Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Settings I’d Like to See More Of

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish".

It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

July 23: Settings I’d Like to See More Of (Or At All)

I know there are several ways to interpret this task. Settings can be a lot of things, a place like a house, a city or a country, or at the sea, in the mountains, in a forest but also certain types of stories.

Since I like to pretend that I'm a world traveller (at least by books), I have decided to name the countries I love to read about most, I have decided that it must be countries for me. I put them in alphabetical order with a link to the countries I have read about already.

I did run into a problem. There are countries of which I haven't read anything at all and would love to explore. That's my first list.

Burkina Faso
Costa Rica
(Even if some of them have a link, those books were not directly about the country in question.)

And then there are countries where I have read a few but would love to read more. These are on my second list.

New Zealand
The Philippines

Having said that, there are so many more countries of which I haven't read enough or at all. I wish to read at least one good book about every country in the world.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Book Club History 2017 etc. (in alphabetical order)

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash
Reviewed books read and discussed in the Book Club (in alphabetical order, to be continued)

Author "Title" - Year - Original Language (Original title) (Date discussed)

Alsanea, Rajaa "The Girls of Riyadh" - 2005 Arabic (بنات الرياض‎ Banāt al-Riyāḍ) (May 19)
Bâ, Mariama "So Long a Letter" - 1979 French (Une si longue lettre) (Aug 19)
Defoe, Daniel "Robinson Crusoe" - 1719 English (Mar 19)
Dick, Philip K. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" - 1968 English (Sep 19)
Ferrante, Elena "My Brillliant Friend" - 2011 Italian (L'amica geniale) (Aug 18)
Fitzgerald, F. Scott "The Great Gatsby" - 1925 English (Apr 18)
García Marquez, Gabriel "A Hundred Years of Solitude" - 1967 Spanish (Cien años de soledad) (Sep 18)
Gogol, Nikolai - any novellas - Russian (Oct 18)
Gordimer, Nadine "Burger's Daughter" - 1979 English (Jun 19)
Hesse, Hermann "Steppenwolf" - 1927 German (Der Steppenwolf) (Dec 17)
Høeg, Peter "Effekten af Susan" -2014 Danish (Effekten af Susan) (Nov 17)
Hurme, Juha (not translated) - 2017 Finnish "Niemi" (not translated) (May 18)
Huxley, Aldous "Brave New World" - 1923 English (Oct 17)
Indriðason, Arnaldur - any book - Icelandic (Jul 18)
Ishiguro, Kazuo "Never Let Me Go" - 2005 English (Dez 18)
Jansson, Tove "The Invisible Child" - 1962 Swedish (Berättelsen om det osynliga barnet) (Jan 19)
Jansson, Tove " Moominpappa at Sea " - 1965 Swedish (Pappan och havet) (Aug 17)
Kawabata, Yasunari "A Thousand Cranes" - 1949 Japanese (千羽鶴 Senbazuru) (Nobel Prize 1968) (Jun 18)
Lee, Harper "To Kill a Mockingbird" - 1960 English (Jan 18)
Lindstedt, Laura "Oneiron" - 2015 Finnish (Oneiron) (Feb 18)
Paasilinna, Arto "The Year of the Hare" - 1975 Finnish (Jäniksen vuosi) (Nov 18)
Saramago, José "Blindness" - 1995 Spanish (O Ensaio sobre a Cegueira) (Apr 19)
Statovici, Pajtim "My Cat Jugoslavia" - 2014 Finnish (Kissani Jugoslavia) (Sep 17)
Süskind, Patrick "The Perfume. A Story of a Murderer" - 1985 German (Das Parfüm) (Feb 19)
Verne, Jules "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" - 1870 French (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) (Mar 18)
Yu, Hua "China in Ten Words" - 2010 Chinese (十个词汇里的中国) (Jul 19)

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Book Club History 2017 etc. (in chronological order)

I have been looking for another international book club for quite a while and I finally found one. Everyone is eager to read as many international books as possible, that's always a good start.

As you can see, the choice of literature is extremely wide spread.

They have been discussing books for two years now, I added the links to the books I have read already.

Author "Title" - Year - Original Language (Original title) (Date discussed)

Jansson, Tove " Moominpappa at Sea " - 1965 Swedish (Pappan och havet) (Aug 17)
Statovici, Pajtim "My Cat Jugoslavia" - 2014 Finnish (Kissani Jugoslavia) (Sep 17)
Huxley, Aldous "Brave New World" - 1923 English (Oct 17)
Høeg, Peter "Effekten af Susan" -2014 Danish (Effekten af Susan) (Nov 17)
Hesse, Hermann "Steppenwolf" - 1927 German (Der Steppenwolf) (Dec 17)

Lee, Harper "To Kill a Mockingbird" - 1960 English (Jan 18)
Lindstedt, Laura "Oneiron" - 2015 Finnish (Oneiron) (Feb 18)
Verne, Jules "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" - 1870 French (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) (Mar 18)
Fitzgerald, F. Scott "The Great Gatsby" - 1925 English (Apr 18)
Hurme, Juha (not translated) - 2017 Finnish "Niemi" (not translated) (May 18)
Kawabata, Yasunari "A Thousand Cranes" - 1949 Japanese (千羽鶴 Senbazuru) (Nobel Prize 1968) (Jun 18)
Indriðason, Arnaldur - any book - Icelandic (Jul 18)
Ferrante, Elena "My Brillliant Friend" - 2011 Italian (L'amica geniale) (Aug 18)
García Marquez, Gabriel "A Hundred Years of Solitude" - 1967 Spanish (Cien años de soledad) (Sep 18)
Gogol, Nikolai - any novellas - Russian (Oct 18)
Paasilinna, Arto "The Year of the Hare" - 1975 Finnish (Jäniksen vuosi) (Nov 18)
Ishiguro, Kazuo "Never Let Me Go" - 2005 English (Dec 18)

