Friday, 28 January 2011

The pleasure of reading

There are people who never read. By never reading I mean never reading a book for pleasure. It simply does not occur to them. They might read a daily newspaper, the television weekly but a book? Never.

As far as I could find out through observation of others, never reading a book implies a certain lack of curiosity. Reading a book - nearly any one - makes you enter the life of someone else. I have always thought that reading can b e a kind of fast lane to the experiences of others and that might come handy one day.

As to me, well I have been reading nearly all my life. By nearly I mean since I learned reading, about one year before entering school. When I was about five years old my grandma read those Till Eulenspiegel stories to me. This guy who lived in the Middle Ages was a kind of impudent trickster and I could not hear enough. Thus when my grandma stopped I was so impatient to know what will happen next that I managed to learn it without any outside help.

Here, have a look at this photo. This is Till Eulenspiegel's stature in his birth town. I owe him something.

Not long ago I read in Smorgy's blog a very exhausting list of his readings. And in the comments he gives even the ten books he likes most. So I just imitate him and give a list of my favourite ten. Here is it, I tried to do my best. Number 1 does not mean this is my absolute best, I only start at one.

1. Peter Weiss - Fluchtpunkt
2. Arno Schmidt - Kaff auch Mare Crisium
3. Bertold Brecht - his collected poems
4. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - his collected poems
5. J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in The Rye
6. W.H. Davies - The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp
7. Raymond Queneau - Le Dimanche de la Vie
8. Michael Crichton - Timeline
9. P.G. Wodehouse - Psmith/Jeeves stories
10. Egon Fridell - Kulturgeschichte der Neuzeit
11. Mika Waltari - Sinuhe the Egyptian
12. Ernst Vollbehr - Bunte leuchtende Welt

Well, those ten became twelf. I am unable to delete two books from that list.

Some are well known but others , like No 1, 2 and 10 are somehow lost, forgotten but to a very small number of readers. Some more years to go and nobody will remember.

And something should be mentioned, too. It is very difficult to find a factual description of a book. I mean a review that tells you what is going on inside. Instead of this the reviewer talks and talks but I am not wiser at the end. One of the rare exceptions to this is the blogger I Me My . But maybe this is so because this person is not a professional book reviewer.

Works of art are subject to aging like people. The fastest to age are movies. But books age, too. There are those famous writers of the 19th century, monuments of literature, but I can't help it they seem lengthy and boring to me. Most of them. Long descriptions of situations and surroundings, I am not so very much interested in. So it could well be that each century or each time has its own literature or let's say interesting and thrilling books.


  1. The only book on your list that I've had the pleasure of reading is J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in The Rye and I am familiar with several of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's poetry- very beautiful.

    I love to read! It was instilled in me when I was a little girl. Certain hours of the day were dedicated to reading. I loved it then and I even love it more now.

    Not sure if my reading selection is if of your taste but I finished reading Keith Richard's Biography "Life" and am now halfway through a book called "Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century."

  2. ahh Herr Georg, what a great post! so this is what you were talking about when you said 10 best books, huh? alright, apart from my book lists and semi-reviews/book-pinions i sent you, i promise to work on my top 10 list of books...

    i have read 2 books from your list actually, like the blogger before, i've read Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, fantastic, as i was going to therapy in San Diego those days when i read it...

    also i've read Mika Waltari's Sinuhe the Egyptian, i read it sooo long ago! but i loved it, i always relate this book with The Count of Montecristo, i guess is the epic novels with even more epic characters, the truly adventurers, like the Count and Sinuhe

    well, and thank you Herr Georg, for this list and your great analysis of the pleasure of reading... as you well pointed i guess it takes curiosity and some sort of discipline to let oneself immerse into somebody else lives, stories, and dreams, after all most works of fiction are wonderful daydreams, huh?

    and finally i must agree with your opinion of ID's books 'reviews'... he/she is wonderful at calling our attention to books (and movies too!) so glad i found him/her and you around these blogging world...

