Carsten's (ctpress) 2014 - Take and Read (1)

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Carsten's (ctpress) 2014 - Take and Read (1)

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Edited: Jun 26, 2014, 5:12am

Painting by Danish artist Carl Holsoe

Welcome all you readers. This is my fifth year on LT-75 and I’m looking forward to another year of book-sharing.

Read in 2014

29. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1798-99) 4/5
28. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961) 2,5/5
27. Staggerford by Jon Hassler (1977) 3/5
26. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964) 3,5/5
25. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler (1985) 3,5/5
24. The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth (1932) 3/5
23. Simon's Night by Jon Hassler (1979) 4,5/5

22. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1895) 5/5
21. Mr. Ive’s Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos (1995) 4/5
20. Pines by Blake Crouch (2012) 4/5
19. The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (1915) 3/5
18. Benediction by Kent Haruf (2013) 4,5/5
17. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939) 3,5/5
16. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond (1958) 4,5/5 (reread)

15. My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse (1919) 3,5/5
14. Voices by Arnaldur Indridason (2003) 4/5
13. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1816) 4/5 (reread)
12. The Coral Island by R. M. Ballantyne (1858) 3/5
11. The Lost Princess by George MacDonald (1875) 2/5
10. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (1998) 3/5

09. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle (1890) 4/5
08. Oh Pioneers! by Willa Cather (1913) 4/5

07. Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes by Robert Louis Stevenson (1878) 4/5

06. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (1959) 4/5
05. Nature and Walking by R. W. Emerson and H. D. Thoreau (1851) 4/5
04. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (1872) 3/5
03. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847) 5/5 (reread)
02. The Purity of Vengeance by Jussi Adler-Olsen (2010) 4/5
01. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (1985) 5/5

Jan 1, 2014, 10:31am

Ok, I'm beginning by looking back.

Top 10 reading 2013 (in no particular order)

1. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
2. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
3. Carry on, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
4. A Conspiracy of Faith by Jussi Adler-Olsen
5. Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
6. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
7. If this is Man by Primo Levi
8. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
9. The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
10. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Jan 1, 2014, 10:34am

Hi Carsten and happy new year!

Jan 1, 2014, 10:35am

Hope I am not too soon to wish you Godt NytAr. And of course a wondrous 2014 in any language, Carsten.

Jan 1, 2014, 11:01am

Welcome back!

Jan 1, 2014, 12:40pm

Happy New Year, Carsten. Hope you have a great 2014.

Jan 1, 2014, 3:50pm

Diana, Paul, Jim and Rhian - A Happy New Year to you too. Looking forward to a lot more book-talk here in 2014.

Jan 1, 2014, 7:21pm

Happy New Year, Carsten. Beautiful painting you've opened with. I love your Best list, too! The Remains of the Day was on my list last year. And The Light Between Oceans was superb. AND … I see Trollope there! Yay!

Jan 1, 2014, 11:31pm

Welcome back, Carsten.

Jan 2, 2014, 12:08am

Happy New Year to you, Carsten!

Jan 2, 2014, 12:22am

My 5th year too, Carsten! Glad to see you back, I hope I run into you from time to time :)

Jan 2, 2014, 12:54am

Nancy, Lori, Anne and Megan - And a Happy New Year to you all - Yes, I'm sure we will run into each other from time to time here on LT :)

Nancy - It was a very good mix on my top ten from 2013 and I'm a little surprised that so few old classics found there way into the list - of course Trollope had to be there. Palliser is waiting for me...

Jan 2, 2014, 2:49am

Happy New Year, Carsten and many great reads for you! Dropping a star as always.

Jan 2, 2014, 9:49am

Carsten, I absolutely love the painting in your first post. Happy New Years!

Jan 2, 2014, 11:01am

A very happy New Year to you, Carsten. Thank you for posting your list of favourites.

Jan 2, 2014, 8:54pm

Love the painting! I'll be here to follow along through another year with you. :)

Jan 3, 2014, 2:48am

Nathalie, Marie, Monica and Ursula - A happy New Year to you all and thanks for dropping by. Looking forward to another book-year.

I like the artist Carl Holsøe. He's somewhat overshadowed by the more famous danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi from the same period (both did a lot of interior paintings - and they were friends, so no wonder they are compared to each other)

Edited: Jan 3, 2014, 3:29am

OK, so some of you have posted a meme - here's mine based on readings in 2013......

Describe yourself: The Thin Man
Describe how you feel: Silence of the Grave
Describe where you currently live: The Small House at Allington
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Your favorite form of transportation: The Cloister Walk
Your best friend is: A Girl of the Limberlost
You and your friends are: The One Hundred and One Dalmatians
What’s the weather like: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
You fear: A Conspiracy of Faith
What is the best advice you have to give: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Thought for the day: If This is Man
How I would like to die: The Return of Sherlock Holmes
My soul’s present condition: The Long Loneliness

Edited: Jan 3, 2014, 4:06am

OK, looking ahead here’s where my reading is going to take me (I hope....)

Top 8 reading-ideas for 2014:

Follow the lists: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die - 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up - 501 Must-Read Books

Prize Winners: Newbery Medal books

The Complete Sherlock Holmes: I’m two novels and a short story collection away…..

Scandi Crime: Jussi Adler-Olsen and Arlandur Indriadson

Focus authors: C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, Tolstoy, George Eliot, Dickens, Shakespeare and Dostoevsky

Finish the trilogy: C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy (2 left), Kristin Lavrandsdottir (2 left), Cathers Prairie-books (2 left)

For the heart: Spiritual Classics - looking into it…

Rereading: Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, Brave New World - Lord of the Rings and at least one Austen

That should keep me busy for at while…But most likely I will be lead astray into other areas and authors and genres and periods by great reviews or great conversations and suggestions here on LT……but at least I have a plan

Jan 3, 2014, 4:31am

Carsten, I'll be interested to see what you make of the second book in Lewis's space trilogy. I liked the first book a lot but found the second book very dull.

Edited: Jan 3, 2014, 6:07am

Rhian - I have to admit that I'm a little sceptic too. I liked the first one - sort of - but had a hard time figuring out the philosophical and spiritual ideas behind it. We will see.

Have you read the third one?

Jan 3, 2014, 2:27pm

Carsten, wonderful reading plans! I'm happily following along for your 2014 adventure.

Speaking of George Eliot, I am presently almost finished listening to Juliet Stevenson narrate Middlemarch; fabulousness!!. I read Jane Eyre a couple of years ago (listened and read, actually), another classic I adore.

Jan 3, 2014, 2:43pm

Carsten, Happy New Year and all the best in 2014.
I loved the first picture in your thread. Beautiful painting!
Thanks too for you best of 2013. I copied and pasted on my master list for ideas.
I am thinking of C.S. Lewis too for 2014 as I had never read any until recently reading Grief Observed and thought I should read more. I tried finding George Eliot Middlemarch audio with J. Stevenson from the library with no success.
Liked your meme!

Edited: Jan 3, 2014, 5:42pm

Nancy - both Middlemarch and Juliet Stevenson. You can't go wrong. Read Middlemarch a few years ago and loved it. I'm also enjoying my re-listen of Jane Eyre - and Juliet Stevenson :)

Mary - and a Happy New Year to you. Yes, I hope you can use some of the titles on the top 10 - I sure liked them. There's so much to choose from when it comes to C. S. Lewis - Children's stories, sci-fi, mythic-stories or essays or letters. Have you read his Letters to Children? Not a big read, but just interesting to learn of his conversations on Narnia with children over the years.

Too bad the Stevenson-audio wasn't at your library. She's a wonderful narrator.

Jan 3, 2014, 8:16pm

Hi, Carsten! I'll be following you with interest, as I'm also working through the 1001 Children's Books list. And I've read all of the Newbery winners (which, apparently makes me a member of the Newbery Nut gang), but soon I'm planning on going back through to read all of the honor books, too.

Jan 3, 2014, 8:39pm

>18 ctpress: What is the best advice you have to give: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Jan 4, 2014, 5:09am

Have a great weekend Carsten. Reading ideas are all good.

Jan 4, 2014, 6:08am

#21 Carsten, I haven't read the final book in the Space Trilogy yet, but I probably will get around to it. I just found that with Perelandra it was way too obvious from the start where it was all heading, and it took a very long time to get there.

Jan 4, 2014, 7:45am

Amber - wow - all the Newbery winners - if there is such a gang you certainly would be in it :) I've only read a few, and so far they have all been great. I also look at the honor-books and my next one will be My Side of the Mountain which will be an audiobook. Just finished Sarah, Plain and Tall - very, very good!!

Megan - Yes, very sound advice, right? :) Have a nice weekend!

Paul - And a great weekend to you. First time I have made an "official" reading-plan on LT - but it helps you being focused on certain books.

Rhian - OK, thanks. I'm warned and prepared for another trip to another strange planet (and the philosophical ideas of Lewis) :)

Jan 4, 2014, 8:29am

No, seriously, people who have read all of the Newbery winners do indeed call themselves Newbery Nuts. Funny, no? I read Sarah, Plain and Tall for the first time last year and loved it, too.

Jan 4, 2014, 10:22am

Amber - Ah, ok :) It will be a while before I can call myself a Newbery Nut, but I like the expression.

Edited: Jan 4, 2014, 10:31am

1. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (1985) 5/5

“There are always things to miss," said Maggie. "No matter where you are.”

Sarah, Plain and Tall is just everything I love in a Children’s book. Easy to understand for a little child, yet profound and filled with wisdom and poetic beauty that will grab the attention of every adult. A story about a widowed man and his two children who live on a farm - he puts an ad in the paper seeking a wife - and Sarah arrives - there’s a lot of speculation among the children about Sarah. Does she like them? Will she stay? Will she marry their father? Can she overcome her longing for the sea at home? They are all guessing and wondering what the future will bring in this period of learning to trust and understand each other.

A story told in sparse language that resembles the simple, quiet, remote prairie life. A quick read, but one that will stay with me a long time. Well, I’ve already downloaded the second in the series Skylark.

Winner of the Newbery Medal 1986
In 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up

Edited: Jan 4, 2014, 12:35pm

Carsten, love the meme you posted at #18, hehe! It was fun, wasn't it?

Lovely review of Sarah, Plain and Tall. You're off to a great 2014 start, with a 5* from 1001 Children's Books You Must Read.

Jan 4, 2014, 1:37pm

Now I'm inspired to read more "kids" books! Must get 1001 Children's Books you Must Read from the library. I bet I have Sarah Plain and Tall tucked away in my shelves somewhere.

Jan 4, 2014, 2:04pm

32: Man, that is one of those "kids" books I never read as a kid. I would have loved it too...

Jan 4, 2014, 2:17pm

Thanks Nancy, yes that meme was fun to do. It certainly was a great start. I didn't expect much from Sarah, Plain and Tall - thought it might be too "childish" if you know what I mean. But it was a pleasant surprise. Gentle and sweet and understated. Just loved it.

Mary - Great :) I love the 1001 Children's Books you Must Read and there are so many good suggestions in it, also classic Children's Book that you can download for free... I find it a good relaxed diversion from the more "heavy" literature.

Hey Marie, never to late to pick it up. You can read it in one sitting.

Jan 4, 2014, 7:45pm

Hi Carsten and a belated Happy New Year! Sarah Plain and Tall is a wonderful book. And I like your favorites from 2013 especially since I have The Last Crossing, The Light Between Oceans and Ordinary Grace on my shelves:-)

Jan 5, 2014, 8:16am

Hi Bonnie, and a Happy New Year to you. I watched the tv-adaptation of Sarah, Plain and Tall last night. With Glen Close and Christopher Walken. Very good. I liked the new things they put into the movie. You have some good reads there on your shelves waiting for you :)

Edited: Jan 5, 2014, 1:06pm

Glenn Close and Christopher Walken? Wow, I think I need to track that one down...

