Friday, 15 November 2019

Book Quotes of the Week


"Reading is like breathing in, writing is like breathing out." Pam Allyn

"No books are lost by loaning except those you particularly wanted to keep." Alan Atwood

"Readers are plentiful: thinkers are rare." Harriet Martineau

"Good children's literature appeals not only to the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child." 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.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Aitken, Ben "Dear Bill Bryson: Footnotes from a Small Island"


Aitken, Ben "Dear Bill Bryson: Footnotes from a Small Island" - 2015

If you know me even a little, you know how much I love Bill Bryson's book. And therefore, I just had to read Ben Aitken's homage. He travelled the same route as Bill Bryson did in 1995 (as described in his book "Notes from a Small Island"), only about twenty years later. Even though Bill Bryson did a second tour ("The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island") through the UK and a lot has changed in the meantime, it was a pleasure to accompany this author in his footsteps through the UK.

Sometimes he was a tad too sceptical about what Bill Bryson had done or said but it was still lovely to reminisce with the author. Some of his criticism is probably a generation question, I bet he sees it different in twenty years.

Not as funny as Bill Bryson but still quite worth reading.

From the back cover:

"'Long story short, I've decided to retrace your steps. Why? Because I'm bored. Take it from me, there's only so many tacos a guy can serve before he wants to put a pint of salsa down his windpipe.'

An irreverent homage to the '95 travel classic Notes from a Small Island, wherein Ben Aitken retraces Bill Bryson’s journey as precisely as possible - same hotels, same plates of food, same amount of time in the bath - before finishing outside his house on Christmas Eve.

Ben Aitken was born under Thatcher, grew to 6ft then stopped, and is an Aquarius. He followed Bill Bryson around the UK for Dear Bill Bryson: Footnotes from a Small Island (2015).

'It would be wrong to view this book as just a highly accomplished homage to a personal hero. Aitken's politics, as much as his humour, are firmly in the spotlight, and Dear Bill Bryson achieves more than its title (possibly even its author) intended.' Manchester Review"

I love all of Bill Bryson’s books. Find a link to my reviews here.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Dick, Philip K. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"


Dick, Philip K. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" - 1968

Why would androids dream of electric sheep? I always wondered about this weird title. I didn't wonder enough though to want to read it but when my book club decided to take it on, I had to have a go, of course.

The story is primarily about the bounty hunter Rick Deckard. After a nuclear global war damaged the earth tremendously, there are hardly any animals left. Or humans. Those that survived, mainly emigrated to Mars or other colonies on other planets. The ones left behind, are divided into two groups, the ones that are damaged through the war are called "specials" being considered second-rate people. And the androids, well, they are supposed to be modern slaves and are mainly intended to accompany to settlers to the colonies and not return to earth. Those that do it anyway are hunted by guys like Rick Deckard. But the androids get smarter and smarter and the hunt gets harder and harder.

I don't want to tell the whole story. The reason I liked the book was mainly because of the way, the different inhabitants of earth are described, the empathy that is not there between the species, the understanding that other people also have their needs. Even if we don't consider the androids, wouldn't we try to help each other after such a disaster rather than splitting up in different groups? A very philosophic question.

The androids are the slaves of the future. If they don't do what they are supposed to do, they get killed, or "retired", as they like to call it.

Oh, and then there was one part that I really liked. When they describe "stuff". Both my husband and I are more gatherers than minimalists, so I could relate very well.

"Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday's homeopape. When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there's twice as much of it. It always gets more and more."

Do I even need to mention that I never watched the movie? I tried to see who plays whom but it looks like the film is more than "loosely" based on the book. I could only find a few names that are in both.

From the back cover:

"War has left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalks, in search of the renegade replicants who are his prey. When he isn’t 'retiring' them, he dreams of owning the ultimate status symbol -- a live animal. Then Rick gets a big assignment: to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But things are never that simple, and Rick’s life quickly turns into a nightmare kaleidoscope of subterfuge and deceit."

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

Friday, 1 November 2019

Happy November!

Happy November to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch


"Herbst am Jagdschloss Granitz"
"Autumn at the Hunting Lodge Granitz"



This is the first November that I live in the area where I grew up. And it's also the first time, I'm close by my parents' graves when the tombs receive their blessings. Another good reason for coming home.

The Germanic tribes called November Blōtmōnaþ which means blood month or month of sacrifice, slaughtered cattle were dedicated to the Gods. In German, we called it Windmond (wind moon), Wintermonat (winter month) and Nebelung (the foggy one).

The flowers of the month are the chrysanthemum and the peony. I understand the connection with the chrysanthemum since it often symbolizes death and is therefore used for graves which is also something you think about a lot in November. But in the Victorian language of flowers, it also stands for cheerfulness. 
The peony, however, flowers in or around May only, so why is it a symbol for November? Anyway, it stands for compassion, good fortune, a happy marriage, romance, prosperity, riches, and honour but they can also symbolize bashfulness. They are native to China and known for its medicinal uses.

Have a happy November with this beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch. The Granitz Hunting Lodge is located on the German island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea.

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