Sunday, January 31, 2010

To the Lighthouse

Okay, I'm a little late posting for the To the Lighthouse portion of the Woolf in Winter read-a-long. It took me longer to read than I planned, plus I've been sick and couldn't read too much through the fog of allergy medicine. That may affect this review as well! To see the other posts on To the Lighthouse, check out Emily's blog.

I did not enjoy To the Lighthouse. I was disappointed, because I didn't expect to like Woolf, but I enjoyed Mrs. Dalloway and that raised my expectations for To the Lighthouse. But unlike Mrs. Dalloway, where I was okay with a lack of much of a plot because of the characters, I don't feel like most of the characters are well developed in To the Lighthouse. They seemed like caricatures, or were just really flat. I have a feeling I'm in the minority on the viewpoint since I've read that Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey are based on Woolf's parents and her sister thought she captured them to the point of bringing them back to life, but I just didn't see it.

I also felt like the language was lacking in comparison to Mrs. Dalloway. Until about 100 pages in, I kept thinking that it was even well written. In Mrs. Dalloway the language carries you along, and I had to keep stopping myself from reading it too quickly. Here there were a lot more starts and stops and it just seemed off. After the first 100 pages though, I felt like she got into more of a rhythm and the language turned a corner and became more beautiful. The Time Passes segment especially had beautiful, poetic language.

I felt like the book was about the world changing from the Victorian age to the Modern age, as personified in Mrs. Ramsey and Lily. (And I think that was part of my problems with the characters, the rest seemed just like fillers around these two to demonstrate this.) Mrs. Ramsey is the traditionalist, and pushes everyone toward marriage and family life. Lily rejects that and chooses to remain single and pursue her painting.

Like in Mrs. Dalloway, I feel like depression lurks in every corner. No one is truly happy. Even Lily, who gets what she wants, thinks of jumping off the cliffs to her death. Woolf's books are not hopeful to me. They seem to say that nothing really matters, we're all going to die anyway, and it might be better to just end it all now. Maybe that's reading something into her books from the way she lived her life, but that's how the two I've read so far make me feel.

What I found really interesting is reading Woolf right after reading Wharton. Both women wrote around the same time about many of the same themes, but their styles are vastly different. I much prefer Wharton's realism over Woolf's modernism. I feel like the modernists just try to sound confusing and intelligent to make themselves seem superior to those who don't get their works. I do think in Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf was effective in using stream-of-consciousness to tell her story, but I feel like here it just comes off more as the slightly crazy ramblings of depressed person. I believe Wharton is more effective in getting the same points across because she makes you care about her characters and tells more of a story. In Woolf you always feel like you're digging for the purpose and I didn't have any sort of emotional response to To the Lighthouse. I liked Mrs. Dalloway better because I did care about the characters and that made me care more about the point Woolf was trying to make their than the one she did here. Wharton also ends her novels in a somewhat more hopeful manner, even though they are often depressing as well. For instance, in Summer, you aren't happy with the ending, but Wharton points out that it would be worse if Charity ended up like her mother, so at least she won't be that miserable. Charity may never be happy, but she won't feel the need to kill herself either. There's some point left to living her life.

Despite not enjoying To the Lighthouse, I do still plan to continue on with the read-a-long. I'm going to start Orlando soon so I can take it a bit slower if I'm not getting into it. Hopefully it's more Mrs. Dalloway than To the Lighthouse!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Superior Scribble Award

I was super surprised and excited that Jane at Reading, Writing, Working, Playing selected me as one of her five Superior Scribbler awardees! I really enjoy Jane's blog and am looking forward to reviewing her book Imitations of Austen very soon. Jane focuses on all things Austen on her blog, as well as the Victorians and other English classics. Her reviews are always intelligent and insightful, but without sounding stuffy.

And now it's my turn to pick 5 recipients on whom to bestow the Superior Scribbler Award! I hope you enjoy checking them out if you're not familiar with them already.

1. Eva at A Striped Armchair. I'm sure she's won many of these types of things before, but her blog is the first book blog I attached myself too, and without it I'm not sure if I would have started searching out other book blogs and expanding my own blog behind my real-life friends. And Eva's sheer volume of books is enough to motivate anyone to read more! Her sheer volume of reading is impressive, but they're almost all literary selections.

2. Rebecca at Rebecca Reads. Rebecca reads a lot of classics, which is appropriate since she started The Classics Circuit, and she also posts about what's she's reading with her son, which I really enjoy reading about even though I don't have kids and don't particularly want them.

3. Amanda at The Blog Jar. I've just started reading her blog in the last couple of weeks, but she strikes me as funny and like someone I would get a long with in person. She gave us a peek into her wedding, which just seemed so focused on love instead of showing off the way many weddings do, and I just really liked that about her. Plus, how great is her About Me section: "Amanda lives on coffee, snark, and capacious Victorian novels. She has an aversion to telephones and communicates by owl exclusively."

4. Sarah at What We Have Hear is a Failure to Communicate. I like that Sarah blogs about movies in addition to books. It changes things up a little bit and gives me a few new items to seek out (or avoid) on my Netflix queue. She tends to read classics, and I'm quite impressed that she's read Proust. His name pops up a lot, but you don't see a lot of people actually reading him.

5. Karen at Books and Chocolate. Aside from loving the name of her blog and the quote from Dickens that it comes from, Karen writes about the classics. Apparently I like book blogs with people who read the classics. :) And she scored major points on her Books of the Decade post about her favorite books she first read in the last decade, where she selected my all-time favorite, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, as one of her selections, and I liked the rest of the list as well.

And here are the rules:
Superior Scribble Award rules:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Maybe Baby

