DeltQueen's Attempt at the 1,0001 List

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DeltQueen's Attempt at the 1,0001 List

Editado: Jun 11, 4:57pm

My name is Judy and because of a silly bet with my brother about a year ago I have been adding books from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die List to my reading. He has read more from the list than I have even though I am his older sister. I guess when we were younger, he was reading the classics while I gorged on mysteries! I am closing the gap as I am currently at 181 books read while he sits around 212. Of course he vows that I will never catch him as he will always read at least one more book than I do, but you never know, he may slacken off and allow me to sneak past him.

There have been a few books that I really struggled with but on the whole I have found some excellent reads so I am enjoying my quest to read as many of these books as I can. I am a member of the 2021 Category Challenge and my main thread can be found here:

Currently Reading:

Romance of Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong - year long group read at the Category Challenge

Editado: Maio 28, 11:36am

I will start off with my list of completed books. I am not working off of any particular year’s list, if a book has appeared on a 1,001 Books To Read Before You Die List than it is fair game. The highlighted books are the ones that I have read since the bet's been on and I have posted reviews for them as well.

Pre 1700

* Aesopus – Aesop’s Fables
* Anonymous - One Thousand and One Nights: The Complete Collection
* Shi Nai'An - The Water Margin: Outlaws of the Marsh

1700 to 1799

* Daniel Defoe – Robinson Crusoe

* Henry Fielding - Tom Jones

* Jonathan Swift - A Modest Proposal

* Voltaire – Candide

* Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe - The Sorrows of Young Werther
* Horace Walpole The Castle of Otranto


* Louisa May Alcott – Little Women
* Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice
* Jane Austen – Mansfield Park
* Jane Austen – Northanger Abbey
* Jane Austen – Emma
* Jane Austen – Persuasion
* Jane Austen - Sense and Sensibility

* Anne Bronte – Agnes Grey
* Anne Bronte - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
* Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre
* Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights

* Lewis Carroll – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
* Lewis Carroll – Through the Looking Glass
* Wilkie Collins – The Woman in White
* Wilkie Collins – The Moonstone
* James Fenimore Cooper – The Last of the Mohicans

* Charles Dickens – Oliver Twist
* Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol
* Charles Dickens – David Copperfield
* Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities
* Charles Dickens – Great Expectations
* Charles Dickens - Hard Times
* Fyodor Dostoevsky - Notes From Underground
* Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
* Arthur Conan Doyle – The Hounds of the Baskervilles
* Alexandre Dumas – The Three Musketeers
* Alexandre Dumas – The Count of Monte Cristo
* Alexandre Dumas - Queen Margot

* George Eliot – Silas Marner
* George Eliot - Adam Bede

* Gustave Flaubert - Madame Bovary

* Nikolai Gogol - Dead Souls
* Nikolai Gogol - The Nose
* George Grossmith – Diary of a Nobody

* H. Rider Haggard – King Solomon’s Mines
* H. Rider Haggard - She
* Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter
* Victor Hugo - The Hunchback of Notre Dame

* Henry James – The Turn of the Screw

* Joaquim Maria Machado De Assis - The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas

* Edgar Allan Poe – The Pit and the Pendulum
* Edgar Alan Poe – The Murders in the Rue Morgue
* Edgar Allan Poe - The Fall of the House of Usher

* George Sand - The Devil's Pool
* Sir Walter Scott - Ivanhoe
* Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
* Robert Louis Stevenson – The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde
* Robert Louis Stevenson – Treasure Island
* Robert Louis Stevenson - Kidnapped
* Robert Louis Stevenson - The Master of Ballantrae
* Bram Stoker - Dracula

* Leo Tolsyoy – Anna Karenina
* Mark Twain – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

*Jules Verne – Around the World in Eighty Days
* Jules Verne – Journey to the Centre of the Earth

* H.G. Wells – The Island of Doctor Moreau
* H. G. Wells – The Invisible Man
* H.G. Wells – The War of the Worlds
* H. G. Wells - The Time Machine
* Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray

* Emile Zola – Nana

Editado: Jun 3, 12:52pm


* Chinua Achebe - Things Fall Apart
* Douglas Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
* Douglas Adams - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
* Ryunosuke Akutagawa - Rashomon
* Eric Ambler - Cause For Alarm
* Kingsley Amis - Lucky Jim
* Kinglsey Amis - The Green Man
* Jessica Anderson - The Commandant
* Isaac Asimov - I, Robot
* Margaret Atwood – Alias Grace
* Margaret Atwood – The Handmaid’s Tale
* Margaret Atwood - The Robber Bride
* Margaret Atwood - Cat's Eye

* Mariama Ba - So Long A Letter
* James Baldwin - Go Tell It On The Mountain
* J. G. Ballard - The Drowned World
* Iain Banks – The Wasp Factory
* John Banville - The Book of Evidence
* Pat Barker – The Ghost Road
* Pat Barker - Regeneration
* Julian Barnes - Flaubert's Parrot
* Anthony Burgess – A Clockwork Orange
* Edgar Rice Burroughs – Tarzan of the Apes
* John Buchan – The Thirty-Nine Steps

* James M. Cain – The Postman Always Rings Twice
* Karel Capek – War with the Newts
* Truman Capote – Breakfast At Tiffany’s
* Truman Capote – In Cold Blood
* Raymond Chandler – The Big Sleep
* Raymond Chandler - Farewell My Lovely
* Raymond Chandler – The Long Goodbye
* Jung Chang – Wild Swans
* Erskine Childers – The Riddle of the Sands
* Agatha Christie – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
* Arthur C. Clarke – 2001: A Space Odyssey
* J. M. Coetzee - Disgrace
* J. M. Coetzee - Foe
* Joseph Conrad – Heart of Darkness
* Joseph Conrad - Lord Jim

* Tsitsi Dangarembga - Nervous Conditions
* Antoine de Saint-Exupery – The Little Prince
* Philip K. Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
* Joan Didion - Play It As It Lays
* E.L. Doctorov – Billy Bathgate
* E.L. Doctorov - Ragtime
* Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca

* Brett Easton Ellis – American Psycho
* James Ellroy – The Black Dahlia
* Louise Erdrich - Love Medicine
* Laura Esquivel - Like Water for Chocolate
* Jeffrey Eugenides – The Virgin Suicides

* J.G. Farrell – The Singapore Grip
* J.G. Farrell – The Siege of Krishnapur
* J.G. Farrell - Troubles
* William Faulkner - The Sound and The Fury
* Sebastian Faulks - Birdsong
* F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
* Ian Fleming – Casino Royale
* E. M. Forster – A Room With A View
* John Fowles – The Collector
* John Fowles – The Magus
* John Fowles – The French Lieutenant’s Woman
* Esther Freud - Hideous Kinky

* Paul Gallico - Mrs. 'arris Goes to Paris
* John Galsworthy - The Forsyte Saga
* David Gemmell - Legend
* Stella Gibbons – Cold Comfort Farm
* Arthur Golden – Memoirs of a Geisha
* William Golding – The Lord of the Flies
* Henry Green - Living
* Graham Greene – Brighton Rock
* Graham Greene - The End of the Affair
* Graham Greene - The Quiet American

Editado: Nov 21, 2020, 12:16pm

* Radyclyffe Hall - The Well of Loneliness
* Dashiell Hammett – The Maltese Falcon
* Dashiell Hammett – The Glass Key
* Dashiell Hammett – The Thin Man
* Anne Hebert – The First Garden
* Ernest Hemingway – The Sun Also Rises
* Ernest Hemingway – A Farewell to Arms
* Ernest Hemingway – For Whom the Bell Tolls
* Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea
* Michael Herr - Dispatches
* Patricia Highsmith – The Talented Mr. Ripley
* Barry Hines – A Kestrel for a Knave
* Zora Neale Hurston - Their Eyes Were Watching God
* Aldous Huxley – Brave New World

* John Irving – The Cider House Rules
* John Irving - The World According to Garp
* Christopher Isherwood - Mr. Norris Changes Trains
* Kazuo Ishiguro - An Artist of the Floating World

* Storm Jameson – A Day Off
* Erica Jong – Fear of Flying
* James Joyce - A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man

* Ismail Kadare - Broken April
* Imre Kertesz - Fateless
* Ken Kesey – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
* Jamaica Kincaid – Annie John
* Stephen King – The Shining
* Rudyard Kipling – Kim

* Nella Larsen - Passing
* Margaret Laurence - The Diviners
* Harper Lee – To Kill A Mockingbird
* Laurie Lee – Cider With Rosie
* Elmore Leonard – City Primeval
* Elmore Leonard - Get Shorty
* Doris Lessing – The Grass is Singing
* Sinclair Lewis – Babbitt
* Astrid Lingren – Pippi Longstocking
* Vaino Linna - Unknown Soldiers
* Jack London – The Call of the Wild
* H. P. Lovecraft – At The Mountains of Madness

* Colin MacInnes - Absolute Beginners
* Ian Macpherson - Wild Harbour
* Henning Mankell – Faceless Killers
* Thomas Mann - The Magic Mountain
* Katherine Mansfield – The Garden Party
* Patrick McCabe – The Butcher Boy
* Cormac McCarthy - Blood Meridian
* Cormac McCarthy – All the Pretty Horses
* Horace McCoy – They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
* Ian McEwan - The Cement Garden
* Ian McEwan – The Child in Time
* Robert Merle - The Day of the Dolphin
* Henry Miller – Tropic of Cancer
* Henry Miller - Tropic of Capricorn
* Margaret Mitchell – Gone With the Wind
* Nancy Mitford – The Pursuit of Love
* Nancy Mitford – Love in a Cold Climate
* Allan Moore - Watchmen
* Lorrie Moore - Like Life
* Toni Morrison - The Bluest Eye
* Toni Morrison - Sula
* Alice Munro - Lives of Girls and Women

* Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita

Editado: Mar 22, 5:16pm

* Joyce Carol Oates - Them
* Edna O'Brien - The Country Girls
* Tim O’Brien – The Things They Carried
* Flannery O'Connor - The Violent Bear It Away
* George Orwell – Animal Farm
* George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four

* Charlotte Gilman Perkins – The Yellow Wallpaper
* Mario Puzo – The Godfather

* Pauline Reage – The Story of O
* Erich Maria Remarque – All Quiet on the Western Front
* Anne Rice – Interview With a Vampire
* Philip Roth – The Breast
* Philip Roth – Portnoy’s Complaint
* Philip Roth - Sabbath's Theater

* Francoise Sagan – Bonjour Tristesse
* J. D. Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye
* Dorothy Sayers – Murder Must Advertise
* Dorothy Sayers - The Nine Tailors
* Bernhard Schlink - The Reader
*Vikram Seth – A Suitable Boy
* Nevil Shute – A Town Called Alice
* May Sinclair - The Life and Death of Harriet Frean
* Isaac Bashevis Singer - The Magician of Lublin
* Muriel Spark – Memento Mori
* Muriel Spark – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
* Muriel Spark - The Girls of Slender Means
* Christina Stead - The Man Who Loved Children
* John Steinbeck – The Grapes of Wrath
* John Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men
* John Steinbeck – Cannery Row
* Graham Swift – Waterland

* Elizabeth Taylor - Blaming
* Jim Thompson – The Killer Inside Me
* Newton Thornberg – Cutter and Bone
* James Thurber – The 13 Clocks
* J.R.R. Tolkein – The Hobbit
* J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings

* Sigrid Undset – Kristin Lavransdatter
* John Updike - Rabbit, Run

* Gore Videl – Myra Breckinridge
* Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse Five

* Alice Walker - The Color Purple
* Keith Waterhouse - Billy Liar
* Winnifred Watson – Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
* Evelyn Waugh – Vile Bodies
* Evelyn Waugh - A Handful of Dust
* Charles Webb – The Graduate
* Irvine Welsh - Trainspotting
* Nathaniel West - Miss Lonelyhearts
* Rebecca West – The Return of the Soldier
* Edith Wharton - The House of Mirth
* Edith Wharton – Ethan Frome
* Edith Wharton – The Bunner Sisters
* Edith Wharton - Summer
* Patrick White - Voss
* T. H. White - The Once and Future King
* Henry Williamson – Tarka the Otter
* P. G. Wodehouse – Thank you, Jeeves
* Virginia Woolf – Jacob’s Room
* Virginia Woolf - Mrs. Dalloway
* John Wyndham – The Day of the Triffids
* John Wyndham – The Midwich Cuckoo
* John Wyndham - Chocky

* Yevgeny Zamyatin - We

Editado: Jun 3, 12:52pm


* Aravind Adiga - The White Tiger
* Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Half a Yellow Sun
* Niccolo Ammaniti - I'm Not Scared

* John Banville - The Sea

* Michael Chabon – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

* Kiran Desai – The Inheritance of Loss

* Michael Faber - Under The Skin

* Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

* Ismail Kadare - Spring Flowers, Spring Frost
* James Kelman - Kieron Smith, Boy

* Andrea Levy – Small Island

* Helen Macdonald - H is for Hawk
* Yann Martel - Life of Pi
* Eimear McBride - A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
* Philipp Meyer – American Rust

* David Peace – 1977
* Dbc Pierre - Vernon God Little

* Jose Saramago - The Double
* Ali Smith – The Accidental

* Colm Toibin - The Master
* Rose Tremain - The Colour
* William Trevor – The Story of Lucy Gault

* Sarah Waters – Fingersmith

Total Books Read = 292

Books To Be Added:

Goldfinch Donna Tartt
The Circle Dave Eggers
Americanah Chimamanada Ngozi
The Flamethrowers Rachel Kushner
The Story of the
Lost Child Elena Ferrante
10:04 Ben Lerner
H(A)PPY Nicola Barker
Winter Ali Smith

Jun 23, 2018, 1:53am

Welcome Judy. Nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry to give you an added incentive!

Jun 23, 2018, 6:42am

Great to see you here! I find so many books to try off of the list through reviews in this group. We also do monthly group reads if you want to join us. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch is July.

Jun 23, 2018, 10:57am

Welcome to the group!

Jun 23, 2018, 1:16pm

>7 puckers: Thank you, although my brother is one of my best friends, there is a certain amount of sibling rivalry there as well.

>8 japaul22: Hi Jennifer, I thought it was about time I stopped lurking here. I am very interested in the group reads but I will have to pass on July as I am going to be spending some time at my Mother's with very limited access to the internet. Is there a group read every month?

>9 paruline: Thanks, I was a little hesitant about starting another thread, but I need to keep track of my reads from the 1001 List and this seems a great way to do it.

Jun 24, 2018, 5:51pm

>10 DeltaQueen50: so far, it looks like you're enjoying most of your selections from the list. I hope this trend continues. And of course that you win your bet ;)

Jun 24, 2018, 6:47pm

>10 DeltaQueen50: yes, we do a group read every month and vote for two months at once. There will be a thread for August and September sometime in July.

Jun 25, 2018, 11:07am

Welcome aboard!

Jun 26, 2018, 12:24am

Judy! So nice to see you here. Although, I myself have been rather absent the last couple of years since I went back to work full time.

I'm at 230, but currently reading very few 1001 books, so I'm an easy target to pick off. In fact, I see the last time I read a 1001 book was 1 year and 4 days ago. And I don't see any in my future. I still like to follow along here and there tho, and I have a huge 1001 TBR stack, so I will pick away at it.

I'll compare our lists and recommend some that will help you gain on your bro.

Jun 29, 2018, 11:45am

Hi Judy,

in your quest to read more than your brother, you might be interested in this thread about short 1001 books and this one about uplifting books.

Jun 30, 2018, 11:36pm

>15 paruline: Doh! I remember those threads. Great ideas (if you can sift out the ones where people insisted on suggesting non-list books, which I just never understood.)

Jul 4, 2018, 7:16pm

I have added Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin to my completed list. I found this quite the read, although probably not destined to be a favorite, it certainly has a powerful message.

I am currently reading the last book in The Forsyte Saga.

>11 paruline: Thanks, I think my recent numbers have given my brother a little scare as he has suddenly been reading a number of books from the list but I think I have more on my TBR pile than he does so I will continue to creep up on him. ;)

>12 japaul22: I will be sure to check out the upcoming group reads - as much as I loved A Suitable Boy and Kristin Lavransdatter, their sheer size would have kept me from picking them up without the group reads that we had over on the Category Challenge.

>13 MartinBodek: Thank you. :)

>14 Nickelini: Thanks, Joyce. I have been lurking here ever since you gave me the link, and I finally got around to setting up a thread for myself. I've read some of the books that you suggested last year, so I am always ready for more recommendations.

>15 paruline: & >16 Nickelini: Thanks, I will give those list a good going over.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:16pm

184. Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin - 4.2 ★

A semi-autobiographical novel, Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin takes place over the course of young John Grimes fourteenth birthday. John spends the day reflecting on his life, the people in it and the conditions he lives with. His is a racist society and his violent preacher stepfather does nothing to make his life easier. Set in Harlem, the book seems to describe one harrowing incident after another.

James Baldwin has been recognized as one of the foremost black American writers, and this short and angry novel was the one that brought him to fame. The author’s rage simmers just under the surface while his beautiful writing captures the reader emotionally and draws them into the story. Touching on themes of religion, family and race there is a lot here for the reader to absorb but the author delivers his story with an evangelistic passion. Go Tell It On The Mountain is a powerful story that is abrasive, resolute and poetic.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:16pm

185. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy - 4.0 ★

This version of The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy is over 800 pages and consists of 3 books; A Man of Property, In Chancery and To Let as well as 2 short interludes; "Indian Summer" and "Awakening". This is a family saga about money, morals and class at the beginning of the 20th century. The Forsytes are an upper-middle class family that have good expectations of improving their status. While the main focus of the story is on the disintegration of the marriage between Soames Forsyte and his wife, Irene, and the interactions between these two and their families, there are other plots involving this multi-generational family that revolve around the expansion of their wealth and the price paid for this obtainment.

I have to admit that by the third book I was quite tired of reading about Soames and Irene as well as their overdone “soap opera” plot. While Soames’ journey through life was difficult, I didn’t feel much sympathy for him as I found him quite pompous and rigid. At the same time, I found his wife, Irene too cold and distant to ever feel that I knew her so I couldn’t generate much interest in her story either. In the later books, I did like both Fleur and Jon, but it was easy to see what was going to happen with this relationship so I was never emotionally invested in their story.

Galsworthy spreads his story over a large canvas that includes all the various members of this family and we learn a little about each member over the course of the three books and many different sub-plots are developed along the way. Personally I much preferred these sub-plots that featured the other Forsytes and while I grew tired of some of the characters I can certainly attest to the appeal of this story with it’s descriptions of wealthy English lifestyles and conventional society morals at the turn on the century.

Jul 11, 2018, 12:59am

I am just back from visiting my family in Victoria and have discovered that I have put a scare into my brother. He has decided to only read books from the 1001 List this year in an effort to stay in front of me. He is currently sitting at 206 books from the list while I am at 183. I usually read more books in a month than he does, but only a small portion of them are from the 1001 list. He will definitely be staying out in front of me this year, but I will continue to chip away at his total and perhaps one day will catch him.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:16pm

186. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K.Dick - 4.5 ★

Wow, another book that I did not want to end! Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick was a fantastic science fiction read with themes revolving around man’s humanity. First published in 1968, this iconic novel is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco as bounty hunter Richard Deckard tracks down and “retires” runaway androids. I have seen the 1982 film based on this book, but I have either forgotten it or it was very loosely based on the actual story.

The world has suffered through a nuclear war and is vastly changed. Most people have been killed or have moved to Mars. Those that remain are “specials”, people disfigured by fallout or whose brains have been affected leaving them with low intelligence, other people who are needed to work on earth and those who cannot afford to leave also remain. Most species have been eliminated or endangered by radiation poisoning so owning an animal is a status symbol. To show one’s empathy for animals is to show that you are human. Androids are devoid of empathy and testing them for this is one way to root out these hidden beings who are trying to pass as human.

I was absolutely fascinated by this tale. Set in the year 2019 (which seemed in the future when the book was written), this world is an unhealthy, dreary place with it’s fake religion, mood amplifiers and a non-stop 24 hour television show. The story totally held my attention while at the same time the author left many unanswered questions that give the reader a lot to ponder upon. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a complex, dark and disturbing read that in light of the world situation today seems all that more relevant.

Jul 19, 2018, 9:11am

>21 DeltaQueen50: excellent review!

Jul 25, 2018, 1:08pm

>22 ELiz_M: Thanks. :)

Editado: Set 3, 2018, 12:40pm

186. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison - 4.2 ★

The Bluest Eye is the first novel by Novel-prize winning author Toni Morrison. This book is a complex exploration into how both racial attitudes and life experiences shape our definition of physical beauty for both blacks and whites. I found this a difficult read emotionally as there are a number of incidents that were difficult to read about. A young twelve year old girl is raped by her father, and there are various accounts of domestic violence and racial prejudice.

The story describes a very troubled family, the father is often drunk and he and the mother fight both physically and verbally. The young girl, Pecola, considers herself ugly and unworthy of love, and believes that if only she could have blue eyes, she would be pretty and happy. The view shifts from character to character over the course of the story and the reader comes to understand what drives each character and become engaged by their experiences.

