Thursday 18 April 2024

Orwell, George "The Road to Wigan Pier"

Orwell, George "The Road to Wigan Pier" - 1937

I read this for the "1937 Club" club.

I have read a few books by George Orwell already and they were all highly interesting. This one started off a little tedious, many numbers that would have been easier to understand had they been converted to today's currencies or at least given the money in context. How am I supposed to know how much 15s. or 3s. 6d. are? How much do people have to pay for a piece of bread? How much does a good earner receive?

But the book improves after the author goes on to mention the conditions under which people live.
We are in the year 1937. A year that was very important. As another blogger wrote: "A LOT of good writing came out of the 30's. Turbulent times tend to do that...." (see here, thanks Cyberkitten)

And yes, we have similar turbulent times again and if we don't pay attention, history might repeat itself.

A quote from the book:
"They [Socialists] have never made it sufficiently clear that the essential aims of Socialism are justice and liberty. With their eyes glued to economic facts, they have proceeded on the assumption that man has no soul, and explicitly or implicitly they have set up the goal of a materialistic Utopia. As a result Fascism has been able to play upon every instinct that revolts against hedonism and a cheap conception of ‘progress’. It has been able to pose as the upholder of the European tradition, and to appeal to Christian belief, to patriotism, and to the military virtues. It is far worse than useless to write Fascism off as 'mass sadism', or some easy phrase of that kind. If you pretend that it is merely an aberration which will presently pass off of its own accord, you are dreaming a dream from which you will awake when somebody coshes you with a rubber truncheon."

We shouldn't forget these famous words by Martin Niemöller.
"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.
If we don't pay attention, we will be there again. And sooner than we would like to think.

From the back cover:

"In the 1930s, commissioned by a left-wing book club, Orwell went to the industrial areas of northern England to investigate and record the real situation of the working class. Orwell did more than just investigate; he went down to the deepest part of the mine, lived in dilapidated and filthy workers' houses, and used the tip of his pen to vividly reveal every aspect of the coal miners' lives. Reading today, 80 years later, Still shockingly true. The despair and poverty conveyed by this picture have a terrifying power that transcends time and national boundaries. At the same time, the Road to Wigan Pier is also Orwell's road to socialism as he examines his own inner self. Born in the British middle class, he recalled how he gradually began to doubt and then hate the strict class barriers that divided British society at that time. Because in his mind, socialism ultimately means only one concept: 'justice and freedom.'"


Wednesday 17 April 2024

The Classics Club: The Classics Spin #37


"Words and Peace" is a blog I've been following for a couple of years and I have always found some interesting new (or olde) books there, especially French ones.

On her page, I found the posts by "The Classics Club" asking us to create a post, this time before next Sunday 21st April 2024, and list our choice of any twenty books that remain "to be read" on our Classics Club list. They'll then post a number from 1 through 20 and we have time until Sunday 2nd of June 2024 to read it.

This time, I read three books from my old list (Classics Spin #36). But there are always some new books that I can add to my challenge. The books are all in chronological order.

1.    Aristophanes "Lysistrata and Other Plays" (Lysistrata) - 411BC
2.    Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "Urfaust. Faust Fragment. Faust I" (Faust) - 1772-1808
3.    Dickens, Charles "Nicholas Nickleby. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" - 1838/39
4.    Dumas, Alexandre fils "Camille: The Lady of the Camellias" (La Dame aux Camélias" - 1848
5.    Flaubert, Gustave "Madame Bovary" (Madame Bovary/ Madame Bovary) - 1857
6.    Turgenjew, Iwan Sergejewitsch "Fathers and Sons" (Отцы и дети/Otzy i deti) - 1862
7.    Conrad, Joseph "Victory: An Island Tale" - 1915
8.    Hamsun, Knut " Growth of the Soil" (Markens Grøde/Segen der Erde) - 1917
9.    Hamilton, Cicely "William - an Englishman" - 1920
10.   Hesse, Hermann "Wir nehmen die Welt nur zu ernst" [We just take the world too seriously] - 1928
11.   Faulkner, William "The Sound and the Fury" - 1929
12.   Hemingway, Ernest "A Farewell to Arms" - 1929
13.   Meigs, Cornelia "Invincible Louisa" - 1933
14.   Du Maurier, Daphne "Rebecca" - 1938
15.   Krleža, Miroslav "On the Edge of Reason" (Na rubu pameti) - 1938
16.   Némirovsky, Irène "Les biens de ce monde" (All Our Wordly Goods) - 1941
17.   Cela, Camilo José "The Family of Pascal Duarte" (La Familia Duarte) - 1942
18.   Zweig, Stefan "Schachnovelle" (The Royal Game/Chess) - 1942
19.   Wilde, Oscar "Only Dull People Are Brilliant at Breakfast" - 1946
20.   Huxley, Aldous "Ape and Essence" - 1948

