When I came to Germany, four boxes of books arrived with me. Two contained books I already owned. The other two were full of books I’d panic-bought (or panic-collected at work) in anticipation of German book prices.
I need not have worried, because my book buying problem does not care about the state of my bank account.
The first thing I did once I found some free time was to check out English-language book stores. Bookshops are my happy place and I was especially nervous about being able to get new releases in English. When I arrived, my list of places to visit was about 90% bookshops. (Now it’s more 50:50 bookshops and food places. I really need to add some museums to that list, and maybe a lake.)
Because I have a problem (see above), I buy something almost every time I visit a bookshop. So while I read the books from the boxes, I make sure my TBR stack stays a consistent height. Here are my new Berlin acquisitions so far:
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, bought at Curious Fox
The UK edition of this one came out after the US edition, so by the time I got hold of it (on publication day!) BLRW was already old news on Instagram, but I was so excited to get into it. But like every fantasy book I pick up (there aren’t many) it’s dense, and a challenge, so after the first 100 pages I put it down to take a break. I look forward to finishing it, but … not right now.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, bought in Buchbox
One thing this new environment is bringing out in me is my desire to actually write (rather than just thinking about writing). I decided to read some short stories, so I could write better short stories, and after listening to an interview with Carmen Maria Machado on the Read Like A Writer podcast, I had to have this collection. I adored the first few stories, but Especially Heinous drained me of my will to live, and it’s been taking a break on my nightstand since then.
The Terror by Dan Simmons & Ein treuer Freund by Jostein Gaarder, bought in Thalia Alexa
One thing I really like here is the fact that almost every bookshop has a pretty decent English language section. I originally went to Alexa, the huge shopping centre by Alexanderplatz, to buy some running gear, but of course I couldn’t just walk past a 3-floor bookshop. I love historical ghost stories set in ice (there aren’t enough of them), and I’ve always enjoyed Jostein Gaarder, so both of these are safe bets.
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, bought at Curious Fox
One lovely thing about this place is that it’s an exclusively English bookshop, which means more browsing time. That day it took me forever to pick something, until I saw that gorgeous yellow US cover. I very much judge books by their cover, and while I appreciate the minimalist blue of a Fitzcarraldo Edition, I’ll take a bird illustration over that any day. I can’t wait to sit down with this one weekend.
Blue Angel by Francine Prose, bought at Pequod Books
I’ve been meaning to read anything by Francine Prose ever since I heard her on So Many Damn Books discussing Mister Monkey. This one has the added bonus of being set on a college campus, which are my favourite things to read when it’s warm outside (I think that one summer I read The Secret History has shaped me in some significant way). The story centers on a middle-aged college professor who struggles to write his next book, and instead becomes fixated on a female student who’s showing a lot of promise. I don’t usually enjoy books about horrible people (they both. are so horrible.), but this one is strangely enjoyable, and will be the first Berlin-bough book I finish.
Das Floß der Medusa by Franzobel, bought at Autorenbuchhandlung
I’m terrible at resisting any book that has a painting on the cover, but – more historical horror on ships! About the human condition and whether evil is inherent in all of us! This is all I need!
I’m hoping to post a book review some time soon, but right now time just seems to be running away from me on a daily basis. Hopefully things will calm down eventually, but until then, I’ll do what I can.