Wednesday 30 November 2022

Buck, Pearl S. "My several worlds"

Buck, Pearl S. "My several worlds: A Personal Exile" - 1954

I read this book ages ago and don't know why I never reviewed it. It left a vivid memory about Pearl S. Buck and her life. She belongs to my list of favourite authors, she was actually the first grown-up author I read and therefore occupies a special place in my heart.

In her autobiography, she writes just as well as in her novels where she manages to show us Chinese life as if we lived there ourselves. And here she becomes a close acquaintance of us, if not even a friend.

I know there was a controversy about her award of the Nobel Prize for Literature but that might have been because many men couldn't see a woman getting the award. So they had to find a reason why this was wrong. But her biographies are truly masterpieces and her descriptions of peasant life in China truly epic and rich. There certainly have been laureates who didn't deserve the prize, Pearl S. Buck isn't one of them.

She was a remarkable woman and writer.

From the back cover:

"Autobiography of Pearl S Buck. A memoir of the life of the first female Nobel Laureate for Literature, who was also a world citizen and a major humanitarian, Pearl (Sydenstricker) Buck (1892-1973) three quarters of the way through her life. Published by the John Day Company to whose president, Richard John Walsh (1886-1960), she was then married, the book was successful and temporarily revived her waning reputation. The China oriented writer Helen Foster Snow described her partnership with John Day and Walsh as 'the most successful writing and publishing partnership in the history of American letters.' The firm had published everything she'd written since their marriage in 1935. Her biographer, Professor Peter Conn, describes the book as 'a thickly textured representation of the Chinese and American societies in which she had lived.' Friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, cultural ambassador between China and America, tireless advocate for racial democracy and women's rights and founder of the first international adoption agency, this is a book by and about a special American citizen of the twentieth century."

Pearl S. Buck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938 "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces."

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 29 November 2022

Nonfiction November 2022 Week 5 New to My TBR #NonficNov

Week 5 (November 28-Dec 2): New to My TBR
with Jaymi at The OC Bookgirl

Week 5 of Non-Fiction November (see here) was a lot easier than the previous ones, just look for non-fiction books you purchased lately.


Week 5 (November 28-Dec 2) - New to My TBR: It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book! Pro tip: Start this draft post at the beginning of the month and add to it as your TBR multiplies. (Jaymi @ The OC Bookgirl)

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "We Should All Be Feminists" - 2014
Clinton, Hillary Rodham & Chelsea "The Book of Gutsy Women: Favourite Stories of Courage and Resilience" - 2019
Gillard, Joe "The Little Book of Lost Words. Collywobbles, Snollygosters, and 86 Other Surprisingly Useful Terms Worth Resurrecting" - 2019
Greywoode, Josephine (ed.) "Why We Read" - 2022
Theroux, Paul "Riding the Iron Rooster" - 1988
Wood, Levison "Eastern Horizons. Hitchhiking the Silk Road" - 2017

I didn't think I had many new non-fiction books on my TBR pile but I found six. I think I read non-fiction books faster than others, I mean I start them quicker after I bought them. I usually have at least one on the go.


For more information on Nonfiction November check here.

Monday 28 November 2022

Sendker, Jan-Philipp "A Well-Tempered Heart"

Sendker, Jan-Philipp "A Well-Tempered Heart" (Burma Trilogy #2) (German: Herzenstimmen) - 2012

After reading "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" (Das Herzenhören), the first part of the Burma Trilogy, I naturally had to know how the story continues.

Julia Win, whom we already know from the first book, suddenly hears a voice inside her. She is advised to go back to Burma to find out what the voice is trying to tell her. I don't believe in such mystical experiences, but Julia's story on her return visit is very interesting. She learns the history of Burma, meets new people, finds a new love, sees her life with different eyes. And the reader learns a lot about the differences between East and West.

As always, Jan-Philipp Sendker has written a wonderful story about Asia. His language is captivating and this is a very good sequel to a wonderful book.

From the back cover:

"Almost ten years have passed since Julia Win came back from Burma, her father’s native country. Though she is a successful Manhattan lawyer, her private life is at a crossroads; her boyfriend recently left her, she has suffered a miscarriage, and she is, despite her wealth, unhappy with her professional life. Julia is lost and exhausted.

