List of Open Books

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Summary: added support for "Before I go to sleep"

Changed:

< Supporter: Jennifer, Leon

to

> Supporter: Jennifer, Leon, Rene


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:


The Festival of Insignificance: Milan Kundera

I remember reading “life is elsewhere” by the same author. Although I didn’t like the story, the writing was appealing. So when I stumbled upon this book, I simply bought it.

From Amazon: From the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, an unexpected and enchanting novel—the culmination of his life’s work.

Casting light on the most serious of problems and at the same time saying not one serious sentence; being fascinated by the reality of the contemporary world and at the same time completely avoiding realism—that’s The Festival of Insignificance. Readers who know Milan Kundera’s earlier books know that the wish to incorporate an element of the “unserious” in a novel is not at all unexpected of him. In Immortality, Goethe and Hemingway stroll through several chapters together talking and laughing. And in Slowness, Vera, the author’s wife, says to her husband: “you’ve often told me you meant to write a book one day that would have not a single serious word in it…I warn you: watch out. Your enemies are lying in wait.”

Now, far from watching out, Kundera is finally and fully realizing his old aesthetic dream in this novel that we could easily view as a summation of his whole work. A strange sort of summation. Strange sort of epilogue. Strange sort of laughter, inspired by our time, which is comical because it has lost all sense of humor. What more can we say? Nothing. Just read.

First suggested: April 2015

Supporter(s): Rene

The Golden Notebook: Doris Lessing

The landmark novel of the Sixties – a powerful account of a woman searching for her personal, political and professional identity while facing rejection and betrayal.

In 1950s London, novelist Anna Wulf struggles with writer’s block. Divorced with a young child, and fearful of going mad, Anna records her experiences in four coloured notebooks: black for her writing life, red for political views, yellow for emotions, blue for everyday events. But it is a fifth notebook – the golden notebook – that finally pulls these wayward strands of her life together.

Widely regarded as Doris Lessing’s masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, ‘The Golden Notebook’ is wry and perceptive, bold and indispensable.

First suggested: February 2015

Supporter(s): Richie, Nadja, Isa, Nela, Jennifer


The Grass is Singing: Doris Lessing

The Nobel Prize-winner Doris Lessing’s first novel is a taut and tragic portrayal of a crumbling marriage, set in South Africa during the years of Arpartheid.

Set in Rhodesia, ‘The Grass is Singing’ tells the story of Dick Turner, a failed white farmer and his wife, Mary, a town girl who hates the bush and viciously abuses the black South Africans who work on their farm. But after many years, trapped by poverty, sapped by the heat of their tiny house, the lonely and frightened Mary turns to Moses, the black cook, for kindness and understanding.

A masterpiece of realism, ‘The Grass is Singing’ is a superb evocation of Africa’s majestic beauty, an intense psychological portrait of lives in confusion and, most of all, a fearless exploration of the ideology of white supremacy.

First suggested: February 2015

Supporter(s): Richie, Nela, Patrycja, Isa, Rene


In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Nazi Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history. A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance—and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition. Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming - yet wholly sinister - Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

First suggested: August 2014

Supporter(s): Adl, Dylan, Rene


Life and Death are Wearing me Out by Mo Yan

I recently got this book recommended by a friend and think the description looks interesting..

A novel that opens in Hell, where Lord Yama, king of the underworld, has Ximen Nao tortured endlessly in order to force a confession of guilt from him. When his efforts remain fruitless, Lord Yama allows Ximen Nao to return to earth, where he is reborn first as a donkey, then a horse, a pig, a monkey, and, finally, the big-headed boy Lan Qiansui.

Today’s most revered, feared, and controversial Chinese novelist offers a tour de force in which the real, the absurd, the comical, and the tragic are blended into a fascinating read. The hero-or antihero-of Mo Yan’s novel is Ximen Nao, a landowner known for his generosity and kindness and benevolence to his peasants. However, during Mao’s Land Reform Movement of 1948, he is not only stripped of his land and worldly possessions but cruelly executed, despite his protestations of innocence.

The novel opens in Hell, where Lord Yama, king of the underworld, has Ximen Nao tortured endlessly in order to force a confession of guilt from him. When his efforts remain fruitless, Lord Yama allows Ximen Nao to return to earth, where he is reborn not as a human, but first as a donkey, then a horse, a pig, a monkey, and, finally, the big-headed boy Lan Qiansui. Through the eyes of animal and boy, Ximen Nao takes us on a deliriously unique journey through fifty years of peasant history in China, right to the edge of the new millennium. Here is an absolutely riveting tale that reveals the author’s love of a homeland beset by ills inevitable, political, and traditional.

First suggested: August 2014

Supporter(s): Richie, Ronel, Uli, Isa


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, Nicole, Karina, Leon


The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

From Amazon:

A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single setting, The Sense of an Ending has the psychological and emotional depth and sophistication of Henry James at his best, and is a stunning new chapter in Julian Barnes’s œuvre.

This intense novel follows Tony Webster, a middle-aged man, as he contends with a past he never thought much about—until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance: one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony thought he left this all behind as he built a life for himself, and his career has provided him with a secure retirement and an amicable relationship with his ex-wife and daughter, who now has a family of her own. But when he is presented with a mysterious legacy, he is forced to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.

First suggested: April 2015

Supporter(s): Isabel, Nela


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


Before I go to sleep by S. J. Watson

Memories define us… So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep. Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story…

First suggested: June 2015

Supporter: Jennifer, Leon, Rene

Past & current reading:

Some months missing for 2005 … sorry …

… The beginning of this branch of our book club!

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