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‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green

29 Aug

Hey look, I can read a book fast, too! Seriously though, it only took me 3 nights to get through ‘Looking for Alaska’ and not because it was so easy to read or short but because it was enthralling. John Green really knows how to keep me interested and I am simply in love with the way he writes. That’s a totally legitimate think to be in love with, right? Good.

The novel is divided into before and after, each part covering  a span of 136 days. Granted, the before-part is a bit longer due to exposition and everything; one needs to know who is who and all, you know the drill. I won’t comment on what’s the event that breaks the lives of these boarding school students apart because that would ruin the story for those that haven’t read it yet.

I enjoyed ‘Looking for Alaska’ immensely, I understand Pudge’s interest in Alaska, I mean I would have most likely fallen for her as well… Somehow John Green even managed to not make me hate the characters for smoking because that’s something I judge most people by, at first. (If you happen to be a smoker, I’m sorry but I don’t condone your unhealthy habit and you don’t like me judging your life choices, this is like a vicious circle. Moving on.)

I am sure everything that could be said about this wonderful book was already said at some point, probably way more eloquently than I could ever do so. YA novels never interested me as a teenager but as an adult I quite enjoy them, not that I’ve read many but more than I did as a teenager.

Instead of trying to feign intellect and an ability to discuss books (I’m serious, if you’ve read any of my previous ‘book reviews’ you know that) and instead leave you with a couple of lovely quotes that particularly caught my eye:

(1) “You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” Especially the last sentence sums up my whole outlook on life. 

(2) “[…] if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.” This is probably one of the most famous John Green quotes. 

(3) “In today’s world, boys are much more likely to objectify girls’ bodies than the other way around.” I love you John Green!

I had two other passages marked but that would have given too much away in my opinion. Next stop, ‘An Abundance of Katherines’.

A to Z Bookish Survey

27 Aug

Another post, another meme. I recently stumbled upon this bookish alphabet survey on Books, Tea & Me and thought it would be fun to fill out.

Author you’ve read the most books from:

A local German author whom none of you will even have heard of. He writes crime novels set in my city and he publishes one per year these days so I have quite the collection by now.

Best Sequel Ever:

I like reading series so I’ve actually read a number of good sequels. Number 1 for me is probably ‘Lost in a Good Book’ by Jasper Fforde, followed closely by ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’ by Douglas Adams.  

Currently Reading:

 ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green and ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Drink of Choice While Reading:

A lot of the times I read in bed so I don’t drink anything or maybe water.

E-reader or Physical Book?

I want to buy an e-reader but I don’t see the e-books as cheap enough considering that I don’t get a physical copy of the book to carry around with me. I get that e-readers can be really handy, especially when you read and travel a lot but I haven’t made the jump yet.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Gosh, I don’t know. Hermione or Ginny probably, they would have been on my wish list at least.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

‘Alexander’ and ‘Alexander in Asia’ by Gisbert Haefs. My uncle gave me the book a long time ago and when I finally decided to read them it was very interesting. It’s a historical novel about Alexander the Great and I now know a lot more than I knew before I read that book.

Hidden Gem Book:

I don’t have any great picks that nobody has heard of bla bla bla. If you want to gain insight into why someone becomes anorexic and cannot leave that sort of thinking, go read ‘Unbearable Lightness’ by Portia de Rossi.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

I don’t think there is one important moment in my reading life. Sorry.

Just Finished:

 ‘Whitethorn Woods’ by Maeve Binchy.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

I’m really not into vampires, also Fifty Shades and all his little crappy friends. Not because I dismiss erotica but this is nothing worth my time.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

See G I guess.  

Major book hangover because of:

Not that I remember.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Four-ish. I blogged about that before.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

‘Leaving Unknown’ by Kerry Reichs and also most of the Harry Potter books.

Preferred Place To Read:

My bed, the couch, on the balcony…

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

Reading Regret:

Probably the Twilight saga, especially the last one of them. Ugh.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

The Sherlock Holmes canon. I started strong with the novels but the case studies are a bit dull in my opinion.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen
‘The Eyre Affair’ by Jasper Fforde
‘Leaving Unknown’ by Kerry Reichs  

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Kerry Reichs, Harry Potter and John Green.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

 Not currently excited for any new release because I have no idea what’s coming out. I saw that ‘A Casual Vacancy’ is now out in paperback so I’m kind of excited about that one.

