Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Reading Rat

A reading rat? A rat that reads?

It's a German expression - Leseratte - for someone who loves to read and reads a lot. It's similar to the bookworm which we have as an expression as well - Bücherwurm.

I'm certainly a reading rat, and a bookworm, a read addict, a readaholic - take your pick. Bookshops are a huge magnet, especially the small independent ones where I usually discover some new book adventures. In 2008 I started to write down which books I read and mark the ones that I thoroughly enjoyed with a little star. My yearly book consumption lies anywhere between 30 and 50 books.

2017 brought a big change for me since my husband gave me a Kindle paperwhite for Christmas 2016. I love to read in bed before I go to sleep, but the Geek hates it since he can't sleep very well with my nightstand light on. So he gave me a paperwhite which lights up the background and I don't need to turn on the light. He can sleep in peace and I can read to my heart's content.

I admit that in the beginning I wasn't too excited about the Kindle. Books are the real thing for me - I love the feel of it, the smell, the rustling of the pages. But - I soon changed my mind since I experienced all the advantages, especially the late night reading. When we packed our evacuation bag in the early hours of October 9th I knew I had a big supply of books without the bulk. And how fun to have so many books to choose from when I'm traveling. So yeah, real books are still my favorites, but I do love my paperwhite.

The problem with real books is that I'm running out of space for them. Years ago, in our old house, I had organized my books, but I haven't done that since we moved into this home and the book shelves are rather messy.

I try to at least keep the books of one author in one place, but even that doesn't always work out so well.

A Kindle though can be easily organized, one can categorize the books in collections, you can easily read the book description and the reviews, but the book titles are not as nice - at all.

The first Kindle book I read was "The Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Cline which was an excellent read. I found many books by writers I had never heard about, some of them were good, others readable, some downright crap and some excellent. Some of the very good ones that I would recommend are "The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland" by Rebekah Crane (I think her reading audience are teenagers and young adults, nothing wrong with that), "The Girl Who Came Home"  by Hazel Gaynor (a Titanic story), "Storm Rose" by Corina Bomann (a very interesting story dealing with some history of East Germany) and anything by Catherine Ryan Hyde. For lovers of mysteries "Stormy Cove" by Bernadette Calonego (not your usual mystery novel, but a very atmospheric story taking place in Newfoundland), "The Rage of Plum Blossoms" by Christine M. Whitehead and "Huntress Moon" by Alexandra Sokoloff which is the first book of the Huntress thriller series. Very good read!

I discovered two writers I fell in love with right away. One is Nadia Hashimi whose books take place in her parents' native country of Afghanistan.

I've read a few books about Afghanistan and find it rather fascinating. I came upon "The Pearl that Broke the Shell" by chance and got immersed into this story right away. Even though the story is often just terrible, the writing is excellent. Then I discovered "A House Without Windows" in a little independent bookstore in Mendocino - another interesting, emotional, but also uplifting read. Nadia Hashimi has written a few more books, at least one targeted towards younger readers, and they all take place in Afghanistan and they all deal with the women's situation there.

The second writer is Helen Bryan. I've read two of her books, and they are completely different from each other. I first read "The Sisterhood", 420 pages scanning several centuries and two continents (actually three) and mainly taking place in a women's convent in Spain. Of course there is an old mystery at the heart of it and it's beautiful how it slowly comes to light. Helen Bryan also wrote "War Brides" which I just finished, about events in a little village in Sussex during World War II when five young, very different women become friends. Wow, what a story!

Beside American, British and German writers I came upon wonderful books by foreign writers like "The Gardener of Baghdad" by Ahmad Ardalan (Iraq), "Across a Hundred Mountains" by Reyna Grande (Mexico), and "The Sound of Language" by Amulya Malladi (Afghanistan/Denmark). I hope to find more this year and have already some lined up.

Then there are the other books - the garden and photography books. The "drool books".

"Paris in Bloom" I bought after Jeanie wrote about it on her blog - such eye candy. I love lavender (you should see my Pinterest board...) and enjoy learning about all the different kinds of it.

It was a wonderful day when I discovered "The bee-friendly Garden" by Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn, both from the Bay Area, and "Cut Flower Garden" by Erin Benzakein. Not only has the later one great information but also stunning photographs by Michele M. Waite.

I couldn't leave Yellowstone without buying this book by Stephen C. Hinch.

The photography is breath taking.

Last but not least, this:

I have always liked the photos by Pete Souza, the former chief official White House photographer. When I read on his website that it was possible to pre-order his new book AND get a free print of an image that is not included in the book I didn't think twice. I love this book.

Tell me - what were your favorite reads in 2017?


Please vote on my favorite photos of 2017 in this blogpost with the chance of winning a set of photo cards.


Sarah Huizenga said...

You sound like me, similar reading completions for a year, too many books for the bookshelves, and I have embraced the iPad with Kindle app, but still love my real books too. But the Kindle app is so much nicer for vacation. I love reading, I just wish I could stay awake longer.

Linda d said...

