Thursday 30 April 2020

Saki "The Complete Short Stories of Saki"

Saki (H.H. Munro) "The Complete Short Stories of Saki" - 1909-24

Our book club had decided to read the book "The Open Window and other short stories" by Hector Hugh Munro, or Saki, as he was known better. I couldn't find the book, so I bought one will all his short stories. These are the stories we were going to discuss:

from the collection:
" Reginald":
- Reginald on Besetting Sins: The woman who told the truth (1904)"
"Reginald in Russia":
- Gabriel-Ernest (1910)
- The Soul of Laploshka (1910)
"The Chronicles of Clovis":
- Tobermory (1911)
- Sredni Vashtar (1911)
- The Music on the Hill (1911)
- Ministers of Grace (1911)
"Beasts and Super-Beasts"
- Laura (1914)
- The Open Window (1914)
- The Story-Teller (1914)
"The Toys of Peace and other Papers":
- The Wolves of Cernogratz (1919)
- The Hedgehog (1919)
"The Square Egg":
- The Infernal Parliament (1924)

I've mentioned it a lot of times before, short stories are not my thing and while I have read some books where I liked it, this was a little too much. Some of the short stories were great but they were over in no time. I couldn't get into them fast enough to really enjoy them.

There were stories that I liked and others that were a little OTT for me, too slapstick-y, if you know what I mean.

One of my favourite stories was the one that is mentioned in the title of the book we were supposed to read. "The Open Window". There is a short video that you can see here on YouTube to see what I mean.

Apparently, the author was influenced by by Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll and Rudyard Kipling and he influenced A. A. Milne, Noël Coward and P. G. Wodehouse. I can definitely see the comparison with P. G. Wodehouse whose collection "Right Ho, Jeeves" I read earlier this year. I can see the similarity but Wodehouse's sense of humour is so much better, that's why I enjoyed him so much more.

While reading the stories, I came to the conclusion that Saki disliked both women (in particular suffragettes) as well as children. When I searched whether he was married, I found out he was gay. That surprised me a little, he came across as quite the misogynist.

Would I read more of his short stories if he had written more? Probably not. Would I read a novel by him? I think I would.

Same as me, not everyone liked all of the stories. But those that we did like, the end twists were particularly hilarious.

Some favourites from those we discussed:
The Open Window
The Story-Teller
The Wolves of Cernogratz

Next to "The Open Window", my other favourite was "The Mouse" (from "Reginald in Russia"). That's the kind of humour I love.

We discussed this in our international online book club in April 2020.

From the back cover:

"Hector Hugh Munro (1870-1916) was a British writer, whose witty works satirizing Edwardian society and culture led him to be known as a master of the short story. Munro, better recognized by the pen name Saki, produced works that contrasted the conventions and hypocrisies of Edwardian England with the uncomplicated and sometimes cruel state of nature, a conflict which the latter usually won. This complete edition of short stories will entertain readers with its wonderfully intricate characters, rich political satire and fine narrative style. The book begins with Saki's first works, the 'Reginald' stories, a small series of vignettes centered around the societal and cynical young Reginald. Also included are Saki's later and more popular story collections: 'Reginald in Russia,' the somewhat macabre tales of 'The Chronicles of Clovis', Saki's best known 'Beasts and Super-Beasts', 'The Toys of Peace', and 'The Square Egg.'"

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books I'll Never Read

"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.

This week it's Books I Wish I Had Read as a Child. But since I did Top Ten Books I wish I read as a kid last year, I decided to do a list that I've missed earlier.

I have chosen Books I'll Never Read

So, there are certain type of genres I don't really like much, fantasy, science fiction, horror, crime, all that sort of things. There are exceptions where I still read a book like that but it has to be a crossover or a funny one (like Agatha Christie for a crime story).

Anyway, here is my list of authors and books I don't think I'll ever pick up:

Brashares, Ann "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" etc.
Cooper, Jilly (any)
Crighton, Michael "Jurassic Park" etc.
James, E.L. "Fifty Shades of Grey" etc.
King, Stephen (any)
Martin, George R.R. "A Game of Thrones" etc.
Meyer, Stephenie "Twilight" etc.
Paolini, Christopher "Eragon" etc.
Picoult, Jodi (any, I've read one of hers with my book club, My Sister's Keeper, that was one too many)
Tolkien, J.R.R. "Lord of the Rings" etc.
and any books/authors in that direction. I always try to avoid pink covers. 😉

Monday 27 April 2020

Barack Obama Reading Lists


I once came across a blog post by one of the friends I have made through blogging
and was surprised I hadn't seen it before. Yes, President Obama has published a reading list. If there was anything I wouldn't love about him already, this surely would have to be it! He's a fellow readaholic.

