Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ~ First Ten Books I Reviewed


"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish".

It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

July 30: Freebie (Come up with your own topic)

Today is a freebie. We can post anything we like. I missed quite a few from the former list, so I chose the
First Ten Books I Reviewed

I started blogging in 2010 and my first book review was on the 18th of October about my favourite book. I reviewed the tenth on the 12th of December.

Looking up all those entries made me feel like reading them all over again. Except for one which we were reading in the book club at the time (A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian), they all belong to my favourite books ever. What a lovely walk through the past.

Stroyar, J.N. "The Children's War" and "A Change of Regime"
Zweig, Stefanie "Nowhere in Africa" and "Somewhere in Germany" (German: "Nirgendwo in Afrika" and "Irgendwo in Deutschland")
Lee, Harper "To Kill a Mockingbird" - 1960
Steinbeck, John "East of Eden" - 1952
Kingsolver, Barbara "The Poisonwood Bible" - 1988
Lewycka, Marina "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" - 2005
Turner, Nancy E. "These is my Words, The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901" - 1999
Shaffer, Mary Ann & Barrows, Annie "The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society" - 2008
Chevalier, Tracy "Girl with a Pearl Earring" - 1999
Vreeland, Susan "Girl in Hyacinth Blue" 1999

As you can see from the links, I have read more books by several of the authors.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander "August 1914"


Solzhenitsyn, Alexander (Солженицын, Александр Исаевич) "August 1914" ["The Red Wheel" cycle] (Russian: Узел I - «Август Четырнадцатого», Красное колесо/August 1914) - 1971

What an epic work! A tale of the First World War - or the Great War as it was called before the Second World War happened - from the Russian side. I have read a lot of books about WWI by authors from various countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Serbia, the UK, the USA and even Russia (Doctor Zhivago) but never this explicitly about Russia, or even about the war itself, with the exception of "All Quiet on the Western Front").

Solzhenitsyn starts and ends with stories about the ordinary people, those that are left behind and who have to send their loved ones into battle and then tells us what happened just in one month, August 1914. One month of more than fifty.

He only focuses on one particular part, a small area in East Prussia that has been left by the German inhabitants and is now fought over by the Russians and Germans. Many mistakes occur, and in the end, the Germans win. 153.000 Germans and 191.000 Russians lose their lives.

As in "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" and many other stories, Solzhenitsyn brings us close to the characters, lets us hope and despair with them, lets us get angry about generals who take wrong decisions and cost the lives of so many soldiers.

This is just an excellent book about the battle of Tannenberg which was called just that because it was a revenge a battle the Germans had lost 500 years earlier. It really was the battle of Allenstein.

Not an easy read but if you would like to know more about WWI or battles in general, this is a great story.

What I also really appreciated about the presentation of the story, there is a map at the beginning of the book and a list of all the characters. The ones from real life in capital letters, the fictional ones in lowercase. Helps a lot, especially with a book with so much detail and so many characters.

From the back cover:

"'The general concept of this novel,' the author has written, 'came to my mind in 1936, when I was just leaving secondary school. Since then I have never parted from it, regarding it as the chief artistic design of my life.' He has also said he considers the previous books he has published minor to this - 'a result of the oddities of my life story…'

August 1914, the first part of this major work, is set at the outbreak of the First World War, and its moral concern is to establish the responsibility for Russia’s defeat in the battle of Tannenberg. Limiting itself to the opening two weeks of the war, the novel describes the Russian offensive into East Prussia, which resulted in the encirclement and defeat of General Samsonov’s Second Army by Hindenburg. This disaster revealed the dry rot at the core of Tsarism and hastened its downfall.

The main theme is filled out by a great cross-section of characters, both fictitious and historic, from every walk of Russian life. The fictional character of Colonel Vorotyntsev, an enlightened and ironic young staff officer who mixes with the soldiers as much as with generals, provides a link between the various elements in the story. Solzhenitsyn gives a sympathetic portrait of Samsonov as the victim of staff blunders and personality clashes, and there is a moving description of his suicide in defeat.