One day, in the middle of an important business meeting, she hears a stranger’s voice in her head that causes her to leave the office without explanation. In the following days, her crisis only deepens. Not only does the female voice refuse to disappear, but it starts to ask questions Julia has been trying to avoid. Why do you live alone? To whom do you feel close? What do you want in life?

Interwoven with Julia’s story is that of a Burmese woman named Nu Nu who finds her world turned upside down when Burma goes to war and calls on her two young sons to be child soldiers. This spirited sequel, like The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, explores the most inspiring and passionate terrain: the human heart."

Friday 25 November 2022

Book Quotes of the Week


"We learn from history that we do not learn from history." Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Unfortunately, my compatriot is so right here.

"It's a great blessing if one can lose all sense of time, all worries, if only for a short time, in a book." Nell Last

Where would we be without books?

"People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?", Gabrielle Zevin,
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

And the answer, I don't read, says just as much about a person.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 24 November 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. "Anna Karenina" and "War and Peace"


Tolstoy, Leo (Толстой, Лев Николаевич) "Anna Karenina" (Russian: Анна Каренина = Anna Karenina) - 1877

I love classics, especially Russian ones. These are wonderful stories.

A story about love and deceipt, the morale of the 19th century, this novel describes the history of three Russian families of nobility, their joys and problems.

We discussed this in our international book club in  August 2005.

Read my original review here.

Tolstoy, Leo (Толстой, Лев Николаевич) "War and Peace" (Russian: Война и мир = Woina i mir) - 1868/69

Tolstoy has a brilliant way of describing not just single people but a whole generation of people, in this case both civilians and military. It's not just the story itself, his musings about the historical background, philosophy, religion, are all very worth reading.

Read my original review here.

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Aicher-Scholl, Inge "The White Rose"

Aicher-Scholl, Inge "The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943" (German: Die weiße Rose) - 1952

Inge Scholl was the sister of Hans and Sophie Scholl and is writing this book about her siblings and the Munich resistance group.

If there are any books that everyone should read, the story of the White Rose is definitely one of them. It shows that even in deepest Nazi Germany there were people who resisted, who paid for it with their lives, but who should be a great role model for all of us.

As the book description says, this book is not only based on Inge Scholl's memories, but also on documents that have been secured.

Similar to the book "The Wave", the author describes how the young people were first carried away by the Nazi movement. Fortunately, there were also some who eventually became skeptical.

A sad book, but also one that encourages.

From the back cover:

"The White Rose tells the story of Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl, who in 1942 led a small underground organization of German students and professors to oppose the atrocities committed by Hitler and the Nazi Party. They named their group the White Rose, and they distributed leaflets denouncing the Nazi regime. Sophie, Hans, and a third student were caught and executed.

Written by Inge Scholl (Hans and Sophie's sister),
The White Rose features letters, diary excerpts, photographs of Hans and Sophie, transcriptions of the leaflets, and accounts of the trial and execution. This is a gripping account of courage and morality."

Tuesday 22 November 2022

Nonfiction November 2022 Week 4 Worldview Changers #NonficNov

Week 4 (November 21-25): Worldview Changers
with Rebekah at She Seeks Nonfiction

Week 4 of Non-Fiction November (see here) is quite a challenge.


Week 4 (November 21-25) - Worldview Changers: One of the greatest things about reading nonfiction is learning all kinds of things about our world which you never would have known without it. There’s the intriguing, the beautiful, the appalling, and the profound. What nonfiction book or books has impacted the way you see the world in a powerful way? Do you think there is one book that everyone needs to read for a better understanding of the world we live in? (Rebekah @ She Seeks Nonfiction)

So, this would be my suggestion.
Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich "The Communist Manifesto" (
GE: Das kommunistische Manifest) - 1848

I don't think some people want their worldview changed. There are many books that can change your view, your understanding about how things work. But if people would read The Communist Manifesto without thinking Soviet Union, oppression, etc. but with an open mind as to what we can do for each other, maybe Karl Marx' wish would come true:
"Then the world will be for the common people, and the sounds of happiness will reach the deepest springs. Ah! Come! People of every land, how can you not be roused."

Maybe think Scandinavian, they are the closest to the beliefs of Marx and Engels and they are the happiest people in the world.


For more information on Nonfiction November check here.

Monday 21 November 2022

Greywoode, Josephine "Why We Read"

Greywoode, Josephine (ed.) "Why We Read. 70 Writers on Non-Fiction" - 2022

It's Non-fiction November and if you haven't had a chance to participate, here is a short book that tells us a lot about non-fiction books and might instigate us to read some.

