Friday 30 October 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"Reading is another way we survive. It helps to know where we came from, how we got here. And most of all, for me, even though these low and empty islands are all I have ever known, when I open the front cover of a new book, it's like a door, and I can travel far away in place and time." C. A. Fletcher "A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World"
Where would we be withough reading? Probably still sit on trees and eat bananas … Even though I don't live on an empty island, books have given me more than anything else.

"A childhood without books – that would be no childhood. That would be like being shut out from the enchanted place where you can go and find the rarest kind of joy." Astrid Lindgren
Again, I could not imagine having lived without books, having grown up without books. Books give us more than we can ever imagine.

"My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs." Tara Westover, Educated
I once heard that you should be the main character in your story, not the supporting actor. That is what Tara Westover says here, as well, and it's so true. 

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 29 October 2020

Books With Daughter in the Title

Elisabeth from Silversolara always posts interesting lists of books I read. One of them was "Books with Daughter in the Title". I was amazed to see how many I already read. Looks like it's an interesting topics for most of us.

Allende, Isabel "Daughter of Fortune" (Sp: Hija de la fortuna)

Edwards, Kim "The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Fredriksson, Marianne "Hanna's Daughters" (Sw: Anna, Hanna og Johanna)

Gordimer, Nadine "Burger's Daughter

Gowda, Shilpi Somaya "Secret Daughter"

Hickman, Katie "Daughters of Britannia"

Morton, Kate "The Clockmaker's Daughter"

Oates, Joyce Carol "The Gravedigger's Daughter"

Şafak, Elif "Three Daughters of Eve" (Tr: Havva'nın Üç Kızı) 

Nine, that's almost enough for a Top Ten Tuesday. And then I have three more where the word "daughter" turns up in the "subtitle", as I always call it. They are both about daughters, as well, therefore I include them here.

Chang, Jung "Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

Sobel, Dava "Galileo's Daughter"

Ung, Loung "First they killed my father. A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers"

Have a look and see how many you can find among your books. Let me know.

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - Halloween Freebie

"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 Jana from 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.

Halloween Freebie

We don't really celebrate Halloween over here though some kids seem to be going around. Also, I'm not into fantasy, science fiction and/or horror stories, so not many recommendations. Instead of coming up with something that I don't really enjoy or have no relation to, I thought I'd tell you a little about our German autumn customs.

First of all, there is the festivity of St. Martin of Tours. There is a legend that he cut his coat in half and shared it with a beggar. Now, he rides on a horse through the villages and the children follow him with their lanterns, often to the church. The lanterns are mostly self-made, either at home or in playgroup/elementary school. You can buy them everywhere but the own ones are so much more fun. When I was little, we had real candles in them and had to be very careful for them not to burn down. Nowadays, you put an electric one in, safer and still the same amount of fun.

But we also used to go out on other nights. People had decorations up and you would go to the houses in the neighbourhood, sing some songs and get sweets as a "reward". So, you might have little visitors all through autumn, as soon as the nights got longer.

One of my favourite artists, Frank Koebsch, has painted two beautiful pictures of this even, one of them I published in my "Happy September" blog from 2018, the other one is from 2011, both of them depict the custom very well.

"Lasst uns Laterne gehen"

And here are some of the songs we used to sing.

Ich geh mit meiner Laterne
Ich geh’ mit meiner Laterne
und meine Laterne mit mir.
Da oben leuchten die Sterne
und unten da leuchten wir.
Mein Licht ist aus,
ich geh’ nach Haus.
rabimmel, rabammel, rabum.

English translation:
I Walk with My Lantern
I walk with my lantern,
And my lantern with me.
Above, there shine the stars,
And we shine down here.
My light is out,
I go home,
Rabimmel, rabammel, rabum.
Listen to this song on YouTube

Laterne, Laterne
Laterne, Laterne,
Sonne, Mond und Sterne,
brenne auf mein Licht,
brenne auf mein Licht,
aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht.
English translation:
Lantern, Lantern
Lantern, Lantern,
Sun, moon and stars,
Burn down, my light,
Burn down, my light,
But not my dear lantern.
Listen to this song on YouTube

We would sing the lantern songs at the houses, but here is a song that tells the whole legend and is usually sung when following "St. Martin".

