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Recommandations littéraires


Suggestions littéraires (et autres) des professeurs et enseignants du département en langues et littératures germaniques (UNamur)


Les étudiants de BLOC 2 sont invités à choisir parmi les suggestions en anglais ci-dessous pour leurs présentations lors de nos "book clubs" mensuels.


  1. Littérature en langue anglaise


  • Dirk Delabastita


1)      Joyce Carol Oates – My Sister, My Love (2008)

The fragmented (yet highly readable) self-narrated story of young Skyler Rampike. Skyler disappoints his wealthy and socially ambitious (but emotionally and pedagogically underdeveloped) parents, is wrongly suspected of having killed his little sister, and ends up being treated for a dozen psychiatric conditions. But the book ends on a hopeful note. The novel is funny, tragic, insightful, and written with incredible stylistic verve by a future Nobel Prize winner (my guess).


When to read: When you have lots of time on your hands (562 pages) and feel ready to descend into the hell of American ‘glamorous’ society at its very worst.


2)      John Fowles – The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969)

A 1969 novel whose story unfolds in 1867. The writing is half ‘Victorian’, half ‘postmodern’, and always stimulating. The book describes a triangle of love, offers you three possible endings, and makes you think about all sorts of things – the conventions of the novel included.


When to read: Anytime.


3)      Roald Dahl – Collected Stories (2006)

Impossible to summarize (some fifty stories in a single volume) and not needing any recommendation. Few writers are better story-tellers than Dahl. The Everyman’s Library edition (bound, less than 25 euros) is a beautiful book even just to hold and look at.


When to read: As many of the stories are pretty short, this collection is excellent for your bedside table and for train journeys and airport waits.


4)      Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter (1850)

Very old-fashioned (a historical tale with an intrusive omniscient narrator, heavy with symbolism and morality) but still enjoyable today. One of the first ‘classic’ novels in ‘American’ literature. Having a forbidden passion at the centre of its plot, it gives an idea of what life must have been like in ‘New England’ in the 1740s when radical protestants were trying to build a Puritan society, leaving little room for emotion and none for error!


When to read: when you feel like reading some carefully plotted historical fiction.


5)      David Lodge – Author Author! (2004)

Based on the life of Henry James (1843-1916) and written with Jamesian stylistic precision and psychological insight. Provides an excellent understanding of the life and times of this great American/British novelist. The story focusses on James’s disastrous attempt to achieve popular and commercial success by writing a play. The book is full of literary references – many of which you will feel gratified to be able to pick up having followed the second-year literary history course.

When to read: when you feel ready to tackle a book that is ‘literary’, clever and funny at the same time.


  • Lieven Vandelanotte


6)      Ali Smith

Has been my favourite writer for some years now, so I can recommend any of her novels, really, for instance The AccidentalHotel WorldGirl Meets BoyThere But For TheHow to Be BothAutumn (or, soon, Winter), or her part-fiction, part-academic lecture book Artful (another book in a similar factual-fictional mode is Shire). Also enjoyed her retelling (for children, but we should all cherish our inner child after all) of Antigone. To me Smith is brilliant in every way, writing inventively and enjoyably fragmented stories, giving readers plenty to play with, and ultimately celebrating storytelling itself more than anything. Very good at writing precocious young girls, and very good at punning, but not in a silly or gimmicky way. Part of the enjoyment for me is also that references to various artworks (films, songs, poems, paintings, etc.) feature across her writing, usually only indirectly described by characters who know what they’re talking about when we as readers don’t – I find I’m often playing Google detective to find out more, as Smith’s taste is always impeccable. My favourite books are There But For The and the entirely idiosyncratic Artful. Even though I don’t often read short stories (except if they’re by Lydia Davis), I do enjoy those by Smith (my favourite is called “The first person”), and she has collected them in books with amusing titles like Other Stories and Other Stories, or The First Person and Other Stories.


7)      Julian Barnes

Apart from an essay collection about art (particularly French painting), Keeping an Eye Open, so far I’ve only read, but much enjoyed, the novels Talking It Over and (its sequel ten years later, starring the same characters), Love etc, essentially about a love triangle which we piece together across the separate, alternating stories (told in very different voices) of the three main characters, and some colourful extras. Stylistically very clever, and very funny.


8)      John Banville

As featured in the BA3 course, so sooner or later The Book of Evidence and The Sea will no longer need an introduction. Of the two, The Sea is more contemplative and less eventful – focusing on the character Max Morden on a retreat after his wife has died, but reliving events from his childhood. The central character in The Book of Evidence is an irresistible, intelligent and eloquent rogue, who through no fault of his own (one is tempted to say) ended up abducting and murdering a maid who caught him in the act of stealing a painting. 


9)      Philip Roth

A giant of American literature, rightly famous for his hilarious (and infamous) Portnoy’s Complaint. My own favourite is The Human Stain, but I’ve enjoyed all the Roth novels I read, including EverymanIndignationThe Ghost WriterExit GhostThe Humbling. (One that is highly regarded but that I haven’t read yet is American Pastoral.)


10)  David Mitchell

Dazzlingly complex story universes, not only presenting multiple stories-within-stories in his novels separately but even creating inter-novel links across his larger œuvre. In spite of this, entirely accessible, engrossing storytelling. Cloud Atlas is rightly famous, and was made into a major motion picture; but in a very different, more subdued but intimate mode I really loved Black Swan Green, a novel with an autobiographical feel to it inasmuch as it centres on a teenager with a stammer growing up in the UK of the 1980s, against a background of Thatcher and the Falklands War. I can also recommend Ghostwrittennumber9dreamThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet, but I’ve given up on his output more recently (with his apparent turn to more and more science fiction-like stories).


11)   Jeffrey Eugenides

Good old-fashioned, long reads – I’ve read and much enjoyed Middlesex (the coming-of-age story of an intersex man of Greek descent, incorporating his family’s earlier history into the present-day story) and The Marriage Plot (set on an American college campus in the early 1980s and dealing with a love triangle) – a book which comes close to what I would imagine a 21st century Jane Austen novel would be like. I have yet to read Eugenides’ most famous novel, The Virgin Suicides, which was made into a film. 


12)  F. Scott Fitzgerald

I haven’t yet read much by Fitzgerald, but I can’t recommend The Great Gatsby enough – not so much for the story, which you can get from the film version I guess, but for the fact that Fitzgerald confirms himself as a supreme stylist.


13)  Christopher Isherwood

I’ve read his Berlin stories (Goodbye to Berlin) and The World in the Evening, but the one, really short but beautiful novel to recommend is A Single Manabout a college professor heartbroken after the sudden death of his lover Jim. A Single Man was recently turned into a very stylish film, but the book is a stylistically perfect marvel too.


14)  Jim Dodge

Stone Junction was a bit of a cult novel for some in the US (the edition I have has an introduction by the pope of postmodern American literature, Thomas Pynchon) – a bizarre, fascinating, adventurous but also meaningful book which I enjoyed a lot (when I was a bit younger). Also enjoyed the road novel Not Fade Away, and the brief novella Fupabout two humans and one duck (one review read “This novel is fupped uck”). If you think you’ve heard of Jim Dodge before, that may be because we read a simple brief poem of his in BA1, “Learning to Talk”.


15)  Muriel Spark

So far I’ve read A Far Cry from Kensington, the rightly famous The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (also made into a film) and The Driver’s Seat. Came to her through fellow Scottish writer Ali Smith (who wrote the intro to the edition of A Far Cry… which I have). Powerful, stark, weird, concentrated storytelling.


16)  Max Porter

One of the most remarkable debut novels to have come out in recent years, written by someone who works in publishing for his day job, Grief is the Thing with Feathers is extremely impressive, inventive, exciting, experimental, without being in any way ‘difficult’ or ‘overly intellectual’. Plus it’s short! The title is a variation on a famous line from Emily Dickinson’s poetry (‘hope is the thing with feathers’), and another poetic influence which looms large over this book is Ted Hughes, whose collection Crow inspired the ‘crow’ character in the book, the ‘thing with feathers’ arriving in the midst of a recently bereaved family, with a father now left to look after his two sons alone. The book is composed of sections voiced alternately by the father, the boys, and Crow. This really is a book unlike any other. I have to reread it, soon.


17)  Helen Macdonald

Helen Macdonald’s award-winning H is for Hawk is an unusual but entirely successful combination of grief memoir (following her father’s death), biographical sketch (about a tormented author, TH White, who in addition to Arthurian novels wrote a book about trying to train a hawk), and nature writing. It details the difficult process by which the author acquired and trained up a goshawk called Mabel and finds in this a way of coming to terms with her father’s death. A fascinating, beautifully written book.


18)  Edward St Aubyn

St Aubyn was born into an aristocratic family, but had a dreadful childhood during which he was abused by his father. Not a happy theme to commit to writing, but his five-volume so-called ‘Patrick Melrose novels’ (Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother's Milk, and At Last), autobiographical in inspiration, make for brilliant, very funny, addictive reading. When they were recommended to me a few autumns ago, I read one book after the other until I’d completed the series. St Aubyn is also a highly accomplished stylist, and an absolute master of the simile. He has written other books besides, including Lost for Words which I’ve read, an amusing satirical comment on the literary prize circuit.


19)  Nell Zink

A writer only to have appeared on the literary scene quite recently, despite having written for a long time for a single pen pal. Following exchanges with Jonathan Franzen, she was encouraged to ‘go public’ with her work, and her first two novels The Wallcreeper and Mislaid caused quite a stir. In some ways her work is provocative and over-the-top, particularly in its plot details, but I have much enjoyed their daring, sense of fun and fierce intelligence. The Wallcreeper is about a bird-loving couple who move to Europe to turn ecowarriors; Mislaid is about a woman who leaves her gay professor husband and assumes an entirely new identity for herself and her daughter.


