Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch

"Geschichtenerzähler"
"Storyteller"


I wish you all a wonderful reading year with many great books.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Happy December!

Happy December to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch


"Märchenzeit"
"Time for a Fairy Tale"



December is greeting me with a misty morning. Seems like November. Well, all the seasons are different nowadays. 

We've had a busy month with visitors and celebrations. But we've also both been sick, so no blogging was done. And no reading which is even worse. Let's hope December is going to be better.

December was called Ærra Gēola "Before Yule", or "First Yule"by the Old English Germanics and Hailag-mānod "holy month" in Old High German. It shows that it was always a special month.

The flowers of the month are the holly and the narcissus. 

The holly (Latin: Ilex) represents domestic happiness. We all like nature and there aren't many flowers around at that time of the year, so people used to take into their homes whatever showed some greenness. Druids believed that holly protected them against evil spirits. In heraldry, it stands for truth. And for all Harry Potter fans, his wand was made of holly wood. 

I always thought the latter represents Easter, but there we go. Apparently, you can harvest the bulbs in summer and keep them dried until the winter and they will bloom again. One always learns something new while researching a certain topic. In the Western culture, we see the narcissus as a symbol of vanity, in the Eastern culture it stands for of wealth and good fortune. Maybe the two are not too far apart? 

It is also the national flower of Wales, though, my son once mentioned, when little, that it should be the national flower of England since they had so many. 

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

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

Friday, 15 November 2019

Book Quotes of the Week


"Reading is like breathing in, writing is like breathing out." Pam Allyn

"No books are lost by loaning except those you particularly wanted to keep." Alan Atwood

"Readers are plentiful: thinkers are rare." Harriet Martineau

"Good children's literature appeals not only to the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child." 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.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Aitken, Ben "Dear Bill Bryson: Footnotes from a Small Island"


Aitken, Ben "Dear Bill Bryson: Footnotes from a Small Island" - 2015

If you know me even a little, you know how much I love Bill Bryson's book. And therefore, I just had to read Ben Aitken's homage. He travelled the same route as Bill Bryson did in 1995 (as described in his book "Notes from a Small Island"), only about twenty years later. Even though Bill Bryson did a second tour ("The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island") through the UK and a lot has changed in the meantime, it was a pleasure to accompany this author in his footsteps through the UK.

Sometimes he was a tad too sceptical about what Bill Bryson had done or said but it was still lovely to reminisce with the author. Some of his criticism is probably a generation question, I bet he sees it different in twenty years.

Not as funny as Bill Bryson but still quite worth reading.

From the back cover:

"'Long story short, I've decided to retrace your steps. Why? Because I'm bored. Take it from me, there's only so many tacos a guy can serve before he wants to put a pint of salsa down his windpipe.'

An irreverent homage to the '95 travel classic Notes from a Small Island, wherein Ben Aitken retraces Bill Bryson’s journey as precisely as possible - same hotels, same plates of food, same amount of time in the bath - before finishing outside his house on Christmas Eve.

Ben Aitken was born under Thatcher, grew to 6ft then stopped, and is an Aquarius. He followed Bill Bryson around the UK for Dear Bill Bryson: Footnotes from a Small Island (2015).

'It would be wrong to view this book as just a highly accomplished homage to a personal hero. Aitken's politics, as much as his humour, are firmly in the spotlight, and Dear Bill Bryson achieves more than its title (possibly even its author) intended.' Manchester Review"

I love all of Bill Bryson’s books. Find a link to my reviews here.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Dick, Philip K. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"


Dick, Philip K. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" - 1968

Why would androids dream of electric sheep? I always wondered about this weird title. I didn't wonder enough though to want to read it but when my book club decided to take it on, I had to have a go, of course.

The story is primarily about the bounty hunter Rick Deckard. After a nuclear global war damaged the earth tremendously, there are hardly any animals left. Or humans. Those that survived, mainly emigrated to Mars or other colonies on other planets. The ones left behind, are divided into two groups, the ones that are damaged through the war are called "specials" being considered second-rate people. And the androids, well, they are supposed to be modern slaves and are mainly intended to accompany to settlers to the colonies and not return to earth. Those that do it anyway are hunted by guys like Rick Deckard. But the androids get smarter and smarter and the hunt gets harder and harder.

