Amerynth's 1001 Books to read before you die list, part 2

É uma continuação do tópico Amerynth's 1001 Books to read before you die list.

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Amerynth's 1001 Books to read before you die list, part 2

Editado: Abr 29, 2019, 9:48pm

I felt like my thread was getting a bit unwieldy, so I'm starting a new one for 2019.

371. Solitude by Victor Catala. I really enjoyed this story despite its rather bleak nature. Catala paints very vivid pictures with her descriptions.

In this novel, newly married Mila is dragged up a mountain to manage a hermitage by her drifter husband. She is naive and terrified of all around her, but slowly comes into her own with the help a shepherd and his treasure trove of stories. Unfortunately, as the veil is lifted from her eyes, Mila experiences a series of increasingly tragic events.

This was a quiet novel, but the characters were all interesting, as was the story.

Editado: Abr 29, 2019, 9:49pm

372. Ada, or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov. It took me a better part of a month to wade through this novel, which I found disappointing. I couldn't help comparing it to Lolita, which was brilliant in the ways it attempted to get the reader to root for a repugnant character -- I found this book failed to bring in me in the same way.

The story focuses on Van Veen, who was a lifelong incestuous affair with his sister Ada (whom he initially believes is his cousin.)

The longest portion of the book establishes their relationship, which became kind of tedious. I liked the book better as it moved along and into their relationships with others, but overall I just didn't enjoy this.

Mar 17, 2019, 8:26am

373. The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This book certainly has all the underpinnings of the romantic era -- unrequited love and a lot of rapture about nature. I can understand why it made such a sensation when it was published in the 1770's -- it was a harbinger of things to come.

Werther falls desperately in love with a young woman named Charlotte -- who is unfortunately already engaged to someone else. Werther makes an attempt to befriend the couple after their marriage, but her husband Albert becomes annoyed with Werther's obvious longing for his wife and Charlotte feels some sort of mixture of pity and attraction. The results are disastrous.

Wether's pining away got a bit annoying by the end -- so I wouldn't say I really enjoyed this novel, but I didn't hate it either.

Abr 9, 2019, 1:19pm

374. The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Certainly not Hawthorne's best work, but I still found the book to be enjoyable nonetheless. Sometimes the actual story gets lost in some poetic ramblings about the trees or the wall color or something, but the actual plot was entertaining enough that I liked this book.

Myles Coverdale joins a communal farm called Blithedale and sets about trying to figure out what's up with his fellow residents Zenobia and Priscilla, who appear to be rather mysterious.

I didn't see the ending coming so that was a nice surprise.

Abr 29, 2019, 9:28pm

375. The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy. Ellroy really does a marvelous job creating a gritty world filled with compromised folks, dirty cops and scheming hookers. The seedy world at times because a bit tough to take because it is so well drawn.

The novel is based on the true, sensational story of the murder of Elizabeth Short, whose dead body was found severed in half in the 1940's in California. It became big news that shocked the nation and the murder has not been solved to this day. Ellroy's narrator Bucky Bliechert is a cop who becomes obsessed with Short and solving the murder.

While Short's story is essential to the plot, it takes Ellroy a long time to get there -- and even longer to come up with a solution to the crime. The book is really well done, but really wasn't suited to my taste.

Abr 30, 2019, 10:04am

376. The Double Jose Saramago. As usual, I'm way behind on group reads and Saramago's style makes his books fairly challenging reads for me. However, I don't mind struggling through as I feel like the payoff is always worth it. His stories are always creative, interesting and different -- "The Double" was no exception.

In this book Tertuliano watches a video and finds an actor in a bit part that looks just like him -- down to the scar on his knee. Teruliano becomes obsessed with learning more about the actor and ultimately finding him.

I thought the conclusion of the story was pretty inevitable but Saramago surprised me because it played out differently than I expected. Overall, I like this book a lot (though I wouldn't mind if Saramago abandoned his style and used a few more paragraphs or quotation marks in the future.)

Editado: Maio 27, 2019, 2:14pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Maio 17, 2019, 1:11pm

377. Vineland by Thomas Pynchon. This was my first read of anything by Pynchon, so it's possible I just started out with the wrong book. I struggled to read this though, as his writing style was often frustrating for me -- I only knew what was going on about half the time and then things got weird and I really just wanted to give up.

This book boils down to a daughter and mother who haven't met but long to do so. It's set in a weird 60's counterculture world, and one that shows what grew out of that decades later.

This really wasn't my cup of tea and I'm mostly relieved to be done with it.

Maio 17, 2019, 2:36pm

>8 amerynth: welcome to Pynchon!

Maio 25, 2019, 2:13am

so bad she reviewed it twice ;-)

Maio 27, 2019, 2:14pm

Not sure how I managed to do that! :)

Jun 3, 2019, 6:35am

378. That They May Face the Rising Sun by John McGahern. McGahern does a lovely job evoking a sense of place in this novel, the trouble is the place is a little to quiet and boring.

Joe and Kate Ruttledge are city folks that move to rural Ireland and set up a farm, where a number of people from the area drift in and out of their lives.

There wasn't anything here that was particularly memorable for me.

