April's Angolan Read is...

Before now, I knew very little about Angola. I’d only known of its wars, its vast petroleum exports, & of the Portuguese influence.

I didn’t know about its beauty—that it’s a hidden gem just starting to be discovered by travelers. If you’re curious about the level of travel safety in Angola, you may be as shocked as I was to find out that as of today the US Dept. of State lists it only as a level 1 travel advisory. That’s “Exercise normal precautions. Some areas have increased risk.” This is on a scale where 0 is the lowest threat level (e.g., the US & Canada) & 4 is the highest level (e.g., North Korea). To put Angola’s low-level 1 rating into perspective, areas I personally consider safe—the UK, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, & France—are all listed at a higher threat level (level 2 which is “Exercise increased precautions”)!

Because Angola is considered a safe country, I became very curious what a trip there could look like & found this alluring 6-minute video from The Road Chose Me that I just had to share.

Between the gorgeous vistas from the video above & the fact that there’s even some scuba diving in Angola, I’ve now added Angola to my list of countries to visit soon.

BUT WHICH BOOK ARE WE READING NEXT?

Winner of the Dublin International Literary Award & the English Pen Award, shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, & shortlisted for the 3% Best Translated Book Award

“The story challenges what we imagine to be the clearly drawn lines between 'hero' and 'villain' and forces a reconsideration of history and our fictions. It does what the best of literature ought to do: keep us glued to our seats, unable to break away.“ - Words Without Borders

“On the eve of Angolan independence, Ludo bricks herself into her apartment, where she will remain for the next thirty years. She lives off vegetables and pigeons, burns her furniture and books to stay alive and keeps herself busy by writing her story on the walls of her home.

As the country goes through various political upheavals from colony to socialist republic to civil war to peace and capitalism, the world outside seeps into Ludo's life through snippets on the radio, voices from next door, glimpses of someone peeing on a balcony, or a man fleeing his pursuers. A General Theory of Oblivion is a perfectly crafted, wild patchwork of a novel, playing on a love of storytelling and fable.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Leslie Tchaikovsky for the suggestion.)

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

Happy reading!

Which Angolan Book Should We Read?

While few books & poems from Angola are published online as well as translated into English, the Angolan authors that can be found are hypnotic as you can see from this description of a thunderstorm breaking over a musseque (i.e., a sprawling slum or shantytown):

“When the first big thunderclap burst above the musseque, shivering the weak walls of mud and wattle and loosening boards, cardboard, and straw mats, everyone closed their eyes, frightened by the blue brilliance of the lightning born in the sky, a great spider web of fire.“ - From Luuanda by José Luandino Vieira

You’ll notice this month that we only have included 5 books on which to vote instead of our customary 6 & that all the books are written by just 2 authors. This is because after days of intense searching, we only found 2 authors with those 5 books which meet our club requirements (i.e., native Angolan authors, books about Angola, & available as both ebooks/paperbacks). Well, to be fair, we actually found a 6th book which is likely written by an Angolan since the author is a general in the Angolan army. However, reviews have noted that instead of it being an Angolan historical book, it’s actually Angolan army propaganda which is not something we feel comfortable suggesting to the book club. But we’re happy to have the 5 books we have included especially since they all have great reviews. Special thanks to Leslie Tchaikovsky & Carol Weldon for suggesting 2 of the books included in the final list. Before we get to the vote, first…

A Musical Interlude

While researching Angola, I was astonished to find some fantastic, upbeat music from Angola during a particularly bloody time in the country’s war for independence. This collection of Angolan music included here from Luanda (the capital of the country) is so engagingly funky that I’ve been listening (& shimmying) to it every day while I cook. I highly recommend it! And since it’s available to stream online for free if you’re an Amazon Prime member, why not try it? Tracks #13 Fuma (Smokes), #14 Passeio por Luanda (Stroll through Luanda), & #17 Pica O Dedo (Scratch Your Finger) are my favorites.

THE VOTING

You can vote from now until Sat., March. 23 11PM ET. (That's NYC time. See this converted to your local time below.)

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

To participate:

1. Review the books.

2. Then, click here to vote.

We'll publish the anonymous results afterwards so you can get the book in advance.

Guess Which Country We're Visiting This Spring

Imagine an awe-inspiring beautiful country filled with white sand beaches, a labyrinthine system of rivers, canyons, mountains, lush jungle, & desert.

What country comes to mind?

What if I added in 27 years of war in your life time, vast mineral & petroleum reserves, & noted an enclave was separated from the main land of this country by a 37-mile (60-km) wide strip of a completely different country? (An enclave that is also ethnically & linguistically separate from the rest of the country, & is far richer.)

If you still can’t guess, would it help or confuse you if I added in that its cuisine is heavily influenced by the Portuguese?

(I bet you’re now trying to picture Portugal on a map & remember what countries Portugal invaded.)

So What country are we reading next?

A West Coast country of South-central Africa: the Republic of Angola! (And that enclave is called Cabinda.)

In researching Angola, what moved me most was the powerful trailer below of a documentary detailing “four war veterans and former enemies of the South Africa/Angola conflict who journey back to past battlefields deep within the African interior in search of reconciliation, forgiveness, and possibly even atonement.”

From My Heart of Darkness (https://amzn.to/2VUU5xK): We are all here for the same reason—driven by the need to understand…to set off on a frightening journey into the darkest of our hearts.”

Wow.

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

HAVE ANY BOOK CLUB SUGGESTIONS?

