Nans travels to Europe

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Nans travels to Europe

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Editado: Fev 24, 2012, 9:43 am

The Countries and the Books:

Albania: The Successor by Ismail Kadare
Austria: Die Arbeit der Nacht by Thomas Glavinic
Bulgaria: Under the Yoke by Ivan Vazov
Czech Republic
Denmark: The Fishermen by Hans Kirk
England: Revenge of a Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan, 4 stars
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
Finland: The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
France: Sarahs Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Germany: Im Westen Nichts Neues by Erich Maria Remarque
Greece: Zigzag through the Bitter-Orange Trees by Ersi Sotiropoulos
Hungary: Fateless: a Novel by Irme Kertész
Iceland: Salka Valka by Halldór Laxness
Italy: Arturo's Island by Elsa Morante
The Netherlands: The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
Northern Ireland
Norway: The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
Poland: House of Day, House of Night by Olga Tokarczuk, 3.5 stars
Russia: The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
San Marino
Scotland: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Alexander McCall Smith
Slovenia: Northern Lights by Drago Jancar
Spain: The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Sweden: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
Sun Storm by Asa Larsson
Switzerland: Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Turkey: Snow by Orhan Pamuk
Ukraine: Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov
The Vatican
Wales: The Earth hums in B flat by Mari Strachan

Faeroe Islands

Even more to consider:
The Rome Empire
The Ottoman Empire
The Old Macedonia
East Germany (DDR)
West Germany (BRD)

create your personalized map of europe
or write about it on the open travel guide

Set 11, 2009, 12:28 pm

I came to this thread via Reading Globally's 'Around the World' challenge. I've unofficially been doing that challenge, but the number of countries is so daunting that I never kicked it off properly.

This challenge is more manageable and a great place to start, because tomorrow I'll be traveling to Germany. In my carry-on I already have my first 2 books packed - Turkey and Germany. Well, I confess, I have about 8 books packed in my luggage, but only 2 that will go with this challenge. I have a feeling I will be rearranging these books tonight!

Editado: Out 1, 2009, 11:59 am

So I haven't really given a lot of thought to my 'rules' yet. Kinda just jumped in.

I want to try to read books written by and set in the country. Which cancels out two books I have read so far this year, both by American authors:
Austria: Homestead by Rosina Lippi
Netherlands: Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge

That leaves one book that I've already read in 2009, so I'll go ahead and include it
Poland: House of Day, House of Night by Olga Tokarczuk

one down....

In the future I will write mini reviews about the books I read.

Speaking of Poland, at the moment I am reading
In America by Susan Sontag

The first 1/4 is set in Poland with a famous Polish actress set in the late 1800's. The book is fiction, but based on the life of a real life person, Helena Modjeska. The book has now moved to America, so it might not satisfy the requirements for this book challenge.

edited for Touchstones

Set 13, 2009, 11:00 am

I read Homestead a few years ago and thought it was an interesting look at a way of life that is long gone. I do like your goal of reading books only my authors from the country in question, and I'll be following your thread to see how you do with that.

Set 19, 2009, 3:38 am

I'm already thinking of breaking that goal to only read books from authors of that country as I just read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And the German book I am all set to read is actually by an American as well! Hmm....

Out 1, 2009, 11:50 am

Revenge of a Middle-Aged Woman
by Elizabeth Buchan

This wasn't really a very literary choice, but as I have read so many books set in England, I'm not too bothered.

This was given to me by a friend as a great read for my 8 hour airplane ride. I didn't expect much. Based on the title, I thought there would be some embarassing revenge situations, but I was pleasantly surprised. Rose admirably handled the end of her marriage with poise and dignity. Mixed into the relationship stuff were beautiful descriptions of her garden which I also enjoyed reading, even if I didn't know what half the flowers were.

So all in all, I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars. (NB - for lighthearted reads, my grading system is lax. If it entertains me without a lot of eye-rolling, then I am generous in my grading.)

I have to agree with my friend. Nice book for long airplane rides, or for lounging in your flannels near the heater as the nights get colder and colder.

Mar 23, 2010, 1:04 pm

Sarahs Key
by Tatiana de Rosnay

Has been ages since I've read a European book. This book was part of our book club's selection, and I was so happy that they chose this book.

Sarahs Key is such a great book told in two voices... one voice is Sarah, a young Jewish girl from Paris during the Holocaust. The other is an American wife, Julia's and the story of the research into this time period and how it relates to her French husband's family. It was such a sad tale, but beautifully written. The author is part American, French & Russian and grew up in France, so it more than qualified for this challenge.

At times I thought the story was told a bit simplistically, nearly as a YA book woudl be written, though there were some sexual scenes so I knew that was not the target audience. The book was written in English, not French, and I wondered if maybe the author's command of the language was not as great since she was not raised in an English speaking country though she is American?