Jun 5, 2019, 12:18am

379. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I read Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" when I was in middle school at a time I was too young to really appreciate it as anything but an accomplishment that impressed my teachers at the time. And even though I read a ton of Russian novels in college, something about that early experience put me off Tolstoy... (I was definitely more of a Dostoevsky girl.)

At any rate, I spent the last couple of months reading "War and Peace" and it was absolutely marvelous... I enjoyed nearly everything about it-- from the ins and outs of the family drama during peace time, to the descriptions of Napoleone's failed march into Russia to Tolstoy's musings on the nature of man and war. Overall, just an excellent book

Jun 13, 2019, 7:52pm

380. Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho. I liked this novel better than his more famous work "The Alchemist."

Veronika is a young woman who is treading along and doing what she is generally supposed to be doing with life. She decides to attempt suicide after realizing things are going to stretch out before her in much the same way, but get worse as she ages. She ends up in Villette, a mental health facility in Slovenia, where she meets others who don't quite fit in with the outside world.

Coelho had a weird way of inserting himself into the story for a minute but otherwise I found this interesting, even if it was somewhat transparent where it was all going.

Jun 16, 2019, 10:05pm

381. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I really liked the way the story unfolded and the way Hawthorne almost makes the house a character in the book.

The story focuses on the owners of the seven-gabled house, the Pyncheons, who have a rather sinister connection to the land and suffer from a curse as a result -- that has left a deed proving ownership of a large tract of land in Maine lost to time. The current resident of the house Hepzibah opens a shop to support herself and her brother Clifford who is expected to move into the home with her.

The story moved along at a nice pace and I enjoyed Hawthorne's way of moving the story along.

Jul 2, 2019, 11:37am

382. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. The only other Hesse work I've read is The Glass Bead Game so this slim little volume wasn't what I was expecting when I requested "Siddartha" from the library. I liked this book a lot and thought Hesse's simple style (in this book) worked well for the story.

Siddartha starts out as a young Brahmin seeking enlightenment. He goes through several phases in his life that together all contribute to his ultimate understanding of the universe.

Although this really isn't a meaty story, it was a fun read.

Jul 6, 2019, 9:02am

383. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain. This gritty noir book was a good read-- though I didn't enjoy every aspect of the plot. I did like the way the characters were drawn, the overall tone of the book and its pacing.

In this Depression-era novel, Frank Chambers begins working for Nick Papadakis and his wife Cora at a roadside diner. Nick and Cora fall for each other and disaster follows fairly quickly.

Overall, this was a good, quick read.

Jul 7, 2019, 2:20pm

384. The Colour by Rose Tremaine. This work of historical fiction is about the 1860 gold rush in New Zealand. I liked the story about the main characters but didn't care as much for the subplot involving the Orchard family and Pare.

The novel starts with the arrival of Joseph Blackstone, who dragged his new wife Harriet and mother Lillian to New Zealand to start a new life on farm. He finds "the colour" on his property and then life becomes all about gold.

The best part of the book is the evolution of Harriet -- I very much enjoyed her story. I didn't care for the story of the Maori woman Pare -- I didn't feel like it really integrated well with the story of the Blackstones.

Overall, this was a good read, but probably not deserving of a spot on the 1,000 list.

Jul 7, 2019, 10:23pm

385. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. This is definitely one of those books that deserves its reputation as a classic. It was a great read and certainly among the best books I've read this year.

Set in the deep South, the novel centers on Janie and the men she becomes involved with -- who don't really deserve her but mark the phases of her life. The characters are all extremely rich and vibrant.

I sped through this because I was eager to learn their stories.

Jul 19, 2019, 7:38am

386. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan. This is just the type of thing I would have written as an 18-year-old author (certainly not in quality, but tone-- plenty of dramatic emotion about things that really wouldn't have mattered all that much in the end.) Sagan captures her 17-year-old narrator well here (which isn't surprising given that she was a teenager when she wrote this book.)

Cecile, our protagonist, goes on vacation with her father, who is enough a cad to have invited two women with him. He chooses one that will make changes in their life and Cecile comes up with a sneaky scheme to break them up. Antics ensue.

This was a fun read though it didn't have a lot of depth. I am interested to read one of Sagan's later works to see how she progressed as an author.

Jul 19, 2019, 10:28pm

387. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. I am totally in agreement with Mark Twain about James Fenimore Cooper's literary "offenses" ... why describe a man as tall and thin when you can spend pages describing every feature from their eyebrows to their toes. Nary a drop of water nor a tree gets by without a vivid, unneeded description.

This book has a lot of action (though some problematic as a product of the time it was written in...) but it was hard to get past Cooper's writing style to really get into the story. This is one case where I could see how a movie version would be an improvement over the book.

Jul 23, 2019, 9:39pm

388. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. I admit I have rather romantic notions of what it would be like to head to 1920's Paris and hobnob with fellow ex-pats (all of whom would be at some stage of writing their book) over Pernod and tiny cafes. Oh, the conversations I envision. Sadly, Hemingway in "The Sun Also Rises" has convinced me I might as well head to a sports bar in Decatur because most of the conversation is pretty dull.

