Friday, 23 February 2018

Book Quotes of the Week

"I would rather be poor in a cottage full of books than a king without the desire to read." Thomas Babington Macaulay

"Nothing can compare to the feeling evoked by turning the page in a great book." Aneta Cruz

"Read nothing that you do not care to remember, and remember nothing you do not mean to use." Professor Blackie

"It's impossible to walk through a book store and be in a bad mood at the same time." 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, 22 February 2018

Buddha "The Dhammapada"

Buddha "The Dhammapada. Verses on the Way" (Sanskrit: धम्मपद), Buddhist text - ca. 300 BCE

Preceded by mind
are phenomena,
led by mind,
formed by mind.
If with mind polluted
one speaks or acts,
then pain follows,
as a wheel follows
the draft ox's foot.

Another book from the list "The non-western books that every student should read" that I tackled. I borrowed it from the library and I think I was lucky to have received a new translation with explanations by a Buddhist scholar.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it looks like poetry but it doesn't read like it which I found very refreshing.

If you are familiar with any sort of religious reading, the Bible or the Koran, for example, you will certainly find a lot of familiar meanings, love thy neighbour, honour father and mother, live peaceful, don't kill etc. etc. Buddha has put it in few words that should be comprehensible to everyone.

So, whether you are religious or not, it would help us all if we lived the way Gautama Buddha or Siddhārtha Gautama described more than two millennia ago.

From the back cover:
"Twenty-five hundred years ago, after the Buddha emerged from his long silence to illuminate for his followers the substance of humankind's deepest and most abiding concerns, his utterances were collected as the Dhammapada.
The nature of the self, the value of relationships, the importance of moment-to-moment awareness, the destructiveness of anger, the suffering that attends attachment, the ambiguity of the earth’s beauty, the inevitability of aging, the certainty of death - these dilemmas preoccupy us today as they did centuries ago. No other spiritual texts speak about them more clearly and profoundly than does the Dhammapada.
The 423 verses here, in an elegant new translation by Sanskrit scholar and Buddhist teacher Glenn Wallis, offer us a distillation of core Buddhist teachings that constitute a prescription of core Buddhist teachings that constitute a prescription for enlightened living, even in the twenty-first century.
Also included is Wallis's brilliantly informative Guide to Reading the Text - a chapter-by-chapter explication that greatly enhances our understanding.
Wallis’s translation is an inspired successor to earlier versions. Even readers well acquainted with the Dhammapada will be enriched by this fresh encounter with a classic text."

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Aaronovitch, David "Paddling to Jerusalem"

Aaronovitch, David "Paddling to Jerusalem. An Aquatic Tour of Our Small Country" - 2000

I had read a few books by the author's brother Ben, so when I saw the name Aaronovitch in a used bookstore, I just had to take it home. Plus, the title "Paddling to Jerusalem" promised an interesting story. I envisaged something taking place in Israel.How wrong I was.

My disappointment quickly changed into joy when I discovered that first, David Aaronovitch was paddling around England, so what's not to like? And second, he mentions a few people who have written books about his country before, i.a. Bill Bryson, one of my favourite writers whom this author also seems to admire. So, we see him first on his search for the kayak that is going to help him get around the country and then follow him and said kayak plus a copy of "Middlemarch" from London up to the north and back again where he meets all sorts of people and visits all kinds of towns and villages.

A nice story about someone who gets up and does something completely different where many people think they are getting too old for this kind of stuff, including myself. Thankfully, there are always writers like this one to help us discover the world.

From the back cover:
"David Aaronovitch, the award-winning columnist and broadcaster canoes round the waterways and canals of England on the eve of the new Millennium.
In the last summer of the twentieth century, a rather large man got into a small boat and went out to discover England. On its canals and rivers, from the Thames to the Trent, from Camden Lock to Skipton, David Aaronovitch fumbled for the pulse of the least known nation in Britain.
He discovered a land of saucy grannies, voyaging landladies, Barratt's estates with well-tended gardens, childhood museums, opticians, aromatherapy, steam railways, scented candles, shopping malls, computers, coffee cake, stress phalli, man Utd supporters, rock festivals, soap opera behaviour, young men driving too fast, Buddhists, urchins, dead deer, private property, new universities, tattooed anglers and pewter herons.
On the way, Aaronovitch survived rapids, camping, stone-throwing hooligans, attempted murder by swans, a whole day without much food, the Beaverbrook Hotel in Burnley, solitude and a terrible ennui. Death stalked him for the entire journey. After four days he gave up, and then began again.
And among the towns and villages he encountered a selection of ghosts from the nation's past: bad King John, Aaron the Jew of Lincoln, Stanley Baldwin and the painter, Hilda Carline.
Yet in the process he found out one or two useful things about himself. Like the lithe and unjustified optimism it required for an unfit forty-year-old to suddenly take off on his own for months, using a form of transport that was inherently unstable, for reasons which were occasionally inscrutable - even to himself.
Hilarious, provocative and moving, Paddling to Jerusalem is the story of what happens when a bad idea gets the better of you and, in the process, becomes a very good idea indeed."

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Abarbanell, Stephan "Displaced"

Abarbanell, Stephan "Displaced" (German: Morgenland) - 2015

What a highly interesting book. I always like to learn about history and what happens in other countries. Or even what happened in my own country a long time before I was born.

Well, this book brought me both. A young Jewish woman who grew up in Palestine before it was Israel. A young woman who became a member of the resistance, fighting for their own country. But now it is 1946, the war is over and the world is not what it used to be. So many questions, so many problems. Someone is looking for his brother, doesn't believe he was killed, many books have lost their owners, who do they belong to? Nobody knows how things will go on, especially not the British who have to deal with all these Jews who want to get a visa for their protectorate. The story leads us to many stations, former concentration camps as well as few kibbuzim in Germany, we meet many people who try to organize the new world, Americans and British but also Germans.

The author manages to bring life into a dark time, his protagonist, Lilya Wasserfall, is a woman with hope, a woman with determination. The story is fascinating and engaging, it keeps you enthralled, you want to know what's going on.

This is Stephan Abarbanell's first novel. I hope he'll write more.

From the back cover:
"It is 1946, and the full horrors of the previous six years are slowly coming to light.
But in Jerusalem, Elias Lind can't accept that his brother Raphael really did die in a concentration camp. He has evidence that the scientist is still alive but, unable to search for him himself, he persuades a young member of the Jewish resistance to help.
Lilya's search for Raphael takes her from the dusty streets of Jerusalem to the heart of political London, from US-controlled Munich to an overcrowded and underfunded displaced persons camp, before leading her to the devastated shell of Berlin itself. But before long Lilya realises that she isn't the only one searching for the missing scientist; a mysterious pursuer is hot on her heels, and it soon becomes clear that Raphael's life isn't the only one in question . . ."

