While I mostly liked the books I read this months, I’ve been feeling somewhat discontent with my reading journey this year. I’ve been read mostly books that were given to me by other people or that I randomly found in public bookshelves. A couple of days ago, I stood in front of the fantasy books at a local book store, and I started thinking how I’d secretly read these books with glowing cheeks under the covers of my bed at night when I was a teenager. I very rarely experience that feeling anymore where I just can’t put down a book because I’m so completely immersed. More often than not I’m kind of detached emotionally. Obviously it has to do with age, but I wonder if I could get back even a fraction of this feeling if I’d read more books I’m personally, specifically interested in?
34. Lincoln Highway (The Lincoln Highway) – Amor Towles
This is a strange book. Basically it’s a classical American road novel where the characters barely spent any time on the road. It also gives you whiplash oscillating between a comedy of errors and a stark exploration of the main characters’ traumatic lives. That said, I really enjoyed reading it despite the tonal dissonance. Towles created larger-than-life characters that I couldn’t help but root for in the end.
35. Die große Flatter – Leonie Ossowski
Ossowski, a former streetworker, explores poverty, violence and generational trauma in a book written before the term generational trauma was even coined. The main characters grow up in a homeless settlement. Both have dreams of escaping their lives, but keep getting pulled back in a vicious circle of hopelessness, indifference and criminality. It’s sad and distressing to read, and I wonder how much has really changed since the gap between the rich and the poor seems to grow ever larger.
36. Eine Frage der Chemie (Lessons in Chemistry) – Bonnie Garmus
I really wanted to like this book. After all, how can you not enjoy a book about a female chemist making her way in the deeply sexist 1950s and 1960s society? However, I kept stumbling over the writing, the plot and the characters to really become immersed. Firstly, the writing felt very glib and superficial. It chased from clever comeback to clever comeback at breakneck speed. (It didn’t surprise me at all that the author worked as a copywriter, just saying.) The main character is basically a 21st century professional Strong Independent Woman(TM) travelling back in time to explain the Feminine Mystique to all these oppressed women and misogynist men. Mind you, I mostly agree with her points, it just felt very much a soap-boxy power fantasy.
37. Unterwegs zwischen Grenzen. Europas Minderheiten im Schwitzkasten der Nationen – Ralf Grabuschnig
I’m a dedicated listener of Ralf Grabuschnig’s history podcast Déjà-vu Geschichte especially because he regularly talks about Eastern and Central European history. So I just had to support the crowdfunding for this book about European minorities earlier this year. The topic is a focus of my own research, anyway. “Unterwegs zwischen Grenzen” is a history book, but also a personal journey to Grabuschnig’s own forgotten history as part of the Slovenian minority in Carinthia. Visiting the Sorbs in Lusatia, the Transylvanian Saxons, the Yenish people, and the Burgenland Croats, he asks himself how minorities can preserve their heritage and identity in today’s nation states. It’s a very informative but still entertaining book, which is no surprise if you listened to his podcast previously. He has mastered this skill! I especially enjoyed the sections about the Yenish people and the Burgenland Croats, both minorities I knew very little about previously.
Do you like my reviews? Then check out my previous book posts for this year: