Monday 31 August 2020

Baum, L. Frank "The Wizard of Oz"

Baum, L. Frank "The Wizard of Oz" - 1900

I know everybody loves "The Wizard of Oz" but it was never my favourite. I like the music, some of the songs are beautiful but I was never touched by the story.

I think I found this book on one of the swap book shelves and that's where it's going back to, as well.

I still was not keen on reading it but I had put it on my classics spin list and its number was selected.

With some films, the writing is so much better and you wonder why you waited for so long. Not so much with this one. I just couldn't warm to the story. It didn't catch my interest. Would I have liked it as a kid if I hadn't seen the film before? I doubt it. Sorry, Mr. L. Frank Baum but your writing is not for me. And I surely hope that there "is no place like Oz".

From the back cover:

"Dorothy's life is turned upside down when a tornado whisks her and her dog, Toto, from Kansas to the magical land of Oz. To get back home, she must follow a yellow brick road to find the Wizard in the Emerald City.

But the Wicked Witch of the West lies in wait. Will Dorothy ever find her way home?

Friday 28 August 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"There is no pleasure so cheap, so innocent, and so remunerative as the real, hearty pleasure and taste for reading." Robert Lowe
So true. We can borrow books from the library, anyone can do that without paying a penny.

"I cringe when critics say I'm a master of the popular novel. What's an unpopular novel?" Irwin Shaw
I guess one that nobody wants to read but I do agree, someone always likes a novel.

"The buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching toward infinity ..." A. Edward Newton
This is speaking from my heart. I must be the champion of soul searching. 😉
Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 27 August 2020

Wodehouse, P.G. "The Code of the Woosters"

Wodehouse, P.G. "The Code of the Woosters" (Jeeves #7) - 1938

After reading my very first book by this brilliant author ("Right Ho, Jeeves"), I watched all the Fry and Laurie episodes and enjoyed them tremendously. Now it was time for another one and I found "The Code of the Woosters" in a bookshop.

The book has most of the favourite characters in it, Jeeves and Wooster, of course, Aunt Dahlia, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Madeline Bassett and her father, Roderick Spode and a few others. I only missed Bertie's dear friend Tuppy Glossop but I know he'll show up in one of the next books again.

As usual, Wooster jumps from one puddle into the other or finds himself in one pickle after the next and his "gentleman's gentleman" Jeeves has to pull him out again. Just hilarious.

P.G. Wodehouse at his best.

From the back cover:

"Aunt Dahlia has tasked Bertie with purloining an antique cow creamer from Totleigh Towers. In order to do so, Jeeves hatches a scheme whereby Bertie must charm the droopy and altogether unappealing Madeline and face the wrath of would-be dictator Roderick Spode. Though the prospect fills him with dread, when duty calls, Bertie will answer, for Aunt Dahlia will not be denied.

In a plot that swiftly becomes rife with mishaps, it is Jeeves who must extract his master from trouble.

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Questions I Would Ask My Favorite Authors

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

It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

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

Questions I Would Ask My Favorite Authors 
(Living or dead. We can post 10 questions for one author, one question each for 10 different authors, or anything else!)

My first question to some of my favourite living authors would be: 
When are you going to write your next book? 
Then I would love to ask them everything about their books, the background of their books, their lives etc.

I had already announced which are my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2020 and I would definitely keep asking those authors about their next book, especially Ken Follett, Mary Lawson, Joyce Carol Oates and Orhan Pamuk.

And then I'd add:
Bill Bryson, Ildefonso Faclones, Charles Frazier, Amitav Ghosh, David Guterson, Victoria Hislop, Barbara Kingsolver, and Alice Walker.

And then there are some dead authors I'd love to talk to, ask them everything about their books and their lives.
And here are my questions that I would like to ask any or all of those authors:
1. Who is your favourite author? If you are dead, which one would be your favourite author today?
2. What are your favourite books?
3. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
4. What is your favorite childhood book?
5. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
6. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
7. What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
8. How do you come up with the titles to your books?
9. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
10. Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.

Monday 24 August 2020

Hawking, Stephen "A Brief History of Time"

Hawking, Stephen "A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes" - 1988

This was one of the most difficult books for me that I ever read. I've been meaning to read it for ages but never really was ready for it. I'm not sure whether I ever will be but I managed to read it. And I did even understand part of it. I'm not a scientist. I'm one of those people who could have been going through school happily without even a single science lesson. Instead, I lived in a country where you have to take biology, physics and chemistry all through middle school (grade 5 to 10) and high school (grade 11-13). Nowadays, you can opt for just one of them in high school but then take two foreign languages. Which both my boys did and I would have done had I had that chance.

It was interesting to read especially about black holes and all the planets. I might have been more interested in astronomy in school.

