Simone2 in 2019
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Hi I am Barbara and this will be my 4th year on Club Read.
I am from the Netherlands (Amsterdam) and are not as active on LT as I used to be. I like to keep track of my reading though with short reviews and those are what I’ll post here.
I like to read books from the 1001 list and nominated books for the Man Booker Prize and the Tournament of Books. I am also on Litsy as @BarbaraBB.
JANUARY - MARCH
1 - Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney: 5*
2 - The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue: 3*
3 - Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: 4,5*
4 - Faithless by Karin Slaughter: 4*
5 - Heat Wave by Penelope Lively: 4*
6 - My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: 4*
7 - Smile by Roddy Doyle: 4*
8 - The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey: 3,5*
9 - The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt: 4*
10 - When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi: 4*
11 - Go Down Moses by William Faulkner: 1*
12 - The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea: 4,5*
13 - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: 4*
14 - The Invisible Man by HG Wells: 2*
15 - The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell: 4,5*
16 - Vathek by William Beckford: 1*
17 - Milkman by Anna Burns: 3,5*
18 - How to be Safe by Tom McAllister: 3,5*
19 - Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin: 3*
20 - Sunburn by Laura Lippman: 4*
21 - The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling: 4,5*
22 - Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout: 3,5*
23 - Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala: 4,5*
24 - The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino: 4,5*
25 - What You Don’t Know by JoAnn Chaney: 2,5*
26 - Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead: 2,5*
27 - The Dictionary of Animal Languages by Heidi Sopinka: 4*
28 - When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman: 3*
29 - The Captive by Marcel Proust: 3*
30 - Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk: 3,5*
31 - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: 3,5*
32 - David Copperfield by Charles Dickens: 3*
33 - Silas Marner by George Eliot: 2,5*
34 - The Great Believers by Rebecca Makai: 4*
35 - Jas van belofte by Jan Siebelink: 3*
APRIL - JUNE
36 - Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice: 3,5*
37 - Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: 3,5*
38 - The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa: 3,5*
39 - American Fire by Monica Hesse: 3,5*
40 - Stad vol ballonnen by Femke van der Laan: 4*
41 - Gone So Long by André Dubus III: 4*
42 - The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde: 2*
43 - Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NG: 3,5*
44 - Big Brother by Lionel Shriver: 3,5*
45 - Foe by Iain Reid: 4,5*
46 - Diving Pool: Three Novellas by Yoko Ogawa: 2,5*
47 - My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing: 4,5*
48 - Bird Box by Josh Malerman: 4*
49 - Patience by John Coates: 4*
50 - A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin: 3,5*
51 - Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker: 5*
52 - The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst: 1,5*
53 - Mrs Fletcher by Tom Perrotta: 3*
54 - Nothing Holds Back the Night by Delphine de Vigan: 3,5*
55 - Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver: 4*
56 - The Elementals by Michael McDowell: 3,5*
57 - Mudbound by Hillary Jordan: 4*
58 - The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas: 4*
59 - Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn: 4*
60 - The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck: 2*
61 - Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald: 3*
62 - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: 3*
63 - Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon: 3,5*
64 - Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado: 3,5*
65 - The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings: 4*
66 - The Wall by John Lanchester: 4*
67 - Heartland by Sarah Smarsh: 3,5*
68 - After Claude by Iris Owens: 4*
69 - The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand: 3,5*
70 - A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch: 3*
71 - Otmars Zonen by Peter Buwalda: 3,5*
72 - Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich: 3,5*
73 - Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy: 3*
74 - Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton: 2*
JULY - SEPTEMBER
75 - Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne: 4*
76 - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: 2,5*
77 - Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer: 3,5*
78 - The Expendable Man by Dorothy B Hughes: 4,5*
79 - De onverwachte rijkdom van Altena by Jan van Mersbergen: 4*
80 - The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich: 3*
81 - Insomniac City by Bill Haues: 4,5*
82 - Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker: 4,5*
83 - Love thy Neighbor by Ayaz Virji: 3,5*
84 - The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: 3*
85 - The Mother by Yvvette Edwards: 3*
86 - Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss: 3,5*
87 - The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn: 4*
88 - Chocky by John Wyndham: 3,5*
89 - Lanny by Max Porter: 4*
90 - Fables of Aesop by Aesop: 1*
91 - Recursion by Blake Crouch: 4,5*
92 - Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli: 4,5*
93 - A Nearly Normal Family by T. Edvardsson: 3,5*
94 - Turbulence by David Szalay: 4,5*
95 - The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver: 3,5*
96 - All the Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan: 5*
97 - Black Wings has my Angel by Elliott Chaze: 4*
98 - Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: 4*
99 - Faraway Places by Tom Spanbauer: 3,5*
100 - Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry: 2*
101 - Three Women by Lisa Taddeo: 3*
102 - Miracle Creek by Angie Kim: 4*
103 - News of the World by Paulette Jiles: 3*
104 - The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay: 1,5*
105 - Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick: 2*
106 - The Rotters’ Club by Jonathan Coe: 3,5*
107 - Severance by Ling Ma: 3,5*
108 - Alice isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink: 2*
109 - Watchmen by Alan Moore: 2*
110 - The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher: 5*
111 - Shotgun Lovesongs by Nikolas Butler: 3*
112 - The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese: 3*
OCTOBER - DECEMBER
113 - The Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers: 4*
114 - De twaalfjarige bruiloft by Maeve Brennan: 4*
115 - Red Clocks by Leni Zumas: 3,5*
116 - An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks: 4*
117 - On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong: 4*
118 - The Fugitive by Marcel Proust: 3,5*
119 - Night by Elie Wiesel: 4*
120 - The Other by Thomas Tryon: 3,5*
121 - At Dusk by Hwang Sok-Yong: 4*
122 - Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott: 2,5*
123 - The Dumb House by John Burnside: 4*
124 - Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini: 5*
125 - The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd: 4*
126 - The Man who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy: 4*
127 - The Princess of Cleves by Madame de la Fayette: 1*
128 - The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri: 3,5*
129 - True Grit by Charles Portis: 2*
130 - Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig: 4*
131 - The Glass Bees by Ernst Junger: 3*
132 - We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride: 4,5*
133 - Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko: 4*’
134 - The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore: 4*
135 - The Island of Doctor Moreau by HG Wells: 2*
136 - Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller: 3*
137 - Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman: 4*
138 - Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips: 5*
139 - Missoula by Jon Krakauer: 2*
140 - The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: 3*
141 - Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson: 5*
142 - The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong: 4*
143 - A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller: 3,5*
144 - The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami: 3*
145 - Kindred by Octavia E Butler: 3,5*
146 - Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: 2*
147 - In Hazard by Richard Hughes: 2*
148 - Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser Akner: 3,5*
149 - Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay: 2,5*
150 - Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson: 4*
151 - Acid for the Children by Flea: 5*
152 - Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo: 3,5*
153 - In Parenthesis by David Jones: 1*
154 - The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates: 3*
Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to following your contemporary readings as well as your thoughts on 1001-books. :)
Happy New Year, Barbara! Do the Dutch go as fireworks mad as the Germans on Sylvester?
1 - Conversations with friends by Sally Rooney
I started the year with a 5* read. I absolutely loved this book. The way the four main characters act because they don’t know what the other thinks, how they misinterpret signals just to defend themselves against being vulnerable or get hurt.
Such smart people, such great conversations, and yet...
And then that ending! I guess I’m a sucker for this kind of books.
Normal People is good too but with this one, Sally Rooney definitely stole my heart.
PS Don’t let the cover fool you!
2 - The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue
A man receives three letters after his mistress dies: one from her, one from her daughter and one from his wife.
The unreliability of individual perception forms the central theme of this Japanese novella, in which nothing is what it seems.
Conversations sounds better. That’s a quick two for the year. (I’ve read 35 pages so far... : ) )
3 - Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Totally worth the hype, this gorgeously written story about the wild and beautiful Kya, who grows up (abandoned by her family) in the marsh outside a small town in NC. Sometimes she meets one of the town boys because she needs company and love, but she’s also naïve. A bit predictable maybe but the writing is so good that I didn’t mind at all.
>13 dchaikin: I loved Conversations but I know some people think it too adolescent - contrary to her other novel. Anyhow, I’m wishing you a good reading year. Are you finished with García Márquez and moving on to Baldwin?
>15 Simone2: yes! Reading a biography of Baldwin, which is making me anxious to read his actual writing.
Boom! Straight in with some book bullets!! Noting Conversations with Friends especially.
