26 March 2014

i love spring book tag

This tag was created by two book tubers Helene and Amanda, and because spring is probably my favourite season, I decided to give it a go.

How is Spring where you live?

On the 21st of March, the official beginning of spring, the weather was quite nice, I believe - blue skies and about 10°C! The day after it snowed. Then we had a day of sunshine and temperatures went up to 17°C.  Unfortunately, Raincouver has really been living up to its nickname ever since. I will be going to Germany in late April, and I am hoping for some warm days there. Then again you never know, us Germans say that April doesn't know what it wants in terms of weather.

Most anticipated book release this Spring?

I am not really on top of the book release news at all. However there is one new edition of a book that I am looking forward to a lot: A new edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that I will be designing and binding by hand as a final project for my publishing class. Never have I been this excited for a university project!

Show us a book cover that makes you think of Spring.

This is German version of the children's book The Kids of Troublemaker Street by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. This was one of my favourites when I was young and it brings back many great memories of finally being able to play outside again after a long winter. I was at least as happy as the kids on the cover!  There's nothing greater than seeing new blossoms announcing the end of the winter.

Where are you going to read this Spring?

I hope to find the perfect reading spot in the park nearby - if the weather will allow it. I will always be reading on the bus when I commute, and in my bed before I go to bed. I also have a 10 hour flight coming up in April and I hope to get a good chunk of reading done then.

Find a cover with the sun on it!

Is this considered cheating? Had to pick a book with 'sun' in the title, I just couldn't find a better one. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a must read! Magnificent work of literature, that we can all learn from.

What are your favorite Spring reads?

I don't really pick my books according to season. This month, I have been reading Francophone and Irish literature, and I am planning to read some fairytales in April. I yet have to decide on a theme for May. Suggestions?

Find a book with many different colors on it. 

This one had to be An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. A very colourful cover including all the primary and almost all the secondary colours. Very 'springy' colours as well. This book has been on my TBR pile for much too long. Maybe May should be devoted to reading the books that have been on there the longest?

Whom do you tag?

I tag Kathryn from An Abundance of Kathryn, because I mention her favourite book, and Stephanie from Sincerely, Steph because I love her blog, and everybody else reading this. Leave me a comment, or if you write a whole post, leave the link! :)

Happy Spring!

1 March 2014

What I want to read in March 2014: Francophone and Irish literature

There are so many unread books on my shelf and that often makes it hard for me to pick what to read next. So I decided to come up with a theme every month and read books that tie in with that theme. Since March is 'International Francophone Month,' I picked out some books that where originally written in French. In March we do not only celebrate francophone culture, with St. Patrick's Day on March 17, we also celebrate the culture of the Irish. Thus, I will be reading some Irish literature as well. I have selected six books that span different eras and genres. I don't expect to read all six of them, but am aiming more at reading two francophone and two Irish works. Here is my selection:

The First Man by Albert Camus

Albert Camus (1913 – 1960) was a French author, journalist, and philosopher who grew up in French Algeria. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. Camus was born and grew up in French Algeria. In 1957 Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

"The unfinished manuscript of The First Man was discovered in the wreckage of the car accident in which Camus died in 1960, yet it was not published for over 30 years. The 'first man' of the title is Jacques Cormery, whose poverty stricken childhood is made bearable by his love for his silent and illiterate mother, and by the teacher who transforms his outlooks on the world. The most autobiographical of Camus' novels, The First Man gives insight into his life and the powerful themes underlying his work."

tl;dr: an unfinished semi-autobiographical novel by French Algerian Nobel Prize laureate Albert Camus about childhood in Algeria.

 Paris by Julian Green

Julien Green (1900 – 1998), was born to American parents in Paris. He authored several novels, a four-volume autobiography and a 19(!) volume diary. He wrote primarily in French and was the first non-French national to be elected to the Académie française.

"Paris is an extraordinary lyrical love letter to the city, taking the reader on an imaginative journey around its secret stairways, courtyards, alleys and hidden places. Whether evoking the cool of a deserted church on a hot summer's day, remembering Notre Dame in a winter storm in 1940, describing chestnut trees lit up at night like 'Japanese lanterns' or lamenting the passing of street cries and old buildings, his book is filled with unforgettable imagery. It is a meditation on getting lost and wasting time, and on what it truly means to know a city."

tl;dr: a love letter to Paris by an American writer who apparently had a lot to say (about himself).

