Tag Archives | books

2014: What I read

As usual, here is the list of books I finished last year. It’s a pretty mixed list. 2014 was a hard and stressful year, which made me turn to books to keep myself sane. When life becomes a little bit too much books are the only thing that allow me to lose myself for a while, not even watching films will do. Overall I’m really happy with this list. There’s a bit of everything that matters to me; some guilty pleasures, some easy reads, some classics, some Nazi stuff, music, films… I think it’s a good mix. I had a great time, I learnt, I laughed, I cried, I shuddered and I wish some of those books never ended. 2014 was also the first year when I could read a book in German without constantly thinking “oh man, I’m reading in German!” or looking up words, which makes me feel really great. I read a couple more that I had to give up due to boredom, so overall I spent a good while reading in German, who would’ve thought.

If you are curious you can check out what I read in 2008, what I read in 2009, what I read in 2010 and what I read in 2013.


Angelou, Maya – Gather Together in My Name

Anger, Kenneth – Hollywood Babylon

Arfin, Lesley – Dear Diary

Ashdown, Isabel – Summer of ’76

Bolaño, Roberto – La Pista de Hielo

Boyd, William – Waiting for Sunrise

Bryan, Helen – War Brides

Burroughs, Augusten – Dry

Bynner, John – Twenty-something in the 1990s: Getting On, Getting By, Getting Nowhere

de Cervantes, Miguel – El Licenciado Vidriera

Christie, Agatha – And Then There Were None

Christie, Agatha – Peril at End House

Christie, Agatha – The ABC Murders

Christie, Agatha – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Crott, Randi – Erzähl es niemandem! Die Liebesgesichte meiner Eltern

Dahl, Roald – Matilda

Dickens, Charles – Little Dorrit

Erikson, Erik – Identity and the Life Cycle

Eugenides, Jeffrey – The Marriage Plot

Eyre, Pilar – La Soledad de la Reina Sofía

Feig, Paul  – Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence

Fiske, John – Understanding Popular Culture

Flynn, Gillian – Gone Girl

Forrester, Helen – Liverpool Daisy

Gaskell, Elizabeth – North and South

Gribbin, John – Not Fade Away: The Life and Music of Buddy Holly

Haaf Meredith – Dejad de Lloriquear. Sobre una Generación y sus Problemas Superfluos

Haffner, Sebastian – Defying Hitler: A Memoir

Haffner, Sebastian – The Meaning of Hitler

Harris, Peter – El Enigma Vivaldi

Heywood, Colin – A History of Childhood

Klemperer, Victor – I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years 1933-1941

Klosterman, Chuck – Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto

Leland, John – Hip: The History

Maranda, Elizabeth – Telegram. A Collection of 27 Issues

Martín Gaite, Carmen – Entre Visillos

du Maurier, Daphne – Rebecca

Mendoza, Eduardo – El Misterio de la Cripta Embrujada

Modell, John – Into One’s Own: From Youth to Adulthood in the United States 1920-1975

Morrissey – Autobiography

Palahniuk, Chuck – Snuff

Pardo Bazán, Emilia – Un Viaje de Novios

Powell, Margaret – Below Stairs

Rowell, Rainbow – Eleanor & Park

Rowell, Rainbow – Fangirl

Rutherfurd, Edward – Paris

Schlink, Bernhard – The Weekend

Shaffer, Mary Ann – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

Sharpe, Katherine – Coming of Age on Zoloft. How Antidepressans Cheered Us Up, Brought Us Down, and Changed Who We Are

Smith, Zadie – NW

Steinbeck John – East of Eden

Sternberg, Emma – Breznkönigin

Vonnegut, Kurt – Slapstick or Lonesome No More!

Williams, John – Stoner


2013: What I read

I’ve been keeping track of every book I finish reading for nearly a decade now. I didn’t manage to finish any books during the last 3 months of 2013, which is my longest period so far. Because of this, I was under the false illusion that 2013 had been a really poor year as far as reading goes. Turns out I read nearly 50 books. It doesn’t quite match my record of 67 books in 2012, but it’s not a bad list.

