Friday, February 25, 2011

... in books

Day 11
A book that disappointed you
A book that really disappointed me was Alexander McCall Smith’s “44 Scotland Street”. Maybe my expectance was too high but I found it uninteresting and boring and I quit reading it after five or six chapters, which is so untypical for me.

I cannot really pin down why I didn’t like this book. Normally I try to read a book which seems not perfect the first time a second time just to be sure. Sometimes I start books which seem perfect and it is just not the right time to read them. The book(s) I am reading tell a lot about my emotions and my overall mood at the moment. So it happens from time to time that the books I start don’t fit my momentary mood and I put it away read another one and return to the not finished book sometime later. But with “44 Scotland Street” it was different. I never touched it again and I am still, after four years, not in the mood to give it a second try.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

... in books

Day 10
A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
For today’s category I know more than one book.
My first idea was that “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert fits this description perfectly but I wrote about it on this blog before. So I picked another book. 

It is Anne Fortier’s “Juliet”.

I bought this book because the story takes place in Siena, Tuscany and I love Tuscany. My personal dream would be to have a house there someday. That’s how much I love it. I am one of these people who don’t need a house for a perfect life. It is just not in my life plan. But a house in Tuscany is something different.

It tells the story about Julie Jacob, a young American woman who is faced by the death of her grandmother, who raised her and her sisters after the parent’s death. She discovers that her true name given to her by her paretns is Giulietta. She decides to travel to Italy to discover her mother’s secret. She discovers that she is a family member of the Tolomei’s who is one of the two rivalling families in Siena. The other family are the Salembeni. While travelling through Tuscany and following different clues towards her mother’s secret she is accompanied by Alessandro, a young man who is a Salimbeni. 

The whole story has kind of a spooky character around it and so I wasn’t sure if I would like it but it is a wonderful story and so nice to read.
Especially if you were to Tuscany before and know how the landscape looks and that the places described in the book exist for real. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

... in books

Day 09
Best scene ever
Today’s question is an easy one to answer – strange but true.

The best scene ever is from Terry Pratchett’s fantasy novel “Wyrd Sisters”. It is the one where the three witches go to watch a play at the castle. Those three witches are so fantastic characters. They are soooo funny and really entertaining.

The oldest of the three, Granny Weatherwax, lives alone in the woods and has hardly any contact to other people except her coven which only consist of Nanny Ogg and Margrat Garlick, the other two witches. Nanny Ogg in contrasts lives in the middle of Lancre town and loves to drink and party while Margrat is kind of shy and has a slight esoteric touch.   

Granny can’t deal with the idea of a play. She isn’t able to accept that the actors are performing a play and that they do not desire interaction with the crowd. She talks loudly to Nanny Ogg about what she sees on stage and that she cannot understand why the actor who plays the king doesn’t see his enemy hiding behind the bushes and such.

This whole book is wonderfully written and so entertaining. Really worth reading and I am so thankful that Bernd, a friend of my family, introduced me to Terry Pratchett’s novels. Without him I would never have discovered this wonderful Discworld series.

Monday, February 21, 2011

... in books

Day 08 
A book everyone should read at least once
I am not sure if there is one book everyone should read. I think reading is a rather personal thing and it is important to respect everyone’s private taste in books.I know that I am reading a lot of different books from different genres but I also know that there are people out there who love to read only crime fiction or fantasy novels and nothing else.

If I have to recommend one book everyone should read at least once I would pick…Douglas Adams' “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.

It contains so many known citations and funny episodes that I truly think everyone should read it just to know if this is a book worth discussing. There always was a mega-hype about this book and when the film came out I bought the book read it and after that went to the movies. The film was nothing like the book…again. I know that Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker could be a standard pick with this question but I think, when there is a book so many people talk about years after its publication and years after the author’s death than it is a book worth reading just for the sake of knowing it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

... in books

Day 06
Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time
I am one of those people who tend to read series. I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books and English crime series.
Well light crime series is, I think, the better word. I love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, JoAnna Carl’s Chocoholic Mysteries, Cleo Coyle’s Coffee House Mysteries and of Anne George’s Southern Sisters series.

When I have to pick my favourite series it gets difficult. I would have to choose between the Stephanie Plum novels which I really really love and the Chocoholic Mysteries which make my mouth water every time I read one.

Okay, I will choose the Stephanie Plum series.

Janet Evanovich’s novels tell the story of bounty hunter Stephanie Plum who lives in Trenton, New Jersey and has to deal with FTA’s, her pressurizing mother who wants her to marry, her gun-loving and rather weird grandmother, her love for Trenton’s most handsome cop Joe Morelli, her partner Lula, a former hooker and the guy who always helps her out of all her troubles - mostly job related - Ranger.  They are so full of wit and are so much fun to read. Wonderful for people with vivid imagination – Joe Morelli seems like a guy to dream about.

