I have a new blog over here:
which means I won't write anymore in this one.
I just finished reading "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. I know that I said that I would cut down my reading time but that book made it so hard to put it down and do revision instead. I just couldn't stop before I was finished with it. This book definetely made into my all-time favourites. It's a story told by Death himself. He tells the story of a young german girl, Liesel, who is brought up by foster parents from the age of nine onwards because her mother and father were suspected communists which is not a good thing in Nazi Germany (the story takes place between 1939 and 1943). Her foster parents live in the outskirts of Munich in Himmelstraße. Throughout the book all inhabitants of that street are introduced and each and everyone of them play some more or less important part in Liesels life. Her foster parents, the Hubermanns, aren't members of the NSDAP (the Nazi party) and from 1940 onwards they hide a jew in their basement. Liesel befriends the young man and reads to him. The end is sad but not really sudden as the storyteller (Mr. Death) gives short glimpses at the end throughout his telling. This book is extremely sad what with the misery of the Jews at the hands of the fanatic Nazis, war, bombings and the always present Death. Zusaks way of writing is amazing. The chapters are short and interwoven with personal comments by Mr. Death himself. Though it seems and feels strange at the beginning to read these comments in the middle of a paragraph the story wouldn't be as captivating, charming and great without them. I guess it is quite obvious that I love this book. And really I do love it very much and recommend it. You have to read it!!!
My next book is "The Witch of Portobello" another Coelho. As well as "The Book Thief" it is not on the list, but I took the liberty to add "The Book Thief" because I believe that the only reason it's not on the list is that it was published only after the book with the list was published and hence could not make it on the list. However "The Book Thief" absolutely deserves to be on the list as it really is a book you should read before you die!
Although I've been stuck to the head in revision over the holidays I still found some time to continue my reading. I first finished with "Tess of the D'urbervilles", then read "Frankenstein" and finally started another try at Tolstoys "Anna Karenina".
"Tess of the D'Urbervilles" took off rather slow and it took me a while to get used to the way of writing. I got really confused at the beginning and somehow missed an important point while reading because I was quite surprised when I read that Tess was pregnant though as I'd understood the story so far she didn't sleep with that jerk. However all in all it was a nice read though not really surprising apart from the end but I won't spoil that. Read it yourselves!
I've bought "Frankenstein" already a couple of years ago but have never found the time to read it. I was quite surprised to find out that not the monster is called Frankenstein but its creator. Otherwise the story had no real surprises either. I enjoyed reading it though. Probably because it had no happy end and for some twisted reason I like stories (and movies) that don't end with everybody being happy and in lala land. It's a tragic and sad story and it shows in an impressive way why men should not try to play god.
This is actually already my third try on "Anna Karenina". I started it first sometime during the summer of 2006, lost interest after app. 150 pages and started again one year later with another 50 something pages, just to lose interest again. This time I actually made some real progress and I'm just 40 pages short of finishing the first part. For those who don't know it: "Anna Karenina" is one real fat book with the story revolving around numerous characters of the Russian upper class. It mainly is about stuff like who marries whom, who has an affair etc. On top of it the book gives an insight to different theories about farming and politics of that time (end of 19th century). It is really hard to keep track who is connected to whom in what way. The complicated Russian names don't make it particularly easier and even the table of names at the beginning of the book doesn't really help. I'm pretty sure that it will take me ages to finsih that book especially with regard to the fact that I already found another far more intriguing book: "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. It's not on the list but I've read several reviews of it and it sounded really promising. I've read like 50 pages so far and I'm already captured by the story and the way it is told. But what with my final exams lurking in the near future I might to have cut down my reading-for-pleasure-time.
First of all I loved that book! Golden's way of writing is amazing and once you start reading you get sucked into the world of Sayuri (the Geisha whose memoirs the book is about). Though the book really gives an in-depth insight into the lives of the Geisha in Kyoto during the first half of the last century it is more the journey to fulfillment of Sayuri's greatest desire that makes the story spellbinding. As the reader you are always torn between hope that she finally gets what she desires and the despair when everything takes an absolutely different turn and she's farther away from fulfillment than ever. On another note the author draws attention to the fact that the Geishas will (at some point not so far in the future) belong to the extinct species. Which is actually a pity as it is one of the aspects of Japanese culture that involves a lot of traditions e.g. tea ceremony, playing the shimasen, traditional dances etc. that (at least for a non-Japanese as me) just belong to the image of Japan. A Geisha incorporates Japanese culture in so many ways. It really would be a huge loss if one day there'd be no more Geishas. I hope that one day I'll have the money and the time to go to Japan and to visit Kyoto, Tokyo and even Okinawa. Hm that'd be so great. Though I'd need an extra bag just for all the manga and artbooks I'd buy ;D.
After two books from this century I'm now turning back to somewhat older literature again: "Tess of the D'urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy which was first published in 1891. I haven't started yet but will definitely read a chapter this evening before going to bed.