I don't want to tell the whole story. The reason I liked the book was mainly because of the way, the different inhabitants of earth are described, the empathy that is not there between the species, the understanding that other people also have their needs. Even if we don't consider the androids, wouldn't we try to help each other after such a disaster rather than splitting up in different groups? A very philosophic question.

The androids are the slaves of the future. If they don't do what they are supposed to do, they get killed, or "retired", as they like to call it.

Oh, and then there was one part that I really liked. When they describe "stuff". Both my husband and I are more gatherers than minimalists, so I could relate very well.

"Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday's homeopape. When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there's twice as much of it. It always gets more and more."

Do I even need to mention that I never watched the movie? I tried to see who plays whom but it looks like the film is more than "loosely" based on the book. I could only find a few names that are in both.

From the back cover:

"War has left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalks, in search of the renegade replicants who are his prey. When he isn’t 'retiring' them, he dreams of owning the ultimate status symbol -- a live animal. Then Rick gets a big assignment: to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But things are never that simple, and Rick’s life quickly turns into a nightmare kaleidoscope of subterfuge and deceit."

Friday, 1 November 2019

Happy November!

Happy November to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch


"Herbst am Jagdschloss Granitz"
"Autumn at the Hunting Lodge Granitz"



This is the first November that I live in the area where I grew up. And it's also the first time, I'm close by my parents' graves when the tombs receive their blessings. Another good reason for coming home.

The Germanic tribes called November Blōtmōnaþ which means blood month or month of sacrifice, slaughtered cattle were dedicated to the Gods. In German, we called it Windmond (wind moon), Wintermonat (winter month) and Nebelung (the foggy one).

The flowers of the month are the chrysanthemum and the peony. I understand the connection with the chrysanthemum since it often symbolizes death and is therefore used for graves which is also something you think about a lot in November. But in the Victorian language of flowers, it also stands for cheerfulness. 
The peony, however, flowers in or around May only, so why is it a symbol for November? Anyway, it stands for compassion, good fortune, a happy marriage, romance, prosperity, riches, and honour but they can also symbolize bashfulness. They are native to China and known for its medicinal uses.

Have a happy November with this beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch. The Granitz Hunting Lodge is located on the German island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea.

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

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Pamuk, Orhan "The Red-Haired Woman"


Pamuk, Orhan "The Red-Haired Woman" (Turkish: Kırmızı Saçlı Kadın) - 2016

Did I mention already how much I love Orhan Pamuk? (Of course I did!) He always finds a new way to portray his country, the people who live there, the uniqueness of a place between East and West.

Same as his other books, I really loved this story about a young guy between child- and adulthood. He lost his father early on and tries to find the father figure in his boss.

In the three different parts of this novel, we find parts of classic tales, "Oedipus Rex" (Sophocles, Σοφοκλῆς, 497/6 – 406/5 BC) and "Rostam and Sohrab" from the epos Shahnameh (Persian: شاهنامه‎, romanized: Šâhnâme) by Abul-Qâsem Ferdowsi Tusi (Persian: ابوالقاسم فردوسی طوسی‎; c. 940–1020), or just Ferdowsi. Whilst I haven't read either of them, I think most readers are well aware of the stories. Again, two similar tales on the same theme, the former Western, the latter Eastern.

What I also like about Orhan Pamuk and his writing is that he doesn't just combine East and West, he also combines history and present. He explains what is going on in present day Turkey in his own way. And he uses a lot of symbolism that is easy to understand. Just brilliant.

And then there is always a way where he brings us closer to Eastern culture, e.g. by mentioning "Shahnameh" but also other work of arts, like Ilya Repin's painting "Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan" or "Oedipus and the Sphinx" by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. He can only widen our horizons.

From the back cover:

"On the outskirts of a town, thirty miles from Istanbul, a master well-digger and his young apprentice are hired to find water on a barren plain. As they struggle in the summer heat and develop a filial bond neither has known before, the boy finds an irresistible diversion - The Red-Haired Woman, an alluring member of a travelling theatre company, causing a horrible accident to befall on the well-digger and making the boy flee to Istanbul. A beguiling mystery tale of family, romance, tradition and modernity, by one of the great storytellers of our time."

Orhan Pamuk "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures" received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006.

Orhan Pamuk received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 2005.

You can read more about the books I read by one of my favourite authors here.

