, Robert "Love You Forever"

Munsch, Robert "Love You Forever" - 1986

I remember reading this book to my children when they were little and they really loved it. Such a beautiful story. It almost reads like a song.

And even though my boys are in their twenties, I keep telling me that they will always be my babies. If your kids are grown up and you want to feel a little nostalgic for their baby years - as if anyone would need a book for that! - this is the right one.

A fabulous story for little children and a great gift to young parents.

From the back cover:
"A young woman holds her newborn son
And looks at him lovingly. Softly she sings to him:
"I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be."
So begins the story that has touched the hearts of millions worldwide. Since publication in l986, 'Love You Forever' has sold more than 15 million copies in paperback and the regular hardcover edition (as well as hundreds of thousands of copies in Spanish and French)."

Monday, 20 March 2017

Hochschild, Arlie Russell "Strangers in Their Own Land"

Hochschild, Arlie Russell "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right" - 2016

I have read this book in the hope that I will understand the Republicans a little better and I truly believe that the author wrote it in order to understand them. I still don't understand. And I doubt the author does. How can you not want the government to help you when the companies pollute your environment? There are people out there who know what goes wrong but still don't want any rules for the companies who destroy their lives, their landscapes, bring cancer and other illnesses to their families and treat the few people who work for them like rubbish.

I think the difference between Democrats/Liberals and Republicans is that the former sees the government as a caring parent who will help you on your way, sending you to a good school, making sure you'll find your way in the world, taking care of you when you are sick or can't do anything and for that you help in the household. The latter see them as as Big Brother who doesn't just watch you, doesn't share their toys but takes away all yours and destroys them. Well, without a caring parent, companies will just behave like Big Brother.

I would recommend this book to anyone, especially Republicans, in order to understand where this is all going and how we hopefully can find  a better way to save this planet.

From the back cover:
"In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country--a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets--among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident--people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream--and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in "red" America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: why do the people who would seem to benefit most from "liberal" government intervention abhor the very idea?"

A friend sent me a link to an article about two books, One Way To Bridge The Political Divide: Read The Book That's Not For You.  You can find the review to the other book "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates here.