Friday, 30 April 2021

Adiga, Aravind "The White Tiger"

Adiga, Aravind "The White Tiger" - 2008

While this book has a lot of information about the life of any average Indian who lives in poverty, it wasn't my favourite book about India. By far not my favourite, maybe even the one I liked least.

Was it the style? Maybe. Did I dislike the protagonist? Of course I didn't. Could I warm to any of the others? Certainly not.

Having said that, I am sure it is a picture of the true India, at least part of it. But even in the worst society of all, there is usually someone who is kind-hearted, there are people who are not just selfish and egotistic. I couldn't find anyone like that in the whole story. And I know many really nice Indians. None of them showed up in this book.

All in all, I couldn't really "believe" in the characters, they had no voice, they had no soul.

I have tried to find the reason why this book won the Booker prize. Apparently, "Balram’s journey from darkness of village life to the light of entrepreneurial success is utterly amoral, brilliantly irreverent, deeply endearing and altogether unforgettable."

Maybe it is unforgettable but not because it is such a great book. At least not in my eyes. This is not the first Booker prize winner I disliked. Maybe I should stay away from them in future. Mind you, there are a few I do like but they are more the exception than the rule.

This was our book club read in April 2021.

Comments from the discussion:

  • I am really enjoying the way he writes and tells the story. I do, however, agree that it is a horrific, negative story that I hope has no base in the real world. 
  • Maybe I only know people from "Light India"?
  • Either way it is definitely a broadening of my world and reading.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I especially liked the sense of doing the unthinkable in order to break free of constraints and make sense of one's life. I felt a sense of liberation reading this book.

Btw, the protatonist always talks about the four greatest Persian poets and mentions "Rumi, Iqbal, Mirza Ghalib and another fellow whose name he has forgotten". I keep wondering who the fourth one is supposed to be.

From the back cover:

"No saris. No scents. No spices. No music. No lyricism. No illusions.

This is India now.

Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life - having nothing but his own wits to help him along. Born in a village in the dark heart of India, Balram gets a break when he is hired as a driver for a wealthy man, two Pomeranians (Puddles and Cuddles), and the rich man's (very unlucky) son.

Through Balram's eyes, we see India as we've never seen it before: the cockroaches and the call centers, the prostitutes and the worshippers, the water buffalo and, trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is (almost) impossible, the white tiger. And with a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, he teaches us that religion doesn't create morality and money doesn't solve every problem - but decency can still be found in a corrupt world, and you can get what you want out of life if you eavesdrop on the right conversations.
"

Aravind Adiga won the Booker Prize for "The White Tiger" in 2008.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Turkish 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 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: Animals from Books (these could be mythical, real, main characters, sidekicks, companions/pets, shifters, etc.)

I'm not really an animal person and we already had this topic a while ago (in November), well, a similar one: Books with Animals. And since I have only read one other book in the meantime that would fit here (One Man and His Dog), I have decided to twist the top ten a little today. I try not to stray too far away from this, but in a cheeky way.

I was thinking what other books I could have that link to an animal and then it dawned on me. I love Turkish authors and they come from a country that shares its name with an animal (at least in English): Turkey.

In Turkish it's Türkiye for the country and Hindi for the bird, in German Türkei and Truthahn, in French Turquie and Dinde, in Spanish Turquía and pavo, in Dutch Turkije and Kalkoen, in Swedish Turkiet and Kalkoner and in Esperanto Turkio and Meleagro. None of them has the same word for both. Maybe someone knows an example where it is the same word in both languages (other than English) but I don't know of any.

