Saturday 30 July 2022

The Classics Club: The Classics Spin


"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.

On her page, I found the posts by "The Classics Club" asking us to create a post 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 a couple of weeks to read the book and review it.

I've been participating here since April 2019 and rather than adding all the results on every single page again and again, I thought I'd publish a single post for it and add the next books whenever they turn up.

For Classics Spin #20, we got #19:
James, Henry "Daisy Miller" - 1879
For Classics Spin #23, we got #8:
Stendhal "Le Rouge et le Noir" (The Red and the Black) - 1830
For Classics Spin #24, we got #18:
Baum, L. Frank "The Wizard of Oz" - 1900
For Classics Spin #25, we 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
For Classics Spin #27, we got #6:
Frost, Robert "A Boy’s Will" and "North of Boston" - 1913+1914
For Classics Spin #28, we got #12:
Highsmith, Patricia "The Talented Mr. Ripley" - 1955
For Classics Spin #29, we got #11:
Boschwitz, Ulrich Alexander "The Passenger" aka "The Fugitive" (Der Reisende) - 1939
For Classics Spin #30,we got #5:
Leroux, Gaston "The Phantom of the Opera" (Le Fantôme de l'Opéra) - 1910
For Classics Spin #31 we got #2:
Brontë, Charlotte "Shirley" - 1849
For Classics Spin #32 we got #6:
Suttner, Bertha von "Lay Down Your Arms!" (Die Waffen nieder!) - 1889
For Classics Spin #33 we got #18:
Lagerkvist, Pär "Barabbas" (Barabbas) - 1950
For Classics Spin #34, we got #13:
Canetti, Elias "Auto-da-Fé" (Die Blendung) - 1935
For Classics Spin #35, we got  #2:
Voltaire "Candide, ou l'Optimisme" (Candide, or Optimism) - 1759
For the Classics Spin #36, we received #20:
Yates, Richard "Revolutionary Road" - 1961
For the Classics Spin #37, we received #8:
Hamsun, Knut "Growth of the Soil" (Markens Grøde) - 1917

Here are all the books on my original Classics Club list.

Friday 29 July 2022

Book Quotes of the Week


"Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on." Louis L'Amour

I've never read anything by Louis L'Amour and I've heard people speaking not very kindly of his books but he hits the nail on its head here.

"A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest." C.S. Lewis

He's right there. I have always enjoyed the stories I read to my children.

"My version of a haunted house is one with no books." N.N. *

That must be a terrible house!

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

Find more book quotes here.  

Thursday 28 July 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series


McCall Smith, Alexander "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" Series

Books 1 to 9:
- "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" (1) - 1999
- "Tears of the Giraffe" (2) - 2000
- "Morality for Beautiful Girls" (3) - 2001
- "The Kalahari Typing School for Men" (4) - 2002
- "The Full Cupboard of Life" (5) - 2004
- "In the Company of Cheerful Ladies" (6) - 2004
- "Blue Shoes and Happiness" (7) - 2006
- "The Good Husband of Zebra Drive" (8) - 2007
- "The Miracle at Speedy Motors" (9) - 2008
- "Tea Time for the Traditionally Built" (10) - 2009

Books 11-17
- "The Double Comfort Safari Club" (11) - 2010
- "The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party" (12) - 2011
- "The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection" (13) - 2012
- "The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon" (14) - 2013
- "The Handsome Man's De Luxe Café" (15) - 2014
- "The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine" (16) - 2015
- "Precious and Grace" (17) - 2016

Light stories, easy reads but quite amusing, not the usual "easy reads" with nothing memorable in it. The little detective stories are nice but not too gruesome and there is a lot of information about Botswana in it.

We discussed this in our international book club in November 2004 and June 2008 (different members).

Read more on my original posts here, here and here.

Tuesday 26 July 2022

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Top Books I Will Never Read


"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 From My Past Seasonal TBR Posts I STILL Haven’t Read

I just did that when we put together our Summer To Read Lists and incorporated all those.

Which means I have to come up with another twist.

So I thought maybe I should list the books on several top lists that I haven't read and probably never will. They just don't belong to my favourite genres. And I have read plenty of others from that type of books to know I won't enjoy them. Except for "Sophie's Choice". I have seen the film and thought it was the most horrible thing one could ever think of.

So, no pictures of the book covers today.

