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Books

What are you reading on World Book Day?

April 23 is World Book Day, a yearly event organized by UNESCO since 1995 to promote reading. Some of DW's culture editors celebrate by revealing some of their favorite recent reads. What are yours?

"Last Chance to See" by Douglas Adams and Mark Cardawine (2009)

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) is best known as the author of the science fiction comedy "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

He was nevertheless just as passionate about his book "Last Chance to See," a project commissioned by a British magazine which allowed him to travel around the world with the zoologist Mark Cardawine to report on endangered species. Adams lovingly and humorously writes about creatures - such as the aye-aye, the kakapo or the Komodo dragon - which may soon no longer exist.

An essential read, prompting us humans to take action.

- Ananda Bräunig

"IQ84" by Haruki Murakami (2012)

Let's start with an odd detail: There are two moons in the sky - the normal one, and a smaller green one.

Surreal shifting realities are depicted in "IQ84." The two main characters, Aomame and Tengo, lead completely different lives, but are drawn together by their search for meaning. Through their stories, the mystery deepens.

The 1,328 pages of this trilogy were daunting at first, but once I started the book I could hardly put it down. The Japanese cult author Haruki Murakami won many fans with this work - now I'm one too. A highly addictive book!

- Stefan Dege

"The Rise & Fall of Great Powers" by Tom Rachman (2014)

Tom Rachman's second novel (after "The Imperfectionists") portrays Tooly through three periods of her life: as an eccentric 10-year-old in Bangkok, as a young adult in New York, and as a bookstore owner in her thirties who suddenly goes out to make sense of the weird characters in her past.

Contrarily to what I expected from the title, "The Rise & Fall of Great Powers" does not gossip on the everlasting decline of US hegemony. Once I got over my initial disappointment, I was charmed by this quirky bunch. In the end, more than political superpowers, it's people - those who love us, those who disappoint us - who shape our identity the most.

- Elizabeth Grenier

"Running in The Family" by Michael Ondaatje (2009)

"Running in The Family" overflows with life.

I've rarely read an autobiographical family history depicting each character with so much poetry and love, yet filled with self-irony and winks of the eye.

As Ondaaje writes: "A well-told lie is worth a thousand facts." I'd rather read good, invented stories than bad reporting.

- Philipp Jedicke

"I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" by Malala Yousafzai (2014)

Malala was shot from up close in the head by a Taliban in 2012 - and survived. Yet the 17-year-old's autobiography is not resentful.

By depicting the hospitality, the rich literary tradition as well as the dreams and values of her people, the Pashtuns, she delivers an intimate and differentiated picture of a region which is often equated in the West with terrorism.

Along the way, she defiantly and maturely addresses issues such as women's rights and political corruption. Above all, she shares her passion for education and her belief that every person should have access to it.

- Kate Müser

"Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon & the Congress of Vienna" by Adam Zamoyski (2008)

When I received Zamoyski's "Moscow 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March" as a present, I wasn't at first very excited by the perspective of reading a 720-page history book. Since then, I've bought it for three other friends.

No wonder it's a bestseller in Germany. No other book made me grasp as well as this one the incomprehensible madness of the upheavals of history through wars. Arbitrary decisions leading to thousands of deaths and the blindness of a ruler driving one of the greatest military disasters of modern times are illustrated through countless accurately researched details.

"Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon & the Congress of Vienna," just translated in German, follows up on this period, covering the reorganization of Europe at the Congress of Vienna.

The way these events are narrated is at times as exciting as a thriller: Still, this is a smart history book based on reliable facts.

- Sabine Peschel

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