In the book, the protagonist mentions a few German books she read to improve her German:
Mann, Thomas "Tonio Kröger"
Kästner, Erich "Fabian"
Stifter, Adalbert "Nachsommer"
Baum, Vicki "Menschen im Hotel", "Tanzpause", "Welt ohne Sünde"

Monday, 19 February 2018

Unigwe, Chika "On Black Sisters' Street"

Unigwe, Chika "On Black Sisters' Street" (Fata Morgana) - 2007

4 African girls live in Antwerp, Belgium. A beautiful city. But the life of the girls is not that beautiful, they were brought to Europe to work as prostitutes, their Antwerp is the red light district. We often hear stories about these girls who are kept like slaves but never with many details.
Chika Unigwe described their world to us in a highly interesting manner, she is certainly an author worth watching for.

Sisi, Ama, Efe and Joyce all come from Nigeria (well, Joyce came to Belgium from Sudan via Nigeria) and we learn their stories bit by bit, how they ended up in this life, even think they chose this life themselves, how their old lives had crumbled slowly but surely. We don't just get to meet the girls but also their families, learn about their background.

A challenging, breathtaking story. And of course, this happens in any city in the Western world. Time to do something about it.

Like Mariama Bâ's "So Long a Letter" this book was mentioned in the article "The non-western books that every student should read". I think I need to write another blog about that.

From the back cover:
"On Black Sisters Street tells the haunting story of four very different women who have left their African homeland for the riches of Europe -and who are thrown together by bad luck and big dreams into a sisterhood that will change their lives.
Each night, Sisi, Ama, Efe, and Joyce stand in the windows of Antwerp’s red-light district, promising to make men’s desires come true - if only for half an hour. Pledged to the fierce Madam and a mysterious pimp named Dele, the girls share an apartment but little else - they keep their heads down, knowing that one step out of line could cost them a week’s wages. They open their bodies to strangers but their hearts to no one, each focused on earning enough to get herself free, to send money home or save up for her own future.
Then, suddenly, a murder shatters the still surface of their lives. Drawn together by tragedy and the loss of one of their own, the women realize that they must choose between their secrets and their safety. As they begin to tell their stories, their confessions reveal the face in Efe’s hidden photograph, Ama’s lifelong search for a father, Joyce’s true name, and Sisi’s deepest secrets - and all their tales of fear, displacement, and love, concluding in a chance meeting with a powerful, sinister stranger.
On Black Sisters Street marks the U.S. publication debut of Chika Unigwe, a brilliant new writer and a standout voice among contemporary African authors. Raw, vivid, unforgettable, and inspired by a powerful oral storytelling tradition, this novel illuminates the dream of the West - and that dream’s illusion and annihilation - as seen through African eyes. It is a story of courage, unity, and hope, of women’s friendships and of bonds that, once forged, cannot be broken."

Friday, 16 February 2018

Book Quotes of the Week

"Reading forces you to be quiet in a world that no longer makes place for that." John Green

"A good bookshop shows you the books that you never knew you wanted. It doesn't merely fulfill your desires, it expands them. It you know the book you want, go into a bookshop and buy it, you have failed." Mark Forsyth

"Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting." Aldous Huxley

"If I'm not reading a book I'm normally talking about them!" 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, 15 February 2018

Scott, Mary; West, Joyce "Such Nice People"

Scott, Mary; West, Joyce "Such Nice People" (Inspector Wright #2) - 1962

The second time I come across Inspector Wright and his work in the New Zealand bush. Mary Scott's books are lighthearted and pleasant to read, even if there is a murderer among the lovely people on the pages.

If you have read my other reviews about Mary Scott's novels, you will know that these are about the most easy going books I read. This is not different, not scary or anything. Mary Scott, in collaboration with Joyce West, has written another lovely book.

From the back cover (translated):
"Lucia happily accepts her uncle's offer to take over his petrol station at the Half Moon Lake- at least temporarily. Because - as the uncle writes - "I can't promise exciting adventures you, all the people here are downright scarily law-abiding but you will find the freedom to live your own life, books, enough people, the lake and the bush.

A rural idyll - just the thing for someone like Lucia, who suffers from a broken heart. But the hope of a secluded, peaceful life is not fulfilled. Just after her arrival, Lucia experiences an earthquake - and a fire! And when she learns the next day that the local postman, Bert Davies, is probably the victim of a murder, Lucia senses that exciting days are coming.

However, should there really be a murderer among these law-abiding, alluringly lovely people?"

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Campbell, Jen "The Bookshop Book"

Campbell, Jen "The Bookshop Book" - 2014

This book starts with:
"Bookshops are
time machines
& safe places.
(this book is for those who know this to be true)"

Every reader loves bookshops as much as books. That's my theory and I stick to it. I am one of those people who cannot pass by a bookshop and who cannot leave a bookshop without buying at least one book. I have no problem leaving other shops without a purchase but it's impossible when entering a bookshop.

Lately, I have read some other books about bookshops:
Rice, Ronald (Ed.) "My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop" - 2012
Taylor, Andrew James "Books That Changed the World" - 2008

This is yet another approach to discovering bookshops. The author has more or less travelled around the world for us, interviewed bookshop owners, employees, authors, readers, anyone who has anything to do with producing and consuming books. Granted, she describes more shops in the UK and the US than in all the other parts of the world together but it still is a pleasure to follow her around. She describes all sorts of exotic places that I doubt I will ever get to, like Cambodia and Mongolia, Sudan and Tanzania, bookshops in North and South America, Australasia, wherever you can find one, she found them. If there were a bookshop on the moon, it would get a mention in here.

The stories about the people are all wonderful - what's not to like about book lovers? For example, there is Jessica A. Fox from the States who wanted to visit a second-hand bookshop in Scotland, googled it, found  and visited one (The Bookshop in Wigtown). Apparently, we can read all about her falling in love with the owner in "Three Things You Need To Know About Rockets: A Real-Life Scottish Fairy Tale".

I would love to visit all of those bookstores but there is one I have been visiting lots of times. Every time we have a visitor in our area, we take them to Maastricht to go into Selexyz Dominicanen. Imagine the surprise when people enter a church and end up in a books hop. Definitely visit their website. And let me know when you're in the area, I always love to meet other book nerds.