August 1914 is a triumph of historical reconstruction as well as of the creative imagination. In the final chapter, it is clear that the guilty will escape through their influence at court, that Russia’s military humiliation is only a symptom of the deeper shame of the Tsarist system, and that a new Russia will somehow have to be born. The novel glows with the author’s love of his country and with his deep concern for ordinary men and women.

August 1914 is the first volume of Solzhenitsyn's epic, The Red Wheel; the second is November 1916. Each of the subsequent volumes will concentrate on another critical moment or 'knot,' in the history of the Revolution."

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970 "for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature".

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

Friday, 26 July 2019

Book Quotes of the Week

"I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia." Woody Allen

"I read the newspaper avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction." Aneurin Bevan

"When you find a writer who really is saying something to you, read everything that writer has written and you will get more education and depth of understanding out of that than reading a scrap here and a scrap there and elsewhere. Then go to people who influenced that writer, or those who were related to him, and your world builds together in an organic way that is really marvelous." Joseph Campbell
 

"Don't give up on reading just because you tried one or two books that didn't do it for you. Keep trying, and I'm sure you will find your niche or genre. When you do, you'll be so glad you did!" Wes

Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Kadaré, Ismail "The Pyramid"

Kadaré, Ismail "The Pyramid (Albanian: Piramida) - 1992

After Finnish author Mika Waltari's novel "The Egyptian", this is already the second novel I read about Ancient Egypt that really means something entirely different. Whilst "The Egyptian" was written straight after WWII, this one is about the totalitarian system in Albania.

"The Pyramid" tells us of the life under dicator Enver Hoxha and his crazy obsession for unnecessary and huge statues to show his power and strength. You can find a double meaning in almost every sentence, the ultimate motive of the pharaoh Cheops was to make his people so weak through building his gigantic pyramid so they have no power left to rebel.

The author is known as one of Europe's greatest writers, his voice against totalitarianism is second to none. He won the first Man Booker International Prize because he is "a universal writer in the tradition of storytelling that goes back to Homer." His followers were such illustrious authors like Chinua Achebe, Alice Muro and Philip Roth. Who knows, he might receive the Nobel Prize for Literature one day.

Brilliant novel. You can tell the author has experienced this himself.

From the back cover:

"From the Albanian writer who has been short-listed for the Nobel Prize comes a hypnotic narrative of ancient Egypt, a work that is at once a historical novel and an exploration of the horror of untrammeled state power. It is 2600 BC. The Pharaoh Cheops is inclined to forgo the construction of a pyramid in his honor, but his court sages hasten to persuade him otherwise. The pyramid, they tell him, is not a tomb but a paradox: it keeps the Egyptian people content by oppressing them utterly. The pyramid is the pillar that holds power aloft. If it wavers, everything collapses.

And so the greatest pyramid ever begins to rise. It is a monument that crushes dozens of men with the placing of each of its tens of thousands of stones. It is the subject of real and imaginary conspiracies that necessitate ruthless purges and fantastic tortures. It is a monster that will consume all Egypt before it swallows the body of Cheops himself. As told by Ismail Kadare, 'The Pyramid' is a tour de force of Kafkaesque paranoia and Orwellian political prophecy."

After "The Fall of the Stone City", this is my second book by Ismail Kadaré but certainly not my last.

Ismail Kadaré received the Man Booker International Prize in 2005 for being "a universal writer in the tradition of storytelling that goes back to Homer."

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Settings I’d Like to See More Of


"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish".

It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

July 23: Settings I’d Like to See More Of (Or At All)

I know there are several ways to interpret this task. Settings can be a lot of things, a place like a house, a city or a country, or at the sea, in the mountains, in a forest but also certain types of stories.

Since I like to pretend that I'm a world traveller (at least by books), I have decided to name the countries I love to read about most, I have decided that it must be countries for me. I put them in alphabetical order with a link to the countries I have read about already.

I did run into a problem. There are countries of which I haven't read anything at all and would love to explore. That's my first list.

Bolivia
Burkina Faso
Costa Rica
Cuba
Estonia
Guatemala
Indonesia
Latvia
Luxembourg
Panama
(Even if some of them have a link, those books were not directly about the country in question.)

