amaryann21's List from The List version 2.0

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Discussão1001 Books to read before you die

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amaryann21's List from The List version 2.0

Mar 8, 2016, 10:50am

New thread for the next 300...

301. Ragtime

Ragtime is half story, half portrait of New York City (and some surrounding areas) in the early 1900's. The story focuses on a family who is never named (Mother, Father, Grandfather, etc.) and the people who come into their lives, including a young African American man who meets with some infamy.

The book is very readable, but there wasn't a good flow. The second half was better, because it focused more on the storyline, but I think Doctorow's style isn't my favorite.

Food: chopped salad. A lot of stuff thrown into a bowl, and while it all goes together because it's technically one dish, some bites are more harmonious than others.

Editado: Abr 12, 2016, 11:17pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Mar 12, 2016, 4:40pm

302. Doctor Zhivago

I've been putting off the Russians for some time now. I didn't hear anything horrible, but I was afraid of getting lost in the sea of everyone having 5 different names. When I picked this up, I steeled myself for a long slog...

I was SO surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this. The writing is beautiful without being too showy or preachy. The story is of one man's life and starts before the Russian Revolution and ends with WWII. I really got to care about the characters, and a few times, I had to remember which person what being represented with which names, but it really wasn't so bad! I was really struck by the beauty of the writing. I also realized how little I know about Russian history and I love that books like this make me want to learn.

Food: borscht. Full of trepidation at first, because it's a new experience, but the more I consume, the more I like it. Delicious and I'm excited about a second helping.

Mar 13, 2016, 3:48am

By 'putting off the Russians' do you mean you haven't read any of them? Even the really famous ones like War and Peace?

Mar 13, 2016, 4:08pm

Correct. I was never required to read them in school, so they are all on my TBR pile.

Mar 13, 2016, 4:53pm

I only started reading Russian lit a few years back (and I am 43). I was always under the impression that it was dark and dreary so I never tried. But when I finally picked one up, I realised how very wrong I was. I have read quite a bit now and love most of it. Doctor Zhivago is on my list for this year - loved the movie.

Mar 13, 2016, 5:46pm

I'm excited to see the movie. I've held off, wanting to read the book first.

Mar 13, 2016, 6:30pm

After watching Must Love Dogs years ago, I had to watch it :)

Mar 17, 2016, 9:57pm

303. Cloud Atlas

This is a masterpiece. The story, or collection of stories within stories, is complex and interwoven and each has its own style and voice, but never was it difficult to read or follow. Each voice in the chorus drew me further into the worlds that were created. I have not read a book like this before and I am a little in awe.

I saw the movie when it came out and, in retrospect, I think they did as good a job as they could. The book is so much MORE. I will continue to think about this book for a long time. I'm so happy to have encountered it.

Food: a progressive dinner, in which one goes to different homes for each course. This is more than a meal, because you are immersed in the experience of dining as well as appreciating the food.

Editado: Mar 18, 2016, 4:49am

>9 amaryann21: I loved this book too - one of my rare 5/5 books

Mar 18, 2016, 3:52am

Sounds great - I've gotten Slade House out of the library which will be the first book of his which I have read but I'll make sure to include Cloud Atlas in my next three month set of reading. I'm a bit booked up for this three months.

Mar 18, 2016, 8:44am

>9 amaryann21:, >10 puckers:, Cloud Atlas was also a 5 stars book for me.

Mar 18, 2016, 9:49am

I keep thinking about how it's written so masterfully. I haven't given a book 5 stars in awhile, and this was one. I also usually trade my books after I read them, but this one is going in the permanent collection. I kinda want to just hold it and hope some of the genius rubs off on me.

Mar 18, 2016, 10:57pm

304. A Severed Head

Martin has a wife and a mistress and a psychoanalyst. Until his wife falls in love with his psychoanalyst and then they both want him to be part of their big, happy family... sort of. Not in a sexual way, but they want to be absolved of any negative feelings and they NEED him to continue to be part of their lives. And that's just the start of the bizarro love quadrilaterals.

I feel like this book is a product of its time and, perhaps, the British culture of that time. I feel like it's supposed to be cheeky, but it just feels sad. The severed head theme feels to me like these people either are all intellect or all emotion and can't reconcile the two. I didn't not enjoy the book, but I feel like I didn't entirely get it.

Food: the last, cheap beer of the night after too many shots and the only person left is the sad drunk who's recounting their tragic love affairs. After awhile, it's a bit much.

Mar 18, 2016, 11:31pm

Have you read others by Murdoch? I'm curious how it compares to some of her others, as I have A Severed Head coming up in my tbr pile soon.

Mar 19, 2016, 12:02am

>15 amerynth: I'm pretty sure it's my first, so I'm not going to judge her yet. I've read great things about The Sea, the Sea.

Mar 19, 2016, 9:08am

Indeed, The Sea, The Sea has been my Murdoch favorite so far.

Mar 19, 2016, 12:08pm

305. The Call of the Wild

This is the story of Buck, a dog taken surreptitiously from his home and stolen away to the gold rush in Alaska. Told from his perspective, this short novel gives us a brutal look at the life of a sled dog and how Buck goes from a domesticated pet to hearing the call of the wild, literally, and going back to the beast of his ancestors.

I loved reading about the care of the animals by some of the characters. Sometimes it feels like a modern attitude to care about the quality of life of an animal. London did a fantastic job making the story feel authentic and adventurous and didn't humanize Buck too much, which I appreciate.

Food: venison steak. Meat, a little gamey, a little wild, a little exotic (for some of us).

Mar 25, 2016, 9:48pm

306. Silas Marner

Poor Silas. Accused of a crime he didn't commit, he exiles himself to a small village and starts a new chapter in his life, one where he keeps very much to himself. A crime is then committed on him, which brings him to the brink of despair until a small turn of events brings light back to his life.

I enjoyed this story for its provincialism. The simplicity of the townsfolk and the depiction of the rich squire's family being a little myopic felt more realistic than caricature. Silas doesn't show his full depth of character until the end, and I came to realize that I really liked the strange little man. The message is somewhat along the lines of, "Good things come to those who wait" and "Trust in the Lord" and when you're selfish, you lose out, but none of it felt preachy. I like a more subtly delivered message.

I think the reading of this book was enhanced by the antique copy I acquired. It was published in 1900 and is a small, red leather bound copy, very well aged. I love the feel of it, knowing that others have held this same little volume, enjoyed the story. It carries its history with it.

Food: a shortbread cookie. Simple, a little sweet, easy to digest.

Mar 27, 2016, 10:36am

307. Kitchen

Mikage has lost all her family and Yuichi and his mother take her in. Mikage is drawn to kitchens- clean, dirty, large, small, they have more meaning to her than any other part of the house. Slowly, she deals with her grief and, a few years later, is dealt another blow. She and Yuichi are pulled together and apart over the years.

There is a quiet, a patience in this story that feels Eastern. The emotion is allowed to be understated, which feels more genuine, than some of the Western writers techniques (I'm looking at you, Jodi Picoult) of smacking the reader in the face, screaming, "FEEL SOMETHING!". I am engaged in the story with this respect of feeling.

Food: clear broth. Flavorful, simple, delicious without pretension. Healthy.

Mar 30, 2016, 9:45pm

308. Quicksand

Helga is looking for where she fits in. She's biracial in a world where civil rights haven't become a reality yet, and she isn't really a part of the Negro (her word) world and certainly not a part of the white world. She tries on several different cities and lifestyles and is happy for a time, until the same old uneasiness comes back. Life is like quicksand- the more you struggle, the faster you sink.

Reading this story was fascinating and sad. I wanted Helga to find her place and find happiness, but the dread was it was never to be achieved. The complicated picture of racism, particularly of how blacks viewed themselves in contrast to whites and the varied perspectives held, was something I hadn't considered much in the past. It gave me a lot to think about.

Food: heavy, dense cornbread. Tasty, but it sits in your stomach afterward, weighing you down.

Editado: Mar 31, 2016, 5:53am

As a note do you know that quicksand, as portrayed on all those old westerns, is imaginary? It doesn't, and never has, existed. It traps you, it doesn't drown you.

So, like quicksand, could Helga's uneasiness and sense of not fitting in also be just in her imagination?

Mar 31, 2016, 7:09am

Yes, I did :)

The analysis included in the introduction (which I never read first) states that Larsen's books are psychological rather than sociological. While I think Helga's perspective is influenced by the time she lives in, it's very much a personal journey for her, which suggests this may be entirely in her head.

Abr 1, 2016, 10:12am

309. Passing

Irene grew up with Clare, but when Clare's father died, she disappeared and no one knew what became of her. Irene runs into her again, purely by chance, and finds out that Clare is "passing" for white to everyone in her life, including her very racist husband. Irene's feelings about this are many- anger, disappointment, betrayal, and fear for Clare's safety.

I have mixed feelings about the story as well. It wasn't easy to read. Irene's perspective makes sense, but the conflict she feels is very well portrayed and is transferred to the reader. Ultimately, the story is sad. The underlying commentary on race is dismaying, and I understand that feeling is a result of the time I live in, though I think it brave of Larsen to be writing about it in the 1920's.

Food: a madeleine, looking yummy and delicious, but lacking in taste and a little dry. You aren't totally disappointed, but wish it could have had more flavor.

Abr 5, 2016, 7:06pm

310. The Secret Agent

Usually spy stories are exciting, full of action. Leave it to Conrad to make a spy story boring. Mr. Verloc is a secret agent, but apparently not doing a very good job. He's married to Winnie and has taken on her mother and brother, who is slightly irregular in the head. He runs a shop and hangs out with anarchists. And then there's an explosion.

Conrad uses too many words. There's too much to sort through to figure out what he's actually saying and in this book, all the action, what little there is, comes at the end. It's not even that good of a payoff. I don't see the appeal in his writing.

Food: a dry cappuccino with no sugar. Bitter, too much foam, and someone must have used decaf espresso.

Abr 11, 2016, 9:24pm

311. The Garden Party

The Garden Party is about a wealthy family throwing a garden party the day they've learned a neighbor, quite poor, has died in an accident. One of the children is quite sympathetic and feels it inappropriate to throw the party in light of the death.

The short story highlights class difference and values in a brief, effective way. The lavish party, real emotion for the family being distracted by a new bonnet, a gesture of sympathy that isn't really sympathetic (or is it as sympathetic as possible?) and an ending that's not quite satisfying make for an interesting story.

Food: a cream puff where the cream has just started to turn. Looks beautiful, but there's some sourness that'll stay with you.

Abr 11, 2016, 9:38pm

>26 amaryann21: Hmmm, is that bittersweet? It's been a while since I read The Garden Party, but I'd describe it, and most of the Mansfield stories that I remember, as bittersweet.

Abr 11, 2016, 9:46pm

>27 Nickelini: I'm not sure I'd describe it as bittersweet. Bittersweet means there's real sweetness in the mix, and this just felt like the wealthy family was... removed. Their sympathy was nominal. The difference in the class realities was stark.

Abr 11, 2016, 9:58pm

>28 amaryann21: Hmm, okay, yes, I can see that.

Abr 12, 2016, 1:17pm

I keep waiting for you to run out of these great food metaphors and start repeating yourself. But you don't.

Editado: Abr 12, 2016, 3:12pm

They're great aren't they? :-)

They are always spot on.

Abr 12, 2016, 5:05pm

Thank you! I think it helps me both remember the books better and really think about how I experienced them. And I've only done 170, since I didn't start them right away, so I'm sure I'll repeat soon!

Abr 21, 2016, 5:59pm

312. The Kreutzer Sonata

The man on the train has killed his wife. He's honest about it, and he was acquitted. He has some very strong opinions about sex and marriage. Did his wife cheat on him? We'll never know...

This was a short story, but a long experience. I couldn't figure out if Tolstoy was advocating against marriage and sex or not, but I found an epilogue online after finishing the story that showed that yes, Tolstoy was not in favor of marriage and sex the way the "Church" set it up. Interesting. I did listen to the Kreutzer Sonata while reading the last third of the story, and the best part of the story is when the main character describes his response to the music. That helped me understand a little better (and makes me wonder, is that part autobiographical, Tolstoy?). My professional opinion is that the main character is crazy, though. Certifiably.

Food: stinky cheese. Not super stinky, but mildly stinky. You have some trepidation about trying it, but you want to be polite and adventurous, but you have to try it several times to figure out whether or not you like it. And the next day, you're still not sure.

Abr 25, 2016, 10:48pm

313. Saturday

This is the third McEwan I've read and my favorite so far. The story of Henry's day drew me in from the very start. Henry is a neurosurgeon and the descriptions of his work contain some large, impressive words (which I love). It's a Saturday, and he wakes early, sees an unusual sight, and goes about his day. The book is full of flashbacks that round out the story of his life and family.

The language of this book wrapped me up, flowed over and around me, and I wanted to take my time, pace myself, instead of racing to the end to see what happens. Most of the book is regular life stuff, which may be why it appealed to me so much. There is genuine love and care and what drama there is is handled with nobility. It's been awhile since I liked the characters in a book so much.

Food: a single square of high quality dark chocolate, 72% cocoa or higher. Thin, brittle, taking a few moments to melt in your mouth, but blooming with depth of flavor when it does.

Abr 26, 2016, 8:17am

>313 Your food description made me remember the book even better than your review. Spot-on!

Abr 26, 2016, 12:09pm

>35 Simone2: Thank you! I intentionally leave most of the plot out. I like to read books knowing as little as possible beforehand.

Maio 7, 2016, 3:47pm

314. The Temple of My Familiar

Beautiful, a story about women, oppression of people of color, love, magic, family, and life. The variety of characters in the story is like a buffet of humanity, and they all have redeeming qualities. The back and forth between the US and Africa sometimes confused me because it was hard to remember when and where we were in the story, but that is my only complaint. This book was like being immersed in a warm bath.

Food: whipped cream, the real kind. Sweet and airy and slightly sweet, lingering on the tongue for just a moment after it's gone. Delicious.

Maio 7, 2016, 4:01pm

>36 amaryann21: I'm the same, trying to know as little as I possibly can about the book before reading it. So I usually just read your food description if I haven't read the book being reviewed! It's a good way to get a tantalizing (or not!) idea about the book.

Maio 7, 2016, 7:10pm

>38 ursula: I'm glad you enjoy them! I often wonder how much my "taste" is the same as others.

Maio 8, 2016, 2:14am

Every time I've read a book that you have reviewed I've agreed with your chosen food.

Maio 8, 2016, 9:56pm

>40 M1nks: That's kinda cool!

Maio 9, 2016, 11:00am

Hmmmm. On one hand, I'm now looking forward to trying Temple of My Familiar, which is one of those 1001 books I own but wasn't sure I'd ever get to, so thanks for that. On the other hand, I don't like whip cream. And I do find your food descriptions more accurate than not. Hmmm.

Maio 9, 2016, 7:18pm

>42 Nickelini: I think it's whipped cream because I LOVE whipped cream, so I hope it's a different lovely experience for you!

Maio 22, 2016, 3:36pm

315. The Line of Beauty

Nick lives with the Feddens. Gerald, Mr. Fedden, is a politician and the whole family is wealthy. Nick lives with them on the suggestion of Toby, their son, with whom Nick went to Oxford. Nick is working on a doctorate on Henry James, kind of. Nick is gay. It's the 1980's. One is not openly gay while living with the upper crust in London. The book covers a span of 4 years, in which time things are very, very good, and then not so much.

Reading this book was interesting and painful. Nick's whole existence is due to the generosity or favor of someone else. He's a pet, never given any substance beyond what pleasure he can provide to someone else. He knows it won't last forever, but then again, why not? There's very little that's authentic about his life. It's frustrating to see him stuck in this loop, because he seems like a decent person and not actually trying to take advantage, but just used to where he is in his life and not in a hurry to get out.

Food: a display wedding cake. Beautiful, highly decorative, stunning in design, but actually full of Styrofoam.

Jul 23, 2016, 2:49pm

316. The Once and Future King

Started in the late 1930's, this is the compilation of a four-volume set of the life of King Arthur, from his lowly beginnings as Wart, the squire of Kay, through his trials and tribulations with Lancelot and Guinevere and Mordred. White makes no attempt to stay solely in the time period and frequently makes tongue-in-cheek remarks about the differences between those days and modern times. This is a chunk of a book- almost 650 pages in my version, but very readable. The chapters are short and the action doesn't got bogged down too often.

White's portrayal of the characters in the story we've all heard is very human. Arthur is very noble, to be sure, but he isn't set up to be larger than life and we are privy to his struggles. White also lets us see Arthur wrestle with human nature and some philosophical treatise of war and conflict, might and right (though not often, thankfully- that can get boring). I enjoyed making my way through this saga.

Food: certainly a medieval feast. Venison, pheasant, sweetmeats, honey wine, stone fruit, both delicate and hearty bits of all varieties.

Ago 4, 2016, 1:13pm

317. The Art of Fielding

I freely admit I've been delaying reading this book, despite hearing good things about it. It's about baseball, and baseball is boring, right? I devoured this book. It's over 500 pages and I finished it in a matter of hours. DEVOURED.

Yes, it's about baseball, but it's more about life. Henry might be the most amazing shortstop in history. Pella and her father, the president of Westish college, have a complicated relationship. Schwartz is an incredible guy, but where is he going? Owen... Owen is brilliant and the only one who might have his life together, but they're all so young and college is the time when you find out who you are. And they do. And it's compelling to read. My heart is full of these characters and their journeys and I'm not ready to let them go yet.

Food: a bacon cheeseburger. Delicious and filling and satisfying and just what you need every once in awhile. A lot to chew on, but you come away full.

Ago 5, 2016, 1:30pm

>I loved this book too! (And I love bacon cheeseburgers) The characters, especially Henry & Schwartz, were truly compelling. A great read.

Ago 5, 2016, 1:55pm

>46 amaryann21: I think I gave this a middle of road rating, but the more I think about it the more I appreciate it and remember it fondly. It was very well-done. Definitely one of the better contemporary books on the list in my opinion.

Ago 5, 2016, 3:59pm

>48 japaul22: I think I was even more impressed because it's a debut novel. Perhaps I shouldn't be so impressed that someone could write that good of a book right out of the gate (and that isn't necessarily what that means, just that it's the first to be published), but I am!

>47 annamorphic: It's nice to stumble upon one that I really could sink my teeth into and be happy at the end. Doesn't always happen with the list, does it?

Ago 5, 2016, 6:12pm

Really appreciate your review... I've been avoiding The Art of Fielding too for the same reasons. Your review gives me some hope that it will be enjoyable after all.

Ago 5, 2016, 8:26pm

Me too. And your review made me put the book on hold at the library.

Ago 5, 2016, 8:52pm

I'm glad I can be a positive influence!!

Ago 6, 2016, 1:01am

>46 amaryann21: Yeah I agree that the idea of baseball being part of the book put me off. But I enjoyed it quite a bit too once I convinced myself to start it!

Editado: Ago 6, 2016, 3:30am

I have no plans to read that because baseball. But I appreciate a book (or movie) that can make me feel, and think, and say it's wonderful despite a topic that bores me to tears. Good writing and good story conquer all. There's a baseball story in the Judy Blume anthology (not written by her, but by an author I can't remember) Places I Never Meant to Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers that blew me away, despite baseball. (This is an excellent collection, btw.)

