Wednesday 30 November 2016

Angelou, Maya "Mom & Me & Mom"

Angelou, Maya "Mom & Me & Mom" - 2013

I have read "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou quite a while ago and really liked it. So, I was happy that when one of her books was chosen as a new read for "Emma's Book Club - Our shared shelf".

And I was not disappointed. Maya Angelou's writing is still as gripping as it was in her previous novel. She writes in a way as if you sit there listening to her telling a story. A really good story.  Her mother must have been a remarkable woman, as she was remarkable herself, she can find something good in everything, even though she had a difficult life to lead.

I learnt a lot about Maya Angelou and her family but I also learnt a lot about myself and my relationship to my late mother. Everything good but still interesting.

I am certainly going to read more of her books.

From the back cover:

"The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.

For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence - a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call 'Lady,' revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.

Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights."

Monday 28 November 2016

Arnold, Catharine "Globe: Life in Shakespeare's London"

Arnold, Catharine "Globe: Life in Shakespeare's London" - 2014

I have read a few books of and about William Shakespeare and so far have enjoyed most of them a lot even though I always say a play is written to be played, not to be read.

My favourite of those books is still "Shakespeare: The World as a Stage" by Bill Bryson, one of my favourite authors.

However, this is a great non-fiction book about The Globe, how it first was built in Shakespeare's time and what it meant for the world of acting back then and how it influenced our world of the theatre today.
I love reading about historical times but the Tudor times belong to my favourites. There was just so much going on, the world was about to change. The world of great rulers was always the world of great art. And no matter what people say about Elizabeth I, she did a great job in a man's world and with her encouragement, the theatre flourished.

We learn a lot about the theatre here, about Shakespeare's plays, Shakespeare's life and life in Shakespearean times in general.

Informative, interesting, excellent book about interesting, adventurous times.

Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to visit the new Globe but I am determined that I will during my next visit to London.

From the back cover:
"The life of William Shakespeare, Britain's greatest dramatist, was inextricably linked with the history of London. Together, the great writer and the great city came of age and confronted triumph and tragedy. Globe takes its readers on a tour of London through Shakespeare's life and work as, in fascinating detail, Catharine Arnold tells how acting found it's place in the city. We learn about James Burbage, founder of the original Theatre in Shoreditch, who carried timbers across the Thames to build the Globe among the bear-gardens and brothels of Bankside in 1599, and of the terrible night in 1613 when the theatre caught fire during a performance of King Henry VIII. Rebuilt, the Globe continued to stand as a monument to Shakespeare's genius until 1642 when it was destroyed on the orders of Oliver Cromwell. And finally we learn how, 300 years later, Shakespeare's Globe opened once more upon the Bankside, to great acclaim, rising like a phoenix from the flames.

Arnold creates a vivid portrait of Shakespeare and his London from the bard's own plays and contemporary sources, combining a novelist's eye for detail with a historian's grasp of his unique contribution to the development of the English theatre. This is a portrait of Shakespeare, London, the man and the myth."

Friday 25 November 2016

Book Quotes of the Week

"Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world." Napoleon Bonaparte

"Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read." Marilyn Jager Adams

"Many persons read and like fiction. It does not tax the intelligence and the intelligence of most of us can so ill afford taxation that we rightly welcome any reading matter which avoids this." Rose Macaulay

"I think reading is a gift. It was a gift that was given to me as a child by many people, and now as an adult and a writer, I’m trying to give a little of it back to others. It’s one of the greatest pleasures I know." Ann M. Martin

"The habit of reading is the only enjoyment I know in which there is no alloy. It lasts when all other pleasures fade. It will be there to support you when all other resources are gone. It will be present to you when the energies of your body have fallen away from you. It will last you until your death. It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live." Anthony Trollope

Find more book quotes here.

Monday 21 November 2016

Štimec, Spomenka "Croatian War Nocturnal"

Štimec, Spomenka "Croatian War Nocturnal" (Kroata Milita Noktlibro) - 1993

This is not just the diary of a girl who speaks Esperanto about her life during the Balkan wars, her life and that of her family and friends, and often about their deaths, as well. It is a view into life during wartime. Snippets of several lives that are affected that build a big picture together.

I bought this book because it was written in Esperanto but there are several translations available, i.a. in English. The title is a word play. Day-book is the Esperanto word for diary (same as in many other languages) but because she wrote this mainly during the night, she calls it her night-book. She had to type it in the bathroom because it was the only room in the house without a window where she could use light at night - whenever they had some.

