Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ German Books


"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 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, we get a Freebie which means we don't even have to twist the topic to fit for us, we can choose it ourselves.

I read recently, that 10 % of all books are published in German. Does that mean that every read has read 10 % books by German writers? Probably not. But, if you would like to read something from Germany (or Austria or Switzerland), maybe one of my favourites would suit you.

 🇩🇪 🇩🇪 🇩🇪

Of course, I couldn't keep to the given number, as usual. Sorry for that.

Becker, Jurek "Jacob the Liar" (GE: Jakob der Lügner) - 1969
Hansen, Dörte "This House is Mine" (GE: Altes Land) - 2015
Haushofer, Marlen "The Wall" (GE: Die Wand) - 1962
Lenz, Siegfried "The German Lesson" (GE: Deutschstunde) - 1968
Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim "Nathan the Wise" (GE: Nathan der Weise) - 1779
Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (GE: Buddenbrooks) - 1901
Mercier, Pascal "Night Train to Lisbon" (GE: Nachrzug nach Lissabon) - 2004
Orth, Stephan "Couchsurfing in Russia: Friendships and Misadventures Behind Putin’s Curtain" (GE: Couchsurfing in Russland. Wie ich fast zum Putin-Versteher wurde) - 2017
Pausewang, Gudrun "The Last Children of Schewenborn" (GE: Die letzten Kinder von Schewenborn oder … sieht so unsere Zukunft aus?) - 1983
Precht, Richard David "Who Am I and If So, How Many?" (GE: Wer bin ich und wenn ja, wie viele?) - 2007
Schami, Rafik "The Calligrapher’s Secret" (GE: Das Geheimnis des Kalligraphen) - 2008
Sendker, Jan-Philipp "Whispering Shadows" (GE: Das Flüstern der Schatten) - 2007
Trojanow, Ilija " "The Collector of Worlds" (GE: Der Weltensammler) - 2006
Wolf, Christa "They Divided the Sky" (aka Divided Heaven) (GE: Der Geteilte Himmel) - 1963
Zweig, Stefanie "Nowhere in Africa" (GE: Nirgendwo in Afrika) - 1995

And if you speak German, here is my German blog with a lot more German books on this list and my list with German books from this blog.

Monday, 6 December 2021

Towles, Amor "A Gentleman in Moscow"

Towles, Amor "A Gentleman in Moscow" - 2016

I love Russian authors and stories about Russia. And I've heard a lot about this novel by American author Amor Towles. Both praise and not so much praise. So, when I came across this copy, I knew I'd have to give it a try.

And I'm glad I did. This novel is not just a great story which vivid characters and an unusual plot, it is a mystery and history, a love story and a political report, a story of friendship and kindness, a fairy tale and a psychological essay. I know I read a review about the book and I was told to better read it in one go otherwise I'd lose the connections but I didn't find it as challenging. I kept the link to that post in order to go there again and see what the blogger had written but it looks like it has been removed because I get referred to the main page of it and the post about the "Gentleman in Moscow" isn't there.

The characters in this book are all beautifully described and very much "alive". A completely different take on Stalinism, Russia and communism in general. I loved how all the people, especially the women he met, enabled the Count to have a halfway normal life and not despair. For those of you who have read it, I found the ending not too surprising, yet, wonderful.

There are so many layers in this novel. We can also see the way people react to the old hierarchy and the new way of life after Stalin. Whilst some embrace it, others just live in the past and can't let go of whatever happened during that era. I have seen this everywhere in real life. Guess who are the happier of the people?

One of my favourite quotes from this book: "If a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them." If only I could follow that advice all the time.

I think this is also a great introduction to Russian reading. Other than the Russian authors I love so much, this one doesn't jump from one name of a person to the next. They always ae mentioned by the one name they are given from the beginning. Something not too unimportant because I have heard a lot of people complain about that when reading or attempting to read Russian authors. There are also footnotes to explain the background of Russian history, where necessary. And a great explanation why Russians have three different kind of names (on page 100 in my paperback edition).

The story sounds so true, I had to check at the beginning whether the Count was real or not. Nope, he's not, totally fictional yet so alive that you would love to meet him.

I was told that Kenneth Branagh has bought the film rights for the story and will play Count Rostov himself. While I don't often like films made from books I loved, I am really looking forward to it because I think Kenneth Branagh is one of the best actor-directors of all time and totally love his work.

And I'd love to read his first book, "Rules of Civility" and the next one he has written, "The Lincoln Highway".

From the back cover:

"On 21 June 1922 Count Alexander Rostov - recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt - is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.

Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. But instead of his usual suite, he must now live in an attic room while Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval.

Can a life without luxury be the richest of all?

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Six Degrees of Separation ~ From Ethan Frome to This House is Mine

 Ethan Frome
Wharton, Edith "Ethan Frome" - 1911

#6Degrees of Separation:
from Ethan Frome to This House is Mine

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I love the idea. See more about this challenge, its history, further books and how I found this here.

This month's prompt starts with Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton.

Kate chose this because it's a novella and she took part in a challenged called Novella November (#NovNov). I was busy with Nonfiction November (#NonficNov) and our "The Satanic Verses" buddy-read and therefore didn't participate in that challenge. However, I had never read "Ethan Frome" and therefore thought it was about time to do exactly that.