Edited: Jan 5, 2014, 1:16pm

Carsten, so delighted to see The Last Crossing on your list of 2013 Bests! Don't know how I missed that the first time, duh! That good old prairie dust must have clouded my vision ...

Jan 5, 2014, 1:34pm

I just looked it up and our library has a copy so I will read the book first then get the Dvd of Sarah Plain and Tall. Thanks for the suggestion.

Jan 5, 2014, 2:41pm

Amber - Yes, I was also surprised to find such fine actors in this "little" movie....It has a very authentic feeling.

Nancy - Ha, ha, yes that prairie dust....Thanks for pointing me toward The Last Crossing - I'm going to read more by him. But it feels right to start 2014 on the prairie with Sarah, Plain and Tall

Mary - Great - a very quick read but sometimes you only need a few words to create a good story.

Edited: Jan 7, 2014, 2:22pm

2. The Purity of Vengeance ("Journal 64" in Danish) by Jussi Adler-Olsen (2010) 4/5

Jussi Adler-Olsen continues to deliver plenty of suspense, sarcasm and sinister crimes. This time the plot deals with some of the more embarrasing part of Danish history in the 1960’s with eugenics and forced sterilization.

One of the victims - Nete - have only one thing in mind: Vengeance - and slowly we discover some horrible events in the past. Two main plotlines are cleverly intertwined and with some nice surprises at the end.

At Department Q all is the same - or rather we have a more and more bevildered and confused detective Carl Mørk who tries to steer the sinking ship with two unruly passengers - the meddling secretary Rose, and the impulsive assistant Assad - and Carl Mørk have his own problems with an old case that continues to make trouble for him - I guess we will hear more of it in later novels.

This is the fourth novel in the Department Q-series...

Jan 8, 2014, 4:44pm

Oh, thumb-up, Carsten! I can't wait until The Purity of Vengeance is available to we plebes here in Canada!

Jan 8, 2014, 6:40pm

Thanks, Nancy....and I already have number five waiting for me at my sisters house :) Well, I will put it on hold for a while and travel to Iceland and catch up with news on our detective up there.

Edited: Jan 9, 2014, 2:10am

Just finished Arctic Chill tonight and I liked it. Hope you do too! Suitable for winter reading beside a toasty fire.

Jan 9, 2014, 5:15am

Carsten, I thought number four was the best of the series! I still have to read number five though :-)

Jan 9, 2014, 8:30am

Mary - It will be next winter for me - I have to finish number three and four first - These novels are indeed perfect to read in a warm place with the wind howling outside.

Diana - My favorite is still number three - closely followed by The Purity of Vengeance. I'm enjoying the series - highly entertaining.

Jan 10, 2014, 9:00am

Yes Carsten, highly entertaining. Have a wonderful weekend!

Jan 11, 2014, 1:33am

Diana - and a wonderful weekend to you - and interesting reading!

Jan 11, 2014, 1:40am

Hi Carsten, I've tried about three times to start the first of the Jussi Adler-Olsen-books, but I never manage to get past the first 30 pages. I can't see why really, because I love Scandinavian crime-novels. Your review has tempted me to give it yet another try and be more persistent this time.
Happy weekend!

Jan 11, 2014, 2:07am

I am eagerly awaiting that one (Adler-Olsen's latest) appearing in the stores here Carsten. Along with the next Reacher and the next Montalba they are my top three "wait-fors"

Have a great weekend.

Jan 12, 2014, 1:00am

Sorry Jussi didn't appeal to you, Monica. But there's plenty of detective to choose from up here in cold, dark Scandinavia :)

Paul - Hope it be availabe soon and you can add it to one of your book hauls - and you can get it pass the strict SHMBO-custom. Have a great sunday.

Jan 12, 2014, 1:04am

Hi Carsten, just passing through to wish you a happy weekend!

Jan 12, 2014, 9:40am

And a wonderful sunday to you, Anne - nice of you to stop by.

Edited: Jan 12, 2014, 10:22am

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847) 5/5 (reread)

This was my third reading of Jane Eyre and second time I listened to Juliet Stevenson’s narration. And I guess I will read it again in a few years. No need to elaborate on this magnificant classic. One of my all time favorites. All I can say is: Reader, just read it.

4. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (1872) 3/5

A charming old Children’s book about a little girl who gets a back injury and must remain in bed for almost two years. During that time she learns some important lessons about humility, patience and helping others and well, just being able to see the positive side of her situation.

The book deals with some serious issues as death, suffering and handicaps in a good way - unfortunately Susan Coolidge is too eager to spread moral lessons all over the place. A little more subtle approach would have been nice.

In 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up

Jan 12, 2014, 11:00am

Is the Stevenson narration good? I love Jane Eyre and listening to it sounds like a great idea!

Jan 12, 2014, 11:17am

Amber - I think so - it's a short read - a very funny account of a 10-day traveling with an obstinate donkey and meeting some inhospitable french mountain-farmers and sleeping outdoors in a homemade sleeping bag with a revolver at his side. Only one-third into it but I'm smiling a lot.

Oh, Jane Eyre is perfect as an audiobook. I've listened to a lot of books, and this is one of my favorites.

Jan 12, 2014, 12:15pm

Carsten, just delighted that you enjoyed Jane Eyre again so much. I agree that Juliet Stevenson narrating this one is sheer perfection!

As for What Katy Did: Susan Coolidge is too eager to spread moral lessons all over the place. A little more subtle approach would have been nice. Why do authors do that? Sounds like she spoiled an otherwise charming read.

Jan 12, 2014, 12:37pm

It did somewhat spoil the reading for me, Nancy. The charm was still there, but irritating that she had to press so hard to instill the victorian ideals and morals so up-front.

Jan 12, 2014, 5:25pm

Carsten, you are off to a great beginning in 2014. I like your plans to read children's books along with adult books. I am trying to read the Caldecott winners with my 3-year-old granddaughter. When she gets older, I may be reading those Newbery winners along with you. Actually, as a retired elementary school teacher, I have read many of the old ones such as Sarah, Plain and Tall which I loved…along with that Hallmark presentation. Good stuff!

Jan 13, 2014, 2:04pm

Sounds like a brilliant idea to read book-prize winners to your granddaughter, Donna. She might as well get use to it - having her prepared and ready for the Newbery-books. Enjoying another one at the moment. My Side of the Mountain although "only" an honor-book. A classic boy's adventure in the woods.

Jan 18, 2014, 3:48am

One of the pleasures I had from the children growing up was reading to them in the evenings. CS Lewis, Roald Dahl, Watership Down, Norton Juster, Mary Poppins, E. Nesbitt and so on.

I don't know whether I liked it more than they did in fact.

Carsten, have a great weekend.

Jan 19, 2014, 7:18am

Oh, yes, Paul - that's good books to share with your children. I guess it must have been some nice evenings. Oh, weekend is almost gone in your part of the world - but anyway - have a nice rest of the weekend.

Edited: Jan 19, 2014, 7:28am

5. Nature and Walking by R. W. Emerson and H. D. Thoreau (1851) 4/5

I’ve been taking several longer walks since my hiking trip to Lapland last year - and find myself enjoying walking more and more.

The other day I grapped this little gem from my shelf for some inspiration. Only 122 pages, but much food for thought. Only two essays but by the finest of men. With a nice introduction by John Elder - and filled with beautiful wood engravings.

I read it primarily for the “Walking” essay by Thoreau - but I found Emersons essay on Nature the perfect way to lead me into Walking.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, - who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering.

What Thoreau is talking about is the noble art of Walking - he fancies himself a knight of a new order - the Walkers

It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers.

What he talks most about is "a quality of awareness, an openess to the light, to the seasons and to natures perpetual renewal” - to quote the introduction. I like Thoreau - his wit - his spirit of adventure, his refusal to conform to the latest trend and fashion. And that he was a knight of new order.

We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return - prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave your father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again, - if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a fee man, then you are ready for a walk.

Dear Thoreau, can I join the Walkers?

Edited: Jan 19, 2014, 7:28am

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (1959) 4/5

A fascinating journal - it recounts a year in the life of Sam Gribley, a boy who escape from home in the crowded city of New York to life in the wilderness in the Catskills. It’s sort of a "Walden meets Robinson Crusoe” - the children’s edition.

It is his desire to be get away from a large family and crowded apartment that initially drives him to the woods. Also the dream of living free and independent with noone to bother him. Fascinating to find out how he survives building a shelter, making clothes and hunting for food - and trying to make it through winter with stored up provisions. He also captures and trains a peregrine falcon named Frightful. And slowly he befriends a teacher and even his father comes to visit during Christmas.

He has not run away in that sense. His father has an idea of where he is - also the local librarian where he comes to read about plants and wild life in order to survive. I wonder…it all sounds quite incredible that a boy should be left alone like that for so long…but maybe not so incredible back in 1960’s. Well, the suspension of disbelief and all that.

I like the ending - there’s a growing conflict in Sam. The disire to be alone and the desire of human fellowship.

Edited: Jan 19, 2014, 12:24pm

Carsten, I'm taken with your review of Nature and Walking. I also love to walk. Great quote you've included about a new order of Walkers.

My Side of the Mountain sounds like one I would enjoy. I like the idea that a YA is learning about the desire to be alone and the desire of human fellowship.

Jan 19, 2014, 6:16pm

Thanks, Nancy. Another benefit of walking: Listening to audiobooks - I don't think Thoreau would approve, but hey, sometimes modern technology is a good thing :)

Jan 20, 2014, 8:04pm

HI Carsten, I am going to see if the library has the Nature and Walking book. It sounds good. We have amazing walks close by. Lucky!

Jan 20, 2014, 9:39pm

Hi Mary - yes, lucky you. I live in the city so limited access to undisturbed nature. Although there's a lake near where I live and there I walk a lot. If you have an ebook reader both essays are available for free download.

I found this today: The Joys of Walking - seems like a nice essay collection by Thoreau, Dickens and others. I'm considering it.

Jan 21, 2014, 8:42pm

Hello Carsten - found you, starred you, stalking you!

Jan 22, 2014, 11:13am

Hi Prue - I can't hide anymore :) Nice of you to drop by and drop a star.

Jan 23, 2014, 12:50pm

Glad that My Side of the Mountain still holds up.

Jan 24, 2014, 11:52am

yes, Lori - it still holds up. In fact I'm going to watch the movie version of My Side Mountain soon - looking forward to that. Have a nice weekend.

Jan 24, 2014, 2:20pm

Hi Carsten- I wasn't too taken with What Katy Did when I red it last year. My Side of the Mountain I liked a little are you going with Pilgrim at Tinker Creek?

Have a good weekend, Carsten.

Jan 26, 2014, 1:59am

Looks like a keeper My Side of the Mountain.

See Nancy has figured out how to introduce those charming little thumbs into the proceedings.

Have a great weekend.

Jan 26, 2014, 8:28am

Megan - I'm struggling with Pilgrim at Tinker Creek at the moment and are not taken in the same way as you by the poetic thoughts and ramblings - I don't know why. I'm four chapters in and are trying to read slowly. Maybe I have Thoreau to much in my mind as a comparison and Dillard is here, there and everywhere - Maybe I need some more structure or idea where it's all going.

Paul - Yes, My Side of the Mountain was a pleasant surprise - but here I'm easy to please. I like these Robinson Crusoe/Thoreau-stories a lot.

Jan 30, 2014, 12:20am

HI Carsten,
Just read Sarah Plain and Tall and you were absolutely right, it is wonderful.

Feb 1, 2014, 10:10pm

Carsten - hope your weekend is going well.

Feb 2, 2014, 8:08pm

Hi Mary - Glad you liked Sarah, Plain and Tall - thought you might like it.

Hi Paul - busy, busy weekend, but now I have a few days of work to relax in. And do some reading. Have a nice week out there in your crowded place of the world.

Feb 2, 2014, 10:25pm

Ahh, a few days off to relax. That part's always the best, isn't it? Enjoy : ).

Feb 4, 2014, 12:35am

Yes, Nancy. Have been looking forward to that. And some time for reading as well.

Feb 17, 2014, 11:27pm

Hi Carsten,
The Tinker Creek thread is still happening if you are still persevering...understand your not 'getting into it'. I wasn't completely enthralled myself, just taken for a pleasant and lovely ride. (I liked her autobiography better, An American Childhood).

Feb 22, 2014, 1:45pm

Missing you here on LT, Carsten! Has work got you going crazy again?

Feb 23, 2014, 2:34pm

Hi Megan - Thinker Creek will perhaps be digested by me in small portions. I think I was too greedily reading on and it all got a little blurred for me. Maybe I should try her biography first.

Hi Nancy - Yes, a crazy news week - but, hey, at least now I know most of the names of the Ukrainian opposition. On top of that some pressing church activities that left me quite exhausted. The next two weeks hopefully will be more slow, so I look forward to some quality reading-time in my couch.

Feb 23, 2014, 3:47pm

Yay! You're back. It makes sense that you've garnered quite an education in Ukrainian politics. Between that and pressing church activities, you're due for some time on your reading couch! Enjoy … will be stalking you as usual : ).

Feb 24, 2014, 12:20am

Thanks, Nancy. I look really forward to continue some of the books that have been put on hold. Reviews coming up, soon, stalker :)

Edited: Feb 28, 2014, 1:08pm

7. Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes by Robert Louis Stevenson (1878) 4/5

I blessed God that I was free to wander, free to hope, and free to love

In the autumn of 1878 Robert Louis Stevenson made a 120 mile hike in the Cevennes in France. The journey took him 11 days.

A donkey is bought at the beginning of the hike and christened Modestine - but the animal turns out to be very obstinate and difficult to manage. Very funny situations with that beast in the remote, mountainous region in southern France.

Stevenson is very good at observations and try to distill some thoughts on traveling, religion and life in general out of the experiences he has.

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilization, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints.

Some of the highlights is his short stay at a Trappist Monastery - a challenge for him as a Protestant, but he likes the simplicity of life among the monks. And sleeping at an inn in a little room with a married couple. Mostly though he finds the farmers he meet quite inhospitable - and even reluctant to show him the way when he’s lost - at least twice he has to sleep outdoors in a homemade sort of a sleeping bag.

A short book but really worth it if you like travel-writing - free download to your Kindle.

A few weeks ago I explored the section "Travel" in 501 Must-Read Books for some pointers on travel-reading. I think I will do some more suggestions from that book.

Feb 28, 2014, 5:15pm

I think I'll download that one sometime. Off to add it to my list now.

Mar 1, 2014, 12:14am

Hi Carsten! Just passing through to wish you a happy weekend!

Mar 1, 2014, 2:56am

Lori - Hope you'll enjoy it if you get to it sometime.

Anne - Thanks - and a good one to you too.

Mar 1, 2014, 3:03am

8. Oh Pioneers! by Willa Cather (1913) 4/5

It was from facing this vast hardness that the boy’s mouth had become so bitter, because he felt that men were too weak to make any mark here, that the land wanted to be let alone, to preserve its own fierce strength, its peculiar, savage kind of beauty, its uninterrupted mournfulness.

The prairie is almost its own character in Cather's novels. This story follows the swedish Bergson family. The main character, the girl Alexandra, is the only one who really understands the potential of the prairie to make a living. She studies and learn from the few wise people around her and her industriousness pays off.

Another beautiful prairie-story from Cather. There’s such and aching and longing for love and belonging in Alexandra as she grows up and becomes an independent land owner. You just want her to find happiness and love. You have to wait quite a bit, but it’s all worth it.

Her personal life, her own realization of herself, was almost a subconscious existence; like an underground river that came to the surface only here and there, at intervals months apart, and then sank again to flow on under her own fields.

Mar 1, 2014, 1:33pm

Carsten, how wonderful to find two new reviews from you as I'm sitting down to morning coffee and perusing LT : ).

I'm not at all familiar with 501 Books, but I love that it has a travel section … and that you found Robert Louis Stevenson in it! Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes sounds charming! A donkey named Modestine who is obstinate! Love this quote, too: to come down off this feather-bed of civilization, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints.

O Pioneers! is one that I've had on my list (and in my iPad, actually) since what seems like forever. Your review and your 4* assessment prompts me to get on with it. I love a beautiful prairie story.

Edited: Mar 1, 2014, 6:48pm

Hi Nancy. Yes, charming is the word for Travels with a Donkey. I think I will read some of his other traveling-books.

I think Willa Cather will be right up your alley. One to go to finish her prairie trilogy. Liked My Antonia better than Oh Pioneer! but both very good.

Have a nice weekend

Mar 2, 2014, 4:46am

I've always meant to read Travels with a donkey in the Cevennnes, it sounds a lovely book. By the way, our summer holiday this year is going to be in Denmark, including a few days in Copenhagen, so I may be pestering you for recommendations of what to do and where to eat later on!

Mar 2, 2014, 12:30pm

Carsten, I love travel books even more so than the actual traveling. I am such a homebody and my husband and I have different ideas about what to see and do when we do go somewhere. He has been to many more places than I have and wants to relax when he travels while I try to gobble up every "must see" site in the travel books and end up exhausted. Reading about places works for me so I hope you will share some of your finds from the 501 Must-Read Books.

I'm off to download the RLS book. Thanks for the tip. I enjoyed the quotes you shared.

Mar 2, 2014, 8:16pm

Rhian - A visit to Denmark and Copenhagen! Great choice :) Sure, I will help all I can with pointers on places to go and eat.

Donna - I hear you.....There are certainly places I only want to read about and not go myself :) Traveling-books are a safe choice.

I have already a few put on a list from the 501 Must-Read Books that I plan to read in the near future.

Edited: Mar 5, 2014, 1:44pm

9. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle (1890) 4/5

Watson: I fear that it may be the last investigation in which I shall have the chance of studying your methods. Miss Morstan has done me the honor to accept me as a husband in prospective.

Sherlock Holmes gave a most dismal groan. “I feared as much,” said he. “I cannot really congratulate you.”

I was a little hurt. “Have you any reason to be dissatisfied with my choice?” I asked.

“Not at all. I think she is one of the most charming young ladies I ever met….But love is an emotional thing and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment.

"I trust,” said I, laughing, “that my judgment may survive the ordeal.”

Sorry for a lengthy quote but I couldn’t resist. I will remember this second novel in the Sherlock Holmes series for the blooming romance between our dear friend Dr. Watson and the woman in peril, Miss Mary Morstan. When you get romance in Sherlock Holmes you have to cherish it. And Holmes’ cold reaction towards it. There’s a guy who stays true to character.

Of other novelties in the novel one can mention the opening scene where Holmes with much indifference is sniffing cocaine out of boredom. Watson is shocked and warns Holmes of his dangerous cocain habit.

So we come to the mystery itself. Well, all I have to say: This is a short, fast-paced story that takes place all over London - about Miss Morstan and her missing father, a hidden treasure, treachery, murder and greed among the ingredients. Here’s the books concluding remark:

Watson to Holmes: You have done all the work in this business. I geet a wife out of it, Jones (the police investigator) gets the credit, pray what remains for you?

“For me,” said Sherlock Holmes, “there still remains the cocaine-bottle.” And he stretched his long white hand up for it.

Mar 5, 2014, 2:51pm

I read that one last year, and The Hound of the Baskervilles this year. I liked the prominence of the Baker Street Irregulars in the Sign of Four. It wasn't my favorite mystery, but I agree it was definitely fast-paced!

Mar 5, 2014, 5:36pm

Great review of The Sign of Four, Carsten. Chuckled out loud at your quote illustrating Holmes' response to the budding romance: “I feared as much,” said he. “I cannot really congratulate you.” Thumb-up : ).

Mar 5, 2014, 6:13pm

Ursula - Are you reading through the entire Holmes corpus? Left for me is The Valley of Fear and The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes. I'm more fond of the short stories than the novels/novellas.

Nancy - Yes, that quote made me laugh too. I like the idea that the "normal" guy is telling the story of the eccentric Holmes. He's really an enigma, dear Holmes.

Mar 5, 2014, 7:21pm

>101 ctpress: Yes, although without any real alacrity. The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are on the 1001 books list. I have the complete collection, so I figured I'd just meander my way through them.

Mar 7, 2014, 11:08am

Ursula - It's nice just to take one story once in a while, when you're in the mood for some Sherlock. I have also listened to one of the collections as audiobook.

I've tried to read the short story collections in the order of their publication, just not the novels.

Mar 7, 2014, 10:10pm

How fun to read all the Sherlock Holmes canon.

Edited: Mar 8, 2014, 5:08am

Oh, yes, Lori - great fun. There's not a character in the whole world of literature quite like Sherlock Holmes. Have a nice weekend.

Mar 13, 2014, 12:52pm

98: Lovely review, one of these days I will read a single Sherlock Holmes novel. I'm not even sure I know where to begin except maybe the first published book.

Mar 15, 2014, 2:07am

Thanks Marie. The first published Sherlock Holmes novel is A Study in Scarlet. Just after that there's the first published short stories in the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, both good places to begin. Have a nice weekend.

Mar 21, 2014, 9:01pm

>106 RosyLibrarian: & >107 ctpress: Best place to start is at the beginning, Marie! Doctor Watson sets the scene properly in the first book and it is assumed you already know subsequently.

Have a lovely weekend, Carsten and I do hope that spring is beginning to bloom in Denmark.

Mar 22, 2014, 6:23am

*Happy weekend wave*

Mar 23, 2014, 7:30pm

Hi Carsten, I'm watching the last of Borgen season 3 and really hooked. Feel like I'm visiting Copenhagen. What a beautiful country and city. Just finished the last in the series of Indridason Strange Shores. Hope he writes more.

Mar 25, 2014, 2:14pm

Paul - You're right. Starting where every reader back then started is a good idea :) We have an early spring this year and although it's quite brisk weather we are enjoying some sunny days.

Diana - *Waving right back*

Mary - So you're hooked on Borgen too - great :) Yes, Copenhagen really look good in that series. I still have a lot of Indridason to read. Am about to start on the third in the series soon.

Mar 25, 2014, 8:55pm

Carsten, you really have to keep up on your Scandi-crime, LOL! You'll enjoy Indridason's third : ).

Mar 26, 2014, 6:07pm

Nancy, I've enjoyed both Mankell, Nesbo, Adlet-Olsen and Indridason. Haven't really been disappointed so far with Scandi-crime :)

Apr 15, 2014, 7:25am

Hey there Carsten! I decided that I was just to busy with our new puppy to run a thread this year, but I thought I'd pop by and say hi! I am so thrilled to see that Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger was one of your top ten reads last year. Me too!. William Kent Krueger usually writes mysteries and I've got my husband hooked on his mystery series.

I've discovered a couple of authors that I love. I kept seeing Benediction by Kent Haruf in the book stores and finally I had to see what it was all about . I started with Plainsong, then Eventide and finally Benediction. I loved them all and I think that you would too, perhaps most especially Benediction . Spare prose, great beauty and subdued emotion.

I'm just finished off Crow Lake by Mary Lawson a piece of CanLit. I'm loving it and I think that you would too. I think Nancy would love these books too.

Scandi crime! Oh yes! I'm not sure if Burial Rites by Hannah Kent count as Scandi Crime, since it is on the Orange Shortlist, but I am hoping to get to it soon.

Great to " see you. " On my profile/home page I have the books I've read this year and their ratings if you are interested.

And yes, I am closely following the British Royal Tour in New Zealand/ Australia. Oh what will Kate wear next?

Edited: Apr 15, 2014, 10:21am

Hi Deborah - so good to hear from you - I bet your dog is thriving and enjoying life :) My best friend (my cousin) and his wife have just got a puppy and they talk about all the time it takes to take care of it and train it. A small fluffy dog called Einstein and very adorable.

