Paris, or: The Elegance of the Hedgehog..
..is a longtime bestseller in France, set in Paris and written by Muriel Barbery. The book was published in 2007, it so far sold over 5 million copies worldwide. The Booklist review includes a disclaimer that made me curious for it: "A critical success in France, the novel may strike a different chord with some readers in the U.S. The plot thins at moments and is supplanted with philosophical discourse.."
For me, i enjoyed the starting chapters, but then almost gave up when the plot indeed kept stretching, and the characters got lost in discourse and prejudices (which may be intended: this feeling of stuckness that the reader experiences there, together with the characters). and i'm glad i stayed with it. the second half is stronger, more vivid, and lets the characters find their way into a more open atmosphere: connection instead of isolation, the simple joys of life instead of abstract philosophy.
(& an addition: the novel has been turned into a film, here's the Hedgehog trailer, which gives an idea of the mood of the novel, too)
The reason i picked the "Hedgehog"..
With the new year, the new book challenges are starting, and for the "Around the World in 12 books" challenge, January leads to France. and so i browsed several book lists in December, and arrived at the "Hedgehog".
Like a novel ("Wie ein Roman")
With the turning of years, i also re-sorted my bookshelf, and came across some books that still wait to be read. One of them is a book on books: "Like a novel" by Daniel Pennac. After enjoying the recent books-on-books i read, "Ex Libris", I opened this one at random, started to read, and now read it from middle to end, and then from start to middle. (true). sadly, the book isn't translated into English yet - Pennac is a french author, i learned after reading half of it. So this book also fits into the "January = France" category.
And now a very different book-story, with some book-searching-and-finding included. In December, my editor&publisher Jessi Graustein blogged about a book discovery: all the books she so far has published have the theme of "Home" running through the manuscript (here's her blog note: Subconscious Drive (of Home). Reading this, i remembered a modern Buddhist tale in once received in a mail, which also was about home. Back then i tried to find the author, but to no avail. So i looked for the mail, and then tried again, copying the first line of the story into google: "Last fall the Dalai Lama came to New York City to do a two-week ceremony called the Kalachakra which is a prayer to heal the earth."
Learning by Doing: Google Full Text Search Options
And now, surprise: Google came up with the full story. in Google Books. i hadn't known that this is possible, and it's both exciting and a bit scary: you can now search for poems and short stories or passages and paragraphs in an extensive full text search.
The comical thing that i first didn't get was the statement that came up, though: Google Doc said in the sidebar: "What Book!?"...
...which actually is the title of the book: a collection of Buddha Poems, also available as e-book. i ordered the e-book. it's quite a find, with poems written by Japanese monks as well as by international guests of retreats - including Yoko Ono.
Here's the screenshot and link of my search&find: "Google Docs: What Book!? Buddha Poems"
Carl Tohrbergers Christmas
The fourth book i read last week - is a subversive brief collection of 3 short stories, written by Ferdinand von Schirach, a judge who writes. 2 of the stories have the theme: what happens to a life when you mainly try to stick to the rules and expectations? the main character in the longest story is.. a judge. And now i just checked: his books have been translated into English, here's his wiki page.
From France.. to Pakistan and into a Smalltown
After France, the next regional focus of my reading journey will move towards rather different places and formats: first, for the 7 continents reading challenge, is a Granta collection of Pakistan waiting, which also is my first Granta collection altogether. here's the link to the online version with some selected reads: Granta Archive "Pakistan".
It's Monday! What are you reading? This blog post is inspired by the blog series "It's Monday! What are you reading?" which is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. participating blogs are listed in this Linky Book List
Previous reading blog entries are collected here: bookshelf: currently reading... there also is a visual bookshelf, just click it to get there: