Category Archives: Blogrolls

Bowies Book List

Apparently, David Bowie was a bookworm, from what I have garnered through articles here and there.

Here is a link on his website, to list posted on October 1, 2013, of his top 100 books.

The list includes a variety of authors and genres, including classical books, and authors considered masters, but also little-known authors in the stream Literature.

Take a peek into the reading world of David Bowie. You might be surprised, but then again, you might not.

Also, take a look at this poster! David Bowie was an advocate regarding reading!

You might also want to check out this biography by Marc Spitz: Bowie: A Biography.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Blogrolls, Book Diva News

Book Diva News-Svetlana Alexievich

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2015 was awarded to Svetlana Alexievich “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time“.

The Wall Street Journal wrote about her award, and wrote some less-known and compelling facts about Svetlana Alexievich.

I, personally, can’t wait to get my hands on her book, “War’s Unwomanly Face”, although from what I gather through many sources, it is out of print.

Brava to her!

To read more about her, visit this link.

Here is a compelling commentary on her award and her work.
~~~

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Blogrolls, Book Diva News, General, Non-Fiction

Review: On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War

On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War, by Bernard Wasserstein, is a compelling and intense study of the European Jews before their massive obliteration during World War II.

The non-fictional account spans every corner of Jewry, from the basic beggar to the wealthy, from the Orthodox to the non-practicing, from the intermarriages to the pure marriages, and from the varied social structures, both eastern and western. Jews are defined in every aspect, and defined in every location in Europe and Eastern Europe.

Ignorance is presented to be otherwise, according to Wasserstein’s extensive research and documentation. Many Jews did have an inkling as to what was occurring under their noses. They did understand the seriousness of the events unfolding in the social stratum of their lives.

But, understanding and removing one’s self from precarious and dangerous situations are not necessarily possible. Social structures, religious beliefs, family ties, homelands, separations, financial aspects, and the forces imposed on the Jews by the Nazis don’t always allow for escape. The influences were more than immense.

Wasserstein is brilliant in depicting the lives of the Jews, their family ties, friendships, joys, lows, fears, and all of their daily living arrangements. The revelations are intense and filled with sorrow and, yet, a sense of meaningfulness and purpose of life unfolds within the pages.

You may ask “Why”. But, before you do, try to consider the adverse and horrific situations thrust on the Jews. Try to analyze things with an open mind, not rose-colored lenses. It is not as simple as many try to make it. Knowing and leaving are two different issues. Knowing doesn’t necessarily give you the tools to move forward. In fact, knowing can make it more difficult for a person. They might choose to deal with it by suppressing their knowledge, and by trying to live life with what they have and with what is not foreign to them.

No stone is left unturned within the harrowing accounts presented by Wasserstein in On the Eve. It is almost 500 pages long, and not an easy read. Yet, the impressions, presentations and word visuals are told with sensitivity to the situations and even with a bit of humor here and there. He is not harsh toward the Jews in his revelations, but, in my opinion, tries to state the truth, the facts, with clarifying seriousness. He writes with an awareness of others, and his responses reflect prose that demonstrates his insight. The historical factor is incredible, and opened this reader’s eyes to varying degrees on the perspectives focused on.

Wasserstein is brilliant in his prose, his magnificent rendering of the European Jews is masterful in so many aspects. We, who have had ancestors from Europe will gain insight into the mindsets of those who encountered the horrific events of pre World War II and the Holocaust. The book is a work of humaneness and a work of art. It is a work of historical necessity.

I highly recommend On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War, by Bernard Wasserstein to every one. I feel it belongs in every library, whether public, university, high school or personal library. It is a book with extreme historical value.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogrolls, Book Diva's Book Reviews, Family Dynamics, Holocaust History, Jewish History, Non-Fiction

Open Heart

Open Heart, by Elie Wiesel, Translated by Marion Wiesel, is a beautifully written book and intimate reflection of his life, reflected during a time when he faced the unknown outcome of open-heart surgery.

He began having difficulties, which led to testing ordered by his primary care doctor.  The tests did not reveal the truth that was to encompass the severity of his situation. After severe pain, he finally gave in to his family’s wishes.