These are the lists I looked at in order to put them all together:
Barack Obama Shares Five of the Best Books He Read This Summer
Here Are All the Books You Should Read This Year, According to Barack Obama
86 Books Barack Obama Recommended During His Presidency
All of Obama's Reading Lists Combined

I will try to update this list in the coming years.

Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem "Coach Wooden and Me"
Abdurragib, Hanif "A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance"
Achebe, Chinua "Things Fall Apart" (The African Trilogy #1)
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Americanah"
Akhtar, Ayad "Homeland Elegies"
Alam, Rumaan "Leave the World Behind"
Alderman, Naomi "The Power"
Alte, Jonathan "Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope"
Applebaum, Anne "Twilight of Democracy"Arsenault, Raymond "Arthur Ashe: A Life"
Ayers, William "A Kind And Just Parent"
Baldwin, James "The Fire Next Time"
Bartels, Larry "Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age"
Bauer, Shane "American Prison"
Beaton, Kate "Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands"
Bennett, Brit "The Vanishing Half"
Blight, David W. "Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom"
Boo, Katherine "Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity"
Branch, Taylor "Parting the Waters"
Broom, Sarah M. "The Yellow House"
Caro, Robert A. "The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York"
Carr, Nicholas "The Shallows"
Catton, Eleanor "Birnam Wood"
Chan, Jessamine "The School for Good Mothers"
Chang, Lan Samantha "The Family Chao"
Chen, Te-Ping "Land of Big Numbers"
Cep, Casey "Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee"
Chernow, Ron "Grant"
- "Washington: A Life"
Chiang, Ted "Exhalation"
Choi, Susan "Trust Exercise"
Cixin, Liu "The Three-Body Problem"
Coates, Ta-Nehisi "Between the World and Me"
Coll, Steve "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001"
Conrad, Joseph "Heart of Darkness"
Cornejo Villavicencio, Karla "The Undocumented Americans"
Cosby, S. A. "All the Sinners Bleed"
- "Razorblade Tears"
Dalrymple, William "The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company"
Deneen, Patrik "Why Liberalism Failed"
Desmond, Matthew "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City"
- "Poverty, by America"
Diaz, Hernan "Trust"
Diop, David "At Night All Blood is Black"
Doerr, Anthony "All the Light We Cannot See"
- "Cloud Cuckoo Land"
Du Bois, W. E. B. "The Souls of Black Folk"
Edugyan, Esi "Washington Black"
Egan, Jennifer "The Candy House"
Eggers, Dave "What Is the What"
Eig, Jonathan "King: A Life"
Elliott, Andrea "Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City"
Ellison, Ralph "Invisible Man"
Emerson, Ralph Waldo "Self-Reliance"
Evaristo, Bernardine "Girl, Woman, Other"
Finnegan, William "Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life"
Fitzgerald, F. (Francis) Scott "The Great Gatsby"
Flanagan, Richard "The Narrow Road to the Deep North"
Flynn, Gillian "Gone Girl"
Franzen, Jonathan "Crossroads"
- "Freedom"
- "Purity"
Friedman, Thomas L. "Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America"
Gandhi "Autobiography"
García Márquez, Gabriel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (Spanish: Cien años de soledad) -
Gawande, Atul "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End"
Goldstein, Amy "Janesville: An American Story"
Goldstein, Gordon "Lessons in Disaster"
Goodwin, Doris Kearns "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln"
Grann, David "The Wager"
Greene, Graham "The Power and the Glory"
 - "The Quiet American"
Groff, Lauren "Fates and Furies"
- "Florida"
- "Matrix"
Grossman, David "To the End of the Land" (Hebrew: אשה בורחת מבשורה/Isha Nimletet Mi'Bshora)
Gurnah, Abdulrazak "Afterlives"
Halberstam, David "Best and the Brightest"
Halliday, Lisa "Asymmetry"
Hamid, Mohsin "Exit West"
Hamilton, Alexander "The Federalist"
Harari, Yuval Noah "Sapiens. A Brief History of Mankind" (Hebrew: קיצור תולדות האנושות/Ḳizur Toldot Ha-Enoshut)
Harding, Paul "Tinkers"
Harris, Nathan "The Sweetness of Water"
Harrison, Tiffany Clarke "Blue Hour"
Haruf, Kent "Plainsong"
Hawkins, Paula "The Girl on the Train"
Herring, Chris "Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks"
Hong Kingston, Maxine "The Woman Warrior"
Iguodala, Andre "The Sixth Man"
Ishiguro, Kazuo "Klara and the Sun"
Jacques, Brian "Redwall" series
Jahren, Lab "Lab Girl"
Jeffers, Honrée Fanonne "The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois"
Johnson, Denis "The Largesse of the Sea Maiden"
 - "The Laughing Monsters"
Johnson, Adam "The Orphan Master's Son"
Jones, Tayari "An American Marriage"
Just, Ward "Rodin’s Debutante"
Kahnemann, Daniel "Thinking, Fast and Slow"
Kaplan, Fred "Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer"
Keefe, Patrick Radden "Empire of Pain"
Klay, Phil "Missionaries"
- "Redeployment"
Klein, Ezra "Why We’re Polarized"
Kitamura, Katie "Intimacies"
Kolbert, Elizabeth "The Sixth Extinction"
- "Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future"
Kolker, Robert "Hidden Valley Road"
Kumar, Amitava "Immigrant, Montana"
Labatut, Benjamin "When We Cease to Understand the World"