Sankt Martin
Sankt Martin, Sankt Martin,
Sankt Martin ritt durch Schnee und Wind,
Sein Ross, das trug ihn fort geschwind.
Sankt Martin ritt mit leichtem Mut,
Sein Mantel deckt' ihn warm und gut.

Im Schnee saß, im Schnee saß,
Im Schnee, da saß ein armer Mann,
Hat Kleider nicht, hat Lumpen an.
"O helft mir doch in meiner Not,
Sonst ist der bitt're Frost mein Tod!"

Sankt Martin, Sankt Martin,
Sankt Martin zog die Zügel an,
Sein Ross stand still beim armen Mann.
Sankt Martin mit dem Schwerte teilt
Den warmen Mantel unverweilt.

Sankt Martin, Sankt Martin,
Sankt Martin gab den halben still:
Der Bettler rasch ihm danken will
Sankt Martin aber ritt in Eil
Hinweg mit seinem Mantelteil.

Sankt Martin legt sich still zur Ruh,
da tritt im Traum der Herr hinzu.
Der spricht: "Hab Dank, du Reitersmann,
für das, was du an mir getan.
English translation
St. Martin
St. Martin, St. Martin, St. Martin
St. Martin rode through snow and wind,
His horse carried him quickly away.
St. Martin rode with light courage,
His cloak kept him warm and good warm.

In the snow sat, in the snow sat,
In the snow, there sat a poor man,
He didn't have clothes, he wore only rags:
"Oh help me in my distress,
Otherwise the bitter frost will be my death!"

St. Martin, St. Martin,
St. Martin pulled the reins,
His horse stood still near the poor man,
With his sword St. Martin cut
the warm cloak in half.

St. Martin, St. Martin,
St. Martin quietly gives half,
The beggar's wants to thank him quickly,
But St. Martin was riding away in haste
With half his cloak.

St. Martin lies down quietly to rest,
In a dream the Lord appears.
Who says: "Thank you, horseman,
For what you did to me."
Listen to this song on YouTube

Monday 26 October 2020

Rutherfurd, Edward "Sarum"

Rutherfurd, Edward "Sarum: the Novel of England" - 1987

As I already wrote in my review about "London", I’m a huge fan of England and this is not just the story of Salisbury, it is first and foremost the story of England, how it first was settled, what happened next and how did the ordinary people live throughout the centuries.

Edward Rutherfurd kept his style of describing the history of a country or town by their inhabitants, not by the kings who ruled, the dictators or the rich aristocracy but by the "little man". We meet the first settlers, we have an idea how Stonehenge might have been built, we learn how Salisbury cathedral (and many other cathedrals like that) was built and what an impact it had on the people. People start raising different kind of sheep who can live better in the climate, they grow different kind of crops and find out how it gives them a better harvest, where they survive best etc. I know it was probably similar in many European countries of the same climate, certainly in mine.

I love how we always meet a couple of people and then see what their descendants are up to, how a family feud can go on for generations but also how times can change and the tides can turn for some, not always positively.

This is a large book, 1,300+ pages and if you want to really enjoy it, don't read it all in one go, you might get overwhelmed. But it's totally worth it and fits in my love for chunky books and my slogan "a book only starts after 500 pages". 😉

This is my seventh novel by Edward Rutherfurd and it won't be the last; "New York" is already on my TBR pile and "China" on my wishlist. I would love for him to write a novel about Germany.

And there's a great quote on page 1112:
"With great minds for company, a man is never lonely." Could we agree more? I think not.

See more comments on my ThrowbackThursday post in 2024.