I doubt that this book is available in a normal bookshop but if you can find it, it is totally worth reading. * It is a story about how from one minute to another, love can turn to hate, how you can more or less be "given" an enemy. Neighbours and friends turn against each other all of a sudden because you don't belong to the same group as they do. What a nightmare! And you know what? I see this happening all the time and I'm afraid if someone is given the chance, they will do what the politicians in former Yugoslavia have done and start a civil war or an even greater one. We all need to stick together because in the end, we are all the same. None of us is better or worse than someone else because of where we come from.

I therefore hope, that everyone will follow the words of one of the widows in the story whose speech at her husband's funeral is on the back cover:
"Friends, relatives, neighbours, colleagues - now is the time to end the hate. It does not matter who started first and how often. I do not feel anger against anyone because my husband was killed. But stop! For the mortal remains of my husband, I beg you - forgive and forget all open bills! Let us go forward. Do not let our children and grandchildren fight against each other again. Whether this happens depends on us. Let us do what is in our power. Let us be the beginning of peace, of which everyone is talking."

Books she mentions:
Krleža, Miroslav "Croatian God Mars" (Hrvatski bog Mars) - 1922
Zamenhof, Ludwig L. "Call to the Diplomats" (Alvoko al Diplomatoj) - 1915
Auld, William "The Infant Race" (La infana raso) - 1956

* The book has been published in English in the meantime, see my link to Goodreads. (as always also through the picture)

Friday 18 November 2016

Book Quotes of the Week

"God be thanked for books! they are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages." W.E. Channing

"Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility. If our world is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century we must harness the energy and creativity of all our citizens." President Clinton on International Literacy Day, September 8th 1994

"We are too civil to books. For a few golden sentences we will turn over and actually read a volume of four or five hundred pages." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"In my view, nineteen pounds of old books are at least nineteen times as delicious as one pound of fresh caviar." Anne Fadiman

"When I get hold of a book I particularly admire, I am so enthusiastic that I loan it to someone who never brings it back." Edgar Watson Howe

Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Atkinson, Kate "Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Atkinson, Kate "Behind the Scenes at the Museum" - 1995

I have heard about this book at least a decade and it's been on my TBR pile for almost as long. I have no idea why it took me so long to read it. I'm glad I finally did, it's a brilliant story.

Ruby tells her story, her mother's story, her grandmother's story and the story of all the women in her family. It's really interesting and even though she jumps back and forth in their lives, there is still quite a surprise at the end.

An interesting read. Kate Atkinson has a great way of expressing herself but an even greater one of laying down a story, unfolding it page by page. Such a fascinating family story where everyone can recognize themselves but also distance yourself far enough that it doesn't affect you too much. She has a great sense of humour that brings the families through hard times. And hard times there are plenty.

However, there are four generations with a lot of characters, two world wars, a lot of different relationships, the story is not written in chronological order. It is advisable to take notes so you remember who is who.

It was a great book to read. I wish someone would write a book like that about my family.

From the back cover:
"Ruby Lennox was conceived grudgingly by Bunty and born while her father, George, was in the Dog and Hare in Doncaster telling a woman in an emerald dress and a D-cup that he wasn't married. Bunty had never wanted to marry George, but here she was, stuck in a flat above the pet shop in an ancient street beneath York Minster, with sensible and sardonic Patrica aged five, greedy cross-patch Gillian who refused to be ignored, and Ruby...

Ruby tells the story of The Family, from the day at the end of the nineteenth century when a travelling French photographer catches frail beautiful Alice and her children, like flowers in amber, to the startling, witty, and memorable events of Ruby's own life."

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Movies

Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

November 15: Movie Freebie
Top ten all time favorite movies, top ten foreign films, top ten rom-coms, top ten 90's movies, top ten action flicks, top ten tear-jerkers, top ten movies your favorite actor/actress is in, top ten movies with PoC leads, etc. etc.)

It's a tough one. We love movies, so I will just list a few that we have watched more than about five times. You will see that my movie watching is more on the chick side than my reading. Hope I can finish after ten ...