And then there are countries where I have read a few but would love to read more. These are on my second list.


Australia
Belgium
Bulgaria
Finland
Ireland
Lithuania
New Zealand
The Philippines
Russia
Sweden

Having said that, there are so many more countries of which I haven't read enough or at all. I wish to read at least one good book about every country in the world.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Book Club History 2017 etc. (in alphabetical order)

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash
 
Reviewed books read and discussed in the Book Club (in alphabetical order, to be continued)

Author "Title" - Year - Original Language (Original title) (Date discussed)

Adiga, Aravind "The White Tiger" - 2008 English (Apr 21)
Alsanea, Rajaa "The Girls of Riyadh" - 2005 Arabic (بنات الرياض‎ Banāt al-Riyāḍ) (May 19)
Bâ, Mariama "So Long a Letter" - 1979 French (Une si longue lettre) (Aug 19)
Boye, Karin "Kallocain" - 1940 Swedish (Kallocain) (Oct 20)
Bradbury, Ray "Fahrenheit 451" - 1953 English (Dec 20)
Camus, Albert "The Stranger" - 1942 French (L'étranger)  (Jun 21) (Nobel Prize 1957)
Christie, Agatha "And then there were none" (original title: Ten Little Niggers) - 1939 English (May 20)
Carroll, Lewis "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" - 1865 English (Dec 21)
Defoe, Daniel "Robinson Crusoe" - 1719 English (Mar 19)
Dick, Philip K. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" - 1968 English (Sep 19)
Ende, Michael "The Neverending Story" - 1979 German (Die unendliche Geschichte) (Oct 19)
Fatland, Erika "Sovietistan: Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan" - 2014 Norwegian (Sovjetistan. En reise gjennom Turkmenistan, Kasakhstan, Tadsjikistan, Kirgisistan og Usbekistan) (Nov 20)
Ferrante, Elena "My Brillliant Friend" - 2011 Italian (L'amica geniale) (Aug 18)
Fitzgerald, F. Scott "The Great Gatsby" - 1925 English (Apr 18)
García Marquez, Gabriel "A Hundred Years of Solitude" - 1967 Spanish (Cien años de soledad) (Sep 18) (Nobel Prize 1982)
Gogol, Nikolai - any novellas - "The Overcoat" - 1842 Russian (Шинель/Shinyeli) (Oct 18)
Gordimer, Nadine "Burger's Daughter" - 1979 English (Jun 19) (Nobel Prize 1991)
Hesse, Hermann "Steppenwolf" - 1927 German (Der Steppenwolf) (Dec 17) (Nobel Prize 1946)
Høeg, Peter "Effekten af Susan" -2014 Danish (Effekten af Susan) (Nov 17)
Hurme, Juha (not translated) - 2017 Finnish "Niemi" (not translated) (May 18)
Huxley, Aldous "Brave New World" - 1923 English (Oct 17)
Indriðason, Arnaldur - any book - Synir Duftsins [Sons of Dust] (Menschensöhne) - Icelandic (Jul 18)
Ishiguro, Kazuo "Never Let Me Go" - 2005 English (Dez 18) (Nobel Prize 2017)