20)  Books to read when…

… you just need a break and want to laugh: With fans including Stephen Fry and Ms Nélis, PG Wodehouse probably needs no further plaudits (though his style and cultural background may take some getting used to), but another immensely popular comic writer (not well-known outside of the UK probably) is Tom Sharpe, whose Wilt series of novels (centring on the hapless lecturer in literature at a community college, Henry Wilt, and his wholly farcical adventures) provides some of the best comic relief available (titles include Wilt, The Wilt Alternative, Wilt on High, Wilt in Nowhere). Stephen Fry’s own novels are very accomplished too of course; the one I enjoyed most is The Hippopotamus.

… you just can’t get enough of British politics: BBC journalist and former writer for The Economist Andrew Marr is well-placed to know the ins and outs of British politics, and Head of State and Children of the Master are two novels set within this context. Pulp fiction, in a sense, but well-written, suspenseful and really relaxing and undemanding.

… you want to feel like a good old-fashioned, pre-Harry Potter kind of child: what better stories to read than A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories! If you get a chance to hear the audio versions read by Alan Bennett, you can recreate the full sense of being read to at bedtime J

…you’re travelling to New York: Olivia Laing’s The Lonely Citya moving, very well-researched book which looks at New York, ‘the lonely city’, through the lens of important artists who lived and/or worked there, including Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, Nan Goldin, Henry Darger, Klaus Nomi, and others. Its subtitle is ‘Adventures in the Art of Being Alone’, as it finds its origin in Laing’s experience of having moved to New York (from the UK) after the breakdown of a relationship.

…you’re visiting Glasgow: When in Glasgow, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (the important architect) is an inescapable presence. Emma Freud’s touching, moving, intimate narrative Mr Mac and Me, about a friendship between ‘Mr and Mrs Mac’ and a local boy living on the Suffolk coast where the Mackintoshes find themselves at the outbreak of the Great War.


21)  And more…

A bit of a cop-out, but let me just add some more authors whose work I’ve really enjoyed. I adored Australian writer Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America, a beautifully written, very witty novel set in the context of post-Revolution French aristocracy, travelling to the New World to escape persecution in France; the novel has some interesting, loose ties to Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. New Zealand writer Lloyd Jones is a unique voice, whose Mister Pip (about a girl caught up in a dreadful conflict on an island, but manages to live through this partly thanks to her connection with Dickens’s character Pip from Great Expectations) was very moving and at times devastating and chilling, but ultimately an eloquent expression of the power of literature. His Hand Me Down World is very interesting in offering various eye witness accounts of a refugee’s journey to try and find her abducted child.  Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is unputdownable and unforgettable (and his novelisation of Maurice Sendak’s famous Where the Wild Things Are as The Wild Things is very enjoyable too), and a similar nice long read is Jonathan Franzen’s The CorrectionsJonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated was another great read; I have yet to read the incredible, beautifully produced ‘cut out’ book (printed in Bruges!), Tree of Codes.

In Dutch, my favourite authors are Willem Elsschot and Tom Lanoye – very different temperaments and styles, but all their writings are essential reading – and while I only very rarely read in French, I’ve enjoyed Edouard Louis (En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule; I have yet to read Histoire de la violence), Milan Kundera (La fête de l’insignifiance), and Martin Page (Comment je suis devenu stupide).  

Apart from books I’ve enjoyed, there is much (too much!) I look forward to reading, eventually. Among the books on my shelves which I hope to read in the coming years are Eimear McBride’s novels A Girl is a Half-formed Thing and The Lesser Bohemians, Lisa McInerney’s The Glorious Heresies, Jonathan Coe’s Expo 58, Iain Pears’ The Portrait, Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood and Kafka on the Shore, Miranda July’s The First Bad Man, Richard Ford’s Canada, Richard Powers’ The Time of Our Singing, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (of course!), Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, James Kelman’s How Late It Was, How Late, Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, Kamel Daoud’s Meursault, contre-enquête, Laurent Binet’s La septième fonction du langage, and classics like Jan Potocki’s The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margerita, and novels by Melville, Dickens, Twain, Woolf, Waugh, and,… Clearly, many treasures lie dormant, waiting to be read into life J

And, of course, I haven’t said anything about poetry – a whole different kettle of fish! But I can’t finish my contribution without at least mentioning my favourite poet, Philip Larkin (who, in his younger years, wrote two passably good novels too, Jill and A Girl in Winter, which he always continued to think of as The Kingdom of Winter, a title his publisher wouldn’t accept).


  • Louise Dumont


22)      Stephen Fry’s Mythos (2017) and Heroes (2018)

I highly recommend Stephen Fry’s Mythos and Heroes to anyone interested in Greek mythology (and everyone else, really). His modern retelling of ancient myths about gods and goddesses in Mythos and about great Greek heroes in Heroes is extremely enjoyable as it is both instructive and very entertaining. This “series” (although you don’t need to read Mythos before reading Heroes) should definitely be on your bedside table because it is a perfect read before going to sleep: not only are the chapters relatively short, so that you can read about Perseus one day, and about Heracles the next, for instance, but Fry’s captivating storytelling will also make you feel like a child being read to; and if you like audiobooks, you can actually listen to him!

P.S. The third volume of the series, Troy, which – as its name suggests – is a retelling of the Trojan War, will be released in October 2020.

23)      Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad (2005)

Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad is a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey from the perspective of Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, wandering in the Underworld with her twelve maids that were hanged by Odysseus upon his return from the Trojan War. Penelope is known as the epitome of the devoted and faithful wife, who obediently waited 20 years for her husband’s return while weaving, weeping and keeping hundreds of suiters at bay, but in The Penelopiad, Atwood gives her flesh and blood, and above all, a voice to reveal her side of the story.

24)      Ian McEwan’s Nutshell (2016)

By a strange twist of fate, I received Nutshell and read it during lockdown, and I couldn’t help but feel that my own confinement resonated with the protagonist’s who, at some point, exclaims “Oh God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space – were it not that I have bad dreams”. This novel is indeed told from the perspective of an unborn baby who, from his mother Trudy’s womb, overhears her and her lover Claude (who happens to be his father’s brother-in-law) plotting to murder his father. As you might have realised from the plot outline, the characters’ names and the quote, Nutshell is inspired by the story of Hamlet who struggles to find an appropriate response to the murder of his father.

25)      Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813)

Pride and Prejudice is a classic of English literature. This romantic novel is set in rural England in the early 19th century, and centres on Elizabeth Bennet’s complicated relationship with Mr Darcy, a wealthy aristocrat, whom she at first spurns because of his arrogance. However, as the story unfolds, she discovers his true nature.

26)      Agatha Christie’s detective novels

One of the best-selling English novelists of all times, Agatha Christie is best known for her very clever detective novels, often featuring as protagonist either the famous Belgian private detective Hercules Poirot, or Miss Marple, an elderly amateur detective. My favourites include And Then There Were NoneThe Murder of Roger AckroydDeath on the Nile and 4.50 from Paddington. If you had to pick only one, I’d say The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is probably the most remarkable.

27)      And others summarized below…

Art Spiegelman’s Maus -- I don’t often read graphic novels, but I read this one on the recommendation of Ms Nélis and it really is one of my favourite recent reads -- Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments.


  • Noémie Nélis


28)  Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (1989)

The narrator of The Remains of the Day is a stereotypical, stiff-upper-lip English butler, named Stevens, who has devoted his entire life to his work in the service of Lord Darlington, in Darlington Hall, England. After his master’s death and the purchase of the estate by an American business man (in 1956, year of the nationalization of the Suez Canal, which effectively marked the end of the British Empire), Stevens decides to go on a trip through the British West Country, the purpose of which is to find and convince Miss Kenton, former housekeeper, to come back into service at Darlington Hall. As he goes along his journey, Stevens is prompted to remember a few “insignificant” events that happened before the war at Darlington Hall and to re-evaluate many of the ideas and principles on which he has built his life. The Remains of the Day is a novel in which, on the surface, nothing much happens but in which, as Salman Rushdie puts it, there “is a turbulence as immense as it is slow”. Ishiguro offers here a reflection on concepts such as dignity, greatness and professionalism as well as on the idea of how easily and unconsciously one can waste one’s life away. It’s the story of a failed life, of missed opportunities and of wasted love, and it is as beautifully written as it is heart-breaking.

When to read: during a weekend in the countryside, on a sunny autumn or winter day, when feelings of nostalgia for a long-gone summer remind you of the past and of what might have been different, had you known better…

PS: All of Ishiguro’s novels (and short stories) are worth reading, but after Remains, my personal favourites are The Buried Giant (2015) and Never Let Me Go (2005). Fyi, Ishiguro was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017, for “novels of great emotional force” that have “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”


29)  Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life (2013)

I bought that book in an airport, out of sudden panic that I had not packed enough books to read while away on holiday. It had apparently won the prestigious “Costa Book Award” (said the dust jacket), and I thought I’d give it a try. And I loved it. I truly did. It has characters in it – not just the main ones – that just stay with you once you’re finished reading, and a typically British feel to its atmosphere. It’s the story of the life – sorry, the lives – of Ursula Todd, stillborn in the first chapter but alive and well in the second: in each chapter, Ursula dies, one way or another, as a baby, a child, a teenager etc., but in each chapter she also survives, and the world changes with her. From Ursula’s parents’ home in the bucolic English countryside (“Fox Corner”), to war-time London during the Blitz and Hitler’s mountain retreat in Germany (the Berghof), Life After Life takes us on a gripping journey you’ll have a hard time coming back from. It’s a story about possibilities and alternatives, about family life, and about the fragility and unpredictability of life and identities.

