Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Reading Challenge - Chunky Books 2017

I can't believe I've taken part in this reading challenge since 2013. It is still the most interesting challenge to me. I signed up for the highest of the four levels "Mor-book-ly Obese" which meant eight or more chunksters (books over 450 pages) of which three must be 750 pages or more.

I have carried on with that challenge without setting goals, I love big books and I will always read some. And I am more than willing to tell my friends about them.

If you are interested in the challenge, check out this link. I don't think they even do one this year, so I just use the link for 2015.

They also give you suggestions by page number, in case you can't find any chunksters yourself. ;-)

Or you can check out my lists from the previous years (below), maybe you are interested in a couple of them.

I read in
2013: 38 chunky books, 13 of them chunksters
2014: 37 chunky books, 15 of them chunksters
2015: 25 chunky books, 8 of which chunksters
2016: 28 chunky books, 3 of which chunksters

I will be posting the books I have read here:
Ephron, Nora "The Most of Nora Ephron" - 2014 - 571 pages
Bohjalian, Chris "Midwives" - 1997 - 480 pages
Witzel, Frank "Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969" (The Invention of the Red Army Faction by a Manic Depressive Teenager in the Summer of 1969) - 2015 - 803 pages
Falcones, Ildefonso "The Barefoot Queen" (La Reina Descalza/Das Lied der Freiheit) - 2013- 752 pages
Pinkola Estés, Clarissa "Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype" (Die Wolfsfrau: Die Kraft der weiblichen Urinstinkte) - 1992 - 608 pages

Weir, Alison "Six Tudor Queens. Katherine of Aragon. The True Queen" - 2015 - 640 pages
Laker, Rosalind "The Golden Tulip" - 1989 - 668 pages

I read 7 chunky books in 2017/18 so far of which 2 are considered a chunkster.

Happy Reading!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Bohjalian, Chris "Midwives"

Bohjalian, Chris "Midwives" - 1997

This book has been on my TBR pile for quite a while and I am glad I finally read it. A well-written novel about a midwife in trouble, her daughter who lives through it all and an old question, is it better to be born at home or in hospital. I was born at home and quite a few things went wrong so that my mother had my younger siblings in the hospital. So did I.

I don't want to judge anyone who opts for a home birth, I think it is a great idea when mother and baby are healthy. I was happy that I could leave the hospital on the same day after the birth of my second son in England as opposed to staying in for a whole week in Germany where my oldest was born.

I think this book is a good idea to instigate discussions about home birth versus hospital birth but in the end, I think everyone should decide for themselves. I would not want to judge over anyone like the jury in this book has to do over the midwife after one of her homebirths goes wrong.

The author has a great talent to portray both the feelings of the midwife as well as her 14 year old daughter. It's amazing for a man to be able to write like that. If I hadn't seen his picture in the front of the book, I would have sworn that Chris must be short for Christine. Certainly an author worth watching.

Like all the other books I read from Oprah's book club list, I have enjoyed this a lot.

From the back cover:
"On an icy winter night in an isolated house in rural Vermont, a seasoned midwife named Sibyl Danforth takes desperate measures to save a baby's life. She performs an emergency caesarean section on a mother she believes has died of a stroke. But what if Sibyl's patient wasn't dead - and Sibyl inadvertently killed her?
As Sibyl faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do."

Friday, 24 March 2017

Book Quotes of the Week

"A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others." Abraham Lincoln

"Even in the most stressed times there is always time for reading." Emilie and Stephanie

"A good book tells you there’s a pink house and lets you paint some of the finishing touches, maybe choose the roof style, park your own car out front." Karen Marie Moning

"I whispered the thrilling words to myself, then lifted the book to my nose and breathed the ink from its pages. The scent of possibilities." Kate Morton

"After three days without reading, talk becomes flavourless." Chinese proverb

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Scott, Mary "First Things First"

Scott, Mary "First Things First" - 1973

Like all of Mary Scott's books, I have read this before, I managed to buy most of those that were translated into German years ago. I do remember this as being one of my favourites, probably because the protagonist is a librarian.

