bookish lists

Euros 2024 | Books for Group A: Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, Scotland

18/06/2024

Hoohoo, friends of the blade!

I haven’t really watched football (or soccer, as they say in the US) since the World Championships 2006. Yeah, 2010 a bit but ever since then I completely lost interest in football and thought it was stupid. I’m not sure what happened, maybe because it’s in Germany or because thanks to the 24 hours of Le Mans race I’m on a sport high (or maybe it was all the soccer romance I’m reading??), but I’m actively following the Euros and watching a lot of the games. And it’s actually fun. Like, the sport itself isn’t that stupid. I still don’t like the fan culture or money business surrounding it but the sport itself is enjoyable to watch. I think I might even watch football after the European Championships ? Who am I and what have I done to my old self?
Of course, I need to pair this new found obsession with books and since I haven’t really done anything towards reading around the world in the past few years, I thought now would be the perfect time to start that again and look up books set all around Europe. I’m really excited for this series of posts because I mostly read books set in the US or UK, sometimes Germany and it’s always good to broaden your own horizon once in a while.
And since the Euros helpfully sorts the countries into groups, what would be better to do one post per group? I’ll try to only put books that were written in or translated into English.

Check out the post for group B and for group C!

Now, it’s time to check out group A which includes Germany, Scotland, Hungary and Switzerland!

Please note that I have not read most of these books so in case I make a mistake, please tell me! 🙂



GERMANY

youth without godYouth Without God by Ödön von HorvĂĄth
(translated by R. Wills Thomas)
classic, fiction

An unnamed narrator in an unnamed country is a schoolteacher with “a safe job with a pension at the end of it.” But, when he reprimands a student for a racist comment, he is accused of “sabotage of the Fatherland,” and his students revolt. A murder follows, and the teacher must face his role in it, even if it costs him everything.
Horváth’s book both points to its immediate context—the brutalizing conformity of a totalitarian state, the emptiness of faith in the time of the National Socialists—and beyond, to the struggles of individuals everywhere against societies that offer material security in exchange for the abandonment of one’s convictions. Reminiscent of Camus’ The Stranger in its themes and its style, Youth Without God portrays a world of individual ruthlessness and collective numbness to the appeals of faith or morality.
And yet, a commitment to the truth lifts the teacher and a small band of like-minded students out of this deepening abyss.

the book thiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
historical fiction

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

1,000 coils of fear1,000 Coils of Fear by Olivia Wenzel
(translated by Priscilla Layne)
contemporary fiction

A young woman attends a play about the fall of the Berlin Wall—and realizes she is the only Black person in the audience.
She and her boyfriend are hanging out by a lake outside Berlin—and four neo-Nazis show up.
In New York, she is having sex with a stranger on the night of the 2016 presidential election—and wakes up to panicked texts from her friends in Germany about Donald Trump’s unlikely victory.
Engaging in a witty Q&A with herself—or is it her alter ego?—she takes stock of our rapidly changing times, sometimes angry, sometimes amused, sometimes afraid, and always passionate. And she tells the story of her family: Her mother, a punk in former East Germany who never had the freedom she dreamed of. Her Angolan father, who returned to his home country before she was born to start a second family. Her grandmother, whose life of obedience to party principles brought her prosperity and security but not happiness. And her twin brother, who took his own life at the age of nineteen.

identittiIdentitti by Mithu Sanyal
(translated by Alta L. Price)
contemporary fiction

Nivedita (a.k.a. Identitti), a well-known blogger and doctoral student, is in awe of her supervisor—superstar postcolonial and race studies professor Saraswati. But her life and sense of self are turned upside down when it emerges that Saraswati is actually white. Nivedita’s praise of Saraswati during a radio interview just hours before the news breaks—and before she learns the truth—calls into question her own reputation as a young activist.
Following the uproar, Nivedita is forced to reflect on the key moments in her life, when she doubted her identity and her place in the world. As debates on the scandal rage on social media, blogs, and among her closest friends, Nivedita’s assumptions are called into question as she reconsiders the lessons she learned from her adored professor.

sisters in armsSisters in Arms by Shida Bazyar

Hani, Kasih, and Saya have shared a deep friendship ever since they were kids. After years apart, the three young women meet again for a few days, to pick up where they left off. But regardless of what they have achieved, it becomes clear, again and again, that they can’t escape the racism that accompanies their daily lives: the glances, the chatter, the hatred, and the outright rightwing terror. But their friendship gives them stability. Until one dramatic night shakes everything up.