Just let us know your Angolan suggestions by Fri., March. 15 11PM ET. (That's NYC time. See this converted to your local time below.)

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

We'll use 2 suggestions from book club members, 2 suggestions from Mia (the book club co-founder), & 2 of my suggestions to compile a list of 6 books on which book club members will provide their thoughts. The book judged as best from the list will then be read.

Please note - We're specific in our books, they must: 

  • Largely occur in the location specified unless the world described is an alternate reality

  • Be written by an author born there who has spent a good portion of their life there

  • Exist in paperback & ebook available on both Amazon & Kindle at least in the US & hopefully elsewhere

Your Russian Blind Date with a Book is...

BlindDatewithaBook.com  was the fabulous inspiration for our blind date game this month.

BlindDatewithaBook.com was the fabulous inspiration for our blind date game this month.

As I noted in a previous post, setting up the blind date methodology was a lot of work, but it looks like the vast majority of you really enjoyed the surprise element of it all. We had a wide variety of positive comments saying things like “Fun! Like Tinder dating with reading....great work.” & “I loved this experience!”

However, there were a small number of people who weren’t as happy preferring to only vote for books at their library (which we totally understand) as well as folks who wanted more descriptions or desired to know each book genre.

However, this was the best voting turnout we’ve ever had so it’s clear most agree it never hurts to mix things up!

Just a few background notes before we get down into the results:

  • We purposely didn’t include the genre because with only 6 books, people would then only vote for their preferred genre which defeats the purpose of our blind date with a book. (It’s different when libraries do this as they’ll have a whole bookcase of 30, 50, or more books with multiples of the same genre.)

  • Usually, Mia & I try to include a variety of genres for our picks to balance out the member suggestions, but this time, Mia & I played along in the blind date where we could so just like you, we sent in suggestions without knowing anyone else’s.

  • We decided not to include my vote because we felt it wasn’t fair that I knew all the books when no one else did. (Mia only knew the 2 books she suggested & Ivor knew none of the books.)

  • We got 5 book suggestions this month & randomly chose 2. If you want to see that list of books or how they were randomly chosen, here’s the screencast.

Reminder: No one aside from the book club management team is ever required to read the monthly book or participate in the discussions. We want reading to be fun! So if the book voted in is one you don’t like, no worries. Feel free to read one of the other books or just join us for the April read instead.

And now without further ado, here are the results of the vote with the books listed in order from the least want to read to the most along with their original descriptive words/phrases.

Voting Results

Described in our March Blind Date with a Book as:
Complex
Philosophical
Bleak
Black humor
Cruel
Writing vignettes

Final voting score: 38

The House of the Dead

“In January 1850, Dostoyevsky was sent to a remote Siberian prison camp for his part in a political conspiracy. The four years he spent there, startlingly re-created in The House of the Dead, were the most agonizing of his life. In this fictionalized account, he recounts his soul-destroying incarceration through the cool, detached tones of his narrator, Aleksandr Petrovich Goryanchikov: the daily battle for survival, the wooden plank beds, the cabbage soup swimming with cockroaches, his strange ‘family’ of boastful, ugly, cruel convicts. Yet The House of the Dead is far more than a work of documentary realism: it is also a powerful novel of redemption, describing one man’s spiritual and moral death and the miracle of his gradual reawakening.”

Note: This Penguin Classics translation by David McDuff is the one we recommend. Other translations are often considered poor (e.g., where “the house of the dead” was translated as “the dead house”…how can a house be dead?) or use overhyped translators who offer stilted writing as in the case of the co-translation by Richard Pevear/Larissa Volokhonskyan who write of an “alive dead house” instead of “a house of the living dead”). Only one note to be aware of with the Penguin Classic translation—read the introduction after the novel because it may contain spoilers as most Penguin Classic intros do.

(A special thank you to book club member, Sheena M. for the suggestion.)

Genres: political, historical fiction

View on Amazon (US) | (UK) 

 

Described in our March Blind Date with a Book as:
Stream of consciousness writing
Strong imagery
Wry
Influential
Thought provoking
Chilling

Final voting score: 52

We

The inspiration for George Orwell’s 1984.

”Yevgeny Zamyatin's We is set in an urban glass city called OneState, regulated by spies and secret police. Citizens of the tyrannical OneState wear identical clothing and are distinguished only by the number assigned to them at birth. The story follows a man called D-503, who dangerously begins to veer from the 'norms' of society after meeting I-330, a woman who defies the rules. D-503 soon finds himself caught up in a secret plan to destroy OneState and liberate the city.

The failed utopia of We has been compared to the works of H.G. Wells, George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley. It was the first novel banned by the Soviets in 1921, and was finally published in its home country over a half-century later.”

Note: This translation by Mirra Ginsburg is the one we recommend. A good second choice would be the translation from Clarence Brown. Other translations are considered poor or awkward.

Genre: science fiction

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

Described in our March Blind Date with a Book as:
Dark, absurdist humor
Haunting
Stark
Disturbing
Entertaining
Disconcerting

Final voting score: 55

“One of The Telegraph's Best Fiction Books 2011

Moscow, 2028. A cold, snowy morning.

Andrei Danilovich Komiaga is fast asleep. A scream, a moan, and a death rattle slowly pull him out of his drunken stupor—but wait, that's just his ring tone. And so begins another day in the life of an oprichnik, one of the czar's most trusted courtiers—and one of the country's most feared men.