>17 AlisonY: I hope you’ll get to it and like it. It gets mixed reviews but I was really touched by it. The Crawdads is great too!
4 - Faithless by Karin Slaughter
I loved this installment of Karin Slaughter’s Grant County series. It was so much better than the 3th and 4th! This one is about a religious community where strange things happen and no one wants to talk. Of course there is a gruesome murder, but also lots of twists and strong characters. My favorite Sara Linton book so far! One more book to go.
5 - Heat Wave by Penelope Lively
How she can write, Penelope Lively. Like Moon Tiger, this is a book about a woman, looking back at her life. Pauline shares her house one Summer with her daughter, her husband and their child. Watching her daughter, Pauline remembers her own marriage. She wishes she could protect her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. A very intelligent read in my opinion. Highly recommended.
6 - My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
I really enjoyed this story. It’s a quick and easy read about a young woman who literally cleans up the mess her sister makes of her life and her lovers. Despite the dark subject it is light and funny and bittersweet. It is definitely a typical Tournament of Books read: highly original.
7 - Smile by Roddy Doyle
Roddy Doyle used to be one of my favorite authors when I was young. I had forgotten all about him though until I came across this new book of his. And he still knows how to deliver.
This is the shocking story of Victor, a middle-aged Irish man trying to get his life together after his wife leaves him. In the pub he meets a man he went to school with although he doesn’t remember the man. Or does he?
>23 Simone2: funny, I've not read anything by Roddy Doyle either for 20 years, and I used to read loads of his books.
Did his writing still appeal with the passing of time, or is this writing that particularly draws us in our youth? I don't know why I've not gone near him for so long, given how many of his books I read in my 20s.
>24 japaul22: I loved Moon Tiger too and was disappointed in another of her books (The Photograph), but this one is as good as Moon Tiger. I hope you’ll read it one day!
>25 RidgewayGirl: Doyle still writes well indeed. I really liked My Sister the Serial Killer, I am curious which book it will meet in the brackets.
>26 AlisonY: I have to admit reading Doyle is a bit nostalgic but in the end he blew me away like he used to. It is a short one, you can read it in one go ;)
8 - The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
I was pleasantly surprised by this sweet, feel good story about a childless couple who move to Alaska, where a mysterious little girl appears in their life. Is she real or is she a snow fairy? The plot is nice, the descriptions of Alaska are very good.
9 - The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
Eli Sister is one if the infamous Sisters brothers, hitmen. On horsebacks on their way from Oregon to gold digging California, this may seem a cliché western novel, but it‘s so much more. Eli is the softer of the brothers and he is a fantastic narrator, who thinks of life, the world around him and his role in it. A great read, funny and sad.
10 - When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
He would be famous neurosurgeon, but it went different. Paul Kalanithi died of cancer at 37 years old.
The way he approaches the diagnosis is very scientific, probably the only way for him to deal with the situation. I can understand but it made this a difficult read for me as it felt very detached. The epilogue by his wife was heartbreaking though. How I wish for a world without cancer.
>31 Simone2: I've skirted around this book for a while, wondering whether or not to put it on my wish list. It sounds like a sad read, and I'm struggling to get past that point at the moment.
11- Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner
I couldn’t finish this one, I couldn’t even read it. The short stories in this book together form a novel. I started each story but finished none. It’s me, I know. I loved Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, but now the typical Mississippi accent just irritated me (reading English is difficult enough as it is). So no, not for me.
Haven’t read Faulkner. Scared to (although I’ve convinced myself I’ll try very hard sometime. Huge influence on Toni Morrison and Gabriel García Márquez, among numerous others.) I have an old hardcover of Go Down, Moses lying around. Not tempted at the moment.
12 - The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
What a storyteller Urrea is. All these stories come together during the last birthday of Big Angel, who is dying of cancer. Surrounded by his family and neighbours, all with their own Mexican roots and their lives in the US. It is a cacophony of voices, sad and hilarious but full of love.
>36 dchaikin: I can imagine. You’ve got enough hard reads as it is, I think, with your ambitious projects!
13 - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I’d never would have thought so, but I really enjoyed this delightful and enchanting novel.
There’s a magical circus that’s beyond imagination and that I’d love to visit - and there are two old magicians who let their protégés outwit eachother on this stage. Fantasy? Yes. And ghosts and yet I loved it!
>39 Simone2: now you've intrigued me, as I also didn't think I'd enjoy this book for the same reason. You've piqued my interest!
>39 Simone2: I loved this book. Sadly I didn't keep even basic notes about my reading back then, but I think I was simply enchanted.
>40 AlisonY: You should try it Alison, it was really such a pleasant surprise! By the way I just started Milkman, have you read that one?
>41 auntmarge64: Thank you Marge, that’s nice to know. I’ve starred your thread as well!
>42 rhian_of_oz: Enchanting really decribes it best, don’t you think? It is a circus that will stay with me for a long time I think!
14 - The Invisible Man by HG Wells
Griffin was a brilliant medical student who discovered how to turn invisible. He wants to use this superpower to terrorize people. He confides in his old friend Kemp who tries to stop him.
I really didn’t care for this book, its plot or its characters.
Milkman - I almost selected an audiobook copy last night but talked myself out of it. (Narration sample seemed only ok). Will keep an eye out for your post.
15 - The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell
In one timeline, Lexie is living the life in post-war Soho, London, with the charismatic editor Innes. In the other timeline Elina and Ted are trying to adapt to the changes a firstborn brings.
It’s not immediately clear how the storylines relate but that didn’t matter to me: I loved them both, I loved both female characters, I loved their thoughts on motherhood. Maggie O’Farrell now definitely has become a favorite author of mine.
>48 AlisonY: She really is. She is from Northern Ireland by the way. Which is the reason I mentioned Milkman earlier to you. I am reading that one now and kind of blown away by it but you should read Ridgeway Girl’s recent review of it in her thread, that says it all and way better than I ever could!
>46 dchaikin: My review will follow but as I mentioned above, just read Kay’s and you’ll know all :)
16 - Vathek by William Beckford
Vathek, ninth Caliph of the race of the Abassides, is tempted by a supernatural being (‘the Giaour’), who promises to bestow on him the treasures and talismans of the ‘palace of subterranean fire’. Encouraged by his ambitious mother, the sorceress Carathis, Vathek embarks on a journey through exotic landscapes and begins a descent into hell. It is kind of a fairy tale that mixes eastern mythology and Islamic culture.
The book may be worth reading only for its historic value or if you’re a hardcore fan of weird gothic/fantasy, which I am not.
>50 Simone2: safely no fear of a book bullet with this one :) Kudos for finishing it.
17 - Milkman by Anna Burns
“... that I came to understand how much I’d been closed down, how much I’d been thwarted into a carefully constructed nothingness by that man.”
Was it really so hard, living in Belfast during the Troubles? I had no idea. Middle Sister’s live is aimed at survival. Nearly-Boyfriend is her saviour but then Milkman appears, the paramilitair who stalks her.
The book is wonderful but difficult to read. I had a hard time staying focussed. Yet I really admire Middle Sister and Anna Burns.
18 - How to be Safe by Tom McAllister
All those guns and mass shootings in the States... This book is called a satire but I found it pretty depressing.
The narrator is a woman who gets a bit paranoid after a school shooting in her hometown. She doesn’t know how to feel safe anymore in a world where violence is responded to with more violence or the threat of it.
>47 Simone2: This sounds interesting. I've put it on my list at the library. Thanks!
19 - Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
Aviva has a relation with a congressman and of course she’s the one to blame when they are caught and all comes out in the open. She starts anew as Jane Young in Maine. The story is told from different POVs, which is quite nice.
It’s the perfect book to read in the plane and kick off my vacation but it’s a bit too fluffy and chicklit to my taste.
20 - Sunburn by Laura Lippman
The perfect beach read, this noir thriller which was fun to read with lots of twists that didn’t disappoint.
I also liked the American character of this novel, I’d love to pay a visit to this small town in Delaware, drink a beer in the High-Ho with Polly and eat some of Adam’s famous meals while listening to the jukebox.
21 - The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling
I didn’t expect much of this book since it got such mixed review but I ended up loving it. I think this is partly due to the fact that I could relate deeply to the main character, a mother struggling to deal with herself, her toddler and motherhood. I remember so well being that young mother. Also I loved the writing style and the plot so yes, another favorite on the ToB shortlist.
22 - Olive Kitteridge by Elisabeth Strout
All stories in this book are more or less centered around Olive Kitteridge, a local teacher, one with character. Tormented by menopause and aging she makes life hard for her son, husband, students and herself. Not in the least because she can’t show any vulnerability. She seems so hard while we as readers know better. Another impressive book by Strout, although I keep preferring My Name is Lucy Barton!