I'm wading through To the Lighthouse (which I am not enjoying) and Drood (which I am enjoying, I just can't read for very long for some reason) right now, and am having trouble making much progress in either one at the moment, despite the snow today we're having in Oklahoma today. I can't believe we've had two snow/ice storms this winter. I can only remember having snow days two, maybe three times in the entire time I was in school, and school has been cancelled several times this year. Global warming my ass.
So, I decided to try reading some of the books I have checked out from library and am supposed to return this weekend, if the library doesn't stay closed. First up, Maybe Baby, a collection of personal essays about their choices to have or not have children.
I randomly saw this book on Amazon, and decided to pick it up at the library. As a 28-year-old in a southern/midwestern state where most people start popping out babies right after they get married, the issue of whether to have kids comes up a lot. And most people assume that I will have kids, and if I'm meeting them for the first time they assume I already have them. And I've noticed that for most people, having kids doesn't seem to be a choice - it's just something you do once you get married, or occasionally accidentally before hand.
But for me, it is a choice. One that I don't understand how people don't agonize over more. I often wonder how people decide to have kids, and it's just recently that I've realized that they aren't making the choice if they will have kids, but when. Not so for me. And I realized, that it's only been recently in history that we've actually had that choice. Not long ago, not having sex was pretty much the only way to avoid it, and for married couples you just started having babies. But I don't have to go that direction if I decide not to. And right now, I'm leaning heavily to the not wanting to side. But part of me wonders if I'll regret when I'm too old to biologically have a child, or when I disappoint my parents for depriving them of becoming grandparents, or when I grow old alone (based on the statistics that men typically die younger than women). But I simply can't imagine being pregnant, or giving birth, or raising a child. I've never held a baby. I get panic attacks just thinking about it. I'm not really fond of children. I like being in control. I like being free. I don't want to have something tying me down. I want to live life on my terms.
But this type of thinking typically gets you evil looks, with people thinking you're selfish and that you just don't understand how wonderful parenthood is, and that I'll change my mind and have them and then I'll get it. And maybe I will. I still have time. But right now, I don't want them. And I just wanted someone to understand that.
And that's part of what this book does. The first essay in the book was the one I identified with the most. She's happily married, and loves her husband and her life so much that she doesn't want to mess with that. She doesn't want to share her husband. She doesn't want to do little more than share a house with him for several years while they devote themselves to a baby. And then oddly, my second favorite essay was actually from one of the mothers. Even though she decided to have kids, she talked a lot about why that decision isn't for everyone and that's okay. She says it's not rational to have children. It's an emotional decision, based on guts and feelings. And that's a big part of my problem - I only look at the situation rationally, and from that perspective I can't understand why someone would have them. I don't have a biological clock ticking inside me. I don't see babies and want to hold them and have one. I see them and freak out, and praise the Lord that that's not me. I cringe when I see pregnant women, terrified for them. I don't think I can ever be brave enough to handle that.
Anyway, that was a lot more personal info than I normally share, but it's a personal book. I guess this is sort of my own personal essay on the topic, rather than actual review of the book. If you're weighing this decision though, or no someone who is, this is a great book to look into. The essays are all well written and entertaining on their own as well, and some would probably be good to read if you're in the stages of parenthood where you're trying to remember why the hell you had them in the first place. :) It actually tends a little more to that side of things actually, to having them over not having them, but for me it was nice to simply read about it being a decision, not a given.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

1001 Books You Must Read

As a personal project, I'd like to try to tackle the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Thanks to ukaunz on listology for posting an online version for me to copy and paste from! This list is really just novels/novellas, not books in general, and I feel like there's a lot for the 2000s since we're just 10 years in, and I'm sure there are selections I won't agree with, but I'm still going to try to read a lot of them. I'll just have to set separate goals for plays and poetry.

Total of books read: 82/1001

My total makes me a little sad. But this list is heavy on more modern stuff, and I have only a handful of checks pre-1900. You can tell where my reading interests are! Perhaps this will encourage me to branch out a little.


1.Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

2.Saturday – Ian McEwan

3.On Beauty – Zadie Smith

4.Slow Man – J.M. Coetzee

5.Adjunct: An Undigest – Peter Manson

6.The Sea – John Banville

7.The Red Queen – Margaret Drabble

8.The Plot Against America – Philip Roth

9.The Master – Colm Tóibín

10.Vanishing Point – David Markson

11.The Lambs of London – Peter Ackroyd

12.Dining on Stones – Iain Sinclair

13.Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

14.Drop City – T. Coraghessan Boyle

15.The Colour – Rose Tremain

16.Thursbitch – Alan Garner

17.The Light of Day – Graham Swift

18.What I Loved – Siri Hustvedt

19.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

20.Islands – Dan Sleigh

21.Elizabeth Costello – J.M. Coetzee

22.London Orbital – Iain Sinclair

23.Family Matters – Rohinton Mistry

24.Fingersmith – Sarah Waters

25.The Double – José Saramago

26.Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer

27.Unless – Carol Shields

28.Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

29.The Story of Lucy Gault – William Trevor

30.That They May Face the Rising Sun – John McGahern

31.In the Forest – Edna O’Brien

32.Shroud – John Banville

33.Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

34.Youth – J.M. Coetzee

35.Dead Air – Iain Banks

36.Nowhere Man – Aleksandar Hemon

37.The Book of Illusions – Paul Auster

38.Gabriel’s Gift – Hanif Kureishi

39.Austerlitz – W.G. Sebald

40.Platform – Michael Houellebecq

41.Schooling – Heather McGowan

42.Atonement – Ian McEwan

43.The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen

44.Don’t Move – Margaret Mazzantini

45.The Body Artist – Don DeLillo

46.Fury – Salman Rushdie

47.At Swim, Two Boys – Jamie O’Neill

48.Choke – Chuck Palahniuk

49.Life of Pi – Yann Martel

50.The Feast of the Goat – Mario Vargos Llosa

51.An Obedient Father – Akhil Sharma

52.The Devil and Miss Prym – Paulo Coelho

53.Spring Flowers, Spring Frost – Ismail Kadare

54.White Teeth – Zadie Smith

55.The Heart of Redness – Zakes Mda

56.Under the Skin – Michel Faber

57.Ignorance – Milan Kundera

58.Nineteen Seventy Seven – David Peace

59.Celestial Harmonies – Péter Esterházy

60.City of God – E.L. Doctorow

61.How the Dead Live – Will Self

62.The Human Stain – Philip Roth

63.The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

64.After the Quake – Haruki Murakami

65.Small Remedies – Shashi Deshpande

66.Super-Cannes – J.G. Ballard

67.House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski

68.Blonde – Joyce Carol Oates

69.Pastoralia – George Saunders


70.Timbuktu – Paul Auster

71.The Romantics – Pankaj Mishra

72.Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson

73.As If I Am Not There – Slavenka Drakuli?