Worst Bookish Habit:

I don’t like it when the backs of books get rips or whatever you call it. You know, when you bend them too far. I get crazy over that. My books need to look pretty. I also solely use pencils to mark stuff in my books.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

 ‘Dubliners’ by James Joyce

Your latest book purchase:

‘Looking for Alaska’, ‘Paper Towns’ and ‘An Abundance of Katherines’ all by John Green.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

‘Looking for Alaska’ but more so because I took a nap and couldn’t fall asleep so I read a long time. Also, because it’s really good.

‘Whitethorn Woods’ by Maeve Binchy

25 Aug

I finally finished ‘Whitethorn Woods’ by Maeve Binchy. Finally more so because I fell into my typical summer reading hiatus and less because it was difficult to finish this book; it wasn’t. This has been my third Binchy novel and the more I read her books the more I want to read more. This is a weird sentence.

The novel centres around a well that may or may not have mystical powers in the woods outside of a place called Rossmore, Ireland. There are plans to build a bypass around the city that would run right through the well and thus destroy it. Throw in a lot of different characters that are all in some way connected with each other and have a relationship with that well of some sort and you got yourself a great story.

I enjoyed this novel very much because it tells so many stories of so many different people. You get the full spectrum of what humans are capable of, both positive and negative which is great. It doesn’t read like a made up story you get lost in, it resembles real life too much for that. It’s one of Maeve Binchy’s gifts in writing in my opinion, her stories always feel very real to me.

At this point, I don’t have so much more to say other than, read it if you like stories about people. You won’t regret it.

Bookish Q&A

15 Aug

I saw this meme on two of my friends blogs, Charleen and Kirsti while I thought of my poor and neglected Book section so I decided this needed to be on my blog as well. Enjoy and feel free to copy this meme if you like as I’m not going to tag anyone in this.

Rules

  1. Post these rules
  2. Post a photo of your favorite book cover
  3. Answer the questions below
  4. Tag a few people to answer them too
  5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
  6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

Favourite book cover?

This one is easy:

Isn't the cover beautiful?

What are you reading right now?

I’m a bit stuck with ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I’m also reading ‘Whitethorn Woods’ by Maeve Binchy which I enjoy a lot but have not finished yet because I fell into my usual summer reading hiatus. Not sure why this keeps happening but apparently it’s a thing for me.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

I have the first book of the Game of Thrones series on lend from a friend. Maybe I will give that one a shot or finish my attempt to make it through the entire Sherlock Holmes canon.

What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t gotten round to?

  1. ‘My Life’ by Bill Clinton
  2. ‘Living History’ by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  3. ‘War and Peace’ by Leo Tolstoy
  4. ‘Gone With the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell
  5. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?

None, I feel pressure with magazines because there is a lot to read and depending on the number of issues per month I feel like I’m cheating on my books. So no magazines for me. There’s a book about mathematical anecdotes in my bathroom though.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

Easy, this one. Also, Twilight was not great either.

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like it?

Damn, I mentioned Twilight too early, didn’t I?

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about anyone?

See above for best cover, Lauren Groff – The Monsters of Templeton. Amazing prose and storyline.

What are your three favourite poems?

The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke. I mostly love it for its sound and it loses a lot through the translation into English. Sonnet XLIII by Edna St. Vincent Millay. The last three lines always get me. They always do. And the third one is Song by Allen Ginsberg.

Where do you usually get your books?

I like to actually purchase books. Unfortunately due to my location I end up ordering a lot of them from Amazon because German bookstores only have a very limited choice of English books and I prefer to read books in their original language as far as I am able to.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

Umm, not that I’m aware of. I remember reading mostly mystery and adventure books instead of girlie books though.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down?

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Very captivating and pulling at your heart strings.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

I don’t know what that means ;)

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

Not exactly, I definitely decided to give a book a closer loo because of its cover and then decided to buy it because it sounded good so yes-ish?!

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

The Miss Marple series by Agatha Christie.

What book changed your life?

Tough one. I don’t know if there is a book that changed my life per se.

What is your favourite passage from a book?

I answered this in a recent VEDA video:

Who are your top five favourite authors?

Jane Austen, JK Rowling, Kerry Reichs, Lauren Groff and John Green.

What book has no one heard about but should read?

Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff. It’s a collection of short stories and even though I am usually not very into them but this collection was something else. Go check it out!

What book are you an “evangelist” for?

I don’t know! I haven’t read a book that I liked but had to defend myself for liking it if this is what you’re asking.

What are your favourite books by a first time author?

I am not very up to date with the new trends so my first time authors are not first timers anymore.

What is your favourite classic book?

Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre I would have to say.

Five other notable mentions?

Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Every Jane Austen novel ever
The Bertie Wooster series by P.G. Wodehouse
Leaving Unknown – Kerry Reichs

‘The Fault in our Stars’ by John Green

12 Jul

Since I started looking for John Green books in bookstores over here, this is the only one I have found so far. Apparently Germans are not that into his writing which is a shame. This was my first introduction to his writing and I was mesmerised. I couldn’t put the book down.

I’ve only been on the other side of cancer, the taking care of the sick person part which is hard but not as difficult as being a teenager with a terminal illness. I knew this book would make me cry ugly tears and it eventually did. It is raw and honest and I loved Hazel Grace’s point of view. Her obsession with this weird writer and her falling in love with Augustus Waters who is another teenager with cancer. To be honest, I didn’t expect the book to end as it did which is where the beauty lies. Nothing is worse than already knowing what happens and this book does a good job at striking down my anticipations.

There comes a great burden to any terminally sick person but especially when they are young, you leave behind your parents. It was never intended that way, children don’t die before their parents but of course they do sometimes. Hazel feels guilty for taking up so much time and money of her parents, especially her mother who is her caretaker. And I get that sentiment, I really do which is why the end made me happy because not everything has to end because one life was cut short. There are even opportunities that rise from such traumatic events that can be utilised. I like that. It will be terribly hard but the lives of the other people around you will eventually go on.

Cancer stories are difficult and I try to steer clear of them but I’ve made exceptions to this rule before and I’m glad I did. It is personal for me but so is it for millions of other people I don’t have to flatter myself in believing my point of view id special.

In short, I really, really enjoyed this book so I’ll be hunting down some more John Green books in the future.

The Problem with Living in Germany

13 May

I seem to not be conform with the German standard in more ways than one. For example, I haven’t watched real TV in at least half a year except for the snippets I get when I visit my grandma. Not that I don’t watch TV shows like there’s no tomorrow but I can’t do this the right way. German TV translates every show into German which delays their broadcasting to at least half a year or never. The West Wing for example was never broadcast on free TV over here and the show has been off the air for 7 years.

And I don’t want the translated version, I want the original voices and jokes and references. I don’t understand how we can live in the 21st century and not have found a way to allow broadcasting a show in two languages at once. Why is this not possible? I don’t think I’m being unreasonable here. Maybe I could even deal with the time delay and I don’t care for add breaks but it just bothers me that the translation is thrown upon me. Not that they are all bad but it’s just not the same. Watching FRIENDS in German is a real challenge because the voices of Ross and Phoebe make me want to throw stuff at my TV.

The next big issue I have is finding english books in bookstores. Granted, I live in a city with about 120,000 inhabitants, not that big but I can be lucky to at least have an international section in most bookstores. Most of the books I read are written in English so why should I not read them in their original language? Not unreasonable right? But here’s the problem, the books I want to buy are not available there.

Every time I pass a bookstore I have to go in and take a look around because I really can’t help myself in that regard. The last couple of months I have taken it upon me to look for John Green’s books. I’ve been to 3 stores semi-regularly and I’ve never found one of his books, in German or English, until today. In bookstore number 3 I found two copies of ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ in English. Huzzah!!

Still, this makes me sad because it has taken me many months to find this and the last time I was in the same store they didn’t have it. But hey, why would you even want a John Green book when you can have the Fifty Shades trilogy in both English and German wherever you look? There are enough of those books on display to last you as toilet paper for an entire year which is the most useful thing to do with them, really.

