Monday 10 June 2024

Şafak, Elif "10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World"

Şafak, Elif "10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World" - 2019

"Now he has again preceded me a little in parting from this strange world. This has no importance. For people like us who believe in physics, the separation between past, present and future has only the importance of an admittedly tenacious illusion." Albert Einstein upon the death of his closest friend, Michele Besso

This is my fifth novel by Elif Şafak and I have enjoyed them all tremendously. Well, as far as you can talk about enjoyment when reading about the murder of a woman.

We follow Leila from the minute of her birth until several minutes after her death and then her friends. We learn about the way she lived, how she ended up in her situation, how her friends found themselves in their situations. We hear about Istanbul and Leila's hometown Van in Eastern Anatolia, right near the border to Iran.

The idea that you can still be conscious several minutes after your death is something I had never heard of before. But this gives us an opportunity to get all aspects of Leila's life and death, that of her friends and how she met them. All of them social outcasts, they form their own kind of family and fight for it, even beyond death.

The book is divided into three parts, each of them different from the other but they all contribute to our understanding of the life.

In the first part, we read about Leila's thoughts in the first minutes after her death, she thinks about her family and her friends. All the memories are included in the story. In the second part, Leila is dead and we follow her friends who try to bury her somewhere decent. The third part is about Leila's soul.

This novel is extraordinary. An extraordinary book about an extraordinary woman in an extraordinary town.

Book Description:

"'In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila's consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore...'

For Leila, each minute after her death recalls a sensuous memory: spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the birth of a yearned-for son; bubbling vats of lemon and sugar to wax women's legs while men are at prayer; the cardamom coffee she shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each fading memory brings back the friends she made in her bittersweet life - friends who are now desperately trying to find her …

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World is an intensely powerful and richly evocative novel from one of the greatest storytellers of our time."

Friday 7 June 2024

Book Quotes


"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge." Nicolaus Copernicus

I know that I know nothing. Another quote by a smart guy, Socrates. He was so right then as he is now.

"If books could have more, give more, be more, show more, they would still need readers who bring to them sound and smell and light and all the rest that can’t be in books. The book needs you. " Gary Paulsen

That's a good point. I'm glad I can contribute to the meaning of existence for books.

"Too much of anything is bad, but too many books is barely enough." N.N.

Definitely true.

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday 6 June 2024

#ThrowbackThursday. May 2011

I've been doing Throwback Thursdays for a while but I noticed that I wrote a lot of reviews in a short time when I first started. One of my blogger friends always posts the reviews of one month but that would be too much. So, these are my reviews from the first week of May 2011.

Haddon, Mark "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" - 2003
The author tries to highlight that autistic figure/feel and accomplishes it very well. The book was written very discreetly, you could notice that he worked with children. One would have thought Mark Haddon had the syndrome himself.

Kidd, Sue Monk "The Secret Life of Bees" - 2002
The story of Lily from South Carolina, an abused child who lost her mother, and three African-American beekeeping sisters who help her growing up.

Lamb, Christina "The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan" - 2002
This was by far the best one of the books I read about Afghanistan.  Christina Lamb is a journalist who knows her job.

Mann, Thomas "Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family" (German: Buddenbrooks) - 1901
I have read "Buddenbrooks" a couple of times and think this is one of the best books of German literature. It is usually described as Thomas Mann's masterpiece. The author is definitely one of Germany's most famous and best writers. The novel, an epic story, dates from 1901 and describes the life in a wealthy merchant family over several decades from the 1800s until the beginning of the twentieth century.

Mosse, Kate "Labyrinth" - 2005
A story about history and architecture, a story that spans over 800 years. Historical events from the 13th century are described.

Waltari, Mika "The Egyptian" (Finnish: Sinuhe Egyptiläinen) - 1945
The author studied ancient cultures and theology and the facts in this book are accurate. He couldn't print war books at the time, so instead he wrote this one. The book covers not only Egyptian history but also everything about the human nature, its goodness and its cruelty.

Waltari, Mika "The Dark Angel" (Finnish: Johannes Angelos) - 1952
A lot of the author's novels have a religious background, there is always an issue of faith in his books. His language is great and he teaches a lot about churches and the background of their history. His books are very detailed and accurate. This novel is situated in Constantinople during its fall in 1453.