74.Everything You Need – A.L. Kennedy

75.Fear and Trembling – Amélie Nothomb

76.The Ground Beneath Her Feet – Salman Rushdie

77.Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee

78.Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami

79.Elementary Particles – Michel Houellebecq

80.Intimacy – Hanif Kureishi

81.Amsterdam – Ian McEwan

82.Cloudsplitter – Russell Banks

83.All Souls Day – Cees Nooteboom

84.The Talk of the Town – Ardal O’Hanlon

85.Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters

86.The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

87.Glamorama – Bret Easton Ellis

88.Another World – Pat Barker

89.The Hours – Michael Cunningham

90.Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho

91.Mason & Dixon – Thomas Pynchon

92.The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

93.Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

94.Great Apes – Will Self

95.Enduring Love – Ian McEwan

96.Underworld – Don DeLillo

97.Jack Maggs – Peter Carey

98.The Life of Insects – Victor Pelevin

99.American Pastoral – Philip Roth

100.The Untouchable – John Banville

101.Silk – Alessandro Baricco

102.Cocaine Nights – J.G. Ballard

103.Hallucinating Foucault – Patricia Duncker

104.Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels

105.The Ghost Road – Pat Barker

106.Forever a Stranger – Hella Haasse

107.Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace

108.The Clay Machine-Gun – Victor Pelevin

109.Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood

110.The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro

111.Morvern Callar – Alan Warner

112.The Information – Martin Amis

113.The Moor’s Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie

114.Sabbath’s Theater – Philip Roth

115.The Rings of Saturn – W.G. Sebald

116.The Reader – Bernhard Schlink

117.A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

118.Love’s Work – Gillian Rose

119.The End of the Story – Lydia Davis

120.Mr. Vertigo – Paul Auster

121.The Folding Star – Alan Hollinghurst

122.Whatever – Michel Houellebecq

123.Land – Park Kyong-ni

124.The Master of Petersburg – J.M. Coetzee

125.The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami

126.Pereira Declares: A Testimony – Antonio Tabucchi

127.City Sister Silver – Jàchym Topol

128.How Late It Was, How Late – James Kelman

129.Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres

130.Felicia’s Journey – William Trevor

131.Disappearance – David Dabydeen

132.The Invention of Curried Sausage – Uwe Timm

133.The Shipping News – E. Annie Proulx

134.Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh

135.Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

136.Looking for the Possible Dance – A.L. Kennedy

137.Operation Shylock – Philip Roth

138.Complicity – Iain Banks

139.On Love – Alain de Botton

140.What a Carve Up! – Jonathan Coe

141.A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

142.The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields

143.The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides

144.The House of Doctor Dee – Peter Ackroyd

145.The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood

146.The Emigrants – W.G. Sebald

147.The Secret History – Donna Tartt

148.Life is a Caravanserai – Emine Özdamar

149.The Discovery of Heaven – Harry Mulisch

150.A Heart So White – Javier Marias

151.Possessing the Secret of Joy – Alice Walker

152.Indigo – Marina Warner

153.The Crow Road – Iain Banks

154.Written on the Body – Jeanette Winterson

155.Jazz – Toni Morrison

156.The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje

157.Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Peter Høeg

158.The Butcher Boy – Patrick McCabe

159.Black Water – Joyce Carol Oates

160.The Heather Blazing – Colm Tóibín

161.Asphodel – H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)

162.Black Dogs – Ian McEwan

163.Hideous Kinky – Esther Freud

164.Arcadia – Jim Crace

165.Wild Swans – Jung Chang

166.American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis

167.Time’s Arrow – Martin Amis

168.Mao II – Don DeLillo

169.Typical – Padgett Powell

170.Regeneration – Pat Barker

171.Downriver – Iain Sinclair

172.Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord – Louis de Bernieres

173.Wise Children – Angela Carter

174.Get Shorty – Elmore Leonard

175.Amongst Women – John McGahern

176.Vineland – Thomas Pynchon

177.Vertigo – W.G. Sebald

178.Stone Junction – Jim Dodge

179.The Music of Chance – Paul Auster

180.The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien

181.A Home at the End of the World – Michael Cunningham

182.Like Life – Lorrie Moore

183.Possession – A.S. Byatt

184.The Buddha of Suburbia – Hanif Kureishi

185.The Midnight Examiner – William Kotzwinkle

186.A Disaffection – James Kelman

187.Sexing the Cherry – Jeanette Winterson

188.Moon Palace – Paul Auster

189.Billy Bathgate – E.L. Doctorow

190.Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

191.The Melancholy of Resistance – László Krasznahorkai

192.The Temple of My Familiar – Alice Walker

193.The Trick is to Keep Breathing – Janice Galloway

194.The History of the Siege of Lisbon – José Saramago

195.Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel

196.A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

197.London Fields – Martin Amis

198.The Book of Evidence – John Banville

199.Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood

200.Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco

201.The Beautiful Room is Empty – Edmund White

202.Wittgenstein’s Mistress – David Markson

203.The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie

204.The Swimming-Pool Library – Alan Hollinghurst

205.Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey

206.Libra – Don DeLillo

207.The Player of Games – Iain M. Banks

208.Nervous Conditions – Tsitsi Dangarembga

209.The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul – Douglas Adams

210.Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams

211.The Radiant Way – Margaret Drabble

212.The Afternoon of a Writer – Peter Handke

213.The Black Dahlia – James Ellroy

214.The Passion – Jeanette Winterson

215.The Pigeon – Patrick Süskind

216.The Child in Time – Ian McEwan

217.Cigarettes – Harry Mathews

218.The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe

219.The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster

220.World’s End – T. Coraghessan Boyle

221.Enigma of Arrival – V.S. Naipaul

222.The Taebek Mountains – Jo Jung-rae

223.Beloved – Toni Morrison

224.Anagrams – Lorrie Moore

225.Matigari – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

226.Marya – Joyce Carol Oates

227.Watchmen – Alan Moore & David Gibbons

228.The Old Devils – Kingsley Amis

229.Lost Language of Cranes – David Leavitt

230.An Artist of the Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro

231.Extinction – Thomas Bernhard

232.Foe – J.M. Coetzee

233.The Drowned and the Saved – Primo Levi

234.Reasons to Live – Amy Hempel

235.The Parable of the Blind – Gert Hofmann

236.Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez

237.Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson

238.The Cider House Rules – John Irving

239.A Maggot – John Fowles

240.Less Than Zero – Bret Easton Ellis

241.Contact – Carl Sagan

242.The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

243.Perfume – Patrick Süskind

244.Old Masters – Thomas Bernhard

245.White Noise – Don DeLillo

246.Queer – William Burroughs

247.Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd

248.Legend – David Gemmell

249.Dictionary of the Khazars – Milorad Pavi?

