The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, by Heinrich Böll

The opening page of this novella comes with a little hint as to what the contents will be like: “The characters and action in this story are purely fictitious. Should the description of certain journalistic practices result in a resemblance to the practices of Bild-Zeitung, such resemblance is neither intentional, nor fortuitous, but unavoidable.” Bild-Zeitung …

Austerlitz, by W.G. Sebald

Another stunning novel by Sebald, and this is the first of his to approach anything like a plot. As with all of Sebald's books, the themes are on memory, and the Holocaust. Of all his books I've read so far, this one most directly addresses the two. The narrator, who as usual is a maybe/maybe …

The Handmaid’s Tale: a negative side of human adaptability

I finished this dystopian classic by Margaret Atwood and was both impressed and frustrated. I was impressed by how believable the story was. In the afterward the author talks about how she took great care to put nothing in the book that hadn't already happened somewhere in history, and no technology that didn't exist. She …

I, Claudius by Robert Graves

This was an interesting and entertaining, though not always very engaging read. Told from the point of view of  Claudius, a stuttering, limping, nephew of the emperor Tiberius. I have no idea how much of this is historically accurate beyond the births and deaths of these people, but it painted a disgusting picture of the …

Resurrection, by Leo Tolstoy

I just finished this one, my first Tolstoy, chosen because it's the shortest novel he wrote. The story is about a nobleman in 1880, Nekhlyudov, who finds himself on a jury. One of the accused is a woman he knew in is past, and who he wronged when he was young. While watching the trial he …

how ‘the customer is always right’ culture is ruining our society

Happy May Day! Workers' rights are important, and are ignored quite a bit in this capitalistic country (one of the few countries that doesn't have May Day as a day off for workers... quite ironic.) Here, it seems, even workers treat other workers like crap. And I don't think it's necessarily because they are bad …

digging ditches: the ultimate human achievement?

How many Potential Einsteins, Hawkings, or Nabokovs or Woolfs or Monets or O'Keeffes are out there stuck digging ditches or scrubbing floors in order to survive? How much art and literature and scientific discoveries are the rest of us missing out on in favor of that floor being cleaned by a person rather than a …