I lived with a German/French family in Germany. Their children could speak both languages fluently, but had difficulties in writing.

Abr 15, 2010, 12:39 pm

Fateless: A Novel
by Irme Kertész

Fateless starts in Hungary but soon moves to the KZ's of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Though the majority of the book takes place outside Hungary, I'm still going to count it.

This was such a different Holocaust book for me. It didn't dwell on the bad and the evil. Maybe it was because the main character was a 15 year old boy and was highly adaptable? There are so many Holocaust stories and books that any time an author or filmmaker can do something a little different just accentuates to me again how many different people and experiences there were at that time.

Maio 17, 2010, 1:37 pm

Orhan Pamuk

It took me months and months to finish this book. It never gripped me but I wanted to finish it, because a friend that lived in Turkey gave it to me. I think it was just the wrong time for me to read this book, but I'm not going to try again!

Maio 17, 2010, 4:02 pm

Oh dear! Snow doesn't sound too promising. It's on my list for probably sometime later this year. Sorry to hear you didn't like it.

Maio 18, 2010, 11:43 am

Keep it on your list! I really think it was the case of wrong time / wrong book. I kept letting other books get in the way of this one, and think if I would have concentrated on just this one book, I would have enjoyed it more.

A couple of years ago I got into the habit of reading 2 or more books at a time. Up to then I was a 'one book at a time' kinda girl. I'm realizing that this might take away from my enjoyment of the books I'm reading, because I can't concentrate on just one storyline.

Maio 18, 2010, 11:56 am

Thanks for expanding the explanation. I'll get to it eventually. It's just other books have a higher read me now feeling about them. I usually only have more than 1 on the go if I'm reading a short story collection so I should be okay on that score.

Maio 20, 2010, 5:03 am

I got about 100 pages into Snow 5 years ago, then stopped and never picked it up again. To start with I loved the beautiful atmospheric writing, but then I kind of got stuck. I will try again one day!

Maio 22, 2010, 9:03 am

8 Fateless blew me away earlier this year, precisely because of it's detatched style and lack of sentiment. To me it became very much about shutting down as a survival strategy, and it still lingers with me.

Oh, and I counted it for Hungary too. I have other plans for Poland :)

Jun 1, 2010, 12:54 pm

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson

I was so worried that too many people were talking this book up and that my expectations would be too high, but nope. I loved this book. It was a multi-layered mystery with some great characters.

My only critisism is that one of the criminals was too far fetched. But even though I had to shake my head at that, I still really enjoyed this book and stayed awake until late in the night finishing it.

Jun 14, 2010, 11:16 am

The Successor
Ismail Kadare

I read this book as part of the Global Reading theme reading challenge. June is Dictators and while most of the books suggested centered on South America, I wanted to find something to help me with both challenges.

The Successor in Albania is murdered one night... who did it? Did the leader known as The Guide do it or arrange someone to do it? Or the Architecht? Or the one who wanted to be the Successor? Or his family?

What I enjoyed most about the book is when they told the story through the daughter's eyes. I did not agree with who the book said murdered the Successor, but maybe it really happened that way. It's based on the real life assassignation of Mehmet Shehu in the 80's and it's still a mystery today on who killed him.

I'm so glad I did not grow up in the communist country. I also recently re-watched the movie 'The Lives of Others' which takes place in East Berlin in the 80's and the paranoia in both the movie and the book are what remain with me.

Jul 8, 2010, 9:52 am

Im Westen Nichts Neues - All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque

Even though this novel physically is mostly in France during WWI, I'm going to include it as Germany since the feel for the place is really the war with the German front line troops. All of their thoughts are so German, that there is no way this could ever be included anywhere else.

It was a hard book to read, but so important to see what these soldiers went through. I can understand why this book was banned in Nazi Germany during WWII.

Definately recommended.

Jul 8, 2010, 10:14 am

The Earth hums in B flat
Mari Strachan

I finished this book within 24 hours. I first heard it mentioned here and recommended it to my bookclub. We'll discuss it on Tuesday, and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.

I loved how Gwenni sees the world, such as the Toby Glasses that watch down on the family from their top shelf in the kitchen, or the soothing hum that the Earth makes. But this little girl comes from a family that is hurting. That is the core of the story - family secrets and what that does to a family.

A really good read with a touch of a mystery and some great characters.

Jul 23, 2010, 12:06 pm

Zigzag through the Bitter-Orange Trees
Ersi Sotiropoulos

A nice, short book that follows the lives of a handful of people that eventually intertwine. I didn't really feel like I got a great sense of Greece through this novel - maybe more of a sense of a hospital in Athens.