When to read? The story begins on a snowy night, so you might just do the same…


30)  David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (2004)

Inspired by Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is an extremely clever novel that plays with structure and genres in six nested stories. Each story is abruptly interrupted in its middle (1-2-3-4-5), except for the sixth one (6), after which the previous stories are resumed, but in reverse chronological order (5-4-3-2-1), so as to have the first story of the novel also conclude it. Each story is amazing in its own right: the first takes the form of a nineteenth-century journal written by American notary Adam Ewing on his way back from the Chatham Islands (Pacific Ocean). The second tells the story of Robert Frobisher, a young bisexual musician who becomes an amanuensis to a former genius composer near Bruges, Belgium, in 1931. We then have, successively, the “Luisa Rey Mystery”, written in the form of a thriller set in 1970s California; the “Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish”, presented as the memoirs of a comical vanity press English publisher trapped in a nursing home; “An Orison of Sonmi ~451”, which is set in a dystopian futuristic state in Korea in which clones are harvested for cheap labour; and “Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After”, a distant-future, post-apocalyptic story narrated in an imagined future English dialect and set on one of the islands that make up Hawaii. All the stories are linked together in a variety of ways, and all offer a reflection on the predatory instincts of human beings. Clever, and a page-turner!

When to read: whenever you want, one story at a time… although I suspect you’ll want to know what happens so much that you’ll read faster than ever!

PS: Here too, I would recommend all of Mitchell’s other novels (and collections of short stories), including Ghostwritten (1999; a ‘global’ novel in nine interconnected parts), Black Swan Green (2006; a deceptively simple, semi-autobiographical novel set in 1980s Britain), The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010; a historical novel with a hint of fantasy, set in late 18th century Japan and focused on the Japanese Empire’s relationships with the Dutch East Indies Company),The Bone Clocks (2014; a novel in six interconnected parts, which also spans genres, including SF/fantasy – then developed further into a much shorter companion novel called Slade House [2015]), and his latest, Utopia Avenue, for fans of rock and pop music!


31)  Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence (2008)

Salman Rushdie is a master storyteller and proves it once more in The Enchantress of Florence, a novel that is much more accessible than the most well-known and acclaimed Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses (definitely must-reads too). In 16th-century India, a handsome European traveller calling himself ‘Mogor dell’Amore’ arrives at the court of Akbar the Great, the Mughal Emperor. The stranger claims he has a tale to tell, and it is a tale with which the entire capital will soon get obsessed… Mixing history, fable and fantasy, Rushdie links East and West in a boisterous and sensuous story starring such historical figures as Akbar himself, Machiavelli, the Medicis and Queen Elizabeth I. A good introduction to Rushdie’s works and use of magical realism, and as impressive as it gets in terms of style and verve.

When to read: Whenever you have some time ahead of you. It is not a novel that reads quickly nor that should be gulped in one go: rather, one has to slowly revel in Rushdie’s words, delight in the rich pictures he paints and think about them.

PS: I’d also like to recommend Shalimar the Clown (where a vengeful, heart-broken Kashmiri clown turns to terrorism) and The Ground Beneath Her Feet (for those of you interested in rock music: you’ll enjoy spotting all the references!). More recently, I've also loved The Golden House (2017) and Quichotte (2019).


32)  Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847)

As a teenager, I was enthralled by Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. The story is narrated by Lockwood, an English gentleman who is taking a break from the city, and Nelly Dean, housekeeper in the house Lockwood is renting (Thrushcross Grange, Yorkshire). The main story is about the complicated love relationship there is between Heathcliff and Catherine, and the love triangle they form with Edgar Linton. It is a tale about social mobility, love-and-hate relationships, the conflicts between nature and culture... But, above all, it is a tale about great, fierce and eternal love, the kind that outlasts even death…

When to read: on a cold, windy evening, by the fire…

As I grew up, I found I progressively started to prefer, to Emily Brontë’s tale of violent love, her sister’s depiction of a more mature and interesting woman in Jane Eyre. It is just as romantic, still with a (very!) big hint of the gothic and issues of social classes, but it portrays an intelligent woman who refuses to give up on her moral principles and values, even for love. It is a proto-feminist novel if ever there was one, and a novel that revolutionised, for reasons Mr Delabastita will surely explain, the art of fiction.

When to read: just like her sister’s novel: on a cold winter night, by a roaring fire!


33)  Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (1991)

This is a (Pulitzer Prize-winner) graphic novel – like a comic book, but thicker and longer. Art Spiegelman is a second-generation author whose parents were survivors of the Holocaust, and it is their story that he depicts in Maus, in black-and-white, minimalist style. Interestingly, and significantly, the Jews are represented as mice, the Germans as cats, the Poles as pigs, etc. It’s beautifully drawn, cleverly thought-out and written, and inevitably heart-breaking and thought-provoking. One of my favourite reads of the last few years.


34)  P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves Stories (1915-1974)

P.G. Wodehouse is, undoubtedly, the writer who has made me laugh the most. His Jeeves stories (there are short stories and novels) are just hilarious and (stereo)typically British. Jeeves, in brief, is the highly competent valet of Bertie Wooster, a wealthy, foppish and not exactly clever young Londoner who seems unable to stay out of trouble (either with the law, demanding relatives or – and most importantly – women). The main premise is that, without Jeeves, Bertie would be at a complete loss, blissfully unaware as he often is of what is happening to him until it is too late… All the stories are truly funny and read very quickly, but I can recommend, among others, Carry on Jeeves (10 stories), The Code of the Woosters (full-length novel), and Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen (full-length novel). Note that the stories were adapted, in the early 1990s, into the highly successful series Jeeves and Wooster, starring Stephen Fry as Jeeves and Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster: a must-watch, too!

When to read: whenever you’re in need of a good laugh.


35)  Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (trilogy)

This is not light reading at all: it is historical literary fiction at its best. Impressive in all aspects, Wolf Hall is perhaps one of the novels I have most loved and admired in recent years: minutely researched, impeccably written and clearly absorbing, it is the kind of novel that is both highly informative and highly enjoyable. Interesting fact: its author, Hilary Mantel, was the first British writer ever to win the Man Booker Prize twice: the first time with Wolf Hall and the second with… its sequel, Bring up the Bodies. Set in 16th-century England, Wolf Hall is a fictionalised biography of Thomas Cromwell, a man of humble origins who will become King Henry VIII’s most trusted advisor and the architect of the Reformation. It is both strange and thrilling to be so absorbed that you really feel part of Henry’s inner circle, as if you were witnessing the century’s most important changes first-hand, and meeting some of its most significant figures such as Thomas More or Anne Boleyn. A really impressive feat, and a complete, immersive experience: I can only recommend it!

When to read: When you know you have some time ahead of you to tackle three very thick books… And there’s an excellent BBC series, too!


36)  Ian McEwan’s Atonement (2001)

Many of you will probably have seen the film, but the book is oh so much better – not in the least because of a very postmodern trick towards the end that is sure to surprise and move you. In pre-WWII England, an upper-class young woman, Cecilia, falls in love with Robbie, the housekeeper’s son, but their relationship will be short-lived as Briony, Cecilia’s sister, makes a mistake that will ruin their lives. As Robbie is sent to fight in France and Cecilia enrols as a nurse in London, Briony will have to try to atone…

When to read? On a hot summer day, to really feel the scorching heat and oppressive atmosphere of the first few pages…


37)  And more…


I also highly recommend the following novels, read and enjoyed recently: Sally Rooney’s Normal People (which caused quite a stir in literary circles and beyond this year), Rana Dasgupta’s Tokyo Cancelled (a contemporary rewriting of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales), Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins (less fragmented sequel to the aforementioned Life After Life), Richard Powers's The Overstory (one of the few American novels in my list, and one that moved me more than I can tell. It's a wonderfully polyphonic novel, and a fable on climate change and deforestation), Delia Owens's bestselling Where the Crawdads Sing (another American novel, which I read over the summer and loved. It's the devastating story of Kya, a young girl who lives on her own in the marsh of North Carolina in the 1950s. A wild child, she finds safety and comfort in nature, but the world of men soon intrudes upon her again, with its share of romance, abandonment, and murder...), Stephen Fry's Mythos and Heroes, Ali Smith's The Accidental and many more. In French, I’ve also read Tatiana de Rosney’s Manderley Forever, which centres on the life of British novelist Daphné du Maurier (author of, among others, Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, both highly enjoyable gothic novels).


September 2021 update: other books I've read this year and absolutely loved include: Madeline Miller's brilliant Circe (an absorbing feminist retelling of the myth of Circe and, among others, her alleged love story with Ulysses, and an absolute must-read if you like reading about strong women and Greek mythology), Helen McDonald's H is for Hawk (see Prof. Vandelanotte's recommendation above), Elizabeth Jane Howard's The Cazalet Chronicles (a Sussex family saga that takes us through the 20th century -- I've read the first three books but there are five in total, I think), Gabriel Tallent's My Absolute Darling (riveting, traumatizing, fascinating, disturbing -- brilliant, but not for those that are easily shocked as it explores such deeply disturbing themes as incest and domestic violence), and Peter Heller's The River (a nature thriller that is as beautifully poetic as it is unnerving and terrifying... It features two close friends canoeing down the Maskwa River in northern Canada, and who find themselves trying to save a woman from her violent husband while rushing to outrun the fiercest forest fire they've ever seen... Will they make it out alive?). 

And in French: Laurent Binet's HHhH and Cilivilisations (two very different but brilliant books), Mona Chollet's Sorcières: La puissance invaincue des femmes (an interesting non-fiction book about witch hunts in the 16th-18th centuries and their troubling legacy to this day. Chollet is a famous French sociologist, and her books are thought-provoking must-reads), and Clara Dupont-Monod's Le Roi disait que j'étais le diable and La Révolte (both about Aliénor d'Aquitaine, an intriguing historical figure that's always fascinated me).