Woolf, Virginia "To the Lighthouse" - 1927
This wonderful book was almost like poetry. The style was wonderful. Virginia Woolf describes the people most beautifully, the feelings, the thoughts, the way she describes the changes, the atmosphere, how they looked at each other, you can recognize it in your own life.

Woolf, Virginia "Mrs. Dalloway" - 1925
This is supposed to be Virginia Woolf's greatest novel, a book about the life of a woman, a single day in the life of a woman. A "higher class" woman at the beginning of the last century preparing a party and seeing it through.

Read my original reviews, the for links click on the titles.

Wednesday 5 June 2024

Krall, Hanna "Chasing the King of Hearts"

Krall, Hanna "Chasing the King of Hearts" (Polish: Król kier znów na wylocie) - 2006

This was our international online book club book for May 2024.

The life story of a Jewish woman who loses all her family in the Holocaust. Except for her husband. She is sure he is still alive and she looks for him everywhere.

In the description it says this is a beautiful love story. And it is. In a way. Just not what you would usually expect from a love story. And the style is completely different. It reads like diary. But it's more than that. Quite interesting.

It's amazing what a human being can do in order to save their loved ones.

A good book about a strong woman.

From the back cover:

"An extraordinary love story, spanning 60 years, from 1939 to 2000, from the Warsaw Ghetto to Israel.

'This is the last leg of my journey. It would be silly to lose my mind now.' After the deportation of her husband to Auschwitz, Izolda Regenberg, alias Maria Pawlicka, has only one aim: to free her husband. Her race to beat fate might appear absurd to others, but not to her. In times of war and destruction she learns to trust herself.

Why Peirene chose to publish this book:

'This is a beautiful love story. A story which makes one weep for mankind. While Hanna Krall's terse prose is designed to convey the utter desperation of war, her deft touch evokes hope and a sense of homecoming.' Meike Ziervogel"

Tuesday 4 June 2024

Top 5 Tuesday ~ Red


Top Five Tuesday was originally created by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, but is now hosted by Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads. To participate, link your post back to Meeghan’s blog or leave a comment on her weekly post. I found this on Davida's Page @ The Chocolate Lady.

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This week’s topic is Red Books. Meeghan says: "June’s flower of the month is the rose, and the fruit of the month is pomegranate. So, we are doing our top 5 red books."

I have found plenty of books with a lot of read on the title but I chose the ones that are entirely red with just the title on them.

Döblin, Alfred "Berlin Alexanderplatz" (GE: Berlin Alexanderplatz) - 1929

Mahfouz, Naguib "Midaq Alley" (arab: زقاق المدق/Zuqaq El Midaq) - 1947

Marini, Lorenzo "The Man of the Tulips" (IT: L'uomo dei tulipani) - 2002

Marx, Karl; Engels, Friedrich "The Communist Manifesto" (GE: Das kommunistische Manifest) - 1848

Wodehouse, P.G. "The World of Jeeves" (The Inimitable Jeeves #2) - 1923

They are all very different but all great books.

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🌹Happy Reading!🌹
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Monday 3 June 2024

Spell the Month in Books ~ June

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

June: History

Next to geography and languages, history is one of my favourite subjects. Therefore, this was an easy one for me, I had now problems finding books that fit the description.

Defoe, Daniel "A Journal of the Plague Year" - 1772

Wiesel, Eli "Night" (F: La Nuit) - 1958

George, Margaret "Elizabeth I" - 2011

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My favourite of these, a book I think everyone should read, especially as regards to present politics: Night.

Happy Reading!
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Saturday 1 June 2024

Six Degrees of Separation ~ From Butter to Where the Crawdads Sing

#6Degrees of Separation:
from Butter (Goodreads) to Where the Crawdads Sing

#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.

The starter book this month is "Butter" by Asako Yuzuki.

We can't have all read the same books, so, as it happens so often, I have not read it. But here is the description:

"The cult Japanese bestseller about a female gourmet cook and serial killer and the journalist intent on cracking her case, inspired by a true story.

There are two things that I can simply not tolerate: feminists and margarine.