I don't typically care for Hemingway (as I find his attitudes toward women, people of color and now Jewish people to be troubling at best) and this book really wasn't an exception -- it was mainly troubling and dull.

The book picked up a bit of a spark when it moved to Pamplona and the bar talk revolved around bulls, but at that point, it was really too late to save it.

Jul 23, 2019, 10:21pm

>22 amerynth: Haha. I had to google Decatur and found there are 20 places in the USA with that name, none of which I’ve ever heard of. Hopefully you find a stimulating sports bar in one of them!

Ago 1, 2019, 9:45am

I was thinking of the one in Illinois, which is the only one I had ever visited. I didn't realize there were quite so many!

Ago 1, 2019, 9:49am

389. The Trick is To Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway. The center of this book is depression and grief -- and I felt it was well-written enough that if I was going through those emotions myself, this wouldn't have been a particularly good time to read this novel.

Joy is struggling with depression after the unfortunate drowning of her lover Michael. Her life implodes as she struggles to keep herself afloat -- even after checking into a hospital, she is unable to get the help she seeks, but is instead given yet another handful of pills.

I thought the writing was strong -- especially in Joy's circular thinking and repetitiveness. I wished for more of an ending though... it felt like Galloway wasn't terribly certain how to end the book so she kind of just let it fizzle.

Ago 6, 2019, 4:58pm

390. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Really didn't care for this one. A good writer can make me interested in a topic I didn't previously know much about -- a great writer can make me passionate about that topic. Macdonald is neither of these... I found her descriptions of falconry (or hawkery) to be so dull.

I found her persona in the book to be a bit grating -- she comes across like she feels she is the only person who has experienced profound grief.

This definitely wasn't a book for me.

Ago 7, 2019, 1:51pm

391. Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope. I finally finished this book... (had run out of renewals a couple of times before at the library.)

Overall, this was a good read, though sometimes the political discussions dragged on a bit too long. I was much more interested in the relationships between the characters and the shifting fortunes of the title character as he wends his way through Parliament and marriage proposals.

Ago 9, 2019, 2:35pm

>26 amerynth: I didn't really care for H is for Hawk either. The thing that struck me is that everyone calls this a book about grief but to my mind what she experienced was clinical depression caused by a biochemical imbalance (perhaps exacerbated by her father's death but not the sole reason). When she starts taking an antidepressant she starts getting her life back on track which signals that there was a biochemical imbalance. I think it could have been an important book about mental health but Macdonald didn't use it that way.

Ago 25, 2019, 11:18pm

I think you are spot on there gypsysmom. That would have been a much better read.

Editado: Set 2, 2019, 11:26pm

392. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I really enjoyed this novel and felt very emotionally invested in Theo Decker during his high school years. This was definitely a good addition to the list.

On a fateful date, Theo and his mother visit an art gallery that has, among its works, the painting "The Goldfinch" on display. Events occur that propel his life forward in a new direction -- and the hits keep on coming for Decker.

The second half of the novel -- which occurs about eight years later -- isn't quite as strong. I had more trouble connecting this version of Decker with his high school self. But by the time the novel ended, I felt really immersed again. It was a pretty good read overall.

Ago 26, 2019, 3:03am

>26 amerynth:, >28 gypsysmom: I wasn't impressed either. I was expecting it to be a hard read and yet I thought it was about as emotional as a piece of limp lettuce. I thought it odd that her mother was still alive and yet she described herself as an orphan. Having lost both parents, it's a very different sensation to the loss of just one. I didn't speak to me at all.

Editado: Set 2, 2019, 11:26pm

393. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I read this in a day, which is really unusual for me, because I found it to be an easy and interesting book. I generally liked the story, even though there were a few bits that took a bit of suspension of disbelief to get through.

The story beings with our unnamed narrator meeting her soon-to-be husband Mr. de Winter, an older man who appears to be still pining away for his late wife Rebecca. The second Mrs. de Winter moves to her husband's estate, Manderley, where events really start to unfold.

This was really a fun story overall.

Set 9, 2019, 6:51pm

394. Kieron Smith, Boy by James Kelman. I admire Kelman's attempt here to put the inner thoughts of a Glaswegian preteen on the page, but I ultimately didn't find this book was terribly successful. I found Kieron's inner life to be rather dull. Getting through this was a bit of a struggle for me.

Set 16, 2019, 9:05pm

395. Foundation by Isaac Asimov. This was a hard book to rate because I actually liked the story quite a bit but not that manner in which Asimov tells it.

This science fiction classic, about the decline of an intergalactic empire and what comes next, has some really intriguing ideas and concepts. But Asimov tells the story in a dry, mechanical way (which may suit the story, but didn't help me stay very engaged with the book.)

So, overall, I enjoyed the story itself but the not the telling of it.

Out 15, 2019, 9:48am

396. Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr. This gritty tale follows four people as they spiral into drug addiction, poverty and hopelessness. I'd seen the movie years ago, so I knew a bit about what to expect for this... though the extreme ending still shocked a bit.

This was a good book -- I found Selby's style a bit challenging at first but as I settled into the story, I got used to it and saw how it really supported the story he was telling. Overall, this was a good read, though a bit dark and depressing.