Angelou, Maya – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen – Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: A Cultural Approach

Atwood, Margaret – The Blind Assassin

Bauerlein, Mark – The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future

Blasco Ibáñez, Vicente – Los Enemigos de la Mujer

Brontë, Charlotte – Jane Eyre

Brontë, Charlotte – Villette

Bryson, Bill – At Home: A Short History of Private Life

Buckley, Christopher – Boomsday

Chamberlain, Lisa – Slackonomics. Generation X in the Age of Creative Destruction

Colin, Chris – What Really Happened to the Class of ‘93: Start-ups, Dropouts, and Other Navigations through an Untidy Decade

Coupland, Douglas – Player One

Elmore, Tim – Generation iY

Erdrich, Louise – The Master Butchers Singing Club

Fitzgerald, F. Scott – Cartas a Mi Hija

Fitzgerald, F. Scott – The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald, F. Scott – Flappers and Philosophers

Follett, Ken – The Man from St. Petersburg

Gilbert, Daniel – Stumbling on Happiness

Haidt, Jonathan – The Happiness Hypothesis. Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

Hall, Tarquin – The Case of the Missing Servant

Henig, Robin Marantz – Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?

Hine, Thomas – The Rise an Fall of the American Teenager

Kaminer, Wladimir – Russendisko

Karr, Mary – The Liars’ Club

Koslow, Sally – Slouching Towards Adulthood

Lewis, C. S. – Prince Caspian

Lindo, Elvira – Una Palabra Tuya

Macko, Lia – Midlife Crisis at 30

Matthieu, Ricard – Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill

Mendoza, Eduardo – Sin Noticias de Gurb

Mitchell, Gladys – The Rising of the Moon

Noxon, Christopher – Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes, and the Reinvention of the American Grown-up

Oakes, Kaya – Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture

Oates, Joyce Carol – Blonde

Pamuk, Orhan – Istanbul. Memories and the City

Pichon, Liz – Everything’s Amazing (sort of)

Rimbaud, Arthur – A Season in Hell

Rowling, J. K. – The Casual Vacancy

Rubin, Gretchen – The Happiness Project. Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Sedaris, David – Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary

Smith, Patti – Just Kids

Spark, Muriel – The Ballad of Peckham Rye

Vonnegut, Kurt – The Big Trip Up Yonder

Vonnegut, Kurt – 2BR02B


Amazing bookshops around the world: Spui Square (Amsterdam)

If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam and, upon your arrival, discover that, much to your dismay, you forgot to pack a good book, your best bet for a quick literary fix is to head to Spui Square. Here you will find several places to satisfy your book hunger.
The American Book Center is a labyrinthine bookstore where you will surely find whatever it is you’re looking for. Even though slightly overwhelming and overpriced, they have an incredible variety.
If The American Book Center is too American for you there’s no need to panic, as the English chain bookstore Waterstones is pretty much in front of it. Having been inside too many Waterstones shops as it is, I didn’t even step in it, but I’m sure it’s a good choice if you’re looking for something specific, recent releases or want a wide variety to choose from.If big book stores are not your thing and you’re more of a browsing type or you just enjoy the smell of old paper, you might find something of interest in the book market that takes place right in Spui Square every Friday. It won’t be easy to find the right book there, but it is a great place if you have some time to spare or an uncontrollable love for old books and prints.

Spui Book Market

Amazing bookshops around the world: Lire & Chiner (Colmar)

Lire & Chiner (Colmar, France)
36, Rue des Marchands
F68000 Colmar

Colmar is a little village located in the East of France that looks like it didn’t really get past Medieval times. The perfect location to stumble upon a bookshop like Lire & Chiner.
Colmar Alsacia
Photo credit: Francisco Antunes
In Lire & Chiner you can find both old and new books, but it’s speciality is in old books. There are so many books that there is no room to sit down. Most of the books were old, old, old. Such treasures there, like a whole shelf (A WHOLE SHELF!) of old chemistry books.
They specialise in books from the Alsace region, but you can also find a lot of French classics. There is a lot of Victor Hugo and Jules Verne and other French writers I haven’t heard of. It has a lot of old, valuable books and a whole section of kids books and school books! You can find their entire catalogue on their website.

Amazing bookshops around the world: Rude Shipyard (Sheffield)

Rude Shipyard (Sheffield)
89 Abbeydale Rd
Sheffield, S7 1FE

The Rude Shipyard (or The Rude shipyard beneath my window, to give it its full title) is basically a tiny little house crammed with books, mismatched sofas and rocking chairs which also sells pots of tea and scrummy-looking cakes. To an ex-resident and full time romanticiser and rose-tinted spectacle purveyor of the Steel City, the place just screams Sheffield. I felt instantly welcomed and cheered, and made myself comfortable in a rocking chair by the window with the London Review of Books.