Ali, Sabahattin "Madonna in a Fur Coat" (Turkish: Kürk Mantolu Madonna) - 1943
Kemal, Yaşar "The Drumming-Out" (Turkish: Teneke) - 1987
Kulin, Ayşe "Rose of Sarajevo" (Turkish: Sevdalinka) - 1999
Mağden, Perihan "Two Girls" (Turkish: İki Genç Kızın Romanı) - 2002
Pamuk, Orhan "The Museum of Innocence" (Turkish: Masumiyet Müzesi) - 2008
I try not to always use my favourite of his books (My Name is Red). His books are all great.
Şafak, Elif "The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi" - 2001
Sevindim, Asli "Candlelight Döner: Geschichten über meine deutsch-türkische Familie" - 2005 (Goodreads)
(I never reviewed this since it hasn't been translated into English. It's a humours book about a German-Turkish family.)
Tanpınar, Ahmet Hamdi "The Time Regulation Institute" (Turkish: Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü) - 1961
Tekin, Latife "Swords of Ice" (Turkish: Buzdan Kiliçlar) - 1989
Toptaş, Hasan Ali "The Shadowless" (Turkish: Gölgesizler) - 1995

Monday, 26 April 2021

Storm, Theodor "Paul the Puppeteer"

Storm, Theodor "Paul the Puppeteer" (German: Pole Poppenspäler) - 1874

A novella by a famous German author known as one of the most important figures of German realism.
He has been compared to Thomas Hardy. I think the comparison isn't bad. Theodor Storm is certainly worth having a look at.

In this story, he tells us about a guy called Paul (Low German Pole) who is a puppeteer (you guessed it, Poppenspäler in Low German).

Of course, this was a novella we had to read in school. I enjoyed it tremendously and even after all these years, it's still vividly in my mind. Still, when I came upon my old copy when moving, I decided to read it again.

And there is no change. The book is still as good as it was when I first read it. We learn about the changing of the world, how the marionette theatre vanishes from everyday life, like so many other things that disappeared with the coming of the television. But we also hear about the life of those travelling and bringing joy to the people.

The author was born in Husum, a lovely city on the North Sea where you can still visit his house. He called it "The Grey Town by the Sea". But it's not at all grey, it has some lovely (mainly red brick) buildings and being located at the sea makes it even more attractive.

As an English translation, I only found a collection with two other books, "The Village on the Moor" and "Renate" which I haven't read. Maybe some day when I happen to find them.

From the back cover:

"Pole Poppenspäler is the nickname given to the cabinet-maker Paul Paulsen, because of his childhood enthusiasm for Herr Tendler's travelling puppet theatre and his friendship with the latter's daughter, Lisei. In later life Paul comes across Lisei in great distress while he is working as a journeyman in a town in central Germany; her father has been imprisoned on a false accusation of theft. Paul's local influence succeeds in freeing Herr Tendler and shortly afterwards he marries Lisei, taking both her and her father to his north German home, Husum. Herr Tendler is able to help Paul in his workshop for he is a wood-carver of great skill, as demonstrated by his former creation of the puppet 'Kasperle' which plays a leading part throughout the tale. His desire, however, to continue to produce puppet plays is strong, but his first attempt in the town hall is ruined by rowdy local youths. He retires deeply hurt and dies a saddened man shortly thereafter."

Friday, 23 April 2021

Book Quotes of the Week


"The classics are books that exert a peculiar influence, both when they refuse to be eradicated from the mind and when they conceal themselves in the folds of memory, camouflaging themselves as the collective or individual unconscious.
Italo Calvino "Why Read the Classics"

I couldn't have said it any better. Well, I probably couldn' have even said it that well but I agree wholeheartedly. 

"Don't worry, it only takes four chapters!" Mayersche Buchhandlung 

Heehee. Story of my life!
 

"You're in a world full of color and you want to see it in black and white." by Philip Pullman, The Secret Commonwealth

This reminds me of a cartoon where this one guy sits in the bus or tram reading. Everyone else looks into their mobile phones and is black and white. Only he is in colour. So true.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Dickens, Charles "The Old Curiosity Shop"

Dickens, Charles "The Old Curiosity Shop" - 1840

When I mentioned to another blogger that I was just reading this book, he said that it "… was not one of my favorite Dickens, but that's a high bar, I still enjoyed it." Now that I just finished it, I can say that he put my thoughts into words. It's definitely not my favourite, that's still David Copperfield, but I have yet to read a book by Charles Dickens I don't enjoy.

The enjoyment of reading wasn't improved by the copy I had, an A4 sized cheap reprint (letter size in the US). Well, it couldn't be helped. It taught me to look for the size of an edition when ordering books online.

