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This page lists books suggested for our BookClub. Click on Edit this page or Diese Seite bearbeiten at the bottom of the page to edit it.

Most Wikipedia links are given for the English pages, even if the German equivalent has more info. Note the “In other languages” sidebar.

Help to rejuvenate this list! If you add new book suggestions (and please do), mention the date so we can weed out from time to time those hoary entries that never got picked.

History Hour: I’ve started a section ‘past & current reading’ at the bottom of this page, where you’ll find title and a link for each book that we’ve read, or selected for reading. Have a look.


Next up:


Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

I got this book also from a list of a 100 books to read in your lifetime. The last one “Life after Life”, I took down, after finishing it on my own and not enjoying it very much. However this books sounds different. I started the first couple pages and there were already points in the introduction, which I enjoyed that made me put the book on this list to discuss with the club 😊.

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia: Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positively about, and then immersively imagining that outcome. According to Frankl, the way a prisoner imagined the future affected his longevity. The book intends to answer the question “How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?” Part One constitutes Frankl’s analysis of his experiences in the concentration camps, while Part Two introduces his ideas of meaning and his theory called logotherapy.

According to a survey conducted by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress, Man’s Search For Meaning belongs to a list of “the ten most influential books in the United States.” At the time of the author’s death in 1997, the book had sold over 10 million copies and had been translated into 24 languages

First suggested: May 2014

Supporter(s): Nadya


The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

I’ve read this book some years back and was thinking that I would like to read it again (even though I don’t normally reread books). Anyways, I thought this book might also be interesting for many of the people, who I’ve met at the club. Contrary to what the title may imply, it’s not a love story, but more about finding yourself and living life. If this book does get choose, as I remember, this is much better as an actual book than an e-book (just as a heads up).

Here’s a short excerpt/description, which I found on Amazon: A long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother’s loneliness. Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he’s still alive. But it wasn’t always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book. . . . Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With virtuosic skill and soaring imaginative power, Nicole Krauss gradually draws these stories together toward a climax of “extraordinary depth and beauty” (Newsday)

First suggested: May 2014

Supporter(s): Nadya


This Thing of Darkeness by Harry Thompson

As some one who likes to read history, I discovered this book a few years ago and keep hearing about it again and again since then in some or the other context (Darwin, Beagle, Meterology etc.) It is a story based on some real facts and very gripping. Was long-listed for the Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2005,

Amazon: This is an epic novel of sea-faring adventure set in the 19th century charting the life of Robert Fitzroy, the captain of `The Beagle` and his passenger Charles Darwin. It combines adventrure, emotion, ideas, humour and tragedy as well as illuminating the history of the 19th century. Fitzroy, the Christian Tory aristocrat, believed in the sanctity of the individual, but his beliefs destroyed his career and he committed suicide. Darwin, the liberal minor cleric doubts the truth of the Bible and develops his theory of evolution which is brutal and unforgiving in human terms. The two friends became bitter enemies as Darwin destroyed everything Fitzroy stood for.

First suggested: February 2014

Supporter(s): Richie, Leon


The signature of all things by Elizabeth Gilbert

Regardless of the popularity of her best seller ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ I feel E. Gilbert is an amazing writer. This book, SOAT, is a very feminine book and a jewel, I absolutely loved it. It is written on a Jane Austen-style. E. Gilbert said in an interview that she spent one year reading only fiction of the time to really adopt the language. An epic story that takes place mostly in the USA in Philadelphia in the 19th century, the heroine is not a pretty woman, in fact she is quite hopelessly ugly from birth. However, she is also hopelessly rich and intelligent. The story has some awesome twists. I’d love to see some men read this book ;-)).

First suggested: January 2014

Supporter(s): Maria Velasco, Leon


Archangel by Andrea Barrett

Looking at a review of the book above (The Signature of all Things), I came across another that’s also in a sense historical fiction, though with an approach that had me intrigued: Five long short stories, not on the people at the forefront of discovery but how their contemporaries try to reconcile the new theories with their existing view of the world. From said review:

“In her new book, Archangel, Barrett—who has already written a number of superb fictions involving the history of science, among them Ship Fever, The Voyage of the Narwhal, and The Air We Breathe —here offers a group of interconnected stories that take place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, each of which centers around an event or moment in the history of science and technology. “The Investigators” gives us the 1908 flight of an airplane made by Glenn H. Curtiss, as seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy. In 1920, in “The Ether of Space,” astronomers argue about the implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity; in “The Particles,” geneticists returning from a contentious conference in Edinburgh in 1939 are bombed by a German U-boat and forced into even closer quarters on a rescue ship. “The Island” concerns a young woman on a Cape Cod summer study program led by Louis Agassiz in 1873, when he began what later became the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. And “Archangel,” set in northern Russia in 1919, concerns medical science, as an X-ray technician copes with the implications of her work in a war that inexplicably drags on.