I'm glad you liked The Golden State. I wonder if the mixed reviews are largely down to how each reader feels about how Kiesling handled the monotony of being the mother of a young child.
>63 Simone2: Olive Kitteridge was a great character, wasn’t she? So prickly.
23 - Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala
This was an emotional read about a talented black student in Washington DC, on the verge of graduation, going to Harvard and coming out. Then everything changes. It’s a short novel but one with a huge impact.
24 - The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
Wow! Finally a thriller again that I really, really liked, from the first to the last page. It’s Japanese, thus unusual. And it’s not so much (we know who did it!) about the murder but about the investigation.
25 - What You Don’t Know by JoAnn Chaney
A serial killer is put behind bars and yet the murders continue. What happens next is told by a detective, a journalist and the murderer’s wife. I disliked all of them immensely, not in the least because all they talked about was related to their or anyone else’s dicks. I’m not prudish at all but it was boring and annoying and the reason I couldn’t enjoy the story itself.
26 - Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
What starts out as a slapstick (the days before a wedding when the family is preparing for the big day and the midlife crisis of the bride’s father is reaching a height), first turns into a tragedy and then spins out of control.
An amusing fluffy read but one to forget about quickly.
27 - The Dictionary of Animal Languages by Heidi Sopinka
It was hard to connect to this book at first, not in the least by its lyrical prose and the lack of quotation marks. The story meanders between the young Ivory, living the bohemian life in Paris between the wars, and the old one, struggling in Canada with her dictionary of animal languages and her memories of things gone by. But when I got the hang of it, I enjoyed it very much. And oh, that love story 💕
>72 auntmarge64: You’re very welcome, I hope you’ll like them. They deserve some more recognition I think!
28 - When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
I loved Tin Man so much that I have been postponing reading another book by Sarah Winman, afraid to be disappointed. And I am, a bit, now. This was clearly a debut: it is a story about a family, their friends and all that happens to them in a lifetime. Love, magic, homosexuality, child abuse, 9/11, coming of age... it’s all there. Winman writes wonderful but in this book she was still searching, I think.
29 - The Captive by Marcel Proust
Marcel is so jealous that his girlfriend Albertine is hardly able to leave the house. Though he may seem the captive the title revers to (his weak health keeps him in bed often), in reality she is. To make it worse: when he has in fact tamed the wild girl in her, he misses her former self.
The plot is really good, it’s just that it takes sooo many words to get there! But I did it, now on to part 6 of 7!
30 - Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
At least it was short. I couldn’t have taken it much longer. However, because it was short it kept me reading on, this weird book about bored adult men looking for kicks that get totally out of control when Tyler Durden takes charge. But who is Tyler Durden? (Yeah, Brad Pitt 😍 but I didn’t mean him!)
I wont recommend this book to anyone but I personally did like the plot and the writing.
31 - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This book was a bit too YA to my taste but over all it was good. Death being the narrator made for original storytelling and it was refreshing to read about ordinary life in Germany during WWII. No heroes, no traitors, just people living as best as they could under Hitler’s horrible regime - and Death’s role in it.
32 - David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
I finished my one-Dickens-a-year! More autobiographic, less grotesk characters but still typical Dickens. David is an orphan, growing up in a rather well to do environment, but with a lot of distress. There are always people however, who care for him, and guide him into adulthood.
My next Dickens will be Our Mutual Friend, I think. But that’ll have to wait until next year!
33 - Silas Marner by George Eliot
When Silas Marner, a weaver, is falsely accused of stealing the congregation's funds, his life is shattered. He leaves for Raveloe, a rural community where he is unknown. Here he lives an isolated life, saving and cherishing the gold he earns by weaving as his only diversion. When his money is stolen Silas gets very depressed until a little girl walks into his house to stay. She feels like a gift from heaven.
The strange thing about this novel is that we learn a lot about live in and the people of Raveloe and their interactions with Silas, while he himself remains mainly a mystery and we never get to know him or his thoughts. An okay read for me, not more then that.
I can't believe I've still not read anything by George Eliot - I need to do something about that...
34 - The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
I can’t imagine how it must have felt to be young and happy and gay and living in the 80s when that unknown disease came up and killed so many and threatened the rest. The impact, the sadness. I can’t imagine but Makkai comes close in taking me to those days with her beautiful story of very real people in Chicago in the 80s and Paris in current times.
35 - Jas van belofte by Jan Siebelink
It’s our “National week to promote Dutch books”. This means that when you buy a book by a Dutch writer you receive this one as a gift.
It’s a short novella about an elder man who is afraid of dying and looks back on his life as a troubled writer and the fact that his very religious father disappeared when he was just a kid. A promising story but it felt incomplete in the end.
36 - Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
For generations the Anishinaabe have lived isolated in Northern Ontario. When the Apocalypse puts an end to modern life they fall back on the survival skills of their ancestors
to get through the winter. Reading this novel feels like living among them.
>83 Simone2: I just saw a lovely news story that on National Book Day in the Netherlands you can travel for free on the trains, showing your book instead of a ticket! What a wonderful way of marking the day.
>85 wandering_star: Yes it’s a tradition, one day during National Book Week, you can travel by train for free upon showing the book I mentioned above. It’s a very sympathetic gesture of our railways company indeed!
37 - Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Good not great, is exactly how I feel about this book. Of course I was drawn in immediately by its style and the interview format. And I couldn’t put it down, wanted to know how things would end up for Camila and Billy and of course for Daisy. I felt all electricity but think I’ll forget about it soon too.
38 - The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa
Home is far away when you’re driving with a dead Morrocan refugee in the trunk of your car from Morroco to the Netherlands. And where is home actually when your parents are Morrocan but you are born and raised in the Netherlands? Neither feels like home. The eternal dilemma of the migrant and the current flow of North Africans crossing the Mediterranean form the core of this short book.
Nominated for the Man Booker International Prize
39 - American Fire by Monica Hesse
Above all this book for me was look into vanishing American rural communities. It is a depressing insight. The rather hopeless situation and the couple portrayed here, the arsonists who set fire to more than sixty of the hundreds of abandoned houses in this part of the country. Their personal situation seemed about as depressing and hopeless as that of the county they lived in. An impressive socioeconomic portrait.
40 - Stad vol ballonnen by Femke van der Laan
A year ago the mayor of the city where I live, died of cancer. He left behind a wife and three young children. In his last interview he asked us to take care of our city. To make sure it would stay the tolerant, open and kind place he knew it to be (his words). In this book his wife tells of her first year without him, raising their kids in the city he loved so much. Deeply touching.
>91 Simone2: sounds like a tear jerker, even more so when the person is known to you.
>91 Simone2: I love the Netherlands as a whole, and Amsterdam in particular (along with Utrecht, Rotterdam, Leiden, Maastricht and 's-Hertogenbosch), so I would love to read this book, if and when it is translated into English.
>93 kidzdoc: You really know many places in the Netherlands! Far more than the average visitor! I’ll let you know if and when it will be translated!
41 - Gone So Long by André Dubus III
In the novel there is Daniel, who long ago killed his wife, their daughter Susan who witnessed it all and her grandmother Lois, who raises her after her father goes to prison, and makes sure they never get in touch. Forty years later Daniel is dying and wants to come to terms with his past and to get to know his daughter. Lois wants to prevent this and Susan is confused and angry. A dense painful story with memorable characters and lots of feelings.
>94 Simone2: Thanks, Barbara! I've made three trips to Amsterdam since 2015, and have met at least seven Dutch members of LibraryThing in those six cities. Last September a couple from Chicago who are members of the 75 Books group and I traveled from London to Amsterdam on the new Eurostar direct service, and met Anita, my closest Dutch LT friend, her husband Frank, and Ella, a new 75er from Amsterdam who none of us had met yet, at the Grand Café 4'33 for dinner, before Frank and I saw a concert at Bimhuis that evening.
>95 Simone2: oh, that sounds like a good read. On to the list it goes :)
42 - The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
“It is absurd asking me to behave myself, quite absurd. I must rattle my chains, and groan through keyholes, and walk about at night, if that is what you mean. It’s my only reason for existing.”
This was a fun read, very short, about a ghost who can’t scare the new American tenants of his old English castle.
43 - Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
All the father wants for his daughter is to fit in. All the mother wants for her is to be exceptional. Both parents project on Lydia their own youth traumas. And then she dies.
