Friday, 26 February 2021

Book Quotes of the Week


"Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren't real, but they also know that books about unicorns, if they are good books, are true books." Ursula K. LeGuin

I think children know quite well what is real and what isn't, they are often smarter than adults.

"A library is infinity under a roof." Gail Carson Levine

Wow, I never thought of it that way but yes, the whole world can be under our roof.

"Reading has always been my home, my sustenance, my great invisible companion. ... I did not read from a sense of superiority, or advancement, or even learning, I read because I loved it more than any activity on earth." Anna Quindlen

I think every reader understands this so well. I don't understand people who think differently.

"Each time you open a book and open it, a tree smiles knowing there's life after death." N.N. *

That is a lovely perspective.


[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, 25 February 2021

Ford, Ford Madox "Parade's End"

Ford, Ford Madox "Parade's End" (Tetralogy: Some Do Not - 1924, No More Parades, 1925, A Man Could Stand Up 1926, Last Post 1928) - 1924-28

I have read a lot of books about WWI and WWII and most of them were great reads. I never know what to say when I read a book about a war and "enjoyed" it. Because, obviously, I don't enjoy reading about cruelty and death but I do prefer these kind of books to rose-tinted stories about love and similar stuff. I'm definitely not a chick-lit girl.

As this is a highly acclaimed book by "one of Britain's finest novelists", I was really looking forward to it. Also, it's huge, almost 1,000 pages, I usually love that.

But you can already guess from my introduction that this was not my book. Not at all. The book was not just confusing by jumping from one setting to the next without any further explanation, it wasn't much about the war (could have been about any war or even any time), it wasn't much about the military but it also wasn't much about interesting characters. None of them was even remotely likeable but also too boring to get upset about them.

I hardly ever skim through pages but I was very tempted to do it here. But I was afraid I would "get" the story even less if I did that. However, not skimming didn't help, either.

The only question I have now, there is a BBC miniseries. Should I try it or leave that, as well? I do like Benedict Cumberbatch (I mean, who doesn't?) but the story ...

From the back cover:

"The Great War changes everything. In this epic tale, spanning over a decade, war turns the world of privileged, English aristocrat Christopher Tietjens upside down. It forces him to question everything he holds dear - social order, morality, marriage and loyalty. And it rocks the very foundations of English society.

This is a powerful story about love, betrayal and disillusionment in a time of horror and confusion by one of Britain’s finest novelists.
"

If you want to read good books about how the soldiers in WWI fared, check out
Faulks, Sebastian "Birdsong
Malouf, David "Fly Away Peter"
Remarque, Erich Maria "All Quiet on the Western Front"

or any of the other books I reviewed in War: WWI.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Books that Made me Laugh Out Loud


"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 That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

There are a lot of books that make me laugh. Some make me laugh because I don't want ot cry. But we don't talk about them. There are dozens of authors that make me laugh. Some of them, I've read lots of their books, others maybe just one or two, mainly because they have only written one or two.

If you want to see all the funny books I've read and reviewd, I refer you to my label "Humour". In the pictures, I try to show my favourite book (in case they have not all been translated, the best of those translated)
Rita Mae Brown

Bill Byson

Roald Dahl (his adult stories, though the youth ones can be pretty funny, as well)

Nora Ephron

René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo "Asterix the Gaul" (French: Astérix le Gaulois) (the whole series)

Wladimir Kaminer (Travel to Trulala and Russian Disco are the only ones translated into English but I've read more of his books)

Hape Kerkeling

Ephraim Kishon

Mary Scott

P.G. Wodehouse

Monday, 22 February 2021

Christie, Agatha "Hercule Poirot"

Christie, Agatha "Hercule Poirot. The Complete Short Stories" - 1923-61

Hercule Poirot. As soon as you hear that name you think, moustache, French accent, hat. I am not a huge fan of crime stories. Or short stories. But I love to watch Agatha Christie's stories on TV. For "the Monsieur Poirot", I liked the old ones with Sir Peter Ustinov, even any of the others with Albert Finney and Alfred Molina (who I really, really like) or the new one with Sir Kenneth Brannagh. But my favourite, sorry to all the others, is, of course, Sir David Suchet. He is the epitome of Hercule Poirot as Agatha Christie described him. I'm sure she would have loved him.