From the back cover:

"In a towering story of breathtaking scope, the entire sweep of English civilisation unfolds through the story of one place, Salisbury, and the epic saga of five families.

The Wilsons and the Shockleys, locked in a cycle of revenge and rivalry for more than 400 years; the Masons, who pour their inspired love of stone into the creation of Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral; the Porters, descended from a young Roman soldier in exile; and the aristocratic Godefroys, who will fall to the very bottom of the social ladder before their fortunes revive.

As their fates and fortunes intertwine over the course of the centuries, through struggle and adventure, their greater destinies offer a fascinating glimpse into the future.

Find a link to all my reviews on his other novels here.

Friday 23 October 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"A great book helps the reader see the world in a way they haven't before, or it helps the reader articulate thoughts and emotions they already have but not yet put into the right words." Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
What can I say to this quote? Every reader has experienced that.

"The more you read, the less you sound foolish when you speak." Amit Kalantri
That's for sure. I once read that reading about one subject for several years is as good as a semester at university. Can't find the quote. Maybe it's not correct but reading certainly can teach us a lot.

"The first thing I learned at school was that some people are idiots; the second thing I learned was that some are even worse. " Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories and the City
And if they haven't learned it in school, they learn it in a pandemic. Or not. ☹

"A story must have some points of contact with the reader to make him feel at home in it. Only then can he accept wonders." John Steinbeck
I'm not exactly sure whether that's true. I love reading about people at different times or in completely different areas than myself, But maybe those stories that touch me still have something that talks to my life. 

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 22 October 2020

The Classic Meme 2.0 - October 2020

Apparently, when the Classics Club came into being. A monthly meme was devised to bring clubbers together to chat about classics. New questions were posted from 2012 to 2016 and then again in 2018 to give clubbers an opportunity to talk about literature together. You could write a blog post and leave the link or simply put your thoughts in the comments.

Now, they have revived that idea and the meme for this month is: Ponder about your childhood:

Discuss the classics you read as a child.
Who introduced you to them?
Which ones were you favourites?
Do you still reread them as an adult? Why? Why Not?

"Heidi" was the first book I ever owned. My parents gave it to me when I was seven years old and was in hospital because I had to have my appendix removed.

I didn't think about it as a classic, who does at the age of seven? But I really loved reading about the little orphan who was taken in by her grandfather who lived so remote, they hardly ever saw anyone. I read it several times as a child but never again as an adult. Might be time to do it one day.

Other than that, my parents had a few classics at home and I read them all over the years, probably not as early as seven but certainly before I was ten.

I remember the Bjørndal Trilogy by Trygve Gulbranssen, "Beyond Sing the Woods/The Wind from the Mountains" (Norwegian: Og bakom synger skogen, Det blåser fra Dauingfjell and Ingen vei går utenom) from 1933-35. Great novels about the harsh life in the mountains at the beginning of the last century.

And we had fairy tales. Mainly by the Grimm Brothers but also Hans-Christian Andersen, Ludwig Bechstein, Wilhelm Hauff but also Norwegian folk tales collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen or Russian ones, collected by Alexander Nikolajewitsch Afanassjew, those I loved especially.

Unfortunately, our library was very small. But I remember reading many books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, my favourite series being The Six Bullerby Children and Seacrow Island.

The only series I owned myself were books by German author Martha Schlinkert but at the time they were not classics: "Winnie im Paradies" [Winnie in Paradise]; "Nur Mut, Winnie" [Courage, Winnie]; "Alles dreht sich um Winnie" [Everything revolves around Winnie], all not translated and all from 1966

And then there was Berte Bratt, another Norwegian wirter, my favourite book there was "Slik er Ponny" [Such is Ponny] (German title: Alle nennen mich Pony which means Everyone calls me Pony). I loved this book because "Pony" whose real name is Rita, grew up in a poor family, same as me, and went to school with rich kids, same as me. That was MY story.