Although this is a raw and hard hitting story, The Bluest Eye flows like poetry and despite all the tragedy there are moments of humor and hints of hope. Originally published in 1970, the author was fearless in exposing her themes and visions and has produced a powerful and unforgettable American novel.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:16pm

188. Hard Times by Charles Dickens - 3.5 ★

Hard Times by Charles Dickens explores and exposes the working conditions in the factories of Northern England in the 1850’s. Dickens was obviously a forward thinker and many of his novels point out conditions that needed improving, in Hard Times he turns his attention on the ambitious businessmen, the educators, the gentry and the would-be gentry who take advantage and exploit the workers. First and foremost, Hard Times appears to be a critique of the politics and economics of the day. Contrary to the Temperance Leagues and Sabbatarians, he believed that hard-working people deserved recreational pursuits to relieve the tedium and stress of their workaday lives. It is also apparent that he felt that children need to be encouraged to use their imagination, that fairy tales and make believe are important to their development.

This is the shortest of his novels and is set in the fictitious industrial town of Coketown where the factories belch smoke all day and soot covers the landscape. The subject matter is as dark as the setting, as we read of abuse, suppression and betrayal. This is not a book to read for it’s happy ending, being much darker than David Copperfield or Oliver Twist. The characters on these pages do not get a chance to turn their lives around.

I read Hard Times in installment form just as it was originally published in 1854 and although it is a socially conscious, agenda-drive book, there is also a good story here about the citizens of Coketown, many with the wonderfully descriptive names that Dickens bestows upon his characters. Being a shorter book kept the focus on moving the story along and, rather than pages of description or long winded asides, the prose was stylish and clever. As a fan of Dickens, I enjoyed both the fine writing and the sharp social criticism that one comes to expect of this author.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:17pm

189. Under The Skin by Michael Faber - 5.0 ★

Under The Skin by Michael Faber is a strange story that grows progressively weirder as it develops. Set in the Scottish Highlands the story slowly reveals that the main character, Isserley, spends her time driving around the roads of Northern Scotland and picks up hitchhikers. She doesn’t pickup women, and only stops for well developed, muscular men. After getting them into her car she guides the conversation to have her passenger reveal what ties they have and who would miss them if they don’t show up at their destination.

As the story moves along, the reader eventually discovers the purpose behind Isserley’s quest. The story grows ever darker and more terrifying. As more of Isserley’s character is revealed, the harder it is not to feel some empathy for her, although she certainly shows none for her victims. In truth, Isserley is an extraterrestrial who has been surgically altered to roughly take the human form. Her victims are drugged, mutilated, fattened and then shipped to her home planet for food.

With Under The Skin the author has delivered a beautifully written horror story with touches of macabre humor and, like many classic science fiction novels, this is a satirical novel with themes that revolve around the exploration of issues of humanity and other social concerns. I was totally spellbound by this brilliant, surreal exploration of morality but would caution that this story can be brutally graphic at times. This book deserves it's place on the 1,001 Books List and was a five star read for me.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:17pm

190. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro - 4.0 ★

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro is a deceptively simple story, that presents a knowledge of Japanese sensitivities by an essentially British author. The story takes place in the years just after the defeat of Japan. Americans have occupied the country and popular attitudes have changed. The opinion of the citizens of Japan is that those who influenced or led Japan to it’s disastrous defeat are traitors. Many approve the decision of former leaders to commit suicide to appease their guilt.

The book is told in the form of four conversations, but it becomes clear that Masuji Ono is an unreliable narrator, he excuses himself for having hazy memories and overlooks many of his implied faults but it becomes clear that he turned from his art to become influential in presenting propaganda for Japanese imperialism and the war effort. He seems unable to accept responsibility for his past actions and seemingly fails to recognize that his previous actions are having an effect on his family today.

Although the book is an easy read, the writing was quite reserved and contained. I felt that the author considered every word and phrase carefully before adding it. Personally I would have preferred a little more passion and emotion in his interpretation of issues of guilt and responsibility. This was my first book by this author and I find his writing quite intriguing so I am looking forward to reading more of his creative work.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:17pm

191. Cause For Alarm by Eric Ambler - 3.8 ★

Cause For Alarm by Eric Ambler is a classic spy thriller that is set in Fascist Italy in 1938. A tale of espionage and counter-espionage, this was an enjoyable read about the political situation that was building up to soon become open warfare. Eric Ambler wrote the book in the late 1930’s and clearly saw the danger in both the Nazi government of Germany and the rise of Fascism in Italy.

Unlike the thrillers of today, I found that the story developed quite slowly. Nick Marlow finds himself out of work and accepts a job with an engineering company to run their Milan office unaware that he will soon be involved in cloak and dagger intrigue. Becoming involved with Russian agents, German spies and suspicious Italian organizations, he soon finds himself on the run across Northern Italy toward the border with Yugoslavia.

I found Cause For Alarm to be a well-written, subtle yet intelligent story. The author’s straight forward narration gives just enough color to the story for the reader to see the desperation and confusion of the amateur caught up in an impossible situation. The author’s leftist leanings are obvious with his sympathetic take on a couple of Russian spies, but of course, this book was written before Germany and Russia signed their Non-Aggression Pact. An interesting look at Europe on the brink of war.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:17pm

192. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf - 4.2 ★

I was quite leery of reading Mrs. Dalloway, my second Virginia Woolf as I wasn’t a fan of my first attempt, Jacob’s Room. Once again the dreaded words “stream of consciousness” arose and I approached the book with trepidation. I chose to listen to the book as read by Juliet Stevenson, and this was an excellence choice as she did a stellar job and made the book come alive.

Mrs. Dalloway is a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a high society woman in post WW I England. Mrs. Dalloway’s main concerns revolve around relationships and connections. On this particular day she is preparing to host a party and as she goes through the day getting ready for the evening, she muses on her past relationships and how her life has turned out. One gets the sense that somewhere along the way, she has lost her inner self to the Mayfair hostess she shows to the outside world.

We don’t spend the whole book locked in Mrs. Dalloways’ head. There is another storyline that runs parallel to that of Clarissa’s. This one involves a war veteran, Septimus Smith and his wife Lucrezia. Septimus is suffering from post traumatic stress and although he and Clarissa do not meet on this day, his actions are to affect her. We also meet and are given an insight into her past with encounters with her past suitor, Peter Walsh and her childhood best friend Sally Seton.

Surprise, surprise! I loved this book. The author was able to place me inside this woman’s head and make me privy to her inner most thoughts. Although some would find her shallow and selfish, I found myself relating to her. I think most everyone thinks about their choices and wonder what life would be like if they had chosen a different path. This is a short book but it is packed with unforgettable images and beautiful language that ultimately tell a story about wasted potential.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:17pm

193. The Day of the Dolphin by Robert Merle - 2.5 ★

The Day of the Dolphin is a 1967 science fiction novel by French novelist Robert Merle. The book is set in Florida in the early 1970’s when the cold war was still on-going. I struggled with this book as it did not engage me, was quite dated, and, from today’s prospective the plot was hard to swallow. Of course, as with many science fiction books written in this era, the author uses the story to highlight his anti-war and anti-government feelings.

The first half of the book is spent in setting up the situation and explaining how the scientists have been researching dolphins and analyzing the sounds they make. They are trying to teach dolphins to speak English and of course, the government is watching closely and considering how these dolphins could be used in warfare. The second half of the book was more of a thriller but as I was never very engaged with the plot, I wasn’t able to get swept up in the danger and excitement.

The idea of dolphins being able to directly communicate with humans is an exciting and interesting idea, but having them learn to speak actual English just didn’t work for me. Overall I think the biggest problem with this book is that it just didn’t stand the test of time.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:18pm

194. One Thousand and One Nights: The Complete Collection by Anonymous - 4.0 ★

One Thousand and One Nights: The Complete Collection is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales complied during the Islamic Golden Age. The first English language edition was published in 1706, and many of these stories have gone on to become well-loved additions to books of fairy tales. From tales of magic to stories of adventure, every human emotion and action are contained among these stories. There are tales of lust, betrayal, greed and every sin imaginable as well as tales that illustrate forgiveness, morality and, at times, revenge.

I opened the book and read the first story well over a year ago, and have been dipping in and out of the book ever since. Taking my time with the reading kept me from being overloaded and the tales remained fresh. I was surprised at the variety of stories as well as how many stories within stories there were. A word of caution however, these stories, as printed, are not children’s stories, they have adult content and a high level of violence.

The Thousand and One Nights has been translated into many different volumes and has evolved into the classic it is considered to be today. Personally, I found that this was an excellent way to absorb middle eastern culture as well as giving me a panoramic view of human behavior both good and bad.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:18pm

195. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene - 4.5 ★

The End of the Affair by Graham Green is an outstanding story of adultery and it’s aftermath and another happy surprise from the 1,001 List for me. I was not expecting a story with such depth of emotion but, perhaps, because I listened to an audio version as read by Colin Firth, I was quite taken and touched with this story.

We come into the story after the affair has ended. Maurice Bendrix, a novelist, had met and taken up with a neighbour’s wife, Sarah. They fell passionately in love, yet Maurice could never quite convince himself that Sarah was true to him. The time is during WW II and when a bomb falls on his house while they are together and Maurice is almost killed, Sarah ends the affair. The next few years sees the end of the war and Maurice sinking into bitterness and hatred of Sarah. When her husband comes to him and talks about his fears that she may currently be involved with someone, Maurice hires a private detective to have her followed. What the detective uncovers and what is revealed in Sarah’s stolen diary produces the drama and emotion that left me breathless and near to tears.

Although slightly dated, the overall story of the agony of two people caught up in an impossible situation is totally compelling. Apparently the author himself went through a long and difficult adulterous affair and, in fact, this book is dedicated to his mistress, Catherine. This fact perhaps explains why the writing brings such a sense of authenticity to the story and why the poignant moments held such a ring of truth. Obviously this author was also conflicted in his religious beliefs as well, which is something that has come up in other books by him that I have read. I can’t praise Colin Firth’s narrative highly enough, his was the perfect voice to bring this story to life, and make The End of the Affair one of my top vocal experiences. I would have given this book a 4 star rating but the audio performance raises this to a 4.5.

Editado: Set 18, 2018, 4:07am

>32 DeltaQueen50: I also listened to Colin Firth’s narration and agree with you - one of the most unrelentingly sad novels on the list.

Set 18, 2018, 3:38pm

>33 puckers: Graham Greene is quickly rising in my estimation and I am looking forward to reading more of the books by him that are on the list. And Colin Firth was, for me, the perfect choice of narrator.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:18pm

196. The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark - 3.7 ★

The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark is a short novel that showcases the author’s acerbic wit as she writes about a group of young women who are living in London in 1945, shortly after the end of the European war. These girls live in a slightly shabby Edwardian mansion called the May of Teck Club that has been converted to a residence for working girls below the age of 30 who have to live away from home in order to “follow an occupation”.

The author captures their conversations, hopes, aspirations and their pursuit of men as they go about their daily lives. While I can’t say that I loved this story or it’s characters, I did find it very interesting as the clever, elegant tone moves the reader back and forth through time and leads us into ever darker territory.

The Girls of Slender Means paints a vivid picture of a specific time in post-war London but the story definitely reminded me of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with it’s female cast totally zoned into their everyday concerns while history unfolds in the background. As these young women go about their daily lives, they are far more involved in their love affairs, gossip and in the sharing of a designer evening gown than in the politics of the day. The ending of the story which seemed like a play on the title word of “slender” was definitely unsettling and memorable. I listened to an audio version of this book as read by Juliet Stevenson who, once again, did a stellar job.

Out 3, 2018, 11:40pm

You've read several of my favourites since I've checked in here, and so far this year I've read ZERO books from the list, so you're gaining fast if you haven't passed me already!

Mrs Dalloway -- now that you've enjoyed that, you have to read (or reread) Cunningham's The Hours (and see the movie with Meyrl Steep, Julianna Moore, and Nicole Kidman). It's on the list too.

A few years ago on my 50th birthday, I did the "Mrs Dalloway walk" in London -- someone has mapped out where she walked, so my daughter and I followed it together and took lots of pics.

The End of the Affair - I have fond memories of listening to the Colin Firth version of this too. Most of it I was driving by myself early on a September morning going to Whistler.

Girls of Slender Means - I didn't love this one, in part because I read it waiting in line at Swartz Bay for a ferry during a windstorm (when all the ferries ended up being cancelled that day and we had to find a hotel in Sidney)

Out 5, 2018, 5:14pm

Hi Judy, I've found you as well! You're reading quite a variety - how are you making your selections?

Out 6, 2018, 12:55pm

>37 LisaMorr: Hi Lisa, I seem to pick most of my reads according to what I have on hand. I have been participating in the Monthly Group Read here and now, the Monthly Challenge which helps give me a direction.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:18pm

197. Wild Harbour by Ian Macpherson - 4.5 ★

Wild Harbour by Ian Macpherson was originally published in 1936 as the world is gearing up for war and the future is bleak. This book tells the story of a married couple, Hugh and Terry, who decide to opt out of civilized life and flee the brutality of war and seek a new life in the wilderness.

Part political statement, part survival manual, Wild Harbour is also a love story and the commitment between these two people gives the book it’s emotional impact. The setting is the wild and beautiful Scottish Highlands which unfortunately still isn’t far enough away to allow these pacifists to avoid what is happening. As the story unfolds through diary entries, we can sense the total collapse of society is on the horizon.

I found this book to be short, simple and devastating. The author’s vision of a futuristic war of bombs, poison gas and biological weapons is dark, but considering the path that mankind has taken quite accurate. Wild Harbour makes a powerful and haunting statement.

Out 6, 2018, 1:24pm

>39 DeltaQueen50: intrigued that you liked this. I considered buying it for the group read, but was so put off by that cover that I didn't! I'll think about it . . .

Out 6, 2018, 2:55pm

>40 japaul22: Wild Harbour fell right in my wheel-house being about survival as well as being a dystopia. This is a book I had never heard of before I checked out the 1,001 list and I am sad that it is no longer readily available. That cover, however, should definitely be changed!

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:19pm

198. Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes - 2.5 ★

Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barns was both a difficult and strange read for me. It is a combination of a literary critique of Gustave Flaubert as well as a novel that deals with the mystery of obsession and betrayal. Geoffrey Braithwaite is a retired doctor and appears to on a quest to examine all things “Flaubert”. He seems determined to find the answer to obscure things such as which of two stuffed parrots was Flaubert’s actual inspiration for one of his stories or why Flaubert kept changing the color of Emma Bovary’s eyes. Unfortunately the doctor is such a colorless character that I easily lost interest in him and found he faded into the pages.

I may have done this book a disservice as I haven’t read anything by Flaubert so many observations and quotes went over my head but overall I found Flaubert’s Parrot to be a bizarre and pointless alternative biography. I have read and enjoyed Julian Barnes in the past and I know he has a great sense of witty humor but with all the strange quirky facts about Flaubert that are stuffed into this book, I couldn’t help but wonder if we, the readers are the butt of his joke.

Flaubert’s Parrot was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1984 and many people love this book, but for me this particular piece of metafiction just didn’t work.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:19pm

199. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol - 3.7 ★

While I didn’t start off loving Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol I did find this a very well done satire that painted an interesting picture of Russian life in early 19th century. His comments on the corruption of the government, the rigidness of society, the exaggerated sense of self-importance that the middle class had were well illustrated and the story itself was presented from an interesting perspective. Based on the theory that workers equalled wealth, landowner’s taxes were established by the number of serfs under their individual control. Enter our main character, con-man, Chichikov, who scours the countryside for dead souls to use as collateral. His schemes have him dreaming of prosperity founded on the ownership of non-existent serfs. In actuality this plot line would not be unusual today given the morals and climate that big business often operates in.

As I went deeper into the book, I found myself start to enjoy the story and even having some sympathy for the scoundrel, Chichikov and his scheme. So Dead Souls with it’s poke at both bureaucratic and inept government and the pompous gentry grew on me and I found myself looking forward to my next installment. I understand that Gogol destroyed part of this book when he turned to religion and indeed there are sections missing and the novel ends abruptly in mid-sentence leaving the reader uncertain as to what the final outcome will be. The author uses humor and a very imaginative story to make his points and Dead Souls turned out not to be as dry a tome as I feared.

Editado: Nov 16, 2018, 10:19pm

200. The Green Man by Kingsley Amis - 4.0 ★

It was pretty much impossible to have any sympathy for the main character in The Green Man by Kingsley Amis as it was established very quickly that he is an alcoholic, a neglectful father, an uncaring and absent-minded husband, a womanizer and, is having an affair with his friend’s wife. As the owner of the ancient inn called The Green Man part of his hosting duties are to impart the rumors of ghostly visitations. But after he himself has an encounter he realizes that the ghosts are not only real but intend malice as well.

This is a man who was already suffering from nocturnal hallucinations and hypochondria so when he declares that he is seeing ghosts his friends and family decide he is experiencing the Dts. Over the course of five days this story unfolds partly with humor over life’s foibles and partly with chills over the supernatural occurrences. The Green Man appears to be a macabre parody of life and death and although I was never quite sure if this was a straight up ghost story or a crazy sex comedy, I did enjoy the ride it took me on. This blend of the occult, religion and sexual innuendo reminded me of many of the books that I read during the 1960s when all of these subjects were being closely examined. The Green Man is a short black comedy that I found quite entertaining.

Out 25, 2018, 4:52pm

I picked up three Kingsley Amis 1001 books last year, including The Green Man, and I think from your review I'll at least like this one!

Out 29, 2018, 3:56am

>45 LisaMorr: Lisa, I picked up a couple of his, The Green Man and Lucky Jim. I am glad that I chose to read The Green Man first as I am now looking forward to reading Lucky Jim.

Out 30, 2018, 8:31pm

Are you still trying to beat your brother? If so, here are some pre-1900 ones that are short .... some of these you can find online if you Google

A Modest Proposal, Swift (and a good read!)
Cranford, Gaskell
The Nose, Gogol
The Yellow Wallpaper, Perkins (liked this one too--dark!)
Fall of the House of Usher and the Purloined Letter, Poe

Have you really not read Sense and Sensibility?

Out 31, 2018, 12:02pm

>47 Nickelini: The challenge with my brother goes on. He decided to only read books from the list this year so I am struggling to keep up with him. His birthday present to me this year was that he didn't read a book from the list for two weeks! Luckily I read many more books than he does in a year but he's still staying ahead of me by about 25 to 30 books. Thanks for the book list, I will keep these in mind although I have read (and loved) The Yellow Wallpaper and (hangs head) no, I haven't read Sense and Sensibility yet. It's my last Austen and I've been saving it, will most likely get to it next year.

Editado: Nov 23, 2018, 11:11pm

201. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride * - 2.0 ★

OMG my brain hurts! A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride is a stream of consciousness novel that explores some very basic themes, a coming of age story about family relationships and lost innocence. This novel was very difficult to read, both due to content and style of writing. It’s uncompromising, intense and intelligent. I have never hidden the fact that “stream of consciousness’ is not a style that I easily take to but I would say that this author uses this genre to it’s full effect.

The book is a first person monologue given by an unnamed girl growing up in Ireland. The story is full of emotional betrayals and physical abuse. She is the “I” of the story while the “you” is always her disabled brother who suffers from the after affects of brain cancer. Other characters that are referenced are the absent father who abandoned the family, her ranting Catholic mother and her abusive uncle. Her life unfolds in a series of raw, unfliching episodes.

I had to read this book in small helpings as I could feel my eyes start to glaze over after a couple of pages and I would disconnect from the story, luckily this was a fairly short novel that I could read in short bursts. And while I appreciate the stylistic, tortured writing, I cannot totally applaud it as reading it was such a struggle. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is certainly unique and deserves our attention, but not a book that I appreciated or enjoyed.

* I am adding this to my completed list as it is to be soon added to the list

Editado: Nov 23, 2018, 11:11pm

202. The Devil's Pool by George Sand - 3.8 ★

The Devil’s Pool by George Sand is a short simple novel about a young French farmer who has been widowed and left with three young children to raise. He lives with his in-laws who encourage him to remarry to provide a mother for his children.

His father-in-law has lined up a widow that he thinks would make a good wife and mother and the fact that she has both a dowry and some land is an added bonus. The young man is sent out to meet this widow and see if they can come to an agreement. He is asked to take a young neighbour with him as she is to work as a shepherdess at a farm along the way. Of course, this young farmer and the shepherdess find they have much in common and a mutual attraction. Along the way they must travel by the Devil’s Pool which brings clarity to the decision the young farmer must make.

I found this story charming and engaging with it’s exploration of the age-old question of whether one should chose to follow their heart or their brain. The author was inspired by the print called The Dance of Death by Hans Holbein and she wanted to show that farmers have a deep connection to the land and nature that is far more joyful and inspiring than the hardship and struggle that is usually used to describe their lives.

Editado: Nov 23, 2018, 11:12pm

203. A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh - 4.1 ★

A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh at first seemed to be a light, witty and satirical novel that pokes fun at the upper class of Britain during the time between the wars. However, as the story developed into the disintegration of a marriage, the author revealed the cynicism and bleakness that gave this story it’s brilliant edge.

While much of the story has it’s roots in Waugh’s own life, A Handful of Dust is a perfect blend of comedy and tragedy that captures the self-absorption of the English upper class and the total disregard they had for others. It also struck me how cleverly Waugh turned the tables on his characters by making first one than another the “villain” of the piece. For me, however, the character of Brenda was the worst of the lot. She is the bored, slightly resentful wife that takes up with a society wastrel whose only purpose seems to be that of being the perfect “extra man” that society hostesses can call upon at the last minute. Brenda’s husband, Tony is overly complacent and seems to be fonder of his home than he is of his wife but the resolution of his story could either be considered good or bad, depending on how one feels about Charles Dickens.

Elegant, sophisticated, lively and chilling, A Handful of Dust was quite the read and has me looking forward to reading more of this author.