So, when I saw this book, I thought, why not? Give Agatha a try and read some of her stories. You can always stop halfway if you're bored since they are all short stories. Guess what? I read them all.

Not only are the stories funny which was to be expected from the films, her writing is just great. Her stories are easy reads and even someone who doesn't guess right away who the killer was (like me) finds fun in trying to guess whodunnit.

Of course, the book is not like the films. Some stories were thrown together to make one film, others were just merely mentioned in the series. That was also fun, trying to think in which episode had I seen that.

If you like crime stories and/or Agatha Christie, this is an absolutely great collection.

From the back cover:

"More than 50 Poirot short stories, including one unique to this volume!

Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective with the egg-shaped head and immaculate black moustache, has a passion for order, rational thought, and an overwhelming confidence in his deductive genius. He is, after all, the most famous detective in the world!

There is a spectacular diversity in the plots and themes of these cases. Violent murders, poisonings, kidnappings and thefts, all are solved or thwarted with Poirot's usual panache - and the characteristic application of his 'little grey cells'.

Includes
Poirot And The Regatta Mystery, An early short story not published since 1936!"

These are the stories in the book:

Introduction: Enter Hercule Poirot

The Affair at the Victory Ball
The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan
The King of Clubs
The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim
The Plymouth Express
The Adventure of "The Western Star"
The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor
The Kidnapped Prime Minister
The Million Dollar Bond Robbery
The Adventure of the Cheap Flat
The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge
The Chocolate Box
The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb
The Veiled Lady
The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly
The Market Basing Mystery
The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman
The Case of the Missing Will
The Incredible Theft
The Adventure of the Clapham Cook
The Lost Mine
The Cornish Mystery
The Double Clue
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding
The Lemesurier Inheritance
The Under Dog
Double Sin
Wasps' Nest
The Third-Floor Flat
The Mystery of the Spanish Chest
Dead Man's Mirror
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Problem at Sea
Triangle at Rhodes
Murder in the Mews
Yellow Iris
The Dream
Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds
The Labours Of Hercules - Foreword
The Nemean Lion
The Learnean Hydra
The Arcadian Deer
The Erymanthian Boar
The Augean Stables
The Stymphalean Birds
The Cretan Bull
The Horses of Diomedes
The Girdle of Hyppolita
The Flock of Geryon
The Apples of the Hesperides
The Capture of Cerberus
Poirot and the Regatta Mystery

If you cannot find this edition, you can find the different stories in these books:

POIROT INVESTIGATES
The Adventure of "The Western Star"
The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor
The Adventure of the Cheap Flat
The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge
The Million Dollar Bond Robbery
The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb
The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan
The Kidnapped Prime Minister
The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim
The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman
The Case of the Missing Will
The Veiled Lady
The Lost Mine
The Chocolate Box

DEAD MAN'S MIRROR
(Goodreads)
Dead Man's Mirror
The Incredible Theft
Murder in the Mews
Triangle at Rhodes

THE REGATTA MYSTERY
(Goodreads)
The Mystery of the Bagdad Chest or The Mystery of the Spanish Chest
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Yellow Iris
The Dream
Problem at Sea

THE LABOURS OF HERCULES
(Goodreads)
The Nemean Lion
The Learnean Hydra
The Arcadian Deer
The Erymanthian Boar
The Augean Stables
The Stymphalean Birds
The Cretan Bull
The Horses of Diomedes
The Girdle of Hyppolita
The Flock of Geryon
The Apples of the Hesperides
The Capture of Cerberus

From THREE BLIND MICE
(Goodreads)
The Third-Floor Flat
The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly
Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds

From THE UNDER DOG
(Goodreads)
The Under Dog
The Plymouth Express
The Affair at the Victory Ball
The Market Basing Mystery
The Lemesurier Inheritance
The Cornish Mystery
The King of Clubs
The Adventure of the Clapham Cook

From DOUBLE SIN
(Goodreads)
Double Sin
Wasps' Nest
The Theft of the Royal Ruby or The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding
The Double Clue

Friday, 19 February 2021

Book Quotes of the Week


"We use the words 'classics' for books that are treasured by those who have read and loved them; but they are treasured no less by those who have the luck to read them for the first time in the best conditions to enjoy them." Italo Calvino "Why Read the Classics"

A classic is a book that many before us have loved and therefore is worth giving it a try. And then we will love them and hope that many after us will love them just as much.

"Where her books were, she was." Maureen Johnson, Truly Devious

Can we blame her?


"...bookshops are magic, and books are the road maps by which misfits find each other." Wendy Welch, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

Books are the most magical thing we can imagine, they can send us anywhere in time and space whenever we want.


Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Sand, George "Fadette"

Sand, George "Fadette" (aka Fanchon, the Cricket) (French: La Petite Fadette) - 1849

Honestly, I had expected more of this novel. Granted, it gives you an insight into rural life in France of the 19th century and it isn't a very difficult read which made it worth my while.

But the story itself reads more like chick lit. It probably was meant to be, whatever they might have called it at the time. But I miss the humour of a Jane Austen or the versatility of a Charles Dickens.

In the description it says the novel reads like a fairy tale and that's probably what bothered me first. I don't believe in witchcraft, bad omens etc. I don't mind the Magic Realism written by South American writers (they seem to have a different approach to it), but this was just a bit too much.

What I probably disliked most was the way the women were painted, especially the protagonist. She was considered ugly because she was too much outside and didn't dress like the other women did. Once she changed that, everybody like her. If Jane Austen would have written it, she would have added criticism to that. George Sand doesn't seem to be bothered by this fact. Even though it might have been normal at the time, I would have expected a different view by this author.

If you like easy reads or French books, this might be the one for you. Hélas (unfortunately), it wasn't for me.

From the back cover:

"Landry and Sylvain are twins. One day, a certain little Fadette disturbs the existence of these sons of rich farmers. Beyond the simple romantic plot, the author gives a real painting of the peasant society of 19th century France. The novel reads like a fairy tale and also develops very strong themes of 'the double' and accusations of witchcraft."

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers

 

 

"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.

This week's topic is: Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers
(in honour of Mardis Gras, which is today!)

I don't really choose books by colours. Although, in a way I do. If they are too pink, I stay well away from them. LOL

So, when I started looking for purple books, I thought I'll never find any but in the end I got lucky. Green ones I would have found hundreds, so I concentrated mainly on those that were entirely green and had not many other pictures on there. Same with the other colours. I think, I managed quite well, right?

This was a fun challenge. I'm looking forward to seeing what the other bloggers have posted. I'm sure it will be very colourful.

Happy Mardi Gras. And Happy Pancake Day and Happy Carnival (look here). I know we can't celebrate much of that this year but I hope however you usually celebrate it, you can at least enjoy it a little.

Purple:
Lem, Stanisław "Solaris" (Polish: Solaris (powieść)) - 1961
Štimec, Spomenka "Croatian War Nocturnal" (Esperanto: Kroata Milita Noktlibro) - 1993
Vreeland, Susan "Girl in Hyacinth Blue" 1999

Yellow:
Leapman, Michael "The Ingenious Mr Fairchild: The Forgotten Father of the Flower Garden" - 2001
Oates, Joyce Carol "Jack of Spades. A Tale of Suspense" - 2015
Paull, Laline "The Bees" - 2014

Green:
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "The Sorrows of Young Werther" (German: Die Leiden des jungen Werther) - 1774
Lowenstein, Anna "The Stone City" (Esperanto: La Ŝtona Urbo) - 1999
Maalouf, Amin "Samarkand" (French: Samarcande) - 1988
Webster, Jean "Daddy Longlegs" - 1912

Monday, 15 February 2021

Six Degrees of Separation ~ Redhead By the Side of the Road

Tyler, Anne "The Readhead by the Side of the Road"

I discovered this challenge on one of the blogs I follow, Carol from the "Reading Ladies Book Club". Thank you, Carol.

