1001 Books to read before you die: Bekka's progress - plus being really opiniated
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Okay, I'm going to run through these by section;
1. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
2. Saturday – Ian McEwan
19. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
45. The Body Artist – Don DeLillo
I haven't read very many of these yet - I do prefer my older classics. However Never let me Go is amazing - it should never have been cut off the second edition. Everyone I know who has read this has cried - it is that beautifully and emotively written.
95. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
97. Enduring Love – Ian McEwan
136. Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh
137. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
149. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
175. Wise Children – Angela Carter
192. Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
211. The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul – Douglas Adams
212. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams
215. The Black Dahlia – James Ellroy
225. Beloved – Toni Morrison
229. Watchmen – Alan Moore & David Gibbons
230. The Old Devils – Kingsley Amis
232. An Artist of the Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro
234. Foe – J.M. Coetzee
238. Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez
239. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson
244. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
245. Perfume – Patrick Süskind
250. Legend – David Gemmell
269. The Diary of Jane Somers – Doris Lessing
276. A Pale View of Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro
303. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
322. Interview With the Vampire – Anne Rice
369. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
381. The Godfather – Mario Puzo
392. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
401. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez
411. The Magus – John Fowles
413. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
415. The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon
417. The River Between – Ngugi wa Thiong’o
435. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
439. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
452. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
453. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
458. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
472. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
483. The Midwich Cuckoos – John Wyndham
486. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
492. The Lonely Londoners – Sam Selvon
496. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
497. The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
498. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
510. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
516. Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis
520. Casino Royale – Ian Fleming
523. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
529. Foundation – Isaac Asimov
531. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
539. Gormenghast – Mervyn Peake
540. The Grass is Singing – Doris Lessing
541. I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
549. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
563. Titus Groan – Mervyn Peake
566. Animal Farm – George Orwell
576. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
603. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson
605. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
610. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
612. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
621. Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
622. Keep the Aspidistra Flying – George Orwell
633. Burmese Days – George Orwell
651. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
652. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
658. Cakes and Ale – W. Somerset Maugham
664. Passing – Nella Larsen
673. The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
683. Quicksand – Nella Larsen
688. To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
700. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
701. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
710. A Passage to India – E.M. Forster
713. Cane – Jean Toomer
724. Babbitt – Sinclair Lewis
729. Main Street – Sinclair Lewis
745. The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
749. Tarzan of the Apes – Edgar Rice Burroughs
756. Howards End – E.M. Forster
761. Tono-Bungay – H.G. Wells
763. A Room With a View – E.M. Forster
Okay - I've definitly read a few more of the 1900's!
I actually love a lot of the books on this lis t- I read the Sinclair Lewis and George Orwell novels recently and became really engrossed in them. I am also a big Fantasy/Sci Fi fan so a lot on this list appeals to me - plus my husband is a comic boko fan so he is very happy that Watchmen made it's way on to here.
Despite being giddy about the majority of these there are a few downers - Fantasy i may love, but Mervyn Peake I hated - it was very long hard struggle. On the Road I also had massive problems with - after discussion with friends we've decided that you have to read this before a certain age - I was about 24 which is too old and I therefore loathed it.
One final comment to say the The Diary of Jane Somers is an amazing read - once again it is an outrage that it got removed in the second edition. It is exquisitly written and the characters are heartbreakingly real.
And so to the 1800s...
793. The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
794. The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
795. The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
798. Dracula – Bram Stoker
800. The Island of Dr. Moreau – H.G. Wells
801. The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
806. Born in Exile – George Gissing
807. Diary of a Nobody – George & Weedon Grossmith
810. New Grub Street – George Gissing
812. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
824. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
829. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
835. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
844. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
850. Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
852. Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne
857. Middlemarch – George Eliot
858. Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There – Lewis Carroll
867. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
870. Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Jules Verne
872. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carrol
876. The Water-Babies – Charles Kingsley
880. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
884. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
891. North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
895. Villette – Charlotte Brontë
902. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
904. Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell
906. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
908. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
909. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
910. The Count of Monte-Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
912. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
917. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
922. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
930. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner – James Hogg
935. Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
936. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
937. Persuasion – Jane Austen
940. Emma – Jane Austen
941. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
942. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
943. The Absentee – Maria Edgeworth
944. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
Controversially I think this is my favourite century for literature. I love the gothic novels - there are a lot of the 1700 ones on my TBR list.
I read the Gissing novels recently and was pleasantly surprised - not much actually happens but they are worth a read! I also recently read The Woman in White and The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner both of which are gothic and both of which are excellent. Justified sinner is a quirky blend of narratives from different view points and the evil protaganist is wonderfully, well, evil is the only word I guess!
ALso slightly controversial - I loved Dumas and despised The Water Babies.
952. The Monk – M.G. Lewis
962. Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
980. Fanny Hill – John Cleland
989. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
993. Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
Hmmm must read more of these! The Monk is a MUST read - it is brilliant. Fanny Hill is naughty (blush) and Dangerous Liaisons is hard work once you get to the middle section.
Pre 1700 I have only read Aesop’s Fables which is very enjoyable and full of handy comments on the present day.
So that's all of them so far. Not so bad, not so good. Will keep posting - apologies if I am boring the socks of anyone (feel free to tell me to shut up).
Since when could talking about books be boring???????
Can't wait to see what you are reading next :0)
BekkaJo, you're not boring at all. I've put a star against your thread. Please continue to post your candid comments about the books you have read. I like your reviews because they are short and to the point.
I hope you are still finding Amsterdam a good read. I read it last year and liked it. And btw, I have starred your thread too!
Finally! Finished the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I feel much like I did when I finished my last Pynchon - it is going to be a long long while till I read another one.
I do have to admit that I started getting into this much more towards the end. I think it takes a while to even begin to feel his style of writing. It also envolved me doing a lot of reading around the subject - Irish history not being my strongest subject! Still another one down - that's 137 now....
Pippi Longstocking! I was feeling really unwell yesterday so I decided on a nice easy read when I was in the Library! This was added to the 2008 1001 and I think actually deserves it.
It is, of course, a very quick and easy read, but it has a very heartwarming innocence to it - it just makes you smile. I'd recommend it to anyone who is feeling under the weather.
The Sorrows of Young Werther. Once again I actually really enjoyed this - most of the novel is set out as a series of letters from Werther's view point which makes it easy to read. In some ways it is very poignant, though I did farily often want to give the narrator a good slap. I will say that Werther's recitation of a portion of Ossian towards the end did leave me rather cold - it just felt unneccesarily long.
Also in a decidedly macabre way I did like the fact that Werther does not die until 12 hours after shooting himself (just giving away the ending there) since this is a fairly realistic representation of what would happen if you shot yourself with an 17th Century pistol rather than just expiring cleanly and neatly.
All in all a big thumbs up and I think I'll follow it with another Goethe.
Not Goethe... but Heart of Darkness by Conrad. Well, what can we say about it really but... huh. It's just a complete let down! The language is brilliant but the ending. Sigh. Just the biggest literary anti-climax I have come across lately.
Interesting response BekkaJo. That book was on the high school literatture syllabus here in Western Australia for years and I must have coached / tutored dozens of final year high school students through it. They universally loved it "hot book" was one of the most common responses. I think they realised that the whole 20th century was foreseen in it.
I do agree - part of me wishes I had studied it when i was at Uni - going into more detail, reading some crit, rather than just reading it. I did love the actualy writing it was just anti-climatic ending that got to me. In some ways it's the sign of a brilliant book because it stayed with me for ages. But I just felt very frustrated by it. Maybe Conrad is just not for me...
Age of Innocence. This was my first Edith Wharton and I will totally be reading more. After the first few chapters I did feel a little bored by it - but then you just end up totally enthralled and wrapped up in her world. I love her language - it has a lightness to it which made this one of the easiest reads I have had in a long time, and yet there is an overwhelming emotion to her writing which you feel all through the novel. I also loved it's representation of the society at the time - many describe the plot as the introduction of a scandalous woman into the New York society, and whilst it never actually denounces the society, reading from our time and our perspective, Archer and Ellen pretty much get all my sympathy.
Anyway, if you haven't read it - go read it!
Agnes Grey Much as I enjoyed this I think Anne is my least favourite Bronte... though I am not a great Wuthering Heights fan so maybe not! I think that this novel is more enjoable than noteworthy - and rather worrying for a mother of a young toddler since I am now terrified that my daughter should turn out like any of the children in this book.
It is a deeply personal book - and whilst Agnes is far more religious than I can bring myself to relate to, I think the progression of her character and the constant internal struggle to be practical and not just give in to day-dreams of hope that may never happen (even though they eventually do) are applicable to most of us as we grow up.
Hmmm.... what to start next...
Uncle Tom's Cabin. What can I say...towards the end I just started crying! It didn't have exactly the ending I expected - I fully expected a happy ending. I really should have realised that this would work against the whole anti-slavery motif if it had all ended in hugs and puppies. I know that over the years the stereotyping of black people within the book has been considered appaling and that it has worked against itself, however if you read it without the current days pre-conceptions and just look at what she was trying to achieve - essentially a love of all people, black white or indifferent, this novel was a means to her end. And I feel it was a poignant and heartfelt one which, to me sterotypes the whites as much as the blacks. My main issues with the novel mainly stem from reading it as an Agnostic when it is a heavilly Christian novel - and that side of it I did find heavy going.
Still, one I'd recommend.
Iʻve been reading novels since the 1940s, and"Heart of Darkness" is one of the few that Iʻve ever read twice. Admired it more on the second reading.
I must admit I first read it (a half-century or so ago) partly through curiosity, because I had a co-worker who really hated it, and I wanted to see if it could be as bad he said. ("A complete waste of time.") It wasnʻt. But if I had gone into it as a "great classic", I would probably have been disappointed. Itʻs the kind of a book of which I would have to have a copy in hand, if I were going to tell you what is good about it. That is, the individual passages are great --sometimes just sentences or parts of sentences. Trying to say what is great about it, overall, would be hard.
I remember a highly regarded film of the 1980s, "Apocalypse Now", which is said to be based on it, so it must have impressed the screenwriter of that. (The character of Conradʻs colonialist Mr. Kurtz was updated to a semi-independent U.S. militarist of the 1970s, played by Marlon Brando.)
Due to vast amounts of time spent on the train last weekend I read the following;
Neuromancer by William Gibson
One flew over the Cuckoo's nest by Ken Kesey
Lady Chatterley's Lover by Lawrence
A Picture of Dorian Gray by Wilde
It was a bit of a random mixture I agree! I think I enjoyed all of them... I think my favourite was the Ken Kesey - it is just such an odd mix of the Chief's psychoses, the growing relationships of the men and so many other things.
The Wilde I'd been meaning to read for some time and I did enjoy a lot - the first half was excellent and I loved his writing, however I found the listing in the second half a little bit tedious.
Neuromancer... awesome! The root of so many things that I have read and seen that at times it felt derivative, when actually it was where they had all come from.
And Lady Chatterley's lover.... well that's quite naughty. Nuff said really. I found the first half hard work and the second half quite pleasingly naughty.
#20 I agree that I'm probably going to have to go back to this at some point... I also agree that certain phrases are excellent - it's just the overall feeling that left me cold I think. Though saying that Apocalypse Now I thought was un-brilliant as well, so maybe it's just me...
Brideshead Revisited - what can I say? Just inspiring me to go and read lots more Waugh. I really enjoyed this - I relate far more to Ryder re Catholicism (I'm sure I spelt that wrong) though his final prayer and the attached implications are to me the marring note of the novel.
Reading lots more Waugh is always a good idea. More people should do it. Including me, I think. (BR is my favorite, though)
I also loved Brideshead Revisited. The prose is magnificent....and he is very funny.
Silas Marner - starts out so amazingly depressing... and ends in quite a lovely place. Made me smile anyway, but then I always am a sap for a happy ending.