September 2022 update: some more of my favourite recent reads are Madeline Miller's Song of Achilles, which focuses on the magnificent love story between Achilles and Patroclus before and during the Trojan War; Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet, which Ms Dumont recommended to me and which I absolutely adored (it centres on Shakespeare's family in the time of the plague -- her portrayal of Shakespeare's wife in particular is sublime); Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White (a hefty and supremely literary book set in Victorian England and centred on Sugar, a young prostitute intent on climbing the social ladder); George Eliot's Middlemarch (a classic 19th-century novel subtitled "A Study of Provincial Life," and one of the great English novels) and Richard Powers' Bewilderment, which I am currently reading and which revolves around a loving father-son relationship in times of climate crisis.


Books that have long been on my reading list and that I cannot wait to pick up include the following: Nathalie Haynes's Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths, Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad, Daisy Johnson's Fen, Donna Tartt's The Secret History, and Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behaviour.

Oh, and I'm forgetting my two favourite fantasy trilogies ever, both by Philip Pullman: His Dark Materials (published between 1995 and 2000) and The Book of Dust (2017, 2019, ?), with the latter expanding on the former. Pullman has created the most epic and magical universe, with alternate words, a theocratic organization, daemons (the physical manifestation of a human's soul -- a brilliant invention), witches and armoured bears. Although His Dark Materials was initially marketed as children's literature, it is so much more than that, as it addresses the mystery of human consciousness (are we spirit, or matter?), celebrates the power of imagination, and rewrites Milton's Paradise Lost, among others. The Book of Dust even explores contemporary crises, including the refugee crisis and the climate emergency. These are novels I re-read regularly, and always with the same child-like pleasure and marvel at Pullman's intellectual achievement. Fyi, the first volume of His Dark Materials was made into a film (The Golden Compass), but it failed to capture the complexity of Pullman's work and flopped at the box office. The BBC's more recent serial adaptation of the trilogy is much more successful, in my opinion, and I recommend it too.


  • Asseline Sel


38) Margaret Atwood’s whole collection. My personal selection:

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
The haunting tale of a so-called “handmaid” (a servant-breeder) in a dystopian, theocratic America in which women, especially the most fertile ones, are oppressed, subjected, and systematically silenced. The fragmented and subjective storytelling, made up of memories, anecdotes, and impressions, give a voice to this otherwise silenced heroine, and tells a disturbing (and yet beautiful) tale which will no doubt remind you of the darkest hours of human societies… and sometimes leave you wonder if we are really that remote from the protagonist’s situation. All this in Atwood’s typical writing style: efficient, reflective, and very readable!
The recent TV series adaptation is very good as well, but don’t expect the same story: only season 1 of the series is a direct adaptation (albeit slightly modified/modernised) of the book; the other seasons are ‘originals’. Fyi: the second instalment in the book series, The Testament (2019) was partly written as a response to the Hulu series, and offers a very different take on some characters. Although a good novel and worth reading, it did not quite strike me as much as the original book.

When to read: Anytime – but especially when/if you feel feminist! It is an interesting read if you’ve watched and liked the TV series – so that you can compare both.

Oryx and Crake (2003)
The first instalment of a post-apocalyptic trilogy. The first novel follows the story of “Snowman”, the last man alive on earth after the apocalypse, who lives near a tribe of humanoid, but not quite human creatures called ‘Crakers’. As the story progresses, “Snowman” remember his life before the Apocalypse, when he was still called Jimmy and lived in a hyper-technological society where genetic engineering ruled the world. As is often the case with Atwood, the story is largely told through flashbacks; Snowman’s past and present, however, overlap and regularly intermingle.
The novel can be read as a stand-alone, but two other instalments complete the trilogy and widen Snowman’s perspective: The Year of the Flood (2009, also recommended) and MaddAddam (2013 – which I still have to read, but I’ve rarely been disappointed by an Atwood novel!))

When to read: In 2020! The story is particularly relevant this year [it doesn’t talk about COVID, though, promise]. However, feel free to read it later, it’s a great and very topical read!
Also, before, during, or after a Climate Walk.
Alias Grace (1996) – This historical fiction novel is Margaret Atwood’s take on a notorious 1843 murder case. It recounts the story of Grace Marks, a domestic servant accused of the double murder of her former employer and his housekeeper, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Her story progressively unravels through her interactions with the fictional character of Dr. Simon Jordan, a psychiatrist hired by believers in Grace’s innocence to write a psychological report on her, in the hope it will get her pardoned. Through the prism of Grace’s both humble and explicit tale, the novel explores the role of women in nineteenth century Canada, and draws a sometimes very dark portrait of gender relations. But the novel does not only offer a feminist reflection: it is a historical story on the sometimes difficult living conditions of immigrants in Canada, and of servants, a fictional take on criminal facts, a reflection on the human mind, and it even has some elements of a gothic novel. It is dark, complex, ambiguous, and rich.
The novel’s series adaptation (on Netflix) is also excellent. Don’t hesitate to check it out!

When to read: Grace’s memories start with her travelling from Ireland to Canada. You might not undertake such a long trip, but you can always read it while travelling or commuting! (Or just anywhere at all, really)

39) Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) – An old classic. You may have noticed that I really like dystopias. They are a great way to make you think critically about society, they have interesting mechanisms, and they’re generally enjoyable and very readable (although often dark)! Set in a ‘futuristic’ London, Brave New World describes a technocratic society entirely led by the principles of consumptions and (mindless) pleasure, which prevents its citizens from questioning the social structure and power in place through genetic engineering, early childhood conditioning, propaganda, and the quasi-compulsory use of a joy-inducing drug. Although quite dated (the ‘futuristic’ technology seems ridiculous today – as is the problem with most science-fiction novels!), the novel is an interesting example of a dystopia, a classic of the genre… And it throws in some Shakespeare lines for good measure (the title itself is a reference to Shakespeare’s The Tempest)! You may even start to draw parallels between Huxley’s society and our own (although, fortunately, they’ll remain quite limited!)…

When to read: On a hot summer day, to feel the stifling atmosphere of the novel to the bone.

40) George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) – Another dystopian classic, still widely referenced and quoted from today. It is set in a Great Britain – now a province of the totalitarian super-state Oceania – ruled by a unique Party with absolute power, which does not allow any form of individuality, free thinking, or dissidence – even in thought. Government surveillance, propaganda, the personality cult of the legendary leader “Big Brother”, and the hatred of designated ‘enemies’ ensure that everyone follows the movement, and any case of rebellion is taken care of by the Thought Police. The novel follows Winston Smith, one of the numerous employees of the Party, who secretly dreams of rebellion. The themes handled are hard, but the novel is definitely worth reading – not only is it a classic, we also owe Orwell some expressions that are still in use today (Big Brother, of course, but also ‘doublethink’, 'newspeak’, etc.)

When to read: On a grey, rainy day which mirrors the novel’s dark, gloomy atmosphere. Or, if you don’t want to end up completely depressed, on a brighter day when you feel ready to tackle some heavy topics!


Hillary Mantel’s historical fictions Wolf Hall (2009) – a very dense fictional biography of Thomas Cromwell, one of the main proponents and advocates of the English reformation. The first book describes Cromwell’s ascent to power when he becomes one of Henry VIII’s most trusted advisors, as well as his role in the annulment of the King’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon, the refusal of which by the Catholic church was what led the king to declare religious independence from Roman Catholicism and to declare England a Protestant country, and the crowning of Anne Boleyn as his second wife. The book offers a detailed, extremely well-researched, and very believable account of these events; but one of its strengths lies in its handling of these historical details in a very human way. Mantel does not just describe a list of historical facts and dates with the accuracy of a historian: she tells the story of a man, and the importance of the events unfolding never erase the subjective, sensitive, human perspective, which makes it very relatable despite the historical distance. Despite the magnificence of the coronation of Anne Boleyn, it is the simple scenes of Cromwell’s family life which struck and stayed with me the most: this novel is one of the rare books which were evocative enough to bring me to tears, without falling into excessive pathos. Informative, evocative, accurate in every way, and all-encompassing: a masterpiece!
The novel is the first instalment of a trilogy; the two other novels are Bring Up the Bodies (2012) and The Mirror and the Light (2020).

When to read: In winter, next to a fireplace, with a hot beverage. 

41) Daphné du Maurier’s The House on the Strand (1969) – a lesser-known novel by the quite famous author of Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel. Using codes of the Gothic and science-fiction novels, the story follows Dick Young, who is persuaded by one of his friends to test a drug he invented, which allows him to mentally travel back to the fourteenth century. The novel alternates chapters in Dick’s fourteenth-century second life and his real-life existence in the twentieth century, and makes for an enjoyable, although quite gloomy, experience. One of the interesting features of the novel is its mixture of paranormal and psychological, of science and supernatural. Recommended if you like the Gothic genre!

When to read: On a windy autumn day, preferably in the moors of Cornwall where the story takes place!

42) Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) – another highly recommendable classic. Forget everything you thought you knew about Frankenstein’s mindless and inarticulate beast: Mary Shelley’s creature is very different! The novel is an indirect account of the life of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who artificially created a living and sentient creature out of dead body parts, but rejected it upon seeing the horror of what he had created. No spoiler – but as you can imagine things are not that simple, since the nameless, sentient, highly intelligent, and sensitive ‘creature’ is still alive. It is not only a horror and gothic novel, it is also a psychological and philosophical essay, and the story-within-a-story structure creates a very intelligent effect of subjectivity which forces you to ‘read between the lines’. Very worth reading.

When to read: Like Du Maurier’s novel, on a windy autumn day (or at night with a flashlight!).