Yes, Ordinary Grace was a wonderful novel - thanks for recommending. I better check out Kent Haruf - Spare prose, great beauty and subdued emotion. Sounds great. And Mary Lawson. I have actually been lurking around your profile page - and good to see you are still reading and giving out stars.

What Will Kate Wear Next? - see that's the quintessential question of life. Answer that and you have unlocked the secret of the universe. Some things don't change, ehh? :)

Edited: Apr 15, 2014, 12:39pm

I couldn’t finish Sylvester by Georgette Heyer. Despite several attempts. As the first novel I read by her Charity Girl it started very well, just to end up in the last half in a silly plot.
Maybe Heyer is not for me - or maybe I’ve selected the wrong novels.

10. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (1998) 3/5

It was really strange to read this book in english, about a well-known Danish story from WWII. About the danish population who hid and helped almost all of the danish jews in nazi-occupied Denmark in october 1943, around 7.000, to escape to safety in neutral Sweden.

A story that is worth telling in a Childrens story, and it is done well, but for me it lacked a lot of historic information to ground it more in reality. Also the events are romanticized a great deal. One has also to look to the fate of the german jews in Denmark to get a more balanced picture of the "heroic Danes”.

Wisely enough we only follow one of the stories from “the great escape” - and not from the point of view of a jew, but from one girl who becomes part of the suspenseful flight. Her perspective on the war and people is forever changed.

Newbery Award winner (1999)
In 1001: Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up

Apr 15, 2014, 10:33am

Carsten, sounds like Heyer is not one for you. Lots of authors out there whom you do enjoy : ).

This is a great review of Number the Stars. I've seen this book … in the library, or in a book shop. Have you read The Book Thief? It's a YA read about a German family hiding a young Jewish man. It was a fabulous 5* read for me; I think you'd enjoy.

What Will Kate Wear Next? - see that's the quintessential question of life. Answer that and you have unlocked the secret of the universe. Ah, yes! Thanks for the morning chuckle!

Apr 15, 2014, 12:29pm

Hi Nancy - Yes, I think I will put Heyer on hold for a while. I've just seen The Book Thief - the movie - which was very good. One of those I wished I had read before watching.

Deborah - I forgot to ask. Can you read Benediction first - or is it a trilogy you have to read from beginning?

Apr 15, 2014, 5:19pm

Ah! I've got the movie The Book Thief on my list of ones I want to see. Good to hear that it's well done.

Apr 15, 2014, 6:31pm

You could certainly read Benediction first, Carston. The other two I would suggest reading in order, Plainsong and Eventide, but Benediction struck me more as a book that could stand alone without any problem.

I'm glad that both you and Nancy understand the gravity and importance of What will Kate wear next. A coat dress or a frock? :)

Great review of Number The Stars. Thanks for enlightening me on the reality of what went on in Denmark during WW11. That's a subject I don't know a lot about. Unlike the royal frocks! ;)

Apr 16, 2014, 3:39am

Nancy - Can't compare it to the novel, of course, but although sad, there were also beautiful scenes that showed the power of the written word. Loved that part.

Deborah - OK, I think I will try Benediction - Are you still lobbying to get Kate and William to Vancouver or have you given up all hope?

To think of it "What Will Kate Wear Next?" are topped by a more important question: "Will Liverpool win?" - "The Reds" are in a two-point lead with four football games to go and can actually now win it all in England. For one who have travelled to Anfield to watch them play this is THE question a the moment :)

Apr 16, 2014, 6:10pm

>119 ctpress: I LOVED The Book Thief movie. I cried gallons. They did a wonderful job of adapting it. You haven't read the book? Kick it up higher on the TBR list because it's beautiful.

Apr 17, 2014, 5:04am

Hi Marie - Good to hear that the adaptation didn't ruin the novel. I put it on the wish-list at Audible so I don't forget it. Could be a good night listen at some point.

Apr 17, 2014, 11:49am

#123 Ditto, I loved the book The Book Thief and just recently saw the movie and that it was very well done. I would suggest reading the book first as the narrator comes across as stronger.

Apr 18, 2014, 8:35am

Happy Easter!

Apr 20, 2014, 11:54am

Happy Easter, Diana :)

Edited: Apr 21, 2014, 4:53pm

11. The Lost Princess by George MacDonald (1875) 2/5

A.K.A. "The Wise Women: A Parable".

A story of two very spoiled girls, a princess and a peasant, who are kidnapped by a strange woman for a lesson in life. They have been brought up very unwisely - so their parents need a lesson too.

I got quite irritated at this fairy tale/moral parable. The two girls are so spoiled that you really don’t want to spend time with them at all. It really takes a Wise Woman to make them grow up and be well behaved kids .

Well, it’s a parable - and I guess that's the problem - there’s little enchantment in MacDonald trying to teach us about parenting in a fairy tale. He’s much better in some of his other fairy tales.

Edited: Apr 20, 2014, 12:47pm

12. The Coral Island by R. M. Ballantyne (1858) 3/5

An enjoyable boys adventure story set on some remote Island in the Pacific Ocean, where three teenagers are shipwrecked.

After some time of Robinson Crusoe-like experiences they are intangled in some nasty tribal wars and tries to rescue a young woman from being executed.

The latter part of the novel are dealing with some missionaries who try to convert the "heathens". There are some very gruesome and graphic detailed descriptions in the novel that surprised me a lot.

The moral of the story are not told in a subtle way - no doubt about the Christian and Victorian virtues that are being instilled in the young reader of that day.

Ballantyne wrote numerous novels of this kind, but Coral Island is one of his most famous.

In 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up

Edited: Apr 21, 2014, 9:43am

You are very brave with regards to the children's books that you read. It seems that the older books that you have read carry with them the idea that " spare the rod, spoil the child." Not to say that the books say that in so many words, but I think in those older stories, authors were quite blunt and attitudes towards raising children varied quite a bit from today. Me, I loved E.Nesbit as a child and many of the British authors and Harriet the Spy , and many others. Having a big conscience even as child I did torture myself with the Newberry Award Winners and so called " Children's classics, like Black Beauty - always loathed horses, so not a great book for me. Or, Little Women. Such a bunch of sap. I'll have to check on the 1001 Children Books and see which ones I managed to read that I actually enjoyed! ;)

Do read Benediction. Carsten. I'm quite sure you will enjoy it. I kept looking at it in the store and at the library and I thought - oh , a dying pastor - will be so depressing -but it was about that and so much more. One of my favourite reads this year. CanLit fav - Crow Lake by Mary Lawson.

As for petitioning for Kate and Wills to visit Vancouver, I think it will be a while until they visit Beautiful BC. For some odd reason, when Kate and Will visited Canada shortly after their marriage, they only went as far west as Calgary ( also known as Cowtown) and went to a the Calgary Rodeo. I was flummoxed, but what can you do? will Liverpool win? And really , their fans are even crazier then we Royal fans. Generally speaking, we are a gentle lot, not given to riots and shouting. Of course I am sure that you are calm and civilized - and there in your capacity as a news editor. I understand, Carsten.

To further your interest in your team, here is their website -

Visit KP next time you in the UK , just for me, Carsten. I beg of you.. ;)

Apr 21, 2014, 11:34am

Carsten, thoroughly enjoyed your reviews of The Lost Princess and The Coral Island. Am intrigued with your readings from 1001 Children's Books and curious as to where you find your selections. Are you reading from classics you had as a child, or borrowing library books, or download ebooks …? Reviews are thumb-worthy, but you haven't posted them. Will you do so later?

Apr 21, 2014, 5:27pm

Deborah - Nesbit is good - although I've only read The Railway Children - but there's so many good old children's books that I've discovered lately from the 1001 Children's Books.

The best ones can be read at any age. Like: Grahame's Wind in the Willows, Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, Astrid Lindgren's Brothers Lionheart, Burnetts The Secret Garden, Rawlings The Yearling just to name some of my favorites from recent years.

I'll check out Kent Haruf and Mary Lawson. Sounds promising.

And I'll pop in for some tea at Kensington when I come by the next time - just to catch up on the latest royal news.

Liverpool had another win yesterday - so all's good :)

Nancy - I read mostly danish children's books but also, Laura Ingalls Wilder I remember reading, a lot of the Astrid Lindgren books - and a few of the classics in these abridged versions like Three Musketeer's, Robin Hood etc. But I missed out on many books. So I'm catching up.

I have almost no books left from childhood - mostly abridged versions I don't like to read again. The older ones can be downloaded for free - otherwise I buy many as ebooks. Most of them are fairly cheap. But I also have several from audible. Children's books are often written to be read aloud so that's perfect. I've listened to Burnett and Montgomery a lot as audio-books. Sometimes I use the library but it's seldom.

Now the reviews are up and ready for a thumb or two :)

Edited: Apr 21, 2014, 11:56pm

Alao loved The Wind in the Willows and The Secret Garden. The children's lit course I took in u i was one of my favourite courses; fabulous prof nd reading selections.

I never thought about listening to children's books, but now you mention it, they are perfect! Of course most of them were written to be read aloud! I must look for some od the older selections, too, which are free.

*off to apply some thumbs*

Apr 22, 2014, 12:43am

Well, actually I read lots of Children's books when I was a kid / teenager. I LOVED to read. Nancy Drew, Bobsey Twins, even The Hardy Boys! ;) But I also read Secret Garden. Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass , everything by Lucy Maude Montgomery. I read tons of young adult / kids books and had many fav's. I think a love of books starts in childhood. I read The Wind in The Willows and it was okay, but I was just never big on "creatures". I also loved A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. And my grandparents had a basement full of Agatha Christie's which I read in my early teens.

Liverpool won! Bravo Carsten. I've thumbed you and Nancy! Now off to check on what Kate is wearing! Oh! Astrid Lindgren - Pippi Longstocking . That was a fun book!

Apr 22, 2014, 6:55am

Nancy - A short funny children's audiobook would be a good "in-between your chunksters choice" to listen to. Or just for a relaxed relief-read after a heavy existential literary award-read :)

One of my next listenings will be A Bear Called Paddington read by Stephen Fry - looking forward to that one.

Deborah - Oh, yes I can see have read many children's classic - I thought for some years I had outgrown them - big mistake. Some years ago I was rereading the Narnia-books, and then listening to The Hobbit by Rob Inglis - one of my all time favorite narrations. I fell in love with the children's books once again. They do me good after a heavy Dostoevsky or something like that.

Ah, so you fell in love with the detective stories through Agatha Christie? Good beginnings.

Oh, yes Pippi Longstocking for sure - although Pippi will always for me be a swedish tv-series I saw when I was young. Magic!

Apr 22, 2014, 10:46am

Or just for a relaxed relief-read after a heavy existential literary award-read :) Oh, so true, LOL. You have such a way with words, Carsten : ).

Apr 22, 2014, 4:13pm

Nancy - :) All this talk about children's audiobooks...I couldn't resist. Put My Man Jeeves on hold and listened to A Bear Called Paddington today. Rather silly story, but so sweet. You can't help but laugh at dear helpless Paddington.

Edited: Apr 24, 2014, 8:24am

13. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1816) 4/5 (reread)

“I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel…”

The most tragic thing in this gothic horror-story is the monsters vain longing for love, for a friendly soul. He doesn’t find it - not even in his creator, the young science student, Victor Frankenstein. And in stead the monster turns to a destructive path of vengeance.

19 year old Mary Shelley takes us on an emotional charged roller coater ride. I like this theatrical, supercharged atmosphere Shelley creates - also the philosophical questions it raises - the conflicts between creator and creature, the danger of scientific experimentation with the building blocks of life. It is indeed a tragedy.

Frankenstein has a loving family and the love of his life waiting for him, but he runs away from it. The monster longs for love and belonging - bus has no way of getting it.

Edited: Apr 24, 2014, 11:41am

Carsten, you remind me that I need to reread Frankenstein. Amazing that Shelley was only 19 years old when she wrote it!

eta: just saw your previous post. Love that you put all things serious on hold to reread A Bear Called Paddington. so sweet : ).