Jansson, Tove "The Invisible Child" - 1962 Swedish (Berättelsen om det osynliga barnet) (Jan 19)
- " Moominpappa at Sea" - 1965 Swedish (Pappan och havet) (Aug 17)
- "Moominsummer Madness" - 1954 Finnish (Vaarallinen juhannus) (Mar 21)
Kawabata, Yasunari "A Thousand Cranes" - 1949 Japanese (千羽鶴 Senbazuru) (Nobel Prize 1968) (Jun 18) (Nobel Prize 1968)
Lee, Harper "To Kill a Mockingbird" - 1960 English (Jan 18)
Le Guin, Ursula K. "The Left Hand of Darkness" - 1969 English (Aug 21)
Lem, Stanisław "Solaris" - 1961 Polish (Solaris (powieść)) (Aug 20)
Lindstedt, Laura "Oneiron" - 2015 Finnish (Oneiron) (Feb 18)
Mann, Thomas "A Man and his Dog" - 1918 German (Herr und Hund. Ein Idyll) (Feb 21) (Nobel Prize 1929)
McCarthy, Cormac "The Road" - 2006 English (Jan 20)
Molnár, Ferenc "The Paul Street Boys" - 1907 (A Pál-utcai Fiúk) Hungarian (Sep 21)
Neruda, Pablo "The Captain's Verses" - 1971 (Los versos del capitán) Spanish (Jul 21)
Paasilinna, Arto "The Year of the Hare" - 1975 Finnish (Jäniksen vuosi) (Nov 18)
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" - 1998 Turkish (Benim Adim Kirmizi) (Dec 19) (Nobel Prize 2006)
Rushdie, Salman "The Satanic Verses" - 1988 English (Nov 21)
Saint-Exupéry, Antoine "The Little Prince" - 1943 French (Le Petit Prince) (Jan 21)
Saki "The Open Window and other Stories" - 1914 English (Apr 20)
Salinger, JD "Catcher in the Rye" - 1951 English (May 21)
Sapolsky, Robert M. "Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst Paperback" - 2017 English (May 21)
Saramago, José "Blindness" - 1995 Spanish (O Ensaio sobre a Cegueira) (Apr 19) (Nobel Prize 1998)
Satrapi, Marjane "Persepolis. The Story of a Childhood" - 2000 French (Persepolis) (Oct 21)
- "Persepolis. The Story of a Return" - 2000 French (Persepolis. Vol. 2) (Oct 21)
Shaffer, Mary Ann & Barrows, Annie "The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society" - 2008 English (Sep 20)
Shelley, Mary "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus" - 1818 English (Jun 20)
Slimani, Leïla "Adèle" - 2014 French (Dans le jardin de l'ogre) (Jul 20)
Statovici, Pajtim "My Cat Jugoslavia" - 2014 Finnish (Kissani Jugoslavia) (Sep 17)
Süskind, Patrick "The Perfume. A Story of a Murderer" - 1985 German (Das Parfüm) (Feb 19)
Tokarczuk, Olga "Primeval and other Times" - 1996 Polish (Prawiek i inne czasy/Ur und andere Zeiten) (Apr 20) (Nobel Prize 2018)
Verne, Jules "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" - 1870 French (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) (Mar 18)
Waltari, Mika "In diesem Zeichen" (The Malinianus Duology) - 1959 Finnish (Valtakunnan salaisuus/The Secret of the Kingdom) (Mar 20)
Yu, Hua "China in Ten Words" - 2010 Chinese (十个词汇里的中国) (Jul 19)

