Soffitta1's 1001 Books- Lifetime of Reading
Join LibraryThing to post.
Original List 1-99
1 Never Let Me Go
3 On Beauty
4 Slow Man
6 The Sea
7 The Red Queen
8 The Plot against America
11 The Lambs of London
13 Cloud Atlas
15 The Colour
18 What I Loved
19 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
21 Elizabeth Costello
23 Family Matters
26 Everything is Illuminated
28 Kafka on the Shore
29 The Story of Lucy Gault
31 In the Forest
35 Dead Air
38 Gabriel’s Gift
43 The Corrections
45 The Body Artist
49 Life of Pi
50 The Feast of the Goat
52 The Devil and Miss Prym
54 White Teeth
56 Under the Skin
63 The Blind Assassin
64 After the Quake
71 The Romantics
78 Sputnik Sweetheart
84 Talk of the Town
85 Tipping the Velvet
86 The Poisonwood Bible
89 The Hours
90 Veronika Decides to Die
92 The God of Small Things
93 Memoirs of a Geisha
95 Enduring Love
37 The Book of Illusions TBR
Unread and not owned:
5. Adjunct: An Undigest
9. The Master
10. Vanishing Point
12. Dining on Stones
14. Drop City
17. The Light of Day
22. London Orbital
25. The Double
30. That They May Face the Rising Sun
36. Nowhere Man
At Swim, Two Boys
An Obedient Father
Spring Flowers, Spring Frost
The Heart of Redness
Nineteen Seventy Seven
City of God
How the Dead Live
The Human Stain
House of Leaves
As If I Am Not There
Everything You Need
Fear and Trembling
The Ground Beneath Her Feet
All Souls Day
Mason & Dixon
The Life of Insects
Original List: 100-199
104 Fugitive Pieces
105 The Ghost Road
109 Alias Grace
110 The Unconsoled
111 Morvern Callar
115 The Rings of Saturn
116 The Reader
117 A Fine Balance
125 The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
126 Pereira Declares: A Testimony
129 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
130 Felicia's Journey
133 The Shipping News
140 What a Carve Up!
141 A Suitable Boy
142 The Stone Diaries
143 The Virgin Suicides
145 The Robber Bride
146 The Emigrants
147 The Secret History
151 Possessing the Secret of Joy
153 The Crow Road
156 The English Patient
157 Smilla’s Sense of Snow
162 Black Dogs
163 Hideous Kinky
165 Wild Swans
166 American Psycho
172 Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord
174 Get Shorty
175 Amongst Women
184 The Buddha of Suburbia
187 Sexing the Cherry
190 Remains of the Day
194 The History of the Siege of Lisbon
195 Like Water for Chocolate
196 A Prayer for Owen Meany TBR
197 London Fields
198 The Book of Evidence
199 Cat’s Eye
200 Foucault’s Pendulum
203 The Satanic Verses
204 The Swimming Pool Library
205 Oscar and Lucinda
207 The Player of Games
208 Nervous Conditions
210 Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
213 The Black Dahlia
215 The Pigeon
216 The Child in Time
219 The New York Trilogy
220 World’s End
230 An Artist of the Floating World
236 Love in the Time of Cholera
237 Oranges are not the only fruit
239 A Maggot
242 The Handmaid’s Tale
252 The Lover
253 Empire of the Sun
254 The Wasp Factory
256 The Unbearable Lightness of Being
266 The Life and Times of Michael K
268 The Piano Teacher
271 A Boy's Story
272 The Color Purple
274 A Pale View of Hills
275 Schindler’s Ark
276 The House of the Spirits
278 On Black Hill
281 Rabbit is Rich TBR
283 The Comfort of Strangers
284 July's People
285 Summer in Baden-Baden TBR
288 Midnight’s Children
291 Confederacy of Dunces
293 The Name of the Rose on Mount TBR
294 The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
297 A Bend in the River
Original List: 300-399
301 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
302 The Cement Garden
303 The World according to Garp
305 The Sea, the Sea
306 The Singapore Grip
308 The Virgin in the Garden
312 The Shining
314 Petals of Blood
320 Interview With the Vampire
324 Autumn of the Patriarch on Mount TBR
326 A Dance to the Music of Time - Read Vols I-IV
338 The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum
340 Breakfast of Champions
343 The Siege of Krishnapur
350 Invisible Cities
356 In A Free State
367 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
375 Slaughterhouse Five
376 The French Lieutenant’s Woman
390 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
391 Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid
393 In Watermelon Sugar
394 A Kestrel for a Knave
395 The Quest for Christa T.
399 One Hundred Years of Solitude
Original list: 400-499
400 The Master and Margarita
408 In Cold Blood
409 The Magus
410 The Vice Consul
411 Wide Sargasso Sea
416 August is a Wicked Month
428 The Graduate
430 The Spy who came in from the Cold
431 The Girls of Slender Means
433 The Bell Jar
434 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
435 The Collector
436 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
437 A Clockwork Orange
440 The Golden Notebook
443 The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
450 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
456 To Kill A Mockingbird
457 Rabbit, Run TBR
459 Cider with Rosie
462 The Tin Drum
466 Billiards At Half-Past Nine
467 Breakfast at Tiffany’s
468 The Leopard
470 A Town Like Alice
472 Things fall apart
474 Mrs Harris Goes to Paris
478 The Bell
481 The Midwich Cuckoos
482 The Blue of Noon
484 On the Road
487 The Wonderful “O”
492 Seize the Day
494 The Lord of the Rings
495 The Talented Mr. Ripley
499 The Quiet American
Original List: 500-599
503 Bonjour Tristesse
508 Lord of the Flies
509 Under the Net
510 The Go-Between
514 Lucky Jim
518 Casino Royale
519 The Judge and His Hangman
520 Invisible Man
521 The Old Man and the Sea
526 Day of the Triffids
529 The Catcher in the Rye
532 End of the Affair
535 The Third Man
536 The 13 Clocks
538 The Grass is Singing
542 Love in a Cold Climate
544 The Heat of the Day TBR
545 Kingdom of This World
547 Nineteen Eighty-Four
551 The Heart of the Matter
552 Cry, the Beloved Country
559 The Plague
562 The Bridge on the Drina
563 Brideshead Revisited
564 Animal Farm
566 The Pursuit of Love
574 The Little Prince
579 The Outsider
583 Hangover Square
587 For Whom the Bell Tolls
589 The Power and the Glory
592 The Grapes of Wrath
597 Tropic of Capricorn
599 The Big Sleep
Original List: 600-699
605 Brighton Rock
608 Of Mice and Men
609 Their Eyes Were Watching God
610 The Hobbit
614 Out of Africa
619 Gone With the Wind
620 Keep the Aspidistra Flying
627 The Last of Mr. Norris TBR
628 They Shoot Horses, Don't they?
629 The House in Paris
631 Burmese Days
632 The Nine Tailors
635 The Postman Always Rings Twice
636 Tropic of Cancer
637 A Handful of Dust
642 Murder Must Advertise
649 Brave New World
650 Cold Comfort Farm
653 The Radetzky March
659 Vile Bodies
660 The Maltese Falcon
663 A Farewell to Arms
667 All Quiet on the Western Front
669 The Last September
671 The Sound and the Fury
676 Lady Chatterley’s Lover
686 To The Lighthouse
687 Tarka the Otter
689 The Sun Also Rises
691 The Castle on mount TBR
692 The Good Soldier Schweik
695 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
698 Mrs. Dalloway
699 The Great Gatsby
Original List: 700-799
701 The Trial
703 The Professor's House
706 The Magic Mountain
708 A Passage to India
726 The Age of Innocence
728 Women in Love
736 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
739 The Good Soldier TBR
742 The Rainbow
743 The Thirty-Nine Steps
748 The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
749 Sons and Lovers
750 Death in Venice
752 Ethan Frome
754 Howards End
756 Three Lives
761 A Room With a View
767 The Jungle
769 The Forsyte Sage on Mount TBR
772 Where Angels Fear to Tread
777 The Riddle of the Sands
778 The Immoralist