Nov 23, 2018, 11:09pm

204. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells - 3.0 ★

I can’t say that I actually enjoyed The Time Machine by H. G. Wells but the fact that it was originally published in 1895 and is one of the first books to explore the theory of time travel gives this short novel a special place in history.

The story is of a Victorian scientist who creates a time machine and travels to the year AD 802701, where he discovers a childlike race of humanoids called the Eloi. They live in a decaying city which leads the scientist to believe these are the remnants of a great civilization. He then must change his theory when he meets the Morlocks, who are threatening ape-like creatures that live in the dark underground. The narrative reads much like a critique of the class system that was prevalent in Britain at that time bringing together Wells love of both science and politics.

The Time Machine paints a rather bleak future for mankind but it does have a very dated feel to it so I never took the story very seriously. The invented machine also had sounded quite dated and downright uncomfortable, having the traveller seated out in open exposed to the weather and other dangers. But before one writes off this story, one should remember the countless stories of time travel that have followed, and each story owes H. G. Wells a tip of the hat.

Nov 24, 2018, 12:33am

>51 DeltaQueen50: I own but haven't read A Handful of Dust. Have you read anything else by him? I did Vile Bodies at university and then read Decline and Fall on my own, and loved both of them.

Nov 24, 2018, 12:21pm

Hi Joyce, the only other Waugh that I have read is Vile Bodies which I liked. I have been eyeballing Brideshead Revisited and would like to read that at some point just not sure when I will be able to work it in.

Nov 25, 2018, 1:35pm

>54 DeltaQueen50: I've had Brideshead Revisited on my to-read list since 1984! For some reason I think it's more serious and less humorous than his earlier novels.

Nov 25, 2018, 2:58pm

I really liked Brideshead Revisited is has a curiously wistful tone and is beautifully written.

Editado: Nov 26, 2018, 7:36am

>51 DeltaQueen50: Thanks for this excellent review, made me see Handful of Dust in a new light.

Nov 26, 2018, 8:15am

Nov 30, 2018, 6:06pm

>55 Nickelini: Not sure if I will fit Brideshead Revisted in next year, but I would like to.

>56 Helenliz: Duly noted, Helen. I am looking forward to it.

>57 annamorphic: Happy to oblige. :)

>58 japaul22: So far I have only seen positive remarks about Bridehead Revisited so now I am looking at my list of 1,001 books and seeing where I could fit it in.

Editado: Dez 7, 2018, 4:44pm

205. Sula by Toni Morrison - 4.1 ★

Sula by Toni Morrison is complex story set in an African-American community in Ohio between 1919 and 1965. It follows two best girlfriends from childhood through to old age and portrays one woman’s betrayal of the other. Nel Wright and Sula Peace, meet as children and their devotion to each other is strong enough to allow them to stand up to bullies and conceal a horrible secret. While Nel grows up to be a pillar of the community, Sula becomes a pariah. The author uses comedy, ribaldry, and sincerity to great effect and this story fully captured my attention.

Toni Morrison has a powerful voice and the gritty language and exploration of family and friendship that Sula explores also captures the complexities of race and gender relations in the United States between the years of 1920 to 1965. I would classify Sula as a feminist novel, as the author uses powerful female characters to tell her story. The characters are realistic and humanizes a part of American history in this short but powerful novel.

This is both Toni Morrison’s second novel and the second book by her that I have read. I am in awe of her frank, uncompromising and intense writing. Talented and impressive, I will continue to search out this author’s books.

Dez 14, 2018, 12:29pm

206. The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead - 2.5 ★

I am not quite sure where to begin with The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead. Let’s just say this book will not make my list of favorite reads. The novel was originally published in 1940 and is about a highly dysfunctional family. It is difficult to say which character deadens the soul more, with the contest being between Sam Pollit, the father, who is a narcissistic egotist that talks to his children in highly annoying baby talk, and his wife, Henny, the mother, with her whiny negativity, resentments and many threats of suicide or infanticide.

The family begins the book living in a run-down Georgetown house in Washington, D.C. There is a distinct lack of money, sense and love in this family. Nevertheless, she pulls no punches and we read page after page of Sam’s baby talk and Henny’s bitter outbursts leaving the reader feeling like that have just gone through 10 rounds in a boxing ring. The loathing between Sam and Henny made this a very chilling read.

I was overwhelmed by this sprawling, exhausting story but I do admire how the author delivered these deeply flawed, highly unlikable characters and managed to mostly hold my interest. I understand that the author based the characters on her own family, with herself as the oldest daughter, Louisa. If this is true, than, believe me, she has my greatest sympathy. I would have preferred the book to have been shorter but The Man Who Loved Children did vividly and painfully display the structure and the inner life of a disintegrating family and in that, was rather brilliant.

Editado: Dez 17, 2018, 5:49pm

>18 DeltaQueen50: I will use this one for my book that takes place in a day 2019 PopSugar Challenge. Thanks for the review! I wonder if it would be suitable for my 14 year old son?

Dez 17, 2018, 5:49pm

>61 DeltaQueen50: I have not read The Man Who Loved Children since studying it in English Literature, let's just say, a few decades ago! I loved it then so it will be interesting to re-read after many years to see what I think. I wonder if I still have the essays I did at the time?!

Dez 19, 2018, 12:15pm

>62 JayneCM: James Balwin writes eloquently and honestly and I think a fourteen year old is probably mature enough to handle the themes that he deals with in this book. It's a powerful story and the author doesn't pull any punches but he certainly captures the essence of being black in America.

>63 JayneCM: The Man Who Loved Children seems to be a book that people feel strongly one way or another about. I found the whole thing quite distasteful, but I know there are many who find this book a masterpiece. She certainly can describe a dysfunction family!

Dez 19, 2018, 12:17pm

207. The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson - 3.8 ★

The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson is a sweeping adventure story about the rivalry between two brothers that unfolds over many years and is set in Scotland and the early American wilderness. One brother is evil and one is good, but most people find the evil brother charming while the good one is solid and rather boring. When the favored son and heir, James joins Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden in 1745 he leaves behind his younger brother Henry, his father and his fiancee, Alison. When he is presumed dead after the defeat of the rebels, the younger brother becomes the Master of Ballantrae and marries the fiancee but is always second best with his father, his wife and his tenants. When the news is brought that the egotistical and abusive James is still alive the torment of the younger brother begins.

The author uses the themes of good and evil, life and death to spin a colorful tale of adventure, sorrow and revenge. This book was first published in 1889 and certainly stands the test of time as it is still a page turner. Although it can be a little over the top in terms of drama, there is plenty of action that keeps the story interesting and moving along. The Master of Ballantrae is a dark romanticized story of a divided family and the consequences of extreme hatred.

Dez 19, 2018, 3:51pm

>64 DeltaQueen50: I have Go Tell It On The Mountain on hold at the library, so I will read it and see. He is a pretty mature 14 but The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas threw him for six. He was very quiet for a few days after reading that one. And then we watched the movie - that is certainly a powerful movie.
I am looking forward to re-reading Christina Stead as it certainly seems to have split the group in their reactions.

Dez 21, 2018, 7:07pm

>66 JayneCM: That sounds like the best way to ensure he is ready for the book. I will be watching for your comments on The Man Who Loved Children.

Editado: Jan 4, 2019, 2:34pm

208. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga - 4.0 ★

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga is a novel of modern India. Delivered in a letter, we read the story of Balram Halwai, also known as the White Tiger. Balram was born to a poor rural family. He actually didn’t even have a name until given one by the school teacher. His father, a rickshaw driver had hopes that Balram would be the one to get an education and improve the status of the family. Instead he dropped out of school and worked.

He eventually became a driver for a local wealthy family and when the son and his wife moved to Delhi, Balram went with them. On the surface he was the perfect servant, driving their car, sweeping their floors, and massaging their feet. But when he realizes what little esteem they had for him, he stole a bag of money and killed his employer.

Setting himself up as a successful entrepreneur in the city of Bangalore, he confesses all in his letter to the Chinese premier and although his subject matter is rather grim, he delivers his story with plenty of humor and wit. As a narrator, I was a little suspicious of his reliability as he spends a lot of time in self-justification but the picture he paints of Indians struggling with the concepts of modernity are interesting if a little simplistic. I found The White Tiger to be an involving and fast paced read that I enjoyed.

Jan 3, 2019, 9:45pm

The above ended my 2018 reading and my total 1,001 books stands at 208.

Jan 3, 2019, 10:05pm

Congrats on your 2018 book total! And best wishes for many wonderful reads in 2019!

Jan 3, 2019, 10:27pm

>69 DeltaQueen50: Nice total & you're closing in on your brother! Maybe you can brag about reading more books from the list in 2018 than he did?

Editado: Jan 3, 2019, 11:03pm

I loved the White Tiger -- lovely memories of listening to the audiobook while painting the outside of my house one summer. Life's simple pleasures.

Jan 4, 2019, 2:40pm

>70 JayneCM: I am finding that reading so many books from this list is changing my reading tastes, I now like a book to have some substance although I am still more appreciative of a good story rather than fine writing. And I still have cravings for my trashy zombie books or a romantic chick-lit every now and again. ;)

>71 ELiz_M: Unfortunately my brother keeps track of how many 1,001 books I am reading and he is staying ahead of me. I think he is currently somewhere around 230 but I am still confident that someday, when he is looking the other way, I can sneak up on him!

>72 Nickelini: The White Tiger is among my favorites of the more modern books on the list, so far. I thought the author told a great story and still was able to impart a lot of information and pass along his opinions without losing the storyline.

Jan 4, 2019, 7:31pm

>73 DeltaQueen50: Definitely! Sometimes you just need to read for relaxation and enjoyment without thinking too much about the deep and meaningful! I love a good historical or Amish romance for that!

Editado: Jan 23, 2019, 8:51pm

209. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - 4.5 ★

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is a short novel that packs a big punch both in storyline and in information about the black experience in southern America during the early part of the 20th century. The story is set in Florida and is told in a series of flashbacks as the main character, Janie Crawford, a black woman now in her early forties, tells her story to her best friend.

Janie’s story unfolds against a backdrop of the relationships with three very different men than has shaped her life. Janie, a child born of rape from a woman who was also the product of rape, is raised by her grandmother. Nanny fearing that the beautiful Janie will also become a victim, arranges a marriage between her granddaughter and an older farmer, she believes this will give Janie the stability she wants her to have. Janie desires love and does not find it with this man so after her grandmother dies, she runs off with the smooth talking Joe Starks. But this is a controlling and ambitious man who treats her as property and strikes her to keep her in line. When Joe dies Janie is left financially independent but falls in love with a younger man, “Tea Cake” who is both a gambler and a drifter. While this relationship never runs smooth, Janie has finally found love. However a hurricane strikes and brings disaster.

Originally published in 1935, this American classic is written beautifully and serves as a testament to a woman’s strength and endurance. Janie develops from a manageable young teenage girl into a strong woman who is able to steer her own destiny. Written in the black vernacular of the 1930’s, the prose is poetic and the insights are astute.

Jan 11, 2019, 2:39pm

>75 DeltaQueen50: Their Eyes Were Watching God is a favorite of mine as well. Did you see that there's recently published (finally) nonfiction book by Hurston where she interviews one of the last living slaves? It's called Barracoon and I have it waiting on my shelf to hopefully get to soon.

Jan 11, 2019, 5:07pm

>76 japaul22: Just looked and my library has Barracoon - thanks!

Jan 12, 2019, 7:06pm

>76 japaul22: I didn't know about Barracoon, I will have to be on the lookout for that one.

Jan 23, 2019, 8:53pm

210. Country Girls by Edna O'Brien - 4.3 ★

The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien is a semi-autobiographical story of a young girl growing up in 1960’s Ireland. Caithleen Brady is the child of a violent drunkard father and a long-suffering mother. She is raised in poverty with their farm slowly being run into the ground. She is close to two females, her mother and her friend Baba. Tragically she is about to lose her mother and her friend is really jealous and mean spirited.

The two girls go to convent school together, although much of the time they are at odds. Caithleen is naive, a romantic dreamer while Baba is a realist, one who always looks out for herself. The girls eventually arrange to have themselves expelled and they then go to Dublin where Caithleen works in a market and Baba attends secretarial school. Baba wants freedom, to live the single party life while Caithleen, in her search for stability and love, gets involved with an older married man from her village. When each girl’s lifestyle falls apart, they must now learn to rely upon themselves.

The Country Girls is the first novel of Edna O’Brien and my first read by this author. I loved the story, although my own upbringing was very different, I found I could identify with Caithleen at times. Although written in straight-forward prose and an easy read, there is a lot going on underneath the simple language. Ireland of the 1960s was tightly controlled by the Catholic Church and it’s male dominated society. Women had very little freedom of choice, they were expected to marry or become nuns. This book touches on many subjects like alcohol abuse, repression of women and the hypocrisy of religion which caused quite an uproar when it was first published. Personally, I was totally engaged by this deceptively simple, quiet, coming-of-age story.

Editado: Fev 8, 2019, 10:24pm

211. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert - 4.0 ★

I have been reading Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert by installments from Daily Lit since November, 2018. I was very happy to reach the end of this book although it certainly held my attention throughout the reading, but there was an inevitable sense of doom building. The story, set in 1840’s Normandy, is of a doctor’s unhappy and unfaithful wife. I found this a very sad tale, as to me, it was obvious that Emma was married to a dull man and had no outlet available for her other than adultery. Women of a certain class did not work, or really have much to occupy their time, other than oversee the servants. Emma Bovary was a woman of passion, in fact shopping excited her every bit as much as sex. Yes, she was beautiful, somewhat selfish and immature but I still felt a great deal of sympathy for her. It was hard not to emphasize with a woman whose happiness was so out of tune with her situation.

Did I have sympathy for her husband, Charles, yes, indeed. He tried to provide Emma with what he thought he wanted and she carefully never revealed her unhappiness in the life he provided her. Charles was not the brightest of men, he was quiet and easily satisfied, didn’t have a romantic bone in his body and apparently never questioned their life or situation until it was too late. The Boyarys were a mismatched couple and the marriage, right from the start seemed doomed to failure.

Flaubert has written an excellent morality tale that still stands today. Our happiness does not rely on anyone or anything other than ourselves. Emma Bovary paid a heavy price for her longings to escape the caged life that she lead and this book reminds me that woman can still fall into the same patterns as Emma Bovary even though we have more choices today in our search for a fulfilling life.

Fev 13, 2019, 4:11pm

>80 DeltaQueen50: Great commentary on Madame Bovary!

Fev 15, 2019, 1:20pm

>81 LisaMorr: Thanks, Lisa. I thought I knew what to expect from Madame Bovary but this book surprised me.

Fev 15, 2019, 1:23pm

212. The Colour by Rose Tremain - 4.5 ★

The Colour by Rose Tremain is an exceedingly well written historical fiction novel with a strong story, well developed characters and an interesting setting. This is the story of Harriet and Joseph Blackstone who marry and come to New Zealand full of hope and determination to forge a homestead from the wilds of New Zealand’s Southern Island. Joseph’s mother, Lillian, is a reluctant addition to this small family, she despises the isolation and would far rather be making her home in the town of Christchurch. Joseph and Harriet barely know each other, Joseph needs a wife to help create the new life he envisions while Harriet is escaping her unmarried life as a governess.

The layers and secrets of each character are slowly revealed throughout the course of the story. Love never develops between Harriet and Joseph, instead Joseph loses both his head and his heart to gold fever and he eventually abandons both his mother and his wife for the gold fields. Harriet and Lillian carry on but their homestead is doomed. Harriet then follows Joseph to the gold fields but this strong and resourceful woman soon finds her life heading in a new direction.

The author delves deep into her characters to reveal their motivations, hopes and desires. We learn very quickly that Joseph lacks strength of character and purpose and that Harriet is very clever and has a core strength of iron. Joseph spends most of his time feeling regretful of all that he has done yet continues to avoid any confrontation. Harriet, who soon sees Joseph for what he is, is on a voyage of self-discovery. While the story is generally rather melancholy, the author writes in such a way that the reader is totally transported to late 19th Century New Zealand. The supporting characters are all realistic and interesting and help in building the layers that abound in this rich historical novel.

Editado: Fev 23, 2019, 2:33pm

213. Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler - 4.2 ★

Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler once again features his hard boiled detective, Philip Marlowe and in this outing he gets knocked out a couple of times, beaten up, almost choked to death, and pumped full of morphine but he still doggedly follows his hunches and solves the case. It starts when he is dragged into a situation by an ex-con called Moose Malloy who, just out of prison, is searching for his girl, Velma.

Marlowe is an original character that has become one of the most copied characters in literature. His world weary attitude, staccato delivery of one-liners, and effortless aura of self-contained toughness all combine to become the gold standard of private detectives. The author excels in writing razor sharp dialogue, along with atmospheric settings, and plenty of twists in his plots.

Speaking of plots, although I enjoyed Farewell My Lovely immensely, I really don’t read Chandler for the story. It’s all about the styling, pacing, atmosphere and witty quips with a main character that has a drink in one hand and a ‘gat’ in the other.

Fev 27, 2019, 3:29pm

214. The Nose by Nikolai Gogol

What a strange little story The Nose by Nikolai Gogol turned out to be. This is a satirical short story about a St. Petersburg official called Kovalyov, whose nose leaves his face and develops a life of its own. Apparently Gogol himself had an oddly shaped nose and was often teased about this. The sheer absurdity of this story relies on humor and social commentary to draw the reader in.

Highlighting the desire for social ranking, in this story, the Nose actually surpasses the position of the owner causing him much embarrassment and although the nose apparently can change in size, it is always clearly identified as belonging to Kovalyov which spearheads that characters feelings of inferiority and jealousy.

It is never explained fully how the nose made it’s escape or how it came to be re-attached but instead leaves that up to the imagination of the reader. Using this type of magical realism highlights the surreal nature of the story but the author definitely included plenty of social references about Russia and human nature in general. Personally I found The Nose to be both hilarious and insightful.

Mar 7, 2019, 9:46pm

215. The Double by Jose Saramago - 3.7 ★

The Double by Jose Saramago is the story of a history teacher who, while watching a film, spots a minor actor who is his exact physical double. This sends him into a frenzy of renting videos to try and find out who this actor is all the while hiding this activity from his lover, his mother and a suspicious colleague. When he finally discovers the identity of the actor, he first suggests a meeting.

These two men are much more than simply look-alikes, they share the same birth date, have the same birth mark and each one has a scar on a knee from a childhood injury. The history teacher becomes obsessed as to what will happen to one when the other dies. The actor is not happy with having a mirror image and the story escalates into a competition which does set the stage for the dramatic closing.

This was a very interesting story but unfortunately I had a difficult time with the reading. The author writes in long winding sentences, using a lot of commas but very few periods. The result is a rambling, often confusing narrative. There were also the author’s frequent asides to the reader which didn’t help to keep my concentration on the story. Although the author’s style was not to my taste, I did find the story very intriguing and one that I needed to keep reading to find out what happened next.

Mar 8, 2019, 10:05am

>215 Yes, Saramago's writing style is quite difficult, but I found that once you get the hang of it, it becomes part of the story, since a lot of his stories deal with dissociation, alienation and disorientation. I thought it worked well for his novel Blindness.

Mar 8, 2019, 5:16pm

>87 paruline: Certainly as the story went on, I got more comfortable with the writing style and although I am not chomping at the bit, I am definitely interested in reading more from this author.

Editado: Abr 15, 2019, 2:40pm

216. Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes - 4.0 ★

Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes is a book that has gained cult status with it’s precise, yet slangy language, and it’s sharp look at the youth culture in London in the late 1950’s. The novel unfolds through the words and thoughts of a teenage freelance photographer who rubs shoulders with a varied amount of people from debutantes to drug addicts. He is obsessed by fashion and jazz music but over all is driven by his love for his ex-girlfriend Crepe Suzette.

The story is told in four parts, each part covers one day in the four months of the summer of 1958. This was a summer of simmering racial tensions that the narrator observes, he also learns of his father’s illness and his promiscuous ex-girlfriend’s decision to enter a sexless marriage with her much older, gay fashion designer boss. With it’s coffee bars, modern jazz, rock n’roll, trendy clothes and life style this is obviously a chronicle of the emergence of upcoming mod culture.

I found Absolute Beginners to be a small window on a London that was soon to evolve into the epicentre of the “Swingin’ 60s” On the one hand it was a joyful celebration of being young but ingeniously contrasted by dark descriptions of junkies, prostitutes, race wars, and selling out in life. With it’s stylized language, colourful characters and pop culture atmosphere, this was an engaging read.

Abr 15, 2019, 2:41pm

217. Legend by David Gemmell - 5.0 ★

From the Thermopylae to the Alamo there have been battles where the few have held back the mighty and Legend by David Gemmell is such a story. This fantasy novel, first published in 1984, tells the story of how the Empire of Drenai is under threat from the united tribes of the Nadir. An army of over 500,000 strong marches toward them and all that stands in their way is the fortress of Dros Delnoch, which is built in a narrow pass and guarded by six high walls and a great keep. Unfortunately years of peace have left the fortress under-manned and there are less than 10,000 defenders under the leadership of an unfit General. To give the country time to gather and train an efficient army they need to hold the fortress for three months.

Although there are a number of characters, each with their own reason for taking a stand at Dros Delnoch, the story focuses on two in particular, that of Regnak, an ex-army officer who has no desire to be there but follows the woman he loves. The other is the greatest hero of the empire, Druss the Legend. He is now in his sixties and much weaker than he was in his prime. Nevertheless he is still a great warrior and an inspiration to the troops. For him a death on the battlefield is much preferable to that of a quiet one.