  3. Myt first thought was of Atala and Rene', a book I read so long ago...
    and then Ossian, by James Macpherson. Books that held and facinated me in my youth, and were Landmark historical works in their time, but now?
    who has heard of them? What dusty shelves do they grace?
    Poor Bonaparte, does anyone remember his hero's?
    a wonderful and thought provoking post as always...

  4. To Princess
    So you know Goethe's poems. I would appreciate you telling me which one you were reading, in English I suppose.

    Everybody has his/her own selection of favorites. What about giving yours??

    To Berenice
    Two books is already quite good. The Catcher is a kind of evergreen; even now you'll find it in every English bookstore. Please let us have your list of best books. I would love to read this.

    To Sorrow
    Unfortunately, I don't know those books you are mentioning. I'll try to look it up in Wikipedia. By the way, your blog is closed for me and I regret this because of your works I liked to look at.


  5. I'm currently re-reading some of the books that I read when I was younger. I did not read a lot of German authors (and I only read English) but I did read a translation of Buddenbrooks (I wonder if I will get to that again) and many of Hermann Hesse's novels, which I always find so compelling. Hesse I'll be reading until I die, I think.
    Happy reading!

  6. To PHX
    Thanks for commenting. I have had a look at your blog and understand why you are attracted to Herman Hesse. The Glasperlenspiel (the glass beads organ ???) should be in your line or do you know it already?

    Click on N° 10, this might interest you, great useful reading.


  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Bonjour Georg,

    Yes I read his poems in English from a book that contained a collection of his poetry.

    I like his poem “To Luna”

    P.S. Two of my favorite quotes from him:

    "A correct answer is like an affectionate kiss".

    "A noble person attracts noble people, and knows how to hold on to them. "

  9. Georg,
    Thanks for that compliment : ) I am flattered! Growing up, I too found it hard to find a book/movie I'd enjoy, and the reviews did not seem to help.
    From your list of 12 I share your love for P.G. Wodehouse; there may be very few of his that I may not have read. Brecht I always associate with drama, and I've read a couple of his plays and liked them immensely, 'Mother Courage' (did I get that name right) being a particular favorite. Now that you mention his poems, I'm going to check on those : ) . Of course Catcher in the Rye is an amazing read; Salinger's biography that has recently been published is apparently going to be quite a page turner, or so the review says.
    It's interesting that people can actually list 10 favorite readings; I don't think I could come up with one list that I'd be satisfied with for long : )...but I am going to try.
    Sorry for that lengthy comment.

  10. To Id it is,

    Glad to hear that you like Wodehouse, too. This author has fans all over the world and rightly so.

    As to Bertold Brecht, I know his dramas and plays but - to me - his poems are the best he ever made. Some of them have been translated into English but I cannot say what they are worth. Give it a try and tell me.

    As to your list of your best-loved 10 books, it is understood that in five years some of the ten will have disappeared to make place for some other.

    To Cocaine Princess
    "To Luna": don't know that one. I'll try to find it. In case I don't succeed, I'll ask you for the link on the www. circuit.


  11. Herr Georg, today, per your recommendation, i bought two old used books, both P.G. Wodehouse, 'Five Complete Novels' (all from Jeeves) and 'The Man Upstairs and Other Stories' looking forward to reading them, will share opinions with you, thanks for the recommendation

  12. To Berenice

    Wish you joy reading the Jeeves stories. I am quite sure you'll like them. I don't know "The Man Upstairs" but frequently his books are rearranged under a different name.

    Next to the Jeeves stories I like the three with Psmith. Very hilarious. Especially the first one "Psmith in the City" where he works in a bank and managed to drive the manager nuts.


  13. Great article thanks for writing it, I learned a lot from it and will try to implement it into my everyday life.

    Looking for a biker leather jacket made from genuine leather? We have an extensive collection of leather jacket and a eclectic collection of biker leather jackets. Check us out; we also make custom leather jackets and custom size leather jackets.