Jansson, Tove "The Invisible Child" - 1962 Swedish (Berättelsen om det osynliga barnet) (Jan 19)
Süskind, Patrick "The Perfume. A Story of a Murderer" - 1985 German (Das Parfüm) (Feb 19)
Defoe, Daniel "Robinson Crusoe" - 1719 English (Mar 19)
Saramago, José "Blindness" - 1995 Spanish (O Ensaio sobre a Cegueira) (Apr 19)
Alsanea, Rajaa "The Girls of Riyadh" - 2005 Arabic (بنات الرياض‎ Banāt al-Riyāḍ) (May 19)
Gordimer, Nadine "Burger's Daughter" - 1979 English (Jun 19)
Yu, Hua "China in Ten Words" - 2010 Chinese (十个词汇里的中国) (Jul 19)
Bâ, Mariama "So Long a Letter" - 1979 French (Une si longue lettre) (Aug 19)
Dick, Philip K. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" - 1968 English (Sep 19)

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish".

It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

July 16: Auto-Buy Authors

This is such a lovely theme. There are so many authors that I love and it was tough to cut them down to ten but I made it this time.

They are sort of different kind of authors but I think it shows where my interests go.

Bryson, Bill
Falcones, Ildefonso
Frazier, Charles
Hislop, Victoria
Kingsolver, Barbara
Lamb, Wally
Lawson, Mary
Oates, Joyce Carol

Monday, 15 July 2019

Gordimer, Nadine "Burger's Daughter" - 1979

Gordimer, Nadine "Burger's Daughter" - 1979

I wanted to read a book by Nadine Gordimer for a long time. She is a prolific author, she's from South Africa, she writes about politics, she's a woman and she received the Nobel Prize for Literature, a lot of reasons why she should be on my list.

I certainly wouldn't call this an "easy read". The author's style is not very inviting, the flow … well, there is not really a flow. The conversations are not very clear, one often gets the impression that we're not supposed to know who is talking at the moment, whose thoughts we are following. The story jumps from one person to the next.

However, the topic of the novel is very good. The story is loosely based on the life of Bram Fischer and his family, especially his daughter. Bram Fischer was a South African lawyer, known for his anti-apartheid activism. He became most popular as Nelson Mandela's defence lawyer.

I did enjoy reading about the story even if I didn't enjoy reading the story very much. The book teaches us about South Africa, their history, the apartheid system and that there have been people fighting against it, even if there could have been more.

From the back cover:

"After the death of legendary anti-apartheid activist, Lionel Burger, his daughter Rosa finds herself adrift in a South Africa she no longer knows. Previously her life had been surrounded, created by politics. Now, confronting the left-wing legacy her father represented, as well as the rise of a militant Black Consciousness movement, she is involved in a 'children's revolt' of her own. But where and how will she find her own identity?

Emerging front the darkest days of apartheid, in its moods of elegy, homage and compassion, Burger's Daughter is a great political novel not only of South Africa but of the twentieth century."

Nadine Gordimer "who through her magnificent epic writing has - in the words of Alfred Nobel - been of very great benefit to humanity" received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"I can read a book twice as fast as anybody else. First I read the beginning, and then I read the ending, and then I start in the middle and read toward whichever end I like best." Gracie Allen

"I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon women's inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman's fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men."
Jane Austen, Captain Harville in "Persuasion"

"A novel is never anything but a philosophy expressed in images. And in a good novel the philosophy has disappeared into the images." Albert Camus

"The libraries have become my candy store." Juliana Kimball

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Hawthorne, Nathaniel "The Scarlet Letter"

Hawthorne, Nathaniel "The Scarlet Letter" - 1850

I have never been a big fan of puritanism or over-religious people who try to put their idea of "society" on everyone else. In this book, a young woman is punished for having relations with a man who is not her husband. Both she and the resulting child are ostracized by the "good people" of a village in New England. Hester seems a wonderful woman but it's hard for her to get acknowledged by the other citizens. And at the time, she didn't have a huge choice to go somewhere else.

Even though I prefer long books, I found that the length of this book was alright because everything got said. The story was rounded up well. I also liked the style, quite a typical classic way of telling a story. I read a review by someone who complained that the sentences were too long. I already noticed that when discussing my first classic book with my English book club more than twenty years ago. Being German, I am so used to long sentences (and words), it feels so familiar. I don't mind that at all. Should you not be a fan of long sentences, you might not really like this classic so much. But I did.

From the back cover:

"The Scarlet Letter is the tragic story of a woman's shame and the cruel treatment she suffers at the hands of the Puritan society in which she lives. 

A settler in New England, Hester Prynne has waited two years for her husband, an ageing English scholar, to join her. He arrives to find her in the pillory, a small baby in her arms. She must, as a punishment for her adultery, wear a scarlet 'A' embroidered on her breast and is consenquently ostracized by her contemptuous neighbours. 

Sworn to keep secret the identity of both her husband and her lover, Hester slowly wins the respect of society by her charitable acts. Her own strength and the moral cowardice of the man who allows her to face guilt and shame alone are brought into sharp contrast in a dramatic and harrowing conclusion."

Monday, 8 July 2019

Hirata, Andrea "The Rainbow Troops"

Hirata, Andrea "The Rainbow Troops" (Indonesian: Lasykar Pelangi) - 2005

A lovely book about a school in Indonesia. Not just any school, a school in one of the poorest areas where the teachers work for no money and the students have to drive several hours by bike to get there.

But they all have one thing in common, they want to learn, they want to get out of the circle where they won't achieve anything because they have no education like their parents.

To read about the struggles these kids have to face every day and how they achieve to get at least some eduction, is so refreshing. We take so many things for granted in our countries, especially that we can send our kids to school, this is a reminder that it's not a given, that we should appreciate it a lot more than we do.

This book is interesting because we get to know people who seldom get mentioned in books, those poor people who work hard so their families can live but don't get mentioned because their lives are not exciting enough for us. But we get to know all the kids in the class as well as some of their parents and definitely the teachers. Their motivation, their hopes and dreams.

