Thursday 30 June 2016

Bryson, Bill "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid"

Bryson, Bill "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" - 2006

I don't know what I love most about Bill Bryson, his humour certainly is a big contender for number one. But it's not just that, he is a brilliant writer, I think even if he would write a cook book or a technical instruction, it would sound great.

Anyway, in this book we go back to his roots, meet his family, meet little William - or Billy - Bryson, his friends, his foes, his adventures as a young boy, his adventures as an older boy.

So we can visit school with little Billy, go to the local fair with him and find out why he wants to become thirteen so desperately, learn why he finally leaves for pastures new, all in all, get to know the author a little better with every page. And if, like me, you grew up at about the same time, he guides you back into all those memories form childhood that you almost forgot.

Bill Bryson puts a lot of thought into questions that I've been pondering about for ages. For instance, "How could we be sure that we all saw the same colours? Maybe what I see as green you see as blue. Who could actually say? And when scientists say that dogs and cats are colour-blind (or not - I could never remember which it was), how do they know? What dog is going to tell them?"

I always learn something from the author, even if it is the English word for a common root vegetable: Rutabaga. ;)

I can't mention it often enough, Bill Bryson is one of the funniest authors that ever lived and it will be hard to find his equal. If you like to read other books by him, you can find all those that I read so far on this page.

See more comments on my ThrowbackThursday post in 2023.

From the back cover:

"Bill Bryson’s first travel book opened with the immortal line, ‘I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.’ In this deeply funny and personal memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, in the curious world of 1950s Middle America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about one boy’s growing up. But in Bryson’s hands, it becomes everyone’s story, one that will speak volumes - especially to anyone who has ever been young."

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Travel the World Through Books

As mentioned in my post "Die Ländersammlerin" [The collector of Countries] by Nina Sedano, I would like to read a book about or written by someone from all those states. I might even add the two observer states (Palestine and Vatican City), and 11 other states (Abkhazia/Georgia, Cook Islands/associated w. New Zealand, Kosovo/Serbia, Nagorno-Karabakh/Azerbeijan, Niue/associated w. New Zealand, Northern Cyprus/Cyprus, Sahrawi/Morocco, Somaliland/Somalia, South Ossetia/Georgia, Taiwan/China, and Transnistria/Moldova - the second part is always the country that claims the first). We'll see about that.

I have startetd to list one book each under the countries where I have read a book ... still a lot missing. For some of them, I have a suggestion already but I'm open for more. Therefore, I'd be grateful for everyone who suggests a book to me to fill the missing countries. Thank you.

Hosseini, Khaled "And the Mountains Echoed" - 2013 

Kadaré, Ismail "The Fall of the Stone City" (aka Chronicle in Stone) (Albanian: Darka e Gabuar) - 1971
Camus, Albert "The Plague" (French: La Peste) - 1947 Nobel Prize     

Antigua and Barbuda  
Osorio, Elsa "My Name is Light" (Spanish: A veinte años, Luz) - 1998
Grenville, Kate "The Secret River" - 2005
Haushofer, Marlen "The Wall" (German: Die Wand) - 1962

Grjasnowa, Olga "All Russians Love Birch Trees" (German: Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt) - 2012
Ali, Monica "Brick Lane" - 2003
Alexievich, Svetlana "Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster" (Russian: Чернобыльская молитва = Černobylskaja molitva) - 2006 Nobel Prize    
Bosnia and Herzegovina  
Filipović, Zlata "Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo" (Bosnian: Zlatin dnevnik: otroštvo v obleganem Sarajevu) - 1993
McCall Smith, Alexander "The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency" Series
Azevedo, Francisco "Once Upon a Time in Rio" (Portuguese: O Arroz de Palma) - 2008
Brunei Darussalam  
Burkina Faso  

Cabo Verde 
Ung, Loung "First they killed my father. A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers" - 2000

Mbue, Imbolo "Behold the Dreamers" - 2016
Lawson, Mary "Crow Lake" - 2002
Central African Republic  

Allende, Isabel "The House of the Spirits" (Spanish: La Casa de los Espíritus) - 1982
Mo, Yan "Red Sorghum Clan" (Chinese: 红高粱家族  Hóng gāoliang jiāzú) - 1987 Nobel Prize     

García Márquez, Gabriel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (Spanish: Cien años de soledad) - 1967 Nobel Prize          

Congo (Republic of the)  
Kingsolver, Barbara "The Poisonwood Bible" - 1988
Costa Rica  
Côte d’Ivoire  
Štimec, Spomenka "Croatian War Nocturnal" (Kroata Milita Noktlibro) - 1993
Hemingway, Ernest "The Old Man and the Sea" - 1952 Nobel Prize  
Hislop, Victoria "The Sunrise" - 2014 
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  
Johnson, Adam "The Orphan Master's Son" - 2012
Democratic Republic of the Congo  
Conrad, Joseph "Heart of Darkness" - 1902
Høeg, Peter "Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow" (Danish: Frøken Smillas fornemmelse for sne) - 1992
Dominican Republic  
Alvarez, Julia "In the Time of the Butterflies" - 1994
Mahfouz, Naguib "Children of Gebelawi" (aka Children of our Alley;  اولاد حارتنا Awlād ḥāritnā) - 1959 Nobel Prize  
El Salvador  
Equatorial Guinea  

