Monday, 31 January 2022

Van Dyke, Henry "The Story of the Other Wise Man"

Van Dyke, Henry "The Story of the Other Wise Man" - 1896

The title of this little story reminded me of "The Tale of Three Trees" which I used to read to my RE students every Easter.

It's not exactly like that story but comparable, a nice story to imagine what the wise men were up to, why they came to the stable where Jesus was born. Not just as nice story for kids but I would include it in my classes nowadays. A lovely little tale.

From the back cover:

"'I do not know where this little story came from - out of the air, perhaps. One thing is certain, it is not written in any other book, nor is it to be found among the ancient lore of the East. And yet I have never felt as if it were my own. It was a gift, and it seemed to me as if I knew the Giver.' Henry Van Dyke

Long, long ago, a wise man named Artaban, a priest of the Magi, discerned from heavenly signs that the time was at hand for the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy - the birth among the Hebrews of a holy Prince and Deliverer of Man. Hastening to join three fellow Magi for the long journey into Judaea, he paused to help a dying man and was left behind. And so Artaban began his pilgrimage alone, striking out not toward the realization of his life's deepest longing, as he hoped, but only toward misfortune and suffering. Or so he believed until one blessed, radiant moment.
"

Friday, 28 January 2022

Book Quotes of the Week

 

"For whatever the power of truth may be, literature's own special power has always lain in fiction, that wonder we construct. It is the invention that unbreaks the heart." Angus Fletcher

We can imagine things better when it's fiction, I guess. For example, I love historical novels where fictional characters show what the "little man" went through during good or bad times. They tell us so much more than just the history books.

"A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination." Nelson Mandela

And he certainly had both.

"This book has been used but its words are still good". N.N.

They often are even better - pre-loved.

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, 27 January 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. The Twins

de Loo, Tessa "The Twins" (Dutch: De Tweeling) - 1993

Twin sisters are separated after the death of their parents, one goes to a farmer in Germany, the other one is taken in by Dutch relatives. Now they have to lead their separate lives as their countries enter into war from two opposing sides.

This book is remarkable.

Read more on my original post here.  

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

100 Questions No One Ever Asks ~ Part 1

This is a 100-question tag that I'm splitting into two parts. I saw this on Lectrice Vorace's blog who saw it on Cindy's blog, and she saw it on Amiyrah's blog who was tagged by Vera.

Here are my answers to the first 50 questions (and here you will find part 2):

1. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed? Closed. But I have the bedroom door open and the window, as well, so I have enough air.

2. Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from hotels? No, but I take the cute little bars of soap!

3. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out? We have blankets that you can't tuck in. But if I have something tucked in in the hotel, I untuck them.

4. Have you stolen a street sign before? Definitely not but I know people who did.

5. Do you like to use post-it notes? All the time. I even cut them in smaller pieces and use them to mark parts in books.

6. Do you cut out coupons but then never use them? I can't remember the last time I cut out a coupon.

7. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees? Neither. But I think I'd prefer the swarm of bees.

8. Do you have freckles? No.

9. Do you always smile for pictures? No. I always say Americans have a photogenic gene, even the little kids stand up and smile as soon as you point the camera at them. That's why my American friends always have so many great family pictures and we don't.

10. What is your biggest pet peeve? My biggest one, that's a good question. Most of them have to do with spelling. I hate it when people spell incorrectly, not those typing mistakes that everyone makes from time to time but incorrect apostrophes or wrong words like "I would of done that". Makes me cringe!

11. Do you ever count your steps when you walk? Yes.

12. Have you peed in the woods? Yes.

13. Have you ever pooped in the woods? Yes.

14. Do you ever dance even if there’s no music playing? Sometimes.

15. Do you chew your pens and pencils? Definitely not!

16. How many people have you slept with this week? None of your business. LOL.

17. What size is your bed? Standard European double bed.

18. What is your song of the week? There are so many …... but a friend just posted about "Eleanor Rigby" so that might be it.