Editado: Jan 25, 2020, 8:02pm

397. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. This is one of those books that I read this list for -- I really didn't know anything about it and wouldn't have read it but for the list -- but it was certainly among the best books I've read so far this year.

In this novel, our unnamed "invisible" narrator is a black man who experiences oppression at every turn -- overtly in the south through violence and fear -- and through manipulation and betrayal in the north, which courses quietly underneath a veneer of integration and brotherhood.

The story is really powerful and really spoke to me.

Out 21, 2019, 10:21pm

398. Great Apes by Will Self. This started out as an interesting premise -- an artist wakes up to find everyone in the world has turned into chimpanzees. Cue lots of furry copulation and pop flinging. I didn't find anything to really connect with here and after about 50 pages or so, it just became a tedious read.

Out 22, 2019, 3:55pm

399. Seize the Day by Saul Bellow. Every time I read something by Bellow, I decide that I'm just not smart enough to figure out the brilliant part of his works. His stories are fine, but never seem particularly special to me.

That is also the case with "Seize the Day," where our Wilhem is having a supremely bad day -- due to choices of his own making. It's a fine story, but not a super memorable one.

Nov 14, 2019, 10:25pm

400. The War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa. I feel live I've been reading this book forever -- it was certainly challenging and dense, but on the whole I found it to be a really enjoyable read.

This work of historical fiction is about the War of Canudos in turn-of-the-century Brazil. A wandering pilgrim, known as The Counselor, picks up a growing flock of people -- many considered criminals or degenerates and all of whom are poor. The settle in Canudos, where they put together a society that appears to be working until the officials in Brazil start to get worried about what's going on down there. They send troops in for a series of incursions, which the band of Canudos believers manage to fend of three times before finally succumbing in the fourth battle.

There are a lot of characters here but the author does a great job of painting them so they remain memorable quickly after being introduced. With such great writing, it was easy to like this book.

Nov 15, 2019, 12:29am

Congratulations on making 400!

Nov 15, 2019, 7:17pm

Wow! Congratulations! I always enjoy reading your reviews.

Dez 4, 2019, 10:05pm

Thanks so much puckers and paruline!

Dez 4, 2019, 10:08pm

401. The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. I had been putting this one off a bit because I thought it was going to be a challenging read, but it turned out to be and enjoyable one. I really liked Grass' vivid and lively "word pictures" and thought the plot moved along at a nice pace.

Set mostly during World War II, our narrator is Oskar, who is in a mental institution for a murder he did not commit (as opposed to the ones he did.) He is short in stature (because he didn't want to grow anymore past the age of 3 and bangs on a toy drum for much of the novel as a one-man protest of sorts against things that nag -- his parents' marriage, his dual fathers, life in a war-torn city, etc.

This hit the sweet spot of having clever observations without becoming annoying its its cleverness.

Dez 9, 2019, 12:03pm

402. The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna. This book doesn't really appear to break any literary ground (and probably doesn't really belong on the list,) but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

In this novel, our narrator Kaarlo Vananen has an epic-level midlife crisis... quitting his job as a journalist and his unhappy marriage when he finds an injured hare in the woods. He spends a year romping about the countryside in a series of adventures with the recouperating hare at his side.

I mostly enjoyed this and found the tale amusing.

Editado: Dez 21, 2019, 10:51pm

403. The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz. I have no idea why this on the list. I get that it is considered influential, but so is the Bible and that's on the list.

This book is one long sociology lecture on the Mexican persona. It read like a textbook and bored me to tears. It was, at least, a short and quick read.

Jan 4, 2020, 11:24am

404. A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro. Amazing that this was Ishiguro's debut novel... so many hallmarks of his voice are already here. I enjoyed this book despite some similarities to his later work.

This book focuses on the relationship between children and parents and what is seen and unseen.

Jan 4, 2020, 10:22pm

405. The Singapore Grip by J.G. Farrell. I liked this book, but mostly for the interactions between the characters, rather than the historical World War II parts.

The novel focuses on Blackett and Webb, a rubber exporting company based in Singapore in the 1930's. Times, they are a-changin' and old Walter Blackett is bound and determined to keep the company rolling just like before. Meanwhile the Japanese are invading Singapore, so it's not much of surprise that Walter isn't really going to succeed in his schemes.

The characters were strong and interesting here, though I felt some of the historical parts dragged a bit.

Jan 15, 2020, 9:46pm

406. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg. This book had a fairly interesting story to tell but it was definitely bogged down by the writing style.

The novel centers on Robert, who may or may not have been the product of an affair but who was brought up by his mother's "friend" as a Calvinist who believes he is predestined to go to Heaven no matter what he does on earth. He comes under the influence of a man -- or the devil -- and commits a series of violent acts.

It's a bit convoluted and messy, though the overall story was good.

Jan 25, 2020, 12:53pm

407. Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell. I guess this would be better described as a police procedural rather than a mystery, as it isn't something that you can solve.

Set in Sweden, the story focuses on Kurt Wallander, a grizzled police detective attempting to solve the double murder of farmers in a remove area. Quite realistically, the investigation into the crime has a lot of twists and turns and information that proves unrelated to the crime itself.