Kross, Jaan "Professor Martens' Departure" (Professor Martensi ärasõit) - 1984
Hirsi Ali, Ayaan "Infidel: My Life" (Dutch: Mijn Vrijheid) - 2006
Jacobsen, Roy "The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles" (Finnish: Hoggerne) - 2005
Hugo, Victor "Les Misérables" (French: Les Misérables) - 1862
Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (German: Buddenbrooks) - 1901 Nobel Prize  
Karystiani, Ionna (Ιωάννα Καρυστιάνη) "The Jasmine Isle" (Greek: Μικρά Αγγλία = Mikra Anglia) - 1997
Danticat, Edwidge "Breath, Eyes, Memory" - 1994
Kertész, Imre "Fateless" or "Fatelessness" (Hungarian: Sorstalanság) - 1975 Nobel Prize  
Sturluson, Snorri "Egil's Saga" (Icelandic: Egils saga Skallagrímssonar) - 1240
Seth, Vikram "A Suitable Boy" - 1993

Hirata, Andrea "The Rainbow Troops" (Lasykar Pelangi) - 2005
Abdolah, Kader (Hossein Sadjadi Ghaemmaghami Farahani) "The House of the Mosque" (Dutch: Het huis van de moskee) - 2005
Rowlatt, Bee & Witwit, May "Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad. The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship" - 2010
Joyce, James "Ulysses" - 1922
Israel - Palestine  Oz, Amos "A Tale of Love and Darkness" (Hebrew: סיפור על אהבה וחוHשך, Sipur) - 2002
Levi, Primo "If Not Now, When?" (Italian: Se non ora, quando?) - 1982
Rhys, Jean "Wide Sargasso Sea" - 1966
Murakami, Haruki "Norwegian Wood" (Japanese: Noruwei no mori, ノルウェイの森) - 1987
Noor Al-Hussein, Queen of Jordan "A Leap of Faith: Memoir of an Unexpected Life" - 2003
Dinesen, Isak/Blixen, Karen "Out of Africa" - 1937

Aitmatov, Chinghiz "Jamila" (Russian: Джамиля - Jamilia) - 1958
Lao People’s Democratic Republic   
Gibran, Khalil "The Prophet" - 1923 
Odell, Catherine M. "Faustina. Apostle of Divine Mercy" - 1998
Macedonia, The former Yugoslav Republic of  
Marshall Islands  
Runcie, James "The Discovery of Chocolate" - 2001
Micronesia (Federated States of)  
Benali, Abdelkader "Wedding by the Sea" (Dutch: Bruiloft aan zee) - 1996

Falcones, Ildefonso "The Hand of Fatima" (Spanish: La mano de Fátima) - 2009
Ghosh, Amitav "The Glass Palace" - 2000

Craig, Charmaine "Miss Burma" - 2017
Mankell, Henning "Daniel" (Swedish: Vindens son) - 200
Mulisch, Harry "The Discovery of Heaven" (Dutch: De Ontdekking van de hemel) - 1992
New Zealand  
Scott, Mary "Breakfast at Six" - 1953
Achebe, Chinua "Things Fall Apart" - 1958

Adichie, Chimamanda Nogzi "Half of a Yellow Sun" - 2006
Le Clézio, Jean-Marie Gustave "The African" (French: L'Africain) - 2004 Nobel Prize  
Hamsun, Knut "Pan" (Norwegian: Pan) - 1894 Nobel Prize  
Yousafzai, Malala; Lamb, Christina "I am Malala. The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" - 2013 Nobel Prize  
Papua New Guinea  
Vargas Llosa, Mario "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter" (Spanish: La tía Julia y el escribidor) - 1977 Nobel Prize   
Powers, Charles T. "In the Memory of the Forest" - 1997

Tokarczuk, Olga "Primeval and other Times" (Polish: Prawiek i inne czasy) - 1996 Nobel Prize   
Saramago, José "Cain" (Portuguese: Caim) - 2009 Nobel Prize    
Republic of Korea  
Johnson, Adam "The Orphan Master's Son" - 2012
Republic of Moldova  
Müller, Herta "The King Bows and Kills" (German: Der König verneigt sich und tötet) - 2003 Nobel Prize    
Russian Federation - USSR     

Dostoevsky, Fyodor "Crime and Punishment" (Russian: Преступление и наказание = Prestupleniye i nakazaniye) - 1866
Ilibagiza, Immaculée with Erwin, Steve "Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust" - 2006
Saint Kitts and Nevis  
Saint Lucia  
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines  
San Marino  
Sao Tome and Principe   
Saudi Arabia    
Alsanea, Rajaa "Girls of Riyadh" (Arabic: بنات الرياض‎ Banāt al-Riyāḍ) - 2005