I really enjoyed reading "Veronika decides to die", though the book was a little bit on the short side, just 191 pages. Nevertheless the story was told in an amazing way and was spellbinding. The book raises questions like "What is 'normal'? What does it mean do be 'mad'? Aren't we all mad? What is it worth living for?" etc. Throughout the book a doctor working at a hospital for mentally-ill people develops a theory about what makes people unhappy about their life and what might be a solution to that problem. Though it is a little bit confusing at the beginning the examples he gives aren't fiction at all but drawn from reality. I wouldn't consider myself mad, insane or suicidal or anything but still I could identify with some of the aspects of his theory. There were moments while reading where I just was like:"Jepp, that's so true." or "I've experienced something similar." The book really gets you to think about your life and your desires. And it is somewhat consoling, to know that everybody is kind of mad to a certain degree :) though probably nobody would ever admit that. I highly recommend that book, and with less than 200 pages it is definitely not too much even for someone who isn't that much into reading.
As you might guess I'm already on my way with the next book. It's "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden. And as I love everything Japanese-related I'm pretty sure this will turn out a great read!
Follow-up to Love from Nadine's attempt to read 1001 books before she dies
As I predicted just yesterday I did something stupid and sent him a poem confessing my feelings. In hindsight I don't regret doing it because, though I did get rejected, an immense burden has been lifted off of me and I know that I'll be able to move on now. However I'm quite surprised about how much his rejection really hurts. I have prepared myself for that and yet it hit me full force. His kind and sweet words made me realise just why I've fallen in love with him in the first place and they made me cry even harder. I have the feeling that it will take quite some time to overcome this. It's so funny isn't it? That you only realise how much you really loved someone when you have lost them or know for sure it's never going to happen. God, the thought that he'll never feel the same way for me hurts so much!
While having breakfast this morning I finished "Kafka on the Shore". I really recommend this book to everybody who enjoys an intelligent and spellbinding read. That book got me into thinking about some serious stuff. Well, the book is describing the journeys of two persons: Kafka Tamura who ran away from home at the age of 15 and Mr. Nakata who is not very bright due to a bizarre accident in his youth. There are some really bizarre bits in the story e.g. Mr. Nakata being able to talk to cats and stones, fish raining from the sky, two never-aging soldiers waiting in a forest for more than 60 years and appearances of Johnnie Walker and the Kentucky-Fried-Chicken-Man but they fit perfectly into the plot and contribute to the book's magic. It is easy to identify oneself with Kafka who is searching for a reason to live, because: who's not searching for it ??? The chapters are not too long and tell in alternating turns the tale of the two main characters and the people they meet along the way. I don't want to say anymore about the book because it would spoil the fun for those who want to read it. I really enjoyed reading this book. It was one of the few that managed to get me addicted to it.
The book I started this afternoon is "Veronika decides to die" by Paulo Coelho. I really like the way he's writing but more about that book when I'm finished with it.
This morning I finished reading "Wuthering Heights" and I still don't really know what to think of that book. Well, firstly it was quite a disappointment. After everything my friend told me about how great it is and what I read in reviews and recommendations about it, it certainly didn't meet my expectations. Yet I have a hard time to point at a reason as to why I'm disappointed. I guess I expected it to be rather similar to a book by Jane Austen as the topic and setting were similar. But alas! It was anything but like Austen! As I already had said before I couldn't really take a liking to Brontes style of writing but the main problem I probably had was with the design of the main characters. I've hardly ever read a story containing so much hate between the main characters. Although that shouldn't have repelled me as stories with an anti-hero can be as good as those with a hero. Yet I just couldn't connect with Heathcliff. His feelings (as well as those of Catherine, Hindley, Isabella and Edgar) have been depicted so exaggerated and unrealistic and unreasonable. Yeah this book certainly was not to my taste.
The next book I already started this afternoon. It is "Kafka on the Shore" by Haruki Murakami and was first published in 2002. After all this 18th/19th century literature I need a break and will try something more recent. I've only read like 20 pages yet, but I'm already hooked up on the story. That looks like a promising read.
I've been asked which books to recommend from that list. Well from the 19 (on the list) I've read now I'd especially recommend the Jane Austen ones, The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wilde), Atonement (McEwan) and Middlesex (Eugenides). Hope that helps!
BTW for those who are wondering why I'm mainly writing (rubbish reviews :D) about books: I found that excel spreadsheet on the internet that contains a list of 1001 books you should read before you die. That's THE challenge for me! After browsing through the list I discovered that sadly I, though having read quite a lot of books in my life already, only 14 of those were on the list. That was last autumn. Since then I try to read at least 20 pages every day for my own pleasure i.e. nothing study-related. The spreadsheet even calculates how many books you have to read a year to make it through the list within your lifetime. I have to read 17 a year. I'm on my 3rd one this year already and it's only the beginning of february :D. For everybody interested in the spreadsheet: I found it on that website: