May 27, 2024

Book Recommendations May 2024

We are Otherland - and we're frolicking through the countryside!

"... She let her thoughts drift beyond today and tomorrow, into the distant future, when Jamie was established with his writing and she had given up her job, into the golden house-in-the-country future."

As beautiful as this sentence may seem, it comes from the pen of the "Empress of Horror" Shirley Jackson, in a story called "The Demon Lover". It is obvious that this cannot end well. Now that the thermometer is slowly crawling into the red zone and the heatwaves in the city are potentially becoming unbearable due to all the concrete, many Berliners are packing a picnic basket at the weekend and heading out into the countryside. Rumor has it that at least ninety percent of them develop the thought that a house by the lake might be a nicer alternative to the shoeboxes we cram into in the city....but is that really a good idea? As a former village child, I can only raise a warning finger here, because it has been clear to everyone since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that hillbillies might sometimes be up to no good.
Country life is hard....and dangerous. Do you remember the strange sect in Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives? That's because they lure their unsuspecting victims with golden promises of country life. In Rumaan Alam's thrilling science fiction In the Middle of the Night, a pleasant vacation in a rented country house suddenly takes a dark twist when the owners turn up. And it's not for nothing that The Wicker Man has been a cult classic since the 70s, as it directly shaped an entire genre: "folk horror". This deals solely with the horror that awaits you in the countryside. It includes everything from pagan rituals and plants with a demonic life of their own to Satan himself, who wreaks havoc in the forest. Outstanding genre gems here are Brom's Slewfoot, Ted Klein's The Ceremonies and, last but not least, the fantastic anthology Damnable Tales, featuring pleasantly creepy illustrations. Haunted houses are not usually located in the middle of the city, but are hidden from everyone's view way off the beaten path. Two prominent examples are Shirley Jackson's Hill House and The Spite House by Johnny Compton. The trinity of mansions in McDowell's The Elementals includes some nasty inhabitants and to reach the country house in Kill Creek by Scott Thomas you almost have to get the Land Rover out.. And dangerous country life doesn't only fascinate horror authors! In Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane, the adult narrator returns to his childhood home and suddenly remembers a story that couldn't be more fantastic. Highly recommended, I love this book! And if Neil Gaiman is mentioned, Terry Pratchett must of course be mentioned in the same breath! In The Fifth Elephant someone is drawn to the countryside and hey, the whole of Überwald counts as dangerous country life, doesn't it?
Perhaps, dear reader, you will pack not only the rubber mattress but also a GPS device, astronaut food for two weeks, a damn good book and nunchucks for the weekend... after all, you never know what to expect ;)
P.s. If you discover any strange signs and/or skull formations in the forest that can't be accidental, head back to the rusty gate as quickly as possible and close it firmly behind you.

Sincerly yours, Esther on behalf of the Otherland

Apr 23, 2024

Book Recommendations April 2024

Hey Otherlanders!

After a shortish pandemic interruption we're back with the Otherlander's blog featuring English recommendations. Savor and enjoy!

Mar 24, 2020

Book Recommendations March 2020

Dear Friends and Customers,

As you will know from our last newsletter, the Otherland is still open - however, we kindly ask you to wait outside if you see that there are five or more customers already inside, and keep your distance from other customers while you're shopping. We take a lot of care to make your visit as safe as possible for you and everyone else.
Of course, you can also just order your books - just write us an e-mail or call us (for the time being under +4915901500988); and by the way, we're quite happy to talk books and give recommendations on the phone!
You can also order surprise book packages - just tell us the following:

- Which genre do you prefer?
- Do you want your books in German or in English?
- What have you recently read?
- How many books do you want, and/or how much do you want to spend?

... then we'll send you your books and an invoice by mail!

If you want to come by, but minimize your exposure, you can also write us in advance which books you want; we'll pack them in a bag for you and include an invoice.

Stay safe, stay well - and take care of yourself and of others!

Mar 19, 2020

Newsletter in times of Corona


Dear Friends and Customers,

since in Berlin bookshops are allowed to stay open (for now) we can still welcome you at our shop! However, this might change at a days notice, which is quite as it should be: However much we care about keeping the Otherland open, we care more about flattening the curve ... that's why all events at the Otherland in the coming weeks are cancelled.

We are trying to make your visit at the Otherland as safe for you - and for us - as possible. We take care of hand hygiene at the counter, and we would ask you to keep your distance from other customers; also, if there are already five or more customers in the Otherland, we would kindly ask you to wait outside until another customer leaves.
The corona virus apparently dies within 24 hours on paper - so it probably can't hurt to put your books to  the side for a day before reading them. In general, let's take good care of each other!

For everyone who prefers to (or has to) stay home, we offer shipping to any German address on invoice - just send us an e-mail or call us. We are also happy to discuss and recommend books at the phone. Please try to call within our opening hours, and try again if the line is busy! You can also send us your telephone number by e-mail and have us call you.