43) Oscar Wilde’s The importance of Being Earnest (1895) – an enjoyable nineteenth-century comedy set in Victorian England and a piece of satire on Victorian traditions and social customs. It follows two gentlemen and bachelors, who both assume fictional identities to escape their tiresome realities and responsibilities. The title is a pun on the name ‘Ernest’ and the adjective ‘earnest’ (serious, sincere). It is described as “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People” – which sets the tone of the play. Funny, witty, and over-the-top. It’s a good read if you’re curious about nineteenth-century customs but don’t want to engage in too serious matters.

When to read: During a commute or when you have an afternoon free – it’s quite a short read.

44) Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) – a final science-fiction/post-apocalyptic suggestion. The Road tells the story of a father and a son trying to survive and to navigate in a lifeless North America, after an unnamed catastrophe depleted it of its population and left it covered with ashes. The two male protagonists are travelling South toward the sea, trying to reach it before winter to increase their chances of survival. The very matter-of-fact style, interrupted by flashbacks and conversations between man and son, mirrors the depressing, difficult reality of the protagonists’ unconventional road trip. Interesting fact: McCarthy won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and the book is considered one of the best novels of the twenty-first Century.

When to read: Just like Orwell’s novel, when you feel ready to tackle some heavy topics.


  • Nathalie Borrelli


45)  Hanya Yanagihara – A Little Life (2015)

An absolutely delightful and very moving novel that I read several times and that pursued me for weeks. The story follows four friends - in their twenties, at the beginning of the novel - for about forty years. It starts out as the story about their friendship, their relationships and aspirations in life, but it gradually turns into something completely different, namely the close analysis of trauma and the impact it can have on a person's life and his environment. This makes it rather heavy to deal with emotionally, on occasion, and led some critics to observe that “it is not a book for everyone.” The novel alternates between different focalizers, which does not only allow you to get to know the point of view of different characters on different events and on each other, but also to revisit the same events twice (and sometimes even thrice) and thus re-discover them from a different angle. I especially loved the way friendship and love are described and I found Yanagihara a keen observer of the human nature at times. With a few unforgettable characters as well.

When to read: Whenever you have enough time to read through the 720-odd pages and are not in a too heavy mood yourself.

Which copy to read: If you do decide to read this, make sure you have a copy of the book with the white cover and a staircase shining through the letters of the title. The cover with the face of a suffering young man could totally ruin your reading experience!


46)  Tana French – In the Woods (2007)

This is the first part of a series. You can read the novels separately without any problem, but if you plan to read them all, you can just as well start with the first one. Tana French writes detective stories and every book in the series follows another member of the Dublin Murder Squad. Minor characters in one story become principal characters in another, and the novels follow each other chronologically. In this way you get to know the detectives from different perspectives and learn to understand the way in which they function, but you also get to know what happens to them later on, after the story, be it in snatches. There is also always some kind of personal link between the case and one of the detectives and there is often a strange twist in the build-up to the dénouement. The novels have been classified as “psychological thrillers.” In In the Woods a young girl is murdered and found in the same woods where one of the detectives has experienced a traumatic event when he was a child himself. What appeals to me most is the way in which French creates suspense: it is a skilful mix of unravelling a crime and simultaneously discovering more about the detectives' background stories and not knowing right away whether or not both are linked. I also like the contemporary Irish atmosphere the novels breathe.

When to read: At the beach, I guess, or on a sunny afternoon in your garden: I'd recommend some place warm and luminous enough to contrast with all the 'wet and dark' in the novel.


47)  DBC Pierre – Vernon God Little (2003)

One of the funniest books I've read in years. The story follows Vernon, a more or less ordinary teenager who suddenly finds himself in the eye of the storm when his (former) best friend kills himself together with a number of his fellow students at school. Vernon relates what happens to him after his apparent arrest and we follow him in his struggle for trying to escape from what seems to be inevitable. I liked this novel because I found it incredibly funny, with humour that mixes the verbal and the situational, but also because of the lovely main character, who is a very sharp judge of the people that surround him and possesses a great sense of perspective.

When to read: Whenever you feel like being cheered up and have a pencil at hand to mark all the wonderful, funny quotes.


48)  John le Carré – The Constant Gardener (2001)

Although it was turned into an excellent movie (great actors, beautiful landscapes!) the novel is certainly worth the while as well (even if you've already seen the movie). It tells the story of Justin, a kind-hearted British diplomat in Kenya, who wants to unravel - at any cost - the precise circumstances of the murder of his wife Tessa, a young and enthusiastic human rights activist. While retracing Tessa's footsteps, he gradually discovers the truth and “falls in love with her all over again”. We discover, together with Justin, that things are not always as they seem and that people are rarely as trustworthy and sincere as we would like them to be. The story is invented, of course, but, as any review about the novel or the movie will tell you, it is “vaguely based on a real-life case”. In his afterword, John le Carré expresses his concern with human rights and his growing indignation against impudent pharmaceutical practices. What makes this such a strong novel to me is this palpable engagement with 'big issues', but seen through the eyes of this gentle character, who turns out to be much stronger and more stubborn and genuine than anyone (including himself) expected him to be. And than there is le Carré 's tangible sympathy for Africa (very nice descriptions): beautiful.

When to read: Whenever you have the luxury to read it through at once (yes, this is a page-turner!) but are in an environment that allows you to concentrate on it as well, because it can become somewhat complicated at moments.


49)  Hanif Kureishi –The Buddha of Suburbia (1990)

This novel follows Karim, a British teenager of mixed British Indian race, growing up in a London suburb in the 1970s. It's first and foremost a novel about identity, as indicated right away by the famous opening sentence (“My name is Karim Amir, and I am an Englishman born and bred, almost.”) It's also a novel about race, gender, feminism, family, sexual confusion, class, social concern and politics. It might seem a lot to put into one novel, but Kureishi manages to connect all these themes and covers the whole with a full measure of humour. The Buddha is full of colourful characters, often with some kind of twist. There is Karim's father, who unexpectedly becomes a kind of yoga guru; his cousin Jamila, who seems to be Karim's exact opposite in a lot of ways; his father's mistress and her son, and many other friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances. It's exactly this animated mix of different people with their own comments and views on all these themes that appealed to me. The novel is great at creating atmosphere, always mentioning these little 'typical' Indian/British daily routine things, using colloquial language, making a lot of (little) references to contemporary events and especially the recurrent mentioning of music. And it is utterly funny!

How to read: With a good seventies soundtrack in the background (don't forget to include David Bowie: the novel has been turned into a series and he wrote the soundtrack for it!)


50)  Marion Zimmer Bradley – The Mists of Avalon (1983)

To me, this is the ultimate Arthur story. Since I first read it, some 25 years ago, I have never been able to read or watch Arthurian legends (modern or medieval) without associating them to certain images from this novel. Zimmer Bradley is actually a fantasy writer and this novel is the first book  (but chronologically the last part) of the Avalon series. The well-known Arthur legend is retold from the point of view of the women, especially Morgaine le Fay's (Arthurs's half-sister and priestess of Avalon) but also Igraine's (Arthur's mother), Viviane's (high priestess of Avalon) and Gwenhwyfar's (Arthur's pious wife), which of course totally changes your perspective of (and classical prejudices towards) certain – especially female – characters. It is also the story of the 5th/6th - century struggle between old pagan (and in this novel matriarchal) beliefs and the new upcoming Christian belief, reflected in the history of the mythical and mystical island of Avalon and culminating in the rivalry and hostility between Morgaine (pagan) and Gwenhwyfar (Christian). I especially like the way in which Zimmer Bradley manages to revive an old story by changing the point of view (female) and adding an element (struggle between beliefs), and making it so acceptable – at least to me – that it almost feels as if this is how it really happened. It was also turned into a miniseries, which I found so untrue to the original atmosphere that I felt obliged to reread the novel afterwards in order to find it back :).

When to read: When there is mist, definitely: the heavier, the better! So that - before you start reading and to come into the right mood - you can stand in front of it, close your eyes, inhale the mystic of it all and imagine that you can lift it by one solemn movement of your arms!


51)  Ernest Hemmingway – The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

Beautiful novella about the struggle between an older fisherman, Santiago, and the enormous fish (a marlin) he's caught. It is also story of a moving friendship between this older man and his apprentice, Manolin. Santiago has been suffering weeks of 'bad luck' in fishing, and although Manolin's parents oblige him to fish with 'luckier' fishermen, the boy keeps visiting Santiago in the evenings.  One day Santiago decides to turn this tide of misfortune himself and therefore goes fishing in an area much farther away than usual and then he catches this impressive marlin, too big to haul in for one man alone in a small fishing boat. The description of his long struggle is wonderful and very poetic. Very, very nice!!

When to read: I read it on a plane, so I associate it with travelling, but great literature is timeless and universal – of course :).


  • Wout Van Praet


52)  Virginia Woolf – Mrs Dalloway (1925)

The novel details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a fictional high-society woman in post–First World War London. A masterpiece of psychological realism, which touches on issues such as mental illness, depression, identity and the meaning of life.

Although the topic sounds rather serious, Woolf’s talent as a writer makes sure it is always relatable. To cite a quote I once read: “Virginia Woolf’s genius resides in the fact that she succeeds in telling you exactly what you’ve always known and felt, but never been able to put into words before.”

When to read: On a nice day in June, when the story is set. Ideally with a cup of tea and a scone.


53)  Sandra Cisneros – The House on Mango Street (1984)

A 1984 coming-of-age novel (or rather short-story cycle) by Mexican-American writer Sandra Cisneros. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Esperanza, the first-person narrator, represents youthful hope – in particular that of ‘escaping’ her poor Latino neighbourhood. The novel provides a particularly touching depiction of a naïve belief in the American Dream (of class-mobility) and questions its attainability.