Apr 24, 2014, 2:41pm

Nancy - Yes, it is amazing that she was only 19 when she wrote it - what an imagination.

Stephen Fry is perfect reading Paddington. Love it.

Did you know Paddington is coming to the big screen later this year? Just saw the teaser...not much revealed but some good british actors are in it.

Apr 24, 2014, 5:25pm

Carsten I'm ashamed to tell that I have never read Frankenstein. Great review and thumbed. Though I have not read Frankenstein I too am amazed that anyone could write a classic at such a young age. I feel your need for something light. I finished Burial Rites and while I enjoyed it, it was very dark, atmospherically and plot wise. I feel the need for something fun or light hearted.

Edited: Apr 25, 2014, 7:29am

Deborah - I'm not sure you would like Frankenstein very much...monsters and all that, but it is on most lists of classics.

Hope you'll find some fun and light reading you can enjoy. The title Burial Rites does sound a little heavy and dark :)

Edited: Apr 25, 2014, 11:56pm

Well, Carsten I'm still glad the I read Burial Rites , but sometime a person needs a lighter read. I'm reading a german translated murder mystery. I am not sure if that is going to be light. We'll see ....... I think it might turn out to a serial killer... The Other Child by Charlotte Link. It is often a challenge to find a book of some substance that is not kind of dark. One day Frankenstein....

Edited: Apr 26, 2014, 11:45am

Deborah - No, a murder mystery with a serial killer doesn't sound like the perfect light reading :)

Hmmm, light reading - a book of some substance that is not kind of dark? I think I could recommend a few - but I would think of classics like A Room with a View, The Warden or something like that - the modern novels I have read recently tend to be rather dark or very serious stuff.

Hope you find something you can enjoy.

Apr 26, 2014, 12:23pm

Hi Carsten! I am caught up here, I think.

I am also listening to Jeeves & Wooster -- just the thing after my last heavy audio.

I wholeheartedly second (third? fourth?) the recommendations for Mary Lawson (Crow Lake is a favorite), Kent Haruf (I have not read Benediction yet, but Plainsong and Eventide are also favorites, plus he is a Colorado author), and The Book Thief. Lovely, wonderful books.

I loved Number the Stars when I read it a few years ago. My copy had more historical information in the back, which I was sure to share with my book group (5th grade). Thank you for your perspective as well. A picture book I enjoyed when my girls were younger was The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark, which I suspect you would also find historically inaccurate, or whitewashed. Individual stories of extraordinary heroism are important for kids and adults. Too often we are helpless and inert, or distance ourselves from suffering and danger because it doesn't affect us directly.

I loved sharing Number the Stars with my fifth grade book group when I was student teaching, but I was unpleasantly surprised how poor their background knowledge was. One or two of them had heard of Nazis (but didn't know what they were), but none had heard of WWII, Denmark, the Holocaust... Casting about for something they might recognize, I came up with The Sound of Music, but only one girl had seen it or even heard of it. From then on we conducted our book group with a big atlas in front of us so the kids could get a sense that these were real places and real events.

Apr 26, 2014, 4:18pm

Hi Anne - It seems I have to take another look at Mary Lawson and Kent Haruf.

Number the Stars is a good choice for students to discuss and one can elaborate on WWII - but I guess even this novel assumes too much knowledge of events back then.

It's sad about the lack of knowledge about WWII and the Holocaust. We have had that discussion in Denmark as well, although I think it's more integrated into our culture - were still making movies about the Danish resistant-groups and so on. And our best well known tv-series in Denmark is not Borgen but one called Matador which were made in the 80's I think, following people during the WWII in Denmark.

I thought Sound of Music would be a sure thing to reference....well, we all get older :) Have you seen the movie Freedom Writers? - it's an adaptation from a book. There's a bit in there about Anne Frank and the books impact on students and their lack of knowledge of the Holocaust.

I better get on with My Man Jeeves (hmmm.....half the stories are not about Jeeves & Wooster at all....that's false advertisement).

Edited: Apr 30, 2014, 6:53am

14. Voices by Arnaldur Indridason (2003) 4/5

The third in the Erlendur-detective series. Another solid crime from Iceland. A fat doorman is found killed in the basement of an hotel - it turns out he was a famous choirboy as a child - what does his past have to do with the murder?

To me this novel felt more relaxed than the first two, and with more irony and jokes (still serious and very realistic keynote) - almost all of the action takes place at a hotel in Reykjavik during the christmas holiday - and it has an Agatha Christie plot structure where you’re suspecting a lot of persons - the staff, a hotel guest, family members.

In Erlendurs own life there’s a blooming love interest and he’s trying to open up about his traumatic past and the death of his older brother. And he keeps having to deal with a very cranky daughter with severe heroin addiction.

My favorite so far in the series.

15. My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse (1919) 3,5/5

This is the first stories that Wodehouse wrote with the characters Wooster and Jeeves. Unfortunately only four of the eight stories are about Wooster and Jeeves - the rest is about Reggie Pepper, an early prototype for Wooster - and oh, how you miss Jeeves in these stories :)

Audiobook performed by Simon Prebble. It’s a good reading but for Wodehouse I do prefer Jonathan Cecil.

Edited: Apr 30, 2014, 5:05pm

Great review of Voices, Carsten. I enjoyed the entire series, but like I felt that the series improved with each book. Oh you do like your Jeeves :) I have not tried reading anything by P.J. Wodehouse, but maybe some day I could should give it a try.

Thanks for the lighter suggestions. I enjoyed Room With a View in my " youthful years" , when ever those were.I'm so old, I'm not entirely certain what my youthful years were. You know the saying " Never Trust Anyone Under 90 " ;)

May 1, 2014, 9:07am

Thanks, Deborah. I also think the series improves as you get to know more of the backstory of Erlendur and his daughter. Interesting mix of crime solving and his own personal journey.

You will quickly know if you like Wodehouse. It's light and fun reading. I'm not so sure about substance.

You would enjoy a rereading of Room with a View. I've read it twice. And going to read it again I'm sure.

May 2, 2014, 1:29pm

So glad you enjoyed Voices as much as I did, Carsten. Erlendur does have a traumatic past, and, as you point out, his present is not exactly drama-free. In any case, excellent read! Thumb up : ).

Haven't read the Wodehouse. Haven't read any Wodehouse actually. Like Deb: maybe one day.

May 2, 2014, 7:10pm

Thanks, Nancy. Wodehouse is definitely worth a try. Should you, or Deborah, ever give it a go, I would recommend Right Ho, Jeeves which is the funniest I've read - although I've only read five.

Enter this idyllic world you know nothing really bad will ever happen to any of the persons....well, they might have their financial support withdrawn from a rich uncle, or be engaged with the wrong girl - but Jeeves is always there with a scheme or two to save the day.

May 3, 2014, 9:59am

>151 ctpress: Wodehouse is amazing. I am his number one fan. Right Ho, Jeeves is a great place to start, or for something without Jeeves I would suggest The Adventures of Sally. I'm about to finish it and find it just as delightful with a little bit more substance.

May 3, 2014, 12:13pm

Marie - Good to know another Wodehouse fan :) I've only just started with Wodehouse - I will take a look at The Adventures of Sally - thanks for the suggestion - and please give more if you have it. The next one I've planned is the first Blandings Castle-novel. Haven't read any of those.

May 3, 2014, 11:04pm

Hooray for Wodehouse! I have only recently "discovered" him, and I am hooked!

Happy weekend, Carsten.

May 4, 2014, 7:41am

Yes, Wodehouse is something to cheer for, Anne :) And a happy weekend to you!

May 4, 2014, 10:49am

16. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond (1958) 4,5/5 (reread)

"Seeing that something was expected of it the bear stood up and politely raised its hat, revealing two black ears. 'Good afternoon,' it said, in a small clear voice ... The bear puffed out its chest. 'I'm a very rare sort of bear,' he replied importantly. 'There aren't many of us left where I come from.' 'And where is that?' asked Mrs Brown. The bear looked round carefully before replying. 'Darkest Peru. I'm not really supposed to be here at all. I'm a stowaway.’”

What a joy to listen to Stephen Fry’s narration of A Bear Called Paddington. Perfection.

The sweet little bear from darkest Peru is found on Paddington Station and taken in by the Brown family. Paddington is clumsy and always get into trouble. “Things are always happening to me – I’m that sort of bear!” , as he comments.

But he can also quickly become indignant and loose his temper. As when he’s being wrongly accused.

“I'm not a criminal,” said Paddington, hotly. “I'm a bear!” .

Oh, yes, dear Paddington. You are that sort of bear. That’s why we love you.

Looking forward to the movie adaptation coming later this Christmas - with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.

Edited: May 4, 2014, 12:31pm

Delighted you enjoyed Fry's narration of A Bear Called Paddington, Carsten. Love the quotes, especially: "Things are always happening to me - I'm that sort of bear!"

May 4, 2014, 5:43pm

A Bear Called Paddington sounds simply delightful , Carsten! Fab review and I think I could use a little Paddington myself! :)

May 5, 2014, 11:45am

Nancy - There's a second volume of Paddington-stories also read by Stephen Fry that I'm going to save for another time.

Deborah - Oh, we all could use a little Paddington now and then. We're not too grown up for that, I hope :)

May 5, 2014, 8:46pm

>156 ctpress: Ahhh - Paddington Bear!

May 5, 2014, 11:21pm

Exactly, Lori - what else is there to say :)

Edited: May 9, 2014, 5:42am

17. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939) 3,5/5

“I don't mind your showing me your legs. They're very swell legs and it's a pleasure to make their acquaintance. I don't mind if you don't like my manners. They're pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long winter nights.”

The Big Sleep is THE ultimate hardboiled noir crime novel. A style Chandler perfectionised like nobody else - and numerous others have tried to copy or have been influenced by.

“Tall, aren't you?" she said.
"I didn't mean to be."
Her eyes rounded. She was puzzled. She was thinking. I could see, even on that short acquaintance, that thinking was always going to be a bother to her.”

Dark alleys, smoke-filled bars, tempting femme fatales, excessive daytime drinking - Chandler sets the atmosphere perfectly. And I enjoyed the dialogue a lot. Fast, hardhitting, cynic and very funny. I chuckled a lot. I guess these selected quotes says it all. You get it. If you don’t, forget about Chandler.

“It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.”

“I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it.

May 9, 2014, 9:54pm

Carsten, entertaining review of The Big Sleep. Love the quotes, LOL! I'm not familiar with Chandler, but that may have to change.

May 10, 2014, 4:47am

Nancy - I enjoyed it, but I don't think I will explore that special crime genre so much. But it was fun to read. One could of course also watch Humphrey Bogart in the classic adaptation.

May 10, 2014, 4:56am

18. Benediction by Kent Haruf (2013) 4,5/5

A benediction (Latin: bene, well + dicere, to speak) is a short invocation for divine help, blessing and guidance, usually at the end of worship service. Wikipedia.

He sat and drank the beer and held his wife’s hand sitting out on the front porch. So the truth was he was dying. That’s what they were saying. He would be dead before the end of summer. By the beginning of September the dirt would be piled over what was left of him out at the cemetery three miles east of town. Someone would cut his name into the face of a tombstone and it would be as if he never was.

The characters all seem lost in this powerful novel by Kent Haruf. They need guidance, relief, help. They don’t seem to be able to cry out for it or find that blessing over their lives.

It all takes place in the fictional town Holt in Colorado. Following primarily two families, one where the father is dying and their adult daughter comes home to help - and the estranged son are silenced to death. The other a minister’s family where the pastor gets into trouble in the local church after a sermon on forgiveness for enemies (shortly after 9/11).

In bits and pieces of flashbacks we are filled in with the backstory of the characters.

There’s no comic relief of any kind - and sometimes you kind of wish there were. It is very sparse and writing - if you like classic Hemingway and more recently Gerbrand Bakker - you feel at home here.

