Friday 26 April 2013

Book Quotes of the Week

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"There are great books in this world and great worlds in books." Anne Brontë

"I stepped into the bookshop & breathed in that perfume of paper and Magic that strangely no one had ever thought of bottling." Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel's Game

"A writer only begins a book: a reader finishes it." Samuel Johnson

"One doesn’t read Jane Austen; one re-reads Jane Austen.” William F. Buckley, Jr.

"Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable." Francis Bacon

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favourite book.” Marcel Proust  

Find more quotes here.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Lamb, Christina "The Africa House"

Lamb, Christina "The Africa House: The True Story of an English Gentleman and His African Dream" - 1999

This was the first book I read by Christina Lamb. I have since read "The Sewing Circles of Herat" and have become a big fan of her.

This biography is about Sir Stewart Gore-Brown, someone I had never heard about in my life. And still, his life is interesting and the book was captivating. The protagonist was one of the last colonialists. He owned a big house in Africa, almost a castle, something he couldn't have afforded back in his home country, Britain.

Being one of the last to start such an enterprise, he certainly belonged to the more arrogant and naive types, someone who wanted to turn back time and be one of the landholders, the lords, the people who owned people.

Christina Lamb has a great feeling for other people and she manages to describe their lives in a way that you imagine you've been there. I will certainly read more books of this talented author.

From the back cover:

"In the last decades of the British Empire, Stewart Gore-Browne build himself a feudal paradise in Northern Rhodesia; a sprawling country estate modelled on the finest homes of England, complete with uniformed servants, daily muster parades and rose gardens. He wanted to share it with the love of his life, the beautiful unconventional Ethel Locke King, one of the first women to drive and fly. She, however, was nearly twenty years his senior, married and his aunt. Lorna, the only other woman he had ever cared for, had married another many years earlier. Then he met Lorna's orphaned daughter, so like her mother that he thought he had seen a ghost. It seemed he had found companionship and maybe love - but the Africa house was his dream and it would be a hard one to share.

From a world of British colonials in Africa, with their arrogance and vision, to the final sad denouement. Leaving the once majestic house abandoned and a forgotten ruin of a bygone age Christina Lamb evokes a story full of passion, adventure and final betrayal.

Monday 22 April 2013

Kingsolver, Barbara "Flight Behaviour"

Kingsolver, Barbara "Flight Behaviour" - 2012

I am a fan of Barbara Kingsolver and her novels. I love her writing style, I love her stories, I love the subjects she talks about. She is a very environmentally oriented person who knows how to write about this highly important subject that is far too often dismissed by people who think they can save some money and disregard the impacts it has on our future and, even more, the future of our children. Yes, I am, as a friend once put it, a "damn environmentalist", I have been wondering what is going to happen to our world for decades, people have been laughing at me for sorting my trash long before it was "fashionable".

What is so great about this novel? Barbara Kingsolver brings the impact of environmental pollution, of climate change to the most rural area you can imagine, to a part where people think if they don't pay attention to the big bad world, nothing bad is going to happen to them. Even though the setting is in the United States, this could happen anywhere. But that is not the only subject she addresses, she talks about friendship, poverty, education, religion, science, intolerance.

The characters, everyday people, a farmer living with his family on the grounds of his parents, the parents just next door, a normal life for a lot of people living in rural environments. They want to sell their forest to make money and then they discover butterflies that never were in that area and that shouldn't be in that area.

But the author also keeps a close look on the family and their lives, the interaction they have with the local people and the visiting biologists. I like her way of describing her characters, I have come to love many of them in her books.
As the story progresses, so does our understanding that something is tremendously wrong, that something needs to be done but that it is already too late, as a lot of actions come at least thirty years too late.

If this novel has made at least a few of the readers aware that we should change things, not just complain about gas prices going up but looking at what we, the little men and women, can do to improve our environment, it has fulfilled its purpose. I guess those who don't want to understand, those who dislike scientific findings and rather go on like their ancestors, will not like this book anyway.

I have said before that I want to read all of her novels, a few are still missing, they are still on my wishlist and I will make sure to get there soon. I also hope that she is still going to write many more beautiful novels.

From the back cover:

"Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.

Flight Behaviour' takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world."

I have also read other books by Barbara Kingsolver, you can find my reviews here.

Friday 19 April 2013

Book Quotes of the Week

Word cloud made with WordItOut

"Every book you've ever read is just a different combination of the same 26 letters." N.N.

"There is no friend as loyal as a book." Ernest Hemingway

"Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you." Carlos Ruiz Zafón

"Of course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book, resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper." David Quammen 

"A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend." N.N.

"If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking." Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

Find more quotes here.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Berenstain, Stan and Jan "The Berenstain Bears"

Berenstain, Stan and Jan "The Berenstain Bears" - 1962ff.