SCOTLAND

do your worstDo Your Worst by Rosie Danan
contemporary romance, paranormal

Riley Rhodes finally has the chance to turn her family’s knack for the supernatural into a legitimate business when she’s hired to break the curse on an infamous Scottish castle. Used to working alone in her alienating occupation, she’s pleasantly surprised to meet a handsome stranger upon arrival—until he tries to get her fired.
Fresh off a professional scandal, Clark Edgeware can’t allow a self-proclaimed “curse breaker” to threaten his last chance for redemption. After he fails to get Riley kicked off his survey site, he vows to avoid her. Unfortunately for him, she vows to get even.
Riley expects the curse to do her dirty work by driving Clark away, but instead, they keep finding themselves in close proximity. Too close. Turns out, the only thing they do better than fight is fool around. If they’re not careful, by the end of all this, more than the castle will end up in ruins.

portrait of a scotsmanPortrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore
A League of Extraordinary Women #4
historical romance

London banking heiress Hattie Greenfield wanted just three things in life:
1. Acclaim as an artist.
2. A noble cause.
3. Marriage to a young lord who puts the gentle in gentleman.
Why then does this Oxford scholar find herself at the altar with the darkly attractive financier Lucian Blackstone, whose murky past and ruthless business practices strike fear in the hearts of Britain’s peerage? Trust Hattie to take an invigorating little adventure too far. Now she’s stuck with a churlish Scot who just might be the end of her ambitions….
When the daughter of his business rival all but falls into his lap, Lucian sees opportunity. As a self-made man, he has vast wealth but holds little power, and Hattie might be the key to finally setting long-harbored political plans in motion. Driven by an old desire for revenge, he has no room for his new wife’s apprehensions or romantic notions, bewitching as he finds her.
But a sudden journey to Scotland paints everything in a different light. Hattie slowly sees the real Lucian and realizes she could win everything–as long as she is prepared to lose her heart.

her royal highnessHer Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
Royals #2
contemporary YA romance

Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.
Millie can’t believe her luck when she’s accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Everything about Scotland is different: the country is misty and green; the school is gorgeous, and the students think Americans are cute.
The only problem: Mille’s roommate Flora is a total princess.
She’s also an actual princess. Of Scotland.
At first, the girls can barely stand each other–Flora is both high-class and high-key–but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Even though Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, Millie knows the chances of happily ever afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn’t a fairy tale . . . or is it?

out of the blueOut of the Blue by Sophie Cameron
urban fantasy YA

When angels start falling from the sky, it seems like the world is ending. Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted, not a single one has survived.
As the world goes wild for angels, Jaya’s father uproots the family to Edinburgh intent on catching one alive. But Jaya can’t stand this obsession and, still reeling from her mother’s recent death and the sudden disappearance of her ex-girlfriend, she’s determined to stay out of it.
Then something incredible happens: an angel lands right at Jaya’s feet – and it’s alive …

city of ghostsCity of Ghosts by V.E. Schwab
paranormal middle grade

Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead…and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost.
So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger…



SWITZERLAND

the little swiss ski chaletThe Little Swiss Ski Chalet by Julie Caplin
Romantic Escapes #7
contemporary romance

It’s time to pack your bags and head to the breathtaking, snow-covered peaks of the Swiss Alps for velvety hot chocolates, delicious cheeses and a gorgeous love story