Anyway, I read somewhere that this book can make you feel more stupid and more educated at the same time. I was trying to find the person who said that but can't. If you know (or are) the one, please, let me know. Because - I agree wholeheartedly.

All in all, I'm happy to have finished the book even though it was a really hard one. And it taught me one thing. I'll never be a scientist.

From the back cover:

"Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in the internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world's greatest thinkers. It begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at the heart of space and time - from the Big Bang to black holes, via spiral galaxies and string theory. To this day A Brief History of Time remains a staple of the scientific canon, and its succinct and clear language continues to introduce millions to the universe and its wonders.

Since its first publication in 1988, and its last revision in 1996, there have been some remarkable new discoveries in physics. This new edition includes updates from Stephen Hawking with his latest thoughts about the No Boundary Proposal and offers new information about dark energy, the information paradox, eternal inflation, the microwave background radiation observations, and the discovery of gravitational waves.

Friday 21 August 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned." Saul Bellow
Too late for me.

"Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen." Orhan Pamuk, "My Name Is Red"
The same goes for books.

"All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you." Diane Setterfield, "The Thirteenth Tale"
Happens to me all the time.

"A library is a hospital for the mind." N.N.
So true, it can cure you from so many ailments.
[If anyone can tell me the originator of this quote, I'd be very thankful and would happily include the name.]
Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 20 August 2020

Orth, Stephan "Couchsurfing in Russia"

Orth, Stephan "Couchsurfing in Russia: Friendships and Misadventures Behind Putin’s Curtain" (German: Couchsurfing in Russland. Wie ich fast zum Putin-Versteher wurde) - 2017

I have read two books by Stephan Orth (so far) and this was the first one of those that has been translated.
Initially, for my list, I had translated the title from German into English: "Couchsurfing in Russia. How I almost started to understand Putin".
But, the publishers have decided to give it another title: "Behind Putin's Curtain: Friendships and Misadventures Inside Russia". In the meantime, the author regrets having chosen that original German subtitle because he fears it might lead to misunderstandings.

The author did what thousands of young people do every year (or used to before Covid put a stop to almost anything), he traveled the world through CouchSurfing. It gives people the opportunity to stay at other private homes and get to know the people in the country a lot better than if they went to a hotel. And, of course, it's a lot cheaper. The host also gets his reward, he can learn about other countries without having to travel. I have known this concept since the 1970s when I started to learn Esperanto. We call it Pasporta Servo (Passport Service). I've been hosting many people from different countries that way. It's always a lot of fun.

Anyway, Stephan Orth travels through countries where it isn't easy to travel alone and/or privately, usually both. In this book, he went through Russia, but he's also been to China and Iran.
"Couchsurfing im Iran: Meine Reise hinter verschlossenen Türen" (Couchsurfing in Iran: Revealing a Hidden World/Couchsurfing in Iran: My journey behind closed doors) - 2015
"Couchsurfing in China. Durch die Wohnzimmer der neuen Supermacht" (Couchsurfing in China. Through the living rooms of the new super power) - 2019

This is a brilliant book. It's not the usual travel book where someone lists all the attractions a country can offer. No, it does a lot more, it shows us how ordinary people live in these countries, how they study, earn their money, live. We get to know their lives and their customs. He doesn't just visit the big cities that everyone talks about, he goes to the "outbacks", he visits unusual sites that are still very interesting, even if (or maybe because) they don't attract millions of people.

He has a great writing style. Humorous, witty, informative. It's lovely to follow him around the country in his investigative and unprejudiced way and thereby learning more about this big country than in many history or political books.

From the back cover:

"'In the late summer of 2016,’ writes award-winning travel writer Stephan Orth, ‘a journey to Russia feels like visiting enemy territory. In this humorous and thought-provoking book, Orth ventures through that vast and mysterious territory to uncover the real, unfiltered Russia not seen in today’s headlines: authentic, bizarre, dangerous, and beautiful. Sidestepping the well-trod tourist path, he travels the country from Moscow to Vladivostok - across seven time zones and almost 9,500 kilometres i making stops in Chechnya, Saint Petersburg, Siberia, and beyond. Staying with an eclectic array of hosts, he bumps into gun nuts, internet conspiracy theorists, faux shamans, and Putin fans; learns to drive in death-defying Russian style; and discovers how to cure hangovers by sniffing rye bread. But he also sees a darker side of the country, witnessing firsthand the effects of Putin’s influence in the run-up to the 2016 American election and the power of propaganda in this ‘post-fact’ era. Weaving everything together with thoughtfulness and warmth, Orth follows the acclaimed Couchsurfing in Iran with another complex, funny, and personal travelogue - a colourful portrait of a fascinating and misunderstood country."

