List of Open Books

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:


Minimum of four votes are needed for a book to be chosen. If a book is not chosen within a year it was first suggested, it will be removed from the list.


Canone Inverso by Paolo Maurensig

From Amazon:

In present day London, a rare, 17th-century violin is offered at auction. Two bidders in particular covet it, one of whom claims to know its “terrible story”. So begins Canone Inverso, Paolo Maurensig’s elliptical tale of two young men whose passion for music, and this fiddle in particular, converges in a crescendo of obsession, envy, and betrayal. Friends who meet at music school in prewar Austria, Jeno and Kuno come from very different worlds: one the illegitimate son of a sausage maker, and the other the heir to a baronetcy. But together they share an obsessive devotion to music. Alas, what begins as a dance of soul mates - “We were like brothers, not in flesh or blood, but in that part of the spirit where order, rhythm, and harmony are found” - ends badly, the brutal disintegration of their relationship eerily paralleling Germany’s decent into Nazi madness. Maurensig offers up a mesmerizing allegory (good against evil, brother against brother), peeling away layer after layer, only to reveal yet another bizarre reality: “Behind the refined music we hear, performed with levity and perfection by and orchestra or a string quartet, there is the straining of nerves, the gushing of blood, the breaking of hearts.”

First suggested: June 2015

Supporter(s): Nicole, Dylan


Travels with Charley - In search of America by John Steinbeck

First suggested: July 2015

Supporters: Giampiero, Uli


In America: Travels with Steinbeck by Geert Mak

I just noticed the above classic travelogue on the list, and browsing around it for a bit came across this book here. A Dutch journalist following Steinbeck’s journey fifty years later, and noting his impression of the America he finds – I thought it might make a nice companion book! Here’s a Guardian review to give you some idea about it.

First suggested: November 2015

Supporters: Uli


Finding Freedom: Writings from Death Row by Jarvis Jay Masters

Finding Freedom is a collection of prison stories - sometimes shocking, sometimes sad, often funny, always immediate-told against a background of extreme violence and aggression, written by a prisoner on death row who has become a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism.

quote from http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/11/11-spiritual-books-that-have-blown-my-fcking-mind/

Jarvis Jay Masters has been a Death Row inmate at the infamous San Quentin Prison since 1990. Masters had already been in prison for nine years prior to that for robbery, when he was convicted of being one of three inmates involved in murdering a prison guard. To this day Masters insists he’s innocent and the wealth of material which supports his claim is overwhelming. Finding Freedom is a book of stories and essays from Masters written from inside the walls of San Quentin. At times I found myself laughing, at others with tears in my eyes and yet others, completely mortified. From murder to making a mala with Tylenol & fabric ripped from jeans, Finding Freedom shows a side of Buddhism in action you’ve most likely never read before.

First suggested: July 2015

Supporter: Richie


The Self-Aware Universe by Amit Goswami

quote from http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/11/11-spiritual-books-that-have-blown-my-fcking-mind/

“Consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all existence.” ~ Amit Goswami. For those like myself who grew up believing that what you see is what you get, well, reading something like that quote from Goswami can be a total mind ..for sure. The Self-Aware Universe was first published in 1995 during the initial introduction of the new physics movement. While many wonderful books have been written since then, with updated information even more mind bending concepts, this book is still very applicable today. It offers the reader an amazing introduction into an alternative way of looking at reality as it’s traditionally understood and experienced. Through the practice of meditation I’ve experience on a number of occasions what Goswami asserts when saying, “Consciousness, not matter, is the ground of all existence.” It’s just pretty cool to have some science behind it as well.

First suggested: July 2015

Supporter: Richie, Rene


Go set a watchman by Harper Lee

From Goodreads.com/Amazon.com: From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch"Scout"returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

First suggested: August 2015

Supporter: Rene, Nela, Nicole


Invisible by Paul Auster

From Amazon: Sinuously constructed in four interlocking parts, Paul Auster’s fifteenth novel opens in New York City in the spring of 1967, when twenty-year-old Adam Walker, an aspiring poet and student at Columbia University, meets the enigmatic Frenchman Rudolf Born and his silent and seductive girfriend, Margot. Before long, Walker finds himself caught in a perverse triangle that leads to a sudden, shocking act of violence that will alter the course of his life.

Three different narrators tell the story of Invisible, a novel that travels in time from 1967 to 2007 and moves from Morningside Heights to the Left Bank of Paris to a remote island in the Caribbean. It is a book of youthful rage, unbridled sexual hunger, and a relentless quest for justice. With uncompromising insight, Auster takes us into the shadowy borderland between truth and memory, between authorship and identity, to produce a work of unforgettable power that confirms his reputation as “one of America’s most spectacularly inventive writers.”

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Rene, Uli, Karina, Nicole


Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore by Robin Sloan

From Amazon: The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything―instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Rene


I let you go by Clare Mackintosh

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She could’t have prevented it. Could she? In a split-second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows, to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna movesto a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life for ever. Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating…

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Jennifer


The Snow Angel by Lulu Taylor

Cressida Fellbridge is living the high life as a debutante in 1960s London society when she is courted by a friend of her brother’s and is set to marry. To amrk the occasion, her father decrees thet she must have her portrait painted. But as soon as Cressie meets the painter Ralph Few, she knows her life will never be the same again. She falls deeply in love with Ralph, but he is still married to Catherine. As Cressie is drawn into a strange, triangular relationship, Catherine’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, so Ralph and Cressie escape to Cressie’s family home in Cumbria. But Catherine will not give up Ralph that easily…

In the present day, Emily Conway has everything she could wish for: a huge house, two beautiful children and a successful husband, Will. But as they drive to a party one night, Will reveals that he has been betrayed by his business partner. And then, in one shocking move, their perfect life together ends. When Emily wakes from her injuries, she is told of a mysterious legacy: a house in Cumbria, left to her by a woman she has never met. Could this be the chance to start new? Or does this house have more secrets than answers?

