Happy World Book Day everyone! Yes, it’s me and yes, I’m still alive and breathing.
Those who have been following me for a while now will also know that World Book Day usually also means that it’s Blogiversary time and that is why I couldn’t keep silent much longer 😉 It’s our fifth Blogiversary this month and even though there won’t be a huge celebration, I wanted to write a little update.
Some of you might have noticed that little notification on the right where it says that I’m working on my thesis and that there will be fewer blog posts these days; Well, that’s absolutely true! When I’m not working on my thesis, I’m trying to relax while sewing, doing jigsaw puzzles, visiting the local zoo or reading just for pure pleasure! I hope you can forgive me if writing a book review isn’t the first thing I’d like to do after spending time with my thesis.
If you are interested in what I’m reading, my Goodreads profile is always up to date. The only thing I usually don’t do when I’m planning on maybe someday reviewing a book, is rating it. But if you see something that I’ve read and would like my opinion on it you can always ask me. 🙂
Of the books that I’ve read since last summer, there were a few books that stood out:
When I got a proof copy of Karl Ove Knausgård’s new book Autumn, I had no idea what to expect. Non-fiction, especially encyclopedias, can be quite strenuous to read sometimes, but I just took the plunge and wasn’t disappointed.
Autumn is the first of four books that form the Seasons quartet. In this encyclopedia, written for his unborn daughter and for himself, Knausgård takes up ordinary topics that everyone might encounter in life and describes them in short, personal pieces.
The encyclopedia entries make us aware of the things we take for granted and teach us to take a closer look at the world around us. One of my favorite chapters is the chapter on vomit. It is just wonderful to see how Knausgård can find beauty in something that many find revolting and that he is able to persuade you to see that beauty as well.
Not everyone might share Knausgård’s sense of humor, but some of his pieces are simply hilarious and laughing-out-loud funny, while others make you cringe like the chapters on adders or frogs. This emotional rollercoaster and the inclusion of personal experiences make Autumn an entertaining read.
Long time no see. I’m quite busy with my thesis these days, which actually is a good thing, but it doesn’t leave much energy for blogging. I’m still reading though and I’m feeling very bad about not sharing my thoughts with you.
In Austria, it’s very hot right now and so I thought I might as well publish this review of Debora Levy’sHot Milk* that I’ve written two months ago (oops). It’s the perfect read for a hot day!
Sofia’s mother Rose has trouble walking. The two of them travel to the Spanish coastal town Almería to see the famous Dr Gomez who is supposed to find out what is wrong with her.
During their stay, twenty-five-year-old Sofia has lots of time to reflect on her life. One day, she meets a German woman called Ingrid, who is strong and bold, both qualities that Sofia doesn’t see in herself.
Hot Milk is a novel that feels like the landscape it is set in – quiet and unagitated. Deborah Levy knows how to make her readers burn in the Andalusian sun just like her protagonist Sofia. You can feel her cracked lips, the medusas’ stings and the gnawing despair. This sizzling scene is mainly loosened up by Ingrid and quirky Dr Gomez who in their own ways help Sofia to find out who she is and what she is capable of.
This novel is all about coming to terms with oneself, the past, the present and the future. It depicts one of those moments in our lives when we don’t know what our next step will be, one of those moments when we’re just treading water. Hot Milk is a quiet read that will give you a look deep inside Sofia’s soul, and even months after reading, its strange atmosphere still lingers.
To celebrate World Book Day and our Fourth Blogiversary, I’m giving away a copy of Mohsin Hamid’sExit West that is provided by our friends at Penguin Random House UK. I chose this novel because it is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year and I’d love to share its story with you.
If you’d like to enter the giveaway, all you have to do is answer one quiz question. The giveaway is open to people with an address in the EU, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Norway and you have time to enter from today until April 30, 2017. Good luck!
Synopsis quoted from Hamish Hamilton¹
An extraordinary story of love and hope, traveling from the Middle East to London and beyond, from the bestselling, Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing – to fall in love – in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it.
Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind – when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world . . .