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Gorky, Maxim "Mother"

Gorky, Maxim (Максима Горького) "Mother" (Russian: Мать/Matj) - 1906/07

I love Russian literature. Their style is quite unique. This book makes no difference. The author was not only active in the emerging Marxist communist movement, he founded this style, the socialist realism literary method. We meet Pelageya who is abused by her husband. After his death, her son Pavel starts fighting the Tsarist regime. His mother is at first hesitant and fearful, but then she supports the young people because she realizes that things cannot go on like this. She "adopts" all her son's friend and is a second mother to them, sometimes more a mother than their own one.

We learn how hard life is in a village in Russia at the turn into the 20th century and how difficult it is for the ordinary man to feed his family. They had nothing, not even hope that under this government anything would ever get better for them. I don't know what many of us would do in those circumstances nowadays.

The book is mainly about the revolutionists, the underground résistance and why they fought their tsars. We can all imagine but this puts it on paper for all to follow. It's also about the love of her mother to her son and how far she would go in supporting and defending him.

A great book.

Apparently, he was nominated five times for the Nobel Prize for Literature. What a shame he never received it. Would have been well deserved it.

From the back cover:

"Maksim Gorky was a Soviet author and founder of the socialist realism literary method. He was also a political activist who spent several lengthy stays in Capri and Italy. Gorky traveled throughout his native land and at one point became friends with Lenin. His travels overwhelmed him with the vastness and beauty of his country and they also made him sharply aware of the ignorance and poverty of its people. This novel tells the story of the common proletariat who protested against the czar and the capitalists which eventually led to the October Revolution. Pelageya is the wife of a factory worker who ignores the political upheaval in her country in favor of caring for her personal life. She represents hundreds of workers who are concerned with living their lives. Her son Pavel takes a different path and joins the revolution inspiring many Russians who were living under a capitalistic society in Russia. Gorky saw the 'mother country' as supporting her children as they fought for their rights.

Every day the factory whistle bellowed forth its shrill, roaring, trembling noises into the smoke-begrimed and greasy atmosphere of the workingmen's suburb; and obedient to the summons of the power of steam, people poured out of little gray houses into the street. With somber faces they hastened forward like frightened roaches, their muscles stiff from insufficient sleep. In the chill morning twilight they walked through the narrow, unpaved street to the tall stone cage that waited for them with cold assurance, illumining their muddy road with scores of greasy, yellow, square eyes."

Tuesday 18 August 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books that Should be Adapted into Netflix Shows/Movies

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

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 that Should be Adapted into Netflix Shows/Movies

I have a rather ambiguous relationship to book adaptations but I read a book lately where I thought that they will certainly make it into a movie.

That was:
Owens, Delia "Where the Crawdads Sing" - 2018

Another one that I hope they would make something of - because then they might finally reprint the book:
Stroyar, J.N. "The Children's War" and "A Change of Regime" - 2001/2004

Then there are some of my favourite classic authors. I never get tired of watching (new and old) adaptations:
Austen, Jane
The Brontë sisters
Collins, Wilkie
Dickens, Charles
Dostoevsky, Fyodor
Eliot, George
Mann, Thomas
Tolstoy, Leo
Trollope, Anthony "Barchester Chronicles"
Wilde, Oscar

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Nobel Peace Prize

Image by Florian Pircher from Pixabay

For a couple of years now, I have read and listed the Nobel Prize Winners for Literature and their books. But there are other Nobel Prize Winners who have written interesting books, as well. Especially those with a Peace Prize. I have read a few though definitely not enough. So, I will list them here and hopefully get to know some more:

Narges Mohammadi, Iran, 2023
Ales Bialiatski, Belarus; Memorial, Russia; Centre for Civil Liberties, Ukraine, 2022
Maria Ressa, Philippines and Dmitri Andrejewitsch Muratow, Russia, 2021
World Food Programme, 2020
Abiy Ahmed Ali, Ethiopia, 2019
Denis Mukwege, DR of the Congo and Nadia Murad, Iraq, 2018
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Switzerland, 2017
Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia, 2016
Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, Tunisia, 2015

Kailash Satyarthi, India and Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan, 2014
"I am Malala. The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" - 2013 (Malala Yousafzai w. Christina Lamb)

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), The Netherlands, 2013
European Union (EU), European Union, 2012
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia, Leymah Gbowee, Liberia and Tawakkol Karman, Yemen, 2011
Liu Xiaobo, China, 2010

Barack H. Obama, United States, 2009
"Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" - 1995
"The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" - 2006
"Of Thee I Sing" - 2010
"A Promised Land" - 2020