Trojanow, Ilija "The Collector of Worlds" (German: Der Weltensammler) - 2006

Bâ, Mariama "So Long a Letter" (French: Une si longue lettre) - 1979
Andrić, Ivo "The Bridge on the Drina" (Serbo-Croat: На Дрини Ћуприја or Na Drini Ćuprija) - 1945 Nobel Prize   

Sierra Leone  
Solomon Islands  
Hirsi Ali, Ayaan "Infidel: My Life" (Dutch: Mijn Vrijheid) - 2006
South Africa  
Paton, Alan "Cry, The Beloved Country" - 1948

South Korea 
Han Kang "The Vegetarian" (채식주의자/Ch'angbi)- 2007
South Sudan  
Spain - Catalonia    
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Shadow of the Wind" (Spanish: La Sombra del Viento) - 2001
Sri Lanka  
Roberts, Karen "The Flower Boy" - 2001
McLeod, Cynthia "The Cost of Sugar" (Dutch: Hoe duur was de suiker?) - 1987
Fredriksson, Marianne "Hanna’s Daughters" (Swedish: Anna, Hanna og Johanna) - 1994

Lagerlöf, Selma Nobel Prize
Spyri, Johanna "Heidi" (German: 'Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre' and 'Heidi kann brauchen, was es gelernt hat') - 1880-1881
Schami, Rafik "The Calligrapher’s Secret" (German: Das Geheimnis des Kalligraphen) - 2008
Tanzania, United Republic of 
Timor Leste  
Trinidad and Tobago  
Naipaul, V.S. "A House for Mr. Biswas" - 1961 Nobel Prize  
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" (Turkish: Benim Adim Kirmizi) - 1998 Nobel Prize  
Alexievich, Svetlana "Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster" (Russian: Чернобыльская молитва = Černobylskaja molitva) - 2006 Nobel Prize  
United Arab Emirates  
United Kingdom - England - Scotland - Wales - Northern Ireland    
Austen, Jane "Persuasion" - 1817
United States   
Oates, Joyce Carol "We Were the Mulvaneys" - 1996
Sawyer, Anh Vu "Song of Saigon: One Woman’s Journey to Freedom" - 2003
Lamb, Christina "The Africa House: The True Story of an English Gentleman and His African Dream" - 1999
Tsitsi Dangarembga " Nervous Conditions" - 1988

When I started this list, I thought I would try to limit myself to novels. But then I found that often I have read only non-fiction books from a certain country. So, this is like the rest of my blog, a mixture of fiction, non-fiction, biographies.

If you are looking for more books from certain countries, you can always check on the right hand side of my blog under "Labels".

"As ever, when we say country, we're looking for a sovereign state recognised by the United Nations." Richard Osman in Pointless.

As to all those missing countries, I found a lovely list with quite a few suggestions here on Goodreads. However, I will be very grateful for any other suggestions from my friends and readers.
See also my other post:
which leads you to my other current travel challenges.

Sedano, Nina "Die Ländersammlerin"

Sedano, Nina "Die Ländersammlerin" [The collector of Countries] - 2014

"The Collector of Countries" (female in the German non-translated original) has visited all 193 countries that are members of the UN, or (as they say in one of my favourite Quiz Shows, Pointless - see here) "and by 'country' we mean a sovereign state that is a member of the UN in its own right".

Now, I don't know whether this book will ever be transtlated into English, it's interesting but not earth-moving, but it gave me an idea. I would like to read a book about or written by someone from all those States. I am going to travel the world through my books.

From the back cover (translated): "Travelling is Nina Sedano's great passion. Her life in Frankfurt isn't fulfilling in the long run and so she takes a courageous decision: She will save up money, quit her job and travel to all member states of the 193 UN. Full of energy and vitality she sets out into the distance. Along the way she experiences adventures, immerses in foreign cultures, builds friendships, sometimes reaches her limits and learns a lot about life, the world and herself. Nina Sedan never loses her sense of humor and especially not her goal out of sight. Today eleven passports are full of stamps and the country collector can claim to be the most travelled woman in Germany."

You can check out my "Travel the World Through Books" list here.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Migraine Books and Links 2016

Word cloud made with WordItOut

June is Migraine Awareness month.

I know people mean well but if it helped your neighbour's aunt's dentist's daughter's teacher's cousin, I probably have heard about it already and also tried it with no success.

However, as a migraine sufferer, I am always interested in finding a solution or at least talk about what might and might not help. Therefore, I created a list in 2011 with links to anything that could be helpful for a sufferer like me. Even though I updated it constantly, there were so many new websites and article that I added another one in 2014. And here we are again, so many new articles that I'd like to share with my friends. Therefore, here is a new list that I will update from time to time. You can still go back to the old ones (2011 here and 2014 here) and check for some of the sites there, as well.