Find this list in chronological order here.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Book Club History 2017 etc. (in chronological order)

I have been looking for another international book club for quite a while and I finally found one. Everyone is eager to read as many international books as possible, that's always a good start.

As you can see, the choice of literature is extremely wide spread. We try not to read the same original language in a row. And we try to read a few Nobel Prize winners. So far, we have read 10.

They have been discussing books for two years now, I added the links to the books I have read already.

Author "Title" - Year - Original Language (Original title) (Date discussed)

Jansson, Tove " Moominpappa at Sea" - 1965 Swedish (Pappan och havet) (Aug 17)
Statovici, Pajtim "My Cat Jugoslavia" - 2014 Finnish (Kissani Jugoslavia) (Sep 17)
Huxley, Aldous "Brave New World" - 1923 English (Oct 17)
Høeg, Peter "Effekten af Susan" -2014 Danish (Effekten af Susan) (Nov 17)
Hesse, Hermann "Steppenwolf" - 1927 German (Der Steppenwolf) (Dec 17) (Nobel Prize 1946)

Lee, Harper "To Kill a Mockingbird" - 1960 English (Jan 18)
Lindstedt, Laura "Oneiron" - 2015 Finnish (Oneiron) (Feb 18)
Verne, Jules "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" - 1870 French (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) (Mar 18)
Fitzgerald, F. Scott "The Great Gatsby" - 1925 English (Apr 18)
Hurme, Juha (not translated) - 2017 Finnish "Niemi" (not translated) (May 18)
Kawabata, Yasunari "A Thousand Cranes" - 1949 Japanese (千羽鶴 Senbazuru) (Jun 18) (Nobel Prize 1968)
Indriðason, Arnaldur - any book - Synir Duftsins [Sons of Dust] (Menschensöhne) - Icelandic (Jul 18)
Ferrante, Elena "My Brillliant Friend" - 2011 Italian (L'amica geniale) (Aug 18)
García Marquez, Gabriel "A Hundred Years of Solitude" - 1967 Spanish (Cien años de soledad) (Sep 18) (Nobel Prize 1982)
Gogol, Nikolai - any novellas - "The Overcoat" - 1842 Russian (Шинель/Shinyeli) (Oct 18)
Paasilinna, Arto "The Year of the Hare" - 1975 Finnish (Jäniksen vuosi) (Nov 18)
Ishiguro, Kazuo "Never Let Me Go" - 2005 English (Dec 18) (Nobel Prize 2017)

Jansson, Tove "The Invisible Child" - 1962 Swedish (Berättelsen om det osynliga barnet) (Jan 19)
Süskind, Patrick "The Perfume. A Story of a Murderer" - 1985 German (Das Parfüm) (Feb 19)
Defoe, Daniel "Robinson Crusoe" - 1719 English (Mar 19)
Saramago, José "Blindness" - 1995 Spanish (O Ensaio sobre a Cegueira) (Apr 19) (Nobel Prize 1998)
Alsanea, Rajaa "The Girls of Riyadh" - 2005 Arabic (بنات الرياض‎ Banāt al-Riyāḍ) (May 19)
Gordimer, Nadine "Burger's Daughter" - 1979 English (Jun 19) (Nobel Prize 1991)
Yu, Hua "China in Ten Words" - 2010 Chinese (十个词汇里的中国) (Jul 19)
Bâ, Mariama "So Long a Letter" - 1979 French (Une si longue lettre) (Aug 19)
Dick, Philip K. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" - 1968 English (Sep 19)
Ende, Michael "The Neverending Story" (Die unendliche Geschichte) - 1979 German (Oct 19)
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" - 1998 Turkish (Benim Adim Kirmizi) (Dec 19) (Nobel Prize 2006)

McCarthy, Cormac "The Road" - 2006 English (Jan 20)
Waltari, Mika "The Secret of the Kingdom" - 1959 Finnish (Valtakunnan salaisuus) (Mar 20)
Tokarczuk, Olga "Primeval and Other Times..." - 1996 Polish (Prawiek i inne czasy) (Apr 20) (Nobel Prize 2018)
Saki "The Open Window and other Short Stories" - 1914 English (Apr 20)
Christie, Agatha "And then there were none" (original title: Ten Little Niggers) - 1939 English (May 20)
Shelley, Mary "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus" - 1818 English (Jun 20)
Slimani, Leïla "Adèle" - 2014 French (Dans le jardin de l'ogre) (Jul 20)
Lem, Stanisław "Solaris" - 1962 Polish (Solaris, powieść) (Aug 20)
Shaffer, Mary Ann & Barrows, Annie "The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society" - 2008 English (Sep 20)
Boye, Karin "Kallocain" - 1940 Swedish (Kallocain) (Oct 20)
Fatland, Erika "Sowjetistan. Eine Reise durch Turkmenistan, Kasachstan, Tadschikistan, Kirgisistan und Usbekistan" (Sovjetistan. En reise gjennom Turkmenistan, Kasakhstan, Tadsjikistan, Kirgisistan og Usbekistan/Sovietistan: Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan) - 2014 Norwegian (Nov 20)
Bradbury, Ray "Fahrenheit 451" - 1953 English (Dec 20)

