Exciting book recommendations
2021 heralded the release of many exciting books: novels, biographies, short stories, photo volumes and poems. We’ve selected some of these new releases for you and would like to briefly introduce them here. Let’s start with the king of spooky stories, Edgar Allan Poe.
Edgar Allan Poe’s wit and good humour
The well-known American author Edgar Allan Poe played a decisive role in shaping the short story genre, as well as crime fiction and horror stories.Although you would hardly believe it, he also had a great sense of humour. In his early work “The Tales of the Folio Club”, we see Edgar Allan Poe not as tragically demonic and brooding, but as a funny young author who enjoys delving into the great world of literature.
This work shines with extravagantly infernal farce, quirky Gothic tales, whimsical pirate adventures, and witty horror stories. A classic of world literature that you really should have read.
Quentin Tarantino’s first book
Star director Quentin Tarantino has written his first book. Rick Dalton is a fading actor, Cliff Booth is his notorious stunt double. Actress Sharon Tate is living with her husband, Roman Polanski, in the Hollywood Hills, and Charles Manson is planning a grisly deed with his strung-out hippies. And yes, Tarantino already released “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” as a film in 2019, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. But the book is different: an exciting departure from the film version, fresh, entertaining and simply magnificent from beginning to end.
We were a little disappointed with how Tarantino changed the ultra-violent ending. Nevertheless, real fans of the director of the century know how the story continues. “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” is on solid ground and shows that Tarantino is a truly good author first and foremost, especially when it comes to dialogue.
A biography of Althea Gibson
Until 1950 she wasn’t allowed to play against white people, then she was the first black person to win Wimbledon. Bruce Schoenfield’s biography “Althea Gibson” is every bit as gripping as a novel. But it’s actually about two women who refused to allow intolerance, racism and bigotry to triumph.
Althea Gibson was born in 1927 on a cotton farm in South Carolina (USA), the daughter of labourers. She began to attract attention as an athlete while she was still at school, and she became a professional tennis player in the 1950s. But due to strict racial segregation, she suffered continuous discrimination. At Wimbledon in 1956, no one wanted to play with her in the women’s doubles. The only exception: Angela Buxton, granddaughter of Russian Jews, who was also no stranger to prejudice.
And although the two women had never trained together, they won the women’s doubles. The victory of these two outsiders shook the sporting world to its foundations.By the end of her career, Althea Gibson had disputed eleven Grand Slam titles. “Althea Gibson” is more than just a literary monument to two heroines, and one of the most famous tennis players in the world; above all it’s a guidebook for anyone who has ever been excluded by society. Just do it! A great book with a generous 400 pages.
Philanthropist and activist Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is one of the most successful musicians of our time.She’s sold more than 35 million records, and her songs have been streamed more than 32 billion times. Many people do not know, however, that Lady Gaga is also a committed activist and philanthropist who, among other things, set up the “Born This Way Foundation” together with her mother, Cynthia Germanotta.
Now Lady Gaga’s foundation has published the book “Channel Kindness – Stories of Kindness and Community”. In it, 51 young people write about bravery, kindness, and resilience in a world where small gestures can make a huge difference, because kindness heals people. The book, by young people for young people, is meant to serve as a source of inspiration for the readers’ own lives, and for collective solidarity and social engagement – for the common good. This foray into being young in 2021 is authentic, honest, sometimes sad, but always conscious that these people want to change our world with a driving force called kindness. A truly good book, not just for young people.
Global literary figure Salman Rushdie
Without doubt, Salman Rushdie is one of the most important authors of our time. He’s not just a magnificent storyteller – his repertoire boasts 14 novels – but also an amusing philosopher.
In his new book “Languages of Truth: Essays 2003-2020” he explains what inspires him and his work, and offers us a glimpse into the world of his ideas.
The work, composed of unpublished essays, monologues and glosses spanning two decades, contains the writings of a global citizen and transmits a limitless plea for freedom and independent thinking. It also shows how seriously Salman Rushdie takes his status as a global author – even against the backdrop of the persecution suffered by this star of the international literary scene. His global phenomenon “The Satanic Verses” was published in 1988.
Its portrayal of the life of the Prophet Mohammed, reflected in the protagonist’s nightmares, caused the Iranian head of state Khomeini to sentence Rushdie to death via a fatwa. Nevertheless, “Languages of Truth” is a courageous plea for the polyphonic coexistence of cultures, and is perhaps the best book of 2021 so far.
A rediscovery – the youthful heroine is an addict and a chess genius.
This literary rediscovery is in fact American author Walter Tevis (1928 – 1984), whose stories have always been appreciated by Hollywood. His works have been made into films including “The Hustler”, featuring Paul Newman, “The Color of Money” starring Tom Cruise, and last but not least, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” starring David Bowie. His novel “Queen’s Gambit” was recently adapted as a Netflix series of the same name and was rapturously received. And the book is also truly phenomenal: Beth Harmon, our youthful heroine, is an addict and a chess genius.
During her stint in an orphanage, Beth learns to calm her inner turmoil with the pills that the children living there are forced to swallow each day. When the caretaker teaches her to play chess, Beth’s real talent emerges. She quickly becomes the Kentucky state champion and begins to wipe the floor with the men she plays against. But fame has a high price: her life outside of the chessboard revolves around pills and alcohol. She is only in control of herself when playing. On page 414 we wait with bated breath to find out if Beth will become the best player in the world by beating the Russian, Borgov.
“Queen’s Gambit” really scores points because it’s about a girl who wants to triumph in a world ruled by men. She doesn’t truly become a person until, ravaged by drug addiction, her life goes into free-fall and is about to implode. Chess becomes a world of its own, where Beth only has one choice: survive or destroy herself.
A photo volume bidding farewell to summer
In many cultures, the start of summer is connected to traditions and rituals. In Germany, for example, there are Sonnwendfeuer and Johannisfeuer festivals to celebrate midsummer. In many places, summer is also the time of year for high spirits.
But perhaps the most beautiful summers are also the most painful. We rarely feel more alive than in the summer, so when it draws to an end and autumn approaches, we are much more aware that everything is transient, and that our lives are now one summer closer to being over.
Philip Keel’s new photo volume “Last Summer” is an ode to summer. The 62 pictures over 72 pages are charming and playful, yet hint at the loneliness and melancholy hidden just beneath the surface. Winter isn’t far off, so we’re still looking through more books to recommend to you for this time of year. Until then, we hope you enjoy these autumnal reads.