Friday 29 May 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"The world may be full of fourth-rate writers but it's also full of fourth-rate readers." Stan Barstow
I think every reader is first rate as long as they think about what they read.

"Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity." Herman Hesse
This is so true. I once read a book about women who grew up without any schooling (Ramlin Rose) and one of the most interesting parts of the story was how they coped with not being able to read and how their concept of time was so different from ours. We'll never know how much books actually do teach us.

"The best cinema in the world is the brain, and you know it when you read a good book." Ridley Scott
A great sentiment about reading by someone who has also made some wonderful movies.

Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Christie, Agatha "And then there were none"

Christie, Agatha "And then there were none" (formerly: Ten Little Niggers) - 1939

I love Agatha Christie. But I usually just watch her on the television as I don't read many crime stories.

This one was different. Our online book club decided to postpone the chosen books and read some instead that are available on the internet. So, one of the choices was "And then there were none". I remember watching it in a local theatre where I knew half of the amateur actors personally. I remember it was great but I didn't remember the ending. Weird, because that happens to me very rarely. However, it was also reported by others that they had forgotten, maybe another great twist by the author?

Anyway, as with the tv adaptations, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. There was a lot of suspense in it, the characters were well written and you started to really like them. I couldn't imagine any of them being the "bad guy" (or girl), they all seemed so nice and had a good reason for the deed they were accused of. Yes, all of them supposedly had killed someone and therefore were lured onto the island in order to be killed.

I think we all know the nursery rhyme after which the book was named at first (there even was a German version and probably more in other languages, sometimes with a different title/different characters):

"Ten little Soldier Boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Soldier Boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Soldier Boys travelling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Soldier Boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Soldier Boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Soldier Boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Soldier Boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Soldier Boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Soldier Boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Soldier Boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none."

Apparently, at first the soldier boys were not soldier boys (check here) but I think it is a good idea to have changed that. A lot of translations still use the old title which I think is totally unacceptable, especially in this day and age. (Should have been back then but we know how things were. Unfortunately.)

It was quite nice to read this story. As usual with Agatha Christie's books, the ending is totally surprising. There are crime stories where you can try to guess who the criminal is. Hardly ever with Agatha. I have always been annoyed when some detail turns up in the end that changes the whole story. One cannot possibly know that.

However, I have watched all the Miss Marple and Monsieur Poirot (and some other) stories on TV in the meantime and probably should read a few of her books. At least this one was very good. Great mystery.

In the discussion, the plot was talked about and all the ways how the reader was being read into the story, characters and their crimes, motivations, archetypes. There seem to be also quite a few movies and series adaptations of the story, the new BBC one apparently being very much harsher and cruel. I will have to check into that.

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

From the back cover:

"Ten strangers are invited to Soldier Island, an isolated rock off the Devon coast. Cut off from the mainland, with their generous host mysteriously absent, they are each accused of a terrible crime.
Then one of the party dies suddenly, and they realise there may be a murderer in their midst who might strike again…and again…

And all the time, copies of a macabre nursery rhyme hang in each room, a nursery rhyme with an omen of death for all ten of them."

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Opening Lines

"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 Opening Lines

"Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge."
Atwood, Margaret "The Blind Assassin" - 2000

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Austen, Jane "Pride & Prejudice" - 1813

"Long ago, when I was a junior high student in Iowa, I remember being taught by a biology teacher that all the chemicals that make up the human body could be bought at a hardware store for $5.00 or something like that."
Bryson, Bill "The Body. A Guide for Occupants" - 2019

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
Dickens, Charles "A Tale of Two Cities" - 1859

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
García Márquez, Gabriel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (Spanish: Cien años de soledad) - 1967

"They shoot the white girl first." (and I still have no idea who the white girl was)
Morrison, Toni "Paradise" - 1998

"It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen"
Orwell, George "Nineteen Eighty-Four" - 1949

"They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did."
Rhys, Jean "Wide Sargasso Sea" - 1966

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Tolstoy, Leo (Толстой, Лев Николаевич) "Anna Karenina" (Russian: Анна Каренина = Anna Karenina) - 1877

"I'm pretty much f*cked."
Weir, Andy "The Martian" - 2011

I am sure I could have gound a lot more but these were the first that came to mind. I'm sure most of them are pretty well known but maybe some are new to some of you.