Then there are books written for children that most German kids grew up with, "Max and Moritz" by Wilhelm Busch, "Lisa and Lottie" by Erich Kästner, I especially loved the latter.

Thinking about all these books was a trip down memory lane. I noticed that many of these titles were from Scandinavian authors. Interesting. I definitely liked stories about other countries already back then.

Thank you, "Words and Peace", for introducing this to me.

And since I love to see listed books in a list, here we go:
Bratt, Berte "Alle nennen mich Pony" (Norwegian: Slik er Ponny) [Everyone calls me Pony/Such is Ponny] - 1960 Goodreads
Busch, Wilhelm "Max and Moritz" (German: Max und Moritz) - 1865
Grimm Brothers - all their fairy tales
Gulbranssen, Trygve - Bjørndal Trilogy "Beyond Sing the Woods/The Wind from the Mountains" (Norwegian: Og bakom synger skogen, Det blåser fra Dauingfjell and Ingen vei går utenom) - 1933-35 Goodreads
Kästner, Erich "Lisa and Lottie" aka "The Parent Trap" (German: Das doppelte Lottchen) - 1949 
Lindgren, Astrid "Seacrow Island" (Swedish: Vi på Saltkråkan) - 1964
- "The Six Bullerby Children" (Swedish: Barnen i Bullerbyn) - 1947
Schlinkert, Martha "Winnie im Paradies" [Winnie in Paradise] - 1966 Goodreads
- "Nur Mut, Winnie" [Courage, Winnie] - 1966
- "Alles dreht sich um Winnie" [Everything revolves around Winnie] - 1966
Spyri, Johanna "Heidi" (German: "Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre" and "Heidi kann brauchen, was es gelernt hat") - 1880-1881

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books I Read Because Someone Recommended Them to Me

"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 Jana from 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 Read Because Someone Recommended Them to Me
(tell us who recommended them, if you want!)

This was a very interesting challenge because it didn't just make me think of some great books I read during the last twenty odd years but about the friends who recommended them to me and who are now all so far away.

Barnes, Valerie "A Foreign Affair. A Passionate Life in Four Languages" - 2004
A recommendation by my Australian friend who worked as an editor and a ghost writer for many years and knew I worked in similar positions as Valerie Barnes. It was such an interesting read for me. Thanks, Marianne.

Clarke, Marcus "For the Term of His Natural Life" - 1870-72
That same friend recommended a classic book about her native Australia to me which was a highly interesting read. Thanks again, Marianne

Hamsun, Knut "Pan" (Norwegian: Pan) - 1894
The favourite author of a Norwegian friend. Quite an unusual book but it brings us back to nature and to ourselves. Thanks, Christina.

Holzach, Michael "The Forgotten People: A Year Among the Hutterites" (German: Das vergessene Volk. Ein Jahr Bei den deutschen Hutterern In Kanada) - 1980

A recommendation by a German friend who also lent this book to me. A German guy who spent a year in an ethnoreligious group in the seventies/eighties. Such a different world. Thank you, Ingrid.

Lawson, Mary "Crow Lake" - 2002
A Canadian friend suggested this book. Life in a village in Canada which is not all that different than life in a village in Germany. I loved this book so much; I have read all of Mary Lawson's books shn wrote ever since. Thanks, Mary. We lost you too soon. RIP.

Mitchell, David "Cloud Atlas" - 2004
A US American friend of mine gave me this book when she left the Netherlands and didn't want to take all her books with her. She thought I might find this interesting. And I did. I would never have bought or borrowed it because I don't think I would have liked the idea of it. But it was an exciting read. Thanks, Julie.

Rosendorfer, Herbert "Letters Back to Ancient China" (German: Briefe in die chinesische Vergangenheit) - 1983
A German friend recommended this. What an interesting idea. Imaging yourself being transported from today a thousand years into the future. This is what happens to this Chinese guy from the year 1000 who finds himself in Munich of the year 2000. He sends letters back home reporting about it. Hilarious. Thanks, Helmut.