I found the criminal investigation portions generally interesting, but I didn't care as much about Wallender's family life. If you're into police procedurals, you'd probably like this book. It was okay for me as someone who doesn't really read much from that genre.

Fev 3, 2020, 12:15am

408. The Diviners by Margaret Laurence. A great pick for the group read this month... I enjoyed this Canadian literature classic a great deal.

Told mostly in a series of flashbacks by Morag Gunn, a woman whose memories begin with the tragic death of her parents. It sparks a search for connections with people, which Morag does and does not achieve -- while all of the other characters are also searching for things essential to their beings.

Populated with rich and complex characters, the novel tells an interesting story and I enjoyed it a lot.

Fev 3, 2020, 12:30am

409. Adjunct: An Undigest by Peter Manson. As I said in another thread, I've never spent so long looking for a copy of something that I knew I was going to hate. (I even paid his publisher for a copy a few years ago, which I never received, nor did I get a refund.)

As predicted, I hated this. It felt like either a list of poem ideas or a rambling from someone having a mental break.

Fev 10, 2020, 12:56pm

410. The House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende. I really enjoyed this sprawling, epic tale that focuses on three generations of women and a tyrannical husband/father/grandfather as they navigate the social, economic and political changes that came with living a lifetime in Chile.

The characters are really interesting here and drive the story along nicely. Although it's a lengthy book it never really dragged and I always looked forward to getting back to it.

Editado: Fev 16, 2020, 6:57pm

411. after the quake by Haruki Murakami. A short Murakami is better than a long Murakami, but not better than no Murakami at all.

Even though most of these stories don't involve magical realism, which is a Murakami hallmark and a genre of fiction I don't particularly like, I still didn't care for this at all. The stories are all loosely connected by the earthquake in Kobe, but didn't feel like anything particularly special.

I have another Murakami coming up quickly in my tbr pile and I'm really looking at it with dread at this point.

Fev 16, 2020, 8:39pm

>53 amerynth: We think much the same way about Murakami and about magical realism. I think I will give this one a pass.

Fev 20, 2020, 9:59am

412. The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas by Gertrude Stein. I'm having a bad run of reads right now and this was among them. I didn't care for this at all.

Stein is actually writing her own autobiography here -- but it really isn't even that. She had a revolving door of all the glittering people in turn-of-the-century Paris come by her apartments -- Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway - a veritable smorgsbord of ex-Pats, writers and painters -- many before they became particularly famous. And yet, the stories she tells about them are so incredibly dull. (He came to dinner.... Stein either found him annoying or she liked him.... he made fine paintings in a particular style. The end.)

If you are interested in the art scene at this time in Paris, I guess this might be of interest. But to me, it just felt like Stein liked to collect a lot of names to drop in addition to paintings.

Fev 23, 2020, 4:30pm

413. Choke by Church Palahniuk. This is a tough book for me to rate -- I didn't enjoy reading it at all. However, I can appreciate how well the writing style integrated with the overall tone and story.

In this novel, our narrator Victor is a sex addict who has a host of "mom" issues. He spent much of his childhood in foster care or being kidnapped out of it by his mother. He has given up his goals to make enough money to pay for his mother's care in a nursing home facility.

This isn't a book to read if you're feeling depressed about the state of humanity, that's for sure.

Fev 28, 2020, 5:15pm

414. The Enormous Room by e.e. cummings. I am doing a terrible job picking books lately. This is another one I didn't enjoy at all-- it was both a challenging read (due to the writing style and scattering of French throughout the book) an dull.

It's an autobiographical story about the time he was imprisoned in France following his service as an ambulance driver during World War I for (erroneous) suspicions of treason. He is transported to a series of prisons where he meets a variety of people, which he describes in great detail, before his eventual release four months later.

I was just bored by this book. My mind kept wandering and I frequently was wondering if I missed something that makes this tale interesting.

Mar 4, 2020, 12:55pm

415. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Although "The Bluest Eye" is Toni Morrison's debut novel, her voice -- so evident in future novels -- is already here -- perhaps not as polished, but still recognizable.

This is a really bleak story about the impact of systemic racism and its hidden impact on the psyche -- and the role self-loathing plays in reactions and actions.

I found this to be well written and thought-provoking though often elements of the plot itself were tough to take.

Mar 15, 2020, 8:22pm

416. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. There were a few bits of this that kind of dragged for me, as some of the plot points were very obvious, but I generally enjoyed this novel, which focuses on Christopher, a developmentally disabled teenager, who serves as the book's narrator.

The book really succeeds because Christopher is a vibrant character who views the world around him, including his flawed and stressed parents, in a very ordered, specific way. It's an interesting point of view that manages to carry the story along pretty well.

Abr 15, 2020, 9:22pm

417. The Water Margin by Shi Nai'An.

"The Water Margin" is the first of the 'great Chinese novels' that I've read and I generally enjoyed it. The story is an action filled romp with a band of loosely associated outlaws who take the countryside by storm in a variety of ways that generally end with a sword fight, sling of arrows or other violent means of dying.

The book started to drag a bit for me in the middle -- the stories about the outlaws started feeling a bit to similar. It picked up again by the end though and made the long months of reading worth it.