Saint-Exupéry, Antoine "The Little Prince" - 1943 French (Le Petit Prince) (Jan 21)
Mann, Thomas "A Man and his Dog" - 1918 German (Herr und Hund. Ein Idyll) (Feb 21) (Nobel Prize 1929) (Feb 21)
Jansson, Tove "Moominsummer Madness" 1954 Finnish (Vaarallinen juhannus) (Mar 21)
Adiga, Aravind "The White Tiger" - 2008 English (Apr 21)
Sapolsky, Robert M. "Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst Paperback" - 2017 English (May 21)
Salinger, JD "Catcher in the Rye" - 1951 English (May 21)
Camus, Albert "The Stranger" - 1942 French (L'étranger) (Jun 21) (Nobel Prize 1957)
Neruda, Pablo "The Captain's Verses" - 1971 (Los versos del capitán) Spanish (Jul 21)
Le Guin, Ursula K. "The Left Hand of Darkness" - 1969 English (Aug 21)
Molnár, Ferenc "The Paul Street Boys" - 1907 (A Pál-utcai Fiúk) Hungarian (Sep 21)
Satrapi, Marjane "Persepolis. The Story of a Childhood" - 2000 French (Persepolis) (Oct 21)
- "Persepolis. The Story of a Return" - 2000 French (Persepolis. Vol. 2) (Oct 21)
Rushdie, Salman "The Satanic Verses" - 1988 English (Nov 21)
Carroll, Lewis "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" - 1865 English (Dec 21)

Find this list in alphabetical order here.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors


"Top Ten Tuesday" is an original feature/weekly meme created on the blog "The Broke and the Bookish". This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at "The Broke and the Bookish".

It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since I am just as fond of them as they are, I jump at the chance to share my lists with them! Have a look at their page, there are lots of other bloggers who share their lists here.

July 16: Auto-Buy Authors

This is such a lovely theme. There are so many authors that I love and it was tough to cut them down to ten but I made it this time.

They are sort of different kind of authors but I think it shows where my interests go.

Bryson, Bill
Falcones, Ildefonso
Frazier, Charles
Hislop, Victoria
Kingsolver, Barbara
Lamb, Wally
Lawson, Mary
Oates, Joyce Carol

Monday, 15 July 2019

Gordimer, Nadine "Burger's Daughter" - 1979

Gordimer, Nadine "Burger's Daughter" - 1979

I wanted to read a book by Nadine Gordimer for a long time. She is a prolific author, she's from South Africa, she writes about politics, she's a woman and she received the Nobel Prize for Literature, a lot of reasons why she should be on my list.

I certainly wouldn't call this an "easy read". The author's style is not very inviting, the flow … well, there is not really a flow. The conversations are not very clear, one often gets the impression that we're not supposed to know who is talking at the moment, whose thoughts we are following. The story jumps from one person to the next.

However, the topic of the novel is very good. The story is loosely based on the life of Bram Fischer and his family, especially his daughter. Bram Fischer was a South African lawyer, known for his anti-apartheid activism. He became most popular as Nelson Mandela's defence lawyer.

I did enjoy reading about the story even if I didn't enjoy reading the story very much. The book teaches us about South Africa, their history, the apartheid system and that there have been people fighting against it, even if there could have been more.

From the back cover:

"After the death of legendary anti-apartheid activist, Lionel Burger, his daughter Rosa finds herself adrift in a South Africa she no longer knows. Previously her life had been surrounded, created by politics. Now, confronting the left-wing legacy her father represented, as well as the rise of a militant Black Consciousness movement, she is involved in a 'children's revolt' of her own. But where and how will she find her own identity?

Emerging front the darkest days of apartheid, in its moods of elegy, homage and compassion, Burger's Daughter is a great political novel not only of South Africa but of the twentieth century."

We discussed this book in our international book club in June 2019.

Nadine Gordimer "who through her magnificent epic writing has - in the words of Alfred Nobel - been of very great benefit to humanity" received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.