My most favorite book of these is definitely…well what the hell, I can’t decide. They are all worth reading. Wonderful series and be careful where you read them because sometimes one most laugh out loud and it gets really embarrassing when it happens in full lecture halls or somewhere similar.

Friday, February 18, 2011

... in books

Day 5

I really hoped that these questions will get easier one day…well today is definitely not this day.  

Day 05 - A book or series you hate
Let me think…a book or series I hate. I am not sure if there is such a book. I know that there are some I started reading and didn’t finish but I cannot say that I hated these books. Sometimes they were not right at the moment or I didn’t like the style they were written in but hate….I don’t think so.

Well, I can’t say I hate this book but I am no big fan of Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”. This is one of these books I cannot warm up to. I find it extremely long-winded. There are long passages were nothing happens; page long anecdotes were Robinson describes how he makes clay pots or something.

I had to read it for university and I couldn’t finish it which is not typical for me because normally I finish books; at least because I want to be prepared for a possible exam question about this book. But “Robinson Crusoe” broke me. Maybe I will give it another try in some years time but I really don’t know.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

... in books

Day 4

Why are these questions so hard to answer? Why do I have to decide on the best ever? How unfair!

Day 04 - Your favorite book or series ever
Today is a though one. I can’t just name one book and I definitely can’t name a series. I love all my series that I read, so I will tell you about my favorite book.

I live in Austria, so I am a non-native to English but due to my father who works at the university and is in charge for the university exchange program with some American universities in North Carolina we have a lot of friends in the US or from the US. Many of them are living in Europe right now; some in England and some in Vienna.
So I first got in contact with English when I was around two years old. It was wonderful. I got the chance to grow up with English children and youth books. When I was a child I knew my most favorite books by heart and “read” them to my parents. I knew where to turn over the page and I knew all the right words. And I did this not only with German books but with English ones as well. I knew most of my Berenstain Bears books by heart and was super proud of my English skills.

Learning or better hearing English from an early age onwards was wonderful. In school I had no problems at all with writing texts because I wrote what sounded right to me and most of the time it was right. My problem was grammar. We learned all the English grammar and I had huge difficulties. I knew what to fill in but I could never explain why.

So, when I have to answer what my favorite book ever is, I have to choose a German one. It is also hard for me to decide which one to pick.
So I will tell you about my two favorite books, both of them children or youth books.

The first one is definitely a children’s book. It is called “Die Kinder aus Bullerbü” and is by Astrid Lindgren, a Swedish author. It tells the story of Lisa who lives with her two older brothers and her family in a small town called Bullerbü. This town consists of three houses all in all. The two other houses are inhabited by Britta and Inga with their parents and Ole with his family and his dog Swift.
It is a wonderful book. Definitely written for kids but I really like and I read at least every two years for old time’s sake.

My other favorite book is by an Austria author called Christine Nöstlinger and is called “Gretchen Sackmeier”. It is about a young girl and her problems growing up. All the members of her family are overweight and the story starts the day after her mother attended her high school reunion meeting and realizes that she is the thickest of all so she starts loosing weight. Through this the fragile family structures start to crumble. Her mother moves out and Gretchen and her younger sister with her while her brother lives with the father. During all this Gretchen faces typical teenage problems, like her first relationship, school problems, problems with her brother and her father who wants his happy family back.
This is such a good book. I really really like it and read it regularly once a year in summer. Don’t know why but it is part of my summer routine.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

... in books

Day 3 

Today is a though one. I have to decide on the best book I’ve read in the last 12 months. The BEST. Can you believe it? Well, I’ll try.

Day 03 - The best book you've read in the last 12 months:
Hmmmmm…I can’t think of just one good book...oh my god, that’s so hard for a crazy book person like me…just one?

Okay, I can’t do it. I will settle on the best book I read this year. So, the best book I read since January.

Okay, that’s a bit easier. Let’s see….I read a lot since January but I really liked the last book I read and I didn’t pick it because it was the last I read and so the one I remember best. It is just such a nice book and so wonderful to read. It is more of an easy read and according to the blurb a rom-com. Cool name by the way. Much better than “chick-lit” which I personally find a little offending. 

It is a book by Ali McNamara and is called “From Notting Hill with love…actually” and tells the story of Scarlett who is going to marry her fiancée David in just two month but does not seem that content with her life. So her friends and family (which is only just her father who brought her up as a single parent) encourage her to go to London, Notting Hill to housesit for friends. Scarlett is, appropriate to her name a film freak and she wants to prove them all that film scenes can really happen in real life. With the help of Oscar and Ursula and Ursula’s brother Sean she experiences many different movie scenes but when Scarlett tries to enforce some she usually fails. For her that proves that movies can happen in real life.
During the whole story there are many references to different movies mostly from the 90s and the new millennium like “Notting Hill”, “Bridget Jones’ Diary”, “Four weddings and a funeral” and many more.
While reading I often came to the point where I tried to remember those specific scenes in the various movies and came to the conclusion that I need to watch “Sleepless in Seattle” and also “Notting Hill” once more because some scenes I couldn’t recollect.

