MissWatson ROOTS randomly – the third draw
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Last year some people found a nifty way for randomly choosing books off the TBR. Someone else had a category challenge with 49 books to be read, which I instantly associated with the German official lotto, 6 out of 49. This gave me the idea for my own randomiser. So, after some fiddling, this is what my 2016 ROOTing looks like: On Saturday, the numbers are drawn and decide the categories to be read, which gives me a choice of 1 out of 6. There is also an additional number drawn (by which the jackpot is distributed, it represents the last digit of the ticket number, so they are 0-9). This will be my fallback if none of the six categories appeals to me in a week: The first ten slots will go to those genres which are overrepresented on my shelves. The first draw takes place on 2 January 2016. Watch this space!
The 49 categories are:
1 a book with more than 400 pages Sword at sunset
2 a mystery or thriller Winterkartoffelknödel, The Labyrinth Makers
3 a book that became a movie Rogue Male
4 a book more than 100 years old Wellen, The black robe
5 a book by a female author Romans, Celts and Germans
6 a book set in a different country Tod des Dichters, Stalky & Co., The tavern knight, The suitors of Yvonne, Samarcande
7 a non-fiction book Vorgeschichte in der Bretagne, Der königliche Kaufmann
8 a book that was originally written in a different language Asche und Blitz
9 a book you own but have never read Firmin
10 a book from your childhood The prospering, Gritlis Kinder
11 a classic romance Lumpenmüllers Lieschen
12 a book with a number in the title
13 a book published last year Die Söhne des Mars
14 a book written by someone under 30
15 a book with nonhuman characters War with the robots
16 a funny book Hot water
17 a book with a one-word title Aziyadeh
18 a book of short stories Les récrés du petit Nicolas
19 a popular author's first book Rose et Blanche, ou la comédienne et la religieuse
20 a book from an author you love that you haven't read yet The Small House at Allington, Pauline
21 a book a friend recommended
22 a prize-winning book Ah, treachery!
23 a book based on a true story Le dragon des Arcanes
24 a book at the bottom of your to-read list The healer's war
25 a book your mom/dad loves La casa de los espíritus
26 a book based entirely on its cover
27 a book you were supposed to read in school but didn't Sansibar oder der letzte Grund
28 a memoir Mémoires d'Hadrien
29 a book you can finish in a day De brevitate vitae / Die Kürze des Lebens
30 a book with antonyms in the title
31 a book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
32 a book that came out the year you were born Mrs Bridge
33 a book you bought because of a review A good man in Africa
34 a book with a love triangle Der Zauberring
35 a book set in the future Spaceship medic
36 a book set in high school The Chalet school and Jo
37 a book with a colour in the title The gold bug
38 a book that made you cry
39 a book with magic L'alchimiste des ombres
40 a graphic novel
41 a book by an author you've never read before Wir
42 a book that takes place in your hometown Kieler Schatten
43 a book set during christmas
44 a book written by an author with your same initials Forty words for sorrow
45 a play Die Wiedertäufer
46 a banned book
47 a book based on or turned into a TV show Ross Poldark
48 a book you started but never finished The winter king
49 a book that scares you
The numbers are: 7 20 25 26 34 37, bonus number 1
The book is: Der königliche Kaufmann, number 7: a non-fiction book
Over in the Category Challenge we are reading scary books for the October Random CAT, and I have decided to tackle my copy of Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe. One story per evening looks doable. So here's my progress so far:
The gold bug
The facts in the case of M. Valdemar
MS. found in a bottle
A descent into the Maelström
The murders in the Rue Morgue
The mystery of Marie Rogêt
The purloined letter
The fall of the house of Usher
The pit and the pendulum
The premature burial
The black cat
The masque of red death
The cask of amontillado
The oval portrait
The oblong box
The tell-tale heart
Loss of breath
Shadow – a parable
Silence – a fable
The man of the crowd
Some words with a mummy
#63 Der königliche Kaufmann
This little book looks at King Edward IV and how he put the kingdom's finances in order. At least, that's what the title says; as it turns out there's not enough evidence to analyse how exactly he did it. Instead, we get a look at how households, from the top down, worked in those times and a brief history of Edward's reign with a particular emphasis on his monetary affairs. Well done, but nothing earth-shattering new, and I have a suspicion that he did not spend enough time at the library searching for other sources on long-distance trade in the Middle Ages.