Lahiri, Jhumpa "The Lowland"
Land, Stephanie "Maid"
Landrieu, Mitch "In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History"
Larson, Erik "The Splendid and the Vile"
Le Carré, John "Silverview"
Lehane, Dennis "Small Mercies"
Leilani, Raven "Luster"
Leithauser, Brad "A Few Corrections"
Lerner, Ben "The Topeka School"
Lessing, Doris "The Golden Notebook"
Levitsky, Steven; Ziblatt, Daniel "How Democracies Die"
Lincoln, Abraham - The Collected Works
Luiselli, Valeria "Lost Children Archive"
Macdonald, Helen "H Is For Hawk"
Mailer, Norman "The Naked and the Dead"
Mandel, Emily St. John "The Glass Hotel"
- "Sea of Tranquility"
Mandela, Nelson "Long Walk to Freedom"
Mantel, Hilary "Wolf Hall"
Marra, Anthony "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena"
Matar, Hisham"The Return"
McBride, James "Deacon King Kong"
- "Five-Carat Soul"
McCullough, David "John Adams"
Melville, Herman "Moby Dick"
Mengestu, Dinaw "How to Read the Air"
Moore, Liz "Long Bright River"
Moreno-Garcia, Silvia "Velvet Was the Night"
Moretti, Enrico "The New Geography of Jobs"
Morris, Edmund "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt"
Morrison, Toni - Collected Works (I read four of her novels)
Mounk, Yascha "The Great Experiment: Why Diverse Democracies Fall Apart and How They Can Endure"
Murakami, Haruki "Men Without Women" (Japanese: 女のいない男たちOnna no inai otokotachi)
Naipaul, V.S. "A Bend in the River: His Great Novel of Africa"
- "A House for Mr Biswas"
Napolitano, Ann "Hello Beautiful"
Ngugi wa Thiong’o "A Grain of Wheat"
Nguyen, Eric "Things We Lost to the Water"
Niebuhr, Reinhold "Moral Man And Immoral Society"
Nnuro, DK "What Napoleon Could Not Do"
Obama, Michelle "Becoming"
 - "The Light We Carry"
Obreht, Téa "Inland"
Odell, Jenny "How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy"
Ondaatje, Michael "Warlight"
O'Neill, Joseph "Netherland"
Orange, Tommy "There There"
Osnos, Evan "Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China"
Owusu, Nadia "Aftershocks"
Tedlow, Richard S. "Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American"
Park, Barbara "Junie B. Jones" series
Patchett, Ann "These Precious Days"
Payne, Keith "The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die"
Pelecanos, George "The Way Home"
Penn Warren, Robert "All the King's Men"
Perkins, Lynn Rae "Nuts to You"
Perry, Imani "South to America"
Price, Richard "Lush Life"
Radden Keefe, Patrick "Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland"
Rhodes, Ben "The World As It Is. Inside The Obama House"
Robinson, Kim Stanley "The Ministry for the Future"
Robinson, Marylinne "Gilead"
- "Jack"
Rooney, Jim "A Different Way to Win: Dan Rooney's Story from the Super Bowl to the Rooney Rule"
Rooney, Sally "Normal People"
Rosling, Hans "Factfulness"
Rowling, J.K. - Harry Potter series
Rundell, Katherine "Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms"
Rushdie, Salman "Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights"
Salter, James "All That Is"
Saunders, George "Liberation Day"
Schiff, Stacy "The Revoluitionary: Samuel Adams"
Sendak, Maurice "Where The Wild Things Are"
Serpell, Namwali "The Furrow"
Serrano, Shea "Basketball (and Other Things)"
Smith, Adam "Wealth of Nations"
- "Theory of Moral Sentiments"
Smith, Clint "How the Word Is Passed"
Smith, Jean Edward "FDR"
Smith, Zadie "Feel Free"
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr "Cancer Ward" (Russian: Ра́ковый ко́рпус, Rákovy kórpus)
Stephenson, Neal "Seveneves"
Stevenson, Robert Louis "Treasure Island"
Steinbeck, John "In Dubious Battle"
 - "Of Mice and Men"
Strong Washburn, Kawai "Sharks in the Time of Saviors"
Strout, Elizabeth "Anything Is Possible"
Taylor, Cory "Dying: A Memoir"
Tegmark, Max "Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence"
Terkel Studs "Working"
Thompson, Peter S. "Philosophy & Literature"
Tóibín, Colm "Nora Webster"
Tolentino, Jia "Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion"
Towles, Amor "A Gentleman in Moscow"
- "The Lincoln Highway"
Trethewey, Natasha "Memorial Drive"
Treuer, David "The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present"
Verghese, Abraham "Cutting for Stone"
Wagner, Alex "Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging"
Walcott, Derek - Collected Poems
Walter, Jess "We Live in Water: Stories"
Walton, Dawnie "The Final Revival of Opal & Nev"
Wang, Quian Julie "Beautiful Country"
Ward, Jesmyn "Sing, Unburied"
Washington, Bryan "Lot: Stories"
Weir, Andy "Project Hail Mary"
Westover, Tara "Educated"
Whitehead, Colson "Harlem Shuffle"
- "The Nickel Boys"
- "Underground Railroad"
- "Harlem Shuffle" by Colson Whitehead
Wilkerson, Charmaine "Black Cake"
Wilkerson, Isabel "Caste"
- "The Warmth of Other Suns"
Wilkinson, Lauren "American Spy"
Wilson, Antoine "Mouth to Mouth"
Woodfox, Albert "Solitary"
Woodrell, Daniel "The Bayou Trilogy"
Woodson, Jacqueline "Brown Girl Dreaming"
Yanagihara, Hanya "To Paradise"
Yong, Ed "An Immense World"
Zakaria, Fareed "The Post-American World"
Zauner, Michelle "Crying in H Mart"
Zhang, C Pam "How Much of These Hills is Gold"
Zuboff, Shoshana "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power"

