Friday, 18 August 2017

Book Quotes of the Week



"Far more seemly were it for thee to have thy study full of books, than thy purse full of money." John Lyly

"We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living labours of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man, preserved and stored up in books; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom, and if it extend to the whole impression, a kind of massacre; whereof the execution ends not in the slaying of an elemental life, but strikes at that ethereal and fifth essence, the breath of reason itself, slays an immortality rather than a life." John Milton

"Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books." Mary Ann Shaffer

"The best book is not one that informs merely, but one that stirs the reader up to inform himself." A.W. Tozer, Man The Dwelling Place Of God

"By eating we overcome hunger; and by study ignorance." Chinese Proverb

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Americanah"


Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi "Americanah"  - 2013

I read "Half of a Yellow Sun" earlier this year and really liked it. This is another novel about Nigeria even though a very different one. It takes place about thirty years after the events in the first book (Biafra war). The author tells the story about a young woman from Nigeria who emigrates to the United States and comes back years later.

This was an interesting book for me not only because of all the information you can get about Nigeria but also because it resembles my life. I didn't flee from a war-torn region but I have lived abroad for almost half of my life and I always hear comments by others who haven't who have a completely different idea about that, both people from my home country as well as those from my host country. So, for me this is not just a book about Nigeria but about immigrants and their torn-apart worlds. It is not as much a love story but a story about what you do if you end up somewhere where you are not wanted. It might as well have been a story of my life, without the love story gone wrong. Same as Ifemelu, I will go back to my own country one day and I am sure it won't be the same as it was when I left.

Someone mentions in the book that "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe was a great book but didn't help them to understand Africa but "A Bend in the River" by V.S. Naipaul did. I have not read the first book but it's on my wishlist whereas I really can recommend the second one.

In any case, I did enjoy reading this book even though it touched a completely different side of Nigeria than "Half of a Yellow Sun" . I am looking forward to reading the author's third book, "Purple Hibiscus".

From the back cover:
"As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?"

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Sitch, Rob: Cilauro, Santo: Tom Gleisner, Tom "Molvanîa. A Land Untouched By Modern Dentistry"


Sitch, Rob: Cilauro, Santo: Tom Gleisner, Tom "Molvanîa. A Land Untouched By Modern Dentistry" - 2003

Molvanîa is a small country somewhere in the Central Europe with funny people, strange customs, an even stranger language. One of my favourite quotes: "Molvanîan is a difficult language to speak, let alone master. There are four genders: male, female, neutral, and the collective noun for cheeses, which occupies a nominative sub-section of its very own."

Their capital city is called Lutenblag, the country is divided into four provinces: The Great Central Valley, the Molvanîan Alps, Eastern Steppes and the Western Plateau.  Apparently, it borders Germany, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia. It is known for being "the world's number one producer of beetroot and the birthplace of whooping cough".

Don't worry if you've never heard of Molvanîa - it is totally invented.

Although, in this case, any similarity with fictitious events, characters or places are probably not purely coincidental.

I still can't decide whether this "mock" travel book is just mocking the people who live in the area of where Molvanîa is situated but since I've heard they find it funny, as well, I might have been a tad oversensitive at times. I think we all can imagine where the ideas for the people and the customs in this weird country come from. However, it is quite funny at times, the only travel guide I ever read back to front, and I do have quite a few of them and use them regularly.

So, if you'd like to visit Molvanîa, you want to consider Aeromolv, the only flight line that offers a 10% discount per engine not in service per flight.

From the back cover:
"When sophisticated travelers get together to discuss ever more exotic destinations, the name "Molvanîa" often comes up. Not even John McPhee or Jan Morris can claim to have visited this small, remote Eastern European nation, the birthplace of the polka and whooping cough. How would they even get there? Fortunately, this definitive Jetlag Travel Guide offers everything a curious tourist will need to prepare for encounters with the Molvanîans. With winning insincerity, the authors describe the fascinating complexities of the native language: "Molvanîan is a difficult language to speak, let alone master. There are four genders: male, female, neutral, and the collective noun for cheeses, which occupies a nominative subsection all its very own."

Friday, 4 August 2017

Book Quotes of the Week



"I can study my books at any time, for they are always disengaged." (Mihi omne tempus est ad meus libros vacuum, numquam enim sunt illi occupati.) Cicero "De re publica"

"There are different rules for reading, for thinking, and for talking. Writing blends all three of them." Mason Cooley

"When a farmer dies who knows the land and the story of the people working it, when a wise man dies, who knows how to read the moon and the sun, the wind and the flight of the birds, ... not just one man dies. It's a whole library that dies." Dario Fo

"The primary purpose of a liberal education is to make one's mind a pleasant place in which to spend one's leisure." Sydney Harris

"You have to remember that it is impossible to commit a crime while reading a book." John Waters

Find more book quotes here.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Wolf, Naomi "The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are used against Women"


Wolf, Naomi "The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are used against Women" - 1990

The next book introduced into the Emma Watson Book Club - Our Shared Shelf.

I didn't think I would like this book as much as I did. I didn't think it would be as contemporary as it was. After all, this book was written in 1990 about the way women "obey" the "God of Beauty". As I can tell when I look around, nothing has changed since then, even though almost three decades have passed.