As it happens, our telephone is not working quite right at the moment - if you can't reach us at 030 69505117, please try 015901500988 .

Within the next few days, you'll get our regular newsletter with book recommendations - we'll shine a spotlight on all-time favourites, which we stock in sufficient quantity to get them to you in a timely fashion!

Please stay safe, keep each other safe, give help were you can, ask for help if you need it!

Mar 14, 2020

Current Situation at the Otherland

Otherlanders!
I am terribly sorry but ALL events that we had announced for March are cancelled in order to help stopping the further spreading of the corona virus.

That includes:
  •  The reading event tonight, March 14th, with Irish fantasy author Daniel Keyes on his book The Fall of the Phoenix
  • The Gatherland on March 19
  • The Horror Special Book Club discussion on March 27 about Kij Johnson's At the Mouth of the River of Bees
  • The reading and QA with Ken Liu and Xia Jia on March 29
Terribly sorry to disappoint you, but we'd be more disappointed in ourselves if we made you sick. So try and stay healthy and promised we'll try to catch up on missed events in better times!


PS. The book club yesterday evening on Kate Heartfield's Armed in Her Fashion DID take place, even though I forgot to post the announcement as I usually do, because I and my mind were crazy busy last week BUT let me shortly state that on my second reading I liked this book even more than the first time and would even retract my previous point of critique that it has a pacing problem towards the middle. Wish Kate Heartfield all the best finding a new publisher for it!

Feb 26, 2020

Freshwater - Reminder and Questions for Friday's Discussion

written by Clarence


A friendly reminder that the next meeting of the Otherland Mythic Fiction Book Club will occur on Friday, February 28, 7:30 p.m. at the Otherland bookshop in Kreuzberg. The novel we’ll be discussing—Freshwater, the highly acclaimed 2018 autobiographical debut by writer Akwaeke Emezi. Offering up a multi- perspective narrative, the Nigerian-born author stated in a 2019 New York Times interview that Freshwater is “based in indigenous West African ontology” and features a main character, Ada, who is “a spirit trapped in flesh.” To see a range of interviews from the author, helping to provide perspective on the text, please visit https://www.akwaeke.com/interviews
 
Here are some questions to help facilitate discussion on the story. We hope you can join us!

*What genre or genres would you place this book in? What are ways in which the book defies notions of traditional categorization?

*As a character who journeys through different cultures and locales, both literal and metaphysical, what aspects of Ada’s travels did you find the most compelling?

*What are your thoughts on the presentation of the entities held in Ada’s spirit/psyche? Whose presence felt the most compelling and why?

*How would you describe the characterization of Asughara? What were her motivations for her actions in the narrative?

*The contrast between traditional West African concepts of spirit selves are contrasted here with Western notions of mental health. What was your take on the book’s concept of multiple selves? Do you believe in the concept of multiple selves existing even in the absence of trauma?


Feb 24, 2020

Book Recommendations February 2020

Our event schedule is finally taking shape and there is good news for fans of chinese SF! Especially (but not only) due to the insane success of Cixin Liu’s Trisolaris-books people hereabout started asking and wondering about similar books and thus are discovering unknown gems from the East. In cooperation with the magazine “Kapsel” which publishes SF from far Asian countries, we have the pleasure to have as our guests author, translator, anthologist Ken Liu and chinese author Xia Jia! This event will for once take place on a Sunday, March 28 and starts at 6.30 pm. Admission is free as usual.
On March 5 the dice will roll again at the role playing evening. If you want to join us please drop an email to Jakob or Simon (service@otherland-berlin.de).
Other than that our book clubs are thriving inexorably! While in February we still have the Mythic Fiction session to come up on Friday the 28th (we’ll be discussing Freshwater by Emezi, please see Clarence’s review below), on March 13th we’ll be discussing Armed in Her Fashion by Kate (the Great) Heartfield, a historical fantasy novel about a Flemish widow declaring war to Hell, and two weeks later, March 27th, the Horror Special Book Club is finally meeting again after a longer break than usual. The theme of that session is “Creature Feature - animals in horror” and the book is At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson. All book club discussions start at 7.30 pm at the Otherland Bookstore. You don’t need to sign up to join us, but please do read the book in advance if you want to discuss it.

Upcoming book club books and sessions are:
February 28 - Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (MYTHIC)
March 13 - Armed in Her Fashion by Kate Heartfield
March 27 - At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson (HORROR)
April 17 - Jhereg by Steven Brust
April 24 - "Dystopias now" by Kim Stanley Robinson, together with "Why we
need utopian fiction now more than ever" by Eleanor Tremeer (SPEC THEORY)
May 8 - Little Sister Death by William Gay

Enjoy our recommendations!