779 The Wings of the Dove
780 Heart of Darkness
781 The Hound of the Baskervilles
785 Lord Jim
788 The Awakening
789 The Turn of the Screw
790 The War of the Worlds
797 The Time Machine
798 Effi Briest
799 Jude the Obscure
Original List: 800-899
801 The Yellow Wallpaper
803 Diary of a Nobody
804 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
809 The Picture of Dorian Gray
810 The Kreuzer Sonata
820 The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
823 King Solomon’s Mines
825 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
829 The Death of Ivan Ilyich
831 Treasure Island
833 Portrait of a Lady
837 Brothers Karamazov
839 Return of the Native
840 Anna Karenina
846 Far from the madding Crowd on Mount TBR
848 Around the World in Eighty Days
854 Through the Looking Glass
861 The Idiot
862 The Moonstone
863 Little Women
867 Crime and Punishment
868 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
872 The Water-Babies
873 Les Miserables
874 Fathers and Sons
876 Great Expectations
879 Mill on the Floss
880 The Woman in White
883 A Tale of Two Cities
886 Madame Bovary
887 North and South
888 Hard Times
890 Bleak House
893 Uncle Tom’s Cabin
897 The Scarlet Letter
898 David Copperfield
899 Shirley TBR
Original List: 900-1001
900 Mary Barton TBR
901 The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
902 Wuthering Heights
903 Agnes Grey
904 Jane Eyre
905 Vanity Fair
906 The Count of Monte-Cristo
908 The Three Musketeers
909 The Purloined Letter
911 The Pit and the Pendulum
913 A Christmas Carol
916 The Fall of the House of Usher
917 Nicholas Nickleby
918 Oliver Twist TBR
921 Eugénie Grandet
922 The Hunchback of Notre Dame TBR
923 The Red and the Black
925 Last of the Mohicans
926 The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
932 Northanger Abbey
935 Rob Roy
937 Mansfield Park
938 Pride and Prejudice
940 Sense and Sensibility
942 Castle Rackrent
949 The Mysteries of Udolpho
950 The Interesting Narrative
951 The Adventures of Caleb Williams
957 Dangerous Liaisons
960 The Sorrows of Young Werther on Mount TBR
965 The Vicar of Wakefield
966 The Castle of Otranto
968 Rameau’s Nephew TBR
975 Fanny Hill
979 Pamela TBR
983 Gulliver’s Travels
985 Moll Flanders
987 Robinson Crusoe
992 Don Quixote TBR
996 The Thousand and one Nights
1001 Aesop’s Fables
New List: 1-500
1 Animal's People on Mount TBR
3 The Reluctant Fundamentalist
4 Half of a yellow sun
6 The inheritance of loss
9 Mother's Milk
11 A short history of tractors in Ukrainian
13 The Accidental
14 The Line of Beauty
16 Small island
21 Suite Francaise
28 The Successor
29 Vernon God Little TBR
30 The namesake
41 Soldiers of Salamis
42 I'm not scared
44 The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay
56 In Search of Klingsor
61 Dirty Havana Trilogy
112 The Twins
127 All the Pretty Horses
133 The Dumas Club
159 The Shadow Lines
192 Of love and Shadows
211 Annie John
215 Blood Meridian
282 So Long a Letter
407 Closely Observed Trains
427 The Time of the Hero
439 No one writes to the Colonel
470 Gabriela, Clove and Cinammon
As only 11 seem to have changed, I've added them all here.
1. The Children’s Book
5. The White Tiger
8. The Gathering
10. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
16. The Elegance of the Hedgehog
3. American Rust
6. Kieron Smith, Boy
9. The Blind Side of the Heart
A History of Love
A Visit from the Goon Squad
The Marriage Plot
213 already, that's a lot more than me. May I ask what your top 5 is from the books you've read so far?
Well, that is a tough one.
Of the ones I have read this year so far, I would say Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, the Regeneration series from Pat Barker, Snow and Petals of Blood.
This is a link to the ones I have read so far this year:
I am going to think more about my best from all the ones I have read, it is such a hard question.
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner - an interesting read from way down the list.
Another couple read last month: The Riddle of the Sands, a pre WW1 thriller and The Tin Drum. Very different books, I was blown away by the Tin Drum, such good writing while I found the Riddle a good thriller.
I am currently reading The Shining, I have never seen the film, but at page 100, it is already creepy and tense.
I really enjoyed The Shining, will have to look out for the film.
I wanted a quick read, so picked up The Old Man and the Sea, excellent narrative. I have also finished The Piano Teacher, another disturbing read, one you have to read slowly.
At the moment, I am about halfway through Lessing's The Grass is Singing and enjoying it.
I finished The Grass is Singing, well worth it, moved on to Black Dogs, which in my opinion was Ian McEwan back up to his best. I got a couple of 1001 books free with the Times newspaper, Kestrel for a Knave and The Midwich Cuckoos, which really has really varied my reading.
Not sure what is up next, just off to see.
Decided to sneak in The Siege of Krishnapur before uni starts again this afternoon. Really good book, set in India. I have 2 more of his 1001 books on my shelves, will definitely be moving them up my TBR pile.
A few more read:
Two Philip Roth books, Invisible and The Plot against America.
Finally finished Les Miserables, which was good, but looong.
Brideshead Revisited was good, but had a frustrating end.
And lastly, the very weird Blue of Noon
Currently reading Vile Bodies, also strange, but let's see where it goes.
A while since I updated this. I have read all the 1001 books I have and at the mercy of book exchanges now I am travelling.
Between may and now I have read:
August is a wicked month
Troubles Another good read from Farrell
Hangover Square a surprise, this was a freebie with the newspaper. Worth a read
Life and Times of Michael K
The Divine Comedy Inferno half a 1001 book
The Brothers Karamazov Long, but good to read while travelling
2666 just excellent, I think this may be the best 1001 yet.
North and South preferred this to Cranford as the story had more punch
Madame Bovary - like watching a train wreck, but loved the detailed descriptions
The Bell Jar - dark, but good
i loved the white tiger, im currently reading life of pi and that is good so far xx
I finished Bleak House, very verbose. Next up was Of Mice and Men, I had seen the play when I was at school, I was not disappointed. It is a very simply told story, but very moving.
And then Crash, disturbing, reminding me of American Psycho.
Cold Comfort Farm, very funny. A city girl goes to live with her country relatives.
At home for Christmas, so plenty of time for reading. First up, Schooling
A good read, but written in a confused or breathy way to match the teenage protagonist's thoughts. Once you get into the reading style, it really goes quickly.
The Inheritance of Loss, another book I have had for ages. Good read on Indian life, both at home and abroad.
Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord - second book in the Latin American trilogy.
Very good book, a good example of magical realism.
A seasonal read, A Christmas Carol and other Christmas Stories. I did enjoy reading the Christmas Carol, but wasn't that bothered by the other stories in the collection.
Candide - funny book about a man who travels the world, but is never happy with his lot. Dad read this for A-Level French, but as I did Spanish and German, it had never crossed my radar.
I read a few shorter ones at the end of the year to make sure I hit my target of 52 for 2010. In the end, I made it to 54.
