Normal people

Since I only heard good things about the book, and got it as a recommendation from a good friend, I was hoping for more. The book also won some prizes and got a lot of promotion, so I was kind of disappointed with it. As I understood it, the idea was to show the life of some people, including their thoughts, problems, behaviour, to normalise the fact that we are all different, that we go through different things that form our personality, that we are all normal people. I think it is a good book for the ones who are not yet so open and tolerant especially to psychical illnesses. I must say, I have the luck to live in a society that kind of normalised it already and I am especially thankful to have friends with whom it is ok to talk about this, so for me the handling of the book was from the beginning pretty normal and kind of boring, since nothing interesting, new or unknown was happening. I was expecting a bit more action, so to say, and the book was just kind of describing some normal people, as the title says. I would not read the book again and also would not recommend it. The thing that bothered me the most was that the dialogue was not written different then the rest, so it was a bit hard for me to follow, when someone is saying something out loud, just thinking, or if the narration goes on.

“[…] and asks […] if she find it strange, to be paid or her hours at work – to exchange, in other words, blocks of her extremely limited time on this earth for the human invention known as money.

It’s a time you’ll never get back. […] I mean, the time is real.

The money is also real.

Well, but the time is more real. Time consists of physics, money is just a social construct.

Yes, but I’m still alive at work […]. It’s still me, I’m still having experiences. You’re not working, okay, but the time is passing for you too. You’ll never get it back either.

But I can decide what I do with it.

To that I would venture that your decision-making is also a social construct.”

“In fact he suspects she is still attracted to him, and that she now finds it funny, like a private joke, to indulge an attraction to someone who could never belong in her world.”

A Christmas Carol - Kindle edition by Dickens, Charles. Literature &  Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

I saw the movie some years ago and now we read this in the book club. I don’t have so much to say about it, since it is a typical Christmas story. It was nice to read it, but I read it in English and it was very, very difficult. There were so many words I didn’t understood and never heard of. Of course that one can understand it globally, but it was a bit frustrating that so many words were unknown. But the idea of the story is nice and I would totally recommend the film, if you haven’t seen it already. And it would be interesting to read the story in Romanian or German, to be able to make a comparison, if the translations are easier.

“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour.”

“This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!”

Un nou inceput

Cartea nu e vreo capodopera, dar e usor de citit. Firul actiunii e clar si simplu. Una dintre temele cartii e tema femeii supuse barbatului, pasibila la agresiuni, care intr-un final se revolta. Tema mai interesanta este cum singuratatea si schimbatul societatii intareste caracteristicile persoanelor, atat cele bune cat si cele rele – cu asta sunt de acord. Mi se pare pacat ca traducerea titlului in romana e facuta asa. Titlul original e “The Great Alone”, care imi place mult mai mult decat “Un nou inceput”. N-as reciti cartea vreodata, pentru ca e relativ previzibila si mediocra, dar pentru o lectura de doua zile e in regula. Mai jos sunt cateva citate.

“Uneori, trebuia sa te intorci cu fata spre trecut ca sa poti merge mai departe. Ei cunosteau acest adevar, desi erau atat de tineri. Dar mai exista un adevar, unul de care ei se ferisera, unul de care incercasera sa se protejeze reciproc. Uneori, era dureros sa privesti trecutul.”

“Ea isi imaginase an dupa an aceasta scena; in fanteziile ei, stia de fiecare data exact ce sa spuna. In inchipuirile ei, incepeau pur si simplu sa vorbeasca, reluand firul prieteniei lor ca si cum el nici nu ar fi fost plecat vreodata.”

“Era minunat, palpitant. Ea invata lucruri pe care nu le aflase din nici o carte – cum faptul de a te indragosti semana cu o aventura, cum trupul ei parea sa se transforme sub atingerea lui, cum o dureau subsuorile dupa ce il tinea o ora strans in brate […], cum buzele ei se umflau si se crapau de la saruturile lui si cum barba lui aspra ii putea irita pielea.”