19. Is it ok for guys to wear pink? Of course, why not?

20. Do you still watch cartoons? Absolutely.

21. What is your least favourite movie? Anything science fiction or action

22. Where would you bury hidden treasure, if you had some? I'm not going to tell that in public.

23. What do you drink with dinner? Water.

24. What do you dip a chicken nugget in? Gosh, I haven't eaten chicken nuggets in ages but I like sweet and sour sauce with chicken.

25. What is your favourite food? Tough question. I love salads.

26. What movies could you watch over and over again and still love? Lots, my favourite is probably "When Harry Met Sally".

27. Last person you kissed/kissed you? A lady doesn't kiss and tell.

28. Were you ever a boy/girl scout? No but both my sons are Eagle Scouts.

29. Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine? Nope.

30. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper? A letter, I don't even remember but cards, I write lots of cards, the last one this week. And E-Mails.

31. Can you change the oil on a car? I once learned it but that was decades ago. No idea whether I'd still do it right. But I can jump start a car, done that a lot.

32. Ever gotten a speeding ticket? Oh yes.

33. Ever ran out of gas? No.

34. What’s your favourite kind of sandwich? Cucumber.

35. Best thing to eat for breakfast? Bread rolls.

36. What is your usual bedtime? Late.

37. Are you lazy? Sometimes.

38. When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween? We didn't celebrate Halloween in Germany. There are areas where we have carnival but we didn't have it where I grew up, either. Thank goodness.

39. What is your Chinese astrological sign? Rooster.

40. How many languages can you speak? Let me think, perfectly to well enough five, enough to communicate, four more. And I know a little Latin.

41. Do you have any magazine subscriptions? I subscribe to a Killer Sudoku magazine that I can't get here in the shops.

42. Which are better: Legos or Lincoln logs? I didn't even know what Lincoln logs were until I saw this question. And even before checking, I knew it has to be Lego. We are a Lego household.

43. Are you stubborn? I don't think so but you better ask my husband.

44. Who is better: Kimmel or Fallon? Not my type of entertainment.

45. Ever watch soap operas? I used to watch Dallas when it first came out, does that count?

46. Are you afraid of heights? Nope.

47. Do you sing in the car? Of course.

48. Do you sing in the shower? See question 47.

49. Do you dance in the car? Haha, I don't know how I could do that.

50. Ever used a gun? Only a glue gun.

If you would like to participate, feel free to do your own list. And don't forget to put a link in my comments so I can see what you came up with. Thanks.

This blog idea was inspired by Four Hats & Frugal. They made it into a video series on YouTube (hence question #100). You can see the original post here.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Top Ten Tuesday ~ New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2021

          

"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, our topic is New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2021. That's an easy one, I had them in my Statistics 2021.

So, here we go:
Barbery, Muriel "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" (F: L’Elégance du hérisson) - 2006
Elliot, Jason "An Unexpected Light. Travels in Afghanistan" - 1999
Harris, Kamala "The Truths We Hold. An American Journey" - 2019
Hetmann, Frederik "Dream sounds. or the longest fairy tale that ever existed" (GE: Traumklänge. oder das längste Märchen, das es je gab) - 2004
Kennel, Odile "What Ida says" (GE: Was Ida sagt) - 2011
Lee, Min Jin "Pachinko" - 2017
McLain, Paula "The Paris Wife" - 2012
Menasse, Robert "The Capital" (GE: Die Hauptstadt) - 2017
Singer, Isaac Bashevis "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy" - 1983
Towles, Amor "A Gentleman in Moscow" - 2016

I'm looking forward to seeing what others come up with.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Böll, Heinrich "The Silent Angel"

Böll, Heinrich "The Silent Angel" (German: Der Engel schwieg) - 1949/50

I know I've read books by Böll at school. But that's a long time ago and I doubt I've read one since. I don't know why. I love Nobel Prize winners and he is one. I usually read his kind of genre. Still, no idea why I never read anything by him again but here we are.

