Monday 18 September 2023

Westover, Tara "Educated"

Westover, Tara "Educated" - 2018

This book has been on my wishlist for a while. But, as you all know, too many books, too little time. But a member of my book club recommended it several times lately and so I just had to get to it.

She was right, this was a highly interesting book. The author comes from a Mormon house and was home-schooled - or rather not. I'm not a big fan of home-schooling since I saw too many negative examples. This is one of the worst. Mind you, I have to admit that I know a few good examples, however, they still don't convince me that it is a good idea. In those cases, the parents themselves were highly educated and could pass that on very well. I have helped many kids to catch up in school in languages and math but I would have pitied my children if I would have had to teach them any science subject.

Anyway, Tara grew up in a family with a lot of problems. She thinks her father was bi-polar, and I think she was right there. Her brother was abusive, both physically as well as mentally, he didn't treat any of his younger siblings well, which they only found out when they were grown up.

Tara managed to get educated, she even went to university. All by herself. That shows what a strong character she was because most of her siblings didn't get very far. And I am sure most people wouldn't have. I can only applaud and admire her for that. And I hope that some people might get help after reading this. In any case, it is a book very worth reading.

From the back cover:

"Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.

Thursday 14 September 2023

#ThrowbackThursday. Girl in a Blue Dress

Arnold, Gaynor "Girl in a Blue Dress" - 2008

A novel based on the life of Charles Dickens' wife. Quite an eye opener about the author though we weren't too surprised that women didn't count much. A very interesting read.

We discussed this in our international book club in April 2009.

Read my original review here

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Relationships


 "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 Favourite Character Relationships (These can be platonic or not. Romantic relationships, parent/child, siblings, family bonds, friendships, found families, pet/human, etc.). I chose family relationships.

Abdolah, Kader "My Father’s Notebook" (NL: Spijkerschrift) - 2000
Bragg, Melvyn "A Son of War" - 2001
Buck, Pearl S. "The Mother"- 1933
Dostoevsky, Fyodor "The Brothers Karamazov" (RUS: Братья Карамазовы) - 1879-80
Eggels, Elle "The House of the Seven Sisters" (NL: Het huis van de zeven zusters) - 1998
Gorky, Maxim (Максима Горького) "Mother" (RUS: Мать/Matj) - 1906/07
Obama, Barack "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance" - 1995
Stowe, Harriet Beecher "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" - 1852
Ung, Loung "First They Killed My Father. A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers" - 2000
Vargas Llosa, Mario "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter" (E: La tía Julia y el escribidor) - 1977

These are some interesting stories about family relationships.

📚 Happy Reading! 📚

Monday 11 September 2023

Moggach, Deborah "The Carer"

Moggach, Deborah "The Carer" - 2019

I have read "Tulip Fever" by the same author and thought it was very good. So, when a friend offered to lend me this one, I took the opportunity.

This was not the same at all. Not just because it was a different topic. It just read more like chick-lit disguised as a serious novel.

While this could be a great novel about old age and how the care of a senile father can take up everyone's resources, the story turned more and more into a soap opera with family secrets everywhere. I could have done without all that and it might have been a brilliant novel. This is just very unreal. The only thing missing is a murder and the landing of an alien ship, then all genres would have been covered.

According to Goodreads, the novel is humourous. I couldn't detect that.

From the back cover:

"From the bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Tulip Fever, a deliciously funny, poignant and wry novel, full of surprising twists and turns.

James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy's virtues, their shopping trips, and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centres, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss. Is this really their father, the distant figure who never once turned up for a sports day, now happily chortling over cuckoo clocks and television soaps?

Then something happens that throws everything into new relief, and Phoebe and Robert discover that life most definitely does not stop for the elderly. It just moves onto a very different plane - changing all the stories they thought they knew so well.

Thursday 7 September 2023

#ThrowbackThursday. Plain and Simple


Bender, Sue "Plain and Simple: A Woman's Journey to the Amish" - 1991

We discussed this in our international book club in April 2007. We all liked the book but had a few observations, e.g. we thought the title should have been: "A woman's journey to herself".

If you don't know anything about the Amish, this is certainly a good book to read, it's not very long either.

We found the report about Amish life very peaceful, it puts things into perspective. Why do we always have to rush? The idea is the journey on the way.

Read my original review here

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Rowlinson, Derek "What's the best you can do?"

Rowlinson, Derek "What's the best you can do?: First-hand Recollections of a Second-hand Bookseller" - 2009

After reading Shaun Bythell's books about his life as a second hand bookseller, this one was recommended to me on one of the sites. Since I still wait for Shaun's next book to be published in paperback, I thought I might read this one in between.

This is another book about customers of a book shop where one can only shake your head. I'm surprised people still do this because the way they get treated is unbelievable.

Derek Rowlinson's book is not as funny as that of his Scottish counterpart but also highly entertaining. His description of some of his nice customers and their little quirks is great. But the others! My goodness. How can you treat books and booksellers that way?! He sorts the different characters into plenty self-explaining categories: time-wasters, thieves, meanness, asking silly questions, … I hope no bookseller has ever added me to one of their negative lists, second or first hand sellers.

And the beauty about any book like this: you feel the whole time as if you are in a bookshop. And that's paradise!

The illustrations by Graham Kennedy add to the pleasure of reading the book.

From the back cover:

"An autobiographical glimpse into the world of second-hand bookselling, where teh funny and the sad coexist like a microcosm of life itself. Here is a book that starts with a smile and ends with a wink."