I had a quick chat to a couple of fellow patrons of the cafe, and then settled back with a pot of proper Earl Grey tea (with leaves and a strainer and everything!) and watched the other kinds of leaves (those on the trees) change into their Autumn outfits before stepping out into the golden gusts of wind that blew the sunlight down Abbeydale road.


On finishing my tea I chatted for a while with the lovely lady who served me my tea. She suggested that since it was my first visit, I should go and explore the upstairs of the cafe-cum-bookshop. I dutifully did, only to stumble upon two more lovely rooms crammed with cases and shelves full of books.

On leaving the cafe (albeit reluctantly) I stepped out into a beautifully sunny, fresh, Sheffield October afternoon feeling like I’d found my spiritual home. I was almost sad to leave, until on my journey out of the city I saw a poster for Off The Shelf reading and writing festival which runs from 10 – 30 October throughout Sheffield.
It was with more than a small smile that I departed, knowing I’d be back very soon for more tea and many more books.


Amazing bookshops around the world: Freaks (Barcelona)

Freaks (Barcelona)
c/ Ali Bei 10 ·
08010 Barcelona

Freaks is one of the few real comic bookshops in Barcelona together with “Continuará…”, “Askham” and “Norma Cómics” (there are lots of bookshops that also sell comics, but few actual comic bookshops). They have a great selection, lots of underground comics and there are always some surprising new books and authors you can’t find anywhere else. There are also Spanish translations for the lazy Spanish speakers, although these aren’t as funny. Prices are just like everywhere else. I would appreciate a bigger zine section and some kindness from the dude who works there. I’m not asking him to buy me beers or give me free comics, but it would be nice to hear “thank-you”, “if you like this comic you’ll also like this…” or simply “long live comics and anarchy!”



Amazing bookshops around the world: Shakespeare Asynové (Prague)

Shakespeare Asynové (Prague)
U lužického semináře 10
110 00 Prague 5, Czech Republic
257 531 894

When I went to Prague last November there was an unassuming little book shop near my hotel that caught my eye every time I went past, but each time it was either shut or we were rushing off somewhere. I finally got my chance to go in as we were leaving for the airport. When I entered I was a little disappointed: it was just like a book shop in England. There were lots of new English books, they were pretty pricey, and there were two rather surly-looking book sellers at the till. My boyfriend picked up an old National Geographic to read on the plane for €3. I’m glad I decided to go downstairs, however, flight times be damned, as it was on the stairs that I first got an inkling that this place was something special. I loved the presentation of the books on the wall, not to mention the stone steps themselves.
Downstairs was where the second hand books were, and best of all, comfy chairs. I wish I had had time to stop and read a little, especially if I could have read one of the Penguin books from the display in the corner.
Sadly the shop was a little bit pricey (or maybe I was poor), and I really did have a plane to catch, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a visit to Shakespeare Asynové.
I stumbled upon this bookshop when I went to Prague last year too. It’s located right next to the Kafka museum but, like Nicola, I didn’t have much time to browse through its shelves. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of the existence of a downstairs section at all.  It was nearly night time, I wanted to make it to the Lennon wall before nightfall and  running on the icy roads would have made me break a leg or three. Good place to visit if you’re ever stuck in Prague without something to read, though.

2010: What I Read

I hardly ever post book reviews, you know why? Because I am too busy reading them.
Ackroyd, Peter – The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde
Ackroyd, Peter – Venice. Pure City
Alexander, Paul – James Dean. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Appignanesi, Lisa – Mad, Bad and Sad. A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800
Atwood, Margaret – The Handmaid’s Tale
Auster, Paul – The New York Triology
Ballard, J. G. – Empire of the Sun
Barbery, Muriel – The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Bentley, Peter – The PhD Application Handbook
Brampton, Sally – Shoot the Damn Dog
Buten, Howard – When I was Five I Killed Myself
Doyle, Roddy – Chicago Blues
Ellis, Bret Easton – The Informers
Fante, John – Wait Until Spring, Bandini
Freeman, Daniel – Use Your Head: The Inside Track on the Way We Think
García Márquez, Gabriel – 100 Años de Soledad
Gayle, Mike – The to-do List
Goodman, Susan – Children of War
Gottfried, Martin – Arthur Miller. A Life.
Heller, Zoë – Notes on a Scandal

Hornby, Nick – Juliet, Naked

Ishiguro, Kazuo – Never Let Me Go
Ishiguro, Kazuo – Nocturnes
J. Sender, Ramón – La Tesis de Nancy