Overall I loved this story of overcoming great obstacles and sacrificing for a cause. This heroic tale of honor, courage and duty is definitely one for the ages with it’s fast pace, gripping characters, and vivid violence but it is also a very telling tale of the carnage, waste and futility of war. Certainly not a perfect book, but one that touched my emotions and so deserves the 5 stars I am giving it.

Editado: Abr 22, 2019, 1:37pm

218. Broken April by Ismail Kadare - 3.7 *

Broken April is by Albanian author Ismail Kadare and in this powerful story he tackles the subject of Albanian blood feuds. There are all kinds of rules and traditions surrounding blood feuds as set out by the Kanum, or mountain law. The murderer must confess his crime, must attend the funeral of the victim and then his family must apply for a 30 day truce and pay a blood tax to the government. The 30 day truce is for the murderer to settle his affairs before the other family hunts him down and kills him in return. In the meantime, the victim’s family hangs the bloodstained shirt out the window for all to see and as a reminder of the vengeance that is to come. Although sounding quite medieval, this story is set in the 1930’s.

The story opens with Gjorg , a mountaineer from Northern Albania, killing his prey, a revenge killing as his brother was the last victim. Although Gjorg had no great desire to murder anyone, he was following the rules dictated by his culture, and now, it is his turn to wait for death once the 30 day truce is over. Into this world arrives the honeymooning couple of Bessan and Diana Vorpsi. Bessan is a prominent author and they are from the modern city of Tirana. While Bessan sees romance and adventure in this mountain code, Diana sees the oppressive side, the waste and tragedy. By using these three to highlight his story, the author is able to portray all angles of the blood feud.

Although this was a very interesting book, I also found it incomprehensible that families would be willing for these blood vendettas to go on over generations. How anyone could sacrifice their own children for the sake of “honor” is beyond me. I know very little about Albania and Broken April was an excellent way to learn about one aspect of their tumultuous past. The story is simply told, without embellishments, although a dark sense of doom pervades each page. Although depressing, this was a thought-provoking read.

Abr 22, 2019, 4:47pm

>91 DeltaQueen50:
I bought this last year after I made good friends at work with a young Albanian man. However, it's on my someday pile for now. Good to hear it's a simply told story -- I just can't do dense these days.

Editado: Abr 23, 2019, 12:18pm

>92 Nickelini: I couldn't find any mention of the translator's name in my copy of the book, but he/she deserves a shout out as the book flowed easily which helped turn the pages. :)

Maio 5, 2019, 4:28pm

Book 219: Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro - 4.2 ★

Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro is a collection of inter-woven short stories that chronicle the coming-of-age of Del Jordan and her relationships with various characters in the small Ontario town of Jubilee. Some classify this work as a novel but however one defines the book, the author’s gift of capturing human emotions through her beautiful and understated writing shines through.

The author captures many of the thoughts and feelings that females go through as they grow from little girls to young women. The uncertainty of maturing at different rates from one’s friends, the feelings of being left behind by one’s peers, the curiosity about life in general and sex in particular are told with humour, pathos, and drama. In writing about everyday events, Munro’s talent for remarkable and relatable prose is highlighted.

Lives of Girls and Women was my introduction to Alice Munro and this empathetic story about one young girl’s rites of passage was a pleasure to read.

Maio 27, 2019, 4:12pm

Book 220: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton - 4.2 ★

Editado: Jun 3, 2019, 12:10pm

Book 221: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - 5.0 ★

Over the last three months I have been participating in a group read of The Lord of the Rings. Each month I read one of the three volumes- The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and finally, The Return of the King. I listened to an audio version read by Rob Inglis who did an excellent job. I can now see why this classic fantasy story is so treasured. This combination of great story, descriptive writing and fabulous characters is standing the test of time wonderfully.

Jun 6, 2019, 12:38pm

Book 222: Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis - 2.5★

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis left me rather cold. I didn’t find this book all that humorous, and the writing didn’t overly impress me either. Perhaps I just wasn’t in the right mood but I definitely found this satire quite mean-spirited and overly misanthropic. I understand that this was his debut novel, but I have to say, I much preferred The Green Man to this.

Perhaps I am too North American to appreciate the nuances, or perhaps this type of humour just doesn’t work as well in the 21st century but I found myself wincing through much of it and getting angry and feeling insulted by his attitude towards the women in the book.

Unfortunately the best thing I can take from Lucky Jim is the fact that I can tick it off my 1,001 reading list.

Jun 11, 2019, 6:28pm

Book 223: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce - 3.0 ★

I have never read James Joyce before and I had heard that A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man is considered to be his most accessible work so I decided this was where I would start with this author. In this book we follow the early years of Irishman Stephen Dedalus, starting from his boyhood and taking us through to the end of his university years.

It is apparent immediately that James Joyce is a master wordsmith. His writing paints vivid pictures but I disagree with those who call this book timeless. I felt it was quite dated and specific to it’s time and place. It is a barely concealed autobiographical piece and takes the main character through his adolescence while he searches for his own identity. His views on family, religion and the very essence of being Irish clearly date this piece as early 20th century writing.

Joyce is brilliant but I struggled through this short and quite readable book so I am not reassured that I will appreciate his more complex works and I expect they will be pushed to the bottom of the 1,001 pile.

Editado: Jun 22, 2019, 3:11pm

Book 224: The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers - 5.0*

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers was originally published in 1934 and is the 11th book in her Sir Peter Wimsey series. In this story, Wimsey becomes stranded in a small village after he accidentally runs his car off the road. It’s New Year’s Eve and the village rector offers his hospitality and Sir Peter eventually helps out in the ringing of a nine hour peal of the church bells. When, a few months later, a mutilated corpse is discovered, the rector writes to Sir Peter for assistance in solving the mystery of who this corpse is and who murdered him.

This is an intriguing case as in order to solve this murder, Sir Peter must solve a twenty year old mystery of the robbery of an extremely valuable emerald necklace, and discover where the missing necklace is. The book is set in a small village in the remote fens of East Anglia that is peopled by some very interesting characters. The art of bell-ringing is the framework upon which this story is developed and the author uses this art form in an original and engaging way.

First and foremost is the strong sense of place that the author builds upon to create atmosphere and, by opening the book during a snowstorm and closing it during a flood, she paints a striking picture of these isolated, flat and artificially drained lands. The author keeps the bells front and centre, even the solution to the mystery is wrapped in a cryptogram concerning them. The Nine Tailors is both clever and memorable and an altogether delicious mystery.

Jun 22, 2019, 9:11pm

>99 DeltaQueen50: This sounds fun. Have you read the rest of the series? I haven't read any of them and wonder if it will work as a stand alone?

Jun 23, 2019, 11:57am

>100 japaul22: I am slowly working my way through the Wimsey series and I totally love them. I would think that The Nine Tailors is one of her books that would work as a stand alone as there isn't much personal information about Lord Peter included, her focus is much more on the mystery and the village.

Jun 28, 2019, 9:57am

>100 japaul22: >101 DeltaQueen50: That's exactly what I wanted to know! Thanks for asking and answering.

Jul 4, 2019, 6:32am

>99 DeltaQueen50: It does seem strange to include two books from a series on the 1001 List. I had The Nine Tailors down to read to fit a category challenge as well, but I am debating whether I want to read them all in order! I am definitely that way inclined - a bit of a control freak!!
Have you read the other Wimsey book on the list?

Jul 4, 2019, 11:18am

>103 JayneCM: LOL, I'm definitely a control freak and start to twitch if I even consider reading books out of order. I have been slowly working my way through the Wimsey series and the two on the list finally came up. I know there are other books on the list that are part of a series and I suspect that I will have to read the whole series when I get to them.

Jul 4, 2019, 4:41pm

I've read all the Wimsey books, having come across them first as a teen (and having fallen, hook, line & sinker, for Peter). I also read them all in publication order ove the last 2 years.

The Wimsey books on the list are the ones that, in my opinion, work best as stand alones. The main progression in the series is the romance between Harriet & Wimsey, with the relationship between Peter and Chief Inspector Parker being the second strand that distinctly evolves. Harrier appears in neither The Nine Tailors not Murder must Advertise and Parker only appears briefly in both, as a useful person for some information, the developmental aspect of the relationship does not impinge on the story. So while I do not usually advocate reading a series out of order, in this case, both can be read without fear of missing out.

I certainly think that Murder must Advertise is one of the best detective stories ever written. I certainly think it deserves its place on the 1001 list and, indeed, any list.

Jul 5, 2019, 12:26pm

>105 Helenliz: Totally agree with you, I am looking forward to continuing on with this series. Gaudy Night will be next up for me.

Jul 5, 2019, 12:28pm

Book 225: The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood - 4.5★

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood is going to be a book that I long remember. I ran the gamut of emotions while reading it. At times I was frustrated and angry, other times I was laughing, some parts of the book touched me deeply while others cause me to rant and rave. The story is how three women are exploited and damaged by a fourth. She uses them, steals their men, takes their money, then gets bored and moves on. Occasionally she also uses blackmail to get what she wants.

I actually didn’t relate to any of the women, they mostly angered me with how they tended to put their men on a pedestal and the men totally peeved me with their wishy-washy ways and how they allowed their women to clean up their messes. Unfortunately these women were no match for this master predator as all three of them came from damaged backgrounds. She was an expert at digging out her victims weak spots and manipulating it to her advantage. And yet, the author gave a sense of playfulness to the story with her wit and insight into male/female relationships.

The Robber Bride has a dark fairy tale quality, with this truly evil she-creature picking apart each woman’s life, but in actuality, the men were such spineless philanderers and shameless liars that these women would be better off without them. Perhaps Atwood, with tongue-in-cheek, was showing that this villainous woman was doing them a favour.

Jul 7, 2019, 8:13pm

I've read a lot of Atwood, and I think The Robber Bride was my favourite. And I agree, the men were sooooo weak, and I didn't identify with the women, but still . . . it was great read.

A few years after I read The Robber Bride, in 2012, I met up with LT member Torontoc and we went to the restaurant in the book where an important scene happened (I can't remember much about the scene now, but real life was pretty close to what I pictured when I read the novel and I felt like we were even sitting at the same table). I should reread The Robber Bride.

Have you read much Atwood? Do you like her? My favourites are this one and Alias Grace.

Jul 7, 2019, 11:00pm

>108 Nickelini: Hi Joyce. I am fairly new to Margaret Atwood and so far I have read Alias Grace and The Handmaid's Tale and now The Robber Bride. I liked all three but would have to give The Handmaid's Tale the edge. That one I loved! Next up for me will probably by Cat's Eye as it's sitting on my shelf.

Jul 9, 2019, 5:59pm

Book 226: Adam Bede by George Eliot - 4.0 ★

Adam Bede by George Eliot was her first novel and was originally published in 1859. The story explores the nature of physical and mental attraction and in this case lead to a tragedy and many misunderstandings before everything was worked out. The author sets her story of love, faith and redemption against a picturesque background of rural England. Unfortunately the rules and morals of society were not a pretty as the setting and there were some that had to pay a very hefty price for taking their attraction to each other too far.

I read the book in installment form and found it to be an engrossing story. Set in a small rural village called Hayslope, a love triangle develops between the beautiful but self-absorbed Hetty Sorrel, her suitor, the stalwart Adam Bede and the young squire who seduces her. To complicate the story further, we have Adam’s brother Seth, who loves Dinah Morris, Hetty’s cousin, a virtuous and beautiful Methodist lay preacher. Dinah does not wish to give up her preaching for Seth, but she does have feelings for his brother, Adam.

I liked this story but was never overly fond of Adam or Dinah. My sympathies lay much more with the other characters and in particular, Hetty, who really had nowhere to turn and no one to help her. I found Dinah, with her holier-than-thou attitude, rather a cold fish. However, the author enhances the story with rich details, wonderful writing and a wide variety of characters making Adam Bede a very good reading experience.

Jul 24, 2019, 4:11pm

Book 227: The Quiet American by Graham Greene - 4.1 ★

Set in Vietnam during the closing days of the French occupation, The Quiet American by Graham Greene tells the story of the conflict and the friendship between a jaded English reporter, Fowler, and a young and rather idealistic American operative, Pyle. The bone of contention between them is the beautiful Vietnamese woman Phuong. While Fowler offers her only a continuing relationship with no real security, Pyle declares his love and offers her marriage and protection.

With Phuong representing Vietnam, Fowler the old colonial system, and Pyle the over-eager America, this book has become an allegory for the end of colonialism and the beginning of America’s interest in keeping this corner of Asia free from communism. Pyle appears to believe absolutely in the American way of democracy but his methods have him entangled in guerrilla politics and when a bomb explodes in a busy square causing injury and death, Fowler decides that he must take a moral stand in this conflict.

I am a fan of Graham Greene and this book seems to perfectly set the scene for a place that was going to become very important historically. Although the book felt a little claustrophobic, the author’s ability to touch your emotions and make you think about the cost of one’s principles was delivered in a subtle and ingenious style. The Quiet American is another true classic from this author.

Ago 1, 2019, 12:02pm

Book 228: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole - 3.4 ★

I found The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole to be an odd yet entertaining story about a tyrant knight called Manfred, Prince of Otranto, and his family. Considered to be the father of Gothic romance fiction this fantasy is set in the middle ages, and is peopled by characters experiencing strong emotional and psychological distress. The story develops around a supernatural event that occurs at the beginning of the story and causes the death of Manfred’s only son and heir. Unfolding in a castle that comes with underground passages, sealed vaults, and trap doors, my favorite part of the story was when the young Princess Isabella, fearful for her virtue, is running away from Manfred through the dark and haunted castle.

In a melodramatic yet playful manner the story has the evil usurper, the noble yet humble rightful heir, two virtuous princesses and a host of other characters running around the Castle of Otranto confronting vanishing giants, pieces of enormous armour, moving artwork and each other.

This deceptively simple story deals with issues of inheritance, power and morality and religion. It is important to remember that this novel is the first of its kind and the plot, which appears overworked and familiar today is, indeed, the first of it’s kind and did cause quite a sensation in it’s day.

Ago 6, 2019, 4:34pm

Book 229: The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor - 2.0 ★

The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O’Connor was originally published in 1960 and tells the story of Francis Marion Tarwater, a fourteen year old boy who is trying to escape the destiny his fanatically evangelist uncle has declared for him – the life of a prophet. I found this to be a very dark Southern Gothic story, with unlikable characters and strong religious themes.

I am puzzled by exactly what the author was trying to impart with this book. At first I thought this was a satire on religion, in particular the fundamentalists who live by a strict biblical code, but her view is so dark and brutal that I am not sure exactly what she was trying to say. Religious fanaticism makes me very uncomfortable, and this novel pushes the envelope beyond what I find acceptable. It is packed with symbolism and religious imagery and eventually verges into becoming a horror story with distorted characters and evil acts.

I did not understand this book or what it’s message is. I disliked the story and have decided to give up on trying to interpret it. Luckily it was a very short book so I was able to finish it but The Violent Bear It Away definitely wasn’t a book for me.

Ago 16, 2019, 11:54am

Book 230: Kieron Smith, Boy by James Kelman - 3.3 ★

Told through the thoughts and with the voice of one young Scottish lad, Kieron Smith, Boy by James Kelman is in fact, made very distinctive by the Glaswegian dialect that Kieron uses. For me, this made the book a little more difficult but also gave it an authenticity that drew me in. Unfortunately after 300 or so pages this ‘stream of consciousness’ style started to wear thin and I still had another 100 or so pages to go. While the boy’s voice was truly authentic it was also realistic enough that you soon realized that youngsters of this age don’t have much of interest to talk about.

Kieron is growing up in one of Glasgow’s poorer neighbourhoods. His parents are difficult to get a handle on as in Kieron’s eyes, his dad is always behind the newspaper and his mother is always watching the television. His battles with his older brother did bring a smile to my face having been in Kieron’s position with an older sister who always thought she was in the right. The story flows with the day-to-day tedium of Kieron’s observations that carry him from about age 5 through to 13.

A book that started out well but wasn’t able to keep from fading into boredom, Kieron Smith, Boy felt too long for a book where nothing really happens.

Ago 30, 2019, 12:15pm

Book 231: Tom Jones by Henry Fielding - 4.0 ★

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling has become known over the decades as simply Tom Jones and is a humorous novel by Henry Fielding. It was first published in 1749 and is considered to be one of the earliest of English novels. While the humor is often presented as a farce and at times seems downright silly, it nevertheless made for a fun and interesting read.

The author presents his story with many asides to the reader and often telegraphs his intentions in advance with his descriptive chapter descriptions or the colourful names he gives his characters. So we are assured that Squire Allworthy is a very good man, while Mr. Thwackum is heavy handed and likes to dole out physical punishments. Personally I found Tom Jones rather an insipid character but he was the perfect canvas to help reflect the many vivid characters that he came into contact with.

At over 900 pages, the book at times was rather tedious, but the author’s clever use of words, his satire of both the day’s social and political conventions, and the many turbulent yet comic events kept the pages turning. Often touted as a history of bastardism, fornication and adultery, Tom Jones is also a romance with two star-crossed lovers, the lusty Tom and the strong-willed Sophia battling the odds to obtain their happy ending.

I listened to an audio version of this classic, as read by Bill Homewood, who did an excellent job of bringing this book to life, and, I am positive, raised my rating with his reading style. Reflective, philosophical yet lively and very entertaining I found Tom Jones to be an immersive reading experience that was well worth the time invested.

Set 1, 2019, 1:13pm

Book 232: Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse - 3.4 ★

Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse has proved to be an influential book and has been adapted into a play, a musical, a film and a TV series. The main character, William Fisher is a working-class 19 year old living at home with his parents in a small town in Yorkshire. He is bored by his job as a clerk for an undertaking business, so he spends his time indulging in fantasies and dreams about life in the big city as a comedy writer. He has managed to get himself engaged to two girls all the while being in love with a third one and, no surprise here, he appears to be a compulsive liar.

The author captures that stifling small-town atmosphere as the story cycles through one day in Billy’s life. Between his multiple girlfriends, exasperated parents, annoying colleagues and some quite serious misconduct at work, Billy needs to be doing more than escaping into his fantasies. It quickly becomes apparent though that Billy has no desire to grow up.

While there were some stellar scenes in the book, I never really found myself much caring about the main character. Perhaps I should have read this book when I was younger and more sympathetic to rebellious youth, but at my current age, I had more in common with his parents and his Gran. Billy’s attempts to avoid responsibility and his lack of judgment simply seemed rather pointless to me.

Set 12, 2019, 7:35am

>116 DeltaQueen50: That is how I felt reading The Catcher In The Rye for the first time this year! I could see how it would have been an anthem for youth but Holden was just annoying me by the end of it.

Set 15, 2019, 2:43am

>117 JayneCM: Yes, Catcher in the Rye was another book that I should have read when I was younger. Throughout the reading of that one I was wanting someone to get Holden some badly needed help!

Set 15, 2019, 2:45am

Book 233: So Long A Letter by Mariama Ba - 4.5 ★

So Long a Letter by Mariam Ba is one of the books on the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die List although it seemed more like an essay on woman’s issues for Senegalese women in their ever changing world than an actual novel. Written in epistolary style, this short book is one letter written by one black African woman to another. During the course of the letter, their lives and their choices are discussed and analyzed and the author’s comments on the status of woman in Senegal covers many topics, from education to marriage, love, multiple wives, and equality of rights.

Considered an autobiographical novella, Ba, who was born in Dakar, Senegal in 1929, writes about her desire to see equal rights for all the people of her country. As she herself attended school so too, do the women in this story which broadens their choices in life, but also makes them targets of those who reject modern ways and wish to keep women locked into servitude.

Short and powerful, So Long a Letter is told by a strong woman who expresses her concern about the treatment of both herself and other women in their African Muslim society. Although this is a cry for reform, it is also a deeply felt, lyrically written personal story that touches the readers emotions and gives us an insight into this culture.

Set 15, 2019, 8:55am

>119 DeltaQueen50: Excellent review!

Set 15, 2019, 8:30pm

>120 ELiz_M: Thank you. I thought this was such an excellent read!

Set 15, 2019, 8:32pm

Book 234: Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee - 4.1 ★

Disgrace by South African author, J. M. Coetzee is a difficult book to review. I actually quite liked the book but a big part of the main story-line involves both rape and violence toward animals. The book’s main character David Lurie is a lecturer at a Capetown university who, when accused of sexual misconduct with one of his students, chose not to defend himself but rather to simply suffer his fate with stoicism. In his mind, Lurie has done nothing wrong, so he prefers to get fired and suffer the disgrace rather than to endure a process of rehabilitation. He loses his job and then goes into the country to live with his daughter, Lucy, on her isolated farm.

At first this seems like a peaceful interlude, but this is South Africa and the violence is never far away. The farm is attacked by a group of black men, Lurie is beaten and burnt, while Lucy is raped. His daughter refuses to press charges, even when one of rapists turns up at her ambitious coloured neighbour, Petrus’ party. Instead she signs over her land and equipment to this neighbour in the unspoken agreement that she will not be attacked again.

This is a novel of bleakness, turmoil and conflict. The reader is drawn into the psychological makeup of David, yet the story is also about the political standards of South Africa and conditions in that post-apartheid country. There is also a connection made between humans and animals, both as David helps out in an animal clinic and at Lucy’s farm with her dog kennel business. I found myself both shocked and deeply affected by the brutal reality of this book yet I am eager to read more by this author.

Out 1, 2019, 11:55pm

Book 235: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - 4.0 ★

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency was described by it’s author, Douglas Adams as a “thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic’. It is also one of the reasons this author has proved to be one of most beloved and successful science fiction authors of all time.