“Ar fi trebuit sa fie simplu ca buna ziua: te loveste, il parasesti.”

“Iubirea nu slabeste si nici nu moare, fetita mea. Oamenii iti spun ca asa se intampla, dar nu. Daca il iubesti acum, o sa-l iubesti si peste zece ani, si peste patruzeci. Diferit, poate, nu cu aceeasi pasiune, dar el face parte din tine acum. Iar tu faci parte din el.”

Ken Follett Century Trilogy War Stories Collection 3 Books Set - Histo —  Books2Door
The Century Trilogy
Edge of Eternity

It took me around 2 months to read this trilogy. I think the books were the thickest ones I ever read, but I enjoyed every bit of them! I got the last book (Edge of Eternity) from Osa, so I downloaded the first to of them and started the reading back in September. The whole Trilogy came to me a bit as an elevated telenovela, but in a good way: the lives of some families during the WWI (Fall of Giants), WWII (Winter of the World) and Cold War (Edge of Eternity). There were so many themes that the author was touching: history, politics, women rights and feminism, life at war, both home and on the front, family affairs and sex, (upper) societies in England, Germany, Russia and US, but also the life in other countries like Spain, Cuba, Poland, black movement and prejudice etc. And I remember my heart breaking when characters I liked died or suffered, or getting goosebumps in the last chapters of the last book. I can totally recommend the trilogy!

“The ability to listen to smart people who disagree with you is a rare talent.”

“She had believed that love was something she could bestow upon whomever she liked, and that her main responsibility was to choose cleverly. Now she knew that was all wrong. Cleverness had nothing to do with it, and she had no choice. Love was an earthquake.”

“A woman would always prefer to be remembered than forgotten.”

“A girl knows when her best friend has a secret. She may not know what the secret is, but she knows it is there, like an unidentifiable piece of furniture under a dust sheet. She realizes, from guarded and unforthcoming answers to innocent questions, that her friend is seeing someone she shouldn’t; she just doesn’t know the name, although she may guess that the forbidden love is a married man, or a dark-skinned foreigner, or another woman. She admires that necklace, and knows from her friend’s muted reaction that it has shameful associations, though it may not be until years later that she discovers it was stolen from a senile grandmother’s jewel box.”

“The best protection against Communism is prosperity.”

“She knew that some of her colleagues must have guessed what she was doing. She knew he was never going to leave his wife for her. She knew she should be worried about getting pregnant. She knew that everything she was doing was foolish and wrong and could not possibly have a happy ending. And she was too much in love to care.”

“Our great stumbling block, in our stride toward freedom, is not the White Citizens’ Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner. It’s the white moderate who is more devoted to order that to justice; who constantly says, like Bobby Kennedy: “I agree with the goal you seek, but I cannot condone your methods”. He paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.”

“The time is always ripe to do right.”

“Don’t you believe in God?

I think there’s probably a controlling intelligence in the universe, a being that decided the rules,such as E = mc^2, and the value of pi. But that being isn’t likely o care whether we sing its praise or not, I doubt whether its decisions can be manipulated by praying to a statue of the Virgin Mary, and I don’t believe it will organize special treatment for you on account of what you have around your neck.”

“He imagined her throwing her head back like that while they were making love. Then he imagined seeing her laugh like that every day for the next fifty years, and he realized that was the life he wanted.”

Animal farm – George Orwell

Buy Animal Farm Book Online at Low Prices in India | Animal Farm Reviews &  Ratings - Amazon.in

I did not liked this book, so my review will be rather superficial. The book is actually a short novel about the Russian revolution and communism under Stalin. It is easy to read (it took me only some hours), sometimes funny and the allegories are well written. However I did not enjoyed reading it, because it reminded me how much I dislike communism and the people who stand for it. I remember being frustrated back in Romania about so much stuff and my dad telling me: “Don’t you know that everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others?!”. Until now, I had no idea it was a quote from a book, but now i read the original one: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”.