For anyone who loves boats more than books - or at least just as much - the Book Barge in Lichfield seems to be the answer. The owner, Sarah Henshaw, also wrote a book about her adventures. "The Bookshop That Floated Away". But she also describes bookshops that distributed their goods on donkeys or tanks.

Then there's the story about Stephen Fowler from Toronto who created the Biblio-Mat in his bookshop "The Monkey's Paw" where you can buy a second hand book for $2 with the promise: "Every book a surprise. No two alike. Collect all 112 million titles". Their most loyal customer Vincent bought one book every week in 2013 and he did not just read it but also wrote a review on his blog Certainly a site worth looking into.

I also loved the way she describes how different kind of bookshops organize their books. My favourite would be the one where the cover all the books face the customer. But there are all sorts of different set-ups. In Japan, there is a shop that sorts the books by date, not of publication but of the period in which it is set.

The author also recommends books to read, these were my two favourites:
Gowdy, Barbara "The White Bone", a journey into the minds of elephants - my favourite animals!
Berthoud, Ella; Elderkin, Susan "The Novel Cure" - a novel for any ailment you might have.
I know I must put both of them on my wish list.

The book is also full of quotes. I particularly loved this one:
"A good bookshop shows you the books that you never knew you wanted. It doesn't merely fulfill your desires, it expands them. It you know the book you want, go into a bookshop and buy it, you have failed." Mark Forsyth

So, whether you like to read about books, bookshops or see some amazing pictures of some weird and not so weird places, this is a fantastic book to delve into.

From the back cover:
"Every bookshop has a story.

We’re not talking about rooms that are just full of books. We’re talking about bookshops in barns, disused factories, converted churches and underground car parks. Bookshops on boats, on buses, and in old run-down train stations. Fold-out bookshops, undercover bookshops, this-is-the-best-place-I’ve-ever-been-to-bookshops.

Meet Sarah and her Book Barge sailing across the sea to France; meet Sebastien, in Mongolia, who sells books to herders of the Altai mountains; meet the bookshop in Canada that’s invented the world’s first antiquarian book vending machine.

And that’s just the beginning.

From the oldest bookshop in the world, to the smallest you could imagine, The Bookshop Book examines the history of books, talks to authors about their favourite places, and looks at over three hundred weirdly wonderful bookshops across six continents (sadly, we’ve yet to build a bookshop down in the South Pole).

The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world."

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Tremain, Rose "The Gustav Sonata"

Tremain, Rose "The Gustav Sonata" - 2016

This is my second book by this author. I have read "Music and Silence" before which was about Denmark in the 17th century. This one is about Switzerland in the 20th. Well, one boy in particular. He is born shortly before the end of WWII and we see him growing up without his father who dies shortly after his death, with a mother who is bitter without her son knowing why. He finds out after many years.

This is a nice story about friendship that survives everything - love, betrayal, life and death. Short and easy read.

From the back cover:
"Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem only a distant echo. An only child, he lives alone with Emilie, the mother he adores but who treats him with bitter severity. He begins an intense friendship with a Jewish boy his age, talented and mercurial Anton Zwiebel, a budding concert pianist. The novel follows Gustav’s family, tracing the roots of his mother’s anti-Semitism and its impact on her son and his beloved friend.

Moving backward to the war years and the painful repercussions of an act of conscience, and forward through the lives and careers of Gustav and Anton, The Gustav Sonata explores the passionate love of childhood friendship as it's lost, transformed, and regained over a lifetime. It's a powerful and deeply moving addition to the beloved oeuvre of one of our greatest contemporary novelists."

Monday, 12 February 2018

de Beauvoir, Simone "She came to stay"

de Beauvoir, Simone "She came to stay" (French: L'invitée) - 1943

Paris in the 1930s, Bohemian couple. Intellectuals, theatre, writers, actors, artists, producers. A "triangle" novel. Lots of dialogues. Lots of questions. It was interesting to see Paris shortly before the war broke out, interesting to learn that people knew about concentration camps already in the early thirties. I would have liked a little more about this topic than the ideas of some flighty young people.

If you love to read about the background of the theatre with all its moodiness and jealousy, you might love this novel. For me, it was interesting because I enjoy practising my French. But I doubt that this is the novel that "made" the Great Simone de Beauvoir.

From the back cover:
"Written as an act of revenge against the 17 year-old who came between her and Jean-Paul Sartre, She Came to Stay is Simone de Beauvoir's first novel - a lacerating study of a young, naive couple in love and the usurping woman who comes between them. 'It is impossible to talk about faithfulness and unfaithfulness where we are concerned. You and I are simply one. Neither of us can be described without the other.' It was unthinkable that Pierre and Francoise should ever tire of each other. And yet, both talented and restless, they constantly feel the need for new sensations, new people. Because of this they bring the young, beautiful and irresponsible Xaviere into their life who, determined to take Pierre for herself, drives a wedge between them, with unforeseeable, disastrous consequences...Published in 1943, 'She Came to Stay' is Simone de Beauvoir's first novel. Written as an act of revenge against the woman who nearly destroyed her now legendary, unorthodox relationship with the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, it fictionalises the events of 1935, when Sartre became infatuated with seventeen-year old Olga Bost, a pupil and devotee of de Beauvoir's. Passionately eloquent, coolly and devastatingly ironic, 'She Came to Stay' is one of the most extraordinary and powerful pieces of fictional autobiography of the twentieth century, in which de Beauvoir's 'tears for her characters freeze as they drop.'"

Friday, 9 February 2018

Book Quotes of the Week

"Every time you open a book, a little magic falls out." Carrie Elks

"We read to know we're not alone." William Nicholson

"Books should go where they will be most appreciated, and not sit unread, gathering dust on a forgotten shelf, don’t you agree?" Christopher Paolini

"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift." Charles Scribner jr.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Rutland, Eva "No Crystal Stair"

Rutland, Eva "No Crystal Stair" - 2000

What an interesting story. If you expect a book about slavery when you hear "the saga of a black family", you are mistaken. This is the story of a girl growing up in a rich family, a girl who has to live with racism but quite different from that of most African Americans back then and even now. However, she marries outside of her familiar and comfortable society and has to adapt to various different types of lifestyle.

Apparently, this book is largely autobiographical. It's easy to guess if you compare the description of the author at the back of the book with the synopsis. Maybe that's what makes this story so lifelike.

From the back cover:
"Ann Elizabeth Carter grew up in the segregated Atlanta of the 1920s and 1930s, part of the black privileged class, the much-loved daughter of a doctor, and the granddaughter of a slave. She was a charming, confident young woman with a well-planned life ahead of her.
Then she upset all those plans when she fell in love. It was 1942 and Robert Metcalf was a member of the first black unit in the Army Air Corps, stationed at Tuskegee, Alabama.
For the first time, she left her sheltered life in Atlanta to marry Rob. For the first time, she had to learn what it really meant to be a black woman in 20th-century America.
During the decades that followed, Ann Elizabeth's life, and her marriage, were shaped by the changes that shook the country, that redefined it. During those decades, she learned the truth of a lifetime. You have to guard the love you find, and overcome the hate that finds you."

General remark:
There is one thing that always annoys me, when I read foreign books that mention Germany or German towns (and this has nothing to do with the contents of this book). It's the misspelling. German is quite a phonetic language, most of the time, letters are pronounced the same, not like in English where you wouldn't know how to pronounce a word if you've never heard it before.
I would understand if it were small villages where nobody could check in former times how the correct spelling is. But Wiesbaden? It's spelt "IE", not "EI". Often, these two letters are turned around, especially by Americans, when they see a German name. In most countries, an "I" is pronounced "EE" all the time, and if an "E" follows, it's just a longer "E". Foreigners see the "IE" and pronounce it "I" as in "like" but then they get told it's pronounced "EE" as in "three" and all of a sudden, they misspell the word.

If anyone is interested, I found a very nice blog explaining German pronunciation to English speakers here.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Williams, John "Augustus"

Williams, John "Augustus" - 1972

I always say I mostly read about the Roman times in the Astérix comics and they are really not bad if you have no idea about what was going on during Julius Cesar's times.

This book is about his successor, told by himself, his daughter and many many of his friends and enemies. Highly interesting to read about all the intrigues and what was going on behind the scenes.

I would have loved a list in the back with the names of the people and how they were related to each other. It's a good thing we have Google nowadays, otherwise I might have been lost as I can imagine people in the seventies were when they first read the book.

However, it still is a very good book if you want to learn about the Romans. Just heed my advice, make a list, see who is who and what they were in relation to Augustus.

Augustus certainly was a very impressive emperor, a man who was catapulted into a position at a young age, who had to take responsibility for a huge country. His reign lasted 40 years and was known as the Pax Romana, the Roman peace because that's what he did, he brought peace to most of his country, often at a huge cost but nonetheless very successful.

Apparently, the author has written only three books, this one, "Stoner" a campus novel and "Butcher's Crossing", a Western. I might attempt one of his other books one day.

From the back cover:
"After the brutal murder of his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, Octavian, a shy and scholarly youth of nineteen, suddenly finds himself heir to the vast power of Rome. He is destined, despite vicious power struggles, bloody wars and family strife, to transform his realm and become the greatest ruler the western world had ever seen: Augustus Caesar, the first Roman Emperor.
Building on impeccable research, John Williams brings the legendary figure of Augustus vividly to life, and invests his characters with such profound humanity that we enter completely into the heat and danger of their lives and times."

Monday, 5 February 2018

Hamann, Brigitte "The Reluctant Empress"

Hamann, Brigitte "The Reluctant Empress" (German: Elisabeth, Kaiserin wider Willen) - 1981

Every German has seen the trilogy about "Sissi", the Austrian empress. There is a picture we have of her and that is bitter-sweet. I therefore was happy to find this book about her, a well worked out biography which gives a much deeper impression of the German that married the leader of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1854 at the age of 16. It is supposedly one of the best biographies on her.

I don't think I would want to be in the position of any royal person today but back in the day it must have been even more horrible, all those rules, that etiquette you had to follow, being social with people all the time, even if they were critical of you. I think Elisabeth would have been a lot happier with her "Franzl" if he hadn't been an emperor, as she said before her wedding.

We don't just meet Elisabeth in this book, we also learn about the difficulties between the Austrians and the other country that "belonged" to them. We can even see how the first signs for World War I were set in this country and in this family. What a pity. How many horrors would have been avoided if this hadn't been the case, there probably wouldn't have been a second World War and millions of people would have been saved.

A great read about an impressive woman. If you're at all interested in European history, this is a Must!

"She was the romantic idol of her age, the extraordinarily beautiful and mysterious Empress Elisabeth of Austria whose exploits made her a legend in nineteenth-century Europe and beyond. This biography by Brigitte Hamann reveals the truth of a complex and touching, curiously modern personality, her refusals to conform, escaping to a life of her own, filled with literature, ideas and the new political passions of the age."

Friday, 2 February 2018

Book Quotes of the Week

"I have put out my books and now my house has a soul." Cicero 

"A country that does not know how to read and write is easy to deceive." Che Guevara 

"Books are dreams lived out on paper." TrueTateHunter 
"Reading is important. If you know how to read then the whole world opens up to you" Barack Obama

"Humans make art, but art makes us human." 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, 1 February 2018

Happy February!

Happy February to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch

"... und dann wurde es warm "
"... and then it got warm"

The word February comes from the Latin word for "purification" and was the last month of the calendar years until around 450 B.C. 

The birthstone of this month is the amethyst which comes from the Greek word for "not intoxicate). It's a semiprecious quartz stone, mostly violet. 

Enjoy this month with the beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch. 
I always love those very first flowers of the year.

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

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Lagerlöf, Selma "Sancta Lucia. Christmas Stories"

Lagerlöf, Selma "Sancta Lucia. Weihnachtliche Geschichten" (Kristuslegender) [Christmas Stories] - 1893-1917

I had never read a story by Selma Lagerlöf, the first woman ever to have received the Nobel Prize for Literature. And since she wrote some Christmas stories, I thought it was about time.

Of course, I had seen the animated series "The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson" which was made after her book but other than that, I didn't know much about Selma Lagerlöf. Well, that has changed and I will certainly read a novel written by her, maybe "Gösta Berling".

As with other selections of stories, there are certainly collections of Selma Lagerlöf's Christmas stories available in English but probably none of them have exactly the same contents as this German collection I found. These are the stories in this particular one:

The Holy Night (Den heliga natten, 1904)

The Lucia Day Legend (Luciadagens legend, 1917)

The Legend of the Christmas Rose (Legenden om julrosorna, 1908)

God's Peace (Gudsfreden, 1898)

A Christmas Guest (En julgäst, 1893)

You can even download some of them for free!