Welcome to the new New Russia, where futuristic technology and the draconian codes of Ivan the Terrible are in perfect synergy. Corporal punishment is back, as is a divine monarch, but these days everyone gets information from high-tech news bubbles, and the elite get high on hallucinogenic, genetically modified fish.

Over the course of one day, Andrei Komiaga will bear witness to—and participate in—brutal executions; extravagant parties; meetings with ballerinas, soothsayers, and even the czarina. He will rape and pillage, and he will be moved to tears by the sweetly sung songs of his homeland. He will consume an arsenal of drugs and denounce threats to his great nation's morals. And he will fall in love—perhaps even with a number of his colleagues.

Vladimir Sorokin, the man described by Keith Gessen (in The New York Review of Books) as "[the] only real prose writer, and resident genius" of late-Soviet fiction, has imagined a near future both too disturbing to contemplate and too realistic to dismiss. But like all of his best work, Sorokin's new novel explodes with invention and dark humor. A startling, relentless portrait of a troubled and troubling empire, Day of the Oprichnik is at once a richly imagined vision of the future and a razor-sharp diagnosis of a country in crisis.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Andi McCraine for the suggestion.)

Genres: political, science fiction, satire

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

Described in our March Blind Date with a Book as:
Entertains as it provokes
Philosophical
Exciting
Dark
Confusing at first, but addictive
Profound

Final voting score: 61

Hard to be a God

“An enjoyable, exciting, and gratifying novel.”  - The NY Times

“A thoroughly good book . . . robust, imaginative, satisfying.”  - Ursula K. Le Guin

“Don Rumata has been sent from Earth to the medieval kingdom of Arkanar with instructions to observe and to save what he can. Masquerading as an arrogant nobleman, a dueler, and a brawler, he is never defeated, but yet he can never kill. With his doubt and compassion, and his deep love for a local girl named Kira, Rumata wants to save the kingdom from the machinations of Don Reba, the first minister to the king. But given his orders, what role can he play? This long overdue translation will reintroduce one of the most profound Soviet-era novels to an eager audience. ”

Note: This translation by Olena Bormashenko is the one we recommend. Other versions are English translations of a bad German translation.

Genres: science fiction, fantasy

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

Described in our March Blind Date with a Book as:
Significant
Weighty, but hopeful
Understated
Stark
Informal writing
Unforgettable

Final voting score: 66

 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The novel that won Alexander Solzhenitsyn the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature."

"First published in the Soviet journal Novy Mir in 1962, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich stands as a classic of contemporary literature. The story of labor-camp inmate Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, it graphically describes his struggle to maintain his dignity in the face of communist oppression. An unforgettable portrait of the entire world of Stalin's forced work camps, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is one of the most extraordinary literary documents to have emerged from the Soviet Union and confirms Solzhenitsyn's stature as 'a literary genius whose talent matches that of Dosotevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy'.”

Note: This translation by Harry T. Willetts is the one we recommend. This is the original, unexpurgated novel brilliantly translated by someone who worked closely with Solzhenitsyn to fully capture the power and beauty of the original Russian. This is the only English translation authorized by the Russian author."

(This book is actually a favorite of both Beth & Mia…the only book in the club’s current reading list across all countries & genres that they both agree is outstanding!)

Genre: historical fiction

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

Described in our March Blind Date with a Book as:
Fascinating
Powerful
Gritty
Fast paced
Insightful
Witty

Final voting score: 79 which makes it our read for March!

Night Watch

"Night Watch is an epic of extraordinary power." - Quentin Tarantino

“Brace yourself for [an adult version of] Harry Potter in Gorky Park. . . . The novel contains some captivating scenes and all kinds of marvelous, inventive detail.” -The Washington Post Book World

“An international bestseller [as] potent as a shot of vodka. . . . [A] compelling urban fantasy." -Publishers Weekly

“They are the ‘Others,’ an ancient race of supernatural beings—magicians, shape-shifters, vampires, and healers—who live among us. Human born, they must choose a side to swear allegiance to—the Dark or the Light—when they come of age.

For a millennium, these opponents have coexisted in an uneasy peace, enforced by defenders like the Night Watch, forces of the Light who guard against the Dark. But prophecy decrees that one supreme ‘Other’ will arise to spark a cataclysmic war.

Anton Gorodetsky, an untested mid-level Light magician with the Night Watch, discovers a cursed young woman—an Other of tremendous potential unallied with either side—who can shift the balance of power. With the battle lines between Light and Dark drawn, the magician must move carefully, for one wrong step could mean the beginning of annihilation.”

Genre: fantasy

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

Happy reading!


Time to Vote for Your Blind Date with a Book!

As we noted in an earlier post, this month we are doing an online version of blind date with a book where you literally won’t be able to judge any of the books by their covers.

First, we compiled a list of 6 books using suggestions from club members, Mia, & me. Then, we spent countless hours choosing the best 6 words & short phrases to describe each book. It sounds deceptively easy, but it was one of the most difficult things we’ve ever had to do for the book club! It stretched our capabilities to select descriptors that evoke a book without choosing items that in combination would allow the book to be easily found via a Google search. This was even more complex for the books we hadn’t read where we had to sift through hundreds & hundreds of reviews to ensure we chose equivalent terms on which the majority of reviewers agreed. But we’re happy with the results & think you will be as well.

Our greatest hope is that you’ll end up discovering a book you adore that you might not have otherwise given a chance under normal circumstances.