I finally made it and read one of his books. "The Silent Angel" is about a soldier who returns to Germany after WWII. With false papers. He goes back to his old home town, Cologne (also Heinrich Böll's home town) and tries to just survive, like so many others. He finds good people who help him but also bigoted ones who only think about themselves.

A very touching story about how people want to get back into life after all the horrors of the war. Cologne was particularly beaten, probably one of the most destroyed German towns after Dresden. You can still tell today because there is hardly anything left from what stood there before the war. Just the cathedral, the rest is all built new, mostly ugly buildings erected quickly after the war so people had somewhere to stay.

Even though the novel was written in 1949, it didn't get published until 1992. I guess that shows how much influence Nazis still had at the time. Not all of them ended up in Nürnberg.

Anyway, this novel shows how the "little man" fared during and after the war. Heinrich Böll has a great way of describing every little detail without it getting boring. I will surely read more of his books.

From the back cover:

"Just days after the end of World War II, German soldier Hans Schnitzler returns to a bombed German city, carrying a dead comrade's coat to his widow - not knowing that the coat contains a will. Soon Hans is caught in a dangerous intrigue involving the will; he also begins a tentative romance with another grieving woman, as together they seek an identity and a future together in the ruined city."

Heinrich Böll received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972 "for his writing, which through its combination of a broad perspective on his time and a sensitive skill in characterization has contributed to a renewal of German literature".

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

Friday, 21 January 2022

Book Quotes of the Week

 

"If you’re talking to a writer and they go 'this is a real masterpiece and I didn’t have no trouble,' trust me, that book stinks. The rest of us have to kind of go through this, you sort of live with this natural insecurity. The key is to understand it’s part of the process." Harlan Coben

He is probably right.

"We write to taste life in the moment and in retrospect." Anaïs Nin

And we read for the same reasons.

"But I just shrug, not knowing what to say. Can I explain to anyone that stories are like air to me, breathe them in and let them out and over again?" Jacqueline Woodson,
Brown Girl Dreaming

I think you can only understand it if you feel the same.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. Girl in Hyacinth Blue

Vreeland, Susan "Girl in Hyacinth Blue" - 1999

I read this because it was a good addition to "Girl with a Pearl Earring". This is another novel about a painting, in this case the life of the fictitious painting by Vermeer which is described starting with the last owner.

I loved this book, it shows history in its best form, through the people who lived it.

Read more on my original post here

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Brooks, Geraldine "Foreign Correspondence"

Brooks, Geraldine "Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal's Journey from Down Under to All Over" - 1997

Geraldine Brooks describes how she started writing to many different people from all over the world because she felt so far away from everything. That was the same for me, even though I lived in the middle of Europe. But at the time, the little village in Northern Germany might as well have been on the moon.

Other than that, there wasn't a huge difference in her upbringing and mine. We are about the same age and grew up in similar circumstances, though my parents were purely working class, no former singer or anything, and they were from the same area where they lived and died.

So, I really liked this story because it was also mine. When I was fourteen, I had my first penfriend. She was from Romania, and I met her once even though we are not in touch anymore. But I have two very good penfriends who started writing to me shortly afterwards, from France and the USA, and we are still in touch. The French friend has visited me several times (first alone, then with husband and family) and I have visited her, as well, same thing, first alone, later with husband, then with children.

I have lived abroad for more than half of my life. I think wanting to meet people from other countries stems from my first friendships by letters. I started to learn Esperanto when I got the opportunity and went abroad as soon as I was able to. Having penfriends certainly encouraged me to explore the world further.

But even if you don't belong to the keen letter writers, Geraldine Brooks has a fantastic way of describing her life as well as that of others, totally interesting.

So far, I have only read this book and "March" by Geraldine Brooks. Must change that.

