31. Case of Yuffie
32. Case of Nanaki
33. Case of Shinra
Three novellas filling in a gap in the timeline of Final Fantasy 7. Pretty quick reads, and worth a look if you’re a fan of the series, though they’re only available in English through fan translation online.
34. Faust Part I (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
Dr. Faust despairs of life and his inability to find satisfaction in his lifelong studies, so he decides to make a wager with the devil Mephistopheles: if Mephistopheles can provide him with that one moment of complete fulfilment, he can take Faust’s soul to hell for eternity. But then Faust meets an innocent young girl called Gretchen, and things start to become catastrophic.
This is a bit different from the traditional legends of Faust, but still incredibly good, though I could be a bit biased because I love the Faust story in general. Faust as a character kind of annoys me with his constant wondering about whether he’s doing the right thing (he’s usually not), which could explain why I like Mephistopheles and his sarcasm so much.
35. Wie kommt das Salz ins Meer (Brigitte Schwaiger)
This is the semi-autobiographical story of a young woman who gets married despite her misgivings and the awareness that comes to her through this, especially of what is expected of women in the time/place the story is set in (about 1970s in Austria). I read this as part of a course on gender and identity in post-war Germany and found I really clicked with a lot of the things it mentions or alludes to, so I’m glad it was recommended or I might not have heard of it, especially as it seems to be out of print now.
36. Hermann and Dorothea (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
This is actually a very long epic poem, telling the story of how Hermann meets a refugee called Dorothea as she passes through the town with her people and how he immediately decides to marry her, despite his father’s refusal to allow it. This was a pretty quick read, but I was fairly neutral about it- it’s an OK piece, but not one of my favourites.
37. Herr Mautz (Sibylle Berg)
Mr Mautz is about to die. He sits alone in his hotel room somewhere in Asia and reflects on his life, whilst the cockroaches waiting for him to die get impatient and figures from his past make appearances to let the audience know that it didn’t all happen exactly as Mautz remembers it.
This play is really surreal and I’m not sure that there’s a translation- I’ve heard it’s not even performed that often. I found out about it because I’m actually going to be in a production of it as some of the smaller roles. It’s a fairly short play, but very funny in places (especially as Mautz is actually a pretty bad guy, and the contradictions are huge in most cases), and worth checking out.
38. Novelle (Goethe)
This was a reread, but the first time I’d read it in English. It’s pretty short, as the title suggests, and it’s OK but not my favourite work by Goethe. Man and nature in conflict and eventually being reconciled, but other than that, not an awful lot happens to be honest.
39. Howl’s Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones)
Sophie has resigned herself to a boring life in the hat shop until she’s suddenly turned into an old woman by the Witch of the Waste. In shock, she flees and ends up taking up residence in the castle of the Wizard Howl, a supposedly evil man who apparently eats the hearts of young innocent girls, and making a deal with Calcifer, the fire demon under Howl’s control- if she can break his contract with Howl, he’ll break the spell on her.
I’ve been meaning to read this ever since I saw the film a couple of years ago, and I really enjoyed it. I’ll definitely be trying to get hold of the other books in the series when I’m slightly less hard up!
40. War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (Doris L. Bergen)
This was a book suggested as background reading for a course that I’m taking at uni. It’s not very long- about 200 pages- and covers not only the Holocaust during the war years but also the events leading up to it beforehand. Whether or not you read many history books, I’d definitely recommend this book because it makes the information so accessible, even to people who aren’t really historians (like me).
My challenge ends at the end of January, and I still have a little way to go thanks to real life getting in the way! Still, fingers crossed I should be able to make it!