Thursday 30 June 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. Holes

Sachar, Louis "Holes" - 1998
Sachar, Louis "Small Steps" - 2006
Sachar, Louis "Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake" - 2003

A wonderful trilogy that I can only recommend to all parents for their children. Especially for boys who otherwise might not read as much or don't like to read (which luckily I could never say about mine who both were avid readers).

Read more on my original posts
here, here and here

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Chevalier, Tracy "The Last Runaway"

Chevalier, Tracy "The Last Runaway" - 2013

I have liked Tracy Chevalier, ever since my first novel written by her, "Girl with a Pearl Earring". I have since read more of her books but not enough, as it looks like.

Her story of an English Quaker girl who emigrates to the United States in the middle of the 19th century is absolutely fantastic. I think with today's background, we can all follow the feelings and thoughts of Honor Bright, we can sympathize with her actions. She was pretty brave to leave her home country to accompany her sister who was going to get married there. Even with the whole family, some would not have done that given the choice.

I think the author researched the background pretty well. None of us has lived at the time but I have read quite a few books about slavery, the Underground Railroad, Quakers, all important topics in this book. We get a long list of books that Tracy Chevalier used for background information which makes me believe that we can trust that it's true what she writes in her story. This is definitely a well written and believable book.

I liked Honor Bright but I liked Belle Mills and Mrs. Reed just as much, if not even more. I could even forgive some of the other characters for what they did. Today, this would be unacceptable but back then, this was how it was.

I also loved that they included a map. I mean, I know where Ohio is but I wouldn't have known where the towns mentioned are supposed to be.

At the end of the book, Tracy Chevalier mentions that it gives hope to us still, that in extreme circumstances we too would still do the right thing. Yes, let's hope that, at least for us, because we can see every day that many, many people don't do the right thing and applaud even those who don't.

At the end of the novel, the author gives some recommendations about further readings. I have read two of the four books mentioned and can only second that opinion.

On the Civil War:
Frazier, Charles "Cold Mountain" - 1997
Jiles, Paulette "Enemy Women" - 2002
Olmstead, Robert "Coal Black Horse" - 2007

On the Effect of Slavery:
Morrison, Toni "Beloved"

From the back cover:

"Honor Bright is a sheltered Quaker who has rarely ventured out of 1850s Dorset when she impulsively emigrates to America. Opposed to the slavery that defines and divides the country, she finds her principles tested to the limit when a runaway slave appears at the farm of her new family. In this tough, unsentimental place, where whisky bottles sit alongside quilts, Honor befriends two spirited women who will teach her how to turn ideas into actions."

Tuesday 28 June 2022

Top Twelve Tuesday ~ Books on My Summer 2022 To-read List


"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 Books on My Summer 2022 To-read List
(or winter for those in the southern hemisphere)

My winter list had twenty three books: TTTT today - Top Twenty-Three Tuesdays and I still have twelve on that list, so they will hopefully become my summer read. I always have them on top of my TBR lists but then there are challenges (like the classic one) where I need to get out another one, book club books that take precedence or beloved authors who bring out new books. Well, we all know the impediments that can hinder us to finish that list. So, we'll see what's happening during the next season.