Good book.

From the back cover:

"Ikal is a student at Muhammadiyah Elementary, on the Indonesian island of Belitong, where graduating from sixth grade is considered a major achievement. His school is under constant threat of closure. In fact, Ikal and his friends - a group called The Rainbow Troops - face threats from every angle: pessimistic, corrupt government officials; greedy corporations hardly distinguishable from the colonialism they've replaced; deepening poverty and crumbling infrastructure; and their own faltering self-confidence. But in the form of two extraordinary teachers, they also have hope, and Ikal's education is an uplifting one, in and out of the classroom.

You will cheer for Ikal and his friends as they defy the town's powerful tin miners. Meet his first love - a hand with half-moon fingernails that passes him the chalk his teacher sent him to buy. You will roar in support of Lintang, the class's barefoot maths genius, as he bests the rich company children in an academic challenge.

First published in Indonesia, The Rainbow Troops went on to sell over 5 million copies. Now it is set to captivate readers across the globe. This is classic story-telling: an engrossing depiction of a world not often encountered, bursting with charm and verve."

Friday, 5 July 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"Why can’t people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?" David Baldacci

"A good reader should always have two books with him: one to read, the other one to lend." Gabrielle Dubois

"Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything." Tomie dePaola

"Nothing is more impotent than an unread library." John Waters, Role Models

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Dionne jr. E.J.; Reid, Joy-Ann "We are the Change We Seek"

Dionne jr. E.J.; Reid, Joy-Ann "We are the Change We Seek. The Speeches of Barack Obama" - 2017

Barack Obama was a great president with hope for a better world. His speeches show that. The ones that are shown in this book are probably amongst his most important ones and they were all fantastic.

Many people should read this, especially those who hope that the present incumbent will be better. There is now way that is going to happen.

We need more people like him, this world would be a better place. And I am sure, even though he is not the president any more, that we'll hear more from hm and that he'll continue his work. He is a born leader and speaker and he can encourage people to work for their country and therefore for the world.

After "Dreams From My Father", "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama, "The World As It Is" by Ben Rhodes, "Promise Me, Dad" by Joe Biden and "Becoming" by Michelle Obama, this was the sixth book I read about the president. They were all great reads to get to know this man and his dream a little better.

From the back cover:

"'Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change we seek'

In his speeches as president, Barack Obama had the power to move people from all over the world as few leaders before him. We Are the Change We Seek is a collection of twenty-seven of Obama's greatest speeches, covering the issues most important to our time: war, inequality, race relations, gun violence and human rights. With brief introductory remarks explaining the context for each speech, this is a book to inform, illuminate and inspire, providing invaluable insight into a groundbreaking and era-defining presidency."

Barack Obama received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2009 "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.".

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, 2 July 2019

Bogel, Anne "I'd Rather Be Reading"

Bogel, Anne "I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life" - 2018

I like books about books, even if they sometimes are on the "chick lit" side.

This one wasn't. It was the honest account of an avid reader, someone like all my readers here and myself. Someone who can't go a day without reading. There are so many reflections on what it means to be a reader and what we all have in common.

I envied Anne Bogel for her first house, not because of the size of it or the layout of the room. No, it was the location, right next door to a library. I always had to get into my car in order to get to the next library. That doesn't mean I didn't use it, on the contrary.

There are some hilarious parts in the book. In the chapter "The Bookworm Problems", the author mentions that our books equal the gross domestic product of a small nation. I'm afraid that I belong to those people, even though I use the library quite frequently, as well.

In general, I totally agree with the author about reading and all that it embraces. Mostly, I have read completely different books from her. I suppose that is partly because most of the books she mentions are American but also, because we seem to like quite different genres. Except for Jane Austen, we don't seem to have a single author in common.

However, sometimes I found the book was written for Americans only. E.g. when she writes "… I read Doris Kearns Goodwin's excellent Abraham Lincoln biography Team of Rivals. I knew the basic outline of this life from history class; American students know that story's sad ending." I think most students have learned that in school, I know I did.

I have known a lot of American readers and a lot of them always tell me that the books they find are not very international. This book has confirmed that.

Nevertheless, I liked the book. Because, after all, it doesn't matter what kind of books you read, as long as you read.

And doesn't it just have the most charming illustration?

From the back cover:

"Reading isn't just a hobby or a way to pass the time - it's a lifestyle. Books shape, define and enchant us. They are part of who we are and we can't imagine life without them.

In this collection of charming and relatable reflections, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads you to remember the book that first hooked you, the place where you first fell in love with reading, and all the books and moments afterward that helped make you the reader you are today."

Monday, 1 July 2019

Happy July!

Happy July to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch

"First One" 

July starts here like June ended, far too hot for our region. We notice the effects of climate change a lot. The "dog days" are worse than ever before.

The Germanic name for the month is Æftera Līþa which means "after midsummer" or "second summer".

The flower of the month is either the water lily or the larkspur/delphinium. 

From the two, I prefer the latter, they are so pretty, even if they are highly toxic. But you can make blue ink from their juice. 
The larkspur stands for lightness.

The water lily reminds me of one of my favourite artists, Claude Monet. I saw a whole oval room with water lilies painted all over the walls in Paris. 

Just beautiful. And the water lily stands for perfect beauty.

Have a happy July with this beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch. Don't the cherries look inviting? I can totally understand anyone wanting to snack on them.

You can find many more wonderful pictures on their website here.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Doyle, Roddy "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha"

Doyle, Roddy "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha" - 1993

This book was highly praised and it sounded interesting and all, so when a friend left and gave it to me, I thought, great, I'll read it.

It still took me a couple of years until I finally started it. And now I know why. It just wasn't my story. To me, it wasn't really a big story. A man remembers what he experienced as a little boy. Nothing spectacular, just what little boys are up to. I don't mind that kind of reminiscences but they were neither funny nor in any way interesting.