My kids loved the Berenstain Bears. Not only was it a "normal" family, the characters just happened to be bears, but it was a funny family. They live in a lovely tree house, and there are hundred different books with all kinds of subjects, anything that can happen in a child's life must have their own book, from the arrival of a new baby in the family to moving and going to the doctor, from starting school to all sorts of holidays and activities. A wonderful set of stories for children, often written in rhyme form but quite easy so that early beginners can enjoy these books just as much as little children who don't read, yet.

Some of the books we enjoyed enjoyed:
The Bear Detectives
The Bear Scouts
The Bears Picnic
The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners
The Berenstain Bears Go to School
The Berenstain Bears Moving Day
The Berenstain Bears New Baby
The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin
Get in a Fight
He Bear, She Bear
The Messy Room
The Berenstain Bears' New Neighbours
No Girls Allowed
Old Hat, New Hat
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV
Trick or Treat

From the back cover:

"THE BERENSTAIN BEARS' First Time Books® are all about new experiences children encounter in their early years. With good-natured wisdom, love, and gentle humor, these books ease the way for kids - and their parents - through these first times"

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "Marina"

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "Marina" (Spanish: Marina) - 1999

Just as Carlos Ruiz Zafón's other books, "Marina" grips you from the first page. It starts with the end, as the author reveals but it is exciting all the way. This is even darker than any of his other novels.

This book was written before "The Shadow of the Wind" and has only become famous after that big one was such a huge success. Again, Barcelona plays a major role and one gets the idea that it is full of secret and forbidden streets and alleyways that everyone would like to explore.

Óscar and Marina, the protagonists of this story, come across a mysterious character, someone who should have been dead a long time ago. Ruiz Zafón is faithful to his storytelling and doesn't disappoint anyone who has read his later books. Shows how you have to be on all the shelves before you are read. It is a horror story as well as a love story, actually, two love stories, one in the past, the other one in the presence, both beautiful and "forever".

In any case, if you want a short book (only 350 pages) with an exciting story, this is your literature. It's gripping and just brilliant. One of those "unputdownables". I love Carlos Ruiz Zafón's novels and would like to learn Spanish well enough just to be able to read them.

See more comments on my ThrowbackThursday post in 2023.

From the back cover:

"In May 1980, fifteen-year-old Óscar Drei suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts. It all began the previous autumn when, while exploring the dilapidated grounds of what seemed to be an abandoned house filled with portraits, he inadvertently stole a gold pocket watch. Thus begins Óscar's friendship with Marina and her father Herman Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Óscar to the gardens of the nearby cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m., a coach drives up to the cemetery and a woman with her face shrouded, wearing gloves, and holding a single rose is helped down from the coach and walks over to a nameless gravestone, where she sets down the flower, pauses for a moment, and then returns to the coach. The gravestone bears no marking but the outline of a strange-looking butterfly with open wings. On one of their subsequent walks Óscar and Marina spot the same woman and determine to follow her. Thereupon begins their journey into the woman's past, and that of the object of her devotion. It is a journey that takes them to the heights of a forgotten, postwar-Barcelona society, of now aged or departed aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and into the depths of the city's mysterious underground of labyrinthine sewers, corrupt policemen, beggars' hovels, and criminal depravity."

Monday 15 April 2013

European Reading Challenge 2013

So many blogs, so many challenges, a lot of the blogs I follow come up with one sort of challenge or another and I love participating. It doesn't mean I have to read more, I just keep better track of what I read.

I recently found this nice one on Rose City Reader's Blog: 2013 European Reading Challenge. The idea is to read books by European authors or set in European countries and I noticed that I had read quite a few of those already this year. They even posted a list of the 50 sovereign states of Europe.

So, here is the list, in alphabetical order, I will add the books (and links) during the year:

Bosnia and Herzegovina


Tremain, Rose "Music & Silence"

Jacobsen, Roy "The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles" (Hoggerne) 

Broerken, Hella "Paris-Spaziergänge: Die schönsten Streifzüge durch die französische Metropole" [Walks through Paris]
Faulks, Sebastian "Birdsong. A Novel of Love and War"
Geti, Monica "A Year of Sunshine"
Hessel, Stéphane "Indignez-vous!" (Time for Outrage!) 
Navarre, Marguerite de "Heptameron" (Heptaméron)
Rutherfurd, Edward "Paris"