In any case, the stories were nice to read, especially around Christmas. They tell us a lot about the life in Sweden about a century ago and that is always worth looking at. Some of the stories are more like a fairy tale whereas others talk about the everyday folk and their lives.

From the back cover:
"When I was five years old I had such a great sorrow! I hardly know if I have had a greater since then. It was then that my grandmother died. Up to that time, she used to sit every day on the corner sofa in her room, and tell stories. I remember grandmother told story after story from morning till night, and we children sat beside her, quite still, and listened. It was a glorious life! No other children had such happy times as we did. It isn't much that I recollect about my grandmother. I remember that she had very beautiful snow-white hair, and stooped when she walked, and that she always sat and knitted a stocking. And I even remember that when she had finished a story, she used to lay her hand on my head and say: - All this is as true, as true as that I see you and you see me. - I also remember that she could sing songs, but this she did not do every day. One of the songs was about a knight and a sea-troll, and had this refrain: - It blows cold, cold weather at sea . ."

Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1909 "in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings".

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

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Tolstoi, Leo "Collected Works. The Stories"

Tolstoi, Leo "Gesammelte Werke. Die Erzählungen" (Russian) [Collected Works. The Stories] - 1853-1904

Most collected words are not published in the same way in different countries. Therefore, I give you a list of the stories to be found in this collection. I am sure you can find all the stories elsewhere in English, maybe not in one book, though.

A Landlord's Morning - 1856
The Raid/Набег - 1853
The Wood-Felling/Рубка леса - 1855
Two Hussars/Два гусара - 1856
The Snowstorm/Метель - 1856
Kholstomer/Холстомер - 1875
What Men Live By/Чем люди живы - 1881
Two Old Men - 1885
How Much Land Does a Man Need?/Много ли человеку земли нужно - 1886
The Three Hermits/Три Старца - 1886
The Death of Ivan Ilyich/Смерть Ивана Ильича - 1886
The Kreutzer Sonata/Крейцерова соната - 1889
Master and Man/Хозяин и работник - 1895
Hadji Murat/Хаджи-Мурат - 1904

I have read "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina" by Tolstoy and - same as most of the other Russian authors I have read so far - enjoyed those books very much. I am not the biggest fan of short stories but when I found this book of short stories on almost 1,000 pages in a second hand bookshop, I couldn't resist.

If you read any of those short stories, you can easily see where the author found his ideas for his "big books", a lot about the serfs working the land the nobility and the officials, the soldiers, the Russian Orthodox church, the Muslims in the country. His stories are both political - e.g. in one of them he describes the struggle of the Chechens (that still persist today) - philosophical and sociological. A masterpiece.

I would love to read Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth next, autobiographical novels or maybe Sevastopol Sketches about the Crimean War or The Cossacks in which he describes the relation between the Cossacks and the Russians. We'll see.

In any case, Tolstoy is always worth reading.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Ivey, Eowyn "To The Bright Edge of the World"

Ivey, Eowyn "To The Bright Edge of the World" - 2016

This is certainly one of the favourite books I read this year. I haven't come across many books about Alaska and this one is about the first years after the US bought it from the Russians when they still sent out explorers to find out just about anything about the land.

One of these explorers was the fictional Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester. who kept writing back and forth to his wife. They both kept diaries, as well, so we get to know a lot about life in the new state. I found the tales about the native inhabitants and their beliefs especially exciting. Those people led a hard yet highly interesting life.

The writing is very beautiful, the story captivating, the characters come alive, everything seems so real. Great story!

Since I enjoyed this book so much, so I probably should read "Snow Child" by Eowyn Ivey, as well.

From the back cover:
"Set in the Alaskan landscape that she brought to stunningly vivid life in THE SNOW CHILD (a Sunday Times bestseller, Richard and Judy pick and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), Eowyn Ivey's TO THE BRIGHT EDGE OF THE WORLD is a breathtaking story of discovery set at the end of the nineteenth century, sure to appeal to fans of A PLACE CALLED WINTER.


Winter 1885. Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester accepts the mission of a lifetime, to navigate Alaska's Wolverine River. It is a journey that promises to open up a land shrouded in mystery, but there's no telling what awaits Allen and his small band of men.
Allen leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Sophie would have loved nothing more than to carve a path through the wilderness alongside Allen - what she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage of her that it does of her husband."

Other books about Alaska, suggested by the author:
Wallis, Velma "Two Old Women"
Hensley, William "Fifty Miles from Tomorrow"
Hayes, Ernestine "Blonde Indian"
Huntington, Sidney "Shadows on the Koyukuk"

Friday, 26 January 2018

Book Quotes of the Week

"It is better to read a little and ponder a lot than to read a lot and ponder a little." Denis Parsons Burkitt

"Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge." Stephen Hawking

"Children fall in love with books because of the memories created when they snuggle up and read with someone they love." Raising Readers

"If a person goes to a country and finds their newspapers filled with nothing but good news, there are good men in jail." Daniel Patrick Moynihan

"What I like best is staying home and reading. Being rich is not about how many homes you own. It’s the freedom to pick up any book you want without looking at the price and wondering whether you can afford it." John Waters

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Austen, Jane "Selected Letters. 1796-1817"

Austen, Jane "Selected Letters. 1796-1817" 

Jane Austen certainly belongs to my favourite authors. Unfortunately, due to her early death, there are only six finished books (and two unfinished ones) written by her which I have read several times. However, there are still other writings, as these "Selected Letters".

This book might not have been meant for publishing, they are just letters Jane Austen wrote to friends and family, mainly to her sister Cassandra. However, they give a great idea of life at the time and also how the author found a lot of her stories.

I really enjoyed hearing about Jane's life!

From the back cover:
"'Little Matters they are to be sure, but highly important.'
Letter-writing was something of an addiction for young women of Jane Austen's time and social position, and Austen's letters have a freedom and familiarity that only intimate writing can convey. Wiser than her critics, who were disappointed that her correspondence dwelt on gossip and the minutiae of everyday living, Austen understood the importance of 'Little Matters', of the emotional and material details of individual lives shared with friends and family through the medium of the letter. Ironic, acerbic, always entertaining, Jane Austen's letters are a fascinating record not only of her own day-to-day existence, but of the pleasures and frustrations experienced by women of her social class which are so central to her novels.
Vivien Jones's selection includes very nearly two-thirds of Austen's surviving correspondence, and her lively introduction and notes set the novelist's most private writings in their wider cultural context."

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Taylor, Andrew "The Ashes of London"

Taylor, Andrew "The Ashes of London" - 2016

This is a highly exciting book. I am seldom tempted to check out what happens at the end of the book but I really was this time. Didn't do it, of course, because that would spoil the surprise.