Friday 22 May 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"A town with more drinking joints than reading joints has a problem reading can solve." Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
I totally agree with that. If people read more, they might need less alcohol.

"You know, there are people who love their country by torturing them. I love my country by criticizing my state." Orhan Pamuk
This is certainly the best way to work toward a better future. One of the many reasons why I love this author.

"As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air." Maggie Stiefvater, "Shiver"
This is just pure poetry. I can imagine exactly what it looks like and I like it.

"I've traveled the world twice over,
Met the famous; saints and sinners,

Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I've been where no-one's been before,
Learned secrets from writers and cooks
All with one library ticket
To the wonderful world of books." N.N.
My sentiments exactly.

[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.

Wednesday 20 May 2020

H., A. "My Struggle"

H., A. "My Struggle" (Notes by some megalomanic who thought he could rule the world) - 1925/26

I am not going to mention the name of the author or the original (German) title of this book, you will certainly guess who I am talking about and can see it from the cover of the book and from the goodreads page where you get when you click on the book. I don't want to make it too easy to find this post for the new fans of him and his ways. And I will delete any comments of those so inclined.

As mentioned on the book cover, he was described as a madman, a tyrant, the devil incarnate, any evil word you can imagine. And none of them is bad enough.

This was certainly one of the worst books I ever read, both in the way it was written and in the content. Even though it is supposedly an autobiography, it is more a propaganda and combat pamphlet and full of conspiracy theories. It was meant as a counter-proposal to Marxism.

I read these rantings because my grandfather had read the book before the war and then warned everyone not to vote for the guy. His words had been "He only wants war". From then on, my grandfather was known as "the communist" and had to go into hiding during some time of the war. That, and because he helped some Jews.

I always wanted to read the book but it was not for sale in Germany for a long, long time. I had foreign friends who read it but they read translations, of course. I always prefer to read the original, especially in such an important case. So, when a friend said she "inherited" it from her in-laws, I took it as a sign that I should read it now. Also, with so many people resurrecting his idea nowadays, I thought it was a good idea to get further into the subject. I knew I would never change my mind about him and anyone who has similar ideas. I am more inclined to the other side.

Winston Churchill had said that Allied politicians and the military should have studied this book very carefully. He was right, of course. If my grandfather with his 8 years of general school understood what was behind it, the learned men certainly would have. In 1945, it was shown in the news that an American soldier puts the lead set of this book into the fire in a symbolic act. Probably should have left it there.

This book is just racist. I was expecting that. But if someone honestly believes that there are people who are worth more because they are born with a certain colour of their skin or a certain religion or whatever and even thinks that is a scientific fact, you can only call him stupid.

Unfortunately, he wasn't that stupid. He knew exactly what he was planning and what he was doing. Apparently, he was a good speaker though all I can ever see or hear from him are rantings, ramblings, shoutings, blustering, fulminations (almost as a certain president of our time). And him being "always right".

I always thought it was funny how he was such a fan of the "Arian race" tall and with their blond hair and blue eyes. He was everything but. Also, he was so keen on the German people. He wasn't even German, he was Austrian.

I was always curious to find out why people would have fascist ideas, why they would have racist thoughts. Maybe the biggest racist of them all could at least shine some light on it and we'd find a way to convince the new generation who has got some big racists amongst them that they are wrong. Of course, I didn't expect to find a solution in this book and there was none.

My father used to tell me that whoever was one of the lowest workers in his village all of a sudden was a member of the party in some of the highest positions. I think that explains a lot.

I see young people nowadays who claim that foreigners take up their jobs. This is exactly what people were saying in Germany in the twenties and thirties. The extremists take advantage of any situation and always blame someone else, foreigners, other religions (Jews then, Muslims now), whatever. It's never them, it's always the others.

Oh, and one last remark. If you do intend to read this book, don't expect high literature. It is really, really badly written. I had to look a long time for a neutral book cover without the picture of the author or the emblem of his party because, as I said above, I don't want to "promote" this book or anything that stands with it. As said on the cover, this is "... a glimpse into the mind of a man who destabilized world peace and pursued the genocide now known as the Holocaust." True. Let's not ever allow anything like this happen again.

From the back cover:

"Madman, tyrant, animal - history has given A.H. many names. 