Bánk, Zsuzsa "Die hellen Tage" [The Light Days]
Basti, Abel & van Helsing, Jan "Hitler überlebte in Argentinien" (Hitler in Argentina) [Hitler survived in Argentina]
Binet, Laurent "HHhH" (HHhH: Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich) 
Biskupek, Matthias "Der Quotensachse. Vom unaufhaltsamen Aufstieg eines Staatsbürgers sächsischer Nationalität" [The Quota Saxon]
Fröhlich, Alexandra "Meine russische Schwiegermutter und andere Katastrophen" [My Russian Mother-In-Law And Other Catastrophies]
Gillham, David "City of Women"
Giordano, Ralph "Deutschlandreise. Aufzeichnungen aus einer schwierigen Heimat" [Germany trip. Notes from a difficult homeland]
Grjasnowa, Olga "Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt" (All Russians Love Birch Trees)
Korschunow, Irina "Das Spiegelbild [The Mirror Image
Mann, Thomas "Der Zauberberg" (The Magic Mountain)
Marschner, Rosemarie "Das Mädchen am Klavier" [The Girl on the Piano]
Regener, Sven "Herr Lehmann" (Berlin Blues)
Rosendorfer, Herbert "Briefe in die chinesische Vergangenheit" (Letters Back to Ancient China)
Schami, Rafik "Eine deutsche Leidenschafts names Nudelsalat: und andere seltsame Geschichten" [A German Passion Called Noodle Salad: and Other Strange Stories]
Zweig, Stefanie "Das Haus in ther Rothschildallee" [The House in Rothschild Lane]

Bernières, Louis de "Birds without Wings
Hislop, Victoria "The Thread"
Homer "Odyssey" (Ομήρου Οδύσσεια, Odýsseia)


Sturluson, Snorri "Egil's Saga" (Egils Saga)


Boccaccio, Giovanni "The Decameron" (Il Decameron, cognominato Prencipe Galeotto)
Geti, Monica "A Year of Sunshine"
Ortheil, Hanns-Josef "Im Licht der Lagune" [In the Light of the Lagoon



Abdolah, Kader (Hossein Sadjadi Ghaemmaghami Farahani) "My Father’s Notebook" (Spijkerschrift)
Erkelius, Per Agne "Das Bild, das ich dir schrieb" (Rembrandt till sin dotter) [Rembrandt's daughter or The Picture I wrote to you]


Becker, Artur "Die Zeit der Stinte" [not translated: time of the smelt(fish)]

Saramago, José "Cain" (Caim) (author)

Republic of Macedonia

Dostoevsky, Fyodor "Crime and Punishment" (Преступление и наказание/Prestupleniye i nakazaniye)
Hannah, Kristin "Winter Garden"
Aleichem, Sholem (שלום עליכם) "Tevye, the Dairyman" (Tevye der milkhiker, Yiddish: טבֿיה דער מילכיקער, Hebrew: טוביה החולב)

San Marino

+ Catalonia 
Barbal i Farré, Maria "Campher" (Catal. Càmfora)
Cabré, Jaume "I confess" (Catal. Jo Confesso)
Cervantes, Miguel de "Don Quixote, vols. 1 and 2" (El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha)
Hislop, Victoria "The Return"
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "Marina" (Marina)
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Prisoner of Heaven" (El Prisionero del Cielo)



Barnes, Valerie "A Foreign Affair. A Passionate Life in Four Languages"

Bernières, Louis de "Birds without Wings" 
Mosebach, Martin "Die Türkin" [The Turkish Woman]
Pamuk, Orhan "The Silent House" (Sessiz Ev)
Pamuk, Orhan "The Museum of Innocence" (Masumiyet Müzesi)

Alexievich, Svetlana "Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster" (Чернобыльская молитва/Černobylskaja molitva)  
Aleichem, Sholem (שלום עליכם) "Tevye, the Dairyman" (Tevye der milkhiker, Yiddish: טבֿיה דער מילכיקער, Hebrew: טוביה החולב)

United Kingdom
Aaronovitch, Ben "Rivers of London"
Austen, Jane "Pride & Prejudice"
Austen, Jane "Mansfield Park
Bacon, Francis "New Atlantis" (lat. Nova Atlantis)
Bryson, Bill "Icons of England"
Chevalier, Tracy "Falling Angels"
Clarke, Susanna "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Collins, Wilkie "Armadale
Cottrell Boyce, Frank "Millions"
Defoe, Daniel "Robinson Crusoe"  
Fforde, Jasper "Lost in a Good Book"
George, Margaret "Elizabeth 1"
Golding, William "Lord of the Flies" (author)
Hanff, Helene "84, Charing Cross Road" and "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street""
More, Thomas "Utopia"
Moyes, Jojo "Me Before You"
Neville, Henry ""The Isle of Pines"
Palma, Félix J. "The Map of Time" (El mapa del tiempo)
Pool, Daniel "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist - the Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England"
Sterne, Laurence "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman"
Northern Ireland:
MacLaverty, Bernard "Cal"
Gabaldon, Diana "Outlander" (UK: Cross Stitch) 

Vatican City

* * * * *
I placed the books mainly where they were set, unless otherwise stated.
Any book that has not been translated into English, I translated the title and put it in [] square brackets. 
I have added links to the countries where I reviewed a book already, whether this year or before.