This is a combination of historical novel and crime story, I can see them turning it into a very successful movie one day. Although, they probably are going to change something. As they always do.

We have all read something about the Great Fire of London, well, if we read historical novels we have read one or two about it, if not, we have heard that it happened, that it was in 1666 and that it started in a bakery in Pudding Lane. But how did the people live at the time?

A while ago I read Daniel Defoe's "A Journal of the Plague Year" and that happened just ten years before the fire. Whilst the plague killed many people and brought the city to ruin, the fire brought work and helped to bring it back to its former glory.

If historical novels are your thing, this is a MUST.

From the back cover:
"A CITY IN FLAMES London, 1666. As the Great Fire consumes everything in its path, the body of a man is found in the ruins of St Paul's Cathedral - stabbed in the neck, thumbs tied behind his back. A WOMAN ON THE RUN The son of a traitor, James Marwood is forced to hunt the killer through the city's devastated streets. There he encounters a determined young woman who will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. 
A KILLER SEEKING REVENGE When a second murder victim is discovered in the Fleet Ditch, Marwood is drawn into the political and religious intrigue of Westminster - and across the path of a killer with nothing to lose..."

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Atwood, Margaret "The Handmaid’s Tale"

Atwood, Margaret "The Handmaid’s Tale" - 1985

I read this book a couple of years ago, it is one of my favourites. (Find my review from back then here.) Since it has been made into a TV series last year, it seems to be everywhere and my book club chose it as our next read. Also, Margaret Atwood just received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis), as well.

I probably enjoyed this book even more the last time than this time, I think a lot of the fears Margaret Atwood portrayed in her book thirty years ago are more true now than then. Aren't we surrounded by people who believe that only "true" Christians who follow the Bible "by the book" deserve to have a good life? At least most of the news I hear nowadays of the United States seem to suggest that. The trouble is, the louder they shout, the less Christian they are.

Unfortunately, I had to miss the book club talk but I know everyone enjoyed it.

We discussed this in our book club in January 2018.

From the back cover:
"The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.
Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first-century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood's devastating irony, wit and astute perception."

Margaret Atwood was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for "The Handmaid's Tale" in 1986.

Margaret Atwood received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 2017.

Monday, 22 January 2018

TBR Pile Reading Challenge 2018

This is another highly interesting Reading Challenge I joined two years ago.

I don't think Evie from the Bookish Blog still carries this on, as I can't find it on her page but her words with which she started this challenge are still true: "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."

After two years of participation, my TBR (To Be Read) pile is still a lot longer than it should because I just can't resist buying any new books and going to the library but I have tried to attempt reading more old books than buying new ones.

I could, of course, try to tackle the 50+ challenge but we all know that is not going to happen, instead, I 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. 

I have read

37 books in 2016 of the books that had been waiting to be read for more than a year and
32 old books in 2017. Yes, I have reached the 11-20 but I'm not all that happy with my overall result. Must do better next year. ;)

So far, I have already read these of my "old books" in 2018:

Rutland, Eva "No Crystal Stair" - 2000
Kerkeling, Hape "Der Junge muss an die frische Luft. Meine Kindheit und ich" [The boy needs some fresh air] - 2014
Campbell, Jen "The Bookshop Book" - 2014
Aaronovich, David "Paddling to Jerusalem. An Aquatic Tour of Our Small Country" - 2000
Kermani, Navid "Dein Name" [Your Name] - 2011
McCall Smith, Alexander "Tea Time for the Traditionally Built" (Übles Spiel mit Mma Ramotswe) - 2009
McLeod, Cynthia "Hoe duur was de suiker?" (The Cost of Sugar/Die Schwestern von Surinam aka Surinam) - 1987

Friday, 19 January 2018

Reading Challenge - Chunky Books 2018

I have taken part in this reading challenge since 2013. The moment I saw that post, I know this was the most interesting challenge for 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 .hey discontinued their challenge the old link for 2015.

You can still find 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
2017: 35 chunky books 6 of which chunksters

I will be posting the books I have read here:

Rutland, Eva "No Crystal Stair" - 2000 - 474 pages
Beauvoir, Simone de "L'invitée" (She came to stay/Sie kam und blieb) - 1943 - 512 pages
Abarbanell, Stephan "Displaced" (Morgenland) - 2015 - 464 pages
Kermani, Navid "Dein Name" [Your Name] - 2011 - 1,232 pages

I read 4 chunky books in 2018/19 of which 1 is considered a chunkster.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

My Favourite Books 2017

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Half of a Yellow Sun" (Die Hälfte der Sonne) - 2006
Bryson, Bill "Notes from a Big Country" (US: I'm a Stranger Here Myself/ Streiflichter aus Amerika: Die USA für Anfänger und Fortgeschrittene) - 1999
Falcones, Ildefonso "Das Lied der Freiheit" (The Barefoot Queen/La Reina Descalza) - 2013
Hansen, Dörte "This House is Mine" (Altes Land) - 2015
Hislop, Victoria "Cartes Postales from Greece" - 2016
Ivey, Eowyn "To The Bright Edge of the World" (Das Leuchten am Rand der Welt) - 2016
Pamuk, Orhan "A Strangeness in my Mind" (Kafamda Bir Tuhaflık/Diese Fremdheit in mir) - 2014
Scott, Mary "Days that have been" (Das waren schöne Zeiten) - 1966
Taylor, Andrew "The Ashes of London" - 2016
Weigand, Sabine "Ich, Eleonore, Königin zweier Reiche" [I, Eleonore, Queen of two Kingdoms] - 2015
Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon. The True Queen" - 2015
Whitehead, Colson "Underground Railroad" - 2016

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.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

2017 Reading Challenges - Wrap-Up

I took part in five reading challenges (Emma's Book Club, Reading Challenge - Chunky Books 2017, The "Piggybank" Challenge 2017, TBR Pile Reading Challenge 2017, and Travel the World Through Books), and added books to several other lists.