The next three were all books I knew well from their screen adaptations, which makes them strange to read. Breakfast at Tiffany's - in a collection of short stories, good read. I loved Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, really brought back memories of my childhood. Then The Time Machine, a VERY short read, but still a memorable one.
I finally read a Sir Walter Scott book, Ivanhoe, and really liked it. It was rather fun to see such well-known characters from history and folklore.
Pereira Maintains - techincally a reread, though it was a different translation. I got more out of this book, not from the quality of the translation, but by the fact that in between reading the last one and this one I lived in Portugal.
My first 1001 of 2011 was Day of the Triffids, I remember seeing bits of an old BBC adaptation as a kid. Really good one to kick off the year with, a sci-fi book that proposes a possible future, one that i n today's GM world is actually not that unimaginable.
The Big Sleep - I found Marlowe's fast talking style very fun and entertaining, and will look out more in the series.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier and Clay was also very good. 2 very different cousins come together and create The Escapist, a comic book hero who fights the Nazis.
The Story of Lucy Gault, 9/10, one of the best I have read recently. This is a beautifully written book, Lucy's story unfolds slowly, but in a very moving way.
The Graduate, as with some of the other books I have read recently, it is odd reading the book when you know the film so well. There is a lot of dialogue in the book, so you can see how it was easily adapted.
The Mysteries of Udolpho
Second time lucky, actually read this in a few days after having given up on it last time. Very melodramatic, lots of poetic descriptions, but actually rather fun at times.
The Pigeon is a day in the life of a 50-something-year-old man. His monotonous existance, one of his own choosing and making, is thrown out of kilter by the appearance of a pigeon outside his room. The pigeon disrupts his routine, causing him to consider leaving his sanctuary forever. Thought-provoking. Nice to read a short 1001 book!
A very dark book, the sad story of a pregnant Irish girl searching for the father of her child, with not much to go on except he was working at a lawnmower factory near Birmingham. One day she is offered help by the catering manager of a different factory. Good read, sinister and sad though. Sensitively written, as was The Story of Lucy Gault by the same author.
A girl marries her mother's former suitor and is taken off to live far away. A chain of events are set in motion, almost inevitably, and as upstanding Prussians, they can't avoid the rules that society makes them play by Very well written, very sad.
Currently reading The Monkey and the Monk and Platero and I, two very different books.
The Monkey and the Monk This is the journey of the monk Xuánzàng who is sent to the West for Buddhist scrolls to bring back to Chang'an (modern day Xian). The journey is full of obstacles, traps and dangers that the travelling band must come through to reach the West.
This is a book which is easy to recommend, first to those interested in religion in China, secondly to sinophiles, but, perhaps most importantly, for those wanting to read a good story full of colour, drama and great characters.
Through the Looking Glass
As with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, it is the combination of words and images that make the book so memorable, so charming. This is a book to amuse children and adults alike, great fun and deservedly a classic.
Platero and I
A man and his donkey, musings on life in southern Spain. This is a collection of anecodotes and shows the close relationship the narrator has with his faithful Platero, a donkey with a lot of feelings.
A young black man and the struggle for equality.
All good books, I seem to be on a roll! Not sure what is up next, I was home recently and brought back a stack of books.
Vanity Fair, On the Road, Burmese Days, Three Lives to go with Arabian Nights, Crime and Punishment and In the Forest, which I already had.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Really good, I bumped it up my list after seeing it on the WBN list. I read it in an afternoon! I thought it was well-written, all in the first person and broached difficult issues in our Post 9/11 world.
A Fine Balance
I've had this for ages, it arrived in a bookbox many moons ago. A very good book, showing life in the '70s and '80s in India through the eyes of 4 people who are thrown together by fate. Mistry mixes up the narratives, telling each person's personal story, before bringing it all together. Highly recommended.
In the Forest
I got this from the 1001-Library in a swap with a Portuguese member. Inspired by real events, a woman, recently arrived in the area, and her son are targeted by the newly released O'Kane. God, this was too well-written. I kept putting it down for a few minutes, hoping against hope that there would be some light at the end of the dark tunnel, but having to pick it up again as it was so compelling. This is my second Edna O'Brien book, and I'll be looking for more.
Not sure what my next 1001 read will be, I still have quite a pile. Under the Net seems to be calling me, but I'm not sure.
The Arabian Nights
Whilst very familiar, the skilled interweaving of the stories in this collection is what makes the book great. We all know Aladdin, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Sinbad the Sailor, but here they are all brought together, with other less well-known tales, in a less Disney-sanitised way, making them more enjoyable.
Under the Net
An intricate, incestuous web, on which the narrator fumbles his way, cadging lodging and money off friends. A frustrated writer and translator of French novels, Jake Donaghue hopes he will one day make it big, though his only literary attempt sank without a trace and cost him a friendship.
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
I was happy to see this pop up on the 1001 Group for this month's group read. Unfortunately, I am missing book 3 :(
Good fun, not sure why I hadn't read it before, although it was the sci-fi aspect that put me off.
Def on a roll! Some brilliant ones read this year from the look of it. I've bumped several of them up the TBR 1,001 list.
Yes, all good books at the moment, a lucky streak maybe.
The story of two very different women from their departure from school through married life. I did enjoy the book, but there were certainly parts which were more interesting than others, some bits were rather densely written, like the genealogies of minor characters. The cynical look at the age is well-done, and informative, but at times made the story rather leaden. I can see now why the film was criticised by many viewers who had read the book, because, although I admit it is a while since I saw it, the film changed the characters to make them more likeable, especially Becky.
I am a big George Orwell fan, and this is another of his good books. This is a biting look at life in Burma, the machinations of the British, Burmese and other nationalities. Very good.
Group read. This flew by, with her family's fortunes worsening, Agnes decides to become a governess. Coming from a loving family, she imagines she will be helping to form young minds in a similar environment, unfortunately, neither of her positions could be classed as happy. Her charges range from selfish and bratty to downright demonic, and Agnes struggles to keep herself going. It's not all doom and gloom, though, as Agnes meets a nice young cleric. I did sympathise with Agnes, although she is rather self-righteous, and as a teacher I have had some trying students over the years! A good read, but I can see why it was knocked off the original 1001 list.
Closely Observed Trains
I thought I'd stick with the train theme, a short 1001 book. I saw the film back when I lived in Prague, and it was pretty faithful to the book as far as I remember. A young man Milos, working for the Czech Railways under German occupation, has just come back to work after a suicide attempt stemming from unconsumated relationship with Masha. It is comic, but also full of tragedy.
Diary of a Nobody
Very amusing! I have had this for a while, but it was only at Christmas that I realised it was on the 1001 list, so I bumped it up to the top of my reading pile. Mr. Charles Pooter is a nobody, well, he is no Pepys or Johnson, but he won't let that hold him back. His diary covers just over a year, a married man living in a suburb of London, the trials and tribulations of a clerk working in the City. What makes this funny is that Pooter takes himself rather seriously, opening himself up to being laughed at by others. I especially liked Pooter's insistance on making awful puns, and his repitition of them, to varying effect.
Suite française are the two books that Irène Némirovsky wrote in WW2, before her death in Auschwitz. The two books themselves are rather different, but as can be seen from the first appendix, the author planned to tie the threads together.
This is not a book about heroes, rather this is the reality of people living in terrible times. At first, in the first book, I found it hard to sympathise with the characters, until I tried to place myself in their shoes, surely our own survival is the most basic of instincts.
I would definitely recommend this.