At the age of 82-years of age, he was rushed to the hospital, and through tests it was discovered he had blocked arteries, arteries that needed to be repaired through open-heart surgery.  This was a definite turning point in his life, and when told of what needed to be done in order to save his life, he was both hesitant and anxious.  He went into the operating room, not knowing if he would wake up and see his wife-Marion, or see his son-Elisha, again.

Wake up he did, and the successive days, weeks and months gave him much to reflect upon.  Within those reflections he journeyed inward, and the results are written within the pages.  As a reader, we are given the privilege to read and to ponder the thoughts and feelings of Mr. Wiesel, through the vivid illuminations of his heart, his mind, his humility, and of his deep religious spirit.

His prose is filled with richness and brilliance, and filled with vibrant word-imagery.  Even though he has lived a long life, in years, he was not ready to leave this realm.  For him there is still more to accomplish, and time is of the essence.  He feels the need to continue to help humanity, to spread more messages of tolerance, to write another essay or book.

Mr. Wiesel wants to live long enough to see his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah, and possibly even his granddaughter’s Bat Mitzvah.  Family is of extreme importance to him, and the joy he receives from his grandchildren is endless, filled with unconditional love, as is his joy and love for his wife and son.

He eloquently describes his past, his present and his hopes for the future.  He defines himself through his Jewishness and his adherence to its religious traditions and practices.

Mr. Wiesel often wonders where G-d was during man’s worst moment in history.  He wonders how G-d could permit the murder of so many individuals.  As always, during reflections of this dimension, he has no answers to those questions, yet his faith remains strong.

He amplifies the need for tolerance within the community of diversity, diversity for all ethnic backgrounds and the diversity regarding religious beliefs.  His spiritual and humanistic lessons, within the slimness of the pages, are ones of immense insight.

Open Heart is filled with the thoughts and prose of an open mind. I recommend Open Heart to everyone.

4 Comments

Filed under Blogrolls, Book Diva's Book Reviews, Family Dynamics, Inspiration, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Aharon Appelfeld’s Books

I am an avid reader of Aharon Appelfeld’s books. I find them to be a fascinating look into the mindsets of those who seem to have a naive sense of things to come, and/or things that are occurring around them.

Some of Aharon Appelfeld’s books that I have read are:

Badenheim 1939

Suddenly, Love: A Novel

The Story of a Life: A Memoir

Blooms of Darkness: A Novel

The Iron Tracks: A Novel

Tzili: The Story of a Life

All Whom I Have Loved: A Novel

Until the Dawn’s Light: A Novel

Laish: A Novel

Aharon Appelfeld brings the reader illuminating gems within his novels. His stories are told with magnificent prose and word-imagery.  The impact is not normally light and airy, but one that is often disturbing, and on the fringes of horrific events to come.  He has a point to make within the pages of his novels, and the concepts and depictions resound and echo through the heart of pain and extreme adversity.  He beckons the reader to ponder humanity and the human condition.

1 Comment

Filed under Authors, Blogrolls, Book Diva News, Historical Novels, Holocaust History, Jewish History, Literature/Fiction

Artwork Sagas

I have read two books recently that involve the restoring/returning of stolen art, during wartime, to the rightful owner/s. One deals with art stolen by the Nazis during World War II. The other book tells a story of a journey to find whether a work of art was stolen during World War I.

The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, by Anne-Marie O’Connor, is a true story, and it is the book that the recently released film, The Woman in Gold was based upon.

The book is a vivid depiction, not only regarding Adele Bloch-Bauer, the woman who posed for the artist, but also a compelling story of a work of art, and how one woman’s passion and perseverance led to the finding the provenance of the painting. The trials and tribulations in order to ascertain provenance, in order to prove that the work of art belonged in her family, and that it was stolen, outright, by the Nazis, lasted for a decade.

The Austrian government did not want to release the valuable painting, claiming legal ownership. Maria Altmann, the niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer, claimed otherwise, stating she was the legal heir to the painting.

The story is illuminating in many aspects. The reader is given snippets of life in Austria, life of the wealthy and how they lived, where they lived, and what the valued. It also is the story of the intricate and minute details involved in trying to gain proof of ownership or provenance. Word of mouth does not work. Documents do not often work, either.

I saw the film, and it was well-done. If I compare it to the book, I would have to say the book was more detailed, whereas the film encompassed dramatic visuals of the time period. I enjoyed both the book and the film, and give them equal share on my enjoyment scale.
~~~