This is a great idea for all of us who want to read more classics. Go ahead, get your own list. I can't wait to see what I get to read this time.

Here are all the books on my original Classics Club list.
And here is a list of all the books I read with the Classics Spin.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Characters I’d Like to go on Vacation With


 "Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". It was created because they are particularly fond of lists. It is now hosted by Jana from 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.

This week, our topic is Characters I’d Like to go on Vacation With - (Pretend you’re going on vacation and can bring 10 of your closest friends with you. Pick your vacation spot and tell us who you’d like to bring! Bonus point if you tell us why. Or maybe you like the idea of traveling in small groups, so plan 10 trips or 5 trips!)

Ruby Thewes from Cold Mountain:
Frazier, Charles "Cold Mountain" - 1997

Anne von Kamcke from This House is Mine:
Hansen, Dörte "This House is Mine" (GE: Altes Land) - 2015

Ellie Thomas from Cartes Postales from Greece:
Hislop, Victoria "Cartes Postales from Greece" - 2016

Luisa from What You Can See From Here:
Leky, Mariana "What You Can See From Here" (GE: Was man von hier aus sehen kann) - 2017

Dulcie Piper from The Offing:
Myers, Benjamin "The Offing" - 2019

Susan Russell and Larry Lee (because you can't have one without the other) from Breakfast at Six:
Scott, Mary "Breakfast at Six" - 1953

Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:
Smith, Betty "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" - 1943

Zosia Król from The Children's War:
Stroyar, J.N. "The Children's War" - 2001

Sarah Agnes Prine from These is my Words
Turner, Nancy E. "These is my Words" - 1999

Regina Redlich from Nowhere in Africa
Zweig, Stefanie
"Nowhere in Africa" - 1995 (GE: Nirgendwo in Afrika) - 1942

My eleven friends (see Susan and Larry) are all girls. Girls of all ages and from all eras. Girls from different countries (Germany 3, Greece 1, New Zealand 2, Poland 1, UK 1, USA 3) and different backgrounds. But they all have one thing in common. They are strong women who fight for a place in their lives.

📚 Happy Reading! 📚

Monday 15 April 2024

Joyce, Rachel "Miss Benson's Beetle"


Joyce, Rachel "Miss Benson's Beetle" - 2020

After reading "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry", I decided I didn't want to read another book by this author. Then a friend lent me her copy of this book and promised it was better. Well, it was, just a little. I think I just don't like the style of writing. And I prefer book with some content where I can learn something.

I really wanted to like this book but couldn't. I neither liked the characters nor could I really make any sense of their trials and tribulations it was all a little higgledy-piggledy, reminded me a little of the illogical sequences in sci-fi stories.

Not for me. And, after not liking two of her books, I can safely say that this was my last one by this author.

From the back cover:

"It is 1950. In a devastating moment of clarity, Margery Benson abandons her dead-end job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.

Enid Pretty, in her unlikely pink travel suit, is not the companion Margery had in mind. And yet together they will be drawn into an adventure that will exceed every expectation. They will risk everything, break all the rules, and at the top of a red mountain, discover their best selves.

This is a story that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.

