Friday, 7 August 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"If my books had been any worse, I should not have been invited to Hollywood … … and if they had been any better, I should not have come." Raymond Chandler
And nobody would have ever even got to know Philip Marlow, well, except for the readers, of course.

"A library is thought in cold storage." Herbert Samuel
Definitely an interesting way of looking at it.

"What I like best is a book that's at least funny once in a while..." Jonathan Swift
It helps with some but I don't have to have humour in a book.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Slimani, Leïla "Adèle"

Slimani, Leïla "Adèle" (French: Dans le jardin de l'ogre) - 2014

An interesting book though I really disliked the protagonist, Adèle Robinson. Read the description of the book and you might get an idea why.

This is the story of a sex addicted woman. She goes around and sleeps with everyone "in trousers". I just couldn't follow that woman.

If you don't like your marriage, give it up. We don't live in the middle ages (or in the middle of the 20th century) where you were bound to that husband of yours.

If you don't feel like a mother … well, how can you not feel like a mother if you are a mother? I don't know any mother who doesn't love her children, even those that nobody else likes. You just do.

I know that being addicted is an illness and it's hard to get out of it but I can't deal with that kind of people. They are selfish and exploit everyone around them.

I think the idea of the author was not to judge Adèle. But I gave up my time in order to read about her, so I just take that as my right and judge her. I just felt sorry for her husband who did everything to please her and her son who didn't ask to be born but then deserves the love of his parents. There are always victims when someone decides to lead a selfish life.

Let's face it, we all have troubles at times that seem unsolvable. Sometimes they really can't be solved. But Adèle would have had many ways out of that situation without hurting too many people.

I wonder why they didn't translate the title "Dans le jardin de l'ogre" into "In the Ogre's Garden" but put the name of the protagonist there. I think the French title is a lot better even though it is all about "Adèle".

Here are some comments from the other members:

Adèle is an unlikable antihero.
The book was more about attention deficit disorder than addiction.
She seems to suffer more from attention deficit disorder
The character is described as an addict who can't control herself and keeps cheating almost everyone around her.
The topic is such that it is very difficult to identify with the person from a male perspective, I can only compare Adèle to other characters as an outside observer.
Leila Slimani's mother is a doctor and Leila used to work as a reporter so the characters in the book draw a lot from this life experience.
I didn't like the book at all. Me neither.
I find it easier to think deeply about books I did not like.
Which one of her problems was caused by society, her upbringing, her own personality, her IQ too?
Sex addiction was a symptom, not the cause.
I have no respect for people with Adèle's weakness.
I also liked the original title much better and would really have loved to hear the views of some French speaking reader on how the book was in the original language. I read it in Finnish which made it cold and harsh, nothing fascinating sexy about it. (Remark from me: I read it in French and even there it was cold and harsh.)

Looks like everyone agreed with me.

This was our book club novel in July 2020.

From the back cover:

"Adèle appears to have the perfect life. She is a successful journalist in Paris who lives in a chic apartment with her surgeon husband and their young son. But beneath the veneer of 'having it all', she is bored - and consumed by an insatiable need for sex, whatever the cost. Struggling to contain the twin forces of compulsion and desire, she begins to orchestrate her life around her one night stands and extramarital affairs, arriving late to work and lying to her husband about where she's been, until she becomes ensnared in a trap of her own making.

An erotic and daring story - with electrically clear writing - Adèle will captivate readers with its exploration of addiction, sexuality, and one woman's quest to feel alive."

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

The Classics Club: The Classics Spin #24

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

For a while, she published posts by "The Classics Club" asking us to create a post, before next Sunday 9th August 2020, and list our choice of any twenty books that remain "to be read" on our Classics Club list. On Sunday 9th August, they’ll post a number from 1 through 20 and we have time until the end of September (30th) to read it.

I missed the last posts but managed to participate anyway. So, I already read six books from my old list which I replaced by some new ones. They are all in chronological order.