Rings of Saturn
I picked this up a long time ago because of its East Anglia connection, where my parents live. The author spent many years in England, and here he is tramping around Norfolk and Suffolk, with some physical and mental diversions. He comments on nature, small villages, inhabitants and muses on their links to the wider world (and vice versa).
Recommended for keen travellers, whether they be real or armchair, and those who like a long story with lots of asides.
All Quiet on the Western Front
A reread for me, I was chosen by World Book Night to hand out the book in March, and so I read it on its way to a friend. I wanted to give out the book because, despite being written about a war which started nearly a century ago, I think it's still relevant today. All politicians should be made to read this before being sworn into office.
As the Great War breaks out in 1914, Paul and his friends are finishing school. They are young, on the cusp of adulthood, physically men, but still to take their first steps in the adult world. As with many classes, they sign up en masse. Not out of patriotic duty, but rather from the pressure put on them by their teacher. What follows is Paul's description of the realities of war in the trenches: the hours of waiting, the orders to advance under rocket and gunfire, the deaths of those around them. Their black humour may seem distasteful to others, but it is a vital coping mechanism, there is am inevitable sense of fatality.
Crime and Punishment
Another scary one knocked off the 1001 list.
Crime and Punishment is one of those classics that many teenagers are subjected to read in school. While I wasn't one of them, I did associate the author with heavy text. Daunting it is, in terms of size and the names of characters (all of whom have at least 3 different ones - patronyms, nicknames and the like). I must admit I had to keep flicking backwards to remind myself who was who!
Raskolnikov lives in St. Petersburg, he has neither work nor money. Sick of the pawnshop lady who lends him money at crippling rates, he decides to kill her. Instead of seeing her death as a sin, he envokes the deaths caused by powerful men, leaders such as Napoleon. No one remembers them as murderers, nor the names of the countless that die both on and off the battlefield as a result of their military decisions.
The punishment of the title is not the one expected. Rather than one handed down by the legal system, it is one that follows the main character, his conscience.
Despite the confusion caused by the names, it is a classic and deserves its place on the 1001 list. It is a book that makes you think, revealing the our inner moral code that we live by.
I read Heart of Darkness a few years ago, and was pleased to see the return of the narrator Marlowe. This is a different story, while both books are linked to the sea, both the setting and the feel of it are different.
The titular Jim is marked forever by an act of cowardice early in his career, he, along with other officers, leave the passengers to their own fate after the boat starts to list. Jim tries to escape from his past, but something so infamous is bound to catch up with you, so he consents to a placement on Patusan, hidden far from Western eyes. His work on Patusan gives Jim the opportunity to reinvent himself, to become a strong, respected man known as 'Tuan' or lord.
Jim himself remains somewhat elusive, as we get his story second or even third hand, but he is an interesting literary hero. Redeemed characters are easy to like than people who are always good.
The Vicar of Wakefield
I knew nothing about this, but was interested by the title on a virtual bookbox list. The book follows the ups and downs of the titular vicar and his family. The vicar is seemingly obsessed with the institution of marriage, trying to marry off his children and seemingly everyone else in his parishes! It is rather amusing, as a lot of the downs are caused by the vicar's own vanity. An enjoyable satire of a certain kind of life at the time.
The Age of Innocence
I have had this for a long time, 3 years! I saw the film not long before picking this up at a Bookcrossing meeting.
A tale of clandestine love in the upper echelons of society in New York in the 1870s. Newland Archer is a young man, a model of a decent gentlemen, all set to marry May Welland, from one of the other great New York family. His world is thrown into upheaval as May's disgraced cousin, Ellen, arrives from Europe, separated from her husband, a Polish Count. Ellen and May could not be more different, the latter is the perfect society bride, brought up to keep moral standards and bring up her husband's children, while the former refuses to go back to her husband and is not scared to break with social etiquette. Archer is torn between love and desire on one side and social duty on the other.
Very good, not only because of a well-told romance, but also as a window into the society of the time.
As seen in the title, Stein narrates the lives of three very different women, not in itself original, but it is the writing style that puts it on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list.
Took a while to read because of the writing style, which is more of an oral style with a lack of punctuation. I did enjoy it though, it is a rather sad book, especially for a female reader.
Josef K. is arrested at home for an unnamed crime, and the book follows his trying to pin down the charges so he can have them dismissed.
K. is continually messed around by those in charge, he is summoned to the court, but not given the hour to call. After being advised to see the court painter, Titorelli, a man privy to the inner workings of the court, he finds out that no person who has been charged has ever got off, with some cases lasting for years. In keeping with much of Kafka's work, K. is at a complete loss, trying to solve the situation through logic, but it is clear that there is another kind of logic at work here, one which is perverse.
I had had this on my shelf for a few months, I knew what to expect as I had studied Kafka at school and uni. A good, thought-provoking read. I did have a severe case of deja vu with the priest's description of the door keeper, but as none of the rest of the book seemed familiar, I think I had studied that section as part of background reading. Strange, but fitting I suppose!
On the 1001 List, I knew nothing of this, being sent it through the 1001-Library. A mystery about famed mysterious criminal, Fantomas, and Juve, the detective determined to catch him. Three seemingly unlinked crimes, 2 rather gruesome, are connected by Juve and he sets off to find evidence.
The action is fast paced, jumping from one crime to another, from one fiendish plot to another. While there are better books in the genre, apparently this book was the inspiration for those which followed, this is great fun.
Newly wed Michel falls ill with TB, he slowly recovers, but is no longer the same man. Michel starts to question his life and decisions, which understandably have a knock-on effect on his life and marriage.
After a slow start, I raced through this, with the action become faster and more breathless as Michel's search becomes more desperate. I am not sure what I thought of it, only that it is still playing on my mind. While some of the book is dated, more in the lifestyle than the writing, it contains very up-to-date dilemmas.
Half of a Yellow Sun
This is my second book by the author, I read, and thoroughly enjoyed, Purple Hibiscus a couple of years ago. In the centre of the novel there are twins Olanna and Kainene, very different in looks and personality, Olanna's lover, the professor, and his young houseboy and Kainene's own lover, a British ex-pat. Their relationships, complicated and often fraught, play out against the backdrop of a fracturing Nigeria.
Another good book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, not just a warts and all account of civil war, but also a history lesson. I really felt drawn in by her narrative style and the story she wove, the terrible realities of civil war and very human reactions to it, the positive and the negative.
This is my first Calvino book, an author I'd heard of, but never met anyone who'd read his work!
The book is a series of conversations between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, musing on cities which get more and more fantastical. Many of them are recognisable, in part, as Venice, with canals and other indicators, but as Calvino takes an element and runs with it, the cities described become something new and original. The descriptions are brief with details of its inhabitants, architecture and position, though Calvino plays with myths and time, as seen in his inclusion of aeroplanes and naiads.
It is a short book, but not a quick read. The prose is beautifully written, so much so I wanted to savour the book and not rush it. I will be looking out more by the author, as well as my own copy of this to reread at my leisure.
Journey to the Alcarria
A traveller in Nueva Castilla in the '40s. A window into life under Franco, villages and the people in them, the scenery and the observations of the traveller himself.
While it was interesting to read about villages at a certain point in time, the traveller merely observed whereas I, as the reader, was hoping for more insight, although there was an episode where he questioned the meaning of some rhetoric that a teacher's "best student" had learnt. I would also like to know more about the traveller, he offers little of himself, and doesn't always tell the truth to those he speaks to. An interesting read, especially as I now live in Spain, but ultimately it left me feeling as if it lacked the right amount of substance.
In The Rainbow, we follow three generations of the Brangwen family from Nottinghamshire, their lives and loves, moving from the 1840s into the 20th Century.
