Yes, I finished two days ago! To me, it was an interesting challenge, maybe, without it, I wouldn't have read the books I picked. Sometimes, it was hard to go on, because my TBR-pile is so immense...but it was also fun, definitely. And I really do not regret having read these six books (I recommend all of them):
Hannas Töchter / Hanna's Daughters (1994) by Marianne Fredriksson [category: relative]
This is a family story which deals with the life of three women: Hanna Broman, her child Johanna and her grandchild Anna. It tells a lot about the differences between past, present and future. The story starts with Anna, who is writing down the life of her ancestors. She thinks about differences and similarities between herself and her mother and grandmother and realizes how dramatically the world has changed during these three generations. The book is well written, in a plain but sensitive style. Personally, I especially liked how the three female characters were presented. Great family story!
Ansichten eines Clowns / The Clown (1963) by Heinrich Böll [category: profession]
This is a novel which deals with the postwar period in Germany in the late 1950s and contrasts different personal experiences and attitudes. The reader plunges into the story of Hans Schnier, who is the son of a wealthy German businessman. But Hans does not profit from the wealthy background of his family, as he has nearly no contact to his family due to different opinions concerning morality and economics. Hand decided to become a clown instead of a businessman. He tells the reader of his relationship to Marie, a strict Catholic young woman. To him, she was the love of his life, but, however, the relationship broke off because of different opinions concerning religion and marriage. Hans, who does not believe in religion, cannot understand the institution of marriage and preferred to cohabitate instead. This is the reason why Marie has left him. At this point, the real story starts. The reader sympathizes with Hans and gets to know him as an honest and genuine person whose whole life and career breaks down due to the lost of Marie. Even as a reader you feel kind of powerless, because you realize that Hans has down nothing wrong. He just cannot cope with the set of beliefs and moral attitudes of his own society.
Very emotional and thoughtful.
Das Geisterhaus / The House of the Spirits (1982) by Isabel Allende [category: building]
Another family story, but with a complete different background. The story does not focus as much on emotions of individual characters as in Hannas Töchter, but on the history of one family, the Truebas.
The story takes place in Chile and it is linked to the history and politics of this country. The story is written in a style of a chronicle and the reader starts to believe that these events truly have happened. In this case, the suspense is created by an elaborated story line and the insight in one family across generations. As a reader, I found it hard to get into the story, but after you got to know all the family members you didn't want to stop reading.
If on a winter's night a traveller (1979) by Italo Calvino [category: time of day]
This is a book which is very hard to describe because it is so special. Imagine starting to read a story, but after 10-15 pages the story ends abruptly and a new one starts...This is what happens 12 times in this book. Well, the stories are linked somehow by a narrator and the main topic which links all story is the discussion about reading and writing as such. Though, in the beginning, it was hard to deal with this book, I really recommend it after all, because it is so original, surprising, bewildering and frustrating at the same time. And I can support what is written on the back of the cover: The hero of this story is you, the reader!
Die Pest / The Plague (1947) by Albert Camus [category: medical condition]
Well, I guess that a lot of participants have read this novel by now, so I don't know whether a story outline is necessary at all... :o)
This book is about the plague, which appears in the city of Oran in Algeria. The story deals with the fight against the disease and how different people react to this problem. After all, the plague gets defeated by the inhabitants, but the city of Oran will never be the same. The story is written in a documentary style, with doctor Bernard Rieux as the main character. The reader gets to know him and other characters, like a priest, a journalist, a judge and some other inhabitants who offer resistance to mental and moral destruction. The book is written in a classical style and offers several parallels to war. I liked the book a lot and I think I wouldn't have read it without this challenge. I really got interested in the work of Albert Camus and his biography and I think I will read one of his other works soon!
Change of Heart (2008) by Jodi Picoult [category: body part]
This is my favourite book of the challenge! I always wanted to read something by Jodi Picoult because I have heard a lot about her books. And I have to say: my expectations were even exceeded!
The outline of the story can be explained in short terms: Shay Bourne, a young man who is a bit mentally retarded, killed June Nealon's daughter Elizabeth and her husband Kurt. Shay gets sentenced to death. June has another daughter, Claire, who needs a new heart in order to survive. Shay Bourne, now in prison, gets to know that Claire needs a new heart and wants to give her his heart after the death sentence. Will June Nealon accept this heart?
This is a great story about morality, religion, love and death. As a reader, you get involved a lot. The story is presented from different point of views from different characters, which gives the reader a frame of detailed information and complexity. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, because this would weaken the suspense. However, there are a lot of turning points....Great emotion and thoughtfulness!
(all covers by amazon.com)