Shriver, Lionel "We need to talk about Kevin" - 2003
Another book given to me by my US American friend. This would have been a book I would have read anyway and it was brilliant. Still keeps me shivering. Thanks again, Julie.

Skibsrud, Johanna "The Sentimentalists" - 2010
A present from another Canadian friend. Absolutely loved it. A story about Alzheimer but so much more. Thanks, Marianne.

Waltari, Mika "The Egyptian" (Finnish: Sinuhe Egyptiläinen) - 1945
I doubt I ever would have found this book if it hadn't been by a Finnish friend who said he was such a renowned author. This book doesn't just describe the life of an Egyptian doctor several millennia ago but also is a hidden accusation of the politics in Finland (and the whole world) at the time of its publication. Thanks, Kristiina.
I carried on reading more books by some of these authors. With others, I would have loved to read more but they haven't published any others. What a shame.

Monday 19 October 2020

Harris, Joanne "A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String"

Harris, Joanne "A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String" - 2012

I'm not a fan of short stories. And this book didn't change my mind. In the introduction we are told that some of the stories link together. And they do but only very few and the link is quite small (except for the Faith and Hope stories).

The only stories I liked were those of the old ladies who stood up to the "carers" in the nursing home who cared for nothing but themselves (Faith and Hope Fly South, Faith and Hope Get Even) and the stories about Africa were not too bad, either (River Song, Road Song). I wouldn't have minded a whole book about those characters but like this, it lacked something.

This has been the first book for a long time that I was inclined to abandon. I just always hoped the stories would get better. They did not.

From the back cover:

"Stories are like Russian dolls; open them up, and in each one you’ll find another story.

Come to the house where it is Christmas all year round; meet the ghost who lives on a Twitter timeline; be spooked by a newborn baby created with sugar, spice and lashings of cake.

Conjured from a wickedly imaginative pen, here is a new collection of short stories that showcases Joanne Harris’s exceptional talent as a teller of tales, a spinner of yarns. Sensuous, mischievous, uproarious and wry, here are tales that combine the everyday with the unexpected; wild fantasy with bittersweet reality.

Friday 16 October 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything." Jane Austen, Persuasion
Even though she is right about the advantage of men, I still love a reference to a good book. And there are more written by women in the meantime, thank goodness.

"No one ever committed suicide while reading a good book, but many have tried while trying to write one." Robert Byrne
Oh dear, but I guess he is right there. Still, I'm grateful to all the authors who save my life!

"Reading is important because if you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything." Tomie de Paola
Very important to read and then to learn from it.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 15 October 2020

Whitehead, Colson "The Nickel Boys"

Whitehead, Colson "The Nickel Boys" - 2019

After having read his first Pulitzer Prize win "Underground Railroad", I was thrilled to hear that Colson Whitehead received this award for the second time. Deservedly, very deservedly.

Since I really enjoyed his last book, I knew I'd have to read this one, as well. It certainly was worth it. This is not only a story of a young black boy growing up in the sixties or a book about what happens to young delinquents when they get caught. No, this is the story about how you have no chance in life if you are born with the wrong colour. You get condemned for something you have not done and from there on it goes downhill. And nobody will help you to get up again.

I have read a lot of books about racism (see in my list "Anti-Racism") and prejudices and a lot of time you can experience what those who are condemned suffer. But Colin Whitehead has made it a lot clearer, almost as if you are in Elwood Curtis' position yourself. The details are so well written, you are there with the protagonist.

The judges called the novel "a spare and devastating exploration of abuse at a reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida that is ultimately a powerful tale of human perseverance, dignity and redemption." Well said, very precise. Such a painful account of the life so many people still have to endure

A deep story that will leave nobody who has read it.

Colson Whitehead received the Pulitzer Prize for "The Nickel Boys" in 2020. He is one of only four recipients who were awarded the prize twice.