So I can appreciate that this is a very good book, but I probably won't pick it up only because I have too many other books on my TBR.

ETA: Ah ha! I wrote a review of the Judy Blume book and noted the story in my comments: "Baseball Camp," by David Klass.

Ago 6, 2016, 3:30am you have to know anything about baseball to read the novel? Could it be just as well about basketball or soccer or ice hockey or anything? (my knowledge about baseball is limited to what I have picked from Peanuts comics, one guy throws a ball, another tries to hit the ball, a third one tries to catch the ball...shortstop is apparently a player position?)

Ago 6, 2016, 3:45am

I don't think you have to know anything about baseball. I'm trying to imagine if it were about cricket (I know zero about that), and I think it would be fine. X position is important, so-and-so is good at it, Y thing happens, which is good, Z thing happens, which is bad. If there was any in-depth discussion of the sport, I skimmed it and totally missed it. :)

Ago 6, 2016, 4:08am

>55 hdcanis: Love your description of baseball. I grew up in Canada having to play softball (which for me is exactly the same thing as baseball even though I know they are not) from kindergarten until grade 10. Hated every second of it. Also, family reunions and church youth group. When I was in my mid-20s and climbing the corporate ladder, I was told "you really have to come out and play in the manager's softball game." I said no. Did I mention I'm not on the corporate ladder anymore? But other than all the politics (from wee young school age to adulthood), you have the general idea of the game down just fine.

I recently went to a pro baseball game. As a spectator, I didn't die, and it was almost interesting. But they gave me a drink and a meal, so there you go.

Ago 6, 2016, 4:10am

>56 ursula: I think with these types of stories, it's all about the human dynamics. Sure, they're setting it against a sport, but it's REALLY about something else.

Ago 6, 2016, 3:30pm

I agree with Ursula- you don't need to know anything about the sport to enjoy the story. I know the basics of baseball, but that's about it. I think Harbach gives enough information about each of the things that come up about the sport to make it understandable.

Nickelini, I can appreciate that. I found it for 50 cents at a library sale, so I picked it up and took it to work with me, planning to read it sporadically on my lunch break. Until I couldn't put it down.

Ago 6, 2016, 3:46pm

>59 amaryann21: I found it for 50 cents at a library sale, so I picked it up and took it to work with me, planning to read it sporadically on my lunch break. Until I couldn't put it down.

That's fabulous! A true find.

Ago 10, 2016, 10:06am

318. Blonde

It's no secret that Joyce Carol Oates and I are not friends, but this book brought us more to an acquaintance level and reduced some of the negative feelings I have about her work. Blonde is a fictionalized account of Marilyn Monroe's life, inspired (of course) by the actual events of her life. I don't know how much is true, because I don't know much about Monroe. I've never paid much attention to her, despite her icon status. But this book intrigued me and now I want to know more. So, Oates, thank you for piquing my interest. Job well done.

Reading this book wasn't always easy. First of all, it's a chunkster and heavy. I mean literally heavy. I may have developed tendonitis. And secondly, Norma Jeane had a ROUGH life. The psychiatric illness of her mother, the abuse at her hands, getting married at 15 and never really knowing herself or her worth intrinsically, just made me sad for her. It makes me wonder what she could have been without all the things that troubled her, or if that's part of what inspired her gift.

Food: dinner theater while watching "Hamlet". Lots of rich food and drink while taking in the comedy, tragedy and insanity unfold on stage.

Ago 10, 2016, 11:32am

This was the first Oates I read, so I feel more more positively about her than you, lol. But I had also always been rather ambivalent about Marilyn, and wanted to know more after reading Blonde. And yeah, I felt like, had she not dealt with so agonizingly much shit, what worlds could she have conquered?? :/

Ago 10, 2016, 11:45am

>62 .Monkey.: Exactly! My first Oates was Marya, followed by a non-list book for my book club We Were the Mulvaneys and both of them were torturous. Black Water wasn't so bad, and it was short.

Ago 10, 2016, 11:47am

I am hit or miss with Oates. But that may be because she is probably the most prolific & diverse writer I have come across. The woman will quite literally write about anything.

I have Blonde in my pile to read this year so thanks for the positive review!

Ago 10, 2016, 11:53am

>64 Yells: Maybe that's a better way to describe how I feel about her now. My initial experiences were overwhelmingly negative, so maybe it's tainted me.

And you're welcome!

Ago 15, 2016, 9:10pm

319. Gabriel's Gift

Gabriel is a teenager whose parents aren't getting along. He's an artist who speaks to his dead twin brother. His dad was a rock star of a little fame. Gabriel doesn't like the au pair his mother has hired to watch over him.

Seems like disjointed facts, right? Yeah. The book kind of clunks along, and stuff happens with a few moments of feeling, but overall, it was just okay. None of the characters was developed enough to feel believable, especially Gabriel. He was inconsistent and it made it difficult for me really get into the story. I wanted more, and was left unsatisfied.

Food: a strawberry Pop Tart. Not actual strawberries, and not enough to be a real meal.

Ago 26, 2016, 3:49pm

320. The Sorrows of Young Werther

Young Werther is a pretty happy guy, content with his life and delighted with nature, until he meets Lotte and falls madly in love. The trouble is, she's already engaged to Albert. Alas and alack! Whatever shall he do?

Blech. I'm sure this was scandalous in 1774, as it discusses suicide openly and as an option to get to Heaven (which would have been very much opposed to church teaching) and equates it with dying of a fever. The dramatic way in which Werther pines over Lotte is just too much for me. I want to shake him and tell him to get over it, find a hobby, find something else to occupy his time. Perhaps that's the pragmatist in me, or maybe I'm just too used to dealing with teenagers?

Food: tepid tea. Some flavor left, but you drink it to get it down, not because you enjoy it.

Ago 27, 2016, 5:03pm

>320 I could very much identitfy with Werther, perhaps because I was twenty when I read it.
Your review makes me wonder whether it is the fact that it was written in the 18th century or the fact that you are older than Werther which makes this a less interesting read.
I won't reread it however, to find out. I guess it would not touch me as much as it did back then.

Ago 27, 2016, 9:54pm

>68 Simone2: I think the time period in which it was written plays a part, and I don't think it's my age as much as I'm a therapist. I get it, I just don't like reading about it because it annoys me.

Ago 28, 2016, 2:40am

I'd say it's a bit of an age thing too, I read Werther well in my 30s and was already "oh, get a grip, why don't you" without having dealt that much with teenagers after I was one.

Ago 28, 2016, 6:57am

>68 Simone2:, >70 hdcanis: I read Werther not too long ago and even though I have not been a teenager for many, many years and don't know any teenagers currently, I loved it. I loved the language and the descriptions and am now looking forward to some of Goethe's longer works on the list!

Set 24, 2016, 6:02pm

321. The Long Goodbye

This is my first time meeting Philip Marlowe, though not Chandler's introduction of this PI. Marlowe is a loner, unliked by most and not exactly a charmer. He commits an act of charity and finds himself entangled in a series of suspicious deaths.

"Hard-boiled" detective stories are not my thing. Those type of detectives tend to annoy me and I feel like they are caricatures more than characters. Marlowe wasn't so bad, though, and he grew on me a little. He had enough heart to get me through. As for the twists, they took their time coming, but they were pretty good when they showed up.

Food: a patty melt in a greasy spoon with a cigarette and strong coffee when you've finished. Dirty food, eaten on the sly, and afterward you feel like you've gotten away with something.

Out 11, 2016, 2:53pm

322. The Charterhouse of Parma

Fabrizio is the son of a nobleman and enthralled with Napoleon, so he sneaks off to join the army in France, but is soon exposed to the reality of war. The problem is, he has been branded a traitor by leaving to fight for Napoleon. And that's just the beginning.

Fabrizio is labeled the hero of the story, though nothing he does is what I would call heroic. He falls in love with every pretty girl who wanders across his path, and there's the weird relationship with his aunt that never really resolves. And he's a priest, but that's not serious, it's just to keep him out of trouble and give him status, because we can buy things like that. I get it, it was acceptable or understood practice at the time (and maybe still is, just not in the church?). I really enjoyed the bits where Stendhal talked to the reader about how he was going to skip over some parts because they were boring, or when he explained to French readers how Italian people are more emotional. Some parts of the story moved much more quickly than others. Overall, not a difficult read, but it sure dragged at times.

Food: salted caramel apple pecan pie cheesecake. Lots of ingredients and it's tasty, but you can't really find the apple because it's overshadowed by some of the other components, and you need to just take it slow because too much is too heavy. Satisfying when finished, but you won't go back for another piece for quite awhile.

Nov 26, 2016, 10:59pm

323. Arrow of God

Ezeulu is the chief priest of Ulu and revered in all 6 villages, but this is a tenuous position and a fragile peace. The British are present and this changes the balance and calls alliances into question. Ezeulu himself is regarded as half man, half spirit and must also be the faith guide for his people.

The tribal practices, colonialism, and the wonderful (and sometimes cryptic) African proverbs were interesting and sometimes frustrating. I think that means it was well written and well-portrayed. I have grown to appreciate non-Western writers much more than before I started reading from The List, and this is a good example.

Food: kale salad. Bitter, sometimes taking some effort to chew, but ultimately you know you did something good for yourself when you're through.

Nov 29, 2016, 9:15am

324. Jacob's Room

Jacob Flanders is very distinguished-looking. And very awkward. Apart from those two things, we don't actually find out a lot about him, though this is about his life. Women (and maybe a man or two) swoon over him, of which he mostly seems oblivious, or maybe just doesn't care. There's lots of letter writing.

This is an experimental novel and I enjoyed it much more than I expected I would. The imagery is gorgeous and caught me by surprise again and again. My first go around with Woolf wasn't positive, so I wasn't sure how this book and I were going to get along. I felt like I was following Jacob through his life, watching him observe scenes in the lives of the people around him, and then moving along to the next.

Food: do you remember that thing (was it a salad?) at that party? Man, it was so good... I should find out what was in that. That was a fun night. What was that stuff? It was yummy...

Dez 6, 2016, 8:57pm

325. Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Cephallonia is a Greek island, home to Pelagia and her father, the doctor in their tiny town. Everything is very quiet and provincial and Pelagia falls in love with a boy in town. Then World War II changes everything, forever. The Italians occupy the island and Captain Corelli stays with Pelagia and her father, who are intent on showing him their frustration and anger at being invaded. Corelli is a good man, a talented musician, and even performs opera with several of his men while in the latrine.

This is an epic tale, covering decades and many lives, lives that are very, very human. I came to care for these characters. The atrocities of war are not glossed over. Parts were difficult to read because they felt so real. I really enjoyed this book and it moved very quickly for me. There is a lot of humor to balance the darker parts of the story, and I appreciate the lack of sugarcoating.

Food: a Greek meal- tabbouleh, roasted fish, and baklava for dessert. There's bitter notes, salty and briny, charred and meaty, and sweet and nutty to round things out.

Dez 31, 2016, 10:45am

326. On Beauty

The Belseys are an interesting family- a mix of races and identities, leading to conflict in ideals and what they each value. Add to the mix the Kipps family, and the conflict grows. Howard and Monty seem to hate each other due to opposing perspectives regarding intellectual and prejudicial issues. But their families keep connecting, over and over and inappropriately over.

I like some of the characters- Kiki was very interesting to read, and the kids in the Belsey household seemed quite real. Harold, on the other hand, is not my cup of tea. I don't think he was supposed to be. But I wanted there to be SOMEthing likeable about him, and I didn't find it.

Food: peach salad with red onions and aged balsamic vinegar. It appears as though it's an odd combination of ingredients, and there are bites that are sharp and acidic and some that are sweeter and more mellow. In the end, it all works together, but I'm not sure how often I want to eat it.

Fev 13, 2017, 1:04pm

327. The Remains of the Day

Mr. Stevens has served as a butler for decades and takes pride in his work, in doing it properly. Much of the story involves Miss Kenton, another of the staff in the household, and his recollections of their time together. Mr. Stevens served Lord Darlington for most of his life, and now the hall has been acquired by an American gentleman, and Mr. Stevens is having a difficult time adjusting. He takes a road trip and his musings make up the story.

I think Kazuo Ishiguro is quite a storyteller. The subtleties in how he conveys emotion are masterful. Mr. Stevens is wrestling with his identity in the story, in a way- he's a butler, but he's also a person, but he's SUCH a butler. Where does his duty to his profession and employer end and his own personhood begin?

Food: a proper cup of English tea with milk and arrowroot biscuits, by the fire, as the sun begins to set. Quiet, sustaining but not sweet.

Fev 13, 2017, 9:47pm

328. The Buddha of Suburbia

Karim has an Indian father and an English mother and their life is normal, until Karim's father decides to affect the guise and behavior of a guru. This throws Karim, a teenager, into a new world of ideas and explorations.

The blurb on the back says that it's "sharp satire on race relations" in England, and I guess I have to take their word for it. There is a lot of discussion about race- at that time (70's-80's) Indians were called "black"- and the distinction between Indian and Pakistani, but it doesn't feel satirical, except in very small bits. Overall, this wasn't a difficult book to read, but it got a little tedious in spots.

Food: horned melon. Bright on the inside and outside, there isn't a lot of flavor, it's a little slimy, and the seeds get in the way of really enjoying the fruit.

Mar 30, 2017, 8:18am

329. An Obedient Father

Ram Karan is obedient- to his corrupt boss and the way business is done, to his appetites with no regard for consequences, to his own desires, but to little else. But he's not bad, per se, it's just how things are done and he's trying to make up for the wrongs he's committed... sort of. And Anita and Asha, his daughter and granddaughter, must live with him because there's nowhere else for them to go, even though the past haunts Anita to the point of madness.

As in most Indian novels, the government and its corruption play a large role. This feels more relevant than in the past, but it's still hard to relate to on a cultural level. There are parts of this story that aren't easy to read, but others that tug at the emotions a little.

Food: obligatory dinner with your depressed aunt. The food is a little lacking- burnt edges on the cake, the salad is pretty wilted and is the meat starting to turn? But you know she needs someone to talk to and you'll listen to her problems and try to be supportive. Getting out of there and knowing you don't have to go back for a few months is a relief, though.

Abr 1, 2017, 6:14am

>80 amaryann21: Great food comparison - again! I read the book and know exactly what you mean.

Abr 1, 2017, 1:12pm

Thanks, Simone2! I had to think about this one a little!

Abr 9, 2017, 7:51pm

330. The Butcher Boy

Francie's dad is a drunk, and this makes life hard for his mother, but he and Joe are best friends and that's what matters. Joe and Francie pull a mean joke on one of their peers and Mrs. Nugent, the boy's mother, is very insulting to Francie's family when she comes to tell Francie's mother about it. And the tragic tale is set in motion- or just accelerated, because, really, it was already tragic, but Francie didn't know that, did he?

There is a brilliance about this book, about how madness is portrayed, that is worth experiencing. It is not an easy tale to witness, though. And it feels like it could be very close to the real lives of many.

Food: a sour ale in a chaotic bar, where you start a chat with a stranger and slowly, you realize you may have entered into a conversation of which you no longer want to be part. There's something compelling about it, but is this person completely seated in reality?

Abr 10, 2017, 1:59am

I found this rather a peculiar book as well; I felt sorry for Francie who really just wanted to be loved and to feel that there was something worthwhile about his family.

Abr 10, 2017, 10:07am

>84 M1nks: Francie is the exact kid who I work with in real life, as a therapist, so my heart hurt for him. He's a product of his environment and his genetics. And very well written.

Abr 22, 2017, 10:29pm

331. The Kindly Ones

I finally finished it!!!! No more door stoppers for awhile! (What's that? I just bought IQ84? At least it's a paperback)

This is heavy. I mean it literally and figuratively- 983 pages in hardcover is a strain on the wrists. But this is also a fictional memoir of a former SS officer during WWII, where he participated in the extermination efforts of the Jews, the Russians, the Poles, the gypsies, the disabled and mentally ill. And it's graphic. But the premise, that you and I would have done the same things he did, were we in his shoes, is intriguing and gives one pause.

There's some really distasteful stuff in here, and that's putting it mildly. Aue is a twin and has an unhealthy fixation with his sister, his only sibling. She is the perfect woman, in his mind, and therefore he cannot have a relationship with any other female. His relationship with his mother is virtually estranged, and I've got my own theory on where the twins came from that she was fostering came from. And the war... I read a brief article about the amount of research Littell put in while writing this and I can't imagine he took too much license. If you can step back and view the story in a theoretical, philosophical light, it's very, very interesting. But so much loss, so much pain, so much hate.

Also, if you are unfamiliar with the mythology of the Kindly Ones (as I was), it's worth looking that up. But I would of it after you finish the story.

Food: cold meat and hard bread, but it's all you have. You take just a few nibbles here and there at first, because it's not what you want, but eventually, the hunger is enough to take bigger bites.

Abr 22, 2017, 11:15pm

I have this one lined up for next month so your review is timely. Not sure I'm entirely looking forward to the experience.

Abr 23, 2017, 12:04am

It was rough, but worth it. So much mental fodder.

Abr 23, 2017, 8:31am

Enjoying your reviews along with the paired foods. The only one I have read so far on this thread is Cloud Atlas and I 100% agree.

Abr 23, 2017, 10:51am

Thank you, Lisa! It makes me think about the book in different ways, which I appreciate.

Abr 23, 2017, 9:34pm

332. Invisible

This is Adam's story. He met a couple at a party in college, a couple with whom his interaction changed the course of his life, perhaps for the better, but at moments, it was definitely for the worse. We come to find out many of these events in his memoir, written and shared with a friend from college, and from an involved party.

What's real? What's fantasy? Who actually knows? I'm a fan of Auster's writing, so I enjoyed this story and it only took a couple hours to read. It's compelling, in a gentle, non-urgent way. His characters are complex and his plotlines take twists I don't expect.

Food: one spoonful of dandelion soup. Light, slightly bitter, with layers of flavor that take a moment to savor.

Abr 26, 2017, 3:31pm

333. Chocky

A short little sci-fi story about Matthew and Chocky, the being that starts talking to him, told from his father's perspective.

The story is handled well, I think, and Matthew comes across as age-appropriate and genuine. His parents' reactions also feel well-depicted. I wonder about the state of atomic energy and its development in conjunction with the writing of this story.

Food: cookies and milk. A little snack after coming home from school, nothing heavy, leaves a sweet and satisfying taste in your mouth.

Maio 13, 2017, 10:21pm

334. There but for the by Ali Smith

Miles locks himself in the Lees' guest room. He was there as a guest at their dinner party and they really don't know him. He's provided no explanation. The story is told in four parts, each from a different perspective of someone who knew Miles in a different way.

Interesting and weird. Be prepared not to get closure, because Smith, in my experience, likes not providing answers. But it's a fun ride. Brooke, the child who appears in multiple chapters of the story, is precocious and intelligent and witty and curious and someone I would want to talk to for hours. Her perspective is the one I enjoyed most. The book feels more like a character study than a story, and if taken with that expectation, it's a good time.