Also in this case, Mary Scott drew from her own life, she did take care of a village library for a while during the time one or several of her kids attended school far away from home.

Again, this book is funny from the first page to the last, always a pleasure to read novels by this great author.
Unfortunately, Mary Scott's books are out of print and only available second hand. I have heard in the meantime, that you can buy some of them as eBooks.

From the back cover (translated):
"Robert Henderson and his granddaughter move to the countryside. In an idyllic small village, the girl takes a job as a librarian. Assisted by her ardent, sometimes somewhat old-fashioned, but certainly very well-read grandfather, she supplies the not so uneducated rural community with everything her poorly equipped library provides.
But Jill does not want to read about love just in books and therefore decides to marry a farmer. But suddenly she falls in love with the busy young veterinarian ..."

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

My Favourite Books 2016

Abulhawa, Susan "Mornings in Jenin" - 2010
Alexievich, Svetlana "Second Hand Time. The Last of the Sovjets" (Russian: Время секонд хэнд = Vremja sekond khend) - 2013
Bryson, Bill "The Road to Little Dribbling: more Notes from a Small Island" - 2015
Bryson, Bill "A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail" - 1998
Kulin, Ayşe "Rose of Sarajevo" (Turkish: Sevdalinka) - 1999
Mercier, Pascal "Perlmann's Silence" (German: Perlmanns Schweigen) - 1995
Mistry, Rohinton "Family Matters" - 2002
Oates, Joyce Carol "Carthage" - 2014
Oates, Joyce Carol "The Man Without a Shadow" - 2016
Perkins, Sue "Spectacles" - 2015
Schami, Rafik "A Hand Full of Stars" (German: Eine Hand voller Sterne) - 1987
Trollope, Anthony "The Way We Live Now" - 1875

I have already published my list in my statistics here and my reading challenges wrap-up here but I like to have a link with just the favourite books that I can refer to.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Munsch, Robert "Love You Forever"

Munsch, Robert "Love You Forever" - 1986

I remember reading this book to my children when they were little and they really loved it. Such a beautiful story. It almost reads like a song.

And even though my boys are in their twenties, I keep telling me that they will always be my babies. If your kids are grown up and you want to feel a little nostalgic for their baby years - as if anyone would need a book for that! - this is the right one.

A fabulous story for little children and a great gift to young parents.

From the back cover:
"A young woman holds her newborn son
And looks at him lovingly. Softly she sings to him:
"I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be."
So begins the story that has touched the hearts of millions worldwide. Since publication in l986, 'Love You Forever' has sold more than 15 million copies in paperback and the regular hardcover edition (as well as hundreds of thousands of copies in Spanish and French)."

Monday, 20 March 2017

Hochschild, Arlie Russell "Strangers in Their Own Land"

Hochschild, Arlie Russell "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right" - 2016

I have read this book in the hope that I will understand the Republicans a little better and I truly believe that the author wrote it in order to understand them. I still don't understand. And I doubt the author does. How can you not want the government to help you when the companies pollute your environment? There are people out there who know what goes wrong but still don't want any rules for the companies who destroy their lives, their landscapes, bring cancer and other illnesses to their families and treat the few people who work for them like rubbish.

I think the difference between Democrats/Liberals and Republicans is that the former sees the government as a caring parent who will help you on your way, sending you to a good school, making sure you'll find your way in the world, taking care of you when you are sick or can't do anything and for that you help in the household. The latter see them as as Big Brother who doesn't just watch you, doesn't share their toys but takes away all yours and destroys them. Well, without a caring parent, companies will just behave like Big Brother.

I would recommend this book to anyone, especially Republicans, in order to understand where this is all going and how we hopefully can find  a better way to save this planet.

From the back cover:
"In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country--a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets--among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident--people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream--and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in "red" America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: why do the people who would seem to benefit most from "liberal" government intervention abhor the very idea?"

A friend sent me a link to an article about two books, One Way To Bridge The Political Divide: Read The Book That's Not For You.  You can find the review to the other book "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates here.