(…) Because Agassiz was such an important and serious scientist, the scene is as sad as it is funny. The resistance to new theories, the pain of change, is one of Barrett’s central themes. Like Henrietta, who eventually recovers, we see creatures in a new way—implicitly—as products of natural selection. While we do not regret the knowledge, we also know that every gain is also a loss, here the loss of the certainty that everything makes sense because it is all from the mind of the creator, arising from a single cause. Moreover, profound uncertainties about love, and about the possibility of happiness, beset the characters in these stories even as they search for clarity in new knowledge and understanding of science. Like Darwin, and Einstein, and all her other heroes, Barrett the storyteller pulls us relentlessly away from false comforts, into the dazzling, often chaotic, world as it really is.” (New York Review of Books)

First suggested: March 2014

Supporter(s): Uli, Rene, Leon


Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

If we want to go for a change into poetry, I would highly recommend this one.

“Gitanjali”, or Song Offerings, is a collection of poems translated by the author, Rabindranath Tagore, from the original Bengali. This collection won the Nobel prize for Tagore in 1913. This volume includes the original introduction by William Butler Yeats that accompanied the 1911 English language version. “Gitanjali” is a collection of over 100 inspirational poems by India’s greatest poet.

About the Author:

“Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 - 7 August 1941), also known by the sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali poet, Brahmo Samaj philosopher, visual artist, playwright, novelist, and composer whose works reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He became Asia’s first Nobel laureate when he won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature. A Pirali Bengali Brahmin from Calcutta, Tagore first wrote poems at the age of eight. At the age of sixteen, he published his first substantial poetry under the pseudonym Bhanushingho (“Sun Lion”) and wrote his first short stories and dramas in 1877. His home schooling, life in Shilaidaha, and travels made Tagore a nonconformist and pragmatist. Tagore strongly protested against the British Raj and gave his support to the Indian Independence Movement and Mahatma Gandhi. Tagore’s life was tragic-he lost virtually his entire family and was devastated to witness Bengal’s decline-but his life’s work endured, in the form of his poetry and the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University. Tagore wrote novels, short stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays on political and personal topics. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced), and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are among his best-known works. His verse, short stories, and novels, which often exhibited rhythmic lyricism, colloquial language, meditative naturalism, and philosophical contemplation, received worldwide acclaim. Tagore was also a cultural reformer and polymath who modernised Bengali art by rejecting strictures binding it to classical Indian forms. Two songs from his rabindrasangeet canon are now the national anthems of Bangladesh and India: the Amar Shonar Bangla and the Jana Gana Mana.”

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gitanjali-Rabindranath-Tagore/dp/1420926306/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392932939&sr=1-1&keywords=gitanjali

First suggested: February 2014

Supporter(s): Richie, Tom


Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We’ve read two previous novels (Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun) by the same author before in this book club and most of us liked both of them a lot, so I’d like to propose her latest book for reading here.

From the Guardian review: There are some novels that tell a great story and others that make you change the way you look at the world. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah is a book that manages to do both. It is ostensibly a love story – the tale of childhood sweethearts at school in Nigeria whose lives take different paths when they seek their fortunes in America and England – but it is also a brilliant dissection of modern attitudes to race, spanning three continents and touching on issues of identity, loss and loneliness. This is Adichie’s third and most ambitious novel – her first, Purple Hibiscus, was longlisted for the Booker prize and her second, Half a Yellow Sun, won the Orange prize. A highly acclaimed 2009 collection of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck, cemented her position as one of the most promising African writers of her generation.

First suggested: June 2014

Supporter(s): Uli; Jessy


Orient Express by John Dos Passos

Work doesn’t permit me to travel half as much as I’d like, but how about another piece of travel literature? This one is from a 1921 trip that took the author from Istanbul to Damascus, by way of Anatolia, the Caucasus, Persia and Mesopotamia (or Iran and Irak, respectively) – and from before the author was made famous by Manhattan Transfer. It sounds like a beautiful way to read about a region that nowadays only ever seems to appear in public view together with ‘crisis’ or ‘war’.

http://www.johndospassos.com/writings/orient-express

First suggested: March 2014

Supporter(s): Uli, Richie, Jessy


The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twang Eng

Synopsis from the Guardian: Self-exiled from imperial Japan after a dispute with his employer Emperor Hirohito, Aritomo settles in the hilltops of Malaya and begins to build Yugiri, a “garden of evening mists”. Into his life comes independent Yun Ling, daughter of a prosperous Chinese Malaysian family, and the sole survivor of a prisoner-of-war camp. It is 1951, and she is a prosecutor of war criminals and a hater of all things Japanese – except one. Her request to Aritomo is simple: build a garden for her sister who perished in the camp, and who loved the gardens of Kyoto. The taciturn Aritomo is not in the habit of pleasing anyone or apologising for his country’s crimes. Instead he offers to teach Yun Ling the art of Japanese gardening, for two years. Almost against herself, she becomes his apprentice, then his lover, and finally, the canvas for his masterpiece: horimono, a full-body Japanese tattoo. The chapters in which this redemptive relationship unfolds through the rich metaphors of gardening, tattooing, tea-ceremonies, and Zen philosophy are the psychological core of the novel. First suggested: March 2014

Supporter(s): Dominique, Uli


Past & current reading:

Some months missing for 2005 … sorry …

… The beginning of this branch of our book club!

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