When to read: The novel is quite short and reads like a train. Perfect for the ‘blocus’ or other busy moments.


54)  Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)

A classic of modern American literature. As a Southern Gothic novel and a Bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. A must-read for every student of literature.

When to read: During summer, on a hot day, to really get into that Alabama state of mind.


55)  Kashuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go (2005)

As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

Although the novel is a dystopian science fiction novel – which might turn some people off – the story is really touching and enjoyable for everyone.

When to read: On a rainy day in autumn.


56)  Maya Angelou – I know why the caged bird sings

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local "powhitetrash." At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors ("I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare") will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, this autobiography will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.

When to read: Basically whenever.


  • Laurence Mettewie


57)  Paul Auster – Timbuctu (1999)

Eerste tip voor de zomer, maar niet in het Nederlands …

Timbuctu (1999) de Paul Auster, un de mes auteurs favoris, fasciné par le hasard. Timbuctu c’est la vie tour à tour palpitante, mélancolique et philosophique de Mr. Bones, un chien des rues à Baltimore (au début de l’histoire). Après cette lecture vous ne regarderez plus les animaux, et les chiens de rues en particulier, de la même façon. Entre animaux et humains, qui sont les « bêtes »?

Existe en néerlandais et en français, mais néanmoins à lire en anglais au risque de moins savourer les jeux de mots et les références littéraires.

Détail intéressant, cet auteur fait d’abord paraître ses livres en traduction dans des « petites langues » comme le néerlandais ou le danois, afin de les soutenir et ensuite en version originale en anglais (+ traductions française, espagnole, etc.). Pour les fans, la primeur passe donc par le néerlandais ;)


  • Florence Vandevondele


58)  Stephen Clarke – 1000 years of annoying the French (2010)

In this untold version of your British History Course(s), Stephen Clarke reports a series of interesting historical ‘facts’ about the French and the British. His book is full of puns, funny comments and hilarious anecdotes. It is highly recommended to any (future) English Language specialist. You’ll love it!

Here is a short excerpt about the Battle of Hastings: « Harold’s soldiers fought on foot. The only horses they possessed were little Shetland-type ponies used as beasts of burden, which would have been no use in battle except to distract an enemy by making him laugh. The Normans on the other hand, were trained in cavalry warfare, and arrived with shiploads of sleek battle horses that had had plenty of time to get over their seasickness »

When to read: Any time you want to refresh you knowledge of the ‘British History’ in an entertaining way.


59)  Toni Morrison –The Bluest Eye (1970)

Toni Morrison is an African American author, editor and professor. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 and is renowned for her distinctively black fiction and African revival literature.

The Bluest Eye is Morrison’s first novel. In her refined (and somewhat complex) musical Woolfian style, the author lays bare the destructive mechanisms of inter- and intra-racism in a multicultural yet intolerant society. From Shirley Temple’s blue eyes to Pecola’s black skin, Morrison uses a powerful language and beautiful images to present a harsh reality, with cultural identity, race, gender and self-image as central themes.


  • Vinciane Pirard


60)  Joseph Conrad – “The Secret Sharer” (1910)

This short story by Joseph Conrad takes us back to an adventurous night on a ship. Its young captain, new to the crew, feels estranged and seems to be struggling with this partly unknown environment. One night as he is left alone on the deck for the watch, he sees a figure from afar in the dark, a mate who, as he says, left his own ship a few miles away on mysterious grounds and swam up to this one...

“The Secret Sharer” is the story of a strange encounter that won’t leave the reader untroubled, as the resemblance between these two companions, almost like doppelgangers, becomes clearer and more disturbing.

When? “Easy” reading on a train journey for instance. However, you might need some extra time to overcome the strangeness of this story.


  • Ruth Astley


61)  Michael Ondaatje – The English Patient


62)  Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice


63)  Emily Brontë -  Wuthering Heights


64)  Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray


65)  Iris Murdoch – The Sea, the Sea


66)  John Fowles – The French Lieutenant’s Woman


67)  Evelyn Waugh – Brideshead Revisited


 2.   Littérature en langue allemande


  • Christian Palm


Thomas Mann – Buddenbrooks. Verfall einer Familie (1901)

Schon mit seinem ersten Roman Buddenbrooks gelang Thomas Mann ein Meisterwerk, für das er später den Literaturnobelpreis erhielt. Wer diesen gut 700 Seiten umfassenden Familienroman liest, benötigt viel Zeit, wird aber mit meisterhafter Sprache und einer spannen­den Geschichte, ja mit dem vielleicht besten deutschen Roman aller Zeiten be­lohnt. Die Buddenbrooks sind eine alte Lübecker Kauf­manns­familie, die von Genera­tion zu Gene­ration gesundheitlich und wirtschaftlich in immer stärkerem Maße verfällt. Der „Verfall“ hat jedoch nicht nur negative Züge, sondern geht mit einer Verfeinerung und künstleri­schen Sensibilisierung einher, die sich besonders in der Figur Hanno, dem letzten männ­lichen Buddenbrook, artikulieren…


Patrick Süskind – Das Parfum. Die Geschichte eines Mörders (1985)

Das Parfum ist eines der meistverkauften deutschsprachigen Bücher des 20. Jahrhun­derts und wurde 2006 von Tom Tykwer erfolgreich verfilmt. Zum Inhalt: Frankreich im 18. Jahrhundert. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille kommt ohne Eigengeruch auf die Welt, hat aber einen phänomenalen Geruchs­sinn, der ihn schon in jungen Jahren zu einem Wun­der­kind macht. Er setzt sich zum Ziel, der größte Parfümeur aller Zeiten zu werden und einen Duft zu kreieren, der ihn zu einem riechenden Menschen macht...


Jurek Becker – Jakob der Lügner (1969)

Jurek Becker ist in einem Ghetto aufgewachsen und hat einen Teil seiner Kindheit in Konzentrationslagern verbracht. Sein berühmtester Roman, Jakob der Lügner, ist daher stark von eigenen Erlebnissen geprägt. Der jüdische Ghettobewohner Jakob Heym wird aus Menschlichkeit zum Lügner. Als er durch Zufall vom Vormarsch der Roten Armee erfährt, will er den anderen Ghettobewohnern Hoffnung geben und behauptet, ein (bei Todesstrafe verbotenes) Radio zu besitzen. Nach dieser Lüge muss Jakob weitere Nach­richten über den Kriegs­verlauf erfinden…


Bernhard Schlink – Der Vorleser (1995)

Schlinks Roman ist nicht nur im deutschsprachigen Raum erfolgreich, sondern gehört zu den wenigen deutschen Bestsellern auf dem amerikanischen Buchmarkt. Zum Inhalt: Der fünfzehnjährige Schüler Michael Berg und die deutlich ältere Hanna Schmitz haben eine heimliche Beziehung. Bei jedem Treffen liest Michael der Straßenbahnschaffnerin aus Werken der Welt­literatur vor. Doch dann verschwindet Hanna urplötzlich…


Robert Schneider – Schlafes Bruder (1992)

Der Debütroman des Österreichers Robert Schneider wurde ein internationaler Erfolg. Elias Alder, der zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts in einem Bergdorf aufwächst, ist ein musikalisches Genie, aber auch ein Außenseiter in der Dorfgemeinschaft. Die Liebe zu seiner Cousine Elsbeth bleibt unerwidert…


  • Vinciane Pirard


Christa Wolf – Stadt der Engel (2010)

Kein Spoiler: die Handlung läuft in Los Angeles. Hauptfigur: Christa Wolf. Oder vielleicht nicht. Im Vorwort wird angekündigt: „Keine [Figur] [sei] identisch mit einer lebenden oder toten Person.“ Na ja… Tatsache ist, Verbindungen mit der Biographie von Wolf sind zahlreich.

In ihrem „Lebensroman“ greift die Autorin auf ihre Vergangenheit zurück. Themen? Kindheit unter dem Naziregime, Jugend im geteilten Deutschland, und zwar in der DDR, Stasi-Akte, Leben im Exil, ... Der Begriff „Vergangenheitsbewältigung“ muss irgendwie für diesen reichen deutschen Roman erfunden worden sein. Inhaltich und auch formal ist dieses Buch aus mancher Hinsicht gewiss interessant!

Wann? Spaß macht es, wenn man sich die Zeit nimmt, um dieses Buch zu lesen. Kleiner Tipp also: ein paar Seiten pro Tag, so bekommt man das Zeitgefühl vom Leben im (psychischen?) Exil.


Stefan Zweig – „War er es“ (1987)

In dieser Novelle taucht man unmittelbar in die Atmosphäre vom bekannten Autor ein. Die Handlung sieht ziemlich einfach aus: Es geht hier auf den ersten Blick um die seltsame Beziehung zwischen einem Hund und dessen Herrchen. Eine Beziehung, die durch die Geburt eines Kindes sich unerwartet entwickeln wird. Mehr sollte man hier nicht erzählen.

Zweigs genaue und sachliche Beschreibung der Figuren und deren Gefühle durch die Augen der Nachbarin, der Erzählerin, ist bezaubernd.

Wann? Eine kurze Geschichte, deren Stil für Lerner gut geeignet ist. Vielleicht lieber nicht vor dem Schlafen lesen: das Ende dieser Novelle sorgt für gewisses Unbehagen beim Leser.


3.   Littérature en langue néerlandaise


  •  Léonie Vossen


Hella Haasse – De Heren  van de thee (1992)       

Voor als je meer wilt vernemen over Indonesië in de negentiende eeuw. Het is het boeiende verhaal van een Nederlandse plantersfamilie, gebaseerd op een waargebeurde geschiedenis.