The American President   
The Boat That Rocked   
The Boys and Girl from County Clare   
Bride & Prejudice     
Dirty Dancing  
Doctor Zhivago   

The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain   
Falling in Love  
Gone With the Wind   

Just the Way You Are   
Kingdom of Heaven   
Little Women   
Love Actually  

The Mirror has Two Faces 
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation   

Out of Africa   
The Philadelphia Story   

Sense & Sensibility  
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers   
That Touch of Mink  
A Walk in the Clouds  
What's Cooking?   
When Harry Met Sally   

While You Were Sleeping
You've Got Mail  
And anything by Jane Austen.
(I added a link to the IMDb page for each of them, so just click on the title.)

Those were the first ones I could think about and I knew I wouldn't be able to stop at ten but if I continued only for five minutes, I'd probably come up with a hundred more. They are in alphabetical order, so no preference of the first over the last. 
Often I say Happy Reading when I write on this time but this time I will say Happy Watching. Hope you like my selection. 

Friday 11 November 2016

Book Quotes of the Week

"A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us." W. H. Auden

"Why can't people just sit and read BOOKS and be nice to each other?" David Baldacci

"I've read too many books to believe what I am told." Suheir Hammad

"Revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth, for the want of which whole nations fare the worse." John Milton

"If you resist reading what you disagree with, how will you ever acquire deeper insights into what you believe? The things most worth reading are precisely those that challenge our convictions." 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 10 November 2016

Grass, Günter "Peeling the Onion"

Grass, Günter "Peeling the Onion" (German: Beim Häuten der Zwiebel) - 2006

Günter Grass, one of Germany's greatest authors, has written a biography, not just one but three books where he talks about his life, growing up in between the two wars that were going to destroy the Europe that was known before, becoming a German soldier in WWII, spending his years in Russia, coming back to a country that was destroyed, a different part of the country than where he came from, as well. His first steps into becoming an artist, his apprenticeship as a stonemason in order to become a sculptor. Many, many stories.

Günter Grass doesn't keep anything a secret. He mentions how and why he volunteered to go to war. He also describes many events that he was going to use in his many novels later. Even if you haven't read any of his novels, this is a great account not just of the life of a writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature but also of a simple German boy who was born at the wrong time.

If you grew up in post-war Germany with parents who had been about the author's age (like me), a lot of the stories sound familiar (apart from the volunteering part).

Brilliant, remarkable writing. I am not surprised this author received the highest prize you can get.

I read this in the original German edition and am looking forward to the two next parts of the trilogy:

"Die Box. Dunkelkammergeschichten" (The Box: Tales from the Darkroom) (Autobiographical Trilogy #2) - 2008
"Grimms Wörter. Eine Liebeserklärung" (Autobiographical Trilogy #3, no translation, yet) - 2010


"In this extraordinary memoir, Nobel Prize-winning author Günter Grass remembers his early life, from his boyhood in a cramped two-room apartment in Danzig through the late 1950s, when The Tin Drum was published.

During the Second World War, Grass volunteered for the submarine corps at the age of fifteen but was rejected; two years later, in 1944, he was instead drafted into the Waffen-SS. Taken prisoner by American forces as he was recovering from shrapnel wounds, he spent the final weeks of the war in an American POW camp. After the war, Grass resolved to become an artist and moved with his first wife to Paris, where he began to write the novel that would make him famous.

Full of the bravado of youth, the rubble of postwar Germany, the thrill of wild love affairs, and the exhilaration of Paris in the early fifties, Peeling the Onion -- which caused great controversy when it was published in Germany -- reveals Grass at his most intimate."

As any good author, he has also read a lot and mentions many of them in the book.
Beecher Stowe, Harriet "Uncle Tom's Cabin" - 1852
Coster, Charles de "The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak" - 1867
Dahn, Felix "Ein Kampf um Rom" (A Struggle for Rome) - 1876
Dickens, Charles "David Copperfield" - 1849
Döblin, Alfred "Berlin Alexanderplatz. The Story of Franz Biberkopf" - 1929
Dos Passos, John "Manhattan Transfer" - 1925
Dostoevsky, Fyodor "Demons" - 1872
Dumas, Alexandre "The Three Musketeers" - 1844
Fallada, Hans "Little Man, What Now?" - 1932
Faulkner, William "Light in August" - 1932
Fülöp-Müller, René "Der heilige Teufel. Rasputin und die Frauen" (Rasputin: The Holy Devil) - 1927
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "Wahlverwandschaften" (Elective Affinities) - 1809
Greene, Graham "The Heart of the Matter" - 1948
Hamsun, Knut "August" - 1930
Hamsun, Knut "Hunger" - 1890
Joyce, James "Ulysses" - 1922
Jünger, Ernst "In Stahlgewittern" (Storm of Steel) - 1920
Keller, Gottfried "Ferien vom Ich" [Holidays from myself] - 1915
Keller, Gottfried "Green Henry" - 1853
Lagerlöf, Selma "Gösta Berling's Saga" - 1891
Mereschkowski, Dmitry "The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci" (Воскресшие боги. Леонардо да Винчи) - 1900
Meyer, Conrad Ferdinand "Jürg Jenatsch. Thirty Years War" (Jürg Jenatsch) - 1876
Miłosz, Czesław "The Captive Mind" (Zniewolony umysł) - 1953
Raabe, Wilhelm "Chronik der Sperlingsgasse" [Chronicles of Starling Alley] - 1856
Raabe, Wilhelm "Hungerpastor" [Hungerpastor] - 1864
Remarque, Erich Maria "All Quiet on the Western Front" - 1829
Storm, Theodor "The Rider on the White Horse" (Der Schimmelreiter) - 1888
Wilde, Oscar "The Picture of Dorian Gray" - 1890