Food: a handful of mixed nuts. Filberts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, cashews and a walnut or two, a good snack and something to chew on, but nutty. REAL nutty.

Maio 18, 2017, 6:22pm

335. Animal's People

Animal will tell you he's not human. How could he be? He walks on all fours, and humans don't do that. His back was twisted after the factory burned and he's been this way forever. He lives in the slums and when the American doctor comes to town, it shakes things up. The battle with the Kampani comes to a head, and Animal finds out what he's made of.

There is so much life in this book, of all different kinds. Love and hope and loneliness and despair and hunger and hate and faith, and Animal has his own unique perspective. A little slow to start, the story picks up speed and with a mixture of Indian mythology and drunken and drug-induced bits, Animal and his people come to life. My favorite parts are when Animal tries to help Elli, the doctor, understand his home and their clash in culture and way of life.

Food: a charred lime flavored with chili powder and a bit of salt. Sour, sharp, smoky, biting and an explosion of all flavors at once.

Maio 31, 2017, 2:09pm

336. American Rust

Isaac and Poe have been out of high school for a couple years in their dying steel town, and they are an unlikely pair of friends. Isaac is a genius, but small, scrawny, and looks far younger than his age. Poe is the high school football star who could've been a college football star- big, brawny, and no one messes with him. Isaac has decided he's done taking care of his disabled father and is skipping town, and Poe walks a bit of the way with him, until they meet up with trouble.

This story very accurately reflects the life of a town in the Rust Belt. I lived in one of those towns for a number of years, and the story felt disturbingly like home. Ambition has no target, and it's easy to lose all hope. Isaac and Poe and their friends and family all have chapters to themselves in the book as the story progresses, and more than a narrative, this book is a portrait of post-industrial small-town America.

Food: raw red onion. Sharp, pungent, stinging, but common.

Jun 4, 2017, 10:38pm

337. The Midwich Cuckoos

Midwich is a sleepy little English town and nothing of substance happens there. Our narrator and his wife have a night in London for his birthday and when they make their way home, they aren't allowed to reenter their hometown due to an "incident". 24 hours later, the incident is over and life goes on... until the ramifications are made known, and they are far more insidious than first expected.

This story inspired "The Village of the Damned", so if you've seen it, you know the plotline. Early British sci-fi is fun and the character development is more of an emphasis than in some later science fiction. Wyndham does a great job at building plot tension and even though I'd seen the movie and knew where things were headed, it was still a great read. And I love the cuckoo analogy, adds a great creep factor when you think about it in the context of the book.

Food: an orange Tootsie pop. A quick little treat, and if you just have a little patience, the reward at the end is worth it.

Jun 27, 2017, 9:32pm

338. The Summer Book

Sophia, her father and her grandmother spend the summer on a tiny island in Scandinavia. In short chapters, the book describes their adventures. Nothing huge happens- they plant a garden of lovely flowers and trees, they have a antisocial cat, there is a huge storm, etc. It's exactly this lack of drama that brings a little bit of magic into the book. Sophia and her grandmother are close because Sophia's mother has died. They are each other's companions and they have developed a way of communicating in stories and make believe that is charming. Grandmother takes lots of naps and smokes when Papa isn't around, and Sophia keeps Grandmother's secrets and Grandmother makes the fear and anger go away when Sophia can't handle it.

There is a charming innocence to this book. It's full of light, quiet, and familial love.

Food: salt water taffy. Take small nibbles and let it melt in your mouth to make it last a little longer. Sweetness and nostalgia abound.

Jul 1, 2017, 2:00pm

339. Kafka on the Shore

Kafka ran away from home, with no defined plan and minimal money. He's 15, and just needs to be gone from his father's home before he's destroyed. Nakata is in his 60's and due to a strange incident in his childhood, can't read or write, but can talk to cats. The book alternates chapters in telling their stories and strange, very strange things happen.

I don't know how to talk about the plot of this book other than to say I just needed to keep reading. It's not a thriller, but there is a compulsion of the same sort (my copy is 615 pages, finished in under 24 hours). Are these characters connected? Why and how? What's actually going on? Music, reading, philosophy and the surreal are all incorporated into an amazing adventure. I think this book probably bears repeated reading, delving more into the depths every time.

Food: trying a new cuisine for the first time. It's literally foreign, but the more you taste, familiar spices hit your palate in a new, exciting way. You want to try the whole menu, because it's stimulating and wonderful.

Jul 4, 2017, 10:40pm

340. Some Experiences of an Irish R.M.

Major Yeates tells tales of his life in the Irish countryside, mostly consisting of hunts and adventures with horses, feuds between family members, and a little bit of drinking. Easy to read, but not always easy to understand because of the age of the language, this is a window into late 19th century Irish country life.

Food: tea and biscuits. A nice little snack before supper.

Jul 30, 2017, 9:13pm

341. At Swim-Two-Birds

An Irish college student is writing a story, recycling characters from other literature, to amuse himself and to procrastinate from his studies. The writing is choppy, weird, and I feel like I'm missing a lot, because it's not funny to me, though I get some of the ironic bits. There were parts that made more sense than others, but mostly, I'm just glad I'm through it.

Food: passed appetizers at a party. A variety, but they always seem hard to find, or you keep getting the same one over and over, and some of them are not to your taste at all.

Ago 12, 2017, 2:01am

342. Christ Stopped at Eboli

Levi's story is a combination of memoir and fiction of his year of exile in a small southern town in Italy comprised of peasants and gentry. He was a political prisoner and lived in this tiny fictional village, far from home, and painted, treated the locals (he was a doctor) and whiled away his time.

The writing composes a picture and song of the life of the people in the town, and Levi does them justice in his remembrance of them. He captures their drudgery, their hardship, and their acceptance of life as a forgotten part of Italy. The peasants (his word) feel no connection to their country, but instead feel as though they are an island in a nation that moved on years ago. The old superstitions and legends are their reality and they see no reason to live otherwise. A beautiful, rugged portrait of a time long past.

Food: honey and butter on a thick slab of coarse bread. Satisfying, lots to chew on, and a finish of sweetness and cream.

Ago 14, 2017, 12:12am

343. The French Lieutenant's Woman

Ernestina and Charles are engaged, and Ernestina reluctantly spent a few weeks with her aunt in Lyme Regis. Charles willingly went with her, and during their stay, he encounters Sarah, or "Tragedy", or the French Lieutenant's Woman. Sarah entrances him, and more chance encounters lead to an unburdening of Sarah's soul to Charles, which leads to more trouble.

This book is half story, half treatise on Victorian society, but in a very readable way. It was published in the 1960's, so it's Victorian with some tongue-in-cheek, not taking itself quite so seriously. Fowles takes us out of the narrative at times, reminding us that he's allowing the characters to choose their paths in his role as creator. Ultimately, I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to, and there was a little bit of a riveting quality to watching this love triangle unfold.

Food: ham and cheese sandwich. A little salty, a little meaty, nothing very high brow, but enough for a meal that can be consumed without taking too much time.

Ago 23, 2017, 10:01am

344. Cranford

Mary Smith is the narrator in a series of stories about the village of Cranford, where the ladies all feel they are "society" and have a strict schedule of visiting at noon and only for 15 minutes, unless there are cards to be played. There are sometimes small intrigues and scandals, but it's a quaint, quiet village and the stories center around Miss Matty, who I came to feel tender toward.

This is easy reading and not a lot of it. Sometimes it felt a little tedious, but mostly because the ladies are keeping up the image that they are more than they are. It felt true to a certain age of women in a small community.

Food: tea cakes. Small nibbles, some dry, some sweet, fancy on the outside, but mostly plain on the inside.

Set 5, 2017, 6:45pm

345. Titus Groan

The first in the Gormenghast trilogy, this is the story of Titus Groan's birth and first year, as well as the emergence and rise of Steerpike, the shrewd 17-year-old who got out of the kitchen and literally clawed his way into the royals' lives. What a world this is! The descriptions of the castle alone are overwhelming, and the characters have so much life.

It took me a bit to get into the book, but once I did, I was pretty captivated. Peake gets wordy here and there, and sometimes I skimmed a little bit to get on with it, but I enjoyed the book and look forward to the second novel. There's a good building of suspense, which I appreciate, and Peake gives enough hints to anticipate the next move without giving it all away.

Food: lamb shank, roasted on a spit, with root vegetables. A hearty meal, a bit heavy at times, but lots and lots to chew on, definitely a meal that takes some time.

Set 8, 2017, 8:18am

346. What Maisie Knew

Blech. This took too much time to read, and in the end, I couldn't find a good reason to have spent all that time. Maisie has two terrible parents who fight over her to get at one another, because neither really wants the responsibility of caring for her. When they both remarry and then betray those marriages, the pattern repeats with her stepfather and stepmother, who might love each other, but then they might hate one another just as easily.

There's just too many words, and I don't understand why this was important to write about.

Food: cold shepherd's pie, full of peas and corn. I despise shepherd's pie, peas and corn. A big pile of cold mush.

Set 11, 2017, 3:45am

#346 Full agreement from me - I loathed it too. Though possibly I just cordially detest Henry James...

Set 11, 2017, 6:08am

I actually liked that one, I found it rather moving.

Set 12, 2017, 5:21pm

>106 BekkaJo: The Turn of the Screw wasn't so bad. But now I'm dreading Portrait of a Lady.

>107 M1nks: That's what makes the list so interesting- we all respond differently. I'm a family therapist and all I could think was "They are screwing up Maisie forEVER!"

Set 12, 2017, 5:34pm

> Portrait has been the only James I enjoyed so far. The Wings of the Dove on the other hand.....

Set 13, 2017, 6:43pm

> That's encouraging, at least! Screw was the only one I'd read before Maisie.

Set 13, 2017, 9:31pm

347. Death in Venice

Gustav needs a vacation, and finally makes his way to Venice. Being a serious and acclaimed writer, pleasure makes him uncomfortable, so he only plans on being gone a short while. Life is for accomplishing things. Until... he sees the young, beautiful Polish boy on the beach, and becomes slightly obsessed. All his former theories and suppositions about sensuality and pleasure go out the window. In the meantime, rumors of an epidemic have started in the city. His dilemma- stay near his "love", or return to himself at home?

This was interesting to read, and there are a lot of references to Greek mythology. Having some knowledge of that topic helped, but Mann is wordy. There is a lyricism and flow that make it a bit easier than some, though. Venice is also a favorite city of mine, and I felt like I was able to visit with Mann's Gustav.

Food: a slice of slightly underripe peach. Firm, a little tart, bright and with a lingering sweetness.

Set 16, 2017, 10:07am

348. Cane

This is a collection of stories and poetry of black life, mostly in the south, seen through the eyes of the oppressed. This was an eye opener for this reader, and one I'm grateful for. Published in 1923, the echo of slavery is loud and clear. And yet, there is beauty in this book, lots of it. The language, the prose begs to be read aloud and fill your ears. The whole of this collection is that life in this time was full of contradiction and struggle and pain and pride and beauty and life.

Food: black coffee at dawn, watching the sun rise. Bitter and strong, but energizing as a new day begins.

Editado: Set 17, 2017, 10:51am

349. Where Angels Fear to Tread

Lilia's in-laws don't approve of her temperament and when she impulsively falls for an Italian son of a dentist, they swoop in to "rescue" her, only to find it's too late. They keep trying to influence the situation, all for the "right" reasons, but are they, really?

Forster does shine a light on the prejudices of the English middle class, especially in their perspective on Italian/Catholic/provincial life. The more subtle chauvinism is probably more Forster (and his time) than his efforts to be ironic. The book is short, thankfully, because some parts are just irritating to read.

Food: the dusty mints in the candy dish that have been there for God knows how long at your great-aunt's house. You've been coming since you were a little kid and they just might be the same ones that were there when you were 7.

Set 30, 2017, 10:17am

350. The Sound of Waves

Shinji has grown up on the island and, being a very small island, knows everyone there. Hatsue comes back to her father after many years, and Shinji falls for her immediately. He is not without competition, however, and when a nasty rumor impedes his efforts, he must find another way.

Simple, preaching the power of honesty and perseverance winning over obstacles, this is a short and easy read. The ocean and it's many moods is the backdrop for everything that happens in the story and how the island functions with the power of the water.

Food: I make a slightly sweet cornbread with orange for the holidays, and this was a slice of that bread. Honey and orange with a coarse grain, light and delicious.

Editado: Out 1, 2017, 5:06am

I read this book a while ago and enjoyed it as well. I would have made the food sushi myself :-) Plain, simple seafood flavours but filling and tasty, especially with a bit of tangy sauce.

Out 8, 2017, 11:47pm

>115 M1nks: Sometimes the flavor of the book ties more directly to setting for me, but this one didn't. I also don't enjoy sushi, so I can see what I would shy away from that comparison!

Out 16, 2017, 10:18am

351. Under the Volcano

This is a tragedy of a story. Geoffrey, the Consul, has a tenuous grasp on his life, mostly because his alcoholism has nearly consumed him. Yvonne, his wife, has returned to try to make another go of things, but can Geoffrey even make sense of her return, in his constantly intoxicated state? Is he able to even try?

I fear much of the symbolism and many of the references to other works have gone over my head, not having read Faust yet. Also, the sense of intoxication was WELL written and spun my head around many times. I'm left feeling unfinished, as I think may have been intended- cut short.

Food: too many tequila shots. Starts out with a sense of control, but quickly things get away from you, and you're left feeling sour and unsteady.

Out 22, 2017, 4:48pm

352. The Wars

Robert Ross is just 19 when he enlists in the Canadian military and is sent to France to fight in WWI. Written in retrospect, as a researcher looking to piece together the bits of Ross's life, the story of a very young man fighting in the Great War is gritty, brutal, and inspires one to compassion.

The multiple perspectives told throughout the book, the little anecdotes and tangents, bring the characters to life. This could have been my great grandfather, or another ancestor. There isn't animosity toward "the enemy", just an unvarnished accounting of survival.

Food: one cold, sour dill pickle. Crisp, puckery, with a little bitterness, the taste lingers and though strong, cleanses the palate for sweeter things to come.

Nov 4, 2017, 10:19am

353. Fathers and Sons

The two friends visit each other's families. Their fathers are trying to figure out how to survive and not own serfs. They both (briefly) fall in love with the same woman, but then move on. They both declare themselves nihilists, but that doesn't entirely work out, either.

Some of my lack of enjoyment in this book is my ignorance of Russian history. Apparently, this book introduced the concept of nihilism to the populace, or at least made it part of more common culture. It reflects the change of thinking in just one generation in the Russian people. I'm sure it was quite revolutionary at the time.

Food: cold, boiled potatoes with a not quite enough salt. An okay snack in a pinch, but not a great meal.

Nov 10, 2017, 5:03pm

354. We

We is told by D-503, a part of the community that no longer has individuals, because "we" are so much happier being part of the collective machine that keeps things running smoothly. No more messy nature to deal with (it's behind the Wall), all walls made of glass so "we" are operating without secrecy, just happy, happy, happy!! Until D-503 FEELS something, and then it seems as though he's lost his entire world...

Written in 1920-21, this novel seems well before its time, but it was written by a Russian who was watching his world change, and his reflections on revolution and control by the state (and the propaganda the citizens were fed) are astute. I felt D-503's world crumble when thoughts contrary to what he "knew" entered his consciousness. This book was easy to read and contained bits of philosophy designed to make you think, not to change your mind.

Food: ostrich steak. Meaty, rich, reminiscent of other meats you've had in the past, but with a slightly exotic flavor.

Dez 1, 2017, 7:33pm

355. White Noise

Jack and his family (a composite of his four marriages, a few of his wife's and the ensuing children) live a quiet life in suburbia where Jack is an academic in Hitler Studies. An "airborne toxic event" exposes Jack to a substance that might (or might not) kill him at some point in the future. This obsession/fear of impending death colors the rest of the story.

The internet tells me this is postmodern literature, and DeLillo is making some remarks on consumerism, religion, academia, and family dynamics. It's a weird book with some moments of, well, maybe not profundity, but at least moments that made me think for a second. Maybe DeLillo and I just aren't super compatible.

Food: the day after Thanksgiving every year, my mother hosts a soup and sandwich dinner. There are 3-4 kinds of soup, and every year, my uncle puts all the different kinds into a bowl together and eats them mixed up. This is what this book is to me- a hodgepodge of themes and ideas, not all clear and sometimes they clash. Just like a bowl of sausage and kale/black bean/potato leek soup.

Dez 16, 2017, 9:10pm

356. Wide Sargasso Sea

Antoinette grows up in the changing Caribbean, her mother gone mad with grief, but having been adopted by her stepfather, she makes an attractive bride for Rochester. This marriage is one of financial means, however, not of love. Antoinette is destined to become the mad woman locked in the attic chamber that we met in Jane Eyre. But she wasn't always mad...

So well written, this story makes the heart ache for Antoinette and her destiny. The beautiful descriptions of Jamaica and the islands, the mysterious and dark Christophine who wields her dark magic, I found myself under the spell of this book in just a few pages.

Food: a glass of dark, strong rum. Sipping it starts out warm and mellow, and shortly things start to get fuzzy...

Dez 17, 2017, 4:16am

Just catching up on your thread and added We to my TBR list: it looks fascinating and besides, I quite like ostrich steak.

Dez 18, 2017, 7:00pm

>123 annamorphic: It really was! SO thought-provoking! I hope you enjoy it.

Dez 20, 2017, 10:24am

357. July's People

July has served (with pay) Bam and Maureen's family for 15 years, and when the blacks start to attack the whites and overturn the systematic control imposed on them, July takes the family to his village for safety. Maureen and Bam are supportive of equal rights for blacks and have always been uncomfortable with July calling them "master", but this is a new world for them. Suddenly, the dynamics are unpredictable and being in the minority is very challenging.

Reading this was very interesting. Gordimer captures the experience of this white family on multiple levels in a way that feels genuine, and July comes more and more to life as the book unfolds. This is a window into a unique time and place and I haven't experienced anything like this before.

Food: pepperoncinis. These little pickled hot peppers have a bite, both sour and spicy. They are sharp but compulsively eatable.

Dez 30, 2017, 5:17pm

358. Survival in Auschwitz

This memoir of Levi's year in the concentration camp was originally published in Italian under the title "If This is a Man". It is his accounting of one year from 1944-1945, leading up to the Russian liberation.

Reading this was brutal, harrowing, and incredibly sobering. Levi's tale is not one of hope and overcoming adversity. He is a chemist by trade and brings this technical perspective to his writing. The chapters are similar to reports, though not in language of the profession. He relates the events, with minimal discussion of his feelings or the tone of the camp, so that when he does discuss those things, it's impactful. This book is relevant then, now, and for all times. If we do not view every other person as human, then we are doomed to inhuman behavior.

Food: plain grits, no butter, sugar, salt or cheese. Coarse, without spice, an experience to be endured when truly hungry.

Jan 18, 2018, 7:22pm

359. The Hour of the Star

Macabea is poor and she's never known any other life, if you can call what's she's doing living. The writer, our narrator, not only shares with us Maca's story, but his own process of writing.

For 80 pages, this book took me much more than an hour in the best possible way. I wanted to take my time, consume this in small bits, and let it sink in. There's so much in this little book and it needs to be experienced, because I think everyone will take something a little different.