1.    Austen, Jane "Sanditon" - 1817
2.    Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "Italienische Reise" (Italian Journey aka Letters from Italy) - 1817
3.    Eichendorff, Joseph von "Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts und andere Novellen" (Life of a Good-For-Nothing) - 1826
4.    Gogol, Nikolai (Никола́й Васи́льевич Го́голь, Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol) "The Overcoat" (Шинель) - 1842
5.    Dumas, Alexandre "Le comte de Monte-Cristo" (The Count of Monte Cristo) - 1844-46
6.    Douglass, Frederick "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave" - 1845
7.    Sand, George "La Petite Fadette" (dto., aka Fanchon, the Cricket) - 1849
8.    Crafts, Hannah "The Bondwoman’s Narrative" - 1850?
9.    Keller, Gottfried "Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe" - 1855/56
10.    Eliot, George "Silas Marner" (Silas Marner) - 1861
11.    Jacobs, Harriet Ann (Linda Brent) "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" - 1861
12.    Rhoides, Emmanuel (Emmanuel Roidis) "The Curious History of Pope Joan" (gr.: Papissa Ioanna) - 1866
13.    Marx, Karl "Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Ökonomie" (Capital. Critique of Political Economy) - 186.
14.    Twain, Mark "A Tramp Abroad" - 1880
15.    Storm, Theodor "The Rider on the White Horse" (Der Schimmelreiter und andere Erzählungen) - 1888
16.    Van Dyke, Henry "The Story of the Other Wise Man" - 1896
17.    Hubbard, Fra Elbert "A Message to Garcia" - 1899
18.    Baum, L. Frank "The Wizard of Oz" - 1900
19.    Gorki, Maxim "The Mother" (Мать/Matj) - 1906/07
20.    Frost, Robert "A Boy’s Will" and "North of Boston" - 1913+1914

If you want to take up the challenge, here is the post: The Classics Spin #24 

"This is your Spin List. 

You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period.

Try to challenge yourself. For example, you could list five Classics Club books you have been putting off, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favourite author, re-reads, ancients, non-fiction, books in translation - whatever you choose.)

On Sunday 9th August, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 30th September, 2020."

The reason I've been putting off reading them is because my TBR pile is so huge. I love classics, I want to read them, and I love how I actually read more classical books than before.

I will add the chosen number once it's published. I will also add every other book I read afterwards with a link to the spin.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books with Colours In the Titles

"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.

Books with Colours In the Titles

*** Grey *** Grey *** Grey *** Grey *** Grey *** Grey ***
Brontë, Anne "Agnes Grey" - 1847 

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

*** Gold *** Gold *** Gold *** Gold *** Gold *** Gold *** 
Lessing, Doris "The Golden Notebook" - 1962

*** Orange *** Orange *** Orange *** Orange *** Orange *** 
Burgess, Anthony "A Clockwork Orange" - 1962

*** Scarlet *** Scarlet *** Scarlet *** Scarlet *** Scarlet ***  
Hawthorne, Nathaniel "The Scarlet Letter" - 1850 

*** Red *** Red *** Red *** Red *** Red *** Red *** Red ***  
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" (Benim Adım Kırmızı) - 1998

*** Purple *** Purple *** Purple *** Purple *** Purple *** 
Walker, Alice "The Color Purple" - 1982 

*** Blue *** Blue *** Blue *** Blue *** Blue *** Blue ***  
Abulhawa, Susan "The Blue Between Sky and Water" - 2015 

*** Green *** Green *** Green *** Green *** Green ***  
Ulitzkaja, Ljudmila/Ulitzkaya, Lyudmila "Das grüne Zelt" (Imago or The Big Green Tent/Zelenyi shater/Зеленый шатер) - 2010 

*** Black *** White  *** Black *** White  *** Black *** White  ***
Oates, Joyce Carol "Black Girl/White Girl" - 2006

Monday, 3 August 2020

Stephenson, Neal "Anathem"

Stephenson, Neal "Anathem" - 2008

"The expression anathema
(ancient Greek ἀνάθημα or ἀνάθεμα "the devotee, cursing"),
also anathema, spell ray, spell of the church or
- in connection with a curse - spell curse,
denotes a condemnation by a church
that is associated with the exclusion from the ecclesial community
and canon law is to be equated with excommunication

I'm not a big fan of science fiction and this is certainly a book that falls under that category. However, I love dystopian literature end I think, we can easily put it into that category, as well.

It is the year 3,000 or so on the planet Arbre. All the names they use come from some earthly words, this one meaning tree, of course. People have split up into two different kind of societies, the "avout" (probably from French "avouer", to confess) who live in monastery-like world, but definitely rational, atheist, and the Sæcular, the more worldly people. The avout are the scientists who study all sorts of different things, any science we know about - and probably more.

We get to meet one of them, Erasmas, also called Raz, after having spent a year in the "concent" when they get to meet the sæcular and we can see how they usually live. After that, everything goes pear-shaped and Raz goes on the trip of a lifetime, to different planets

I loved this book. It's not about science. Or fiction. Although, if that's your preference, you might want to read this, as well. It's about philosophy, about imagination. Arbre is similar to the Earth but has taken different steps. So, you can fantasize about how we could live, how our society might look like. I also really liked digging out all the meanings of the "foreign" words.