What can be done? First of all, I think this book should be read by everyone, not only women. There aer so many ideas and thoughts that should make every woman be happy with the body they have and not try to run after a fantasy image.

We should all be aware that the image of a "beautiful woman" is imposed on us, that hardly anyone really judges us the way we think they do and that, if we all stick together, women shouldn't be regarded in the workforce the same way as men are.

I remember the many articles I read about Angela Merkel, our current chancellor, and her clothes. Articles that would never have been written about her male colleagues. And I always wondered what that has to do with her ability to run a country. Nothing. She dresses decently and that's enough for me. And that should be enough for any woman who works no matter where.

I never had big issues with the way I look. I wouldn't call myself pretty and I certainly don't have a good figure anymore after giving birth to two children but I've always told myself whoever doesn't like me this way can just stay away. But I know how many women do have issues, they go from one diet to the next and suffer even more afterwards. If only they would all read this book!

However, there are a few things I have learned from this book. For example, I now know why I don't like women's magazines.

If I had a daughter, I would give her this book right now. But I think my sons should read it, as well in order to help their partners in future.

From the back cover:
"In the struggle for women's equality, there is one hurdle that has yet to be fully cleared - the myth of female beauty. It challenges every woman, every day, by seeking to undermine psychology and covertly the material freedoms that feminism has achieved for women. And, fueled by new technology in media and medicine, its ravages are reaching epidemic proportions.
The Beautify Myth cuts to the root of the 'beauty backlash,' exposing the relentless cult of female beauty - antierotic, averse to love, and increasingly savage - as a political weapon against women's recent advances, placing women in more danger today than ever before.
Naomi Wolf tracks the tyranny of the beauty myth throughout its history and reveals its newly sophisticated function today - in the home and at work; in literature and the media; in relationships, between men and women and between women and women. With an arsenal of sometimes shocking examples, Wolf confronts the beauty industry and its influence and uncovers the ominous, hidden agenda that drives this destructive obsession.
In a searing, timely analyses, The Beauty Myth indicts the new forces coercing women into participating in their own torture - starving themselves and even submitting their bodies to the knife. A direct descendant of The Female Mystique and The Female Eunuch, this book is a cultural hand grenade for the 1990s."

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Happy August!

Happy August to all my friends and readers

New Calendar picture with this
beautiful watercolour painting by Frank Koebsch


 "Boats in the Harbour of Gager" 
"Boote im Hafen von Gager"


August used to be Sextilis in Latin, the sixth month of the year, but the Romans added two months and named this one after Emperor Augustus. 
We don't have a holiday in Germany or the Netherlands in this month, but the Belgians celebrate Mary's Assumption on 15 August.

 Enjoy this month with the beautiful watercolour painting 
by Frank Koebsch. 
I think it is inviting us to spend a day at the seaside.
 
You can find a lot more wonderful pictures on their website here.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Mercier, Pascal "Lea"


Mercier, Pascal "Lea" (German: Lea) - 2007

This is my third book by Pascal Mercier. He is just such an excellent writer, I need to read his fourth book (Der Klavierstimmer, not translated yet), as well, and then he urgently has to write more.

Pascal Mercier's writing style is almost like poetry, even though he stays very close with his topic. You can tell he is a philosopher in his "first life", he brings a lot of expertise into the story.

In this story, we hear from a father whose daugher learns to play the violin and who is a great talent. This talent destroys everyone's life around her, including her own. Her passion is described in a way that it is easy to follow but hard to understand. You want to get inside her brain, what is she thinking, what is everyone else thinking.

The author creates a great story with fantastic figures. The storyteller is a third person, a brilliant idea to get a little distance to the main characters.

A perfect story, a perfect read.

From the back cover:
"Pascal Mercier's Night Train to Lisbon mesmerized readers around the world, and went on to become an international bestseller, establishing Mercier as a breakthrough European literary talent. Now, in Lea, he returns with a tender, impassioned, and unforgettable story of a father's love and a daughter's ambition in the wake of devastating tragedy.

It all starts with the death of Martijn van Vliet's wife. His grief-stricken young daughter, Lea, cuts herself off from the world, lost in the darkness of grief. Then she hears the unfamiliar sound of a violin playing in the hall of a train station, and she is brought back to life. Transfixed by a busker playing Bach, Lea emerges from her mourning, vowing to learn the instrument. And her father, witnessing this delicate spark, promises to do everything and anything in his power to keep her happy.

Lea grows into an extraordinary musical talent--her all-consuming passion leads her to become one of the finest players in the country--but as her fame blossoms, her relationship with her father withers. Unable to keep her close, he inadvertently pushes Lea deeper and deeper into this newfound independence and, desperate to hold on to his daughter, Martin is driven to commit an act that threatens to destroy them both.

A revelatory portrait of genius and madness, Lea delves into the demands of artistic excellence as well as the damaging power of jealousy and sacrifice. Mercier has crafted a novel of intense clarity, illuminating the poignant ways we strive to understand ourselves and our families."

I also read:
Mercier, Pascal "Perlmann's Silence" (German: Perlmanns Schweigen) - 1995
Mercier, Pascal "Night Train to Lisbon" (German: Nachtzug nach Lissabon) - 2004