Friday 12 April 2013

Book Quotes of the Week

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"Love of reading enables a man [or woman] to exchange the weary hours which come to every one, for hours of delight." Montesquieu

"The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read." Abraham Lincoln 

“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” Mark Twain

"The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use them." Philip K. Dick

"In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but how many gent get through to you." Mortimer Adler

Find more quotes here.

Thursday 11 April 2013


We talked about this in the book club a while ago and we all agreed: We don’t like it when the "footnotes" are in the back of the book, it’s so much easier to read when they are on the respective pages.

Most of us said we just skipped over them if they are in the back, hardly every looked up a reference or anything but would read almost all of the notes on the bottom of the page.

What about you?

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Kimmel, Haven "A Girl named Zippy"

Kimmel, Haven "A Girl named Zippy. Growing up small in Mooreland, Indiana" - 2002

This book shows that not all recommendations from friends have a happy ending. Meaning, I didn't like this book very much. Even though it is supposed to be a memoir of a girl from Indiana, it read more like a chick lit. The writing is not very challenging, I found it quite boring at times. One of the few books where I was quite glad it wasn't that long because I don't think it would have improved if there had been more pages. I wondered whether I didn't find it funny because I am not American and don't get the jokes or don't have the same sense of humour but I don't think that's it because there are other American authors whose humour I thoroughly enjoy, Bill Bryson for instance. And I even grew up in a similar rural environment as the author.

In short, this book is not for me.

From the back cover:

"When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana, was a sleepy little hamlet of three hundred people. Nicknamed "Zippy" for the way she would bolt around the house, this small girl was possessed of big eyes and even bigger ears. In this witty and lovingly told memoir, Kimmel takes readers back to a time when small-town America was caught in the amber of the innocent postwar period–people helped their neighbors, went to church on Sunday, and kept barnyard animals in their backyards. 

Laced with fine storytelling, sharp wit, dead-on observations, and moments of sheer joy, Haven Kimmel's straight-shooting portrait of her childhood gives us a heroine who is wonderfully sweet and sly as she navigates the quirky adult world that surrounds Zippy.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Nobel Prize Winners and Their Books

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I think by now everyone knows about both my love for lists and literature by Nobel Prize winners. So, you've probably asked yourself why I haven't posted a list of the novels I read by Nobel Prize winners. Ta-Dah! Here it is. I will update it whenever I read a new book by one of these authors. If you want to recommend a book by any of the winners that I should definitely read, please, let me know.

Jon Fosse, 2023

Annie Ernaux, 2022
"The Years" (Les années) - 2008

Abdulrazak Gurnah, 2021
"Pilgrims Way" - 1988 - Read the Nobels

Louise Glück, 2020

Peter Handke, 2019
"Storm Still" (Immer noch Sturm) - 2010

Olga Tokarczuk, 2018 (belated, see here)
"Primeval and other Times" (Prawiek i inne czasy) - 1996 - Read the Nobels

Kazuo Ishiguro, 2017
"The Remains of the Day" - 1989 - Read the Nobels
"When We Were Orphans" - 2000 - Read the Nobels

Bob Dylan, 2018
"Chronicles. Volume One" - 2004 - Read the Nobels

Swetlana Alexijewitsch (Svetlana Alexievich), 2015
"Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster" (Чернобыльская молитва/Černobylskaja molitva) - 2006 - Read the Nobels
"Second Hand Time. The Last of the Sovjets" (Время секонд хэнд/Vremja sekond khend) - 2013 - Read the Nobels

Patrick Modiano, 2014
"La Place de l'Étoile" (Place de l'Étoile) - 1968 - Read the Nobels

Alice Munro, 2013
"Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage" - 2001 - Read the Nobels
"Runaway" - 2004 - Read the Nobels

Mo Yan, 2012
"Red Sorghum Clan" (红高粱家族 , Hóng gāoliang jiāzú) - 1987 - Read the Nobels

Tomas Tranströmer, 2011

Mario Vargas Llosa, 2010
"Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter" (La tía Julia y el escribidor) - 1977 - Read the Nobels
"The Feast of the Goat" (La fiesta del chivo) - 2000 - Read the Nobels
"The Storyteller" (El Hablador) - 1987 - Read the Nobels

Herta Müller, 2009
"The Appointment" (Heute wär ich mir lieber nicht begegnet) - 1997 - Read the Nobels
"The King Bows and Kills" (Der König verneigt sich und tötet) - 2003 - Read the Nobels

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, 2008
"The African" (L'Africain) - 2004 - Read the Nobels

Doris Lessing, 2007
"The Golden Notebook" - 1962 - Read the Nobels
"The Grass is Singing" - 1950