250.The Bus Conductor Hines – James Kelman

251.The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis – José Saramago

252.The Lover – Marguerite Duras

253.Empire of the Sun – J.G. Ballard

254.The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

255.Nights at the Circus – Angela Carter

256.The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera

257.Blood and Guts in High School – Kathy Acker

258.Neuromancer – William Gibson

259.Flaubert’s Parrot – Julian Barnes

260.Money: A Suicide Note – Martin Amis

261.Shame – Salman Rushdie

262.Worstward Ho – Samuel Beckett

263.Fools of Fortune – William Trevor

264.La Brava – Elmore Leonard

265.Waterland – Graham Swift

266.The Life and Times of Michael K – J.M. Coetzee

267.The Diary of Jane Somers – Doris Lessing

268.The Piano Teacher – Elfriede Jelinek

269.The Sorrow of Belgium – Hugo Claus

270.If Not Now, When? – Primo Levi

271.A Boy’s Own Story – Edmund White

272.The Color Purple – Alice Walker

273.Wittgenstein’s Nephew – Thomas Bernhard

274.A Pale View of Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro

275.Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally

276.The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende

277.The Newton Letter – John Banville

278.On the Black Hill – Bruce Chatwin

279.Concrete – Thomas Bernhard

280.The Names – Don DeLillo

281.Rabbit is Rich – John Updike

282.Lanark: A Life in Four Books – Alasdair Gray

283.The Comfort of Strangers – Ian McEwan

284.July’s People – Nadine Gordimer

285.Summer in Baden-Baden – Leonid Tsypkin

286.Broken April – Ismail Kadare

287.Waiting for the Barbarians – J.M. Coetzee

288.Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

289.Rites of Passage – William Golding

290.Rituals – Cees Nooteboom

291.Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

292.City Primeval – Elmore Leonard

293.The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

294.The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera

295.Smiley’s People – John Le Carré

296.Shikasta – Doris Lessing

297.A Bend in the River – V.S. Naipaul

298.Burger’s Daughter - Nadine Gordimer

299.The Safety Net – Heinrich Böll

300.If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler – Italo Calvino

301.The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

302.The Cement Garden – Ian McEwan

303.The World According to Garp – John Irving

304.Life: A User’s Manual – Georges Perec

305.The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch

306.The Singapore Grip – J.G. Farrell

307.Yes – Thomas Bernhard

308.The Virgin in the Garden – A.S. Byatt

309.In the Heart of the Country – J.M. Coetzee

310.The Passion of New Eve – Angela Carter

311.Delta of Venus – Anaïs Nin

312.The Shining – Stephen King

313.Dispatches – Michael Herr

314.Petals of Blood – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

315.Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison

316.The Hour of the Star – Clarice Lispector

317.The Left-Handed Woman – Peter Handke

318.Ratner’s Star – Don DeLillo

319.The Public Burning – Robert Coover

320.Interview With the Vampire – Anne Rice

321.Cutter and Bone – Newton Thornburg

322.Amateurs – Donald Barthelme

323.Patterns of Childhood – Christa Wolf

324.Autumn of the Patriarch – Gabriel García Márquez

325.W, or the Memory of Childhood – Georges Perec

326.A Dance to the Music of Time – Anthony Powell

327.Grimus – Salman Rushdie

328.The Dead Father – Donald Barthelme

329.Fateless – Imre Kertész

330.Willard and His Bowling Trophies – Richard Brautigan

331.High Rise – J.G. Ballard

332.Humboldt’s Gift – Saul Bellow

333.Dead Babies – Martin Amis

334.Correction – Thomas Bernhard

335.Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow

336.The Fan Man – William Kotzwinkle

337.Dusklands – J.M. Coetzee

338.The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum – Heinrich Böll

339.Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John Le Carré

340.Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

341.Fear of Flying – Erica Jong

342.A Question of Power – Bessie Head

343.The Siege of Krishnapur – J.G. Farrell

344.The Castle of Crossed Destinies – Italo Calvino

345.Crash – J.G. Ballard

346.The Honorary Consul – Graham Greene

347.Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon

348.The Black Prince – Iris Murdoch

349.Sula – Toni Morrison

350.Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino

351.The Breast – Philip Roth

352.The Summer Book – Tove Jansson

353.G – John Berger

354.Surfacing – Margaret Atwood

355.House Mother Normal – B.S. Johnson

356.In A Free State – V.S. Naipaul

357.The Book of Daniel – E.L. Doctorow

358.Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

359.Group Portrait With Lady – Heinrich Böll

360.The Wild Boys – William Burroughs

361.Rabbit Redux – John Updike

362.The Sea of Fertility – Yukio Mishima

363.The Driver’s Seat – Muriel Spark

364.The Ogre – Michael Tournier

365.The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

366.Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick – Peter Handke

367.I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

368.Mercier et Camier – Samuel Beckett

369.Troubles – J.G. Farrell

370.Jahrestage – Uwe Johnson

371.The Atrocity Exhibition – J.G. Ballard

372.Tent of Miracles – Jorge Amado

373.Pricksongs and Descants – Robert Coover

374.Blind Man With a Pistol – Chester Hines

375.Slaughterhouse-five – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

376.The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles

377.The Green Man – Kingsley Amis

378.Portnoy’s Complaint – Philip Roth

379.The Godfather – Mario Puzo

380.Ada – Vladimir Nabokov

381.Them – Joyce Carol Oates

382.A Void/Avoid – Georges Perec

383.Eva Trout – Elizabeth Bowen

384.Myra Breckinridge – Gore Vidal

385.The Nice and the Good – Iris Murdoch

386.Belle du Seigneur – Albert Cohen

387.Cancer Ward – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

388.The First Circle – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

389.2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke

390.Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick

391.Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid – Malcolm Lowry

392.The German Lesson – Siegfried Lenz

393.In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan

394.A Kestrel for a Knave – Barry Hines

395.The Quest for Christa T. – Christa Wolf

396.Chocky – John Wyndham

397.The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe

398.The Cubs and Other Stories – Mario Vargas Llosa

399.One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez

400.The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

401.Pilgrimage – Dorothy Richardson

402.The Joke – Milan Kundera

403.No Laughing Matter – Angus Wilson

404.The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brien

405.A Man Asleep – Georges Perec

406.The Birds Fall Down – Rebecca West

407.Trawl – B.S. Johnson

408.In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

409.The Magus – John Fowles

410.The Vice-Consul – Marguerite Duras

411.Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

412.Giles Goat-Boy – John Barth

413.The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon

414.Things – Georges Perec

415.The River Between – Ngugi wa Thiong’o

416.August is a Wicked Month – Edna O’Brien

417.God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater – Kurt Vonnegut

418.Everything That Rises Must Converge – Flannery O’Connor

419.The Passion According to G.H. – Clarice Lispector

420.Sometimes a Great Notion – Ken Kesey

421.Come Back, Dr. Caligari – Donald Bartholme

422.Albert Angelo – B.S. Johnson

423.Arrow of God – Chinua Achebe

424.The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein – Marguerite Duras

