Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reading and "New" Author Hans Fallada

I must confess my list of "Wanna Read books" is growing far too large and I have way too many books "in progress". I tend to have several books on the go at the same time and depending on my mood I will pick up one or the other. It hasn't always been this way though. I have always been an avid reader and in my teens and twenties I would always read a book cover to cover before starting the next. In those days almost every book was consumed in 2 or 3 sittings, and I would stay up until the wee hours reading as I found it difficult to put down a good book once I had started. As I recall, in those days, I seemed always to have lots of time for reading. I am not sure how over the years the 24 hours in a day got somehow so much shorter, but it is so. Time flies now but I don't recollect it did then.

I changed my reading habits in my late 20s when I started my family. I had my eldest, Jeff, when I was 29 and so I had lots of time to read and really just enjoy life before any of the children arrived. However, once I had 1, 2, 3 4, then 5 young children there really was no time to read unless it was bedtime stories - or listen to music (other than Raffi and Sharon, Lois and Bram - no time for movies - unless it was a children's movie and no time for me at all. I never had more than a few months mat leave and except for a year or two when the youngest 3 were babies, I worked full time. (OK, I can see some of you playing those little tiny violins! LOL) Maybe that is why I am so enjoying my recent "alone" status, since Laura moved out into her own digs last February. Anyway, I digress.

Caring for such a large family left me with a very big sense of responsibility, which meant that I could not sit and do anything for myself when something had to be done for the kids or the home. I am finding that a habit hard to break. So now, when I could stay up all night and read a book or sit on my nice balcony and so likewise, I find it hard to do. I will read for a while, maybe a half hour or an hour at most, then I have to put it down and do something "productive"... I find it very difficult to get into a more than book 30 minutes at a time.

So - I have decided to give myself a "reading night" once per week at least as an experiment to see what happens and if I can learn to enjoy my new found freedom and give myself permission to enjoy what I like to do - read. I have so many books on my reading shelf, maybe this will help me catch up.

What prompted this soap box soliloquy is that I have discovered a brand new author of some stature today on CBC Radio's Sunday Edition program and I am keen to go out and buy the book! When I looked at the stack of books on my "in progress" pile and the other lot sitting in the "not started" section in the bookcase - I realize that I can't even justify getting the book "so it will be on hand when I get around to reading it". However, I am so excited about it made me think about why I can't do more reading and I also decided it would be a good think to blog about. (OK so lets ignore the fact that I have 20 other projects on the go and am currently working 55 hour weeks as having anything to do with the reading deficit. LOL)

The author is Hans Fallada and his book "Every Man Dies Alone", published originally in 1947 in German, is being published for the first time in English this year. Hans Fallada (that is a pen name - his real name was Friedrich Rudolph Ditzen) was one of Germany's most acclaimed novelists of the post-WWI period, with a readership rivaling those of Erich Maria Remarque and Thomas Mann. Hans Fallada wrote the novel "Every Man Dies Alone" in just 24 days shortly after he was released from an asylum where he was being treated for a drug addiction to pain killers. He died in that same year, just before the the book was published. Apparently, it is one of his best novels.

I had never heard of this author although, apparently he was internationally renowned in the 1930s as one of the leading authors adopting the new realism style of writing. His novel "Little Man, What Now" was an International best seller. According to a biography in "Universal Studios turned Fallada's beautifully wrought literary realism into one of the best dramas ever made by the studio." . The movie was released in the USA in 1934.

Hearing about the sort of man Hans Fallada was and some of the things he endured, on the CBC radio broadcast today, was only one reason why I am so interested in this book. It explores a topic I was introduced to with the film "The Reader", which also explores the aftermath and consequences of being an every day German in the time of Nazi Germany. In this novel (apparently - I will find out when I finally let myself get the book), Hans Fallada uses the characters in his novel to recount what it was like living in Nazi Germany and what it was like for those people to try and undertake any sort of resistance to what was happening.

Hans Fallada wrote a couple of dozen books of which only a handful were translated and published in English.

To read a review of this book go here.

With our recent City Worker's strike there have been all manner of wild flowers (i.e. weeds) in bloom in our city parks - at least the ones not housing garbage. There was a wonderful display of purple thistle flowers on my walk today. While we are all glad they are back to work - I will miss all the pretty wildflowers on my walks.


  1. I am finding time to "read" while doing other things, like housework. I "read" audio books. I can read this way while doing laundry, weeding, or generalized cleaning.

  2. One thing is for certain, Peggy, I would rather have the view from your window than the view from mine to look at day-to-day.

    I never have tried reading two novels at the same time, but have tried disparate books such as a historical novel and a nonfiction piece about a subject not at all historical at the same time. I once averaged three or four books a week. Now, I generally do not read that many a month. I blame the computer.

    Like you, the name Hans Fallada is new to me. Your comments stirred my interest in his work. I believe I will try walking down his street, at least for the amount of time it takes me to read one of his books.


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