What I liked about this novel was that it contained a ton of symbolism. And even though I couldn't begin to understand all of it, the writing was so good that I still enjoyed it and felt like I knew what was going on, even if it was only on the surface. The characters were a little complex for me to be able to understand them completely. I felt every sentence contained some nugget to be unraveled.

Ago 2, 2010, 12:19 pm

This month I'll be reading in Sweden quite a bit. I just finished The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson, which I really enjoyed. Next I have his 3rd book in the series and then Sun Storm by Asa Larsson.

Ago 17, 2010, 11:03 am

The Summer Book
Tove Jansson

This book didn't bowl me over like it has others. It's a story of a little girl and grandmother living for the summer on an island in Finland with the girl's father. The little girl was a brat. I liked the voice of the grandmother though - how she took care of the girl and how she viewed nature. They had a special relationship with the island and the sea, which is a life difficult for land-locked me to ever imagine.

Ago 17, 2010, 11:10 am

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson and
Sun Storm by Asa Larsson

This rounds out my Swedish Larsson summer. I loved the conclusion to Stieg's trilogy. Salander finally grew up a bit and trusted in someone to get out of her troubles. The only criticisms I had with book 3 is that I could never see her getting a boob job, and I still had trouble believing that all these people went to all this trouble over her. Even though Stieg tried hard to convince me otherwise. It still did not take away from my enjoyment of the book.

I should have left more time between Larsson reads though. Asa's was a good read, but not as engrossing, so I was sort of disappointed. The 2 female characters were interesting to read about and kept my attention. But again, like Stieg's books and like many crimi's, it was a case of corrupt or selfabsorbed prosecutors/cops that were confused when searching for the right culprit. Is this just an easy storyline for authors, or does it truly happen that often?

Out 27, 2010, 5:25 pm

The Angel's Game by
Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Definately no where near as good as his first book. I did love the sense for Barcelona this book gives you, but I was too creeped out by the 'angel'

Salka Valka by
Halldor Laxness

Thank you so much to all the people that suggested this book. It took me ages to read it, but I like to think that is more because I had a lot going on in my life than the quality of the novel.

I really enjoyed the character of Salka, and reading about her life in Iceland as well as the introduction of communism to the community. I was more than a little surprised about her acceptance of Steinthor and am off to read what you've all written about this book to see if you mention this... maybe I missed something in my month long reading of this book.

Out 27, 2010, 11:41 pm

I felt the same way about The Shadow in the Wind vs. The Angel's Game, but both do a really good job of really making you feel what Barcelona would have felt like at the time. There was an awful lot of dying going on in The Angel's Game too!

Out 28, 2010, 4:48 am

23 I'll be reading Salka Valka as part of my 11 in 11. Everybody here seems to reave about Laxness, and I'm really curious!

Out 28, 2010, 5:47 pm

Where are people getting their copies of Salka Valka from? In what language?


Nov 2, 2010, 10:10 am

Mine came from the Cincinnati library, and I got it in English. I was so happy and surprised to find it!

Nov 2, 2010, 10:18 am

Remarkable Creatures: A Novel
Tracy Chevalier

The majority of this novel takes place in Lyme Regis on England's Southern coast.

Chevalier is known for taking works of art, and building stories around them. Her most well known was her novel The Girl with the Pearl Earring. This book takes places in the first half of the 1800's and concerns fossils found in Lyme Regis, the real life people that discovered them, the collectors and religion's take on these extinct creatures.

I loved her characters of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, 2 ladies that were experts at fossil finding, and who didn't really seek recognition for their work. It was fascinating to hear about how little women were regarded, even if they were more expert than the 'experts'.

Nov 3, 2010, 12:43 pm

Die Arbeit der Nacht (Night Work)
Thomas Glavinic

This book took me a good month to finish, not because it was so bad, but because it was so good and it freaked me out!

It's the story of Jonas who wakes one day to discover that there is no one around. Everyone has disappeared. Thus begins his adventure of discovering the town without traffic and people and rules. And finding out if he is on the person left in the world.

Then strange things start to happen when he's sleeping, and it got really spooky from there. I'd really recommend this book, especially if you like psychological thrillers.

For the sense of place, this book gives a great picture of Vienna, albeit, somewhat empty and lonely. He ventures out into the Austrian countryside too, so I felt it fulfilled my requirements for this challenge.

Nov 3, 2010, 5:56 pm

Sounds like my cup of tea! Making note of it, thank you!

Editado: Dez 1, 2010, 10:46 am

The Hiding Place
Corrie ten Boom

Years and years ago I visited Haarlem in the Netherlands and toured the ten Boom house. I've been wanting to read this book ever since, but was leary, because I feared it would contain too much religious talk.