The author has also written "Truelove's Journal: A Bookshop Novella" (Goodreads) under the pseudonym Ralph St. John Featherstonehaugh. That book deserves to be read for the funny and inventive name alone.

Monday 4 September 2023

Spell the Month in Books ~ September

Reviews from the Stacks

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.

September: Freebie Genre
I have done so many different freebies (see here) and always try to find some new ones. Lately, I read a few new travel books, so I have chosen this topic. Not all of them are my favourite travel books but they fit the letters.

Fatland, Erika "Sovietistan: Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan" (NO: Sovjetistan. En reise gjennom Turkmenistan, Kasakhstan, Tadsjikistan, Kirgisistan og Usbekistan) - 2014
Erika Fatland visited the Central Asian "Stans" who became independent after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Great book.

Wood, Levison "Eastern Horizons. Hitchhiking the Silk Road" - 2017
Levison Wood travelled, at the age of 22, first through Russia, then through Georgia and Turkey into Iran, from there to Afghanistan, then Pakistan and finally into the country he wanted to reach all along: India. Brillant book.

Aaronovitch, David "Paddling to Jerusalem. An Aquatic Tour of Our Small Country" - 2000
A nice story about someone who gets up and does something completely different where many people think they are getting too old for this kind of stuff.

Newsham, Brad "Take me with you" - 2000
A travel book with a twist. An American travels around the world, 100 days backpacking. The twist? He invites one of the people he meets to visit him in America. Someone who could never travel anywhere.

Pye, Michael "The Edge of the World: How the North Sea Made Us Who We Are" - 2014
An exciting book. A look at how we became what we are. What has the North Sea done, how has it contributed to our history?

Kehlmann, Daniel "Measuring the World" (GE: Die Vermessung der Welt) - 2005
This is about two brilliant German scientists of the 18th century, the explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt and the great mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss, the brains of the late 18th century.

Fatland, Erika "The Border: A Journey Around Russia Through North Korea, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, and the Northeast Passage" (NO: Grensen: En reise rundt Russland gjennom Nord-Korea, Kina, Mongolia, Kasakhstan, Aserbajdsjan, Georgia, Ukraina, Hviterussland, Litauen, Polen, Latvia, Estland, Finland og Norge samt Nordøstpassasjen) - 2017
Another book by this Norwegian author who took a trip all around the Russian border. She visited every single country. Just as great as "Sovietistan".

Arnim, Elizabeth von "The Enchanted April" - 1922
Four English women who hardly know each other go on vacation together. They rent a house and, of course, don't get along at all, because everyone has different ideas. (not one of my favourites)

Theroux, Paul "Riding the Iron Rooster" - 1988
I love travel books and this one doesn't make an exception. The author travelled through China in the 1980s, first with a travel group, then on his own.

Happy Reading!
📚 📚 📚

Saturday 2 September 2023

Six Degrees of Separation ~ From Wifedom to Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl


#6Degrees of Separation:
from Wifedom to Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

#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 Wifedom. Mrs. Orwell's Invisible Life by Anna Funder (Goodreads).

I found the chain this time again by jumping from one word in the title to the next, the first one being Wife:

McLain, Paula "The Paris Wife" - 2012

Orwell, George "Down and Out in Paris and London" - 1933

Bryson, Bill
"Down Under/In a Sunburned Country" - 2002

Whitehead, Colson
"Underground Railroad" - 2016

Steinem, Gloria "My Life on the Road" - 2015

Jacobs, Harriet Ann (Linda Brent) "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" - 1861


I think all the books connect to each other not just through the titles. While "Wifedom" is about George Orwell's wife, "The Paris Wife" is about Ernest Hemingway's, "Down and Out in Paris and London" doesn't just connect because it also takes place partly in Paris but it is by Georg Orwell. Now we have the largest jump to another book, "Down Under" just shares the word "Down" but it is about a different kind of life in Australia, from there we are going back in time to the slaves, "Underground Railroad". Some wives at the time were kept the same way. Gloria Steinem then tells us about "My Life on the Road" from where we go to the "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl". All unusual lives, very different from what we experience today in our Western societies.

Friday 1 September 2023

Happy September!

  Happy September to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch

"Kraniche auf dem Weg zu den Schlafplätzen"
"Cranes on their Way to their Roosts

Hanka and Frank say to this picture:
For me, the crane migration in autumn is one of the most beautiful natural phenomena in northern Germany.
Für mich ist der Kranichzug im Herbst eines der schönsten Naturereignisse im Norden Deutschlands.

Another great watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch. Enjoy!

Read more here.
 * * *

True. They also pass by our house and it is always beautiful. I once could even capture their flight. See here:
* * *

August was really busy. We celebrated our 40th; wedding anniversary with friends and family. It was lovely that most of them could make it and that everyone got on so well with each other. And many had actually been present on our actual wedding. Great day!

* * *

Then we had our niece and her family come to visit for a week. They have two little boys and it was absolutely lovely to have them here, even though it was also a tad exhausting at times. But we always love company.

* * *

While helping out another niece and taking her husband to his sick parents, we were not far from the North Sea and seized the opportunity for a short trip to the water. Here are some pictures from Carolinensiel:
* * *

You can find many more wonderful pictures on their website here.

You can also have a look under my labels Artist: Frank Koebsch and Artist: Hanka Koebsch where you can find all my posts about them. 

* * *

🌳 I wish you all a happy September! 🌳