Lane, Russell; Davies, Paul "Migraine"
MacGregor, Ann; Frith, Alison "ABC of Headache"
Sacks, Oliver "Migraine"
Sepp, Maia "The Migraine Mafia"

I have not read any of these, yet, but hope to get my hands on one or more of them soon.
Suggestions for more books about this topic are always welcome.

There are so many websites and blogs about migraines, I try to list a few and will add more over time:

3 essentials to cure hangry medic syndrome
8 Things to Remember If You Love Someone With Chronic Pain
8 Things You Can Do to Live Well With a Chronic Illness 
8 Yoga Poses to Help Cervical Spine & Neck Issues
9 Feel-Good Migraine Gifts for Your Christmas Wish List
10 Migraine Resolutions to Make for 2016
10 Things To Stop Doing If You Suffer From Migraines
11 Tips for Living With Chronic Pain
16 Texts From Your Migraine That Will Make You Laugh Then Cry
21 Thoughtful Things to Do for Someone With Migraine
23 Tips For Men on Supporting a Partner with Chronic Pain
29 Things Only Someone with Severe Migraines Would Understand 
5 Reasons People With Migraine End Friendships
A Day in The Life of A Chronic illness Flare
All I Want For Christmas: No Migraines
Caution on Mixing Herbal, Migraine Meds
Distracting Myself From Discomfort
Driving under the influence of migraine
First Drugs To Prevent Migraines In Final Stages Of Testing
Getting Help
Heat and headaches
How to Cope When Your Wife Has Migraines
How to Understand Someone with Chronic Pain
If You Won’t Try Tylenol for That Migraine, Stop Complaining!
I'm Chronically Ill and Afraid of Being Lazy 
I Want Everyone to Have One Migraine 
Learn How To Recognize Dangerous Headaches
Life With an Invisible Illness
Limb Pain May Be Unrecognized Manifestation of Migraine
Migraine: A Worldwide Crisis?
Migraines may be mini-strokes that cause brain damage
Migraine symptoms: Transient Aphasia
New migraine drugs promise relief - but at a steep price
Optic Nerve Plays a Major Role in Migraine Pain
Putting Others in Your Migraine Shoes… With a Game  
Re-Framing Migraine
She Changed How I See My Disability With a Pair of Socks
Silent Migraine
Six Common Misconceptions about the Chronically Ill
Six Ways In Which Chronic Illness Changes Your Body Image
Sorry, I Can’t Today, the Barometric Pressure’s Changing
Steps I Take to Keep Anxiety/Depression in Remission
Suffer from migraines? Try and sit up straight: Hunching over computers and not getting enough sleep could be to blame
Suicide Headaches: 5 Realities Of The Worst Thing Ever
The 19th Century Doctor Who Mapped His Hallucinations
The 7 Psychological Stages of Chronic Pain
The Highly Sensitive Person And Chronic Illness Connection
The Mighty - Kerry Hussey
The Migraine Warrior Toolbox: IceKap Review 
The painkillers that could make chronic pain WORSE
The pressure to say you're OK
This Is Why We’re All Deficient In Magnesium: The Many Signs and What You Can Do
Those Quirky Migraine Symptoms
Top 10 Migraine Triggers
Top 10 Migraine Triggers According to a New Study
To the Husband of the Wife Living With Chronic Illness 
To the Person Who Thinks Chronic Pain 'Can't Be That Bad'
To the Person With a Chronic Illness Who Feels Like a Burden
To the person with a chronic illness who feels like a burden  (I have no idea who the real originator is, so I post them both)
Trapped by my Prescription Drug Coverage  
Visual 'Noise' May Overexcite Those With Migraine  
What Migraines Really Feel Like, From People Who Get Them   
When People Ask How I Do My Job With My Chronic Pain   
When People See My Pills and Say, 'You Know That Stuff Is Poison, Right?' 
Where Is the Cure for the Migraine?  
Why I Do Things That May Make My Chronic Pain Worse   

German Articles:
Animationsfilm: "Migräne? Hab ich im Griff!"
Migräne, eine Erbkrankheit?  
Wie eine 17-Jährige mit chronischen Kopfschmerzen lebt  

Chronic Migraine We are not alone   

See newer post (2023 here).

Monday 27 June 2016

Satrapi, Marjane "Persepolis. The Story of a Childhood" and "Persepolis. The Story of a Return"

Satrapi, Marjane "Persepolis. The Story of a Childhood" (French: Persepolis) - 2000 
Satrapi, Marjane "Persepolis. The Story of a Return" (French: Persepolis. Vol. 2) - 2000 

This is another book from the "Our Shared Shelf" group on Goodreads. A good one this time.

I would have never thought I'd enjoy a graphical novel this much. This is not just another comic strip, it's a memoir, a historical novel. This is the story of a young child growing up in wartime. You can compare the girl to Anne Frank or Zlata Filipović who both wrote their diaries as children and told the world about the atrocities that happened in their countries.