In M.K. (My Struggle), often called the N. bible, H. describes his life, frustrations, ideals, and dreams. Born to an impoverished couple in a small town in Austria, the young A. grew up with the fervent desire to become a painter. The death of his parents and outright rejection from art schools in Vienna forced him into underpaid work as a laborer. 

During the First World War, H. served in the infantry and was decorated for bravery. After the war, he became actively involved with socialist political groups and quickly rose to power, establishing himself as Chairman of the National Socialist German Worker's party.

In 1924, H. led a coalition of nationalist groups in a bid to overthrow the Bavarian government in Munich. The infamous Munich "Beer-hall putsch" was unsuccessful, and H. was arrested. During the nine months he was in prison, an embittered and frustrated H. dictated a personal manifesto to his loyal follower Rudolph Hess. 

He vented his sentiments against communism and the Jewish people in this document, which was to become M.K., the controversial book that is seen as the blue-print for H.'s political and military campaign. In M.K., H. describes his strategy for rebuilding Germany and conquering Europe. 

It is a glimpse into the mind of a man who destabilized world peace and pursued the genocide now known as the Holocaust."

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Reasons Why I Love Reading Nobel Prize Winners

"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 Reasons Why I Love Reading Nobel Prize Winners

Every year, I wait for the Thursday (it mostly is the Thursday) where they announce the Nobel Prize Winner in Literature. Every year, I try to read at least one book by that author and at least another new one who received the Nobel Prize in a past year.

Here are my reasons why I love reading Nobel Prize Winnters: 

1.    According to Alfred Nobel, this prize is awarded to an author, from a country, who has 'in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction'. What better way of finding a good book?

2.    I have already found a lot of favourite authors that way. And authors that I might never have heard of.

3.    Some of my favourite books were awarded the Nobel Prize.

4.    The authors sometimes come from some obscure countries that a re worth reading about but usually never mentioned.

5.    I find many books from different languages that way, as well.

6.    A lot of the authors have had ideas that changed or hopefully will change the world.

7.    The books are mostly quite challenging.

8.    There is no better way to travel the world.

9.    There are often some very good female authors among the laureates.

10.    I have learned so much from them.

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

Monday 18 May 2020

Yaourter, Mondegreen, Lorem Ipsum and Pangrams

While watching an episode of the fabulous Maigret series with Rowan Atkinson, I tried to decipher the text in the theme song. Even though I speak French and can usually understand French songs, I had trouble deciphering this one. I found out that the song is not French at all, just sounds like it, as if someone who doesn't speak French, thinks he understands the words and repeats them like that.

The French have a word for it "yaourter" (to yoghurt). There is also an English word for that, usually when someone misinterprets a word in their own language. The English word is "mondegreen" and comes from the misunderstanding of the line from "The Bonnie Earl o’ Moray":
"They ha’e slain the Earl o’ Moray / And laid him on the green." which is made into "They ha’e slain the Earl o’ Moray / And Lady Mondegreen."

There is also a Japanese word that is used for the homophonic translation of songs, Soramimi.

Anyway, I thought this was so interesting that I wanted to know more.

In the meantime, there is a hypothesis about what the text could mean.

La-bas le chat est sur le toit
Le chien chasse dans la rue
L'oiseau, il vole dans le ciel
Et moi vois tout la tout
Mais toujours
La-bas toujours
Quelqu'un regarde moi
La-bas toujours
Quelqu'un regarde vous

Which means in English more or less:
There the cat is on the roof,
the dog chases in the street.
The bird, it flies in the sky
And I see it all
But always
Down there always
someone looks at me
down there always
someone looks at you.

Mind you, I listened to the song again after I found the "lyrics". I don't know what accent that person is supposed to be speaking. I have talked to French people from the South of France to the South of Belgium plus Candians and Swiss from the different French speaking regions, I never heard anyone like this. 😉

While researching, I found another interesting word that I hadn't heard about but it goes with this subject: greeking.

Lorem ipsum vim ut utroque mandamus intellegebat, ut eam omittam ancillae sadipscing, per et eius soluta veritus.

Looks Latin, right? But it doesn't mean anything. Well, my Latin isn't good enough to judge whether there are roots in it that can be interpreted, as some people claim.

Publishers and graphic designers use it when they design text blocks, so they don't have to put any specif text there but can see what it looks like with a text. Also, you don't get tempted to actually read and understand the text and can concentrate on the layout.