I liked this novel by Celeste Ng, though not as much as Little Fires Everywhere. I kept wondering why the whole dysfunctional family never talked to eachother, neither before and after Lydia’s death.
44 - Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
A sister takes care of her morbide obese brother while neglecting her own family. Because siblings are inseperable and should take care of eachother. I don’t know if I agree and under what conditions. I could connect with Pandora herself and her conversations with her adolescent (step)kids but the whole sibling thing left me uneasy and a bit uninterested.
45 - Foe by Iain Reid
Oooh, such a good one this! My expectations were high and I wasn’t disappointed. I couldn’t stop reading, had to know what was going on in the lives of Junior and Hen since the day a visitor arrived at their old house in a dystopian, rural and almost deserted environment. The visitor announced that Junior had been placed on a longlist to travel to an Installation in space. You feel something isn’t right but what is it? It takes this book to figure that out. It’d weird and scary but man, does it deliver!
>105 RidgewayGirl: No we don’t have a tv film that we watch yearly, although Dinner for One has been aired many times. But it’s not standard. I didn’t even know that the Germans watch The Canterville ghost each year!
46 - The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa
I’m a sucker for Japanese fiction so I was eager to discover this new to me author. I started with this book, consisting of three novellas. They are weird and horrible things happen, described with a complete lack of emotion. This may be the point of these novellas but to me it made them too flat and empty.
Shame the Lionel Shriver wasn't a hit. I picked up another of her novels a few weeks ago that I hope to get to soon.
>104 Simone2: I picked this up in a bookshop late last year but wasn't in the mood for it at the time. I've now seen multiple good reviews so it's time to add it to the wishlist.
47 - My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Finally a psychological thriller that didn't leave me a bit disappointed after finishing. This one had lots and lots of twists, some of which I could predict, but they all led to this grande finale that I didn't see coming. A real pageturner about a seemingly normal couple who kills young women just for the kick and because it arouses them sexually. Highly recommended in its genre!
48 - Bird Box by Josh Malerman
This was really something. I didn’t expect much but I did race through this book, I couldn’t put it down and it was really scary without getting cheesy or cheap.
Afterwards I watched the movie with my daughter but compared to the book it’s so much less psychological and I realize that’s what makes the book outstanding.
49 - Patience by John Coates
‘As the door shut behind him Patience knelt down and waited to be sick. And she couldn’t, as usual, help thinking that if Catholic women weren’t on their kneed for one reason, they were probably on them for another’
Patience is a devout Roman Catholic, trying to live a life without Sin. She’s married, but then she meets Philip and Sin becomes suddenly all she’s ever wanted. Coates (a man!) writes tenderly and with humor of Patience’s discovery of love and sexuality while losing her innocence and naivity.
>116 Simone2: Those Persephone series are often so good, do you know them?
50 - A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
Perfection in writing I think, the way Lucia Berlin arranged the short stories in this book. Each sentence is beautiful in its own. So much so that it at times distracted me from reading the stories as a whole.
Together they tell the lives of ordinary women who have lived the hard life.
A book to read very slowly - which I didn’t have the patience for, so I may have to read them again one day.
>118 Simone2: I didn't realise that Persephone are publishing that. Yes - I've read a few books from their stable now, and enjoyed them all. In fact, I just got their biannual catalogue through the door the other day, so I must sit down and have a good read through it, as I've not read any in the past couple of years.
51 - Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker
“I looked across the space behind the bar and saw my face in a blue mirror between two shelves of bottles. The bottles looked familiar enough, but I didn’t immediately recognize the face, mostly, I think, because I didn’t want to. It’s a face that’s given me a lot of trouble.”
All the stars for Cassandra! Her character is one of the most intense I’ve ever met and I hung on her for every worth. Cassandra is dark, smart, infuriating and captivating. The way she manipulates her twin sister and tries to sabotage her marriage is incredible, as is the fact that as a reader you still love her. When the point of view turns to Judith, the twin, that adds an extra level of complexity to the story and a new perspective on both sisters, unseparable, and their excentric family. I could quote forever from this book.
>121 Simone2: I loved that one. Such a great dark psychological profile, yet never oppressive—there was some light to Cassandra and you couldn't help rooting for her. Great writing, and I'm still not sure how she pulled it off.
52 - The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst
Everybody loves this book and I was sure I would too. Hollinghurst is such a good writer and I love his English-ness and his plots. At least I did in In the Line of Beauty (an all-time favorite) and The Swimming Pool Library.
So I didn’t want to give up but halfway through this chunkster I had to admit I wasn’t in the least interested in the parade of characters that came and went. This book is more a portrait of England in the 20th century than a novel I think. For me that didn’t work.
>125 Simone2: shame. I seem to remember that this one waned halfway through for me, but it did pick up and by the end I enjoyed it. Certainly not my favourite Hollinghurst though.
>126 AlisonY: Oh really? I came halfway and decided I was no longer interested. Now I feel that I should maybe give it another chance!
53 - Mrs Fletcher by Tom Perrotta
A book about the empty nester: Eve, a divorced woman, needs to reinvent herself and her life after her only son leaves for college. Her first escape is the internet, where she Googles the word MILF and discovers a whole new, porn-based world. Luckily there’s more to the book than that.
I liked the way Perrotta handles some of today’s taboos but he should have made Eve a divorced man - I really couldn’t connect to her as a woman.
>128 Simone2: - well, the author is male. (Not sure of his marital status) Maybe he was intentionally flipping expected gender roles.
54 - Nothing Holds Back the Night by Delphine de Vigan
A daughter tries to make sense of the death of her mother who, aged 61, committed suicide. The result is a beautiful yet painful portrait of a French bohemian family in the 20th century. They seem so light-hearted and carefree but below the surface much has happened and it’s a tough journey for the daughter, discovering her mother’s past, and reliving her own youth with a mentally ill mother.
55 - Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
My first Kingsolver, finally. And I wasn’t disappointed. The character building in this book is so good! Although the plot fell a bit flat in the middle, I was captured completely by the story of Taylor and her adopted daughter Turtle. Turtle is a Cherokee and a Cherokee lawyer insists the adoption wasn’t legal and Turtle should be raised by her own community. Taylor of course can’t let her go and fights back in the only way she knows.
56 - The Elementals by Michael McDowell
Two families own two houses on a deserted beach in Alabama. There is a third house, almost completely covered by sand. Everyone is scared of that one because it has been haunted for years. Yet both families keep coming back to Beldame.
The horror didn’t scare me at all, yet in combinaties with great characters it made for a highly enjoyable read.
57 - Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
The Mississippi Delta right after WWII. A way of life like it has been for ages: white farmers, black tenants, separated lives. For both a white and a black soldier who fought and were received as heroes in Europe it is strange to go back to a place where nothing changed. Where all is about race.
A disturbing and emotional read with very real characters. Highly recommended.
58 - The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
I can’t imagine the effect this book must have had on readers in the 19th century when there was so much less diversion than today and when it was published in episodes in the newspaper. How readers must have looked forward to the next installment.
In the 21th century this book still is the ultimate revenge novel, the revenge of Edmond Dantès who, after having innocently spent years in a dungeon, returns as the Count of Monte Cristo.
I have almost nothing but good memories of reading that a few years back. A wonderful book!
59 - Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn
Alina lives in Romania under the communist regime of Ceaucescu. The secret service is everywhere, privacy a thing of the past. Alina and her husband make plans to leave the country. This little, flash fiction book mixes harsh reality with magical realism. The result is... unexpected.
Well, I would never have gravitated towards the Dumas book normally, but with the good comments on your thread I'm now sorely tempted!
60 - The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck
Two men are travelling the Oregon Trail in the old-fashioned way: in a covered wagon with mules.
I read this book in preparation of a roadtrip through the US later this year. I have to admit I didn’t read all of it, just the parts set in the states we’re planning to visit. That may be the reason why I was not really captured by the book. It read more like someone’s diary then like an edited and published book.
61 - Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald
A group of odd people live on houseboats on the tidal Thames in London. Not much happens until the end, when the whole world of each protagonist changes irrevocably. The set-up was good but I had a hard time comprehending what was happening and caring for what was. I think I just wasn’t in the mood and that it deserves another read and a better appreciation.
62 - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein is so gifted in the natural sciences that he is able to create a living creature, Partly human, partly monstrous this creature takes control of Frankenstein’s life.
I’m glad I finally read this classic but that’s about it. Enjoyable, no more nor less.
63 - Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Florence lives in a home for the elderly. When one day a man from her past walks in, she tries to remember what happened to him. She has forgotten so much lately but thanks to her friend Elsie she starts remembering things long laid to rest.
A quick enjoyable read. Good not great.
64 - Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
These short stories definitely hold a promise for future work by Carmen Maria Machado. In this book I loved some of the stories (The Husband Stich, Inventory, Mothers, Eight Bites, Real Women Have Bodies), while others did nothing for me (Especially Heinous, The Resident, Difficult at Parties). In general though they are very well written and a bit hard to read sometimes because the women in the stories are struggling with their bodies and their lives.
65 - The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemming
This was an unexpectedly good read. While she’s dying a man discovers his wife was in love with someone else. With both his daughters (who he hardly knows because he was always working) he starts looking for this man, so he will be able to say goodbye as well. I was impressed by the main character, the way he deals with this all.
66 - The Wall by John Lanchester
The world has drown because of climate changes, England had build a wall around his coastline to protect its inhabitants against the rising sea and against refugees trying to enter the country. We follow some people who defend the Wall.
This is a frightening and very realistic novel about migration and climate change, about survival in harsh and uncertain times. The book describes a world that is unmistakably ours, albeit irreparably damaged.
67 - Heartland by Sarah Smarsh
“The term ‘poor’ is used to represent those without money, and it also is a descriptor meaning outright badness, as in ‘poor health’ or ‘poor results’. In a country where personal value is supposed to create wealth, it is easy for a poor person to feel himself a bad one.”
I learned a lot about rural #Kansas and growing up in poverty. Smarsh makes such objective and intelligent observations. I admire her and her family highly.
68 - After Claude by Iris Owens
What a surprising read. Harriet is one of the most political incorrect characters I’ve ever met and she made me laugh out loud many times. I am glad I don’t know anyone like her in real life! In the first part she is getting dumped by Claude (or the other way around as she claims). I loved that part. The after Claude part fell a bit flat for me. I think I miss the added value of the chapters about her her ‘saviour’ in the Chelsea Hotel.
>156 Simone2: I've heard really good things about this one over the years.
69 - The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand
This was exactly what I expected of it. A well written whodunit with a good cast of characters. I figured out halfway who murdered the maid of honor on the night before the wedding but there were enough storylines to keep me reading on feverishly.
70 - A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch
What a strange book. Six people in London, living a merry go round of relationships. With eachother. They are so unlikable, all of them. And stubborn and vain and stupid. Murdoch did a great job making me feel this way but in the end it’s certainly not my favorite book by her.
71 - Otmars Zonen by Peter Buwalda
This is the hottest book in the Netherlands at the moment. All reviews in the leading media were raving. 600 pages full of different pov’s about oil, oil company Shell, boardrooms, Beethoven, journalism and kinky sex. It is lot. And it’s only the first instalment. There are two more on its way. It is a so-so read for me, although I probably will read the second part once it will be published.
72 - Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich
Irene and Gil are married and have three children. They can’t live with nor without eachother. Booze, art and secret diaries become weapons in a fight between them where no one can gain from, there’s too much at stake. So much to lose.
73 - Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
It may be that for a non-native like me English books are harder to listen to than to read.
I think I understand what I hear but audiobooks don’t often touch me as deep as a book that I read myself.
Far from the madding crowd is an example of this. A famous classic, though for me it felt just like listening to a lot of landscape with sheep descriptions, and a soap opera in which three men circle around one woman. There must and will be more to it, but I missed it.
>164 AlisonY: Thanks! I loved Tess and heard good things about The Mayor so I’ll make that my next Hardy although I may wait awhile!
74 - Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton
Camille and her brother Finley grow up together in an unstable household. They support each other but then Finley moves out and they drift apart. Although it is well written, the story rambles and goes on way too long. In the end I just wanted to be done with it.
>165 Simone2: the Mayor is one of my favourite books ever. It took a good 50 pages to get into it, but it was fabulous. Made me cry!
75 - Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
I really really liked this one. And I didn’t for a moment expect to since I was so annoyed by Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
But this is a book about a merry control freak (so like myself 😉) who has a tight schedule to travel the world in 80 days. I learned a bit about travelling in the old days and it kind of read like an adventure.
76 - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
This was an example of the wrong book at the wrong time I think. I wasn’t in the least grabbed by or interested in all hardship and drama Oscar and his family had to deal with in life. I felt even annoyed by how all went wrong. All. Fuku they call it in the Dominican Republic where part of the book is set.
77 - Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
This is not about religion, fundamentalist Mormonism (FLDS) is about frustrated white men abusing women and children. I knew nothing about it, LDS is no big thing in my country but I am really shocked. And and upset and angry. That is, if Krakauer used a balanced hand while writing. I tend to believe all he says, but maybe I shouldn’t?
78 - The Expendable Man by Dorothy B Hughes
I knew nothing about this book except that some of my peers here recommend it and that I can’t resist Persephone
Diving in unprepared is what made this highly suspenseful noir so powerful. I can’t say too much. Just read it. And don’t read reviews on forehand. Dorothy Hughes made me feel how the main character must have felt. Impressive!
>170 Simone2: This was the first book on that topic I read, but his reportage certainly agrees with articles, books and criminal trials that have arisen from that community.
>171 Simone2: I've heard really good things about that one. All of them vague, though, which sounds like that's a good thing.
>171 Simone2: That one makes it on my "to buy soon" list. Especially since it's available in a NYRB publication and I love those books.
79 - De onverwachte rijkdom van Altena by Jan van Mersbergen
When a couple inherits a lake their whole life changes. Because in the Lake they discover many mussels and pearls. What to do with this sudden wealth? Is it allowed to use if for a risky medical treatment for their handicapped son? Will the money enrich them when they have been so happy without it?
80 - The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
another book about child molestation and its impact on the rest of the child’s life. Author feels a connection between her own youth, that of phedophile and murderer Ricky Langley and the mother of the child he killed, which led to his conviction. She wants to understand what has driven them to be able to deal with her own past.
81 - Insomniac City by Bill Hayes
This book is a poem, a lovesong, a serenade, a celebration. Of New York City and of Oliver Sachs. Every sentence in this book feels genuine and intimate. Hayes writes with so much respect about the people who make his city and about the two lovers who made him into the man who wrote this wonderful quiet book.
82 - Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker
“The good thing, finally, is to lead a devoted life, even if it swings around and strikes you in the face.”
Dorothy Baker strikes again with this fantastic book about a musical genius, Rick Martin, who becomes obsessed with black jazz music (these are the 1920s) and becomes the best horn player LA or New York has known until that moment. The reader lives the trip that his life becomes, drowned in alcohol, steamy as the jazz clubs back then.
83 - Love Thy Neighbor by Ayaz Virji
A Muslim doctor starts working in a rural community in Minnesota. After Trump’s election the world turns against him, his family and his religion. He encounters a lot of hate and tries to turn his anger (his rage even) about this into something positive: a lecture in which he explains Islam and addresses the prejudices against it (terrorism, women, sharia).
A thought provoking book about an important subject. I could say much more but will refrain from politics here.
84 - The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I flew through this one and I had a good time reading about Evelyn but I’m pretty sure I’ll forget about her just as soon.
86 - Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
I went in with high expectations. A man wants to live like ‘folks’ did in prehistoric times and brings his family with him. They are submitting to his wishes even though they don’t want to relive ancient times themselves. I liked the premise of this novella but wasn’t that impressed in the end.
87 - The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn
I have no respect for the author at all after all I learned about him in the past few months (he should write an autobiography!), but I did like this book. It’s a solid thriller with an unreliable narrator who has agoraphobia, and it kept me reading half the night.
88 - Chocky by John Wyndham
Matthew, 12 years old, develops the habit of talking to himself. Or is there someone else? asks his father. Yes, says Matthew, I talk to Chocky, a supernatural invader who asks questions and learns Matthew scientific facts beyond his years.
Starting from this fact, John Wyndham has written a clever and fascinating SF story, centered around the intriguing question: If there are intelligent beings from another world, how and when will they get in touch?
>187 Simone2: gosh, I remember being glued every week to the Chocky TV series when I was at school. I seem to remember a girl called Albertine who was in the middle of the whole Chocky episode with Matthew?
>187 Simone2: I've had my eye on that one for a while. I think NYRB (there's a reissue edition) makes some really good sf/horror choices.
89 - Lanny by Max Porter
Lanny is a little boy, busy talking to trees and doing other interesting things in the rural village he recently moved to with his parents - who both still live partly in London, at least mentally.
His mother arranges for Lanny to have art lessons with Pete, a local (once famous and controversial) resident. This provides the catalyst for the plot.