Abr 28, 2020, 1:03pm

418. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. I don't get Haurki Murkamai's books. I don't understand his weird obsession with cats... his gross, smutty attitude toward sex, or his conveniently placed magical realism. I'm pretty sure I've never hated an author's work so much.

In this book, there's a missing cat, smutty sex and slightly less magical realism. Pretty much the same as all the other books he's written.

Jun 15, 2020, 7:32pm

419. The Story of the Lost Child' by Elena Ferrante. I didn't realize at first that this was the final novel in a quartet about a narrator named Elena and her relationships with her family, friends, lovers and daughters.

I enjoyed all of the drama enough that I'll certainly go back to the start and read the entire series.

Jun 20, 2020, 9:16pm

420. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I have a love-hate relationship with Eugenides work -- but this novel was definitely more on the love side than hate side.

I liked the way the story weaves together generations of family secrets and drama -- the tale of the grandparents and parents in particular was really interesting. I didn't like the narration as much -- choosing Cal as the narrator when he had no reason to know so many family secrets raised a lot of questions for me. Cal's story itself was interesting up until the end, and it felt like Eugenides wasn't sure where to go.

I enjoyed more of the story than I didn't, so this gets a mostly positive review from me.

Jun 27, 2020, 2:34pm

421. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. I think Robert Louis Stevenson's novel "Kidnapped" suffers in comparison to "Treasure Island," which is much superior. Overall, it's an OK adventure type story, but I really didn't like it.

The unfortunate David Balfour loses both his parents and is cheated by his uncle out of his fortune -- and kidnapped by sailors to boot. I really enjoyed the opening of the story and everything up to the shipwreck -- the running about the country parts got a bit too same old, same old by the end.

Overall, this was a mediocre read for me... I didn't hate it, but had a sort of "meh" reaction to it.

Jul 2, 2020, 8:44pm

422. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich. I liked this book, but didn't love it. I'm not entirely sure it really belongs on the list.

Erdrich tells the stories of several interconnected families living on a reservation. Her characters are all weighed down, troubled and unhealthy in one way or another.

I actually found the characters pretty interesting and liked the overall story. I didn't care for the shifting narration -- the characters' voices weren't unique enough to warrant it. I'd be interested in reading one of Erdrich's later works to see how she's progressed as an author though.

Jul 10, 2020, 2:14am

423. Howards End by E.M. Forster. I enjoyed this novel, which is about two sisters, Margaret and Helen, who have rather romantic ideals and are surrounded by hard-knock life sort of folks. The titular Howards End is actually a house that they each are connected to as their stories unfold.

The novel isn't near as successful as Forster's "A Room With A View," which has a similar theme and feel, but is still a fun read nevertheless.

Jul 26, 2020, 9:13pm

424. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. I'll be honest, the first third or so oreally dragged for me. I started wondering why it is so beloved. However, by the final third, I thought it was both fun and fairly riveting.

As most people probably know, the novel is about Oliver, a young orphan who is led into crime circles by The Artful Dodger. A series of mishaps and adventures ensue impacting Oliver's life in both good and bad ways.

Once it got going, this was really an interesting tale.

Jul 29, 2020, 4:25pm

425. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. This science fiction classic "The War of the Worlds" actually holds up fairly well, despite all of the years that have passed since he wrote it. (Mostly in the fiction department -- the science not as much, but it's still all tolerable.)

Our narrator is on the front lines when the Martian invasion of Earth begins and gives a first-hand account of humanity's struggle.

It's an enjoyable and quick read.

Ago 8, 2020, 11:00pm

426. Fury by Salman Rushdie. This novel is certainly not Salman Rushdie's finest work, but it does reflect the typical hallmarks -- dense, but interesting writing and an unusual story. Reading Rushdie always seems like work to me, but it generally pays off in the end and is worthwhile.

"Fury" is aptly named -- our narrator is filled to the brim with repressed rage-- and the novel explores how that shapes the world. I liked the concept of the novel very much, but the subplot, where Malik's weird dolls take on a political significance just got too far out there for me.

Ago 14, 2020, 8:46am

427. Democracy by Joan Didion. I had a college professor who ruined Joan Didion for me -- seriously, she wanted us all to write like Joan Didion, which is so weird when you should be encouraging students to find their own voice. So, I've shied away from Didion's work for decades and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked "Democracy."

Sort of a tragic romance set amid a dysfunctional, political family in the midst of the Vietnam War. Didion's unique narration style -- where she integrates an almost reporter-like feel as she tells you about the types of things she should have included but didn't, but did, it makes for a really unique and interesting read.

Ago 14, 2020, 1:00pm

>70 amerynth: I've never read any Didion so I have no idea what she writes like. Would this be the best one to read first?

Ago 17, 2020, 8:03pm

I think this is the first of Didion's novels I've read... we read a lot of her essays in college (and that was a long, long time ago.) Democracy is certainly accessible, but I think Play it as it Lays, which I haven't read yet, is supposed to be one of her best works.

I'm trying to think how to describe her writing -- the word controlled comes to mind. Her sentences are really tight -- but not in a dry way, if that makes any sense.

Ago 18, 2020, 10:58pm

>72 amerynth: I enjoyed Play it as it Lays more than I expected to, and I think "tight" is a good description of her writing! Deliberate and planned.