Funnily enough, this is supposed to be the most popular of Dickens' books during his lifetime. As it says on the cover, readers in New York even stormed the ship bringing the final instalment. Reminds me of Harry Potter today. Wow! This that not all tales stand the test of time equally well.

However, as with all books by Dickens, he observed his surrounding so well and could describe it so you are transformed to his world that it is definitely worth reading. Especially if you like classics. And chunky books.

I still have a few to go and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on them.

From the back cover:

"The Old Curiosity Shop is a novel by Charles Dickens. The plot follows the life of Nell Trent and her grandfather, both residents of The Old Curiosity Shop in London. The Old Curiosity Shop was one of two novels (the other being Barnaby Rudge) which Dickens published along with short stories in his weekly serial Master Humphrey's Clock, which lasted from 1840 to 1841. It was so popular that New York readers stormed the wharf when the ship bearing the final instalment arrived in 1841. The Old Curiosity Shop was printed in book form in 1841."

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Colourful 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: Colourful Book Covers

We had "Book Titles That Sound Like They Could Be Crayola Crayon Colours" and we carry on with colours this week. 

What is colourful? It can be a cover with many different colours. Or one with two contrasting colours that immediately catch your eye. Or one with just one colour but that one very vibrant. Even though I don't often read books with colourful covers, I think (hope) I found examples for all of them. 


 
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Americanah" - 2013
Brown, Rita Mae "Loose Lips" - 1999
Dai, Sijie "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" (French: Balzac et la Petite Tailleuse Chinoise) - 2002
Fredriksson, Marianne "Hanna’s Daughters" (Swedish: Anna, Hanna og Johanna) - 1994
Gavalda, Anna "Hunting and Gathering" (French: Ensemble c’est tout) - 2006
Kingsolver, Barbara
"The Lacuna" - 2009
Lee, Min Jin "Pachinko" - 2017
MacDonald, Ann-Marie "The Way the Crow Flies" - 2003
Pamuk, Orhan "The Red-Haired Woman" (Turkish: Kırmızı Saçlı Kadın) - 2016
Stewart, Sheila "Ramlin Rose" - 1993

Monday, 19 April 2021

Obama, Barack "Of Thee I Sing"

Obama, Barack "Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to my Daughters" - 2010

This is one of the cutest picture books I have seen. Every page adds a new example of a person who is an ideal for as all. There is Martin Luther King jr., Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, but also Helen Keller, Billie Holiday and many, many fabulous people who do their bit in order to make this world a better one.

Barack Obama wrote this for his daughters when they were little. It shows how much he loves not just his own children but people in general. He shows the compassionate president he would become (the book was written before he was elected). The world needs more people like him and those he quotes in this book.

The illustrations are also wonderful. On the first page you see Malia and Sasha with their Portuguese water dog, Bo, then, on every page they add another character who is the famous person he introduces as a child, they are smart, creative and inspriring, part of a family, never give up … And they then join in the group of children who watch the next person. Beautiful.

Loren Long, the illustrator, has also written some books of his own and they are just as beautifully illustrated as this one.

I think this is a great book, especially if you have young children and want to guide them on the right path. You can tell from the family Obama how important love is and how it can be given and what it does to the children.

It shows the kids how one person can change the world if they just pursue their ideas.

Definitely one of my favourite books of the year.

From the back cover:

"In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, former President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped his nation. From the artistry of Georgia O'Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, Barack Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children and within all children.

Evocative illustrations by the award-winning artist Loren Long at once capture the personalities and achievements of these great Americans, and the innocence and promise of childhood.

This book celebrates the potential within all of us to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths.
"

Friday, 16 April 2021

Book Quotes of the Week

"It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language." Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey 

Says one of the greatest authors of all time.


"A good book was its own brand of magic." Kerri Maniscalo


Definitely true. I'm not into fantasy books but I agree that all books are magical. 

"With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?" Oscar Wilde

All I need there is freedom and books.

Find more book quotes here.  

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Lee, Min Jin "Pachinko"

Lee, Min Jin "Pachinko" - 2017

I was drawn to this book because of its Asian appearance. These lovely drawings can only come from the Far East. The title didn't tell me anything. Pachinko? Who or what is Pachinko? I had to find out. The description convinced me further.

Now, if - like me - you don't know what Pachinko is, let me tell you. It's a Japanese mechanical game that is mainly situated in game arcades. I have never set foot in any of those slot machine places, so even if it is also known in Europe, this is not my world.

And there isn't much about the world inside those parlours, more about the life of Koreans in Japan. If you don't know anything about that, there is a lot to learn. I know there have been animosities toward foreigners no matter when and where. Always. I have lived abroad most of my life. Being German, I have experienced much the same hatred towards me and my family as the Koreans in this story had to endure in Japan.

Maybe that's why I liked this book so much, I could identify with their feelings. Unlucky for the family here, they couldn't go back to Korea since they came from the Northern part. And that is the case with many immigrants. Even if the first generation still would love to, the second and further generations are even less inclined to because for them, their new country is home, not the one where their ancestors come from.

The Koreans in this book are hard-working, honest people and, yet, they have no chance to ever get accepted. Sound familiar? This book could go onto any list of books about racism. The characters are loveable and unforgettable.

In any case, this is such a great tale about a family through several generations. If you like this kind of literature, you should read this book.

Min Jin Lee includes a a quote by Benedict Anderson, author of "Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism". I absolutely love this:

"I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community - and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.

It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion…

The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them, encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic, boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind…

It is imagined as
sovereign because the concept was born in an age in which the Enlightenment and Revolution were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely-ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm…

Finally, it is imagined as a
community because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep horizontal comradeship.

Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly die for such limited imaginings.
"

Could anyone explain it better? I have to read that book!

From the back cover:

"Yeongdo, Korea 1911. A club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then a Christian minister offers a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife.

Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, Sunja's salvation is just the beginning of her story.

Through eight decades and four generations,
Pachinko is an epic tale of family, identity, love, death and survival."

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Crayola Crayon Colours

"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: April 13: Book Titles That Sound Like They Could Be Crayola Crayon Colours (Take a moment and Google some of the crazy Crayola crayon colors that exist. Can you think of any book titles that sound like they could also be a crayon color? It might be fun to include a description of the kind of color you’re picturing.)

What a funny challenge. Jana gave us the hint to look up Crayola colours. My sons were never much into drawing, so we only had the basics. But wow, they have any mixture of any colours on earth. Unbelievable.

It was a tough decision, would I stick to the known colours or rather use those funny ones. In the end I went with blue and green, my favourite colours. I would have loved to come up with a title like "Periwinkle" or "Wild Blue Yonder". I'm sure there are books with those words in their title.

You see the colours here in the order of my book list. Arent' they beautiful?

And here are the books:

Drinkwater, Carol "The Olive Series" - 2001-2010

Montgomery, L. M. (Lucy Maud) "Anne of Green Gables" - 1908

Cullen, Bill "It’s a long way from Penny Apples" - 2003

Powers, Charles T. "In the Memory of the Forest" - 1997

Falcones, Ildefonso "Cathedral of the Sea" (Spanish: La catedral del mar) - 2008

Collins, Wilkie "The Moonstone" - 1868

Betancourt, Íngrid "Even Silence has an End: My Six Years in the Jungle"
(French: Même le silence a une fin) - 2010

Abulhawa, Susan "The Blue Between Sky and Water" - 2015
There are even two colours in this title. Blue and Sky.
Having said that, there might even be a "water blue".

Levy, Andrew "A Brain Wider Than The Sky: A Migraine Diary" - 2009
Faulkner, William "Light in August" - 1932

Monday, 12 April 2021

The Classics Club: The Classics Spin #26

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

For a while, she published posts by "The Classics Club" asking us to create a post, before next Sunday 18th April 2021, and list our choice of any twenty books that remain "to be read" on our Classics Club list. They'll then post a number from 1 through 20 and we have time until the end (Saturday 31st) of May 2021 to read it.

In the meantime, I read eight more books from my old list (Classics Spin #25) which I replaced by some new ones. They are all in chronological order.