I always thought they might use sentences like "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog", a pangram, or sentence that contains all the letters of the alphabet. We used it when learning to type (on the typewriter) and later on when trying out whether a typewriter did actually function alright and no letter was "hanging". Nowadays, people use it to compare fonts.

Friday 15 May 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library and it's better than college. People should educate themselves - you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years I had read every book in the library and I'd written a thousand stories." Ray Bradbury
Whilst I haven't written a thousand stories, I totally agree that you can get a good education if you read whatever comes across your way. Being a member in a book club that really wants to read diverse literature is just as good as reading every book in a library. I learned so much from my fellow readers and the books we shared.

"Someday I hope to write a book where the royalties will pay for the copies I give away." Clarence Darrow
From what I understand, he must have managed in the end. But it's also nice to read something by people who don't get paid for it.

"Only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers." Steven Spielberg
… and a generation of teachers, scientists, philosophers, inventors, explorers, filmmakers, ….

"My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine - everybody drinks water." Mark Twain
Even though I don't drink alcohol, I believe we sometimes need something else than just water.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 14 May 2020

Thomson, Mike "Syria's Secret Library"

Thomson, Mike "Syria's Secret Library: The true story of how a besieged Syrian town found hope" - 2018

What an inspiring story, a monument of hope and love, a document of man's strength.

In the midst of one of the worst civil wars probably in history, some young men don't just think about themselves, how to survive, how to get food. No, they build a library in order to feed their souls and learn for the future "when all this is over". They are an inspiration to us all. The city was bombed, people were killed, nobody knew what happened to their loved ones. But the young guys collected books from the destroyed houses and made them available to everyone who wanted to get an education, who wanted to read.

I hope that all the people mentioned are still alive and haven't been killed wherever they are now. I would love to see a page by Mike Thomson where he gives us an update from time to time. I know he has tried to stay in touch with the young people and I think, most of us who have read the book, are just as interested in them as he is.

If this book shows us something, we really need books, in times of danger as well as in normal times. I hope future generation will learn from this and enjoy reading as much as I did and do, as I passed on to my children when they were little, a s a lot of my friends and family do.

A lot of books were mentioned, these are the ones whose titles I gathered. It gives us an idea that they read about everything.

Adonis = Ali Ahmad Said Esber "A Time Between Ashes and Roses
Abu Zahra, Muhammad "History of Religions"
Alhaj, Faisal bin Mohamad "The Tears of Men"
Al-Jisr, Nadim "A Marxist Interpretation of Islam"
Al-Jisr, Nadim "An Introduction to Islam"
Al-Jisr, Nadim "The Story of Faith"
Al-Masri, Maram "El va nue la Liberté"
Al-Nasr, Ahlam "The Blaze of Truth"
Al-Siba'i "This is What Life Taught Me"
Christie, Agatha "The Body in the Library"
Coelho, Paulo "The Alchemist"
Draz, Dr. Abdallah "Religion"
Giovanni, Janine di "The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria"
Mansour, Ahmed "Under Fire in Afghanistan"
Qotob Abou, Muhammad " How to Reach Out to People"
Shakespeare, William "Hamlet"

Books where the author wasn't mentioned and I couldn't find them on the internet, probably not available as a translation.
"Historical Men"
"Mountains of Hope" written by a man from Daraya


"I think books are like rain. Wherever rain falls things grow. So hopefully where our books land, the person who reads them will gain knowledge, and his or her mind will grow." Anas Habib

"As I remember saying to you back in Daraya, just like the body needs food the soul needs books." Anas Habib

"We had a place of sanctuary, an oasis of calm and harmony in what seemed like a world gone mad. … It was another world, a world we shared together. And while outside was destruction and pain, inside was creation and hope. Despite all that was happening, I felt inspired inside those walls." Anas Habib

"The library gave birth to a movement of knowledge and learning, and enabled us to explore new things. It was also our sanctuary, and our minaret. It guided us through all the horrors, lit the path we should take and inspired us to carry on. It taught us that a fighter without knowledge is not a hero, but a gangster. The library's many books were fuel for our souls. They gave us back our lives. While bombs rained down from the skies, we discussed new ideas, learned from the past and planned for the future. The library united us all. It was an essential part of Daraya, and what it stood for. Looking back, the secret library was not only our saviour, it was our biggest weapon against the regime." Abdul Basit