70 authors have written about the reason why we read, especially why we read non-fiction. A brilliant collection of thoughts by some great minds. I could repeat the whole book here - but I recommend you get it yourself and read what they have to say. You won't regret it.

And here are just some snippets that might entice you starting the read yourself:

"Poetry in translation is, like Guinness outside Dublin, just a shadow of the real thing." Ananyo Bhattacharya

"And whatever kind of book you are reading, you get to rest for a while in the author's mind and share their unique way of looking at things and putting them together. In a few hours you will learn, without effort, everything this other person has laboured for years to know and understand." Clare Carlisle

"The pictures are better. No fancy computer-enhanced video can compete with reading, and re-reading, the actual text. Imagination is the key to enjoying good literature." Paul Davies

"And sometimes I read as a way of keeping a grip on the world, a grip on myself in the world, a tiny speck, in the rushing darkness that I am. Hold fast. Reading for my life, I guess." Nicci Gerrard

"Education: This is not just the obvious help that reading gives to the formal process of learning at school or university. Reading is a wonderful gift for life-long learning. I read to learn more about more, to educate myself further, to extend my knowledge. That is something that never ends." Ian Kershaw

"Consider this: reading is a strange, modern behaviour that we never evolved to do. Of the 300,000 or so years in which our species has existed, humans started reading only about 5,000 years ago. That's barely 1 per cent of our existence. What is more, until the Industrial Revolution, just a handful of humans had to privilege of reading. From an evolutionary perspective, reading is nearly as novel and strange as driving cars or using credit cards." Daniel Lieberman

"Governments want to tell you that "science, technology, engineering, maths" (STEM) are the most important subjects. But reading is the real stem. Understanding what a fact means understanding how to read. A fact is an interpretation of date: a reading." Timothy Morton

"Studies of the effects of education confirm that educated people really are more enlightened. They are less racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic and authoritarian. They place a higher value on imagination, independence and free speech. They are more likely to vote, volunteer, express political views and belong to civic associations such as unions, political parties and religious and community organizations. They are also likelier to trust their fellow citizens - a prime ingredient of the precious elixir called social capital, which gives people the confidence to contract, invest, and obey the law without fearing that they are chumps who will be shafted by everyone else.
For all these reasons, literacy is an engine of human progress, material, moral, spiritual.
" Steven Pinker

"Non-fiction books matter because we are what we read." Daniel Susskind

And some book recommendations by Emma Jane Kirby:
Hamel, Christopher de "Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts"
MacGregor, Neil "A History of the World in 100 Objects" (I read "Germany. Memories of a Nation")
MacDonald, Helen "H is for Hawk"
Nicholson, Christopher "Amon the Summer Snow"
Winterson, Jeanette "Oranges are Not the Only Fruit"
Winterson, Jeanette "Why be Happy When You Can be Normal"
Wynn, Raynor "The Salt Path"

From the back cover:

"Why read non-fiction? Is it just to find things out? Or is it for pleasure, challenge, adventure, meaning? Here, in seventy new pieces, some of the most original writers and thinkers of our time give their answers.

From Hilton Als on reading as writing's dearest companion to Nicci Gerrard on reading for her life; from Malcolm Gladwell on entering the minds of others to Michael Lewis on books as secret discoveries; and from Lea Ypi on the search for freedom to Slavoj Žižek on violent readings, each offers their own surprising perspective on the simple act of turning a page. The result is a celebration of seeing the world in new ways - and of having our minds changed.

Friday 18 November 2022

Engberding, Hans; Thöns, Bodo "Transsib Reader"

Engberding, Hans; Thöns, Bodo (Ed.) "Transsib-Lesebuch: Reiseerlebnisse auf der längsten Bahnstrecke der Welt" [Transsib Reader: Travel Experiences On The Longest Railway Line In The World] - 2002

Usually, I don't review books that have not been translated into English. But I promised to do so in this case. And some of the articles have been written in English. Whenever I found the original title (or the translation into English), I added it in bold.

I found this collection at an antiquarian bookstore. It contains articles, excerpts from books, short stories by well-known writers who have all at some point traveled the Trans-Siberian Railway and recorded their experiences in writing. The first description is from 1901, the last from 2001, i.e. a report that goes back over a hundred years in which a lot has happened.