The numbers are: 14 21 32 33 35 48, bonus number 5
The book is: Spaceship Medic, number 35: a book set in the future
#64 Spaceship Medic
I finally got around to this after decades on the shelves. I had a Harry Harrison phase once and must have bought this without realising it is for youngsters. A great adventure yarn set on a spaceship going to Mars when it's hit by a meteor, taking out the control room and nearly all the officers on board. The ship's doctor must take over... The science hasn't changed, but the technology seems so dated now. Tape recorders!
The numbers are: 7 13 19 29 38 41, bonus number 9
The book is: to be decided
Hmm. The only number in this set I haven't used yet is 38, a book that made you cry. How can I know this in advance? Okay, I'll keep this open, and if anything in the near future fits, it will go here.
#65 The coroner's lunch
This was recommended to me by several people whose taste usually coincides with mine, but it didn't really live up to its reputation. The many English (UK) colloquialisms and the pop culture references felt out of place. One to pass on.
The numbers are: 2 21 26 32 36 48, bonus number 7
The book is: Mrs Bridge, number 32: a book that came out the year you were born
>17 Jackie_K: It is an interesting concept, so many names crop up that I have never heard before.
#66 Tales of mystery and imagination
And I have finished all the stories collected under that heading in my edition. Since they are often published in a single volume together, I am going to count this as a root. I think at some point I will reread them in another edition, with footnotes. Some of the final stories are very weird and full of obscure references.
#67 Mrs Bridge
The books was listed on LT as being published in 1958, inside the book it says (and the Loc agrees) 1959, so strictly speaking it's not the year I was born...
For all that, it's a lovely book. It relates the story of the marriage of Mrs Bridge, from the honeymoon to widowhood, in a series of quiet short chapters. It is a rather quiet life and to me it seemed increasingly empty, as she has almost nothing to fill her days, at least nothing that she truly wants to do. She does what is expected of the wife of a successful lawyer, socially, and brings up three kids. Her husband obviously loves her, in his way, and gives her things he thinks she would or should like: a big car, jewelry, a European vacation (this is the 30ies, when foreign travel was not a mass phenomenon), but he spends mos of his time at the office. The members of the family share a house, but do not really communicate, and then the children leave, and she has even more time on her hands. In the end, it feels like a sad life.
The numbers are: 5 7 8 26 28 36, bonus number 8
The book is: The Chalet School and Jo, number 36: a book set in high school
#68 The Chalet School and Jo
Strictly speaking, it is not high school, but the Sixth Form of an English ex-patriate boarding school set in Tyrol (Austria), but at my age one doesn't have many books of that kind left on the shelves. I read somewhere that the series was extremely popular in English-speaking countries, it has never been translated. It is very much a book of its time (1930), very English, class-ridden, full of stereotypes and bad German, and ultimately an uncomfortable read. Not a keeper.
Sorry your last one wasn't a good one. Hopefully your new read will be better! (Or at the very least, not uncomfortable.) :)
>25 LauraBrook: Thanks, Laura, the next one has proven highly entertaining!
#69 The Technicolor Time Machine
This shows off Harrison's strength: a rather irreverent look at time travel. It's from 1967 and set in Hollywood, so very sexist, but it was inspired by recent (at the time) discoveries of Viking settlements in North America, and although some clichés are obviously ineradicable, he makes a nice effort to include dialogue in Norse. Very entertaining.
The numbers are: 9 32 35 38 42 43, bonus number 8
The book is: Kieler Schatten, number 42: a book that takes place in your hometown
Now that I have reached my original goal of reading 52 books off the TBR acquired before 1 January 2016, I've decided that this year's acquisitions will also count so that I can fill some of the more difficult categories in my lotto.
>29 rabbitprincess: Thanks! I even managed to part with some that I definitely won't read again.
We're having snow today. In early November! I am not mentally ready for this.
>32 avanders: Hi Aletheia!
Harry Harrison has a nice line in sarcastic dialogue, but he goes over the top now and then, so his books are hit and miss. This one was fun.
Regarding the snow: I just saw on the news that parts of Germany have been swamped, so I'm lucky to get off with a few flakes. We're just not used to it anymore, the last years there has been rather little snowfall, and usually only after Christmas. At least it's a nice excuse to stay at home reading!
>31 MissWatson: Congratulations on meeting your goal!
And I know exactly how you feel about the snow. I usually love it, but I'm just not up for it yet. It seems like just a week ago since we had the warmest and most wonderful september in decades.
