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, whether to add your vote to the list of supporters for a book or to suggest one.

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: This page started to feel a little bottom-heavy with the ever increasing back list at the end. So there is now a whole new page dedicated to Past and Current Reading where you will find title and a link for each book that we’ve read, or selected for reading. Head over there and have a look, but don’t forget to come back here for voting and new suggestions.

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.


Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

A fierce international bestseller that launched Korea’s new feminist movement, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 follows one woman’s psychic deterioration in the face of rigid misogyny.

Further information at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46041199-kim-jiyoung-born-1982

Page count: 176

Pitch text from: Goodreads.com

Pitch by: Martin

First Suggested: June 2020

Supporter(s): Martin, Martin D., Nicole M.


10% Happier by Dan Harris

Nightline anchor Dan Harris embarks on an unexpected, hilarious, and deeply skeptical odyssey through the strange worlds of spirituality and self-help, and discovers a way to get happier that is truly achievable.

After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure, involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had both propelled him through the ranks of a hyper-competitive business and also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out.

We all have a voice in our head. It’s what has us losing our temper unnecessarily, checking our email compulsively, eating when we’re not hungry, and fixating on the past and the future at the expense of the present. Most of us would assume we’re stuck with this voice – that there’s nothing we can do to rein it in – but Harris stumbled upon an effective way to do just that. It’s a far cry from the miracle cures peddled by the self-help swamis he met; instead, it’s something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation. After learning about research that suggests meditation can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain, Harris took a deep dive into the underreported world of CEOs, scientists, and even marines who are now using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness.

10% Happier takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives

Page count: 256

Pitch text from: Goodreads

Pitch by: Nadine

First Suggested: September 2020

Supporter(s): Nadine, Richie


Milkman by Anna Burns

In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ’interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous.

Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

Page count: 352

Pitch text from: Goodreads

Pitch by: Nadine

First Suggested: September 2020

Supporter(s): Nadine, Nela, Nicole M.


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens.

How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?

Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power ... and our future.

Page count: 498

Pitch text from: Goodreads

Pitch by: Matthias

First Suggested: September 2020

Supporter(s): Matthias, Richie


Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie’s mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie’s guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good--her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamourous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion’s share of each week’s benefits--all the family has to live on--on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes’s older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is “no right,” a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her--even her beloved Shuggie.

A heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction. Recalling the work of Édouard Louis, Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist who has a powerful and important story to tell

Page count: 430

Pitch text from: Goodreads

Pitch by: Nela

First Suggested: September 2020

Supporter(s): Nela, Nicole M.


The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of a former penal colony on the Moon against its masters on the Earth. It is a tale of a culture whose family structures are based on the presence of two men for every woman, leading to novel forms of marriage and family. It is the story of the disparate people, a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic who become the movement’s leaders, and of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to the revolt’s inner circle, who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution’s ultimate success.

Page count: 288

Pitch text from: Goodreads

Pitch by: Martin D.

First Suggested: October 2020

Supporter(s): Martin D., Uli


The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

Page count: 288

Pitch text from: Goodreads.com

Pitch by: Nela

First Suggested: January 2021

Supporter(s): Nela, Richie


Temporary by Hilary Leichter

In Temporary, a young woman’s workplace is the size of the world. She fills increasingly bizarre placements in search of steadiness, connection, and something, at last, to call her own. Whether it’s shining an endless closet of shoes, swabbing the deck of a pirate ship, assisting an assassin, or filling in for the Chairman of the Board, for the mythical Temporary, “there is nothing more personal than doing your job.”

This riveting quest, at once hilarious and profound, will resonate with anyone who has ever done their best at work, even when the work is only temporary.

Page count: 208

Pitch text from: Goodreads.com

Pitch by: Richie

First Suggested: January 2021

Supporter(s): Richie, Nela


The Unreality of Memory: And Other Essays by Elisa Gabbert

“Terror, disaster, memory, selfhood, happiness . . . leave it to a poet to tackle the unthinkable so wisely and so wittily.” A literary guide to life in the pre-apocalypse, The Unreality of Memory collects profound and prophetic essays on the Internet age’s media-saturated disaster coverage and our addiction to viewing and discussing the world’s ills.

We stare at our phones. We keep multiple tabs open. Our chats and conversations are full of the phrase “Did you see?” The feeling that we’re living in the worst of times seems to be intensifying, alongside a desire to know precisely how bad things have gotten—and each new catastrophe distracts us from the last.