Peter Buwaldi – Bonita Avenue (2010)                                                       

Het gezin Sigerius woont in Californië, en dan ontploft er vuurwerk in Enschede in 2000. Er volgen allerlei spannende verwikkelingen. Het boek staat garant voor ongecompliceerd leesplezier.


  • Florence Vandevondele


Peter Verhelst Tongkat (1999)

De roman begint als een sprookje en Peter Verhelst brengt de lezer in een wereld van kou en vuur. Een koning, een paleis, een revolutie, een onderwereld vol mythische figuren: dit boek bevat alle ingrediënten voor een literair vuurwerk waarin de verhaallijnen telkens een nieuwe kleur krijgen. De schrijfstijl van Verhelst is bovendien zeer zintuiglijk: hij laat de lezer horen, zien en voelen…
Tongkat werd bekroond met de Gouden Uil in 2000. Veel leesplezier!

Wanneer lezen? Tijdens de lange winteravonden.


  • Nathalie Borrelli


Kaas – Willem Elsschot (1933)

Geweldig boek (ook een novelle, eigenlijk) over een klerk die, onder de sociale druk van zijn omgeving, besluit om invoerder te worden van kaas, terwijl hij een grondige hekel heeft aan het voedingsmiddel. In het opzetten van zijn bedrijf, houdt hij zich voornamelijk bezig met bijzaken en als de lading kaas uiteindelijk toekomt, weet hij niet hoe hij de verkoop ervan moet aanpakken. Hilarisch! Elsschot is één van mijn favoriete auteurs en ik had even goed een ander boek van hem kunnen noemen, maar het idee van een kaasinvoerder met een – zeer plastisch uitgedrukte – afkeer van kaas is zo goed gevonden! Ik hou van Elsschot's directe stijl, van zijn ironie en zelfspot, en van zijn sarcastische analyse van, in dit boek, de bedrijfswereld en het entrepreneurschap.

When to read: Waarschijnlijk beter niet als je een kaasfondue of -gourmet gepland hebt (de geur zal onvermijdelijke associaties oproepen en op den duur op je lachspieren gaan werken) maar voor de rest kan je het overal wel tussenwringen. Leest als een trein, overigens.


4.   Littérature en langue française


  • Florence Vandevondele


Michel Tremblay – La Traversée du Continent (2007)

Dans ce premier tome de la Diaspora Desrosiers, Michel Tremblay nous invite au voyage, des prairies de la Saskatchewan au Québec du début du XXème siècle. A travers le regard perspicace de la jeune Rhéauna, celui qu’on qualifie parfois de « Balzac québécois » décortique l’Humain avec une vérité troublante, dans un style recherché et un langage bien de chez lui. Plus qu’un Bildungsroman, La Traversée du Continent plonge le lecteur dans les réalités socio-économiques et culturelles du Canada du siècle passé.

Vivement recommandé à tous ceux qui aiment entendre chanter le blé d’Inde et le français d’Amérique du Nord.

Je vous invite à lire ce premier volet lors d’un long voyage en train (ou en avion, pour les plus modernes!).


  • Vinciane Pirard


Joseph Andras – De nos frères blessés (2016)

Joseph Andras nous embarque dans ce roman tout récent aux débuts de la guerre d’Algérie. Alger, 1956. Fernand Iveton, activiste jusque là uniquement d’idées, passe à l’acte. Il pose une bombe dans un petit atelier isolé de son entreprise, là où elle ne peut blesser personne mais peut marquer les esprits. Cet acte est pour Fernand purement symbolique. Il est démasqué, avant même que la bombe n’explose. Aucune victime. Fernand écopera pourtant de la peine de mort.

De nos frères blessés décrit avec pudeur le destin tragique (et véridique) de cet homme, un homme simple, un amant, un ouvrier, dont la condamnation servira d’exemple.

Quand ? À lire d’une traite un après-midi ensoleillé, pour un semblant de chaleur d’Algérie.


Michel Tournier – Le Médianoche Amoureux (1989)

Un homme, une femme, un couple, qui ne semble plus se comprendre. Ils convient à leur table quelques amis autour d’un repas nocturne afin de célébrer leur séparation. À la façon du Décameron de Boccace, Michel Tournier nous invite ici à son médianoche au cours duquel chaque convive nous contera une histoire. Des contes tantôt beaux, tristes, décousus ou déconcertants, souvent universels (un pléonasme pour un conte ?).

Si Le médianoche amoureux ne vous a pas rassasié, n’hésitez pas à vous plonger illico dans Le roi des Aulnes, véritable chef d’œuvre de Tournier, germanophile assumé.

Quand ? Une nouvelle de temps en temps. À laisser de côté, et à reprendre (bis repetita placent).


5.   Littératures étrangères


  • Noémie Nélis


Elena Ferrante’s L’Amie prodigieuse (3 novels so far)

Elena Ferrante est une auteure italienne ; j’ai donc lu la plupart de ses romans en traduction française. J’ai dévoré les trois premiers romans de sa saga, L’Amie prodigieuse, l’été dernier, et attends avec impatience le quatrième ouvrage, prévu pour octobre 2017. Le premier volume s’ouvre sur fond de misère sociale à Naples, au sud de l’Italie. Dans un quartier pauvre de la ville vivent Elena (Lenu) et Raphaella (Lila), deux enfants extrêmement douées à l’école, mais qui n’auront pas les mêmes chances. Lenu est une enfant assez sage, travailleuse et ambitieuse, intelligente, aussi, mais pas autant que Lila : Lila, c’est autre chose, une brillance qui ne s’explique pas, une lueur que les autres n’ont pas, un appétit féroce, violent même, pour la connaissance et pour la domination. Lila n’est pas gentille, Lenu ne l’est que trop, et leur relation, aussi fusionnelle que compétitive, forme le cœur de chacun des volumes. De leur enfance difficile (tome 1), à leur adolescence mouvementée (tome 2) jusqu’à l’âge adulte et aux succès comme aux échecs professionnels, on les suit l’une et l’autre et on observe avec émotions diverses les chemins séparés qu’elles empruntent, puisque l’une aura accès à l’école secondaire et l’autre, pas. Une saga fascinante qui nous apprend beaucoup sur l’Italie des années 50s et 60s, les différents mouvements qui la secouèrent alors, la position des femmes et, bien sûr, l’importance de l’éducation. Des personnages riches, aussi, auxquels on s’identifie et qu’il est difficile d’oublier. C’est de la light reading et un vrai best-seller, mais qui en vaut quand même clairement la peine. J’ai également été assez impressionnée par la qualité du style, en traduction.


  • Nathalie Borrelli


Gabriel Garcia Márquez – Honderd Jaar Eénzaamheid (Cion Aňos de Soledad) (1967)

Het boek is opgevat als een familiekroniek en vertelt de verweven geschiedenissen van de familie Buendía en het fictieve Zuid-Amerikaanse stadje Macondo, waarvan stamvader José Arcadio Buendiá, ook de stichter is. De verschillende generaties Buendía's volgen elkaar op: alle zonen heten ofwel José Arcadio, ofwel Aureliano, en elke dochter (of vrouw) heeft wel de één of andere speciale eigenschap. Personages die dezelfde naam dragen, hebben ook min of meer dezelfde karaktertrekken en de geschiedenis lijkt zich in zekere zin steeds opnieuw te herhalen. Verder loopt er een bonte mengeling van  vreemde figuren door het boek (zigeuners en alchimisten, prostituees en maagden, helderzienden en geobsedeerden). Typisch voor Márquez is dit “magsich realisme” (al zijn niet alle critici het eens over het gebruik van deze term voor zijn werk, maar dit terzijde) waarin hij fantastie, magie en absurditeiten vermengt met dromen en realistische elementen. Wat mij vooral aanspreekt bij Márquez is precies die sfeer die maakt dat je deze bizarre mix zonder meer accepteert. Het is ook gewoon een heel grappig boek en er zit een flinke dosis maatschappijkritiek in. En het zijn niet alleen de leiders of de regimes zelf die op de rooster worden gelegd (militaire dictaturen met autoritaire kolonels, corruptie en schijnheiligheid) maar ook de mensen die eronder gebukt gaan of zich erdoor laten doen (dwaze acties en zinloze opstanden en evenzeer ook corruptie en hypocrisie).

When to read: Als je voor de zoveelste keer verontwaardigd bent over uitspraken van politici of gezagsdragers en over maatregelen die over je hoofd heen genomen worden, dan is dit boek de perfecte uitlaatklep.


6.   Cinéma & Télévision


  • Dirk Delabastita


1)      Woodstock (dir. Michael Wadleigh, 1970)

Make love, not war, and play that boogie! It was great to be alive in the late 1960s (even as a young schoolboy). The film captures the mood of the moment and has some splendid music into the bargain.


2)      Brassed off (dir. Mark Herman, 1996)

A music-themed film, set in a mining town in late twentieth-century Yorkshire, where the colliery is threatened with closure, and despair and poverty may be the miners’ lot. But the colliery brass band lifts the community’s spirits and keeps everything together. British social realism at its best.


3)      Macbeth (dir. Roman Polanski, 1971)

A brutally direct version of what is perhaps Shakespeare’s most brilliant tragedy. Polanski shot the film after emerging from the depression he suffered after his pregnant wife had been murdered… Watch this when you want to see Shakespeare’s murderous, dark and rainy Scotland come to life. Do not watch it when you’re alone.


4)      The Dead (dir. John Huston, 1987)

No need for an introduction, is there? Based on James Joyce’s classic short story and a reminder that old people are really very much like young people (they just have older bodies and more things to remember).


5)      The Wind that Shakes the Barley (dir. Ken Loach, 2006)

A historical film set during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1922) and the subsequent Irish Civil War (1922–1923). A gripping story about moral and personal conflicts that just cannot be solved, and about the price to be paid always being too high.