Ackroyd, Peter "Dominion: The History of England from the Battle of Waterloo to Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Volume V" - 2018 (Goodreads)
Fallada, Hans "Every Man Dies Alone" (Jeder stirbt für sich allein) - 1947
Hawes, James "The Shortest History of Germany - A Retelling for Our Times" - 2017 (Goodreads)
Kazantzakis, Nikos "The Last Temptation of Christ" (Ο τελευταίος πειρασμός/O telefteos pirasmos) - 1951
Keller, Gottfried "Novellen" (Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe u.a.) "Novellas" (A Village Romeo and Juliet and others) - 1855/56
Körner, Torsten "In der Männer-Republik. Wie Frauen die Politik eroberten" (GE) [In the men's republic: how women conquered politcs] - 2020 (Goodreads)
Mandelstam, Ossip "The Din of Time" (Шум времени/Shum vremeni) - 1925
Némirovsky, Irène "La Proie" [The Prey] - 1938
Pamuk, Orhan "Manzaradan Parçalar: Hayat, Sokaklar, Edebiyat" (TR) [Pieces from the View: Life, Streets, Literature] (German translation: Der Blick aus meinem Fenster) - 2008 (Goodreads)
Sadat, Jehan (جيهان السادات Dschihan as-Sadat) "A Woman of Egypt" - 1987 (Goodreads)
Wickert, Ulrich "Frankreich muss man lieben, um es zu verstehen" (GE) [You have to love France to understand it] - 2017
Wood, Levison "Eastern Horizons. Hitchhiking the Silk Road" - 2017

📚 Happy Reading! 📚

Monday 27 June 2022

Erdrich, Louise "Tracks"

Erdrich, Louise "Tracks" - 1988

Reasoning for this book in our book club:

"We start the summer season by reading a book about the natives of North America. The story is the third in the book series, but is situated first in time. The author herself belongs to the indigenous people of Ojibway on her mother’s side and is one of the best known indigenous writers in North America. She has received many literary awards, most recently the 2021 Pulizer Price for Fiction."

Some of my friends have told me about Louise Erdrich and how much they love her. Well, either I read one of the books that wasn't just the right one for me or we should have started with the first book in the series. I felt I missed a lot of the story. For instance, there is a family tree at the beginning but many of the characters mentioned don't appear in the book and don't seem to have anything to do with the "families" whereas quite a few of those that are taking part in the book are not mentioned. So, that was no help at all.

I am not the greatest reader of "fantastic fiction" though I like some South American "magic realism" and had expected this to be a similar novel.

However, it was completely different. I am open to any form of lifestyle but if I read about one that is so different from mine, I like it to be explained a little more.

I usually like a story to be told from various sides but this one was just too confusing, none of the characters made any sense to me. You don't really get to know any of them. And why are the two families enemies? That doesn't come through, either.

All in all, I do not recommend to read this book first, no matter what people tell you. I had the feeling it would have been better to start where the author started and then look back together with her. I've seen that in many other series and it usually works well. Often, I felt I needed some background story in order to "get it".

The other members, however, seemed to like the book. I had hoped to be able to say something similar about the book but I couldn't find a connection. Still, here are the comments:

  • There were so many good things about the book, it really opened up the world of native peoples cultures, lives, histories and struggles of survival while being narrated by all the different characters in their own point of view and in a lovely varied and colorful language.
  • Many of the issues in the book also resonated very strongly with the political world today.
  • I really loved this book, it was dramatic, but so gripping, brutal and mystical, but also so full of feeling and culture, history, nature and the characters were so real. I would never have picked this book up without the book club again, but feel I absolutely could be interested in reading more from the author and definitely more books about native cultures.
  • I also liked the writing point of view from the different characters. We had an interesting discussion about what other books we have read with this kind of varying point of narrator views, one was Orhan Pamuk "My Name is Red".  
  • I was very disappointed. I know a few people who love this author but I just couldn't get into it. And no, "My Name is Red" is one of my favourite books by one of my favourite authors and the only thing these two books have in common is that it's told by different characters.
    I wouldn't mind reading more about native cultures, I read those kind of books a lot. Maybe that's why I was disappointed. I don't know.

We read this in our international online book club in June 2022.

Book Description:

"Set in North Dakota at a time in this century when Indian tribes were struggling to keep what little remained of their lands, Tracks is a tale of passion and deep unrest. Over the course of ten crucial years, as tribal land and trust between people erode ceaselessly, men and women are pushed to the brink of their endurance, yet their pride and humor prohibit surrender. The reader will experience shock and pleasure in encountering a group of characters that are compelling and rich in their vigor, clarity, and indomitable vitality."