Lawrence shows us that, while social and moral codes have changed, man's, and indeed woman's, desires haven't. The battle between sexual desire and identity is still going on today, although we are freer in our choices, less bound by social norms.
Strangely compelling, I say strangely because at times I wasn't sure what kept me reading. Curiousity maybe, interesting characters certainly, but also possibly because of the lack of external dialogue. I did find the reading exhausting, if that is the correct word, almost binging on a chunk of text, then having to put the book down to digest the narrative.
I read half of this years ago, so am glad to have read it all. I will be looking out for Women in Love, the continuation.
Billiards at Half-Past Nine
I was keen to read this having studied another of Boell's books at school.
There are two types of people, those who take the Host of the Lamb and those who take the Host of the Beast, or in other words, those who are for peace and those who are for war. Billiards at Half-past Nine shares this anti-war, anti-establishment theme with Katharina Blum, but this time there isn't one main character, rather we see how different generations of family have been tainted by war.
I enjoyed reading my second Boell, and the style of the book, in which the narrative jumped from person to person.
The Swimming Pool Library
I had already read a book by the author and was keen to see how this one measured up.
Through Will's life and that of his friends, and especially Nantwich's diaries, the reader gets a slice of the life of a British gay man and attitudes have changed.
I started out enjoying the book, but when it seemed to just turn into one anonymous liason after another, I felt I lost interest in it.
Unless takes you through a difficult year for the Winters, a middle-class Toronto family, composed of happily married parents, Tom and Reta, and their three girls. This makes it even harder for them to comprehend why their eldest daughter, Norah, a promising uni student, is sitting on a street corner with a sign saying “goodness” and sleeping in a shelter. Through Reta, who narrates the book, we see a family's struggle to understand both Norah's action and her enigmatic sign.
Danielle Westerman, Reta's mentor, expresses the problem faced by women, doomed to goodness and not greatness. This is the underlying theme of the novel, echoing the struggle for equality that Reta describes in her book, which, while it is not a problem in her marriage, is a reality in her life. It is most eloquently expressed in her ever angrier letters she writes, her outrage at how women are treated, how they are glossed over in the literary world. I was interested to see, though, that in her adopted country of Canada, women are more than well-represented on the 1001 list.
On the Road
Who hasn't dreamt of chucking it all in and hitting the road, seeing how far you can get and meeting strange, new people? Sal Paradise is ready for a new experience, recently divorced, he's a writer always on the look out for inspiration.
I was disappointed with this, I suppose it was because I didn't connect with Sal and I know that if I met Dean in real life, I would want to slap him. I did enjoy Kerouac's style of narrative, fittingly like listening to someone telling you a story over a pint, but found my interest waning as he described the truly egotistical Dean jumping in with both feet yet again, never thinking of others.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
As the title says, this is a day in the life of a man in a Gulag, from reveille to bedtime. Taking us through the daily struggle to make food last and even get your hands on more, the work they must do and the complicated structure of the camp itself. Most of the time, the main character, Shukhov, is preoccupied with food, the lack of it, how to get more of it, and if that is possible, how to safeguard it from other hungry inmates.
The fact Shukhov doesn't see this as a “bad” day, despite such hardship, gives the reader quite a jolt, especially when you know that the author spent time in a similar camp. Shukhov does show up the ridiculousness of both the regime that has punished him and the system he has to live under in the camp, with paranoia and strange decisions being taken all the time. He has learnt how to survive without losing his humanity.
I would highly recommend this, both for the style of prose and also for the study of man in such a harsh situation.
Good Soldier Schweik
I loved this! It was amusing, as well as insightful on the different nations that made up the Austro-Hungarian empire. Hašek gives us not only a satire on the army and war, but also of the church and people in power. Whilst it is very much set in a specific period, we still live in an time with war, so this anti-war novel is still relevant.
I had an inkling of what to expect after seeing Fight Club, but found this much more amusing than I would have expected.
Victor is a man down on his luck, but with a novel way of keeping his head above water. He pretends to choke in restaurants, causing his saviours to both feel good about saving him, and also somehow responsible, thus ensuring his survival.
I know I wasn't supposed to like Victor, he even tells you not to, especially after finding out more information about him. I think it was the style and tone that drew me in, the conversational musings of Victor and, of course, his strange life. I did not feel pity for him, but I did hope he would find some sort of redemption or closure.
So Long a Letter
Here we have a letter written by a widow, highlighting the lack of equality for women, as they are passed over for younger models.
So much suffering and anguish, but a lot can be seen about Senegalese society from these pages, but readers from all nationalities can relate to the two women's stories. This is a short, but thought-provoking book.
These were my next reads, as ever I am way behind on reviews, but will try and fill these in ASAP.
The Sea, the Sea
A narcissistic actor turned director retires to the coast, living in a strange house. He doesn't get the peace and quiet he was expecting, rather it turns into a literary version of the romcom Ghosts of Girlfriends Past as he is both besieged and obsessed with his exes. The exes are not alone, they come with baggage, both in the physical form of their menfolk and emotional. I enjoyed this, especially the narrator's musings on food, often at critical moments in the narrative.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
My first John Le Carre book, I picked this off the shelf after seeing the new adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Written in the '60s, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is very much a novel of its time, it is easy to downplay the Cold War years and what life was like under the threat of war. The Cold War atmosphere in the book is well-created, the narrative is tense and there are many twists and turns. Le Carre shows us a grittier side to spying, a game in which anything goes, of bluff and double bluff, in a world that could blow up at anytime.
The Woman in White
I read The Moonstone a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, so was pleased to pick this up at a local charity shop. As with The Moonstone, The Woman in White is a multi-layered mystery, starting with the titular woman who meets the main narrator, Walter Hartwright, on a road outside London, who tries to help the distraught woman.
The plot is fast paced and its epistolary form, with the rotation of narrators, helps to drive the narrative on, but also keeping up the tension. It is an entertaining read, with lashings of melodrama and Gothic ingredients, with lots of threads which pull together at the end in a satisfying conclusion.
I would recommend this for fans of Sarah Waters, Gothic novels, as well as those looking for a cracking mystery.
Women in Love
I recently read The Rainbow, and was curious to see how the Bronwen line continued. This book focusses on sisters Gudrun and Ursula and the men they fall for.
As with The Rainbow, the book deals with a changing world and a new generation trying to break out of the constraints of the previous. There is also the struggle between art and science, especially shown in the relationship between Gudrun and Gerald.
I can see how the book would have been controversial, but almost a century later, it seems rather tame, though still thought-provoking.
The Virgin Suicides
I saw the film adaptation years ago, and wanted to see the original material, so grabbed it from a bookbox.
Major events in our childhood have a great impact on our lives, and for the men living in Grosse Pointe, it is the suicides of five sisters that coloured their adholescence. The untimely deaths of their contemparies continues to be a topic of discussion when they meet up, even years later. The collective voice of the narrator tries to reconstruct the events, trying to find out what pushed the girls to do what they did.
A very dark book, one that I know I will come back to. Eugendides´ debut novel is one of the best books I´ve read this year, I look forard to Middlesex.
Coetzee takes the story of Robinson Crusoe, as told by Daniel Defoe and gives it a clever twist, that Defoe's source was Susan Barton, a woman who was on the island with Cruso (sic). Barton tells Foe of her struggle to find her daughter, who was kidnapped, in the New World, and of her arrival onto the island where Cruso and Friday have lived for many years.
Foe is a marked departure from the other books I have read by the author (Disgrace, The Age of Iron, The Life and Times of Michael K), but for me can only solidify his position as a Nobel Prize winning author.