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

Friday, 12 July 2019

Book Quotes of the Week



"I can read a book twice as fast as anybody else. First I read the beginning, and then I read the ending, and then I start in the middle and read toward whichever end I like best." Gracie Allen

"I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon women's inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman's fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men."
Jane Austen, Captain Harville in "Persuasion"
 

"A novel is never anything but a philosophy expressed in images. And in a good novel the philosophy has disappeared into the images." Albert Camus

"The libraries have become my candy store." Juliana Kimball

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Hawthorne, Nathaniel "The Scarlet Letter"


Hawthorne, Nathaniel "The Scarlet Letter" - 1850

I have never been a big fan of puritanism or over-religious people who try to put their idea of "society" on everyone else. In this book, a young woman is punished for having relations with a man who is not her husband. Both she and the resulting child are ostracized by the "good people" of a village in New England. Hester seems a wonderful woman but it's hard for her to get acknowledged by the other citizens. And at the time, she didn't have a huge choice to go somewhere else.

Even though I prefer long books, I found that the length of this book was alright because everything got said. The story was rounded up well. I also liked the style, quite a typical classic way of telling a story. I read a review by someone who complained that the sentences were too long. I already noticed that when discussing my first classic book with my English book club more than twenty years ago. Being German, I am so used to long sentences (and words), it feels so familiar. I don't mind that at all. Should you not be a fan of long sentences, you might not really like this classic so much. But I did.

From the back cover:

"The Scarlet Letter is the tragic story of a woman's shame and the cruel treatment she suffers at the hands of the Puritan society in which she lives. 

A settler in New England, Hester Prynne has waited two years for her husband, an ageing English scholar, to join her. He arrives to find her in the pillory, a small baby in her arms. She must, as a punishment for her adultery, wear a scarlet 'A' embroidered on her breast and is consenquently ostracized by her contemptuous neighbours. 

Sworn to keep secret the identity of both her husband and her lover, Hester slowly wins the respect of society by her charitable acts. Her own strength and the moral cowardice of the man who allows her to face guilt and shame alone are brought into sharp contrast in a dramatic and harrowing conclusion."

Monday, 8 July 2019

Hirata, Andrea "The Rainbow Troops"


Hirata, Andrea "The Rainbow Troops" (Indonesian: Lasykar Pelangi) - 2005


A lovely book about a school in Indonesia. Not just any school, a school in one of the poorest areas where the teachers work for no money and the students have to drive several hours by bike to get there.

But they all have one thing in common, they want to learn, they want to get out of the circle where they won't achieve anything because they have no education like their parents.

To read about the struggles these kids have to face every day and how they achieve to get at least some eduction, is so refreshing. We take so many things for granted in our countries, especially that we can send our kids to school, this is a reminder that it's not a given, that we should appreciate it a lot more than we do.

This book is interesting because we get to know people who seldom get mentioned in books, those poor people who work hard so their families can live but don't get mentioned because their lives are not exciting enough for us. But we get to know all the kids in the class as well as some of their parents and definitely the teachers. Their motivation, their hopes and dreams.

Good book.

From the back cover:

"Ikal is a student at Muhammadiyah Elementary, on the Indonesian island of Belitong, where graduating from sixth grade is considered a major achievement. His school is under constant threat of closure. In fact, Ikal and his friends - a group called The Rainbow Troops - face threats from every angle: pessimistic, corrupt government officials; greedy corporations hardly distinguishable from the colonialism they've replaced; deepening poverty and crumbling infrastructure; and their own faltering self-confidence. But in the form of two extraordinary teachers, they also have hope, and Ikal's education is an uplifting one, in and out of the classroom.

You will cheer for Ikal and his friends as they defy the town's powerful tin miners. Meet his first love - a hand with half-moon fingernails that passes him the chalk his teacher sent him to buy. You will roar in support of Lintang, the class's barefoot maths genius, as he bests the rich company children in an academic challenge.

First published in Indonesia, The Rainbow Troops went on to sell over 5 million copies. Now it is set to captivate readers across the globe. This is classic story-telling: an engrossing depiction of a world not often encountered, bursting with charm and verve."