Don’t get me wrong, this book is weird. But it is also quite funny and luckily, for me, the humor made the weirdness work. The writing was inventive, original and clever, and the author never spares anyone or anything from his wisecracks. He takes great enjoyment in pointing out the ridiculous and leaves the reader pondering whether the book is about silly people doing serious things or serious people doing silly things.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency was first published in 1987 and has obviously stood the test of time. While overall I preferred the space opera comedy that was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this was an engaging, quirky and highly quotable read.

Out 2, 2019, 7:34am

>123 DeltaQueen50: I have just picked this book up from the library and am looking forward to seeing how it compares to Hitchhiker. But first, I am reading a non-list book which has been called The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets David Bowie. Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente. Have you read it? I am loving it so far.

Out 17, 2019, 12:29am

>123 DeltaQueen50: Sorry it's taken me so long to answer, I have been away from home and computer for the last 12 days. I have Space Opera on my wish list but haven't gotten to it yet, but it sounds like a good one.

Out 17, 2019, 12:31am

Book 236: The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe is considered to be one of the masters of short horror fiction and The Fall of the House of Usher, originally published in 1839, is a classic example of his skill. In about 40 pages this story touches on many Gothic elements such as a haunted house, a mysterious illness, a cursed family along with death and entombment. The author creates an atmospheric and creepy story that builds to its macabre finish as the narrator reveals the sinister and grotesque details that bring about the end of the Usher family.

Editado: Out 19, 2019, 4:20pm

Book 237: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

One of the newest additions to the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die List, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is more of a memoir than a novel. Yet this book is a beautiful and poetic story of her challenging relationship with a goshawk called Mabel and how she dealt with her grief over her father’s death.

Macdonald was no stranger to falconry, having previously trained sparrowhawks and falcons, but the goshawk is a larger, more temperamental bird who require endless patience and forbearance. Her world narrowed to training this remarkable creature and along with descriptions of her and Mabel’s achievements, we also learn of two remarkable men who influenced her life greatly. One was her father, a news photographer, whose sudden death put her in a downward tailspin and the other was author T. H. White, the author of The Once and Future King, who also had a goshawk and eventually wrote a book entitled The Goshawk. The author’s in-depth analysis of the troubled White helped her identify some of her own problems.

H is for Hawk is an introspective memoir that exposes the author’s inner pain, but it also is a book written by a survivor who eventually learns how to overcome her emotional distress and regain her life. I found this book to be a fascinating blend of a memoir and a nature study.

Editado: Nov 6, 2019, 12:30pm

Book 238: The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan - 3.6 ★

Originally published in 1978, The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan is a short and decidedly bleak story about a family in which both the father and mother pass away. The four children decide to conceal the death of their mother, so that they will not be separated. They place her body in a trunk and cement it over.

I can’t complain about this author’s writing which is pitch perfect, his subject matter on the other hand was not to my taste involving as it did masturbation and sibling sex. There were plenty of "yuck" moments sprinkled throughout the text. After the death of the mother, I simply wanted an adult to step in and take over as both the house and the children continued to deteriorate.

The Cement Garden will certainly never make the list of my favorite books, but I could appreciate that it was an easy read, that the story moved along quickly and that although disturbing, this short and riveting story will be one that I long remember.

Nov 6, 2019, 10:16pm

>128 DeltaQueen50:
I remember little about that one, other than that it was DARK and I didn't hate it.

Nov 7, 2019, 12:19pm

>129 Nickelini: Yes, that will probably be what I take from The Cement Garden - I didn't hate it, the writing was excellent, it was dark and at times distasteful.

Nov 13, 2019, 12:36pm

Book #239: Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen - 4.0 ★

Sense and Sensibility is Jane Austin’s first published novel. It is an enjoyable novel of manners and romance concerning two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. The sisters encounter many obstacles on their path to true love. Elinor, the older of the sisters, is ruled by sense, she is not given to shows of emotion, Marianne, on the other hand, thrives on her emotions and grand dramatic expressions.

As the book is told mostly through Elinor’s perspective and we are privy to her innermost thoughts, I found her the more sympathetic of the two sisters. Marianne grew on me as she went through heartbreak and illness, maturing into a stronger, less selfish person. The caring relationship between the two sisters was a highlight of the book. Both sisters’ romantic prospects take numerous twists and turns as the girls navigate a society where marriage is the goal and money and manners can hide a person’s true nature.

As with all Jane Austen’s works there is a lot to absorb. The book is full of well drawn, descriptive characters who flesh out the story and the time period. The author’s subtle wit and wordy eloquence deliver a charming story that certainly stands the test of time.

Nov 21, 2019, 4:17pm

Book #240: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte - 5.0 ★

I was totally spellbound by The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, the second and final novel of Anne Bronte. This Victorian story opens in a rural community that has it’s focus on the newest arrival, a young widow, Helen Graham, who has taken up the tenancy at Wildfell Hall with her young son. As the community tried to unravel the truth behind Helen’s background, malicious gossip and innuendo arises accusing her of being an immoral woman. A local gentleman farmer, Gilbert Markham, finds himself becoming more enamoured by the widow and although they have obviously formed an attachment, he is frustrated by her resistance to his romantic advances and torn by jealousy. When she finally allows him to read about her life from her diary her troubled past is revealed.

Helen’s previous life had been ruled by her alcoholic adulterous husband who made her life a living hell and seemed bent on teaching her son to follow in his debauchery. The book gives the reader a clear look at Victorian sensibilities, and although extremely shocking at the time of publication, has been lauded over the years for exposing the hypocrisy of hiding away scandals for appearance sake. I cannot imagine trying to live up to the ridge code of behaviour that was applied to Victorian women.

I loved this story and grew to admire Helen immensely. Gilbert, on the other hand, although far better than her husband, was not my idea of the perfect man as he exhibited a childish, petulant side with a wicked temper. The story is told in an epistolary manner as Gilbert writes to a friend and then the pages of Helen’s diary. I got totally caught up in this revealing early feminist novel that was quite simply an exquisite read.

Nov 21, 2019, 7:38pm

>132 DeltaQueen50:
If I had scads of time, I'd like to write a version of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall from the alcoholic husband's point of view. I don't think I liked any of the characters in that book, but I did appreciate how Anne Bronte could write men who were somewhat realistic (unlike her sisters).

Nov 22, 2019, 1:09am

>133 Nickelini: That would be great! I agree that Anne's men are the most believable of the Brontes. Maybe that is why she is the least popular of the sisters - a bit too much of real life.

Nov 23, 2019, 1:56am

>133 Nickelini: Now that I have read at least one book from each Bronte Sister, I would have to say that Tenant of Wildfell Hall is my favorite. While I loved Wuthering Heights when I was a teen, an adult re-read found me wanting to throw the book across the room a few times - too much angst and smoldering looks. I enjoyed both Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey but didn't fall in love with either of them. For me, Tenant of Wildfell Hall really worked.

Actually a book written from the alcoholic husband's point of view would be interesting as Anne Bronte never really gave him a backstory or developed him enough to allow the reader to have any positive feelings towards him. There could be quite a story as to how he ended up as he did.

Nov 23, 2019, 1:58am

>134 JayneCM: There! Now Joyce has at least two people who want to read her book about Arthur, the alcoholic husband! :)

Nov 23, 2019, 3:09am

>136 DeltaQueen50: Definitely! I would love to know how he came to that point in his life. So many possibilities!

Nov 23, 2019, 4:35am

>135 DeltaQueen50: I'm with those wanting to hear from Arthur (the cad!). He's set up as the villian, as otherwise Helen would have nothing to oppose, but what makes him so and why does Helen's aunt seem to be the only person who can see it comming?
I thought this was the most interesting story, and the most real. Wuthering Heights had me scratching my head - that ain't no romance, that's a deeply unhealthy relationship! Jane Eyre leaves me sure this is going to be an unhappy marriage. Agnes Grey was a little too prim and lecturing, Sirley suffers a little fomr the same tendency. The tenant of Wildfell hall was probably the best story, I'm just not sure it was told in the most effective way. And Gilbert struck me as slightly unsatisfactory. It all felt a little bit second hand, being a letter and a diary. But I'm glad to have finally read it.

Nov 25, 2019, 9:30pm

>138 Helenliz: Yes, I never quite warmed to Gilbert, his jealousy and hair-trigger temper are huge warning signs to beware. Sometimes it's hard to understand the characters' motives looking at it with our modern day perspectives. I think Helen could have had a much happier life if she remained single and in control of her destiny. I guess being single just wasn't acceptable in those days. I haven't read Shirley yet but I certainly agree with you about all the other Bronte books.

Nov 25, 2019, 10:26pm

>134 JayneCM:, >135 DeltaQueen50:, >136 DeltaQueen50:, >137 JayneCM:, >138 Helenliz:

Thanks for all the support for my novel idea! Can you all approach my employer and tell them I need a leave of a few years?

As for other Bronte novels, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre were both 5 star reads for me. Yes, Wuthering Heights made me want to throw the book across the room, and no, it's not romantic and it's brimming with dysfunction -- I'd like to write a novel about Heathcliff's wife. WH is an extremely messed up story but I think that's what I liked about it. Jane Eyre I actually liked more than I expected I would. But Rochester was repugnant. John Sutherland wrote an essay where he argues the idea that Rochester would have murdered Jane within a decade, and I agree. A few years after I read it, JE was assigned in a uni class and I planned to skip it, but I ended up reading it in depth and discovered all sorts of weird and awesome things in it.

Back to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Gilbert bored and infuriated me, and while I sympathized with Helen, I found her to often be a prig. Arthur of course was depraved, but at least that's interesting.

It's just not fair that my job takes up so much of my time and energy!

Nov 26, 2019, 3:32am

>140 Nickelini: Definitely! When I see Wuthering Heights described as a love story, I wonder if the person even read it! Poor Isabella - another great idea. You will have to extend that leave!

And Jane Eyre - could never understand why she went back to Rochester. Although love comes in many guises.

Those Bronte girls could sure write some messed up relationships!

Nov 30, 2019, 6:16pm

>140 Nickelini: & >141 JayneCM: Most everything I've seen written about Jane Eyre predicts that the marriage between Jane and Rochester will be an unhappy one. It's been quite some time since I read Jane Eyre so I might have to reread that one and see if my opinions have changed over the years.

Dez 10, 2019, 12:05pm

Book #241: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov - 2.8 ★

I tried to keep an open mind about the novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, but I really couldn’t get past the distasteful fact that the main character was sexually obsessed with pre-pubescent girls. I am afraid that I could find no literary value in his perverse and destructive relationship with the 12 year old Dolores Haze. I simply found the main character and ultimately the book repulsive.

This is an author that has great command of language, bending it to the shape of his thoughts and insights. In writing about the nature of lust, there are moments of humor as well as moments of despair. I wasn’t shocked by the subject matter as much as off-put by Humbert’s selfishness and how he uses his writing ability to disguise the nature of his desire. This is not a tragic love story but rather a pervert’s well written cover-up trying to normalize a grown man’s illegal actions towards a child.

I realize that my opinion of this book differs greatly from most critics who have hailed the novel as one of the greatest works of the 20th century. I tried to give this book an opportunity to draw me in but unfortunately I was not able to get beyond the difficult and vile subject matter.

Dez 10, 2019, 8:33pm

>143 DeltaQueen50: I felt the same - I could see the quality of the writing and sometimes would get lost in it. Until a reference to her thighs or some such would come up and I would just think 'uuugh' and be brought back to the subject matter. I agree, I wasn't shocked so much as repulsed by his justification of his desires and actions. But now it is ticked off the list. I still have Ada or Ardor to read though!

Dez 11, 2019, 11:44pm

>144 JayneCM: After reading other's comments I am beginning to see the value of this book. He did do an amazing job of getting inside the mind of a pervert and letting us see how he justified his actions. All in all though, I am very happy to check this one off the list and carry on.

Dez 12, 2019, 4:03pm

>143 DeltaQueen50:

Even though I've owned Lolita for years, I'm never up to read it. I expect my reaction will be exactly like yours.

Dez 12, 2019, 4:29pm

I think Lolita is one of those books that leaves you with mixed feelings. You can admire it while not enjoying it, necessarily. I think that's part of it's fascination. And the skill, to me rests in how it makes Humbert's actions seem rational and you can end up feeling sympathy for him for short periods, before the text jolts you out of that sensation. I think it still deserves to be read as part of what it does is show the disconnect between Humbert's outward apperance and his inward desires. If there is a lesson it is that if there is a Humbert, we'd never even know it.

None of which is to say it's a book I imagine I will re-read many times in my life, but it is one that I think people should read.

Dez 14, 2019, 8:04pm

One of the most interesting points about Lolita is how much conversation it generates. That alone makes me value the book more.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:10pm

Book #243 Like Life by Lorrie Moore - 4.0 ★

Like Life by Lorrie Moore is a volume of short stories, each one about ordinary people living quiet lives of desperation. The characters are often trying to disguise their fears and weaknesses with plenty of sarcasm or poignancy. There are eight stories, all quite different, yet all paint pictures of the empty lives of unhappy, neurotic and at times quite bitter people.

I can’t say that I enjoyed reading these stories, yet I did find them all memorable which speaks to the quality of the writing. At times these bleak stories hit close to home with recognizable emotions and feelings as she details life’s trite experiences. Stories about trying to disguise an empty life, or attempting to stay true to one’s muse are delivered in a sharp, incisive and witty manner that emphasizes rather than disguises the characters’ disorganized lives.

Complicated, cruel and cynical, the stories in Like Life speak to all of our insecurities and make the reading of it a very personal experience.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:10pm

Book #244: The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner - 3.3 ★

Although I can now proudly say that I have read William Faulkner, I don’t believe that I can quite brag that I totally comprehended him. I actually had to look up a character list of The Sound and The Fury to understand that the Queenie, who was tossing her head in chapter one was a horse, while Luster and Versh are human characters. What I gathered from my reading of this book is that all three brothers of the Compson family were obsessed by their sister, Caddy.

The first three chapters are narrated by the Compson brothers on three different days in the years 1910 and 1928. The brothers are, Benjy, a severely retarded thirty-three year old man whose narration consists mostly of sensations and random thoughts. The other two brothers are the suicidal Quentin and the horrible Jason but it wasn’t until the final chapter which focuses on Dilsey, the Compson’s pious and strong-willed black housekeeper that the story started to meld together for me. This novel describes the decline and deterioration of this once-prominent Southern family of Jefferson, Mississippi as their wealth, land and status slowly give way.

I read that one shouldn’t jump into this book with no prior knowledge of it and I heartily agree with this statement. I actually went back and re-read Benjy’s first chapter and I certainly understood a lot more of it and, indeed, appreciated Faulkner’s ability to deliver these fragmented snippets that in actuality do move the story forward. The Sound and Fury is a book that highlights stream-of-consciousness and non-linear story-telling and is quite an accomplishment. Personally, I still don’t like this book but I can now understand why Faulkner is so revered.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:10pm

Book #245: Passing by Nella Larsen - 4.0 ★

One of the great things about reading from the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die List is that I have been introduced to many writers that I had not experienced before. Such is the case with Passing by Nella Larsen. This is the story of two American women in the 1920s with a similar background who chose very different ways to live.

Both women are very light skinned black women and while Irene is a respected member of the Black community, married to a black doctor and allowing herself to “pass” for white only occasionally, Clare actually lives the life of a white woman, completely denying her black heritage and even hiding her race from her rich, white and bigoted husband. But Clare seemingly desires some contact with the black community and latches onto Irene in order to attend various black social functions. Irene has mixed feelings about Clare, she doesn’t approve of her life choices yet she does her best to protect her secret. Her feelings become even more challenged when she realizes that her husband and Clare are having an affair.

I found Passing to be a very interesting story. Nella Larsen herself was of mixed heritage, her mother was Danish and her father a black American. Racial segregation laws were in force until the 1960s and some light-skinned blacks used “passing” in order to obtain equal opportunities and rights, social standing and acceptance. It is unfortunate that Nella Larsen only wrote one other book, but I will be reading that in the near future.

Jan 9, 2020, 11:26pm

>151 DeltaQueen50: I enjoyed Passing more than Quicksand, but they are both wonderful. It is indeed unfortunate that she did not write any more. After the publication of these two novels, she published a short story and was accused of plagiarism as it was very similar to a work by Sheila Kaye-Smith. No plagiarism charges were proven and Larsen later received a Guggenheim Fellowship and travelled to Europe to write but she never published again. Apparently she suffered from a lack of confidence and depression, whereas some have said it was just lack of courage and dedication after the plagiarism scandal.

Editado: Jan 10, 2020, 2:40am

>152 JayneCM: Hi Jayne. What a shame that she didn't continue to have her writing published. She's very talented.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:10pm

Book #246: The Diviners by Margaret Laurence - 4.0 ★

The Diviners by Margaret Laurence is considered a classic of Canadian Literature, winning the Governor General’s Award for fiction in 1974. The main character of the story is Morag Gunn, an independent novelist and single mother who grew up in the small town of Manawaka, Manitoba. She has a difficult relationship with her daughter Pique and the father of Pique, a Metis named Jules Tonnerre and is struggling with her writing as well.

The novel opens with Morag finding that her eighteen year old daughter has left home then while brooding over that she thinks back over her own life, her traumatic childhood, her difficult relationships and her struggles to assert herself. This self-reflective portrait not only portrayed Morag’s life but also with it’s exploration of several generations, races and classes painted a vivid picture of the Canadian immigrant experience.

When originally published The Diviners was considered quite controversial with it’s depiction of a woman who chose to leave her marriage and conceive a child out of wedlock. Also the interracial relationship between Morag and Jules caused more than a few raised eyebrows. I believe the author was striving to show how mixed culturally and racially Canadian heritage can be.

I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed this book. Although published in the 1970s, its feminist themes still ring true today. I will long remember Morag Gunn, the flawed, conflicted yet strong main character who takes the reader on such an emotional journey. The author’s writing totally engaged me with it’s honest and intimate manner of delivering such a complex story.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:09pm

Book #247: Vernon God Little by Dbc Pierre

Vernon God Little by Dbc Pierre presents itself as a comedy, but the subject matter is very dark as it takes a hard look at American society. We follow the experiences of Vernon Little, a Texas teenager whose best friend has just killed sixteen of their classmates and then himself. The townspeople seek both answers and vengeance and because Vernon was the killer’s closest friend, he becomes the focus of their fury. Vernon comes across as a deceptively simple boy, rather cynical and certainly unlucky and relying heavily on gross-out humor.

While this satire effectively captures a teenager’s self-absorption, it also manages to skewer mindless consumer culture, the media’s penchant for turning tragedy into entertainment, and the craving of fame by average citizens. While humor and mass murder are uneasy companions, the author does manage to pull off a story that, although bizarre, holds one’s attention, and while I personally found myself wincing more than smiling, this irreverent book was certainly highly readable.

Fev 17, 2020, 12:27pm

I began my quest to read from the 1,001 List because of a bet I have with my brother. He just send me his most recent count of 253 books read which shows that I am sneaking up on him. I am at 246 books read with a couple on-going and 3 more planned for next month. Ha! I think I may catch up and pass him!

Fev 17, 2020, 1:02pm

>156 DeltaQueen50: Congrats on your progress and here's to your eventual catching up and passing him!

Fev 17, 2020, 1:42pm

>156 DeltaQueen50: >:-) A few more and you'll have him.

Fev 17, 2020, 8:14pm

Good for you! I remember when you were way behind me, and now look at you, leaving me to eat your dust. Well done. Go catch that pesky brother.

Fev 18, 2020, 2:32am

>156 DeltaQueen50: Nearly there!

Fev 18, 2020, 10:16pm

Thanks everybody. I have been averaging about 3 books from the list a month so I may just slip past him before he knows it!

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:09pm

Book #248: The Sea by John Banville

The Sea by John Banville is a novel about love and loss, as the main character, Max Morden tries to come to terms with his wife’s death from cancer by retreating into his memories of his past, in particular, his childhood vacations at the seaside. Taking this a step further, he returns to the seaside boarding house where an event that affected him greatly took place. The reader does not discover what this event was until near the end of the book.

There isn’t much of a story to this novel, rather it appears to be a series of reflections on mortality, grief, death and childhood memory. The author evokes a quiet, haunting atmosphere in which to set his beautiful writing. He also cleverly uses the power of scent as a trigger to many of the character’s memories. The flawed main character is not particularly likeable as he constantly questions his motives, finds solace in a bottle, and seems to revel in his melancholy and regret.

The Sea is not a story to be read for entertainment but rather one to admire for it’s luminous wording and to reflect upon the complex patterns that Banville presents with these words.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:09pm

Book #249: Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard

Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard tells the story of mob-connected loan shark Chili Palmer, who chases a deadbeat client out to Hollywood from Miami and then finds he loves the L.A. lifestyle. Chili has become dissatisfied with life in Miami so with an idea for a movie simmering in his head, he goes about trying to get it made even though it may be the death of him. He hooks up with Harry Zimm a producer of low budget horror films who is looking to step up the quality of his films.

Chili Palmer is a fantastic character, big on style, wise in the ways of those who operate outside the law and enthusiastic about films and Hollywood. Along with Chili, Leonard fills this book with interesting backup characters, great dialogue and an ingenious plot with plenty of humor and action.

This is a story that grabbed me from page one. Get Shorty with it’s sharp and clever style is both cool and fun as well as an excellent send-up of how business is conducted in Hollywood.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:09pm

Book #250: The Sorrows of Young Wether by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Originally published in 1774, The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe is an epistolary style story that captured the imagination of the public when first published. Men dressed in Werther’s signature outfit and women wore “Eau de Werther”. This novella is one of the first examples of romanticism, a movement in arts, music and literature in the late 18th century that emphasized inspiration, emotion and glorification of nature.