From the back cover:

"Elwood Curtis knows he is as good as anyone - growing up in 1960s Florida, he has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart. He is about to enrol in the local black college, determined to make something of himself.  But given the time and the place, one innocent mistake is all it takes to destroy his future.  Instead of embarking on a college education, Elwood arrive at the Nickel Academy, a segregated reform school claiming to provide an education which will equip its inmates to become 'honourable and honest men'.

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a nightmarish upside-down world, where any boy who resists the corrupt depravity of the authorities is likely to disappear 'out back'.  Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King's ringing assertion: 'Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.' But Elwood's fellow inmate and new friend Turner thinks Elwood naïve and worse; the world is crooked, and the only way to survive is to emulate the cruelty and cynicism of their oppressors.

When Elwood's idealism and Turner's scepticism collide, the result has decades-long repercussions. 
The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven novel by a great American writer whose clear-sighted and humane storytelling continues to illuminate our current reality."

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Super Long Book 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 Jana from 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.

Super Long Book Titles

An interesting subject this week. It was nice to dig through the titles of the books I read. I found a few that are even longer than these but they are all in German and not translated. So, here we go. The list is in order of longest to shortest title.

58 letters
Jonasson, Jonas "The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" (Swedish: Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann) - 2009

44 letters
Smiley, Jane "The All-true Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton" - 1998
Gavalda, Anna "I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere" (French: Je voudrais quelqu’un m’attende quelque part) - 1999
41 letters
Haddon, Mark "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" - 2003
Dallaire, Roméo "They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers" - 2010

38 letters
Xu, Ruiyan "The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai" - 2010
Schmitt, Éric-Emmanuel "Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran" (French: Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran) - 1999

37 letters
Shaffer, Mary Ann & Barrows, Annie "The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society" - 2008

Can you find longer titles in your lists? I'm sure there must be some. Even though I doubt anyone of us would have read this one:
The longest title of a book according to the Guinness Book of Records consists of 26,021 characters, and was achieved by Vityala Yethindra (India) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on 20 March 2019. It starts with "The historical development of the Heart i.e. from its formation from ... Solutions and answers of above questions, material and topics are included and cleared in this book.". (Find the whole title here.)

Monday 12 October 2020

Dumas, Alexandre "The Count of Monte Cristo"

Dumas, Alexandre "The Count of Monte Cristo" (French: Le comte de Monte-Cristo) - 1844-46

When I was little, they would show a swashbuckling film on German television every Sunday. We called them "Mantel- und Degenfilm" which translates into "coat and épée film". Every Sunday!

This book reminded me of that time and that's probably why I like it. I thought about the Three Musketeers and all those other books and films I saw on that subject.

This book has it all, love and hate, rich and poor, adventure, revenge, death, mystery, murder, plots, history and - of course, the swashbuckling.

Of course, as most classics, it also gives you some insight into the politics of the time. Now, I never find the French history - or any other history - as exciting as that of the Tudors but it definitely has something.

I read this book in the original which gave me some good exercise with my rusty French.

From the back cover:

"Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s."

Friday 9 October 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"Books, books, books had found the secret of a garret-room piled high with cases in my father's name; piled high, packed large - where, creeping in and out among the giant fossils of my past, like some small nimble mouse between the ribs of a mastodon, I nibbled here and there at this or that box, pulling through the gap, in heats of terror, haste, victorious joy, the first book first. And how I felt it beat under my pillow, in the morning's dark. An hour before the sun would let me read! My books!" Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Oh, what a joy. My parents loved reading but didn't have enough money to have such a large library. On the other hand, I didn't have to wait until the sun came up, we have electricity. 😉

"When I was your age, television was called books." William Goldman, The Princess Bride
Definitely. And I think we were the richer for it.

"Reader’s Bill of Rights:
1. The right to not read
2. The right to skip pages
3. The right to not finish
4. The right to reread
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to escapism
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to browse
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to not defend your tastes."
Daniel Pennac
So many rights. Aren't we lucky?

