Kategorie: English Version (Seite 1 von 8)

#ReadALetter – Letters Live –


Bamberg, Germany, 11th of April 2020

My dear beloved cinema,
I never thought I’d ever write a letter to you. Why would I? I’m living literally just round the corner.

In summer I can smell you. That scent that defines you or at least it does for me. It’s that smell of popcorn, coffee and that very special mysterious smell that lives behind your glass doors normally full of film posters and the monthly schedule, that smell that greets me immediately after pulling the very left door open and step inside.

Normally I meet my dear friend there before strolling to the back to buy our tickets and where normally a “Hi ladies, it’s the OmU*f or yous, is it. Grand cappuccino with wheat milk, small latte macchiato, mineral water and..?” welcomes and marks us as frequent visitors.

You, little cinema, my second living room, you are closed since weeks and I do miss you so much.
But some day, hopefully not too far away, we’ll meet again. I can’t wait.

*OmU = Original mit Untertiteln = Original Version with subtitles”

The fascination of reading a book

Books. There have always been books. At least for me. I can’t think of a time when books have not been important to me. The moment I could read and owned a card for my local library, I couldn’t think of anything more wonderful than reading for whole afternoons, lose myself in new stories and new characters. A good book can always compete with any film. At least for me.

I can’t say why I’ve got and still have the passion. Maybe it has been the reading technique itself, the ability to make words out of signs and understand their meaning – this might be because I still remember the exact feeling when words only were black mysterious signs in a book. There even has been a book I used to fill in the empty spaces after paragraphs with lines scribbled with a pen till the pages’ edge – still without being able to read. Apparently I couldn’t understand why those black signs just stopped. When those black spots finally became letters, words, sentences and even whole stories I fell for the fascination that is reading – and I’m addicted to it ever since.

Of course my passion has change over the years. Sometimes I read more, sometimes less. I discovered new authors while others disappeared from my bookish life. Simultaneously I got fascinated by the internet and tec stuff, I established my first blog, wrote my first blog entry, helped myself to a Kindle (mostly because I wanted to read books in English), a tablet and a Tolino arrived. And I tried (again) to read and write in English – starting with Twitter (I was scared to death when I posted my first English Tweet!), then I tried my very first blog entry about my fav series BBC’s “Sherlock” and Benedict Cumberbatch. Apparently no one cared or at least no one shouted at me for my bad English, so I felt encouraged to write about books I’ve read in English – for some reason it’s easier to write in the same language I’ve read the book.

Over the years some things stayed the same: discovering something new while reading, diving into a book (fiction or non fiction) and coming back into the real world – and the longing for another new book.

You may find the original German version of this blog entry here.

Philipp Röttgers: London and its genius loci

London isn’t just some city. She is a character in various films, novels and poems which wouldn’t be the same if they were not settled in Britain’s capital. The fascination that hits almost everyone who visits London for the very first time will not disappear but grow with every new trip. Experienced visitors have their own ways to find and re find their very own London, greeting the great city by walking a certain route on their first day back for example is a nice way to settle in again.

“If you want to experience every little detail of history that is around you, you just have to walk and stop and look and don’t aim for anything in particular!”

Philipp Röttgers offers  seven “Tour Stories”, walks that lead the readers through streets and thoroughfares while offering details of historic events and people. Although this isn’t a totally new way to learn more about London’s history while strolling the streets, Röttgers offers some new aspects and tours that are worth a try, especially if you haven’t done any. The author, drummer and journalist, isn’t a native speaker but a German who has studied “English Literatures and Cultures” at the university in Bonn.

If you haven’t, you should give  Peter Ackroyd’s “London –  The Concise Biography” (which Röttgers is frequently quoting) and Matthew Green’s “London: A Travel Guide Through Time” a try. They are brilliantly written and make a thrilling read while preparing for another trip.

You find more about London on my blog (both in English and German) here.

Philipp Röttgers: London and its genius loci, Büchner, 22 Euro.
The book was kindly provided  for review by the publisher.