425.Herzog – Saul Bellow

426.V. – Thomas Pynchon

427.Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut

428.The Graduate – Charles Webb

429.Manon des Sources – Marcel Pagnol

430.The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – John Le Carré

431.The Girls of Slender Means – Muriel Spark

432.Inside Mr. Enderby – Anthony Burgess

433.The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

434.One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

435.The Collector – John Fowles

436.One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey

437.A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

438.Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov

439.The Drowned World – J.G. Ballard

440.The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing

441.Labyrinths – Jorg Luis Borges

442.Girl With Green Eyes – Edna O’Brien

443.The Garden of the Finzi-Continis – Giorgio Bassani

444.Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein

445.Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger

446.A Severed Head – Iris Murdoch

447.Faces in the Water – Janet Frame

448.Solaris – Stanislaw Lem

449.Cat and Mouse – Günter Grass

450.The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark

451.Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

452.The Violent Bear it Away – Flannery O’Connor

453.How It Is – Samuel Beckett

454.Our Ancestors – Italo Calvino

455.The Country Girls – Edna O’Brien

456.To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

457.Rabbit, Run – John Updike

458.Promise at Dawn – Romain Gary

459.Cider With Rosie – Laurie Lee

460.Billy Liar – Keith Waterhouse

461.Naked Lunch – William Burroughs

462.The Tin Drum – Günter Grass

463.Absolute Beginners – Colin MacInnes

464.Henderson the Rain King – Saul Bellow

465.Memento Mori – Muriel Spark

466.Billiards at Half-Past Nine – Heinrich Böll

467.Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote

468.The Leopard – Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

469.Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring – Kenzaburo Oe

470.A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

471.The Bitter Glass – Eilís Dillon

472.Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

473.Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – Alan Sillitoe

474.Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris – Paul Gallico

475.Borstal Boy – Brendan Behan

476.The End of the Road – John Barth

477.The Once and Future King – T.H. White

478.The Bell – Iris Murdoch

479.Jealousy – Alain Robbe-Grillet

480.Voss – Patrick White

481.The Midwich Cuckoos – John Wyndham

482.Blue Noon – Georges Bataille

483.Homo Faber – Max Frisch

484.On the Road – Jack Kerouac

485.Pnin – Vladimir Nabokov

486.Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak

487.The Wonderful “O” – James Thurber

488.Justine – Lawrence Durrell

489.Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin

490.The Lonely Londoners – Sam Selvon

491.The Roots of Heaven – Romain Gary

492.Seize the Day – Saul Bellow

493.The Floating Opera – John Barth

494.The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

495.The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith

496.Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

497.A World of Love – Elizabeth Bowen

498.The Trusting and the Maimed – James Plunkett

499.The Quiet American – Graham Greene

500.The Last Temptation of Christ – Nikos Kazantzákis

501.The Recognitions – William Gaddis

502.The Ragazzi – Pier Paulo Pasolini

503.Bonjour Tristesse – Françoise Sagan

504.I’m Not Stiller – Max Frisch

505.Self Condemned – Wyndham Lewis

506.The Story of O – Pauline Réage

507.A Ghost at Noon – Alberto Moravia

508.Lord of the Flies – William Golding

509.Under the Net – Iris Murdoch

510.The Go-Between – L.P. Hartley

511.The Long Goodbye – Raymond Chandler

512.The Unnamable – Samuel Beckett

513.Watt – Samuel Beckett

514.Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis

515.Junkie – William Burroughs

516.The Adventures of Augie March – Saul Bellow

517.Go Tell It on the Mountain – James Baldwin

518.Casino Royale – Ian Fleming

519.The Judge and His Hangman – Friedrich Dürrenmatt

520.Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

521.The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

522.Wise Blood – Flannery O’Connor

523.The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson

524.Memoirs of Hadrian – Marguerite Yourcenar

525.Malone Dies – Samuel Beckett

526.Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham

527.Foundation – Isaac Asimov

528.The Opposing Shore – Julien Gracq

529.The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

530.The Rebel – Albert Camus

531.Molloy – Samuel Beckett

532.The End of the Affair – Graham Greene

533.The Abbot C – Georges Bataille

534.The Labyrinth of Solitude – Octavio Paz

535.The Third Man – Graham Greene

536.The 13 Clocks – James Thurber

537.Gormenghast – Mervyn Peake

538.The Grass is Singing – Doris Lessing

539.I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

540.The Moon and the Bonfires – Cesare Pavese

541.The Garden Where the Brass Band Played – Simon Vestdijk

542.Love in a Cold Climate – Nancy Mitford

543.The Case of Comrade Tulayev – Victor Serge

544.The Heat of the Day – Elizabeth Bowen

545.Kingdom of This World – Alejo Carpentier

546.The Man With the Golden Arm – Nelson Algren

547.Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

548.All About H. Hatterr – G.V. Desani

549.Disobedience – Alberto Moravia

550.Death Sentence – Maurice Blanchot

551.The Heart of the Matter – Graham Greene

552.Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

553.Doctor Faustus – Thomas Mann

554.The Victim – Saul Bellow

555.Exercises in Style – Raymond Queneau

556.If This Is a Man – Primo Levi

557.Under the Volcano – Malcolm Lowry

558.The Path to the Nest of Spiders – Italo Calvino

559.The Plague – Albert Camus

560.Back – Henry Green

561.Titus Groan – Mervyn Peake

562.The Bridge on the Drina – Ivo Andri?

563.Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

564.Animal Farm – George Orwell

565.Cannery Row – John Steinbeck

566.The Pursuit of Love – Nancy Mitford

567.Loving – Henry Green

568.Arcanum 17 – André Breton

569.Christ Stopped at Eboli – Carlo Levi

570.The Razor’s Edge – William Somerset Maugham

571.Transit – Anna Seghers

572.Ficciones – Jorge Luis Borges

573.Dangling Man – Saul Bellow

574.The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

575.Caught – Henry Green

576.The Glass Bead Game – Herman Hesse

577.Embers – Sandor Marai

578.Go Down, Moses – William Faulkner

579.The Outsider – Albert Camus

580.In Sicily – Elio Vittorini

581.The Poor Mouth – Flann O’Brien

582.The Living and the Dead – Patrick White

583.Hangover Square – Patrick Hamilton

584.Between the Acts – Virginia Woolf

585.The Hamlet – William Faulkner

586.Farewell My Lovely – Raymond Chandler

587.For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway

588.Native Son – Richard Wright

589.The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene

590.The Tartar Steppe – Dino Buzzati

591.Party Going – Henry Green

592.The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

593.Finnegans Wake – James Joyce

594.At Swim-Two-Birds – Flann O’Brien

595.Coming Up for Air – George Orwell

596.Goodbye to Berlin – Christopher Isherwood

597.Tropic of Capricorn – Henry Miller

598.Good Morning, Midnight – Jean Rhys

599.The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

600.After the Death of Don Juan – Sylvie Townsend Warner

601.Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson

602.Nausea – Jean-Paul Sartre

603.Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

604.Cause for Alarm – Eric Ambler

605.Brighton Rock – Graham Greene

606.U.S.A. – John Dos Passos

607.Murphy – Samuel Beckett

608.Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

609.Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston

610.The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

611.The Years – Virginia Woolf

612.In Parenthesis – David Jones

613.The Revenge for Love – Wyndham Lewis

614.Out of Africa – Isak Dineson (Karen Blixen)