The sensational story is about a young artist who heads for rural solitude after becoming entangled in an inappropriate romance. While in the country, he falls for Lotte, the daughter of a land steward. She is engaged to another and cannot return his affections. Werther’s extreme passion and torment at Lotte’s rejection leads him to contemplate suicide as his only solution.

This fictional story is in actuality based on the author’s own bout with unrequited love and in this story he captures how Werther becomes fixated with the ideal he has built in his mind rather than having real feelings toward an actual woman. The Sorrows of Young Werther, although a little dated, is a well written story about the painful emotions of obsession and rejection,

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:08pm

Book #251 The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard

The Drowned World is a 1962 science fiction novel by British author J. G. Ballard that is still very relevant today. Foreseeing the future, this novel depicts a world where global warming has caused the polar ice caps to melt and the oceans to rise. Some areas are silted up and due to the warmth of the sun areas that were temperate are now tropical and most uninhabitable. Most of the remaining human population lives either at the poles or northern Greenland.

This story takes place over the city of London. The city is gone, covered by water and this area has become a series of lagoons and tropical swamps suitable only for the many insects and reptiles that have taken over. We join a survey team that is checking out some of the major cities to see if they could become habitable again. Dr. Robert Kerans is part of the team of scientists and they are slowly transformed, both physically and psychologically by this prehistoric environment.

For me, the story was secondary. The author has created a realistic post-apocalyptic future that is both imaginative and ahead of its’ time. The book is full of striking images and descriptive passages. J. G. Ballard used extreme climate to create The Drowned World and his unique vision has obviously influenced many of today’ science fiction authors.

Mar 15, 2020, 2:07pm

>165 DeltaQueen50: The first book I read by Ballard was Hello America which sounds similar to The Drowned World - it's about a group of explorers from Europe that arrive in NYC (which is a desert) and then travel across the US (the west has turned into a jungle). I described it at the time I read it as 'weird.' I am interested to get to The Drowned World based on your comments.

Mar 23, 2020, 6:23pm

>166 LisaMorr: Sorry Lisa, it's ben a bit since I visited this thread. I am adding Hello America to my wish list as I really enjoyed The Drowned World and want to read more by this author.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:08pm

Book #252: Spring Flowers, Spring Frost by Ismail Kadare

Ismail Kadare, the author of Spring Flowers, Spring Frost is one of the few Albanian authors whose work is available in translation. Most of his writing has been first translated into French and then into English and this may be one of the reasons why I found this book muddled and confusing. It could also be that I just didn’t understand what the author was trying to say or what message he was trying to deliver.

Spring Flowers, Spring Frost begins by introducing Mark, a semi-successful artist who begins to notice that since the collapse of communism, violence is suddenly becoming commonplace in his neighbourhood. Old vendettas and blood feuds are returning and most dangerous of all the Kanun, an ancient mafia law of settling accounts of honour, has been resurrected. The story is delivered in a dreamlike sequence so I was never quite sure of what was real and what was only in Mark’s head. The best part of the book for me were that occasionally the author inserted counter-chapters that told of strange tales that seemed almost mythic. In particular I liked the story of the Young Women Who Married A Snake. I have no idea if these tales were created by the author or are actually parts of Albanian folk tales.

I have previously read and enjoyed Broken April by this author so I didn’t expect to dislike this book as much as I did. I found the lack of continuity and the bizarre images very off-putting. I am not in the mind-set right now to appreciate books that diffuse reality to this degree and so Spring Flowers, Spring Frost just didn’t work for me.

Mar 29, 2020, 4:01pm

>168 DeltaQueen50:

Interesting. I own both those Kadare books. I'll make a note to read Broken April first.

Mar 30, 2020, 3:45pm

>169 Nickelini: I'll look forward to your thoughts on these books, Joyce. I am wondering if the real life situation we are now in affected my feelings toward Spring Flowers, Spring Frost. I am finding it difficult to fully concentrate on my reading right now.

Mar 30, 2020, 5:59pm

>170 DeltaQueen50:
I know what you mean. I read one book in March. For my latest, I picked something much lighter than I usually read.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:08pm

Book #253: Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood

Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood was drawn from his experiences as an expatriate living in Berlin during the early 1930’s and received rave reviews when originally published in 1935, but Isherwood later denounced his work as shallow and dishonest. The book was originally planned to be much longer and more comprehensive about conditions in Germany at the time, but the author decided instead to mostly concentrate the story around the character of Mr. Arthur Norris whom the young and naive narrator of the story, William Bradshaw meets on a train going from the Netherlands into Germany.

These two characters strike up a friendship and Bradshaw goes on to find many aspects of Mr. Norris intriguing. He is a member of the communist party and his frequent disappearances and fluctuating finances raise a certain amount of speculation. He is also a sexual deviant and introduces Bradshaw to the murky side of Berlin. The character of William Bradshaw is that of an observer, while the author delves into the more complex character of Mr. Norris who can be crafty, charming, vain and hedonistic. The author has also added other memorial characters that help to flesh out the story.

While I would consider this more of a character study than an actual story, this was an interesting and informative book. The setting is of Berlin at a critical point in history, Hitler and his Nazis are about to come into power and set aside Germany’s democratic institutions. The understated and dry manner of the story-telling, even the glossing over of incidents of political violence in no way took away my knowledge of the sinister and dangerous future that was on the horizon.

Editado: Abr 7, 2020, 11:58am

>172 DeltaQueen50: Now that looks like an interesting one! I very much enjoy books about Germany in the run-up to WWII, both fiction and non-fiction.

>167 DeltaQueen50: No worries! I don't spend that much time on my non-category challenge threads either. P.S. I would leave Crash, another 1001 book by Ballard, for much later on...

Abr 8, 2020, 11:31am

172 Lisa, I am now looking forward to Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin as, I believe, it is set later on in the 1930's when Hitler was firmly in control. It is also the book that the play "I Am A Camera" and then the film "Cabaret" was based on.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:08pm

Book #254: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Although Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel covers the serious subject of the life of a woman in turn-of-the-century Mexico, it is a charming interpretation using magical realism to highlight the story. The author opens every chapter with a recipe and sets pretty much most of the action in and around the kitchen as that recipe is prepared.

We follow the destiny of Tita, the youngest daughter of a well born rancher. Her story is not a particular happy one as she has been raised to remain single and look after her aging mother. Tita does fall in love, but her mother quickly puts a halt to the relationship and, in fact, offers Tita’s love interest, Pedro, the hand of her sister. Tita learns to express herself through her cooking and pours her emotions and thoughts into the food she prepares. When she is forced to make her sister’s wedding cake, the power of her thoughts causes every guest to burst into tears when they taste the cake.

In a light-hearted, almost breezy style, the author uses cooking to describe Tita’s frustrations, hope and love in this unusual folk tale. The book is playful, sensual, earthy and engaging and was the perfect read to keep my mind away from the seriousness of real life.

Abr 13, 2020, 12:26pm

>175 DeltaQueen50: Like Water For Chocolate is one of my all time favourite books. I read it the first time all in one sitting, and finished at 3 AM. I got up the next morning and went out and bought everything to make a Mexican feast.

Abr 13, 2020, 1:55pm

>176 Nickelini: I loved this book and it sure does make you crave Mexican food!

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:08pm

Book #255: The Commandant by Jessica Anderson

The Commandant by Jessica Anderson is based on a real person, Captain Patrick Logan who served as the commander of the Moreton Bay Penal Colony from 1826 to 1830. During his time there were rumours and accusations of extreme and harsh punishments. These were taken up by some of the more liberal press but the Commandant, who felt his harsh discipline was necessary mostly ignored the criticism.

The novel introduces the fictional character of Frances, the young sister-in-law to Patrick Logan, and she is horrified by the brutality she encounters and it is through her that Logan eventually is forced to face a severe judgment of his own. I found this to be a fascinating read, and although the subject matter is very different from her novels, the writing style reminded me somewhat of Jane Austin’s. Her descriptions of the customs, culture and rules of Colonial society are described in great detail but with a light touch that includes a certain amount of humor. The characters are well developed and interesting but the Commandant himself remains somewhat of a mystery. He is an aloof character, cold, stiff and brooding. While Frances represents the changing views of society on punishment and reform, Patrick is an unchanging man of the old school, doing what he sees is his duty.

Told with various viewpoints highlighted, The Commandant is an interesting, highly readable story that covers both the drawing room manners of the day, the role of women in the colonies as well as the changing of the rules of society on prisoner treatment. Anderson recreates a piece of Australian history and through her skilful and witty writing delivers a great read.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:07pm

Book #256: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo is a historical fiction novel that was originally published in France during 1831. The story is set in Paris during the 15th century and is centred around Quasimodo, a deformed bell ringer and his unrequited love for the beautiful dancer Esmeralda, who believes herself to be a gypsy. These two originally meet at the Feast of Fools where Quasimodo is elected “Pope of the Fools” and then beaten by an angry mob. Esmeralda takes pity on him and offers him a drink of water. Quasimodo immediately falls in love with the girl and decides to devote his life to protecting her.

Esmeralda has other admirers, the evil Archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo and her choice, Captain Phoebus de Chateaupers. Due to Frollo, Esmeralda becomes a suspect in the attempted murder of her love and is arrested, put on trial and sentenced to death after she is forced to falsely confesses to both the murder and to witchcraft. Quasimodo attempts to shelter her in the cathedral but Frollo interferes and Esmeralda is released to the ranting crowd leaving Quasimodo to take his vengeance upon Frollo.

This famous tragedy plays out in one of the enduring symbols of Paris, the Notre Dame Cathedral. Hugo paints a vivid story that also shines a light on life in the 15th century. While the author explores what it meant to be labelled a “monster”, the real star of the book is the historic Gothic architecture that Hugo wanted to see preserved. Although this story has been adapted many times, very few adaptations tell the actual story, most revise the ending to give the audience a happy conclusion.

I have been reading this book on and off since last November by installments and as happy as I am to be able to say that I have completed this read, I can’t say that I really felt involved in the story. I think I brought too many preconceptions with me, and the disjointed reading also played a part in my disconnection from the story.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:07pm

Book #257: I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is a collection of connected short stories, all dealing with robots and the ideologies that surround them. Although originally published in book form in 1950, many of these stories were written during the 1940s, and his look to the future was partly zeroed into both the years we are living in now and our immediate future, which makes his ideas and concepts all the more interesting. Asimov foresaw a word, even a universe, in which mankind is aided and assisted by ever evolving robots.

Most of these stories revolve around the three laws of robotics that the author developed, these being that robots cannot harm or injure humans, that they must obey orders given by humans and that they can protect it’s own existence as long as it doesn’t conflict with the other two rules. Although sounding very straight forward, these laws were open for interpretation by the robots, and thus variations did occur and the benefits and flaws of this system are examined in these stories.

Although A. I. hasn’t developed to the extent of this book, Asimov’s ideas from the 1940s and 50s show incredible foresight on his part. I found I, Robot to be both a thought provoking and highly enjoyable read.

Editado: Set 12, 2020, 3:06pm

Book #258: The Water Margin: Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Nai'An

The Water Margin is a novel attributed to Shi Nai’an and is considered one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature. I started this book early in February and been reading a chapter or two a day since. This is an epic story about rebels, resistance, war, friendship and revenge. It concerns the gathering together of 108 people who, for various reasons, defy local authorities and join a bandit force hiding out on a marsh-surrounded mountain. While it is an absolute door-stopper of a book at over 2,100 pages, it is not a difficult read and is full of adventure, humor and traditions of 14th century China.

The book lends itself well to reading in chapters, each one contained a story and each ended with phrasing to the effect that if you wanted to find out what or why something happened then read the next chapter. I was charmed by the story and it took me back to the 1990s when I played a series of RPGs called Sukoden which was loosely based on this book, and in many ways my game playing helped me understand what was happening in this book. The challenge to this read was keeping all the characters straight, and understanding the various military campaigns. There is a lot of information included that concerns tactics, strategy, and military maneuvers on a large scale.

The characters were fascinating and many had very colourful names such as The Jade Unicorn, Du Xing the Demon Face, “Cut Your Heart Out” Wang, and Oily Mudfish which certainly helped to identify them. One of my personal favourites was the drunken monk, Sagacious Lu. Although the book is mostly about action and features battles, kidnappings, assassinations, torture and single combat, one character does do a fair amount of reflection. This is Song Jiang, who emerges as the leader. Also called The Timely Rain, it is he who handles the organization and strategy and has the most empathy of all the characters.

The Water Margin is truly a grand adventure story and is a work of stunning achievement. I enjoyed my read of this book and feel it was well worth the time invested.

Maio 10, 2020, 7:26am

>181 DeltaQueen50: Congratulations on finishing The Water Margin! You took the right approach there, with a chapter or two a day. I loved the book but became frustrated by its length. You read it the way it was supposed to be read!

I've been catching up on your thread and really enjoying your reviews, by the way.

Editado: Maio 11, 2020, 12:58am

>182 annamorphic: Because I enjoyed the role-playing games based on this book, I was predisposed to liking it. It turned out that I more than liked the book, I thought it was excellent. I suspect this is a book that one would discover different things on subsequent reads - but for me, one read will have to do as I just don't have the time to devote to a re-read. I also played RPGs based on The Three Kingdoms so I am looking forward to that one as well.

Thanks for visiting and enjoying my musing on the books from the list.

Maio 22, 2020, 5:00pm

>183 DeltaQueen50: Which RPGs are based on The Water Margin and The Three Kingdoms? I enjoy RPGs too, and would like to check them out.

Maio 23, 2020, 9:56pm

>183 DeltaQueen50: The Sukoden series of RPGs were based on The Water Margin. In these games you play as the main character and have to recruit the 108 stars as you play along. As you recruit the stars you can set up different parties to go out and fight with. Some of the characters show up in all of the games but there are also new ones added each game. There is a magic system which if I remember correctly was done through the purchase and wearing of various runes.

The Three Kingdoms Strategy games, and there are many, are called Romance of the Kingdom. I have played at least 9 versions. Basically you have to conquer China, one city state or province at a time. You also have to feed your people, encourage culture, build better structures and recruit and train armies. You can play as a made up character or you can play as one of the characters from the book - Lui Bei, Cao Cao, Ma Teng, etc. Each ruler comes with a selection of warriors and advisors that they were associated with in the book.

There are also a number of straight up fighting games based on the characters of the Three Kingdoms. You chose who you want to be, each known character has a distinct personality and comes with a special weapon and each one has their own supreme fighting move. You fight your way through China. I spent hours playing this game with both my grandchildren.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:07pm

Book #259: We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

I think the main significance of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin is the fact that it was published before either Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four and obviously influenced the authors of both those books. In this imagined world of the 26th century it is held that happiness and freedom are incompatible. This is a future where life is dictated by math, logic and rules. Imagination, emotion and dreams are frowned upon.

Under constant surveillance, the people’s lives are tightly controlled. There is no individuality allowed. They exercise by marching to the state’s anthem, they live in glass houses where they can be observed at all times. There is no marriage and children are created in a lab and raised by the state. Sex is rationed and one can only draw the curtains in their home while engaging in this activity. While I found this all very interesting, I did not connect with the main character or become particularly engaged by the story.

Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote this dystopian novel during a time of change in Russia, he had just come through a revolution and a new system was taking control. He, personally had run afoul of both the white Russians and later, the Communists. We takes a hard look at totalitarian government and the flaws of forcing people into a rigid way of living.

Maio 28, 2020, 3:14am

>181 DeltaQueen50:

Glad you finally finished it and ended up loving it at the end! :)

Maio 28, 2020, 5:25pm

>187 lilisin: I though The Water Margin was a real treat. Easy to read with plenty of humor, I read a chapter or two every day and looked forward to my time with the book.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:06pm

Book #260: Queen Margot by Alexandre Dumas

Queen Margot, while not as engrossing or as sweeping as The Count of Monte Crisco was still a highly readable and enjoyable historical novel. Dumas doesn’t let actual history get in the way of his story-telling, for him the story always comes first so characters motives and actions are not always in line with the actual facts. His plot was full of schemes, quarrels, revenge and the politics of the day. Catholics versus Protestants was an ongoing issue, particularly in France for centuries. The Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre that occurs in the opening chapters of the book actually happened and is believed to have been instigated by Catherine de Medici, the mother of both the King of France and of Margot, the bride of just a few days to the Protestant King of Navarre.

This massacre is the event that draws Margot and Henry of Navarre together in a strong political alliance even though they both look to others for romance. Political ambition is also a driving force in their marriage. However, I never felt that Margot was the main character of this story, I think the author felt more comfortable writing about men, although I suspect he got great enjoyment writing about Catherine and her many poison plots. Dumas excels in action scenes, swordplay comes alive under with his directions and his descriptions are lively and realistic. A weakness is his characters, to me they are fairly one-dimensional and he does seem to like his women to be rather flirtatious and somewhat fickle. A point in his flavor is that he does give his women intelligence, both Margot and her mother, Catherine had a good read on the politics of the day and knew how to manipulate situations in their favour.

Queen Margot is a long book and I felt it was starting to drag a bit by the time I finished it. While the story never became as stirring emotionally as The Count of Monte Cristo, and at times seemed a little repetitive, I nevertheless enjoyed this entertaining book.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:06pm

Book #261: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich was originally published in 1984 and is her debut novel. In a series of connected short stories the book highlights the lives of three generations of Ojibwe families living on reservations in Minnesota and North Dakota. The stories cover many years from the early 1930s up to the 1980s and all help to define Native American lives and their own thoughts on identity and survival.

Each story is told from the viewpoint of a different character, a member of the Kashpaw, Lamartine, Morrissey, Pillager or Lazarres family. These entwined families share joint history as they have grown up together, married into each other’s families and share children. The opening story delivers a strong statement and lets the reader know they are in for something special. Dealing with dark subject matters such as alcoholism, adultery, illegitimacy and failed dreams, the author is wise enough to insert some humor and light moments as well. The writing is strong and poetic and although at times I had difficulty keeping the characters straight, overall this was a wonderful reading experience.

As a member of the Chippewa and Obijwe tribes, Louise Erdrich has become a strong voice in Native American Literature. In this her first book, she draws on the readers emotions while also teaching us about Native American traditions and beliefs. I will long remember this group of stories and the community of characters she introduces to us.

Jun 12, 2020, 11:53am

>185 DeltaQueen50: Thanks for the info!

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:06pm

Book #262: Summer by Edith Wharton

Summer by Edith Wharton is a short novel set in rural New England that was originally published in 1917. This story was rather controversial in it’s time dealing as it does with some sensitive issues like sexual awakening and unmarried pregnancy. Like many of this authors books the themes revolve around social class, and the narrow margin people had to fit their lives into.

While on the surface this seems to be a story about a young woman seduced and led astray, Wharton made it very clear that this story had two main protagonists, Charity and Lawyer Royall. She sees her characters as trapped in a closed society and needing to work through their moral struggles to find inner peace and acceptance. While many are disappointed in the ending of this story, I felt it was obvious that Charity made the best decision that she could as her choices were extremely limited. Her final choice would hopefully lead to a peaceful and contented life.

While Summer didn’t touch me emotionally in the same way that her Ethan Frome did, the writing is wonderful, her descriptions are clear and very visual, and her characters are well defined. I can’t say that I particularly liked Charity or Lawyer Royall, but they felt complete and true to their time. Like all of Wharton’s books that I have read so far, there is a thread of sadness that runs though the narrative and helps to steer the story through both the internal and external conflicts. As always the author knows how to deliver her story and leave her reader with much to reflect upon.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:06pm

Book #263: The Master by Colm Toibin

The Master by Colm Toibin tells the story of how author Henry James lived between January 1895 to October 1899. It opens with his unsuccessful venture into theatre with his play, “Guy Domville” and closes when he moves himself to relative seclusion in Rye, where over the next few years, he produced several of his masterpieces.

Toibin explores many aspects of James life, and as the novel unfolds in a third person narrative, the reader is constantly seeing his life, through his own eyes and memory. Although the book is a fictionalized version, it is based closely on Henry James life. His sexuality is alluded to and his inclinations were obviously to the same sex, but Toibin, in true repressed Victorian style, chose to have his sexuality remain unresolved.

I found The Master to be a reflective, thoughtful and subtle novel. Toibin chose to develop some key experiences in James’ life to give the reader a picture of this very private man. Yet, when he wrote about the creative process, I found it difficult to decipher where the break between author Toibin and author James existed. I believe there is a tremendous empathy toward James by Toibin and it was clear that Toibin admires the content and style of James’ writing. While I found this book interesting with beautiful, descriptive writing, I never quite warmed to the overall concept.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:06pm

Book #264: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West is written by Cormac McCarthy and originally published in 1985. Although classified as a Western, this literary masterpiece in fact, defies being neatly classified as such. Some call it an anti-western because of it’s grim and dark subject matter, but this disturbing story is loosely based on actual historical events. The setting is the border country between Mexico and Texas and our main character is a young boy who runs away from his Tennessee home. He is only ever known the The Kid throughout the book. He comes to Texas and through various events becomes a scalp hunter. He is part of the Glanton gang, who are getting paid for each Apache scalp that they turn in. Of course, it isn’t long before this group doesn’t bother to discern between Indians and Mexicans. Little did they know, the Mexican government was shelling out gold for the scalps of their own people.