Food: French onion soup. I LOVE French onion soup. I have to eat it slow, because it's so hot, and I love to savor each bite. It can't be rushed to be enjoyed. There's the richness of the cheese and depth of the broth, the simplicity but unctuousness of the onion and crouton. It calls for seconds and thirds.

Editado: Jan 18, 2018, 10:14pm

>127 amaryann21: I had forgotten that this novel had a fame story and was going to point out that Clarice was a woman. oops.

Jan 19, 2018, 9:51am

>128 ELiz_M: I found it an interesting choice to have the narrator be male. I wonder about that.

Mar 3, 2018, 12:32pm

360. The Sea, the Sea

Charles Arrowby was a successful actor and director and he's moved to Shruff's End in retirement to write his memoirs. The sea is right outside his door and he spends much of his time swimming. The quiet life he'd planned, however, is not to be, and people from his past come in and out, without warning. Charles is forced to confront much that he left unresolved.

The writing was easy and challenging at the same time- Charles can be quite selfish and self-absorbed, accepting his perspective as truth and others' as hogwash. The idea that it could be another way is something that takes quite a lot of time for him. There is delight in the images the writing creates and one feels the sea's presence without it being thrust into the absolute forefront.

Food: fish and chips with lots of malt vinegar. Hot, salty, burning your fingers a bit, with an acidic bite.

Mar 4, 2018, 10:07pm

361. The Woman in White

I can't say I had super high hopes of a mystery written in 1859. However, this book kept my attention the whole way through and while it wasn't always unpredictable, there were a good amount of twists I didn't see coming! I also loved seeing the strength and intelligence of Miss Halcombe, though she couldn't be pretty AND smart, and the characters had real life to them. I was happy to be along for the ride with this story.

Food: Victorian sandwich. Not too heavy, a little tart from the jam, but a delicious treat.

Mar 8, 2018, 7:10pm

362. The Midnight Examiner

The staff of a company of tabloid publications runs afoul of the mob (by accident) and hijinks ensue, with the aid of a fishing pole and a voodoo priestess. There's also a large painting of a naked woman.

This was a fun read, easy, nothing heavy. I enjoyed a respite from the more strenuous topics of some of the other 1001 books. This book clearly doesn't take itself very seriously, either, and that was enjoyable.

Food: Reese's Pieces. You can eat a whole bag before you even realize you're halfway in.

Mar 9, 2018, 2:23am

>131 amaryann21: Isn't it though! One of my favourite 1,001 discoveries.

Mar 12, 2018, 12:15pm

363. Crome Yellow

Denis spends part of his summer in Crome, pursuing his writing and Anne, though he's getting mixed messages from her. They eat, swim, watch the moon, and have intellectual conversations.

This is Huxley's first novel and his satire on aristocratic life in England is funny in spots, but kind of sad as well. There are little hints of Brave New World, like little easter eggs. It wasn't an unpleasant read, and I had one laugh out loud moment with the discussion of the word "carminative".

Food: lemonade that is a bit too tart. It's refreshing-ish, but causes some puckers.

Mar 14, 2018, 9:35am

364. The Cement Garden

Jack tells us the story of Julie, Sue, Tom and himself living in their slowly decreasing neighborhood and what happens after his parents die. Except no one knows his mother has died but his siblings and him.

This is a creepy little story. There are some Flowers in the Attic vibes, right from the beginning, and the whole thing is uncomfortable, to say the least. Well written to evoke such a response!

Food: cream of mushroom soup. I hate mushrooms, and creaming them in soup is even worse. Salty, earthy, mushy, nothing about it is pleasurable.

Mar 15, 2018, 12:06am

365. Schooling by Heather McGowan

Catrine and her father are back in the UK, after Catrine's mother dies. She is enrolled in the same boarding school her father attended, and is thrust into a new world while just starting to grapple with her the loss of her mother. Mr. Gilbert, her Chemistry teacher, takes a special interest in her.

Written in several different styles- stream of consciousness, play format- and with no distinction between past and present, this wasn't an easy book to read and often I had to just push through, letting the pieces fit together as they would. The further I got, the easier it was, and the more it made sense to the way we really think, rather than how stories are laid out. This especially worked for Catrine's adolescent mind as she was sorting through her new experiences in a foreign country without both her parents.

Food: spicy chili, but with a head cold. The flavors come through and at times, pungently, but everything is a little muddled, your congestion putting a damper on your taste buds.

Mar 17, 2018, 11:23pm

366. Chaka the Zulu

Chaka (or Shaka) is a real historical figure, the creator of the Zulu nation. Never officially recognized by his father the king, he fought his way into his kingdom and was a bloodthirsty ruler, waging war on any and all neighboring kingdoms. In the book, he is credited with driving his people to cannibalism (previously unknown) due to lack of food from his warmongering.

All of Chaka's success (and madness?) is credited to sorcery in this book, and Chaka kept choosing fame, glory and an expanding kingdom over mercy and love of his family and subjects. At first, it wasn't clear if this was a testament to relentless pursuit of power or a moral tale.

Food: very rare steak. A little char on the outside, but real bloody on the inside.

Mar 18, 2018, 12:39pm

367. The Island of Dr. Moreau

Pendrick is rescued from the sea by Moreau's assistant en route back to Moreau's island and forced to disembark with them there. He is horrified to learn Moreau is performing experiments on animals and changing them to be more man-like. Obviously, bad things happen.

Wells is good for a horror story with a moral. Here we have anthropomorphism, the question of what makes a human a human and a beast a beast, and the ethics and morals of doing whatever you like to other beings. Well done and a super fast read.

Food: raw red onion. Sharp, astringent, but not entirely unpleasant.

Mar 27, 2018, 8:56pm

368. The Swarm

The human race has been destroying the planet for quite awhile now, and something has decided enough is enough. Underwater landslides are creating tsunamis, destroying port cities and killing millions. A highly toxic parasite, born by mutated crabs, is decimating cities along the coasts. Whales are attacking all by the very largest ships in coordinated attacks.

This sci-fi thriller is a chunk of a book, almost 900 pages long, but the plot moves along quickly and is supported by lots of research that makes the science approachable. I learned a lot by reading this book! The book also challenges the way we think about humanity and what makes a species intelligent.

Food: gourmet nachos. I love nachos, and the variety of ingredients together makes a delicious, delicious experience. With fresh ingredients, some a little out of the norm, it expands the palate and brings new appreciation to a dish everyone underestimates.

Mar 28, 2018, 6:27am

>139 amaryann21: This one has been sitting on my shelf for years in hardback format, staring at me menacingly. I never felt like picking it up (it was a gift). However, I love nachos as well, so I'll move it up mount TBR. :)

Mar 28, 2018, 11:37am

>140 Deern: I was definitely intimidated by its size, but it read super fast! To be honest, I don't expect this type of book to be on the list, so this was a very pleasant surprise.

Abr 2, 2018, 7:14pm

369. Eva Trout

Eva Trout is a socially awkward woman, with not enough education and too much money. She can't seem to settle anywhere, and when she comes back from America with a child who is deaf and mute, nothing is really different. She seems to try to connect with the few constant people in her life, but is it ever really successful?

This was a strange book and I don't feel like I really get it. I read a couple reviews and commentaries immediately after finishing it, and I'm not the only one who felt that way. Everything feels veiled, like Bowen can't just come out with what she means, and maybe that's part of the story, but it was frustrating.

Food: lukewarm, underseasoned potato salad. It needs to be a little more something- cold, hot, salty, spicy, SOMEthing. It's okay to chew on, but not great.

Abr 7, 2018, 12:07pm

370. The Player of Games

Gurgeh (his last name) is one of the best game players in the Culture. And he's bored- there aren't any new games, it's all versions of what's been done before. So, he's looking for a new challenge, and is invited to participate in the Empire's game, Azad. What he discovers on Azad is a world that, in his opinion, hasn't evolved at all beyond the basics of civilization, and maybe not even that far, considering how cruel and depraved they can be at times. But this culture clash is much more sophisticated than he realizes and the game is much bigger than the board.

I really enjoyed this sci-fi story. For a sci-fi novice, I get a little intimidated by lots of new jargon, and acclimatizing to Banks' style was easy. Reflections on present-day society were apparent but didn't feel agenda-driven. A very interesting and engaging book.

Food: a really good burger. Not overly complicated, a little char on the outside, cheese perfectly melty, everything complementing itself, all components working well together. Satisfying.

Abr 9, 2018, 10:19am

Catching up on your thread. I have really enjoyed doing that; so many good reviews!

Abr 9, 2018, 10:31am

>144 Simone2: Thank you! I've FINALLY done some more reading from the list!

Abr 9, 2018, 10:32am

371. Silence

Father Rodrigues travels to Japan to seek his mentor, whom it is rumored has apostatized and renounced his faith. This seems unbelievable, and Rodrigues is determined to continue the missionary work his predecessors started. When he realizes the extent of the persecution of the Christians and experiences it firsthand, his crisis of faith brings a new perspective.

I had no prior knowledge of the events on which this novel is based, and I love that reading teaches me something new. The story was very personal in nature, yet anyone who has struggled with belief, with questions of why bad things happen, can relate with ease. It left me with a lot to think about.

Food: a good piece of bread. Simple, but when eaten with a little consideration, one can appreciate the work that went into making it.

Abr 28, 2018, 6:04pm

372. Kiss of the Spider Woman

Molina and Valentin share a cell in prison, one for crimes of homosexuality with a minor, one for revolutionary activities against the government. Molina helps pass the time by relating movies he's seen, in great detail, to Valentin and they form a friendship. The subtext of an oppressive government and the morality of homosexuality, identity and love run through the story.

Aside from having to keep which character was speaking at the time straight, this was an easy book to read, once I got used to the style. Though it deals with serious matters, things never get too deep or philosophical. It really felt like observing two people have a conversation.

Food: cheese soufflé. Full of complex flavors, but airy, delicate, light on the tongue.

Maio 15, 2018, 10:12am

373. Rosshalde

Johann is a painter of some fame who is estranged from his wife and eldest son while still living on the same property. Only Pierre, his younger son, keeps his tied to the homestead. When an old friend discovers how Johann's marriage has deteriorated, he challenges Johann to move on, let go of Pierre and free himself of what weighs him down.

There was a lot of simple beauty in the writing of this book. Hesse was dealing with his own divorce in writing this book, and it shows a lot of deep thought and feeling.

Food: an ice cold glass of cranberry juice. Tart, a hint of sweetness, cold and clean, but strong.

Maio 19, 2018, 4:50pm

374. The Folding Star

Edward is in his early 30's, a writer newly come to Belgium to escape London and start fresh. He's a tutor and falls in love with Luc, one of his pupils, and distracts himself by exploring the gay scene of the city. His other pupil's father runs a museum of a deceased lesser-known artist and Edward takes on some side work helping him put together a catalog of the artist's work.

I'm not sure I appreciated this book the way it was intended. Sex scenes don't do much for me and there are lots of them. Edward seems both overly confident and completely insecure at the same time. The obsessing over a 17-year-old feels so... juvenile. At the same time, there are some big, deep themes- love, betrayal, WWII- and handled well.

Food: over dressed, wilted spinach salad. Too much vinegar in the dressing and the spinach is not so fresh. Several mouthfuls of tart and bitter aren't so tasty.

Editado: Maio 26, 2018, 11:19am

375. The Killer Inside Me

Lou is the deputy sheriff in Central City, and everybody's pal. His father was a psychiatrist and a good man. There's a sickness in Lou, though... and only he knows about it. His father and adopted brother have been dead for years, and while Amy, Lou's girlfriend, suspects something bothers him from time to time, she has no idea.

This book is a slow burn, and in first-person narrative, Lou isn't trying to hide who he is or run from the truth. He doesn't take joy from his actions, it's something he has to do. You almost can't help but like the guy- evidence that it's a very well-written story.

Food: a dill pickle milkshake. Different, not sure if I like it, but I keep drinking until it's gone. And the brain freeze sneaks right up on me.

Jun 1, 2018, 7:13pm

376. Troubling Love

Delia's mother has died, found in the ocean, just days after visiting. Delia goes home to Naples for the funeral and discovers her mother was involved with a man from the past, a shadowy figure who had created division in her family when she was just a child. Delia is forced to face her complicated relationship with her mother, making discoveries she had long buried.

Though it's short, there's a lot to contend with in this story. The writing is rich and full of troubling and beautiful imagery. Naples is one of the prominent characters in the book, dangerous, smelly and full of machismo. As Delia examines her childhood, the lines of story and recollection, truth and perception, blur and mix.

Food: limoncello. Strong, sour and sweet, and if you sip too much, it can leave your head in a spin.

Jun 6, 2018, 11:33pm

377. High-Rise

The high-rise is new, top of the line, and the architect lives in the penthouse. Different from other apartment buildings, this one is huge and, once it is completely occupied, it is owned by the occupants- no landlords. It doesn't take long after full occupation for a strange shift in the community. Everything starts to break down and class wars begin, the lower floors warring against the middle and upper floors, all against the each other. Oddly, some of them continue to go to work as the building falls apart- electricity, water, elevators all failing.

This was a strange story, but I understand the parallels to society- we all go about our business as if nothing is wrong while we are polluting our environment and killing one another. War becomes part of life. This microcosm of the high-rise is meant to help us see what we're living in on a broader level. It still felt odd and a little forced, though.

Food: a chicken salad sandwich at the beach. Some of the sand has found its way into the sandwich, and it's kind of gritty, and maybe could have used a little more mayo, but not too bad.

Editado: Jul 7, 2018, 11:25pm

378. Tender is the Night

Dick and Nicole appear to be charismatic, loving and beloved. Rosemary certainly falls into their charming spell when she meets them on the beach in France, but their story isn't quite what it seems. Dick is a doctor of psychiatry and the way in which he met his wife isn't exactly conventional.

One of the plugs I read for this book was, "If you loved The Great Gatsby, you'll love this even more!". I did not love The Great Gatsby and it appears Fitzgerald and I are not destined to be friends. The characters drive me batty. Everyone is so caught up in their own stuff, and a lot of it is material. Dick and Nicole were slightly better, but there's so little hope to the story. Infidelity is just... expected. I'm glad my life is nothing like a Fitzgerald novel, I'm just saying.

Food: a dry scone with too few bits of fruit. Every once in awhile you come across a tasty bite, but overall it wasn't worth the calories.

Jul 27, 2018, 1:21pm

379. Anagrams

Benna and Gerard have love for one another, but they're never quite in sync, though they rely on one another consistently-ish. They play with words and phrases that are witty and fun, but not really anagrams. I guess I expected more literal anagrams?

This book wasn't easy. It's in two sections, both with Benna and Gerard, but are they related? I had a hard time figuring it all out and I wasn't interested in trying too hard. I like Moore's style, usually, but this was different, almost deliberately evasive. Perhaps it just wasn't the mood I needed at the time.

Food: an under-ripe peach. A little too hard, a little too bitter, and you keep hoping for that one bite that you remember is so delicious about peaches.

Ago 3, 2018, 10:18am

380. The Poor Mouth

"After great merriment comes sorrow and good weather never remains forever."

This is satire on rural, poor Irish life under English rule- all potatoes and mud. Despite that, it was fun to read and if you have a decent knowledge of Irish history, the satire is more obvious and humorous. I'd love to sit down with these characters to talk.

Food: a neat glass of peated whiskey. Earthy, a little sharp, but warms the heart.

Ago 5, 2018, 2:18pm

381. Ignorance

Irena and Josef were two of many, many Czechs who fled their home country with the Russian invasion, scattering to the winds, unsure they'd ever come home again. Twenty years later, communism has collapsed in eastern Europe and they can, if they so chose, go home again. But should they?

This book really explores the idea of home, of past, present and future, what it means to belong somewhere, what happens when you leave "home" and come back, and what part memory plays in all of it. Interspersed in the story is bits of history, particularly about the Czech Republic and its political past, which was interesting and very digestible. Of the three Kundera works I've read so far, this was my favorite.

Food: Greek yogurt. Dense without being unpleasant, satisfying and a little tangy.

Ago 17, 2018, 10:50am

382. Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light

Pavel works for the state-run television station now, but he is a filmmaker and in past eras, was able to travel and make the films he wanted to make without censure. That's not the country he's in anymore, so this is, well, just the way it is. He's aware of wanting more and at one time, tried to escape the country, earning a jail term. He's in a relationship with a woman, but he doesn't really love her.

It all sounds depressing and it IS, but as I imagine living in a country that, in a short time span, went through the political and social changes that the Czech Republic did, it feels authentic and Klima does an amazing job at capturing the feeling of the time. Where IS hope? What is there to hope for? And yet, the inclination to want to hope is so very powerful. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book despite the bleak spots.

Food: warm Brie with water crackers. Mild in flavor, not too salty, good contrast in textures and meant to be nibbled rather than swallowed up.

Ago 17, 2018, 2:20pm

383. The Goldfinch

I get to include this one, now that the 2018 list is out. I was not wowed by this book, and in fact it left me feeling sad and heavy. There's so much trauma in the story, so much loss. I much preferred The Secret History by Tartt, but it WAS interesting.

No food rating as it was over a year ago that I consumed this one.

Ago 18, 2018, 6:10pm

384. Legend

The Drenai have lived in peace for some time now, and Ulric and the Nadir threaten that peace with attack on Dros Delnoch, the fortress with six walls. We meet many characters over the course of this tale, Druss being the chief legend among them, a warrior twice as old as most average men and powerful beyond imagining. The odds are heavily against the Drenai.

This is a fantastic adventure, with war and love and magic and wonderful, wonderful characters. The humanity of each shines through and no one is a caricature, as easy as it would be to let them be so in a genre such as this. I might have cheered almost aloud at one point during the story... just maybe.

Food: a crisp, delicious apple. Crunchy but not hard, tart and sweet at once, a delight to chew on from the first bite to the last.

Ago 18, 2018, 10:19pm

>159 amaryann21: I enjoyed this one too. I wish there were more of these fantasy/adventure stories on the list to break up the earnest, angst ridden and somewhat gloomy novels that seem to dominate it.

Ago 19, 2018, 9:49pm

>160 puckers: I actually questioned of I had the right book as I got into the story- could this REALLY be a 1001 book? But then I remembered Lord of the Rings. I agree with you, I'd love to see more like this. A welcome change of pace!

Set 7, 2018, 9:49pm

385. Z

Z is based on actual events of the murder of a political figure in Greece and the speculation of who was involved and why that followed. Told from multiple perspectives- those involved, those who loved Z, his widow, and bystanders- the sense of what it was to experience this in one's own country is palpable.

Food: gorgonzola and almonds. At times sharp and pungent, other times sweet and mild.

Set 8, 2018, 3:55pm

386. Gargantua and Pantagruel

There's a lot about this book that's giant. The amount of pages, the two main characters, the amount that almost everyone in the book eats and drinks, and the volume of ink spent on bodily functions- all giant. Gargantua is Pantagruel's father and most of the book is about Pantagruel's life, though we do get to know Gargantua a bit at first. A good portion, through the end, is spent on Pantagruel and his friends going in search of an answer to the question of whether his friend, Panurge, should get married. It becomes a quest, ending abruptly in a cave after getting to the Oracle of the Bottle.