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

Monday, 28 October 2019

Clinton, Hilary Rodham "What Happened"


Clinton, Hilary Rodham "What Happened" - 2017

Years ago, I read "Living History" with my book club and really liked the way, Hillary Clinton described her life as a first lady but also her life as a politician herself.

Nobody who is not US American understands how someone can lose an election when they have three million more voters behind them. Only in America.

I don't think I can make anyone change their mind about Hillary Rodham Clinton or her party. Those who are against her will come up with hundreds of reasons why they didn't vote for her. I can name one very good reason why they should have: Donald Trump. Anyone who still supports him either doesn't want to know what is going on or is just as ignorant as he is. Because who would support a misogynist like him?

Hillary Clinton tells us everything that happened during the election. Not that a lot of it was any news for me, I followed it quite closely. I have a lot of American friends who - like me - were shocked by the outcome; unfortunately, I also know some who were happy about it.

Even in Europe, my view is considered left-wing, so I would agree far more with Democrats than with Republicans. I found it quite eye-opening at some points, how far right even the American left is.

What I liked was her humour, her tongue-in-cheek which shows how much more intelligent she is than the present incumbent of the post.

If you are really interested in politics, you give this book a chance. Hillary Clinton is a strong woman and we all should be glad there are people like her.

Some quotes:
"The election is now over,
The result is now known,
The will of the people
has clearly been shown. *
Let’s get together;
Let bitterness pass.
I’ll hug your Elephant;
and you kiss my Ass."
* Yes, the will of the people was Hillary.

Here she explains quite interestingly, how some of the stories start:
"Bernie: I think America should get a pony.
Hillary: How will you pay for the pony? Where will the pony come from? How will you get Congress to agree to the pony?
Bernie: Hillary thinks America doesn’t deserve a pony.
Bernie Supporters: Hillary hates ponies!
Hillary: Actually, I love ponies.
Bernie Supporters: She changed her position on ponies! #WhichHillary? #WitchHillary
Headline: 'Hillary Refuses To Give Every American a Pony.'
Debate Moderator: Hillary, how do you feel when people say you lie about ponies?
Website Headline: "Congressional Inquiry into Clinton's Pony Lies"
Twitter Trending: #ponygate"

From the back cover:

"Almost two years on from one of the most unprecedented and unpredictable elections in American history, the world is still gripped by the circumstances and consequences of Hillary Rodham Clinton's devastating loss to the ever-controversial Donald Trump.

Free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes us behind the scenes of an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, foreign interference and an opponent who broke all the rules. In her most personal memoir yet, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet after the mistakes and disappointments of her candidacy and what the experience has taught her about the challenges, criticisms and double standards that come with being a strong woman in the public eye.

In this edition, now updated to include a comprehensive new afterword reflecting on the events that have come to pass under Trump's administration, Hillary connects the dots to show just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the presidential outcome and why Americans need to understand them to protect their values and democracy in the future.

What Happened is the enthralling story of a campaign and its aftermath - both a deeply intimate account and a presciently cautionary tale."

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Gárdonyi, Géza "Slave of the Huns" aka "The Invisible Man"


Gárdonyi, Géza "Slave of the Huns" aka "The Invisible Man" (Hungarian: A láthatatlan ember) - 1901

The husband of a friend of mine translated this famous Hungarian book into Esperanto (La nevidebla homo) and I decided to read it. I haven't read many books about Hungary, let alone about the Huns. I think this is the first book I read about that people.

This story takes place in the early 5th century.

Zeta is Hungarian, his family is so poor that his father has to sell him as a slave. We follow him from one owner to the next until he comes to the household of a Byzantine diplomat named Priscis. Because he serves him well, he frees him and takes him to the court of Attila the Hun. He stays with the Huns, fights in the "Battle of the Catalaunian Plains" in the year 451 and doesn't leave until Attila dies in 453.

An interesting book not just about this nomadic people but also about Hungarian history and culture. I would like to read more about them.

From the back cover:

"The tale of a Byzantine slave of the Huns; based on the historical account of the Byzantine diplomat Priscus about his visit to the court of Attila the Hun."

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Book Titles with Numbers In Them


"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.

Top Ten Book Titles with Numbers In Them

Such an interesting Top Ten Tuesday topic. Thank you, Emma from Words and Peace.

Since I have read many books with a number in the title, I have chosen to list only those with a 1 in it, so one, ten, a hundred and a thousand. There are quite a few interesting books there.