From the back cover:

"As a young girl in a working-class neighborhood of Sydney, Australia, Geraldine Brooks longed to discover the places where history happens and culture comes from, so she enlisted pen pals who offered her a window on adolescence in the Middle East, Europe, and America. Twenty years later Brooks, an award-winning foreign correspondent, embarked on a human treasure hunt to find her pen friends. She found men and women whose lives had been shaped by war and hatred, by fame and notoriety, and by the ravages of mental illness. Intimate, moving, and often humorous, Foreign Correspondence speaks to the unquiet heart of every girl who has ever yearned to become a woman of the world."

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Top Ten Tuesday ~ 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

          

"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, our topic is 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To. I don't have that many 2021 Releases on my TBR pile since I was really good at my resolution not to buy too many books but here are a few that I either received lately as a gift or that are still on my wishlist (mostly because I wait for the paperback to be published):


Adams, Sara Nisha "The Reading List" - 2021
Doerr, Anthony "Cloud Cuckoo Land"- 2021 (Goodreads)
Lawson, Mary "A Town Called Solace" - 2021 (Goodreads)
Michaelidis, Alex "The Maidens" - 2021
(Goodreads)

Michel, Sascha; Hosemann, Jürgen (Hrsg./Ed.) "Weihnachtsgeschichten für Glückliche Stunden" [Christmas Stories for Happy Hours] - 2021
Orth, Stephan "Couchsurfing in Saudi-Arabien: Meine Reise durch ein Land zwischen Mittelalter und Zukunft" [Couchsurfing in Saudi Arabia: My Journey Through a Country Between the Middle Ages and the Future] - 2021 

Powers, Richard "Bewilderment" - 2021 (Goodreads)
Rutherfurd, Edward "China" - 2021
(Goodreads)
Towles, Amor "The Lincoln Highway" - 2021 (Goodreads)
Whitehead, Colson "Harlem Shuffle" - 2021 (Goodreads)

Monday, 17 January 2022

Menasse, Robert "The Capital"

Menasse, Robert "The Capital" (German: Die Hauptstadt) - 2017

I have lived in Brussels forty years ago and met my husband there. We have been back there at least once every year, most often more times. However, when my son found a job there, I realized that I have read very little about Belgium and nothing about Brussels itself. So, I went and searched some literature. This one received the German Book Prize in 2017 and was praised internationally. It is mentioned that it is the first book where Brussels is called the European capital. We have always called it that.

The book tells us about several officials from the Department of Culture and their jobs. The characters are as international as any of the offices of the European Union, they are from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, and the UK.

There is also a crime story for those who love that in a book. To be honest, I have no idea why that is needed for the story especially since it doesn't really have anything to do with the main story. The protagonists are mainly officials who work for the EU and try to accomplish something, mostly their promotion. We meet bureaucrats, experts, lobbyists … It shows how the different interests within the EU have to be considered for many events, laws, regulations. Not an easy task as we all know. Yet, we all benefit from our countries being a member of this large union - even if some don't want to see that.

One of the stories within this chunky book is the plan to celebrate the 50 year anniversary with a big jubilee project and how to arrange this so that everyone is happy about the outcome. We see the difficulty of reaching a European consensus and still have every state participate in the result.

Oh, and there is a pig. One of the introductions to the book is: "The threads come together in Brussels - and a pig runs through the streets." Again, not really necessary for the story.

But what makes this story worth reading is the message it brings us about the European Union. It is one of the most important organizations we have ever been part of. It has united many countries that were enemies before, brought us not only prosperity but peace for the longest time anyone can ever remember. Just for that, I think this book is significant.

From the back cover:

"Brussels. A panorama of tragic heroes, manipulative losers, involuntary accomplices. In his new novel, Robert Menasse spans a narrative arc between the times, the nations, the inevitable and the irony of fate, between petty bureaucracy and big emotions.

Fenia Xenapoulou is facing a career setback. She has been 'promoted' to the Department of Culture by the Directorate General - no budget, no power, no reputation. So the 'Big Jubilee Project' comes just at the right time for her: she is to revamp the boring image of the European Commission. Her Austrian personal assistant Martin Susmann suggests proclaiming Auschwitz as the birthplace of the European Commission. Fenia is thrilled, but she didn't take the other European nations into account. Austria: a Polish camp could not be misused to question the Austrian nation. Poland: Auschwitz is a German problem. Germany: Islam, by now a part of Germany, had nothing to do with Auschwitz. What's more, Fenia can't count on David de Vriend, one of the last living witnesses, any longer: he runs to the metro station Maalbeek at the wrong time.

Inspector Brunfaut is in a difficult situation as well. He is supposed to leave a murder case covered up at the highest level at rest. But luckily he is friends with the chief computer scientists of the Brussels Police Department, who can gain access to the secret files of the public prosecutor's office. Matek, the Polish hitman, knows nothing of this when he makes his escape. But he does know that he shot the wrong guy. That’s not nothing to Matek. He would rather have become ordained a priest; the fact that he had to follow his father's and grandfather's footsteps in becoming a 'soldier of Christ', doesn’t really make him happy. And yes, there are others who are unhappy as well: the pig farmers who take to the streets with pitchforks in protest of the existing trade restrictions blocking the profitable export of pigs' ears to China.
"

Friday, 14 January 2022

Book Quotes of the Week

 

"A classic is a book that comes before other classics; but anyone who has read the others first, and then reads this one, instantly recognizes its place in the family tree." Italo Calvino, Why Read the Classics

And the classic readers are all a big family.

"She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries which are the best sorts of people." Catherynne M. Valente

Definitely.

"In my dream world, books are free and reading makes you thin." N.N. *


Wouldn't that be fantastic? Thanks, Carole @ Carole's Chatter for finding this.


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, 13 January 2022

TBR Pile Reading Challenge 2022


One of my favourite Reading Challenges that I joined in 2016.

I don't think Evie from the Bookish Blog still carries this on, as I can't find it on her page but her words with which she started this challenge are still true: "We all have those books. We buy them, win them, they're gifted to us. Then we put them up on a bookshelf and there they stay, collecting dust, waiting for the time when we'll finally decide to pick them up."


After six years of participation, my TBR (To Be Read) pile is still a lot longer than it should because I just can't resist buying any new books and going to the library but I have tried to attempt reading more old books than buying new ones.


I could, of course, try to tackle the 50+ challenge but we all know that is not going to happen, instead, I tried to do at least 11-20 old books in addition to the new ones I'm buying and those I get from the library and wished to be pleasantly surprised at the end of the year. That happened, I have reached the 21-30 (First Kiss) and 31-40 (Sweet Summer Fling) in the last years, maybe I can get to 41-50 (Could This Be Love?) one day.

I have read
37 books in 2016,
32 in 2017,

38 in 2018
23 in 2019 and 
25 in 2020 
39 in 2021
of the books that had been waiting to be read for more than a year.
I hope I will manage more in 2022.
(I always add the German title in brackets for my German friends)

So far, I have already read these of my "old books" in 2022:
Van Dyke, Henry "The Story of the Other Wise Man" (Der vierte Weise) - 1896
Cather, Willa "Shadows on the Rock" (Schatten auf dem Fels) - 1931
Harari, Yuval Noah "21 Lessons for the 21st Century" (21 Lektionen für das 21. Jahrhundert) - 2018
Enquist, Anna "Mei" [May] (Mai) - 2007

Lodge, David "A Man of Parts" (Ein ganzer Mann) - 2011
Eichendorff, Joseph von "
Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts" (Life of a Good-For-Nothing) - 1826
Boschwitz, Ulrich Alexander "Der Reisende" (The Passenger/The Fugitive) - 1939

Reading Challenge - Chunky Books 2022

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
2021:
24 chunky books, 10 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.]