Funnily enough, someone compared this to "The Catcher in the Rye" and "On the Road", and not in a positive way. I couldn't agree more.

From the back cover:

"It is 1968. Patrick Clarke is ten. He loves George Best, Geronimo and the smell of his hot water bottle. He hates zoos, kissing and the boys from the Corporation houses. He can't stand his little brother. He wants to be a missionary like Father Damien. He coerces the McCarthy twins and Willy Hancock into playing lepers. He never picks the scabs off his knees before they're ready. 

Kevin is his best friend. Their names are all over Barrytown, written with sticks in wet cement. They play football, knick-knack, jumping to the bottom of the sea. Shoplifting. Robbing Football Monthly means four million years in purgatory. But a good confession before you died and you'd go straight to heaven. 

He wants to know why no one jumped in for him when Charles Leavy had been going to kill him. He wants to stop his da arguing with his ma. He's confused: he sees everything but he understands less and less. 

'Witty and poignant, earthy and exuberant, Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha charts the triumphs, indignities and bewilderment of Patrick Clarke and his world, a place full of warmth, cruelty, love and slaps across the face."

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Wells, H. G. "The Time Machine"

Wells, H. G. "The Time Machine" - 1895

I watched the movie of this book (the 1960 version with Rod Taylor) sometime in the sixties or seventies and really like it. Usually, science fiction is not my thing but this was fascinating. I suppose the dystopian side did it for me.

Then I read "The Map of Time" by Félix J. Palma a couple of years ago and was fascinated again. I knew I would have to read the novel one day.

And I did not regret it. Quite a story, even if the movie took quite a few liberties … but what else is new?

As I said in my other reviews about dystopian novels, they always mirror the fears and hopes of a generation. Did the Victorians fear we would all end up as Morlocks and Eloi? I can imagine, even though the appeal of the book at the time certainly must have been the time travelling. But, in any case, this was probably one of the first books that moved away from a utopian future, that tried to warn the people that things could also go wrong.

This is certainly a great book. And with just 150 pages, anyone could read it.

From the back cover:

"'Great shapes like big machines rose out of the dimness, and cast grotesque black shadows, in which dim spectral Morlocks sheltered from the glare.'

Chilling, prophetic and hugely influential, The Time Machine sees a Victorian scientist propel himself into the year 802,701 AD, where he is delighted to find that suffering has been replaced by beauty and contentment in the form of the Eloi, an elfin species descended from man. But he soon realizes that they are simply remnants of a once-great culture - now weak and living in terror of the sinister Morlocks lurking in the deep tunnels, who threaten his very return home.

H. G. Wells defined much of modern science fiction with this 1895 tale of time travel, which questions humanity, society, and our place on Earth."

Friday, 21 June 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"Reading to me is like unconditional love. I always feel like I'm home when I read a book." Susan Boyiddle

"My father always said, "never trust anyone whose TV is bigger than their bookshelf." Emilia Clarke

"In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time - none, zero. You'd be amazed at how much Warren reads - and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out." Charles T. Munger

"Books are not men and yet they stay alive." Stephen Vincent Benet

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Zweig, Stefan "The World of Yesterday"

Zweig, Stefan "The World of Yesterday" (German: Die Welt von Gestern. Erinnerungen eines Europäers) - 1942

Stefan Zweig is probably one of the greatest Austrian writers. He lived through WWI and WWII and can tell a lot of stories first hand.

In this book, he describes his life as a Jewish author both during the first as well as the second world war. He was the most amazing guy, lived in several different countries, wrote about his experiences and how the world changed slowly but surely. Not to the better, mind.

Stefan Zweig can tell us all about those times in a very clear and vivid way. It's not only his own life he describes, he describes the history of our countries and how they became what they are now.

Let's all learn from it.

From the back cover:

"By the author who inspired Wes Anderson’s 2014 film, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Written as both a recollection of the past and a warning for future generations, The World of Yesterday recalls the golden age of literary Vienna - its seeming permanence, its promise, and its devastating fall.

Surrounded by the leading literary lights of the epoch, Stefan Zweig draws a vivid and intimate account of his life and travels through Vienna, Paris, Berlin, and London, touching on the very heart of European culture. His passionate, evocative prose paints a stunning portrait of an era that danced brilliantly on the edge of extinction."

Monday, 17 June 2019

Powers, Richard "The Overstory"

Powers, Richard "The Overstory" - 2018

After a bad choice last year ("Less" by Andrew Sean Greer), the Pulitzer Prize committee has redeemed themselves.

And what a book this was! Richard Powers put so much into this novel about environmentalists, you get to know every single character pretty well and can follow their reasons for their protests. I would have understood them anyway but I think also those people who usually don't care much about the environment or the fight about it, will understand why some people fight for it, even if they have to take up illegal measures.

We meet many different kind of people, successful scientists as well as those who can't find their place in society. We get to see their wishes and hopes, their aims and their aspirations.

This book makes you think, think about the trees and what becomes of them, think about the people who live with theses trees, think of those who destroy them. We have to think about the future of our planet and that includes taking care of animals, plants and trees, we cannot let them disappear, that would be the end of all of us.

A very passionate story.

My favourite quote:
"… when you cut down a tree, what you make from it should be at least as miraculous as what you cut down."

I have never read a book by Richard Powers before but I think I will go and read more of his novels. A very interesting author.

The story reminds me of books by Barbara Kingsolver, one of my favourite American authors.

From the back cover:

"An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers - each summoned in different ways by trees - are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.

In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of - and paean to - the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds,
The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours - vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity’s self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? 'Listen. There’s something you need to hear.'"