Bryson, Bill "ONE Summer: America, 1927" - 2013
Irving, John "A Widow for ONE Year" - 1998
Simmonds, Jeremy "Number ONE in Heaven - The heroes who died for Rock ‘n’ Roll" - 2006

Yu, Hua (余華/Yú Huá) "China in TEN Words" (十個詞彙裡的中國/Shi ge cihui li de Zhongguo) - 2012

Estes, Eleanor "The HUNDRED Dresses" - 1944
García Márquez, Gabriel "One HUNDRED Years of Solitude" (Cien años de soledad) - 1967
Liao, Yiwu "Testimonials or: For a Song and a HUNDRED Songs: A Poet's Journey Through a Chinese Prison" (證詞/Zheng-Ci) - 2000

Coerr, Eleanor "Sadako and the THOUSAND Paper Cranes" - 1977
Hosseini, Khaled "A THOUSAND Splendid Suns" - 2007
Smiley, Jane "A THOUSAND Acres" - 1991

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Happy October!

Happy October to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch


"Ich mal dann mal die Blätter bunt"
"I will then paint the leaves"



October is the month where they give us our normal time back.
I always say they steal us an hour every day all summer long and then only return that hour once.

In medieval times, October was a holy month and many preferred to get married then.

The Germanic name for October was Ƿinterfylleþ which means "Winter Full Moon". Yes, winter was about to start.
Germanic names were Weinmonat (Month of the Wine) or Gilbhart (yellow and hard, the leaves are changing their colours).
In Germany, we still call the month Goldener October (Golden October).

The flower of the month is the Calendula aka Marigold and it stands for winning grace, protection, comfort, healing, lovable. 
The marigold is sometimes called "little lover", it always turns to the sun, it's meaning in the language of love is "jealousy".

Have a happy October with this beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch. Do you see how much fun this kid has playing with the leaves? We should all do that from time to time.


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

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Happy September!

Happy September to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch


"Seeschwalben"
"Terns"


September has always been my favourite month. The weather is getting cooler and the trees more colourful. Although, I do like trees in all seasons. And it's my birthday month.

This year, it's going to be more special. As of tomorrow, we'll be moving, and in a couple of days we are going to live in Germany again. 
My husband has retired and my family is looking forward to having us in the area as are we to be there.

The Germanic name for September was Hālig-mōnaþ which means "Holy Month". However, this was in the Old English, the Old High German called it Witu-mānod "wood month".

The flowers of the months are the forget-me-nots, the morning glory and the aster. The English name for the forget-me-nots is a direct translation from the German name "Vergissmeinnicht". 
There are many different species but the most popular around her is the blue version, therefore this is my favourite flower of the month. Apparently, it is a symbol for the Freemasons and was also used by the Nazis but I don't think we can blame the flower for that.

My father used to grow hundreds of different asters, so for me that is a memory of my youth. The aster represents beginning but like the morning glory also stands for patience, daintiness and remembrance.

Have a happy September with this beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch. I love the sea and the terns certainly belong to it. The artist captured the scene magnificently, don't you think? 

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

Friday, 30 August 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"Books may well be the only true magic." Alice Hoffman

"If we didn't have libraries, many people thirsty for knowledge would dehydrate." Megan Jo Tetrick, age 12

"Any room in our house at any time in the day was there to read in or to be read to." Eudora Welty

"A wicked book is the wickeder because it cannot repent." English Proverb

Find more book quotes here.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Harari, Yuval Noah "Homo Deus"


Harari, Yuval Noah "Homo Deus. A Brief History of Tomorrow"- 2016

After reading "Sapiens. A Brief History of Mankind", I knew I had to read the following books by this brilliant scientist and author.

After trying to explain how we got where we are today, Yuval Noah Harari now takes us on an expedition into the future, almost list Charles Dickens in "A Christmas Carol", we've dealt with "Christmas Past", we know "Christmas Present" but we have no idea what "Christmas yet to come" will bring us. The author gives us options, tells us what could be if we don't change or even what can be if we do change. Let me tell it like this, a lot was not new to me, but he gives so many different perspectives that it is interesting to see where else we might be heading.

This highly engaging book makes us aware of what we are today, where we are today, what needs to be done and what we can do. We all know that machines and computers have taken over a huge part of what our world used to be, are we ready for the next step?

I'm already looking forward to his next book where he deals with "Christmas Present": "21 Lessons for the 21st Century".

