Books


“Every Man Dies Alone” or “Alone in Berlin” (German: Jeder stirbt für sich allein) is a 1947 novel by German author Hans Fallada. It is based on the true story of a working class husband and wife who, acting alone, became part of the German Resistance. Fallada’s book was one of the first anti-Nazi novels to be published by a German after World War II.

The story takes place during World War II in 1940 in Berlin. The book conveys the omnipresent fear and suspicion engulfing Germany at the time caused by the constant threat of arrest, imprisonment, torture and death. Even those not at risk of any of those punishments could be ostracized and unable to find work. Escherich, a Gestapo inspector, must find the source of hundreds of postcards encouraging Germans to resist Adolf Hitler and the Nazis with personal messages such as “Mother! The Führer has murdered my son. Mother! The Führer will murder your sons too, he will not stop till he has brought sorrow to every home in the world.” Escherich is under pressure from Obergruppenführer Prall to arrest the source or find himself in dire straits. Nearly all those who find the cards turn them in to the Gestapo immediately, terrified they themselves will be discovered having them. Eventually, Escherich finds the postcard writer and his wife, who turn out to be a quiet, working class couple, Otto and Anna Quangel. The Quangels’ acts of civil disobedience were prompted by the loss of their only son, who has been killed in action. They are arrested and brought to trial at the Volksgerichtshof, the Nazi “People’s Court”, where the infamous Roland Freisler presides. The Quangels are sentenced to death; Otto is soon executed, but Anna dies during an Allied bombing raid, while still on death row. (via Wikipedia)

I red this book some months ago, and it´s hard to not get engaged in the storyline about the Quangels’ and their action towards the Nazis as a result due to the loss of their son. However, despite having a great story based on a true story, I still felt something didn´t strike me full on and left me longing to pick the book up and read and also feeling sad when the book was finished. Not sure why I felt that way. Nevertheless, it´s has a strong illustration of German resistance against the Nazis. In the autumn of 1946 Fallada wrote “Alone in Berlin” in just 24 days and died a few months later, weeks before the book was published. Sad that he didn´t get to see the success of the book years later.

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When I left for Sorrento in Italy I had to bring “The Story of San Michele” by Swedish physician Axel Munthe with me. A funny, strange and existential book of memoirs by Munthe. It was first published in 1929 and it became a best-seller in numerous languages and has been republished constantly in the over seven decades since its original release. Munthe spent much of his life on Capri building the Villa San Michele. A magnificent place on Capri you should visit. I will go back for sure. #Sorrento #Capri #AxelMunthe

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Before we had Pantone Color Guide, there was no universally recognized system to identify colors. But there were attempts to make it, and probably the most impressive one came from the artist known only as A. Boogert, who back in 1692 created an impressive piece of literature about mixing colors.

Handwritten in Dutch, the “Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau“ was an 800-page long guide on color and paint that was probably the most comprehensive piece on colors at the time. It featured color samples, descriptions and even instructions on how to create certain hues and change the tone by adding one, two, or three parts of water. (via Bored Panda)

http://www.boredpanda.com/271-years-before-pantone-800-page-color-book-guide-boogert/

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”Мы” (We)is a dystopian futuristic novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin completed in 1921. D-503, a spacecraft engineer, lives in the One State, an urban nation constructed almost entirely of glass, which assists mass surveillance by the secret police, or Bureau of Guardians. D-503’s lover, O-90, has been assigned by One State to visit him on certain nights. She is considered too short to bear children and is deeply grieved by her state in life. O-90’s other lover and D-503’s best friend is R-13, a State poet who reads his verse at public executions. While on an assigned walk with O-90, D-503 meets a woman named I-330. I-330 smokes cigarettes, drinks alcohol, and shamelessly flirts with D-503 instead of applying for an impersonal sex visit; all of these are highly illegal according to the laws of One State. Both repelled and fascinated, D-503 struggles to overcome his attraction to I-330. I-330 invites him to visit the Ancient House, notable for being the only opaque building in One State, except for windows. Objects of aesthetic and historical importance dug up from around the city are stored there. There, I-330 offers him the services of a corrupt doctor to explain his absence from work. Leaving in horror D-503 vows to denounce her to the Bureau of Guardians, but finds that he cannot. He begins to have dreams, which disturbs him, as dreams are thought to be a symptom of mental illness. Slowly, I-330 reveals to D-503 that she is involved with the Mephi, an organization plotting to bring down the One State. She takes him through secret tunnels inside the Ancient House to the world outside the Green Wall, which surrounds the city-state. There, D-503 meets the inhabitants of the outside world: humans whose bodies are covered with animal fur. The aims of the Mephi are to destroy the Green Wall and reunite the citizens of One State with the outside world…