Marjane Satrapi is just a child like this, she grows up in Iran and has to see how her world is shattered, how everything she knew before gets either killed or destroyed. She learns how to live with danger, how to hide her thoughts from people around her, sometimes even her best friends. Her parents send her to Austria where she has to face different troubles without the help of an adult.

In the second book, she returns to Iran, hoping to find a better life there again but is once again thrown into upheaval and sadness. I don't want to tell you all too much but you can read it anywhere, she lives in France in the meantime.

The beauty of the book is not the alone the stories the author is telling us, it's also the way she tells them, she puts history in simple drawings, she doesn't add any embellishments, she shows it how it is/was. And she explains backgrounds and tries to make us understand how it really was.

Great books.  I borrowed them from the library but I might buy them myself and lend them to any friend who is interested. Because if we don't learn from this kind of history, we'll never learn.

While researching for more background - yes, I always do that, as well, I came upon this very interesting video about 100 years of Iranian history, explained in 11 women's hairstyles. Watch it, it's very impressing.

Some comments from the book club discussion:
  • It was a horrifying but very gripping way to tell about the growing up in a war zone and coming to Europe after it.
  • I think I am wiser again for have read it and the discussion was very interesting.
  • I hope the graphic novel will be widely translated, it won prices in Finland and I recognised everything the artist told about surviving and healing from a death scare.
  • The complete Persepolis is a wonderful and moving book. I especially enjoyed the drawings that captured the changes of a young girl as she became an adolescent and emerged as a young woman. Imagine growing up while your home is immersed in such upheaval. I developed a fondness and admiration for Marji as I read. What stays with me is the sense of a rich, vibrant , beautiful culture smothering under the veils of an oppressive religious regime. So powerful.
We discussed this in our international online book club in October 2021.

From the back covers:

"Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane's child's-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love."


"In Persepolis, heralded by the Los Angeles Times as 'one of the freshest and most original memoirs of our day,' Marjane Satrapi dazzled us with her heartrending memoir-in-comic-strips about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Here is the continuation of her fascinating story. In 1984, Marjane flees fundamentalism and the war with Iraq to begin a new life in Vienna. Once there, she faces the trials of adolescence far from her friends and family, and while she soon carves out a place for herself among a group of fellow outsiders, she continues to struggle for a sense of belonging.
Finding that she misses her home more than she can stand, Marjane returns to Iran after graduation. Her difficult homecoming forces her to confront the changes both she and her country have undergone in her absence and her shame at what she perceives as her failure in Austria. Marjane allows her past to weigh heavily on her until she finds some like-minded friends, falls in love, and begins studying art at a university. However, the repression and state-sanctioned chauvinism eventually lead her to question whether she can have a future in Iran.

As funny and poignant as its predecessor, Persepolis 2 is another clear-eyed and searing condemnation of the human cost of fundamentalism. In its depiction of the struggles of growing up - here compounded by Marjane’s status as an outsider both abroad and at home - it is raw, honest, and incredibly illuminating."

Friday 24 June 2016

Book Quotes of the Week

"It is well to read everything of something, and something of everything." Lord Henry P. Brougham "Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life." Mortimer J. Adler

"Set your pace to a stroll. Stop whenever you want. Interrupt, jump back and forth, I won’t mind. This book should be as easy as laughter. It is stuffed with small things to take away. Please help yourself." Willis Goth Regier, In Praise of Flattery

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." Victor Hugo, "Les Misérables"

"You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!" Dr. Who

"Love, Compassion, Virtue, Philosophy, Law, Science, Medicine, Beauty, The Sun and The Moon and The Stars, The Ocean and The Wind, The Colours and The feel of Velvet... You can find it all in a Book." N.N.

  • [If anyone can tell me the originator of this quote, I'd be very thankful and would happily include the name.]
Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Webster, Jean "Daddy Longlegs"

Webster, Jean "Daddy Longlegs" - 1912

A favourite classic book for everyone who was lucky enough to read it at the time. I must have read this first in German because I remember reading it at a time where it was impossible to get any books in English - apart from a few classics we had to read in school.

I loved the book from the beginning and have read it again and again. A wonderful story about an orphan who gets the chance to get a higher education because a rich man is willing to pay for it. His only condition is that she writes a letter to him about her life once a month.

And so we are able to read a beautiful epistolary novel with lots of wonderful letters from Judy to her benefactor about the life of an orphan who goes to school and who grows up. She has never seen this man who pays for everything in her life, only has did she see him disappear and noticed he had very long legs, so in want of his real name, she calls him "Daddy Longlegs" henceforth.

A lovely novel for anyone who likes Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Little Women and similar writings. Also a novel for readers from all ages.

Since the book is more than a hundred years old, it is free on It has also been made into many different movies over the time.

From the back cover:

"Daddy-Long-Legs is a 1912 epistolary novel by the American writer Jean Webster. It follows the protagonist, a young girl named Jerusha "Judy" Abbott, through her college years. She writes the letters to her benefactor, a rich man whom she has never seen.