Friday, 5 July 2019

Book Quotes of the Week



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

"A good reader should always have two books with him: one to read, the other one to lend." Gabrielle Dubois

"Reading is important, because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything." Tomie dePaola

"Nothing is more impotent than an unread library." John Waters, Role Models

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Dionne jr. E.J.; Reid, Joy-Ann "We are the Change We Seek"


Dionne jr. E.J.; Reid, Joy-Ann "We are the Change We Seek. The Speeches of Barack Obama" - 2017

Barack Obama was a great president with hope for a better world. His speeches show that. The ones that are shown in this book are probably amongst his most important ones and they were all fantastic.

Many people should read this, especially those who hope that the present incumbent will be better. There is now way that is going to happen.

We need more people like him, this world would be a better place. And I am sure, even though he is not the president any more, that we'll hear more from hm and that he'll continue his work. He is a born leader and speaker and he can encourage people to work for their country and therefore for the world.

After "Dreams From My Father", "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama, "The World As It Is" by Ben Rhodes, "Promise Me, Dad" by Joe Biden and "Becoming" by Michelle Obama, this was the sixth book I read about the president. They were all great reads to get to know this man and his dream a little better.

From the back cover:

"'Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change we seek'

In his speeches as president, Barack Obama had the power to move people from all over the world as few leaders before him. We Are the Change We Seek is a collection of twenty-seven of Obama's greatest speeches, covering the issues most important to our time: war, inequality, race relations, gun violence and human rights. With brief introductory remarks explaining the context for each speech, this is a book to inform, illuminate and inspire, providing invaluable insight into a groundbreaking and era-defining presidency."

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, 2 July 2019

Bogel, Anne "I'd Rather Be Reading"


Bogel, Anne "I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life" - 2018

I like books about books, even if they sometimes are on the "chick lit" side.

This one wasn't. It was the honest account of an avid reader, someone like all my readers here and myself. Someone who can't go a day without reading. There are so many reflections on what it means to be a reader and what we all have in common.

I envied Anne Bogel for her first house, not because of the size of it or the layout of the room. No, it was the location, right next door to a library. I always had to get into my car in order to get to the next library. That doesn't mean I didn't use it, on the contrary.

There are some hilarious parts in the book. In the chapter "The Bookworm Problems", the author mentions that our books equal the gross domestic product of a small nation. I'm afraid that I belong to those people, even though I use the library quite frequently, as well.

In general, I totally agree with the author about reading and all that it embraces. Mostly, I have read completely different books from her. I suppose that is partly because most of the books she mentions are American but also, because we seem to like quite different genres. Except for Jane Austen, we don't seem to have a single author in common.

However, sometimes I found the book was written for Americans only. E.g. when she writes "… I read Doris Kearns Goodwin's excellent Abraham Lincoln biography Team of Rivals. I knew the basic outline of this life from history class; American students know that story's sad ending." I think most students have learned that in school, I know I did.

I have known a lot of American readers and a lot of them always tell me that the books they find are not very international. This book has confirmed that.

Nevertheless, I liked the book. Because, after all, it doesn't matter what kind of books you read, as long as you read.

And doesn't it just have the most charming illustration?

From the back cover:

"Reading isn't just a hobby or a way to pass the time - it's a lifestyle. Books shape, define and enchant us. They are part of who we are and we can't imagine life without them.

In this collection of charming and relatable reflections, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads you to remember the book that first hooked you, the place where you first fell in love with reading, and all the books and moments afterward that helped make you the reader you are today."

Monday, 1 July 2019

Happy July!

Happy July to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch


"Erster"
"First One" 



July starts here like June ended, far too hot for our region. We notice the effects of climate change a lot. The "dog days" are worse than ever before.

The Germanic name for the month is Æftera Līþa which means "after midsummer" or "second summer".

The flower of the month is either the water lily or the larkspur/delphinium. 

From the two, I prefer the latter, they are so pretty, even if they are highly toxic. But you can make blue ink from their juice. 
The larkspur stands for lightness.

The water lily reminds me of one of my favourite artists, Claude Monet. I saw a whole oval room with water lilies painted all over the walls in Paris. 

Just beautiful. And the water lily stands for perfect beauty.

Have a happy July with this beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch. Don't the cherries look inviting? I can totally understand anyone wanting to snack on them.


You can find many more wonderful pictures on their website here.