>34 Henrik_Madsen: Thanks!
We've got off lightly in Kiel, but in other regions in Holstein they are still lopping branches off trees before they break under the snow loads and hit people or cars. I hope this remains an odd episode, I don't relish the idea of spending months in snow.
>36 Sace: Well, it's pretty old, and no longer in print, so it may be difficult to find. But if you do, it's a nice, short read.
#70 Kieler Schatten
This is a mystery set in my hometown in the year 1909. The author has clearly done his research and he also has a website where he posted photographs and a city map of the town at the time which I found helpful for imagining the place.
The mystery itself is a murder investigation with bits of naval intelligence thrown in, the English had a spy in town trying to gather information on German torpedo technology, and their German counterparts interfered. These lines are kept separate until the end, so the case ends inconclusively, which is unusual.
This is a first novel, and it shows. He weighs down his story with far too much background information. The auctorial voice is decidedly 21st century and frequently clashes with the characters' timeframe. His attempts at irony are rather unfunny, and the idea to name the English spy John Invest and the secretary Miss Pelfpound (a pun on James Bond and Miss Moneypenny, geddit?) is crude. There are a few grammatical slip-ups and towards the end typos increase. But I think I'll pick up the second instalment if I come across it second-hand, just for curiosity's sake.
The numbers are: 2 6 9 19 20 47, bonus number 1
The book is: Rose et Blanche, ou La comédienne et la religieuse, number 19: a popular author's first book
I'm trying to find something to fill number 19, a popular author's first book, but it is proving difficult, since most that occur to me would be re-reads...
And I have found one among the many that I have downloaded from Gutenberg and other sites offering free ebooks. This is the first book George Sand ever published, under the pseudonym J. Sand, as it was co-written with Jules Sandeau. The French National Library of France digitised the first edition from 1831 which comes in five volumes, so this is going to take some time...
Impératrice tells the life of Empress Wu Zhou in her own voice, from her birth, her years as a concubine and then wife of a Tang emperor, until she takes the throne herself and is finally toppled by an intrigue. It's a remarkable life, which we know only through the distorting mirror of Confucian, misogynic males. One of the most interesting aspects of this was the constant re-writing of history, as the Empress posthumously assigns titles and nobility to her ancestors.
The numbers are: 1 2 6 15 38 39, bonus number 3
The book is: Samarcande, number 6: a book set in a different country
Habent sua fata libelli...
This is the story of a fictional book, a manuscript of the Rubaiyat written by Omar Khayyam himself, told by a young American who actually found it centuries after having been thought lost in the pillage of Samarkand, only to lose it again when the Titanic hits an iceberg. If you summarise the plot like this, it sounds preposterous, but it is so convincing because it could have happened like this.
This is a wonderful book. The first part describes the life of Omar Khayyam from his arrival in Samarkand to his death, the second part is the tale of Benjamin Omar Lesage, actually named after the poet, who goes looking for the manuscript and witnesses the painful and abortive attempts of Persia to join the modern world and build a democracy – abortive because they were thwarted at every point by the Russian and British empires playing their Great Game. In many respects, we reap today what their arrogance sowed back then.
#73 Rose et Blanche, ou la comédienne et la religieuse
This ran up to 1214 pages in the original edition, but it was a much quicker read than I expected. Lots to mull over in this tale of two girls who cannot find happiness where they are loking for it.
The numbers are: 26 32 41 42 45 47, bonus number 9
The book is: Die Wiedertäufer, number 45: a play
#74 Euphrat Queen
This is a fairly recent acquisition and proved to be a great read. It tells the story of an expedition with two steamboats on the Euphrates in 1836-1837 and proves again that real life writes the most amazing stories. You couldn't make this up.
The East India Company is looking for ways to shorten the lines of comunication with India (the Suez Canal hasn't been built yet), and Thomas Love Peacock (yes, him of Nightmare Abbey) comes up with the idea of taking two of these new-fangled steamships, disassemble them, ship them to the coast of Syria, transport them across the desert to the Euphrates, reassemble them, travel down the river and from there through the Red Sea to India. An excitable Irishman, Francis Rawdon Chesney, is named to command the expedition, and a young German couple, natural scientists, also travel along. Nothing goes according to plan, of course.