At first, this was kind of fun. It's satire and very witty. But Rabelais is all over the map, no subject left unexplored, and it got a little tiresome. Perhaps this wasn't meant to be read at one go- it was published over a number of years. But now I know exactly what's being described when someone uses the adjective "Rabelaisian".

Food: a giant tub of over-buttered popcorn. At first, it's warm and yummy and you can eat it at a good clip, but soon you run into dry spots or oversaturated spots and your mouth just gets tired of chewing and it's too salty and wow, it seems like you haven't even made a DENT in it yet, but you bought it so you gotta keep going...

Set 9, 2018, 3:17pm

387. Northanger Abbey

Catherine is honest, naïve and otherwise unremarkable. When she encounters others who are less forthright, she's genuinely confused by them, and it leads to a little bit of humor for the reader. Austen takes a bit of a jab at readers who look down on novels and our heroine does give in a bit to the "horrors" of such novels by letting her imagination run away with her.

I haven't revisited Austen in a number of years and it's like coming back to an old friend. If you've read her a time or two, you know what to expect, but it makes it no less entertaining.

Food: a petit four. Small and delightful, a bit of a sweet to relish.

Set 10, 2018, 11:55am

388. Embers

Henrik is reaching the end of his life. Ensconced in his castle in the forest, the General lives a very solitary life- until Konrad, his best friend from childhood and early adulthood, comes to visit. The entire book takes place one evening as they meet, after 41 years without communicating, for dinner.

The prose in this book is just beautiful. Reading it felt like being in a dream. The subject matter wasn't always pleasant- the whole range of human emotion is visited- but even the less enjoyable moments felt like waves of cool water rather than a shock to the system. Books like this show the clear distinction between narrative and prose.

Food: an excellent veloute. Not a meal, but the sauce, when done well, is divine and lingers in the memory.

Set 16, 2018, 1:24pm

389. Deep River

A collection of Japanese tourists travel to India to tour Buddhist religious sites. We get to know a couple of them prior to the trip- Isobe, whose wife recently died and Mitusko, the volunteer who helped take care of Isobe's wife and who is haunted by the memory of a college classmate. The trip starts and ends (for a few) at the Ganges River, the holy site where Hindus come to be purified and to have their ashes scattered.

This is the second book of Endo's I have read and both center around belief and faith. The characters come from different religions, if any, and the experience of the Ganges and of India is powerful for them all. Endo asks profound questions through his writing and maybe was on a journey of his own? The challenges each character face are personal and deep, and while they don't always find answers, the river changes them.

Food: flavored skyr. The process of fermentation makes this thick yogurt amazingly creamy and a little bit of fruit or vanilla takes the sourness away for the most part. It's a slow food, and enjoyable to eat.

Set 22, 2018, 2:11pm

390. Mansfield Park

Fanny Price is the niece of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, gone to live with them because her parents won't stop having children and can't afford them all. Mrs. Norris, another aunt of Fanny's, came up with the idea, but she couldn't possibly take on a child with her small income. She is rather detestable, that Mrs. Norris. Fanny, obviously, is wonderful and of the highest possible character (that can be expected of her place in society) and there are matches of her cousins to be made, etc. etc. etc....

This is my least favorite Austen novel thus far. What I enjoy most about her writing is the tongue-in-cheek nature, where she pokes fun at the way society worked and how ridiculous that women should be flattered that a man wants to marry them, no matter what they feel or think of the man. There was almost nothing of that in this book, or perhaps I was getting so bored that I skimmed over it.

Food: meat pie with too tough a crust and too little gravy. Lots to chew on, but not enough flavor.

Set 24, 2018, 9:53pm

391. I, Robot

Set up as an interview of Dr. Susan Calvin, the history of sentient robots on Earth is presented. Dr. Calvin is a robopsychologist, and one of the preeminent scholars on how robots function within the Three Laws. If you're expecting Will Smith and that storyline, you're in for deep disappointment. This is more intellectual and subtle, and, I imagine, in the 1950's, terrifying.

I try to consider the context of when the novel was written and published when I read, and it's especially important here. Asimov's ideas were far outside the box, and there's much discussion of war and a post-atomic age in the novel. There are times when it certainly feels dated, but it's a great look at the fears and fascinations of that period. And it's a fun, quick read.

Food: a peanut butter granola bar. A little dry sometimes, but a good snack when you need something quick and yummy.

Set 29, 2018, 4:19pm

392. The Collector

Fred collects butterflies and is really socially awkward. And he's more than a little obsessed with Miranda. After he wins the lottery, maybe he can make his fantasies into realities?

The first half is Fred's story, the second Miranda's, and while I got a little annoyed with Miranda, it felt pretty true. I enjoyed the style, definitely added to the creep factor. As I find when authors are accomplished at creating three-dimensional characters, i felt a lot of things for both of them beyond Fred is bad and Miranda is good.

Food: a handful of dry roasted peanuts. It doesn't take long to eat them and once you're done, that craving is satisfied for awhile.

Out 30, 2018, 6:13pm

393. Nowhere Man

Josef has been a lot of places, but doesn't really have anywhere he belongs anymore. He grew up in Yugoslavia and left before the war, so his home doesn't really exist anymore, but he sticks out like a sore thumb in Chicago, though he is trying hard to be American. His story is told by the people who knew him in various parts of his life.

Hemon uses language like a paint brush in an abstract painting- it's surprising and colorful and unusual, but so very beautiful. I listened to this book and caught myself repeating a phrase over and over, just relishing the taste of it. It's a short book and felt a little abrupt at the end, particularly because an unrelated story is attached to the very end. If there's a connection, I couldn't find it.

Food: fresh, green grapes. They burst with flavor and vitality, with an occasional sour one thrown in.

Out 31, 2018, 7:42pm

394. The Red Queen

The Crown Princess Hong, child bride of the Crown Prince in the mid-late 18th century, tells us her life story in all its sad and troublesome details. While she was a member of the royal family, there was much that she lost and little she gained with her title. Still, she loved her husband and children as well as she could and performed the duties required of her well. The second half of the book is Babs Halliwell's story, as it relates to the Crown Princess. She is sent the memoir and becomes mildly obsessed with her story, and coincedentally is traveling to Korea for a work conference. While in Seoul, she visits the palace grounds and feels an even stronger connection to this woman from the past.

The Crown Princess is a real woman and her memoirs are real. How much is embellished by Drabble, I don't know. The book is compulsively readable, and I'm still not sure why. Perhaps there really is something about this woman and her story that make the reader feel connected.

Food: melon sprinkled with salt and red pepper flakes. Slightly sweet, hints of fire, but never too much.

Nov 14, 2018, 8:57pm

395. The Flamethrowers

Reno is an artist, or at least she aspires to be. She works in film and photographs and her famous artist boyfriend, Sandro, supports her efforts. He comes from a rich Italian industrial family, and things aren't going so well over there- strikes and underground militias and such. It's the mid to late 1970's, and much of the action takes place in NYC.

Perhaps it's that I don't know much about the art scene. Or that this era in history doesn't hold much appeal for me. As good as the prose is in spots, this book didn't do it for me. I found myself impatient and annoyed with many of the characters. Reno doesn't know herself and she's young and she does grow during the story, but it doesn't feel like enough to justify nearly 400 pages of story.

Food: organic homemade sugar-free flaxseed granola. It's good for you, or so someone says, but it takes a lot of chewing.

Nov 16, 2018, 8:25am

396. The Comfort of Strangers

Mary and Colin are in love and on holiday, and bump into a kindly stranger as they are lost in the city. This doesn't turn out to be a casual friendship with a native. It's much more sinister than that.

At only 100 pages, this is a quick little story, but it packs a punch. The creepiness is a slow build, but McEwan gives us hints early on that something isn't quite what it seems. It reminds me of The Cement Garden, written in a similar style. I enjoy McEwan best in smaller chunks, I think.

Food: garlic butter caper sauce. Those hits of sour, salty brine pop up in the mix of the mellower sauce, some bites stronger than others.

Editado: Nov 18, 2018, 4:27pm

397. A Kestrel for a Knave

Billy lives with his brother and his mother in a poor town, where his brother works in the coal mine. Billy isn't really good at school and his "friends" have a habit of getting in trouble. There's no bright spot in his life, until he takes a fledgling kestrel from its nest and raises it, patiently training it.

There's very little to redeem this story, and knowing that so many children are raised in homes just like Billy's makes it that much more difficult to read. Perhaps that's why it's important to read it. Perhaps I'm too empathetic to the plight of those who are abused, neglected and forgotten.

Food: celery and cucumbers on an appetizer tray with no dip. Kinda sad and forlorn.

Editado: Nov 27, 2018, 7:28pm

398. The Beautiful Room is Empty

White is writing about himself in this autobiographical novel, about surviving his adolescence and young adulthood in the Midwest, about discovering and coping with his sexuality, about finding who he was and what that all meant. The 1960's and 70's weren't an easy time to be homosexual and this theme runs through the whole book. References to therapy of various kinds to "cure" him made me cringe, because this was real and for some, still is to this day.

I give White a lot of credit for writing with such honesty- not necessarily about the facts, but about the feelings of those times. The struggle to be someone that he wasn't, while trying to authentically find who he was- I think a lot of people can relate to that. His relationships with his family and friends, some whom he idealized at one point and later came to a different perspective, where insightful and real. The more I read this book, the deeper I appreciated it.

Food: a perfect looking piece of lemon meringue pie that didn't get quite enough sugar. At first, it's a little tart, but as you keep trying it, you actually start to appreciate that it's not too sweet.

Dez 2, 2018, 10:44pm

399. A Dry White Season

South Africa, the Johannesburg area where Ben lives with his family, is a dangerous place for a black person who doesn't know his place. So when Gordon, the black man who's worked with Ben, a white teacher, at their school, tells Ben about his son's death and Ben helps him look into it, bad things start to happen. But Ben keeps investigating, and it dawns on him that the system he was raised in, the system that funs his entire world, is corrupt and prejudiced. That he, a white man, has privilege because of the color of his skin. And then he has to decide what to do, what is within his power and responsibility.

Reading the phrase "white privilege" in a book that was written in the late 1970s was surprising and hopeful. Witnessing this character wake up to realization of his race, what it really means, felt important, like I want to give this book to people I know so they can understand, or be validated in their experiences as well. Aside from the universal concepts, the story is painful and real and despairing and hopeful.

Food: the first time I ate oysters. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into, but I was going to be daring and try something new, and I was so happy when I had a mouthful of chargrilled oysters. Uniquely their own taste, I lost my fear of shellfish and a whole realm of possibilities opened up to me.

Dez 2, 2018, 11:54pm

I am glad you liked this one. It left quite an impression on me too. What do you have planned for 400?

Dez 3, 2018, 8:14am

>177 Yells: I started The Magus last night - since I have most of the month left, I figured I have time for a chunkster. I may keep a small backup as well, though!

Dez 14, 2018, 10:38pm

400. The Magus

Nick doesn't have a lot of direction. He lost his parents on the cusp of adulthood, and with them, his sense of home, not that it was super strong to begin with. So after the breakup of what felt like a significant relationship, teaching English on a Greek island didn't seem like a bad idea. But what followed, after he met Conchis and Lily... was it real? Or what parts of it could have been? Was he hypnotized? Was it all an elaborate farce?

Reading this novel was like watching Westworld. Sorting through the storylines, the characters, the shifting realities was work at first, until I decided to just go along for the ride and see where it took me. And I loved being on the ride. There are LOTS of references to Shakespeare and Greek and Roman mythology, so I probably missed quite a bit, but it didn't feel out of reach. The story didn't resolve, leaving questions unanswered and yet, the journey was so very satisfying.

Food: imposter meals. When cupcakes are really made of meatloaf and potatoes, or nachos is really pastry and chocolate- it isn't at all what it appeared to be, but the deception makes it all the more delicious.

Editado: Dez 14, 2018, 11:40pm

>179 amaryann21: Congratulations on 400. Love all your clever food parallels- do you have another 601 you can use?!

Dez 15, 2018, 12:02am

Congrats! Imposter meals definitely fits this one.

Dez 15, 2018, 1:16am

>180 puckers: Thank you! I'm sure gonna keep trying!

>181 Yells: Thank you! I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. Love that my rating fits for you, too!

Dez 16, 2018, 4:07pm

Congrats! Seems like a fitting choice for #400

Dez 17, 2018, 10:49am

>183 Henrik_Madsen: Thank you! It certainly left an impression and I wouldn't have picked it if not for the list!

Dez 18, 2018, 4:28pm


Dez 18, 2018, 9:10pm

Woo hoo! 400 - congratulations! Sounds like I would like that book as I love mythology and I love books that reference other books/literature. Looking forward to reaching it on my list.
And your food parallels are so clever - what a unique way to review books.

Dez 19, 2018, 10:37am

>185 paruline:, >186 JayneCM: Thank you! The food analogies have been how I think about books for years, and I finally started writing them down. It helps me remember them better, too!

Dez 21, 2018, 1:11pm

Congrats on 400! I've been enjoying your foodie descriptions.

Dez 23, 2018, 10:36am

>188 LisaMorr: Thank you! I'm glad they're enjoyable!

Dez 30, 2018, 10:44am

401. Lives of Girls and Women

Jubilee is a very small town in Canada, and Flats Road isn't in town, but outside of it. Del and her family raise silver foxes for their pelts and Del's life is about what one would expect for where she grew up. Del's mother wants more, of course, but there isn't a good way of getting it. Del herself is quite intelligent, but doesn't have a good way of directing it all the time. The reader is left imagining the next steps for our main character at the end of the short book.

Munro put a small note in the front of the book, saying the book is autobiographical in form, but not in fact. It's easy to imagine this being based on her own experiences, because it feels genuine without being boring- Munro's writing is vivid and tangible. The struggle of the time, of having limited options due to one's gender, is reflected without lamentation, but instead the forecast is made that times are changing. The frankness of the writing made it enjoyable to read.

Food: a tomato sandwich. Not complicated, food of the farmers and poor folk, but all the more delicious because of the simplicity.

Jan 20, 2019, 2:42pm

402. Extinction

Our narrator is self-exiled from his family home in Austria, an imposing estate by the name of Wolfsegg. He fled to Rome years ago, because being home causes him such distress and agitation. We meet him on the day he has received a telegram that his mother, father and brother have died in an accident. The first half of the book is recollections of why he hates his family, his home, his birth country, and how wronged he was by all of the above. His two sisters are still at home and now, by birthright, he is the new master of Wolfsegg. The second half is his return for the funeral, but the tone is very much the same as the first.

I didn't know much about Bernhard before reading this book. Correction- I knew NOTHING about Bernhard. I took a minute to read about his life and writing before reviewing Extinction. Much of the sentiment in the book is Bernhard's own- anti-Austria, -Catholic, -National Socialism. That makes sense, as the main character is pretty virulent in his commentary. The reason for the title, Extinction, is that the narrator has an idea that if he writes Wolfsegg and Austria out of his brain, he will extinguish them and they will become, in essence, extinct. This was Bernhard's last book. It stands to reason that perhaps these were his own thoughts as well.

Reading a book without paragraphs isn't easy, but eventually it didn't feel quite so exhausting. This was a challenge, though, even for a reader who prefers challenges.

Food: a mediocre plated dinner at a work function with a keynote speaker who isn't particularly charismatic, but is very long-winded and repetitive. You can't leave and the food is adequate. You hold on as much as you can until it's over.

Jan 20, 2019, 3:48pm

>191 amaryann21: - Great review and thanks for reminding me why I have no plans to ever read all 1001 books

Jan 20, 2019, 9:50pm

>192 Nickelini: Ha! I did it for the January Challenge, and I'm not sorry I did- I started this a couple years ago and put it down.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:00am

403. Of Love and Shadows

Irene and Francisco meet professionally, she the journalist and he the photographer. Irene was engaged to Gustavo, a military man, and had dedicated herself to him. But through her journalism, the corruption and evil of the ruling military become exposed to Irene, and she loses some of her optimism and innocence. Francisco has always known these things, of course, and knows the danger of subversive activities. Slowly, they descend into some of the true horrors that have been committed and come to terms with what this may mean for their future.

Allende's writing is beautiful. She writes with the voice of humanity- pain, joy, fear, love. The affection she feels for her homeland is obvious in the writing and that adds to the experience as a reader. The story isn't pretty is a lot of places, which makes it that much more striking and important.

Food: a three-course meal. Soup is the starter, good and simple. Steak is the main course, with some chimichurri, spicy and hearty. For dessert, an ethereal meringue, disappearing on the tongue the instant it hits. All complimentary flavors and a wonderful experience, hitting all the right notes.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:00am

404. Lady Chatterly's Lover

Lady Chatterly's husband is paralyzed and while she has affection for him, love isn't really important to either of them. So, she takes a lover and finds out what it REALLY means to be loved, or so she feels. Mixed in with the story line is a whole lot of commentary on the social hierarchy of England, gender roles, and the coal industry and its impact on the working class.

This is my third Lawrence and probably a more entertaining one, but I still don't really enjoy his writing. I'm sure this was very scandalous for the time, especially as it flew in the face of traditional marriage and its graphic descriptions of the sexual act. I find the characters all to be mildly to very annoying and was happy when I was done with the book.

Food: instant oatmeal made with too much water. Thin, mildly flavored, and better when it's over.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:00am

405. Pereira Maintains

Dr. Pereira is the cultural editor for Lisboa, a small newspaper that no one pays attention to. He misses his deceased wife and enjoys his omelets. His life is simple, until he attempts to hire an assistant. It's the 1930's in Portugal, and unrest is building in Spain. His assistant, while terrible at writing, needs Pereira's help with resistance efforts. Pereira maintains political neutrality and has no desire to get involved, but he slowly, surely, he finds his stance shifting.

This book is short and easily read. Observing the process of Pereira reengaging in life, finding something to really live for instead of just existing, made this book enjoyable in an unexpected way. I think I could read it again a few times and find new depths.

Food: a shot of whiskey. Short and neat, simple, but packs a punch.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:00am

406. The Master of Petersburg

This is the imagined story of Dostoyevsky going to Petersburg after the death of his stepson, who was killed/committed suicide (depending on who's telling the story). He spends lots of time in his stepson's room, looking for answers. He meets some of the acquaintances (friends?) of his stepson and has several run-ins with the police.

The novel feels both very Russian and very Coetzee. Patches of it were hard for me to slog through and I feel I don't know enough Russian history to really appreciate the story. As with most Coetzee, I don't think I really get the acclaim.

Food: sauerkraut and pickles. Both mushy and sour and crisp and acidic, in parts.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:01am

407. The Pigeon

Jonathan Noel is a security guard at a bank and very happy with his small life- his one room, his few possessions, and soon, he will own his room outright instead of renting. Everything is predictable and safe. Until there is a pigeon outside his door one morning. Suddenly, Jonathan's world is in turmoil, nothing is as it was.

This is a teensy little book, just over 100 pages, and easy to gulp down in just a few minutes. It passed by in a flash, and I felt such sympathy for Jonathan. Suskind is masterful with language. Jonathan's world was vivid and alive for me.