Photo: Petra Breunig

Photo: Petra Breunig


James Rhodes: Playlist

“Oh what a huge and interesting looking book”, the book seller at my local book shop said while handing “Playlist” over. And she is right. James Rhodes’ latest book is another journey into the (for many) strange and foreign world that is classical music. A world that is inhabited by heroes like Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Schubert. Those heroes gave us music that is still listened to after all these centuries – one wonders if today’s pop stars are to be known in a hundred years time.

“They changed history, inspired millions and are still listened to and worshipped all around the world today.”

James Rhodes devoted his life to classical music and tries to lure people – his audience, his followers on social media – into it, tries to get this music  down to earth, back to ordinary people who have no idea what “symphony” or “étude” mean. And who listen to it with the help of a streaming service and their ear buds in comfy clothes while knitting on their sofa or typing this blog. Maybe James Rhodes is successful on his mission because he is not an ordinary pianist (as I wrote a couple of times before) – and because he writes and tweets the same way  he addresses his audiences, telling them more about his favourite composers (and while chatting to people when signing books or CDs). In “Playlist” he offers a list of classical pieces assembled on Spotify and information about them and their composers including their personal life.

“I’m sorry. There are lot of capital letters in that paragraph. It’s just hard not to get overexcited when talking about Schubert.”

Because the book is a big  – the size of an LP actually – picture book with beautiful illustrations (by Martin O’Neill) and enthusiastically written chapters intended to be read while listening to the accompanying piece of music, it is the perfect book sitting on your living room table patiently waiting to be picked up again for a re read or just enjoying its beauty while flipping through it. So, if you are looking for a Christmas gift for a loved one, or for yourself or if you are just interested in James Rhodes and classical music, this is the perfect book to start.

James Rhodes: Playlist – The rebels and revolutionaries of sound, £ 17.

Tom Mole: The Secret Life of Books

As a passionate reader you can’t imagine a world without books or even longer periods without reading a book. Strangely enough I still remember the time when I wasn’t able to read but was fascinated by that black lines and dots in books my brother read – and wondered why none of those lines looked the same. Soon enough those signs became letters and words and I discovered new worlds and stories with every new book (more about this in that  blog entry  – in German).
So “The Secret Life of Books” begged for being bought and taken back home when I stumbled upon it at Waterstones Piccadilly (So much to the “Don’t judge books by their covers” thingy) claiming it to be a “treasure trove for book lovers”.

“Books are part of how we understand ourselves. They shape our identities, even before we can read them.”

Tom Mole explains why books have been with us for centuries, why we collect them (and spend a considerable amount of money on them if we can afford them), why we love them (and read them till they loose shape) and why they vanish while we reading them and  pop up again when we stop reading. Books are treated in different ways, they are flooding shelves, tables, attics or cellars and they are always telling something about their owners – even books which are not there.  Books are bringing people together when a group of readers meet to talk about a book they have read. Books are recommended by friends, papers or blogs (even a tiny little one like this), are lend, bought, sold and given away to make room for new ones. And even with new and different technical possibilities like tablets or e-readers, the printed book we can smell, touch, scribble notes in between lines, will still stay with us for quite a while.

“Books in the shelves are sandbags stacked against the floodwaters of forgetting.”

“The Secret Life of Books” is a thrilling story, brilliantly written and will still be fascinating on a second or third reading.

Tom Mole: The Secret Life of Books, Elliott & Thompson, £14.

Green Book

In the 1960s Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is a bouncer in a New York nightclub. When this is closed due to renovation, he applies for a job Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) has to offer. As it turns out, Shirley is not a “normal” doctor but a highly acclaimed black pianists who looks for a driver for his upcoming tour into America’s deep south. Tony takes this job, trying everything to stick to the schedule and reaching every town just in time to settle the stage and prepare for the next concert. The deeper they get into the southern states, where segregation is still in place, Tony realises that Don is only welcome and cheered at when he is the pianist on the stage  but not as a black man. Don on the other hand learns that Tony is a man he can rely on.

“It takes courage to change people’s hearts.”

“Green Book” which title refers to the “Negro Motorist Green Book“, an annual guide book for afro-american roadtrippers, tells a story that isn’t totally new to both the big and the small screen. But the way the story between two different men who become unlikely  friends is told here, is funny and sad and shocking and it has a warmth that draws you easily into its 130 minutes – with no boring moments.