615.To Have and Have Not – Ernest Hemingway

616.Summer Will Show – Sylvia Townsend Warner

617.Eyeless in Gaza – Aldous Huxley

618.The Thinking Reed – Rebecca West

619.Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

620.Keep the Aspidistra Flying – George Orwell

621.Wild Harbour – Ian MacPherson

622.Absalom, Absalom! – William Faulkner

623.At the Mountains of Madness – H.P. Lovecraft

624.Nightwood – Djuna Barnes

625.Independent People – Halldór Laxness

626.Auto-da-Fé – Elias Canetti

627.The Last of Mr. Norris – Christopher Isherwood

628.They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? – Horace McCoy

629.The House in Paris – Elizabeth Bowen

630.England Made Me – Graham Greene

631.Burmese Days – George Orwell

632.The Nine Tailors – Dorothy L. Sayers

633.Threepenny Novel – Bertolt Brecht

634.Novel With Cocaine – M. Ageyev

635.The Postman Always Rings Twice – James M. Cain

636.Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller

637.A Handful of Dust – Evelyn Waugh

638.Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald

639.Thank You, Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse

640.Call it Sleep – Henry Roth

641.Miss Lonelyhearts – Nathanael West

642.Murder Must Advertise – Dorothy L. Sayers

643.The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas – Gertrude Stein

644.Testament of Youth – Vera Brittain

645.A Day Off – Storm Jameson

646.The Man Without Qualities – Robert Musil

647.A Scots Quair (Sunset Song) – Lewis Grassic Gibbon

648.Journey to the End of the Night – Louis-Ferdinand Céline

649.Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

650.Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

651.To the North – Elizabeth Bowen

652.The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett

653.The Radetzky March – Joseph Roth

654.The Waves – Virginia Woolf

655.The Glass Key – Dashiell Hammett

656.Cakes and Ale – W. Somerset Maugham

657.The Apes of God – Wyndham Lewis

658.Her Privates We – Frederic Manning

659.Vile Bodies – Evelyn Waugh

660.The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

661.Hebdomeros – Giorgio de Chirico

662.Passing – Nella Larsen

663.A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway

664.Red Harvest – Dashiell Hammett

665.Living – Henry Green

666.The Time of Indifference – Alberto Moravia

667.All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

668.Berlin Alexanderplatz – Alfred Döblin

669.The Last September – Elizabeth Bowen

670.Harriet Hume – Rebecca West

671.The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner

672.Les Enfants Terribles – Jean Cocteau

673.Look Homeward, Angel – Thomas Wolfe

674.Story of the Eye – Georges Bataille

675.Orlando – Virginia Woolf

676.Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence

677.The Well of Loneliness – Radclyffe Hall

678.The Childermass – Wyndham Lewis

679.Quartet – Jean Rhys

680.Decline and Fall – Evelyn Waugh

681.Quicksand – Nella Larsen

682.Parade’s End – Ford Madox Ford

683.Nadja – André Breton

684.Steppenwolf – Herman Hesse

685.Remembrance of Things Past – Marcel Proust

686.To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf

687.Tarka the Otter – Henry Williamson

688.Amerika – Franz Kafka

689.The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

690.Blindness – Henry Green

691.The Castle – Franz Kafka

692.The Good Soldier Švejk – Jaroslav Hašek

693.The Plumed Serpent – D.H. Lawrence

694.One, None and a Hundred Thousand – Luigi Pirandello

695.The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie

696.The Making of Americans – Gertrude Stein

697.Manhattan Transfer – John Dos Passos

698.Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

699.The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

700.The Counterfeiters – André Gide

701.The Trial – Franz Kafka

702.The Artamonov Business – Maxim Gorky

703.The Professor’s House – Willa Cather

704.Billy Budd, Foretopman – Herman Melville

705.The Green Hat – Michael Arlen

706.The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann

707.We – Yevgeny Zamyatin

708.A Passage to India – E.M. Forster

709.The Devil in the Flesh – Raymond Radiguet

710.Zeno’s Conscience – Italo Svevo

711.Cane – Jean Toomer

712.Antic Hay – Aldous Huxley

713.Amok – Stefan Zweig

714.The Garden Party – Katherine Mansfield

715.The Enormous Room – E.E. Cummings

716.Jacob’s Room – Virginia Woolf

717.Siddhartha – Herman Hesse

718.The Glimpses of the Moon – Edith Wharton

719.Life and Death of Harriett Frean – May Sinclair

720.The Last Days of Humanity – Karl Kraus

721.Aaron’s Rod – D.H. Lawrence

722.Babbitt – Sinclair Lewis

723.Ulysses – James Joyce

724.The Fox – D.H. Lawrence

725.Crome Yellow – Aldous Huxley

726.The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton

727.Main Street – Sinclair Lewis

728.Women in Love – D.H. Lawrence

729.Night and Day – Virginia Woolf

730.Tarr – Wyndham Lewis

731.The Return of the Soldier – Rebecca West

732.The Shadow Line – Joseph Conrad

733.Summer – Edith Wharton

734.Growth of the Soil – Knut Hamsen

735.Bunner Sisters – Edith Wharton

736.A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce

737.Under Fire – Henri Barbusse

738.Rashomon – Akutagawa Ryunosuke

739.The Good Soldier – Ford Madox Ford

740.The Voyage Out – Virginia Woolf

741.Of Human Bondage – William Somerset Maugham

742.The Rainbow – D.H. Lawrence

743.The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan

744.Kokoro – Natsume Soseki

745.Locus Solus – Raymond Roussel

746.Rosshalde – Herman Hesse

747.Tarzan of the Apes – Edgar Rice Burroughs

748.The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – Robert Tressell

749.Sons and Lovers – D.H. Lawrence

750.Death in Venice – Thomas Mann

751.The Charwoman’s Daughter – James Stephens

752.Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton

753.Fantômas – Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre

754.Howards End – E.M. Forster

755.Impressions of Africa – Raymond Roussel

756.Three Lives – Gertrude Stein

757.Martin Eden – Jack London

758.Strait is the Gate – André Gide

759.Tono-Bungay – H.G. Wells

760.The Inferno – Henri Barbusse

761.A Room With a View – E.M. Forster

762.The Iron Heel – Jack London

763.The Old Wives’ Tale – Arnold Bennett

764.The House on the Borderland – William Hope Hodgson

765.Mother – Maxim Gorky

766.The Secret Agent – Joseph Conrad

767.The Jungle – Upton Sinclair

768.Young Törless – Robert Musil

769.The Forsyte Sage – John Galsworthy

770.The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton

771.Professor Unrat – Heinrich Mann

772.Where Angels Fear to Tread – E.M. Forster

773.Nostromo – Joseph Conrad

774.Hadrian the Seventh – Frederick Rolfe

775.The Golden Bowl – Henry James

776.The Ambassadors – Henry James

777.The Riddle of the Sands – Erskine Childers

778.The Immoralist – André Gide

779.The Wings of the Dove – Henry James

780.Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

781.The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

782.Buddenbrooks – Thomas Mann

783.Kim – Rudyard Kipling

784.Sister Carrie – Theodore Dreiser

785.Lord Jim – Joseph Conrad


786.Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. – Somerville and Ross

787.The Stechlin – Theodore Fontane

788.The Awakening – Kate Chopin

789.The Turn of the Screw – Henry James

790.The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells

791.The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells

792.What Maisie Knew – Henry James

793.Fruits of the Earth – André Gide

794.Dracula – Bram Stoker

795.Quo Vadis – Henryk Sienkiewicz

796.The Island of Dr. Moreau – H.G. Wells

797.The Time Machine – H.G. Wells

798.Effi Briest – Theodore Fontane

799.Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

800.The Real Charlotte – Somerville and Ross

801.The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman

802.Born in Exile – George Gissing

803.Diary of a Nobody – George & Weedon Grossmith

804.The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

805.News from Nowhere – William Morris

806.New Grub Street – George Gissing

807.Gösta Berling’s Saga – Selma Lagerlöf

808.Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

809.The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

810.The Kreutzer Sonata – Leo Tolstoy

811.La Bête Humaine – Émile Zola

812.By the Open Sea – August Strindberg

813.Hunger – Knut Hamsun