However the book is a short and easy way to learn a bit about how communism work. I am not sure if people from the former east block can enjoy it without being pissed off, I haven’t managed it, but if you can, it is surely a rather funny alternative to historical books. Try it out!

The shock of the fall

I got the book from a friend and had no idea what to expect. But the cover looked nice and I am the type of person that also checks out the cover of the books, so it looked promising. Right after I started, I realised that the book was about schizophrenia and the whole story is written from the perspective of the guy who has it, with repetitive words and sentences, with different styles of writings. It was a bit tiring to read it, because of the style, but very interesting to get a feeling, how it must be to live with a mental illness. Here are some quotes:

“He’d seen me. Of course he’d seen me. […] What difference does it make? Aren’t we all desperate to spill our secrets?”

“In life there are milestones. Events that mark out certain days as being special from the other days.

They begin before we’re old enough to know about them, like the day we uttered our first proper word, and the day we took our first steps. We made it through the night without a nappy. We learnt other people have feelings, and the stabilizers came off our bike.

If we’re lucky – and I am, I know that – we get help along the way. Nobody swam my first width of pool with me, but Dad drove me back and forth to swimming classes, even though he’d never learnt to swim himself, and when I got awarded my Tony the Tiger Five Meters badge, it was Mum who carefully sewed it onto my swimming trunks. So I reckon a lot of my early milestones were their milestones too.”

“Then the doubts appeared. Or they were there all along, but now she noticed them. Like specks of rain on the windscreen. The way you can look right through them at first, focus into the distance, as if they’re not even there, but as soon as you see them you can’t stop seeing them.”

“HELLO, my name is your potential. But you can call me impossible. I am the missed opportunities. I am the expectations you will never fulfil. I am always taunting you, regardless of how hard you try, regardless of how much you hope.”

“But perhaps it’s me who has it all muddled up. And anyway – what difference does it really make? She did her best. I guess there’s a Use By date when it comes to blaming your parents for how messed up you are.”

Incheiere | Pădurea spânzuraţilor

În clubul de carte din care fac parte sunt oameni din o gramadă de țări diferite, iar ideea era ca fiecare dintre noi să propună o carte din țara lui, pe care să o citim cu toții. M-am tot gândit ce carte să aleg, care să reprezinte cumva literatura română, dar să și fie faină de citit. Să știți că mie imi place literatura românească, dar eu nu am găsit multe opere moderniste sau postmoderniste interesante, așa că am apelat la Marii Clasici sau la perioada interbelică. Mai intâi m-am gândit la Ion, dar eu o citisem deja și voiam și ceva nou pentru mine, iar pe lângă asta, nici nu o găsisem in engleză sau germană. Apoi m-am gândit la Enigma Otiliei, dar aveam aceiași problemă ca și cu Ion. Așa că m-am hotărât să aleg Pădurea spânzuraților.

În biblioteca alor mei de acasă găsesc o gramadă de carți minunate și știam că o avem și pe asta. Așa că atunci când am fost acasă, am luat-o cu mine. Mama m-o întrebat de ce vreau să o citesc acum, dar acum mi se pare un timp mult mai potrivit decât în liceu. În liceu nu mă prea interesa istoria și nici nu știam multe despre războaie, despre relațiile intrnationale etc. Acum e altă poveste, mai ales că stau in Austria. Și eram curioasă să văd dacă îmi schimbă cartea gândirea, dar tot nu pot să înțeleg sentimentul ăsta de iubire față de patrie sau de conaționali.

Oricum, dacă sunteți interesați de istorie, de primul război mondial, și mai ales de ce și cum simțeau atunci soldații din Armata Austro-Ungara, cred ca e potrivită cartea. Și nu e o carte grea de citit! Mai jos sunt câteva citate.