"The secret library was filled with the wonderful aroma of old books and paper. It smelt of history, literature, philosophy, and culture. It was a deep, rich, comforting smell. It was like when you walk in the door of your home and are guided to the kitchen by the smell of fine food. That special dish, and all its delicious ingredients, are waiting there for you. To me, the library was like that. It gave us a precious space where we could breathe hope instead of despair. It liberated us from suffered and savagery. Inside its walls the love of science, literature and ideas filled the air. This symphony of books soothed our hearts. As we entered, its aura revived us, like fresh air to a suffocating man. It was the oxygen for our souls. It was a place where angels met. Each time I stepped inside, I flew with them." Abdul Basit

From the back cover:

"Daraya lies on the fringe of Damascus, just south west of the Syrian Capital. Yet it lives in another world. Besieged by Syrian government forces since 2011, its people were deprived of food, bombarded by bombs and missiles, and shot at by snipers. Its buildings lay in ruins; office buildings, shops and family homes shattered by the constant shelling from government forces. But deep beneath this scene of frightening devastation lay a secret library. 

No signs marked its presence. While the streets above echoed with rifle fire and shelling, the secret world below was a haven of peace and tranquillity. Books, long rows of them, lined almost every wall. Bloated volumes with grand leather covers. Tattered old tomes with barely readable spines. Pocket sized guides to Syrian poetry. Religious works with gaudy gold-lettering and no-nonsense reference books, all arranged in well-ordered lines. But this precious horde of books was not bought from publishers, book warehouses, or loaned by other libraries. Many people had risked their lives to save books from the devastation of war. Because to them, the secret library was a symbol of hope - of their determination to lead a meaningful existence and to rebuild their fractured society. 

This is the story of an extraordinary place and the people who made it happen. It is also a book about human resilience and values. And through it all is threaded the very wonderful, universal love for books and the hope they can bring.
'Just like the body needs food the soul needs books.' Anas Habib"

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books I Abandoned

"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.

The Last Ten Books I Abandoned 

I hardly ever abandon a book. That's probably because I have a wide range of books I like and don't really touch those I'm not interested in (chick lit, fantasy, science fiction …).

So, I've decided to list the books I would not have finished (probably never even started), if they hadn't been a book club read. I disliked most of them from the beginning but persisted because I always want to be ready for our next discussion. Have I learned anything from those books? Probably not, just that I wouldn't read those authors again. And that is also the main reason I didn't like them. There was nothing to draw from, no education and also no pleasure.

If you compare this list to the one of the books we read, there are really very few that I didn't like.

I still found 11 books but couldn't really exclude one from that list.

Berg, Elizabeth "Open House" - 2000
Fuller, Alexandra "Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight" - 2002
Gruen, Sara "Water for Elephants" - 2006
Ishiguro, Kazuo "When We Were Orphans" - 2000
Kladstrup, Donald & Petie "Wine and War" - 2001
Krasnow, Iris "The Surrendering to Motherhood: Losing Your Mind, Finding Your Soul" - 1997
McEwan, Ian "Atonement" - 2001
Niffenegger, Audrey "The Time Traveler’s Wife" - 2003
Pearson, Allison "I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother" (Working Mum) - 2002
Picoult, Jodi "My Sister’s Keeper" - 2004
Wisner, Franz "How the World Makes Love: And What It Taught a Jilted Groom" - 2009

Monday 11 May 2020

The Stay Home Reading Tag

She's done it again. Lectrice-Vorace has a great tag for anyone who loves reading and had to stay at home at the moment: The Stay Home Reading Tag.

How is your reading going while staying home?

Not as good as I would have expected, I can't concentrate too long on a story. Might have to do with hubby being around and not having anything to do, either.

Where have you been reading at home?

Where I've always been reading, sofa, bed, but lately also outside on our new patio furniture.

Best book you’ve read during isolation?

Rand, Ayn "We the Living" - 1936

What’s your favourite feel good book?

Anything by Mary Scott

Book you wish you could buy or borrow from the library?

I have it but I would love for everyone else to be able to read. But it's out of print, not translated and I haven't seen a library where you can borrow it.

Author you want to shout out during this time?
Orhan Pamuk


Friday 8 May 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher." Flannery O’Connor
True, but if people wouldn't like it, it wouldn't be a bestseller. So, maybe they are good for something.