A newcomer to the town meets the titular character, a man with a sad story. The narrator then takes us back in time to find out how Frome becomes the broken man he is today, his downfall culminating in a terrible accident.
This is a short, terse book, but Wharton packs a lot into it, from the bitterest of emotions to a snapshot of rural New England. Deservedly on the 1001 Book List.
Breakfast of Champions
Kilgore Trout is back, Vonnegut's prolific sci-fi writer, and unbeknownst to him, a chance encounter with Dwayne is about to change both their lives.
The text is interspersed with Vonnegut's drawings, ostensibly to aid understanding of the story, whilst also building on the ironic tone of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the interjections of the writer, both written and pictorial, especially when his characters don't behave in the way the author imagined they would, even to the point of turning against him.
I would recommend making yourself a large cuppa and losing yourself in Vonnegut's vision of the world.
I am 550 pages into The Magic Mountain, it is taking me a long time as I can only read it in small chunks. It's good, but dense. I have just picked up Wide Sargasso Sea, I like the style, and, hopefully, it will spur me on to read Jane Eyre.
Wide Sargasso Sea
A prequel to Jane Eyre, which is on my long-term TBR pile, looking at Rochester's first wife and her life in Jamaica. The story of Mrs. Rochester, Antoinette Cosway, as a child in Jamaica to her marriage to an Englishman.
I really enjoyed this, I got caught up in Rhys' claustrophobic world of Obeah, crazy relatives, post-emancipation Jamaica. I felt sorry for Antoinette, with no control over her life, and the shadow of a crazy mother loomng over her. To write a prequel to such a beloved book is no easy task, Rhys has not only shown us how Mrs. Rochester came to be, but also given us an idea of a woman's life at the time. Highly recommended.
The Magic Mountain
This has been looking down at me from my TBR shelves for many a year. I studied Death in Venice at uni, and always meant to read this, but was put off by its size.
Hans Castorp is a young man drifting through life, he has been left with enough money to live off without getting his hands dirty. He decides to visit his sick cousin, Joachim, who is at a sanatorium in the Alps. Joachim has TB, which has put paid to his army career, though he is still hopeful that he will be declared fit.
There is a lot in the book, there is also a lot of French without translated footnotes, which is frustrating. I found parts tougher going than others, I found reading in chunks helped me get through it. Worth the read, but footnotes would have increased my understanding of the book.
The World According to Garp
The life and times of T.S. Garp, an unusual story right from conception to the end of the book. The narrtive is spliced with Garp's own work.
Garp is barely in control of his life, events overtake him at every turn, which adds a layer of irony to the book. This is my first Irving, and sure not to be the last. I never knew where the book would take me, but I really enjoyed it.
The Body Artist
The story follows a woman dealing with the suicide of her husband. From a mundane final breakfast to her expressing herself through her body.
This is a very strange book, and I'm not sure it really hits the mark. I read it in one sitting, but only really perservered because it was so short. Unsatisfying.
4 more read, I hope to get at least one more before the end of the year, I am coming up to half way through Jane Eyre, and am enjoying it so far.
Finally! For many reasons, I have never read this and as I have a Jasper Fforde category, I thought I should rectify that.
I enjoyed it, it was very dramatic at times, I imagine my 15-year-old self would have loved it! Jane is good without being a prig, and Rochester is "ugly", but I can see how he caught Jane's eye. It was strange reading a book that is so familiar, despite having never read it.
Oranges are not the only Fruit
A girl is adopted by a Pentecostal family, a strange upbringing indeed. Her mother takes it badly when Jeanette falls for another girl at the church, going against her strict beliefs.
A short 1001 book, loosely biographical, proving that truth is often stranger than fiction.
Three from Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher (new), The Pit and the Pendulum (reread) and The Purloined Letter (reread).
Very short, I preferred The Pit and the Pendulum and The Purloined Letter, but all three were good to read.
This brings my total for 2011 up to 64. I am hoping to reach the milestone of 400 books read by the end of 2012, which means I need to read 63 books this year.
A family falling apart, Julie's elderly parents are showing their age, her mother already in the grip of Alzheimer's, and her younger son's addiction to heroin. Blood is thicker than water, but that doesn't necessarily mean that every family is close. There are skeletons in the cupboard as well as grievences never aired, but long harboured. Recommended.
Behind on reviews, but will post soon.
Talk of the Town
As a huge fan of Father Ted, I was curious to see how O'Hanlan's book compared to his on-screen persona of Father Dougal.
Patrick Scully is a young man from a small Irish town. Killeeny. Despite a promising start, Patrick screws up his Leaving Cert and is not sure where he is heading. His best friend, and idol, is "Balls" O'Reilly, studying in Dublin and definitely more successful with women. Patrick is in a problematic relationship with Francesca, a uni student. He doesn't connect well with her, his envy driving a wedge between them.
What drew me to this book were the tone and its realistic setting, O'Hanlan recreates life in '80s Ireland and the problems and frustrations of being young. The balance of the two narrators works well, too.
The story of a Greek-American family, with all the classic elements of Greek Drama and mythology - birth, death, incest, secrets, and gender.
On the one hand, Middlesex is a coming of age book, how a Greek family turns into a Greek-American family, and how each generation reacts to the world around it. This is not a black and white book, rather one that shows how complex life can be. Brilliant, one of the best books I have read in the last year. I have had it for ages, put off because of its size, but once I started, I didn't want to put it down.
A woman reanalyses her life after the death of her brother, finally opening the can of worms that the past can be.
In three generations of any family, there are squabbles, betrayals, long-held grudges and complex relationships. Enright plays with the reader, using Veronica's unreliable childhood memories to leave them to decide what really happened. I couldn't put the book down, the text draws you in, despite the sadness of it all.
Edna Pontellier is a discontent wife who falls for a young man while holidaying at the Grand Isle Resort. Edna is unsatisfied, and when Robert lavishes her with attention, against her initial hesitations, she lets him into her heart. Robert is more than a romantic diversion, he is the catalyst for Edna to change her own life. Unfortunately Robert sparks a change in Edna's life, but is scared of what he has started.
Chopin captures the frustration of a wife bound by society's norms, and how hard it is to fight against those constraints. I did enjoy the book, tragic as it was, probably because of the sympathetic portrayal of Edna.
The reader follows Moll through love affairs, every rise and fall, amazed that she can never be kept down for long. What also is interesting is the society of the time, the role of women as well as crime and punishment.
The book is engaging, hard to put down, partly from the story, but also because it a narrative with no breaks in it! I'd recommend it, a good look at life at the time, as well as how hard it is to climb up from the bottom of the social ladder, and how easy it is to fall again.
Dark as the Grave wherein my Friend is laid
A writer journeys to Mexico where he was inspired to write a book, one that hasn't exactly shaken the world, and his latest keeps being rejected.
A bit of an odd one, but I got caught up in it, Lowry certainly has an entertaining style. The tortured meanderings of a writer seemed very authentic to me, another reason why I'd recommend the book.
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Joyce's book follows the life of Stephen Dedalus, from an impressionable boy living in a strict catholic society through to becoming a man.
I am still not sure about it, it is not an easy read because of the lack of punctuation, but it was interesting.
This is my second Rohinton Mistry, I read A Fine Balance fairly recently, a great book, and I am happy to say that Family Matters does not disappoint.
As the title implies, the book is all about a family, the family of Nariman Vakeel, the whose marriage to a widow turned him into the patriarch of an extended family. Now an old man, Nariman's family is on the brink of collapse as he becomes sicker. Palmed off on his daughter and step-children, he has lost control of his life, leaving him with more time to reminisce about the past, of their life together as a family as well as his tragic love affair.