Not all of Germany is this terrible though, when you get to bigger cities the international sections expand. Last December when I was in Frankfurt I found a whole store with international and mostly English books. It was like walking into heaven. But the thing is, I cannot travel to Frankfurt any time I want to buy an English book. Sure I could order them at any local bookstore but then I’d have to go their first to order and another time to pick them up. Sorry, no, too much trouble. So I order most books and DVDs from Amazon. Hate me all you want for their destruction of the publishing world and whatnot. At least they have every book I want and I can also pick the format. (Yes, I am that person who checks the measurements of the books to see what size they are because some english publications come in very weird formats.)

There’s Amazon Germany and they ship my books free of charge no matter the size of the order. And if they don’t have the DVDs I want, or they are way too expensive I can go to Amazon UK and order my complete box-set of The West Wing or Doctor Who series 1-4 there and it’s almost as fast as ordering in Germany but usually much cheaper even with the added delivery charge.

I just seem to live in the wrong language for my own good. Why must I be this demanding? I have a couple of books and DVDs I tend to look for in the respective stores that allow me to rank them in my own little universe. Thanks for reading my ramblings as I am now done with my anger. Phew, it feels good getting things off my chest like this.

Don’t you have enough by now?

19 Apr

The simple answer is – NO! One can never have too many books.

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved going through my grandmas books. I studied the authors and titles, looking for special one’s like War and Peace (which I never found even though she told me she had it), memorising their locations and storing the information away for a later day. I knew back then that having a library in a home would be my biggest accomplishment. I guess this is partly why I love buying books so much. I want my own damn library, OKAY?!!

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Yesterday I came across this post on Tumblr and I started to think about which room I could turn into a full-blown library. I didn’t reach a conclusive decision yet but I still have time and need to get more books first. Regardless I wanted to show you what I’ve got so far.

Only Kirsti beat me to it and now I look like a copy-cat. You have my word though that this is a coincidence and she was just faster than me, mkay? Here we go then.

DSC_0014This is the representational side, the nice mostly hardcover books. You’ve got the collected works of Shakespeare, some Russian literature (yes, War and Peace, I got my own copy, thanks for nothing Grandma) on the top left and the paperbacks on the right are crime novels; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie mostly. Also, most of these books are in German.

DSC_0009Moving on to the other side of the same bookshelf, are the books I treasure most. Some classics and most of my English paperbacks. Yes, that truly is the Twishit-saga, I haven’t gotten rid of it yet, though it’s moving out next time I need more space for real books. I also got a Quran and a Bible, if I’d had read them I could actually become the next Pi Patel but as I haven’t, I’m safe. The Bible was a gift from my uncle and the Quran I got free in a Mosque in Bahrain so why not have it, looked nice and you never know when it might come in handy.

These books are neither sorted by name or author. It’s a very special system, based on publishing house, size, my love for it and the ability to best fit in these compartments. It may not be a logical system, there are at least 4 different compartments housing Jane Austen novels, but it’s my system and I love it.

DSC_0007DSC_0006

 Exploiting the little space there was between the wall and chimney, I put these two mini-shelves up to shelter some of the series I read.

The one on the left is mostly occupied with the Eve Dallas Series. I’ve been reading them for close to 10 years now I think and they are my guilty pleasure books although the latest I’ve read tend to lack a little of the stuff that once made me read them in a hurry. Maybe it’s just me growing out of them or the bad translations, I’m not sure. Now that Mom is not there demanding to be able to read them as well I can switch to the Originals though.

Aaaaaand, Thursday Next, of course.

On the right is a series of a local author whose books may not be the most demanding literature but it’s nice to read a novel which is set in your small city.

Below that is the Temperance Brennan series located. I hate that they all have different sizes and designs but I guess I can’t change that.

DSC_0010Concluding this post is my book outlet located in the stairwell. Yes, the shelf is actually that crooked. It was the first IKEA thing I ever put together when I 14 or 15 so please forgive me. I didn’t have a father to teach me how to do such things properly, I had to learn the hard way. Nevertheless these are books I inherited from various people. To my shame, I barely read them but they look nice and I adore old books even though I can hardly read some of them as they are written in Fraktur which takes some practice to get used to.

I hope this wasn’t too boring for y’all. Maybe I can come up with something more substantial next time.

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