Where does ‘blauracke’ come from?
When I decided to sign up for CBR I had just read a newspaper article about the Blauracke (the European roller), which is a beautiful bird but unfortunately almost extinct here, so I chose it as my handle for CBR. It was really just a spur-of-the-moment decision.
You have been reading some heavy stuff lately! (Lots of plagues; Chernobyl…) What author/genre do you turn to when you need a comfort read?
One of my favourite authors is Leo Perutz who wrote historical novels that almost always include a fantastical element, and are very intricately plotted. Now and then, I re-read one of his books and they are definitely a comfort read for me. Also, Terry Pratchett. As for genre, it’s probably crime fiction that I mostly read when I want a break from the heavy stuff. I am not a big fan of the hyperviolent/psychopathic serial killer/thriller stuff but rather of stories in the vein of Agatha Christie or Georges Simenon. At the moment, some of my favourite writers in this genre are Arnaldur Indriðason with his Detective Erlendur Series and Nele Neuhaus with her Bodenstein/Kirchhoff Series.
Have you ever met a famous (or semi-famous) author face to face?
No, I haven’t, and I don’t think I want to if it’s someone whose books I admire. That can only lead to disappointment.
Are your local libraries closed? Is that cramping your CBR style? Where do you normally get your books (e-reader, libraries, bookstores, loans from friends, etc.)?
Yes, the libraries are closed at the moment, but you can still borrow e-books online from them. I usually don’t have a problem finding books to read because I inherited a ton of books from my father that I am slowly making my way through. This is where most of the European literature and the classics that I read come from. For other needs, I mostly buy e-books from bookstores because I just don’t have a lot of space left on my shelves. I didn’t think that I needed or wanted an e-reader for the longest time, but I’ve really become accustomed to using one because they are just so convenient, especially if you have a space shortage.
What’s most important to your reading experience: prose, story, character, other?
I don’t have any particular preferences in this regard. A good story can mask a lot of flaws in the characterization, while interesting characters can greatly elevate an otherwise pedestrian story. There have been books that I loved although there were serious deficits either in the characterization, the plotting, or even the pacing, but they had that one terrific facet that managed to outweigh almost everything else. My biggest turnoff is probably bad prose.
How many times have you participated in CBR? Has it changed the way you read?
Last year was my first time participating after thinking about doing it for years but being too lazy. I definitely think more about the books that I read because now I have to explain myself for liking (or disliking) them. I also started taking notes while reading so that I wouldn‘t forget to include anything important in my review.
Are you sheltering in place? If so, what’s the most outrageous bottom-of-the-TBR stack book you’ve read, or project you never thought you’d get to, or creative meal you’ve cobbled together out of your cupboards?
Yes, I am, but sadly, there have been no awesome projects or creative meals. I have been cooking a lot, but I am just the most boring cook. Otherwise, I‘m just trying to get enough exercise, do the spring cleaning, and stay in touch with friends and family, although some of the spring cleaning has already been postponed in favour of finally watching the Expanse and Bojack Horseman. I can also work from home, so my employer is insistent that I do some of that as well. As for my reading, at first, I was lured away from my TBR by books about epidemics and other catastrophes, but now my interest in politics and economics has been rekindled. Due to all the new laws that have been passed here because of the pandemic, a debate has started about personal freedom, the authority of the state, and the ‘new normalcy’ owed to the current situation, and how and when we will return to our ‘old normalcy’. There is concern about the abuse of power and the erosion of democracy, and a review of our economic system seems almost inevitable because the injustice and deficiency of it is very prominently on display right now. So, for the moment I am reading books on these topics that were already in my TBR pile, but it is probably not accurate to call any of them outrageous per se; outrageous are only the facts presented in them. To not turn this into a total downer, there is one other book from my TBR that I am reading on the side, and that is Don Quixote which is never bottom-of-the-stack but could be called outrageous for being too much fun.