Orhan Pamuk, 2006
"Cevdet Bey and His Sons" (Cevdet Bey ve Oğulları) - 1982 - Read the Nobels
"The Silent House" (Sessiz Ev) - 1983 - Read the Nobels
"The White Castle" (Beyaz Kale) - 1985 - Read the Nobels  
"The Black Book" (Kara Kitap) - 1990 - Read the Nobels
"The New Life" (Yeni Hyat) - 1994 - Read the Nobels
"My Name is Red" (Benim Adim Kirmizi) - 1998 - Read the Nobels
"Snow" (Kar) - 2002 - Read the Nobels
"Istanbul - Memories of a City" (Istanbul - Hatiralar ve Sehir) - 2003 - Read the Nobels
"My Father's Suitcase" (Babamın Bavulu) - 2007 - Read the Nobels
"The Museum of Innocence" (Masumiyet Müzesi) - 2008 - Read the Nobels
"The Naïve and the Sentimental Novelist" (Saf ve Düşünceli Romancı) - 2011 - Read the Nobels
"A Strangeness in my Mind" (Kafamda Bir Tuhaflık) - 2014 - Read the Nobels
"The Red-Haired Woman" (Kırmızı Saçlı Kadın) - 2016 - Read the Nobels

Harold Pinter, 2005

Elfriede Jelinek, 2004
"The Piano Teacher" (Die Klavierspielerin) - 1988 - Read the Nobels

John M. Coetzee, 2003
"Waiting for the Barbarians" - 1980 - Read the Nobels 
"The Master of Petersburg" - 1994 - Read the Nobels
"Disgrace" - 1999 - Read the Nobels
"The Childhood of Jesus" - 2013 - Read the Nobels

Imre Kertész, 2002
"Fateless" or "Fatelessness" (Sorstalanság) - 1975 - Read the Nobels

Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul (V. S. Naipaul), 2001
"A House for Mr. Biswas" - 1961 - Read the Nobels
"A Bend in the River: His Great Novel of Africa" - 1979 - Read the Nobels
"Half A Life" - 2001 - Read the Nobels

Gao Xingjian, 2000
"Soul Mountain" (灵山, língshān) - 1989 - Read the Nobels

Günter Grass, 1999
"The Tin Drum" (Die Blechtrommel) - 1959 - Read the Nobels
"Cat and Mouse" (Katz und Maus) - 1961 - Read the Nobels
"Five Decades" (Fünf Jahrzehnte ) - 1999
"My Century" (Mein Jahrhundert) - 1999 - Read the Nobels
"Crabwalk" (Im Krebsgang) - 2002 - Read the Nobels
"Peeling the Onion" (Beim Häuten der Zwiebel) - 2006 - Read the Nobels
"The Box: Tales from the Darkroom" (Die Box. Dunkelkammergeschichten) - 2008 - Read the Nobels
"Grimms Words - A Declaration of Love" (Grimms Wörter. Eine Liebeserklärung) - 2010

José Saramago, 1998
"Blindness" (O Ensaio sobre a Cegueira)  - 1995 - Read the Nobels
"Cain" (Caim) - 2009 - Read the Nobels

Dario Fo, 1997
"My first seven years (plus a few more)" (Il Paese dei Mezaràt: I miei primi sette anni (e qualcuno in più) - 2004 - Read the Nobels

Wislawa Szymborska, 1996
Seamus Heaney, 1995
Kenzaburo Oe, 1994

Toni Morrison, 1993
"Beloved" - 1987 - Read the Nobels
"Paradise" - 1998 - Read the Nobels
"Love" - 2003 - Read the Nobels
"A Mercy" - 2008 - Read the Nobels 
"Home" - 2012 - Read the Nobels

Derek Walcott, 1992

Nadine Gordimer, 1991
"Burger's Daughter" - 1979 - Read the Nobels

Octavio Paz, 1990
Camilo José Cela, 1989

Naguib Mahfouz, 1988
"Midaq Alley" (زقاق المدق/Zuqaq El Midaq) - 1947 - Read the Nobels
Cairo Trilogy:
- "Palace Walk" (بين القصرين/Bayn al-qasrayn) - 1957 - Read the Nobels
- "Palace of Desire" (قصر الشوق/Qasr el-Shōq) - 1957 - Read the Nobels
- "Sugar Street" (السكرية/Al-Sukkariyya) - 1957 - Read the Nobels
"Children of the Gebelawi/Children of our Alley" (اولاد حارتنا/Awlād ḥāritnā) - 1959 - Read the Nobels

Joseph Brodsky, 1987
Wole Soyinka, 1986
Claude Simon, 1985
Jaroslav Seifert, 1984

William Golding, 1983
"Lord of the Flies" - 1954 - Read the Nobels

Gabriel García Márquez, 1982
"One Hundred Years of Solitude" (Cien años de soledad) - 1967 - Read the Nobels
"Love in the Time of Cholera" (El amor en los tiempos del cólera) - 1985 - Read the Nobels
"The General in His Labyrinth" (El general en su laberinto) - 1989 - Read the Nobels