Martti Ahtisaari, Finland, 2008
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), United Nations, and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr., United States, 2007
Muhammad Yunus, Bangladesh and Grameen Bank, Bangladesh, 2006
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), United Nations and Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt, 2005
Wangari Muta Maathai, Kenya, 2004
Shirin Ebadi, Iran, 2003

Jimmy Carter, United States, 2002
"We Can Have Peace In The Holy Land. A Plan That Will Work" - 2008

United Nations (U.N.), United Nations and Kofi Annan, Ghana, 2001
Kim Dae-jung, South Korea, 2000
Médecins Sans Frontières, Switzerland1999
John Hume, Ireland (United Kingdom) and David Trimble, United Kingdom, 1998
International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Switzerland and Jody Williams, United States, 1997
Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, East Timor and José Ramos-Horta, East Timor, 1996
Joseph Rotblat, Poland (Russia) and Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Cabadam 1995
Yasser Arafat, Palestine (Egypt) Shimon Peres, Israel (Poland) and Yitzhak Rabin, Israel (Palestine), 1994

Nelson Mandela, South Africa and Frederik Willem de Klerk, South Africa, 1993
"Long Walk to Freedom" - 1994

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Guatemala, 1992
Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma, 1991
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Soviet Union, 1990
The 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso), India (Tibet) 1989
United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, United Nations, 1988
Oscar Arias Sánchez, Costa Rica, 1987

Elie Wiesel, United States (Romania) 1986
"Night" (French: La Nuit/Yiddish: Un di Velt Hot Geshvign) - 1958

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, United States, 1985
Desmond Mpilo Tutu, South Africa, 1984
Lech Wałęsa, Poland, 1983
Alva Myrdal, Sweden and Alfonso García Robles, Mexico, 1982
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations, 1981
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Argentina, 1980
Mother Teresa, India (Ottoman Empire) 1979
Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, Egypt and Menachem Begin, Israel (Poland/Russia), 1978
Amnesty International, 1977
Betty Williams, United Kingdom and Mairead Corrigan, United Kingdom, 1976
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, Soviet Union, 1975
Seán MacBride, Ireland (France), and Eisaku Sato, Japan, 1974
Henry A. Kissinger, United States and Le Duc Tho, North Vietnam, 1973
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1972
Willy Brandt, Germany 1971
Norman E. Borlaug, United States, 1970
International Labour Organization (I.L.O.), United Nations, 1969
René Cassin, France, 1968
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1967
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1966
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations, 1965
Martin Luther King Jr., United States, 1964
Comité international de la Croix Rouge (International Committee of the Red Cross), Switzerland and Ligue des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge (League of Red Cross Societies), Switzerland, 1963
Linus Carl Pauling, United States, 1962
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld, Sweden, 1961
Albert John Lutuli, Sout Africa, 1960
Philip J. Noel-Baker, United Kingdom, 1959
Dominque Pire (Georges Charles Clement Ghislain Pire), Belgium, 1958
Lester Bowles Pearson, Canada, 1957
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1956
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1955
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations, 1954
George Catlett Marshall, United States, 1953
Albert Schweitzer, France (Germany) 1952
Léon Jouhaux, France, 1951
Ralph Bunche, United States, 1950
Lord (John) Boyd Orr of Brechin, United Kingdom, 1949
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1948
Friends Service Council (The Quakers) and American Friends Service Committee (The Quakers), 1947
Emily Greene Balch, United States and John Raleigh Mott, United States, 1946
Cordell Hull, United States, 1945
Comité international de la Croix Rouge (International Committee of the Red Cross), Switzerland, 1944
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1943
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1942
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1941
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1940
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1939
Office international Nansen pour les Réfugiés (Nansen International Office for Refugees), League of Nations,1938
Cecil of Chelwood, Viscount (Lord Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne Cecil), United Kingdom, 1937
Carlos Saavedra Lamas, Argentina, 1936
Carl von Ossietzky, Germany, 1935
Arthur Henderson, United Kingdom, 1934
Sir Norman Angell (Ralph Lane), United Kingdom, 1933
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1932
Jane Addams, United States and Nicholas Murray Butler, United States, 1931
Lars Olof Jonathan (Nathan) Söderblom, Sweden, 1930
Frank Billings Kellogg, United States, 1929
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1928
Ferdinand Buisson, France and Ludwig Quidde, Germany, 1927
Aristide Briand, France and Gustav Stresemann, Germany, 1926
Sir Austen Chamberlain, United Kingdom and Charles Gates Dawes, United States, 195
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1924
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1923

Fridtjof Nansen, Norway, 1922
"Through Siberia the Land of the Future" (NO: Gjennem Sibirien) - 1913

Karl Hjalmar Branting, Sweden and Christian Lous Lange, Norway 1921
Léon Victor Auguste Bourgeois, France, 1920
Thomas Woodrow Wilson, United States, 1919
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1918
Comité international de la Croix Rouge (International Committee of the Red Cross), Switzerland, 1917
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1916
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1915
No Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 1914
Henri La Fontaine, Belgium, 1913
Elihu Root, United Staes, 1912
Tobias Michael Carel Asser, Netherlands and Alfred Hermann Fried, Austria-Hungary, 1911
Bureau international permanent de la Paix (Permanent International Peace Bureau), Switzerland, 1910
Auguste Marie François Beernaert, Belgium, and Paul Henri Benjamin Balluet d’Estournelles de Constant, Baron de Constant de Rebecque, France, 1909
Klas Pontus Arnoldson, Sweden, and Fredrik Bajer, Denmark, 1908
Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, Italy, and Louis Renault, France, 1907
Theodore Roosevelt, United States, 1906

Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner, née Countess Kinsky von Chinic und Tettau, Austrai-Hungary, 1905
"Lay Down Your Arms!" (GE: Die Waffen nieder!) - 1889

Institut de droit international (Institute of International Law), Belgium, 1904
William Randal Crèmer, United Kingdom, 1903
Élie Ducommun, Switzerland and Charles Albert Gobat, Switzerland, 1902
Jean Henry Dunant, Switzerland and Frédéric Passy, France, 1901

The prize was awarded to 108 individuals and 26 organizations.

And where do they all come from? Here is a list of the number of Nobel laureates by country (as of October 2022)

United States 383
United Kingdom 132
Germany 108
France 69
Sweden 32
Russia/Soviet Union 33
Japan, Switzerland 28
Canada 27
Austria 22
Netherlands 21
Italy 20
Poland 18
Australia 14
Denmark, Hungary, Norway 13
India, Israel 12
Belgium, Ireland, South Africa 11
China, 8
Czechia, Ukraine 7
Argentina, Finland 5
Egypt, Romania 4
Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand 3
Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, East Timor, Greece, Guatemala, Iran, Liberia, Luxembourg, Pakistan, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Taiwan, Turkey, Yugoslavia 2
Azerbaijan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Ghana, Hong Kong, Iceland, Iraq, Kenya, Latvia, North Macedonia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nigeria, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Slovenia, Korea, South, Tibet, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen 1

United Nations 9

Find the Nobel Prize Winners for Literature here.

Tuesday 11 August 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten (ahem) Books I Loved but Never Reviewed

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

It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

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

Top Ten (ahem) Books I Loved but Never Reviewed

When I started my blog, I also added a German version. Unfortunately, I have never done much to it other than adding all the books I reviewed including their German titles (if translated) and all the German books that have not been translated.

Now, when I saw this week's topic I thought, nope, I have reviewed all the books I loved. But then it dawned on me. I have reviewed them (all my reviews are on my computer) but I never posted those about the German books that have not been translated.

So, here I my favourites of the German books that have not been translated, at least not into English. A lot of them are translated into other languages but the English-speaking world often ignores what's going on in the rest of the world. I hope they will catch up at one point. I am sure these books would be interesting to readers in English speaking countries. And, of course, I couldn't restrict my list to ten books, there are just too many.

Bánk, Zsuzsa "Die hellen Tage" [The Bright Days] - 2011
- "Schlafen werden wir später" [We Will Sleep Later] - 2017 

Borrmann, Mechtild "Grenzgänger. Die Geschichte einer verlorenen deutschen Kindheit" [Cross-border commuters. The story of a lost German childhood] - 2018  

Degen, Michael "Nicht alle waren Mörder" [Not All Of Them Were Killers] - 1999 

Fleischhauer, Wolfram "Das Buch in dem die Welt verschwand" [The Book In Which The World Disappeared] - 2003

Gauck, Joachim (German President 2012-2017) "Winter im Sommer - Frühling im Herbst: Erinnerungen" [Winter in Summer, Spring in Autumn. Memories] - 2009 

Gesthuysen, Anne "Mädelsabend" [Girls' Night] - 2018

Giordano, Ralph "Die Bertinis" [The Bertinis] - 1982

Hahn, Ulla "Das verborgene Wort" [The Hidden Word] - 2001

Kalisa, Karin "Sungs Laden" [Sung's Shop] - 2015 

Kaminer, Wladimir "Meine Mutter, ihre Katze und der Staubsauger: Ein Unruhestand in 33 Geschichten" [My Mother, her Cat and the Vacuum Cleaner] - 2016

Kerkeling, Hape (German Comedian) "Der Junge muss an die frische Luft. Meine Kindheit und ich" [The boy needs some fresh air] - 2014

Kornbichler, Sabine "Klaras Haus" [Klara's House] - 2000 

Korschunow, Irina "Ebbe und Flut" [Low and High Tide] - 1995 
- "Von Juni zu Juni" [From June till June] - 1999
- "Das Spiegelbild" [The Mirror Image] - 1992 