1.    Eichendorff, Joseph von "Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts und andere Novellen" (Life of a Good-For-Nothing) - 1826
2.    Douglass, Frederick "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave" - 1845
3.    Keller, Gottfried "Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe" - 1855/56
4.    Eliot, George "Silas Marner" (Silas Marner) - 1861
5.    Twain, Mark "A Tramp Abroad" - 1880
6.    Storm, Theodor "The Rider on the White Horse" (Der Schimmelreiter und andere Erzählungen) - 1888
7.    Van Dyke, Henry "The Story of the Other Wise Man" - 1896
8.    Frost, Robert "A Boy’s Will" and "North of Boston" - 1913+1914
9.    Martin, Catherine "The Incredible Journey" - 1923
10.    Mandelstam, Ossip "The Din of Time" (Шум времени/Shum vremeni) - 1925
11.    Bulgakov, Mikhail "The Master and Margarita" (Мастер и Маргарита) - 1929-39
12.    Cather, Willa "Shadows on the Rock" - 1931
13.    Christie, Agatha "Murder on the Orient Express" (Hercule Poirot #10) - 1934
14.    Elbogen, Ismar; Sterling, Eleonore "Die Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland" [The History of the Jews in Germany] - 1935/66
15.    Némirovsky, Irène "La Proie" [The Prey] - 1938
16.    Fallada, Hans "Every Man Dies Alone" (Jeder stirbt für sich allein) - 1947
17.    Böll, Heinrich "The Silent Angel" (Der Engel schwieg) - 1949/50
18.    Kazantzakis, Nikos "The Last Temptation of Christ" (Ο τελευταίος πειρασμός/O telefteos pirasmos) - 1951
19.    Highsmith, Patricia "The Talented Mr. Ripley" - 1955
20.    Savage Carlson, Natalie "The Family Under the Bridge" - 1958

If you want to take up the challenge, here is the post: The Classics Spin #26 

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 classic 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.

For Classics Spin #20, I got #19:
James, Henry "Daisy Miller" - 1879
For Classics Spin #23, I got #8:
Stendhal "Le Rouge et le Noir" (The Red and the Black) - 1830
For Classics Spin #24, I got #18:
Baum, L. Frank "The Wizard of Oz" - 1900
For Classics Spin #25, I got #14:
Hubbard, Fra Elbert "A Message to Garcia" - 1899
For Classics Spin #26, I got #11:
Bulgakow, Michail "The Master and Margarita" (Мастер и Маргарита/Master i Margarita) - 1929-39

And here are all the books on my classics list.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Book Quotes of the Week


"I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library." Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice 

I am so lucky to have one.

"Real museums are places where Time is transformed into Space." Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence

Orhan Pamuk is one of my favourite authors. What he says here might not be a book quote but shows a wonderful approach to life.
 

"A book is a door, you know. Always and forever. A book is a door into another place and another heart and another world." Catherynne M. Valente

Very true. A book can lead you anywhere. This quote reminds me of one of my favourite Disney Movies, Monsters, Inc.

"In life, it's important to know when to stop arguing with people … and simply let them be wrong." N.N. *

Haha, yes, sometimes that's all you can do to keep a sane mind. But sometimes it's worth the fight.

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.]

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Jansson, Tove "Moominsummer Madness"

Jansson, Tove "Moominsummer Madness" (Finnish: Vaarallinen juhannus) - 1954

I hadn't read anything about the "Moomins" but I'd heard about them and seen their pictures everywhere. They're cute. I can only explain my ignorance of the books by the fact that we spent most of our sons' childhoods in England where they were not as popular as elsewhere.

So, I never read the "Moomins" as a child nor did I read them while my children were little. I suppose my perspective would have been a little different.

I read it with my online book club, all of us grown-ups, some of us with little kids, others with no kids or grown-up kids, like me. And a large number of Finnish members which is why this book was chosen, I guess. I quite liked it though I think I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read it with a child. Or maybe if I'd read the first book first. This was number 5 and the author assumed we know who is who and, even more important, what is what. So, the Moomins belong to the trolls, then there are mymbles, hemuls, fillyjonks, and a rat.