Jerusha Abbott was brought up at the John Grier Home, an old-fashioned orphanage. The children were wholly dependent on charity and had to wear other people's cast-off clothes. Jerusha's unusual first name was selected by the matron off a gravestone (she hates it and uses "Judy" instead), while her surname was selected out of the phone book. At the age of 15, she finished her education and is at loose ends, still working in the dormitories at the institution where she was brought up.

One day, after the asylum's trustees have made their monthly visit, Judy is informed by the asylum's dour matron that one of the trustees has offered to pay her way through college. He has spoken to her former teachers and thinks she has potential to become an excellent writer. He will pay her tuition and also give her a generous monthly allowance. Judy must write him a monthly letter, because he believes that letter-writing is important to the development of a writer. However, she will never know his identity; she must address the letters to Mr. John Smith, and he will never reply."

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Obama, Barack "Dreams from My Father"

Obama, Barack "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" - 1995

I wanted to read this book for a long long time but that's what it is with books you buy and then you start borrowing more books from the library or get books from friends and your TBR pile gets longer and longer ...

But I finally did and I am happy I read this before a great President leaves his post. Might even be able to start "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" before that happens.

I have just been told on Facebook that this book is full of lies but all my research has shown that this is only stated by right wing newspapers. So, if anyone finds a reliable source, I'm happy to leave your comments up here but I will delete any insulting, name-calling posts. This is not a political blog, all I do is talk about the books I read. If you hate Barack Obama, I suggest you stop reading now and come back for the next book I review.

There is one thing to consider when reading this book. This memoir wasn't written by a president. It wasn't even written by a president-hopeful. It was written in 1995, a long time ago. He had just finished his law school and was starting in politics, so I believe he wanted a real book about his inheritence.

Another thing is for sure, Obama is a great author. His words flow of the page, you are there with him. I hope he will write more books in the future, I think we can learn a lot from him. He knows so much about race, politics, and culture in the USA, his experiences will be well worth many many more publishings. I thought it highly interesting to read how it feels to be treated as a "black" person. Personally, as a European, I am always surprised how someone who has one black grandparent or even great-great-grandparent is still considered black. Reminds me too much of the dark times of my country where we divided people into half-Jews, quarter-Jews etc. and none of them were considered human beings. And I think that's behind it, you're only a second class person if you are considered black. So sad.

But putting all that aside, If I hadn't liked him before, I surely would after reading this book. He comes across as a very amiable man, even though he does not hide his flaws and mentions a few times when he was wrong. Of course, this is an autobiography and anyone who writes that would like to be liked by people. But I doubt that he made up things just to be elected president one day. He seems very honest in his writings. And it is a great way to get to know someone better who is in the public all the time and who gets portrayed and trashed by so many different kind of people every day.

I wish him and his family a wonderful future after he will leave the White House. I have nothing but respect for all of them.

From the back cover:

"In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father - a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man - has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey - first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother’s family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father’s life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance."

Barack Obama received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2009 "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.".

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.

Tuesday 21 June 2016


As everyone who writes a blog, I have lots of tags that describe certain parts of the books I read. They might just say where the book comes from or takes place. Or I might include that the author received a certain prize, the book talks about history, children, religion, politics.

One of the tags I use are the "Bildungsroman". As a German, I do understand the word but I doubt every German could immediately tell you what this book is about. According to Wikipedia, a "Bildungsroman" is a novel of formation, novel of education, or coming-of-age story. That's exactly what the word "Bildung" describes.

I have read quite a few books by now that fall under that category and I think they all tell us a lot about the time and culture in question. So, I'd like to read more in future and will add books to the list.

I've seen several lists online and will just start with my own. I usually prefer to have lists in alphabetical order but I can see that a timeline is not a bad idea, either. So, I will list the books I read so far in alphabetical order followed by a chronological one with any of the books that come to mind.

Alcott, Louisa May "Little Women" - 1868-86
Anonymous "Lazarillo de Tormes" (Spanish: La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades) - 1554
Brontë, Charlotte "Jane Eyre" - 1847
Cervantes, Miguel de "Don Quixote, vols. 1 and 2" (Spanish: El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha) - 1605/1615
Dickens, Charles "Great Expectations" - 1861
- "David Copperfield" - 1850
- "The Old Curiosity Shop" - 1840

