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1001 Books to read before you die: Bekka's progress

1001 Books to read before you die

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Oct 9, 2017, 2:51am Top

New thread - new 400?

I'm not going to recap all the books I've read to date because quite frankly none of us had the time (too much left to read!). So here's a quick breakdown by period - of and I'm going off a combo of all versions of the list. 1305 books here I come!

pre 1700 - 7/27 (26% of age range read)
1700-1799 - 28/48 (58% of age range read)
1800-1899 - 86/187 (46% of age range read)
1900-1999 - 253/923 (27% of age range read)
2000+ - 26/120 (22% of age range read)

Oct 16, 2017, 3:00am Top

#401 Amok - Stefan Zweig

Very short 1,001 (60 pages). The copy I finally found hadn't been out of the library (it was in reserve stock) since 1993.

Beautifully written - and deeply disturbing. There is a proper cascade to it - it really does 'run amuck', from a slow start escalating to the climax within few pages. Thumbs up for craftsmanship.

Oct 20, 2017, 8:37am Top

I've got to stop reading the really short ones...

#402 A Sentimental Journey - Sterne

Better than Tristram Shandy. But then pretty much everything is better than Shandy. Parts of this I thought were rather good and, unless I was mistaken, some excellent double-entendres. Felt like it needed a good edit though.

#403 The House on the Borderland - Hodgson

Another that could do with an edit. Interesting little horror narrative - but the interminable time passing/end of the world section. Sheesh!

Nov 7, 2017, 7:08am Top

#404 The Devil to Pay in the Backlands - Joao Guimaraes Rosa

A 1,001 that I have had on the go for a very long time. I’ve been dipping in on and off for ages and always enjoyed it – just found I kept putting it down, found it hard to give large amounts of time to.

But the last 200 pages or so I’ve read in a big rush, a wonderful, often confusing deluge.

The story is a narration of the life of Riobaldo who becomes a jagunco in the Brazilian sertao. There are so many factors to this for me, but one of the main themes to me is love – and I can say little more without spoilers. One of my favourite lines from the novel is;
'I speak with twisted words. I narrate my life, which I did not understand'

These ones are good too;

'When you sleep, you turn into all kinds of things: you become stone, you become flowers.'

'Sad is the life of a jagungo, you will say. It makes me laugh. Don’t tell me that. Because of a false idea, we get the notion that ‘Life” is a continuous something. Each day is a day by itself'

There are lots of good lines! Only problem with this one is it is really hard to get hold of.

Nov 13, 2017, 3:40am Top

#405 The Wonderful O - James Thurber

A short children's 1001 that I had to order from the US to get hold of. Definitely something wonderful about it.

Nov 27, 2017, 10:08am Top

#406 Some Experiences of an Irish R.M - Somerville

Amusing stories. Laugh out loud in places. But not really 1,001 worthy imo.

Dec 5, 2017, 8:52am Top

#407 The Drunkard - Zola

Holy moley. I'm never drinking again...

Dec 18, 2017, 10:29am Top

#408 Aithiopika – Heliodorus

Slightly wearing tale of two much thwarted lovers and their trials and tribulations. Some great patches, some swathes of not great. And a whole bunch of slightly similar names that sometimes confused me.

Dec 19, 2017, 9:58am Top

>4 BekkaJo: catching up with your thread and so glad that somebody else has now read The Devil to Pay in the Backlands. I read it for our group challenge and loved it although indeed it is quite confusing, especially at the beginning!

Dec 19, 2017, 10:04am Top

I remember you finishing it - when I was still in the first third... it's taken me till now to finish! So glad I did though, it is wonderful.

Dec 28, 2017, 11:23am Top

#408 Things fall apart - Chinua Achebe

Wonderfully written 1,001 - language and story both stunning.

Jan 7, 2018, 1:56pm Top

#409 London Fields - Martin Amis

Finally finished this. Took me ages as I kept dipping in a little at a time. Which, in retrospect, is not how to read this. I ended up reading the last 200 pages or so over the last few days - and boy it speeds up towards the end. As you work towards the murder (not a spoiler, this starts by introducing the murderer and murderee) it intentionally ramps up.

So don't do what I did and try and read the end of it whilst sitting on a step on the kitchen floor and making dinner.

Interesting reading this along with Democracy - they both feature a narrator who is part of the narrative, who interacts with the characters. Very different books though! The one is set in the late 90s in a dirty underbelly London and follows the movements towards the murder of Nicola Six, the other set in early to mid 70s in Honolulu and Vietnam (amongst other places), dealing with parts of the life of Inez Victor, touching on love, loss and family, against a background of the end of the Vietnam war.