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Tatiana de Rosnay (*1961) is a French journalist, writer and screenwriter who grew up in Paris, then Boston. De Rosnay has published twelve novels in French and three in English, her most popular novel being Sarah's Key, which has sold over three million copies in French and almost two million in English and adapted into a film in 2009. De Rosnay is considered one of the top French novelists and most read read French authors.

"Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten-year-old girl is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door to door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah lock him in a bedroom cupboard - their secret hiding place - and promises to come back to him as soon as they are released. Sixty years later: Sarah's story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles onto a trail of secrets that link her to Sarah, and to question about her own romantic future."

tl;dr: Jewish girl Sarah locks her brother in a closet out of fear for the police, and an American journalist discovers this story 60 years later.

Dubliners by James Joyce

James Joyce (1882 – 1941) was born into a middle class family in Dublin. He was a novelist and poet and is considered one of the most influential writers of the early 20th century. Joyce is best known for his novels Ulysses, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Finnegans Wake. He also published three books of poetry, a play, and occasional journalism.

"Joyce's first major work, written when he was only twenty-five, brought his city to the world for the first time. His stories are rooted in the rich detail of Dublin life, portraying ordinary often defeated lives with unflinching realism. He writes of social decline, sexual desire and exploitations, corruption and personal failure, yet creates a brilliantly compelling, unique vision of the world and of human experience."

tl;dr: James Joyce's first work, a collection of short stories, that brings Dublin and its people to life.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt (1930 - 2009) was an Irish-American teacher and author. McCourt was born in Brooklyn, but his family returned to their native Ireland when he was four. He received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1996  and Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his memoir Angela's Ashes.

"The luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children, since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy - exasperating, irresponsible and beguiling - does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father's tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.

Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbours - yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness."

tl;dr: Frank McCourt's memoir of a childhood in poverty in the slums of Limerick, Ireland in the 1930s and 1940s.

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Paul Murray (*1975) is an Irish novelist. Murray attended Blackrock College in south Dublin, which provided the basis for the school in Skippy Dies. He studied English literature at Trinity College, Dublin, and got his master's in creative writing at the University of East Anglia.

"Why does Skippy, a fourteen-year-old boy at Dublin's venerable Seabrook College, end up dead on the floor of the local doughnut shop?  Why Skippy dies and what happens next is the subject of this dazzling and uproarious novel, unraveling a mystery that links the boys of Seabrook College to their parents and teachers in ways nobody could have imagined. With a cast of characters that ranges from hip-hop-loving fourteen-year-old Eoin "MC Sexecutioner" Flynn to basketball playing midget Philip Kilfether, packed with questions and answers on everything from Ritalin, to M-theory, to bungee jumping, to the hidden meaning of the poetry of Robert Frost, "Skippy Dies "is a heartfelt, hilarious portrait of the pain, joy, and occasional beauty of adolescence, and a tragic depiction of a world always happy to sacrifice its weakest members."

tl;dr: Skippy, Catholic boarding school student, dies during a donut eating contest. What happened?

28 February 2014

What I Read: February 2014

February has been another great reading month! Here are the four books I read:

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Publisher: SPEAK (Penguin Group USA), 1998
Format: Paperback, 281 pages
ISBN: 9780142401774

"The world is a terrible place not to have a best friend. Scarlett was always the strong one. Halley was always content to follow in her wake. Then Scarlett's boyfriend died, and Scarlett learned that she was pregnant. Now Halley has to find the strength to take the lead and help Scarlett get through it. Because true friendship is a promise you keep forever."

Source: University bookstore bargain sale!

3 out of 5 ships: This is obviously not highbrow literature, but exactly the easy cute little read I needed when I was sick earlier this month. Liked it.

Tschick by Wolfgang Herrndorf [Original German Version]; English: Why We Took the Car

Publisher: Rowohlt, 2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9783871347108

"Mutter in der Entzugsklinik, Vater mit Assistentin auf Geschäftsreise: Maik Klingenberg wird die großen Ferien allein am Pool der elterlichen Villa verbringen. Doch dann kreuzt Tschick auf. Tschick, eigentlich Andrej Tschichatschow, kommt aus einem der Asi-Hochhäuser in Hellersdorf, hat es von der Förderschule irgendwie bis aufs Gymnasium geschafft und wirkt doch nicht gerade wie das Musterbeispiel der Integration. Außerdem hat er einen geklauten Wagen zur Hand. Und damit beginnt eine Reise ohne Karte und Kompass durch die sommerglühende deutsche Provinz."

Source: Received as a gift for my 19th birthday. (Mind you, I am turning 21 next week.)

5 out of 5 ships: Wundervoll! What a journey.

Jan Tschichold: Typographer by Ruari McLean

Publisher: Lund Humphries Publishers, 1990
Format: Hardcover, 160 pages
ISBN: 9780853313489

On the life and work of one of the most influential typographers of the 20th century. The father of New Typography, revolutionizer of Penguin Books design and layout, and designer of the widely-used Sabon typeface.

Source: University library. Used for research for a report on a design icon for my graphic design class.

4 out of 5 ships: Ruari's book is easy to understand and beautifully displays the evolution of Tschichold's work. A must for anyone with an interest in the history of layout and typography!

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

Publisher: Little Brown Books, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 505 pages
ISBN: 9780316228534

"When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands ... And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?"

Source: I pre-ordered this book to be able to read it right when it comes out. Two years later ...

4 out of 5 stars: How very despicable people really are. These characters are truly characters, not just people on paper.

31 January 2014

What I Read: January 2014

I had a great start in the new reading year. Here are the books I read this month:

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (2011)
Format: kindle e-book

I finally caved and jumped the bandwagon.  I needed to see what the hype is all about and didn't regret it.

4 out of 5 ships! Unputdownable.

Amira im Brautzelt by Salim Alafenisch [German Original]

Publisher: Ravensburger (1998)
Format: Hardcover, 160 pages
ISBN: 3473342610

My grandparents lent me this children's book a long, long time ago, and I just rediscovered it on my shelves.

2 out of 5 stars! It did not really grab me at all. 

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (2012)
Format: kindle e-book
ASIN: B00655U3WE

Downloaded the second book in the series right after finishing the first one.

3 out of 5 stars! Still a very enthralling read, just not as much as Divergent. Excited to see what Allegiant will bring.

Karoo Boy by Troy Blacklaws

Publisher: Mariner Books (2005)
Format: Paperback, 196 pages
ISBN-13: 9780156030656

Received as a gift from my parents after my first trip to Namibia (for Christmas 2012, I believe).

5 out of 5 stars! Never have I seen such vivid, stunning imagery in any work of literature. If you aren't in love with Africa already, you will be after reading this. So many beautiful and flawed characters. Will read again!

1 January 2014

Top Ten of 2013

1. The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

This series is unlike anything I have ever read before. If you have not read these books, I strongly urge you to. You won't regret it!

“Keep in mind that I'm crazy, won't you?” 

[in no particular order from here on out]

4. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami

A great work of fiction, if confusing as confusing can be. Give the audiobook a try! Narrator Rupert Degas is a unique talent and genius at what he does!

“In a place far away from anyone or anywhere, I drifted off for a moment.” 

5. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Work of great importance! The characters will take you with them on their tough journey through everyday life in times of slavery - and they won't let go of you after you close the book. Must read!

“What the color is, who the daddy be, who the mama is don't mean nothin'. We a family, carin' for each other. Family make us strong in times of trouble. We all stick together, help each other out. That the real meanin' of family.” 

6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

One of the greatest stories of friendship of all time and a classic for everyone.

“A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick.” 

7. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else ... Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.” 

8. The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

I strongly urge you to read this novel by human rights lawyer Michelle Cohen Corasanti! This book will capture your attention from the very first page and will stay with you long after you close it. It will touch you; it will educate you.

“People hate out of fear and ignorance. If they could just get to know the people they hate, and focus on their common interests, they could overcome that hatred.”

9. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Thirty years of Afghan history told through the lives of two utterly different women. Important work telling the story through voices we rarely hear from in the West. Do read!

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peal Pie Society

If this title doesn't make you curious then I don't know what will. A must read for any bibliophile.

“That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”

30 December 2013

What I Read: 2013

It's been a good year! I am so glad I decided to start this blog. I might not have the most readers or be the most consistent in my updates, but I am so glad to be recording my reading experiences and to have something to look back on. Here are the 35 books I read in 2013!





German Fiction

German Audiobooks