100 Books by the BBC
This is an old challenge, I added just one more book to the list.
Plath, Sylvia "The Bell Jar" (Die Glasglocke) - 1963

101 Best Selling Books of All Time
Cao, Xueqin "Dream of the Red Chamber/The Story of the Stone" (CHN: 红楼梦/Hung lou meng)- ca. 1717-1763 (18th century)

20 Classic And Important Books
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Americanah" (Americanah) - 2013

A Century of Books 
Grimm, Hans Herbert aka Emil Schulz "Schlump. The Story of an unknown soldier" (Schlump. Geschichten und Abenteuer des unbekannten Musketiers Emil Schulz, genannt 'Schlump', von ihm selbst erzählt) - 1928
Mahfouz, Naguib "Sugar Street" (السكرية/Al-Sukkariyya) - 1957

Plath, Sylvia "The Bell Jar" (Die Glasglocke) - 1963
Şafak, Elif "Three Daughters of Eve" (Turkish: Havva'nın Üç Kızı) - 2016

Children's Books
Munsch, Robert "Love You Forever" (Ich liebe Dich für immer) - 1986
Woodruff, Elvira "Dear Austin: Letters from the Underground Railroad" - 1998

Dutch and French Books
Word cloud made with WordItOut
Only two French and one Dutch book this year.

Bâ, Mariama "So Long a Letter" (French: Une si longue lettre) - 1979
Camus, Albert "The First Man" (French: Le premier homme) - 1994
Koch, Herman "The Dinner" (Dutch: Het Diner/Angerichtet) - 2009

Emma's Book Club
An ever growing list of books about and for women, a group started by Emma Watson (better known as Hermione Granger), UN Woman Goodwill Ambassador. I added three more books to that list.

Plath, Sylvia "The Bell Jar" (Die Glasglocke) - 1963
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
Wolf, Naomi "The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women" - 1990

German Books

Since German is my mother tongue and I can easily obtain books in that language, I read 27.

Arntz, Jochen; Schmale, Holger "Die Kanzler und ihre Familien: Wie das Privatleben die deutsche Politik prägt" [The Chancellors and their Families] - 2017
Emcke, Carolin "Gegen den Hass" [Against Hate] - 2016
- "Von den Kriegen. Briefe an Freunde" (Echoes of Violence: Letters from a War Reporter) - 2004
Grass, Günter "Die Box. Dunkelkammergeschichten" (The Box: Tales from the Darkroom) - 2008
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
Hahn, Ulla "Spiel der Zeit" [Game of Time] - 2014
Hamann, Brigitte "Elisabeth, Kaiserin wider Willen" (The Reluctant Empress) - 1981
Hansen, Dörte "Altes Land" (This House is Mine) - 2015
Heidenreich, Elke "Wörter aus 30 Jahren" [Words from 30 years] - 2003
Lenz, Siegfried "Deutschstunde" (The German Lesson) - 1968
Lippe, Jürgen von der "Der König der Tiere. Geschichten und Glossen" [The King of the Animals] - 2017
Lüpkes, Sandra "Die Inselvogtin" [The Island Mayoress] - 2009
Mercier, Pascal "Lea" (Lea) - 2007
Modick, Klaus "Konzert ohne Dichter" [Concert without poets] - 2015
Nöstlinger, Christine "Best of Mama" [Best of Mum] - 2001
Oelker, Petra "Zwei Schwestern. Eine Geschichte aus unruhiger Zeit" [Two Sisters] - 2017
Preisendörfer, Bruno "Als Deutschland noch nicht Deutschland war. Reise in die Goethezeit" [When Germany wasn't Germany, yet. A travel to Goethe's Time] - 2015
Schrobsdorff, Angelika "Du bist nicht so wie andre Mütter" (You Are Not Like Other Mothers) - 1992
Schulte-Loh, Christian "Zum Lachen auf die Insel" [Onto the island to laugh] - 2017
Schweizer, Gerhard "Islam verstehen. Geschichte, Kultur und Politik" (Understanding Islam. History, Culture and Politics) - 2016  
Tau, Max "Das Land, das ich verlassen mußte" [The Country I Had to Leave] - 1961
Weigand, Sabine "Ich, Eleonore, Königin zweier Reiche" [I, Eleonore, Queen of two Kingdoms] - 2015
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
Wulf, Britta "Das Rentier in der Küche. Eine deutsch-sibirische Liebe" [The Reindeer in the kitchen. A German-Siberian love] - 2016
Zaimoglu, Feridun "Siebentürmeviertel" [Seven Towers Quarter] - 2015
Zweig, Stefanie "Heimkehr in die Rothschildallee" (Familie Sternberg #3) [Homecoming to Rothschild Avenue] -2010
- "Neubeginn in die Rothschildallee" [A New Beginning on Rothschild Avenue] - 2010

Migraine Books and Links 2011, 2014, 2016
Word cloud made with WordItOut
I started a new list in 2016. You can find all the links here.

My Favourite Books Ever
Every year I find some more books I can add to my list of favourite books. 20 this year.

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Americanah" (Americanah) - 2013
- "Half of a Yellow Sun" (Die Hälfte der Sonne) - 2006
Atwood, Margaret "The Blind Assassin" (Der blinde Mörder) - 2000
Dickens, Charles "Bleak House" (Bleak House) - 1852/53
Emcke, Carolin "Echoes of Violence: Letters from a War Reporter" (German: Von den Kriegen. Briefe an Freunde) - 2004
Falcones, Ildefonso "The Barefoot Queen" (Spanish: La Reina Descalza/Das Lied der Freiheit) - 2013
Hansen, Dörte "This House is Mine" (German: Altes Land) - 2015
Hislop, Victoria "Cartes Postales from Greece" - 2016
Ivey, Eowyn "To The Bright Edge of the World" (Das Leuchten am Rand der Welt) - 2016
Lenz, Siegfried "The German Lesson" (German: Deutschstunde) - 1968
Mahfouz, Naguib "Palace Walk" (Arabic: بين القصرين/Bayn al-qasrayn) (Zwischen den Palästen) - 1957
- "Palace of Desire" ((Arabic:قصر الشوق/Qasr el-Shōq) (Palast der Sehnsucht) - 1957
- "Sugar Street" ((Arabic:السكرية/Al-Sukkariyya) (Zuckergässchen) - 1957
Mercier, Pascal "Lea" (German: Lea) - 2007
Pamuk, Orhan "A Strangeness in my Mind" (Turkish: Kafamda Bir Tuhaflık) - 2014
Rosner, Elizabeth "The Speed of Light" - 2001
Taylor, Andrew "The Ashes of London" - 2016
Turner, Nancy E. "The Star Garden: A Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine" - 2007
Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon. The True Queen" - 2015
Weir Alison "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" - 1991

Nobel Prize Winners and Their Books
Word cloud made with WordItOut  
This is another list to which I could add seven more books.