I think all his books should enter every school curriculum.

From the back cover:

"From the author of the international bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind comes an extraordinary new book that explores the future of the human species.

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the bestselling Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, envisions a not-too-distant world in which we face a new set of challenges. In Homo Deus, he examines our future with his trademark blend of science, history, philosophy and every discipline in between. 

Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.

War is obsolete
You are more likely to commit suicide than be killed in conflict

Famine is disappearing
You are at more risk of obesity than starvation

Death is just a technical problem
Equality is out but immortality is in

What does our future hold?"

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Book Quotes of the Week



"I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander." Isaac Asimov

"Before this generation lose the wisdom, one advice - read books." Amit Kalantri

"Magazines all too frequently lead to books and should be regarded by the prudent as the heavy petting of literature." Fran Lebowitz

"You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favourite book?" Gabrielle Zevin in "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Find more book quotes here.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Yu, Hua "China in Ten Words"


Yu, Hua (余華/Yú Huá) "China in Ten Words" (Chinese: 十個詞彙裡的中國/Shi ge cihui li de Zhongguo) - 2012

Our latest book club suggestion. I am happy somebody thought of it because it is a remarkable book. I love to read about different cultures but I also love to read about language and find out what kind of words are used in which connection. To read about "disparity" or "copycat" and what the meaning of that is in modern day China is pretty interesting. Whether it's about Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution, the ever present Little Red Book or just the ordinary Chinese person, the author has experienced it all first-hand.

My favourite chapter must have been "Reading", there are some fantastic quotes that recap my feelings brilliantly:

"I did once sum up my experience in the following way:
'every time I read one of the great books, I feel myself transported to another place, and like a timid child I hug them close and mimic their steps, slowly tracing the long river of time in a journey where warmth and emotion fuse. They carry me off with them, then let me make my own way back, and it's only on my return that I realize they will always be part of me.'
"

and

"If literature truly possesses a mysterious power, I think perhaps it is precisely this: that one can read a book by a writer of a different time, a different country, a different race, a different language, and a different culture  and there encounter a sensation that is one's very own. Heine put into words the feeling I had as a child when I lay napping in the morgue. And that, I tell myself, is literature."


The book teaches us a lot about life in China during the lifetime of the author (born 1960) so far as well as about the author himself. I thought it fascinating to learn about a life that could have been mine since I am about the same age as Hua Yu. Intriguing.

From the back cover:

"From one of China’s most acclaimed writers, his first work of nonfiction to appear in English: a unique, intimate look at the Chinese experience over the last several decades, told through personal stories and astute analysis that sharply illuminate the country’s meteoric economic and social transformation.

Framed by ten phrases common in the Chinese vernacular - 'people,' 'leader,' 'reading,' 'writing,' 'Lu Xun' (one of the most influential Chinese writers of the twentieth century), 'disparity,' 'revolution,' 'grassroots,' 'copycat,' and 'bamboozle' - China in Ten Words reveals as never before the world’s most populous yet oft-misunderstood nation. In 'Disparity,' for example, Yu Hua illustrates the mind-boggling economic gaps that separate citizens of the country. In 'Copycat,' he depicts the escalating trend of piracy and imitation as a creative new form of revolutionary action. And in 'Bamboozle,' he describes the increasingly brazen practices of trickery, fraud, and chicanery that are, he suggests, becoming a way of life at every level of society.

Characterized by Yu Hua’s trademark wit, insight, and courage, China in Ten Words is a refreshingly candid vision of the 'Chinese miracle' and all its consequences, from the singularly invaluable perspective of a writer living in China today."

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Bridwell, Norman "Clifford"


Bridwell, Norman "Clifford" (series) - 1963-2015

My son loved Clifford, the Big Red Dog. Clifford is huge, he is taller than a house. But he is the best friend of Emily Elizabeth, a little girl who tells us his stories.

There are around 80 of them, 80 times that little children can read about the special bond between a dog and his little girl, about the adventures they have together.

I will not mention all of the titles, you can check them online, just a few that we enjoyed reading together.

The series was so successful that the American children's publishing company made him their mascot. After all, he helped them to grow into the large company they are today. They sell their editions in schools, at quite a fair price. I was lucky enough to be able to help with that in the international school my sons attended.