#410 Democracy - Joan Didion

See above!

I had only read one Didion before this and really didn't like it. This, however was a different story. I thoroughly enjoyed this - it had moments of complete beauty. One particular line stays with me, as Inez flies south and into the oncoming dawn - that this is what she hopes death is like, dawn all the way.

Very glad I read this.

Jan 12, 2018, 5:38am Top

#411 The Last World - Christoph Ransmayr

Finished it, finally, several months after the Group Read...

This is a strange, unsettling novel. It is set in an inconsistent time period and tells the story of Cotta, who travels to a town called Tomi to search for the poet Naso (Ovid), who had settled there in exile from Rome.

The characters in Tomi are linked to characters of the same name from Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Not for everyone - I found it a real struggle at times. Over sections are vivid and surreal, sometimes with a nightmarish quality to them. His language is startling and evocative - so I'm still not sure why this didn't hold my attention more.

Jan 16, 2018, 3:58am Top

#412 In the forest - Edna O'Brien

Excellently written, vivid and chilling. The narrative is written from multiple view points, dealing with a young Irish man who has been in institutions from a young age and who returns to Ireland from a recent stint in prison. Nastiness ensues. It's a nature v nurture, Catholicism v well, everything else, sort of book.

Turns out it was based upon some real events, which makes it doubley creepy.

Jan 16, 2018, 10:51am Top

Yup! Chilling, creepy and all the rest. Reading this one led me to read more of her stuff.

Jan 22, 2018, 3:12am Top

>15 Yells: I do have August is a wicked month lined up - last one of hers on the list I have left to read, though I'll probably finish off the Country Girls trilogy at some point.

Jan 22, 2018, 3:13am Top

#413 The Lost Honour of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll (1,001)

Excellent little novel. Starting and ending with the murder of a journalist by Katherina, it is wonderfully written, crisp clean and yet compelling. It plays with elements of a police transcript but it is no way cold.

I got this out of my library reserve stock, so I'm going back in today to return it and to tell them they need to get a copy back in main circulation.

Jan 30, 2018, 7:58am Top

#414 The Last of the Mohicans - Cooper (1,001)

Finally! Honestly I nearly lost it half way through this - such a slow go in the middle section. And the first section. And most of the last section.

The ending shocked me though - having got to my advanced years (stop guffawing) and not seen the film etc. Genuinely miffed by it.

That didn't really make sense - at some point I'll spend the time learning how to do the spoilery hidden thing.

Either way, it was a 1,001 that I'm very glad to have finished and be done with.

Jan 30, 2018, 2:45pm Top

>18 BekkaJo: I read the Illustrated Classic version when I was a kid and loved it. Maybe thirty comic book pages is exactly what the story needs?

Jan 31, 2018, 2:30am Top

Anything would have helped :)

Edited: Jan 31, 2018, 2:35am Top

>18 BekkaJo:

And this is why I'll never read the book and instead just continue to love the movie. Such a beautiful film with a gorgeous soundtrack.

Feb 3, 2018, 8:58am Top

>21 lilisin: I think I ruined the film for myself. I just don't want to watch it now!

#415 Adam Bede - Eliot

What can I say - I loved it. Started slow but a reasonable enough read. Then one chapter in the middle which was just interminable. Then increasing in pace and emotion and just... wonderful.

Of all the characters, I do feel so sorry for Seth. Poor dude - he's a better man than I would have been in the same situation, always second and the 'lesser'. As a younger sibling I'm possibly feeling that one a bit more than intended.

Feb 8, 2018, 1:34pm Top

#416 Embers - Sandor Marai

Now the beginning of this grabbed me and I loved it, something wonderful about the writing. The tale of an old general who receives a visit from a long estranged friend. But... I sort of lost it after the first third. The bulk of the novel is the old general talking - and, whilst the language is still wonderful, he paled on me after a while. That said, well worth a read - a beautiful exploration of love and human nature.

Feb 8, 2018, 5:49pm Top

Embers got a rare 4 1/2 stars from me. I absolutely loved it (and can't really think of why I held back a 1/2 star).

Feb 9, 2018, 4:17am Top

I think it was more of a 3 1/2 for me - Really struggled through the second half. Still maintain it's worth a read though :)

#417 Pierre and Jean - Guy de Maupassant

Delicately written short novel about two brothers and the breakdown of their relationship - the breakdown speeding up as the younger brother receives a surprise inheritance. For a short novel it deals exceedingly well with really big issues - jealousy, wealth and position, family - and a couple of others that I can't note without spoilers.