The Moomins live in a house in Moomin valley. When a volcano erupts, the valley is flooded and the Moomins have to seek shelter elsewhere. They find a theatre that they don't recognize as such since they've never seen or heard of one before but in the end they even present a play, even if somewhat haphazardly.

There is plenty of depth in the story, though, to be enjoyed by adults, as well. The characters may be eccentric but they seem to be just as "normal" as us human beings. Good writing and good psychology. The story is easy to follow yet not boring.

This was our book club read in March 2021.

Some thoughts by the members:

  • I felt the book really uplifted my spirit, while we are living isolated from travel and much wild adventures.
  • Some of the author's special ideals and characteristics came out well in the story, too, I think. 
  • And the ending was hilarious with the totally ruined theatre.
  • I found it very philosophical, positive, and quirky. 

From the back cover:

"When a flood sweeps through the valley, the Moomins must find a new house. And with typical Moomin good luck, one just happens to be floating by. It looks normal enough, but there are curtains where one wall should be, strange rows of lights, and other odd amenities. Then Moomintroll and the Snork Maiden disappear, and the family realize that the house may hold the answers to more than they ever dreamed."

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Ten Books I'd Gladly Throw Into the Ocean

"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: Books I'd Gladly Throw Into the Ocean

There are quite a few books that fit into this category, most of them I only finished because they were book club books. Don't get me wrong, I have always loved being in a book club and I found many books and authors that I really loved but there were some that I could have done without.


Deforges, Régine "The Blue Bicycle" (French: La Bicyclette Bleue) - 1981

I hate plagiarism, especially when it's as obvious as this.

Franzen, Jonathan "The Corrections" - 2001
Not my cup of tea. Too boring. Everything seemed unrealistic.

Fuller, Alexandra "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" - 2002
I couldn't understand this family at all. Why would I want to live unhappily in a place where my children die because of the safety in the country and the poverty?

Krasnow, Iris "The Surrendering to Motherhood: Losing Your Mind, Finding Your Soul" - 1997
A book club book. Most of us were mothers. We all agreed that someone who has all the money in the world and can afford lots of help in the house cannot judge those who don't have those opportunities and have to work in order to raise their children. A snobby story by someone who belongs to the 1% who has no idea about how the rest of the world lives.

McEwan, Ian "Atonement" - 2001
Such a boring, repetitive book. If you want to create tension, you need to write a little more interesting.

Niffenegger, Audrey "The Time Traveler's Wife" - 2003
This book was the best example why I don't like science fiction. Just in case time travel did exist, there were far too many contradictions in the whole story. If you change science, stick to it and don't change it on every other page.

Pearson, Allison "I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother" (Working Mum) - 2002
Another book club read about another rich working mother who judges those who don't work, for whatever reason because, apparently, they judge her. We won't get anywhere if we keep adding those prejudices as "facts". The whole thing read as a chick-lit, as well.

Picoult, Jodi "My Sister's Keeper" - 2004
Another chick lit. This time disguised as a "drama" novel. Bleurgh.

Salinger, J. D. "The Catcher in the Rye" - 1951
I read this as a teenager where I maybe should have understood a rebellious teenager better than I would today but I still didn't like the guy or the plat.

Wisner, Franz "How the World Makes Love: And What It Taught a Jilted Groom" - 2009
Another awful plagiarism. If I pretend to travel the world just be copying other travel reports, someone will have read at least one of those books and notice. Well, I did.

Did you notice how none of them has an author's link? That's because I only read one of their outpourings. I decided one was already one too many.

Also, quite a few of them have a sort of candy-coloured cover. I guess this explains why I usually stay away from such editions. I know I'm a book snob but there you go.

Often, I add books to my TTT list that were on one or the other before. I think none of these was on another TTT before or ever will be again.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Six Degrees of Separation ~ Shuggie Bain

 Shuggie Bain

Stuart, Douglas "Shuggie Bain" - 2020


 #6Degrees of Separation: from Shuggie Bain (Goodreads) to Dream of the Read Chamber.

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I love the idea. See more about this challenge, its history, further books and how I found this here.

This month’s prompt starts with Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.