Richard Powers received the Pulitzer Prize for "The Overstory" in 2019.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"There is no Frigate like a Book

To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page 
Of prancing Poetry - 
This Traverse may the poorest take 
Without oppress of Toll - 
How frugal is the Chariot That bears the Human Soul". Emily Dickinson

"Fairy tales in childhood are stepping stones throughout life, leading the way through trouble and trial. The value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. Do not take that gift of hope lightly. It has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow, to light the darkness in the valleys of life, to whisper 'One more time' in the face of failure. Hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality" L.R. Knost

"Parents should leave books lying around marked 'forbidden' if they want their children to read." Doris Lessing

"To become smart you need to read just ten books, but to find those ten, you need to read thousands." 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, 13 June 2019

Ackroyd, Peter "Revolution"

Ackroyd, Peter "The History of England, Vol. 4 Revolution" - 2016

After having read the first three books in the series "The History of England" by Peter Ackroyd (Foundation, Tudors, Civil War), I couldn't wait to read the fourth one.

Was it as interesting as the first ones? It surely was though I would have loved more information about the kings of that period. However, I learned a lot about the industrial revolution and the people at the time. For example, the reason the British were quicker to industrialize their country because they didn't have all the little states like Germany, France, and Austria had at the time. Should maybe make them think about whether it's such a good idea to leave the European Union.

It certainly was just as exciting a time as the Tudors which are my favourite times in English history so far.

Same as in the previous books, I missed a list at the back about who became king when and who was the son of whom etc. But I guess that's not going to happen in this series.

From the back cover:

"The fourth volume of Peter Ackroyd's enthralling History of England begins in 1688 with a revolution and ends in 1815 with a famous victory.

In it, Ackroyd takes readers from William of Orange's accession following the Glorious Revolution to the Regency, when the flamboyant Prince of Wales ruled in the stead of his mad father, George III, and England was - again - at war with France, a war that would end with the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.

Late Stuart and Georgian England marked the creation of the great pillars of the English state. The Bank of England was founded, as was the stock exchange, the Church of England was fully established as the guardian of the spiritual life of the nation and parliament became the sovereign body of the nation with responsibilities and duties far beyond those of the monarch. It was a revolutionary era in English letters, too, a time in which newspapers first flourished and the English novel was born. It was an era in which coffee houses and playhouses boomed, gin flowed freely and in which shops, as we know them today, began to proliferate in our towns and villages. But it was also a time of extraordinary and unprecedented technological innovation, which saw England utterly and irrevocably transformed from a country of blue skies and farmland to one of soot and steel and coal."

I will certainly read the next edition of "The History of England", Vol.5 Dominion and other books by this great author.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Ahmad, Aeham "The Pianist from Syria"

Ahmad, Aeham "The Pianist from Syria" (aka The Pianist of Yarmouk) (German: Und die Vögel werden singen. Ich, der Pianist aus den Trümmern) - 2017

I have read quite a few books about Palestinians in Israel (see here) but I believe that this is my first book that I read about Palestinians in Syria and how much the war has affected them.

What a tragic, what a sad story. The author grew up as the son of Palestinian refugees in Syria. His father is blind but tries to do everything for his son so he can have a better future than was given to him.

Unfortunately, this was not to be. The Syrian Civil began in 2011, when Aehmed Acham was just 22. I kept comparing his life to that of my son who is just a year younger than him. We moved him from one country to the next and there was always a school, medical care, recreational facilities, music teachers, sports groups, the Scouts etc. Anything we wanted for him and his younger brother was there.

Not so for the people in Syria, especially not the Palestinian refugees who were gathered together in a part of Damascus, Yarmouk Camp, that was extremely hard if not impossible to leave.

In the end, Aeham Ahmad was able to escape Syria and really lucky that his family was able to follow him within a year. Many have not been so lucky. I fear for all of them.

The memoir is very well written, the author received some help, but you can hear his voice, his despair about all that has happened to him and his friends. I really loved how he mentioned that the German people had been so extremely kind to him and helped him and his family and friends. Like me and my family, most of our friends have always said we need to help as much as possible. This is a personal story that will hopefully make everyone understand that these are people like you and me who have the same need, wishes, hopes, and dreams. We can all work for a better future by sticking together.

From the back cover:

"An astonishing but true account of a pianist’s escape from war-torn Syria to Germany offers a deeply personal perspective on the most devastating refugee crisis of this century.

Aeham Ahmad was born a second-generation refugee - the son of a blind violinist and carpenter who recognized Aeham's talent and taught him how to play piano and love music from an early age.

When his grandparents and father were forced to flee Israel and seek refuge from the Israeli–Palestinian conflict ravaging their home, Aeham’s family built a life in Yarmouk, an unofficial camp to more than 160,000 Palestinian refugees in Damascus. They raised a new generation in Syria while waiting for the conflict to be resolved so they could return to their homeland. Instead, another fight overtook their asylum. Their only haven was in music and in each other.

Forced to leave his family behind, Aeham sought out a safe place for them to call home and build a better life, taking solace in the indestructible bond between fathers and sons to keep moving forward. Heart-wrenching yet ultimately full of hope, and told in a raw and poignant voice, The Pianist from Syria is a gripping portrait of one man’s search for a peaceful life for his family and of a country being torn apart as the world watches in horror."

Friday, 7 June 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"A novel is a conversation between a reader and a writer." John Green

"My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read." Abraham Lincoln

"Do you know what they call people who hoard books? Smart." Lisa Scottoline

"When I want to travel, I don't need an airplaine, a train or a bike. Just give me a comfortable seat, a cup of tea and a really good book." 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.]

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Alighieri, Dante "The Divine Comedy"

Alighieri, Dante "The Divine Comedy" (Italian: Divina Commedia) - 1308-20

I love classics. I love chunky books. So, those should be two points for this book.
I don't like reading plays. I don't like reading poetry. Those are two points against this book.
Which side wins? Hard to say. If you don't enjoy reading something, it doesn't get better when it gets longer, so the chunkiness played against the read.

I also didn't think this was a very funny book, not that I have anything against that but if a title is "comedy", you should have to smile at least from time to time. Hmmm, didn't happen. Maybe not my kind of humour (though that is usually slapstick and this is certainly not that kind, either).