„Copilul trebuie să înțeleagă de la început că viața omului numai atunci e prețioasă când urmărește un ideal! ”

„- Omul singur nu e cu nimic mai mult decât un vierme, spunea studentul cu o încredere parc-ar fi descoperit piatra filosofală. O licărire de conștiință trecătoare… Numai colectiviatea organizată devine o forță constructivă, dragă prietene! Singulatizat, omul se pierde, pe când într-o colectivitate orice sforțare își găsește locul ei și toate împreună contribuie la înălțarea fiecărui individ, precum activitatea comună a tuturor colectivităților apropie omenirea de Dumnezeu… Azi, din pricina lipsei de organizare, nouăyeci la sută cel puțin din munca creierului omenesc se risipește… Închipuiește-ți ce-ar fi când s-ar uni, într-o organizație perfectă, sforțările mintale ale tuturor oamenilor spre aceeași țintă!… Câți oameni trăiesc azi pe pământ? Două miliarde, să zicem… Ei bine, ar mai exista oare necunoscutul dacă două miliarde de kilograme de materie cenușie, într-un avânt comun, ar porni la asaltul porților închise?

– Adică, mai pe românește, să face ceea ce facem cu toții, zise notarul. Să ne facem datoria către stat, nu-i așa?… Apoi așa spun și legile noastre…

– Nu, nu legile… Conștiința să-ți dicteze datoria, nu legile… Mare deosebire!”

„Nimic nu e mai presus de om! […] Dimpotrivă, omul e mai presus de orice, mai presus chiar de întreg universul! Ce-ar fi pământul fără de omul care să-l vadă, să-l iubească, să-l măsoare, să-l înconjure?… Ca și pământul, universul numai prin om a devenit o realitate interesantă. Altfel ar fi o zbuciumare sterilă de niște energii oarbe, altfel, adică fără sufletul omului. Toți sorii universului nu pot avea altă menire decât să încălzească trupul omului care adăpostește grăuntele divin al inteligenței. Omul e centrul universului, fiindcă numai în om materia a ajuns la conștiința propriului său eu, a ajuns să se cunoască!… Omul e Dumnezeu!”

„Fiindcă până azi am fost alt om… Îmi face impresia, când mă uit înapoi, c-am purtat în mine viața unui străin… Totdeauna mi-am închipuit sufletul omului ca o vistierie cu odăi multe, unele pline de comori, altele deșarte. Mulți oameni, cei mai mulți, trăiesc toată viața în cămăruțele cele goale și veșnic deschise, căci celelalte sunt zăvorâte cu lacăte grele și cheile lor zac tăinuite în focul chinurilor. Pe mine golul m-a înfricoșat ca și întunericul. De aceea m-am străduit să găsesc cheile comorilor mele. Dar și comorile sunt înșelătoare. Îndată ce ai descoperit una, râvnești pe cele mai ascunse… Poate pe cea mai de preț nu ți-o dezvăluie decât moarea, si totuși o dorești cu lăcomia avarului… O fi deșartă chiar râvna aceasta… Fără ea însă viața n-ar mai avea nici o valoare și nu s-ar deosebi întru nimic de viața unei gângănii!… Azi simt c-am descoperit o comoară nouă și trebuie s-o apăr cu orice jertfă!”

„Nu viața, ci moartea înseamnă lașitate pentru omul care are un ideal în lume.”

„Am citit undeva […] că inima omului, în primele săptămâni ale vieții embrionare, se află nu în piept, ci în cap, in mijlocul creierilor, și că de-abia pe urma coboară mai jos, despărțindu-se de creier pentru totdeauna… Ce minunat ar fi, excelență, dacă inima și creierul ar fi rămas împreună, îngemănate, să nu facă niciodata inima ce nu vrea creierul și mai cu seamă creierul să nu facă ce sfâșie inima!”

„Când mă gândesc ce am suferit și am pătimit în viața mea, deși scurtă, mi se pare că am trăit destul și că mâine aș putea să mor fără nici o părere de rău! Unii oameni trăiesc zeci și zeci de ani și totuși, când închid ochii, nu pot spune că au trăit aievea, căci au fost simpli trecători prin viață sau spectatori străini de înțelesul lumii. În schimb pe alții soarta îi împinge în vârtejurile cele mai crunte și-i silește să îndure toate torturile vieții, toate, și niciodată să nu găsească aici odihna, adevărată, liniștea trainică…”

„Da, da, cunoaștem!… Începutul și sfârșitul e Dumnezeu, fiindcă habar n-avem de unde venim și unde ne ducem și, prin urmare, înlocuim întunericul cu un cuvânt mare și gol…”

Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy : (The Girl with the Dragon ...