Summer - Edith Wharton
I so love Edith Wharton.... I am fast becoming addicted to her work. It just has that big dollop of humanity in that makes it so very appealing.
House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
Give me more, more more! Though the end of this wasn't surprising -that may have been just me, but I loved it and found it v v sad.
I decided to go for a couple of shorties:
Siddhartha - at the start of this I was really not getting it. I just thought it was going to be a dull wade through it kinda book. It's so not - I'd highly suggest it to anyone who's in a philosophical mood, or if you're feeling sad at all. The peace and beauty of the later sections is wonderful.
A Modest Proposal by Swift - bravo! It is very short - it is in fact just an essay rather than a novel. And it's great - for once I find his satire entertaining rather than .... I don't know. I've read Gullievr's Travels and just felt let down, and I keep trying Tale of a Tub to no avail. This (maybe due to its brevity) was delicious.
The Fall of the House of Usher - entertaining, gothic, poetic and short.
What more can you want to fill your time between reviewing securitisation transactional documentation!
I LOVE The Fall of the House of Usher. I wrote a paper in college about how Poe uses literary elements to psychologically manipulate readers into being creeped out. The research for that paper was super fascinating. Poe was a weirdy.
Her short stories that I've read were amazing so maybe I should hunt down a collection of those.
Another shortie The Purloined Letter and yet another Edith Wharton The Glimpses of the Moon.
Loved the Edith Wharton - for once a happy ending.... kinda. I won't ruin it more! Either way it's all about marriage and I think maybe should only be read if you're in a happy marriage/relationship. Not sure it would go down well otherwise!
The Poe... it was over before I felt it had even gotten started. I had to go back over it again to try and understand why and what the whole point of it is... I think a second reading did it though! I now really want to go dig out the other ones with the detective and read those. There's something very addictive about Poe that I'm discovering at the moment.
Veronika decides to die - Paulo Coelho
The Outsider - Albert Camus
Highly recommend both of these - I've been feeling very philosophical lately and each of these has its own take on the way we think and feel about things - and indeed about how society dictates that we should think and feel about things.
The Scarlet Letter - Hawthorne
Honestly just don't do it. All I can say is that if I wasn't so determined to give this 1001 (or 1281 or whatever it is now) a good shot I would have thrown this out the window 2 pages in. And miraculously? It doesn't get any better. No, no no, no, no!
Note on #38:
Most English language editions of Camusʻs LʻEtranger> The Outsider give the title as The Stranger.
Not sure if "The Outsider" title was trying to give a different nuance of meaning. LʻEtranger literally means the Foreigner or The Stranger, and of course the character was NOT, from the French point of view. a foreigner; perhaps an ironic title.
Or "The Outsider" may have been just a ploy to fool us into thinking there was a brand new Camus title. I notice that Touchstones knows it as a Colin Wilson rather than a Camus title.
#40 Oops - Touchstone now fixed - thanks I totally didn't notice.
Re the title - I know it's a bit strange since it is less frequently titled the Outsider but apparently it is just an alternate title. I've been reading heavily from the 1001 to read before you die and it's called The Outsider in there so I didn't really think anything of it. It it interesting to think how the different title might give a different angle on the novel as a whole but I think it's just a remarkably pliant word - étranger can mean: foreign, unknown, extraneous, outsider, stranger, alien, unconnected, and irrelevant. I think you could use any of these - they all fit well with the text.
I'm really not in love with McEwan. Sigh. It's easy reading but has more to it than usual easy reading, yet I constantly fail to be blown away by his novels.
I did like the end of this though... I won't spoil it for anyone, though it is fairly obvious where it's heading from halfway through. What exactly happens though is quite startling.
Suddenly realised I have a massive typo in my thread title.... mortified right now. If anyone chances to read this, do you know how to change it?
Coming up for Air - Orwell. I really enjoyed this. I totally agree with one review I read that said that you can see the ideas of Animal Farm and 1984 in this novel. It is completely different and yet the basis is there. I was also surprised how much this had the same feel as Lewis' Babbitt (touchstone not working) or Main Street. That feeling of the middle aged man trapped in the suburbs and wanting to escape back to a simpler existence is very much the theme of both Coming up for Air and Babbitt.
Anyway, it's good - sometimes amusing, sometimes poignant. Rather touching.
Kidnapped - Stevenson. I think I may have left this one a little late in life. It's supposed to be a rolicking advenure - plus of course a political commentary, but I found it just a wee bit tiresome. I did enjoy it but it seemed to take a lot longer than a small book should and I just found the narrator rather annoying - plus I would have punched Alan Breck in the nose.
Bekka, I wouldn't have noticed the typo in your thread title if you hadn't pointed out, but as to fixing it... I don't think you can. I once called a thread Jennifer's TNR Challenge instead of TBR Challenge. Quite the opposite meaning, to not read/to be read. I hope a more computer literate LTer knows a way to fix typos in headings, as I'd really like to correct my mistake too.
I am moving Coming up for Air further to the top of my tbr pile. I've had the book for years (decades even) and haven't got round to reading it yet.
Finally getting round to doing some reviews
The God of Small Things
I first started reading this novel about 2 years ago, not long after my daughter was born. She, FYI, did not sleep well at all and, at the time, I could not read more than a few pages at a time. I really really struggled and disliked it. So I left it.
Then as part of my ‘determined to finish in 2010’ I picked it up again. And what a revelation. What I had been too sleep deprived to previously notice was the sheer beauty of the novel. I normally do enjoy a good non-linear text and I think this is one of the best I have read – it feels like echoes of the past forever bouncing back and forth. I know that a lot of reviews note the lyrical nature of the novel and I do just have to totally agree. In many places it reads more like poetry than fiction.
It is also a wonderfully intricate storyline – the interweaving of the plot lines is very neatly done and despite reading from very early on that the main characters lives are changed by the death of their cousin, it builds and builds the suspense as you try and work out how she dies and why it changes everything so much. When you finally reach the conclusion – the climax (in all senses of the word) you realise how tragic the chain of events is and how much it destroys the twin children at its core.
Altogether an amazing piece of writing, political, humanitarian, humorous at times, poetically beautiful and deeply enthralling. Five stars from me and if you haven’t read it, go do so immediately.
How many of us have not at some point hurt the person we love by being a bit ashamed of them? It’s an altogether human thing to do, but this novel takes it to the next level. The protagonist ends up betraying both his fiancée and his lover through his inability to face his own choices. He feels completely trapped by the passion that he finds with Giovanni. Giovanni’s room becomes a (in some ways metaphorical, in some ways not) cage for him, representing his own feeling that what he is doing is sordid and wrong.
An exceedingly interesting and yet disturbing short novel – it makes you looks at yourself and your opinions and leaves you trying to work out exactly what you feel for those you love.
Of Human Bondage - Maugham
Just totting up - that makes 167 out the combined 1001 (06) and (08) which I think is somewhere around 1280... not so good. Ah well - it keeps me out of mischief!
Bonjour Tristesse - Sagan
More reviews to follow (either here or on my 75 thread) just trying to percolate the last few...
Oroonoko - Aphra Behn
That's just a nasty ended little story! I don't know that I have much more than that to say about it. Call me crazy but I have problems having sympathy for a man taken as a slave when he has been selling his fellow men into slavery. I know that the men he has been selling were taken in battle therefore he saw it as honorable, however it really rather pushed my buttons. There was a sense of his entitlement that I just did not get - plus I frankly dislike novels where the wife voluntarily dies to follow her husband (and in this case when pregnant).
But all that aside this is a fluid narrative and an entertaining if upsetting read.
Castle Rackrent - Edgeworth.
She's just not my favourite. I know this has it's place, it's just not in my library.
The Crow Road - Banks.
My very first Banks. And all I can say is... brilliant, jsut absolutely brilliant. Once again, full review to follow. You can tell the novels that are getting to me lately since I totally cannot comment on them straight away - reviews for The Crow Road, Bonjour Tristesse and Of Human Bondage to follow soon!
Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Amazing - utterly brilliant! See my 75 thread for a fuller review.
Rameau's Nephew - Diderot
Parts of this are really fascinating and deserve a second look. Parts are very annoying and mind numbing...
Camilla - Fanny Burney
Woo hoo! I finally finished it! So 982 pages of... soap. It's a soap. And not a good one either. But in the same way that soaps keep you hooked I found myself drawn to it and I HAD to find out what happened. Despite wanting to punch every single character in the nose at some point.
Sigh. In some ways I sort of liked it - and despise myself for that. In most ways I just despised it.
The Trial is not a book to be enjoyed, but a book whose truths are to be taken inside your heart. So when at some point you come across some faceless bureaucracy whose actions follow no understandable logic you can go "this is just like Kafka!" :)
Pretty much my work then - capital markets administration! :) Well maybe not my work per se (though some of the transactions I administer have NO foreseable reason to them) but definitely some of the lawyers I work with.
I just felt that the whole 'truth' of it was so vastly overdone. Just made me angry.
Hideous Kinky - Esther Freud
Really enjoyed this - full review on my 2010/75 thread.
The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole
Just another little quicky read because Tristram Shandy is making me go a bit crazy. This is... well it's entertaining I guess. Really not sure why it's on the list - there is not a lot to it.
Ah ha. Just googled it - apparently it is widely considered the first gothic novel, which would explain it's presence.
It's definitely a gothic novel and I do generally enjoy them. I mean I did enjoy this but not as much as I usually do - it is rather light for my gothic tastes! It also kept making me laugh which I don't think was the intention - at several points a giant foot is haunting the castle...
Still it takes me one step closer to hitting my 200 1,001 books read by the ned of the year. This one takes me up to 182.
Tristram Shandy - Sterne
This book has been my nemesis for years... finally finished it. Still loathed it at the last page though.
But what are your opinionated opinions of these last ones? The public wants to know.
I have been rather less opinionated of late haven't I... I've been posrting my review on my 75 thread not on here. Will make sure I bring some over...
The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides
I didn't expect to like this... but actually this was awfully good. Eugenides writing is amazing, his style (for my tastes), virtually faultless. Lyrical, evocative and devoured in less than 4 hours on a train up the UK!
Don’t Move - Margaret Mazzantini
Despite this being a 1,001 book, it is definitely not something I would have picked up off my own bat. However a friend picked this as our monthly book group book so out I went to buy and read.
Warning – this is not a book for the faint hearted. It is exceedingly graphic and exceedingly disturbing.
The narrator is Timoteo, a successful surgeon. He is married to a beautiful journalist, Elsa and has a 15 year old daughter Angela. The novel starts with Angela being rushed into hospital after running a red light on her moped with her helmet not done up properly. And believe me, the A&E/surgery scenes are very vivid.
But whilst Timoteo waits for the surgery to be completed he begins to tell his daughter about things that have happened in his past – and we are swallowed up in the tangled web of his younger life. The degradation and pain that leads him to a place he never expected to end up – and the horror and joy that accompany it.
The language is amazing – it’s a translation from Italian and is really wonderful in places. One line that I loved (not for it’s grace/beauty just because it’s so true)was on the narrator’s first view of his child “She was so ugly. She was so beautiful.”. Such a true view of newborns!
Anyway, this definitely grew on me. At the beginning I felt that this was going to be a big struggle to finish – in particular due to an early on description of rape that I found really disturbing. But by the end you are involved in his life, you are captivated, because you know where it ends up. You know that 15 years down the line he is with his daughter in the hospital waiting for his wife to get off the plane and join them there. You know that everything he is struggling with and for and towards is never going to end well and it breaks you heart a little.
Final verdict? Not the sort of thing I would usually read and most definitely not for everyone, but a very good book, deserving it’s place on the 1,001 list.