A lot of these kind of books have it but I really appreciated the glossary in the back of the book because I could always go back to a word I didn't remember rather than having to flip to a page before where it might have been explained. Of course, it meant I read many more than those 1,024 pages because I must have read the annex about twenty times. At least!

There's even a Wiki Fandom page that explains the correlation between Earth and Arbre, links their people to famous people in our world, their languages to ours etc. and a video/trailer on YouTube.

An interesting book. I'll read more by Neal Stephenson.

From the back cover:

"Erasmas - Raz - is a young avout living in the Concent, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside world by ancient stone, honoured traditions, and complex rituals. Three times during history's darkest epochs, the cloistered community has been devastated by violence. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe.

Now, in celebration of a week-long, once-in-a-decade rite, the avout prepare to open the concent's gates. Before the week is out, both worlds - the inner and the outer - will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change. Suddenly Erasmas finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world - as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of the planet... and beyond."

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Happy August!

Happy August to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch

"Match Race bei der HanseSail"
"Match Race at the HanseSail"

August has started and a lot of my friends have gone on holidays. Since many go to the North or Baltic Sea from the area we have lived before and pass almost by our house, we were happy to great a few in our house. Still very careful not to catch Corona, always keep our distance. And keep our masks on in public. Luckily, this is mandatory in Germany.

* * *

I love the sea and I love sailboats even though I'm not a big fan of that sport myself. But it always looks so calming (at least from the outside). Frank has given us a wonderful picture of a race between some beautiful sailboats that takes place at his home town every year. The Hanse Sail in Rostock is the largest maritime festival in Mecklenburg and one of the largest in Europe. Ever since the German reunification when they first started, this has been a very successful event with about 1 million visitors every year.

* * *

Talking about sailboats and the Baltic Sea, Malaga and Göteborg (Gothenburg) are the 2020 European Capitals of Smart Tourism. The initiative recognises "outstanding achievements by European cities as tourism destinations in four categories: sustainability, accessibility, digitalisation as well as cultural heritage and creativity." 

The latter has been on our list for this year since our son just finished his master's degree there. Unfortunately, this was not to be, Covid-19 didn't like the idea. However, that doesn't mean I can't dream or talk about Göteborg. 

Göteborg also received an award for their outstanding achievements in the category "Sustainability" together with Breda (Accessibility), Ljubljana (Digitalisation) and Karlsruhe (Cultural heritage and Creativity). With a little over two million inhabitants, Göteborg is the second largest city in Sweden (and the fifth largest in the Nordic countries after Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki and Copenhagen, all capitals) and there is a rivalry between them and Stockholm (where there are more than double the inhabitants). The harbour town on the Kattegat advertises with the slogan "Västküsten är bestküsten" (the Western coast is the best coast). I guess that says it all. 

The city was named after the Göta älv, called Göta River in English. Since 2015, the city has developed a more "international" way of spelling their name on logos etc. by turning the "ö" sideways: "Go:teborg".

The only problem my son has with the town (or Sweden) is not that it gets too hot or too cold, he doesn't mind extreme weather conditions. It's the fact that you only have six hours of sun every day in winter. You get them back in the summer when you have eighteen hours every day but that doesn't make up for it in his opinion (and probably in mine, as well). Other than that, the city is full of parks, lovely Neo-classical and National Romantic as well as modern architecture, and most important of all, a beautiful harbour. And there is a lot of culture going on with museums, concerts, theatre, festivals. A nice place to live. And - to get back to our original topic, one of their twin towns is Rostock.
After all the pictures I have seen, this is definitely a city worth visiting. And we will go once this Corona tragedy is over.

* * *

Have a happy August with this beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch. And stay safe!

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

You can also have a look under my labels Artist: Frank Koebsch and Artist: Hanka Koebsch where you can find all my posts about them.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"How much can we ever know about the love and pain in another heart? How much can we hope to understand those who have suffered deeper anguish, greater deprivation, and more crushing disappointments than we ourselves have known?" Orhan Pamuk, Snow
I doubt that we'll ever know everything but if we try, really, really try, we might get close to understanding others.

Theodore Roosevelt read an average of one book per day. Even on days when he was busy being the President.
And then there are so-called presidents who never read anything. ☹

"Sometimes I think heaven must be one continuous unexhausted reading." Virginia Woolf

Not just sometimes ...

Find more book quotes here.