Elias Canetti, 1981
Canetti, Elias "Auto-da-Fé" (Die Blendung) - 1935

Czeslaw Milosz, 1980
Odysseus Elytis, 1979

Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1978
"Yentl the Yeshiva Boy" (נטל בחור ישיבה/Yenṭl der Yeshive-boḥer) - 1983 - Read the Nobels

Vicente Aleixandre, 1977

Saul Bellow, 1976
"Humboldt's Gift" - 1975 - Read the Nobels

Eugenio Montale, 1975

Eyvind Johnson, Harry Martinson, 1974 - Read the Nobels
"Aniara" - 1956

Patrick White, 1973

Heinrich Böll, 1972
"The Silent Angel" (Der Engel schwieg) - 1949/50 - Read the Nobels

Pablo Neruda, 1971
"The Captain's Verses" (Los versos del capitán) - 1973 - Read the Nobels

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (Александр Исаевич Солженицын, ), 1970
"August 1914" ["The Red Wheel" cycle] (Узел I - «Август Четырнадцатого», Красное колесо/August 1914) - 1971 - Read the Nobels
"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" (Оди́н день Ива́на Дени́совича Odin den' Ivana Denisovicha) - 1962 - Read the Nobels
"For the Good of the Cause" (Для пользы дела/Dlja pol'zy dela) - 1963
"Matryona's House" (Матрёнин двор/Matrjonin dvor) - 1963
"An Incident at Krechetovka Station" (Случай на станции Кречетовка/Sluchaj na stancii Krechetovka) - 1963

Samuel Beckett, 1969
"Waiting for Godot" (En attendant Godot) - 1952 - Read the Nobels

Yasunari Kawabata, 1968
Miguel Angel Asturias, 1967
Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Nelly Sachs, 1966
Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov, 1965
Jean-Paul Sartre, 1964
Giorgos Seferis, 1963

John Steinbeck, 1962
"Of Mice and Men" - 1937 - Read the Nobels
"The Grapes of Wrath" - 1939 - Read the Nobels
"East of Eden" - 1952 - Read the Nobels
"The Pearl" - 1962 - Read the Nobels

Ivo Andrić, 1961
"The Bridge on the Drina" (На Дрини Ћуприја, Na Drini Ćuprija) - 1945 - Read the Nobels

Saint-John Perse, 1960
Salvatore Quasimodo, 1959

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak, 1958
"Doctor Zhivago" (Доктор Живаго) - 1958 - Read the Nobels

Albert Camus, 1957
"The Stranger" (aka The Outsider) (L'étranger) - 1942 - Read the Nobels
"The Plague" (La Peste) - 1947 - Read the Nobels
"The Just Assassins" (aka The Just) (Les Justes) - 1949 - Read the Nobels
"The First Man" (Le premier homme) - 1994 - Read the Nobels

Juan Ramón Jiménez, 1956
Halldór Kiljan Laxness, 1955

Ernest Miller Hemingway, 1954
"To Have and Have Not" - 1937
"For Whom the Bell Tolls" - 1940 - Read the Nobels
"The Old Man and the Sea" - 1952 - Read the Nobels

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, 1953
François Mauriac, 1952

Pär Fabian Lagerkvist, 1951
"Barabbas" (Barabbas) - 1950 - Read the Nobels

Earl (Bertrand Arthur William) Russell, 1950

William Faulkner, 1949
"Light in August" - 1932 - Read the Nobels

Thomas Stearns Eliot, 1948
André Paul Guillaume Gide, 1947

Hermann Hesse, 1946
"Siddhartha" (Siddhartha) - 1922 - Read the Nobels
"Steppenwolf" (Der Steppenwolf) - 1927 - Read the Nobels
"Narcissus and Goldmund" (Narziss und Goldmund) - 1930 - Read the Nobels

Gabriela Mistral, 1945
Johannes Vilhelm Jensen, 1944
No Nobel Prize was awarded in 1943
No Nobel Prize was awarded in 1942
No Nobel Prize was awarded in 1941
No Nobel Prize was awarded in 1940
Frans Eemil Sillanpää, 1939

Pearl S. Buck, 1938
"East Wind: West Wind" - 1930 - Read the Nobels
"The Good Earth" - 1931 - Read the Nobels
"Sons" - 1932 - Read the Nobels
"The Mother" - 1933 - Read the Nobels
"The First Wife and Other Stories" - 1933 - Read the Nobels
"The Exile" - 1936 - Read the Nobels
"The Patriot" - 1939 - Read the Nobels
"Portrait of a Marriage" - 1945
"Pavilion of Women" - 1946 - Read the Nobels
"Peony" - 1948 - Read the Nobels
"Kinfolk" - 1949 - Read the Nobels
"Love and the Morning Calm" - 1951 - Read the Nobels
"My several worlds: A Personal Exile" - 1954 - Read the Nobels
"Imperial Woman" - 1956 - Read the Nobels
"A Bridge for Passing" - 1961 - Read the Nobels

Roger Martin du Gard, 1937
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill, 1936
No Nobel Prize was awarded in 1935
Luigi Pirandello, 1934

Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin, 1933
"In Paris" (в Париже/Parisiis) - 1943 - Read the Nobels

John Galsworthy, 1932
Erik Axel Karlfeldt, 1931
Sinclair Lewis, 1930

Thomas Mann, 1929
"Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (Buddenbrooks) - 1901 - Read the Nobels
"Death in Venice" (Der Tod in Venedig) - 1912 - Read the Nobels
"A Man and His Dog" (Herr und Hund. Ein Idyll) - 1918 - Read the Nobels
"The Magic Mountain" (Der Zauberberg) - 1924 - Read the Nobels 

Sigrid Undset, 1928
"Kristin Lavransdatter" (Kristin Lavransdatter) - 1920-22 - Read the Nobels
"Back to the future" (Tilbake til fremtiden) - 1940

Henri Bergson, 1927
Grazia Deledda, 1926
George Bernard Shaw, 1925
Władysław Stanisław Reymont, 1924
William Butler Yeats, 1923
Jacinto Benavente, 1922
Anatole France, 1921

Knut Pedersen Hamsun, 1920
"Pan" (Pan) - 1894 - Read the Nobels
"Growth of the Soil" (Markens Grøde) - 1917

Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler, 1919
No Nobel Prize was awarded in 1918
Karl Adolph Gjellerup, Henrik Pontoppidan, 1917
Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam, 1916
Romain Rolland, 1915
No Nobel Prize was awarded in 1914
Rabindranath Tagore, 1913
Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann, 1912
Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck, 1911
Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse, 1910

Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf, 1909
"Sancta Lucia. Weihnachtliche Geschichten" (Kristuslegender) [Christmas Stories] - 1893-1917 - Read the Nobels

Rudolf Christoph Eucken, 1908
Rudyard Kipling, 1907
Giosuè Carducci, 1906

Henryk Sienkiewicz, 1905
"Quo Vadis" (Quo Vadis) - 1895 - Read the Nobels

Frédéric Mistral, José Echegaray y Eizaguirre, 1904
Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson, 1903
Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen, 1902
Sully Prudhomme, 1901

There is a great Nobel reading group to be found on this blog: Read the Nobels

I have added the links to my reviews on the Nobel Prize page, they are usually the same as here but there might be a discussion with some of the members.

See also my list of Nobel Peace Prize Winners.

Monday 8 April 2013

Palma, Félix J. "The Map of Time"

Palma, Félix J. "The Map of Time" (Spanish: El mapa del tiempo) - 2008

I absolutely loved this book. It's the first time I really enjoyed a book about time travel, usually that is not my type of thing. Some reasons might be the time and place this is happening, I absolutely love Victorian and pre-Victorian England, the fact that there is a book background ... or maybe because I had the feeling that the author does not really believe in time travel, either, but had a lot of fun writing this story. I enjoyed going through all the different kinds of explanations there are that time travel could be possible and certainly would enjoy taking all the arguments apart.

There are several different stories in the book. I think the first one was the best, someone who wanted to go back in time in order to save someone's life and somebody else who does everything possible in order to save that person's life again (or rather quite a few others working together). Very sweet.
I did think it was a good way to start the story, it would not have been as exciting, if the author had started with another one of the chapters.

I have not read "The Time Machine" that is more or less the basis for this story, only watched the classic movie. The novel is on my wish list now.

I believe that any dystopian novel (and this is one from the point of view of the protagonists) reflects on the time it has been written, it reveals the angst of the time, if you want. The people of the late 19th century were afraid that technology would take over, and it has, even more than they could ever have imagined. Same as I believe that 1984 has come true today, I believe that the vision described in this book has come true today, even though London still stands. And I'm more than grateful for that, it's my favourite city.

At the end of the day, I do believe time travel is possible and we all do it every day when we pick up our books and let us transfer to places and times we have never seen and probably will never see but we live a new life with every new story.

Now, I hope this is the beginning of a long discussion ...

This is one of the books from the Chunky Book Club. If you are interested in reading big books, you might want to join there. It's a great group.

From the back cover:

"An epic, ambitious and page-turning mystery that will appeal to fans of 'The Shadow of the Wind', 'Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell' and 'The Time Traveller’s Wife'

London, 1896. Andrew Harrington is young, wealthy and heartbroken. His lover Marie Kelly was murdered by Jack the Ripper and he longs to turn back the clock and save her.

Meanwhile, Claire Haggerty rails against the position of women in Victorian society. Forever being matched with men her family consider suitable, she yearns for a time when she can be free to love whom she choses.

But hidden in the attic of popular author – and noted scientific speculator – H.G. Wells is a machine that will change everything.