One of the persons in the novel will attempt a suicide - it’s chilling and harrowing - written low key, but very effective. I listened to this novel. It was narrated very slow and with a dark sad and for several characters almost desperate voice. It added to the mood the novel was written in. Or it might have enhanced it a bit to much.

This is one of those novels that are perfect for a book-group discussion - so many things are not said and need to be filled in by the reader. This is third person narrative where we often wonder about the persons thoughts and motives. Haruf doesn’t attempt to bind it all up in a neat, beautiful ending with a lot of relief. There is redemption for some of the characters, sort of - maybe - this is a slice of life, take it or leave it.

It’s my first Haruf, so I can’t compare it to other novels also set in Holt.

May 10, 2014, 12:14pm

Carsten, that is a fantastic review of Haruf's Benediction. And how about great minds thinking alike: the two of us posting a Haruf review almost simultaneously, and both mentioning Bakker? I've just finished Plainsong and will definitely be reading Eventide and Benediction. Thumb up, my friend!

May 10, 2014, 4:57pm

Amazing that both you and Nancy read a Kent Haruf at the same time. I so loved his books. Great review! Thumb of course.

May 10, 2014, 7:42pm

Nancy - Oh, yes - great minds think alike :) I think your review touched on many of the same things as mine. Looking forward to going back and read the first two in this "series".

Deborah - Thanks for the recommendation. Well, you know my taste by now, so I guess it was no surprise to you that I liked it.

Edited: May 10, 2014, 11:17pm

Carsten, even though we have never met and live so far away, I was in a bookstore yesterday and I saw a Raymond Chandler and because of your review, I toyed with purchasing it. Instead I went home and ordered The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I even considered looking for a copy of Paddington Bear. Next time maybe Chandler will win the book bullet prize.

May 11, 2014, 2:58pm

Deborah - I'm not sure Raymond Chandler is your cuppa tea - but Paddington would be a sure thing - you can always give it away later to some friends with small children :) The Invention of Wings looks like another good emotional roller coaster ride.

May 12, 2014, 2:21pm

I will get around to Benediction, but I want to read the earlier ones in the series first.

May 13, 2014, 12:49pm

Lori - Good idea to start from the beginning. Maybe I should work myself backwards and take number two next, I have already messed up the order anyway :)

May 16, 2014, 5:33am

As far as the order of Plainsong and Eventide and Benediction, it does not matter much which order you read them in. I would say it is more important to read Plainsong before Eventide, but really, all books can be read as stand alones.

May 18, 2014, 2:36pm

Ok, Deborah. Thanks. I'll go back to the beginning and Plainsong.

Have just arrived back from a church camp and no LT for a few days - but now I know more about Grace & Freedom, building a raft (let's just say I got wet) and I met a kindred spirit in terms of literature. Always nice with some good conversations about novels.

May 18, 2014, 11:58pm

Camp sounds wonderful, Carsten. And to meet a kindred spirit in literature, too! Well, it doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Edited: May 19, 2014, 2:59am

It was a pleasant surprise, Nancy. We shared several favorites and of course I had to point her to Iceland and Erlendur - think there will be some lending of books now - the first one she's going to lend from me will be Gilead :)

May 21, 2014, 12:36pm

19. The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (1915) 3/5

“Mr. Mac, the most practical thing that you ever did in your life would be to shut yourself up for three months and read twelve hours a day at the annals of crime.”
Sherlock Holmes to the police inspector.

Compared to the other novels and short stories this was a bit of a dissapointment. Holmes and Watson only figure in very few pages - the middle part is a long crime backstory (supposedly based on real events) - but I wanted to get back to Holmes and the cocky inspector who are somewhat clueless.

Of course sacrilege to suggest one should skip a Sherlock Holmes novel - but if you contemplate the unthinkable - then this novel would be it.

Edited: May 21, 2014, 3:33pm

20. Pines by Blake Crouch (2012) 4/5

Wow. What a triller. What a ride. From page one this one grabs you, makes you guess what’s going on.

Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, to locate two missing federal agents. But when he arrives he’s involved in a car accident, and is badly hurt and looses his memory. He seek help at the hospital, but something feels very ehem….off…people are behaving strange and the town seems like something out of a fifties-movie.

It’s a suspenseful start, but it becomes very violent and horrifying. Not for the weak of heart - and the ending? Well, what an imagination...To tell you more would be spoiling the fun. This one was hard to put down - or should I say turn off - as it was an audiobook.

There’s two more in this series as I understand it - and I’m hooked. Not great character development or anything like that, but when it comes to suspense it has it all.

May 22, 2014, 11:56am

Carsten, too bad The Valley of Fear turned out to be a disappointment. You have definitely got my attention with Pines. Woot! Haven't heard of this author or novel, but I'm thinking it would be right up my alley : ).

Are you posting your reviews? I went to thumb-up, and ...

May 22, 2014, 12:38pm

Carsten, are you posting your reviews? Like Nancy I went to thumb and then... Pines sounds very frightening! Is it sciFi or the supernatural or a psychological thriller?

May 22, 2014, 5:50pm

Reviews are posted now :)

Nancy and Deborah - It is very frightening, and we are dealing with some kind of sci-fi thing although not exactly. The plot ending is a bit of a stretch to the imagination, but as they say "the suspension of disbelief"....

Fox is adapting Pines as a tv-series starring Matt Dillon as Ethan Burke (Produced by Night M. Shyamalan), so you might catch it there eventually - yes something very weird and bizarre is going on in Wayward Pines - Not to be confused with Three Pines :)

May 23, 2014, 10:26am

Thumbs applied! Woot! I would be interested to see Pines as a TV series, too!

May 23, 2014, 2:53pm

Nancy - Yes. When Night M. Shyamalan is around you know something's going to surprise you. He has had his movie flops to be sure, but still....the director of The Sixth Sense and Signs - hopefully he can make this story work on television.

May 23, 2014, 3:55pm

Oh Carsten, you got me with Pines as well. You revealed just enough to perk my interest but left enough unsaid to make me want to grab the book and find out what you're hinting at! I honestly didn't read a lot of this genre before joining LT probably because I'm a chicken at heart, but maybe I've gotten bolder over the years or your reviews are just too darn good! :)

May 23, 2014, 9:45pm

Thumbs applied too, Carsten. I'm nearly at the end of my german mystery, which takes place in Britain, but is written in ' The German" and translated. Touchstones don't work for it. I've enjoyed it, but as I near 400 pages I am ready for something different.

Say - what a fabulous weekend you had at the church camp. Meeting a kindred spirit in literary tastes - what can beat that for we book lovers!

May 24, 2014, 3:52am

Valerie - Thrillers of this kind is not my favorite genre, but I like to read them once in a while - this one surprised me although as I wrote earlier a bit of a stretch for the imagination. Yes, LT does that for you - broaden your taste and interests in literature :)

Deborah - It was a great camp and I was in charge of the book sale which went very well. So actually I had a lot of book talks.

Edited: May 24, 2014, 4:17am

21. Mr. Ive’s Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos (1995) 4/5

“Glorious life ending. There must have been a moment when his son had gasped for air, the last time, as Jesus must. But as Jesus had risen, he wanted his son to rise up, organs and spirit and mind intact, and everything to be as it had been not so long ago.”

When Mr. Ives teenage son is shot down in the street - everything shots down in Ive’s life too. Grief is overwhelming and he becomes a spectator of things happening around him - uninvolved, disinterested. He and his wife drift apart. He struggle to hold onto his faith in God, wrestling with doubt and despair. But slowly we see him come back to life and faith again.

In flashbacks we follow Ives. Almost from birth to grave (or at least as an old man). As an adopthed child, his friendships and first love and happy marriage to a wonderful woman full of life.

Hijuelos’ prose is beautiful, nostalgic, dreamy - full of references to classic literature, music and art.

May 24, 2014, 4:02pm

Woot! What a great review of Mr. I've's Christmas, Carsten. It made me think of The Matter with Morris, which I read a few years ago and took this quote from: I saw a doctor after Martin died. I went to his office and I told him about myself. I was trying to understand my terrible sadness, and no matter how much I talked about Martin, I couldn’t retrieve him. He was gone.


May 25, 2014, 10:17am

Hi Carsten, catching up here. I'm glad you liked Benediction so much. His other books are just as good, especially the two set in Holt, CO. I always think of Haruf when I travel to Denver. Those small towns on the eastern plains look just the way I picture Holt. I also loved Mr. Ives' Christmas. It was a sad story but it showed a true picture of grief.

A Paddington movie? I'm so excited. It will be just the thing to take my 3-year-old granddaughter to in December. I am tired of princess movies! I have Paddington Treasury on my shelf and her daddy's stuffed Paddington bear which I can pass along to her. He was a big favorite at our house years ago.

May 25, 2014, 12:31pm

Nancy - Good quote - I haven't heard of that novel. Better check it out. I specially liked Hijuelos' poetic prose. There's something about his writing - difficult to describe, but it was beautiful.

Donna - I'm going back to the other two set in Holt pretty soon I guess. That would be perfect to introduce your granddaughter to Paddington at the movies.

Edited: May 25, 2014, 12:58pm

22. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1895) 5/5

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

A play should of course for maximum benefit be expereinced in the theatre. The next best thing would be to buy this audiobook - the L.A. Theatre Works performing The Importance of Being Earnest with live audience.

It’s such a delight - have there been written a more funnier play? With Oscar Wilde’s famous quips and witty remarks - this story of mistaken identities in upper class british society display
an exuberance of life and high spirits.

“Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that.”

I think everyone in this production is in top form - and specially Lady Bracknell played by Margaret Scudamore.

“I really don't see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact.”

May 25, 2014, 4:47pm

Carsten, what a delightful review of The Importance of Being Earnest! Love the quotes, : ). Thumb up, my friend.

May 26, 2014, 1:31am

Nancy - Oscar Wilde is so quotable and so funny. Why it took me so long to read this one I don't know.

May 26, 2014, 6:06am

Great review of The Importance of Being Earnest. You can always count on me for a thumb - even if don't tell you. Mr. Ives' Christmas sounds like something that I would enjoy reading. So far I have not been able to locate a copy. Hey - in your job as an editor, I suppose you are closely following the wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Just ribbing you! I can't abide either of them. Now, the British Royal Family, that is another cup of tea altogether! :)

Edited: May 26, 2014, 3:19pm

Deborah - I'm sure you would enjoy Mr. Ive's Christmas - too bad you can't locate a copy - I had to buy a used copy. But even more you would like the one I'm reading now. It's absolutely wonderful. Simon's Night by Jon Hassler - more on that later this week.

Ha, ha...nope. We're not covering any Kardashian wedding - or any Kardashian news for that matter :) But the British Royal Family, well that's another we say :)

Edited: Jun 7, 2014, 6:58am

23. Simon's Night by Jon Hassler (1979) 4,5/5

Cruel, certainly, to be called a windy old bird, but hardly fatal. So he would return to Doctor Kirk on Wednesday morning, his wound healing, and while subjecting himself to the most demeaning of medical procedures he would wear the mask of goodhumored banter. It was becoming clear to Simon that that was the primary challenge of old age: to maintain your dignity no matter what fix you find yourself in.

This was a perfect read for me. It has all I love about a good novel. A heart-warming story, very funny yet also filled with wisdom, faith and empathy towards every character, and a genuinly good (but stubborn) hero who has sadly lost his way in the world.

This is a novel about how to deal with aging, regrets in life and the possibility of a second chance.

76 year old Simon Shea is a retired professor of English at a small Minnesota college. Recently he has begun to forget things. He forgets his car in town, forgets to turn of the gas stove and nearly burns down his house. So he commits himself to a private rest home - but it’s clear that it’s way to early for him for this drastic move.

Simon is a devout catholic and although his much younger wife moved out years ago he hasn’t divorced her - always somehow hoping she will return. Well, the wife gets nervous after he doesn’t return her phone calls and decides to find out where he is.

Simon finds new friends in the new place he’s settling into - and befriends a young couple. And the interaction with the other persons at the rest home is so funny.

