Thursday 31 December 2015

Happy New Year

A Happy New Year 
to all my friends and readers

In Germany, it's tradition to watch a wonderful sketch (in English) and thereby saying good-bye to the old year. If you want to laugh a little, watch this video:

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Kerkeling, Hape "I'm off then"

Kerkeling, Hape "I'm off then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago" (German: Ich bin dann mal weg. Meine Reise auf dem Jakobsweg) - 2006

I am Catholic. But I would have never even thought about doing a pilgrimage and certainly not one like this one, described by a German comedian. Yes, true, a comedian who makes the Camino de Santiago. And not just the last 100 kilometres but the whole way from the French border, 800 kilometres entirely.

Why did I pick up this book? It is a very popular book in Germany and a lot of people have been talking about it. But mainly, I love the author, he is one of the funniest guys alive, one of the best German comedians. I know, a lot of my foreign friends will say "German comedian?" Isn't that a contradiction in terms? But believe me, if only you would understand him, you'd laugh just as much as all his fans.

Personally, I know quite a few people who have undertaken the pilgrimage after reading the book, or after seeing other people who had read the book doing it. So, on the whole, he did a great job, is probably one of their best promoters.

But even if you're not Catholic or German, this is a fantastic book. It tells us about what we can achieve. I know I would never be able to achieve what Hape (Hans-Peter) Kerkeling did, wouldn't have the time to do it all in one go, for example, but he gives us hope, he describes a fantastic journey through a very interesting part of our continent, tells us about friendships he made along the way and how he had to fight with a big enemy - himself.

And since the book has been translated into several languages in the meantime, there is no reason why you shouldn't start it. (I just hope the translations are good.) I will certainly look out for more books by one of my favourite comedians.

From the back cover:

 "I'm Off Then has sold more than three million copies in Germany and has been translated into eleven languages. The number of pilgrims along the Camino has increased by 20 percent since the book was published. Hape Kerkeling's spiritual journey has struck a chord.

Overweight, overworked, and disenchanted, Kerkeling was an unlikely candidate to make the arduous pilgrimage across the Pyrenees to the Spanish shrine of St. James, a 1,200-year-old journey undertaken by nearly 100,000 people every year. But he decided to get off the couch and do it anyway. Lonely and searching for meaning along the way, he began the journal that turned into this utterly frank, engaging book. Filled with unforgettable characters, historic landscapes, and Kerkeling's self-deprecating humour,
I'm Off Then is an inspiring travelogue, a publishing phenomenon, and a spiritual journey unlike any other.
Friends of mine have done the Camino, as well, and one of them has written a book about it. So, if you want to know how a non-celebrity (well, sort of) did the pilgrimage, check out this one:
Booth, Cathleen "Mercy & Grace on the Camino de Santiago" - 2020

Friday 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas

"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!" Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Merry Christmas to all my Reading Friends ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Photo ABC

I am a member of a photo group where we get a prompt for every day and have to take an appropriate picture. Because we had the alphabet one month, I decided to do a book theme.

I always added either the link to my blog or to the books. I have decided to post a picture every week so my booky friends can enjoy them, as well.

At the end of the month, we always make a collage. Here is the one from my "book month".

I used this program for the collage: BeFunky

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Hay, Ashley "The Railwayman's Wife"

Hay, Ashley "The Railwayman's Wife" - 2013

I chose this book mainly because it was about Australia and I thought it would be nice to read one about another time than just the beginnings. It's a nice book, an interesting story but that's about it. It's an easy read which leads to the result that there is not that much depth in the novel.

Maybe if the author had given a little more thought on the feelings of the people and described them better. Or hadn't wrapped up the story so quickly. It's almost as if someone dies unexpectedly, the story just ends.

Not a bad book as such but not my type.

From the back cover: "In a small town on the land's edge, in the strange space at a war's end, a widow, a poet and a doctor each try to find their own peace, and their own new story.

In Thirroul, in 1948, people chase their dreams through the books in the railway's library. Anikka Lachlan searches for solace after her life is destroyed by a single random act. Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, has lost his words and his hope. Frank McKinnon is trapped by the guilt of those his treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle with the same question: how now to be alive.

Written in clear, shining prose and with an eloquent understanding of the human heart, The Railwayman's Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can be sometimes to tell them apart. It's a story of life, loss and what comes after; of connection and separation, longing and acceptance. Most of all, it celebrates love in all its forms, and the beauty of discovering that loving someone can be as extraordinary as being loved yourself.

A story that will break your heart with hope."

There is one part of the book that I do love. Anikka Lachlan, the "Railwayman's Wife" starts working in the library and their daughter loves reading, so they talk a lot about books. Some of them are mentioned:

Brontë, Charlotte "Jane Eyre"
Conan Doyle, Arthur "The Lost World"
McKinnon, Iris "Timeless Land"

Monday 21 December 2015

Roberts, Gregory David "Shantaram"

Roberts, Gregory David "Shantaram" - 2003

A highly interesting book that was recommended to me by several friends.