A Short Interlude to showcase a 4.5 star RUssian-american book

I was thrilled to find a really interesting book written by an author born in Russia, but then saddened to realize it wouldn’t work for our book club. (The author moved to the US at age 10 & therefore, hadn’t spent a good portion of her life in Russia.) However, I figured I could still showcase it here to share it with others who might be just as excited about it as I am. After all, this read is rated 4.5 stars by 459 Amazon reviewers!

A James Beard Award-winning writer captures life under the Red socialist banner in this wildly inventive, tragicomic memoir of feasts, famines, and three generations  

Born in 1963, in an era of bread shortages, Anya grew up in a communal Moscow apartment where 18 families shared one kitchen. She sang odes to Lenin, black-marketeered Juicy Fruit gum at school, watched her father brew moonshine, and, like most Soviet citizens, longed for a taste of the mythical West. It was a life by turns absurd, naively joyous, and melancholy—and ultimately intolerable to her anti-Soviet mother, Larisa. When Anya was 10, she and Larisa fled the political repression of Brezhnev-era Russia, arriving in Philadelphia with no winter coats and no right of return. 

Now, Anya occupies two parallel food universes: one where she writes about four-star restaurants, the other where a taste of humble kolbasa transports her back to her scarlet-blazed socialist past. To bring that past to life, Anya and her mother decide to eat and cook their way through every decade of the Soviet experience. Through these meals, and through the tales of three generations of her family, Anya tells the intimate yet epic story of life in the USSR.

Wildly inventive and slyly witty, this is that rare book that stirs our souls and our senses.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

I’d love to know if this memoir piqued your interest as much as mine. But now onto the voting for our blind date with a book!

THE VOTING

You can vote from now until XXXXXX. EDIT: By member request & due to the recent influx of new members, we’re extending the timeline to vote to Fri., Mar 1 8PM ET (That's NYC time. See this converted to your local time below.)

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

Once the survey is complete, we'll publish the anonymous results as well as the individual books & their associated 6 descriptors.

Next Month's Country, Your Suggestions, & Something New

We sometimes like to mix things up to keep the book club fresh & exciting. To that end, we’re going to be trying out our own version of a blind date with a book inspired by BlindDatewithaBook.com this month.

The idea is that people won’t be able to judge a book by its cover or by what everyone says about it. Instead, it’ll be a surprise using books carefully curated by the company above, a library, or whomever is running the blind date with a book…in this case, it’ll be all of us! The results are always interesting with a number of people discovering books they adore that they might not otherwise have picked up.

Here’s how this is going to work for us:

  1. Everyone will send in their suggestion this month separately through a survey so no one knows what books have been suggested.

  2. As always, we’ll compile a list of 6 books. (If we receive many suggestions, we’ll randomly choose which ones to include. We just won’t show that screencast of the random selection till later.)

  3. Everyone will then vote on the list of 6 books using only key phrases describing each of those books.

So what country are we reading next month?

With Valentine’s Day just a couple of weeks ago & my dad’s birthday today up in heaven (happy birthday, Dad! that’s John J. McCrea to all of you), love has been on my mind along with my dad’s favorite spy series. So this month, we’re focusing on books from Russia (with love). 😉 (No, we’re not looking for romance books. We want all genres. I’m just referencing a famous book title from my dad’s beloved spy series below.)

We'll use 2 suggestions from book club members, 2 suggestions from Mia (the book club co-founder), & 2 of my suggestions to compile a list of 6 books on which book club members will provide their thoughts. The book judged as best from the list will then be read.

Please note - We're specific in our books, they must: 

  • Largely occur in the location specified unless the world described is an alternate reality

  • Be written by an author born there who has spent a good portion of their life there

  • Exist in paperback & ebook available on both Amazon & Kindle at least in the US & hopefully elsewhere

Just let us know your Russian suggestions via the link above by Mon., Feb 25. 11PM ET. (That's NYC time. See this converted to your local time below.)

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

20 Global Books for Valentine's Day to Match Any Mood

Feeling sexy, sad, happy, or mad?

No matter your feelings about love, we got you covered with this list of 20 different books to suit any mood you’ll have on Valentine’s Day.

And for bonus points, the books are all written by authors from other lands which are adored by both readers in their native countries as well as a wider international audience.

So…

If you’re in the mood to gal pal & kick ass

Pick up this “delightful romp through Victorian gothic literature with a decidedly feminist slant” written by an author born in Hungary:

“Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this ‘tour de force of reclaiming the narrative, executed with impressive wit and insight’ (Publishers Weekly, starred review) debut is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for something earthy

Check out this “lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages” written by a Singaporean novelist who grew up in a variety of countries & has family roots in the Punjab region of India.

”A spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.

Every woman has a secret life . . .Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s "moral police." But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood to read about complex relationships that aren’t your own

Dig into this “engrossing and thoroughly entertaining read flavoured with humour, proverbs, and malevolent feuding” written by a poet/author from Nigeria who was the granddaughter of a traditional polygamist ruler of a large Nigerian town.

”African-born Lola Shoneyin makes her fiction debut with The Secret Lives of Babi Segi’s Wives, a perceptive, entertaining, and eye-opening novel of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria. The struggles, rivalries, intricate family politics, and the interplay of personalities and relationships within the complex private world of a polygamous union come to life in The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s WivesBig Love and The 19th Wife set against a contemporary African background.

This deft, lightly spun story packs quite a punch. Shoneyin's unravelling of a family is rooted in and flavoured by Nigeria, but speaks more widely. It is a book you'll want to eat in a sitting - and then start again.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for a quirky romcom

Jump into this “delightfully witty…poignant novel” written by a British novelist & journalist:

“Tom Hazard has just moved back to London, his old home, to settle down and become a high school history teacher. And on his first day at school, he meets a captivating French teacher at his school who seems fascinated by him. But Tom has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history--performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

Unfortunately for Tom, the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society's watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can't have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time tells a love story across the ages—and for the ages—about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live. It is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re In the mood for revenge

Get sucked into this “dystopic feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters on an isolated island, raised to fear men” written by a British author born in Wales:

Longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize

“A gripping, sinister fable!" -Margaret Atwood, via Twitter

”King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters, Grace, Lia, and Sky. He has lain the barbed wire; he has anchored the buoys in the water; he has marked out a clear message: Do not enter. Or viewed from another angle: Not safe to leave. Here women are protected from the chaos and violence of men on the mainland. The cult-like rituals and therapies they endure fortify them from the spreading toxicity of a degrading world.

But when their father, the only man they've ever seen, disappears, they retreat further inward until the day two men and a boy wash ashore. Over the span of one blistering hot week, a psychological cat-and-mouse game plays out. Sexual tensions and sibling rivalries flare as the sisters confront the amorphous threat the strangers represent. Can they survive the men?

A haunting, riveting debut about the capacity for violence and the potency of female desire, The Water Cure both devastates and astonishes as it reflects our own world back at us.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for something sexy

Savor “one of contemporary literature's most important writers” born in France who also lived in Spain before moving to the US:

"[Little Birds] is so distinct an advance in the depiction of female sensuality that I felt, on reading it, enormous gratitude." —Alice Walker

“Evocative and superbly erotic, Little Birds is a powerful journey into the mysterious world of sex and sensuality. From the beach towns of Normandy to the streets of New Orleans, these thirteen vignettes introduce us to a covetous French painter, a sleepless wanderer of the night, a guitar-playing gypsy, and a host of others who yearn for and dive into the turbulent depths of romantic experience.

Anaïs Nin explores passion in all its forms, from two strangers on a moonlit Normandy beach to a woman's sudden fulfillment at a public hanging. Evocative, compelling, superbly erotic, Little Birds is a powerful journey into the mysterious world of sex and sensuality.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for second chance love wrapped up in a dark family saga

Relish this “haunting story of love, family obligations and redemption” written by someone born in Trinidad and Tobago with Indian roots:

“A literary romance novel - The Namesake meets Wuthering HeightsThe Yard is a story of love and redemption, set in Trinidad, that exposes the fault lines in Indo-Muslim culture. Behrooz, an abandoned boy, is brought to a familial complex to live with a devout and extended family, where he struggles to belong. He forms a childish alliance with Maya, a willful and rebellious girl, and his guardian's daughter. After they share a night of adolescent tenderness, Maya, fearing retribution, flees to London. Behrooz painstakingly rebuilds his life and marries another. When tragedy strikes, Maya returns to her childhood home. There, she and Behrooz must face up to old demons. Can their love endure? Even after Maya is dealt the most ‘righteous’ blow of all?”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for something wistfully bitter

Snap up this “timeless classic of African literature depicting betrayal, love, embarrassment, and deep friendship” written by an award-winning Senegalese novelist:

“So Long a Letter has been recognized as one of Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century. The brief narrative, written as an extended letter, is a sequence of reminiscences—some wistful, some bitter—recounted by recently widowed Senegalese schoolteacher Ramatoulaye Fall. Addressed to a lifelong friend, Aissatou, it is a record of Ramatoulaye's emotional struggle for survival after her husband betrayed their marriage by taking a second wife. This semi-autobiographical account is a perceptive testimony to the plight of educated and articulate Muslim women. Angered by the traditions that allow polygyny, they inhabit a social milieu dominated by attitudes and values that deny them status equal to men. Ramatoulaye hopes for a world where the best of old customs and new freedom can be combined.

Considered a classic of contemporary African women's literature, So Long a Letter is a must-read for anyone interested in African literature and the passage from colonialism to modernism in a Muslim country.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for a coming of age love story

Be dazzled by this “sensuous novel of a Mediterranean summer” written by an author born in Egypt who lived in Italy as a young adult before moving to NYC:

A NY Times/USA Today bestseller & winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Fiction among other awards

“Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an intellectually precocious & curious 17-year old boy and the handsome, young American scholar visiting his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them. Recklessly, the two verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. It is an instant classic and one of the great love stories of our time.”

“If you have ever been the willing victim of obsessive love—a force greater than yourself that pulls you inextricably toward the object of your desire—you will recognize every nuance of André Aciman's superb new novel.” - The Washington Post

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for unrequited love

Pine for this “love story of astonishing power” written by a Colombian Nobel Prize-winning author:

”In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs--yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.

With humorous sagacity and consummate craft, Gabriel García Márquez traces an exceptional half-century of unrequited love. Though it seems never to be conveniently contained, love flows through the novel in many wonderful guises - joyful, melancholy, enriching, and ever surprising.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for anguish, rage, & abandonment

Be captured by this “startlingly beautiful novel of devastation and bold strength” written by an author from Italy:

A national bestseller for almost an entire year, The Days of Abandonment shocked and captivated its Italian public when first published. It is the gripping story of a woman's descent into devastating emptiness after being abandoned by her husband with two young children to care for. When she finds herself literally trapped within the four walls of their high-rise apartment, she is forced to confront her ghosts, the potential loss of her own identity, and the possibility that life may never return to normal.”

"Ferrante dissects the personal microcosm so well, and with awesome lucidity and precision shows us the meanderings of a woman's mind, the suffering that accompanies being abandoned, and the awful rumbling of time passing." -El Mundo

"Severe and rigorously unsentimental, packed full of passages written with dizzying intensity at a rare and acute pitch. Ferrante is at her best when her writing holds tight to those nagging, niggling obsessions that make up our mental landscapes." -La Stampa

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for courtly love

Swoon for this epic saga written in the 12th century by a poet from Georgia (the country, not the state):

Man in the Panther's Skin is a medieval epic poem by the Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli, the ‘crown and glory of the Georgian culture’. It is considered the ‘masterpiece of Georgian literature’ which held for centuries a prominent place in the heart of Georgians, the majority of whom were able to quote whole stanzas from the poem. Until the early 20th century, a copy of this poem was part of the dowry of any Georgian bride.

The story tells the friendship between the two heroes, Avtandil and Tariel, and their quest to find Nestan-Darejan, the object of their love. Dedicated to Queen Tamar of Georgia who is a model for Nestan-Darejan, the work boasts of the glory of the Kingdom of Georgia in its golden age. The idealized heroes and devoted friends are united by courtly love, generosity, sincerity, and dedication.

This epic poem is regarded as a complex, rich work depicting medieval Georgia, chivalric romance, and the Georgian vision of the world."

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for a very unhappy ending

Spiral down into this “masterpiece of modern fiction with a cruel ending” from an author who grew up on the island of Dominica before moving to England:

“A considerable tour de force by any standard… A triumph of atmosphere.”
New York Times Book Review

“Written by a bestselling author known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters, Wide Sargasso Sea, ingeniously brings into light one of fiction’s most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for a unique take on a royal romance

Be charmed by this butch/femme fairy tale written by an author from a small town in Scotland:

“Georgina, Princess of Wales, has always known her destiny, but she never expected duty to call so soon. When her father dies suddenly, she is called back from her Royal Navy post to assume the crown. While the people acclaim their new Queen, Great Britain’s first openly gay monarch, all George feels is the isolation of her station. 

Beatrice Elliot’s staunch anti-monarchist views have always been a point of gentle contention with her working class, royalty-loving parents. When Bea—director of a hospice charity—must spend six months working with Queen Georgina, her charity’s new patron, sparks fly and passion blooms. But is love enough to bridge the gap between Bethnal Green and Buckingham Palace?”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for a self-help book celebrating solitude

Explore this meaningful book on self-discovery written by an English Psychiatrist:

“A pre-eminent work in self-help and popular psychology literature, Solitude was seminal in challenging the psychological paradigm that ‘interpersonal relationships of an intimate kind are the chief, if not the only, source of human happiness.’ Indeed, most self-help literature still places relationships at the center of human existence. Lucid and lyrical, Storr's book argues that solitude ranks alongside relationships in its impact on an individual’s well-being and productivity, as well as on society's progress and health. Citing numerous examples of brilliant scholars and artists—from Beethoven and Kant to Anne Sexton and Beatrix Potter—he argues that solitary activity is essential not only for geniuses, but often for the average person as well. For nearly three decades, readers have found inspiration and renewal in Storr's erudite, compassionate vision of the human experience—and the benefits and joy of solitude.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for a historical paranormal romance

Delight in the “sharp-tongued characters, white-hot chemistry, and ghostly, wry humor” in this novel by a writer born in Germany who lived in a variety of European & Asian countries before ending up in the US:

It’s the roaring twenties, and San Francisco is a hotbed of illegal boozing, raw lust, and black magic. The fog-covered Bay Area can be an intoxicating scene, particularly when you specialize in spirits…

Aida Palmer performs a spirit medium show onstage at Chinatown’s illustrious Gris-Gris speakeasy. However, her ability to summon (and expel) the dead is more than just an act.

Winter Magnusson is a notorious bootlegger who’s more comfortable with guns than ghosts—unfortunately for him, he’s the recent target of a malevolent hex that renders him a magnet for hauntings. After Aida’s supernatural assistance is enlisted to banish the ghosts, her spirit-chilled aura heats up as the charming bootlegger casts a different sort of spell on her...

On the hunt for the curseworker responsible for the hex, Aida and Winter become drunk on passion. And the closer they become, the more they realize they have ghosts of their own to exorcise.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for something funny about heartbreak

Laugh out loud with this national bestseller written by an English native:

“Hornby’s protagonist looks back at his old relationships, and he doesn’t always like what he sees. High Fidelity is funny, honest, and brilliant. If you’re going to sulk, sulk cleverly.

From the bestselling author of Funny Girl, About a Boy, and A Long Way Down, a wise and hilarious novel about love, heartbreak, and rock and roll.

Rob is a pop music junkie who runs his own semi-failing record store. His girlfriend, Laura, has just left him for the guy upstairs, and Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, could he have spent his life with someone who has a bad record collection? Rob seeks refuge in the company of the offbeat clerks at his store, who endlessly review their top five films; top five Elvis Costello songs; top five episodes of Cheers

Rob tries dating a singer, but maybe it’s just that he’s always wanted to sleep with someone who has a record contract. Then he sees Laura again. And Rob begins to think that life with kids, marriage, barbecues, and soft rock CDs might not be so bad.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for Nerdy love

Squeal over this “well-written, clever, and warmhearted novel” perfect for fans of Lord of the Rings. Penned by a native New Zealander:

“Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in ‘happily ever after’ ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for a hilarious neo-feminist manifesto

Idolize this book by a “profane, witty and wonky best friend you wish you had…the feminist rock star we need right now”. Written by an English native:

“It's a good time to be a woman—we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven't been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain...

Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you're going to have a baby?

Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking. Caitlin Moran puts a new face on feminism, cutting to the heart of women’s issues today with her irreverent, transcendent, and hilarious How to Be a Woman.

Moran’s debut was an instant runaway bestseller in England as well as an Amazon UK Top Ten book of the year; still riding high on bestseller lists months after publication, it is a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Now poised to take American womanhood by storm, here is a book that Vanity Fair calls “the U.K. version of Tina Fey’s Bossypants… You will laugh out loud, wince, and—in my case—feel proud to be the same gender as the author.” 

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

 

If you’re in the mood for something romantic

Enjoy this “vibrant and exuberantly romantic” novel written by an author born in India:

“Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years—not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be—if her husband would just come and claim her.
 
Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naïve village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life—cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.
 
Heartfelt, witty, and thoroughly engaging, Sonali Dev’s novel is both a vivid exploration of modern India and a deeply honest story of love, in all its diversity.
 
“Deeply romantic and emotional, with characters I fell in love with…simply unputdownable.” — Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

February's Turkish Read is...

One of the famed balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey's very own fairy-tale kingdom

I’m shocked by the vote. For my 2 suggestions, I often include books which I think members would prefer while also trying to offer a variety of genres. I had doubts about both of my suggestions because I honestly didn’t think members would be as drawn to them as I was. In the end, I decided to include them because the genres were so different from the others that I thought they would offer a good balance. To my surprise, both of those suggestions were your top 2 picks! It’s a lesson learned for me to not anticipate what all of you prefer. But before we get to the results of the vote, I’d like to share a discovery.

Did you know that Turkey has a thriving film industry poised to match the esteemed status of Hollywood? I had no idea, but the films I found below make it clear why.


A Drama Inspired by Sofia Coppola's Virgin Suicides

“A very honest & disturbing look at the role of women in rural Turkey. Orphan girls are seen playing on the beach with a group of boys & must face the punishment of a conservative society.” View on Amazon (US) | (UK)


A Magical & Remarkable Documentary

“Hundreds of thousands of cats roam Istanbul. For millennia, they've become an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. This film follows 7 such cats for an intimate look at the daily routine of Istanbul & its unique beauty.”
View on Amazon (US) | (UK)


A Police Procedural unlike any other

“A beautifully-photographed crime drama about police and prosecutors driving through the Anatolian countryside to look for a corpse, the serpentine roads & rolling hills lit only by the headlights of their cars.” View on Amazon (US) | (UK)


SO WHICH BOOK ARE WE READING NEXT?

“The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency meets Pedro Almodovar in this outrageous new series featuring an ultraglamorous sleuth

Bestsellers in Mehmet Murat Somer's home country of Turkey and set to take the world by storm, the arrival of the Hop-Çiki-Yaya (aka Turkish Delight) mysteries is cause for excitement (and lip gloss!) here in the United States.

A male computer technician by day and a cross-dressing hostess of Istanbul's most notorious nightclub by night, the unnamed heroine of The Kiss Murder is the most charming and hilarious sleuth to debut in recent memory. When Buse, one of the ‘girls’ at her club fears someone is after private letters from a former lover, she comes to her boss for help. The next day, Buse is dead and our girl must find the murderers before they find her. Fortunately, she is well armed with beauty, wit, the wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn, and expert Thai kickboxing skills.”

Featuring an irreverent & saucy drag queen, this highly entertaining & occasionally over-the-top story is the perfect read if you’re looking for something light, fun, and a little different as Charlaine Harris, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, & the Guardian all rave. (Also, it’s interesting to read about a feisty gay sub-culture in a traditionally conservative Muslim country.)”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

What Book Shall We Read from Turkey?

We’re happy to say that we received 7 suggestions from book club members this month 2 of which were randomly chosen to be included in the final list we’ll be voting on this month. Special thanks to all those who provided suggestions!

But before we get to the vote, let’s talk about Turkish food. I always love exploring a city through its cuisine & was thrilled to find a couple of enticing cookbooks this month one of which inspired me so much that I’ve already made some of its recipes.

“Take your pick of lively Turkish breakfasts; linger over delectable little plates of meze; try your hand at making breads and kebabs sold from the city's food carts, and master the art of making sweets such as baklava, helva and, of course, the unctuous Turkish delight.” The included meze is what really made me drool & the recipes I made were the Bulgurlu Köfte (a delicious veg version of a köfte—or ball—seasoned with spring onions & herbs) as well as Acılı Ezme (a spicy condiment flavored with pomegranate molasses & sumac) mopped up with toasted bread.

If you’re looking to explore Istanbul through its food, I highly recommend this cookbook!

THE VOTING

You can vote from now until Tues., Jan. 22 11PM ET. (That's NYC time. See this converted to your local time below.)

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

To participate:

1. Review the books.

2. Then, click here to vote.

We'll publish the anonymous results afterwards so you can get the book in advance.

February's Country

Next month’s country offers a variety of fairy-tale landscapes according to ListAKA.* One of its most famous is the town which is named "cotton castle" in the native language. With its mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces (i.e., terraces of carbonate minerals) such as the one pictured here, it’s no wonder people view it as a magical place.