Clifford, the Big Red Dog
Clifford's ABC
Clifford's Christmas
Clifford's Happy Days: A Pop-Up Book
Clifford's Word Book
Clifford the Firehouse Dog
Clifford and the Big Storm
Clifford Makes a Friend
Clifford to the Rescue

Whether your children have a dog or not (mine didn't), they will enjoy these stories.

Description:

"Emily Elizabeth describes the activities she enjoys with her very big red dog and how they take care of each other."

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Cover Redesigns I Loved/Hated


"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.

August 6: Cover Redesigns I Loved/Hated

This is a pet peeve of mine and there really are too many to list them all. But they all come under one topic: Movie Pictures.

As soon as a book has been made into a movie, you will find that they issue a new book with a cover from that book. I suppose the intention is to sell more of the book to the people who watched the movie. I don't like that at all, it's almost as if the movie is forced upon me. I want to make up my own mind about the characters but if you present some actors to me that happen to be in the imagination of the director, it takes away part of my own imagination.

I will always try to buy an edition without a movie pictures, even if I have to go and look for a used copy.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Book Quotes of the Week


"I believe in the magic of books. I believe that during certain periods in our lives we are drawn to particular books - whether it's strolling down the aisles of a bookshop with no idea whatsoever of what it is that we want to read and suddenly finding the most perfect, most wonderfully suitable book staring us right in the face. Unblinking. Or a chance meeting with a stranger or friend who recommends a book we would never ordinarily reach for. Books have the ability to find their own way into our lives." Cecelia Ahern

"The covers of this book are too far apart." Ambrose Bierce?

"The reading of a fine book is an uninterrupted dialogue in which the book speaks and our soul replies." André Maurois

"Miss a meal if you have to, but don’t miss a book." Jim Rohn

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Happy August!

Happy August to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch


"Distelblüten im Spätsommer"
"Thistle Blooms in Late Summer"



Apparently, last year we had the hottest summer last year since records began in 1910. And I think this summer will top that. We have temperatures of around 40° Celsius (around 104°F), unbearable, especially for me. And for my American friends, we don't have a/c in Europe, hardly anywhere.

So, I am not looking forward to the temperatures next month but I am looking forward to a big event, after having spent a large chunk of our life abroad, my husband is retiring and we are moving back to Germany. Let's just hope it won't be too hot on those days.

The Germanic name for the month is Weodmonað which stands for weed or herb month.

The flowers of the month are the poppy and the gladiola. While the former represents dreams and rest, the latter stands for moral integrity.

Have a happy August with this beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch. I really like the thistle. It's not only the national flower of Scotland but also a national symbol for Lorraine. We've always had thistles in our garden, even though we had to fight my father for it because he considered them weed. But we think they are beautiful.

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

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ~ First Ten Books I Reviewed


"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 30: Freebie (Come up with your own topic)

Today is a freebie. We can post anything we like. I missed quite a few from the former list, so I chose the
First Ten Books I Reviewed

I started blogging in 2010 and my first book review was on the 18th of October about my favourite book. I reviewed the tenth on the 12th of December.

Looking up all those entries made me feel like reading them all over again. Except for one which we were reading in the book club at the time (A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian), they all belong to my favourite books ever. What a lovely walk through the past.

Stroyar, J.N. "The Children's War" and "A Change of Regime"
Zweig, Stefanie "Nowhere in Africa" and "Somewhere in Germany" (German: "Nirgendwo in Afrika" and "Irgendwo in Deutschland")
Lee, Harper "To Kill a Mockingbird" - 1960
Steinbeck, John "East of Eden" - 1952
Kingsolver, Barbara "The Poisonwood Bible" - 1988
Lewycka, Marina "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" - 2005
Turner, Nancy E. "These is my Words, The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901" - 1999
Shaffer, Mary Ann & Barrows, Annie "The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society" - 2008
Chevalier, Tracy "Girl with a Pearl Earring" - 1999
Vreeland, Susan "Girl in Hyacinth Blue" 1999

As you can see from the links, I have read more books by several of the authors.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander "August 1914"


Solzhenitsyn, Alexander (Солженицын, Александр Исаевич) "August 1914" ["The Red Wheel" cycle] (Russian: Узел I - «Август Четырнадцатого», Красное колесо/August 1914) - 1971

What an epic work! A tale of the First World War - or the Great War as it was called before the Second World War happened - from the Russian side. I have read a lot of books about WWI by authors from various countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Serbia, the UK, the USA and even Russia (Doctor Zhivago) but never this explicitly about Russia, or even about the war itself, with the exception of "All Quiet on the Western Front").