Friday 24 June 2022

Book Quotes of the Week

"Public education does not exist for the benefit of students or the benefit of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order.

We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated population. You do not need to be a student or have a child who is a student to benefit from public education. Every second of every day of your life, you benefit from public education.

So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools, even though I don't personally have a kid in school: It's because I don't like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people."
John Green

He says it precisely as it is.

"History is said to be written by the victors. Fiction, by contrast, is largely the work of injured bystanders." Edna O'Brien

And they often know a lot better what really happened.

"Time has become quite flexible inside the library. (This is true of most places with interesting books. Sit down to read for twenty minutes, and suddenly it’s dark, with no clue as to where the hours have gone.)" Jonathan Strahan

Haven't we all been there?

Find more book quotes here

Thursday 23 June 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. The Prophet

Gibran, Khalil "The Prophet" - 1923 

Even though I normally don't like poetry as much as novels, I really liked this one.

Somewhere I read the book attempts to provide the reader with a guide to living. And I think that is exactly what it tries and in what it succeeds quite well.

Read more on my original post here.

Wednesday 22 June 2022

🇫🇷 Paris in July 🇫🇷

July is with us again and so is Paris in July.

Welcome to another exciting month where we exchange reviews about books we read about Paris. Last year, I read three books and posted about the movies I have seen about Paris (see here).

I found the challenge last year at Lisbeth @ The Content Reader. Tamara @ Thyme for Tea has been hosting a Paris in July challenge for eleven years. This year, she hosts together with Deb @ Readerbuzz. She has been posting lovely Paris pictures for the last couple of weeks on her Wordless Wednesdays. Check out her page here.

Before July starts, maybe some of you would like some ideas. Here is a list about all the books I read where Paris is either the topic or at least part of the read.

Barbery, Muriel "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" (F: L’Elégance du hérisson) - 2006
Beauvoir, Simone de "She came to stay" (F: L'invitée) - 1943Broerken, Hella "Paris Walks" (GE: Paris-Spaziergänge) - 2013

Clarke, Stephen "A Year in the Merde" - 2004
- "Merde actually" (aka In the Merde for Love) - 2006
Dickens, Charles
"A Tale of Two Cities" - 1859
Doerr, Anthony "All the Light We Cannot See" - 2014 
Gavalda, Anna "Hunting and Gathering" (F: Ensemble c’est tout) - 2006
"I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere" (F: Je voudrais quelqu’un m’attende quelque part) - 1999 (short stories)
Gopnik, Adam "Paris to the Moon" - 2000
Hugo, Victor "Les Misérables" (F: Les Misérables) - 1862
Mak, Geert
"In Europe. Travels Through the Twentieth Century" (NL: In Europa: Reizen door de twintigste eeuw) - 2004
McLain, Paula "The Paris Wife" - 2012
Modiano, Patrick "La Place de l'Étoile" (F: La Place de l'Étoile) - 1968
Némirovsky, Irène "Suite Française" (F: Suite Française) - 2004
Rutherfurd, Edward "Paris" - 2013
Sadler, Michael "An Englishman in Paris" - 2000
Savage Carlson, Natalie "The Family Under the Bridge" - 1958
Schmitt, Éric-Emmanuel "Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran" (F: Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran) - 1999
- "Oscar and the Lady in Pink" (F: Oscar et la dame rose) - 2002
Schwarzer, Alice "My Life" (GE: Lebenslauf) - 2011
Serreau, Coline "Pilgrimage in French" (F: Saint-Jacques... La Mecque/Pilgern auf Französisch) - 2008
Simenon, Georges "Maigret Sets a Trap"
(Maigret #48) (F: Maigret tend un piège) - 1958
Slimani, Leïla "Adèle" (F: Dans le jardin de l'ogre) - 2014
Wickert, Ulrich "Everything About Paris" (GE: Alles über Paris) - 2004

