2016 was a great year for me when it comes to books. I managed to read 73 books in total. That were 26,623 pages. Since I use Goodreads, I have a much better overview, especially when I end up reading several books at the same time. Also I had decided to try and read 52 books for their 2016 reading challenge – and I am proud to have read even more. Add me on Goodreads if you want to follow my reading adventures [here].
It definitely helped that I didn’t move houses (or countries) last year because that gave me much more time to read. Usually I start reading on the bus in the morning and try to read some pages in bed just before I fall asleep. Of course there are books from time to time that keep me from sleeping. I first have to finish reading them. Spending three weeks on the beach last summer also enabled me to read more. I was lucky that my hotel had a shelf full of used books that travelers left behind. Besides, I made use of my public library and especially their online system – it is so convenient to read novels on my Galaxy Tab instead of carrying heavy books with me, esp. on vacation. Then I discovered Thriftbooks, a website where you can buy used books at reasonable prices. Unfortunately, this lead to me buying more bookshelves.
My favorite 5 books last year were these (although this is a tough choice):
Paula Hawkins: “The Girl on the Train”, [amazon_link asins=’1784161101′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’474fb75e-cd6b-11e6-af7d-9dfddba0a5d0′]
This was one of the novels that kept me from sleeping: Rachel takes the train to London every morning, and home every evening. On the way she sometimes glimpses a couple which she calls Jess and Jason. In her imagination they have the perfect life while she is a struggling unemployed alcoholic. But then one morning Rachel sees something unexpected, and next the woman Rachel calls Jess disappears. The novel is thrilling. Almost until the very end most characters could be responsible for Rachel’s disapperance since they all have a motive.
Elif Shafak: “The Forty Rules of Love”, [amazon_link asins=’0241972930′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’78de7bd8-cd6b-11e6-9ab3-c5d399bc52f1′]
This is a novel I first read some years ago, but would always read again. It actually contains two stories in one: First, there is unhappy Ella Rubinstein, who lives with her cheating husband and their kids. When she starts a new job at a publishing house, she has to read a manuscript, i.e. the second story, about the friendship of famous Sufi poet Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, and his forty rules of love. Ella is so fascinated that she contacts the writer of this work.
Doug Most: “The Race Underground”, [amazon_link asins=’B00EGJE39A’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’9601971d-cd6b-11e6-ab1e-77da480196fa’]
I love the topic of this non-fictional book: the construction of the subways in Boston and New York City. At the end of the 19th century the streets in both of these cities were clogged with horse-drawn carts. But first attempts for a subway were refused by the public, who were afraid to enter the world underground before they died. The two brothers Henry Melville Whitney (in Boston) and William Collins Whitney (in NYC) finally made plans – and so the race between the two cities to build America’s first subway started. The author also describes public street life at the time in detail, and gives much information about the engineering development at the time.
James Heneage: “The Lion of Mistra”, [amazon_link asins=’1782061193′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’abad3a17-cd6b-11e6-ac4b-e5e46be34d10′]
I had hungered for this final part to be published because I wanted to know the ending of “The Mistra Chronicles” (or “The Rise of Empires” as the series is now called; addition: the novel was actually published in July 2015, but I had somehow failed to notice). In the third volume Luke Magoris is still the main character who tries to find a way to save the small despotate of Mistra as well as the emperor of Byzantium. He therefore tries to trade with Venice and the Ming Empire in China, but the Italians also pursue their own goals and the Ottoman army is at the gates of Constantinople. [Here I wrote about the first part of the series.)
Ursula Poznanski: “Erebos”, [amazon_link asins=’1742379532′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’janavar-21′ marketplace=’DE’ link_id=’1ebb1d29-cd6c-11e6-a470-71a608834d01′]
I don’t read many books in German anymore because it is quite difficult (or expensive) to get them. But after many of my students had raved about this novel, I eventually borrowed it from one of them (the original German version, but it was also translated into English I learned). It is one of those novels that even people who never read read (trust me I’m a German teacher and I have since recommended this novel successfully to several kids): Nick notices something weird about his classmates. They pass on the pirate copy of a computer game, and everyone who starts playing seems to become addicted immediately. But there are rules like nobody is allowed to talk about the game in real life. Once Nick starts playing, he also loves the game, which assigns tasks to the best players – tasks that need to be accomplished in reality. Like murder.
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