Shakib, Siba "Eskandar" (GE: Eskandar) - 2009 - 608 pages
Lodge, David "A Man of Parts" (Ein ganzer Mann) - 2011 - 576 pages
Ilf, Ilya; Petrov, Yevgeny "The Twelve Chairs" (Двенадцать стульев/Dvenadtsat stulyev) - 1928 - 574 pages

I read 3 chunky books in 2022 of which 0 are considered a chunkster.

If you want to do this challenge or just check at the end of the year what category you are, here is the list:

    The Chubby Chunkster - this option is for the readers who want to dabble in large tomes, but really doesn't want to commit to much more than that. FOUR Chunksters is all you need to finish this challenge.
    The Plump Primer - this option is for the slightly heavier reader who wants to commit to SIX Chunksters over the next twelve months.
    Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big? - this option is for the reader who can't resist bigger and bigger books and wants to commit to SIX Chunksters from the following categories: 2 books which are between 450 - 550 pages in length; 2 books which are 551 - 750 pages in length; 2 books which are GREATER than 750 pages in length (for ideas, please refer to the book suggestions page for some books which fit into these categories).
    Mor-book-ly Obese - This is for the truly out of control chunkster. For this level of challenge you must commit to EIGHT or more Chunksters of which three tomes MUST be 750 pages or more. You know you want to.....go on and give in to your cravings. 

Looks like I've always been "more book-ly obese". 😂 

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Singer, Isaac Bashevis "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy"


Singer, Isaac Bashevis "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy" (Yiddish: נטל בחור ישיבה/Yenṭl der Yeshive-boḥer) - 1983

I am a huge Barbra Streisand fan and have seen quite a few of her films. And one of my favourite movies ever (not just by and with Barbra) is "Yentl". So, I was surprised to only now find out that it was based on a book. Of course, I could have guessed, such a great story, even if they changed quite a few important parts from the story in the film. So, it's probably a good thing I saw the movie first.

Unfortunately, it's only a short story, I'm sure Nobel Prize winner Isaac B. Singer would have had more ideas to describe Yentl and her life. But, nevertheless, it is a fantastic story and I hope to read more by this fantastic author.

From the back cover:

"Recognizing that Yentyl seems to have the soul and disposition of a man, her father studies the Torah and other holy books with her. When he dies, Yentyl feels that she no longer has a reason to remain in the village, and so, late one night, she cuts off her hair, dresses as a young man, and sets out to find a yeshiva where she can continue her studies and live secretly as a man."

Isaac Bashevis Singer received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978 "for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life".

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

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Book(ish) Christmas Presents

         

"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, our topic is Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection and I didn't even have to twist that topic as much as usual. I just chose my bookish Christmas presents.

The Bake-Off Team "The Great British Bake Off: A Bake for all Seasons" - 2021 (Goodreads)

Obama, Barack; Springsteen, Bruce "Renegades: Born in the USA" - 2021 (Goodreads)

Rutherfurd, Edward "China" - 2021 (Goodreads)

Sauer, Walter, Hrsg. "Die Weihnachtsgeschichte in den Sprachen Europas" [The Christmas story in the languages of Europe] - 1995
(Goodreads)

Whilst the first three were on my wishlist, I hadn't even heard of the last one. My brother found it this summer and knew it was the perfect Christmas present for me. And it was. It contains all European languages including e.g. Basque and some languages I had never heard of as well as my native language Lower German and Esperanto. Brilliant.

The non-books among my bookish presents are a large and sturdy tote for all of the "bookworm's belongings" (including a tote, LOL), a pillow with a dinosaur carrying lots and lots of books and a Christmas ornament that went directly on our tree.