I know how often this work is praised as highly intelligent, greatest work of art, etc. but for me, it was not something I could relate to very well. Let me put it like this, if you are a classic lover, this is probably a must read and I am glad I finished it.

From the back cover:

"Long narrative poem originally titled Commedia (about 1555 printed as La divina commedia) written about 1310-14 by Dante. The work is divided into three major sections - Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso - which trace the journey of a man from darkness and error to the revelation of the divine light, culminating in the beatific vision of God. It is usually held to be one of the world's greatest works of literature. 

The plot of The Divine Comedy is simple: a man is miraculously enabled to visit the souls in Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. He has two guides: Virgil, who leads him through the Inferno and Purgatorio, and Beatrice, who introduces him to Paradiso. Through these fictional encounters taking place from Good Friday evening in 1300 through Easter Sunday and slightly beyond, Dante the character learns of the exile that is awaiting him (an actual exile that had already occurred at the time of writing). This device allowed Dante not only to create a story out of his exile but also to explain how he came to cope with personal calamity and to offer suggestions for the resolution of Italy's troubles as well."

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books From My Favourite Genre

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish".

It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

June 4: Books From My Favourite Genre

Historical Fiction

Definitely one of my favourite genres. But - decisions, decisions! It's always so hard to choose ten books only. I have reduced it to ten authors but even that was hard enough:

Falcones, Ildefonso "Cathedral of the Sea" (Spanish: La catedral del mar)
Follett, Ken: Medieval Duology ("The Pillars of the Earth", "World Without End") and Century Trilogy ("Fall of Giants", "Winter of the World", "Edge of Eternity")
Frazier, Charles "Cold Mountain"
Hislop, Victoria "The Sunrise"
Lowenstein, Anna "The Stone City" (Esperanto: La Ŝtona Urbo)
Mahfouz, Naguib: Cairo Trilogy: ("Palace Walk", "Palace of Desire", "Sugar Street")
Rutherfurd, Edward: any ("Awakening", "Dublin", "The Forest", "London", "Paris", Russka")
Schami, Rafik "The Calligrapher’s Secret" (German: Das Geheimnis des Kalligraphen)
Smiley, Jane "The All-true Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton"
Weir, Alison: The Tudor Queens ("The Six Wives of Henry VIII", "Katherine of Aragon", "Anne Boleyn", "Jane Seymour"

As you can see, I have labels for almost all of those authors which means, in most cases I have read a lot more of their books than just the ones mentioned here. As soon as I have read three books by one single writer, I give them a label

I had chosen eleven other books/authors but, unfortunately, was restricted to ten only. If you're interested in them, I can always add them in the comments.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Melville, Herman "Moby Dick or The Whale"

Melville, Herman "Moby Dick or The Whale" - 1851

Moby Dick, an epic tale, "Call me Ishmael", one of the most famous first lines ever. So, I just had to read it one day.

Was it everything I thought it might be? Probably not though it is quite interesting. The story itself is a good one, the mad captain who is looking for the whale who is responsible for him losing his leg, the crew that is out for money, the encounters with wales or other ships. That alone might have made a good novel.

But Herman Melville had to add more, I was reminded of lessons at school where all I wanted was that this class would be over and the next, more interesting one, would begin. If I want to know all about wales, maybe I should better buy an illustrated book about them. Or what about fishing? Ships? How to dissect a whale? Various other seafood? I think after reading this most people know enough to go whaling themselves. Only - do they want to?

Anyway, one of the lesser classic tales, in my opinion.

From the back cover:

"On a previous voyage, a mysterious white whale had ripped off the leg of a sea captain named Ahab. Now the crew of the Pequod, on a pursuit that features constant adventure and horrendous mishaps, must follow the mad Ahab into the abyss to satisfy his unslakeable thirst for vengeance. Narrated by the cunningly observant crew member Ishmael, Moby-Dick is the tale of the hunt for the elusive, omnipotent, and ultimately mystifying white whale - Moby Dick.

On its surface, Moby-Dick is a vivid documentary of life aboard a nineteenth-century whaler, a virtual encyclopedia of whales and whaling, replete with facts, legends, and trivia that Melville had gleaned from personal experience and scores of sources. But as the quest for the whale becomes increasingly perilous, the tale works on allegorical levels, likening the whale to human greed, moral consequence, good, evil, and life itself. Who is good? The great white whale who, like Nature, asks nothing but to be left in peace? Or the bold Ahab who, like scientists, explorers, and philosophers, fearlessly probes the mysteries of the universe? Who is evil? The ferocious, man-killing sea monster? Or the revenge-obsessed madman who ignores his own better nature in his quest to kill the beast?

Scorned by critics upon its publication, Moby-Dick was publicly derided during its author’s lifetime. Yet Melville’s masterpiece has outlived its initial misunderstanding to become an American classic of unquestionably epic proportions. "

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Happy June!

Happy June to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch

"Lila Mohnblüten"
"Purple poppy flowers"

May is done and dusted. It was pretty mild here but I've seen many pictures of other parts of this world where they had heavy snowstorms, even in areas where it usually is warmer at this time of the year.

In the Northern Hemisphere, we wait for the Summer Solstice, beginning of summer in many countries, Midsummer in the Scandinavian countries. Always a happy occasion.

The old Germanic word for June is "Brachmond", named after the Brownfield land, the month, where in the three-field system the fields were left fallow (or "brach" in German). Gardeners also call it the rose month.

And the rose is one of the flowers of the month. In Victorian flower language, the rose has different meanings, depending on its colour, yellow stood for jealousy, red for love, and white for purity and silence, colours that still mean the same nowadays.

Have a happy June with this beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch.