As their quests converge, it becomes clear that time is the problem – to escape it, to change it, might offer them the hope they need…

I have read the sequel in the meantime, "The Map of the Sky". Also a great novel.

Friday 5 April 2013

Book Quotes of the Week

“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

"Of course, anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper." David Quammen

"The love of books is among the choicest gifts of the gods." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"Reading brings us unknown friends" Honore de Balzac 

"We cannot do but to read. ... A society can exist - many do exist - without writing, but no society can exist without reading." Alberto Manguel

Find more quotes here.

Thursday 4 April 2013

Anam, Tahmima "The Good Muslim"

Anam, Tahmima "The Good Muslim" - 2011

Brothers and sisters can always have different points of view, on politics, on religion, on education, on anything.

In this case, a brother and a sister fight for their country Bangladesh. When the civil war is over, they go their own ways, they make completely different choices. The brother, Sohail, turns very religious and becomes a "good Muslim", the sister, Maya, becomes  a doctor and causes all sorts of trouble. They don't see each other for years until the brother's wife dies. Maya wants to take care of her nephew but the different views of the two clash.

Even though the author describes the situation between the two well, in my opinion, everything is just a little too superficial, doesn't go deep enough, a lot of hints and short descriptions but nothing that really sticks out and clarifies the point of view. Too "easy" in my opinion but if you like to read chick lit, you might enjoy it. There is only a small glimpse into the culture, and not much about the war at all.

Again, my verdict, too superficial, not detailed enough.

I only learned later that this is the second book in a series, the book cover says nothing about it. So, if you want to read this, you might want to start with "A Golden Age", although I don't think I will read it because I don't expect it to be any different from this one.

From the back cover:

"Maya Haque - outspoken, passionate, headstrong - has been estranged from her brother Sohail for almost a decade. When she returns home to Dhaka hoping for a reconciliation, she discovers he has transformed beyond recognition. Can the two, both scarred by war, come together again? And what of Sohail's young son, Zaid, caught between worlds but desperate to belong?"

Wednesday 3 April 2013

King-Smith, Dick "The Hodgeheg" and "King Max the Last"

King-Smith, Dick "The Hodgeheg" - 1987
King-Smith, Dick "King Max the Last" - 1995

Another favourite of my boys, the adventures of Max the hedgehog who tries to save his family and wants to find a safe place to cross the road. He gets hit and from now on jumbles all the letters, so he is a hodgeheg instead of a hedgehog.

A very cute story, especially for beginner readers. The book has 9 chapters on 87 pages and can be read in instalments. It is also a nice story to be read to little kids beginning to understand the meaning of words and letters. The story is both funny as well as educational.

From the back cover of "The Hodgeheg":

"The hedgehog family of Number 5A are a happy bunch but they dream of reaching the Park. Unfortunately, a very busy road lies between them and their goal and no one has found a way to cross it in safety. No one, that is, until the determined young Max decides to solve the problem once and for all ..."

From the back cover of "King Max the Last":

"Victor Maximilian St George, Max for short, is already a special hedgehog, having worked out how to safely cross the busy road to get to the park. But when two scientists glue a radio transmitter, complete with flashing blue light, to his head he becomes King Max, ruler of all hedgehogs."

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Tremain, Rose "Music & Silence"

Tremain, Rose "Music & Silence" - 1999

This can almost be called a saga, so much is in this story of  the Danish court in the 17th century. What I love most about historical novels is the background, and I always read more about that afterwards if I didn't know anything, yet. I never take any part of a story like that for granted until I read about it in a reliable source.

In this case, I learned facts about the Danish court and king Christian IV that I had never heard of before. Very interesting.

The novel itself is quite catching, a lot of (partly fictional) side characters add to the tension. The author uses great language, her sentences are almost poetic, her story flows well, she alternates between different characters, even different storytellers and different forms of writing, letters and diary entries are added to the story itself.

Of course, I also love that this is a rather long story.

From the back cover:

"In the year 1629, a young English lutenist named Peter Claire arrives at the Danish Court to join King Christian IV's Royal Orchestra. From the moment when he realizes that the musicians perform in a freezing cellar underneath the royal apartments, Peter Claire understands that he's come to a place where the opposing states of light and dark, good and evil are waging war to the death.

Designated the King's 'Angel' because of his good looks, he finds himself falling in love with the young woman who is the companion of the King's adulterous and estranged wife, Kirsten. With his loyalties fatally divided between duty and passion, how can Peter Claire find the path that will realize his hopes and save his soul?

Some of my favourite quotes:

"... if we discover, ..., that our love is not reciprocated, we should cease to yearn for this reciprocation, but strive instead to dismantle the love in our hearts. And then in time the confusion will be unravelled and on both sides there will be quietness."

"German ... the way the verb withholds itself from its own completion until the last moment in almost every sentence, thus imparting to all linguistic constructions a hanging thread of mystery." I love it. It's soooo true.