Lüpkes, Sandra "Die Inselvogtin" [The Female Island Lord] - 2009

Marschner, Rosemarie "Das Bücherzimmer" [The Book Room] - 2004 
- "Das Mädchen am Klavier" [The Girl on the Piano] - 2013 

Montasser, Thomas "Das Glück der kleinen Augenblicke" [The Happiness Of The Little Moments] - 2017 
- "Monsieur Jean und sein Gespür für Glück" [Monsieur Jean and his sense of luck] - 2015

Neumann, Eva-Maria "Sie nahmen mir nicht nur die Freiheit" [They Didn't Just Take My Freedom] - 2007 

Peters, Veronika "Was in zwei Koffer passt" [Whatever Fits In Two Suitcases] - 2007 

Stelter, Bernd (German Comedian) "Nie wieder Ferienhaus" [Never again a holiday cottage] - 2004 

Taschler, Judith W. "Roman ohne U" [Novel without a U] - 2014 

Weiler, Jan "Maria, ihm schmeckt's nicht!" [Maria, he doesn't like it!] - 2003 

Weizsäcker, Richard von (German President 1984-1994) "Drei Mal Stunde Null? 1949-1969-1989" [Three Times Zero Hour? 1949-1969-1989] - 2001 

Zeh, Juli "Unterleuten" [Name of the village but also wordplay: Among People] - 2016 

Zweig, Stefanie "Das Haus in der Rothschildallee" [The House of Rothschild Avenue] - 2007 and the other stories about the Family Sternberg

[I added a translation of the German title in brackets.

If you are interested in all the other German books I read, have a look here.

Monday 10 August 2020

Booth, Cathleen "Mercy & Grace on the Camino de Santiago"

Booth, Cathleen "Mercy & Grace on the Camino de Santiago" - 2020

"Sometimes it’s doing the thing that terrifies you that really helps you grow."

Before I begin with the review and you wonder why I'm so fascinated by this story, the author is a friend of mine. (Although, having said that, you probably won't wonder because she is a great storyteller.) For years, we've been attending the same church and since our birthdays are only a couple of days apart, we've been enjoying a coffee or lunch together in between. I have taught not just her daughter Madeleine in RE but also the other girls that walked the Camino with them. And my whole family knows all of the "Eleven Amigos", as the group called themselves (great name, by the way) and their families. They are some of the loveliest people I have ever met in my life and reading about their experience was so wonderful for me. Thank you, Cathleen, for including me in this trip in this unique way. I know I can't give you enough credit with my humble review but I hope it will instigate a few people to read the book.

And here I am right in the middle of it. I am sure anyone who reads this book must feel the same, whether you know the pilgrims or not. I knew Cathleen could write since she had written a personal blog for years (much more personal than my book blog).

In her prologue, she tells us how the idea started, how she wanted to go but was too afraid. I totally understand, I would have been, as well. Actually, I am, that's why I never went even though I know a lot of people who did. But with my back problems, I couldn't even do a quarter let alone half the walks they did, even without a backpack or "mochila". No, that train has left.

But here I am with Cathleen and her friends, listening to (or rather reading about) them as they plan and prepare their trip, as they meet to drive to the airport, as they join the next members somewhere between here and Santander. We hear about the first dinner, the first night in one of the albergues, the first breakfast. They leave the hostel every morning and walk for a while before settling down for breakfast in one of the many cafés along the way.

Their walks tend to be between twenty and thirty kilometres. Hats off, Cathleen and friends. Even though you seem to be at the end of your tether from time to time, you soldier on and don't lose sight of your goal. Together you are strong. I am also grateful that Cathleen belongs to the slower part of the group because that's where I always end up. Makes it more authentic for me.

They meet a lot of lovely people along the way. I have always heard that from anyone who walked the Camino. If you're on that way, everyone is your friend. How lovely to tackle this in such a wonderful community.

There are many wonderful stories in the book about companionship, soul-searching, finding your way to yourself and to God but there are also some hilarious stories, as well. No wonder, when Cathleen and Lila (the friend who invited her to the trip) are together. I remember having been told many of them eye-to-eye, so reading about them makes it almost as if they were here.

I know all the kids have made it into adulthood and listening to their parents they have become just as wonderful adults as they were children. Well done, everyone.

But thank you, Cathleen, for this wonderful report about your Camino. We all can learn from your big heart.

You can find more information (and more pictures) on her website.

I always enjoy reading about other parts of the world and get to know them but I also love reading about the parts that I know. And here, not only did I know all the members of the group, I also know the area where Cathleen lived (as we can see in her pictures in "Training Days", I was also there when our friend Maria showed her pictures in church which was when many of us heard from someone who had experienced the pilgrim themselves.