In the tour, you're taken through the family watch shop, and up the stairs to a sitting room where the tour guide talked a lot about the family and their religion, and on and on and on. It was noted even in my guidebook that the lecture is a bit much, but something to be endured in order to view the house.

The book of course, talked about the family's religion and beliefs, but I was relieved that it wasn't too overpowering at all and fits in nicely with the story of Corrie and her family, their life leading up to the occupation of Holland, how they helped numerous Jews and ultimately in their capture and time served in German concentration camps.

I especially enjoyed remembering the set up of the house and watchshop, and reading about their everday lives in this space at that time. The book maybe wasn't so much a good book to read to get a sense of Holland, but more of the timeperiod it was written.

Note: the touchstone is incorrect

Nov 29, 2010, 3:43 pm

The Hiding Place should be the correct touchstone. I think the book might fit one of my reading patterns, and so I will put it on my wishlist.


Dez 4, 2010, 2:33 pm

#23 - I've been a bit busy, leaving me little time to follow threads on LT, but I'm glad to see you enjoyed Salka Valka as much as I did last summer. This book was a surprise to me too and it seems everyone who reads it is enchanted by it.

Dez 21, 2010, 2:33 pm

Northern Lights by Drago Jancar

Ugh, I really trudged through this book. Seems I wasn't the only one. Somehow I missed in my research for a book from Slovenia, that others did not enjoy this novel.

It takes place in the 30's. A man from Austria takes up residence in a hotel in Slovenia. He meets a slew of people. All I can say is that the chapters were short, which made it easier to get through.

Jan 27, 2011, 12:14 pm

Johanna Spyri

When searching for a novel from Switzerland, I hit on Max Frisch, who I've read once before and didn't enjoy it. I thought about giving him another chance. But Heidi kept coming up in my searches. Finally I decided to go for the quintessential book associated with Switzerland. It was a good choice!

I knew only of Heidi, her Grandfather, and the Mountains. Didn't realized Heidi had lived in Frankfurt for a time. Didn't realize that Heidi really had short, dark hair (not blonde). So I'm happy that I read the story (actually 2 books), especially in the wintertime. It reminded me of all my hiking in the Alps and brought back nice memories.

Abr 27, 2011, 12:41 pm

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

A great crime novel set in the 90's and the 40's in Norway and on the WW2 front. My friends have been urging me to read his novels for a year, and I'm glad to finally have read one.

I've read a lot of books set in Sweden, so it took me a little bit to get used to the town names after being used to Malmo and Stockholm. There were also a lot of characters in the book and I was forever getting confused on who was who.

highly recommended for those crime novel fans out there

Maio 27, 2011, 5:43 am

The Unbearable Lightness of Scones by
Alexander McCall Smith

Am vacationing in Scotland in real life, so for my birthday the girls got me this book. I think I've missed at least one in the series, but you really don't need it. Fun to be walking in the same streets that the book is written about. Think though that I need to read some Rankin to round out my Scot's category.

Jun 3, 2011, 7:14 am

I've only read the first book in McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street series, and I need to read more. I enjoyed the characters, especially Bertie. I'd like to find out what he's been up to!

Jun 10, 2011, 9:52 am

Funny, Bertie is the reason I want to read the books I've missed in the series. He's such a great character, and I feel like he'll get even stronger in the books after The Unbearable Lightness of Scones.

Jul 30, 2011, 12:28 pm

Death and the Penguin
by Andrey Kurkov

A fabulous novella set in Kiev. A man starts writting obituaries for a newspaper including preparing some for future deaths of notable people. Suddenly these people start to die. But the best thing about this novel is the Penguin. A year before the zoo in Kiev asked people to take in some of the animals that they could no longer care for, and Viktor took home a penguin, Misha. Misha has this silent presence in the story which is such a thrill to read. Well worth picking up!

Jul 30, 2011, 6:31 pm

I've read other good reviews of Death and the Penguin. Sounds like a good read.

Nov 28, 2011, 10:10 am

The Fishermen
Hans Kirk

Quite an interesting read about a group of very religious fishermen that move from the West Coast of Denmark and settle in an area that is not so zealous in their beliefs. My copy claimed it was the most read book in Denmark by a Danish author, but it wasn't printed in the US until the last decade because of the book and the author's communist leanings. It was also banned and burned under the Nazi occupation. Definately recommended.

Fev 24, 2012, 9:49 am

Under the Yoke
Ivan Vazov

A great book published at the end of the 1800's about some grassroots revolutionaries trying to free their country from the Turks. It was a very well written book, and I especially enjoyed learning more about this time period which I knew nothing about beforehand.

Editado: Fev 25, 2012, 7:49 am

I'm reading Under the Yoke right now and I'm completely caught up in the drama. I almost feel like I could walk out my door right into the midst of Byala Cherkva!