Brown, Dan "Angels and Demons"
Evans, Nicholas "The Horse Whisperer"
Herbert, Frank "Dune"
Le Carré, John "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Le Guin, Ursula K. "The Earthsea" (Trilogy)
Pratchett, Terry "The Discworld" (Series)
Pullman, Philip "His Dark Materials"
Ransome, Arthur "Swallows and Amazons"
Sebold, Alice "The Lovely Bones"
Styron, William "Sophie's Choice"
Tolkien, J.R.R. "The Lord of the Rings"

There are many, many more books that I know I wouldn't read but these are all on "the 100 best books … blah blah … everyone should read … have sold most … blah blah …" lists. I read plenty of them as you can see here.

📚 Happy Reading! 📚

Monday 25 July 2022

Bellow, Saul "Humboldt's Gift"

Bellow, Saul "Humboldt's Gift" - 1975

I try to read the latest Nobel Prize winner for Literature and at least one former one every year. This was my fourth one since the last laureate was announced. I still need to get a copy of one of Abdulrazak Gurnah's books before the next announcements in October.

Apparently, this book didn't just get the Pulitzer Prize, it is also said that it won Saul Bellow the Nobel Prize. In his acceptance speech, he called on writers to be beacons for civilization and awaken it from intellectual torpor.

An intense book, there is so much to talk about. The relationship between Charlie Citrine, our protagonist, and his friend Von Humboldt Fleisher, a renowned author who takes Charlie under his wings. Whilst he is only at the beginning of this career, he tells us this story from the point of view when it has more or less ended.

When I was reading the book, I'd been wondering whether this might have been a biography, or at least partly a biography. I then found out, that this is a "roman à clef" (French for novel with a key), a novel about real-life events that is overlaid with a façade of fiction. The fictitious names in the novel represent real people, and the "key" is the relationship between the nonfiction and the fiction. Aha! In this case, it's about the author's friendship with the poet Delmore Schwartz with Bellow being Citrine. Well, I'd never heard of Delmore Schwartz and now I have learned a lot about him (not just form the book, I also looked him up on Google and Wikipedia.) Very interesting, read the information in the links.

While this is probably a good account of Bellow's and Schwartz' relationship, the book also tries to come to terms with the constant changes in the world, especially in culture. The difference between the ideal world and the real one is a big topic in this book that was only supposed to be a short story but then ended up with almost 500 pages.

Brilliant storytelling with lots of fields covered: literature, culture, divorce, relationships, parenting, alcoholism, madness … and also all types of characters from all levels social classes, including a Mafia boss. Oh, and there's quite a bit of humour in the story, as well.

The Times mentions that "Bellows is one of the most gifted chroniclers of the Western World alive today." Apart from the fact that he has passed away in the meantime, I totally agree. So, if you're in for a great read, this is worth picking up.

From the back cover:

"For many years, the great poet Von Humboldt Fleisher and Charlie Citrine, a young man inflamed with a love for literature, were the best of friends. At the time of his death, however, Humboldt is a failure, and Charlie's life has reached a low point: his career is at a standstill, and he's enmeshed in an acrimonious divorce, infatuated with a highly unsuitable young woman and involved with a neurotic mafioso. And then Humboldt acts from beyond the grave, bestowing upon Charlie an unexpected legacy that may just help him turn his life around."

Saul Bellow received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976 "for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work" and the Pulitzer Prize for "Humboldt's Gift" also in 1976.

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 22 July 2022

Book Quotes of the Week


"The best stories are worth the risk of finding out the ending, you know? And sometimes, they're just a beginning to the next story." Pepper Basham, Jane by the Book

Those are the best.

"A vacation book doesn't need to have anything to do with where you are; it can be a destination in itself." Sarah Lyall

Most avid readers experience that all the time. Books can take us everywhere in the world and everywhere in time.

"Books, too, had hearts, though they were not the same as people’s, and a book’s heart could be broken: she had seen it happen before. Grimoires that refused to open, their voices gone silent, or whose ink faded and bled across the pages like tears." Margaret Rogerson,
Sorcery of Thorns

Of course, books have hearts. And souls. Otherwise they couldn't move us so much.

Find more book quotes here.  

Thursday 21 July 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. Cold Mountain

Frazier, Charles "Cold Mountain" - 1997

"Based on local history and family stories passed down by the author's great-great-grandfather, Cold Mountain is the tale of a wounded soldier Inman, who walks away from the ravages of the war and back home to his prewar sweetheart, Ada. Inman's odyssey through the devastated landscape of the soon-to-be-defeated South interweaves with Ada's struggle to revive her father's farm, with the help of an intrepid young drifter named Ruby. As their long-separated lives begin to converge at the close of the war, Inman and Ada confront the vastly transformed world they've been delivered."