814.The Master of Ballantrae – Robert Louis Stevenson

815.Pierre and Jean – Guy de Maupassant

816.Fortunata and Jacinta – Benito Pérez Galdés

817.The People of Hemsö – August Strindberg

818.The Woodlanders – Thomas Hardy

819.She – H. Rider Haggard

820.The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

821.The Mayor of Casterbridge – Thomas Hardy

822.Kidnapped – Robert Louis Stevenson

823.King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard

824.Germinal – Émile Zola

825.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

826.Bel-Ami – Guy de Maupassant

827.Marius the Epicurean – Walter Pater

828.Against the Grain – Joris-Karl Huysmans

829.The Death of Ivan Ilyich – Leo Tolstoy

830.A Woman’s Life – Guy de Maupassant

831.Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

832.The House by the Medlar Tree – Giovanni Verga

833.The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James

834.Bouvard and Pécuchet – Gustave Flaubert

835.Ben-Hur – Lew Wallace

836.Nana – Émile Zola

837.The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky

838.The Red Room – August Strindberg

839.Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy

840.Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

841.Drunkard – Émile Zola

842.Virgin Soil – Ivan Turgenev

843.Daniel Deronda – George Eliot

844.The Hand of Ethelberta – Thomas Hardy

845.The Temptation of Saint Anthony – Gustave Flaubert

846.Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

847.The Enchanted Wanderer – Nicolai Leskov

848.Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne

849.In a Glass Darkly – Sheridan Le Fanu

850.The Devils – Fyodor Dostoevsky

851.Erewhon – Samuel Butler

852.Spring Torrents – Ivan Turgenev

853.Middlemarch – George Eliot

854.Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There – Lewis Carroll

855.King Lear of the Steppes – Ivan Turgenev

856.He Knew He Was Right – Anthony Trollope

857.War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

858.Sentimental Education – Gustave Flaubert

859.Phineas Finn – Anthony Trollope

860.Maldoror – Comte de Lautréaumont

861.The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky

862.The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

863.Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

864.Thérèse Raquin – Émile Zola

865.The Last Chronicle of Barset – Anthony Trollope

866.Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Jules Verne

867.Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky

868.Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

869.Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens

870.Uncle Silas – Sheridan Le Fanu

871.Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoevsky

872.The Water-Babies – Charles Kingsley

873.Les Misérables – Victor Hugo

874.Fathers and Sons – Ivan Turgenev

875.Silas Marner – George Eliot

876.Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

877.On the Eve – Ivan Turgenev

878.Castle Richmond – Anthony Trollope

879.The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot

880.The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

881.The Marble Faun – Nathaniel Hawthorne

882.Max Havelaar – Multatuli

883.A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

884.Oblomovka – Ivan Goncharov

885.Adam Bede – George Eliot

886.Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

887.North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell

888.Hard Times – Charles Dickens

889.Walden – Henry David Thoreau

890.Bleak House – Charles Dickens

891.Villette – Charlotte Brontë

892.Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell

893.Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lonely – Harriet Beecher Stowe

894.The Blithedale Romance – Nathaniel Hawthorne

895.The House of the Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

896.Moby-Dick – Herman Melville

897.The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

898.David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

899.Shirley – Charlotte Brontë

900.Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell

901.The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë

902.Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

903.Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë

904.Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

905.Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

906.The Count of Monte-Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

907.La Reine Margot – Alexandre Dumas

908.The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

909.The Purloined Letter – Edgar Allan Poe

910.Martin Chuzzlewit – Charles Dickens

911.The Pit and the Pendulum – Edgar Allan Poe

912.Lost Illusions – Honoré de Balzac

913.A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

914.Dead Souls – Nikolay Gogol

915.The Charterhouse of Parma – Stendhal

916.The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe

917.The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens

918.Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

919.The Nose – Nikolay Gogol

920.Le Père Goriot – Honoré de Balzac

921.Eugénie Grandet – Honoré de Balzac

922.The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Victor Hugo

923.The Red and the Black – Stendhal

924.The Betrothed – Alessandro Manzoni

925.Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

926.The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner – James Hogg

927.The Albigenses – Charles Robert Maturin

928.Melmoth the Wanderer – Charles Robert Maturin

929.The Monastery – Sir Walter Scott

930.Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

931.Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

932.Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

933.Persuasion – Jane Austen

934.Ormond – Maria Edgeworth

935.Rob Roy – Sir Walter Scott

936.Emma – Jane Austen

937.Mansfield Park – Jane Austen

938.Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

939.The Absentee – Maria Edgeworth

940.Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

941.Elective Affinities – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

942.Castle Rackrent – Maria Edgeworth


943.Hyperion – Friedrich Hölderlin

944.The Nun – Denis Diderot

945.Camilla – Fanny Burney

946.The Monk – M.G. Lewis

947.Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

948.The Mysteries of Udolpho – Ann Radcliffe

949.The Interesting Narrative – Olaudah Equiano

950.The Adventures of Caleb Williams – William Godwin

951.Justine – Marquis de Sade

952.Vathek – William Beckford

953.The 120 Days of Sodom – Marquis de Sade

954.Cecilia – Fanny Burney

955.Confessions – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

956.Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

957.Reveries of a Solitary Walker – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

958.Evelina – Fanny Burney

959.The Sorrows of Young Werther – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

960.Humphrey Clinker – Tobias George Smollett

961.The Man of Feeling – Henry Mackenzie

962.A Sentimental Journey – Laurence Sterne

963.Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne

964.The Vicar of Wakefield – Oliver Goldsmith

965.The Castle of Otranto – Horace Walpole

966.Émile; or, On Education – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

967.Rameau’s Nephew – Denis Diderot

968.Julie; or, the New Eloise – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

969.Rasselas – Samuel Johnson

970.Candide – Voltaire

971.The Female Quixote – Charlotte Lennox

972.Amelia – Henry Fielding

973.Peregrine Pickle – Tobias George Smollett

974.Fanny Hill – John Cleland

975.Tom Jones – Henry Fielding

976.Roderick Random – Tobias George Smollett

977.Clarissa – Samuel Richardson

978.Pamela – Samuel Richardson

979.Jacques the Fatalist – Denis Diderot

980.Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus – J. Arbuthnot, J. Gay, T. Parnell, A. Pope, J. Swift

981.Joseph Andrews – Henry Fielding

982.A Modest Proposal – Jonathan Swift

983.Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

984.Roxana – Daniel Defoe

985.Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe

986.Love in Excess – Eliza Haywood

987.Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

988.A Tale of a Tub – Jonathan Swift


989.Oroonoko – Aphra Behn

990.The Princess of Clèves – Marie-Madelaine Pioche de Lavergne, Comtesse de La Fayette