The most beautiful Christmas present, however, was that my sons made it home this year.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Trotter, Derek "Del Boy" "He Who Dares"

Trotter, Derek "Del Boy" (Family of John Sullivan) "He Who Dares" - 2015

Last month, the subject for our Xanadu reading challenge was i.a. a comic novel or book of short stories, a biography or autobiography of a famous comedian or comic actor. So, I chose this one that had been on my TBR pile for a while since I wanted to wait until we finished the series on TV.

If you are British, you certainly have watched "Only Fools and Horses" and know all the stories about Del Boy (played by the fantastic David Jason), his brother Rodney (also called Dave), their grandfather and uncle Albert and their friends Trigger, Denzil, Boycie, Marlene, Mike, Mickey Pearce and many more. If you haven't watched this, you have missed out on a lot and certainly should start watching it ASAP. Here's a little glimpse of what you can expect on YouTube: Del Boy Falls Through the Bar.

Well, if that doesn't make you want to see more, I don't know what will.

John Sullivan was an English scriptwriter and he created "Only Fools and Horses" and all those lovely characters (and many other series). Unfortunately, he died at age 64, otherwise I am sure there would have been more great shows.

Well, his family has published Del Boy's "biography", "written by himself". (Obviously, we have no idea who wrote this because Del Boy doesn't exist and his creator wasn't alive anymore.) Here, he explains in his usual charming way and his impeccable French (sarcasm) how his life went. As amusing as the television series. If you love the British sense of humour, this is for you, the book AND the series.

From the back cover:

"International playboy and entrepreneur Derek 'Del Boy' Trotter knew from a young age that he was destined for greatness. He Who Dares is his no-holds-barred account of his dreams and schemes on the long and winding road to becoming a millionaire (and the short and straight one back to being potless)."

Friday, 7 January 2022

Book Quotes of the Week

 

"And all the books you've read have been read by other people. And all the songs you've loved have been heard by other people. And that girl that's pretty to you is pretty to other people. And you know that if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would feel great because you are describing 'unity'." Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

There is always a lot of consolation of knowing other people have felt and still feel the same.

"Bookstores always remind me that there are good things in this world." Vincent Van Gogh

So true. And if you know Vincent Van Gogh's story and look at his pictures you can see that there is a lot of beauty everywhere and a lot of good exists.

"I stockpile books like extreme couponers stockpile groceries." N.N.
*

Since this is the beginning of the year, many bloggers have put up their statistics (including me) and there is one sentiment among all of us, we can't stop buying books even though we have
TBR piles we can never finish in one lifetime.

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, 6 January 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. Girl with a Pearl Earring

Chevalier, Tracy "Girl with a Pearl Earring" - 1999

16 year old Griet from Delft is a maid in the house of the famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. She doesn't just become a good help, she also is the model for his famous picture "Girl with a Pearl Earring".

The author describes the way a painting is done, the politics behind it, the life in the 1600s both in poor and rich houses.

This was the first of many books by Tracy Chevalier that I read.

Read more on my original post here.   

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Carroll, Lewis "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Carroll, Lewis "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" - 1865

When our sons were little, we used to watch all the animated films with them that were available at the time. I still watch some of them now when it looks interesting, for example, I absolutely love "Up" which came out when the boys had long left the house.

I loved them all. Except for one. I suppose you can guess it. Yes, it was "Alice in Wonderland". It just isn't my thing, too weird for my liking. When Tim Burton made a film out of it, I thought, right, it fits, I don't like those kinds of films anyway. Then our book club decided to read it and I thought, okay, I'll give it one last chance. Maybe I do like the written story.

However, I am even more confused than I was after the animation. I just find it all too ridiculous. And I didn't like Alice. Or any of the characters in the story. Nope, not for me. Maybe it is different when you read it as a child but I've read a lot of children's books for the first time when I was an adult (mainly due to the fact that English isn't my first language) and loved most of them.