The giveaway is open to people with an address in the EU, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Norway.
You have to be 16 or older to participate.
The giveaway runs from April 23, 2017 until April 30, 2017.
Be fair! One entry per person/immediate family/household.
I am not responsible for lost or damaged items. Neither is Penguin Random House UK.
There will be one winner who will receive one English language copy of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West, sponsored by Penguin Random House UK.
You you have to enter through Giveaway Tools.
The winner will be selected at random and notified via e-mail. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, another winner will be drawn.
The personal information you enter will only be used to contact you in case you win. It will be deleted after the giveaway.
I can amend and interpret these official rules at any time, and terminate, suspend or cancel the giveaway at any time for any reason.
As you hopefully all know, today is World Book Day. The UNESCO organizes this annual event on April 23rd to “pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors, encouraging everyone […] to discover the pleasure of reading”¹
Blogger Schenken Lesefreude (German for Bloggers Spread the Joy of Reading) has been an integral part of World Book Day here in the German-speaking book-world for years. It is a project organized by Christina, Dagmar and Sonja to help compile a list of all bloggers, companies and organizations who give away books on this special day. This year however, they want participants to think of new ways to spread the joy of reading other than simple blog giveaways.
When Penguin Random House UK contacted me about a book crossing project, I knew this was a perfect match for Blogger Schenken Lesefreude. This is why I will release one copy of Keri Smith’s new book The Wander Society into the wild here in my hometown for some stranger to find. I think it’s a great book not only to spread the joy of reading but also to spread the joy of wandering around, exploring your surroundings.
I will keep you up to date on how the release of the book went. It hasn’t arrived yet, but should be here next week.
I found time to write another review. I survived Christmas, my 30th birthday, and New Years Eve, found a new hobby to add to my ever-growing list (I finally treated myself to a new sewing machine) and my thesis is still in the works. I never stopped reading though (you probably know that if you follow me on Goodreads or LovelyBooks) and so I read Julian Barnes‘ latest novel The Noise of Time.
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich, a Soviet composer, cannot escape Power in his country. No matter what he does, his life and his music are influenced by the government and he can’t seem to live life as a free man.
The Noise of Time is far from an easy read. If you aren’t familiar with Shostakovich, you might get the feeling of being abandoned in a maze. The novelization of Shostakovich’s life is not written in chronological order. A third-person narrator tells the reader what’s going on, he isn’t showing them and that creates a great distance between the plot and the reader. This, plus the fact that there is very little dialogue, makes reading The Noise of Time a slow process that requires concentration.
When I started the book, I had no idea what it was about. The official blurb doesn’t give away much and so I felt lost until I reached the second half of the novel. This is where I was finally able to sum up what I had read so far. If I had known that The Noise of Time was a fictional account of a composer’s life, things might have been different.
Julian Barnes’ novel has the air of a non-fiction book. Even though he writes about Shostakovich’s emotions, the reader is too distanced to feel them. The composer is long gone and so are his thoughts and his feelings. The Noise of Time might not be for everyone, but if you are interested in Shostakovich’s life and don’t shy Barnes’ narrative technique you should give it a shot.
Odran Yates has always felt comfortable in his role as a priest. He likes teaching the boys at Terenure College and he loves taking care of the school library. When one day the Archbishop tells him that he has to move to another parish to fill in for his old friend Tom, Odran only accepts reluctantly and he starts to notice that the Catholic church isn’t the same institution he once thought it to be.
In A History of Loneliness, we follow Odran and the Catholic church through a crisis. In the course of the book, Odran reflects on his difficult past that influenced his becoming a priest. We meet lots of different characters, many with their own crosses to bear. Even though we only get to know them through Odran’s eyes, some of these characters are crafted so vividly you can almost see through them.
I never thought that a book about a priest could actually be that gripping and emotional. Unfortunately, the ending wraps up too neatly for my taste. If you can stomach a literary punch in the gut that will broaden your horizon in regard to the Catholic church, I recommend you read A History of Loneliness.