#6Degrees of Separation:
from Redhead By the Side of the Road (Goodreads) to Palace Walk.

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I love the idea.

Each month, a book is chosen by Kate and we get to go on from there, no matter how, the book just have to be linked to six other ones to form a chain. Any book only has to be connected to the one before them.

Rules:

  •     Link the books together in any way you like.
  •     Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
  •     Share these rules in your post.
  •     Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
  •     Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
  •     Share your post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hashtag.
  •     Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.

This month’s prompt starts with "Redhead By the Side of the Road" (Goodreads) by Anne Tyler. I have mixed feelings about this author, I read four of her books, two I quite liked but I wasn't very impressed with the others.

What a fun way of reminiscing about books I read. Since this is the first time I participate in this challenge, I have concentrated on the titles of the books and always looked for a new title with one of the other words.

The chain took me from Turkey to Great Britain, to Italy and Turkey, from there to the US, to Bangladesh and Myanmar and finally to Egypt. Quite a nice trip, don't you think?

Red
Pamuk, Orhan "The Red-Haired Woman"
Woman
Collins, Wilkie "A Woman in White"
White
Pamuk, Orhan "The White Castle"
Castle
Walls, Jeanette "The Glass Castle"
Glass
Ghosh, Amitav
"The Glass Palace"
Palace
Mahfouz, Naguib "Palace Walk"

I could carry on, e.g. with "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson but since it's SIX degrees of separation, I stop here.

This is what Kate says (check here)

Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman began the 6 Degrees of Separation meme in 2014 (and Kate took over in 2016).

The meme was inspired by Hungarian writer and poet Frigyes Karinthy. In his 1929 short story, Chains, Karinthy coined the phrase 'six degrees of separation'. The phrase was popularised by a 1990 play written by John Guare, which was later made into a film starring Stockard Channing. Since then, the idea that everyone in the world is separated from everyone else by just six links has been explored in many ways, from 'six degress of Kevin Bacon' to the science of connections. And now it’s a meme for readers.

So, to the meme. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own 'chain' leading from the selected book.

How the meme works
Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.
A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

How to Join the Meme
Each person’s chain will look completely different.  It doesn’t matter what the connection is or where it takes you – just take us on the journey with you. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first book either: you can always find ways to link it based on your expectations/ideas about it.

Join in by posting your own six degrees chain on your blog and adding the link in the Linky section (or comments) of each month’s post. If you don’t have a blog, you can share your chain in the comments section. You can also check out links to posts on Twitter using the hashtag #6Degree. 

You will find all the following months here.

Friday, 12 February 2021

Book Quotes of the Week

"When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world you fear what he might say." George R. R. Martin, A Clash of Kings
So very true. People should think about that more, especially in times like these.

"A part of learning is done through reading, and the other part, which is likely more important, is talking with bright minds from different fields." Neil Shen
Also very true. And reading what bright minds from different fields have to say. Believe in the experts!

"If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave." Mo Willems, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
If only it were always that easy.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Reading Challenge - Chunky Books 2021

I have taken part in this reading challenge since 2013. The moment I saw that post, I know this was the most interesting challenge for me. I signed up for the highest of the four levels "Mor-book-ly Obese" which meant eight or more chunksters (books over 450 pages) of which three must be 750 pages or more.

I have carried on with that challenge without setting goals, I love big books and I will always read some. And I am more than willing to tell my friends about them.

If you are interested in the challenge, check out this link. They discontinued their challenge the old link for 2015.
You can still find suggestions by page number, in case you can't find any chunksters yourself. ;-)

Or you can check out my lists from the previous years (below), maybe you are interested in a couple of them.

I read in
2013: 38 chunky books, 13 of them chunksters
2014: 37 chunky books, 15 of them chunksters
2015: 26 chunky books, 8 of which chunksters
2016: 28 chunky books, 3 of which chunksters
2017: 35 chunky books, 6 of which chunksters

2018: 29 chunky books, 6 of which chunksters
2019: 20 chunky books, 7 of which chunksters
2020:
18 chunky books, 7 of which chunksters

I will be posting the books I have read here:
(I add the German title, if available, for my German friends)
[I add my own translation of a foreign book title if it's not available in English.]

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "Italienische Reise" (Italian Journey aka Letters from Italy) - 1817 - 891 pages
Christie, Agatha "Hercule Poirot. The Complete Short Stories" - 1923-61 - 908 pages
Ford, Ford Madox "Parade's End" (Tetraology: Some Do Not, No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up, Last Post) (Keine Paraden mehr) - 1924-28 - 968 pages
Elliot, Jason "An Unexpected Light. Travels in Afghanistan" (Unerwartetes Licht - Reisen durch Afghanistan) - 1999 - 512 pages
Sapolsky, Robert M. "Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst" (Gewalt und Mitgefühl: Die Biologie des menschlichen Verhaltens) - 2017 - 800 pages
Lee, Min Jin "Pachinko" (Ein einfaches Leben) - 2017 - 552 pages
Dickens, Charles "The Old Curiosity Shop" (Der Raritätenladen) - 1840 - 736 pages
Stroyar, J.N. "Becoming Them" (The Children's War Book 3) - 2017 - 753 pages
Zusak, Markus "The Messenger" (US: I am the Messenger/Der Joker) - 2002 - 464 pages
Bulgakow, Michail "Der Meister und Margarita" (The Master and Margarita - Мастер и Маргарита/Master i Margarita) - 1929-39 - 551 pages
Mantel, Hilary "The Mirror and the Light" (The Wolf Hall Trilogy 3) (Spiegel und Licht) - 2020 - 912 pages
Judd, Naomi "Love Can Build a Bridge" - 1993 - 546 pages
Obama, Barack "A Promised Land" (Ein verheißenes Land) - 2020 - 768 pages

I read 13 chunky books in 2021 of which 7 are considered a chunkster.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten "Love" Books


"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.

This week's topic is: Valentine’s Day/Love Freebie

 
I'm not a reader of romances. So, I was surprised that I found lots of books with "Love" in their title. Mind you, not many of them are love stories, though. Some are about wars or other conflicts. All good books, though.

I wonder how many others have the book about THE most famous love story in their list: "Love Story".

García Márquez, Gabriel "Love in the Time of Cholera" (Spanish: El amor en los tiempos del cólera) - 1985
Grjasnowa, Olga "All Russians Love Birch Trees" (German: Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt) - 2012
Hislop, Victoria "Those Who Are Loved" - 2019
Morrison, Toni "Love" - 2003
Oz, Amos "A Tale of Love and Darkness" (Hebrew: סיפור על אהבה וחושך, Sipur) - 2002
Şafak, Elif "The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi" - 2001
Schami, Rafik "The Dark Side of Love" (German: Die dunkle Seite der Liebe) - 2004
See, Lisa "Peony in Love" - 2007
Segal, Erich "Love Story" - 1970
Soueif, Ahdaf "The Map of Love" - 1999

Monday, 8 February 2021

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "Italian Journey"

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von "Italian Journey" (aka Letters from Italy) (German: Italienische Reise) - 1817

Goethe is considered one of the greatest thinkers in the world. He was not just a writer of novels, poetry and play, he was also a scientist and an artist. One of his most famous non-fictional publications is the "Theory on Colours", published in 1810, including his colour wheel and a very early study on the physiological effects of colour.