I have not only not read many of the books on this list, only 32, I haven't heard of many of them. Time to go book-hunting.

Last ones added, reading list of  2022:
Obama, Michelle "The Light We Carry"
Mandel, Emily St. John "Sea of Tranquility"
Diaz, Hernan "Trust"
Schiff, Stacy "The Revoluitionary: Samuel Adams"
Serpell, Namwali "The Furrow"
Perry, Imani "South to America"
Chan, Jessamine "The School for Good Mothers"
Wilkerson, Charmaine "Black Cake"
Beaton, Kate "Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands"
Yong, Ed "An Immense World"
Saunders, George "Liberation Day"
Egan, Jennifer "The Candy House"
Gurnah, Abdulrazak "Afterlives"

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.

Friday 24 April 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"The printing press is either the greatest blessing or the greatest curse of modern times, sometimes one forgets which it is." Sir James M. Barrie
I believe it is the greatest blessing. Now, the internet, I'm sometimes not so sure …

"Reading self-improvement books is like creating a mental savings account from which we can withdraw viable tools for what we perceive as tough days." Dr. Jacent Mpalyenkana
I'm not a fan of self-improvement or self-help books but if it helps some people …

"The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself." Eleanor Roosevelt
I always agree with this fabulous lady.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 23 April 2020

Birtwistle, Sue; Conklin, Susie "The Making of Pride and Prejudice"

Birtwistle, Sue; Conklin, Susie "The Making of Pride and Prejudice" - 1995

If you're anything like me, you always want to know everything about a film or television series you watched, the location, the actors, the director, the costumes, anything worth knowing what goes on behind the scenes. Many DVDs nowadays offer an insight, you can often watch the film again with the director's comments, there are a lot of extras, interviews etc. It's almost like having been there yourself.

Now, I normally don't watch films of books that I've read, there is often far too much that's missing or - in my eyes - wrongly interpreted. But Jane Austen and other classic adaptations, I just can't resist. I will compare them and say, this one is better than that one, though.

In 1995, Andrew Davies wrote the screenplay and Simon Langton made this fabulous novel into a six-episode series. That's a time-frame where you can cover a lot of scenes. It still is my favourite adaptation of all the Jane Austen adaptations ever. (see here on IMDb)

This book, "The Making of P&P" shows us a large number of behind-the-scenes pictures and tells a lot about the series. In the introduction, Sue Birtwistle, the producer, reports about how the idea started and how the project evolved. Then they carry on with every little tidbit of information about the script, the production, costumes, the music and dancing, the filming, and there is a conversation with Colin Firth. We don't just learn about this particular series; we can also discover how television is made. Totally interesting.

The book also contains hundreds of wonderful photographs both from the series as well as from behind the scenes, and many, many funny episodes that happened. A wonderful book to read, look at and devour while or after watching "Pride & Prejudice".

From the back cover:

"The Making of Pride and Prejudice reveals in compelling detail how Jane Austen's classic novel is transformed into a stunning television drama.