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 8 October 2020

Nobel Prize for Literature 2020 goes to Louise Glück from the United States

Every year I'm waiting patiently (or rather impatiently) who will be the next recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature. I always hope to find a new author I haven't heard of before and who I will love.
Well, I haven't heard of this one and I'm happy it's another woman (although I would have preferred her to be from another country because now it might take another ten years until they consider Joyce Carol Oates).
Anyway, the author the prize has been awarded to is Louise Glück. As I said, never heard of her and I'm not surprised. She writes poems. I'm not much into poems, there is one or other that I like but, no, I'm not a big fan. So, I'll have to wait another year to find a great new author. Sigh. I will try to read some of her poems, though, when/if I'm in the mood.

Louise Glück received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2020 "for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal".

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

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Favourite (German) Independent Books

Das Lieblingsbuch der Unabhängigen = The Favourite Book of the Independents

While waiting for the announcement of the next Nobel Prize winner, I have another prize that is presented yearly.

There are book club chains and then there are the independent bookshops. In Germany, the independent ones are working together and pronounce their favourite book every year. They have done this sincd 2015. Some of their books are German, others are written in another language (but most of them have been translated into English). I have read only a few of those but will try to get the others and then report back.

[If they have not been translated into English, I have added a translation in brackets but they will probably give it another title once they publish an English edition.]

    2015 Dörte Hansen: "Altes Land" (This House is Mine)
    2016 Benedict Wells: "Vom Ende der Einsamkeit" (The End of Loneliness)
    2017 Mariana Leky: "Was man von hier aus sehen kann" (What You Can See from Here)
    2018 Francesca Melandri: "Alle, außer mir" (Sangue giusto) (Italian) [Right Blood or Everyone but me] Goodreads
    2019 Delia Owens: "Where the Crawdads Sing" (English)
    2020 Benjamin Myers "The Offing" (English) 
    2021 Ewald Arenz "Der große Sommer" [The Big Summer]
    2022 Bonnie Garmus "Lessons in Chemistry" (English) Goodreads
    2023 Caroline Wahl "22 Bahnen" [22 Lanes]

You can always find the latest shortlist including all the recipients of the prize here.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Book Covers with Autumn Colours/Vibes

"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 Jana from 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.

Book Covers with Autumn Colours/Vibes
(or spring if you live in the southern hemisphere)

I'm not a fan of the colour brown but autumn is my absolute favourite season. So, I thought, I'd look for book covers that remind me of autumn and that is primarily brown or a brownish red, or gold. Which is almost like our flag, brown-red-gold instead of black-red gold. And since green and blue are my favourite colours, I'm not unhappy about the added blue on some of the colours. 😄
Anyway, here is my selection, all good books by the way:

Drinkwater, Carol "The Olive Farm: A Memoir of Life, Love and Olive Oil in the South of France" - 2001
Findley, Timothy "Dust to Dust" - 1997
Harris, Joanne "Blackberry Wine" - 2000
Hislop, Victoria "Cartes Postales from Greece" - 2016
Hosseini, Khaled "A Thousand Splendid Suns" - 2007
Mantel, Hilary "Bring up the Bodies" - 2012
Owens, Delia "Where the Crawdads Sing" - 2018
Pamuk, Orhan "My Name is Red" (Turkish: Benim Adim Kirmizi) - 1998
Turner, Nancy E. "Sarah’s Quilt. A Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine and the Arizona Territories, 1906" - 2006
Zusak, Markus "The Book Thief" - 2005

Monday 5 October 2020

Patchett, Ann "The Dutch House"

Patchett, Ann "The Dutch House" - 2019

This book looked quite promising. It has all the ingredients of a best-seller. And a best-seller it is. I often try to stay away from books that create such a huge hype but I live in Germany and our small bookshops don't carry many English books, so they tend to have them available and I tend to buy them. LOL

The Guardian wrote in their review: "Patchett leads us to a truth that feels like life rather than literature." Very true. However, that might be the reason why I couldn't warm to the book. I just did not like the stepmother. We were meant not to like her, I am sure. But - oh - the amount of times I could have kicked her. At least we learn how much influence an adult has on the life of a child and that this influence lasts for the rest of their lives.