Camus, Albert "The First Man" (F: Le premier homme) - 1994

Books I read about France or the French language:
Camus, Albert "
The First Man" (F: Le premier homme) - 1994
Conrad, François "Why German Barks and French Purrs" (GE: Warum Deutsch bellt und Französisch schnurrt) - 2021
Delacourt, Grégoire "The List of My Desires/My Wish List" (F: La liste de mes envies) - 2012
Drinkwater, Carol "The Olive Farm" and further Olive Farm Books - 2001-2010
- "The Olive Harvest" - 2006
Dumas, Alexandre "The Count of Monte Cristo" (F: Le comte de Monte-Cristo) - 1844-46
Kennel, Odile "What Ida says" (GE: Was Ida sagt) - 2011
Mayle, Peter "A Year in Provence" - 1998
Philippe, Daniele "My Europe Began in Normandy" (J'avais quinze ans en juin 1944 en Normandie) - 1988
Sand, George "Fadette" (aka Fanchon, the Cricket)) (F: La Petite Fadette) - 1849

Stendhal "The Red and the Black" (F: Le Rouge et le Noir) - 1830
Stevenson, Helen "Instructions for Visitors. Life and Love in a French Town" - 2001

In the end, I read two books this year:
Leroux, Gaston "The Phantom of the Opera" (F: Le Fantôme de l'Opéra) - 1910
Némirovsky, Irène
"La Proie" [The Prey] - 1938

If you are looking for more books about France, have a look here.
And for my other Paris in July years, see here.

Also, if you have read an interesting book about Paris or France or a book taking place there, please, let me know. If you have reviewed it, I'd be grateful for a link.

🇫🇷 Joyeux Juillet 🇫🇷

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Top Ten Tuesday - Books with the Word Book in the Title


"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
Bookish Wishes

Jana's birthday is today, so she's celebrating it and asked us to list the top 10 books we’d love to own. But, as so often, I've done this kind of list a couple of times lately:

Books I Hope Santa Brings/Bookish Wishes

Most Anticipated Books of the Second Half of 2021

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings 

Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist

Top Twelve Books I Loved that Made Me Want More Books Like Them

Therefore, I decided to go back to a good old favourite of mine, books with a certain word in the title, in this case, since we talk about bookish wishes: Book. I had no idea I had read so many books with word book in the title, let alone notebook. Totally interesting.

Abdolah, Kader "My Father’s Notebook" (NL: Spijkerschrift)
- 2000
Almost an autobiography. Ishmael, the protagonist in this story, has a deaf-mute father who works as a carpet restaurateur in Iran.

Allende, Isabel "Maya's Notebook" (E: El Cuaderno de Maya) - 2011
Maya is a girl with a tremendous story. She has a Chilean father and a Danish mother and is brought up by her Chilean grandmother and her second husband who is African American. Can it get any more international?

Campbell, Jen "The Bookshop Book" - 2014
Another approach to discovering bookshops. The author has more or less travelled around the world for us, interviewed bookshop owners, employees, authors, readers, anyone who has anything to do with producing and consuming books.

Fforde, Jasper "Lost in a Good Book" - 2002
Thursday Next works for SpecOps 27, the Literary Deceives (LiteraTecs) in Special Operations, a fictional division of the British government. With the help of special gadgets and skills, she can enter books and move from one to the next, this is called "bookjumping". This time, she spends a lot of time in "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens.

Lessing, Doris "The Golden Notebook" - 1962
One of those books that I still remember after many many years. I thought it was very good and very sensitive, approached the subject of women's liberation in a very unique but helpful way.

Lundberg, Sofia "The Red Address Book" (SW: Den röda adressboken) - 2015
A lovely story about an elderly lady who reflects on her life with the help of modern technology and her old address book.

Oates, Joyce Carol "A Book of American Martyrs" - 2017
One of my favourite authors. As usual, her characters are so alive, so real, incredible. Of course, I don't understand people who condone one sort of killing and then go on to do another one. A fascinating book about a subject that should be discussed much more than "I'm against abortion". (Please, read my whole review.)

