My eleven favorite books

Simone de Beauvoir: Tous les hommes sont mortels (All Men Are Mortal)

The book deals with an immortal man, who has lived among politicians for centuries and continually and unsuccessfully tries to change the course of events. He is unable to grasp that the great personalities in this world repeatedly make the same mistakes. When you read this book, you realize that our old dream of immortality is absurd, and you ask yourself how one can break the bonds of the spiritual scheme of things, which is part of or inheritance.

Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving

This book is by no means a guide to sex! It deals with loving those close to you. When I was expecting my first child, I was very afraid of making the same mistake with him that my parents made with me. This book describes, in a wonderful way, how to love someone without being possessive.

Bernd Harder: The Golden Rules of Mankind

A collection of the most important cross-cultural and religious rules of life. The book teaches us respect for those who think and live differently.

Viktor Klemperer: I want to bear witness until the end – Memoirs 1933-1945

The publication of this diary created a scandal in Germany. Although a Jew, Klemperer at first became fascinated with the concept of the Third Reich before he discovered the horrors it concealed. The book is distant from dogmatism, the concept of "political correctness.” In a time when religious fundamentalism is prevalent, this is a book that you can read again and again.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Discussions With A Dying Man.

This American psychoanalysts, whose work deals with death and life after death, interviews people who are on the brink of dying, for whom every day is important, for whom life is not taken for granted. This book asks an important question: How can one live a better life, how can one make the best use of the time that one has left?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera

A book about the immortality of love.

Marcel Proust: In Search of Time Lost

Only now do I understand my own consciousness. There is music which affects me like small cookies. It helps the dark sides of my life and my memories to become brighter and help me to continue.

Rainer Maria Rilke: Letter to A Young Poet.

This book was a key experience for me. It deals with an artist’s need to live in harmony with his art. Rilke advises a poet’s apprentice to ask himself before going to bed every evening whether writing is really vitally important for him. Is the question about what is important in life not an essential question of existence?

William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

To die for one another – what could be more noble?

Leo Tolstoy: Kreutzer Sonata

I think Tolstoy had not yet heard Beethoven’s sonata when he wrote his book. It deals with a husband, who decides to kill his wife, because he thinks she is unfaithful. But this is not true. She only plays the "Kreutzer” sonata with a man, whom she admires – as an artist. This is also about human passion and about how difficult it is to control .

Emile Zola: Nana

I love the stories of this woman, who rejects all standard conventions not only because they embody the extraordinary power and roughness of human passion but also because Zola brings us to understand that physical beauty and wealth are unimportant and only temporarily conceal our real problems.

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