Mahershala Ali took a Bafta, a Golden Globe and an Oscar as best supporting actor, while Viggo Mortensen was nominated as leading actor.
“Green Book” won the Oscar for best picture.

[Updated after the Oscars ceremony



What if you are a gifted author whose stories are beloved by their readers? You can make a living out of it – but only if you are a man. That’s the problem Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) faces after she has moved with her husband Henry Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West) from rural France to Paris. Here they live a bohemian life at the dawn of the 20th century. While her husband tries to write articles for various magazines with the help of ghost writers, he discovers Colette’s talent and convinces her to write novels. The first one is published under his name – Willy – and becomes a huge success with an audience demanding for more. Henry, keen to earn more money by selling more “Claudine” novels, forces Colette to continue writing under his name while they both enjoy a celebrity’s couple’s life including parties and different sexual relationships.

“My name is Claudine, I live in Montigny; I was born there in 1884; I shall probably not die there.”

But as time goes by, a frustrated Colette doesn’t want to hide her authorship anymore, she wants to be more than only her husband’s wife – questioning the norms of society.

“Colette” is a beautifully made film where every single detail of the set is chosen very carefully. Keira Knightley fits perfectly in this set and in the corsets, skirts and dresses while being witty, funny, angry and all in all a joy to watch. In 2014 she was Benedict Cumberbatch‘s Alan Turing‘s fiancée and life long friend Joan Clarke in “The Imitation Game” which earned her (and Benedict) an Oscar nomination. In this film Keira is on top of her performance abilities, portraying Colette from a shy girl to a strong woman ready to walk her way in a society dominated by men. One of the shiny 2019 Oscars could carry Keira’s name.

Alan Rusbridger: Breaking News

Alan Rusbridger’s latest book “Breaking News” is an insight look into The Guardian as well as an insight look into  journalism itself – and it offers a glimpse inside the mind of an Editor-in-Chief in times when literally all newspaper are struggling for survival.

“Keep it short, keep it simple, write it in language you would use if you were telling your mum or dad.”

When Rusbridger left the Guardian after being its Editor-in-Chief for 20 years, he left an organisation heading towards a new age where the fear of shutting down the printing presses isn’t gone but has lost at least its fear that journalism would die with them. That is because Rusbridger isn’t only a brilliant writer but because he is guided by a decent, humble opinion about how journalism can survive in an age where fake news and mistrust in media and journalists is about to take over at least vast parts of social media. To understand Rusbridger’s thinking, you have to follow his career that started as a local journalist at the Cambridge Evening News, covering nothing but wedding reports. It was a time when journalists didn’t talk about business models (because they didn’t need to) but were aware of getting “the salient facts into the top of the story so, in haste, it could be cut from the bottom.” They lived (and local journalists still do) among the people on whom they reported. That closeness also bred respect and trust – Rusbridger considers as the most important values journalists (and their publishers) should hold dear.

To get along with the internet

Journalists and even Editors-in-Chief had to discover what that internet really was, where it lived (apparently somewhere in Silicon Valley) and how to they possibly could get along with it or “We were conquered” as  Rusbridger puts it, even if he, like most of his fellow journalists, had no idea what to make out of it, it was obvious that a  media organisation couldn’t ignore it. With the death of Lady Diana and later with 9/11, people were desperate to get information – if not by the Guardian, then from someone else. When the planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the internet couldn’t cope with the huge amount of visits on various websites. But like other websites (I remember vaguely that Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s site skipped pictures and went to text only), “The Guardian – with anxious tech developers sitting up all night – didn’t go dark.”

“We broke virtually no celebrity news or gossip. We tended to ignore people’s private lives. All this appeared – for our readers – to be a positive, not a negative.”

Maybe this was one of those moments, readers found The Guardian, liked it and came back. Not only for information from and about the UK but about world affairs and made it the leading serious newspaper English-language website in the world, made it “worthy”. Then readers came back for information about the Leveson inquiry into press standards and ethics and the Snowden revelations which won The Guardian the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2014.

“Breaking News” is an inspiring and thrilling read for journalists who might find familiar thoughts and situations. For other readers it offers a brilliant read of journalism and media and how decent and serious information are made.