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Jennifer


Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

From Books.ch: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Nela, Jennifer, Nicole


Preparation for the Next Life by Svetlana Alexievich, Keith Gessen (translator)

From Goodreads.com

Zou Lei, orphan of the desert, migrates to work in America and finds herself slaving in New York’s kitchens. She falls in love with a young man whose heart has been broken in another desert. A new life may be possible if together they can survive homelessness, lockup, and the young man’s nightmares, which may be more prophecy than madness.

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Nela, Karina


Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Atticus Lish

From Goodreads.com

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people affected by the meltdown—from innocent citizens to firefighters to those called in to clean up the disaster—and their stories reveal the fear, anger, and uncertainty with which they still live. Comprised of interviews in monologue form, Voices from Chernobyl is a crucially important work, unforgettable in its emotional power and honesty.

First suggested: November 2015

Supporter: Nela, Karina


Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

From Goodreads.com

These brand new stories from Johnson are typically comic and tender, absurd and totally universal. In post-Katrina Louisiana, a young man and his new girlfriend search for the mother of his son. In Palo Alto, a computer programmer whose wife has a rare disease finds solace in a digital copy of the recently assassinated President. In contemporary Berlin a former Stasi agent ponders his past.

And in ““Interesting Facts”, a woman with cancer rages against the idea of her family without her.

Hugely inventive and endlessly energetic, this is a heart wrenching, surprising collection of stories that show Johnson at the top of his form.

Supporter: Nela


Fault Lines by Nancy Huston

An incredibly funny to read beginning grips the readers attention, drawing into a contemporary story that reaches back to the second world war. It describes a line in a family’s history from the perspectives of young children in that family, each one contributing its limited view of why the grown ups behave as they do. And wondering about it, not understanding many aspects, while these young kids think that they know about the world … Going back in history reveals that there is a lot more than what meets the eye. The author excels at keeping a very humorous tone while describing even the most drastic events. All the while keeping the delicate balance between narrating a good story and leaving room for the readers imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that book (so far, at more than 50%), found myself laughing time and again, learned some very interesting facts along the way and could hardly put it out of my hands.

Supporter: Leon, Barbara, Nela, Karina


Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth by Brad Blanton

The first edition of Radical Honesty became a nationwide best seller in 1995 because it was not a kinder, gentler self-help book. It was a shocker! In it, Dr. Brad Blanton, a psychotherapist and expert on stress management, explored the myths, superstitions and lies by which we all live. And this newly revised edition is even worse! Blanton shows us how stress comes not from the environment, but from the self-built jail of the mind. What keeps us in our self-built jails is lying.

“We all lie like hell,” Dr. Blanton says. “It wears us out…it is the major source of all human stress. It kills us.” Not telling our friends, lovers, spouses, or bosses about what we do, feel, or think keeps us locked in that mind jail. The way out is to get good at telling the truth, and Dr. Blanton provides the tools we can use to escape from that jail of the mind. This book is the cake with the file in it.

In Radical Honesty, Dr. Blanton coaches us on how to have lives that work, how to have relationships that are alive and passionate, and how to create intimacy where none exists. As we have been taught by the philosophical and spiritual sources of our culture for thousands of years, from Plato to Nietzsche, from the Bible to Emerson, the truth shall set you free.

First suggested: March 2016

Supporter(s): Bart


A fine balance by Rohinton Mistry

From Amazon:

Set in mid-1970s India, A Fine Balance is a subtle and compelling narrative about four unlikely characters who come together in circumstances no one could have foreseen soon after the government declares a ‘State of Internal Emergency’. It is a breathtaking achievement: panoramic yet humane, intensely political yet rich with local delight; and, above all, compulsively readable.

This is quite a big book - so we will need to allow enough reading time!

First suggested: April 2016

Supporter(s): Karina


Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje

From Amazon:

Anil’s Ghost transports us to Sri Lanka, a country steeped in centuries of tradition, now forced into the late twentieth century by the ravages of a bloody civil war. Enter Anil Tissera, a young woman and forensic anthropologist born in Sri Lanka but educted in the West, sent by an international human rights group to identify the victims of the murder campaigns sweeping the island.

When Anil discovers that the bones found in an ancient burial site are in fact those of a much more recent victim, her search for the terrible truth hidden in her homeland begins. What follows is a story about love, about family, about identity - a story driven by a riventing mystery.

First suggested: April 2016

Supporter(s): Karina


Seven Years by Peter Stamm

From Amazon:

Alex is caught between two very different women. Sonia, his wife, is intelligent, beautiful, charming and ambitious and together they have established a successful architectural firm and a life of easy luxury. But in the background is Ivona, who is dull, plain and passive. The only thing she offers Alex is her love, unconditionally, which inspires in him a queasy mixture of repulsion and passion. Alex knows he must make a choice, but when Ivona becomes pregnant, life takes an unexpected turn which leaves him more puzzled than ever by the mysteries of desire.

Thought it would be interesting to read some Swiss authors…

First suggested: April 2016

Supporter(s): Karina, Nicole


Past & current reading:

Some months missing for 2005 … sorry …

… The beginning of this branch of our book club!

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