"My job is not to explain the Turks to the Europeans and the Europeans to the Turks, but to write good books." Orhan Pamuk
One of my favourite authors. Even though he doesn't think that's his job, he fulfils it pretty well. 

"Literature is Freedom." Susan Sontag
Amen to that.

"I just got out of the hospital. I was in a speed-reading accident. I hit a book mark and flew across the room." Steven Wright

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 7 May 2020

Mayle, Peter "A Year in Provence"

Mayle, Peter "A Year in Provence" - 1989

I have read several books of people who left their country (mainly England) in order to settle elsewhere (mainly Southern Europe, France, Spain, Italy).

My favourites there: The Olive Series by Carol Drinkwater and "Driving Over Lemons" by Chris Stewart.

But I had also read some not so good ones and over time, they get a little repetitive. But a friend told me she had read all of Peter Mayle's books about his settling in Provence and they were hilarious, so I decided I'll give it a try.

I liked that book but not as much as the ones mentioned above. The author has a nice sense of humour, his stories about his French neighbours, the handymen, the food, everything is quite interesting. If you like this type of book, read it. He has written more about his life in Provence but, as I've already read so many, I won't accompany him and his wife on their journey.

From the back cover:

"Peter Mayle and his wife did what most of us only imagine doing when they made their long-cherished dream of a life abroad a reality: throwing caution to the wind, they bought a glorious two hundred year-old farmhouse in the Lubéron Valley and began a new life.

In a year that begins with a marathon lunch and continues with a host of gastronomic delights, they also survive the unexpected and often hilarious curiosities of rural life. From mastering the local accent and enduring invasion by bumbling builders, to discovering the finer points of boules and goat-racing, all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life are conjured up in this enchanting portrait."

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Things I’d Have at My Bookish Party

"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.

Things I’d Have at My Bookish Party 
(choose 10 things: items, accessories, foods, people (real or fictional), decorations, activities, etc.)

I have never had a themed party, even my kids only had one or two when they were little. We just enjoy having friends over to talk, eat, play games etc. We don't have to dress up in order to have fun.
  1. I guess, the main thing I would have is books. That's easy because my house is full of books, you won't find a room without books.
  2. Ask people to bring a wrapped book they no longer want and exchange them at the end.
  3. Years ago, I bought an aluminiun book cake pan in order to make cakes in the form of a book. I've used it several times for weddings, first communions, confirmations etc. So, definitely a cake like that.
  4. I have a stamp that looks like a library card, so I'd use that for place cards.
  5. Then there'd be games, I suppose. One I can think of is "Guess who you are". You get the name of an author (or a book) on your back, everyone can read it except you. With asking questions that can only be answered with "yes" or "no", you have to guess your identity.
  6. Play a game where everyone writes a sentence without seeing the ones before theirs. Read out as a story in the end.
  7. Install a photo booth where people can dress up as their favourite character and take selfies with themselves and their dressed-up friends. Would be nice if Charles Dickens and Jane Austen met, for example.
  8. For any writing purposes, have pencils with book themes.
  9. Have a table for people to make their own bookmark.
  10. Make an album about the party. Use the selfies made by people in the booth. Let them draw and write something about their favourite books or whatever else they might want to add.
The second idea I had to this subject:

Top Ten Authors I’d Have At My Bookish Party.

But what's even more important is the people you invite to your party. In real life, I'd invite all my bookworm friends. But this is fantasy, so I try to think about the authors I would love to have at my book party. First, those that I can't invite because, sadly, they are not with us any longer:
  1. Austen, Jane
  2. Buck, Pearl S.
  3. Dickens, Charles
  4. Dostoevsky, Fyodor
  5. Eliot, George
  6. Ephron, Nora
  7. Grass, Günter
  8. Mahfouz, Naguib
  9. Mann, Thomas
  10. Scott, Mary
But then there are some that I'd love to invite that are still around. Wouldn’t it be fantastic, if they attended?
  1. Bryson, Bill
  2. Follett, Ken
  3. Frazier, Charles
  4. Kingsolver, Barbara
  5. Lawson, Mary
  6. Oates, Joyce Carol
  7. Pamuk, Orhan
  8. Ruiz Zafón, Carlos
  9. Schami, Rafik
  10. Weir, Alison 
And, last but not least:
Top Ten Fictional Characters I’d Have At My Bookish Party.
  1. Jo March from "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott
  2. Offred from "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
  3. Anne Elliot from "Persuasion" by Jane Austen
  4. David Copperfield from "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens
  5. Dorothea Brooke from "Middlemarch" by George Eliot
  6. Peter Halifax from "The Children's War" by J.N. Stroyar
  7. Christian Hoffmann from "The Tower" (Der Turm) by Uwe Tellkamp
  8. Natasha Rostova from "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy
  9. Eleanor Harding from "Barchester Chronicles" by Anthony Trollope
  10. Regina Redlich from "Nowhere in Africa" (Nirgendwo in Afrika) by Stefanie Zweig
Granted, many women but these are some of my favourite characters.