Filmed on location in Wiltshire and Derbyshire, Pride and Prejudice, with its lavish sets and distinguished cast, was scripted by award-winning dramatist Andrew Davies, who also adapted Middlemarch for BBC TV. Chronicling eighteen months of work - from the original concept to the first broadcast - The Making of Pride and Prejudice brings vividly to life the challenges and triumphs involved in every stage of production of this sumptuous television series.

Follow a typical day's filming, including the wholesale transformation of Lacock village into the minutely detailed setting of Jane Austen's Meryton.

Discover how Colin Firth approaches the part of Darcy, how actors' costumes and wigs are designed, how authentic dances are rehearsed and how Carl Davis recreates the period music and composes an original score.

Piece together the roles of many behind-the-scenes contributors to the series, from casting directors and researchers to experts in period cookery and gardening.

Including many full-colour photographs, interviews and lavish illustrations, The Making of Pride and Prejudice is an indispensable companion to the beautifully produced series and a fascinating insight into all aspects of a major television enterprise."

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

"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.

Titles That Would Make Good Band Names
As so often with these lists, I could have found hundreds of interesting book titles that would make good band names, here are just a few:

That's when I gave up and chose the eleven for my list.

Byatt, A.S. "Possession"
Chabon, Michael "Summerland"
Faulkner, William "Light in August"
Hosseini, Khaled "The Kite Runner"
Kertész, Imre "Fateless" or "Fatelessness" (Hungarian: Sorstalanság - would also be an interesting band name)
Pamuk, Orhan "Snow" (Turkish: Kar - dito ^^)
Rhue, Morton "The Wave"
Sendker, Jan-Philipp "Whispering Shadows" (German: Das Flüstern der Schatten)
Smith, Zadie "White Teeth"
Soueif, Ahdaf "Aisha"
Ulitzkaya, Lyudmila "Imago" or "The Big Green Tent" (Russian: Zelenyi shater/Зеленый шатер)

Monday 20 April 2020

Rapid Fire Book Tag

I found this on the page of Lectrice Vorace (a voracious reader). Thank you. Brilliant idea.

If you are interested in doing this, feel yourself tagged.

E-Book or Physical Book?
Definitely physical books, they have been my love all my life and no screen will ever replace them. I don't find it easy to read on the screen and can't concentrate as I can with a book

Paperback or Hardback?
Paperbacks, they are easier to carry around, don't take up so much space on the shelf and don't cost as much.

Online or In-Store Book Shopping?
In-store. It's so much nicer to choose a book while you have it in front of you. Plus, I like to support our local businesses.

Trilogies or Series?
Depends on the stories. I like both. If a story is well written, I like it to continue.

Heroes or Villains?

The last book you finished?
Rand, Ayn "We the Living"

The Last Book You Bought?
Mantel, Hilary "The Mirror and the Light" (The Wolf Hall Trilogy 3)

Weirdest Thing You've Used as a Bookmark?
I have nice bookmarks but if none is around, I use any scrap of paper, a shop receipt, a postcard, a ticket …

Used Books: Yes or No?
Of course. They have been loved before and will be loved again.

Top Three Favourite Genres?
Historical Fiction, Biographies, Dystopian novels.

Borrow or Buy?
I buy most of my books. Love to keep the ones I liked.

Characters or Plot?
I can't see how one goes without the other but the plot has to be good.

Long or Short Books?
Long. I always say, a book doesn't start before page 500.

Long or Short Chapters?
Short chapters.

Name The First Three Books You Think Of...
1. Stroyar, J.N. "The Children's War"
2. Zweig, Stefanie "Nowhere in Africa" (German: Nirgendwo in Afrika)
3. Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red"

Books That Make You Laugh or Cry?
Books that make me laugh.

Our World or Fictional Worlds?
Our world.

Audiobooks: Yes or No?
No. I can't pay attention, my thoughts wander off and then I can't find the plot again.

Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?
Of course. What a question!

Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?
Book to TV adaptations. Too much gets lost in a movie.

A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?
Harris, Joanne "Chocolat"

Series or Standalones?
Isn't that a repeat of the question above about trilogies or series? Anyway, I don't care, as long as it's good, I read any kind.

Friday 17 April 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"How can you tell? That I like books, I mean." Cassandra Clare
I think it's easy in my case.

"I heard his library burned down and both books were destroyed - and one of them hadn't even been coloured in yet." John Dawkins
I think we all know a few people we can think of immediately.

"When asked, 'How do you write?' I invariably answer, 'One word at a time,' and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That's all. One stone at a time. But I've read you can see that motherfucker from space without a telescope." Stephen King
From what I hear that's not true but the quote itself is amazing.

"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." Mark Twain

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 16 April 2020

Wilding, Valerie "Top Ten Classic Stories"

Wilding, Valerie "Top Ten Classic Stories" - 2001

Another one of those books that lets you delve into some books that you either haven't read or haven't read in a long time.