This book contains so much: current themes of our society go alongside the spiritual presence of Dead Papa Toothwort, an ancient spirit who has seen all life in this place.
Although the climax felt a bit too constructed to me, I really enjoyed this book and think it’s a worthy candidate for the Booker Prize.
90 - Aesop’s Fables by Aesop
I have to admit these fables bored the hell out of me. I’m sure it’s a masterpiece which influenced many later books but listening to all those short stories (many of which I knew already because I am old and wise 😂) just was too much.
Sometimes excessive familiarity or just plain different aesthetic standards render a work unlikable. I don't think I would be able to make it through an entire volume of Aesop's fables: didactic fiction or stories with a "life lesson" set my teeth on edge.
I liked The inverted world by Christopher Priest, which is the only truly SF book in their catalogue that I've read. Short stories and novellas by 1920s Soviet author Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky sometimes fall within Science Fiction, too, though his writings are much more borgesian, and focus more on societal criticism and Literary Criticism. I really liked his The letter killers club.
91 - Recursion by Blake Crouch
Wow, what did I just read? An absolute mind-bending read about science, memory and time. A book of love and loss. Although a lot went over my head, reality as Crouch creates it, feels completely plausible. I couldn’t stop reading and will be thinking of this one for soms time to come. Worth the hype!
Catching up on your reviews. Noting Lanny in particular as that sounds just up my street.
>190 Simone2: I was just looking at scary nyrb books for October... Their website has a handful of books they consider horror:
The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf (the cover looks terrifying, but I don't like spiders)
Shadows of Carcosa
The Haunted Looking Glass by Edward Gorey (I own this & it looks completely charming)
The Green Man by Kingsley Amis
My addition: Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier
And many more sci-fi:
They have two books by John Wyndham that I haven't read, but i thoroughly enjoy the two of his books I have read
I tried reading The Slynx but didn't have the mental capacity to comprehend the invented slang and really foreign setting/world. I do want to try again someday.
>200 ELiz_M: Thank you so much!! Is it your turn in October to select books for our NYRB bookclub? I hope so!
I’ve read Don’t Look Now and loved it! I’ll start with The Green Man as it is one of the 1001 list. And Wyndham is great indeed. My favorite is Day of the Triffids.
92 - Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
A truly wonderful book that many many people should read. Beside the incredible well written plot of a marriage falling apart and the children noticing, it describes the reality of our current world, in which our leaders refuse child refugees at our borders, and leave them by themselves in the most inhumanly way. Must read and must win the Booker Prize!
93 - A Nearly Normal Family by T. Edvardsson
The blurb of this book asks ‘how far would you go to protect your loved ones?’ and that’s exactly what keeps her parents going when Stella is arrested for murder. Edvardsson writed the story from the point of view from al three characters who together form a far from normal family. You feel like you have to take side with one of them. As if all three of them stand on trial - which in a way they do. I chose for Stella because I could identify even less with the parents (especially the father) but I can imagine that other will feel different. Interesting.
94 - Turbulence by David Szalay
This very good book consist of losely connected stories, all based on people travelling by plane to go home, visit friends, family, escape the turbulence of their own life etc.
Just like in the other book I read by Szalay, All That Man Is, his characters and plots are so interesting that I would like to know (much) more of all of them.
95 - The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Four sisters come to live in the jungle of the Congo with their parents since their father is a fanatic missionary. All girls and their mother deal differently with this new reality that has an impact on the rest of their lives.
What I especially enjoyed about this book was all I learned about Congo’s history. It felt so real that the country grew on me a bit as well. Also the characters of the family are great (Rachel is hilarious!). Just one minus: for me the book could have had a hundred pages less.
96 - All the Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan
This is one of the most beautiful lovestories I’ve ever read. Liat and Hilmi meet in NYC and fall in love but they know it won’t last. Because she is Israelian and he Palestinian. A wall and animosity seperate their two countries, which are in a way so similar. And yet love like theirs give some hope that the barriers between these countries can be broken down one day. Because they talk and fight and make up and are willing to try again.
>209 AlisonY: I am happy you agree. Have you read any other books by Kingsolver?
>210 RidgewayGirl: That ending didn’t do the book right indeed. I agree that it felt rushed, also because I would have liked to read more about both of them and because there were so many endings I thought of for this book!
97 - Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze
Timothy Sunblade, an escaped convict, has a plan in mind for a heist that will set him up for life. But the partner who helped him plan the heist didn’t survive the prison escape, so he has to find someone else. After all, it’s a two-person job. Then he meets Virginia. Their cat-and-mouse relationship is so well described, I loved it.
What follows is noir crime fiction at its best I think, with great dialogue, memorable characters, a quickly moving plot and a startling ending.
>212 Simone2: sounds good - noting that one.
On Kingsolver, no - I've not read anything else of hers yet. One of these days....
98 - Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
What a delightful witty book! Exactly what I was in the mood for. Bernadette is the most unconventional type of mother, surrounded by mothers who are judging her because she’s not as active at the school of their kids as they are. So recognizable, it made me laugh out loud. A combination of events (all rather hilarious) lead to Bernadette’s disappearance. Daughter Bee and her father set out to find her. Recommended!
>214 Simone2: sounds fun! I think we all know those kind of school gate mothers....
>215 AlisonY: Lol, we do. This book really is such fun, if you ever come across a copy, don’t hesitate!
99 - Faraway Places by Tom Spanbauer
A farmboy in Idaho in the 1950s becomes aware of injustice and bigotry; over the course of a long hot summer he witnesses a cruel murder and the false accusation of a black man. It is time for the boy to make up his mind and trust what he sees and believes in. He grows up fast. I enjoyed his voice and the atmosphere in this rural drama.
100 - Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry
It seems as if I’m the first to not like this book but I really didn’t. Although the storyline set in the present (the two men waiting in a Spanish harbour for the girl Dilly to arrive) had some potential, the storyline set in the past (about the two men doing drugs and things - a subject I mostly find annoying) didn’t work for me. This author has been compared to Beckett. That may be a compliment but I’m no fan of Beckett either. Not at all.
101 - Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
I don’t get the hype about this book. I feel like I’ve read it a thousand times before or seen it it real life. And I feel like Taddeo wanted to point out how all women in the end turned out to be victims, which maybe these three are, but it’a not as if that’s always the case when women are having sex with other people then their husband or without being married. So the book annoyed me more than I enjoyed it.
>219 Simone2: this is a timely review for me! I just got this from my library after waiting in line for it, but I'm not that interested in reading it. Knowing you didn't love it makes me feel like it's ok to pass it up.
>219 Simone2: Oh dear. I bought this last weekend because the nice woman in the bookshop recommended it. We were on holiday and it was my birthday so I was susceptible to suggestion. :-)
102 - Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
All the lies! I liked every bit of this legal thriller that pierced my soul at times too- all the mistakes people make by thinking, acting, saying and not saying.
103 - News of the World by Paulette Jiles
I liked the ‘reading the news’ subject as well as the relation between the travelling news reader and the little girl who travels with him through 19th century Texas to be returned to her family after being kidnapped by Kiowa indians.
>225 Simone2: I had forgotten about this book. I really enjoyed it when I read it.
>225 Simone2: I really liked this one too. Such a good natured and humane book—I just reread my review to jog my memory and I wrote "a gentle but refreshingly firm moral thread running through the story—very little not to like here." Apparently it's getting a film treatment with Tom Hanks and I have to say, I have zero interest in seeing that. I thought it was just fine as a book. I hope it does well, though.
104 - The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
Man it was hard not to throw this book in a corner. I kept wondering what was the point. People in a room, killing eachother, lots of gory details and unfinished sentences. The chapters kept repeating themselves, so did the conversations. I ended up bored and frustrated. It’s probably me but what a waste of time.
105 - Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick
It was not easy to keep focussing on the beautiful sentences among the stream of conscience memoirs of Elizabeth Hardwick. I was not really in the mood for such a read unfortunately.
>228 Simone2: see, I would throw a book in the corner if I'm hating it that much. You do well to stick with them, whether good or bad.
106 - The Rotters’ Club by Jonathan Coe
Such a sparkling novel about a group of friends at a renowned school in Birmingham, England. They are the editors of the school newspaper in the turbulent seventies. Strikes and politics paralyze the country (not unlike today’s England…), the IRA is terrorizing the city, and the boys discover pop music and love. Coe as always writes funny with a serious undertone.
107 - Severance by Ling Ma
I enjoyed Ling Ma’s writing, her New York, her main character Candace. Shen Fever is spreading fast over the continenta, everybody leaves the city or dies, but Candace stays as long as she can, because she lacks other options. She pretends life goes on. When she finally leaves, there is that other storyline, which I thought was less good. It reminded me of many other dystopian novels. However, I am interested in what Ling Ma will write next.