The Unreality of Memory collects provocative, searching essays on disaster culture, climate anxiety, and our mounting collective sense of doom. In this new collection, acclaimed poet and essayist Elisa Gabbert explores our obsessions with disasters past and future, from the sinking of the Titanic to Chernobyl, from witch hunts to the plague. These deeply researched, prophetic meditations question how the world will end—if indeed it will—and why we can’t stop fantasizing about it.

Can we avoid repeating history? Can we understand our moment from inside the moment? With The Unreality of Memory, Gabbert offers a hauntingly perceptive analysis of our new ways of being and a means of reconciling ourselves to this unreal new world.

Page count: 272

Pitch text from: Goodreads.com

Pitch by: Richie

First Suggested: January 2021

Supporter(s): Richie, Nela


Ulysse from Bagdad by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

“My name is Saad Saad, which means Hope Hope in Arabic...”Saad wants to leave the chaos of Baghdad for Europe, freedom and a future. But how do you cross borders without a dinar to call your own? How, like Ulysses, do you brave the storms, survive shipwrecks, evade the opium smugglers, turn a deaf ear to the sirens-turned-rock stars, escape the cruelty of a Cyclopean jailer, or tear yourself away from the amorous enchantment of a Sicilian Calypso?By turns violent, slapstick and tragic, Saad’s one-way journey begins. From adventures to tribulations interspersed with conversations with a loving father he can’t forget, the novel tells of the exodus of one of the millions of men currently in search of a place on earth: a stowaway. Always a captivating and sympathetic story-teller, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt offers this picaresque saga for our time and questions the human condition. Are borders the bulwark of our identities, or the last bastion of our illusions?

Page count: 280

Pitch text from: eric-emmanuel-schmitt.com

Pitch by: Rayna

First Suggested: January 2021

Supporter(s): Rayna, Uli


Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Page count: 341

Pitch text from: amazon.com

Pitch by: Rayna

First Suggested: January 2021

Supporter(s): Rayna


Beijing Coma by Ma Jian

Dai Wei has been unconscious for almost a decade. A medical student and a pro-democracy protestor in Tiananmen Square in June 1989, he was struck by a soldier’s bullet and fell into a deep coma. As soon as the hospital authorities discovered that he had been an activist, his mother was forced to take him home. She allowed pharmacists access to his body and sold his urine and his left kidney to fund special treatment from Master Yao, a member of the outlawed Falun Gong sect. But during a government crackdown, the Master was arrested, and Dai Wai’s mother—who had fallen in love with him—lost her mind.

As the millennium draws near, a sparrow flies through the window and lands on Dai Wei’s naked chest, a sign that he must emerge from his coma. But China has also undergone a massive transformation while Dai Wei lay unconscious. As he prepares to take leave of his old metal bed, Dai Wei realizes that the rich, imaginative world afforded to him as a coma patient is a startling contrast with the death-in-life of the world outside.

At once a powerful allegory of a rising China, racked by contradictions, and a seminal examination of the Tiananmen Square protests, Beijing Coma is Ma Jian’s masterpiece. Spiked with dark wit, poetic beauty, and deep rage, this extraordinary novel confirms his place as one of the world’s most significant living writers.

Page count: 586

Pitch text from: goodreads.com

Pitch by: Rene

First Suggested: February 2021

Supporter(s): Rene


x + y - A Mathematician's Manifesto for Rethinking Gender by Eugenia Cheng

A brilliant mathematician’s new path out of gender inequality Why are men in charge? After years in the male-dominated field of mathematics and in the female-dominated field of art, Eugenia Cheng has heard the question many times. In x + y, Cheng argues that her mathematical specialty – category theory – reveals why. Category theory deals more with context, relationships, and nuanced versions of equality than with intrinsic characteristics. Category theory also emphasizes dimensionality: much as a cube can cast a square or diamond shadow, depending on your perspective, so too do gender politics appear to change with how we examine them. Because society often rewards traits that it associates with males, such as competitiveness, we treat the problems those traits can create as male. But putting competitive women in charge will leave many unjust relationships in place. If we want real change, we need to transform the contexts in which we all exist, and not simply who we think we are.

Page count: 272

Pitch text from: goodreads.com

Pitch by: Rene

First Suggested: February 2021

Supporter(s): Rene

Comments

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