Gourmet cook Manako Kajii sits in Tokyo Detention Center convicted of the serial murders of lonely businessmen, who she is said to have seduced with her delicious home cooking. The case has captured the nation’s imagination but Kajii refuses to speak with the press, entertaining no visitors. That is, until journalist Rika Machida writes a letter asking for her recipe for beef stew and Kajii can’t resist writing back.

Rika, the only woman in her news office, works late each night, rarely cooking more than ramen. As the visits unfold between her and the steely Kajii, they are closer to a masterclass in food than journalistic research. Rika hopes this gastronomic exchange will help her soften Kajii but it seems that she might be the one changing. With each meal she eats, something is awakening in her body, might she and Kaji have more in common than she once thought?

Inspired by the real case of the convicted con woman and serial killer, '
The Konkatsu Killer,' Asako Yuzuki’s Butter is a vivid, unsettling exploration of misogyny, obsession, romance and the transgressive pleasures of food in Japan."

Now, food is a subject we have all read about at some point or the other, sometimes it is even linked to a crime. Therefore, this month I will stick to the topic.

Ali, Monica "In the Kitchen" - 2008

Buruma, Ian "Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance" (NL: Dood van en gezonde roker) - 2006

Christie, Agatha "Murder on the Orient Express" (Hercule Poirot #10) - 1934
Koch, Herman "The Dinner" (NL: Het diner) - 2009
Lanchester, John "The Debt to Pleasure" - 1996

Owens, Delia "Where the Crawdads Sing" - 2018


I didn't like all of them but absolutely loved the last one. And, of course, they all have something in common, murder, food, mostly both.

Happy June!

  Happy June to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Hanka Koebsch
"Blick auf die Diskobucht - Ein Grönland Aquarell"
"View of Disko Bay - A Greenland Watercolour"

Hanka says to this picture:
Greenland has an incredibly fascinating landscape. The largest island on earth awaits us with beautiful fjords, calving glaciers, rough rock faces and - what I never thought possible - a sea of flowers in summer."
"Grönland hat eine unglaublich faszinierende Landschaft. Die größte Insel der Erde erwartet uns mit wunderschönen Fjorden, kalbenden Gletschern, rauen Felswänden und - was ich überhaupt nicht für möglich gehalten habe - einem Blumenmeer im Sommer."

Read more on their website here. *

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May is a beautiful month. And we had the loveliest weather. Some thunderstorms but not too bad. And we need the rain for our harvest.
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We visited a lovely concert by a great German musician, Götz Alsmann. He mixes modern music with Jazz. He presented his newest album which is not for sale, yet, and there isn't anything on the net, either. So, have a look and a listen here for one of his older performances: L.I.E.B.E.

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Our book club read this month was "If on a Winter's Night a Traveller" (I: Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore) by Italo Calvino. It is one of my favourite books, not an easy one, but totally interesting. Unfortunately, my book club didn't share my enthusiasm.
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May is also the month when my favourite flower is in bloom: the peony. Here is a picture from this year:
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The old German word for June is Brachmond. 
Brache is the German word for fallow. In the two-field economy and the three-field economy of the Middle Ages, work on the fallow land began this month.
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* You can also have a look under my labels Artist: Frank Koebsch and Artist: Hanka Koebsch where you can find all my posts about the two artists. 

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🌞 I wish you all a Happy June! 🌞

Thursday 30 May 2024

#ThrowbackThursday. The Discovery of Slowness

Nadolny, Sten "The Discovery of Slowness" (German: Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit) - 1983

Interesting tale based on the successful arctic explorer, Sir John Franklin, his life and discoveries but also a great description how something that is usually conceived as negative, in this case a "slowness" that is regarded as "mental retardation" can be used for the good of something.

Read my original review here.

Wednesday 29 May 2024

How many books?

There are always reports about which country read the most books. A while ago, one of my blogger friends talked about that in one of his posts (see here, thank you CyberKitten).

During a visit, my mother counted my books once but she stopped at a thousand. That was about thirty years ago. I would not be able to count them today. I have a list of the fiction and some non-fiction books I read (more than 2000) but those are by far not all the books we have in the house. Not even half.