The authors all have an interesting point of view, everyone experiences the trip differently, even if they travel around the same time. While some accept any inconvenience as if it were the most natural thing in the world and are happy to be able to gain this insight into a culture that is foreign to them, others get upset about small things that would probably have happened to them on other routes, as well. And then there are those who support communism (or rather Stalinism) a hundred percent that everything is glorified.

In any case, it is fascinating to see how the railway was built, how it has changed over time, especially when the political situation has changed.

John Foster Fraser, Sir, UK, 1868-1936
Das wahre Sibirien (1901)
The Real Siberia

Eugen Zabel, D, 1851-1925
Auf der sibirischen Bahn nach China (1903)

Karl Tanera, D, 1849-1904
Zur Kriegszeit auf der sibirischen Bahn und durch Rußland (1904)

O.T. Tuck, UK, 1876-?
Tagebuch (1909)

Marcus Lorenzo Taft, US,
Fremdes Sibirien (1909)

Fridtjof Nansen, N, 1861-1930 - Nobel Prize for Peace 1922
Sibirien ein Zukunftsland (1913)
Through Siberia the Land of the Future/Gjennem Sibirien

Otto Goebel, D, 1872-1955
Über Sibirien nach Ostasien (1914)

Sven Hedin, S, 1865-1952
Von Peking nach Moskau (1923)

Richard Tröger, D, 1879-1965
Tagebuch über eine Rußland-Japan-Reise (1929)

Kurt Faber, D, 1883-1929
Weltwanderers letzte Fahrten und Abenteuer (1930)

Peter Fleming, UK, 1907-74 (Ian Fleming's brother)
Mit mir allein. Eine Reise nach China (1933)
One's Company: A Journey to China in 1933

Erik Bergengren, S, 1900-1977
Gelbe Gesichter. Sibirische Nächte und japanische Tage (1936)

Mildred Widmer Marshall, US
Zwei Schullehrerinnen aus Oregon reisen um die Welt (1937)

Sławomir Rawicz, PL/BY, 1915-2004
Flucht durch Steppe und Wüste (1939)
The Long Walk?

Sigrid Undset, DK, 1882-1949 - Nobel Prize for Literature 1928
Wieder in die Zukunft (1940)
Back to the future/Tilbake til fremtiden

Ryszard Kapuscinski, PL/BY, 1932-2007
Imperium. Sowjetische Streifzüge (1958)

Siegfried Meissgeier, D, 1924-1988 and Günter Linde, D, 1925-1992
Sibirien ohne Geheimnisse (1959)

Paul Theroux, USA, 1922-
Abenteuer Eisenbahn. Auf Schienen um die halbe Welt (1965)
The Great Railway Bazaar

Hugo Portisch, SLK, 1927-2021
So sah ich Sibirien (1966)

Vittorio Lojacono, I
Die Straße der Gefahr (1969)

Eric Newby, UK, 1919-2006
Auf der großen roten Bahn (1977)
The Big Red Train Ride

Hans-Otto Meissner, D/F, 1909-1992
Sibirien-Expreß (1979)

Wolfgang Seidl, D, 1933-
Ins rote Reich des gelben Drachens (1984)

Hardy Krüger, D, 1928-2022
Sibirienfahrt (1984)

Johanna Hornef-Blau
Unterwegs mit der Transsibirischen Eisenbahn (1994)

Colin Thubron, UK, 1939-
Sibirien. Schlafende Erde - Erwachendes Land (1998)
In Siberia

Kurt Drawert, D, 1956-
Nach Osten ans Ende der Welt (1999)

Mark Bauch, D 1971-
Transsibirisch Reisen (2001)
Das wahre Sibirien (1901)

Pictures by Claudia Mathea (D, 1969-) complement the stories.

Book Description (translation):

"The Trans-Siberian Railway has fascinated travelers from all over the world for a century now. This beautifully designed reader brings together prominent and less prominent Trans-Siberian travelers from all decades of the 20th century, who report on their journey on what is probably the world's most famous railway line.

Lively descriptions of the day-to-day organization of life on the Trans-Siberian Railway, the events on the train and the experiences with fellow travelers stand alongside historical observations from the checkered history of Russia, Mongolia and China. This creates a diverse picture of the countries traveled through.

Sven Hedin, Fridtjof Nansen, Hardy Krüger, Paul Theroux, Sigrid Undset, Peter Fleming and many others take the reader on an adventurous journey through the Siberian expanse.
The Transsib Reader is the ideal complement to the Transsib Handbook.