Food technician Mina has always believed that chocolate will solve everything – and it’s just what she needs when her latest relationship mishap goes viral!
So with her bags packed and a new determination to sort her life out, Minna decides to drown her sorrows with the best hot chocolate in the world at her godmother’s cosy Swiss chalet. Chocolate: yes. Romance: no. Until she has a run in on an Alpine train with a mysterious but oh-so-gorgeous stranger


the dark descent of elizabeth frankensteinThe Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
historical horror YA, retelling

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything-except a friend.
Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable-and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.
But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

almost like springAlmost Like Spring by Alex Capus
(translated by Simon Pare)
historical fiction

As the Great Depression tightens its grip, and Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow gain notoriety in Texas, a series of bank robberies make headlines in Switzerland. The prime suspects are two young men, who steal small sums of money from city banks, and are unafraid to use force when faced with capture.

the judge and his hangmanThe Judge and his Hangman by Friedrich DĂŒrrenmatt
(translated by Therese Pol)

Inspector Barlach is dying. But not fast enough for his arch-enemy
When a member of the Bern police force is shot dead on a Swiss country road, the enigmatic Inspector Barlach and his colleague Tschanz are intent on tracking down the killer. But the ailing Inspector doesn’t have time to lose. Soon the pair discover that the victim was murdered on his way to a clandestine party at the home of a wealthy power broker – so why was a local policeman socialising with some of Switzerland’s most influential men? Who was his shadowy host? And why has Barlach’s past returned to haunt him in his final hours?



HUNGARY

blood countessBlood Countess by Lana Popović
historical horror YA

In 16th century Hungary, Anna Darvulia has just begun working as a scullery maid for the young and glamorous Countess Elizabeth BĂĄthory. When Elizabeth takes a liking to Anna, she’s vaulted to the dream role of chambermaid, a far cry from the filthy servants’ quarters below. She receives wages generous enough to provide for her family, and the Countess begins to groom Anna as her friend and confidante. It’s not long before Anna falls completely under the Countess’s spell—and the Countess takes full advantage. Isolated from her former friends, family, and fiancĂ©, Anna realizes she’s not a friend but a prisoner of the increasingly cruel Elizabeth. Then come the murders, and Anna knows it’s only a matter of time before the Blood Countess turns on her, too.

the doorThe Door by Magda SzabĂł
(translated by Len Rix)
fiction

A busy young writer struggling to cope with domestic chores, hires a housekeeper recommended by a friend. The housekeeper’s reputation is one built on dependable efficiency, though she is something of an oddity. Stubborn, foul-mouthed and with a flagrant disregard for her employer’s opinions she may even be crazy. She allows no-one to set foot inside her house; she masks herself with a veil and is equally guarded about her personal life. And yet Emerence is revered as much as she is feared. As the story progresses her energy and passion to help becomes clear, extinguishing any doubts arising out of her bizarre behaviour.

strangers in budapestStrangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener
fiction

Budapest: gorgeous city of secrets, with ties to a shadowy, bloody past.  It is to this enigmatic European capital that a young American couple, Annie and Will, move from Boston with their infant son shortly after the fall of the Communist regime. For Annie, it is an effort to escape the ghosts that haunt her past, and Will wants simply to seize the chance to build a new future for his family.
Eight months after their move, their efforts to assimilate are thrown into turmoil when they receive a message from friends in the US asking that they check up on an elderly man, a fiercely independent Jewish American WWII veteran who helped free Hungarian Jews from a Nazi prison camp. They soon learn that the man, Edward Weiss, has come to Hungary to exact revenge on someone he is convinced seduced, married, and then murdered his daughter.
Annie, unable to resist anyone’s call for help, recklessly joins in the old man’s plan to track down his former son-in-law and confront him, while Will, pragmatic and cautious by nature, insists they have nothing to do with Weiss and his vendetta. What Annie does not anticipate is that in helping Edward she will become enmeshed in a dark and deadly conflict that will end in tragedy and a stunning loss of innocence.



LET'S TALK

Are you watching the Euros 2024 or football in general? Which team are you rooting for? Do you have any book recommendations for the countries in this post?



Until next time,

KAT

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Checkbox GDPR is required

*

I agree