108 - Alice isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink
When her girlfriend discovers Alice isn’t dead (because she sees her on the news), Keisha starts looking for her, by driving through the US as a truck driver. So far so good. But then things start getting supernatural (first a bit but then a lot) and I lost interest.
109 - Watchmen by Alan Moore
I read this graphic novel only because it’s on the list of 1001 books but I didn’t fell for the genre. For me, looking at pictures is way more difficult than to just read, all those images soon dazzle me. And then it is about superheroes... in which I’m not interested at all. However, I was intrigued and it kept me reading on. Never again though!
110 - The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
An apparently cozy novel about a family where the man becomes paralyzed and is home bound, which means that the mother has to go to working. However, there is so much under the surface. Written in 1924, Fisher breaks in each sentence with traditional role patterns, as experienced by both adults, their children and their community.
A beautiful, poignant book.
>235 Simone2: glad you've hit on a 5 star read after what sounds like a few 'meh' novels. Checking this one out - sounds great.
>235 Simone2: I'll have to read this sometime. Sounds right up my alley! Is it a Persephone or Virago? Curious how you found it.
>237 japaul22: I think you’ll love it indeed. It’s a Persephone, a beautiful one!
111 - Shotgun Lovesongs by Nikolas Butler
Life in rural Wisconsin as lived by four friends who grew up together. They went through a lot, maybe they aren’t even friends anymore, but there is so much that binds them.
The story is well written with good character building, however I think it’ll turn out to be one of those books I’ll soon forget all about.
>239 Simone2: I was so disappointed in that one I abandoned it halfway through. The blurb sounded great, but I couldn't hack the characters at all.
112 - The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese
I loved Cutting for Stone and this other book by Verghese has been on my tbr ever since. I am sorry to say it disappointed. It is autobiographical and tells about his career as a doctor and teacher in a Texan hospital and his friendship with an intern, David, with whom he plays tennis and talks. There is a lot however, David doesn’t tell him. The result is very personal but not necessarily interesting for anyone else besides the ones involved.
113 - The Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers
I really don’t remember who recommended this book to me but I really loved it. All different worlds come together (the wild west, an Indian reservation and Nazi Germany) in this western about friendship and horses. Very atmospheric, very little is said but with so much meaning.
The book gets hardly any attention here on LT but it’s worth reading.
114 - De twaalfjarige bruiloft by Maeve Brennan
Maeve Brennan was a 20th century Irish writer who has recently been rediscovered in my country - and rightfully so. She writes in short stories about Delia, a woman in the middle of a loveless marriage in Catholic Ireland. All is about her kids, her garden and her estranged husband. Her loneliness, vulnerability and regret are painful, yet the way Brennan writes about it is somehow hopeful.
115 - Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Told from the perspective of four women, this book re-imagines what the US would be like if abortion was once again illegal and single parents adopting criminal. The women in this novel each deal with this new reality in different ways. Zumas did a good job in creating four completely different characters whose paths cross and who all in their own way are so strong and authentic.
116 - An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks
This thriller kept me awake half the night. Not because it was so scary that I couldn't sleep, but because I couldn't stop reading. The story of Jess, who as a client comes under the spell of the perfect and mysterious psychiatrist Doctor Shields, is filled with twists that kept me guessing until the end. Recommended!
117 - On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
What a beautiful, sad book. So many beautiful sentences used to tell the story of the hard way of growing up when you’re born in Vietnam, your family traumatized, and start a new life in America, where you are yellow and gay, small and with not enough English vocabulary to stand up for yourself. Heartbreaking.
118 - The Fugitive by Marcel Proust
On this raining autumn day I finally finished another Proust.
In between the endless meandering sentences so typical for Proust, there does happen a lot in this sixth book of In Search of Lost Time. Albertine loses much of her magic when Marcel learns more about her after she falls from a horse. He feels finally freed enough to visit Venice with his mother. Also he meets Gilberte again, on the brink of yet another unhappy marriage, of which the series has a lot!
On to the last one!
>247 Simone2: Yay! Almost there! I really liked the last volume and the end is really special. Enjoy!
119 - Night by Elie Wiesel
Somehow I never read this one. I now did. In one breath. To imagine that what Wiesel went through happened here, in Europe, just 75 years ago! It’s incredible and good to always be reminded of. This can never happen again and yet, when I read the news and realize that I know just a fraction of what is happening right now in Syria, in Central Africa, in Haiti, to name just a few. It’s incomprehensible what people are able to do to one another 💔
120 - The Other by Thomas Tryon
For me this book was too crowded. Too many people, too many rooms and corners in the house, too many words. All of this made it hard for me to concentrate on what was happening. Still it was a scary read with smart twists and the horror was real!
121 - At Dusk by Hwang Sok-Yong
Park Minwoo is a Korean architect who is part of Seoul’s rapid urban development. The traditional slums are fast being removed and replaced by modern buildings. But with it, Minwoo realizes his own roots and that of his country are disappearing. A slow, sad read. Very good!
122 - Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
Disappointing. Two ambitious women, chasing a career in science (which is not really relevant for the plot), know about eachother’s secret. This results in a strange balance between them, waiting to be disturbed.
Megan Abbott wants to put so much in this thriller but in the end it’s all rather far fetched.
123 - The Dumb House by John Burnside
This book reminded me of The Collector and The Wasp Factory. Books with main characters who are cold and ruthless in an intelligent and argumentative way. I don’t know what it says about me but I did enjoy this freaky read about a man using his own kids to create a ‘Dumb House’ experiment.
124 - Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
“Because all I can think tonight is how deep the sea is. How powerless I am to protect you from it. You are the most precious cargo there ever was. I pray the sea knows this. Inshallah.”
What a heartbreaking book, inspired by the story of Alan Kurdi, the 3-year old Syrian refugee who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach safety in Europe in 2015.
125 - The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Such a lovely read about a young girl learning what love is all about among a group of women and bees. A feelgood book with a touch of YA but a perfect read for a lazy weekend and I am glad I finally read it!
>259 AlisonY: Lol, I can understand about the bees. And please read the Hosseini, it's just a 40 pages poem but I think it should be read by as many of us as possible!
126 - The Man who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy
"He doesn’t care about his own life, so he doesn’t care about the lives of others”, says a friend about Saul Adler, the main character in this book.
Saul is not very likeable indeed, but the way Levy places him in the middle of the turbulent second half of Europe’s 20th century is brilliant. I can’t say much without spoiling things, but be prepared that even the smallest details recur, reform, and return with new significance and meaning in Saul’s struggle to bring order to his life and story.
>262 AlisonY: I loved Hot Milk too and this one definitely didn't disappoint after that one, although it is completely different.
127 - The Princess of Cleves by Madame de la Fayette
A classic from the 1001 list. Really short but I didn't manage to finish it. I think it is supposed to be a kind of classic soap novel but I really couldn't keep track of all the character. Sometimes it seemed as if in every other sentence a new character was introduced or mentioned.
128 - The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
I liked this book more than I expected. It is a family saga set in turbulent Calcutta and quiet Rhode Island. It’s about brothers and wives, mothers and daughters. Above all it is about people making choices for themselves and the consequences of those choices for others. Lahiri is a thoughtful storyteller with a lot to tell.
129 - True Grit by Charles Portis
An old school western, this book. Raving reviews everywhere but I wasn’t pulled in for one minute. I couldn’t connect to the plot, the setting or the characters.
130 - Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig
A young Austrian officer befriends a local millionaire, Kekesfalva, and his family, but in particular the old man's crippled daughter, Edith, for whom he feels sorry. The consequences are terrible.
But because this is Zweig there is so much more to the story. As always, the plot unfolds through things left unsaid, situations misread.
This is Zweig’s only novel and if I should have to name one downside to this book it would be that I think it’s power would be even greater if he’d written it in his usual novella way.
131 - The Glass Bees by Ernst Jünger
This is a disturbing story of a jobless former soldier who feels lost in an overmechanized world symbolized by artificial bees. He has an unusual job interview at Zapparoni Works.
The narrative blends his depiction of this interview, flashbacks to his childhood and his days as a soldier, and reflection on the themes of technology and morality.
132 - We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
Las Vegas, city of opposites, where glamour and wealth seem never far away from poverty and harshness.
A refugee boy, a lonely wife, an Iraq veteran with PTSD, another veteran, in rehab, and a social worker. All characters are real and warm, I’d like to read more about each of them.