Food: a single, dark cherry. Just one bite of complex fruit- tart, sweet, fresh.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:01am

408. Super-Cannes

Jane and Paul Sinclair have been invited to live and work (Jane is a doctor) at Eden-Olympia, a business park for huge multinational companies in the south of France. Paul is recuperating after a plane crash and he and Jane are to take the house of Dr. Greenwood, who recently murdered 6 other residents of the park, then killed 3 hostages and himself. Paul has lots of free time and finds himself very intrigued by the events of Greenwood's rampage. Not everything is as it seems at Eden-Olympia and Paul uncovers a very seedy underbelly.

This is the second book of Ballard's I've read and the theme is the same- rich people behave badly when they have everything they could ever want. And they justify it to the nth degree. While I found this one more readable and slightly more engaging than High Rise, there's a lot of distasteful in there.

Food: a very rare slice of prime rib, seasoned with too much garlic. Lots of blood and too much "spice" for my taste.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:01am

409. After the Quake

These six short stories share an influence of the 1995 Kobe earthquake, in different ways. The stories aren't connected by any other thread, other than Murakami's incredible mind. I only read one story a day, pacing myself and letting them sit with me before moving on, because it felt right to do so. I love reading Murakami. I've never encountered anything like his work, and while I don't always think I understand it, it stirs something in me.

Food: mochi ice cream. Weird and different and delicious.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:01am

410. The Tin Drum

This book took way too much time to read. It was a struggle in so many spots. Oskar is our narrator, and we hear his whole life, up to his thirtieth birthday, and it takes nearly 600 pages. Oskar is unsure of his parentage, and has a gift of drumming- he can influence the feelings and reactions of those around him. He can also break glass with his voice, though he grows out of that gift.

This is a story about WWII in Eastern Europe, but more about it's effects on Oskar and his world. This doesn't feel like magical realism, but perhaps it is. The book won a Nobel Prize in Literature, so I feel like I'm missing something important, but I'm also not sure I really care so much. There were parts that made for interesting story telling.

Food: an onion and cheese tart with some herb I can't identify that's overpowering the other flavors. Not entirely unpleasant, but it doesn't seem to be balanced, or maybe it's just not to my taste.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:01am

411. A Tale of Love and Darkness

This is Amos Oz's memoir of his childhood, growing up in Jerusalem through the 1940's and beyond. Oz is a beautiful story teller and his writing is wonderful to read. He tells of his family history as his parents and grandparents left Eastern Europe and Russia in the Diaspora, of the struggles they found in Jerusalem, how they didn't really fit in with those who lived in the kibbutz, and how he tried to find his identity in this homeland that didn't feel like home to his relatives.

This book is a lot about love and a LOT about darkness. The chapters are short- there are over 60 of them, some only a couple pages and some a bit longer. This made it easier to handle, because some of this is heavy stuff. Oz acknowledges his memories may not always be 100% accurate, giving the reader some sense of an unreliable narrator, but with the understanding that it's only because this was his childhood and he isn't intending to deceive. I know so little about Jerusalem and particularly what life was like in this time period, so this was educational and gave me a brand new perspective to consider.

Food: a bazaar of tidbits to consume. Some spicy, some tart, some achingly sweet and some exceedingly bitter. A meal to be savored, one bite at a time, and to be thoughtfully considered.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:02am

412. Vernon God Little

Vernon lives in a small Texas town and his mother is in a constant competition for who has the most appliances/vacations/etc. When 16 of Vernon's peers are shot at school and he's named as an accomplice because the gunman (now dead) was a close friend, things get... complicated. The story is told as a narrative from Vernon's perspective and, if you haven't heard already, his language isn't very polite.

I've heard from several folks that they hated this book. I can see it could be polarizing. There's a bit of Catcher in the Rye in the present day, and I love Holden. I also work with teenagers, especially ones with issues, every day, so the book felt truer to life than it might for some. The story is darkly humorous and biting at times. It also shines a light on the absurdity of our obsession with making a buck on someone's tragedy and the role media plays in forming our opinions without becoming a moralistic tale. I wouldn't say that I enjoyed this book, but it felt skillfully told, and an important perspective that doesn't ordinarily get shared.

Food: a saucy, messy barbecue sandwich, the kind that gets all over your hands and clothes. There's no being neat and polite with this kind of meal, and that's part of the adventure.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:02am

413. The Heather Blazing

The reader learns about Eamon's life in alternating chapters, present and past. Eamon was the son of a professor and grew up during WWII and in a fractured Ireland. His life, though, isn't that difficult, considering, and much of the book is set in Cush, at the summer house where he and his father went when he was young and where he continued to go as an adult. The sea is Eamon's respite. As we get to know Eamon and his family, we see how and why he became the man he is presently.

The feel of Ireland is strong in this book, and it made me miss the smell of the sea. There's a quietness about this book- perhaps because there isn't a lot of action, and the drama is of a normal, familial nature. We experience Eamon's triumphs and heartaches with him and watch him grow, or fail, as we would a person with whom we are in close proximity. I appreciated reading it and felt like I knew Eamon when I was done.

Food: a thick slice of brown bread, spread with unsalted Irish butter. Simple, good, satisfying.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:02am

414. Falling Man

Keith was in the towers when the first plane hit. He got out and showed up at his estranged wife's home, covered in ash and dust and carrying someone's briefcase. Lianne is shocked to see him, and gets him medical attention, and he moves back in. But that's just one of the storylines in this 9/11 tale. We also meet Florence, another survivor, Nina and her lover Martin, and one of the terrorists who was on one of the planes.

Reading about 9/11 still isn't easy. I don't know that it will ever be. This novel didn't over dramatize, moralize, or take sides. It simply observed, from different sides, the reasons, the fallout, and the human experience of how Americans' lives changed that day. While the subject matter was provocative, it was one of the easier DeLillo's to read, in my experience.

Food: a dark beer, just one, on a rainy afternoon in a smoky bar, in solitude and silence. A little heady, a little bitter, and full of contemplation.

Ago 1, 2019, 3:27pm

>204 amaryann21:
>205 amaryann21:
Beautiful descriptions for both. Makes me want to read them.

Ago 2, 2019, 9:18am

>206 gypsysmom: I didn't know what to expect from either and was very pleased. Bonus- I read each in a day.

Ago 8, 2019, 5:42pm

>202 amaryann21:, >203 amaryann21:, >205 amaryann21: Echoing gypsymom - I want to read these three soon!

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:03am

415. World's End

From the mid-17th century to the mid-18th, this epic chronicles the Van Wart and Van Brunt families, as well as the last of the Kitchawank tribe, in the Hudson Valley region. Bound to interact for three centuries, can Walter and Jeremy, last of their line, outrun their fates?

Dense with history, this novel was a feast of words and characters. There are lists in the front of the book to orient the reader, if needed- it's one of THOSE books. But the writing drew me in and I felt the weight of history for the region, the conflict between the first nations and colonists, the shifting politics and the implications for all who lived there. It's an investment of time, but worth the read.

Food: venison stew. A hearty meal, some times a little tough to chew, but it'll stick to your ribs.

Ago 11, 2019, 5:15pm

>208 LisaMorr: Glad to inspire!

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:03am

416. House of Leaves

Is there a way to synposize this book without spoilers? I'm not sure there is, and because the rollercoaster starts from page one, I shall refrain from trying. Suffice it to say, there are multiple stories going on here, lots of academic-style discussion, poetry, epistolary writing, and confusion. LOTS of confusion. And the writing doesn't follow any conventional rules, including which direction it is on the page.

And that's all part of it. This book is a challenge, no doubt about it. But if you're willing to invest your attention, it's worth it. I feel like I could read it 10 more times, and I would probably still feel like I've missed a whole lot. When you notice the little detail that's meaningful, it's like being in on the joke, knowing the secret handshake, and cracking the code. One review I read said reading this book is like becoming a player in the game and that's exactly it. Some won't want to play, and that's alright. But this... was FUN.

Food: smoked foam. Full of flavor, but it disappears as soon as it hits your tongue, leaving only the taste behind, a ghost of a meal.

Ago 15, 2019, 12:11am

>211 amaryann21:
"smoked foam" hmmm

I guess when I retire and have time to think about all of this, I'll add it to my list. In the meantime, thanks for taking one for the (my) team

Ago 16, 2019, 11:14am

>212 Nickelini: It's definitely one you need time and (mental) space for. But worth it.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:03am

417. The Driver's Seat

Lise is a woman about whom we know very, very little. Of an unspecified age (between 28 and 34), denying English or American citizenship but never identifying where she is from, giving different backstories to everyone she meets, Lise is a bit of an enigma and states to be searching for her boyfriend, though she doesn't know who he is. The reader knows what's coming- Spark doesn't hide it. But the how of getting there is what holds our attention.

Just over 100 pages, this little slip of a book is fast and doesn't waste anyone's time. It does leave me with a little bit of whiplash- what the heck just happened and why?? Maybe that's the point.

Food: horseradish. Fiery, intense, a flash of heat when you aren't necessarily expecting it.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:03am

418. Conversation in Sicily

A son visits his mother after fifteen years, upon receipt of a letter from his father that he's left her. What follows is confusing and not quite a story, but according to glowing reviews, it's a brilliant commentary on the war and quite artistic. I'll take their word for it, because it all went over my head. Thankfully, the book is short.

Food: sardines in oil. Slippery, and an acquired taste.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:04am

419. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

You know the story- Quasimodo, the deformed hunchback bellringer of Notre Dame, falls in love with Esmeralda, the gypsy girl. But there's a lot more to the story, and it's worth the trip to 15th century Paris to learn.

Hugo is prone to philosophizing and history lessons, and this book is no different. He does get back to the story without too much wandering and I learned a few things along the way. Like Hugo proposes that architecture was the written history of mankind before the printing press and the ability to print books en masse killed architecture. Gave me some food for thought! I do think having been to Paris and to Notre Dame specifically helped when Hugo gave the layout of the city and the cathedral, which is a bit dry. I'm sure some of the history and politics of the time went right over my head and I'm not invested enough to delve into it.

Food: I had a ham and butter baguette in Paris that was simple, hearty, satisfying, and took a bit of chewing. Some might pass it up, but it hit the spot.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:04am

420. Blood and Guts in High School

Janey is the main character in this mercifully short novel. When we meet her, she's 10 and her father's girlfriend. So, from the jump, this isn't a pleasurable read.

Described in various reviews I read, this book is described as metafiction, surrealist and post-punk feminist. I suppose I get the rage against the patriarchy/capitalism/the man vibe, but the collage of weird that makes up the rest of the book is not easy. There's a lot of sex, discussion of wanting it, my copy had drawings of genitalia, and all from a 10-13 year-old... uncomfortable to say the least, and I get that was the point.

Food: when you overcook the steak you made for dinner, and it turns all chewy and rubbery, but you paid for it, so you're going to eat, but it is NOT what you really wanted at all. You choke it down and hope you didn't burn the potato.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:04am

421. The Scarlet Letter

It's another story we all know- Hester has a child out of wedlock but won't tell anyone who the father is, and has to wear the A of adultery in her Puritan town. I'm not sure how I've gotten this far without reading this classic, but it was an easier read than I expected. Hawthorne distanced himself from the moral judgement of the story, using the trope that he discovered the account of Hester and Pearl while working in a customhouse. I found that interesting.

Food: a turkey sandwich with not quite enough mayo. Good, but a little dry in spots.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:04am

422. The Breast

A man turns into a breast. That's the story.

Food: the first time you eat a circus peanut. Is it a marshmallow? Is it taffy? What is the flavor supposed to be? Weird, not entirely unpleasant... or is it?

Set 14, 2019, 11:33am

>219 amaryann21: I had to look up what a circus peanut is. Ewww ...

Set 15, 2019, 3:18am

>220 haydninvienna: Until I saw your comment, I would have just assumed they were peanuts you ate at the circus - like movie popcorn! So I looked it up too - they sound pretty gross.
And that book sounds weird! I am now intrigued to read it to see exactly how this story is told.

Set 15, 2019, 3:22am

>220 haydninvienna: Until I read your comment, I just assumed they were peanuts you ate at the circus, like movie popcorn. So I had to look it up too - they sound pretty gross.

And now I am intrigued to read this book, to see exactly how this story is told! I saw it was Phillip Roth, so it is making a bit more sense now!

Editado: Set 15, 2019, 8:44pm

>220 haydninvienna: >221 JayneCM: I thought circus peanuts might be a lesser known food item... and probably just American. They ARE gross.

Set 18, 2019, 11:44am

You can eat a few circus peanuts and think 'hunh, not bad' but if you continue to eat more, you start to feel really, really gross. They don't have a lot of flavour but the texture is just plain odd. Exactly like the novella :)

Set 18, 2019, 1:03pm

>224 Yells: I'm so happy you understand!! Thank you!

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:05am

423. Platform

Michel only really connects with others through sex. After his father dies, he goes on vacation to Thailand and isn't necessarily discrete about why he's there. But on the vacation, he meets Valerie, who works for the tour company, and they fall in love. Michel is constantly surprised by her love for him and that he can love her. There's a bunch of economic theory, sociology and philosophy mixed in with the story.

I wasn't always sure what Houellebecq's point was, or if there was one. Is this commentary on how people don't love each other, or how jaded we are about sex, or about Islam, France's politics, West vs. East? All of the above? And the descriptions of the sex weren't titillating, they just were descriptive and repetitive. And plentiful. I don't think they added anything.

Food: a fake Funfetti cupcake. It's all colorful and you get excited because, duh, FUNFETTI, but then you take a bite or two and there's not a lot of flavor. It's easy to eat because it's a cupcake, not dinner, but you're left with questions about why it wasn't what it should've been.

Editado: Out 29, 2019, 8:44am

>224 Yells: The exact perfect definition of a circus peanut! And weirdly enough, I kind of want to eat one or two right now, but not like, six...

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:05am

424. Dead Souls

Chichikov is a schemer, and his current scheme is to buy the dead serfs that are still on the tax roles of other landowners. He is charming, beguiling, and has aspirations to be rich.

I struggled to make sense of this book. It was more a treatise of what does and does not make a Russian man than a coherent story. And the reader receives the message over and over that Russia is clearly the best nation to be from. There were a few bits that were entertaining, but overall, Gogol didn't think much of women and his agenda was pretty thinly veiled.

Food: prunes. Chewy, taking some work to get through, and you only eat them because someone said they're good for you.

Nov 18, 2019, 10:26am

>228 amaryann21: Hey, I like prunes! Dead Souls will resonate with anyone who has been involved with sorting out the mess that the "finance industry" has made of things over the last 20 years or so. It's a long time since I read the book, but what I can remember of Chichikov's little game isn't all that far from dodgy mortgages.

Nov 18, 2019, 7:05pm

>229 haydninvienna: Ha ha ha! This is why my food reviews are as subjective as the book reviews they're related to- we all have different tastes! It definitely is full of shenanigans and I have so little patience for that in real life, so it bored me to read over and over.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:05am

425. Trainspotting

I didn't think reading about addicts and hooligans in dialect would be appealing. To be honest, I'm still not really sure why it was. But this book pulled me in, and I felt for the characters, really felt for them.

I'm not sure the group was really friends with one another- they probably aren't sure, either- but they used together, drank together, slept with one another, attended the funerals of some with each other, and maybe, understood each other like no one else could. But friends? Maybe a few. I don't know if I've read a more honest account of being addicted and directionless in fiction. The chase for the next high, knowing that it'll never end, or if it does, it'll likely be THE end... no delusion about the addiction, seeing what it does to your family, just heartbreaking, but at the same time, not written to get sympathy. About 2/3 of the way through, I felt the despair of being stuck in the cycle and I just wanted something to change for one of them.

Food: a greasy newspaper cone of chips (the British kind) with malt vinegar. Hot, salty, sharp, stinging, and full of oil, not good for you but they compel you to finish them all.

Nov 28, 2019, 9:31pm

>231 amaryann21:

I think the dialect in that one scares me away. Also, addicts are generally super boring people. It seems like they'd get themselves into all sorts of interesting situations, but really, they're just doing the same old crap over and over. So I haven't picked it up.

I did see the film when it first came out and liked it, although it was disturbing.

Dez 3, 2019, 9:07pm

426. The Path to the Nest of Spiders

Pin is just a child, but the children don't want him as part of their world, and when he tries to hang out with the adults, he's only allowed so long as he's entertaining them. No one takes him seriously and he just wants a place in the world. When he steals the German's pistol, he thinks this is his ticket. He falls in with Red Wolf, one of the legendary partisans, and finally feels part of the war, part of the adult world. But is it really where he wants to be?

This is Calvino's first novel, and perhaps that's why it feels so different from the other Calvinos I've read. I kept waiting for... something. I tried reading the preface after I finished the novel, but it rambled so much that I quickly gave up.

Food: weak lemonade. It's just not tart or sweet enough, and you stir it hoping the flavor will intensify, but it just doesn't satisfy.

Dez 26, 2019, 10:46pm

427. Kokoro

Told in first person narrative, the reader follows a student as he befriends a man he calls Sensei, who visits a cemetery every month, who spends his days without a formal job, whose wife is melancholy and seems to blame herself for the strain in their relationship. The student goes home to his village as his father may be dying, and gets a mysterious letter from Sensei, which reveals everything.

The exploration of emotion, feelings of loneliness, guilt, purpose, familial obligation, connection and love are the focus of the story. "Kokoro" translates to "the heart of the matter", according to the translator of my edition. The story felt a little slow at times, but in the end, there was true depth of emotion.

Food: the last slice of bread topped with the last bit of cheese and mayo, in your apartment when you haven't had anyone visit in quite some time, and the loneliness is crushing.

Jan 1, 2020, 12:58pm

428. Junky

This is Burroughs own recollections of being an addict, mainly to heroin, but he also used other substances. He has some strong opinions about addiction. He purports that one does not become addicted with one hit or injection, but that it takes months. This is directly in contradiction with what some experts say today, but that was 1953 and I don't know how things have changed.

Perhaps it's because I read Trainspotting not long ago, but reading about a person's experience of addiction is kind of boring. Burroughs says it, the characters in Trainspotting said it- it's all about finding your next dose and avoiding being sick. And then getting sober means the world around you becomes flat and colorless. Fortunately, this book is short.

Food: dry cornflakes. You just gotta chew them up until it's over.

Jan 1, 2020, 2:37pm

>235 amaryann21: but reading about a person's experience of addiction is kind of boring

I came to that same conclusion a while ago -- addicts are actually boring, selfish people. It's more interesting to hear the stories of the people who love them.

Editado: Jan 1, 2020, 5:40pm

>236 Nickelini: There is such despair of living in the addict's story- nothing matters but the drug. It's hard to read.

Jan 1, 2020, 5:42pm

429. The Gaucho Martin Fierro

This is a poem of protest, written in the later 1800's, as the voice of the poor and common people against the rich and the Argentinian government. The gaucho was a rancher who traveled with his herd, cows or horses, and lived by his own code. In the poem, Martin is conscripted into military service because he is arrested at a party, and as a result, loses his home, his wife and children, and his herd.

I found the poem easy to read and the translation I had conveyed a lot of emotion. It does call to mind many populations who have been oppressed and overlooked throughout time and cultures.