So, I have no idea. I only keep the books I liked but since I am quite picky in which ones I start, there are not that many that I don't keep. LOL

According to statistics, 53% of German citizens had fewer than 50 books, 23% had 50-100 and only 6% had over 200 books at home. On average, around 100 books per person (household). The statistics are from 2008. Then my household is certainly in the 6% with around 1000 books. And if they had another part with several thousands, we'd be in there.

I doubt I need to ask any of my fellow bloggers what group they belong to. All I know is, we always had a lot of books in our house. We always read to our children. They both became avid readers.

If you are interested in the nitty-gritty, I did find some information on how many books are read supposedly in Germany. I translated directly from the sites what I thought might be interesting for this post.

"On average, a household with children between the ages of six and 13 has 132 books, and the children have an average of 26 books of their own. In households with higher formal education (high school diploma/university degree), the inventory is significantly higher at 297 books (children: 43 books).

Reading and reading frequency prove to be extremely stable over time.
83% of the population aged 15 and over read at least one book (including e-books) in 2019, and almost 30% even read more than one book per month.

This was the result of a recent YouGov survey (see here).
According to this, 13 percent of Germans estimate their private book collection to be 10 books or fewer, 30 percent to be between 11 and 50 books. According to their own estimates, 22 percent have between 51 and 100 books on their shelves, and one in three (31 percent) have even more.

April 23 is celebrated as World Book and Copyright Day following a decision by the 28th General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1995. (see here). In India, the country where the most books are read in the world, every citizen spends about 10 hours and 42 minutes reading per week.

Research has shown that reading books regularly can likely help reduce the risk of dementia.
Researchers found that the disease rate was lower in intellectually active people. And not only that. Normally, the performance of the brain decreases with age. 

Although people still read a lot in Germany, who reads how much is unevenly distributed. The biggest readers are those aged 50-59; in this age group, 28 percent read almost every day."

"An average of 151 books in German households

The study collected data from adults between the ages of 25 and 65 from 31 countries. The results were astonishing: The average number of books per household is 115, with Scandinavian and former Soviet countries showing the highest number at 212.

The front runner is Estonia with 218. The lowest number of books is in Turkish households with an average of 27, while Germany is in the upper midfield with 151.

The research shows that with about 80 books in the home library, the children's literacy rate increases to average.

The connection between reading books and professional success, or at least a higher future salary, is also clear in a 2012 study by the economist Giorgio Brunello. If adolescents voluntarily read at least ten books in their youth, they earn around 21 percent more as adults. The amazing thing was that the type of books read had no influence on the result. The main thing is that there were ten or more..." (see here)

Monday 27 May 2024

Hamsun, Knut "Growth of the Soil"

Hamsun, Knut "Growth of the Soil" (Norwegian: Markens Grøde) - 1917

For the Classics Spin #37, we received #8 and this was my novel.

So far, I have only read one book by Knut Hamsun, "Pan". That was part of our international book club. One of our members was from Norway, and Knut Hamsun was her favourite author. I liked "Pan", it's a great novel and probably a good one for a book club since it's not too large.

"Growth of the Soil" was just as great. Apparently, this gained him the Nobel Prize for Literature. You can tell that the author loves nature and what it does for us. In this case, Isak, the protagonist, comes to an area where nobody lives and which seems hard to farm. He makes something of it and becomes one of the richest man in the area after some others follow.

It's not just the story, it's the way the people are described, their hard work, their love of nature, their will to become more, also those who don't agree with that style of life.

It's a quiet story, a calming story. An epic story about a time long gone.

"The epic novel of man and nature that won its author the Nobel Prize in Literature, in the first new English translation in more than ninety years

When it was first published in 1917,
Growth of the Soil was immediately recognized as a masterpiece. More than one-hundred years later it still remains a transporting literary experience. In the story of Isak, who leaves his village to clear a homestead and raise a family amid the untilled tracts of the Norwegian back country, Knut Hamsun evokes the elemental bond between humans and the land. Newly translated by the acclaimed Hamsun scholar Sverre Lyngstad, Hamsun's novel is a work of preternatural calm, stern beauty, and biblical power - and the crowning achievement of one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century."

Knut Hamsun received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920 "for his monumental work, 'Growth of the Soil'"

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