Luckily, not all think like me. Here is a comment by one of our book club members:
"I loved the very complex language, rhyme, easter-eggs related to real people and happenings, and great humor. We also had a really interesting talk about the author and his life and most likely Mensa level IQ."

And another one:
"When I was about 8 years old I read this book for the first time and what I recall is the sense of anxiety it gave me. It seemed Alice could not do right. Since then I have read this book a few times, usually in an annotated version that helped make sense of the adventures.

This time around I read a very richly annotated and illustrated version. ("Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Decoded" by David Day, 2015, Doubleday Canada, 289 pages) The author explores layers upon layers of references and meanings, writing alongside the original text. Many of the characters are satirically drawn figures from Victorian England and Oxford University, especially the political opponents of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) at Christ Church. One such opponent is Alice's father, Henry George Liddell, dean of Christ Church who is cast as the King of Hearts. 

A picture of the author emerges as a clever, privileged, petty and self-serving creep. At the same time, Dodgson makes lovely puns and flourishes symbolism in religion and the Cabala and the Rosicrucians and Freemasonry. He enjoys obscure mathematical relationships. He compares the Wonderland Hall to the Great Hall at Christ Church ( of Hogwort's fame) and also to the Hall of the Initiates at Eleusius. 

On one level Alice's adventures trace the myth of Persephone. I suspect that the enduring appeal of the Alice stories is not so much the cleverness and symbolism but the underlying story of transformation and empowerment. It still makes me anxious."

We read this in our book club in December 2021.

From the back cover:

"... suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

So begins Lewis Carroll's famous story, which has become one of the best-loved books ever written.

Alice's adventures lead her down the rabbit-hole into Wonderland, where she meets an array of curious characters, including the Mad Hatter, the Mock Turtle and the grinning Cheshire-Cat."

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Spell the Month in Books ~ January 2022

 

I found this on one of the blogs I follow, Books are the New Black who found it at One Book More. It was originally created by Reviews from the Stacks, and the idea is to spell the month using the first letter of book titles.

JANUARY

New Year, fresh start. I have decided to go with the rules this year, as far as I can, of course.

J
Mak, Geert "Jorwerd: The Death of the Village in late 20th Century" (NL: Hoe God verdween uit Jorwerd) - 1996
The subtitle of this book says it all. This story about a small village in Friesland could be the story of most small villages in Europe. The changes it underwent in the first half of the 20th century, changing from farming to a commuting place, the influence of modern technology on a people that had lived off the land for centuries is universal.

A
Collins, Wilkie "Armadale" - 1866
Victorian literature at its best. The confessions on a death bed and what they lead to.

N
Zweig, Stefanie - "Nowhere in Africa" (GE: Nirgendwo in Afrika) - 1995
We are writing the year 1938 and Jewish attorney Walter Redlich manages to flee Nazi Germany in the last minute. An almost-autobiography of author Stefanie Zweig.

U
Whitehead, Colson "Underground Railroad" - 1916
The story of a slave, who tries to run away from her abusive "master" - brilliant description of everyone involved, the slaves, their helpers, ordinary people who just think it's not right to own other human beings. Written from many perspectives, it also gives us a new idea about the "underground" part of the railroad.

A
Doerr, Anthony "All the Light We Cannot See" - 2014

A different kind of war story, a story about the little people, on either side of the war, those that had not much to say about what was happening to them and who paid the highest price. The story of a German orphan boy and a blind French girl who both suffer from what happened, who were probably not even in school when the election in Germany decided about their fate and who had to pay the highest price.

R
Nafisi, Azar "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books" - 2003
A beautifully written memoir about a dark time, not just a book about different books and a class discussing them, it is a precise account of a country turning from modern times into the past, taking away the human rights of half of their population, something that happens all over this world.

Y
Schrobsdorff, Angelika "You Are Not Like Other Mothers" (GE: Du bist nicht so wie andre Mütter) - 1992
The life of a Jewish mother at the beginning of the last century.