Feb 9, 2018, 4:25am Top

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Edited: Feb 9, 2018, 2:22pm Top

>18 BekkaJo: Mind if I rock the boat? My experience with The Last of the Mohicans was different from those noted above. Firstly, I have seen the film and read the book. Borrowed a dvd from my local library and liked it well enough to read the book (free Kobo download). It did not take me very long to get through it, and I'm not sure if that is due to the movie, or because of my love of setting. People and plot always line up behind place, the geography is a priority, which made the book appealing. I know that's not normal, or should not even be admitted, but you'll forgive me when I explain that I worked in the Tourism industry for over a decade, before starting my family. I gave up my passport years ago, since the landscape of Canada will take me a lifetime to explore. Also, I view a book like a stage, it must have the props in place before the characters step out to begin the story.

Back to the book. I preferred the book to the movie, because the movie changed the ending. The critical moment with Wes Studi's character is not the same as in the book. This ruined the movie for me in that respect, but the cinematography left me wide-eyed and panting.

I respect everyone's opinion here, concerning The Last of The Mohicans (1992), the book and the movie, but was inspired to lend my two cents worth. I didn't realize it was on the 1001 list until reading this. Good to know. It's there for a reason. Also, it takes place not far from my home, which maybe makes it more personal. Or perhaps I just liked seeing our short story queen, Alice Munro, noted as a character. =)

Feb 9, 2018, 2:22pm Top

>27 frahealee: All cents welcome! I know my views aren't everyone's (thankfully!) - and I do think that the one thing I take from the book is the sense of place. I'd love to one day visit some of his locations - it was more the characters and his style that I fell out with.

But honestly, never worry about book related opinion - I struggled with this novel but can understand why people appreciate it.

Edited: Feb 9, 2018, 2:50pm Top

>28 BekkaJo: Thank you for that. I did struggle with the historical fiction aspect. Dates just aren't my thing, but I do like learning as I go. Since reading Mohicans, I picked up the dvd for Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (2007) which rips at your guts, but had also just read Into the Heart of the Country which was nominated for a CanLit 2011 Giller prize. It also deals with injustices with a fierce description of the land and of the events that erupt on it. This is what makes history appealing to me, otherwise I couldn't bear it. To peel back the layers on the Indigenous community and absorb as much as possible, cannot be a bad thing. I think it's more than just a phase for me.

Your book list on this thread is fascinating. I am learning a lot !

Feb 9, 2018, 2:36pm Top

>29 frahealee: I'm glad :) There are a lot of the 1,001 list that I've struggled with - or disliked. A couple I've downright hated (Tarka the otter stays with me in a bad way) but a lot of them have been wonderful revelations - things I wouldn't have picked up normally which I have found a wonderful surprise.

My favourites are the ones I start off hating and end up loving - Love in the time of cholera for example. I struggled through the first half, left it for a while then adored it when I finished it.

Feb 20, 2018, 6:05am Top

#418 Fools of Fortune - William Trevor (1,001) (IAC)

Intriguing and beautifully crafted. Still left with a note of confusion and intrigue - and not entirely sure about the last section and whether it was real or not.

Mar 5, 2018, 3:49am Top

#419 Therese Racquin - Zola
My second Zola - and I really do enjoy his writing. Unremittingly bleak and condemning of the human condition, but so well done. Moral of the story? Don't kill!

Mar 12, 2018, 4:19am Top

#420 Fantomas - Alain & Souvestre

Well that was a great detective novel - really entertaining read, loved watching how it all slotted together. Very much of the Sherlock/Poirot style.

Mar 26, 2018, 2:58am Top

#421 Cause for Alarm - Eric Ambler

See this is why I like challenges - and the 1001 in particular. I would never have read this otherwise. A spy-ish novel set before the second world war, written in a simple style to which you find yourself drawn in before you realise. Thoroughly enjoyed it and may have to dig some more Ambler out of my libraries reserve stock, where they all seem to have been sent.

Apr 10, 2018, 7:55am Top

#422 Seize the Day - Saul Bellow

Awfully good, traumatic and upsetting, watching the break down of the main character and that eternal search for the root of it all.

Apr 11, 2018, 3:01am Top

#423 The Temptation of St.Anthony - Flaubert

Well that is a weird weird book! Sort of psychotropic hallucination freakishness.

Apr 17, 2018, 8:47am Top

#424 The Secret Agent - Conrad (1,001)

I'm not a great Conrad fan. Or I haven't been. That said he is starting to grow on me. Maybe...

