Germany

The Collini Case

“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?”

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Go, Went, Gone

New York Times Notable Book 2018; MLA Lois Roth Award Winner

An unforgettable German bestseller about the European refugee crisis: “Erpenbeck will get under your skin” (Washington Post Book World)

“Go, Went, Gone is the masterful new novel by the acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, ‘one of the most significant German-language novelists of her generation’ (The Millions). The novel tells the tale of Richard, a retired classics professor who lives in Berlin. His wife has died, and he lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz. Curiosity turns to compassion and an inner transformation, as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. Go, Went, Gone is a scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis, but also a touching portrait of a man who finds he has more in common with the Africans than he realizes. Exquisitely translated by Susan Bernofsky, Go, Went, Gone addresses one of the most pivotal issues of our time, facing it head-on in a voice that is both nostalgic and frightening.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Judy Shenk for the suggestion.)

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The Neverending Story

If you’ve only seen the movies, you’ll be astonished by how exponentially better the story actually is & how easily you’ll be swept away. It’s breathtaking originality has ensured that the novel continued to top a huge variety of bestseller lists for many years & consistently won awards.

"Every once in a blue moon, a book captures the imagination, providing a portal into magical places unknown. So it is with The Neverending Story.

Unicorns, dragons, sprites, will-o’-the-wisps: the inhabitants of an enchanted world. And into this world – through the pages of an old book – ventures a lonely boy named Bastian. But this land is slowly decaying, its Childlike Empress dying. Only a real human can set things right. Bastian takes up the challenge, and finds himself crossing the Swamps of Sadness and the Silver Mountains, meeting sorcerers and giants, bats and night-hobs, gnomes and racing snails. As he journeys bravely toward the Ivory Tower, Bastian’s quest is filled with all the wonders of myth and fairy tale. It is a fantasy adventure that will capture your heart – and recapture the magical dreams of childhood.”

"An instantaneous leap into the magical . . . Energetic, innovative, and perceptive."
The Washington Post

"A trumpet blast for the imagination." — Sunday Times

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The Nightwalker

“A psychological thrill-ride of a novel that finds an insomniac wondering if his nighttime excursions have turned into something beyond his imagination.

As a young man, Leon Nader suffered from insomnia. As a sleepwalker, he even turned to violence during his nocturnal excursions and had psychiatric treatment for his condition. Eventually, he was convinced he had been cured—but one day, years later, Leon's wife disappears from their apartment under mysterious circumstances. Could it be that his illness has broken out again?

In order to find out how he behaves in his sleep, Leon fits a movement activated camera to his forehead—and when he looks at the video the next morning he makes a discovery that bursts the borders of his imagination. His nocturnal personality goes through a door that is totally unknown to him and descends into the darkness.”

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Stones from the River

“From an award-winning author, a stunning story [spanning WWI & WWII] about ordinary people living in extraordinary times—epic, daring, magnificent, the product of a defining and mesmerizing vision.” - LA Times

”Trudi Montag is a Zwerg—a dwarf—short, undesirable, different, the voice of anyone who has ever tried to fit in. Eventually she learns that being different is a secret that all humans share—from her mother who flees into madness, to her friend Georg whose parents pretend he’s a girl, to the Jews Trudi harbors in her cellar.

Ursula Hegi brings us a timeless and unforgettable story in Trudi and a small town, weaving together a profound tapestry of emotional power, humanity, and truth.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Beth Cummings for the suggestion.)

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A Woman in Berlin

New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

”For eight weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman kept a daily record of life in her apartment building and among its residents. ‘With bald honesty and brutal lyricism’ (Elle), the anonymous author depicts her fellow Berliners in all their humanity, as well as their cravenness, corrupted first by hunger and then by the Russians. ‘Spare and unpredictable, minutely observed and utterly free of self-pity’ (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland), A Woman in Berlin tells of the complex relationship between civilians and an occupying army and the shameful indignities to which women in a conquered city are always subject—the mass rape suffered by all, regardless of age or infirmity.

A Woman in Berlin stands as ‘one of the essential books for understanding war and life.’ (A. S. Byatt, author of Possession)”

(A special thank you to book club member, Karen Van Drie for the suggestion.)

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The Reader

“Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.

When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover—then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.”

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Ruby Red

Translated by Anthea Bell, the foremost translator of German literature in the world. And she thinks Ruby Red is just "charming!"

"'This book was so much fun! Magic, romance, and time travel. A great start to a series that will appeal to the awkward adventurer in all of us.' -Diana DeVault

'Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth who, in the middle of class, takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon, the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.'"

(I usually don't like YA, but this trilogy was a great set of light, fun reads. The narration is also good if you get it in audiobook form.)

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The Elven

"A fierce and merciless demon has been unleashed on the world, spreading destruction and bloodshed in both the human and the elven realms. Northlander Jarl Mandred witnesses the ruthless attack on his men, and he seeks vengeance with the help of the elf queen, Emerelle. Despite Mandred’s barbaric human nature, the queen orchestrates an elfhunt joined by the two strongest warriors in Albenmark to pursue the beast. Farodin, the fiercest fighter in the land, and Nuramon, the healer, seize the opportunity to make history alongside Mandred in a life-defining series of battles waged in parallel universes.

The Elven is an international bestseller and epic tale, bringing heroes together across the boundaries of their worlds to avenge past losses and influence fates yet to be decided."

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The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm 

"When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published their Children's and Household Tales in 1812, followed by a second volume in 1815, they had no idea that such stories as "Rapunzel," "Hansel and Gretel," and "Cinderella" would become the most celebrated in the world. Yet few people today are familiar with the majority of tales from the two early volumes, since in the next four decades the Grimms would publish six other editions, each extensively revised in content and style. For the very first time, The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm makes available in English all 156 stories from the 1812 and 1815 editions. These narrative gems, newly translated and brought together in one beautiful book, are accompanied by sumptuous new illustrations from award-winning artist Andrea Dezsö."

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