Solzhenitsyn starts and ends with stories about the ordinary people, those that are left behind and who have to send their loved ones into battle and then tells us what happened just in one month, August 1914. One month of more than fifty.

He only focuses on one particular part, a small area in East Prussia that has been left by the German inhabitants and is now fought over by the Russians and Germans. Many mistakes occur, and in the end, the Germans win. 153.000 Germans and 191.000 Russians lose their lives.

As in "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" and many other stories, Solzhenitsyn brings us close to the characters, lets us hope and despair with them, lets us get angry about generals who take wrong decisions and cost the lives of so many soldiers.

This is just an excellent book about the battle of Tannenberg which was called just that because it was a revenge a battle the Germans had lost 500 years earlier. It really was the battle of Allenstein.

Not an easy read but if you would like to know more about WWI or battles in general, this is a great story.

What I also really appreciated about the presentation of the story, there is a map at the beginning of the book and a list of all the characters. The ones from real life in capital letters, the fictional ones in lowercase. Helps a lot, especially with a book with so much detail and so many characters.

From the back cover:

"'The general concept of this novel,' the author has written, 'came to my mind in 1936, when I was just leaving secondary school. Since then I have never parted from it, regarding it as the chief artistic design of my life.' He has also said he considers the previous books he has published minor to this - 'a result of the oddities of my life story…'

August 1914, the first part of this major work, is set at the outbreak of the First World War, and its moral concern is to establish the responsibility for Russia’s defeat in the battle of Tannenberg. Limiting itself to the opening two weeks of the war, the novel describes the Russian offensive into East Prussia, which resulted in the encirclement and defeat of General Samsonov’s Second Army by Hindenburg. This disaster revealed the dry rot at the core of Tsarism and hastened its downfall.

The main theme is filled out by a great cross-section of characters, both fictitious and historic, from every walk of Russian life. The fictional character of Colonel Vorotyntsev, an enlightened and ironic young staff officer who mixes with the soldiers as much as with generals, provides a link between the various elements in the story. Solzhenitsyn gives a sympathetic portrait of Samsonov as the victim of staff blunders and personality clashes, and there is a moving description of his suicide in defeat.

August 1914 is a triumph of historical reconstruction as well as of the creative imagination. In the final chapter, it is clear that the guilty will escape through their influence at court, that Russia’s military humiliation is only a symptom of the deeper shame of the Tsarist system, and that a new Russia will somehow have to be born. The novel glows with the author’s love of his country and with his deep concern for ordinary men and women.

August 1914 is the first volume of Solzhenitsyn's epic, The Red Wheel; the second is November 1916. Each of the subsequent volumes will concentrate on another critical moment or 'knot,' in the history of the Revolution."

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970 "for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature".

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

Friday, 26 July 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia." Woody Allen

"I read the newspaper avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction." Aneurin Bevan

"When you find a writer who really is saying something to you, read everything that writer has written and you will get more education and depth of understanding out of that than reading a scrap here and a scrap there and elsewhere. Then go to people who influenced that writer, or those who were related to him, and your world builds together in an organic way that is really marvelous." Joseph Campbell
 

"Don't give up on reading just because you tried one or two books that didn't do it for you. Keep trying, and I'm sure you will find your niche or genre. When you do, you'll be so glad you did!" Wes

Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Kadaré, Ismail "The Pyramid"

Kadaré, Ismail "The Pyramid (Albanian: Piramida) - 1992

After Finnish author Mika Waltari's novel "The Egyptian", this is already the second novel I read about Ancient Egypt that really means something entirely different. Whilst "The Egyptian" was written straight after WWII, this one is about the totalitarian system in Albania.

"The Pyramid" tells us of the life under dicator Enver Hoxha and his crazy obsession for unnecessary and huge statues to show his power and strength. You can find a double meaning in almost every sentence, the ultimate motive of the pharaoh Cheops was to make his people so weak through building his gigantic pyramid so they have no power left to rebel.

The author is known as one of Europe's greatest writers, his voice against totalitarianism is second to none. He won the first Man Booker International Prize because he is "a universal writer in the tradition of storytelling that goes back to Homer." His followers were such illustrious authors like Chinua Achebe, Alice Muro and Philip Roth. Who knows, he might receive the Nobel Prize for Literature one day.