I entered a book club some months ago and the book proposed was “The girl with the dragon tattoo”, the first one of The Millenium Trilogy. I recognized the name of the author and knew that I saw it somewhere home, so I called my dad and asked him to check our library. We had the book, called in Romanian “Man that hate women”, and my parents sent it to me in Austria. In the middle of the Corona pandemic, it took around one month to get it, so I was pretty stressed that I will be running out of time until the next book club meeting. I read the book quite fast, probably also because it was much easier for me to read in Romanian then in English or German, and after I finished it, I decided to also read the next two books of the trilogy. The other two I had were in English, but I was still almost done with the second one, by the time we had the book club meeting for the first – overachiever here 🙂

Anyhow, the books contain some detective stories happening in Sweden. By the time I got to the third book, I got tired of the style of the author and the books, because of the multitude of characters appearing. Already from the first one, there were like 15-20 different characters one had to keep track of. It was interesting, because I was shifting the guilt from one to another with each chapter and the ending was surprising. But for me, the main character was all the time Lisbeth, so with the third book, I was kind of only following the main line, skipping some of the side stories of the other (maybe 100 by then) characters.

As a conclusion, I would say that the first book is interesting and captivating. The next ones should be read only if you are a total fan of the style. I was not and it was rather hard to follow all the side stories. Nevertheless, here are some quotes from the Trilogy, in English, since the language had the majority:

“What she had realized was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst.”

“She wanted to hear him say that he liked her for who she was. That she was someone special in his world and in his life. She wanted him to give her some gesture of love, not just of friendship and companionship.”

“Then the United States invaded the country and set up a democracy.”

“She, on a whim, decided to let him seduce her. It developed into a painfully roundabout procedure in which he certainly understood her signals but had no idea how to react to them. Finally she lost patience, pushed him roughly onto the bed and took off her shirt and jeans.”

“If love is liking someone an awful lot, then I suppose I’m in love with several people.”

“I’m unhappy. I don’t want to fall in love with you. It’ll hurt far too much when it’s over.”

“But you’re the most interesting person I’ve met in a long time. It’s as if our relationship took off at full speed from a standing start. I think I fell for you the moment you picked me up outside my apartment. The few times I’ve slept at my place since then, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night needing you. I don’t know if I want a steady relationship, but I’m terrified of losing you.”

Homo faber – Max Frisch

Als ich begonnen habe, das Buch zu lesen, habe ich mir gedacht: oh, endlich mal Belletristik, wo ich nicht mehr dazu komme, viel über mich oder mein Leben zu überlegen. Nach einigen Seiten habe ich aber schon die ersten persönlichen Gedanken bekommen: ich habe Fernweh! Ich vermisse das Reisen, ich vermisse unterschiedliche Länder, Städte, Kulturen, ich vermisse es, Sachen zu bewundern und das Neue zu entdecken!

Ab der Hälfte des Buches habe ich die ganze Zeit an einer Person denken müssen, die ich kenne, die sehr ähnlich zu der Hauptrolle ist. Und ein bisschen an mich selbst. Diese Genauigkeit, diese Entscheidung, keine Gefühle zu brauchen, kein Glauben folgen zu müssen hat mich gefreut und erschreckt gleichzeitig. Ich bin ein Fan davon, aber es war nicht einfach sich selbst in jemandem anderen zu sehen und zu erkennen dass man oft selbst falsch liegt.

Gegen Ende des Buches war mir klar, dass Zufälle doch passieren. Mir war klar, dass egal wie sachlich man sein will, das Leben passiert und einige Ereignisse hängen nicht von uns ab. Zumindest nicht bewusst.