But this book is about the tragedy that interweaves their storylines. A tragedy that represents the major themes of current times. It is sad with a glimpse of hope. I loved this book.
133 - Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko
It took some time getting into this novel, mainly because of the use of local slang. But then it took off and I was drawn hard into the fast-paced plot about an Aboriginal family. They all have developed their own ways to cope with Australian society and their position within it. Addiction, criminal activities, lethargy, avoidance: it is each for their own, within society and within the family. A potential threat of losing their land, and the shared determination to protect it, does change things however. It’s a gritty yet loving and respectful novel and as a ‘dugai’ I have learned a lot.
134 - The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore
With a picture of her aunt and the Sacred Heart watching over her from opposite sides of the room, Judith Hearne tries to keep in control of life and the her demons. She’s a spinster, living in a furnished room in Catholic boarding house. When she meets Mr Madden, she feels it’s her last chance to ‘get off the shelf’, as she describes it towards the end of the book.
It’s a bittersweet read and I feel sorry for Judith.
135 - The Island of Doctor Moreau by HG Wells
After a shipwreck Edward lands on an island in the Indian Ocean. Here he meets Dr. Moreau, a brilliant but controversial biologist who fled England because he had conducted prohibited experiments on animals. On the island he and his assistant Montgomery experiment with vivisection on animals.
It’s an interesting premise but the story wasn’t for me. The ending is the best part of the book I think.
136 - Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
I loved Swimming Lessons and had been looking forward to another novel by Claire Fuller. Unfortunately Bitter Orange is promising in its set-up, scenery and characters, but disappointing in its execution. It's the story about a complicated friendship between three people (a couple and a single woman) taking care of an old mansion. Add a vicar, some ghosts, some lies, a few timelines and you have the ingredients of an amusing read that didn't deliver.
137 - Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman
Eden is a soldier who has been hospitalized for three years after an explosion in Iraq, extremely severely burned and most of the time unconscious.
The narrator of the book is his best friend, who didn’t survive the explosion. He is waiting for Eden and for Eden’s wife Mary, to make a choice.
A sad and heartbreaking read with utterly vivid characters despite the presence of death all over the book.
>275 Simone2: For a short novel, it really packed a punch. I read it over a year ago and it's still vivid in my mind.
138 - Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Two young sisters are lured into a strange man's car in Kamchatka, a desolate peninsula in eastern Russia, that was shut off of the rest of the world until the Soviet Union fell apart.
Mostly, the book is not really about what happened to the girls, but how their disappearance affects the women and communities in the region. Their stories are vivid and real, recognizable and unforgettable. One of the best books I’ve read this year.
Ha! I was over in my thread, encouraging you to read Disappearing Earth!
139 - Missoula by Jon Krakauer
This is a really hard book to read, packed with facts about rape among students in Missoula, Montana. The way women need to prove that they had sex against their will and the way men get away with it, is disgusting.
Krakauer did a lot of research to build his case, which on me had the effect that even a serious subject like this can get boring with ongoing details about rape and violence.
I'm glad you loved Disappearing Earth too! I thought it was a smart way to treat what could have been a predictable kidnapping story.
140 - The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
This was more enjoyable read than I expected. In fact it reminded me a bit of Harry Potter with all different creatures, friendships, fights and even the moralism. I kept skimming some parts though, space books really aren’t my thing.
141 - Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
I adored this profoundly moving and intimate portrait of parenthood. Sometimes it felt painfully recognizable, sometimes I could not imagine what happened and yet it felt so close, so intimate. Like Edwidge Danticat says in his blurb: ‘Every gorgeous page leads to another revelation, another poignant event or memory’. All the stars for this book, I hope it will be shortlisted for the Tournament of Books.
142 - The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong
A boy wakes up drenched in blood and finds his mother death. At first, he remembers nothing. Has he had a fit and killed her, he wonders. Then his memory slowly comes back. Of what happened in the past few ours as well as in the years before. Bit by bit this fast-paced Korean thriller unravels a lot of mindf**ing things. Scary, disturbing and unputdownable.
143 - A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller
My expectations were not high, but this book turned out to be a decent thriller. At least as interesting is the description of the state. Desolate, depressing and forgotten, that’s the way Keller writes about West Virginia. Drugs rule and the future seems very unpromising in the small town where the story takes place.
144 - The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami
I am a sucker for Japanese novels and this one seemed perfect but somehow it wasn’t - for me.
Nishino spends his life looking for love. Ten of his lovers tell about their relationship with him. Through their stories we get to know him. Except I didn’t. For me the book was a bit too indistinct and detached.
Just catching up with your thread this morning. I read The Secret Life of Bees several years ago and Lowland just a year or so ago and enjoyed both. I liked your point about Lowland being about the consequences that individuals' choices have on the people around them.
>289 AlisonY: Lol I know what you mean. I do hope you’ll have some time off from work to enjoy some books and your family!
145 - Kindred by Octavia E Butler
Such an original novel. A black woman timetravels between her 20th century life in California and the life of her ancestors, slaves in 19th century Maryland. Butler succeeds in making the timetravel almost believable and writes a touching story about the inhuman circumstances in which black people lived in the American South.
146 - Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
I really wonder what Gillian Flynn was trying to prove with this book? To create some utterly unrealistic characters (the mother, the 13 years olds) doing cruel gruesome things to eachother, leading to what to me was obvious from the start. I know it’s an unpopular opinion but I really felt only annoyed by this book.
147 - In Hazard by Richard Hughes
In the summer of 1929 a steamship departs from the US to China. The weather turns unexpectedly rough and the ship is being swept up in the vortex of an immense hurricane. Caught in the struggle for survival, both the crew and the ship are tested as never before.
An okay read, not really my kind of book.
148 - Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
I have some reservations about this one. They are not regarding the writing style but about the plot and the author’s message. I did like the theme of growing into a marriage and noticing that not all is the way you used to dream about when you are young (the typical midlife crisis), but I felt annoyed by the part about making a career as a woman in a man’s world. That storyline felt zo conservative and unrealistic to me.
I was really annoyed by Rachel’s self pity. I am not talking about the giving birth trauma, which was horrible (that doctor!), but about her career. She behaves as if it is so exceptional to have a career as a mother and to have a husband who also takes care of the children and the household. I don't recognize that at all. Rachel made the choice not to take care of her children and to always be at work - something that was absolutely not necessary with Toby's income. She wasn’t forced to (she could easily have combined a career with motherhood if she wanted), it was het choice because she wanted to belong to the very rich.
I love when a book has much effect on me, but for now the annoyance prevails with me.
149 - Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
This story about three girls and a governess go missing while at Hanging Rock, Australia, couldn’t keep my attention. Partly because I was not sure what genre I was reading... horror? Mystery? I couldn’t stop myself skimming much of the endless details to get to the end. I did laugh about Mrs Appleyard though, quite a character!
>149 Simone2: Despite your review, I'm pretty intrigued by this one. Something about the premise has grabbed my attention! Since it's an NYRB, I'll probably buy it and give it a try at some point.
>298 japaul22: Is it a NYRB? I didn’t know, mine is another edition! But I know many people love it so I am looking forward to what you’ll think!
150 - Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
Such a heartfelt story about a young woman taking care of two siblings who spontaneously combust when they get agitated. It sounds weird and it is but I loved the three main characters and the way they interact. It’s a bittersweet story and a perfect holiday read.
151 - Acid for the Children by Flea
This is is such a great read. Flea is not only a super interesting person, he’s also kind of a genius. In music and in words. I loved reading about every stage in his childhood until the moment he calls ‘Chili Pepper time’.
Can’t wait for the sequel and to learn more about this great little man, his music and my favorite band.
>302 Simone2: I'm really interested in that one. Never was the hugest RHCP fan, but I saw him play with Patti Smith a few years ago and he was terrific.
>303 lisapeet: He is a big fan of Patti Smith I know now. The book is not about the RHCP but about Flea becoming the man and musician he is. Really recommended!
152 - Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Twelve character studies of black women, all so well worked out. Many many great quotes. I enjoyed reading this one, although I had enough at the end (too many characters, I did love how it all came together in the end).
153 - In Parenthesis by David Jones
A poetic, stream of conscience kind of report about WWI. Not for me.
>305 Simone2: interesting. Dan didn't seem to be blown away by this either on his thread. Classic Booker overhyping?
154 - The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Maybe I’ve read a bit too many books about slavery lately. For me this one didn’t especially stand out. It’s about a young man, who becomes active in the Underground because of his supernatural qualities. The context is interesting, the characters well described, the story itself so-so.
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