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a book suggestion request

Tell me, o friendslist, wherein all knowledge is contained...

Suggestions for fiction books appropriate for reading in Germany?

Let me splain what I mean before you suggest.

I have often had happy coincidences of reading during my travels, such that there are certain books that may not actually be as good as I think they are, except that I read them in the right place and at the right time.

I read Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor on a bus from Bath to Glastonbury. I do not generally like cozy mysteries, and I really don't like books that pretend to be a) sequels to Austen works or b) fiction about Austen, but I have loved that series to death because of that fortuitous start to the series. The setting was key, I think, as I was high off my first cream tea and my first trip abroad. (Also, the way Stephanie Barron manages to reinterpret Jane is intelligent, and 90% of the time does not make me snarl, but rather grin. Except for book 2. Book 2 was a lot of snarling.)

I read the first of Laurel K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry series, Kiss of Shadows, while visiting my friend Stephanie in LA. The book starts out on LA before moving to the fairy courts of the midwest, and the book is inextricably associated with sitting at a random food court in the Valley while Steph attended to her tutoring before we spent the day wandering around Santa Monica. The key was also in the sunshine, the 80 degree weather, and the fact that it was February and I was NOT in Michigan. Heaven. Loved the book and series long after I left Anita Blake behind, perhaps for the happy memories alone.

I read Byatt's Possession while on a train to Poitiers. Now, it would have been better to be on a train to Britanny--we didn't hit Brittany until the following week--but it still worked because before I finished the book, I ended up in an avenue of pollarded trees growing over the ruins of what purported to be Melusine's castle, next to an old church that sold "Melumiel" --Melusine honey. It could not have been more perfect. Even though there are like a dozen Melusine castles in the world.

And those are just the times where synergy has been created, more or less, happened by accident. Sure, I picked the books before I went on the trips, but I had no real idea how strong the connection was to France when I packed Possession for my French trip, and knew nothing about where Kiss of Shadows started out... Now, I've managed to force the issue a couple of times, too, and to great success--most notably, reading Wuthering Heights for the first time while spending five days in Haworth. It's like a wonderful fever dream to me now. I had tried--and failed--to read and enjoy Wuthering Heights no less than five times in my life before that trip (I even wrote a term paper on it without successfully completing the book, or doing even more than skimming it).

So, now I am heading off into parts unknown. I don't have a literary connection with Germany. (Ancestral? Yes. Historical? Yes. Literary? Only The Nibelungenlied and... Heidi--and that book is pro-Swiss, anti-German.) I have no idea what books to take. (I know I'm taking a lot more than I ever thought possible, though, thank you, Kindle!) I'm not too fussed about it, but I kind of feel like I'm overlooking something. Is there something out there that would be perfect, that would tie itself in to my experience and just take the whole thing to a new level? I mean, besides my Charlemagne bio I'm dragging along.

I'd say the same thing for Romania, but I have combed and recombed the Romania-based English literature of the world and know how little is out there and how little of it interest me, and besides--I wrote the book that fits with Romania for my brain. And if that doesn't work, I can read Kostova's The Historian finally. (I've been avoiding the Dracula stuff. My Romania is not about Dracula. Even though it is. (It's complicated! If my book had a Facebook page, it would indeed have the relationship status of "it's complicated with... Dracula!") Uhm. I've said too much.)

So.... fiction books about or redolent of Germany? Medieval or Roman eras, Renaissance at the latest? Anyone? Bueller? German analogues perfectly acceptable if you know a great fantasy series. And I'm deeply not picky about genre, at this point.

Here's hoping my friendslist is more well rounded than me. :)

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
vidensadastra
Oct. 25th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)
Michael Flynn's Eifelheim is about aliens in Medieval Germany and really digs into the contemporary worldview, and it is awesome. Highly recommended. Don't be put off by the modern/American/physics bits, it's really mostly 14th century Germany.
merriehaskell
Oct. 25th, 2010 02:39 am (UTC)
Sold!
gillpolack
Oct. 25th, 2010 02:26 am (UTC)
My brain is blank - except that the Inkheart series is German (tanslated into English) and there are a bunch of German classics that might be fun. You'll need to keep the many meanings of 'fun' in your mind, though. Herman Hesse's Siddhartha is a possible travel novel or Gunter Grass' The Tin Drum. Lion Feuchtwangler expresses some really interesting thoghts in his non-fiction and so I keep meaning to read his fiction and never have, so I don't know whether to recommend him or not.

If it were me, though, I'd find a copy of Gluckl von Hameln's memoirs and read them. http://home.infionline.net/~ddisse/gluckel.html
mrgeddylee
Oct. 25th, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)
I'm not sure what "redolent of Germany" really is, but the first title that comes to mind is Tim Powers' The Drawing of the Dark.
qrssama
Oct. 25th, 2010 03:10 am (UTC)
Have you looked here?
http://www.bibliotravel.com/locale.php?locale=153

The ones that hit me as Mer books were the Book Thief by Zuzac and Gudren's Tapestry by Schweighardt.

For Romania, I would look at The Shriek and the Rattle of Trains by Ambrose.

merriehaskell
Oct. 25th, 2010 03:13 am (UTC)
That is an awesome website. Cool. Thank you!
katharine_b
Oct. 25th, 2010 03:59 am (UTC)
Okay, two totally non-time-period appropriate books, feel free to disregard, but: if you haven't read Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin (the inspiration for "I Am a Camera," and then Cabaret), I can imagine it would be fascinating to read while in the country. Also it's amazing.

If you want Romantic-era Germany, there's always The Sorrows of Young Werther, too.
dichroic
Oct. 25th, 2010 09:37 am (UTC)
I just read Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix on my last day in Taiwan!

If you want something light, how about any of Elizabeth Peters' Vicky Bliss books? In the first one, especially, the setting is a very significant part of the book. For points east of that, I can recommend Sherwood Smith's latest, Coronets and Steel.
stephanieburgis
Oct. 25th, 2010 09:54 am (UTC)
All I can think of right now are Austrian-set books (probably because of my own Austria fixation!), but if you ever hit Austria on your travels, at least then I'll be ready to give recs... ;)
behindpyramids
Oct. 25th, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC)
The Neverending Story.

The only other name I could come up with was Hesse. I'd recommend Demian or Steppenwolfe over Siddharta, just because Siddharta is so strongly rooted in India. The Glass Bead Game, if you really want a nice chunky read.

okay, I cheated. http://www.bibliotravel.com/locale.php?locale=153


(Also I've been dying to read Mann's The Magician for ages.)

For Romania...you've probably already read this, but Juliet Marillier's Wildwood Dancing. It's not Dracula, it's YA and absolutely magical. I love it to pieces.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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