I also loved that Jim Forrest, another author I highly admire, wrote the introduction.

I have read another book about someone on the Camino de Santiago, German humourist Hape Kerkeling. Also, a great story about someone whose life changed after doing this spiritual journey.
Kerkeling, Hape "I'm off then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago" (German: Ich bin dann mal weg. Meine Reise auf dem Jakobsweg). I think, the fact that his account has been translated into English says it all.

From the back cover:

"'Sometimes it’s doing the thing that terrifies you that really helps you grow.'
These words, spoken in love by a friend, motivated 300-pound Cathleen Booth off her couch and onto the Camino de Santiago. Cathleen’s physical limitations quickly shattered any illusions of self-sufficiency and pride. On a muddy mountainside in Spain - at her most vulnerable - Cathleen would experience from her friend a self-sacrificial love that would ultimately change her from the inside out. Equal parts humor, humility, and heart, Mercy & Grace on the Camino de Santiago invites the reader on a deeply intimate and human spiritual journey."

And if you want to know about Cathleen's sense of humour, Mercy and Grace is what she called her walking boots.

Friday 7 August 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"If my books had been any worse, I should not have been invited to Hollywood … … and if they had been any better, I should not have come." Raymond Chandler
And nobody would have ever even got to know Philip Marlow, well, except for the readers, of course.

"A library is thought in cold storage." Herbert Samuel
Definitely an interesting way of looking at it.

"What I like best is a book that's at least funny once in a while..." Jonathan Swift
It helps with some but I don't have to have humour in a book.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 6 August 2020

Slimani, Leïla "Adèle"

Slimani, Leïla "Adèle" (French: Dans le jardin de l'ogre) - 2014

An interesting book though I really disliked the protagonist, Adèle Robinson. Read the description of the book and you might get an idea why.

This is the story of a sex addicted woman. She goes around and sleeps with everyone "in trousers". I just couldn't follow that woman.

If you don't like your marriage, give it up. We don't live in the middle ages (or in the middle of the 20th century) where you were bound to that husband of yours.

If you don't feel like a mother … well, how can you not feel like a mother if you are a mother? I don't know any mother who doesn't love her children, even those that nobody else likes. You just do.

I know that being addicted is an illness and it's hard to get out of it but I can't deal with that kind of people. They are selfish and exploit everyone around them.

I think the idea of the author was not to judge Adèle. But I gave up my time in order to read about her, so I just take that as my right and judge her. I just felt sorry for her husband who did everything to please her and her son who didn't ask to be born but then deserves the love of his parents. There are always victims when someone decides to lead a selfish life.

Let's face it, we all have troubles at times that seem unsolvable. Sometimes they really can't be solved. But Adèle would have had many ways out of that situation without hurting too many people.

I wonder why they didn't translate the title "Dans le jardin de l'ogre" into "In the Ogre's Garden" but put the name of the protagonist there. I think the French title is a lot better even though it is all about "Adèle".

Here are some comments from the other members:

Adèle is an unlikable antihero.
The book was more about attention deficit disorder than addiction.
She seems to suffer more from attention deficit disorder
The character is described as an addict who can't control herself and keeps cheating almost everyone around her.
The topic is such that it is very difficult to identify with the person from a male perspective, I can only compare Adèle to other characters as an outside observer.
Leila Slimani's mother is a doctor and Leila used to work as a reporter so the characters in the book draw a lot from this life experience.
I didn't like the book at all. Me neither.
I find it easier to think deeply about books I did not like.
Which one of her problems was caused by society, her upbringing, her own personality, her IQ too?
Sex addiction was a symptom, not the cause.
I have no respect for people with Adèle's weakness.
I also liked the original title much better and would really have loved to hear the views of some French speaking reader on how the book was in the original language. I read it in Finnish which made it cold and harsh, nothing fascinating sexy about it. (Remark from me: I read it in French and even there it was cold and harsh.)

Looks like everyone agreed with me.

This was our international online book club novel in July 2020.

From the back cover:

"Adèle appears to have the perfect life. She is a successful journalist in Paris who lives in a chic apartment with her surgeon husband and their young son. But beneath the veneer of 'having it all', she is bored - and consumed by an insatiable need for sex, whatever the cost. Struggling to contain the twin forces of compulsion and desire, she begins to orchestrate her life around her one night stands and extramarital affairs, arriving late to work and lying to her husband about where she's been, until she becomes ensnared in a trap of her own making.

An erotic and daring story - with electrically clear writing - Adèle will captivate readers with its exploration of addiction, sexuality, and one woman's quest to feel alive."