Wow, you are quite the bibliophile. I’m so impressed. Every year I hope to increase but just do not make it enough of a priority. I think it would be far easier if I had a kindle though. Glad to know you like it.

Red Rose Alley said...

How wonderful that you like to read so much. I think it's a great idea to organize your books by the authors, and you have quite a collection of Barbara Kingsolver's books. I'd love to get Paris in Bloom - that sounds like a lovely read. That looks like the great Bison on the cover, which I believe there aren't too many left of their kind. Have a splendid week ahead, Carola.


My name is Erika. said...

I enjoyed your book post a lot. I am a reading rat too. I have never heard of that phrase but I love it. I haven't yet gotten into Kindle, but I joined Audible and my hubby gave me some nice headphones so at night I can lay in the dark and listen and not bug him. :) And anyone who lots of Barbara Kingsolver books and Eleanor Roosevelt books next to each other has good reading taste! Thanks for sharing. :) Hugs-Erika

krishna said...

I love your book collection. What I realize that you read all kind of book, all over the world. If you find the "The Glass Palace" by Amitav Ghosh.. you can read it.. I think , you'll like it.. :)

Elephant's Child said...

Add me to the bookworms, reading rats, bookaholic lists. Like you I love the look, the feel, the smell of 'real books'. I read e-books (when I have to) on the PC, but haven't yet succumbed to a kindle.
I notice your crowded shelves include Barbara Kingsolver - one of my favourite authors. I think I like her non-fiction even better than her fiction.
Favourite book of 2017? A hard one, but possible Fredrik Backman's 'A Man Called Ove'. I liked it so much I went and bought his other books too. Which didn't disappoint.

Willkommen auf meiner Kreativseite. said...

Hallo Carola,

dein Bücherregal sieht meinem sehr ähnlich. Es platzt auch aus allen Nähten. Ich bezeichne mich also auch als "Leseratte". Ich bekam auch letztes Jahr einen Kindle geschenkt, obwohl ich mich lange dagegen gewehrt habe. Es geht doch nichts über den Geruch von Büchern, die raschelnden Seiten und die schönen Cover. Aber mittlerweile mag ich meinen Kindle. Im Bett liest es sich einfacher als ein dickes Buch. Auf Reisen kann man Unmengen Bücher mitnehmen und hat wenig Gewicht zu schleppen.
Was ich 2017 am liebsten gelesen habe? Ich lese gerne Mittelalterromane und -berichte. Mich fasziniert diese Zeit.
Aber genau wie du habe ich auch "Sabber-Bücher" (ein herrlicher Ausdruck). Schöne Gartenbücher oder Bücher über fremde Länder. So ein Provence-Buch habe ich auch. Das blättere ich sehr gerne immer wieder mal durch.
Zum Glück hat meine Tochter meine Bücherliebe geerbt. Sie bekam von ihren Arbeitskolleginnen ein altes Buch zum Geburtstag, weil sie mal erwähnte, dass sie den Geruch von Büchern so liebt.
Es gibt nichts Entspannenderes als einen Bummel durch ein Büchergeschäft! Das liebe ich!


Jeanie said...

How I adore the photo of that sleeping fox in the nature book. I see some familiar friends and lots of new titles on your book list. Glad you liked Paris in Bloom. I've never heard the phrase "reading rat" but I think it's a wonderful one and I think I am one! I mark my faves on my written list, too! Still not Kindling. Maybe someday but I just can't resist the "real deal."

Red Rose Alley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cheri said...

I love books, but I can't read fiction very often. I have a tendency to get "lost" in a book and forget things like making dinner... and I'll stay up entirely too late when I have to know what happens next. I keep track of my books on Goodreads.

Anonymous said...

Books have been my companions and best friends from earliest childhood. I used to buy stacks of books every time I got near a bookstore, but since retirement most of my reading material comes from the library. But I've been known to fall in love with a book from the library and then go buy a copy to keep! I too love "real" books best, but also love my Kindle for reading in bed and for travel. Mine is an old one (no light) but it goes for ages without recharging. Some of my favorite books in 2017 were Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache mysteries. I read the whole series, up to the last one, which I'm waiting my turn for at the library.

Magic Love Crow said...

I love reading rat! 30-50 books! WOW girl!! I love books, with images, like the garden books. I have to say, I'm not really a reader, but things do change!!! Big Hugs!

Kokopelli said...

The book about Yellowstone looks great! I read a lot of "classics" in 2017, like Dorian Gray, Sherlock Holmes or the complete series of James F. Cooper about Leatherstocking/Hawkeye, which had 2400 pages. Great read and I stll have about 400 pages to go.

Petra Pavlátková said...

You are an avid reader, Carola! I don't make any lists of what books I read throughout a year but I like the idea... I forget them way too quickly! I also have a Kindle reader and love the advantages it brings although I still prefer printed books, they are so much more charismatic.

Darla said...

Enjoyed this post and see lots of authors I'm not familiar with. I am another reader. I keep track of my books on the Goodreads site. I do have an e-reader but don't use it much. On the other hand I use the library a whole lot.