Thursday 17 November 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. Toni Morrison


Morrison, Toni "Beloved" - 1987
- "Home" - 2012
- "Love" - 2003
- "A Mercy" - 2008
- "Paradise" - 1998

I have read five of Toni Morrison's books so far and I hope to read more. But I will just take all of her books and look at them one go.

"Beloved" is one of my favourite books ever. The author uses a lot of symbolism unknown to us, yet, explains the world of the slaves so lively, you can really feel their pains.

She manages to describe anything in a way that you feel you've been there, you know the characters in her book.

Like in "Home". The protagonist has survived the Korean War, well, physically. After a more than difficult childhood, he and his sister don't continue to have an easy adulthood, you find almost any form of abuse and problem in this novel.

"Love" is just as exciting and interesting. Toni Morrison manages to describe so many different women, all in love with the same guy. A lot of different characters, a lot of different subjects: love, rivalry, charity, struggles.

In "A Mercy", we meet a little girl called Florens. She is lucky (for a slave) in a way that she gets into this family. Her "master" is not abusive.

"Paradise" is different from her other novels. I loved the story itself, the description of that small town life. But I had a hard time getting through this book. It still is a completely typical Toni Morrison book, any of her books is worth reading.

Read all my original reviews about the author's books here.

Wednesday 16 November 2022

Le Faye, Deirdre "Jane Austen, The World of Her Novels"

Le Faye, Deirdre "Jane Austen, The World of Her Novels" - 2002

This is such a brilliant book about Jane Austen, her life, her world, her novels. It begins with "Jane Austen and her family" and "England and the world", then goes on to describe all her novels in detail, even the unfinished ones, and suggests further reading in the end. There are a lot of maps and pictures in the book so we can imagine what her life looked like. Even paintings from the time that indicate what her characters might have looked like, what they used to wear, what kind of houses they might have lived in etc.

This is definitely a book for Jane Austen fans. Or of fans of England at her time, the Regency period.

From the back cover:

"With a wealth of details about Jane Austen's life and times, this volume brings to life the world of her novels. Austen scholar Deirdre Le Faye first gives an overview of the period, from foreign affairs to social ranks, from fashion to sanitation. She goes on to consider each novel individually."

Tuesday 15 November 2022

Nonfiction November 2022 Week 3 Stranger Than Fiction #NonficNov

Week 3 (November 14-18): Stranger Than Fiction
with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks

It's already the third week of Non-Fiction November again (see here).


Week 3 (November 14-18) - Stranger Than Fiction: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that almost don’t seem real. A sports biography involving overcoming massive obstacles, a profile on a bizarre scam, a look into the natural wonders in our world - basically, if it makes your jaw drop, you can highlight it for this week’s topic. (Christopher @ Plucked from the Stacks)

I haven chosen a few different ones. I am not a sports person, so any achievement that people reach is stragner than fiction to me. Though I admire the Boys in the Boat more than the Madmen who undertake that voyage, they were really mad indeed. Risking their lives (and that of others) just to win a bet, more or less.

The other books are far worse. I know I would not live long in a dictatorship because I wouldn't be able to keep my mouth shut. I guess I inherited that from my grandfather who was just the same but was lucky to escape the baddies.

So, here are my books:

Brown, Daniel James "The Boys in the Boat" - 2013
Nichols, Peter "A Voyage for Madmen" - 2002
Fallada, Hans "Every Man Dies Alone" (GE: Jeder stirbt für sich allein) - 1947
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander "August 1914" ["The Red Wheel" cycle] (RUS: Солженицын, Александр Исаевич/Узел I - «Август Четырнадцатого», Красное колесо) - 1971
Vargas Llosa, Mario "The Feast of the Goat" (E: La fiesta del chivo) - 2000

I am definitely a history person, so the last three are more important to me than the first two. But all of them are a lot stranger than any fiction.


For more information on Nonfiction November check here.

Monday 14 November 2022

Gurnah, Abdulrazak "Pilgrims Way"

Gurnah, Abdulrazak "Pilgrims Way" - 1988

Daud is a Muslim from Tanzania who goes to England in the 70s. He works as an orderly in a hospital, does what thousands of immigrants do, cleans up after the white people. He meets prejudice and racism, the promised land is not what he expected it to be but a return into his home country is impossible.

In this situation he shares his thoughts, his fears, his hopes with us. And that of other immigrants but also the "hosts" which are not always that hospitable, so we better call them the natives.

The author describes an England shortly after the colonial period when they still had to get used to not being the "master race" anymore. I don't just speak about the British Isles, there are people all over the world who still don't understand that.

But, even more, he describes the problems of an immigrant. If you really want to know, read this books.

Oh, one thing he talks about a lot is cricket. I still don't understand it any better.

Book description:

"By the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature An extraordinary depiction of the life of an immigrant, as he struggles to come to terms with the horror of his past and the meaning of his pilgrimage to England. Dear Catherine, he began. Here I sit, making a meal out of asking you to dinner. I don't really know how to do it. To have cultural integrity, I would have to send my aunt to speak, discreetly, to your aunt, who would then speak to your mother, who would speak to my mother, who would speak to my father, who would speak to me and then approach your mother, who would then approach you. Demoralised by small persecutions and the squalor and poverty of his life, Daud takes refuge in his imagination. He composes wry, sardonic letters hectoring friends and enemies, and invents a lurid colonial past for every old man he encounters. His greatest solace is cricket and the symbolic defeat of the empire at the hands of the mighty West Indies.Although subject to attacks of bitterness and remorse, his captivating sense of humour never deserts him as he struggles to come to terms with the horror of his past and the meaning of his pilgrimage to England."

Abdulrazak Gurnah received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2021 "for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents".

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 11 November 2022

Book Quotes of the Week


"As soon as I saw bookshelves through the store windows, I felt lighter. Just thinking about the smell inside. Paper, compressed nature, and hands making words, a must of knowing and magic. Periods. Commas. Digressions. Analogies. The beauty of everyday thought turned poetry. It was all there, and I was hit with a sliver of peace in the chaos of my brain." Dave Connis, Suggested Reading

Doesn't that sound like paradise?

"There is no habit more valuable than that of dropping into a bookstore occasionally to look round - to look both inward and outward." Christopher Morley,
The Haunted Bookshop

A great analogy. Every book lets us look inward and outward

"To read is to dream, guided by someone else's hand." Fernando Pessoa

It couldn't be said any better.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 10 November 2022

#ThrowbackThursday. The Stone Carvers

Urquhart, Jane "The Stone Carvers" - 2001

A story about stone carvers, ranging from a German settlement in Canada in the mid 19th century to World War I and a monument in France the Candians built to honour their soldiers who lost their lives on European battlefields.

We discussed this in our international book club in in February 2008.

Read my original review here.

Wednesday 9 November 2022

Mandelstam, Ossip "The Noise of Time"

Mandelstam, Ossip "The Noise of Time" aka "The Din of Time (RUS: Шум времени/Shum vremeni) - 1925

A story of a childhood at the turn of the last century, the author was born in 1891. His memories of his father and mother, leather smell on the bookshelf, memories of poetry, memories of Jewish customs and festivities. The author gives us a good survey of life at the beginning of the 20th century, that of his contemporaries and of his own, the reflections of his sense of alienation in the Soviet system.

While this book is only a compilation of short stories, it still gives us insights into the life of a Jewish boy in a country that didn't want any criticism, and who gave his life for his beliefs: "Only in Russia is poetry respected, it gets people killed. Is there anywhere else where poetry is so common a motive for murder?"

He mentions the "propertyless intellectual who needs no memories. It should be enough for him to tell of the books he has read."

And then he mentions in the "Mensheviks in Georgia" (written 1922-1927): "Everyone, Georgians, Armenians, Greeks, Persians, Englishmen and Italians spoke Russian. A wild Volapük, a Russian Black Sea Esperanto buzzed in the air." Esperanto was created in 1887 and it seemed normal to Ossip Mandelstam that everyone should know what he was talking about.

"The Noise of Time" is an interesting collection of stories that will surely please not only fans of Russian literature.

From the back cover:

"Collected prose works by one of Russia's towering literary figures. Osip Mandelstam has in recent years come to be seen as a central figure in European modernism. Though known primarily as a poet, Mandelstam worked in many styles: autobiography, short story, travel writing, and polemic. Mandelstam's biographer, Clarence Brown, presents a collection of the poet's prose works that illuminates his far-ranging talent and places him within the canon of European modernism.

This volume includes Mandelstam's
'The Noise of Time,' a series of autobiographical sketches; 'The Egyptian Stamp,' a novella echoing Gogol and Dostoevsky; 'Fourth Prose,' and the famous travel memoirs 'Theodosia' and 'Journey to Armenia.'"