The events of the novel all take place in one week with several flashbacks to earlier events. I like also Simon's simple ordinary prayers that are springled throughout the novel. They are so revealing and beautiful.

Not a very well-known novel - but I recommend it highly.

Jun 5, 2014, 11:29am

Woot! 4.5* for Simon's Night. Excellent review, Carsten. This is not one I'm familiar with, but as you point out, it is not well known. It does sound like it would be just my cuppa: This is a novel about how to deal with aging, regrets in life and the possibility of a second chance.

Jun 5, 2014, 3:16pm

Thanks, Nancy. Yes, only 124 "members" for that novel. Not much. I have another one by Hassler lined up. Staggerford.

Jun 5, 2014, 5:07pm

Simon's Night sounds right up my alley! I often enjoy books about people aging. I'll have to keep my eyes out for that one. Great review. When my husband comes home from work tonight - and it really is tonight as in 7 - 8 pm - he works long hours I'm going to say to him
Cruel, certainly, to be called a windy old bird, but hardly fatal.
That said, I do find some of his wind to be close to fatal!

Edited: Jun 5, 2014, 8:44pm

Hi Deborah - I really think you would love this one. I just loved Simon in the novel. Sometimes you feel so connected to a main character in a novel that his thoughts resonates with you. I felt that with Simon's Night. A kindred spirit, as Anne of Green Gables would say.

Oh, I know some of those "fatal" days when everything at work have just gone wrong. The need to just spill it all out because you have to keep it all inside at work......and the need for a listening ear. Fatal, indeed :)

Edited: Jun 7, 2014, 6:58am

24. The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth (1932) 3/5

An austrian/german novel and a solid classic in european literature. A family saga of three generations in the Trotta family during the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

It all starts with the grandfather, who save the life of Emperor Franz Josef on the battlefield - and he is rewarded and suddenly lifted from mere soldier into the aristocracy with all its pomp and riches.

But he and his son and grandson are struggling to come to terms with their new station in life.

The hero - or should we say anti-hero is third generation Carl Joseph without the principles and backbone of his grandfather and father - a weak man who is struggling to find his way forward - and also echoes in some way the decline of the empire itself.

Roth is a good writer, no doubt - but the story itself wasn't that interesting.

In 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

Jun 6, 2014, 11:19am

>201 ctpress: I was once on a 1001 book kick, but I kept reading books I didn't like and began to resent 1001 books for making reading feel so boring. There are some great books on the list though, so I'm sorry this one didn't work out for you.

Jun 6, 2014, 3:19pm

Hi Marie - The 1001 Books list is certainly a mixed experience - also for me. There are many books in that one that I'm surely not going to read before I die - and how many will pass the inspection to the afterlife? That will be the real test. I hope I can take with me books by Tolstoy, Austen and Dostoevsky, Dickens and the like :)

But it is a good reference-point as a kickstarter for a discussion on great books. But I do find it rather limited - in spite of it's many suggestions. For one thing I miss some genres in it - like Children's Books or YA, and there are very few classic crime fiction or sci-fi etc. I like more 501 Must-Read Books as it is divided in different genres and has a greater variety of literature.

Jun 6, 2014, 5:40pm

Great review of The Radetzky March. I'll be skipping that one on your advice. I ordered a second hand copy of Simon's Night thanks to your great review! It will take 4 weeks or so to come from the US, but here's looking forward to it!

Jun 6, 2014, 5:56pm

Good news, Deborah - I look forward to your views on Simon's Night - I still think about it and read some passages again in the book a few days ago. There's some of the conversations Simon has with people that are just wonderful.

Jun 6, 2014, 8:53pm

Just started watching another Danish DVD series, The Spider. It is a good period piece. Do you know it?

Jun 6, 2014, 11:06pm

I'll also skip The Radetzky March, but appreciate your excellent review, Carsten. You are doing well with 1001 Books; I like to read from this list, too. In fact, am about to start Our Mutual Friend, which is also on it.

Jun 7, 2014, 2:55am

Mary - No, I didn't catch that one - I think it was several years ago that one was made. Do you like it?

Nancy - Ah, Mr. Dickens....Is it one of his bricks? I'm planning a reread of Great Expectation and then Hard Times for my next Dickens-projects. But when that will be who knows.

Jun 8, 2014, 7:00am

>201 ctpress: Carsten, I have The Radetzky March in my sights to read this year but your lukewarm response to it has given me pause slightly.

Have a great Sunday.

Jun 8, 2014, 8:12am

Paul - Could be interesting to hear your thoughts about it. It is after all one of the european classics, but it didn't resonate much with me. Well, I would say the first half was much better than the second half.

Jun 8, 2014, 2:25pm

Hi Carsten, Paul C. pointed out that you finished The Radetzky March. I read it a couple of weeks ago and apparently liked it a lot better than you did.

Jun 8, 2014, 8:47pm

Back about The Spider DVD. It's in 6 episodes and a real period piece and it's slow which we often really like. The acting is wonderful, the photography is excellent and it is a gritty piece (more like a play) about the criminal element post war in Denmark with a journalist to put the pieces together and solve the puzzle. We are really enjoying it. Of course subtitles are saving the day for us!

Jun 9, 2014, 1:53am

Carsten, I'm nearly finished The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. It started a little slow, but I'm loving it now and nearly finished. It might be a five star read for me. And I purchased a book for my kindle The New Woman: A Staggerford Novel by Jon Hassler. I've ordered Simon's Night, but it won't be here for several weeks. You've inspired me to try Jon Hassler. 'Thanks for that!

Jun 9, 2014, 3:02am

Monica - I just read your review of The Radetzky March - very good. You're certainly right about the writing. It's very good and I might try Joseph Roth again. I wasn't moved by it and lost interest in the characters - and then it was very sad - but as you said depicting the era very well. Have you read anything else by him?

Mary - I do remember the series - could be a good one to get hold of.

Deborah - Oh, tempting me with another five-star-novel :) I'm actually started to read another Jon Hassler - Staggerford - the first of his Staggerford-novels. I think they can be read separately. It's not as good as Simon's Night but still very enjoyable - he has a knack for eccentric characters. Agatha McGee is just wonderful. I wonder why it takes so long for a US book-delivery to Canada....

Edited: Jun 11, 2014, 1:29pm

25. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler (1985) 3,5/5

“I'm beginning to think that maybe it's not just how much you love someone. Maybe what matters is who you are when you're with them.”

A story about a couple who separate a year after their only son was murdered. They are of course both grieving but in their own way and they drift apart.

The main character is the husband, Macon Leary, who retracts into his own little world and shuts everything out. As a big metaphor is his job as a writer of travelling books to business men to make their stay abroad as comfortable as possible - just as they never left home. Leary is in many ways preditable, dry, with no sense of adventure. And the wife resents him.

But onto the scene steps twenty something Muriel Pritchett, an eccentric, lively character that seem the opposite of Macon Leary - she tries to help him train his dog and before he knows it he is feeling more alive again - is it love? Is Leary ready for this? And what about the wife?

It’s a book that shifts between the tragic, sad and the witty and humorous. Anne Tyler creates some fascinating characters and also quite funny scenes.

Jun 11, 2014, 1:30pm

26. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964) 3,5/5

“Mr. Wonka: "Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted."
Charlie Bucket: "What happened?"
Mr. Wonka: "He lived happily ever after.”

Charlie Bucket is a poor boy who’s yearly highlight is his birthday when his present is one bar of chocolate. He loves chocolate so of course his thrilled when he wins a tour with four other kids to Willy Wonkas famous chocolate factory.

This story begins very promising but once they enter the factory the whole story becomes quite repetitive as a parable - the naughty children vs the sweet, kind Charlie Bucket - he is the last boy standing and wins it all.

But what an imagination and fantastic chocolate world that Dahl have invented. Willy Wonka is absolutely wonderful.

It was my first Roald Dahl book and I’m looking forward to more.

In 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.

Jun 11, 2014, 1:38pm

>216 ctpress: Would you believe that I have never seen the movie? Old or new. And I've never read the book. Most people look at me here in the States like I'm an alien. Is it as popular in Denmark? I remember reading somewhere that his parents were Scandinavian, but that might not be true.

Edited: Jun 11, 2014, 1:55pm

Great reviews of The Accidental Tourist and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Carsten. I've wondered about Tyler's book before when I've seen it mentioned, but its premise and 3.5* from you … not so sure I'll pick it up. LOVE the quote you've included form Charlie : ). Happily ever after works for me!

Jun 11, 2014, 2:38pm

Marie - I haven't seen the movie either - so two aliens now :) Most of Roald Dahl's books have been translated into Danish, so he is - or I think rather - he was quite popular here in Denmark. His parents were from Norway.

Nancy - It was difficult to give stars to The Accidental Tourist as I've seen the good movie-adaptation with William Hurt, Geena Davis and Kathleen Turner. So I knew the plot - It was nice to know the characters better from the book. I want to give her another chance - I have my eyes on Saint Maybe as the next one.

Jun 12, 2014, 5:46am

Hi Carsten! Excellent reviews! I've enjoyed quite a few of Anne Tyler's books in the past. I cannot remember if the Accidental Tourist was one of them or not, but I suspect so. I remember one of my sister's just loving that particular novel. I'm really enjoying the light and fun The New Woman: A Staggerford Novel . It deals with a group of people in Sunset Apartments , a retirement home. Agatha McGee is definitely one of the major characters in this book. I'm going to remember this series for any time I want a fun , cozy read.

I was a big fan of Roald Dahl. Still am, but my, Willy Wonka was kind of a creepy guy!

Edited: Jun 12, 2014, 3:02pm

Deborah - Glad you like The New Woman: A Staggerford Novel - I like Agatha McGee from the Staggerford novel - so funny and unique. A fun, cozy read. That sounds like Hassler. I think you can say the same with Simon's Night - and Staggerford - although there are also some serious aspects to those two.

Yes, Willy Wonka is kind of creepy - or should we just say a windy old bird :)

Edited: Jun 12, 2014, 9:54pm

Sure Carsten, Willy Wonka is a windy old bird! LOL! I guess you're immersed in the world cup stuff. Off to Brazil, are we? ;)

Jun 13, 2014, 3:15am

I wish I were of to Copacabana and some football, Deborah :) I will in stead get together with friends next week and watch some of the games. Go England.

Jun 13, 2014, 5:28pm

I'm a big Dahl fan! I'd recommend Danny the Champion of the World, which is my very favorite.

Jun 13, 2014, 5:45pm

I actually have that book in a danish translation - so I might read that as my next Roald Dahl book. Looks like an entirely different story.

Jun 14, 2014, 6:28am

>225 ctpress: It is pretty different. I'll be interested to see what you think!

Jun 14, 2014, 4:30pm

Carsten, started watching the Danish series The Bridge last night on Netflix. English subtitles only, which is a bit of a distraction, but I think this is one I'm really going to enjoy. Do you know it?

Jun 15, 2014, 4:10am

Amber - I'll put in the top of my pile while I'm still in Roald Dahl-mode.

Nancy - Yes I know it. It's very well made and there are two seasons by now. A danish swedish collaboration as it also takes place there. Hope you enjoy it. Great that they have danish tv series on netflix. I didn't know that.

Jun 15, 2014, 12:37pm

Yes, a Danish-Swedish collaboration, and it is excellent! I didn't know there were two seasons; Cdn Netflix only has the first one, at least presently. To be honest, I was surprised (very pleasantly surprised) to even find it on Cdn Netflix.

Edited: Jun 15, 2014, 8:48pm

Carsten, would you believe that my husband and I only have an old fashioned TV, a cathode ray tube tv, not a flat screen. We do have to get our cable tv through some kind of box, but we don't have HDTV or netflix. My husband is thrifty that way and neither of us watches much tv except for the news and my fav show The Mentalist. We are out of it.