You can find many more wonderful pictures on their website here.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"Reading is my favourite occupation, when I have leisure for it and books to read." Anne Brontë

"You are not done with a book until you pass it to another reader." Donalyn Miller

"Reading books removes sorrows from the heart." Moroccan proverb

"Reading teaches you empathy, and it really gives you a chance to examine all the grey areas of life. You get to think about and see things from other perspectives - it's awesome!" Nyeisha

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Beckett, Samuel "Waiting for Godot"

Beckett, Samuel "Waiting for Godot" (French: En attendant Godot) - 1952

Plays are not my favourite read but I was always interesting to read "Waiting for Godot". The first surprise was that the Irish author Samuel Beckett has written this in French. I had never heard of that but when I ordered a copy in the library, it was written in both languages.

Anyway, an interesting story. True, as Estragon, one of the two main characters says, "Nothing happens, nobody comes", nothing much happens. There are two guys, Estragon and Vladimir who wait for this other guy, Godot. That's about the gist of the story. But the way they are waiting, that's the interesting part. The writing is done so well, even though you know that nothing happens and most probably nothing will happen, the suspension is there.

From the back cover:

"Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful?' Estragon's complaint, uttered in the first act of 'Waiting for Godot', is the playwright's sly joke at the expense of his own play - or rather at the expense of those in the audience who expect theatre always to consist of events progressing in an apparently purposeful and logical manner towards a decisive climax. In those terms, 'Waiting for Godot' - which has been famously described as a play in which 'nothing happens, twice'- scarcely seems recognizable as theatre at all. As the great English critic wrote 'Waiting for Godot' jettisons everything by which we recognize theatre. It arrives at the custom-house, as it were, with no luggage, no passport, and nothing to declare; yet it gets through, as might a pilgrim from Mars."

Samuel Beckett received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996 "for his writing, which - in new forms for the novel and drama - in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation".

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

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Alsanea, Rajaa "Girls of Riyadh"

Alsanea, Rajaa "Girls of Riyadh" (Arabic: بنات الرياض‎ Banāt al-Riyāḍ) - 2005

What a fabulous story about life in a part of the world so unknown to us. The Girls of Riyadh are all friends of the author. Sadim, Kamra, Michelle and Lanis let us take a glimpse into their world.

I have grown up in a Western country. Even though in my times girls didn't have the chances they have now - and I don't want to say they have equal chances, they just have more in modern times - we were never as limited as those girls in the novel. I was allowed to go to public dances as a teenager, I was allowed to go to parties in homes that my parents didn't know. And I don't know anyone who couldn't marry the guy they wanted to marry. Well, I know some cases, where the parents weren't happy with the choice but that doesn't mean they could prevent a marriage.

I myself couldn't imagine marrying someone I don't know, someone I didn't choose myself. It's hard enough as it is, so many divorces tell us that it's not easy to keep up a relationship but just getting hitched to someone your parents chose, just sounds impossible to me. And all the other restrictions, those girls can't decide much about their own life. How sad.

An interesting book.

I quite like the cover of the Arabic edition, little emojis. How cute.

From the back cover:

"When Rajaa Alsanea boldly chose to open up the hidden world of Saudi women - their private lives and their conflicts with the traditions of their culture - he caused a sensation across the Arab world.

Now in English, Alsanea’s tale of the personal struggles of four young upper-class women offers Westerners an unprecedented glimpse into a society often veiled from view. Living in restrictive Riyadh but traveling all over the globe, these modern Saudi women literally and figuratively shed traditional garb as they search for love, fulfillment, and their place somewhere in between Western society and their Islamic home."

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Favorite Books Released In the Last Ten Years

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish".

It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

May 28: Favorite Books Released In the Last Ten Years (one book for each year)

Kristof, Nicholas D. & Wudunn, Sheryl "Half the Sky. How to Change the World" - 2009
Levy, Andrew "A Brain Wider Than The Sky: A Migraine Diary" - 2009
-- I just could not decide which of the two was my favourite, so I listed them both.
Bryson, Bill "At Home. A Short History of Private Life" - 2010
Oates, Joyce Carol "A Widow's Story. A Memoir" - 2011
Ackroyd, Peter "The History of England, Vol. 2 Tudors" - 2012
Yousafzai, Malala; Lamb, Christina "I am Malala. The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" - 2013
Harari, Yuval Noah "Sapiens. A Brief History of Mankind" (Ḳizur Toldot Ha-Enoshut/קיצור תולדות האנושות) - 2014
Bryson, Bill "The Road to Little Dribbling: more Notes from a Small Island" - 2015
Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon. The True Queen" - 2015
Şafak, Elif "Three Daughters of Eve" (Havva'nın Üç Kızı) - 2016
Ahmad, Aeham "The Pianist from Syria" (aka The Pianist of Yarmouk) (Und die Vögel werden singen. Ich, der Pianist aus den Trümmern) - 2017
Obama, Michelle "Becoming" - 2018

I think this shows that I seem to prefer mostly non-fiction books.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"If I had to give a young writer some advice I would say to write about something that has happened to him; it’s always easy to tell whether a writer is writing about something that has happened to him or something he has read or been told. Pablo Neruda has a line in a poem that says 'God help me from inventing when I sing.' It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there’s not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination." Gabriel García Márquez

"I owe everything I am and everything I will ever be to books." Gary Paulsen

"You use a glass mirror to see your face. You use works of art to see your soul." George Bernard Shaw

"Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you've finished just to stay near it." Markus Zusak

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Lundberg, Sofia "The Red Address Book"

Lundberg, Sofia "The Red Address Book" (Swedish: Den röda adressboken) - 2015

This is the story of Doris, an old lady. She is 96 years old and dying. Of all her friends, only her grand-niece Jenny is left. And the only connection to her are their weekly Skype sessions. Isn't technology great? Without that, she would have nothing. We can begin to imagine how lonely a lot of old people are and that the computer can be a life-saver.

This is a lovely story about an elderly person who reflects on her life. We accompany Doris from when she is very little through her working life as a model and writer, get to know her family and friends and what they meant to her. A quiet story, yet full of events.

Apparently, Sofia Lundberg also had a great-aunt called Doris and she found an address book after her death, just as the one described.

