Reading this didn't feel like reading a book, it felt like reading columns in book-format. Judging by Raether's afterword, in which he says some of th...moreReading this didn't feel like reading a book, it felt like reading columns in book-format. Judging by Raether's afterword, in which he says some of the main character's thoughts were inspired by columns he himself had written before, seems to confirm this thought. In all honesty, the plot of the book is paper-thin, lacks a build-up to such an extent that it's absolutely impossible to care for the character's journey, and the characters themselves aren't fleshed out in the slightest. The main point of this book is the musings of the main character.
Now, if you like Till Raether's columns, there's a good chance you'll like this book. If you're an avid reader of Raether's columns, you might encounter themes he's written about before, but you'll probably still enjoy this book. I was unfamiliar with Raether's work, but I think I could like his columns, if read sporadically. I didn't like the book much on the whole, but there are some thoughts I really liked, and the first chapter was hysterical. I was kind of disappointed that the rest of the book didn't live up to that first chapter, but what can you do. Maybe it's my fault. I don't say without reason that I'd only read his columns sporadically: even at just reading one chapter a day Raether's style bored me quite quickly, because it turns out that this genre isn't really my thing.
But, what really surprised me, is two certain musings from the main character that could literally be describing me. It's the first time I met a character that so clearly described my way of life and of music lessons, and it amused me. Moral of that story? Even if you don't like a book, there's always some things to enjoy. Anyway, next time someone asks me about my view on life, I'll know what to say. Thanks, Herr Raether.
"Ich lebte in ständiger Sorge um mein Karma. Karma bedeutete im hinduistischen und buddhistischen Weltverständnis ja eigentlich, dass einem jede gute oder schlechte Tat im nächsten Leben entsprechend vergolten wurde. Mein Problem war: Ich glaubte zwar an Karma, aber nicht an ein nächstes Leben. Das hieß, ich kriegte die Vergeltung noch in diesem Leben reingedrückt."
(I was constantly concerned about my karma. In the hindu and buddhist religion karma meant that each and every good or bad deed would be repaid in the next life. My problem was this: I did believe in karma, but not in reincarnation. That meant that the retaliation would take place in this life.) *
"Wenn mich (...) jemand gefragt hätte, was er mit seinem Leben anfangen sollte, ich hätte geantwortet: Lern ein absurdes Instrument. Je später, desto besser. Übe nie. Du wirst sehen, wie irre befreiend es ist."
(If someone had asked me what he should do with his life, I would have said: Learn how to play a ridiculous instrument. The later, the better. Don't practice - ever. You will see how strangely liberating it is.) *
* Poor translations by yours truly for the sake of this review.(less)
I picked up this book because I thought the title was very interesting. I was happily surprised that it had a sort of Christmas theme in it. It fits w...moreI picked up this book because I thought the title was very interesting. I was happily surprised that it had a sort of Christmas theme in it. It fits with the time of year, after all!
Another thing that surprised me was that this wasn't an easy book to read at all. I had thought this to be a book for kids or young adults, but I've read literary articles that were easier to read than this book. I think that's just personal preference however: most of this book, at least the most important part of it, is a philosophical conversation between human Cecilie and angel Ariel. This format didn't just make the book a bit hard to read, it also illuminated very clearly that an actual plot was not the most important thing for the writer. For instance, Cecilie is very ill, and we do see glimpses of that, but never enough to make a real lasting impression. Characterization and plot are both not really expanded upon, to make way for the religious philosophy that's at the heart of the book.
Truthfully, I liked the philosophical thoughts portrayed in this book. Gaarder does a good job of mixing Bible references, Norse mythology references, as well as science (astronomy and evolution, mostly) into a comprehendable world-view. But, for me there were quite a few inconsistencies in the mythology:
(view spoiler)[- Angels aren't supposed to sense or feel things. This means that flying doens't bring them joy, touching snow doesn't make them feel the cold, etc. Ariel stresses very often that angels don't feel anything. But somehow they do feel the need to be alone every once in a while (as illustrated by the fact that Ariel sometimes goes to an asteroid I think it was because (s)he doesn't want to see anyone for a while). Also kind of strange: Ariel says they know everything they need to know. He can't forget or remember anything: every knowledge they need is present. But still they feel curious about how it is to be human. This is strange again: because curiosity is an emotion. I don't know, for me this seems inconsistent.