The first half of this I found a trudge. The last sixth or so was quite good. I'm going round in circles and making no effort to précis and/or explain.

May 8, 2018, 11:11am Top

#425 Aaron's Rod - D.H Lawrence (1,001)

Some wonderful phrases, some interesting ideas, some interminable swathes of discussion and a long description of the statue of David in Florence in which he uses the word 'white' about 20 times.

I'm on the fence.

May 11, 2018, 8:37am Top

#426 The Idiot - Dostoevsky

I pretty much always enjoy classic Russian literature and this was no exception. Well, baring a few interminably long sections... Hippolyte's dream sequence for example felt like it took an eternity.

Edited: Jun 4, 2018, 9:04am Top

#427 Murder must advertise - Sayers

Fun murder mystery but not sure why it's on the 1,001 list...

#428 Murphy - Beckett

Finally finished this off - it took me an awfully long time considering it's only 200 pages long. I think I ended up rather enjoying the second half but I'm not entirely sure...

Jun 6, 2018, 10:26am Top

#429 The Underdogs - Azuela

A short novel showing the effect of the Mexican revolution on a group of men (and I guess women as they are pulled in) who, almost by accident, become embroiled into the fighting. It traces the effect on the men and the way they slowly sink.

Interesting, in some places lyrical, but not really a patch on Devil to pay in the backlands when it comes to the sertao.

Edited: Jun 11, 2018, 2:33am Top

Just had to remove that as the book wasn't a 1,001 - it's on the Guardian 1000 list. D'oh!

Jun 13, 2018, 3:24am Top

#430 The Gathering - Annie Enright

I don't feel it lived up to it's promise in the end. There is definitely something to it - but the last quarter for me goes a bit woolly.

I did, however, find some of it genuinely affecting. Family relationships, marital relationships - all of them are difficult.

I also enjoyed the discourse on memory, about how memory of seeing things happen to others become part of your own memories and you can end up believing it happened to you.

Jun 20, 2018, 9:31am Top

#431 Shirley - Charlotte Bronte (1,001)

Slow slow start to this novel - but I ended up loving it. The characters finally clicked with me about halfway through.

Jun 21, 2018, 6:52am Top

#432 In a Glass Darkly - Le Fanu

Five gothic stories - really enjoyed these.

Jul 22, 2018, 12:46pm Top

#433 The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Barbery

Loved it. Traumatised by the end though.

#434 The Siege of Krishnapur - Farrell

Finally finished this off! It's a slow burn to say the least. Only really got into it in the last third which I really enjoyed.

Edited: Aug 28, 2018, 2:52am Top

Poop = another one that wasn't an 1,001...

Oct 10, 2018, 8:01am Top

#435 Gosta Berling's Saga

Long - good in places

Oct 15, 2018, 3:33am Top

#436Saturday night and Sunday Morning - Sillitoe

Enjoyed his writing, found the characters both intriguing and repulsive. Still not sure about the protagonists final choice - i.e does he or doesn't he!

Dec 19, 2018, 3:04am Top

#437 The Devil's Pool - George Sand (1,001)

Short 1,001. I liked this tbh - apart from the prologue and epilogue which I could have easily done without... Not sure it should be on the 1,001 list though.

#438 Faceless Killers - Henning Mankell (1,001)

I don't read a lot of crime novels. But I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Dec 19, 2018, 3:05am Top

Well I'm not going to make it to 450 this year which I had hoped to do. Darn.

Might make 440 if I get a move on.

Edited: Jan 8, 5:50am Top

Happy new Year all!

#439 The Home and the world - Tagore

Lyrical and terrifying. Wonderful in places but I liked two of the narrative voices much more than the third.

#440 The Temple of my familiar - Alice Walker

This is amazing. I mean, I got lost a few times with the interweaving characters. And some sections I preferred to others. But the interconnections, the power of her writing, the power of her characters...wonderful.

Feb 12, 1:20pm Top

#441 We Yevgeny Zamyatin

One of the inspirations for 1984 and well worth a read. Honestly - it's really good. I mean, if you like dystopian future novels etc. Fab imagery too.

And made amusing to me because we are currently struggling with a government overhaul, and have been re-branded as OneGov. This book is governed by OneState. Made me chuckle. Albeit a bit bitterly...

#442 Hallucinating Foucault - Patricia Duncker

Loved this. I think it was the tactile nature of it. Feeling the heat, the paranoia, the textures of it all.

Group: 1001 Books to read before you die

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