The autor draws extensively on the diaries and memoirs of the the expedition members, and especially on the travelogue Pauline Helfer wrote on behalf of her husband. She was the only woman on board and spent part of the time in men's clothes, since the fanatical Muslims of the area would have stoned her otherwise. This gives a rather impressionistic view of the whole expedition, just the highlights, so to speak. The most interesting bits come when she shows the same event from different perspectives.
However, the best part, in my mind, comes at the end when she relates what became of the various survivors: James Fitzjames ended up as captain of HMS Erebus and perished with the Franklin expedition. James Estcot took part in the charge of the Light Brigade. Lt. Lynch married a daughter of the English resident and became eventually the grandfather of Harry Kessler. Pauline returned to Germany a widow and met her hero, Alexander von Humboldt, before she married into one of the most important families in Prague. Six degrees of separation, indeed. One of the most intriguing and romantic figures in this ensemble must have been Lynch's father-in-law, Robert Taylor, who actually eloped with and married a Persian princess. I've noted down at least six books that I want to read now.
#75 Die Wiedertäufer
Sigh. I'm really not very fond of plays as books, I prefer to see them staged.
>50 MissWatson: It's so nice to hear someone else say that. I find it difficult to read plays as well. When I read them, I find myself searching the internet to see if there are any YouTube videos of productions.
The numbers are: 5 16 39 43 47 48, bonus number 9
The book is: Hot water, number 16: a funny book
edited for touchstone
>50 MissWatson: >53 avanders: I've always felt we've done students a disservice when we require them to read plays in school. If we make them read a play, we should at least find a production for them to watch (and I don't mean a movie adaptation.) I don't think I read one play in high school that we then saw the production. It didn't happen when my daughter was in school and I don't see it happening at the high school where I teach....and we even have a large Shakespeare Theatre in our community!
#76 The Cavalry Maiden
Another very old tome from my shelves which I took down for the Category Challenge. It's from the journals of a Russian aristocrat who disguised as a man, joined the Russian cavalry and fought in the wars against Napoleon. Very good edition with lots of notes to explain some of the more obscure episodes.
>56 avanders: I am really stopping myself from a full-blown rant and thread hijacking. It really burns my biscuit when I hear my students talking about the plays that they are reading and I know they are not seeing them performed. And in this day of YouTube and the internet there is no reason for them not to see the play. I guess they could seek it out on their own if they wanted...but what teenager is going to do that?
#77 Hot water
This is one of my best friend's favourite Wodehouse stories, and it is very funny indeed. People impersonating others, people falling for other people's fiances, criminals on the loose, it has everything, told in typical Wodehouse style. It's too bad that my copy is being eaten away by acid, so I culled it, reluctantly.
The numbers are: 11 17 32 34 37 49, bonus number 3
The book is: Aziyadeh, number 17: a bok with a one-word title
#78 Von Trollen und Menschen
Seven short stories by Selma Lagerlöf, set in rural Sweden. Poor farmers, poor preachers, lots of superstition. This one will go to a new home.
#79 Love Medicine
This one has sat on the shelves for decades, and when I finally tackled it, it didn't quite live up to expectations. Off to a new home.
I've also caught a bad cold and haven't been in the mood for reading, so the next lottery book will have to wait.
Get well soon! I hope the cold scarpers, and your reading mojo returns quickly!
>63 Jackie_K: Thanks, Jackie. What bothers me most is that I don't get enough sleep because of the coughing and that impairs my ability to make sense of printed words...and then there's the countdown to Christmas and so many other things to be done. Ah well, it is what it is.
I dithered a lot over my choice, because I wanted something short and from a category I hadn't used before, and in the end I picked Aziyadeh. I didn't finish it, though, I just couldn't make sense of it. It purports to be excerpts from the diary of a Royal Navy Lieutenant, who enlists with the Turks in 1876 and gets killed, but it is Loti who writes in his own name, and we know he lived to write this preposterous book, so good riddance.
The numbers are: 6 24 28 29 34 35, bonus number 2
The book is: Yukon Ho!, number 29: a book you can finish in a day
#81 Yukon Ho!
A quick decision this time, and I had a delightful couple of hours with this.
edited for touchstone
Tomorrow I'm leaving to spend the holidays at my sister's and I'll be offline until the New Year.
See you all in January. Have a wonderful holiday, stay safe and warm and may you all find some lovely books under the tree!
>69 MissWatson: safe travels, and Merry Christmas to you too! See you in 2017!
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