- God is portrayed as omniscient. But still, he didn't know how his creation would turn out, as he has no control over what he created. Maybe it's my interpretation of the word omniscient that's the problem here, but I think that shows God does not know everything. But then, how to draw the line? Odin for instance is not portrayed as omniscient, but he's said to have become omniscient through his ravens who inform him about everything, whereas God is omniscient by his own ability. But later Ariel says that God's many Angels keep him informed about people. I just find it confusing: what exactly is the definition of omniscient then? Is it just facts about the world as it is? Odin's ability to see the future is not addressed. The fact that God doesn't know how his creations would turn out, meaning that he doesn't know the future, does not diminish his ability to be omniscient. That being said, is Odin omniscient or is he not? It's just an example, but I think there were things in this book that weren't defined well enough.
- Ariel, as an entity without a body of flesh and blood, is able to a.o. move through walls. How is this still possible when he has Cecilie in his arms? Just being in Ariel's arms doesn't change the structure of Cecilie's body, and she should not be able to move through walls. This is not addressed or explained in the slightest.
- Ariel mentions in the beginning that there's not enough Angels to watch over ill people. But there's also far more Angels than humans - because who else can enjoy this universe? Certainly not humans, because they are bound to planet Earth, and Angels are not. Why can't there be more Angels looking after people then? The reason certainly isn't that there aren't enough Angels... so why?
- Speaking of Angels visiting the ill: sometimes they show themselves, but generally they don't. We never found out why Ariel decided to show himself to Cecilie, other than curiosity. But that doesn't explain why he chose her specifically, or why she was special. (hide spoiler)]
I might remember things a tad wrongly, as I did read this on the train and that's not generally the best place to read very attentively. But these things just strike me as odd, add to that the almost absent characterization and a wafer-thin plot, and I just didn't enjoy this book as much as I could have.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book by Rudolf Kleinpaul isn't so much a book to actually read through, as it is a reference book. As such, there's a wealth of information in he...moreThis book by Rudolf Kleinpaul isn't so much a book to actually read through, as it is a reference book. As such, there's a wealth of information in here, so much that it's hardly possible to remember even half of it after a first read. The man is incredibly well-read, will cite medieval works, letters, and research; explain a million and one things; and also teach you ethymological roots of words while he's at it.
Basically, this book is quite a thorough introduction to the 'Middle Ages'. Does it discuss everything one can possibly know about the time period? Of course not. But it does tell one a lot, and despite being more of a reference book, it's not a dry read. Sure, there aren't always nice anecdotes, and sometimes he likes to make lists and talk about all of its entries seperately, which can get boring (e.g., so many different cheeses). And he will discuss topics you might not be interested in as much (for me: fashion, which he went on about in length).
Still, it's a good book. It was published in 1895 however, so I don't know how much of his research still holds up today. I have some knowledge of German medieval history, but not enough to judge how much of this information is still what we believe today. Also the man talks about the whole of Europe, and that I really cannot judge.
But the book seems convincing enough, and as a lot of medieval research was done in the 19th century and is still used today (e.g. the work by the Grimm brothers), I'm sure that it is a good read for everyone interested in this time period. It's also adorned with 465 very interesting drawings, which will definitely enhance your reading experience. To give you a taste of the information you will find inside this book:
Did you know that Karl der Grosse (Charlemagne/Charles The Great) only wanted to eat meat, liked gardening, and tried to make learning available to all? Did you know that his dad was called Pippin der Kleine (Pippin the Small, which is funny as the literal translation of Karl's name is Karl the Big)? Did you know that the word "rabbit" developed from "rare bit", as rabbits used to be rare in England, and even non-existent until the Normans or Romans brought them along? Did you know that the English thought killing a fox was as bad as killing a close family member (the reason why has to do with the fox hunt)? Did you know they called beer "liquid bread"? Did you know there are folk stories that liken giants (whose names have their roots in "Hungry" and "Thirsty") to the nobility, and that the stories are supposed to teach the nobility they should treat farmers kindly, as without them there was no food? Did you know that if it turned out that someone was a heretic after his death, the body would be dug up and put on trial? And that the body would be found guilty and burned, so as to remove all heresy from this world?