Pamuk, Orhan "The Black Book" (TR: Kara Kitap) - 1990
Another one of my absolute favourite authors. A man is looking for his wife who disappeared. He is roaming the streets of Istanbul in order to look back at their past. But there is so much behind the plot, so many "meetings", present meets past, East meets West, religion meets secularism. You will definitely want to visit Istanbul after reading this.

Sparks, Nicholas "The Notebook" - 2004
An alright story, a love story, poor boy loves rich girl and all the obstacles that there are in these kinds of novels which you know they will overcome. Most probably the only book I will ever read by Nicholas Sparks.

Taylor, Andrew James "Books That Changed the World" - 2008
Definitely one of the best list of books to read I have seen! A list of important books that made a major impact on our present view of the world. I haven't read all of them but I am sure most people have heard the titles and the authors at some point in their life.

I hope you enjoyed my little trip around the books and bookshelves of the world. And maybe I find more wishes on your lists.

📚 Happy Reading! 📚

Monday 20 June 2022

Tucholsky, Kurt "Rheinsberg"

Tucholsky, Kurt "Rheinsberg - a Storybook for Lovers" (German: Rheinsberg - ein Bilderbuch für Verliebte) - 1912

This is a lovely little story about a young couple in love, nothing less, nothing more. It was written in 1912, when nobody thought about war but young people tried to enjoy their lives. While it is not an autobiography, it carries snippets of the authors life. But he also criticizes the society at the beginning of the 20th century that showed the world an image of Kaiser Wilhelm's times.

The book was a scandal. An unmarried couple on holidays together for a weekend, pretending to be married, sharing a room. But it has been a favourite among German readers ever since, still more than a hundred years later. It was also turned into a nice little film in 1967 (see here).

This was Kurt Tucholsky's first success, he had many more, the most popular "Schloß Gripsholm", similar to this story but published later, in 1931. Then, he had to feat something worse than the outrage of prude readers, he was not only left wing, a pacifist, anti-military (especially after having to serve during WWI) and definitely anti-Nazi, he was also Jewish. He wrote with many different pseudonyms, e.g. Peter Panter, Theobald Tiger, Ignaz Wrobel but mostly Kaspar Hauser. Still, he fled to Sweden where he died of an overdose of his painkillers and there is a dispute whether this was intentional or accidental.

Kurt Tucholsky has given the world some lovely stories but, even more important, he has set an example that we shouldn't be quiet if we think something is not right. If there were more Tucholskys and fewer Nazis, the world would be a better place.

From the back cover:

"One summer before World War I, a young couple escapes on a romantic weekend getaway to the small German town of Rheinsberg, north of Berlin, in the midst of a rural landscape filled with country houses and castles, cobble-stone streets, lush forests, and dreamy lakes. The story of Wolfie and Claire, told with a fresh, new style of ironic humor, became Kurt Tucholsky’s first literary success and the blueprint for love for an entire generation.

Kurt Tucholsky was a was a brilliant satirist, poet, storyteller, lyricist, pacifist, and Democrat; a fighter, lady’s man, one of the most famous journalists in Weimar Germany, and an early warner against the Nazis. Erich Kaestner called him a small, fat Berliner,' who 'wanted to stop a catastrophe with his typewriter'. When Tucholsky began to write, he had five voices - in the end, he had none. His books were burned and banned by the Nazis, who drove him out of his country. But he is not forgotten.

Friday 17 June 2022

Book Quotes of the Week


"A word after a word after a word is power." Margaret Atwood

She certainly knows what she's talking about.

"We are all stardust and stories." Erin Morgenstern,
The Starless Sea

Nice thought.

"Being surrounded by books was the closest she’d ever gotten to feeling like the member of a gang. The books had her back, and the nonfiction, at least, was ready to fight if necessary." Abbi Waxman,
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Books can be the best of friends.

Find more book quotes here