The Riddle of the Sands - Erskine Childers
This was an up and down book for me. Parts I thought were great. Parts dragged and dragged and dragged. Basically this is a spy thriller - but written in 1903 it isn't quite what we would now call thrilling. If you have no interest in the sea/boats then probably best to avoid this one.
Luckily I love the sea so parts of this really spoke to me. I also liked the early bursting of the narrators bubble when he turns up in response to a vgaue telegram from a friend (ish) from college to go 'yachting'. The yacht in question is not exactly his cup of tea - and the holiday is not exactly what it seems...
Anyway, kind of a ripping yarn, kind of not.
The Garden Party - Katherine Mansfield
I read this as a 1,001 - and since I was reading it online, didn't realise it was a short story till I finished the first story started the second and then had to go google it to work out whether I'd really missed something.
Anyway, the 1,001 entry seems to be purely for the short story itself, which is actually rather good in a very short way. I'm just not sure how much I can really say about it. More may come to me...
The Professor’s House - Willa Cather
This was a random online download that I picked up because it was a 1,001 novel. And I was so pleasantly surprised! This novel is, both in language and storyline, deceptively simple. But I found that it really touched me – the relationship of the Professor and his family, the discussion of life and death and really of what we make of our lives.
The novel is made up of three parts – two narratives concerning the Professor, bracketing the tale of Tom Outland, the Professor’s ex-pupil and friend. Outland’s tale is interesting, exquisite and heartbreaking, but I found I preferred the Professor – the sadness that was apparent in his life. Having received publishing success for his life’s work – a series of 10 books on the Spanish Adventurers, he builds a new house for his wife. But he finds that moving away from the old one where he has been so happy, so productive and so much himself is almost more than he can bear.
Outland’s death in the Second World War weighs equally heavily upon him – Outland having discovered a gas, the patent for which he leaves to his fiancée, the Professor’s elder daughter. This produces a large amount of money – money is a major theme in this novel. And seems to be the source of the most pain.
Anyway, I’d really recommend this – it touches you more than you realise.
The Death of Ivan Ilych - Leo Tolstoy
I found this online after reading the review on Deern's thread. She warned us that this was distressing.
She was so so right. This is very short - it's a short story really, but it is exceedingly disturbing. It charts the descent into illness and eventual death of Ivan Ilych, who previously had been a middle ranking magistrate. His fear of death and his pain as he gets sicker and sicker and all very simply drawn, but with a clarity that makes them rather upsetting. Towards the end Ivan starts to believe that perhaps he did not live his life right and that he is being punished - the second guessing of his whole life's path and purpose breaking him down still further.
The final lines leave you with a light and a sense of rest and peace, but personally I still felt I could hear him screaming beind it all.
Maybe something more positive now...
Cry the Beloved Country - Alan Paton
Loved it! More to follow when I have time...
The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford
A friend has been trying to pursuade me to read this for ages - and she was right, it is great.
At first I was really rather bored by it... but if you stick with it, especially once they are grown up and out in the world, it pays off. It is funny but often touching at the same time. And the end... didn't see it coming...
Thank You, Jeeves - P.G Wodehouse.
I've had this out the library for ages wanting a nice easy (yet still 1,001) read. And though it's not really my normal cup of tea, it is wonderfully relaxing - and by the end I loved it. The relationship between Jeeves and Wooster is jsut really special.
Bekkajo, thanks for your opinionated opinions. I really appreciate someone who indicates whether or not they like a particular book. I wish more of our group participated in commenting rather than just keeping score. Thanks again.
Ta George - I'll admit I'd slipped to just keeping score when someone noted I'd been less opinionated of late (the fruits of also posting on the 75 thread) so I've been trying harder.
Some 'they're just brilliant' opinions...
The Hound of the Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle
All Quiet on the Western Front - Remarque
And one full on rant...
The Plague - Camus
I finally finished this! I feel this needs a cheer. It's taken me so very long - for a book that's only about 240 pages long it felt at least a thousand. I really enjoyed The Outsider when I read it earlier this year but this I loathed. I can see that it is important and that it is a moving portrayal of people/comunities acceptance of horror and mechanism for coping with pain - and a wonderful allegory of the occupation of France etc etc etc. Screw it - I still hated pretty much all of it. It could have been the wrong time to read it, but I am definitely giving myself 10-15 years before I even consider trying it again.
Bekka Jo, I am enjoying this conversation thread. I just finished Never Let Me Go and enjoyed it although it did not touch me quite as much as it did you. Do you plan to see the movie? Willa Cather is wonderful and I enjoyed your review. I heard a Cather excerpt but haven't yet tracked the title. It compared the process of dying to picking a lock (on a door that frees you from life or passes into the next, I suppose). Do you by chance recall something like that from The Professor's House?
#90 there is an excellent use of symbolic death in Crome Yellow. While it involves the process of returning home from a vacation, your post of asking about doors and picking locks reminded me of it.
Sorry for being awol - nbsp I don't remember an excerpt like that from Prof's House, but I could easily have missed it (I read this at work - naughty me!). I've just googled some of the key words along with Willa Cather and got nothing either... interesting. I like the anaology though!
#93 Thanks, BekkaJo, for trying to remember. I actually scanned a copy at a bookstore and couldn't find it either so you've helped me confirm that Professor's House is not the Cather work that I'm wanting.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Whilst I really enjoyed Hound of the Baskervilles last month, this was even better - loved it! It's 12 short stories and all are excellent. I just heartily enjoyed trying to get to the answer before Sherlock - I definitely didn't manage very often (some of them are really obscure)! This is totally timeless and I'd recomend it to anyone who hasn't read it yet.
I agree, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a good book. I'm wondering, though, is there more than one version of this book? I have a book called the same thing, but it has 24 short stories instead of 12. Do both count for the 1001 list, or does the list call for a specific version?
The 1,001 one is the Adventures which is the first 12 - I think the 2nd 12 are in the Casebook of Sherlock Holmes. Sounds like you have a combined edition - for which I am quite jealous at the moment :)
*trundles off to download the Casebook onto her e-reader*
It seems to be pretty common that different collections, selections, etc. are given the same name as the original Sherlock Holmes collections published in Arthur Conan Doyle's lifetime. It's very confusing.
As for counting towards the 1001, I wouldn't be surprised if your book actually contained the same 12 stories, and in that case I'd definitely count it. It isn't hard to find webpages that lists the stories that make up each book if you want to check. If your book only contains a few of the original 12, well, then it's up to you, but since you seem to like the stories, I'd recommend you to hunt down an edition with the remaining ones.
The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
Another 1,001 off the list - and this totally deserves it's place. I don't want to explain too much of it becuase it would be far too easy to give things away. Instead I will say that I LOVE his writing, I really think he is a truly gifted author. His description is amazing. Add to that fact that his brain is genuinly weird - I mean this book is so strange, and you have a winning combination.
So basically, next time you fancy reading something that is brilliant, fairly short and completely out of box, grab a copy of this.
Thanks for the recommendation--this sounds like a winner. Will add to my TBR list.
The Wasp Factory is definitely a great and highly recommendable book. Banks himself admits that it's not exactly highly polished work where every word has been thought out carefully, but genuine weirdness without wilfully difficult style is a killer combination.
Been years since I have read it but there are several scenes which are, shall I say, memorable.
Bleak House - Charles Dickens
After being an on and off again book for far far too long, I finally got stuck in and finished this off. It completely reminded me why I love Dickens - he's just a great storyteller. As for his character, well yes, some are one dimensional characatures, but there are others that are amazingly drawn. For example I loathed the character of Skimpole, but I loathed him as I would a real person in a way that is probably excessive considering he is still a fictional character.
Plus being in close contact with a lot of lawyers (most of whom make me want to scream and tear my hair out) the portrayal and commentary on the legal system I thought were brilliant. Certainly this had far more impact on me than The Trial that I read last year and loathed.
It's a fairly well known story and I don't want to give away spoilers so I'm not going to go into the plot - all I will say is, if you like Dickens and haven't read this one? Go get it and enjoy.
I nominated The Wasp Factory in the Book Talk thread for the "most disturbing book you have ever read" as it was one of the strangest, most unputdownable, mesmerizing books I have ever read. I would never have discovered this book if it weren't for 1001 List. Another weird book from the 10001 List which stands out in my mind is Under the Skin by Michel Faber. Have you read that one?
I have Bleak House slotted in for my February read, and I fear it may take me all of February or longer to finish.
I haven't read Under the Skin - I do like weird ones, so onto the 2011 reading pile it goes :)
I'm reading Bleak House at the moment for a read-a-long that I'm hosting, I wish that we had read it in bigger chunks as I feel I may have enjoyed it more. I love the sections with Esther but get lost in all the legal talk. My next Dickens is going to be David Copperfield which I heard great things about from a friend who barely reads.
And Under the Skin is great, but very very weird, maybe more disturbing than The Wasp Factory.
Love in a Cold Climate - Nancy Mitford
I read In Pursuit of Love last year - finally giving in to a friends nagging. It was brilliant. I mean it's not the worlds best novel, but it was entertaining, witty, enjoyable and in places scathing. This is very much the same, though possibly even better! I love the fact that Mitford's novels don't really have a storyline - they just potter along until they end up somewhere completely different to that which you imagine. So two big thumbs up from me, and another knocked off my 1,001.
#105 This is where I can never help being naughty and carrying on reading (providing I'm enjoying it). I hope you enjoy David Copperfield too - I think it's my favourite Dickens so far.
The Spy who came in from the Cold - John Le Carre
I read this for my bookgroup - we picked it purely for a winter book (cold int he title and all) from the 1,001. It's not really my usual cup of tea - in fact I can say I ahven't really read anything similar before. At first I was rather underwhelmed, but as you start to get involved in the complexity and sheer cruelty of the whole situation - of that whole period in history, it becomes oddly compelling and disturbing.
I don't think of Mitford as being a book group kind of author, unless your group is interested in history. I think it's helpful if you know something about the real Mitford family when you read those books, or about the situation of the English upper class between the wars. Otherwise they must seem very odd--and I say this as a big Mitford fan.
I thought that The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West would make a great discussion book even though it's very short.
Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
I finished it! Yay me! This has been on my list since Uni when I started it and hated it. Never expected to fall in loved with it the second time around. Despite that it is a hard book to write about because it is so very individual. The narrator grows on you and becomes so enthralling and complex that you can't help but be captured by his world. In addition the narrative is so cyclical - sometimes it feels like Rushdie's world is revolving round you with this magnificent medley of smell and sensation.
I feel I need to say so much more about it, but I think it may have to cogitate a little longer!
The End of the Affair - Graham Greene
I read this for my bookgroup - I wasn't really sure what to expect from this, but found it very compelling. It is rather short and really quite easy to read - in that it is very well written. Warning - it is rather depressing. I'd still recommend it though :)
She - Rider Haggard
Finally finished the damn thing! Due to the baby etc it's taken me so so long to read this thing. And I think also due to baby it was the wrong time for me to read it. In places I quite enjoyed it but overall it just dragged on and on and on...
Still it's finally done and the denouement (don't think I spelled that right) was good/at least briefer than the rest. Plus it's another 1,001 down.
The Secret Magdalene followed closely by the author's other historical novel, Flow Down Like Silver are beyond uplifting. I could list so many books that take away some of the pain of ordinary living, that remind me that things aren't always terrible, there is joy in the world. But these two books remind me there is joy in existence. Very different distinction. I keep them close. And wait for the third I hope is coming soon.
2001: Space Odyssey - Arthur C Clarke
This was - well it was ok. Fine even. Just not sure it deserves a place on the 1,001 list.
The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett
Once again. OK - in fact fun and a very easy read. Again, not sure it's a 1,001 quality but still glad I read it.
Under the Skin - Michel Faber
After finishing Crimson Petal and the White I was johnsing for more Faber so I checked the 1,001 and found that this was his only novel to qualify. And it's a cracker! It's fairly short - about 250 pages and once you pick it up you wont put it down. But I warn you - it's not for the squemish because there are (as always in his work it seems) some very graphic sections. That's about all I can say about it without massive spoilers! The whole brilliance of this is the way that is unfolds slowly and you spend most of - if not all of, the novel going 'What the hell is going on!!!'. It's great.
Breakfast of Champions - Vonnegut
Well, I thought Under the Skin was going to be the oddest thing I read for a while... but this is so so weird! In a very different way though. It's very hard to give any sort of explanation of this novel - given that the 'creator' of the novel world wanders through and impacts it towards the end. I do love Vonnegut's names - one of the protagonists is called Kilgore Trout which is totally brilliant. Trout is an author of exceedingly weird sci-fi novels and every so often Vonnegut will wander off describing these stories.
Odd it may be, but it's the first book to make me laugh out loud in some time. And yet it has some moments which are so true - so pointed and poignant. Parody and critique of American culture it may be but it's much more a comment on humanity as a whole. Or, as Vonnegut said about it;
"This book is my fiftieth-birthday present to myself. I feel as though I am crossing the spine of a roof—having ascended one slope.
I am programmed at fifty to perform childishly—to insult “The Star-Spangled Banner,” to scrawl pictures of a Nazi flag and an asshole and a lot of other things with a felt-tipped pen. To give an idea of the maturity of my illustrations for this book, here is my picture of an asshole:
I think I am trying to clear my head of all the junk in there—the assholes, the flags, the underpants. Yes—there is a picture in this book of underpants. I’m throwing out characters from my other books, too. I’m not going to put on any more puppet shows."
Well, I'm off to see what the other Vonnegut's on the 1,001 are like...
It's been a while but I'm pretty sure Trout appears in Slaughterhouse-five too.
Cool - thank you. That'll be my next one then. There are 4 on the list and I've just downloaded the lot for my e-reader. The wonders of modern tech. :)
#222 The Story of Lucy Gault - William Trevor
Well. That was just heart breaking. It's intensely beautiful and amazingly written, but so truly sad. It is a story of mistkaes - and the changes that the little mistakes you make cause to the rest of your life. But not just to your life, how the mistakes ripple out and affect everyone you touch. I found this so painful in places because I kept expecting at least some sort of happy ending - whereas its more about acceptance and finding peace.
Sorry - once again a confused review, but again - more details would probably ruin it. Either way its a beatiful piece of work and well worth a read.
#223 Jude the Obscure - Hardy
I went into this knowing far too much about the storyline so, as usual, I wont comment on it too much. For me it almost spoilt the early sections since I was waiting for certain things to happen. However you do have to admire Hardy's handiwork. It's a brilliantly written novel that flows easily despite it's essential darkness. It's a commentary on social values and morals but in the opposite sense to many. It's more a comment on society trying to force you to be something you're not - and the fact that trying to be something you are not and do not believe in will hurt you.
Dark, painful and disturbing. And written to make you say, to hell with all you judging ba*tards, I will be what and who I want to be. And be happy with it.
I just wish, this many years after Jude was written, we could actually live by this.
#224 (though off the 2008 version) Chess Story Stefan Zweig
I'm pretty sure it was Cushla who recommended this - and may I just say, Thank you! It's so short but so compelling. The main section is the recounting of an austrian gentlemen's internment by the gestapo. Not in a prison camp, but in mind destroying solitary confinement. Chess (by means which I wont spoil) becomes both his saviour and his destroyer. I think this little novella is brilliant - it's very well written and you really feel the characters (most of them - there are a couple of one dimensional puppets - but come on its only 71 pages long).
Anyway I will definitely by reading his other 1,001 work Amok.
#225 The Kreutzer Sonata - Leo Tolstoy
I'm def reading far too many short ones. But in some ways this one is an interesting counterpoint to Chess story. Both are mainly the story of one character told to the narrator. Both are explorations - Chess of the mind, Kreutzer of the mind/society/marriage. Tolstoy explores a lot of themes in a few pages and I think his ideas do suffer somewhat from the brevity of the text. The novel is mostly a gentleman on a train telling another gentleman how he came to kill his wife. The whole novel becomes a condemnation of marriage - though whether this is Tolstoy's real opinion or not I'm not sure. His 'lesson of the Kreutzer Sonata' that appends it would make it seem so, but I'm not sure that that is not another assumed persona.
Whilst I am mostly completely opposite to his view point (I love being married) I can see that at the time this was written the sense of being trapped was far more complete. I think that you are supposed to take away the view that the teller (can't spell his surname) was far more in love with his wife than he thinks - he thinks he hates her but if he hated her then he would not have been so jealous or cared so much... I'm getting this out all confusedly. What I think I mean to say is that he thinks he hates her and thats why they hurt each other, whereas really they love each other - which is why a lot of married people hurt each other - 'You always hurt the one you love'.
Confusedly or not, I get what you are saying and agree. He has way too many feelings for her to just not care.
Thank you - that's the one - it's not just about tight shirts and curly hair...
#226 Death in Venice - Thomas Mann
Another 1,001 shorty - but boy what a shorty! It totally deserves it's nobel status. This is only 71 pages long but it has such a grace, such an elegant turn of phrase and such a subtle pace - you are traped before you realise. The plot is very brief and yet rather complex since it sees the main character, an elderly staid German writer transform from a judgemental observer to a man very much in love and desperate to interact before it's too late.
Compact but wonderful. Linguistically...well I I've use the word already - elegant.
Cool! I just bought a used copy of Death in Venice on the weekend. I might bump that one up the pile a bit.
Wow, such a positive take on Death in Venice. I read it while I was actually in Venice in the fall and simply hated it; but I can also see that what you say about it is true. Thanks for the perspective!
#227 Les Enfants Terribles - Jean Cocteau
Well that was just f'ing weird. Again its somewhat saved linguistically, but that just can't make up for the lack of anything truly substantial in the novel. Which I guess is in itself a point. The novel tells the story of a brother and sister in Paris in their late teens who both sleep in the same room and create their own world in that room. Elisabeth is nursing their dying mother and then Paul becomes ill - gradually they are trapped more and more in the room. Even when they move location they jsut recreate the 'Room'. Events supposedly spiral pulling two others into their world - I'm afraid I just found that they irritated me. Gradually through Elisabeth's selfishness the tale winds up to it's inevitable tragedy.
One of the reviews on the back read something like 'Despite the tragic ending the feeling one takes away is that of happiness'. For me that is totally untrue. Massive dislike for this book.
#228 Silk - Alessandro Baricco
I seem to be on a roll of beautifully written pieces. This is simply exquisite - it feels like reading poetry. Really good poetry.
The essence of the story is simple - the love of the unatainable and the too late realisation of the real love in ones life.
One line I tagged and have to share;
'His life was as rain before his eyes, a vision of peace.'
That's a beautiful quote... I've been keeping a blank book nearby when I'm reading lately, and writing down lines that strike me. Looking forward to reading Silk!
Amary, I've done the same thing for years. I now have two small note books full of quotes. I write the title, the author, the date I read it and the quote. It's very interesting to go back from time-to-time and read them. Some are wonderful.
#229 Moby Dick - Melville
FINALLY! Will do a proper review (or at least deliver a few irritated comments) once I finish doing the happy dance at finishing it.
#230 Tale of a Tub - Swift
Wow. Well that's a whole chunk of my life that I am never ever getting back. Hated this with a passion - I've made two or three stabs at it before, but this time I was determined to get it read and out of the way. I just could not get on with the style - nor with what Swift thinks of as parody/humour. Yukitty yuk.
One good line though;
"Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse."
#231 Chocky - John Wyndham
I just want to say - I love Wyndham. His writing is effortless and his imagination fascinating. Chocky is supposedly a children's story, but I think it appeals to all ages. It is a simple short tale of a boy who hears an alien. Sounds a bit out there but its written in such a way that it doesn't seem crazy or anything. His parents think that 'Chocky' is an imaginary friend, then as it progresses they begin to worry more and more about this influence on their son. This is disarming in its simplicity but makes a real comment on how our paranoia and fear can change events.
#232 Pamela or Virtue Rewarded - Samuel Richardson
Wow - I finished it! It was a bit touch and go there for a while. I started this back at uni - so about 8 years ago but only got 50 pages in this. This time I was determined to get past it - but my goodness she is a whiny narrator. I definitely enjoyed it more than my last attempt, but there is a section in the middle - once she has essentially reformed him and they are all lovey (sorry for the spoiler but I figured no-one else is going to bother reading it) that is utterly turgid.
So my comments on this? He's a git and she is an utter wet dish rag.
#233 The Jungle - Upton Sinclair
Amazing. Upsetting. Heartbreaking. Then a bit more upsetting.
Yup it's a painful read and then the end doesn't live up to the rest of the novel. I'm rather conflicted by it. But if you want to read something that makes you really feel - read this. At least the first 250 pages anyway!
#234 Princess of Cleves - Madame de La Fayette
If you cheat on your husband - even just by having slightly lusty thoughts about somene else (even though you remain completely virtuous throughout), your husband will find out and die of heartbreak. You will never be happy ever again.
My poor husband... may he rest in peace. I didn't realise that those lusty thoughts I had of Vin Diesel today would come back to haunt both of us. Good to know. :)
If you cheat on your husband - even just by having slightly lusty thoughts about somene else (even though you remain completely virtuous throughout), your husband will find out and die of heartbreak. You will never be happy ever again.
Drat! My husband seems just fine, but I haven't exactly hid my crush on Colin Firth from him. I guess that was wrong. But he has crushes on Drew Barrymore and Sandra Bullock (no comments on his taste, please). And I thought we were happy.
Great reviews. I have The Jungle lined up for this month but you've scared me.
Ta guys - and Nickelini The Jungle is brilliant - just don't read it if you are feeling in any way low or depressed. It will not help!
#235 The Sea - John Banville
I hated this when I started it - or rather, not hated but was bored by it. It did nothing for me. Yet as it progressed... by the end I was hooked and resentful that it finished.
It's the story of an elderly man who's wfie has recently died. He goes back to stay in the seaside town he used to summer in. His memories are in particular of one family and how they changed him. His present day is mixed with flashbacks to both his wife and to the Grace family.
Beatifully written - and, if somewhat of a slow burner, it will deifnitely touch you in the end.
#139 - That reminds me of my reaction to My Antonia. I'm intrigued and will put this on my wishlist.
ETA: Oops! It was already on my wishlist! I can't keep track!
#134 - Whiny is right! After a couple hundred pages of this, I was solidly on Mr. B's side, political correctness be damned. It was, nonetheless, a very influential novel and revolutionary in its having a lower class heroine. Clarissa is much better, though IMMENSELY longer and preachy towards the end.
#139 - The Sea is one of my favorites, though it helps to have a dictionary handy. It draws heavily from Lolita, as well as Poe's poem "Annabel Lee."
#141 - I recently put Clarissa onto my e-reader. Not sure what possessed me - it's 9 volumes! Not for a while I think.
Hmm - I've read Lolitat but not the Poe poem - will have to look it up.
#140 - I can't keep track of mine either. I keep adding things on my reader and yet still trying to chip away at the books piles around the house!
I find the sheer length of most pre-1800 books from the list terribly scary.
I just started Arabian Nights which has 123,000 'locations' on my Kindle. Don't know how this translates into pages, but I think the longest e-book I ever read had about 10,000 locations. And I saw that Clarissa holds rank #5 in the list of longest books on wikipedia - and that's with the first edition, which has later been "substantially increased".
My e-version is 9 books - at least 220 pages each. Sheesh...
My Arabian nights comes in at about 4 vols of 250 ish each. Also a bit of an ooof...