Wednesday 5 August 2020

The Classics Club: The Classics Spin #24

"Words and Peace" is a blog I've been following for a couple of years and I have always found some interesting new books there, especially French ones.

For a while, she published posts by "The Classics Club" asking us to create a post, before next Sunday 9th August 2020, and list our choice of any twenty books that remain "to be read" on our Classics Club list. On Sunday 9th August, they’ll post a number from 1 through 20 and we have time until the end of September (30th) to read it.

I missed the last posts but managed to participate anyway. So, I already read six books from my old list which I replaced by some new ones. They are all in chronological order.

1.    Austen, Jane "Sanditon" - 1817
2.    Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "Italienische Reise" (Italian Journey aka Letters from Italy) - 1817
3.    Eichendorff, Joseph von "Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts und andere Novellen" (Life of a Good-For-Nothing) - 1826
4.    Gogol, Nikolai (Никола́й Васи́льевич Го́голь, Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol) "The Overcoat" (Шинель) - 1842
5.    Dumas, Alexandre "Le comte de Monte-Cristo" (The Count of Monte Cristo) - 1844-46
6.    Douglass, Frederick "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave" - 1845
7.    Sand, George "Fadette" (aka Fanchon, the Cricket) (La Petite Fadette) - 1849
8.    Crafts, Hannah "The Bondwoman’s Narrative" - 1855-69
9.    Keller, Gottfried "Novellen" (Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe u.a.) "Novellas" (A Village Romeo and Juliet and others) - 1855/56
10.    Eliot, George "Silas Marner" (Silas Marner) - 1861
11.    Jacobs, Harriet Ann (Linda Brent) "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" - 1861
12.    Rhoides, Emmanuel (Emmanuel Roidis) "The Curious History of Pope Joan" (Papissa Ioanna) - 1866
13.    Marx, Karl "Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Ökonomie" (Capital. Critique of Political Economy) - 1867
14.    Twain, Mark "A Tramp Abroad" - 1880
15.    Storm, Theodor "The Rider on the White Horse" (Der Schimmelreiter und andere Erzählungen) - 1888
16.    Van Dyke, Henry "The Story of the Other Wise Man" - 1896
17.    Hubbard, Fra Elbert "A Message to Garcia" - 1899 - The Classics Spin #25
18.    Baum, L. Frank "The Wizard of Oz" - 1900 - The Classics Spin #24
19.    Gorki, Maxim "The Mother" (Мать/Matj) - 1906/07
20.    Frost, Robert "A Boy’s Will" and "North of Boston" - 1913+1914

If you want to take up the challenge, here is the post: The Classics Spin #24 

"This is your Spin List. 

You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period.

Try to challenge yourself. For example, you could list five Classics Club books you have been putting off, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favourite author, re-reads, ancients, non-fiction, books in translation - whatever you choose.)

On Sunday 9th August, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 30th September, 2020."

The reason I've been putting off reading them is because my TBR pile is so huge. I love classics, I want to read them, and I love how I actually read more classical books than before.

I will add the chosen number once it's published. I will also add every other book I read afterwards with a link to the spin.

Here are all the books on my original Classics Club list.
And here is a list of all the books I read with the Classics Spin.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books with Colours In the Titles

"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 with Colours In the Titles

*** Grey *** Grey *** Grey *** Grey *** Grey *** Grey ***
Brontë, Anne "Agnes Grey" - 1847 

*** Yellow *** Yellow *** Yellow *** Yellow *** Yellow *** 
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Half of a Yellow Sun" - 2006 

*** Gold *** Gold *** Gold *** Gold *** Gold *** Gold *** 
Lessing, Doris "The Golden Notebook" - 1962

*** Orange *** Orange *** Orange *** Orange *** Orange *** 
Burgess, Anthony "A Clockwork Orange" - 1962

*** Scarlet *** Scarlet *** Scarlet *** Scarlet *** Scarlet ***  
Hawthorne, Nathaniel "The Scarlet Letter" - 1850 

*** Red *** Red *** Red *** Red *** Red *** Red *** Red ***  
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" (Benim Adım Kırmızı) - 1998

*** Purple *** Purple *** Purple *** Purple *** Purple *** 
Walker, Alice "The Color Purple" - 1982 

*** Blue *** Blue *** Blue *** Blue *** Blue *** Blue ***  
Abulhawa, Susan "The Blue Between Sky and Water" - 2015 

*** Green *** Green *** Green *** Green *** Green ***  
Ulitzkaja, Ljudmila/Ulitzkaya, Lyudmila "Das grüne Zelt" (Imago or The Big Green Tent/Zelenyi shater/Зеленый шатер) - 2010 

*** Black *** White  *** Black *** White  *** Black *** White  ***
Oates, Joyce Carol "Black Girl/White Girl" - 2006