Many people are put off by the violence in this story but I found myself enthralled by the author’s lyrical and dark prose. The story is full of casual and bloody brutalities and there is one character called The Judge who is a particularly despicable murderer and psychopath. There has been a lot of speculation as to the identity of the Judge. Many feel he is representative of the Devil, others feel he is there to show the cruelty that mankind is capable of. I found this character spine-chilling and menacing but overwhelmingly interesting.

Blood Meridian is a book to stir one’s emotions and the ambiguity of the ending left me mulling over exactly what the author was trying to pass on to his readers. This is not a book for the faint of heart as it is full of the dark and bloody impulses that men inflict on others. Blood Meridian has left me with conflicted feelings but not for one minute do I regret reading this unsettling work of art.

Jul 18, 2020, 7:31am

>194 DeltaQueen50: terrific review!

Jul 18, 2020, 3:02pm

>195 ELiz_M: Thanks. This was the third Cormac McCarthy book that I have read and I have loved them all - he obviously resonates with me.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:05pm

Book 265: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink was originally published in Germany in 1995 and is a beautifully written story of love, compassion and secrets as Michael, a young German boy becomes involved with Hanna, a woman twice his age.

They become lovers until she suddenly moves on, leaving him wondering if he had done something to drive her away. A number of years pass by and now, as a young law student, he sees Hanna again. This time she is a defendant in a war crimes trial. Michael is concerned as he watches her refuse to defend herself and he gradually realizes that she is covering up something that she considers more shameful than the things she is being accused of.

The Reader is a disturbing story made all the more devastating by it’s heart-felt simplicity. It is both a coming-of-age tale and the story of a second generation German coming to terms with the Holocaust. The story makes a strong impact and I know that I will be thinking about this haunting story of guilt and longing for some time.

Jul 25, 2020, 12:53pm

>197 DeltaQueen50:

I agree that The Reader is an excellent book. I didn't expect to like it at all so it was a nice surprise for me.

Jul 29, 2020, 3:05pm

>198 Nickelini: Hi, Joyce. I wasn't expecting The Reader to affect me as strongly as it did, I love books that touch upon the reader's emotions the way this one did.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:05pm

Book 266: Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathaniel West

Written and published in the early 1930s, Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathaniel West is a novella that is meant to be a black comedy set in New York City. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this funny at all. Although times have changed, I doubt whether I would ever found jokes about raping women funny. This particular section felt more like the author was lashing out at women who were more “literary” than him and/or more successful than him.

Most of the book was depressing and felt like I was reading about someone’s nightmare. The main character is an advice columnist who is the “Miss Lonelyhearts” for his newspaper. His contempt for the people who write to him made me very uncomfortable. Basically this is a character who is a failure, he isn’t good enough at writing, relationships, or religion. He appears to dislike most men and despise all women and gay men, when in fact, he actually is jealous of most everyone who is more successful at living than he is. “Suicide is an option” is a theme that runs through the book.

Reading of other people problems and misery must be emotionally draining, but I just couldn’t warm up to his character or have any sympathy for him. Reading about hard-drinking, misogynistic, homophobic characters that spew verbal and sometimes physical abuse wore me out and Miss Lonelyhearts felt more like a 300 page novel than the 80 page novella that it is.

Ago 5, 2020, 1:24pm

>200 DeltaQueen50: Yep. That was a novella I couldn't finish, despite it's short length. I had no desire to continue reading it after about 20-30 pages.

Ago 7, 2020, 3:13pm

>201 japaul22: I should have binned it - but I really find it hard to not finish a book once I've started.

Editado: Ago 21, 2020, 6:05pm

Book #267: Things Fall Apart by Chnua Achebe

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was first published in 1958 and depicts scenes from the life of Nigeria’s Igbo society. The main character, Okonkwo is a willful and headstrong man that in turns could be abusive, misogynist, impatient and intolerant. He grew up in a warrior’s culture and under the shadow of a lazy, unsuccessful father, so these traits that we would label as faults today, helped him to become a successful and powerful man of the Igbo.

The story of Okonkwo’s life is also a story of how colonialism impacted and undermined the traditional African culture. It is difficult not to condemn the Europeans with their feelings of cultural superiority and their hypocrisy of pushing their religious beliefs on these people. Written without indulging in sentimentality or strong bias, this book comes across as a parable to the memory of the past.

This rather short book encompasses a lot including African identity, racism, cultural differences, social and political issues as well as capturing a period of change and upheaval for the African people. Things Fall Apart was informative, timeless, important and, best of all, an excellent read.

Set 2, 2020, 1:31pm

Book #268: The Once and Future King by T.H. White

The Once and Future King by T. H. White is based upon the 1485 book Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. It is comprised of four short novels that were published from 1938 to 1940 with the collection being put together as one book in 1958. This complex work is considered the best re-telling of the Arthurian legend.

The first book, “The Sword in the Stone”, tells of Arthur’s, called Wart in this volume, upbringing by his foster father Sir Ector, his friendship with his foster brother Kay and his instructions by Merlyn, a wizard . Merlyn knows what Arthur’s future is to be and tries to teach him how to be a good king by turning him into animals, fish and birds with each transformation meant to teach Arthur a lesson to prepare him. This book ends with the death of the current King, and Arthur pulling the sword Excalibur from the stone and being recognized as the new king.

Next comes “The Queen of Air and Darkness” which is set during the early years of Arthur’s reign. He is fighting a number of wars against rebellious Knights and, with the help of Merlyn, comes up with the idea of the Round Table and an order of Knights of chivalry. This book also details his seduction by his half-sister Queen Morgause and the birth of their illegitimate son, Mordred.

Part three is “The Ill-Made Knight” which switches the focus to the love story between Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot, how they try to hide it from Arthur, although he knows of it through Merlyn. We also see how the Lady Elaine is affected by this affair as she also loves Lancelot and is the mother of his son, Galahad. I had a hard time sympathizing with either Lancelot or Guinevere as I felt they were so wrapped up in themselves, they had not consideration of others.

The last book, ‘The Candle in the Wind” brings the various pieces of the story together by telling of the downfall of Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot and the last days of the Kingdom of Camelot.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book as I have never been a fan of King Arthur stories, I was drawn in right away by the winsome ways of Arthur, the humor and magic of Merlyn and many of the other quirky characters that were introduced throughout the book. As the story goes on, it definitely gets darker and darker but by that time the reader is fully invested in Arthur and needs to see how everything will unfold. Although the books do not mesh together seamlessly, this is a powerful and at times disturbing story about the desperate struggles that mankind involve themselves in and the evil that is often brought out by conflict. The Once and Future King is a masterpiece of historical fantasy.

Set 9, 2020, 2:32am

Book 269: Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad is a story that shows that the mistakes of the past will follow men and can never be fully repaired. We meet a young man named Jim, who, full of romanticized dreams joins the crew of the Patna, taking 800 pilgrims to Mecca. When the rusty old ship strikes something and is holed, Jim and the other officers abandon ship, leaving the passengers to their fate. But the ship is rescued and towed to port and while the other officers flee, Jim is left to be brought to trial.

Jim tells experienced sea captain Marlow his story, in that at first he refused to leave the boat but eventually did jump overboard and saved himself. He now lives with the knowledge that he was a coward and spends his life wandering and trying to avoid his reputation but through Captain Marlow he is given a true second chance. He assigned to a post in an isolated and dangerous jungle region of Malaya. He becomes valued by the tribesmen for his bravery and is called “Lord Jim”. Unfortunately he becomes too trusting and is betrayed and his world falls apart.

I found the parts of the book that Marlow narrated very difficult to get through as he is very long winded and uses three or four words when one would have done. But eventually the story pulled me in and although rather tragic, I found this story of one man seeking redemption and casting out his demons a very good read. I was certainly reminded of his Heart of Darkness, as the themes were similar and the character Marlow appears in both books. Overall I would say the more compact Heart of Darkness is the better book, but Lord Jim is certainly worth the time spent on it.

Set 11, 2020, 1:07am

>205 DeltaQueen50:

Well that right there is why I'll never come close to completing the 1001 Books list --- too many books like this. I had to read Heart of Darkness twice at university. The second time it was longer than the first. I'm pretty sure I will ever live long enough to read more by this author.

Set 12, 2020, 2:22pm

>206 Nickelini: Ha, I know exactly what you mean - there are lots of books that I am avoiding from this list but actually I quite liked Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim so Joseph Conrad isn't one I try to avoid - now William Faulkner - he scares me!

Set 12, 2020, 9:18pm

Ugh! I read a story by Faulkner at university too and he’s definitely a challenge. So far I have other things to read

Set 19, 2020, 3:24pm

Book 270: The Magician of Lublin by Isaac Bashevis Singer

The Magician of Lublin by Isaac Bashevis Singer was originally written in Yiddish and later translated to English. Set in Russian ruled Poland in the late 19th century, it is the story of Yasha Mazur, a magician from the town of Lublin who travels around Poland to perform. Although Jewish he is not particularly devout. He leads a carefree life of travel and performing, leaving his pious wife at home in Lublin. He has lovers in many of the cities that he visits as well as being involved with his young assistant. Currently however he is obsessing over Emilia, a Catholic widow who lives in Warsaw with her daughter.

Although on the surface, Yasha appear to be confident that he can continue to manipulate his various women, deep inside he knows he is living a deceitful and senseless life. When things go wrong and he finds his life has shattered, he repents of his sins, returns home to Lublin and finally turns to his Jewish roots.

The Magician of Lublin is a very well written story about faith and morality. I listened to an audio version as read by Larry Keith. Yasha lived a life of self-indulgence, he knew he was doing wrong but did not acknowledge his guilt. Eventually issues arose that forced him to turn and embrace both his Jewish faith and identity. I thought this was both a very clever and engaging story about living one’s life within the boundaries one is born with, although Yasha professed to not believing in religion or the traditional Jewish customs, those are exactly what he turned to when in need.

Set 21, 2020, 2:51pm

Book 271: The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann is a sprawling, dense epic written in 1924. Set in a Swiss tuberculosis sanatorium prior to WW I it has been labelled a modern classic, a comedy of manners and an allegory of pre-world war bourgeois Europe. While not a difficult read, I found it hard to absorb the story as I spent a lot of time puzzling out the author’s hidden meanings.

The main character, Hans Castorp, a naive young engineer, travels to the International Sanatorium Berghof high in the Swiss Alps to visit his ailing cousin, Joachim. What was intended as a stay of three weeks stretches into months, and then years as Hans himself is diagnosed with tuberculosis. I never quite grasped whether Hans really was ill, or whether he pushed himself into the illness in order to fit in with the assorted residents. Hans seemed to glorify in his status and revel in his diagnosis, he embraces the many rituals of tuberculosis – the thermometer readings, the rest cures, the x-rays which give credence to the book being called sick-lit as it portrays illness as a state of mind as well as body.

Between these medical rituals, Hans find himself questioning long-held notions of honour and mortality and has many searching philosophical conversations with his cousin and other residents. This is a book that expresses ideas and touches on many themes such as the meaning and passing of time as well as life, death, love, progress, society morals, and the effect of war. While I thought that the sanatorium represented civilization and the mountain as the scale that humanity must mount in order for civilization to work, it was still difficult to absorb all the ideas expressed within the books’ pages. The author wisely keeps the story from becoming overly grim by adding touches of humor that helped to lighten the narrative. Another point that became obvious is that the author was relishing exposing the entire idea of sanatoriums as places where the doctors were more concerned about making money from their rich and well-to-do patients than in curing them.

The Magic Mountain is a book that many say needs to be read twice in order to fully absorb the details but for me, once will have to be enough and although I didn’t fully grasp the complex meanings, I can see that it is a descriptive and eloquent book of ideas that would most definitely reveal different aspects with each read.

Set 22, 2020, 1:05am

Book 272: The Life and Death of Harriet Frean by May Sinclair

The Life and Death of Harriet Frean by May Sinclair is a novella sized morality tale about the narrow existence of a Victorian woman. Harriet was an only child and she was brought up in a close family, she was taught that the number one virtue in life is one’s ability to behave correctly at all times. She took her life lesson to heart, even rejecting her own chance of love in order to do the “right” thing. In her efforts to behave beautifully, she didn’t notice the damage she often left behind her. She put her father on a pedestal and it wasn’t until years after his death that she could finally acknowledge to herself that he didn’t always behave in the right manner. She loved her mother dearly but didn’t notice her shrinking away from cancer. As her life comes full circle we can see that always behaving in the right manner wasn’t actually the same as doing the right thing.

The Life and Death of Harriet Frean is a critique of nineteenth century middle-class society and the damage that lurks beneath a front of good manners. In bare, bleak and ironic prose, the author covers Harriet’s life, from birth to death, in less than 100 pages. I read this story in one sitting at Project Guttenberg, and it felt more like an impersonal report than the story of one woman’s life.

Editado: Out 4, 2020, 6:06pm

Book 273: I'm Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti

I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti is a coming of age story, a suspense-thriller and a tale of shattered innocence. I was drawn into this story immediately by first the setting, the hot dry summer of 1978 rural Italy, and then the story of a group of children wandering the countryside on a hot afternoon who discover a deserted farmhouse. One of these children, nine year old Michele, uncovers a secret so immense, it is beyond his immediate comprehension.

The author has captured the actions and thoughts of a child who has stumbled into a dangerous adult situation that he doesn’t understand. Throughout the book, the child’s confusion, his not being able to separate the fantasy from the truth, keeps the reader on edge. As the boy learns more about the situation and how the adults around him react, he realizes that he can longer ignore the facts and he needs to act immediately placing himself in extreme danger.

I’m Not Scared had all the elements that I enjoy in a book. The story unfolds at a fast pace and builds to an exciting climax. Although a short book, the author supplies some beautiful descriptions and the story never felt particularly rushed. His portrayal of a nine year old’s inner thoughts felt absolutely authentic, and reading of innocence lost with no expectation of redemption made this a very dark read that I devoured as well as introducing me to an author that I fully intend to read more of.

Editado: Out 19, 2020, 12:05am

Books #274: The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall was first published in 1928. It tells about the life of Englishwoman, Stephen Gordon, born to an upper-class family, but a disappointment to her parents as she wasn't the expected boy. From an early age, it was apparent that she was a lesbian. Her father recognized this and tried to help her and guide her but he fell short of actually explaining to her what her sexual identity meant, leaving her confused and uncertain. Her mother knew her daughter was different and that this difference made her unlovable to her, yet she failed to recognize or acknowledge or what that difference was.

I found this an incredibly sad story as she faced manipulation, ridicule and scorn all of her life. It is all too easy to forget how not following the 'norm' in sexual identity was treated not all that long ago. My heart goes out to people who have had to struggle to find their place in the world and be accepted for their true nature.

This book has been banned on and off again over the years, but for quite some time it was one of the main books about being lesbian and as such was the guidebook for many a young girl. I can't say that I particularly enjoyed this story of gender identity but I can understand it's importance. Believed to be auto-biographical, The Well of Loneliness is a slow and thoughtful, non-explicit story about wanting love and acceptance but mostly finding despair and loneliness.

Out 26, 2020, 6:23pm

Book #275 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

In Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut blends science fiction and a war story to produce a novel that is not only anti-war but exceedingly strange. First published in 1969 Vonnegut’s novel was partly about his own experiences as a prisoner of war in World War II, but this was the era of Vietnam, Paris Peace Talks and anti-war marches in the streets of America, and so Slaughterhouse Five became a mecca for disenchanted youth.

This is a challenging read as the author and his characters bend reality and challenge the reader to look at war and violence in a different way. This is a satire full of wit and black humor and I freely admit that half the time I had no idea of what the author was trying to say other than war is bad and we have to find another way to negotiate our troubles. The book has very little structure so seemed to me to be a mass of strange thoughts that were either complete nonsense or fascinating symbolism.

I think Slaughterhouse Five is a book that perfectly captures the 1960s vibe, it is a flawed book but the unconventional writing called to the public and they made it a hit. Initially ignored by the critics and banned in many places where it was considered morally questionable, Slaughterhouse Five is today, considered Vonnegut’s most influential and popular book.

Nov 2, 2020, 11:29am

Book #276 Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

One of my largest concerns when I decided to tackle the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die List was the Russian authors. I wasn’t sure that I was up to the task of reading these literary giants so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually liked everything by Gogol that I have read, and that I really enjoyed Anna Karenina. I decided it was time to try Dostoyevsky and chose Notes From Underground to read by installment. Bad choice as all my fears about Russian authors came true with this book.

For the first half of the book, the author appears to be on one long rant using the irritable, abrasive, and antisocial main character who rambles on about his philosophy and thoughts on life. Although this unnamed character is an educated and supposedly intelligent man, he comes across as a paranoid loner who despises Russian society.

The second half of the book is composed of the narrator sharing various stories from his life that illustrate how alienated he is from the world. The narrator is quite dislikeable, and I found his bitter and vengeful stories exhausting. I was very happy to reach the end of this book.

Luckily this was a short book of less than 200 pages, although its’ density and unpleasant subject matter made it seem much longer. I made the mistake of choosing a short book in the hopes that this would mean an easier read and I have since read that Notes From Underground is considered one of his most difficult reads. I’m not sure I would have been able to complete the read if it had been in a different format rather than the short installments that I read much as one would take a twice weekly dose of medicine. I’m not here to judge whether this is a great literary achievement, I rather suspect it is, but it is also a difficult read that I had trouble understanding, and I am glad to be done with it and happy to be able to check this one off my list.

Nov 2, 2020, 8:12pm

>215 DeltaQueen50: I also did not connect with this book. Please don't let it put you off Dostoevsky completely! Demons is okay, Crime and Punishment is good, I loved The Brothers Karamazov, and am now looking forward to The Idiot.

Editado: Nov 2, 2020, 9:08pm

>215 DeltaQueen50:
I have Notes from the Underground on my TBR for all the reasons you stated. Now that I don't care if I read 1001 any more or not, I think I'll get rid of it. One day I may read some other Dostoevsky. Maybe when I retire. Thanks for taking one for the team

Nov 3, 2020, 12:20am

>216 ELiz_M: I have Crime and Punishment on my shelf so at some point I will be giving it a try. I try not to totally dismiss an author after one read, I really hated the first Virginia Woolf that I read but then quite like the next one so there's hope for Dostoevsky yet!

>217 Nickelini: I guess it serves me right for cherry picking a book that was only 160 pages thinking I would find it an easy read! I know I will never complete all the 1,001 books but I am enjoying giving it a good try!

Nov 3, 2020, 6:14pm

Crime and Punishment is fantastic so please, please, please give that one a go. I've stalled on Notes from the Underground a few times - it's apparently very different from his other stuff.

Nov 3, 2020, 7:55pm

>218 DeltaQueen50:

I guess it serves me right for cherry picking a book that was only 160 pages thinking I would find it an easy read!

LOL, well it's a good thought. I did a lot of the short 1001 books. Some of them were dreadful. I had to read another 1001 book, Heart of Darkness twice for university. My edition is only 67 pages, but the second time around it was even longer than the first.

Nov 5, 2020, 11:29am

>219 Yells: Crime and Punishment is definitely in my future. I am also a huge mystery fan and I see that Crime and Punishment makes a lot of the "Best of" lists for crime and mystery novels.

>220 Nickelini: For sure number of pages doesn't really give one an idea of the density of the prose! I am trying to include some longer books in the mix so I don't suddenly realize that I only have chunksters left to read.

Nov 5, 2020, 4:06pm

Book #277 Living by Henry Green

Living by Henry Green is a 1929 novel that explores factory life in 1920s Birmingham. The author was only 24 when this novel was published. He had dropped out of Oxford University and worked in an iron foundry in order to experience a working class life. His resulting novel is one of social observation that brings the lives of workers, their families and their managers into sharp focus.

The author’s writing style makes this a reading experience as right from the first page you are set down amidst a group of Birmingham factory workers and their lives, jobs and conversations carry on as though you have been with them for some time. As you become immersed in their lives, you quickly figure out who everyone is and you start to focus on the story line. All through the book, there are characters that just come along, say their piece and then leave again, but you are able to build a picture of this world, one of mind-numbing labour, poor pay, and few expectations of betterment. These people are simply staying alive not enjoying much variety or pleasure.

Some of the characters made quite an impression on me. Lily Gates who wants to wed Bert Jones, a factory worker. Lily would like to get a job as well but her guardian is against women working. She and Bert dream of emigrating and starting a new life somewhere else. There are some characters from the upper class as well, in particular, the Dupret family who own the factory, and we learn of the constraints upon them and their way of life as well.

I started off confused and not really liking this book, but after 50 pages or so, I was totally drawn into this world of class boundaries and under-appreciated workers. Living is a rather short novel, but it is broad in scope, and as the reader becomes adjusted to author’s unusual writing style they can then appreciate the narrative.

Nov 15, 2020, 5:58pm

Book #278 Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga is considered fictional but in fact is based on the author’s own life growing up in the then-called Rhodesia, Originally published in 1988, the book concentrates on the challenges faced by women in a country where they are far from equal to their male counterparts. The main character, Tambu, is an intelligent young girl growing up on a rural homestead but is only given an opportunity for higher education after the death of her older brother.

The first third of the book shows how her brother, as the only male child in her immediate family, received the most attention and privileges. As he is sent to missionary school, he learns to embrace western culture and shuns their own ways. When Tambu is given the same opportunity, her mother fears that she will lose her daughter in the same manner and indeed, Tambu does grow and change as she is educated and experiences the wider world. Tambu’s life is guided and controlled by the head of her extended family, her uncle, Babamukuru. As she goes to live with him and his family, she learns to see through the front that he projects to the actual man he is, flaws and all.