Monday 4 May 2020

Adjective Order in the English Language

I haven't read the book "The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase" by Mark Forsyth but maybe I should.

I happened upon this quote from his book that is interesting to any non-native speaker of English but probably also to any native speaker who wants to know more about their language.

Anyway, the quote is:

"Adjectives, absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So, you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that order in the slightest, you’ll sound like a maniac."

Of course, I've looked it up elsewhere and found some more information, so "Google is my best friend" … and they gave me the following list:

Generally, the adjective order in English is:
•    Quantity or number.
•    Quality or opinion.
•    Size.
•    Age.
•    Shape.
•    Colour.
•    Proper adjective (often nationality, other place of origin, or material)
•    Purpose or qualifier.

• Initially
• At first
• To start with
• First of all
• Firstly
• To begin with
• In the beginning

• Secondly
• thirdly
• later
• then
• afterwards
• at this point
• meanwhile
• next
• after that
• subsequently
• later on
• during this time

• Finally
• Eventually
• In time
• In the end
• Ultimately
• Lastly

You can never stop learning a language, even your own, and I know that most readers are also interested in language, so I thought more people might be interested in this.

Apparently, the British Council disagrees but I think we all need some sort of guidance when learning a foreign language, so I say, stick to one or the other, most native speakers won't notice anyway. 😉

Friday 1 May 2020

Happy May!

Happy May to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch

"Frühling an der Ahrenshooper Mühle"
"Spring at the Mill in Ahrenshoop"

Corona keeps us from going to many places, so it's a good thing we have the internet. And art. Isn't this a beautiful windmill? Since I grew up in Northern Germany, there were always a couple of windmills in the area and I love them as much as I love lighthouses, my two favourite buildings. Therefore, I'm happy that I can see this windmill for the rest of the month.

April was a slow month but we had lovely weather so we could go and explore the area. I even found a bookshelf that I didn't know of before where you can bring the books you no longer want and find some new ones if you like.

* * *

I have started to incorporate animals and towns of the year in my monthly greetings. This month, I was going to talk about the European Capitals of Culture 2020 this time: Galway, Rijeka. While I've been to the first one, Galway in North-western Ireland (beautiful town), I have never even been to Croatia (Rijeka). I doubt I would have visited those countries this year but it's always nice to dream. Out of the 40 designated cities I have only visited 14 so far but I do love visiting places for their culture.

Galway is known as Ireland's Cultural Heart. It already hosts the Tulca Festival of Visual Arts and several other festivals. Rijeka as the "Port of Diversity" had planned more than 600 events.

Of course, they all had to cancel most of their plans. So, go and visit their websites (links under the names of the towns above). They do show you a lot about their cities, another way to travel there. There is also a European website about the culture capitals in general here.

* * *

While we all would like life to get back to normal as quickly as possible, nature doesn't seem to have that same desire. The air and many rivers are a lot cleaner; animals return to places where they haven't been seen for a long time (like dolphins in the Marmara Sea). So, maybe it's not so bad that we can't travel. Mind you, I wouldn't mind having to go shopping under the present conditions. You wait until there is space in front of a shelf and as soon as you're there picking your groceries someone else comes along and almost touches you. I try to shop as seldom as possible and I know that's not good for the economy but it's better for my health.

* * *

Have a happy May with this beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch. Stay safe!

* * *

You can find many more wonderful pictures on their website here

You can also have a look under my labels Artist: Frank Koebsch and Artist: Hanka Koebsch where you can find all my posts about them.