The second book, entitled, The Girl You Left Behind: A Novel, by Jojo Moyes, depicts one family’s struggle to survive during World War I, in a small town in the outskirts of Paris.

Sophie Lefevre’s husband Edouard is a painter. He painted a portrait of Sophie, which is stunning. He eventually must leave in order to fight the Germans. Those Germans eventually occupy the town, and take over the small bar/cafe enterprise that Sophie and her sister operate. The Kommandant and his soldiers are to have dinner prepared for them every night, no questions asked. It is a command that can not be refused.

Fast forward to the present, and Liv Halston, a widow of four years, has the painting hanging in her home. From there the story begins to move quicker.

She is quite insistent that the painting, bought by her husband, for her, is legally hers. She involves herself and others in a battle for ownership. From the living heirs to Liv, herself, the story line unfolds with intensity, and with incredible details of search methods and documentation.

The historical aspect is well-done, and well researched. I was surprised by some of the facts, and did not realize that during World War I, the Germans stole artwork, furniture, silver items from homes, anything and everything they felt useful, was taken. That was revealing for me.

How does the story end? You will have to read the book to find out.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogrolls, Book Diva's Book Reviews, Family Dynamics, Fiction, Historical Novels, Non-Fiction

Review: The Library at Night

Oh. My. What can I say about the non-fictional book by Alberto Manguel, entitled The Library at Night. For me it was an extremely mesmerizing and enthralling book.

I love books, I love books stores, I love libraries, and I love touring libraries. The Library at Night gives the reader full access, detailed tours, and illuminating depictions of libraries from the beginning of time.

From tablet writings, writings on skins, caves, etc., libraries have existed in one fashion or another. From palatial libraries, to libraries that have become non-existent through wars, Nazi burnings, and other forms of intentional damage, Manguel has woven a story that kept this reader at attention. I loved all of the word imagery, loved the photographs, and enjoyed reading about the various library forms. By forms I mean not only amazing architectural structure of libraries, but I also mean the semblance or organization of personal libraries, as well as libraries around the world.

Ancient Egypt held libraries that have diminished due to ravages, Alexandria’s great library no longer exists, and from France to Rome, China, Japan and countries worldwide, Manguel’s vision fills the pages with vivid prose.

Libraries exist in memories of one’s mind, handed down from generation to generation. Libraries are a part of the universal foundation of reading. Celebrity libraries, libraries of the authors and poets existed for literary reasons, and often had no sense of rhyme or reason. But, for the owner, their library was a personal matter.

Alberto Manguel has written a book of historical importance, as far as the interpretation of the library world is concerned. The Library at Night is a book of significance to those of us who cherish books, who have cultivated and amassed our own book collection, and formed some sense of a personal library. What is a library to one, may not be considered a library by another. Realistically, that is not necessarily true. We define our own library, from our own tastes and passions.

What started out as the author creating and planning his own library, turned into a book of wonder and awe, regarding libraries. What a concept! I love this book! It now resides on my primary, personal library shelf.

I highly recommend The Library at Night, by Alberto Manguel.

2 Comments

Filed under Blogrolls, Book Diva's Book Reviews, Non-Fiction