Als Fazit würde ich sagen, dass das Buch auf jeden Fall lesenswert ist. Jedoch habe ich das Buch gar nicht so einfach gefunden, vor allem weil einige Wörter schwer waren, aber auch weil die Handlung nicht kontinuierlich ist. So wie immer, einige Zitate, die mir gefallen haben:

“Es frappierte mich, es beschäftigte mich nicht. Es gefiel mir. Schließlich gibt es Gesten, die einem gefallen, weil man sie irgendwo schon einmal gesehen hat.”

“Ich schrieb sie ab. Ohne beleidigt zu sein. Ich habe es immer so gehalten; ich mag mich selbst nicht, wenn ich anderen Menschen lästig bin, und es ist nie meine Art gewesen, Frauen nachzulaufen, die mich nicht mögen; ich habe es nicht nötig gehabt, offen gestanden…”

“Alles ist nicht tragisch, nur mühsam: Man kann sich nicht selbst Gutnacht sagen – Ist das ein Grund zum Heiraten?”

“Nicht zu vergessen die Automation: wir brauchen gar nicht mehr so viele Leute. Es wäre gescheiter, Lebensstandard zu heben. Alles andere führt zum Krieg und zur totalen Vernichtung. Unwissenheit, Unsachlichkeit noch immer sehr verbreitet. Es sind immer die Moralisten, die das meiste Unheil anrichten. “

“Sie findet es dumm von einer Frau, dass sie vom Mann verstanden werden will; der Mann (sagt Hanna) will die Frau als Geheimnis, um von seinem eignen Unverständnis begeistert und erregt zu sein. “

“[…] und blicke zum Fenster hinaus, ich weine nicht, ich möchte bloß nicht mehr da sein, nirgends sein. Wozu auch zum Fenster hinausblicken? Ich habe nichts mehr zu sehen. Ihre zwei Hände, die es nirgends mehr gibt, ihre Bewegung, wenn sie das Haar in den Nacken wirft oder sich kämmt, ihre Zähne, ihre Lippen, ihre Augen, die es nirgends mehr gibt, ihre Stirn: wo soll ich sie suchen? Ich möchte bloß, ich wäre nie gewesen. Wozu eigentlich nach Zürich? Wozu nach Athen? Ich sitze im Speisewagen und denke: Warum nicht diese zwei Gabeln nehmen, sie aufrichten in meinen Fäusten und mein Gesicht fallen lassen, um die Augen loszuwerden?”

die wolke in 1120 Wien für 3,00 € zum Verkauf | Shpock DE
Die Wolke – Gudrun Pausewang

English translation: Fall-out

Vor einigen Jahren habe ich in der Bibliothek von Lukas geschaut und er hat mir damals gesagt dass er dieses Buch auch gelesen hat. Ich habe es mitgenommen und habe mich entscheiden es irgendwann auch zu lesen. Bevor ich vor 2 Tagen damit begonnen habe, habe ich gelesen dass das Pflichtlektüre für die Jugendliche hier ist.

Das Buch selbst war nicht schwer zu lesen, ich war in 1,5 Tagen fertig damit. Das Thema kann vielleicht für einige schwer sein, weil es sich um einen Atomkraftunfall handelt, und das aus der Perspektive einer 14-jährigen.  Aber nachdem ich das Buch gelesen habe, habe ich begonnen darüber zu denken, wie unterschiedlich Pflichtlektüre in Deutschland bzw. Österreich und Rumänien ist. Hier müssen Jugendliche Bücher lesen, die relativ aktuell sind und sinnvolle Themen beschreiben, wo sie mit der Politik und mit staatlichen Entscheidungen in Berührung kommen, aber vor allem Bücher, die einfach genug sind um von Jugendlichen verstanden zu werden.

Jetzt bin in neugierig, welche andere Bücher hier in der Schule verpflichtend sind. Sie werden dann auf meiner “Zu lesen” Liste kommen.