Huck is a young lad who has had a hard life, even when he comes into money, he can't seem to catch a break. On his travels down river, he meets lots of characters, good and bad, which help the author comment on the society of the time.
It took a while to read as I had to read it out because it is written in Finn's words and expressions. Well, I'm glad I've read it, but can't see myself getting hold of Tom Sawyer, I suppose it just didn't grab me.
The beginning of the 20th Century was a time of great change in the States, and the rest of the world. On the one hand, there was a great advance in technology, with Ford's cars becoming more common, but the divide between classes was as great as ever. Doctorow weaves his story around very different people, with the main characters coming from three very distinct families. The three families give the reader a window into race and class divides of the time, as well as making them relate that to their own society.
The book also features real historical figures, from Houdini to Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand, from the scandalous Evelyn Nesbit to Henry Ford. As a Brit ill-versed in American history, I did feel I might be missing a lot not knowing who all the real people were in the book. Luckily I had the internet nearby, but it doesn't ruin the book not getting all the references.
I enjoyed this, the intertwining of people's lives, how interconnected we all are. The book is also fast-paced, with lots of twists and turns.
The Shadow Lines
The narrator tells us his family history, of life in India as well as their links with England. The unnamed narrator dearly enjoys the stories of his uncle Tiridib, tales of his time in England which are so vivid that when he finally goes there himself, the narrator is able to find his way around a city he's never even visited before. The book reaches a climax when we find out the tragedy suffered by the family.
As ever with Ghosh's work, The Shadow Lines had me hooked from page one, not only because of the story, but also because of the sumptuous writing style.
David Copperfield is the story of the titular hero from babe in arms to settled man. Right from birth, David has to struggle. His father dies before he is born, leaving his mother to survive all alone, apart from Peggotty, her housekeeper. David has to grow up and overcome difficulties thrown at him, starting with a vindictive step father, through trials with love, to financial difficulties.
All in all, I am not the biggest Dickens fan, the old rhyme comes to mind - when he's good, he's very, very good, when he's bad he's tedious. (please excuse my artistic licence!)
Flowers for Mrs Harris
A short book on the 1001 list by the author of The Snow Goose. The titular Mrs. Harris is a London charlady, a very particular type of cleaning lady, both historically and culturally. Ever since she saw a client's Dior dress, it has been her goal to have one, no mean fact. Her dream is brought a step closer by a win on the pools, but fate seems to help and hinder all at once.
As the previous reviewer of my copy said, this is a book to read when you are in the right mood as what is uplifting one day could be saccharine sweet the next. This is , however, more than a twee novel about a savvy charlady, while it is a sweet book, Gallico captures the period really well.
Everything is Illuminated
Writer Jonathan goes to the Ukraine in search of his own family's history. His family was saved in WW2 by a Ukranian woman, and it is Jonathan's goal to find her. His guide and translator on the trip is Alex, a gregarious young Ukrainian, very much a fan of the U.S., and who is planning his escape from Lvov. Jonathan's search takes them to the countryside, being driven by Alex' grandfather, whose dog takes quite a liking to the author.
I really enjoyed the style, the mix of narratives kept me turning the pages. It is a book that is often raw, but it is the jagged edges that will make you read on. I would recommend this for those who like their literature with a good dose of humour, as well as those who like a well-explored yarn.
Cider with Rosie
I have finally read this, after many false starts along the years, the first time being extracts at school.
Cider with Rosie is a glimpse at a world that has gone, village life in the Cotswolds between WW1 and WW2. Lee's childhood straddles changing times, when rural life was becoming more and more mechanised, the towns were growing and children had more freedom.
I would recommend this to be read in short bursts, I found it rather rose-tinted and a bit much at times. Though, I must admit that Lee's writing style is very poetic, and there were many beautiful passages
King Solomon's Mines
66- I saw the movie Everything is Illuminated before I read the book- didn't know it was a book first- and for once, I was kind of happy I did. I found the book's style a little confusing and it definitely took more work to read than some do. That said, I love the story and think Jonathan Safran Foer may be a genius.
I haven't seen the film yet, though I am planning on getting hold of it. It was fun to read, though I had to pay attention.
I haven't read the book but I love the film. I cry every time I watch it, but it's a good sort of cry. There's relief in it. That and it is genuinely funny.
Gogol is a young Bengali-American man from Massachusetts, searching for his own identity and place in the world.
The narrative caught my imagination and I found I couldn't put the book down. Lahiri captures well the feeling of being between two cultures, Indian by blood, but American by birth. Gogol encompasses this duality, making the normal teenage struggle for identity even harder.
The Line of Beauty
The author takes us back to '80s Britain, where Nick, a young gay man, fresh out of Oxford, is living with the family of a university chum.
Through Nick, we see the rise and falls of the '80s. On the political side, the decade starts with the Tories riding high after a landslide electoral victory, but as the decade draws to a close, scandals have started to drag the party down and the Iron Lady herself is at risk of losing her position. On a more personal note, as a young gay man, Nick arrives in London at the moment of sexual freedom, but the end of the '80s brings with it the shadow of AIDS as more and more cases are reported.
The Book of Evidence
The Player of Games
The House in Paris
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Helen Graham, a young widow, moves into the rundown Wildfell Hall, along with her young son. The locals are intrigued by her, and the rumour mill runs overtime as visitors try to winkle out information from her. One of her frequent visitors is Gilbert, a flighty young man who Arthur, Helen's son, takes a shine to. But Helen has a secret. She has left a bad marriage and is in hiding.
Bronte doesn't confine herself to issues of gender, but also brings up the topics of class, behaviour, addiction to gambling and drinking, whether it is possible to avoid them, as well as scrutinising the institution of marriage.
This is the second book I've read by Anne Bronte, and it stood up to the standard set by Agnes Grey. It is sad to think what others books she could have written if she had not died so young.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
Very good, the very dated politics as it is set in the early 1900s, but an interesting read, especially when you realise how much better life is now for workers, women and children than a 100 years ago.
The Sound and the Fury
Once you get used to the narrative style, a good read.
I saw this in the library and remembered that it was on the 1001 list. Rather fun, a money lender goes to collect a debt, but ends up pitching a film. As the plot unfolds, so the screenplay begins to take life, all helped with larger than life characters.
Written in the '80s before the fall of Apartheid, Gordimer gives us a what if scenario. The white authorities have been taken over, and Maureen and her family flee Jo'burg, taken in by their black "boy". July takes the family to his village, where employers and employees struggle to deal with the power shift. Very tense, as Maureen tries to adapt, having to put her faith in her former servant, in a village where they are not wanted. Interesting dissection of human life. Recommended.
Picked up a second copy of this from a bookfair in Avila.
Amusing at times, good read, if a bit dated.
Tropic of Capricorn
Can't say I wasn't warned as I read Tropic of Cancer for the 12 in 12 Category Challenge. This is an outpouring of text, one lapse in concentration and you lose the thread completely. This time the narrative, you really can't say plot, takes place in the States, not in Paris.
A short 1001 read, an engineer from Guyana goes to live in England with a landlady who has lived in Africa. A snap shot of life rather than a novel with a fixed plot. I found it to be very interesting.
The Last September
Set in Ireland in the last days before Independence, the action takes place in a big house against a turbulent backdrop.
The Red Queen
A book of 2 parts, the first is the posthumous telling of the life story of a Korean crown princess. The second is that of an academic who picks up her memoirs on a flight to South Korea and is taken with her story. Enjoyable.
A young Indian man is introduced into an interesting group led by Miss West, one which changes him, makes him take stock. A book that will stay on your mind as you try to process it, especially with its multinational cast all with their very different relationships in and with India.