No, I didn't really enjoy this book much but I can see why it gets so much attention. It's not badly written or anything like that but - not for me.


"Like swallows, like salmon, we were the helpless captives of our migratory patterns. We pretended that what we had lost was the house, not our mother, not our father. We pretended that what we had lost has been taken from us by the person who still lived inside…"

From the back cover:

"At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades,
The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested."

Ann Patchett was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for "The Dutch House" in 2019.

Friday 2 October 2020

Book Quotes of the Week

"I treat my books like I treat my shoes: The more I love them, the shodier they become." Rachel Cusk
I'm not a big shoe lover, I wear them until they are really really shoddy, doesn't mean I loved them. But I have so few that at some point, I just have to sort them out. Now with books, that is an entirely different story …

"Since the pandemic, it's like nothing we've ever seen. We have so many books, but they all seem to be selling." James Fugate, a co-owner of Eso Won Books in Los Angeles
Looks like Corona is at least good for something.

"They're book addicts." Lemony Snicket, The Miserable Mill
Not exactly a quote-quote but I like the word. Looks like Corona is at least good for something.

"Reading is a medicine that does nor need a prescription … and has no limit on dosage." N.N. *
And what a great medicine it is. Saved me from a lot of pain.

Find more book quotes here.

* [If anyone can tell me the originator of this quote, I'd be very thankful and would happily include the name.]

Thursday 1 October 2020

Happy October!

Happy October to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch

"Abend am Darßer Ort"
"Evening in Darß"

 This is probably my favourite picture of this year's calendar. Not because the other ones aren't great, they are! But I love lighthouses. And Frank managed to incorporate the tower into the landscape so well. Fantastic. Don't you think? 

Lighthouses are among the oldest means of communication known to man. They stand for safety and orientation, a signal that shows the way in difficult fairways. In literature, they are a symbol for strength and individuality, … even death. However, they also represent hope and safety as they protect sailors from great misfortunes!

* * *

The colour of the year is Classic Blue. Since that is my other favourite colour (next to green), I'm really happy about the choice. It's definitely my favourite primary colour. Maybe most people like it because it reminds us of the sea and the sky, both are usually very calming. It portrays harmony and peace (think UN). The word itself stems from the Germanic root "blao" for shimmering and lustrous. It's interesting if you try to find out other words and where they come from. In some languages (like Japanese), the word for blue and green is the same, in others (like Russian), they have different names for dark and light green. The Italian word azzurro comes from the rock azurite.

Apparently, all blue-eyed people may have a single common ancestor. Which means, if you have blue eyes, we are related. Somehow.

I'm looking forward to seeing what will be next year's colour.

* * *

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

* * *

Here are some book quotes that mention lighthouses:

"Books are the carrier of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change (as the poet said), windows on the world and lighthouses erected in the sea of time. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print." Barbara Tuchman

"Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time." E.P. Whipple

* * *

And some books where lighthouses play a major role - some of these I've read, others are either on my TBR or my wishlist:

Gilbreth, Frank + Gilbreth Carey, Elizabeth "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Belles on their Toes" - 1948/1950
Gaynor, Hazel "The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter" - 2018
James, P.D. "The Lighthouse" - 2005
Roop, Peter & Connie "Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie" - 1857
Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Watcher in the Shadows" (Spanish: Las Luces de Septiembre) - 1995
Stedman, M L "The Light Between Oceans" - 2012
Woolf, Virginia "To the Lighthouse" - 1927

and a poem:
Poe, Edgar Allen "The Light-House" - 1894

It worked as an inspiration for Joyce Carol Oates' "Poe Posthumous, or The Light-House" in her collection "Wild Nights" - 2008

* * *

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.