I really loved this book. It was easy to read but I could see the story unfold before my inner eye which I think is a marker for a well written book. Thankfully I experience this lots of times when I read.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

... in books

Day 2

As announced yesterday, Day 2 was a lot more challenging. I thought really long about which book or series to choose. Really really long. Here is what I came up with.

Day 02 - A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about
Some years ago when visiting London with my mum, I found a book called “Teacher Teacher” by Jack Sheffield. It is the beginning of a series about Jack Sheffield when he was head teacher in a small rural school in North Yorkshire. It is fantastically written and really inspiring because while reading, you can see all the wonderful and charming characters before your inner eye and I had the feeling that Jack Sheffield really loves his job and the kids he is teaching.

The other books of this series are called “Mister Teacher”, “Dear Teacher”, “Village Teacher” and this month the fifth novel “Please Sir!” was published.
I am excited that there finally is a new book to this series and I am so sure that I am not going to wait till I’m in London in April to purchase this one.

Monday, February 14, 2011

... in books

Day 1

Yesterday while surfing the internet I found something that is called a “Book Meme”. Strange name for a non-native in English but the idea behind I find really nice.
It is kind of a questionnaire about your favorite books segmented into 30 different parts. Yeah, I know it resembles 30 days, equals one month but I discovered it yesterday and I am so keen on starting it. So my personal book meme will start today.

So, here’s it.

Day 01 - A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)
A book series I wish had gone on longer is clearly Anne GeorgesA Southern Sisters Mystery”.
This series is so well written, entertaining and the characters are so wonderfully constructed. Sadly, Anne George passed away in 2001 so there will definitely be no more books to that series. 

The Southern Sisters Mysteries contain eight books all but one taking place in Birmingham, Alabama and all featuring Patricia Ann Holloway and her older sister Mary Alice Tate Sullivan Nachman Crane. These two women are so completely different that their parents were happy that they both were born at home so that they could be sure that they were not swapped in hospital.

I have to admit that I never read the eighth book of this series. I know this might sound crazy but I don’t want to read the final book. I do this with lots of things. I haven’t watched the final episode of “Friends”, my all time favorite TV series. I haven’t read the last book of the “Inkheart” series because I really really loved the first two and I find it difficult to cope with the end of it. It is like my little spleen when it comes to ends.

Tomorrow’s question will be more difficult to answer. Looking forward to it!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

... in books

My last weeks were just so crazy. There was so much to do - papers to write, exams to study for, and books to read. Unfortunately I had to read books for university and I am not a huge fan of being told what to read. But I finished them anyway.

Some weeks ago I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine. He is not really one who reads a lot – realistically he doesn’t read at all. Can’t understand that but that is another story!
We started talking about my crazy reading habits and why I have a huge pile of unread books and always complain that I have nothing to read.
During this conversation he looked at me and told me that he needs to ask me something. A question only I can answer because I am the only person he knows who is that crazy about reading.

He told me the following story:
I am riding the tube to work and there is this woman getting on. She remains standing and starts reading in her book. At the next station she leaves the train. Why on earth did she start reading? There is hardly enough time to fish the book out of the bag, look for the right page and then for the right line, start reading, put the bookmark back in and the book back in the bag. Why does somebody do such a thing?

I found this so funny because it didn’t sound crazy for me. He looked at me blankly and really wanted an explanation from me.

So I answered like a bibliophile.
Think about this situation again. Did she look for the book in her bag? No? I thought so. I suspect that she got on the train book in hand. This was because she waited for the train to arrive and while waiting she started reading. Then the train came and she boarded it still reading and rode just one station. Did she put the book in her bag before she left the train? No? Well, then she must have changed lines and the story starts at the beginning. Reading while waiting, while riding the train and then before she finally arrived at her stop she put the book in her bag and left the train.

He was so stunned.

The next day I went to a bookshop because a friend of mine was celebrating his birthday and I was looking for a present. Yeah a book! I left the story 15 minutes later with 5 books in my bag and not so much money in my purse. I wrote my friend a message and told him about these special 15 minutes I just had.

His answer was: Yes, you’re a freak but everybody has to have a spleen and we all love you!

I am so very fortunate to have such loving friends!

By the way:
Today I finished a wonderful book

I really recommend reading it! 
But I recommend all books I know!