If you didn't, and like these tidbits of information, this is definitely the right book for you. And though the hardcover edition I have is very pretty, the book should be available online for free as an eBook, so definitely give it a shot if you want to learn more about the Medium Aevum.(less)
I wasn't sure whether to add this book to Goodreads or not, technically speaking, this is not a book, but a Skriptum, or a text written specifically w...moreI wasn't sure whether to add this book to Goodreads or not, technically speaking, this is not a book, but a Skriptum, or a text written specifically written for a course by Professor Reichert. All the same, these neatly stapled A4 papers are printed at a publisher, and even get an ISBN number. The 'book' may not be available outside of Vienna, but I can't help that.
This book is the best introduction I can imagine to the old Norse mythology. Am I biased in saying this? Possibly. I took one of Professor Reichert's courses while I was studying in Vienna, and can only say that he was the best thing about the Vienna university for me. The man is brilliant, he knows so much, and has a clear way of explaining and translating things. I also love his medieval German accent, but that's beside the point here.
His lecturing skills are quite obvious in his Skripta, this book in particular is exceptionally clear. You get an overview of history that's necessary to understand the book, and he goes through Snorri's texts one by one. His summaries are infinitely clearer than a direct translation from the Edda could be, though he does cite from the original Icelandic and offers his own translation for important paragraphs. Overall, this book is just incredibly readable, full of relevant detail, and also wit. He'll randomly throw in sentences like "(xxx) failed in reconstructing this, I probably will too", which doesn't make the book a completely dry read.
I basically can only recommend Professor Reichert's texts and courses. Once you've finished reading one of his works, you will have learned so much, from many different sources, but it's so well organized you never feel overwhelmed.
Ahh, my favourite Professor, I miss you tons.(less)
Oh, what a brilliant end to the dream arc. I can't say much besides that I just loved loved loved it. And Usa and...moreStarlight Honeymoon Therapy Kiss????
Oh, what a brilliant end to the dream arc. I can't say much besides that I just loved loved loved it. And Usa and Mamoru are so perfect.. and they save the world with the power of love. Seriously, what's not to like??(less)
(view spoiler)[Oh, this was so good! The pace was less frantic, and we actually got to spend some time with all of the Inner Senshi for a change. I lo...more(view spoiler)[Oh, this was so good! The pace was less frantic, and we actually got to spend some time with all of the Inner Senshi for a change. I love how all of these ~dreams were so clearly personalized, it actually gave great insight into these characters. And you go Rei, for not being interested in men! Four for you! You're awesome!
Although wtf at Artemis staring at Minako in the shower and actually becoming sort of human to save her.. say what?? Didn't he and Luna have Diana as a kid?? I'm confused.
And poor Chibi Usa, with her inferiority complex :( But whaa whaa she and Helios are too adorable.
What was also too cool was the return of the Outer Senshi! Well, sort of. They haven't actually seen Sailor Moon yet. But just that little bit of screentime was enough to remind me that ohmygosh they are all too awesome for words. I would love to be Setsuna. And I kind of envy Michiru because Haruka is too cool and I can't deal.
But the ending was cruel and I don't want both Mamoru and Usa to die. :(( The ending was just painful to see, also when Mamoru threw Usa out. *sniffles* I just have a lot of OTP feels, okay, and this just feels wrong. ;__; (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
**spoiler alert** - Too many new characters, but I do like these Sailor Starlights (especially Seiya - he seems tragic and somehow I like that?). - Fi...more**spoiler alert** - Too many new characters, but I do like these Sailor Starlights (especially Seiya - he seems tragic and somehow I like that?). - Finally an appearance from Chibi Chibi!! I've been wanting a backstory on her since forever (I always loved her design, but somehow never really looked into the character). Said backstory didn't appear in this volume yet, but I'm hopeful. - The Starlights' princess looks so prettyyyy. - Naoko's drawing style for Usagi has really become so gorgeous that it makes me want to cry with happiness when reading these volumes. - I must say the battles are kinda monotone, though? There seems to be no strategy or whatever, the only way to win battles is new moves or new sailors. Little progress on that part, though I don't actually care. - NO WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT TO MAMORU THOUGH - AND HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT ALL THE SAILOR FIGHTERS ARE DEAD - *sobs*(less)