In word count Clarissa is almost double the length of War and Peace. I read the Penguin edition, which is 1534 pages of small print. It is of the first edition, which, as Deern says, was substantially increased in subsequent editions. The additions, more than 200 pages, were in response to theological hair-splitters who said the heroine wasn't righteous enough, nor the villain villainous enough, for the moral standards of the time.
The novel is in the form of letters, and takes place over the span of almost a year. It begins, I believe, in February and ends in November. As other readers have done, I read it over the course of a year by trying to read each letter as near as possible to the day of the year on which it was supposedly written.
#144 My Arabian nights seems to have 16 volumes and pages and pages of footnotes for each of them. At least I won't lose any real plot when I take a long break.
#145: So I should better try and get the first edition, should I ever get in the mood to read Clarissa. Those additions don't sound promising. And it's a great idea to read it over the year. Normally I hate epistolary novels, but that way it might work.
Just stopping in to say your thread is wonderful to read through - which I just did. Re: Arabian Nights, which edition did you download?
#145 Thanks Steven - you've actually just inspire dme to read Clarissa... though I will prob not be thanking you by next November!
#147 I have the Project Gutenberg - but I downloaded this as part of a whole file of about 500 1,001 novels. I suspect (further to Natalie's being 16 vols) that, as with my Ovid, it's only the first part of the book. This time I will check before I start though - on Ovid's Metamporphoses I didn't realise how long it was till I finished the first 7 books and realised there were another 9. Sigh.
Oh Hell. The touchstone comes up with books IX-XV. How many of them are there!
Huh....is there a place to download the whole file?
I just bought the 1001 book and will be happy to read many of the older titles on my Kindle, but I can see already that some have newer translations or even editions that will be preferable (to me). I imagine the edition you got was Burton's?
Apparently its the Payne version - love Gutenberg cos it also has this note at the beginning;
Editorial Note: Project Gutenberg also has the translation of this work by Richard F. Burton in 16 volumes
Mine is the Burton version. And something is obviously wrong with me... I just downloaded a combi-pack of Clarissa and Pamela. I am not planning to start any of them now, though. Clarissa's first letter is dated January 10th, so I have two more months to decide if I want to give it a try in 2012.
Oh, and both books together add up to 'only' 43,000 Kindle locations, so now I've got a rough idea of what I am in for with my "Arabian Nights".
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I'd like to add my book "Francis Drake in Nehalem Bay 1579, Setting the Historical Record Straight" www.fortnehalem.net
236 The Life and Death of Harriet Frean - May Sinclair
Tiny 1,001 story.
And what the hell? So confused. Not by the main text of the novel, which charts the life and death of Harriet Frean - born around 1880 she is raised for seemingly no real reason. She exists to be there for her parents and to think beautiful thoughts. But her moral superiority is founded on no real reason and ultimately slips away from her.
What confused me is the end of the novel. As she dies she slips back in her mind to her childhood cot and in a circular twist it is as if she never existed. That I get - it's just that one of the characters she's fallen out with looms over her in her last seconds and she says Mamma. Not quite twigging why.
Either way, bit disturbing. Interesting, very different style of writing. But a bit odd.
#237 Rasselas - Samuel Johnson
Philosophy in book form. Kinda. This really was a bit of a fail for me - it's the tale of a prince of Abissinia who is confined to a valley along with all the other heirs so that they don't threaten the Emporer's rule. They have all the amenities and luxury they could want but Rasselas is discontented and eventually manges to get out of the valley along with his friend Imlac (who has told him of the outside wordl) and his sister and his sisters hand maid.
No, hilarity does not ensue.
Essentially they wander roudn north africa being disappointed by life and humanity. It's all very true - and there are a couple of brilliant lines, but all in all Rasselas, and his sister in particular, just managed to irritate the hell out of me with their 'better than thou' attitudes.
Huh... hadn't realised it annoyed me until I sat and wrote about it! Ah well... another 1,001 down.
#238 Candide - Voltaire
Okay, so vol 1 started off filled with humour and commentary. Good fun. Gradually beats out your will to live as his life turns to hell. Which is of course what Voltaire was after. And the end of Vol 1 leaves you with a sense of melancholy and hope. I thought it was a good ending.
Then there's Vol 2. Totally not needed. Grind him down more and more - over and over. Then finally (spoiler) he ends up happy and says its all worth it. But doesn't that completely contradict the whole of Voltaire's commentary that life and people are evil? Huh?
Anyway - book 1, good. Book 2, rubbish.
Aghhhh....somehow I've got turned around - my spreadsheet says I'm on 240.
This is reaching back a ways (back to June) but wow, Breakfast of Champions was your first Vonnegut book? I don't know how I would have felt about it... it's very much a cross-reference of tons of characters throughout his books. Kilgore Trout is in Slaughterhouse-Five and Galapagos, too, for example...
I'm glad you enjoyed it, though - the more Vonnegut people read, the better :) His is a voice that'll be missed...
I'm looking forward to Slaughterhouse-Five in 2012 to be honest - and morwe Trout :)
The Inferno - Henri Barbusse
What an amazing way to start the year! This is a simple story and really quite short - the premise is that the narrator is staying in a lodging house and discovers a gap between his room and the next through which he can watch what happens in there.
What he sees and hears reveals a number of truths about himself, the world, humanity. The quote in my comment above is one of my favourites but there are any number of brilliant lines in this. Yes, parts of it are a little over done - but then it is always a thin line to walk when discussing these subjects. All in all I loved it - a 5 star read to start 2012 on an amazing note.
The Devil and Miss Prym - Paulo Coelho
Well this continues my unintentional reading that delves into the good/evil/humanity of man. It's a bit hard to precis this one. A stranger arrives in a small dying mountain town and uses them as an experiment into the evil of man. A slender read and, as always, I enjoyed Coelho's style of writing. It was also a fascinating exploration of human nature - oh and I liked how Coelho's angels and devils really existed.
But I was somewhat let down by the ending - and unfortunately it felt a little shallow in comparison to the Barbusse I just finished.
Still - 4 stars at least.
#160 -- I read his Under Fire this year and also thought it was masterful. I didn't even realize that there was another book by him on the list. Will definitely read!
Surfacing - Margaret Atwood
I officially need to go back and read this again. When I started it I hated it - mainly because it was my 'bag' book. Which means I only got to read about 8 pages maybe 2 days a week. Slow going and it did not lend itself to this book.
Then I got into it. And got hooked - and the book got a lot weirder, which I of course enjoy. The premise seems fairly simple - a nameless female narrator goes back from the city where she is living to the small Canadian village she grew up in to look for her father has gone missing. Of necessity she takes her married friends and her boyfriend (she needs the lift). Gradually Atwood peels back layer upon layer of truth - or rather the lies get peeled away, leaving some rather unpalatable truths.
It's a thin book with a big lot of themes in there - the imposition of the city on the country, America's impact on Canada, family and relationships, the lies we tell ourselves... hell there are loads more but I've falled for the book now and I could probably go on a while. It's only 180 pages - go read it yourselves :)
Wild Swans - Jung Chang
I think I may have started this in 2010. But it's such a big book it's lived in the bathroom and been read in tiny bites. Tiny appreciative bites, don't get me wrong. This is a wonderful book - and more its an important book. Thenovel covers a century of chinese history - the pain and persecution. It's one of those subjects that your know vaguely about but not really any specifics. This book is all about the specifics - about what the people really went through. There are a lot of things in life you can only imagine and can't really understand unless you've been through and everything that her family went through is one of those things. But I think, oddly enough, the thing that I empathised with most was the lack of literature, the embracing of ignorance under Mao's reign. That was more accessible to me than the physical suffering which had an abstract horror.
Anyway I'm waffling. This year is a good book year so far - I honestly believe that everyone should read this. The language is beautiful, the subject painful and the narrator brilliant. Big thumbs up.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Thompson
Huh. So everyone knows the plot right? Lots of drugs + vegas + narrator and attorney = madness. And I'll admit the first few pages did make me laugh out loud with the sheer insanity of the amount of drugs they had with them. But after a while, much as their high-jinks were still somewhat amusing, I realised that this is probably not the book for me. I have a serious aversion to drug culture/drug abuse due to some past family issues and a few things in this just made me rather upset.
But that's probably more my issue than the books - it did mean that I might have missed the imbedded philosophy of the novel (was there some) and read it rather like one would watch The Hangover, rather than how one would watch the actual Fear and Loathing film. Not sure that makes any sense.
Wild Swans is on my to read list this year too. For some reason I find it daunting, but I haven't actually cracked it open yet. Your words encourage me.
I loved Wild Swans and thoroughly agree with your review. I tell everyone who's a serious reader to pick it up. It taught me more about Chinese history than I think I ever knew, and I was astounded by some of the things they were led to believe (i.e. "American children are starving, so clean your plate!"). Reading this book gave me a reference point for recent Chinese developments and a far better understanding of life in a communist nation.
Henderson the Rain King - Saul Bellow
My first Bellow - and what a one. It's the most amazing mix of complete insanity and emotional turmoil. In synopsis the main character, Henderson, flees his life in the US, flees his second wife, his kids, his money (he has a lot) and his pigs and ends up wandering around Africa. He feels he has what I belive a lot of us have - which is a small voice inside saying I want, I want, I want. He is searching to find an answer, searching to find some sort of resolution to the questions of his life.
It took me a long time to read this - not sure why, but it was like taking little sips. Great sips, but a bit rich and heady to have too much at once. This book is still sinking in but I'm pretty sure that my overall answer will be that I, eventually, decide I love this novel.
Decline and Fall - Evelyn Waugh
Need I say anything about this? Waugh at his best - brilliant, hilarious and creating irresistible characters . Excellent.
The Iron Heel - Jack London
Meh. I generally enjoy a good dystopian novel as much as the next slightly odd geek. But this just left me cold for some reason - I don't know if it was the first person narrator that irked me or that it had a little too much 'anything for the cause' for my tastes.
Just a bit depressing.
Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters
I just want to go straight out and get more Sarah Waters - this was brilliant. Her writing is so vivid - the exuberance, the life, the colour of her writing is just enthralling. Her characters are very human - messy and flawed like all of us.
If you've missed this novel (and here I go with the spoilers), its the story of a girl from Whitstable, born to a family of oyster sellers. She falls in love with a girl who she sees on stage at a dance hall and her story spans the next 7 years or so - sees her pass through so many stages and changes to eventually become completely comfortable in her own sexuality and her own self.
I'm enjoying your reviews. With only a couple of exceptions, you're reading the ones I haven't gotten to yet. I've been eager to try Sarah Waters, but haven't managed to get around to her yet.
They've taken both Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet off the 2010 version which is annoying - though I'm working off the 1,294 combo anyway. Still she's worth a read - very easy reads. Fingersmith is the better one though, for me anyway.
Metamorphoses - Ovid
Well finally! This has honestly taken me about a year to finish. I know, I know - classic and essential literature. I do not disagree - the stories are amazing and, as Ovid himself notes in the last tale, his words have truly lived on and passed down the generations.
But. And it is a big but, the translation I read is the 1899 Riley version 'literaly translated with notes and explanations'.
Copious explanations. So whilst I loved reading the tales, many of which I was familiar with, in their original form, I found the translation exceedingly hard work. I would love to read this again but to find a better/more modern translation which would allow me to enjoy this more.
Extra little cheer - this is book 250 for me of the 1,001 to read before you die.
The translation of Metamorphoses I read was by A. D. Melville in an Oxford World's Classics edition. It was in verse but still highly readable and very entertaining. There were lots of footnotes but it wasn't necessary to keep referring to them as they were chiefly background material.
Congratulations on 250!
Thank you both.
Re the translation, mine was immense! I figure halfway I'd made the wrong translation choice but was kinda invested :/
Congratulations - you made it!! :-)
and what a worthy milestone for the #250 it is!
251 Autumn of the Patriarch - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This was a major major struggle to get through. Marquez seemes to have decided to throw out the grammar book and just go without. I enjoy experimental literature but this was excessive and far too much like hard work.