In this book, Valerie Wilding has a list of classics that kids also like because they are adventurous, even for today's standards.

The stories are all told in a modern way, a video, a blog, a diary, anything that kids today might use.
With every story comes a chapter that explains either more about what was in the story or the general topic from the story. Whether you agree with the list or not (I hadn't even heard of some of the novels on the list), this certainly is a great way to introduce children to classic reading.

This is her list.
10. Verne, Jule "Around the World in Eighty Days"
9. Nesbit, Edith "The Story of the Treasure Seekers"
8. Wyss, Johann David "Swiss Family Robinson"
7. Alcott, Louisa May "Little Women"
6. Rider Haggard, H. "King Solomon's Mines"
5. Baum, L. Frank "The Wizard of Oz"
4. Sewell, Anna "Black Beauty"
3. Brontë, Emily "Wuthering Heights"
2. Brontë, Charlotte "Jane Eyre"
1. Stevenson, Robert Louis "Treasure Island"

From the back cover:

"What are the greatest stories of all time?

Want to know which classic story has the number one slot out of hundreds of terrific tales? It could be …

Around the World in Eighty Days - Quick! Join the chase as Detective Fix follows Phileas Fogg and Passepartout to the ends of the earth and back again!

Black Beauty - Come along for the ride of your life through fires and floods and get the story straight from the horse's mouth.

Wuthering Heights - Mystery and romance on the moors with Heathcliff and Cathy. It's wild!

With top ten fact sections, including outrageous explorers' tales, a travel guide for fantasy islands, and ten real cut-throat pirates!

Classic stories as you've never seen them before."

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About

"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.

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.

Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About
(This is for the books you liked, but rarely come up in conversation or rarely fit a TTT topic, etc.)

I have chosen only German books since they are not as well-known abroad. If you are interested in reading more about other countries, this is a selection from my native country. There are more German books in this link.

Becker, Jurek "Jacob the Liar" (Jakob der Lügner) *
Fleischhauer, Wolfram "In a Tender Hold" (Schule der Lügen)
Grass, Günter "Peeling the Onion" (Beim Häuten der Zwiebel)
Hansen, Dörte "This House is Mine" (Altes Land) *
Haushofer, Marlen "The Wall" (Die Wand) *
Kerkeling, Hape "I'm off then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago" (Ich bin dann mal weg. Meine Reise auf dem Jakobsweg) *
Lenz, Siegfried "The German Lesson" (Deutschstunde) *
Pausewang, Gudrun "The Last Children" (Die letzten Kinder von Schewenborn oder … sieht so unsere Zukunft aus?)
Precht, Richard David "Who Am I and If So, How Many?: A Journey Through Your Mind" (Wer bin ich und wenn ja, wie viele? Eine philosophische Reise)
Rosendorfer, Herbert "Letters Back to Ancient China" (Briefe in die chinesische Vergangenheit)

There are more German books I really love but these are the ones that are not so well known abroad.

*These have been made into movies or tv series.

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Rand, Ayn "We the Living"

Rand, Ayn "We the Living" - 1936

I found this book on one of those shelves where you can leave books you don't want any longer and others can donate something for a charity. I always liked Russian authors but I wasn't aware Ayn Rand was one. Had she used her real name, Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum, I might have guessed it earlier.

According to her own words, "We the Living" is as near to an autobiography as she would ever write. I can see how she pulled a lot of the background information from her own experience. Of course, she made it to the States, so there's already a hint that this is not a biography. But it must have been much easier for her writing this novel after leaving Russia or the whatever it was called then. (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic first, then USSR or Soviet Union).

This book is so great, so informative. Russia post-revolution in its early days when you had a lot of enthusiastic young people who thought they might make the world a better place to live for everyone. I can understand their dreams, I probably would have belonged to that group because I always believed that everyone should have the same chances. I still do. And I admire countries that achieved at least a little of that, similar wages, health insurance for everyone etc.

But back to Russia at the beginning of the last century. They certainly did not get what they wanted and for a lot of the enthusiastic new communists, the dreams were shattered quite quickly. Ayn Rand describes very well how they felt, and also what happened to the rest of them. If you'd owned something or belonged to the richer part of the people before the revolution, you had no rights whatsoever, couldn't study, couldn't work to earn a living, they just turned the tables around and left those people with nothing who had run the factories or the large farms etc. Not really such a good idea.

If you're interested in this time-frame, I highly recommend this novel. I will certainly read more of her books.

From the back cover:

"Ayn Rand's first published novel, a timeless story that explores the struggles of the individual against the state in Soviet Russia.

First published in 1936, We the Living portrays the impact of the Russian Revolution on three human beings who demand the right to live their own lives and pursue their own happiness. It tells of a young woman’s passionate love, held like a fortress against the corrupting evil of a totalitarian state.

We the Living is not a story of politics, but of the men and women who have to struggle for existence behind the Red banners and slogans. It is a picture of what those slogans do to human beings. What happens to the defiant ones? What happens to those who succumb?

Against a vivid panorama of political revolution and personal revolt, Ayn Rand shows what the theory of socialism means in practice."

Friday 10 April 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"Books are men of higher stature; the only men that speak aloud for future times to hear." E.S. Barrett

"It was good to walk into a library again; it smelled like home." Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian

"Life happened because I turned the pages." Alberto Manguel 

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 9 April 2020

What's in a Name 2020 Reading Challenge

What's in a Name 2020 Reading Challenge

I have done this challenge in 2014 and have since followed the titles of books I read in my statistics

So, when the Canadian Bookworm librarians reminded me of it here, I decided I'll give it another go, especially since this year there are some totally different challenges.

Carolina from carolinabooknook came up with some brilliant ideas. I have no ideas whether I will find books that fit all the challenges but I'll give it a try.

This year the six things to have in a book title are:
1.    An ampersand - & (e.g. Blanca & Roja, Rot & Ruin)
2.    An antonym (e.g Big Little Lies, Wicked Saints)
3.    4 letters or less (e.g Feed, Vox)
4.    A given/first name (e.g. Tess of the Road, Flowers for Algernon)
5.    Reference to children (e.g. Baby Proof, Children of Blood and Bone)
6.    One of the 4 natural elements - water, air, fire, earth (e.g. The River at Night, The Name of the Wind)

The challenge runs from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. You can sign up any time, but only count books that you read between those dates.

Read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits into each category.

Don’t use the same book for more than one category.

Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!

You can choose your books as you go or make a list ahead of time. The book titles are just suggestions, we can read whatever book that fits the category.

Sign up up on Carolina's page.

And here are my books:
Category 1:
Masood, Ehsan "Science & Islam: a history" - 2009

Category 2: 
Stendhal "The Red and the Black" (Le Rouge et le Noir) - 1830
Category 3:
MacLaverty, Bernard "Cal" - 1983

Category 4: 
Undset, Sigrid "Kristin Lavransdatter" (Kristin Lavransdatter)
Category 5:
Stroyar, J.N. "The Children's War" - 2001

Category 6:
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos- "The Shadow of the Wind" (E: La sombra del viento - El cementerio de los libros olvidados #1) - 2001

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books I Bought/Borrowed Because…

"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.

Books I Bought/Borrowed Because… 
... the author is one of my favourites (and the book I mention is one of my favourites by that author):

Austen, Jane "Persuasion" - 1817 (re-read "Persuasion")
Bryson, Bill "The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island" - 2015
Dickens, Charles "David Copperfield" - 1850
Falcones, Ildefonso "The Hand of Fatima" (Spanish: La mano de Fátima) - 2009
Frazier, Charles "Thirteen Moons" - 2006
Hosseini, Khaled "And the Mountains Echoed" - 2013
Kingsolver, Barbara "The Lacuna" - 2009
Oates, Joyce Carol "The Gravedigger’s Daughter" - 2007
Pamuk, Orhan "The Museum of Innocence" (Turkish: Masumiyet Müzesi) - 2008
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Watcher in the Shadows" (Spanish: Las Luces de Septiembre) - 1995

Monday 6 April 2020

Tokarczuk, Olga "Primeval and other Times"

Tokarczuk, Olga "Primeval and other Times" (Polish: Prawiek i inne czasy) - 1996

When the name of the person who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2019 was finally announced in 2020, I wanted to read one of her books right away. I had chosen "Primeval and Other Times" which is translated into German in "Ur und andere Zeiten". "Ur" really stands for a time in German, a time long, long ago. It is used as a prefix for great-grandparents etc., e.g. Ur-Ur-Urgroßmutter would be the great-great-great-grandmother. It is also a proposed supercontinent from about 3,000 million years ago.

But the book was sold out in German. I decided to wait a while. Then, our book club decided to put it on the reading list. And here I am, reading it in the English translation.

The book was interesting, something completely different from a lot of other reads. The elements of magic realism make them surreal, even though the setting during and after WWI as well as in and after pre-WWII is realistic enough. The characters were also quite lively, the families were described into every little detail, so you can imagine them and their lives very well. The author tried to describe the situation of both the German and the Russian soldiers and managed that very well, also.

Even though the story takes place in the first half of the 20th century, it seems a lot longer ago at times. The magic realism parts make it almost feel like a fairy-tale. It also helps understanding Polish culture and how it was influenced by the communism. We can live, laugh and die with these ordinary people from an extraordinary time and imagine how their lives might have been without the war.

The story is only about 250 pages long but that doesn’t' make it quick to read. It's not difficult, yet very complex. I would certainly recommend this book.