There are several ways to tackle this challenge. I first tought about going from Scotland around the British Isles. My next idea was to go by the author's name. But in the end I decided to start with the fact that this is a Booker prize winner. What better novel to start with than the "Booker of Bookers".

Rushdie, Salman "Midnight's Children" - 1981

My next thought was about a book by a favourite author of mine that also takes place in India (as opposed to his usual stories from his home country, Catalonia/Spain).

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Midnight Palace" (Spanish: El Palacio de la Medianoche) - 1994

Thinking about Spain, there is another author who writes about historic Spain, starting with Barcelona in the 14th century. They build a cathedral there.

Falcones, Ildefonso "Cathedral of the Sea" (Spanish: La catedral del mar) - 2008

Which brings me to my next book where the build a cathedral in England. This is now a tetralogy. I must read the next one.

Follett, Ken "The Pillars of the Earth" - 1989

And a book with "earth" in the title always makes me think about one of the most famous books by one of my first favourite authors.

Buck, Pearl S. "The Good Earth" - 1931

Since we are in China already, I had to think about a poster I received lately from my son. It shows the biggest novels of every country and I was surprised that I'd read the one from this ancient country.

Cao, Xueqin "Dream of the Red Chamber" (Chinese: 红楼梦/Hung lou meng/aka The Story of the Stone) - ca. 1717-1763 (18th century)

And so we've made a trip around the word. From India to Spain to England and then to China.

Look for further monthly separation posts here.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Happy April!

Happy April to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch


"Auf der Suche nach dem Osterhasen"
"Looking for the Easter Bunny"


 Isn't this just the cutest picture of a little girl with her bunnies?
I've had this calendar with pictures by Hanka and Frank Koebsch for a long time now but they always surprise me again.

* * *

The official name in Low German is "Ostermaond". "Ostern" is the German word for Easter and they both have the same linguistic root. They might come from the old Germanic Austrō for dawn after which they probably named a Germanic spring festival and it then developed in Old English into Ēostra, then Ēostre and Ēastre and in in Old High German to ōst(a)ra, plural ōstarun.

But no matter where the word comes from, in Germany all kids are looking forward to Easter because the Easter bunny comes and brings eggs and chocolates. While this sounds funny if you think about it, both the bunny and the eggs represent spring when many of the animals have their offspring.

So, in the morning of Easter Sunday, all the children are looking for Easter nests, filled with brightly painted chicken eggs and sweets (often in form of the bunny, chicks and eggs) hidden by the "Easter Bunny".
We also decorate branches of forsythia, catkins, corkscrew hazel, birch, and cherry branches are used with blown out and brightly painted eggs.

And we have Easter pastry, usually in the shape of a lamb or a rabbit. For lunch, there is often lamb or sometimes rabbit though I don't care for either of them.

Since Easter is mainly a religious holiday, people attend mass either at midnight or in the morning. There, the Easter candle is lit. This is a large candle but people are invited to take a small one back home.

* * *

But, of course, April is also the first full month of spring (in the Northern Hemisphere where we start spring on 21 March). There is a lot of superstition about all kinds of weather but in spring, you hear a lot of it. Like the cuckoo. You hear his first calls at around the end of March/beginning of April. It is said that if you put your hands in your pocket when you hear the cuckoo for the first time in the year and you will have as much money as you have with you all year round. So, people would never walk around without money at this time of the year. Also, you can ask the cuckoo how long you still shall live and when you count his calls, those are the amount of years you are still among us.

* * *

And, as always, this month starts with April Fools' Day. I'm not going to write much about this since that is known all over the world. Every country has a different explanation as to when and why it started (of course, always in THEIR country, LOL). All I know is that it has been around in Germany since 1618. Apparently, together with Friday the 13th, it has been an unlucky day for ages. However, nobody knows why. 

Once we told someone a story and they believed it, we shout "April! April!" and they know they've been fooled.

* * *

Weather lore (or farmers' rule) for April: April, April does what he wants. (April, April, macht was er will.) We call any time when the weather changes abruptly "April weather".

* * *

Have a happy April with this beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch. Have a Happy Easter! And, most important of all: Stay safe and healthy!



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.