Did I love those address books that I also owned? Indeed, I did. But I'm happy to have my lists on my computer now. My friends move far too often for me to keep up with changing them on paper.

But there was another part that struck home. Jenny lives in the States and speaks Swedish with her kids. When questioned about their ability in this language, she mentions that her little girl understands it well because she only speaks Swedish with her and she watches Swedish kids' shows online. Her older boys are "so-so". Jenny talks to them in Swedish and they reply In English. That's exactly what happened in our family (only replace Swedish by German). I had to smile when I read that.

This is the first novel by this author and I'm looking forward to reading more.

Doris' motto, given to her by her mother. I think it's a good one for all of us.
"I wish you enough. Enough sun to light up your days, enough rain that you appreciate the sun. Enough joy to strengthen your soul, enough pain that you can appreciate life's small moments of happiness. And enough friends that you can manage a farewell now and then."

From the back cover:

"Meet Doris, a 96-year-old woman living alone in her Stockholm apartment. She has few visitors, but her weekly Skype calls with Jenn - her American grandniece, and her only relative - give her great joy and remind her of her own youth.

When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father, and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. Looking through the little book now, Doris sees the many crossed-out names of people long gone and is struck by the urge to put pen to paper. In writing down the stories of her colorful past - working as a maid in Sweden, modelling in Paris during the 30s, fleeing to Manhattan at the dawn of the Second World War - can she help Jenny, haunted by a difficult childhood, unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future? And whatever became of Allan, the love of Doris's life?

A charming novel that prompts reflection on the stories we all should carry to the next generation, and the surprises in life that can await even the oldest among us, The Red Address Book introduces Sofia Lundberg as a wis - and irresistible - storyteller."

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

James, Henry "Daisy Miller"

James, Henry "Daisy Miller" - 1879

I have always loved classics and recently joined an online club: The Classics Club.

The beginning for me was Spin # 20. Everyone listed 20 classics from their TBR pile and one number was chosen, it was # 19 which for me was "Daisy Miller".

I had read one book by Henry Miller before, "The American".

Same as there, the author describes life of an American woman in 19th century Europe. How life in the States clashes with that in Europe where some old-fashioned manners still have to be observed whereas the Americans were a lot more independent at the time.

My one complaint about the story is, it's too short. You've only just started reading the novel and it's already over. Not really great for me. And I wouldn't call it a comedy. I haven't laughed once which I usually expect from a comedy.

Even so, there is a lot in this book that needs to be looked at. Have we really changed that much that we don't believe in conventions anymore as we try to tell ourselves all the time, are we really that much more "modern" than the people who lived 200 years ago? Sometimes, no, often, I have my doubts.

It's a good book about society and its prejudices. Worth reading. Certainly not my last book by Henry James.

From the back cover:

"Travelling in Europe with her family, Daisy Miller, an exquisitely beautiful young American woman, presents her fellow-countryman Winterbourne with a dilemma he cannot resolve. Is she deliberately flouting social convention in the outspoken way she talks and acts, or is she simply ignorant of them? When she strikes up an intimate friendship with an urbane young Italian, her flat refusal to observe the codes of respectable behaviour leave her perilously exposed. In Daisy Miller Henry James brilliantly dramatized the conflict between old-world manners and nouveau riche tourists, and created his first great portrait of the enigmatic and dangerously independent American woman, a figure who would come to dominate his later masterpieces."

Friday, 17 May 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"My grandma always said that God made libraries so that people didn't have any excuse to be stupid." Joan Bayer

"Oh, I just want what we all want: A comfortable couch, a nice beverage, a weekend of no distractions and a book that will stop time, lift me out of my quotidian existence and alter my thinking forever." Elizabeth Gilbert

"We read to know we are not alone." C.S. Lewis

"Read obsessively. It will make you a better human and a better writer." Pittacus Lore

Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Trollope, Joanna "Next of Kin"

Trollope, Joanna "Next of Kin" - 1996

I thought, I had read something by Joanna Trollope before but it turned out to be another author. I doubt I would have picked this book otherwise.

It was an alright read, not badly written but I couldn't relate to the characters, it was all a little too wishy-washy, not deep enough for the promises on the book cover.

I file it under chick-lit.

From the back cover:

"The land running down to the River Dean has been farmed by the Meredith family for generations. Robin Meredith bought the farm from his father, just before he married his wife Caro and now he and his brother Joe work on the land. But now Caro has died, as much as a mystery to the family as she was when she arrived twenty years ago, and the whole family feels her loss acutely, none more so than her adopted daughter Judy.

Into this unhappy family comes Zoe, Judy's London friend, an outsider with an independent spirit and a disturbing directness. Everyone underestimates Zoe's power as a catalyst for change as the realities behind the seeming idyll of a rural community become ever clearer."

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Chukovskaya, Lydia "Going Under"

Chukovskaya, Lydia (Чуковская, Лидия Корнеевна) "Going Under" (Russian: Спуск под воду/Spusk pod vodu) - 1972

I found the translation of this book in a German bookshop. The reason I picked it up at first was the cover picture, a birch forest in winter. (see below). I love birches, they have a certain something.

And since I love Russian literature, I was curious about this author who was completely new to me.

"Going Under" takes place in a Russian sanatorium. The first-person narrator has lost her husband through the Soviet regime and tries to find out what happened to him.

The author must have been really courageous. As a fearless critic of the regime, she couldn't publish her autobiographical book in the USSR but it was done in a New York publishing house years later. This led to a professional ban. Very brave.

If you're interested in history, in Russia, in the Stalin regime, the USSR, this is a story that rings true.

From the back cover:

"In the winter of 1949, Nina Sergeyevna spends weeks in a sanatorium for artists on the countryside. Here everything is focused on forgetting. But she wants to know more about the past, about her own suffering, and that of her fellow human beings.

When she met Bilibin, who was in the same labor camp as her husband, she was looking for his closeness. There is a tender affection between the two, but disappointed, she turns away, as Bilibin seeks not the truth but repression and forgetfulness."