During our book club discussion, we touched many aspects of the book. I will try to add them in short. If you haven't read it, there might be some spoilers.


We discussed this in our international online book club in April 2020. To our book club members who were present in the online discussion, should I have left out anything or misquoted something, please, let me know.

From the back cover:

"Set in the mythical Polish village of Primeval, a microcosm of the world populated by eccentric, archetypal characters and guarded by four archangels, the novel chronicles the lives of the inhabitants over the course of the feral 20th century in prose that is forceful, direct, and the stylistic cousin of the magic realism in Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. Told in short bursts of 'Time,' the narrative takes the form of a stylized fable, an epic allegory about the inexorable grind of time and the clash between modernity (the masculine) and nature (the feminine) in which Poland's tortured political history from 1914 to the contemporary era and the episodic brutality visited on ordinary village life is played out. A novel of universal dimension that does not dwell on the parochial, Primeval and Other Times was awarded the Koscielski Foundation Prize in 1997, which established Tokarczuk as one of the leading voices in Polish letters, and it has been translated into many languages the world over.

Tokarczuk has said of the novel: 'I always wanted to write a book such as this. One that creates and describes a world. It is the story of a world that, like all things living, is born, develops, and then dies.' Kitchens, bedrooms, childhood memories, dreams and insomnia, reminiscences, and amnesia - these are part of the existential and acoustic spaces from which the voices of Tokarczuk's tale come, her 'boxes in boxes'."

Olka Tokarczuk received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2018 "for her narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life".

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 3 April 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

Due to current circumstances, a non-book quote:

"The virus is enhancing what is already inside each person:

* Jerks are turning into bigger jerks. 
* Compassionate people are becoming more compassionate.

You get to decide in this very difficult time who you really are. Hopefully, we all make the right decision." 

James Altucher

I truly agree. And I hope I can belong to the second group.

I will post more book quotes next week. In the meantime, you can find all the book quotes from the past here.

Thursday 2 April 2020

Book Bingo 2020

The 2020 Book Bingo Reading Challenge

I love book challenges and any kind of book lists. So, when the librarians at Canadian Bookworm posted this bingo, I decided I'll have to do that.

There are different ways to tackle this as explained on this page by Shinjini at Modern Gypsy:

Go for the full house, which means you commit to reading 25 books in 2020.
Pick your rows: Choose a few rows and commit to finishing those during the year.
You can choose two horizontal or two vertical rows, for example, which would mean a commitment to read 10 books during the year.
If you choose one horizontal and one vertical row of books, that gives you 9 books for the year.
Or choose a combination of horizontal, vertical and diagonal rows - choosing 3 rows means a commitment to reading 12-13 books in 2020.

As much as I would love to go for the full house, I have picked row 1 and 3 which means I want to read a book in each of the following categories:

Dystopian world
Stephenson, Neal "Anathem" - 2008
Found in translation
Giordano, Paolo "The Solitude of Prime Numbers" (La solitudine dei numeri primi) - 2008
A book from last year's TBR
Bryson, Bill "The Body. A Guide for Occupants" - 2019
About the woman
Rand, Ayn "We the Living" - 1936
Judged by the cover
Tung, Debbie "Book Love" - 2019
A book by an author from a country you want to visit
Undset, Sigrid "Kristin Lavransdatter" (Kristin Lavransdatter) - 1920-22
In support of indie publishers
Higham, John "360 Degrees Longitude" - 2009
Your choice
Owens, Delia "Where the Crawdads Sing" - 2018
A book by an author from your country
Gesthuysen, Anne "Mädelsabend" [Girls' Night] - 2018
A book where an artist is the protagonist.
Khorsandi, Shappi "A Beginner's Guide to Acting English" - 2009

I will add the books I read so far as soon as I have read and reviewed them but I'd be very happy about suggestions for some of those categories. Thanks.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Happy April!

Happy April to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch

"Hallo Hase"
"Hello Bunny"

It seems like ages ago since I wished everyone a happy March. And how different everything is today. 
To quote one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands: 
"It's the End of the World as We Know It".

* * *

I doubt we will see many April Fool's jokes this year. 
Mind you, I'm sure "The Onion" or its German equivalent "Der Postillon" can come up with something appropriate. 

* * *

We were lucky to see our eldest son shortly before the quarantines started and travel between the countries is more or less impossible. And as readers, we are prepared for this kind of situation, we can read as long as we like. 

* * * 

April is often the Easter month. But the Easter Bunny is not the animal of the year, that's the turtle dove. This highly endangered bird has been chosen because its population in Germany has gone down by 90% since 1980, that's only 40 years. And it's not been doing much better in other countries. The main reason is the dwindling of its natural habitat. 
Let's wish it helps that more people are made aware of it. 

* * *

Let's all try to have a happy April with this beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch. Stay safe!

* * * 

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