Alan Rusbridger: Breaking News – The remaking of journalism and why it matters now, Canongate, from £13.

You can find my blog entry about “Play it again” here.

Matt Haig: Notes on a nervous planet

People have literally everything at their fingertips: news, music, libraries, the internet, family and friends. But never before in human history are so many people stressed by how fast the world around themselves is spinning, afraid of how they can possibly face this stress. They are not only afraid but suffer from serious illnesses, including depression. Matt Haig knows what he is writing about in his latest book “Notes on a nervous planet”, having been through heavy depression himself.

“We need to build a kind of immune system of the mind.”

Without any self-pity Matt Haig offers his thoughts about the world and  what he finds helpful to stay sane on this nervous planet – what he finds helpful for himself; he is far from forcing his readers to follow his thoughts as gospel. But even if you are not stressed from constantly checking your Twitter or Instagram or scrolling through news, you will find that there is more than a little bit of truth in Matt Haig’s writing.  Unless you are the only person alive that has never enjoyed the sounds of a summer’s evening or watching the rain poring down or just sitting there with your own thoughts – or thinking nothing at all.

“Reading is love in action.”

Those moments are precious because we have to step back from all the fuss around us, we have to remind us that although  it is fascinating and a great achievement that we can chat to friends from all over the world any time, constantly. And even if we are so lucky to have met friends from Twitter in real life, we have to remind us that we don’t have to answer immediately, that it is totally okay to finish the chapter of our book or the whole book before picking up our phone again. But it’s not okay to try to be someone else, the model with that shiny hair, the actor with his huge range of knowledge, that colleague who runs a marathon. It’s totally fine to be ourself: “We are humans. Let’s not be ashamed to look like them.”

What makes Matt Haig’s writing and therefore this book – his books –  such a pleasant read is that it offers such a huge amount of knowledge, glimpses into different spaces, different opinions while being funny and relaxing and an eye opener at the same time. Some might say this isn’t what literature should be. Don’t mind them. Just read.


Matt Haig: Notes on a nervous planet, Canongate, round £11/ 12 Euro.

Ian Mc Ewan: The Daydreamer

Frequent visitors of my blog (hello again if you are one) or those you follow me on social media especially on Twitter (hiiii, nice to meet you over here) know that I have a soft spot for the British author Ian McEwan ever since I stumbled upon the film “Atonement” and decided to read the German translation of the book (for those of you moaning: I got my hands on the English one later as well). It not only offered the opportunity to dive into the novel the film is based upon (and of course a certain actor named Benedict Cumberbatch) but also introduced me to an author I’ve never heard of before (to my defence I’m not British, although this isn’t a good excuse given the fact that his works are available in wonderful German translations published by Diogenes.) Being late to the party isn’t that bad in this particular case because I don’t have to wait impatiently for the next book to be published (of course I do) but instead in every book shop I’m happily strolling to the shelves where Ian McEwan’s works are sitting and pick up the one that is lacking on my shelf.

“They thought he was difficult because he was so silent. That seemed to bother people. (…) He liked to be alone and think his own thoughts.”

My latest one therefore is “Daydreamer” which followed me from Waterstones Piccadilly (one of my beloved places in London) and which I finished only recently. Although it is a small one, the book is a collection of short stories that are  connected through the main figure Peter Fortune. The ten year old boy is the daydreamer, a silent boy that prefers to be on his own, reading and imagining the stories in the book. But Peter not only is imagining the stories, he always is part of them and tells them from his point of view. So when he dreams himself in being the  old cat William, he literally becomes the furry animal that has lived with Peter, his sister and his parents ever since William has been a young cat.

“It was the oddest thing, to climb out of your body, just to step out of it and leave it lying on the carpet like a shirt you had just taken off.”

Eventually Peter and William the cat will change bodies again in the end which is a sad one. But the story – and the six others – are so well written and intriguing that you sigh with delight and relief because even if there isn’t a happy end, there is too much joy in reading especially this story and the other. And the only sad thing about Ian McEwan’s short stories is – that they are too short.

Ian McEwan: Daydreamer, Vintage, 7,99 £

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