Basically it's the story of the decaying president - it starts with his death then works back to it through the book. Some of the insanity that he accidentally casues is hilarious - till it inevitably ends in tragedy. For example his government rigged a lottery and two children pulled the cards - but they of course were told what was going on. After the lottery they couldn't be sent home in case they told, so they were imprisoned. And this happened time after time - by the time the PResident fo9udn out there were thousands of children in jail - so he sends them off on a boat. Which goes round the worl a few times then 'accidentally' sinks. It's a completely mad book by the way...
I enjoyed the final pages which basically said that whilst eveyone in his country and indeed the world were exactly sure who he was and what he was, he himself had no idea and was totally lost.
252 The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz
This is a really hard book to comment on - at least to give any sort of cohesive review (not that mine normally are anyway) simply because of the fragmented nature of the novel. It skips in time through the history of Oscar, his older sister Lola, his mother and his Grandfather. And his friend for a bit. It's an amazing look at the impact of the dictator upon society (goes well with Autumn of the Patriarch that I read earlier in the year) and how the things that happened 60 years ago still haunt modern characters.
You have to love Oscar - he's just so utterly clueless and sad. Plus all the geeky references are things that I have, at one time or another, indulged in. Or at least if I haven't my hubby has. In some ways the book is a brilliant celebration of geekiness.
Anyway, if you haven't read it, I would really recommend it - it really is well, well worth it.
Oh and fact fans, this is in the 2010 onwards, so outside my usual core 2006 edition.
253 Hunger - Knut Hamsun
Another fairly short 1,001 down. This was weird - basically it's a few weeks in the life of a man sinking into severe poverty and starvation. He's a writer who cannot write because he is, for the most part, starving to death and trying to remain a good person through it.
This is painful in places and almost funny in others. Not a hard read, but for some reason it didn't touch me as much as I feel it should have done.
Thanks for the write-up on Oscar. This one is beside my bed waiting to provide me relief from The Mysteries of Udolpho and it sounds as if it will serve that function admirably!
Play it as it lays - Joan Didion
Sincerely upsetting read. I picked this up at the suggestion of the 'what are you reading in April' 1,001 thread - a short easy 1,001. Short yes. Easy no. It basically tracks (in a pretty non linear fashion) the breakdown of a minor actress/model who married her producer. It's a painful commentary on the debauched play set life of 1970 America - the boredom and the drugs/alcohol that never makes anything better. You start with her in an asylum so you kinda know where you are going, but it's all about the journey - and you never get all the facts, even at the end you are left going 'but...'.
Timing is everything for books though - I find this more and more as I get older. Maybe I just understand more of what the characters are going through than I used to. Unfortunately my reading of this coincided with my friend losing a baby and having to have a D+C - which the narrator in the novel undertakes when aborting a child. I'm totally pro-choice it just upset me because of the timing. Plus in the novel it is not her choice - she wants the child but daren't risk losing custody of her existing daughter. Horrible.
Anyway a compelling read and an exceedingly affecting read. I'd recommend it but pick your timing more wisely than I did.
255 Solaris - Stanislaw Lem
Right so I can see why this is a sci-fi classic but... oh just irritating! It's half a good sci-fi novel and half a made up physics text book. I didn't like physics at school - I do not seek for it in my fiction. Or at least not when it is in chunks so much in excess of the explanations required.
The actual story is quite interesting - it's about a group of scientists researching a planet they discovered many years ago with an 'ocean' of a reactive substance they cannot explain. It appears to be toying with them and creating 'visitors' out of the crews memories. People they loved/felt guilty about - anyone they had strong emotions about. Eventually this is solved - now I write it like that it sounds very dull and it's certainly a slim enough read. It tries really hard to pile on the emotion but I felt like the impact was dulled by the dryness of the intervening sections.
Maybe leave that one for the physicists...
< 255 I saw the movie years ago and didn't know it was a book, so I'm actually looking forward to reading that one eventually. Thanks for the heads up on the physics- not my favorite subject, either!
Um... I didn't delete my message... so LT is messing with me...
What I did say was that I saw the movie Solaris years ago and I didn't know it was a book at the time. I'm looking forward to reading it, though the idea of reading physics isn't so appealing. Thanks for the review!
I liked Burmese days. It is really good reference for this country.
The Colour Purple - Alice Walker
Well I'm not going to get around to doing the full review I intended - or typing out the quote I wanted to include. But this is a well known and amazing novel. Painful in places - particularly the beginning, but ultimately beautiful and joyful.
It's the story of Celie - the story of her life and her relationships with people, with God, with the world around her. Even for an agnostic like me the image of God that eventually comes out of the book is tempting - of an 'it' that is in everything, that makes everything beautiful and special. Well who amongst us doesn't wish that we could look at everything around us and really appreciate the beauty of life more that we do?
In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
One of the comments on the back of this is that it has not aged and is still as relevant today as when it was writen. That is so so true. This is an amazing read - in some ways so clinical and analytical, in others completely heartbreaking. It deals with the murder of a family (no spoiler really, this happens so early on) and the search for the killers - now as the reader you see the killers all the way through and learn about them, about the sort of people they are. And right up to the end it keeps you questioning about morality, humanity, parenting, phsycology and the death penalty...the list couls go on. Essentially I'm trying to get at that it makes you think.
The Player of Games - Iain Banks
Where are the other Culture novels...need more...
This is brilliant sci-fi - sci-fi that is not so much involved in the whole space battles etc but sci-fi that takes the space bit for granted - that is about the people and, in this case, the meeting of the hyperevolved human (?) Culture with the space going but comparatively primative Azad Empire. The meeting I refer to here is the inclusion of the Cultures best game player in the Empires 'Azad' game - the most complicated game ever, which determines who will become Emporer. But there are layers upon layers of reasons why the Culture want him to play and to the structure of the Empire itself. I'm getting all confused - it's a hard one to re-cap! It's absolutely brilliant anyway - and, as when I read his Crow Road and Wasp Factory I have to say that Banks writing is fantastic.
Clarissa - Samuel Richardson
Well... this has been a long time coming. And I even went off piste and finished it ahead of the epistolory timeline. But I am SO SO glad I did. In fact I'm so glad I read this - I know I've whinged and whined and bitched and moaned my way through it, but the sheer size and detail of it will mean it stays with me forever. And for all it's patches of never ending dreariness, the characters end up surprisingly real and you find yourself so involved in the story that the sudden end (the letters get much further apart in the second half of book 9) takes your breath away because all of a sudden it's all gone and done and finished.
Right. As per usual this isn't so much a review as a random brain dump. But a word of caution on this. You do need to be a bit dedicated to keep going and you do need ot put aside any personal agendas with religion etc. I thus sticker it 'Not for everyone' ;)
The Summer Book - Tove Jansson
The antithesis of Clarissa! A short but exquisitly written little book about a 6 year old called Sophia and her summer on a scandinavian island with her father and grandmother. Her father is always working and the various stories paint the most beautiful picture of the relationship between this imaginative little girl and her equally imaginative grandmother. There is a lot of Jansson's own experience in here - it shows so wonderfully in the description and wonderful relationship of the two.
Sophia also reminded me a LOT of my daughter which may be another reason I loved it so much - though if Cass shouted as much as apparently Sophia did she'd be in bed with no dinner :)
Anyway - wonderful read that will stay with me. I may revisit it in a few years when Cass turns 6. Highly recommended.
It's great to hear that The Summer Book is a good one. I'm going camping next week and that will be the first book I read.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - Le Carre
Wow that was a slow read! I read this for my book group and it took me far far longer than expected because I just couldn't get along with it. It is very dry and seriously slow for the first 200 pages. After that it picks up - but that's not really a resounding ratification of the novel is it?
It's an excessively british read that builds layer upon layer of the search for a mole within the british spy network. The main character Smiley is excellently drawn, I just felt the dryness in every word and found it repellant. Basically it was a bad post-Clarissa read - I have Smiley's People by Le Carre left on the 1,001 so hopefully that'll go better!
>192 I haven't read the book yet, but I saw the movie and thought it was the most boring spy movie ever. But even in the movie the character of Smiley stood out as the highlight, of course it didn't hurt that he was played by Gary Oldman : )
I'm reading Smiley's People right now- my first Le Carre- and it's not awful, but it's slow. I find myself not really knowing what's going on most of the time, hoping that it all comes together in the end.
#193 Must watch it soon - can't see him as my image of Smiley though!
#194 That sounds about right - so slow that you're not that sure that anything is happening. Then it suddenly takes you by surprise and does something!
#195 Exactly! And you hope that maybe this means the momentum has started and things will happen more frequently... but alas. No such luck.
Erewhon - Samuel Butler
Another 1,001 down is about the nicest thing I can say about this. It starts off all right, a fairly classic Victorian adventure where the young male narrator heads off into the wilderness from his job as a herder to investigate the unused land nearby. Eventually he finds some hidden people and finds their culture very different from his own. So far so good. Unfortunately the main section of the book is about the philosophy of Erewhon. Now I'm not adverse to some philosophy - but this is literally half the book. If not more - and it's a parody of Victoriana sone with a sledgehammer and no wit.
There is a long section called the 'Book of the Machines' that irritated me the most - it is essentially the extension of Darwinian theory to apply to machines. I thought this was pure parody - mostly fromt he way in which it was written - but having looked at some crit this morning, I found this:
"Butler developed the three chapters of Erewhon that make up "The Book of the Machines" from a number of articles that he had contributed to The Press, which had just begun publication in Christchurch, New Zealand, beginning with "Darwin among the Machines" (1863). Butler was the first to write about the possibility that machines might develop consciousness by Darwinian Selection. Many dismissed this as a joke; but, in his preface to the second edition, Butler wrote:
I regret that reviewers have in some cases been inclined to treat the chapters on Machines as an attempt to reduce Mr. Darwin's theory to an absurdity. Nothing could be further from my intention, and few things would be more distasteful to me than any attempt to laugh at Mr. Darwin...."
I still don't like it though.
The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammett
This was great fun - it has all the traditional trying to work out whodunnit fun, plus a great set of characters (really liked the protagonist which helps). It leaves a hell of a lot of loose ends though - so the last line is very appropriate;
"That may be," Nora said, "but it's all pretty unsatisfactory.
But a big thumbs up from me.
The Awakening - Kate Chopin
Beautifully written tale of a woman who realises how empty her life is - really liked it but not the ideal read when you are feeling low!
Eugenie Grandet - Honore de Balzac
Huh. That's a bit odd - I thought it would end in one place, some sort of great redemption of the pain that Eugenie goes through during her childhood as the only child of a rich miser. Not so much. I really need to read something with a happy ending...
The Collector - John Fowles
First up, I always love his writing - he is so wonderfully weird. I have read other reviews that felt this lacked depth but I really enjoyed it. Or rather it's not something that you enjoy but it has a sort of sick fascination about it - a 'can't-look-away' feeling. Basically the story of a socially messed up and ruined young man. Reclusive, a collector of butterflies, sexually repressed. He wins on the pools - and suddenly fantasy and reality meet in a very disturbing way.
I've not been so well (headache/sickness - I blame the kids for being disease vendors) and i started this at about 4 yesterday so it only took me 5-6 hours.
Hmmm... what's next?
Disgrace J M Coetzee
Well that wasn't the nice light read I was after was it! Don't quite know what possessed me to pick this up, but I'm glad I did. His writing is excellent and his characters sometimes too real - this has left me feeling really disturbed and I'm not quite sure why. May have to go away and cogitate this one some more...
Money - Martin Amis
This morning whilst snuggled in my warm bed next to my lovely teddy bear of a husband and listening to the pounding rain and howling wind outside I wrote the whole of this review out in my head. It was a good review too. Of course now I sit down to write it it is all completely gone. Poof!