Brilliant novel. You can tell the author has experienced this himself.

From the back cover:

"From the Albanian writer who has been short-listed for the Nobel Prize comes a hypnotic narrative of ancient Egypt, a work that is at once a historical novel and an exploration of the horror of untrammeled state power. It is 2600 BC. The Pharaoh Cheops is inclined to forgo the construction of a pyramid in his honor, but his court sages hasten to persuade him otherwise. The pyramid, they tell him, is not a tomb but a paradox: it keeps the Egyptian people content by oppressing them utterly. The pyramid is the pillar that holds power aloft. If it wavers, everything collapses.

And so the greatest pyramid ever begins to rise. It is a monument that crushes dozens of men with the placing of each of its tens of thousands of stones. It is the subject of real and imaginary conspiracies that necessitate ruthless purges and fantastic tortures. It is a monster that will consume all Egypt before it swallows the body of Cheops himself. As told by Ismail Kadare, 'The Pyramid' is a tour de force of Kafkaesque paranoia and Orwellian political prophecy."

After "The Fall of the Stone City", this is my second book by Ismail Kadaré but certainly not my last.

Ismail Kadaré received the Man Booker International Prize in 2005 for being "a universal writer in the tradition of storytelling that goes back to Homer."

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.

Bolivia
Burkina Faso
Costa Rica
Cuba
Estonia
Guatemala
Indonesia
Latvia
Luxembourg
Panama
(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.


Australia
Belgium
Bulgaria
Finland
Ireland
Lithuania
New Zealand
The Philippines
Russia
Sweden

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)
Boye, Karin "Kallocain" (Kallocain) - 1940 Swedish (Aug 20)
Defoe, Daniel "Robinson Crusoe" - 1719 English (Mar 19)
Dick, Philip K. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" - 1968 English (Sep 19)
Ende, Michael "The Neverending Story" (Die unendliche Geschichte) - 1979 German (Oct 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)
Lem, Stansilaw "Solaris" (Solaris (powieść)) - 1961 Polish (Jun 20)
Lindstedt, Laura "Oneiron" - 2015 Finnish (Oneiron) (Feb 18)
McCarthy, Cormac "The Road" - 2006 English (Jan 20)
Paasilinna, Arto "The Year of the Hare" - 1975 Finnish (Jäniksen vuosi) (Nov 18)
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" - 1998 Turkish (Benim Adim Kirmizi) (Dec 19)
Saki "The Open Window and other Stories" - 1914 English (Apr 20)
Saramago, José "Blindness" - 1995 Spanish (O Ensaio sobre a Cegueira) (Apr 19)
Shaffer, Mary Ann & Barrows, Annie "The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society" - 2008 English (Aug 20)
Slimani, Leïla "Adèle" (Dans le jardin de l'ogre) - 2014 French (May 20)
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)
Tokarczuk, Olga "Primeval and other Times" (Prawiek i inne czasy/Ur und andere Zeiten) -1996 Polish (Apr 20)
Verne, Jules "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" - 1870 French (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) (Mar 18)
Waltari, Mika "In diesem Zeichen" (Valtakunnan salaisuus/The Secret of the Kingdom) (The Malinianus Duology) - 1959 Finnish (Mar 20)
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)
Ende, Michael "The Neverending Story" (Die unendliche Geschichte) - 1979 German (Oct 19)
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" - 1998 Turkish (Benim Adim Kirmizi) (Dec 19)
McCarthy, Cormac "The Road" - 2006 English (Jan 20)
Waltari, Mika "The Secret of the Kingdom" - 1959 Finnish (Valtakunnan salaisuus) (Mar 20)
Tokarczuk, Olga "Primeval and Other Times..." - 1996 Polish (Prawiek i inne czasy) (Apr 20)
Saki "The Open Window and other Short Stories" - 1914 English (Apr 20)
Slimani, Leïla "Adèle" - 2014 French (Dans le jardin de l'ogre) (May 20)
Lem, Stanislaw "Solaris" - 1962 Polish (Solaris, powieść) (Jun 20)
Shaffer, Mary Ann & Barrows, Annie "The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society" - 2008 English (Aug 20)
Boye, Karin "Kallocain" - 1940 Swedish (Kallocain) (Aus 20)

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."