Tuesday 8 November 2022

Nonfiction November 2022 Week 2 Book Pairing #NonficNov

  Week 2 (Oct 31-Nov 4): Your Year in Nonfiction
with Katie at Doing Dewey

It's Non-Fiction November again (see here). For the second week, our topic is "Book Pairing".


Week 2 (November 7-11) - Book Pairing: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title (or another nonfiction!). It can be a "If you loved this book, read this!" or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story. Or pair a book with a podcast, film or documentary, TV show, etc. on the same topic or stories that pair together. (Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction)


The last two years, I chose Tulip Fever and Afghanistan. Since this challenge was introduced to me via the classics club, I thought I might take some classic books this time and I have chosen slavery.

Most of the non-fiction books are over a hundred years old (written between 1853 and 1913) and they are mostly written by the slaves themselves:

Crafts, Hannah "The Bondwoman’s Narrative" - 1855-69
Douglass, Frederick "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave" - 1845
Du Bois, W.E.B. "The Souls of Black Folk" - 1903
Jacobs, Harriet Ann (Linda Brent) "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" - 1861
Morgan Dawson, Sarah "A Confederate Girl's Diary" - 1913
Northup, Solomon "Twelve Years a Slave" - 1853

The fictional books are a lot younger, though there is one that was written 170 years ago: Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" - 1852
Chevalier, Tracy "The Last Runaway" - 2013
Kidd, Sue Monk "The Invention of Wings" - 2014
Mitchell, Margaret "Gone With the Wind" - 1936
Morrison, Toni "Beloved" - 1987
Walker, Alice "The Color Purple" - 1982
Whitehead, Colson "Underground Railroad" - 2016

I do hope this instigates some people to read about slavery. And I am looking forward to the other book pairings.

I do have a list of more books like this: Anti-Racism.

Monday 7 November 2022

Follett, Ken "The Evening and the Morning"

Follett, Ken "The Evening and the Morning" - 2020

I love the Kingsbridge series. This one is just as fabulous as the ones before this, or the ones that come after, chronologically in the story.

You can read these books in any order but if you haven't started, yet, I would recommend you start with this one. Then you see how everything develops. The small place called "Dreng's Ferry" is going to become a very important town called Kingsbridge and you can see over the years how England and the world grows, how lives change from one century to the next, well the next but one. There are always about two hundred years between the stories, nobody from the book before is alive anymore, nobody knows anyone from the book before. However, the families are known and once you get to know them, you can follow their destiny.

This one is especially interesting since it takes place about a thousand years before us. A whole millennium. We can see how much has changed - and how much hasn't. Impressive.

Everyone is depicted in the novel, good people and bad people, rich and poor, intelligent and not so intelligent, ambitious and cruel, crafty and talented, just like in real life.

Most times were hard, there have been wars all the time, all over the world, this time is no exception. They were different from our times but they were not any better.

You can't read the 900 pages in a couple of days but you'll be surprised how quickly you get through this story. The further you get, the less you can await the end. Just a brilliant book by an amazing author.

From the back cover:

"It is 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages. England is facing attacks from the Welsh in the west and the Vikings in the east. Those in power bend justice according to their will, regardless of ordinary people and often in conflict with the king. Without a clear rule of law, chaos reigns.

In these turbulent times, three characters find their lives intertwined. A young boatbuilder's life is turned upside down when the only home he's ever known is raided by Vikings, forcing him and his family to move and start their lives anew in a small hamlet where he does not fit in. . . . A Norman noblewoman marries for love, following her husband across the sea to a new land, but the customs of her husband's homeland are shockingly different, and as she begins to realize that everyone around her is engaged in a constant, brutal battle for power, it becomes clear that a single misstep could be catastrophic. . . . A monk dreams of transforming his humble abbey into a center of learning that will be admired throughout Europe. And each in turn comes into dangerous conflict with a clever and ruthless bishop who will do anything to increase his wealth and power.

And here are the other books in the series:
"The Pillars of the Earth" (Kingsbridge #1) - 1989
"World Without End" (Kingsbridge #2) - 2007
"A Column of Fire" (Kingsbridge #3) - 2017

I wouldn't mind reading another book from Kingsbridge, either from the year 800 or 1800, no matter.

Saturday 5 November 2022

Six Degrees of Separation ~ From The Naked Chef to Lisa and Lottie

#6Degrees of Separation:

from The Naked Chef to Lisa and Lottie

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

This month's prompt starts with The Naked Chef (Goodreads) by Jamie Oliver.

An interesting choice for the beginning of our chain this month. I was thinking about maybe another cook book but then I remembered The Book Blogger Memory Challenge Book Tag where I had to find a book with a knife on the cover and I went from there.

Jamie Oliver's book has a knife on the cover and here is another one:

Koch, Herman "The Dinner" (NL: Het Diner) - 2009

But there's not just a knife, there is also a fork, as on the next cover:

Bryson, Bill "At Home" - 2010

Do you see that large house where Bill Bryson hides all the items. Well, a house will also be on my next book:

Bythell, Shaun "The Diary of a Bookseller" - 2017 

There is a car right in front of the house. Let's go from there:

Gilbreth, Frank + Gilbreth Carey, Elizabeth "Cheaper by the Dozen" - 1948

As there are some dogs running alongside the car, here is one with a famous dog on the cover:

Obama, Barack "Of Thee I Sing" - 2010

He is walked by two little girls (also famous) and there has to be another book with two famous girls, even though these are fictional. Everybody knows the film, I wonder how many know the original book:

Kästner, Erich "Lisa and Lottie" (aka The Parent Trap) (GE: Das doppelte Lottchen) - 1949

This challenge was a little harder than some since you can't just tell Google to look for a picture with a certain item in it. I'm sure that will be possible one day. Until then, I hope you all enjoy my chain.

P.S. One Blogger just asked the question whether there is a connection between my first and last book and I found one. There is a table on both the pictures. So, without even trying, my chain now is totally connected. Thanks, Davida.

Look for further monthly separation posts here

Friday 4 November 2022

Nonfiction November 2022 Week 1 My Year in Nonfiction #NonficNov

 Week 1 (Oct 31-Nov 4) : Your Year in Nonfiction
with Katie at Doing Dewey

It's Non-Fiction November again (see here). For the first week, our topic is "Your Year in Nonfiction".


Week 1 (Oct 31-Nov 4) - Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions - What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November? (Katie @ Doing Dewey)


I have read only 13 non-fiction books this year. My favourites are probably the couchsurfing ones by Stephan Orth. They have not been translated into English, yet, but since his former ones are available, I should imagine that they will be published in English soon. I just love his way of travelling and getting to know people in other parts of this world and I love his style.

By participating in Nonfiction November, I hope I will find many ideas about new books, instigations to read more non-fiction and overall, a good discussion about non-fiction publications.

And here are all my non-fiction books of the year:

Brooks, Geraldine "Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal's Journey from Down Under to All Over" - 1997
Bythell, Shaun "Confessions of a Bookseller" - 2019
Conrad, François "Warum Deutsch bellt und Französisch schnurrt" (Why German Barks and French Purrs) - 2021
Harari, Yuval Noah "21 Lessons for the 21st Century" - 2018
Meier, Peg/Wood, Dave "The Pie Lady of Winthrop: And Other Minnesota Tales" - 1985
Orth, Stephan "Absolulely Locked Out" (GE: Absolutely Ausgesperrt) - 2022
- "Couchsurfing in Saudi Arabia: My Journey Through a Country Between the Middle Ages and the Future" (GE: Couchsurfing in Saudi-Arabien: Meine Reise durch ein Land zwischen Mittelalter und Zukunft" - 2021
Saviano, Roberto "Gomorrah: A Personal Journey Into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System" (IT: Gomorra: Viaggio Nell’impero Economico E Nel Sogno Di Dominio Della Camorra) - 2006
Shaw, Karl "Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty" - 1999
Trotter, Derek "Del Boy" (Family of John Sullivan) "He Who Dares" - 2015
Weiler, Jan "And the puberty animal sleeps forever" (GE: Und ewig schläft das Pubertier) (Pubertiere #3) - 2017
- "The Elders" (GE: Die Ältern) (Pubertiere #4) - 2020
- "My Life as a Human" (GE: Mein Leben als Mensch) - 2009
- "Nick's Hodgepodge" (GE: Nicks Sammelsurium) (Pubertiere #0,5) - 2016
(These are relatively short books with articles about the author's family. But very funny.)

My favourite was probably "Absolutely Locked Out" which I hope will be translated into English soon.

For more information on Nonfiction November check here.