Kafka, Franz – The Trial
Kafka, Franz – Metamorphosis
Kureishi, Hanif – Something to Tell You
Lessing, Doris – The Good Terrorist
Leroux, Gaston – The Phantom of the Opera
Pendakur, Manjunath – Indian Popular Cinema
Loe, Erlend – Naive. Super
Manegat, Julio – Spanish Show
Mercer, Jeremy – Books, Baguettes & Bedbugs. The Left Bank World of Shakespeare & Co.
Murakami, Haruki – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
Murakami, Haruki – A Wild Sheep Chase
Nemirovsky, Irene – Suite Française
Nicholls, David – One Day
Parsons, Tony – Starting Over
Paxman, Jeremy – The English
Plath, Sylvia – The Bell Jar
Richardson, Nigel – Dog Days in Soho
Robb, Graham – The Discovery of France
Robinson, Jane – Bluestockings. The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education
Rutherfurd, Edward – New York
Sagan, Françoise – Hello Sadness
Sartre, Jean-Paul – The Age of Reason 
Shakespeare, William – The Merchant of Venice
Smith, Betty – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Smith, Zadie – On Beauty
Spencer, Amy – DIY. The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture
Spoto, Donald – Spellbound by Beauty. Alfred Hitchcock and his Leading Ladies
Tearne, Roma – Brixton Beach
Torrente Ballester, Gonzalo – El Señor Llega
Torrente Ballester, Gonzalo – Donde Da la Vuelta el Aire
Torrente Ballester, Gonzalo – La Pascua Triste
Townsend, Sue – The Queen and I

Turner, Graeme – British Cultural Studies. An Introduction
Vonnegut, Kurt – Slaughterhouse Five
Waters, Sarah – Fingersmith
Waters, Sarah – Tipping the Velvet
Williams, Tennessee – A Streetcar Named Desire
Wolpert, Lewis – Malignant Sadness. The Anatomy of Depression
Woodruff, William – Shadows of Glory
Wurtzel, Elizabeth – Prozac Nation
So these are the books I finished in 2010. There are others I started and left because I couldn’t handle them, like Kafka’s castle, and others that I’m still reading, like Portrait of a Lady. Then there are the books that I’ve been reading for years, like Sylvia Plath’s diaries. I read half a book in German and half a book in Italian, which I consider to be a massive achievement.
I read Sartre in Paris, Kafka in Prague and The Merchant of Venice in Venice. Yes, I am that pretentious.
The list contains pieces of crap and amazing works. Things that I had meant to read for years and airport impulse buys. I wonder what a psychologist would say about my reading patterns. I don’t want to review each book, so the ones I particularly enjoyed & recommend are marked in grey.

Amazing Bookshops Around the World: Books of Wonder (New York)

Books of Wonder (New York, US)
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

Monday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

Boks of Wonder is a bookshop exclusively dedicated to children’s and young adult literature. There are many reasons why it’s worth it to stroll inside. It has an incredibly big variety of books organised by ages, from baby books to young adult literature and more. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Alice in Wonderland, Gulliver’s travels and many other writers and characters appear in their shelves. Besides, there are benches, tables and chairs that invite you to take your time and a café.
The most incredible thing however is located right at the back. A section devoted to old and rare editons of children’s books. A first edition in mint condition of Narnia’s Chronicles or a copy of Lord of the Rings signed by Tolkien in 1968 in a party that celebrated the first edition of the book in a single volume. All for only $16,500.
If you can’t afford the trip to New York you can also buy in their online store.

Text and photos by Oscar from Strange Library

Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs

I read this book in a rather compulsive manner. I’m all up for quitting everything, selling my possessions and moving to Paris to live it rough and get inspired. I really am. I probably won’t do it, mainly because I would find it too hard to part with my record collection, but that’s what Jeremy Mercer did. And he wrote a book about it.
After getting into a bit of trouble with his job, Mercer left Canada and moved to Paris as an excuse to learn the language. After some time there, seeing how his money was dangerously close to disappearing, he happened to visit Shakespeare & Co. A few days later he moved in.
It’s really interesting to get an insight in the daily routine of the bookshop; how work is organised, what the owner is like, how they get by in such an expensive city with little money. Mix that with the history of such a fascinating place (despite this not being the original Shakespeare & Co.), the romantic idea of the poor writer in the city of lights and a story of personal development and finding yourself in unexpected places. What you get is some sort of “Down and Out in Paris and London” minus the London part made for book lovers. I loved it.


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