And some authors where he didn't mention a particular book.
Aristotle - 384-322 BC
Dickens, Charles - 1812-1870
Heidegger, Martin - 1889-1976
Spinoza, Baruch - 1632-77
Sudermann, Hermann - 1857-1928
Twain, Mark - 1835-1910

Günter Grass "whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history" received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.

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 8 November 2016

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Ten Books I've Added To My To-Be-Read List

"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish". Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

November 8: Ten Books I've Added To My To-Be-Read List

I keep adding new books to my TBR list all the time, so this is an easy one. ;)

Angelou, Maya "Mom & Me & Mom" - 2013
Arnold, Catharine "Globe: Life in Shakespeare's London" - 2014
Backman, Fredrik "A Man Called Ove" (Swedish: En Man som heter Ove) - 2012
Bohjalian, Chris "Midwives" - 1997
Ephron, Nora "The Most of Nora Ephron" - 2014
Dylan, Bob "Chronicles. Volume One" - 2004
Konar, Affinity "Mischling" - 2016
Plath, Sylvia "The Bell Jar" - 1963
Witzel, Frank "
The Invention of the Red Army Faction by a Manic Depressive Teenager in the Summer of 1969" (German: Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969) - 2015
Zeh, Juli "Unterleuten" [Place name, only in German so far] - 2016

I will report about all of them once I'm done. In the meantime:

Happy Reading.

Monday 7 November 2016

Scott, Mary "Haven't We Met Before?"

Scott, Mary "Haven't We Met Before?" - 1970

Mary Scott's books are always funny and I love them all. This one is just as hilarious as many of the others. The young painter Tessa paints an abstract picture - as a joke. But she wins a prize and now has to hide from everyone because they all want to celebrate her.

As always, Mary Scott writes about what she knows best, the New Zealand countryside. And her characters are as lovely as always.

Unfortunately, Mary Scott's books are out of print and only available second hand. I have heard in the meantime, that you can buy some of them as eBooks.

From the back cover (translated):
"A Reluctant Star
What happens if a freelance painter suddenly gets the crazy idea to create a completely abstract, completely unintelligible painting and on top of that submits this concoction to a great art exhibit?
It happens what Tessa Nelson - that's the name of the jester - hadn't even expected in her wildest dreams: her 'work' is enthusiastically celebrated and - awarded a prize.
Tessa is a reluctant star. To escape the prying reporters, photographers and fans, she flees to the countryside to her brother. But there it seems she's come from bad to worse..."

Friday 4 November 2016

Book Quotes of the Week

"Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors." Joseph Addison

"The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading." David Bailey

"It’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read." Judy Blume

"A large, still book is a piece of quietness, succulent and nourishing in a noisy world, which I approach and imbibe with 'a sort of greedy enjoyment', as Marcel Proust said of those rooms of his old home whose air was 'saturated with the bouquet of silence'." Holbrook Jackson

"A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you." Joyce Meyer

Find more book quotes here.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Happy November!

I wish everyone a good November

New Calendar picture with this beautiful watercolour painting.

Hanka Koebsch "Winteräpfel" - "Winter Apples" 

Same as last year, I'd like to share the wonderful watercolour paintings from Hanka and Frank Koebsch with you every month. I have bought their calendar every year for five years now and have loved every single one of their pictures. I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do. 

You can find a lot more wonderful pictures on their blog here.