The Golden Notebook
Soldiers of Salamis
I am hoping to journal more books, it has been a busy summer so far.
A Boy's Own Story
The End of the Affair
The Pursuit of Love
I actually read Love in a Cold Climate first, but snaffled this from a charity shop not long after seeing the TV adaptation. Just as enjoyable as I remember the other book being, this book follows the story of Linda narrated by her cousin. It is a book of its time, in the characters and the backdrop, but that is part of its charm.
A Tale of Two Cities
Read in the airport, plane and while packing. I did enjoy this, but as ever felt that it suffered from start-stop action. The two cities in question are Paris and London and the plot moves between the two very different places. The action starts with the release of a man from imprisonment, a Frenchman with an English wife, after many years. Theirs is a difficult life, and the revolution has still got his eye on his family.
The Grapes of Wrath
Compelling reading, such a hard life. A master storyteller.
Complicity a spate of killings motivated by moral outrage.
I've had this for ages, finally read it! (and enjoyed it!)
I'm not scared
Don't start this book if you have anything else to do. I thought I'd read a chapter before I went to bed and somehow ended up reading the whole book. It isn't a long book, but it is really gripping. Michele and his friends fill their hot summer days with games, challenges, forfeits and a lot of imagination. It's while on a forfeit that Michele discovers something that will change everything. This is not just a thriller, Niccolo Ammaniti provides us with a well-drawn Italian backdrop, a struggling family in the poorer south with dreams of moving north. Recommended.
By the author of Jane Eyre, not as passionate but more biographical. I have mixed feelings about this, some great parts, but some annoying characters.
The Street of Crocodiles
Brilliant, written by a Polish writer between the wars, a mix of observation and magical happenings.
Ooh had this for a long time, I feel bad about this, especially as it is a 1001-Library book. Set in Australia, it is a good read, like a slow, hot day in the outback.
Dirk Gently's holistic Detective Agency
a lighter side to the list, enjoyed it as a good piece of escapism.
The Vice Consul
I really like Margerite Duras, I haven't been let down by one of her books yet. Intertwined lives in Calcutta.
the descent of a family told in blocks of summer holidays. I really recommend this.
Draining, but good read about the meat packing district in Chicago at the turn of the last century. Slightly let down at the end by the overt praise of socialism, but still worthy of its place on the list.
Orlando - Virginia Woolf
You need to concentrate, but I did get caught up in this. A VERY strange story, with a gender change, a plot sweeping centuries and English history.
In Search of Klingsor
Interesting, an American scientist goes to Germany at the end of WW2 to sweep up fellow scientists, he then gets on the trail of science kingpin, Klingsor. Not bad, I found that I enjoyed the science analogies, but the thriller part was rather predictable.
Visit from the Goon Squad
Interconnected stories, with each chapter focusing on a different person. Worth a read.
Under the Skin - Michel Faber
An unusual story set in Scotland, a woman is picking up hitchhikers - why? Worth a read.
The Master and Margarita
Strange and extremely compelling, took a while to read, but I really liked it.
I enjoyed this, I got a lot out of it because Aphra Behn turned up in a trilogy of books I recently read (The Winter Queen) with the main character of book 1 being the inspiration for this book.
Girls of Slender Means
Another slim Jim! I started this last night and finished it over a nice cuppa this morning. I really liked it, there is a lot going on under the surface.
That brings me up to the end of 2012 - I have been rather rubbish at writing proper reviews, but here's hoping I'll be better this year! Up to the end of 2012 I had read 413 books from the combined list of all 4 versions. I was given the latest edition for Christmas. As for 2013, I'd like to read 52 books again.
1. Dom Casmurro
The titular narrator tells his life story, from the conflict between being in love and fulfilling his mother's promise that he would be a priest. The narrator interrupts the text to give the reader asides, even to advise certain readers not to continue or to comment on how he will improve the text for the next edition. For me, this added to the charm of the book, which captures a long-gone time in Brazil as well as the feeling of "saudade". Worthy of its place on the 1001 list.
2. On the Black Hill
A 1001 book I've had since 2011. I have read In Patagonia and was curious to see how his fiction holds up to his travel books. Set on a farm in the Welsh countryside, the book follows the life of twins Benjamin and Lewis from their parents meeting each other to their death. A very Spartan life at times, Chatwin shows how the world around them is changing, even if the twins' father is resisting it.
3 Hard Times
Not too bad actually, a couple of hundred pages. Not too many annoying or unnecessary characters, I do have Nicholas Nickleby on standby - a tome of a book!
4. The Colour
Tremain takes us to New Zealand, far from Norfolk, where the main characters are from. Joseph has a dark secret, one that has forced him to leave his native East Anglia for the other side of the road. He buys land and builds a house on it for his mother, Lillian, and his wife, Harriet. His mother struggles to adapt to life in a house with few home comforts, and as winter sets in, the three will be sorely tested. Harriet has walked into marriage with her eyes open, wanting to escape her life as a governess, she yearns for something new, but is frustrated by her husband's lack of openness. When Joseph finds gold in the creek near the house, he becomes infused with gold fever, adding yet more pressure on the recently arrived immigrants. I really got drawn in by this book, the writing is very good, the scene is well set and I liked the shift in focus between sections.
5. A Question of Upbringing
Book 1 in Dance to the Music of Time (12 books, but I will be counting each volume as I read it as they were published separately).
This, the first book, covers the last years at public school, a summer spent in France before heading to university. I read volume 4 a few years ago, so I knew I'd like the writing style - observational and witty. The book covers a period of time when people change so much, friendships that are so important at school start to dissolve as those involve diverge on their different paths in life. I intend to read more parts this year.
6. Gravity's Rainbow
7. What a carve up!
8. The Sea
9. Hideous Kinky
10. They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
11. Jude the Obscure
12. A Maggot
The book is very much in a similar style to A French Lieutenant's Woman, with the writer giving us detailed background information and the social context of the book, as well as adding his two pence. With each section, the rug is pulled out from under your feet, with new testimonies contradicting what you had previously been told. I found it interesting, it was easier to read than The Magus as there were clear divisions, but I would recommend setting aside chunks of time to get into it. I'm not surprised that it was cut from the 1001 list, I think that The Collector and The French Lieutenant's Woman are better books, but worth a read.
19. Seize the Day I liked the style, following a character closely over a short period of time, getting inside their head to see their thinking. I'd definitely look for more of his work, as a reader you can be more objective than the characters.
20. A Buyer's Market
Read in a rather disjointed way over a busy Easter period, but think that this might be my favourite Toni Morrison yet!
22. The Acceptance World
I can't believe that such a big book went so quickly! I really enjoyed this.
My second Jonathan Franzen this year, one that my brother gave me. Another big book that didn't take long to read (600 pages), a real family saga, fighting for individuality and wondering if common ground can ever be found. With the families also being split along ideological grounds, seeing domestic and global politics twist and turn with the plot was also interesting for me. Recommended.
25. Caleb Williams
A servant with an exemplary master discovers a secret that leads them both into a ever more desperate situation, where only one outcome seems possible - the ruination of one or the other.
A 1001 book, and I can see why. At times, it seemed a bit much, but too contrived, but reading the notes and appendices (which included notes written by the author) you could see what he was striving to achieve. Certainly the criticism of the society of the time and its justice system warrants reading it in itself, especially the passages in the prison.
I loved Caleb Williams, I read this at university and we looked at him, his wife, the feminist Mary Wollsencroft and his daughter Mary Shelley. A book I always mean to re-read but never get around to.
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.