Along with Jack London’s ”The Iron Heel”, ”Мы” is generally considered to be the grandfather of the satirical futuristic dystopia genre. It takes the modern industrial society to an extreme conclusion, depicting a state that believes that free will is the cause of unhappiness, and that citizens’ lives should be controlled with mathematical precision based on the system of industrial efficiency created by Frederick Winslow Taylor. George Orwell claimed that Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) must be partly derived from ”Мы”. However, in a letter to Christopher Collins in 1962, Huxley says that he wrote Brave New World as a reaction to H. G. Wells’s utopias long before he had heard of ”Мы”. According to one translator of ”Мы”, Natasha Randall, Orwell believed that Huxley was lying. Orwell began Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) some eight months after he read We in a French translation and wrote a review of it. Orwell is reported as “saying that he was taking it as the model for his next novel”. Brown writes that for Orwell and certain others, ”Мы” “appears to have been the crucial literary experience”.Shane states that “Zamyatin’s influence on Orwell is beyond dispute”. Robert Russell, in an overview of the criticism of ”Мы”, concludes that “1984 shares so many features with ”Мы” that there can be no doubt about its general debt to it”, however there is a minority of critics who view the similarities between ”Мы” and 1984 as “entirely superficial”. Further, Russell finds that “Orwell’s novel is both bleaker and more topical than Zamyatin’s, lacking entirely that ironic humour that pervades the Russian work”. ”Мы” was the first work banned by Goskomizdat, the new Soviet censorship bureau, in 1921, though the initial draft dates to 1919. Zamyatin’s literary position deteriorated throughout the 1920s, and he was eventually allowed to emigrate to Paris in 1931, probably after the intercession of Maxim Gorky. The novel was first published in English in 1924 by E. P. Dutton in New York in a translation by Gregory Zilboorg, but its first publication in the Soviet Union had to wait until 1988, when glasnost resulted in it appearing alongside George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. A year later, ”Мы” and Brave New World were published together in a combined edition. (via Wikipedia)

”Мы” was written before both ”Brave New World” and ”1984” as said, but both carries a lot of resemblances to ”Мы” and you can´t pretend that is has had a significant influcence on the other books. However, being a great fan of russian writers like Bulgakov, I was intrigued by ”Мы” as I hadn´t heard about this book before strangely enough. The conceptual idea is there, but the execution leave you something to wish for. I red a Swedish translation and it´s hard to know how much you lose from the original language, but I found ”Мы” being confusingly written and not as straightforward as ”Brave New World” and ”1984” which both are great novels. I reckon I found myself trying to get my head around the main characters and their whereabouts, but felt the story floated around without a linear structure and I dropped the thread at times. ”Мы” didn´t have the impact on me as I wanted, but I´m glad I have red it.

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On October 25th, 2016 New York Times bestselling novelist and cultural trickster Chuck Palahniuk will publish Bait: Off-Color Stories for You to Color, his first ever coloring book for adults, this fall with Dark Horse Books. Bait will be both the coloring book debut and the second short story collection for Palahniuk, author of Lullaby and Fight Club. The book will contain eight bizarre tales, illustrated in detailed black and white by Joëlle Jones (Lady Killer), Lee Bermejo (The Suiciders), Duncan Fegredo (Hellboy), and more. Each story is paired with pieces of colorable original art, nearly 50 in all. Dark Horse Books will publish Bait: Off-Color Stories for You to Color as an 8.5 x 11 inch hardcover album, with uncoated and white interior paper stock, accompanied by a cover illustrated and colored by Duncan Fegredo and designed by Nate Piekos. (via http://chuckpalahniuk.net)

Gotta have.

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Damned (2011) introduced us to 13-year-old Madison Spencer, newly arrived in Hell after her death; as she tried to figure out what exactly happened to her, she took us on an exciting and often very funny tour of Hell. Now, in the sequel “Doomed” (2013), Madison is back on Earth, stranded there on Halloween, facing the prospect of spending an entire year as a ghost among the living. The sequel gives us a clearer view of Madison’s childhood and explains why she was damned to Hell. I liked “Damned” that allowed us to take a ride in Hell with Madison, obviously inspired to Dantes “Inferno”, but with that classic Palahniuk twist of vile environments and evil behaviour. The hellish travelogue structure was intriguing and you wanted to find out where it would take Madison. In “Doomed” we get a better understanding of Madison´s damnation and Palahniuk takes further swings at religion, Hollywood parenting, teen difficulties and global hypocrisy. Palahniuk’s satire works for the most, but in the case with “Doomed” it becomes a stretch as he drags out the story in a set of some sort of long tweets that speaks to different people via social network channels. I don´t think Palahniuk manages to keep this one together and entertain with his twisted writing that normally is of my liking. This becomes a bit of a question mark and it´s hardly Palahniuk´s best work. I can only hope that third and final chapter of Madison Spencer´s trip on the other side is much better.

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Book & Hero is a clever bookend. A magnet is employed to suspend the superhero in the air, giving the impression of him ‘saving’ the books from an imminent fall. Supershelf is a floating shelf which gives the impression of a superhero holding the books aloft, preventing them from falling to the ground. The base is concealed by the books and the superhero is affixed via a magnet to the base to give the item its dynamic appearance. (via Designboom)

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