Ok. So this had the most repugnant and repellant protagonist of anything I have ever read. It's written from the point of view of John Self a, pardon the pun, self made ad man in the late 70s/early 80s. He makes pornographic ads to sell luxury items and comes up with an idea for a violent film that gets taken up in the US. So the story is about trying to get this film together and his relatioships and... hell no it's not. It's about the tale within the tale. Martin Amis features heavily in his own book, it's about learning and growing... no, no it's not. It's about Money and porn and the speed of life and the frenzy and the alcoholic burn of it all.
But I digress. Essentially it reads like one long beat poem - there is a strong 'Howl' feel to it which gets wearing after a while.
Very conflicted about this one. Important I think.
There was admittedly some non-1,001 YA in between the two :)
I hope your weathers improved then - our seems to have cleared up for a bit (fingers crossed). I'd imagine you have more snow than rain at this time of year?
We get almost no snow. Just in the mountains. Our climate is very similar to England's. Vancouver is notorious for rain, rain, and more rain.
Ah - I empathise. We're supposedly 'the sunniest place in the british isles'. Sunniest place my arse.
Sunniest place my arse.
Ha ha ha! I'd still love to visit. One day.....
The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
What can I say - this is awesome! Love a good mystery and this is a brilliant one. The Moonstone is a huge Indian Diamond which an army officer steals whilst participating in a battle (simplifying somewhat here) and takes back to England. Brings him nothing but trouble and Indians trying to get it back. Long story short he eventually dies and leaves it to his niece (whose Mother he has fallen out with) as a birthday gift - so is it passing on trouble for the sake of it or is he trying to be nice?
Anyway it is most definitely passing on trouble and after the diamond is stolen the story is passed from narrator to narrator as one of the main protagonists endeavours to unravel the mystery.
Beautifully crafted and rally wonderful. Loved reading this - to the point where I read the last third (and it's not a short book) last night. I will own to being rather tired today though. :)
The French Lieutenant's Woman - John Fowles
Right well I though this was a love story. It really isn't a love story. It's more a discussion/analysis of the prohibative social conduct rules of the Victorians. And it is brilliant. So far I have sincerely enjoyed everything I have read by Fowles - and this is so so different. The main storyline is that of Charles engaged to the wealthy (but quite frankly irritatingly bland) Ernestina. After a chance meeting with the towns 'scarlet woman' a whole number of things that Charles has been trying to ignore come bubbling to the surface and he realises his deep disatisfaction with his intended marriage. Of course there is a lot more to it than that but that's the nutshell.
It is wonderfully written and the authors odd chapters here and there are excellent and so brilliantly strange!
#207 good to hear praise of Fowles, one of the LT groups are doing a Fowles in February challenge in which I'm hoping to tick off three of his novels.
#209 Enjoy! I can't wait to read some more of his work. Though the one I have out of the lib at the moment turns out to be a collection of his philosophy and is seriously odd (The Aristos). I requested it out of reserve stock - it had no blrub on the catalogue, and I didn't have the heart to ask the guy to take it back again.
Hard Times Charles Dickens
Right so finally a 1,001 done. And a great 1,001. The triumph of childhood imagination and emotion over the tyranny of graft and facts, though the actual result of the action was painful for all involved. Anyway, loved it - though Mr Sleary's lisp drove me batty trying to interpret what the hell he was saying!
The Red and the Black - Stendhal
I did a long review of this... usual sods law...got collared by child, lost review. In retrospect I now realise that I was basically writing a precis of the entire 1200 page novel for which quite frankly you'd be more accurate going to Wikipedia...
That aside and very much in brief, Julian Sorel is a wood cutters son in provincial France (it's set 1826-31). Hop out of kin he is slender, pale and interesting. And, in my opinion, a complete knob. He's read too many of the wrong sort of novels and naively believes in his honour above all else. Through dint of his prodigious memory (he has the whole bible memorised in latin) he gains a position as a tutor in the house of the local Mayor. Who has a very attractive wife... you can see where this is going? When that later blows up he ends up in a seminary and then as attache to a nobleman in Paris. Who has a very attractive daughter... once again you see where we are leading?
I just re-read that and I sound terribly sarcastic. But actually I really enjoyed this. The ending took a complete shift during the last 200 pages which I hadn't really expected. Plus this is very much an impression of the age and a discussion of the nature of French social structure.
And Julian kind of grows on you. He is so young at the beginning and so cold, but he gets so far only...nope, no spoilers... but a thumbs up from me.
I knew The Red and the Black was long (perhaps my reason for passing up reading it all these decades; Iʻve been doing serious reading for about 68 years), but I canʻt imagine a 1,200 page edition
(212, par. 2). (In fact, as I remember it, the Modern Library edition is an ordinary-size one, not one of their "Giants".)
I was thinking it doesnʻt compare, in length, with War and Peace or
Poor Fellow, my Country.
LOL - and you are correct. On investigation it appears that this is the length of my e-book (so about double the usual no. of page turns) since the formatting was squiffy. Apologies!
"this is the length of my e-book. . ." (214)
I have no experience with
e-booksʻ; but "double the number of page turns" interests me. Iʻm typing something now -- a translation of 3Sophocles plays, that runs into the hundreds of pages per play-- 40--80% more than I would expect, if it were in ordinary book form.
It's probably becasue it wasn't a 'proper' e-book - in that I downloaded the Gutenburg text and put it through in word format (my reader takes any format) . The word format 'squished' when I put it on the reader - one and a half lines for each normal line. Made it hellish to read at first but my eyes got used to it.
Are you doing the translation yourself? If so that's amazing!Though this is the point whe I find out you are a professor or similar ;)
At the Mountains of Madness - Lovecraft.
I wanted to love this. I really really did. It seemed like it should tick all the boxes for me. BUt not since Solaris last year have I been so frustrated and bored by a book. I get that this is supposed ot be a slow build up but come on! Maybe I'm jaded by modernity? Given a lot of the stuff I read and love I don't think this is the case.
At only 92 pages it's a very slender novel - but if you'd told me I'd waded through 920 pages I would not have been surprised. Big thumbs down from me and it'll be a long time before I touch any more Lovecraft.
Less than Zero - Brett Easton Ellis
I think it was annamorphic that told me this should come with a warning label. She was so so right. It's essentially a first person narrative of a spoilt rich uni student home for the Christmas break in LA. So you can't help but expect a lot of drugs and sex. I'm not great on drugs in my literature or my films but there is somethign about the railway pace matter of factness about them in this one that aneasthetised me.
This book doesn't walk, it doesn't drag, it runs and you have to go with it - all the while the feeling growing that some horrendous massacre, some awful thing is going to explode. Then suddenly it's finished and you realise that the horror was there all along and that you've become numb to it, that the disgust at the exceedingly nasty penultimate scenes is nowhere near as shocking as it should be. Incredibly crafted, revolting and very very disturbing.
Sputnik Sweetheart - Haruki Murakami
I love Murakami - he's so thoroughly and delightfully weird! This is (in the most part) a first person narrative by an un-named Japanese man talking of his friendship with a female wanna-be author a few years his junior. Despite his love for her being unreciprocated they are exceedingly close friends. Then she falls head over heels in love (with a married woman no less - but don't expect any raunchy lesbian action, not the novel for that) and the weirdness starts. And when I say weirdness I mean it - Murakami is in a league of his own!
There are lots of themes in the novel but I think the one that really touched me was about the disconnect between what we think we are and how we are perceived - the eternal and infuriating question of who am I? What am I - and what am I for? He also goes into the fracturing of self that can occur - the knowledge that some events/actions touch so deeply that you know you will wake up tomorrow and be a different person.
Needless to say it touched me deeply - even though I'm still not quite sure what the last 4 or so lines were all about!
LOL - know that feeling. I wanted to read that this year but I foolishly started Tom Jones (which is excellent) and I think that might do me for tomes for a while!
Hopefully soon :)
Someday soon I am going to start a new thread on this - partly cos I'm over 200 posts but mostly becasue of my two year old need to obliterate the typo in my thread title...
Once and Future King - T.H White
Awesome first volume then tails of a bit - peaks and troughs but overall excellent and worth a read.
Sula - Toni Morrison.
Well it's been a while since I last read a Morisson (Beloved at Uni) and I loved it. Why on earth have I left it so long to read another? This is exquisitly written as one would expect from Morrison - and as always she does not shy away from the big issues. Race, sexuality, gender, war, poverty, self and other... I could go on. The novel covers about a 40 year period in the ealry 1900s and focuses mainly on Sula and Nel, two black girls growing up in the black part of Medallion. But really its hard to precis because a) it's not that linear and b) peripheral characters are always massively important in Morrison's work.
Not to everyone's taste I'd imagine but I loved it.
Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell
I loved this! So sweet and innocent yet I feel (and many probably disagree) that this avoids becomming sacharinne. Written from the point of a first person, being a young woman who visits frequently with the old women of Cranford, spinsters and widows in the minority. Most very poor but struggling to maintain their image of gentility despite this. I love the characters (though in real life I think they would drive me crazy in seconds) and whilst it's not a laugh out loud book it did keep me chuckling quietly. Anything more the opposite of, for example, Less than Zero I cannot imagine.
Yes, I too loved Cranford! The people were so... good. Bad things happened, but more through folly than through any real intent. It left you feeling that humanity was basically fine, while Less than Zero left you feeling that humanity was irredeemably corrupt.
Mirrored my thoughts on Confedaracy of Dunces perfectly there BekkaJo! Very succinctly put!
I'm also glad to hear you like Life of Pi, I thought it was great.
Thanks Jonny :) This one is less succinct. In fact it got rather out of hand...
Contact - Carl Sagan
This was published in 1985 and basically centres around Ellie - Dr Arroway, who is a physicist running a massive pannel of space telescopes looking for life on other planets. Then one day there is the message... and the message eventually sends them the blueprints for a Machine. Which the duly build. Y'know it's pretty hard to talk about this one without spoilers since the above is the first two thirds of the book... which I really didn't like.
Then I got going on the end and I found I really enjoyed it. In particular the last paragraph to be honest. Sagan does a lot of thinking about science and God and whether they can exist within the same ideology.
So part really dull (just too much detail on the science) and for once I found th bits I really enjoyed were those about the world and God and science etc. I'm an agnostic and Ellie's opinions meshed with mine pretty much to a t.
It suffers also from being read now - in that the science has sped forward so much faster in some areas than sci-fi writers expected. For example they are faxing etc and also living on space stations. Also I found the US and USSR odd since this was before my time.
I've waffled on now and I didn't intend to - basically if you like science, go for it!
Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood
I love Atwood - Happy Atwood April everyone!
So this is based upon the reports that Atwood read of a notorious couple who murdered their Master and his housekeeper in Canada in 1843 . Atwood takes the story and fills in the gaps - plays with the character of Grace until you really don't know what to believe about her, what is real, what happened. Atwood's writing is, as always, amazing and her characterisation impeccable.
My only quibble is the ending - I wanted some resolution, some clarity, some decisions! Instead it's pretty much left open and you never know whether she is lying or ... I can't say any more without extreme spoilerage. If you haven't read it, go do so immediately!
Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquivel
I loved this. A lot of people have said that there isn't enough in it - in particular to be on the 1,001, and maybe they are right. But I, excuse the pun, devoured it. Something about food and love really speaks to me and Esquivel's descriptions have that 'something'. I want to eat her food, but also I love her magic realism.
Wonderful. Just wonderful.
I've never heard that comment about Like Water For Chocolate, but perhaps people know better around me because it's like my favourite book ever. Totally belongs on the list.
#232 No argument here :) I want to go back and read it again already.
The Cement Garden - Ian McEwan
I'm trying to break through my McEwan distaste. And I'll admit I preferred this to his other works that I have read. But I think that says a lot about me because frankly...
This is flipping weird!