Food: a piece of tender beef jerky, flavorful and sustaining. The required chewing isn't too much, and while simple, it's a decent snack that sticks with you.

Jan 9, 2020, 10:52pm

430. The Name of the Rose

William of Baskerville, a Franciscan friar, and Adso, a Benedictine novice serving as a secretary for William, arrive at the Benedictine abbey in the Italian Alps just after a monk has died. Murder? Suicide? It's not clear, and he's only the first to die.

This is a great mystery with lots of philosophy, theology and history thrown into the mix. That might not sound like fun, but it actually is, because Eco was poking at the Church, not trying to make things too serious. William is a great character- Sherlockian, but very monkish at the same time. The mini series in which he was played by John Turturro kept coming to mind (unfortunately, I saw it before reading the book) and the tone of the character was well done in Turturro's performance. I very much enjoyed the word play and mystery- gripping to the end. I've also never read a book set in this time or place, so that was a pleasant experience.

Food: rich, dense, dark chocolate cake. There's a lot to savor and the flavor is complex, calling on the consumer to really taste each bite.

Fev 1, 2020, 8:15pm

431. The Virgin Suicides

The Lisbon girls, all five of them, completed suicide. Not all at once, but this is known from the beginning of the book. The story is narrated by the now grown neighborhood boys, who observed the Lisbon quintet for all of their brief lives, and were fascinated by them. It's an adolescent love letter to the mysterious females who captivated their attention and have haunted them ever since.

Considering the subject matter, there is a dreamy quality about this book that I didn't expect. While acknowledging the tragic, the book does romanticize a bit, but it felt very true to adolescent mentality. The correlation between the time period in which the book is written and the events that transpired is interesting.

Food: creamy tomato soup. Slightly acidic, coating the tongue, warm and oddly inviting despite the color.

Fev 2, 2020, 2:00pm

>240 amaryann21:

I'm confused as to what Lisbon refers to. Is it a surname? They're sisters? I've only ever heard this word used for a city in Portugal, but your description suggests that's not it.

Fev 2, 2020, 10:11pm

>241 Nickelini: surname:
Cecilia Lisbon, Lux Lisbon, Mary Lisbon, Therese Lisbon, Bonnie Lisbon

Editado: Fev 3, 2020, 9:53am

>242 ELiz_M: Thank you! :)
>241 Nickelini: It didn't even occur to me in writing it that it was a city, ha!

Mar 5, 2020, 8:19pm

432. Treasure Island

The classic pirate tale! I finally checked this one off my list. Impressions: I don't know why this kid is braver and smarter than all the adults, pirates really ARE the most superstitious of all, and who's going to take care of the parrot when Long John Silver dies?

Food: popcorn. Not a lot of substance, really, but a great snack.

Abr 4, 2020, 9:53pm

433. Anna Karenina

This is a Russian epic, and not to be entered into lightly. My copy was 868 pages and there's a LOT of farming. But the story is more than just Anna, it's Kitty and Levin and Stiva and Dolly and Vronsky as well. And farming. And politics.

I don't know as much about Russian history as I should to fully appreciate this novel, I think. But I can appreciate the reflection of the changing times that it shows. It wasn't a difficult book to read, but it takes a lot of time.

Food: Sunday dinner with the aunts and uncles when you're a kid. Lots of politics, talk about work, you have to eat your vegetables and wear nice clothes and you won't be excused from the table just because you finished your dinner. But there might be cake if you use your manners.

Abr 5, 2020, 3:12am

I read Anna Karenina in 2007 when my mom was dying. It was the perfect book to get lost in during all those hospital and commuting hours (I read it on paper, and listened to it while I drove 40 min each way back and forth to the hospital). My mother's father was a farmer in Russia, and his father had been a wealthy farmer before the Russian Revolution, so I enjoyed the farming parts. But I know most readers don't. Your food description is spot on perfect (as it often is -- you have such a knack for this)

Abr 5, 2020, 10:47am

>246 Nickelini: I know a lot of people really enjoyed the book as a whole, and I'm sure the current climate made it more difficult for me to really fall all the way in. It sounds like you personally connected to the story, which always makes it better. And thank you!

Editado: Abr 16, 2020, 11:55am

434. Madame Bovary

Emma is Charles' second wife, after he's widowed. She spent most of her childhood in a convent, her only experience of male/female relationships the stories she read in smuggled novels. When her marriage isn't quite the romance she expected, she searches out excitement elsewhere. Poor Charles isn't very smart, but maybe that's for the best?

Perhaps reading this on the heels of Anna Karenina wasn't the best idea, but I finished this much, much faster. Less farming. I enjoy Flaubert's writing style and pace. And I think I need a new plotline for the next book!

Food: cheese and crackers. A substantial snack that still requires a bit of chewing.

Abr 16, 2020, 11:55am

435. Flaubert's Parrot

Geoffrey Braithwaite is a retired doctor and fascinated with Gustave Flaubert. He travels to Rouen and Croisset and other sites from Flaubert's life, delighting in the smallest details. He finds two different stuffed parrots, both claiming to be "the" parrot that inspired Loulou, the parrot in one of Flaubert's novels. Parrots feature frequently in Flaubert's life and works, and there is speculation about the significance and symbolism. Overall, we learn a lot about Flaubert, and quite a bit about Braithwaite.

I really enjoy Barnes' writing and sense of humor. I read Madame Bovary immediately before this book and am glad I read them in succession. This novel wouldn't have made an impression in the same way without Bovary, and now I want to read more Flaubert.

Food: a plate of appetizers and crudite at a reception. Small bites of various flavors and textures, all consumed while discussing the reason for the gathering.

Editado: Maio 1, 2020, 1:04pm

436. Cost

Julia and Wendell are divorced, but Julia got to keep the house on the cove in Maine. Jack and Steve, her grown sons, and Edward and Katherine, her parents, are frequent visitors. She also does a lot of her painting there, when she doesn't have to teach in NYC. Jack has always had... problems. In school, in society, in life. Marijuana was one of them, alcohol sometimes, but now, if Steve's suspicions are correct, it's heroin. And that is terrifying.

Robinson's use of language is beautiful and deeply engaging. Her exploration of family dynamics is intense, but real and very human. There's no judgement or agenda, just a mirror on each member of this dysfunction. The jagged edges of a family torn asunder by addiction was treated with respect, not tied in a neat little package.

Food: a dry red wine in a warm bubble bath. I sunk right into this story because of the skillful use of language, and even when the subject matter wasn't easy, I felt the embrace of Robinson's words

Maio 1, 2020, 10:07pm

437. Queer

The next chapter in Lee's story, Queer starts in Mexico City, where Lee is not quite as addicted as in Junky, but not entirely sober, either. He's looking for love, or at least companionship, and really wants Allerton to be the answer. There's a great forward in my edition by Burroughs and where this story paralleled his own life, just as in Junky.

This was a very quick read. Lee's "routines" are quite funny and I could picture a guy in a bar just riffing these stories, to the delight (and annoyance?) of the surrounding patrons.

Food: one bite of ceviche. Cold, sour, strong, and not to everyone's palate.

Maio 5, 2020, 12:36pm

438. A Maggot

A maggot is not just an insect larva. Fowles tells us in his prologue it is also an old word for a "whim or a quirk". In this tale of travelers and the mystery that follows, we find references to both kinds of maggot.

I am a Fowles fan. This is the 4th book of his I've read, and I very much enjoy him. There isn't a lot of prose and narrative to be found here, much of the book being transcription of interrogation and epistles from a lawyer to his employer. I did not know the author's aim until I read the epilogue and it made everything make a little more sense. I enjoy the style of letting the story unfold a piece at a time, while being confusing and mysterious.

Food: a fantastical dessert, with multiple textures and complementary flavors. It needs to be savored and experienced.

Maio 8, 2020, 2:27pm

439. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

A new tenant has come to the crumbling Wildfell Hall, a widow and her young son. Our narrator for the first part of the book, Gilbert, falls in love with young Helen, only to learn of her troubled past. The second section is told by Helen herself, in her recollections of her marriage. Will there be a happy ending?

I listened to this as an audiobook and was pleased that I could speed the recording up a little bit. There's a LOT of moralizing, as may be expected for the time, and I get a little frustrated with books of this era and how long people go on thinking the other is indifferent or disinterested because of pride, and how long it takes to correct the miscommunication. Perhaps I really don't understand the "stiff upper lip" culture at all. This seemed a tale against marrying for status or money and against alcohol and carousing.

Food: salad with too little dressing and mostly lettuce. "Good" for you, but so much of it...

Maio 9, 2020, 4:42pm

>253 amaryann21:

That's perfect. One day I want to rewrite it from the alcoholic husband's point of view -- I think living with Helen could have driven many to drink

Maio 12, 2020, 10:18pm

>254 Nickelini: That made me laugh out loud! I agree!! Which makes me wonder about Anne Bronte... She may not have been a peach, either!

Maio 20, 2020, 8:14pm

440. The Wasp Factory

Frank grew up on the island with his dad. There have been other children there at various times, and his mother exists, somewhere. Officially, legally, Frank doesn't exist. His former hippy father never got him a birth certificate. Frank has his routines, his hobbies... and they're a little disturbing. Maybe a lot disturbing.

I enjoy Banks' writng style and this is certainly a very different tale from what I've read before. There were some parts of this story that made me cringe, but the suspense built to a fantastic payoff.

Food: a rare roast beef sandwich on dark pumpernickel bread with lots of horseradish. Strong flavors, a little bloody, not for the diner looking for a light snack.

Editado: Maio 20, 2020, 11:14pm

441. Agnes Grey

Agnes is the second daughter of the parson, in a poor but happy family. In order to try to contribute to the family income, she becomes a governess and finds it more of a task than she expected. There's lots of moralizing- you can't actually be happy in life unless you're living according to God's ways.

Thankfully, this one was short. There were still too many words and it's the same story as so many of this age.

Food: stale crumpets without marmalade during a visit to your spinster great aunt. Tales of how she could've had as many conquests as the town beauty abound, but she held herself to a higher standard

Maio 21, 2020, 4:02am

I agree with >246 Nickelini:. I love the food comparisons on your thread.

I for one loved the farming bits the best as I really thought it showed the plight of people who are actually trying to do good and make actual changes for the better but are being revoked for their wealth.

Maio 22, 2020, 1:06pm

>258 lilisin: Thank you! I really think my ignorance of Russian political and social history contributed to my frustration with it, particularly as it contrasts to Europe- France and England being referenced specifically in the book.

Maio 22, 2020, 8:59pm

>257 amaryann21: Food: stale crumpets without marmalade during a visit to your spinster great aunt.

LOL. That's awesome. I've had Agnes Gray years and no desire to read it. I guess when I'm in the mood for a stuffy boring afternoon waiting for the adults to stop talking.

Maio 24, 2020, 8:12pm

>260 Nickelini: The mercy of it is that it's not that long!

Maio 24, 2020, 8:12pm

442. The Human Stain

Coleman Silk has been accused of making a racist remark about two of his students. This seems preposterous, and he claims it is, and look at his long legacy at the college! This, however, starts a downward spiral of events during which Coleman appears at Zuckerman's door (our narrator) demanding he write Coleman's story.

There's a lot going on in this book, as is usual with Roth. Lots of prose, that sometimes bog things down a little, but also some great surprises. The reader gets to know some of the characters a bit more in depth in this novel, something I appreciate, though I'm not sure how well it fits with the premise that Zuckerman is writing it.

Food: a giant plate of penne alla vodka. Rich, flavorful, and maybe a bit much sometimes, requiring a break before going on for more.

Maio 25, 2020, 3:40am

>442 Penne alla vodka. Hadn't heard of it before but sounds like ideal lockdown food!

Maio 31, 2020, 11:06pm

>263 puckers: It's SO good... but I can only handle small portions!

Jun 11, 2020, 4:37pm

443. Half of a Yellow Sun

Biafra was the dream, to be independent from Nigeria. The war for independence in 1969-70 was intense, bloody and tribal. This novel follows Olanna and Kainene, twin sisters, in their experiences and roles leading up to and through the war.

Adichie's writing is easy, even when covering difficult topics. She allows the picture to stand before the reader's eyes in all its colors, smells, and emotions, forcing the reader to take it in without politics or preaching, just a mirror of events and prejudices that have stood for centuries. Reading this book right now was intentional, and it gave me much food for thought.

Food: chicken ginger soup when you have the flu. Hearty and almost medicinal, it's what you need for what ails you.

Jun 30, 2020, 11:49am

444. A Boy's Own Story

This is the first in the autobiographical trilogy of novels White wrote about growing up and finding himself as a homosexual man. This focuses on his boyhood, though high school, starting in the 1950's.

White's writing is lyrical and the descriptions are beautiful, poetic without being too flowery, sensual without being too self-indulgent. The boy in the story reveals his conflicts about his feelings, ultimately saying he wants to love men but also be heterosexual, an impossible dilemma. There is real beauty in this novel.

Food: pickled carrot mousse with carrot cake crumb. I had this on a tasting menu and it was delicious and unexpected and silky smooth. The flavors were familiar, but the combination entirely new.

Editado: Jul 1, 2020, 11:45pm

445. Epitaph of a Small Winner (also titled The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubras)

Bras Cubas is dead. Incredibly, he is writing his memoirs after his death, offering a unique perspective on his life, as he notes more than once.

Interesting, clever and funny in spots, very philosophical in others, and there were some phrases that gave me pause, inspiring deeper thoughts. I haven't read much Brazilian literature, and this being an older book (published in Brazil in 1880), it didn't feel the same as European literature of the same era. That's refreshing.

Food: wine, cheese and fruit, in nibbles. Several different complementary flavors, taken a bit at a time, to create a whole meal.

Jul 2, 2020, 11:30am

446. The Year of the Hare

Vatanen, a journalist, hits a hare with his car and goes out into the woods to find it. This event results in a decision to abandon his life entirely and find a new one.

Reading this book was... different. I don't know anything about Finnish culture, and I'm very curious now to know what this books reflects of it. It's a very quick book to read and enjoyable, but it definitely left me a little puzzled.

Food: salmiakki, a Finnish salted black licorice candy. Different, intriguing, and perhaps not to everyone's taste.

Jul 4, 2020, 3:33pm

447. Tarzan of the Apes

We all know the story. An English lord and his wife have a child in the jungle, they die and it's raised by apes. Later, Jane and her father come to the jungle and Tarzan falls in love. But did you also know he taught himself English (to read and write, but not to speak) and he has super-human strength?

I'm sure these novels were very popular at the time of their release (1912 for this one) and by the amount of Tarzan movies that are out there, the story is beloved. It feels dated and stereotypical and not even that exciting. At least it's not very long.

Food: Necco wafers. We all know someone (probably old) who loves this candy, and when you try one, you just don't know why. They're chalky and none of the flavors are very strong, and even the wrapper is weird- who still uses waxed paper? But the nostalgia is STRONG.

Editado: Jul 13, 2020, 4:46pm

448. A Woman's Life

Jeanne is the only child of the Baron and Baroness, and we meet her as she's getting out of the convent, where she was schooled. She is FULL of romantic ideals and hopes, and her parents are very indulgent. Life, however, does not live up to those ideals and hopes and Jeanne does a lot of weeping and moaning.

Maupassant was a student of Flaubert, and I can see the influence. While I like the realism style- less prone to long passages of philosophy and such- they're SO melancholy. I got a little tired of Jeanne and her head-in-the-clouds approach. I despise fits of fainting. I don't know why that was ever a thing. And if this is what Maupassant thought ALL women's lives were like, I am sorry for his experiences.

Food: slightly unripe strawberries. They look beautiful and red and some bites are sweet, but several are bitter and hard.

Jul 13, 2020, 4:45pm

449. The Lambs of London

Charles and Mary Lamb and William Ireland were real people, and all loved Shakespeare. The events in this historical novel are true, and so very intriguing. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of London and the dynamics between the characters, and I wonder if Ackroyd's biographies are written in the same style.

Food: tea and digestives with good company. A short visit, but memorable because of the company and it'll get you through until supper.

Jul 13, 2020, 6:57pm

450. Sentimental Education

Frederic meets Madame Arnoux on a ship and falls in love, no matter that she's married. He has affairs and engagements in the years that follow, though always pursuing Mme Arnoux. There are a lot of money making schemes, moves to promote his societal standing, and the French Revolution is in there somewhere, too.

Henry James thought this book was dreary. I don't know that James and I see things the same way most of the time, but I might agree with him on this one. There's so much of the same activities, over and over, and they seem to mean so little. I don't think marriage meant anything other than, for some, a political move, like royal marriages or treaties between nations. It was a different time, I know, but ugh... for the amount of love and passion that's discussed, it didn't exist in this novel.

Food: oatmeal. Bland, lumpy, and you just need to get through it and on to the next meal.

Jul 14, 2020, 12:45pm

This is one of my favourites too. However, the middle passage, with the not proper English was literally barely legible to me. In my head, I just imagine it not being there. Then the book is all the things you said it was.

Jul 15, 2020, 9:45am

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

Jul 22, 2020, 9:34pm

451. The Power and the Glory

Mexico is in the midst of revolution, or revolutions. The Red Shirts are in power and the Catholic church is now being eradicated. This is the setting in which we meet the nameless "whiskey priest", who is just trying to get out with his life, but he keeps being asked to perform his priestly duties by the underground faithful. In this process, he examines his life, his beliefs, and his own sinfulness.

As a Catholic, it was a very interesting and though-provoking novel. The role of priest has both changed dramatically and not at all in history, and much of that was reflected here. When it was published, it was not received well by the Vatican, of course, but I think there's a real lesson on humility and humanity, on what it means to have a vocation, and I think Greene represented not only a specific time and circumstance very well, but brought the question of faith and what one is willing to do for that faith to the forefront.

Food: peated scotch. Complex, smoky, harsh, not easily forgotten.

Ago 5, 2020, 4:20pm

452. A Sentimental Journey

Yorick is traveling in France. He writes his travels with sentiment. He falls for various women and hires a valet. The story ends before he gets to Italy, as Sterne didn't have a chance to finish it.

Mercifully short, this book wasn't fun to read. Given to flights of fancy, it's not always easy to follow. The travel book was popular in this era, and Sterne's "sentimental" spin was difficult to grasp.

Food: a slightly stale Chelsea bun, eaten as you walk down a busy street. A little dry, some bites contain the sweet surprise of a raisin, and along the way, you hear snippets of the life going on around you.

Perhaps I've been watching too much Great British Baking Show.

Ago 18, 2020, 10:44pm

453. Justine

My only reason for reading this book is its inclusion on the Boxall list. I'm not sure it was worth it. Justine meets with every vile, sadistic creature that could exist, and clings to virtue, mentally if not physically. This happens over and over and over and over.

The Marquis is a libertine, and this is his philosophy in novel form. Virtue is stupid and will not be rewarded, so what's the point? Following one's basest nature, that of hedonism, is how humans are made and if someone calls that "evil", it's only because of religion and law, which are trying to control us. Pursuing pleasure at all costs is what we are meant for, and will not be punished. Reading this book is just tiring and wholly unpleasant, downright disgusting and disturbing most of the time.

I can't think of a food that I would actually eat that would be the equivalent of this book. And that's saying a lot.