I guess maybe I should go live in Staggerford, which by the way I am reading now.. I need Agatha here to put the ranks in order I think. A little stress in the family - older son quit his job for reasons unknown to Dave and I and we have been supporting him for a couple of months. Then , other son , who is very responsible , is planning his HUGE expensive wedding which will be some sort of fusion on Chinese Customs and Western Customs. The wedding planning is proving a little more challenging then I had expected. Oh for Staggerford and the emotional balance of Agnes!!! I could use a bit of that. May England win! So thanks for the Staggerford tip!

Jun 16, 2014, 7:43am

Nancy - Glad you like Broen - sort of ScandiCrime on tv - hopefully there will come more danish tv your way in the future :)

Deborah - Old School tv, eh? - Why fix it if it's not broken, as they say. I also have an extra box but that's Apple tv which I enjoy a lot - streaming movies is great - plus I follow of course some football on the regular channels. England lost their first game - business as usual. Oh, yes - an Agatha could be useful for some common sense and order :) She don't waver. What would be her take on a Chinese-Western wedding?

Edited: Jun 17, 2014, 5:17am

27. Staggerford by Jon Hassler (1977) 3/5

English teacher Miles Pruitt is having a tough week. The high school principal will not get off his back, he has a bad toothache, and one of his pupils, a teenage girl, cry out for help in her messed up life. And he doesn’t know what to do about it, fearing rumours of a relationship with her.

On top of that there’s a fight in the classroom, a Chippewa student is being hurt, which upsets the whole community in a nearby Indian reservation. Pruitt is in the middle of an uprising.

Staggerford is the first in a series of novels that takes place in the fictional rural Minnesota town. It is populated with interesting and eccentric characters. There are many funny scenes and conversations. Specially Agatha McGee, a devout Catholic and strict school teacher with a good heart - she is a wonderful spirited character.

This was four stars until the sudden and tragic ending of the novel. I didn’t see that coming and didn’t feel it was in line with the otherwise “feel-good” and warmhearted mood of the novel. And some of the story-lines I felt were a little unresolved.

But it hasn’t deterred me from wanting more of Staggerford and John Hassler. Simon’s Night was much better, and I look forward to some more life wisdom from dear Agatha McGee who returns in some of the other Staggerford-novels.

Jun 17, 2014, 10:42am

Wonderful review of Staggerford, Carsten! Thumbed! I'm about 70 % through the book and because I read The New Woman by the same author. By this time Agatha is in the Sunset Senior Apartments, so I'm prepared for the sad ending, though I don't know the details. Like you, I look forward to more of the Staggford novels.

As for what Agatha would go regarding a Chinese - Western wedding is I think she would sit both parties down - bride and groom to be and tell them what will work out and what won't. She's not worry about hurting feelings to much, she'd be thrift minded and sensible. The couple is getting married in a Catholic Church, so I imagine she would approve of that aspect.

Jun 17, 2014, 1:01pm

Ha, ha, Deborah - I think you're right. That approach sounds just like Agatha. She would indeed be happy that it was in a Catholic Church - I think it's quite fun how she doesn't give up on Miles and his loss of faith - even if his quite determined.

I'm looking forward to hear what you think of Staggerford - I have now ordered Green Journey and Dear James which comes next in line in the Staggerford series. Both featuring Agatha as the main character or one of the main characters. But it's from the US so it will be a while...Good summer relaxed reading, I think.

Jun 17, 2014, 1:04pm

Carsten, what a wonderful review of Staggerford! I didn't know about this series at all until you and Deb were posting about it. Sounds like one for the list.

Jun 17, 2014, 3:54pm

The Staggerford novels certainly looks promising, Nancy. Good writing - entertaining reads.

Have you gathered your beach-literature for the summer? I guess it's about time to make a selection :)

Jun 18, 2014, 1:40pm

Hi Carsten -- great reviews here, as usual. I just saw the trailer for the Paddington movie -- how fun! Your review makes me want to reread the book, which I don't think I've visited since my mom read it to my brother and me when I was probably 10 or so. My brother had a Paddington bear, so I've always had a soft spot for him.

Edited: Jun 18, 2014, 5:19pm

Hi Anne - With your love for good audiobooks I would certainly recommend Stephen Fry's reading of Paddington. Btw I just read today that Colin Firth has redrawn from being the voice of Paddington in the new movie. He just didn't think his voice was suitable and gave enough credit to the good old bear. How about that? Shows a little about what an institution A Bear Called Paddington is in England. Still looking forward to the movie - and what new voice they will choose.

Read more about it here:

I just say: Why not Stephen Fry?

Jun 18, 2014, 7:10pm

>238 ctpress: I heard about Colin Firth dropping out. I'll be honest, I never read Paddington as a child so I'm not sure how I picture his voice, but Stephen Fry could voice anything and I would watch it.

Jun 19, 2014, 1:24am

I also read about Colin Firth dropping out, or conscious uncoupling, LOL! Carsten, I remember you saying that Stephen Fry was fabulous as narrator … seems an obvious choice to me.

Jun 19, 2014, 2:03am

Marie - Yes, Stephen Fry is certainly one I'm going to listen to again if I can find more audiobooks by him. I have The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy also narrated by Fry.

Nancy - Conscious uncoupling - I also laughed at that way of putting it. A very political correct statement :)

Jun 20, 2014, 7:59am

Ooh, we have the Stephen Fry audio book of Paddington, too! Love them.

Jun 21, 2014, 1:32am

Amber - I guess I need to get hold on more of the Paddington audiobooks by Fry. I only have the first one.

Jun 21, 2014, 7:03am

28. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (1961) 2,5/5

A story about an eccentric and progressive teacher in an Edinburgh girls’ school that have her special favorite pupils who become known as "the Brodie set” - Miss Brodie is an interesting character - and the premise of the story also interesting.

How far can you go, should you go, in molding students thinking? An exploration of the peculiar relationship between a strong willed mentor and young minds who still needs molding.

Miss Brodie’s unusual way of diverting from the curriculum puts her in conflict with the schools principal - and we know from the start that someone in the “Brodie set” will betray the teacher.

I had a hard time following this novel in the first part. Specially separating the different girls in the “Brodie-set”.

The novel starts very abrubtly and shifts back and forth in time. But in the last part of the novel there's only focus on two of the girls and you will know who betrays Brodie. Of course by that time her relationship with her favorite girls have become a dangerous manipulation game of sex and love affairs.

A very literate modern novel written in a very confusing way with quick and short flashbacks all the time. Some will love it - I didn’t.

Jun 21, 2014, 7:20am

29. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (1798-99) 4/5

I’ve just changed my rating from 3,5 to 4 stars. It’s ridiculous to give only 3,5 to a book I’ve read four times since 2008. Apparently I must like this novel a lot….

This is also second time listening to Juliet Stevenson narration - and what a good job she does. I like so much the young heroine - her innocence, charm, her wanting to please everybody and fear of doing anything that will cast shame upon her family, friends and benefactors.

You can easily imagine how Jane Austen must have delighted in this mild satire over young Catherine Mansfields first romance and her passion for gothic novels. The way she is introduced to society in Bath (a town Austen disliked) - it’s the perfect setting for Austen to satirize over the shallow and empty lives of characters who only wants to be seen by others and gossip and spend days shopping and dancing all the time (excemplified in the vain Thorpes family).

Catherine is overwhelmed by the glitter and pomp of Bath but fortunately meet some sensible people in Henry and Eleanor Tilney who can guide her - and eventually take her away from Bath.

Jane Austen wrote this in the beginning of her twenties and although it doesn’t shine as much as her later work, it has risen in my estimation over the last couple of years. And I know I will return to this again. And Juliet Stevenson.

And if you want some “suspense” from Jane Austen this is the novel (although there’s also a bit of that in Mansfield Park).

And thus I have fulfilled my “At least one Jane Austen a year” vow….

Edited: Jun 21, 2014, 1:33pm

Carsten, more fabulous reviews! Sounds like your review of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is much more fabulous than the actual book; I'm familiar with this one by name but have not read … and I'll take your recommendation and pass. Ohh, I can imagine Stevenson reading Northanger Abbey; I've got her narration of all of the Austens she read (purchases from Audible). More fantastic reading I have ahead of me. I didn't know about Austen's dislike of Bath, so appreciate that tidbit.

Jun 21, 2014, 7:54pm

Great reviews, Carsten, and duly thumbed. I think I have Northanger Abbey somewhere in the " stacks" and your pushes me towards unburying my copy. I particularly love your review of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I either forced myself to read it and have already forgotten what it's about ( if anything ) or else I tried to get myself to read it but did not succeed. Some will love it - I didn’t. Isn't that the truth!

I'm a little past half way point in A Constellation of Vital Phenomena but I'm having a bit of trouble really loving it so far. It jumps around in time more then I'd like and it's a bit challenging to follow. I hope that indeed the vital phenomena will form themselves into a constellation, because so far , not so much.

Jun 22, 2014, 12:04am

Hi Carsten -- terrific reviews! I have listened to both Northanger Abbey and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on audio within the past few years, and I loved them both. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy Jean Brodie more. I loved it, and everything I've listened to by Muriel Spark since, but your criticisms are valid, and I can see they aren't for everyone.

Jun 22, 2014, 3:31am

Nancy - Thanks, Yes, you can really look forward to Stevenson's reading of Northanger Abbey. It is suburb. I think I have one more of her Austen-readings - but I better look for more.

Deborah - Thanks, Hold onto that copy of Northanger Abbey - it's worth a read. Ha, ha - I also hope the vital phenomena will form themselves into a constellation for you. Sometimes it's hard to know when to stop and when to go on reading....

Anne - Thanks. Glad you liked Muriel Sparks. I might try one other of her novels. At least they are not that long, and I can feel the literary quality is there. I just never really got into The Miss Brodie-novel.

Jun 22, 2014, 3:48am

>162 ctpress: I recently read this one (The Big Sleep) and was rather perplexed by it. It seemed dated sexist and improbable. But I was thinking of it in a 2014 mind, I needed to take a step bak I think, and then I would have liked it more.

>215 ctpress: I loved the Accidental Tourist. I read it back to back with Revolutionary Road which was 100% fabulous, so I fear the Accidental Tourist may have paled in comparison, but I really liked it nonetheless. The movie version of it was quite good too, not like the film of Rev Road, that was crap. (imo!)

Jun 22, 2014, 5:53am

Carsten, I remember now. I read The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Sparks . I gave it a three and that was being generous. Too much silly hijinks and as you say, what was the point? A much better book about single women after WW11 in England was Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. That is something worth reading and I think you would enjoy it someday.Still soldiering along with A Constellation of Vital Phenomena . so many people have loved it, including Nancy , so I am going to finish it. It's sort of informative, but it also has a dose of magical realism, and I struggle with that sort of thing.

Edited: Jun 22, 2014, 9:33am

Megan - Oh, yes sexist if you read it in a 2014-perspective - but to be honest I just thought The Big Sleep was funny and even for that time I guess deliberately exaggerated. The typical dumb blonde etc. The typical cynic detective...Hardboiled crime is not a genre I think I will explore much. I haven't read Revolutionary Road, nor seen the movie-adaptation, but I must check it out.

Deborah - I haven't heard about Excellent Women but will check it out. Hmmm...magic realism is a genre I try to avoid - like 100 Years of Solitude, that was thumbs down for me.

Jun 23, 2014, 9:42pm

Carsten, maybe magical realism is the wrong word for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. It has a fragmented , dreamy feel. Maybe that is to represent PTSD or what being in the war might have been like. Still have another 100 pages or so to go.

Edited: Jun 24, 2014, 5:10pm

Deborah - I thought about magical realism. Difficult genre to define. Hope the last part of the novel give you some more clues or "constellations" that makes sense or give meaning to the story.

Jun 26, 2014, 7:41am

OK, time for a new thread for the second half of the year.....

Jun 27, 2014, 4:08pm

OK, time for a new thread for the second half of the year....
This topic was continued by Carsten's (ctpress) 2014 - Take and Read (2).