Doyle, Roddy "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha" - 1993
Eliot, George "The Mill on the Floss" - 1860
Fielding, Henry "The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling" - 1749
Gaarder, Jostein "Sophie's World" (Norwegian: Sofies verden) - 1991
Giordano, Paolo "The Solitude of Prime Numbers"  (Italian: La solitudine dei numeri primi) - 2008
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship" (German: Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre) - 1795-96
Grass, Günter "Cat and Mouse" (German: Katz und Maus) - 1961
Lamb, Wally "She's Come Undone" - 1997
Lee, Harper "To Kill a Mockingbird" - 1960
Mann, Thomas "The Magic Mountain" (German: Der Zauberberg) - 1924
Mitchell, Margaret "Gone With the Wind" - 1936
Murakami, Haruki "Norwegian Wood" (Japanese: Noruwei no mori, ノルウェイの森) - 1987
Myers, Benjamin "The Offing" - 2020
Nadolny, Sten "The Discovery of Slowness" (German: Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit) - 1983
Ondaatje, Michael "Warlight" - 2018
Owens, Delia "Where the Crawdads Sing" - 2018 
Plath, Sylvia "The Bell Jar" - 2006
Roth, Philip "The Ghost Writer" - 1979
- "Zuckerman Unbound" - 1981
Rowling, J.K. "Harry Potter" Series - 1997-2007
Salinger, J. D. "Catcher in the Rye" - 1951
Satrapi, Marjane "Persepolis. The Story of a Childhood" (French: Persepolis. Vol. 1) - 2000
- "Persepolis. The Story of a Return" (French: Persepolis. Vol. 2) - 2000

Smith, Betth "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" - 1943
Spyri, Johanna "Heidi" (German: "Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre" and "Heidi kann brauchen, was es gelernt hat") - 1880-1881
Sterne, Laurence "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" - 1759-67
Stendhal "The Red and The Black" - 1830
Şafak, Elif "Three Daughters of Eve" (Turkish: Havva'nın Üç Kızı) - 2016
Stanišić, Saša "How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone" (German: Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert) - 2006

Tartt, Donna "The Goldfinch" - 2013
Tremain, Rose "The Gustav Sonata" - 2016
Twain, Mark "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" - 1876
- "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" - 1884

Webster, Jean "Daddy Longlegs" - 1912
Whitehead, Colson "The Nickel Boys" - 2019
Zusak, Markus "The Book Thief" - 2005

Tufail, Ibn "Hayy ibn Yaqdhan" (12th century), a precursor of the genre
Eschenbach, Wolfram "Parzival", early 13th century
Anonymous "Lazarillo de Tormes" (Spanish: La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades) - 1554

17th century
Cervantes, Miguel de "Don Quixote, vols. 1 and 2" (Spanish: El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha) - 1605/1615
Fénelon, François "The Adventures of Telemachus - 1699

18th century

Fielding, Henry "The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling" - 1749
Voltaire "Candide, ou l'Optimisme" (Candide, or Optimism) - 1759
Sterne, Laurence "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" - 1759-67
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques "Emile, or On Education (French: Émile, ou De l’éducation) - 1763
Moritz, Karl Philipp "Anton Reiser" (German: Anton Reiser) - 1785-90
Wieland, Christoph Martin "History of Agathon" (German: Geschichte des Agathon) 1766-67 often regarded as the first Bildungsroman
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship" (German: Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre) - 1795-96

19th century
Stendhal "
The Red and The Black" - 1830
Pushkin, Alexander "The Captain's Daughter" - 1836
Dickens, Charles "The Old Curiosity Shop" - 1840
Brontë, Charlotte "Jane Eyre" - 1847
Thackeray, William Makepeace "Pendennis" - 1848-50
Dickens, Charles "David Copperfield" - 1850
Keller, Gottfried "Green Henry" (German: Der grüne Heinrich) - 1854-55
Barrett Browning, Elizabeth "Aurora Leigh" 1856
Stifter, Adalbert "Indian Summer" (German: Der Nachsommer) - 1857

Dickens, Charles  "Great Expectations" - 1861
Eliot, George "The Mill on the Floss" - 1860 
Alcott, Louisa May "Little Women" - 1868-86
Flaubert, Gustave "Sentimental Education" - 1869
Twain, Mark "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" - 1876
Spyri, Johanna "Heidi" (German: "Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre" and "Heidi kann brauchen, was es gelernt hat") - 1880-1881 
Schreiner, Olive "The Story of an African Farm" - 1884
Twain, Mark "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" - 1884
Raabe, Wilhelm "A Sea and Murder Story" (German: Stopfkuchen. Eine See- und Mordgeschichte) - 1891
Prus, Bolesław "Pharaoh" - 1895
James, Henry "What Maisie Knew - 1897