Sometimes I take the easy way with these chains. Like this time. First, I thought I'd take the idea from the title and list books where the book is named after the protagonist, like "David Copperfield" and "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens, "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë, "Daniel Deronda" by George Eliot, "Daisy Miller" by Henry James, "Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel Defoe etc. etc. But I found so many with that kind of title that I had a hard time to choose only six.

In the end I went for another chain.

Wharton, Edith "The House of Mirth" 1905
Another book by Edith Wharton that I read ages ago. Why it took me so long to start another one of her books, I have no idea. I blame my gigantic TBR pile.

Dickens, Charles "Bleak House" - 1852/53

The word "house" in the title leads me to another house, one of my favourite authors has written about a very bleak one. But we see many different kind of houses in this novel.

Ashworth, Andrea "Once in a House on Fire" - 1999
Same as Dickens' house, this one is quite bleak. The author describes her youth in a penniless household full of violence and other problems.

Domínguez, Carlos María "The House of Paper" (Spanish: La Casa del Papel/Das Papierhaus) - 2007
And a house of Paper defnitely shouldn't catch fire. This story is about a woman who dies reading, a man who builds a house out of books and another guy who tries to find the link between them.

Eggels, Elle "The House of the Seven Sisters" (Dutch: Het Huis van de Zeven Zusters) - 1998
Again, this house is not a happy place to live in but, as with all the others, an interesting one about different kind of women who try to do their best.

Hansen, Dörte "This House is Mine" (German: Altes Land) - 2015
Another great description of some women who try to find their way in this world, one of my favourite books ever.

So, I went from one house to another, most of them not happy houses but all great books.

As always, I'm really looking forward to see what other bloggers come up with.

Have a Happy December, everyone!

Friday, 3 December 2021

Stoker, Bram "Dracula"

Stoker, Bram "Dracula" - 1897

I am neither a fan of fantasy nor of horror. But the subject for our Xanadu reading challenge in November was "Classics: any adult or children’s classic in any genre that you have never read before". There aren't really any genres I never read, I have tried everything, some I like a lot more than others, so I chose one that I rarely read. My son still had "Dracula" at home, so I thought this is the best time to finally read it.

Of course, there is no way I didn't know the Dracula story even though I never even watched a snippet of one of the many films they made out of this classic. So, the story wasn't a surprise. I also wasn't shocked or frightened, that is not the reason I don't read horror stories, they usually just bore me.

I am glad I read the novel because it is always talked about so much. But I don't believe in vampires and I wouldn't say I was excited about the story. Still, as it is one of the classics, it was an alright read even for such a truth lover like me.

From the back cover:

"A true masterwork of storytelling, Dracula has transcended generation, language, and culture to become one of the most popular novels ever written. It is a quintessential tale of suspense and horror, boasting one of the most terrifying characters ever born in literature: Count Dracula, a tragic, night-dwelling specter who feeds upon the blood of the living, and whose diabolical passions prey upon the innocent, the helpless, and the beautiful. But Dracula also stands as a bleak allegorical saga of an eternally cursed being whose nocturnal atrocities reflect the dark underside of the supremely moralistic age in which it was originally written - and the corrupt desires that continue to plague the modern human condition."

Book Quotes of the Week

Word cloud made with WordItOut

"Take some books and read; that's an immense help; and books are always good company if you have the right sort." Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Where would we be without books? The teach us new things, they entertain us but most of all, they are a great comfort in times of need.

"The most successful people I know have figured out how to live with criticism, to lean on to people who believe in them, and to push onward with their goals." Michelle Obama, Becoming

One of my favourite persons in the world who wrote one of my favourite books of the last years says it all. And - a lot of criticism comes from people who couldn't do it better. I always say there are two kind of people in this world, those who do the work and those who complain.

"All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world." E.B. White

I love the world, as well, but I don't have to love all the people who live in it.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Wharton, Edith "Ethan Frome"

Wharton, Edith "Ethan Frome" - 1911

The starter book for "Six Degrees of Separation" for December is "Ethan Frome". Often, I haven't read the starter book or even heard of it. But I have read and liked "The House of Mirth", so I decided I could read this one, especially since it's just a novella, so I could read it in between.

A good story about life under harsh circumstances about a century ago. I am sure this could have been a good chunky story, as well, but the author decided to keep it short. And for once, I didn't even mind that much.

I probably should read more by Edith Wharton. Any recommendations?

From the back cover:

"With this intensely moving short novel, Edith Wharton set out 'to draw life as it really was' in the lonely villages and desolate farms of the harsh New England mountains. Through the eyes of a visitor from the city, trapped for a winter in snowbound Starkfield, readers glimpse the hidden histories of this austere and beautiful land. Piecing together the story of monosyllabic Ethan Frome, his grim wife, Zeena, and Mattie Silver, her charming cousin, Wharton explores psychological dead-lock: frustration, longing, resentment, passion.

First published in 1911, the novella stunned its public with its consummate handling of the unfolding drama, and has remained for many readers the most compelling and subtle of all Wharton's fiction.

#ThrowbackThursday. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

Lewycka, Marina "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" - 2005

The story of two Ukrainian sisters, Nadezhda and Vera whose family found refuge in England.

This is probably even more valid than it was when it was written. Look at the refugees coming from Syria, Afghanistan and other parts where there is a war on. Look at the impacts of Brexit.

But this novel contains more than just immigration, there's sibling rivalry, ageneration conflict, the Cold War,  jealousy, sociology. A good book worth reading.

Read more on my original post here.