During Tambu’s growing years, her country’s change is on the horizon and although not much is mentioned in the book about political and social upheavals, we are given a front seat to observe how African women were slowly absorbing the transformations that were occurring. Nervous Conditions was an absorbing and interesting book showing from a woman’s perspective, Rhodesia under Colonial rule and how education could lift one from a primitive lifestyle of poverty and give them a greater understanding of their place in society.

Nov 15, 2020, 7:47pm

>223 DeltaQueen50: I just finished that one too!

Nov 18, 2020, 12:54pm

>224 Yells: I took this one as a book bullet from Jennifer (japaul22) and I am glad that I did. We are living in stressful times and so I'm not sure that my reading is getting my full attention these days, but this book certainly absorbed me and I thought it was very good.

Nov 21, 2020, 12:19pm

Book #279 Unknown Soldiers by Vaino Linna

Originally published in 1954, Unknown Soldiers is a dark and gritty story set in 1941 about a Finnish machine-gun company fighting along the border of their country trying to push the Russians back and regain land that was taken a year or so ago during the Winter War. The viewpoint of the book is that of the Finnish soldiers, an assorted group of young men, who are exposed to warfare for the first time in all it’s messy, bloody, horrifying pointlessness.

The secret to reading a book with an ensemble cast is for each character to have a clear identity and have names that are easily remembered. Unfortunately, I struggled with the Finnish names of the characters and it took me a long time to be able to immediately identify which character was which. Of course, with a book that features soldiers during war, characters often finally became recognizable to me only to have them immediately killed off.

As the story goes on, we learn more about these soldiers and their lives. Their bonds to each other grow and other than some of the officers who are more concerned with medals and careers than the lives of their men, they learn to watch out for each other and help each other during times of difficulty.
Translator Liesl Yamaguchi does an excellent job with the story and, in particular, the dialogue, helping the reader to know each character by their individual tone.

Unknown Soldiers is a war story that showcases the horror, chaos and futility of war. I was fascinated by the history as I knew next to nothing about Finland during World War II. At first, Russia had an alliance with Germany, allowing them to attack Finland. Then the Germans attacked Russia, and Finland entered into a non-aggression pact with Germany. Unfortunately, at the end of World War II, even though Russia had been the first to attack, and Finland only tried to gain back what they had lost, Finland was considered part of the Axis and had to pay reparations to Russia.

Dez 13, 2020, 1:18pm

Book #280: Mrs. 'arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico

Mrs. ‘arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico is a novella that was originally published in 1958. It definitely reflects 1950s values but it still charms the reader with the story of Ada Harris, a London charwoman who is enchanted by a couple of designer dresses that she sees at one of her employers. She then scrimps and saves over a number of years in order to take herself to Paris to buy an evening dress from the House of Dior.

In true fairy tale fashion, Mrs. Harris both helps and, in turn, is aided by many of the people that she meets along the way from a French marquis, to some of the staff at Dior. Mrs. Harris is a woman who has lived a life of poverty, she supports herself by cleaning for a number of clients. Her world is quite narrow and this trip is the first time she has ever left England. While she is inexperienced in dealing with the larger world, she has an intuitive knowledge of people and she comports herself with dignity, secure in her knowledge of her “Englishness”.

Mrs. ‘arris Goes to Paris is perhaps a touch too sweet, but it is also lively, light and humorous. An adult fairy tale with a poignant ending, this is a delightful book to relax into and escape to a gentler time.

Dez 18, 2020, 12:28pm

Book #281: Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion

Although author Joan Didion is well known for her non-fiction writing, Play it As It Lays is one of her fictional stories. It is about a former actress and model, Maria Wyeth and her descent into madness. Set against a backdrop of Hollywood in the 1960s, the author doesn’t hesitate to show the emptiness and isolation that being a lesser known celebrity can bring to a person.

The story unfolds in short chapters that paint Maria’s life in vivid strokes. It is told in alternating points of view and perspectives, from Maria’s accounts to her friend Helene, and her ex-husband and director Carter Lang. We find that Maria and Carter have a young daughter who has been placed in a care facility for the mentally disabled. Maria at thirty-one is a faded actress, soon to be divorced, missing her daughter who she frequently visits and constantly asserts her determination “to get her out”, she is an emotionally empty person whose self-destructive behaviour includes casual sex, drugs and, in a desperate effort to escape, she endlessly drives the freeways in and around Los Angeles but always ends up back where she started. Her relationships are toxic and she really has no one that she trusts or even seems to care much about.

A rather depressing read for this time of year, yet the writing is exceptional and you find yourself drawn into Maria’s life even though you can see perfectly well that this is going to end in disaster. The author uses each word to it’s best ability, there are no wasted or extra phrases to distract the reader from the stark reality of a life going off the tracks. Play It As It Lays is the first Didion that I have read, and I am certainly encouraged to track down more of her work in the future.

Editado: Jan 1, 2:29pm

Book #282: A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

A Modest Proposal is a satirical essay written and published by Jonathan Swift in 1729. It’s full title is “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents, or the Country, and for Making them Beneficial to the Publick”, a title almost as long as the essay itself. These writings are an ironical attempt to point out a cheap and easy method of turning the starving children of Ireland into a useful economic commodity.

This satirical essay is short, and straight forward in it’s implication. The humor and irony is both in the subject matter and in his style of delivery. He writes in concise, business like language which makes his proposal all the more shocking when revealed. He also backs up his proposal with specific data about the positive effects this practice would have, both on the poor families and on Ireland’s complex social, political and economic systems.

Fev 4, 12:04pm

Book #283: The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas by J M Machado De Assis

The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas by Brazilian author Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis was originally published in 1881, but its wit and style stands up well in today’s modern world. Machado de Assis is remarkable as an author as he produced poems, plays, stories, articles and novels and he is today considered Brazil’s greatest writer. The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas is an unusual yet fun story as the main character, Bras Cubas tells his life story from his grave. He dedicates his memoirs to the first worm to gnaw the cold flesh of his corpse.

The story unfolds with plenty of irony and caustic wit, after all he is a corpse with nothing to gain or lose from the telling. Bras Cubas was born wealthy and with high expectations, but success eluded him all his life. He never marries, and his biggest disappointment seemed to be that he didn’t leave any children behind. He tells his story over the course of 160 short chapters, revealing incidents from his life that gives the reader insight and knowledge of his character. At times he interrupts his story to make snide comments or observations directly to the reader about the human experience.

Although it felt rather experimental in nature, I quite enjoyed The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas. The author provided an interesting, slightly odd story, anchored in the history of the day that both amused and educated me. This has the feeling of a timeless classic due to his fresh writing style and witty observations.

Fev 11, 11:50pm

Book #284: Voss by Patrick White

I found Voss by Patrick White to be a difficult read. While I was expecting a descriptive book about an expedition to cross the Australian continent east to west, I found myself reading a book whose focus was very much on two characters, that of German explorer, Voss, and Laura, the niece of his benefactor. We travel with Voss who seems to be on a journey of self-discovery, and explore the complex relationship between the two main characters. I didn’t like or understand either of the main characters, finding Voss to be stubborn, misanthropic and possessing a deep anger inside himself. Laura seemed to be self-centered, cold and remote. Yet we are asked to believe in a powerful, almost physic connection between the two.

Due to the dense, yet poetic language I found that many sentences had to be re-read numerous times in order to decipher. I was also somewhat off-put by the author’s unsympathetic treatment of the aborigines. I am sure that he used well recognized terms of the day to describe them, but he also did nothing to offset this colonial attitude with a more modern view. The book swerves between the hardships, dangers and eccentricities of the men on the expedition and the petty details of colonial society, and Laura’s perceptions of disaster.

Voss is most certainly brilliant, finely crafted and eloquent yet readers beware, it is also overly long, ponderous and requires a lot of reading patience. Unfortunately my best memory of Voss will be how happy I was to reach the end of this lengthy novel.

Mar 13, 8:24pm

Book #285: Rashomon by Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Rashomon by Ryunosuke Akutagawa is a small collection of short stories that were originally published in 1915 and have been translated into English. This particular version was an inexpensive copy for the Kindle so there were a few problems with the set up and editing but I was still very impressed with this author’s writing. "Rashomon", is probably best known as a film by the well-known Japanese director Kurosawa. I believe the film is actually a combination of the first two stories in the book.

All six stories in this collection were interesting but I particularly liked the first four. The opening story, "The Grove" was a fascinating murder story that was exposed through conflicting eyewitness accounts. This was followed by "Rashomon" which is a dark story that raises questions about violence, power and desperation. I then enjoyed "Yam Gruel" which was based on an old Japanese myth. This story seemed to be an example of being careful what you wish for. This was a slightly funny, slightly melancholy story of a lowly samurai who dreams of someday having a feast of yam gruel. I found "The Martyr", a story about an orphan boy who lived by the words of Jesus and suffered like him both strange and tragic. The twist at the end of the story makes it rather unforgettable. I wasn’t quite as taken by the other two stories, “Kesa and Morito” about an extra-marital affair and finally “The Dragon” which sees a practical joke go awry

Over all this was an insightful collection from a master storyteller and, it was well worth reading these absorbing and thought-provoking tales.

Mar 13, 8:37pm

>232 DeltaQueen50:
That’s been in my TBR for years. I should pick it up. I loved The Grove when I read it at university

Mar 15, 12:11pm

>232 DeltaQueen50: I was surprised at how short this book was, my version was only about 96 pages. So perhaps a quick read for one of those days when you are looking for something different.

Mar 16, 12:09pm

Book #286: The Book of Evidence by John Banville

Originally published in 1989, The Book of Evidence by John Banville is about a 38 year-old scientist, Freddie Montgomery who murders a servant girl during the course of a robbery. While awaiting trail, he gives this account of what led him to kill. As he rambles on about his life what comes across most strongly is his own despair and self-pity. His self-justification and lack of empathy for others clearly projects the behavior of a sociopath and as such was rather distasteful to read.

That said, the author did a brilliant job of getting into the self-absorbed Freddie’s head and offering up this dark meditation upon evil and guilt. Freddie recounts the events that led to his downfall, being in debt to a mobster, having to abandon his wife and child to return to Ireland to obtain funds, deciding to steal the painting and then killing the young girl. There are some moments of dark humor and, no surprise, we also find that Freddie can be an unreliable narrator.

The Book of Evidence is a revealing character study that is in turns tragic, ironic, and witty. Freddie’s ambiguity along with the authors strong prose creates an unusual narrative and makes this book quite memorable. I can’t say that I loved this book, but it did hold my interest.

Mar 16, 7:37pm

>235 DeltaQueen50: Good review!

Mar 17, 12:56pm

>236 ELiz_M: Thanks, it was an interesting read.

Mar 21, 4:49pm

Hello Judy - Happy Sunday. Are you having torrential rain out your way? It's pretty nasty out there (cold too) so I'll stay in and read books. One that I'm currently reading is Whatever, by Michel Houellebecq. I see on the book's page that you have this book but I don't see if you've commented on it. Another one of those ones I put up with because it's very short. I'm halfway through and can't imagine giving it more than 1 star. Interested if you've read it and what you thought.

I also came here to see which Ismail Kadare book you liked -- I remember there was only one of the two. I hope to read Broken April next month.

Mar 21, 4:50pm

Oh, and how's the competition going with your brother?

Mar 22, 5:20pm

>239 Nickelini: He's strangely very quiet about where he is on the list these days - I think I have either passed him or have gotten very close. Hopefully I will see him in May and can get my hands on his list and see the exact numbers.

I hope you like Broken April, Joyce.

Mar 22, 5:22pm

Book #287 Rabbit, Run by John Updike

Rabbit, Run by John Updike was first published in 1960, and I expect it had a shock value then as the main character Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom suddenly runs away from his life. He is twenty-six, married with one child and another on it’s way. He goes out to pick up his son and keeps driving. The story goes on to suggest that spoiled, selfish, irresponsible Rabbit felt trapped in his life, stuck with his alcoholic wife, and uninspired by his dead-end job. Oh boo-hoo, he should have instead learned to accept responsibility for the mess he has made for himself and stop blaming everything and everyone else for his problems.

I disliked Rabbit from the get-go, but I could not stop reading this book, I needed to know what was going to happen next. This speaks volumes about the talent of the writing. This reader wanted to know if Rabbit ever matures, gets over his high-school basketball hero days and works to make his life a success. The author excelled in setting his story against a backdrop of a changing 1950s America using songs and advertisements that evoke that post-WW II boom.

Although this is the first book in the Rabbit series, it certainly stands on it own. It is definitely a product of it’s time with it’s thoughts on what is socially acceptable, and how the women are treated but the author presents his thoughts and ideas with strong, colorful writing that brings both the story and the setting to life.

Editado: Abr 5, 11:56am

Book #288: Foe by J. M. Coetzee

In Foe, J. M. Coetzee delivers a different spin on the Robinson Crusoe story. By adding some new characters and giving the original author, Daniel Defoe a major role, he reworks the story and raises the question of artistic license – where is the line between fiction and reality, imagination and fact?

Susan Barton is a widow who is tossed overboard during a mutiny. Her tiny boat brings her to a desert island that is, in fact, Crusoe’s island. She joins with Crusoe and Friday in their quest for survival on this barren island. Crusoe has become comfortable in his solitude and has no wish to leave his island while Friday cannot say what he wants as his tongue has been cut out and so he cannot express himself. When they are rescued from the island, Barton and Friday return to England while Crusoe dies on the journey. Susan comes into contact with author Foe and she feels that since she was there and he was not, her version, although rather dull, should be the one told leaving no allowance for the author to use his imagination to liven up the story.

I found this a fascinating addition to the original story. I particularly found the character of Friday very interesting. His tongue was removed giving him no voice, very much like the black South Africans during apartheid. With it’s sharp observations and interesting angle on the art of storytelling I thoroughly enjoyed Foe.

Abr 5, 4:10pm

>242 DeltaQueen50:

Have your read Robinson Crusoe? I own both it and Foe, but I have no interest in reading it. I'm wondering if I can just skip to Foe.

Abr 6, 12:13pm

I read Robinson Crusoe years ago and I loved it - I think it is one of the books that gave me such a love of survival books. It is quite a dense read and I am glad that I read it when I was young - I doubt if I would have the patience for it today. I don't think you would need to read it before you read Foe. Most people know the story of Robinson Crusoe well enough to understand where Coetzee is going with his story.

Editado: Maio 9, 1:09pm

Book #289: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson is a classic adventure story about David Balfour who is tricked by his miserly uncle in order to steal his inheritance. David finds himself spirited away upon a sailing ship bound for America. The plan is to sell David into slavery, but fugitive Jacobite, Alan Stewart is brought on board and comes to David’s rescue when the ship runs aground just off the east coast of Scotland.

It is 1751 and Scotland is still feeling the effects of the bloody revolt against England that was doomed to failure. David is a Whig and supports England, and Alan, a Jacobite, is considered a traitor, yet these two form an alliance and journey across the Scottish highlands, escaping from Alan’s political enemies with the goal of outwitting David’s uncle and claiming his inheritance. They face many hardships together that tests their friendship but they remain loyal to each other.

While Kidnapped isn’t quite as gripping as Treasure Island, it is still an excellent and stirring adventure story that has appealed to young readers for generations. As it was originally considered a boy’s story, the plot has been kept quite simple which left me rather detached from the story. However, it’s themes of loyalty and justice are as fresh today as they were when the book was first published.

Maio 11, 1:39pm

Book 290: Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud

Hideous Kinky is a story that is told by a young English child about the travels her mother took she and her sister on. They go to North Africa and because the narrator is so young, she turns five during the course of the story, she recounts their chaotic life in a matter of fact manner. I couldn’t quite grasp the mother’s thought processes as she repeatedly put her family at risk, but it seemed that she mostly followed her whims and the children were left to cope as best as they could.

The girls run barefoot through the streets, make friends with beggar children, they eat hashish candy, and are given henna hair treatments by their prostitute neighbours. While the narrator seems to find this life normal, it becomes obvious that her sister, Bea, is missing security and stability. The mother takes up with a street entertainer, Bilal, which has the narrator hoping that he will become their father.

Hideous Kinky works wonderfully on some levels but fails in others. While the child’s narrative rings true in her complete lack of insight or comprehension about her bohemian mother and other characters, overall I found it difficult to believe that these were the words of a five year old as they were entirely too richly descriptive and detailed. I was frustrated by not knowing the back story, the hows and whys of how they came to be in Morocco and why the mother acted as she did. However, I will remember this book as a colourful travelogue that at times both charmed and intrigued me.

Maio 28, 11:38am

Book 291: She by H. Rider Haggard

She by H. Rider Haggard is an adventure novel that was originally published in 1887 after being previously serialized in a magazine. This fantasy adventure is the story of Cambridge professor Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey and their journey to a lost kingdom in the African interior. While the story is very unbelievable, I enjoyed being reminded of how I felt as a child when I would watch old Tarzan movies on “Jungle Theatre”.

This story about a two thousand year old sorceress, “She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed” and her tribe of cannibals is sheer balderdash but there were touches of misogynistic attitudes, a great deal of racism, and definite colonial attitudes that gives the reader a good look at the mindset of imperialist Victorians in the 1880s. Although the story is dated, it is a fact that this book was a trailblazer of original adventure stories, and is well remembered and at times copied even today.

Jun 3, 12:54pm

Book 292: Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood was originally published in 1988 and is a story in which the main character, artist Elaine Risley looks back upon her childhood and growing up years with intensity and wit. As Elaine returns to Toronto to attend a retrospective of her work, her memories of growing up alongside her friend, Cordelia and her sharp observations about the city are vivid and evocative. We gradually become aware of her bitterness and pain as she delves into the complexity of this relationship, and how friendships can be layered, on one hand this is someone who understands you perfectly while on the other this is a person, who can dish out the emotional torment, and skewer you in your weak spots. There is a line in the book that goes, “ We have been shark to one another, but also lifeboat.” I think many women have had the experience of a relationship like this.

Cat’s Eye is a powerful character study that is doled out through glimpses of Elaine’s life through her vividly recounted memories. Atwood captures her subject perfectly, and the story has a feeling of becoming an introspective journey for both the author and the reader. This author has the skill and ability to deliver just the right amount of story, leaving much up to the reader to fill in, making her passages personal and meaningful to all.

Cat’s Eye is a book filled with imagery and reflections on women, their relationships and how they deal with life. For me this was an engaging and worthwhile read and while there are other Atwood books that I personally prefer, Cat’s Eye is memorable.

Jun 7, 3:58pm

Well, I am pleased to announce that my brother has gracefully bowed out of our competition. I think he thought that I would lose interest before he did, but I am actually enjoying this exploration of literature. Of course, I have struggled through some of the books but I have also found some real gems that I probably wouldn't have read if they weren't on the list. I am going to continue reading from the list but it's nice that the pressure is off.

Editado: Jun 8, 4:36am

>249 DeltaQueen50:

Way to persist! I always wondered where you were at with your competition. Do you know how many he ended up reading?

Jun 8, 4:43am

>249 DeltaQueen50: Well done. Victory by abdication is still victory.

Jun 8, 12:40pm

>250 lilisin: His silence on his actual numbers was what led me to believe that I had overcome his total. I think he would be somewhere around 275 - 280 mark. Part of his problem was getting hold of books as he doesn't have a electronic reading device and I find that many of the 1,001 books are only available for my Kindle.

>251 Helenliz: Exactly! Sweet, sweet victory. Of course I will still keep an eye on him as he could be lulling me into not watching closely and then try to pass me. (You know typical younger brother stuff)

Jun 8, 1:41pm

>249 DeltaQueen50:
I had no doubt that you were going to win this competition. Well done! And you passed me ages ago.

Jun 8, 3:17pm

>252 DeltaQueen50: I do know, I have a younger brother. They need keeping in their place.

Jun 9, 9:52pm

>253 Nickelini: I am still finding good and interesting reads on the list and also reading some books that I promised myself years ago that I would read someday so continuing on is any easy decision for me.

>254 Helenliz: Exactly!

Jun 9, 10:03pm

>255 DeltaQueen50: I am still finding good and interesting reads on the list and also reading some books that I promised myself years ago that I would read someday so continuing on is any easy decision for me.

I agree . . . and I own two shelves of 1001 books that I haven't read yet. I know that I'll probably never read bunch of them, but I hope to read at least half. They just aren't a priority at the moment. But sometimes a book suddenly gets relevant . . . like I doubted I'd ever read my copy of Passing, but then my bookclub read the Vanishing Half and I thought I really should read Passing first. It was SO GOOD and will be on one of my top books for 2021. So who knows . . .

Jun 10, 10:06pm

>249 DeltaQueen50: I’m glad that you plan to keep reading the 1001 — I enjoy your reviews!

Jun 11, 12:11am

>256 Nickelini: I loved Passing when I read it as well. I am saving the other book she has on the list, Quicksand, for when I really need a good read. To keep it real, I doubt if I will complete 500 books on the list, but as long as I keep finding books like the one I am reading right now - The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton, I will be happy.

>257 annamorphic: Thank you. I have found that since I started writing my thoughts down about the books that I read, they remain in my memory and are easier to recall.

Editado: Jun 11, 12:55am

>258 DeltaQueen50:
When I was focusing on the 1001 list, I kinda figured I was good for about 500 too, but now I'm not so sure. I'm currently at 237, and I think I'm up for about 350.

ETA - I haven't read that Wharton, but I've loved everything else I've read by her. She's amazing.

Editado: Jun 11, 5:28pm

>259 Nickelini: I think you are in for a treat when you get around to The Glimpses of the Moon, I loved it!

As this thread is getting rather long and slow to load, I have set up a new thread. Please come and join me by clicking on the continuation link below.
Este tópico foi continuado por DeltaQueen's Attempt at the 1,0001 List - Part 2.