20th century
Musil, Robert "The Confusions of Young Törless" - 1906
Montgomery, L.M. "Anne of Green Gables" - 1908
London, Jack "Martin Eden" - 1909
Rihani, Ameen "The Book of Khalid" - 1911
Webster, Jean "Daddy Longlegs" - 1912
Alain-Fournier "The Lost Estate" (French: Le Grand Meaulnes) - 1913
Lawrence, D.H. "Sons and Lovers" - 1913
Somerset Maugham, W "Of Human Bondage" - 1915
Joyce, James "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" - 1916
Hesse, Hermann "Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair's Youth" (German: Demian) - 1919
Scott Fitzgerald, F. "This Side of Paradise" - 1920
Hesse, Hermann "Siddhartha: An Indian Poem" (German: Siddhartha) - 1922
Mann, Thomas  "The Magic Mountain" (German: Der Zauberberg) - 1924
Peters, Friedrich Ernst "Heine Steenhagen.The Story of an amibitious man" (German: Heine Steenhagen wöll ju dat wiesen! Die Geschichte eines Ehrgeizigen) - 1925
Bandopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan " Pather Panchali. Son of the Road" (Bengali: Pather Panchali) - 1929
Mitchell, Margaret "Gone With the Wind" - 1936
Neale Hurston, Zora "Their Eyes Were Watching God" - 1936
Wright, Richard "Native Son" - 1940
Forbes, Esther "Johnny Tremain" - 1943
Smith, Betth "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" - 1943
Smith, Dodie "I Capture the Castle" - 1948 
Salinger, J. D. "Catcher in the Rye" - 1951
Ellison, Ralph "Invisible Man" - 1952
Lewis, C.S. "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" - 1952
Lamming, George "In the Castle of My Skin" - 1953

Mann, Thomas "Confessions of Felix Krull" (German: Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull) - 1954 
Grass, Günter "The Tin Drum" (German: Die Blechtrommel) - 1959
Knowles, John "A Separate Peace" - 1959
Roth, Philip "Goodbye, Columbus" - 1959
Lee, Harper "To Kill a Mockingbird" - 1960
Grass, Günter "Cat and Mouse" (German: Katz und Maus) - 1961
Herbert, Frank "Dune" - 1965
Hinton, S. E. "The Outsiders" - 1967
Le Guin, Ursula K. "A Wizard of Earthsea" - 1968
Anaya, Rudolfo "Bless Me, Ultima" - 1972
Handke, Peter "Short Letter, Long Farewell" (German: Der kurze Brief zum langen Abschied) - 1972
Roth, Philip "The Ghost Writer" - 1979
- "Zuckerman Unbound" - 1981
Nadolny, Sten "The Discovery of Slowness" (German: Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit) - 1983
Swift, Graham "Waterland" - 1983
McInerney, Jay "Bright Lights, Big City" - 1984
Scott Card, Orson "Ender's Game" - 1985
Winterson, Jeanette "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" - 1985
Murakami, Haruki "Norwegian Wood" (Japanese: Noruwei no mori, ノルウェイの森) - 1987
Lowry, Lois "Number the Stars" - 1989
Gaarder, Jostein "Sophie's World" (Norwegian: Sofies verden) - 1991
Ackroyd, Peter "English Music" - 1992
Doyle, Roddy "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha" - 1993
Kracht, Christian "Faserland" (German: Faserland) - 1995
Lamb, Wally "She's Come Undone" - 1997
Rowling, J.K. "Harry Potter" Series - 1997-2007
Hornby, Nick "About a boy" - 1998
Houellebecq, Michel "Atomised" (French: Les Particules Élémentaires) - 1998
Chbosky, Stephen "The Perks of Being a Wallflower - 1999
Satrapi, Marjane "Persepolis. The Story of a Childhood" (French: Persepolis. Vol. 1) - 2000
- "Persepolis. The Story of a Return" (French: Persepolis. Vol. 2) - 2000

21st century
Kidd, Sue Monk "The Secret Life of Bees" - 2002
Hosseini, Khaled "The Kite Runner" - 2003
Lethem, Jonathan "The Fortress of Solitude" - 2003
Thompson, Craig "Blankets" - 2003
Ishiguro, Kazuo "Never Let Me Go" (Japanese: Watashi o Hanasanaide, わたしを離さないで) - 2005
Kunkel, Benjamin "Indecision" - 2005
Zusak, Markus "The Book Thief" - 2005
Anderer, Hannes (Jean Firges) "On the way to Melusine" (German: Unterwegs zu Melusine) - 2006
Green, John "Looking for Alaska" - 2006
Lowry, Lois "The Giver" - 2006
Mitchell, David "Black Swan Green" - 2006
Plath, Sylvia "The Bell Jar" - 2006
Stanišić, Saša "How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone" (German: Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert) - 2006
Alexie, Sherman "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" - 2007
Dunthorne, Joe "Submarine" - 2008
Giordano, Paolo "The Solitude of Prime Numbers" (Italian: La solitudine dei numeri primi) - 2008
Roth, Philip "Indignation" - 2008
Winton, Tim "Breath" - 2008
Murray, Paul "Skippy Dies" - 2010
Brunt, Carol Rifka "Tell the Wolves I'm Home" - 2012
Green, John "The Fault in Our Stars" - 2012
Tartt, Donna "The Goldfinch" - 2013
Kidd, Sue Monk "The Invention of Wings" - 2014
Largent, Daryl "James the Third" - 2016
Tremain, Rose "The Gustav Sonata" - 2016
Ondaatje, Michael "Warlight" - 2018
Owens, Delia "Where the Crawdads Sing" - 2018  
Whitehead, Colson "The Nickel Boys" - 2019 
Myers, Benjamin "The Offing" - 2020 

If I strikethrough a title, it means the book has not been translated into English.