Camus, Albert "The First Man" (Le premier homme) - 1994
Grass, Günter "The Box: Tales from the Darkroom" (Die Box. Dunkelkammergeschichten) - 2008
Hemingway, Ernest "For Whom the Bell Tolls" - 1940
Mahfouz, Naguib - Cairo Trilogy: "Palace Walk" (بين القصرين/Bayn al-qasrayn) - 1957
- "Palace of Desire" (قصر الشوق/Qasr el-Shōq) - 1957
- "Sugar Street" (السكرية/Al-Sukkariyya) - 1957
Dylan, Bob "Chronicles. Volume One" - 2004
Pamuk, Orhan "A Strangeness in my Mind" (Kafamda Bir Tuhaflık) - 2014
Lagerlöf, Selma "Sancta Lucia. Weihnachtliche Geschichten" (Kristuslegender) [Christmas Stories] - 1893-1917

Oprah’s Book Club
So many old challenges, here is one where I added three more books.

Bohjalian, Chris "Midwives" 1997
Whitehead, Colson "The Underground Railroad"
Jones, Edward P. "The Known World" (Die bekannte Welt) - 2004 

Oscar Winning Books
I added one more book in this category.

1968N Dickens, Charles "Oliver" (Best Film)

Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (German: Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels)
Five books from authors in this category.

Lenz, Siegfried "Deutschstunde" (The German Lesson) - 1968
Emcke, Carolin "Von den Kriegen. Briefe an Freunde" (Echoes of Violence: Letters from a War Reporter) - 2004
Emcke, Carolin "Gegen den Hass" [Against Hate] - 2004
Atwood, Margaret "The Blind Assassin" (Der blinde Mörder) - 2000
Tau, Max "Das Land, das ich verlassen mußte" [The Country I Had to Leave] - 1961
Pamuk, Orhan "A Strangeness in my Mind" (Kafamda Bir Tuhaflık) - 2014

The "Piggybank" Challenge 2016

This challenge goes officially from 1 March 2016 to 1 March 2017 but it's easier to wrap this up now with the rest of the challenges. This year, I read 108 books which resulted in €216 to spend on something I'd really like. You can find the whole list with links here.

Reading Challenge - Chunky Books 2016
I read 35 books with more than 450 pages, 6 of them were more than 750 pages, the reading challenge calls them "chunksters". You can find the whole list with links here.

Suggestions from Friends
Coates, Ta-Nehisi "Between the World and Me" (Zwischen mir und der Welt) - 2015
Hochschild, Arlie Russell "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right" - 2016
Lenz, Siegfried "The German Lesson" (German: Die Deutschstunde) - 1968
Mahfouz, Naguib "The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street" - 2001

TBR Pile Challenge 2016
Another old challenge where the participants try to read as many books from their To Be Read Pile as possible. I managed 30 books that had been on that stack for a while. This doesn't mean that my TBR pile got any smaller since I also bought more new books. You can find the whole list with links here.

Top Ten Tuesday
I didn't participate much in this challenge this year, however, I managed to read 11 new books that I mentioned on those lists.

Aaronovitch, Ben "Broken Homes" (Rivers of London 4) - 2013
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Half of a Yellow Sun" - 2006
Bohjalian, Chris "Midwives" - 1997
Dylan, Bob "Chronicles. Volume One" - 2004
Ephron, Nora "The Most of Nora Ephron" - 2014
Falcones, Ildefonso "The Barefoot Queen" (Spanish: La Reina Descalza) - 2013
Hemingway, Ernest "For Whom the Bell Tolls" - 1940
Konar, Affinity "Mischling" - 2016
Oates, Joyce Carol "Carthage" - 2014
Plath, Sylvia "The Bell Jar" (Die Glasglocke) - 1963
Turner, Nancy E. "The Star Garden: A Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine"- 2007

Travel the World Through Books
After reading the book "Die Ländersammlerin" [The collector of Countries] by Nina Sedano, I thought it would be great to read a book from every country in the world. I managed 81 until now, added two more this year, Senegal and Nigeria. It's quite tough to find good books from the countries I haven't "visited", yet, so if you have any good suggestions, please let me know.

Bâ, Mariama "So Long a Letter" (French: Une si longue lettre) - 1979
Adichie, Chimamanda Nogzi "Half of a Yellow Sun" (Die Hälfte der Sonne) - 2006

What's in a Name Reading Challenge
Even though this is an older challenge, I always think it's interesting to read an eponymous book, it's always something special.

Ephron, Nora "The Most of Nora Ephron" - 2014
Dickens, Charles "Oliver Twist" (Oliver Twist) - 1838
Fredriksson, Marianne "Simon and The Oaks" (aka Simon's Family/Simon och ekarna/) - 1985
Grimm, Hans Herbert aka Emil Schulz "Schlump. The Story of an unknown soldier" (Schlump. Geschichten und Abenteuer des unbekannten Musketiers Emil Schulz, genannt 'Schlump', von ihm selbst erzählt) - 1928
Hamann, Brigitte "Elisabeth, Kaiserin wider Willen" (The Reluctant Empress) - 1981
Mercier, Pascal "Lea" (German: Lea) - 2007
Murakami, Haruki "Kafka am Strand" (Kafka on the Shore) (海辺のカフカ Umibe no Kafuka) - 2004
Pamuk, Orhan "Cevdet und seine Söhne" (Turkish: Cevdet Bey ve Oğulları/Cevdet Bey and His Sons) - 1982
Şafak, Elif "Three Daughters of Eve" (Turkish: Havva'nın Üç Kızı) - 2016
Turner, Nancy E. "The Star Garden: A Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine" - 2007
Weigand, Sabine "Ich, Eleonore, Königin zweier Reiche" [I, Eleonore, Queen of two Kingdoms] - 2015
Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon. The True Queen" - 2015
Weir Alison "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" - 1991
Williams, John "Augustus" (Augustus) - 1972
Woodruff, Elvira "Dear Austin: Letters from the Underground Railroad" - 1998
Wroblewski, David "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" - 2008

No new books in:
"13 Ways of Looking at the Novel" by Jane Smiley
7 Books That Will Radically Shift Your Perspectives
Best European Literature
Esperanto Links 
Interesting Links
Le Monde - The 100 Books of the Century 
Modern Library 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century
The 10 Greatest Books Ever
The Top 10 Most Difficult Books
Top 10 Most Read Books in the World 
The 100 Greatest Fiction Books as Chosen by The Guardian

For my German friends, I have added the German titles in () brackets if the book is available in German. For my English friends, I have added the English titles in () brackets if the book is available in English and in [] brackets if the book is NOT available in English.