  • Christian Palm


6)      Das Experiment (Reg. Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2001) – Thriller

Der Film wurde von einem tatsächlichen Experiment inspiriert, das im Jahr 1971 an der Stanford University (Kalifornien) durchgeführt wurde. Zum Inhalt: In Köln werden 20 Männer rekrutiert, die gegen Bezahlung an einem zweiwöchigen Ex­periment teilneh­men sollen, bei dem ein Gefängnis simuliert wird. Die Teilnehmer wer­den in Wärter und Gefangene unterteilt und von einem wissenschaftlichen Team über Kameras beo­bachtet. Doch schon bald eskaliert die Situation…


7)      Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Reg. Thomas Jahn, 1997) – Road Movie

Martin Brest und Rudi Wurlitzer lernen sich in einem Krankenhaus kennen, denn beide sind unheilbar krank: Der eine hat einen Hirntumor, der andere Knochenkrebs. Ge­mein­sam beschließen sie, dass sie ihre letzten Tage auf keinen Fall in einem Spital verbringen wollen. Kurz entschlossen stehlen sie ein Auto, um Rudi einen Traum zu erfüllen: ein­mal das Meer zu sehen. Was beide nicht ahnen: Das Auto gehört zwei Gangstern…

!!! Die Unité d’allemand besitzt eine ausleihbare DVD dieses Films.


8)      Das Leben der Anderen (Reg. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006) – Drama, ausgezeichnet mit dem Oscar für den besten fremdsprachigen Film

Ost-Berlin 1984. Die DDR sichert ihre Macht durch Kontrolle der Bürger. Der Stasi-Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler erhält den Auftrag, den erfolgreichen Autor Georg Dreyman und dessen Lebensgefährtin, eine gefeierte Schauspielerin, zu überwachen...

!!! Die Unité d’allemand besitzt eine ausleihbare DVD dieses Films.



9)      Gegen die Wand (Reg. Fatih Akin, 2004) – Drama

Der 40-jährige Cahit und die junge Sibel lernen sich nach ihren Selbstmordversuchen in einem Krankenhaus kennen. Cahit verkraftet den Tod seiner Frau nicht, Sibel rebelliert gegen ihr traditionelles türkisches Elternhaus. Da Cahit eben­falls Deutschtürke ist, fragt Sibel ihn, ob er sie nicht heiraten könne. Mit einer Schein­ehe will sie ihrer Familie ent­kommen und ein selbstbestimmtes Leben führen…

!!! Die Unité d’allemand besitzt eine ausleihbare DVD dieses Films.



10)   Das Konto (Reg. Markus Imboden, 2003) – Action-Thriller

Michael Mühlhausen ist Manager eines Lebensmittelkon­zerns, für den er die feindliche Übernahme des größten Konkurrenzunternehmens plant. Der Superdeal scheitert, als ein Chemiker tot aufgefunden wird. Mühlhausen gerät unter Mordverdacht und flieht…


11)   Lola rennt (Reg. Tom Tykwer, 1998) – Thriller

Manni arbeitet als Geldkurier für einen Hehler. Doch heute läuft alles schief: Er hat eine Plastiktüte mit 100.000 DM in der U-Bahn liegengelassen und in 20 Minuten will sein Boss das Geld abholen. In seiner Verzweiflung ruft Manni seine Freundin Lola an, die das Geld besorgen soll. Und Lola rennt…

!!! Die Unité d’allemand besitzt eine ausleihbare DVD dieses Films.



12)  Tatort (seit 1970), Krimireihe (mit ca. 35 neuen Folgen pro Jahr)

Mehr als vier Jahrzehnte nach der Ausstrahlung der ersten Folge ist der Tatort nach wie vor die beliebteste Krimireihe im deutschen Fernsehen. Rund 20 Ermittlerteams klären jeden Sonntagabend von 20:15 Uhr bis 21:45 Uhr Mordfälle auf. Viele Tatort-Figuren wie Hauptkommissar Frank Thiel und Rechtsmediziner Prof. Karl-Friedrich Boerne ge­nießen in Deutschland Kultstatus. Besonders sehenswert sind die Tatort-Folgen aus Münster, Dortmund, Kiel, Stuttgart sowie der Hamburger Umgebung. Ab 20:00 Uhr sind die zuletzt gesendeten Tatort-Folgen online abrufbar (die Abkürzung „UT“ weist auf die Möglichkeit hin, deutsche Untertitel einzuschalten):



13)  Good Bye Lenin! (Reg. Wolfgang Becker, 2003) – Tragikomödie

Im Oktober 1989 demonstriert der Ost-Berliner Alexander Kerner gegen die DDR. Als seine sozialistisch gesinnte Mutter Christiane mit ansieht, wie Alexander von der Polizei verhaftet wird, erleidet sie einen Herzinfarkt. Als sie acht Monate später aus dem Koma aufwacht, ist die Mauer längst gefallen. Da die kleinste Aufregung für Christiane lebens­gefährlich sein könnte, verheimlicht Alex seiner Mutter die veränderte politische Situa­tion und lässt die DDR in seiner Wohnung wiederaufleben…

!!! Die Unité d’allemand besitzt eine ausleihbare DVD dieses Films.



14)   Der Tunnel (Reg. Roland Suso Richter, 2001) – Thriller

Der Film ist an eine wahre Begebenheit angelehnt, die sich 1962 zugetragen hat. Zum Inhalt: 1961 gelingt dem DDR-Bürger Harry Melchior die Flucht in den Westen. Um seine Familie zu sich zu holen, will Harry einen Tunnel unter der Berliner Mauer hin­durch in den Osten graben…

!!! Die Unité d’allemand besitzt eine ausleihbare DVD dieses Films.


  • Nathalie Borrelli


15)  Sherlock – BBC, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (series 1 – 2010; series 2 – 2012; series 3 – 2014 + eagerly awaiting series 4)

I know, it is not very highbrow but it is oh so funny and wonderfully well done and I just love every single episode of this series! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories are modernised in a very clever way, making you completely forget about the stereotypical Sherlock Holmes with his pipe, magnifying glass and hat. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman reincarnate the famous 'consulting detective' and his assistant in such a memorable way that it is hard to dissociate them from their characters whenever they're playing another role (I did have a strange experience watching Dr. Bilbo Watson in The Hobbit). Doyle's characters and story lines glimmer through the different episodes, but the scriptwriters manage to make them fit flawlessly into the 21st – century. This Sherlock is a complacent, hyperkinetic, self-centred, imperturbable, easily bored yet still sympathetic adrenaline addict whose childlike enthusiasm for a 'beautiful crime' will inevitably make you – if not laugh – at least smile. And John Watson is much more than his traditional sidekick. He's his loyal, conscientious and humane counterpart and their friendship makes both of them better human beings. Besides, there are a number of notable, almost caricatural side characters. There is the caring 'I'm not your maid, dear' landlady of 221B Baker Street, the incompetent and slightly naïve Inspector Lestrade, Sherlock's stiff, enigmatic brother and self declaimed 'arch enemy' Mycroft, and of course the 'consulting criminal master brain'' Moriarty. All this poured over with a very nice title theme!

When to watch: Whenever everything else on television is 'boring!'.


  • Wout Van Praet


16)  Persepolis (2007)

Persepolis is a 2007 French-Iranian-American animated film based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel of the same name. The story follows a young girl as she comes of age against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution. The title is a reference to the historic city of Persepolis.

17)     Charade (1963)

Regina "Reggie" Lampert (Audrey Hepburn), tells her friend Sylvie Gaudel (Dominique Minot) while on a skiing holiday that she has decided to divorce her husband Charles. She then meets a charming American stranger, Peter Joshua (Cary Grant). On her return to Paris, she finds her apartment is completely empty and police inspector Edouard Grandpierre (Jacques Marin) notifies her that Charles has been murdered while leaving Paris. Reggie is given her husband's travel bag, containing a letter addressed to her, a ticket to Venezuela, passports in multiple names and other items. At the funeral, three odd characters show up to view the body.

18)    Minimalism (2016)

Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life.

From minimalist architects, designers, and musicians, to businessmen, authors, and minimalist families, this film explores various recipes for how to live a more meaningful, deliberate life. Not a perfect life, not an easy life—a simple one.


  • Léonie Vossen


19)  Mustang (réal. Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015)                               

Film turc, touchant et plein de fraîcheur. C’est un drame social qui relate l’histoire de cinq orphelines élevées par leur grand-mère et leurs oncles dans la Turquie rurale. Elles se révoltent contre une communauté très conservatrice, et déploient toute leur énergie pour échapper à une maison qui devient  une prison et à un mariage arrangé. Jusqu’où iront-elles ? Suite à l’écran.


20)  The Salesman  Le Client (réal. Asghar Farhadi, 2016)               

Film iranien qui suit le parcours d’un jeune couple de Téhéran qui répète la pièce Death of a Salesman d’Arthur Miller. Les jeunes époux sont contraints de quitter leur immeuble en raison de travaux, et s’installent provisoirement dans un appartement qui a été auparavant occupé par une prostituée. Un soir, l’épouse reste seule et est agressée. Alors qu’elle refuse de porter plainte, son mari mène l’enquête et fait des découvertes surprenantes.


21)  Voyage en Chine (réal. Zoltan Mayer, 2015)

Voyage en Chine relate l'histoire de Liliane qui part en Chine afin de rapatrier le corps de son fils, mort dans un accident. Liliane n'a jamais voyagé beaucoup et maîtrise très peu l'anglais. C'est très émouvant et esthétique.


22)  Demain (réal. Cyril Dion & Mélanie Laurent, 2015)

Documentaire pas ennuyeux du tout concernant de possibles solutions à divers problèmes écologiques.