The country also boasts one of the largest & oldest covered markets in the world with 61 covered streets & over 4,000 shops which attract between 250,000 & 400,000 visitors daily. There, you can also dine on a feast including the famous kebabs this country is known for made from an exotic fusion of Central Asian, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, & Balkan cuisines.

And remember the story of Odysseus & the Trojan Horse? It’s this country that houses the ruins of this immortal city.

So Which Country are We Adventuring to Next?

The modern site of Troy which is Turkey!

While exploring possible suggestions for Turkey, I found the anthology included here which won’t work for the book club, but may appeal to you as a personal read as it did me. (Despite its ugly cover, it does have a number of rave reviews.) The book details the stories from 32 women from 7 different nations who have established lives in Turkey for work, love, or adventure over the past 40 years. “Poignant, humorous, and transcendent, these narrative essays take readers to weddings and workplaces, down cobbled Byzantine streets, into boisterous bazaars along the Silk Road, and deep into the feminine stronghold of steamy Ottoman bathhouses. The outcome is a stunning collection of voices from women suspended between two homes as they redefine their identities and reshape their worldviews.” This book is now on hold waiting for me at my library.

HAVE ANY BOOK CLUB SUGGESTIONS?

Just let us know your Turkish suggestions by Tues., Jan. 15 11PM ET. (That's NYC time. See this converted to your local time below.)

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

We'll use 2 suggestions from book club members, 2 suggestions from Mia (the book club co-founder) & 2 of my suggestions to compile a list of 6 books on which book club members will provide their thoughts. The book judged as best from the list will then be read.

Please note - We're specific in our books, they must: 

  • Largely occur in the location specified unless the world described is an alternate reality

  • Be written by an author born there who has spent a good portion of their life there

  • Exist in paperback & ebook available on both Amazon & Kindle at least in the US & hopefully elsewhere

* (2016) Top 10 Things Turkey is Famous for. ListAKA. Retrieved from https://listaka.com/top-10-things-turkey-is-famous-for.

TBR Roulette

TBR roulette is a fun game designed to help people choose a book to read next from their "to be read" (aka TBR) list.

Using your TBR list, random chance, & the help of your fellow readers on social media, you’ll be sure to find a great book to read next…maybe one you might not have picked up for a while!

Step A: Determine the First Roulette number

  • Determine what you’ll be using for your TBR list (e.g., your bookcase, a Goodreads list, the books available from your library right now, etc.).

  • Count how many sections there are in that TBR list (e.g., how many shelves in your bookcase, pages on your Goodreads list, etc.).

  • Begin playing roulette by asking someone to choose among that number.

For example: I want to include library ebooks immediately available. I have 5 pages of items on my library wish list on Overdrive, but when I filter it for the books available now, it’s knocked down to 2 pages. So the number I need to be chosen is either 1 or 2.

STep B: Determine the second Roulette Number

Next, figure out how many books are included in the chosen section & ask someone to choose a number which represents one of those books.

For example: When I look at page 1 on that Overdrive list, it has 24 items on it so now I need someone to choose a number between 1 & 24.

Step C: share the book

That final number represents the book you should read next!

Note: We urge you to read the book chosen by roulette cause after all, that’s the fun of it! But if for some reason the choice doesn’t work well (e.g., you’ve already read the book, it’s not available, etc.), just skip it & ask someone to choose another number.

Happy reading!

January's Germany Read

The Residenz in Munich is the former royal palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria

I’m happy to say that most members seemed to love the new methodology we’re using to determine which book to read. We also had some suggestions on how we could further improve the method & we’re taking these under serious consideration.

The winning book this month just edged out the 2nd book as you’ll see below. All the books looked great, but I’m excited about the winner for a few reasons. This book happens to be one of Ivor’s first suggestions (good choice, Ivor!), the book club hasn’t read something similar, & the author’s background is very interesting.

Not only has the author’s books been translated into more than 35 languages, but they’ve sold millions of copies worldwide making the author "an internationally celebrated star of German literature" according to Focus Magazine. The author also has a very unique perspective as:

  • The child of a businessman

  • The grandchild of the head of the Hitler Youth who was also the wartime governor of Vienna & a war criminal sentenced to 20 years for crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg war trials

  • The great-grandchild of Hitler’s official photographer

  • A descendant of a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence

  • An attorney (the author is actually one of Germany’s most prominent criminal defense lawyers)

Note: The author does not sympathize with the Nazis. I’m sure you’re curious, but I’d urge you not to read any articles about this book or this author in advance because there are TONS of spoilers out there. However, I did find a short essay by the author about the Nazi grandfather which contains no spoilers & gives some perspective.

So which book are we reading next?

“The internationally bestselling courtroom drama centering on a young German lawyer and a case involving World War II.

A bestseller in Germany since its 2011 release—with rights sold in seventeen countries—The Collini Case combines the classic courtroom procedural with modern European history in a legal thriller worthy of John Grisham and Scott Turow.

Fabrizio Collini is recently retired. He’s a quiet, unassuming man with no indications that he’s capable of hurting anyone. And yet he brutally murders a prominent industrialist in one of Berlin’s most exclusive hotels.

Collini ends up in the charge of Caspar Leinen, a rookie defense lawyer eager to launch his career with a not-guilty verdict. Complications soon arise when Collini admits to the murder but refuses to give his motive, much less speak to anyone. As Leinen searches for clues he discovers a personal connection to the victim and unearths a terrible truth at the heart of Germany’s legal system that stretches back to World War II. But how much is he willing to sacrifice to expose the truth?”

View on Amazon (US) | (UK)

Happy reading!