In his late thirties, he embarked on a trip to Italy, not a two week holiday like we are used to nowadays, no, he stayed for more than a year, travelled through the country and observed their culture and art.

In this book, he tells us all about his visits to the various parts of Italy, the museums and operas, his meeting the local population. Since not many people could travel at the time, it was something like a travel documentary you might watch on television today of a place you know you will never get to visit.

But he didn't just do a sightseeing tour, he also made botanical, mineralogical, geological and geographical researches and made quite a few discoveries, e.g. on the propagation of plants.

So, if any of this interests you, I can heartily recommend the book. After all, he was a perfect author and could tell stories in a way not many can. However, if you think the topic is too dry, I recommend other works by Goethe, e.g. "The Sorrows of Young Werther" (German: Die Leiden des jungen Werther).

But it is certainly worth reading Goethe. I hope he is as great in the translations as he is in German. In the "Country of Poets and Thinkers", he truly is one of the greatest. His thoughts are still as up to date as they were 200 years ago.

From the back cover:

"In 1786, when he was already the acknowledged leader of the Sturm und Drang literary movement, Goethe set out on a journey to Italy to fulfil a personal and artistic quest and to find relief from his responsibilities and the agonies of unrequited love. As he travelled to Venice, Rome, Naples and Sicily he wrote many letters, which he later used as the basis for the Italian Journey. A journal full of fascinating observations on art and history, and the plants, landscape and the character of the local people he encountered, this is also a moving account of the psychological crisis from which Goethe emerged newly inspired to write the great works of his mature years."
 
The picture on the cover of the English book (Goethe in the Roman Campagna) was painted by his friend Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein whom Goethe visited in Rome during his travels. The picture is both the most famous one by Tischbein as well as the most famous one of Goethe.

Friday, 5 February 2021

Book Quotes of the Week

"I love the way that each book - any book - is its own journey. You open it, and off you go…." Sharon Creech
It can be the beginning of a long friendship …

"Opening a beer when you get home will reward you for an hour. Opening a book when you get home will reward you for life." Douglass Gaking
I couldn't compare the two. I never open a beer but I often open a book.

"If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book." J.K. Rowling
I think she has a point. There are so many different kind of books, I'm sure there is the right one for everyone. 

 Find more book quotes here.

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Barbery, Muriel "The Elegance of the Hedgehog"

Barbery, Muriel "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" (French: L’Elégance du hérisson) - 2006

This book had been on my TBR pile for too long and since I was determined to get it a little smaller by the end of the year, I finally started. Plus, I wanted to read more in French, so hopefully that's a start.

While this book is about philosophy and Russian literature, it's not that high brow to read because it's also about normal people and it makes you think about the meaning of life. If you love Russian literature, it's even better because one of the protagonists loves it, as well.

The story unfolds by the reports of two very different women, 12 year old Paloma Josse and 54 year old Renée Michel who is the concierge in the building Paloma and her family live in. You would think, they have nothing in common but this is where we can learn that even with a very different background, we can find a soulmate everywhere.

A nice read. I wouldn't mind a second book to see what goes on in Paloma's life when she grows up.

From the back cover:

"Renée is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building, home to members of the great and the good. Over the years she has maintained her carefully constructed persona as someone reliable but totally uncultivated, in keeping, she feels, with society's expectations of what a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Renée passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. 

Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Renée lives resigned to her lonely lot with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever.

By turn moving and hilarious, this unusual novel became the French publishing phenomenon of 2007: from an initial print run of 3,000 to sales of over 2 million in hardback. It took 35 weeks to reach the number one bestseller spot but has now spent longer in the French bestseller lists than Dan Brown.
"

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books Written Before I Was Born


"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 Written Before I Was Born

What a wonderful topic. I have fewer books to choose from than many other bloggers since they have to be at least 60 years old. But there are plenty of great books that were written before my time and I enjoy them a lot. I have listed my favourite books of the authors that I enjoyed as a young person as well as some that I only got to meet in later life.
Andrić, Ivo "The Bridge on the Drina" (Serbo-Croat: На Дрини Ћуприја or Na Drini Ćuprija) - 1945
Austen, Jane "Persuasion" - 1817
Buck, Pearl S. "Peony" - 1948
Camus, Albert "The Stranger" (aka "The Outsider") (French: L'étranger) - 1942
Dickens, Charles "Great Expectations" - 1861
Dinesen, Isak/Blixen, Karen "Out of Africa" - 1937
Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (German: Buddenbrooks) - 1901
Orwell, George "Nineteen Eighty-Four" - 1949
Scott, Mary "Breakfast at Six" - 1953 (first book of my favourite series by her)
Tolstoy, Lew Nikolajewitsch (Толстой, Лев Николаевич) "War and Peace" (Russian: Война и мир = Woina I Mir) - 1868/69

Monday, 1 February 2021

Happy February!

Happy February to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch


"Sámi mit ihren Rentieren im norwegischen Winter"
"Sámi with their Reindeer in the Norwegian Winter"


I suppose most of you had to spend the month the same way as we did. At home, not meeting people, try to go shopping for groceries only if absolutely necessary. Germany is in a hard lockdown, at the moment extended until mid-February though I wouldn't be surprised if that went on for longer. Our incidence in the country has finally crossed the 100 mark but that's not enough. It should be zero.

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What's going on in Germany in February?

The official name in Low German is "Hornung" though nobody really uses this anymore. The name was given to the month because the mature red deer sheds the rods of its antlers and starts pushing new antlers (so he is "horning").

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When I was a child, we would take down our Christmas tree on the 2nd of February, a day known in the church as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Feast of the Holy Encounter. Generally, we call it "Mariä Lichtmess" in Germany and "Candlemas" in English.

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But for most Germans, February is the month where carnival begins (at least in most years, unless Easter is very late). This is a larger tradition in Southern Germany than in the North, therefore I did not grow up with this.

The so-called "fifth season" begins officially on the 11th of November at 11.00 hrs although most of the celebrations take place the last days before Lent. After all, "carnival" comes from Latin "carne vale" which means goodbye to meat. The Thursday before Ash Wednesday is known as "Weiberfastnacht" or "Fettdonnerstag" (Women's Carnival or Fat Thursday) where the women storm the city halls and "take over" the government. They also cut off any tie that they can get a hold of.

There are big parades in many town on "Rosenmontag" (Rose Monday) or "Veilchendienstag" (Violet Tuesday), also in smaller cities and villages on the Sunday. People dress up as groups or decorate a float, often with a theme that has a meaning for the towns or even the whole country, very often satirical. If you are a politician, you will certainly find your picture somewhere. Most of the people participating in the parades through sweets (Kamelle) for the children.

Since I didn't grow up with this and don't drink any alcohol (and they do drink a lot - a lot, a lot), I am not the biggest fan of carnival but it is a large German tradition and many of its fans are sad that this will be the second year where they can't celebrate their beloved festivity.

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And here's a weather lore (or farmers' rule) for February: When it storms and snows at Candlemas, spring is no longer far. (Wenn's zu Lichtmess stürmt und schneit, ist der Frühling nicht mehr weit.) An English one says: If Candlemas Day be fair and bright Winter will have another fight or If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain Winter won't come again. Since they all predict more or less the same, let's hope the
2nd of February doesn't bring good weather.

We don't celebrate Groundhog Day in Germany (though our family always watches the movie, a MUST) but there is a similar prediction in German. Apparently, we listen to the badger: If the badger is in the sun at Candlemas, he will have to go back into his hole for another four weeks. 

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I wish you all a wonderful February and hope that we will reach the end of the pandemic soon. Stay safe and healthy!

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Have a happy February with this beautiful watercolour painting by
Frank Koebsch.



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.