BeaP wrote:I often have the feeling that the way a question is formulated or a topic is presented decides the fate of a thread. I'm obviously collecting recommendations, but if I ask for them directly, I think I get totally different answers. So those of you who dare (because it tells a lot about your personality) please share with us the 3 books that had the greatest impact on you. My 3 books are:
1. John Steinbeck: East Of Eden (read at the age of 16, in Hungarian)
2. Ottlik Géza: Iskola a határon / School at the Frontier (read twice, at the age of 17 and 30, in the original Hungarian)
3. Ian McEwan: Atonement (read at the age of 25, in English)
1. Sisa, Stephen. The Spirit of Hungary
2. Davies, Norman. Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present
3. Dürrenmatt, Friedrich. Der Besuch der alten Dame
. (yes, in the original)
I've read a lot more non-fiction than fiction, and even within fiction, I fare better with short stories and plays instead of longer forms of prose or poetry.
Sisa's book is a well-written account of Hungarian history and felt a bit as if I had been reading a storybook or series of newspaper articles rather than an academic work. However, it has a clearly pro-Hungarian stance that took some time for me to shake off as I got older and befriended people from the Carpathian Basin whose ancestors didn't necessarily benefit that much from Hungarian rule. Through Sisa's book I first learned about the Hunyadi and Zrínyi families, the Ottoman era, and then Rákóczi, Thököly, Széchenyi, Kossuth and Wesselényi. A little like with Davies' work on Polish history which I read later on, Sisa's book overall enhanced my understanding of central and eastern European history as well as complemented what I was learning when I was a beginning learner of Hungarian.
I've also read Davies' two-volume work on Polish history, "God's Playground
" and while I enjoyed it for bulking up my understanding of Polish history, I read the shorter "Heart of Europe" first. You know what they say about first impressions, and this book was a good way to work up to the greater detail in "God's Playground" while also complementing somewhat my studies of the Polish language.