Ago 19, 2020, 2:05am

>227 LisaMorr:

Wow. No food reference? First time ever?

Ago 19, 2020, 10:07am

>278 Nickelini: I thought about it for awhile. I couldn't think of something actually edible that would disgust me as much as the book did.

Ago 19, 2020, 10:13am

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

Ago 19, 2020, 2:50pm

Balut? Maggot cheese? Surstromming? I'm not sure I can think of something nasty enough to describe anything by de Sade.

Editado: Ago 19, 2020, 7:08pm

>281 Yells:
Those are all some truly disgusting suggestions. If we want to stay French though, I suggest authentic andouille sausage. Now, I've had andouille sausage in North America and it was NOTHING like the andouille I had in Brittany many years ago. This was ugly, and when I cut into it, it made a nasty sound and gunk oozed out of it, and it smelled vile. There was no way I could eat it. I think tears welled up in my eyes. I was so disappointed and horrified. That was the end of my "I'm going to try all the local delicacies" phase of travel.

Ago 19, 2020, 9:41pm

>282 Nickelini: Kind of makes you wonder, in a country known around the world for it's amazing cuisine, how does something like this make the cut?

Ago 19, 2020, 10:00pm

>283 Yells:
That is an excellent question

Ago 20, 2020, 12:30am

>281 Yells: You feel my struggle. I had to Google surstromming- that sounds decidedly unpleasant. But someone actually LIKES those things, yes? And I don't know if I want to meet the person who actually likes de Sade. The one 5 star review I read here on LibraryThing was from someone who completely missed the point and thought it was actually upholding virtue.

>282 Nickelini: That sounds horrible. I love andouille in Lousiana... but that... ew.

Ago 20, 2020, 12:31am

454. Blood Meridian

I've never been into westerns. Cowboy "heroes" and Indian "villains", a super tired trope that never made sense to me. But this isn't that. The kid, whom we follow throughout the book, meets up with Glanton (an actual historic figure, who had a gang for hire) and his band who are scalpers on contract for towns in Mexico, hunting Apaches and Comanches and sometimes killing indiscriminately, among other things. One of the gang is the judge (also based on a real person), a huge, hairless, intellectual possessed of esoteric and varied knowledge and capable of all kinds of cruelty.

Listen, there is nothing pleasant about this book. This is no John Wayne western. But it might actually reflect some of the reality of the wild west that's been so romanticized. And McCarthy's portrayal of the landscape is STUNNING. The description of the desert, the mountains, the canyons makes me want to go there immediately. Minus the bloodshed.

Food: blood sausage. You know what it is you're eating, and so there's a level of squeamishness, but it's balanced by a flavor that is delicious, to some.

Ago 22, 2020, 3:37pm

455. At the Mountains of Madness

A team goes to Antarctic to explore and stumbles upon an ancient race. Chaos and horror ensue.

I think I might have expected a little more out of Lovecraft. Sure, his descriptions of creatures is pretty extensive, but everything was "grotesque" and "decadent" and I felt like he needed to make better use of a thesaurus. Perhaps at the time (1930s), suggestion rather than outright description could produce more of a horror reaction in his audience, but I felt like he didn't go quite far enough, whereas other parts of the book could have been scaled back a bit.

Food: a chicken salad sandwich with too little mayonnaise. It's fine, but could use a little more seasoning and moisture to make it really good.

Set 3, 2020, 12:08pm

456. Pnin

Pnin is a college professor, a Russian emigre in America. He doesn't have many friends. His wife left him for another man, and then approaches him for help with her son instead of asking the child's father. Pnin goes from one temporary living situation to another.

Pnin feels pathetic. Despite his physical description of being powerfully built, I couldn't help picturing him as a small, thin, weak character. Nabokov's descriptions are lengthy and instead of feeling rich and pulling me into the story, I literally kept falling asleep while reading.

Food: Melba toast. Bland, dry, takes more effort to chew than they're wort

Editado: Set 15, 2020, 5:53pm

457. Justine

Justine is Nessim's wife, and the embodiment of Alexandria, according to our narrator. They have an affair, though he is in love with the unfortunate Melissa, and is friends with Nessim as well. Their group of friends is all society people, mostly wealthy or connected.

When the book began, the writing seemed engaging and I found some of the prose really delightful. As the story continued, things got muddier and drawn out and I started falling asleep as I was reading. The narrator does state that he's telling things not as they happened, but as they happened to have significance to him. Perhaps it's a style in time thing, but I feel like I lost a lot of story in the style.

Food: rose'. Good when it's cold and sparkly, but take too long to drink it and it gets warm and starts to fall flat.

Set 15, 2020, 5:56pm

458. The Shadow-Line

A young man with experience on sailing ships gets bored and takes a commission as a captain. It's a lot harder than he thought, because maybe the former captain is haunting the ship, but also because it's hard.

This apparently has some autobiographical bits for Conrad, and I think it's his version of a coming of age tale. Conrad bores me and at least this one was short.

Food: an overbaked potato with too little butter and no other toppings. Dry and mealy.

Set 27, 2020, 6:02pm

459. The Quiet American

Pyle and Fowler were some kind of friends, thrown together because of the war in Vietnam, and because Pyle fell in love with Phuong, Fowler's woman. Pyle is American, and the USA is newly involved in the conflict. Fowler is a British reporter, not a military man or a political ambassador. He narrates the story of violence and love, danger and weariness.

It took me far longer to get through this story than I expected. I'm not sure why, perhaps Fowler's perspective of world-weariness may have worn off on me. Maybe a war story isn't what I want to engage in right now. There are complicated layers of emotion in this novel as well, and nothing is quite so straightforward as it seems.

Food: warm, too sour orange juice. Too much acid, not enough sweet.

Out 17, 2020, 5:11pm

460. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

Is it the devil or schizophrenia? And while we're at it, can a person be predestined to go to Heaven, and therefore none of their actions after they are revealed to be predestined matter?

These are just a couple of the questions I had after reading this novel, and falling asleep nearly every time I'd read a few pages. Save this for a bout of insomnia, or if you're really, REALLY intrigued by James Hogg.

Food: very thin soup, with just a couple pieces of carrot and three grains of salt in the whole pot. Boring, boring, boring.

Out 29, 2020, 11:31am

461. Season of Migration to the North

Our narrator, never named, returns home to his village in Sudan after completing his education in the UK. Upon his return, he meets a new face in the village, Mustafa Sa'eed. This man also grew up in Sudan, went to London for his education and came back, but other events occurred in Britain as well, things he only reveals to our narrator.

This novel was written as a reflection of postcolonialism on Sudan by Britain and the devastating effects it had. It's seen as a counterpoint to Heart of Darkness, in some ways, and I think it's effective in its aim. The writing is lyrical in spots, and brutal in others. I felt like I was looking into a window on a world I'll never experience, that doesn't exist anymore, but the echoes are still being felt.

Food: cardamom tea. Fragrant, a little spicy, and drunk to stimulate the salivary glands before the meal.

Nov 4, 2020, 9:48pm

462. 1Q84

I am a Murakami fan. He's not for everyone. And this book is exceedingly hard to describe, like some of his others. Aomame (who, for some reason, is always called by her last name) and Tengo are our main characters and we spend a good portion of the book(s) not knowing why there's a connection between them. Aomame is a sports trainer, Tengo is a teacher and a writer, and both enter a parallel-ish world, where there are two moons, and something else is happening, as we learn bit by bit.

The title is a bit of a pun on 1984, the year the books are set. Apparently, the pronunciation of the number 9 in Japanese is very similar to the pronunciation of the letter Q. I love how Murakami creates an enveloping world that I can immerse myself in easily. There were some repetitive moments, and I was left wondering if that was intentional, a device of some kind, or just filler. Books are a prominent feature in this novel, as they are in some of Murakami's other writing, and I'm a sucker for books about books. It's a weakness of mine.

Food: a progressive French-Japanese fusion meal, growing in complexity of flavor, spanning 3-4 hours. An odyssey of taste, color and aroma, savored and relished as a unique experience.

Dez 29, 2020, 7:56pm

463. Kristin Lavransdattar

Kristin is the daughter of a well-born gentleman and his wife in Norway in the 1300's. The trilogy follows her life in lots of detail, and it has its moments where it isn't boring, but honestly, I never needed to know this much about Norwegian politics in the Middle Ages. It's also hard to read about women really not having any place but as daughters to be negotiated with as brides, often without their consent, only to be bearers of children, then to be turned out when the next generation takes over. I understand that that was the reality of the time, but it's not entertaining to read about. Nor is it educational, not at this point.

There's a lot of Catholic influence in the book, and use of shame and guilt. Women are expected to be pure and spotless until marriage, but "boys will be boys", and no shame follows them. Perhaps someone else finds a lot of value in the reading of these books, but it seemed like a storyline that's in so many that just isn't the way life is anymore, or should've been then. Kristin does reflect a lot toward the end of the third book, but it's a LONG journey to get there.

Food: a giant pot of vegetable soup. The first couple bowls aren't so bad, but it gets pretty tedious after awhile and you feel the need to not let any go to waste, so you're real happy when it's over.

Dez 30, 2020, 1:51am

>295 amaryann21:
Thanks for taking one for the team. I'll pass on this. Although I'm interested in some degree about life in 14th century Norway, I'm lookimg more for a 10 page article written in a quality magazine.

Jan 10, 8:56pm

>296 Nickelini: You can definitely pass on this one. I think reading the Wikipedia article about it should suffice.

Jan 10, 8:57pm

464. The Names

James is a risk analyst and currently stationed in Athens, where his wife (from whom he is separated) and son are living as well. He travels all over the world, as do most of his colleagues in Greece. He learns of a cult from a friend, a cult who kills seemingly randomly, and is obsessed with language. This is the extent of the plot.

DeLillo is a difficult author for me. I feel a disconnect when reading his novels, like I can't quite get all the way in. I find his dialogue strange at times, too. I think this book was easier to get through than some I've read previously, and I did enjoy the focus on language.

Food: cheese pizza. It's decent, but nothing spectacular, and could really benefit from another topping or two to spice it up.

Jan 22, 11:25pm

465. Sputnik Sweetheart

K narrates our journey in Japan and in Greece, the tale of his friendship with Sumire. Unrequited love connects them, but their friendship is more important to both than K's feelings that Sumire can't return. She travels to Greece with her employer, Miu, and things take a strange twist.

The more I read Murakami, the more I enjoy him. Surreal is definitely his wheelhouse, but surreal with devastatingly human experiences. Things might be implausible, but he makes them feel as though you've lived them, too. His language in this book is gorgeous. When I finished the book, I had to sit in silence for a few minutes and let it wash over me.

Food: a handful of pomegranate segments. Intense, sweet, a little bitter, a little tart, lingering on the tongue with a firm taste memory after your first experience.

Jan 26, 9:57am

466. Pavel's Letters

Pavel is Maron's grandfather, a victim of the Holocaust, though he had renounced his Jewish heritage and joined the Baptist church in his adulthood. This book is an exploration by Maron of her grandparents and parents, their interaction with one another, the rise and fall of the Nazis, and the subsequent rise and fall of communism in Germany. That description is much drier than the book, however.

Maron is a great storyteller, though the disjointedness is a bit jarring. The style, though, feels reflective of her experience of exploring family history. I found her perspective of watching her mother join the communist party and truly believe in its goodness, and later her own rejection of the party, very interesting. It gave me new insight into what an incredible time it would have been to live in Germany, the sense of turbulence and disruption and reaction to all that had happened and how they thought they were doing the right things for themselves and their country.

Food: a foraged meal. Mushrooms, nuts and berries found here and there while wandering through the woods.

Fev 4, 4:53pm

467. Manhattan Transfer

The only constant character in this book is the city of New York, and we peer into the lives of many who live within her confines. Spanning a few decades, this book shows us through the Gilded Age into the Jazz Age, through WWI, and staring at the economic depression that looms. The reader looks into windows at snippets of lives, moments of joy, heartache, sorrow, elation, and the rest of the gamut of emotions.

I found snippets of prose in this book to be transcendent, and some of the descriptions stopped me for a minute in their beauty. The book is divided into three sections, and the mood changes as we move into darker times for the city and its residents. The sensation of being in a very specific moment and place in time was palpable, a considerable feat accomplished.

Food: at first, it was like those candied fruit slices- bright, full of strong flavor and sweetness. Then, it became darker and darker chocolate, until it was almost bitter.

Fev 20, 11:04pm

468. Gormenghast

This is the second novel in the Gormenghast trilogy, preceded by Titus Groan. In this installment, Titus grows from a boy to a man and wrestles with his impending earldom. Steerpike makes progress on his nefarious plot to gain power. And Irma Prunesquallor wants to get married.

There was more plot than prose in this novel, a refreshing change from Titus Groan. I learned that Peake had originally planned for this to be a whole series, but he died before he could complete more than the first three. He was inspired by Tolkien, but, imo, he's just not as talented. I did feel more engaged with the story this time, though.

Food: an apple in winter, after it's been sitting out for a few weeks. Still flavorful and juicy, but a touch mealy and withered in spots.

Mar 13, 6:26pm

469. Memoirs of a Geisha

Written as a memoir, this is a fictionalized account of a woman who goes from peasant child to being sold into an okiya (household of a geisha) to becoming one of the most famous geishas in history. It's written as a first-person account, told to a translator in the USA.

In his acknowledgements, Golden says he met with a well-known geisha from the 1950's and 60's to research his story. It was speculated that he wouldn't get the level of frank honesty that he feels he got, as being a geisha requires a certain level of mystery and secrecy. Even as fiction, this novel is a great window into a world that will never exist again.

Food: cold miso noodles with lime and ginger. Familiar flavors mixed with new tastes, surprising and delicious.

Mar 20, 12:12am

470. Rameau's Nephew

This short novel is a conversation between Rameau's nephew and his friend, known simply as "myself". It's philosophical and moral in nature, with music mixed in. Rameau's nephew asserts that he wants all the best things by doing the least amount of actual work, and doesn't feel he's doing anything wrong nor compromising himself to do so. "Myself" takes the opposing view, that material things aren't the pinnacle to be attained, and being a person of moral character and good reputation is more important.

Rameau's Nephew was not published during Diderot's lifetime. He names several politicians, artists, actors, and well-known personages of the time, and it is thought he didn't publish because he didn't want to embarrass them (or himself?). I didn't enjoy reading it, but it's mercifully short.

Food: a raw oyster. I do not enjoy raw oysters, but at least the experience is over quickly.

Mar 25, 11:38pm

471. A Handful of Dust

Brenda and Tony had a lively son, an estate in the country, and very few problems. Brenda got bored, and decided to take up with John Beaver. This, obviously, was a bad choice and the events that followed are the moral of the story.

Despite the "it's all the woman's fault" tone, the story read quickly and had some unexpected twists. It kept my interest more than I anticipated.

Food: a mouthful of hot, black coffee. Bitter, strong, not unpleasant, but maybe missing a little sugar.

Mar 28, 1:23pm

472. Decline and Fall

Paul Pennyfeather gets caught up in the annual Bollinger club celebration and loses his clothes. This is the kick off for a series of events in Paul's life that involve death, children, amputations, prison, and prostitutes, not necessarily in that order.

The story is absurd, and Paul gets swept along in it. It makes for a fun read, while Waugh is poking fun at English society. Several of the character names were laugh out loud clever.

Food: onion ring mints. Yes, these actually exist, and while I've not tried them, this is the level of absurdity. And I will try one when it runs across my path.

Mar 28, 4:48pm

>306 amaryann21: sounds like fun!

Mar 31, 1:27pm

>307 elik82: one of the more fun novels on the list!

Editado: Abr 13, 9:59am

473. The Big Sleep

This is a Philip Marlowe novel, a classic hard-boiled private detective story. Marlowe is hired by a rich family who is being blackmailed and stumbles into much larger criminal activities. Cigarettes, whiskey, rain, and shadiness.

Chandler writes this genre well, and while the reader knows what to expect, it's still quite enjoyable to read. There are some great twists.

Food: a greasy cheeseburger. Nothing fancy, decidedly low-brow, but it hits the spot every once in awhile.

Abr 27, 11:41am

474. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Hercule Poirot may be retired, but when you're the world's preeminent detective, mystery finds you wherever you hide! Roger Ackroyd was murdered, and Mrs. Ferrars was being blackmailed. What's the connection? Poirot knows...

Classic whodunnit, Poirot style. Christie at her best. A slim novel, it's fun to just be along for the ride.

Food: french fries. No effort required, they're gone before you know it!

Abr 29, 4:05pm

475. The Razor's Edge

Larry snuck into Canada to fight in WWI, and he came back different, just not interested in the American ideal anymore. When he tells Isabel he wants to go to Paris and loaf, she was on board at first, because she loved him. This was just the start to a pair of divergent paths. Which did the "right" thing?

Maugham is the narrator as himself in this novel, and there is speculation that it's based on people he knew. He opens the book with that assertion, though it's not clear who exactly. Larry is ahead of his time, as an American, though the ideals he sought and the wisdom he pursued would make their way to the United States eventually. Maugham makes no conclusions, other than perhaps everyone got what they were looking for.

Food: chicken noodle soup. A satisfying meal, nothing fancy, but heartening when it needs to be.

Maio 13, 1:36pm

476. Life and Times of Martin Chuzzlewit

There are two Martin Chuzzlewits- the grandfather and the grandson. Which is the story about? Yes. It's about all the Chuzzlewits, and the people they interact with in England and the United States. It covers a LOT of ground, more than I'm used to in a Dickens novel.

Dickens wrote this after he visited the United States, and it seems as though he didn't really enjoy his trip. His characters' experience are pretty negative. It seems as though Dickens wanted to make this novel all things- comedy, tragedy, and moral tale all in one. Maybe it was a little much. The clever names he gives his characters, though, is very enjoyable.

The copy of this novel that I read was from 1905 and it made me think about all the changes the world has been through since it was published. It cost $1.25 new, about $37 now.

Food: steak and kidney pie. Some bites are delicious, and some are just offal.

Maio 24, 10:12pm

477. The Light of Day

George is a private detective, a PI, and he's gotten in over his head. He tells his story, as he remembers it, a bit at a time.

It's almost a stream-of-conscious novel, though there seems to be a pattern to the timeline the further into the book that I got. Staying with it, allowing the lens to open up further and further until the whole picture was revealed, was the patient task of this book, and it wasn't unenjoyable. A lot of elements of noir, which I normally am not into, but this was less hard-boiled than some.

Food: arriving part way into the second course of a German banquet. Not quite sure what's being served, it's all tasty and familiar, but you've no idea what's coming next.

Jun 9, 2:25pm

478. The Afternoon of a Writer

The writer lost his language in the past, but has regained it. Now, though, he lives in fear of losing it again, and has a schedule by which he intends to prohibit that from happening again. Mostly, he stays away from contact with others, but forces himself to be among people at least a little. The book is the telling of an afternoon and evening in his daily life. Not a lot happens.

I wonder how much of this is autobiographical for Handke. I wonder how universal this is for writers. This was an interesting picture into the brain of a solitary writer, and it left me with questions about the relatability for other writers.

Food: an under-ripe pear. A little hard, a little dry, a little rough, but still tasty.