Ago 20, 2020, 9:20am

428. Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant. I thought Guy de Maupassant's novel "Bel-Ami" was OK, but it didn't live up to my expectations. Mostly because I kept waiting for the main character's comeuppance, which never actually came. Not only does the bad guy win here, but other men seem to celebrate his behaviors, while Maupassant's women are too dumb to see through anything.

Georges Duroy is a social climber and Lothario, who is irresistible to every woman who happens to cross his path. The more he gets (in terms of money, women and prestige,) the more he desires.

It is hard to enjoy a novel where the main character gets everything they ever want -- through rather devious means -- and is celebrated for that, too, while all of the women (even the one woman who is written to be fairly clever) seem to be too dumb to see through him.

Ago 21, 2020, 4:39pm

>72 amerynth: >73 amaryann21: Thanks for the vote for Play it as it Lays. I'll have to see if I can find a copy of it.

Ago 22, 2020, 12:43pm

>74 amerynth: I haven't read Bel-Ami yet, but quite recently I did see the 1947 film "The Private Affairs of Bel Ami" starring George Sanders based on the book. He was excellent in the role of Georges Duroy, but I can well imagine that the book won't be as entertaining.

Ago 30, 2020, 9:04am

Thanks for the movie recommendation DeltaQueen50! I put the Robert Pattinson version on my movie list, but it didn't appear to be very well received. I'm going to check out the 1947 version instead.

Ago 30, 2020, 9:12am

429. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I am zero percent interested in baseball (actually is there a percent that's less than zero, because it's actually that) so I found Chad Harbach's "The Art of Fielding" really hard going.

The novel is about five intersecting lives of people associated with the fictional Westish College and its baseball team. Every once in a while there was a little bit of a spark for me when something interesting happened to the characters, but then the novel marched back to baseball and I really didn't want to pick it up again.

Really, this isn't a bad novel, it was just a poor fit for my reading taste.

Set 24, 2020, 6:15pm

430. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Nothing strikes fear in the heart of this reader more than the words "magical realism." However, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" manages to incorporate it in such an interesting way that I really didn't mind it so much.

The sprawling novel tells the story of several generations of the Buendia family, who founded the fictional city of Macondo. The characters were interesting and their stories weave through each other in an compelling way.

Garcia Marquez is a lovely writer -- there were so many great visuals that flashed through my head due to his word pictures.

Set 29, 2020, 5:02pm

431. Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates. This novella is Oates' take on Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddck scandal -- where he managed to save himself, but not the young woman who was a passenger in his car when he drunkenly drove his car into the water.

Here, the young woman is Kelly Kelleher, whose flashbacks contrast her idealism and naivety with her horrific drowning -- all the while hoping her Senator is trying to save her.

The story is certainly familiar, but told in an interesting way.

Out 27, 2020, 9:53pm

432. The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho. I didn't really care for this novel. It was a simple story -- about whether a village could be tempted into committing a murder in exchange for prosperity -- and the way it was told wasn't enough to carry even this short length novel.

The heroine of the book is Miss Prym, who faces her own temptation and is responsible for leading the village of Viscos to its own version.

Ultimately, I found the entire story just dragged on too much before coming to its inevitable conclusion.

Nov 30, 2020, 6:27pm

433. The Master by Colm Toibin. I really expected to love this -- I've liked other books by Toibin and I like Henry James. But I was somewhat disappointed because this really never came together for me. I found the James' style in Toibin's hands didn't work for me -- it became too slow and uninteresting and meditative for me to enjoy reading it.

I admire what Toibin was going for here, but ultimately it didn't make good reading for me.

Editado: Dez 5, 2020, 7:40pm

434. The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This is a hard book for me to rate. I actually enjoyed the story as it unfolded, but if I started to think about it too much, it sort of unraveled for me. (If you are concerned about spoilers, don't read any further.)

The story focuses on six students at fictional Hampden College who are studying Greek. I'm not giving anything away that Tartt doesn't in the opening pages -- most of the characters are also murderers.

The story was interesting and engrossing, but it doesn't really add up properly. Tartt's efforts to paint the one guy who actually didn't murder anyone as the bad guy kind of grated on me. And that the narrator's bit of medical training covered poisons and all medications, apparently, but not the fact that hypothermia exists or how to prevent it. I feel like Tartt missed the mark somewhat on with the narration -- was he supposed to be a sociopath? He has no self-reflection at all.

At this point, I'm giving it a middling rating because I've started to think about it too much.

Dez 17, 2020, 12:57pm

435. August is a Wicked Month by Edna O'Brien. I was disappointed with this novel especially since I enjoyed other novels by this author.

The book is about a woman who heads off on a monthlong vacation after the break up of her marriage and stays at an apparently hedonistic hotel where even the bellboys break into your room to have sex with you. She meets a variety of men, and I guess this is supposed to be a sexual reawakening after years of a troubled and dry marriage.

I found it impossible to connect with the characters and so much of this didn't ring true enough to make it interesting.

Dez 17, 2020, 1:06pm

436. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. I believe I must have seen the movie based on this book was very familiar storywise.

