What piece of literature has changed your life?

Books that changed my life

Books are like good friends. Some friendships last a lifetime. You are always looking for an exchange with them, others turn out to be companions in life, who only occupy a significant place in life for a short time, others turn out to be a kind of constant, pioneering compass. From now on, authors will introduce you to such books. Books that changed your life. The Hamburg journalist and author Nora Gantenbrink is making the start.


Nora Gantenbrink, 34, journalist and author of the two books Fucking Heart and Dad



Nora (or a doll's house) by Henrik Ibsen

After this Play by the Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen I am named. My mother read it in high school. She liked the name of the protagonist and vowed to name her daughter - if she would have one later - exactly that. It really changed my life in that sense.

When I saw the play at the Düsseldorf theater at the age of 16, I was initially a bit confused. It could be because of the staging of course, I told myself, but a happy ending looked different for me. In the end, the play Nora leaves her family overnight and disappears. I then read the Reclam booklet. Only later did I understand how progressive Ibsen's work of 1879 actually was. To this day it is considered to be one of the most important pieces for women's liberation. Ibsen himself always turned down feminist prizes during his lifetime, but well, he was probably also quite an anarchist stuffer.



Tristan by Thomas Mann

I love thin books. I deeply distrust all works that have more than 250 pages. Thomas Mann's books are basically too long for me. I think that the magic mountain contains unnecessarily long descriptions and the Buddenbrocks are incredibly long-winded. But this short story Tristan by Thomas Mann, is simply fantastic. It's about Mr Spinel. Spinell was unfortunately unsuccessful as a writer, which of course only makes him extremely likeable. In a sanatorium, Mr. Spinell falls in love with a sick woman, but unfortunately she is with Mr. Klöterjahn. Mr. Klöterjahn embodies everything that Mr. Spinell despises. And then this subtle spinel and this coarse Klöterjahn meet. Finally, Mr. Spinell wrote the following letter to Klöterjahn: “Sir, I am addressing the following lines to you because I cannot do otherwise. Because what I have to tell you fills me and torments me and makes me shiver. Because the words flow to me with such violence that I would suffocate on them, I should not exonerate myself in this letter. "


At the end of the letter he writes: “I must not say that I despise you. I can't, I'll be honest, you are the stronger one. I have only one thing to oppose you in battle, the sublime weapons andRevenge tool the weak: spirit and word. ”And further:“ Today I made use of him. Because this letter, also in this I am honest sir, is nothing more than an act of revenge and is just a single word in it sharp enough and beautiful enough to make you affected, to let you feel a foreign power, your robust equanimity for a moment To shake, I want to rejoice. Detlef Spinell. "

I think this letter is so amazing. The tool of revenge for the weak, spirit and word. Just awesome. I always pull out the novel and read it again.



Tiger milk from Stefanie de Velasco

The book Tiger milk was published in 2013 and I wouldn't go so far as to say that it changed my life, but I just really enjoyed reading it because Stefanie de Velasco wrote an incredibly touching book about friendship with girls. The two protagonists Nini and Jameelah drink tiger milk (Mariacron, passion fruit and milk) speak O-language, make pinkish oath, twist words and have so many insiders and you just follow them everywhere. The book reminded me of my youth and of my own friendships and of the fact that without friends everything is nothing.



Stories by Hermann Hesse

This collection of Stories by Hermann Hesse left me by my late father. I know that at that time I was immersed in a completely new world and thought: “Crazy! Hermann Hesse superstar! ”I wanted to be able to write like him at some point. I thought he was possibly the greatest writer in the world. Just how he looked. For years I guarded all Hesse books like Gollum his treasure.
Together with a few friends, I organize reading evenings at loose intervals. At one point we brought books there that were of great importance to us in our youth. We then read passages from the works to each other. When I got Hesse out again for a reading evening, I just thought: “Wow, it's pretty corny.” I hadn't really noticed that before.

Today I think to myself: It's good that I don't write like Herrmann-Hesse. But like Nora Gantenbrink.



Car portrait by EdouardLevé

Edouard Levé is a French artist whose life story is very sad. His last book is called Suicide. He sent the manuscript to his editor ten days before he killed himself. His book Car portrait actually consists only of thoughts and descriptions strung together and is incredibly intense.


"I cannot describe the color I see through my closed eyelids."


I underlined almost every third sentence in the book in pencil. For example: “I guess the best part of a stocking is the hole.” Or: “I wonder where the dreams go that I can't remember.” One of the most beautiful sentences in it is: “I know the color that I can not describe through my closed eyelids. ”Or:“ I have often heard but never seen a fruit fall from a tree. ”That's exactly how I feel! I've heard an apple fall a lot, but I've never been seenhow an apple fell from a tree. I can only recommend this book to everyone. Incidentally, it only has 111 pages.

Editor's note: The book is currently out of print, but is still in the reprint and is expected to be available again in September.



The Destiny is a lousy traitor to John Green

The book Destiny is a lousy traitor I read it seven years ago. I was 27 and visited a friend in France who was vacationing there in a circus wagon. A magical place where wild horses roamed around. The book is about cancer and at one point the protagonist Hazel himself says: "Cancer books are stupid." That was actually exactly my opinion, but now I was sitting with this cancer book on a folding chair in the sun in front of this circus wagon and couldn't stop to read. In the end I cried and if you don't do that, you have no heart or no tears or both. There are books that are almost perfect. Destiny is a lousy traitor is one of them.


Protocols: Lesley Sevriens

Photos: Alexandra Polina