This is one of my favourite book ever, a story about the American Civil War, about love, struggles in bad times, companionship. But it doesn't just show the life of people during the Civil War, it seems to be a never ending description of life. I think it is a great novel that will live on and be read for generations.

Charles Frazier has become one of my favourite authors.

We discussed this in our British Book Club in February 2000.

Read more on my original post here.

Wednesday 20 July 2022

10 Year Challenge Book Tag 2022

I was not tagged but saw this challenge on Deanna's page A Novel Glimpse through Bea @ Confessions of a Pinay Bookaholic. It was created by Rincey Reads. It’s a fun tag that takes a look back at my reading 10 years ago versus today. Please check out Deanna's, Bea’s and Rincey's posts.

What was your favourite book in 2012?

Atwood, Margaret "The Handmaid’s Tale" (Re-Read) - 1985
In the meantime, I think everyone knows this book (or knows about this book), and I think it is more relevant than ever.

What is your favourite book of 2022 (so far)?
Lawson, Mary "A Town Called Solace" - 2021
Tough one but since I've been waiting for this one to be issued as a paperback for quite a while and I've read all of her other books, I decided on this one in the end.

What was your least favourite book in 2012?
Roy, Arundhati "The God of Small Things" - 1997
It might not have been the worst book I read but certainly the most disappointing one.

What is a book published in 2012 that you still want to read?

Ivey, Eowyn "The Snow Child" - 2012
I read "To The Bright Edge of the World" by the same author and have had this on my wishlist for a while.

What is the book published (to be published) in 2022 you want to get before 2023?

Kingsolver, Barbara "Demon Copperhead" - 2022

What is a genre you used to read a lot of that you don’t read as much of anymore?
Forest, Jim "The Ladder of the Beatitudes" - 1999
Like last year: Spiritual Books. I used to be in a church group and we read a lot of books together. Now that I try to reduce my TBR pile, I don't read as many anymore. I still want to read more by Jim Forest who I was lucky to meet during one of our get-togethers.

What is a new genre you’ve discovered since 2012?

Stephenson, Neal "Anathem" - 2008
As I mentionend last year, this is a tough one. I've been reading for so long and I've always been reading almost anything at least once. And those genres that I didn't tend to didn't increase after 2012. I have read a few science fiction books with my online book club but te one I enjoyed best was one I found myself:

What is a reading or book habit you are hoping to leave behind in this decade?
Again, same as last year: Buying too many books. But I doubt that will ever change.

What is a new reading goal or habit you want to create in the upcoming decade?
I don't have many reading goals. I read a lot. I read all the time. I am in two book clubs. I hope I can keep that up and read many more classcis that I have missed so far.

I'm not tagging anyone but invite you all to do this, if you like to participate. If you decide to do this, leave a link in the comments so I can check out your post. Thanks!

I did this already last year. See my 10 Year Challenge 2021 here.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

Top Ten ... ahem ... Fifteen Tuesday ~ Houses


"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 a Freebie (We can come up with our own topic!)

One of the many challenges I saw lately contained a list of buildings in the title. I thought that was a good idea and I was certain I would get at least ten with words like "house", "church" etc. I found 17 with the word "house" alone. So, here we go.

Abdolah, Kader "The House of the Mosque" (NL: Het huis van de moskee) - 2005

Allende, Isabel "The House of the Spirits" (E: La casa de los espíritus) (The House of the Spirits #1) - 1982

Ashworth, Andrea "Once in a House on Fire" - 1999

Buck, Pearl S. House of Earth Trilogy: "The Good Earth", "Sons", "A House Divided" - 1931-1935

Dickens, Charles "Bleak House" - 1852/53

Domínguez, Carlos María "The House of Paper" (E: La Casa del Papel) - 2007

Eggels, Elle "The House of the Seven Sisters" (NL: Het Huis van de Zeven Zusters) - 1998

Hansen, Dörte "This House is Mine" (GE: Altes Land) - 2015

Lamb, Christina "The Africa House: The True Story of an English Gentleman and His African Dream" - 1999

Naipaul, V.S. "A House for Mr. Biswas" - 1961

Pamuk, Orhan "The Silent House" (TR: Sessiz Ev) - 1983

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander "Matryona's House" (RUS: Матрёнин двор/Matrjonin dvor) 1963 in "His Great Stories"

Thomas, Rosie "The Potter’s House" - 2001

Trollope, Anthony "The Small House at Allington" - 1864 in "Barchester Chronicles"

Wharton, Edith "The House of Mirth" - 1905

Unfortunately, not all of those books have a picture of the house on their cover but, after reading the novels, I am sure they are all highly interesting.

📚 Happy Reading! 📚