In this novel, our narrator Michael is looking back at his life, from when he was 15 years old, with a much older woman named Hanna. The affects of this love affair ripple throughout his life and Hanna's mysterious past during the Holocaust begins to catch up with her.

I really liked the way the story unfolds here -- much of it with Michael's reflections about what was happening in different stages of his life as he tries to reason through things. I found many of his observations really interesting asides. This is a novel with a lot of disturbing aspects to the story, but I thought the author handled it all in a really interesting manner.

Jan 4, 12:20am

437. The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima. I very much enjoyed the overall story here. It's about young love and the impact of the rumor mill on a couple who live on a rural island.

The novel had an interesting rhythm to it that I really liked.

The only thing that bugged me was that Mishima is pretty clearly a breast man who doesn't really get what women do when they are not around men. None of those parts of the story felt authentic or the slightest bit realistic.

Jan 16, 9:13am

438. The Circle by Dave Eggers. This novel has all the potential in the world to be a great novel, but the execution of the idea is lacking.

I really liked the premise of the novel, which is about intrusive technology and its potential for promoting good and evil. Or at least, that's what the novel should be about. Eggers doesn't do a good job of balance here -- he completely ignores some aspects, such as negative comments that generally fill peoples' feeds and has a protagonist who is fairly unwilling to question anything.

The main characters who are opposed to technology's march are weirdos who create antler lamps and dwell in the shadows.

Overall, I found the novel had an interesting premise, but it wasn't well executed.

Jan 17, 7:45pm

if you think the novel wasn't well executed, you won't want to watch the film. Absolutely abysmal!

Editado: Fev 4, 10:18pm

439. Between the Acts by Virgina Woolf. In general, I have liked Woolf's more traditional stories more than her experimental pieces, but this particular one was just too standard to be very interesting.

It's the story of a group of people who put together an annual pageant. It's got Woolf's very particular style of writing, but the overalll story just wasn't strong enough.

Fev 4, 10:18pm

Thanks arukiyomi... I'll definitely steer clear of the movie version!

Mar 13, 7:39am

440. Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker.

While "Possessing the Secret of Joy" certainly isn't Alice Walker's strongest work, it's still an solid one and focused on the incredibly important topic of female genital mutilation.

Tashi's story, of a lifetime of suffering due to what happened to her body and rift between her cultural beliefs and the pain she endured, makes this a hard read, but one that is ultimately worthwhile.

Mar 20, 7:28am

441. Impressions of Africa. by Raymond Roussel. I found this to be practically unreadable. I've read a lot of books over the years written about Africa and this may be the very worst one.

The first 80 pages or so are spent detailing various uninteresting performances going on while some random people (who turn out to be shipwrecked on Africa and are held for ransom.... no need to impart any of this information until nearly a dozen chapters pass.)

There are plenty of racist attitudes (as you'd expect from a book written in this period) just make it even more intolerable.

French surrealism is apparently not for me.

Abr 10, 5:30pm

442. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. I mostly enjoyed this book on the strength of the characters. Franzen's people are deeply flawed and interesting, which helps propel the story along.

I didn't find this all that different from The Corrections though -- Franzen's novels are good stories but I don't get much out of them other than that.

Abr 10, 5:36pm

443. Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham. This was a fun little read.

It's the story of man who is asked to write a biography of a recently deceased author he was acquainted with in his youth. The author was married twice -- to the pretty, vivacious but unfaithful Rosalie, and later, to a much more business-like woman, Amy, who was careful to preserve her late husband's legacy.

It's a fairly simple story, but flows along smoothly and made for a quick read.

Jun 12, 11:42pm

444. The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

There is no question that Junot Diaz has a strong and interesting voice. I really liked the structure of this novel and the way the interesting tidbits about the history of Trujillo and the Dominican Republic are woven throughout the story. I didn't love the way that Diaz writes women -- he writes like a man who is has a deep sexual interest in women, but doesn't really know their inner workings all that well. Despite that, the characters were interesting enough that it carried the story along nicely.

Jun 12, 11:54pm

445. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. When this movie came out, I was in college, and was right along with Elaine Benes in absolutely hating it. As a result, I didn't have much interest in reading Michael Ondaatje's novel. However, it's on the 1,001 list, which is very fortunate, because I completely enjoyed the novel (and assume I would also enjoy the film now that I'm older and wiser.)

The characters really came off the page and the story was very gripping even though I knew where it all was going. Really, just a wonderful book reading experience because of the way the prose just cozies up to you.

Jun 13, 12:11am

446. La Celestina by Fernando de Rojas.

I really enjoyed reading Fernando de Rojas' "La Celestina," which is essentially a play about a man named Calisto who hires a former prostitute (who is the woman to see if you need a love potion, re-virgination, or other assorted trickeries) to help him capture the heart (and nether regions) of Melibea. It all ends very tragically for everyone.

While the prose wasn't the easiest to read (given it's translated from Spanish and written in the late 1400's,) the story was really fun. It certainly deserves its reputation as a classic.

Jun 15, 3:53pm

>96 amerynth: I've never seen the film, but I loved the book. It seems to act as a series of reveals and you're still not sure what's real by the end.