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Snapshot September 2015

I’m rather late this month but this is what I was up to on the first day of September. It was day six of our holiday and we were in Dresden, Germany.

Dresden – after the 1945 bombing raids


I had two novels on the go on September 1, 2015.  As holiday reading companions I had two paperbacks plus of course a fully loaded e-reader. My plan was to begin with The Quest for Christa T by the East German author Christa Wolf which I though appropriate since our first port of call would be East Berlin followed by Dresden and Leipzig (all of which

Dresden - 2015. A city restored to former glory
Dresden – 2015. A city restored to former glory

are mentioned in the novel). But I found it hard to get into, so switched instead to my e-copy of A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara. Not the kind of book if you’re one of those people who like cosy novels as holiday companions but I found it difficult to put down.

Of course I couldn’t resist the temptation to browse in a few bookshops in Berlin and Dresden. The selection of books available in English was rather limited – the usual crime fiction and best sellers, a few of last year’s Booker shortlisted titles plus four different editions of  All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. But not a single English translation of a German fiction classic. I’d been hoping for a Thomas Mann at least but drew a complete blank.


Talking of All the Light we Cannot See, this was on my iPod during my trip. Shortly after starting it, I learned that President Obama had also selected it as one of his holiday reads. Presumably he chose it (or had it chosen for him?) because of its status as a Pulitzer prize-winner and winner of the Carnegie Medal for Fiction. What the leader of the free world made of this novel set in World War 2 I haven’t been able to discover. For me it’s rather slow going. I keep thinking sometime soon something will happen ….


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

10 thoughts on “Snapshot September 2015

  • I have All The Light We Cannot See to read and I’m really looking forward to reading it so it’s disappointing to hear you find it a bit on the slow side.

    • I know some people have thoroughly enjoyed it Cleopatra – maybe you will too. I’m plodding along with it but will be glad to get to the end

  • Dresden looks gorgeous! I’ve never been and have only ever briefly had a layover in Munich.

    • It certainly has some stunning buildings Geoff but I think its all the more significant because they were all destroyed in the bombing raids of 1945. The local people documented every stone they could find, they all got stored and then eventually used to rebuild.

  • Christa T would have been the perfect pick for your German holiday. Too bad it didn’t work out. I haven’t read it but I’ve heard it’s not the easiest book by the author

  • A Little Life sounds so very intense! Though I definitely mean to give it a go sometime in the future. I’m so jealous of all your travels! How wonderful to actually see all those places. I can only imagine exploring the bookstores! Wow… Okay, All The Light We Cannot See–simply one of my favorite reads ever. I first read it this past May for a campus Book Club and then again this summer for the book club I facilitate. Two very different reactions overall. It was amazing the differences! All 15 participants on campus felt it was one of the very best books they’ve ever read, definitely their favorite within this book club over the past couple of years (we typically read/discuss 4-5 books per year), but my own book club’s overall reaction was that it was good, but slow at first, requiring some time to really get into, and only one reader felt it was ‘excellent’! So it sounds as if you’re one for whom this may take a bit to get into. I really hope you do eventually get into it! I just think it is a beautiful story and so masterfully written. I so admire his ability to create tension. I just couldn’t put it down until I HAD to do so! I have yet to compose a blog post. There’s just so much I want to say!!! Happy Reading!!

    • Well that’s certainly a varied set of reactions. I think I’m half way through and still not enamoured with it unfortunately

  • Christa T is not an easy read, but rewarding if you can get into the groove with it. Maybe better tried again when not travelling because it does require input as a reader that might not be there on the move!

    • I got into it in snatches but couldn’t really sustain the interest


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