Thursday 11 April 2024

#ThrowbackThursday. Barchester Chronicles

Trollope, Anthony "The Warden" - Barchester Chronicles 1 - 1855
Trollope, Anthony "Barchester Towers" - Barchester Chronicles 2 - 1857
Trollope, Anthony "Doctor Thorne" - Barchester Chronicles 3 - 1858
Trollope, Anthony "Framley Parsonage" - Barchester Chronicles 4 - 1861
Trollope, Anthony "The Small House at Allington: - Barchester Chronicles 5 - 1864
Trollope, Anthony "The Last Chronicle of Barset" - Barchester Chronicles 6 - 1867

I love these novels because there are so many different themes in the whole series. If you look for a long term commitment and like classical novals, this series is for you. It was written in the middle of the 19th century and describes the life of the people in the Victorian world, a fictive town, Barchester, in a fictive county, Barsetshire, with a cathedral and all its paraphernalia.

Read my original review here.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Ryan, Donal "The Thing About December"


Ryan, Donal "The Thing About December" - 2013

This was our international online book club book for March 2024.

I think I expected something different from this book. Something typical for Northern Ireland, I guess. Well, this could have taken place anywhere. The story was not especially well told or exciting in any way.

A boy with some kind of mental illness is left orphaned and inherits his parents' farm. The village wants him to sell it because then they all can make a large profit. There are some bullies in the village but he also makes a friend. That's it in a nutshell. However, I couldn't get any interesting access to the story, it was way too boring for me.

Just not my thing.

From the back cover:

"While the Celtic Tiger rages, and greed becomes the norm, Johnsey Cunliffe desperately tries to hold on to the familiar, even as he loses those who all his life have protected him from a harsh world. Village bullies and scheming land-grabbers stand in his way, no matter where he turns.

Set over the course of one year of Johnsey’s life,
The Thing About December breathes with his grief, bewilderment, humour and agonizing self-doubt. This is a heart-twisting tale of a lonely man struggling to make sense of a world moving faster than he is."

Tuesday 9 April 2024

TBR Pile Reading Challenge 2024


One of my favourite Reading Challenges that I joined in 2016.

I don't think Evie from the Bookish Blog still carries this on, as I can't find it on her page but her words with which she started this challenge are still true: "We all have those books. We buy them, win them, they're gifted to us. Then we put them up on a bookshelf and there they stay, collecting dust, waiting for the time when we'll finally decide to pick them up."

As I mention every year, even now, after seven years of participation, my TBR (To Be Read) pile is still a lot longer than it should because I just can't resist buying any new books and going to the library though I have tried to attempt reading more old books than buying new ones. But I read lately that buying books, collecting books and reading books are three completely different hobbies. And I have them all.

I could, of course, try to tackle the 50+ challenge but we all know that is not going to happen, instead, I tried to do at least 11-20 old books in addition to the new ones I'm buying and those I get from the library and wished to be pleasantly surprised at the end of the year. That happened, I have reached the 21-30 (First Kiss) and 31-40 (Sweet Summer Fling) sometimes in the last years, maybe I can get to 41-50 (Could This Be Love?) one day.

I have read
37 books in 2016,
32 in 2017,

38 in 2018
23 in 2019
25 in 2020 
39 in 2021 
15 in 2022 and
13 in 2023
of the books that had been waiting to be read for more than a year.
I hope I will manage more in 2024.
(I always add the German title - when available - in brackets for my German friends)

So far, I have already read these of my "old books" in 2024:

Taschler, Judith W. "Sommer wie Winter" [Summer and Winter] - 2011

, Charlotte "The Professor" (Der Professor) - 1857
Yates, Richard "Revolutionary Road" (Zeiten des Aufruhrs) - 1961
Harris, Robert "Fatherland" (Vaterland) - 1992
Tomalin, Claire "Jane Austen - A Life" - 1997
Orwell, George "The Road to Wigan Pier" (Der Weg nach Wigan Pier) - 1937
Schnoy, Sebastian "Smørrebrød in Napoli. Ein vergnüglicher Streifzug durch Europa" [Smørrebrød in Napoli. A fun journey through Europe] - 2009