This is novel is based on the life of an Australian guy, the author Gregory David Roberts, who went to prison for armed robbery and then fled from there to start a life in India. He didn't really lead a straight life after that, he led a very interesting one. We can follow him fighting the Mujahedeen, or living in the slums and running a hospital there. In any case, there is always something going on in "Shantaram's" life. (The name was given to him by his Indian friends.) The story is gripping, highly provocative, it shows the lows and the highs of a life. It is a story about everything, love and hate, crime and punishment, the rich and the poor, the corrupt and the honest, and the meaning of life as well as its banalities. More than 900 exciting pages that you can't put down. Well, at least I couldn't.

This book will follow me forever, of that I am sure.

One of my favourite quotes:
"The world is run by one million evil men, ten million stupid men, and one hundred million cowards."
"There's nothing so depressing as good advice."

And one more thing. I loved how easily the protagonist picks up languages.

From the back cover: "'It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.'

So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.

Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.

As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.

Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas --- this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart. Based on the life of the author, it is by any measure the debut of an extraordinary voice in literature."

Friday 18 December 2015

Photo ABC

I am a member of a photo group where we get a prompt for every day and have to take an appropriate picture. Because we had the alphabet one month, I decided to do a book theme.

I always added either the link to my blog or to the books. I have decided to post a picture every week so my booky friends can enjoy them, as well.


Stern, Fritz "Five Germanys I have known" (Fünf Deutschland und ein Leben. Erinnerungen) - 2006
(This book is on my TBR list.)

Monday 14 December 2015

Patchett, Ann "The Patron Saint of Liars"

Patchett, Ann "The Patron Saint of Liars" - 1992

With my former book club, I read "The Magician's Assistant". But that was years ago and I didn't really like it very much.

So, when this book was suggested to my present book club, I was a little careful, to say the least. I was certainly not prepared to pay 30 Euros for it. But, luckily, I found an arrangement with one of the other members and therefore didn't have to buy it and could indeed read it.

I was glad I did. The story is interesting, the writing captivating, the characters are somehow mysterious but also loveable. The heroine's life is full of secrets, there are so many lies and everyone seems to know there must be lies but can live with it. An interesting life, both for the mother as well as the daughter.

There is not a lot I can see about the novel itself without revealing everything but that the family lives near a home for unmarried mothers, the daughter grows up in this environment. Having grown up in a Catholic village myself, I could relate to a lot of the problems the people in the novel had.

A good read. Looking forward to more Ann Patchett novels.

From the back cover:

"'I was somewhere outside of Ludlow, California, heading due east toward Kentucky, when I realized that I would be a liar for the rest of my life.'

With these words we meet Rose Clinton, a woman in flight from her marriage and her past in flight from everything, it turns out, except the child in her womb, the girl we will know as Cecilia. Rose will ever be an alluring and mysterious woman; it is Cecilia, though, who becomes the ultimate heroine of this novel, and we watch her life with mounting wonder and apprehension.

The Patron Saint of Liars, Ann Patchett has given us an utterly fresh novel, enchanted and enchanting. Much of its action takes place in the unlikely location of St. Elizabeth's, a home for unwed mothers, in Habit, Kentucky. St. Elizabeth's is a place of indigenous sorrow but surprising humor, a place of love and lies. It is here that Rose finds refuge and decides to keep her baby girl. Here she takes a job as a cook and makes a marriage to the stolid, generous, and infinitely melancholy groundskeeper, names Son. Thus Cecilia grows up - thinking her life, as children will, 'normal' - finding nothing strange about a mother without a history and an extended family consisting of nuns and an ever-changing collection of pregnant teenage girls.

In the end, Rose's past must be reborn. We know this, and yet we resist knowing it, fearing for its effect on Cecilia. This remarkable novel, which begins by beguiling and entertaining us, gathers deepening folds of emotion until it becomes a story about nothing less than the war in our hearts between knowledge and faith.
The Patron Saint of Liars introduces a young writer of extraordinary accomplishment and wisdom."

The funny thing, the person who suggested the book to be discussed in May 2015, never returned to the book club and then there were the holidays, so we never actually discussed it.

Friday 11 December 2015

Photo ABC

I am a member of a photo group where we get a prompt for every day and have to take an appropriate picture. Because we had the alphabet one month, I decided to do a book theme.

I always added either the link to my blog or to the books. I have decided to post a picture every week so my booky friends can enjoy them, as well.


This is my blog entry for this book:
Shalev, Meir "Four Meals" (כימים אחדים aka "As a Few Days" or "The Loves of Judith") - 1994

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Happy December!

New Calendar picture with this beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch "Winter Dream"

If you would like to see more pictures by Hanka and Frank Koebsch, you can check their blog here.

Greetings to my readers

Please, excuse my long silence.

As most of you know, my father passed away last year in July, my mother followed him this year in October. She missed my father terribly and had a lot of health issues but it was quite a shock for all of us. May she rest in peace.

I was just not able to write anything for my blog.

But I will be back, I promise.