A Handful of Dust - Evelyn Waugh
I love Waugh. I really do. Now this one started in the usual manner, a thoroughly comfortable and funny Waugh read. Then he throws in a tragedy with his unruffled calm, and from then... it all goes a bit odd. And odd in a way I cannot explain without spoilers.
I loved it - but it really is a bit odd.
1Q84 - Murakami
Finally finished. And, whilst I acknowledge it isn't his best work, the sheer scale of it is brilliant. Because of the length you become so invested in the characters and so intrigued by it all - and then in the end... yeah I can't talk about this without spoilers. Anyone who likes/loves/has read Murakami should definitely read this - if you haven't read any Murakami DO NOT start with this one. I just doubt you'd get it - it not only repeats a lot of his previous themes, but it's exceedingly weird and exceedingly long (1173 pages) so it's probably best to establish whether you like his writing first!
I miss the 1Q84 characters already though :(
Exercises in style - Raymond Queneau
This book retells a unremarkable half page story about a man on a bus. ANd it tells it 99 times in 99 different ways. This was lots and lots of fun - well, most of it was, though I may have skipped some of the later ones where he starts adding letters in all over the shop. I loved the ones where he turned the tale into an ode and a sonnet etc. I may have to try some sort of imitation, see if I can shift my writers block!
The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling - Henry Fielding
Yeah this one took me a while! I mean, not Clarissa time but it definitely qualifies as a bit of a tome. And yet it's so much fun! The history of a baby (Tom Jones) found on a country squire's bed (Squire Allworthy being a widower this was considered a bit odd) it tells of how he grows up but mostly tells of the grown up disputes between Tom and the squire's nephew - and the subsequent disasters and naughty adventures that befall him. And if you can't face wading through all 800 odd pages of it, the BBC did a great adaptation :)
Crash - J G Ballard
Just to preface any review/comments with... do not read this unless... Actually, there is no unless. yes, I'm sure Ballard was trying to do something and yes, there are certain descriptions that are sort of beautiful.
Still no, no no. Books about sex and cars, fine. I mean I can deal with a pretty good amount of sex in my reading... but this? It's not really about sex it's about degrading sexual acts in relation to the mental and physically scarring caused by automobile crashes. And it is way way beyond gross. Penis and pubis on every page and my main reaction from finishing it? Does Vaughan ever ever wash? Becomes he cums on pretty much every page and the constant description of his semen covered trousers seems to indicate he doesn't.
I'm off to wire brush scrub clean my brain until it bleeds.
A Farewell to Arms - Hemmingway
Beautiful, painful and, in the end, so emphatically Hemmingway.
Important in many ways and yet lost in the overbearing Hemmingway-ness of it all. Plus I hated the female main.
And no, I can be no less cryptic than that.
Phew - caught up! Kept forgedtting to pop my 1,001 notes over here as well :)
I love your being really opiniated! Thanks for your reviews, I have read a lot of books you review here and can agree with you most of the time. I'll have to look into the ones you really love and read them as well.
Once again I have forgotten to update! I suck...
#241 Thanks Simone - this next lot may be a bit less opinionated as I catch up!
#242 I started that and yeah...uck... it can wait a bit!
The Master of Ballantrae - R.L Stevenson
Meh... in general! The tale of a scottish Lord and his family, the evil but entrancing nature of the elder son and the gradual destruction of the serious but kindly sober younger son through resentment and humiliation. Basically a good commentary on what happens if you obviously love one child more - with a side note on what happens if you get married whilst still loving someone else.
Bad things... Weird ending too!
What Maisie Knew - Henry James
Richard's going to hate me for this but... nah not really for me. I found it a massive struggle since James' sentences are so long and convoluted that I kept having to go back and read them over an over again. The story line and characters stopped me getting fed up with this for approx half the novel - and then, for me, the storyline vanished and I started really struggling. Which annoyed me :/
Briefly the novel deals with a young girl Maisie. Her parents divorce and fight over her, ending her up with 6 months with each of them. Gradually, her parents fighting changes from fighting over her to fighting not to have her. Then her parents each re-marry and it sort of replicates with her step-parents who end up together whith her real parents washing their hands of her and chasing off after monied persons of the oppposite sex. I just felt that the last 60 pages goes on and on and round and round on the same points.
The Postman always rings twice - James M.Cain
Nom nom nom booky nom nom. Short and fast and brilliant. Loved it.
Elizabeth Costello - J.M Coetzee
Oh no no no! I've really enjoyed (maybe too strong - found a lot of worth would be better) in the others of his novels I've read. This though? It essentially deals with the lectures/discourses/essays of an elderly Australian novelist and sets these out at length. At great length... and to me they are all exceedingly faulty - and I cannot work out whether Coetzee holds these opinions or whether he is mocking them. And I do not really care enough to find out since the whole mess left me feeling frustrated.
He is a MUCH better writer than this tortured mix up.
War with the Newts - Karel Capek
Weird as. I mean seriously weird. Funny and yet worrying narrative that jumps from view point to view point explaining the discovery etc of the 'Newts' - arace of newt/salamander like creatures that stand erect and understand man and appear to do what they are told...
So essentially an exploration of the follies of man - of man believing that it is better than any other race, believing that it has the right to tear any other species to pieces.
Hmmm - yup, I'll stick with weird. The first half was very good and the last quarter was very good. The bit in the middle bored me witless.
But definitely worth a read, definitely. It does also make you realise the imminent dissolution of humanity's precarious network...
Slaughterhouse Five - Vonnegut
Are my reads getting weirder or is it just me? This is very very Vonnegut, complete with Kilgore Trout. But his writing is just brilliant - yes there is 'time travel' and yes there aliens (maybe) but really this is a painfully funny and pointed commentary on the nature of man and war.
Good good good.
Okay that may have been fairly opinionated after all!
>243 "I found it a massive struggle since James' sentences are so long and convoluted that I kept having to go back and read them over an over again."
Exactly why I avoid reading his books!
And how! I just barely managed to keep my mouth shut as one of the other members here got someone else excited about Turn of the Screw. That was hands down my most hated book last year.
44 & 245 - yes but . . . but early Henry James is much, much easier to read than his later work.
I will still be reading his others. It did have it's moments of magic - he just likes to bury them!
The Shining - King
What's to say! There's just no need to precis this since I think, even if like me you hadn't seen the film or read the book, it's pretty impossible to not have an idea of what it's about!
I can't believe I'd never got round to King before this year - though horror isn't generally my area... anyway this was great fun, intensely creepy and I will definitely be reading more King.
Though with the lights on and in well lit places...
Atonement - McEwan
So far I'm very up and down on McEwan's work. I really didn't like Enduring Love and Saturday but rather enjoyed the macabre Cement Garden. This one? Actually I loved it. It worked - I felt sustained by the characters and actually drawn into the narrative. Was quite upset by the last page - I mean I know that he was trying to say something about narrative control and stuff but...but...
A Tale of two cities - Dickens
Okay so I was pretty dubious about this for at least the first half of the book - despite my love of Dickens and really really wanting to like it. But then? Well the last third I suddenly realised I was hooked and caught up in the mad rush to the final inevitable lines. And those lines are so famous and whilst I knew where they came from in theory actually reading them at the end of the book - well, wow. I cried. Admittedly the Disney film Tangled made me cry this week but still.
So, as I always knew and will always stoutly maintain, Dickens rocks.
Oh oh oh! In breaking news I just realised that ATOTC was book 300! I was checking my figures, realising that I was getting close - and found a couple I'd missed = hey presto 300.
Since it was my goal to hit this this year I'm pretty happy :)
#250 Congrats from my side as well, that is an impressive figure! I am barely in 3 figures I think.
Hey, great book to hit the 300 mark with! And by coincidence, too. I spent weeks planning which book would be my #300.
Ta guys :)
#254 And yup - serendipity at work.
I will note that this is 300 from the combos - but since that's what I'm working for I'll take it! Next goal - actually get under 1000 left...
Congratulations!! And great that #300 was such a good one! It's an incredible book, so different from the other Dickens(es) (not that the others I read were bad in any way). Those chapters on knitting... I read it almost a year ago, almost cried my eyes out and rated with 5 stars.
And re. Atonement: similar feelings about that last page
301 - Flaubert's Parrot - Julian Barnes
I read this for book group - it's a 1,001 and when trying to pick a book we basically went for anything with funny in the blurb (after the Shining last month!). Yeah I don't think the rest of my book group are very impressed with me for picking - not their cup of tea.
Me? I loved it! It's not really a novel to be honest - it's more of a long exploratory essay/discussion of Flaubert. Narrated by an elderly widowed doctor who has an overwhelming interet in Flaubert - you learn a lot about the narrator and far more about Flaubert. It's laugh out loud funny in places (again I note, to me, maybe not to all)...I wanted to include a load of quotes here, but have just realised that my file with all the Flaubert's Parrot quotes is on my work computer. D'oh! The one that sticks in my mind the most is in relation to the author talking about the books he likes certain, authors, prefers others, dislikes some... and how he's saving Virginia Woolf for when he's dead.
Which IMO is when Virgina Woolf should be saved for.
Hey Bekka! I just found this group & your thread! I've got you starred now so I can try to keep up with your progress on your 1001 goal. I may have asked before in the 75 group, but I don't remember the answer, so forgive me if I'm asking again... But what list (year, book, publisher, etc) are you using for your 1200+ list?
>261 If the list has over 1200 then she's using the combined '06 '08 '10 lists. With '12 included the total is up to 1305.
#262 Yup, My list has 1305 books as well now, though I am not really following the list as of now. I check the list every 3 months and rub my hands gleefully when I find a book or two that I have read in that quarter from that list.
Hi Tina, welcome, welcome, welcome! Everyone is right, I'm a 1305 combo girl :) Current aim is to get under 1000 to go before the end of 2013 which with a month and a half to go should be easy...
Yeah... easier said than done. November is a NaNoWriMo write off (I've used that pun before but I like it!) though I'm slowly chipping away at two 1001s. I'll need some quick ones for December!
302 - Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres
8 years ago I was still living in Southampton in the UK. I was working in a library and was definitely a more chilled out person than I am now. However it was then that the book list addiction started with the BBC 100 - we had a big display of it and I was horrified at how few I had read. So that summer I made a concerted effort at it - but there were always some that remained (maybe because a friend bought me the 1001 for my birthday in 2006). This was one of them. I never got to it becuase with the hype of the film it pretty much repelled me - which actually is rather a shame because it is rather good.
It is more than a tale of love and pain, it is a novel about people, about war, about sexuality, about knowing yourself.
I do feel some sections/characters let it down, but its a book that I am very grateful to have read.
Wow!! Congrats on 300+, BekkaJo!!
75--I read through all your titles, and didn't see Middlesex on your list. If you enjoyed Eugenide's writing, you'll adore this 1001 book. Trust me! ;)
I'm starring your topic and will keep coming back to it. Like I said, I only read the titles bc I've angered myself/done a great disservice to myself by reading posts in other threads and spoiled myself on books I had recently bought.
I have read your reviews on books I have read, and have found myself laughing, nodding, and/or cringing along!
Great job on both!!
303 The Waves - Woolf
Just in case I haven't made my opinions on Virginia Woolf clear... I really destest her writing!
No, no maybe that's too harsh - I mean there are moments of lyrical beauty in her writing. But they are (IMO) overlaid by a venere of over done self obsessed style over substance.
304 Bouvard and Pecuchet - Flaubert
Flaubert thought it would be his masterpiece, to far out shine Madame Bovary. It's not. Unfinished (though I thought the ending fitted well) it is more painful than humorous (which it is supposed to be).
I read this because of all the references in Flaubert's Parrot that I didn't really get... and okay, parts of it were good and funny. But overall, too much nothing and not enough something.
Oh and I also read it because it was an unread 1001 ;)
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