991.The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

992.Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

993.The Unfortunate Traveller – Thomas Nashe

994.Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit – John Lyly

995.Gargantua and Pantagruel – Françoise Rabelais

996.The Thousand and One Nights – Anonymous

997.The Golden Ass – Lucius Apuleius

998.Aithiopika – Heliodorus

999.Chaireas and Kallirhoe – Chariton

1000.Metamorphoses – Ovid

1001.Aesop’s Fables – Aesopus


Welcome to Sparks' Notes, Edith Wharton! I'm very excited and honored to host you for today's stop on The Classics Circuit. If you're not familiar with the Circuit, make sure to check it out to read all about Wharton's other stops on her blog tour.
Today we get to discuss Summer. I recently picked this up a Half-Price Books and so decided to review it for the circuit.
I was surprised as I started reading Summer. It's not like the other two Wharton novels I've read - The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence. It's been a while since reading them so my memory might be a little off, but I feel like in both of those Wharton writes in a very refined style. Maybe it just seems that way because of her characters. Also, since both of those took place in NYC, I think I was surprised that Summer took place in such a small, hick little town. I had read from that back that it took place in the country, but I pictured an idyllic countryside where the rich go for the summer or something. Charity, the main character, also surprised me. Wharton did a good job of capturing her hillbilly accent, something I wouldn't have that Wharton would have excelled at. I actually felt like I was reading Willa Cather instead of Wharton for a little while, or an odd mix between Cather and Henry James. Bit of an odd combo. But it ended up feeling like Wharton by the end.
The back of my copy mentions that Wharton wrote it while in Paris, while WWI was raging right outside. I think that might be why some of the text seems fractured, like it was written by someone who was trying to distract themselves from something. You can see that something was hovering over her as she wrote, not allowing her to giver herself as fully to work her as she seems to in The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence.
Something else I found interesting is that the book seemed much more modern than it is. It could have easily have been written in the 1950s. Maybe it's the fact that rural communities haven't changed nearly as much as the cities have over the last century, so it's not as obvious a difference as there is when reading her books set in NYC.
Although Summer seemed unlike Wharton's other works to me, in the end it did have that same tragic ending with that small glimmer of hope to it. The novel is sad, not in a people dying, tearjerker kind of way, but in a pitiful kind of way. I feel sorry for the characters because they all seem destined to be unhappy. Although, the ending could have been much darker than it was, and there was a slightly hopeful feeling at the end that Charity can have a good life, or well, at least a not miserable life. Okay, it's still depressing, but at least she doesn't have to end up like her mother. The depressing part and the fact that the book is also about how your choices are bound by your social station, does connect it to the other two books of Wharton's that I've read, so it ended up feeling more Wharton-like by the end.
The thing that shocked me the most about this book wasn't exactly the racy parts, but that abortion is alluded to several times. She never comes out and says it, but I'm still surprised she got away with what she did. This book made me thankful for birth control!
Overall, I did enjoy Summer, although I liked The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth better. I didn't really like Charity, so I think it was harder for me to get as into the story, and the narrator was a little uneven. There's a third-person narrator, who sometimes speaks as Charity would and sometimes speaks at a much higher level, more psychological. Even when the narrator is speaking more as Charity, there's something slightly condescending about it, so it just sounds somewhat fragmented. I'm not sure that I'm explaining it very well. There was just something off for me. But again, overall I still enjoyed the work. I plan on reading more Wharton in the future.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dead Until Dark

Dead Until Dark, the first Sookie Stackhouse novel and the basis of True Blood, by Charlaine Harris was much better than I expected, and made me hate Twilight all the more. No sparkling vampires here! I also noticed that there were striking similarities in how Harris writes about vampire Bill and Sookie's other love interest Sam, and how Meyers writes about vampire Edward and Bella's other love interest Jacob. I feel like Meyers borrowed a bit from Ms. Harris there. I will say that Meyers' character development is stronger when comparing first book to first book, but Twilight is like four times as long so that's not quite fair.
What I really loved about Dead Until Dark is the southern aspects. I've been to Shreveport and have driven through the state several times when driving from Oklahoma to Alabama and Florida, so I could vividly picture the surroundings. Harris gives a shout out to Anne Rice and mentions that the vampires seem to collect in New Orleans, perhaps because of her books. They're excited to get vampires a little further north in this book. The setting was just so familiar to me, and I think that made reading about the vampires all the more interesting.
I also like the Sookie is kind of a badass. She totally goes after two people with a chain. But she's really normal at that same time, even though everyone thinks she's crazy because of the telepathic stuff.
I also enjoyed how Harris talked about the vampires being out in society, and how it's PC to say they have a "virus" rather than saying they're dead. And they have vampire groupies called "fang-bangers." It's hilarious. I will definitely check out the other books in the series, and will probably have to try the show as well. I do really like Anna Paquin, and think she probably fits the role really well.
And this counts toward the four-month reading challenge!

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

There are a lot of Jane Austen fan fiction books out there. A lot. I do tend to enjoy it though. With Becoming Jane hitting it big, I wasn't sure if I'd like The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen or if it would just be a copy of it. It was quite wonderful, so I was happily surprised!
Syrie James managed to write in a style eerily similar to Austen's, which worked perfectly for this book. James sets this up as though Austen's memoirs were recently discovered in an old trunk, and an English professor is publishing them. She even includes footnotes so it really seems like a nonfiction book, and refers to events outside of the memoir the same way you would if you were writing a journal. James does this splendidly. I honeestly felt like I was reading Austen's actual memoirs, so she did an excellent job.
Of course, since you know Jane never married, you know this this won't have a happily ever ending. That makes it all the more heart-breaking when she falls deeply in love with the perfect man. I ached for her, and hated knowing her few blissfully happy moments were all she would have. There is something romantic in that though, about a love that will remember only the good times, and won't grow old or stale or be reduced to discussions about the baby. Although I think that's perfectly possible in a marriage as well.
If you want to be swept up by what might have happened to Jane Austen, in a wonderful style reminscent of of the author herself, check this out.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Hobbit

I'm a little late posting my halfway through The Hobbit for the LOTR read-a-long post. I actually hadn't started it yet when Eva posted this, and I started it while I was traveling so I'm just now getting to write about it.

Where are you in the story? So far, has the book lived up to your expectations (for first-timers)/memories (for rereaders)? What’s surprising or familiar?
I actually read it all in one day, when we were heading to Pittsburgh. I read on the flights and during our layover, and just had a chapter left that I read before we went to sleep that night. I was surprised I read it so quickly. I doubt the other books go so fast. I did enjoy rereading it, and found it to be particularly good as a travel book, since the subtitle is There and Back Again. The story was familiar overall, but I forgot how early in the book Bilbo meets Gollum and gets the ring. I was also surprised that ponies kept getting eaten. I didn't notice that the first time!

Have you been bogged down anywhere in the book?
Since I read it so quickly, nope!

Let’s talk about the songs…are you skipping over them to get back to the prose? Why or why not?
I did read all the songs, but they don't really interest me. I didn't read them very closely.

What do you think of the narrator’s voice?
I like it. He's funny, in a dry way. And he sounds like a story teller, which is why I think I reread it quickly. I noticed more this time how he's talking more to a younger audience than with the other books.

Does your edition have illustrations or maps? Have you been ignoring them or referring back to them?
My does have two maps, nothing too elaborate. It doesn't have illustrations. I did look at the maps, but didn't refer back to them.

Now it’s time to play favourites! Who’s your favourite main character? Who’s your favourite minor character (i.e.: villains, random helpers, etc.)? What’s your favourite scene? Do you have a favourite quote to share?
I'm a bit boring on this. Bilbo is my favorite character. Like him, although I like being on vacation and going on adventures, I'm glad to get back home and be comfortable. I don't think the minor characters are as developed as fully as they are in the other books, so it's harder for me to pick one. I do like Gollum, but I think that's mainly because of the other books. I like the scene with Bilbo and Gollum where they are testing each other with riddles. I'm not really a quote person, so I don't have a favorite quote. I sort of have one from later in the book, so I'll save that.

If you haven't finished The Hobbit yet, good luck in continuing your reading and I look forward to reading everyone's posts next Monday!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I am heading to Pittsburgh tomorrow so I may not post again until the weekend. The sneaking of extra books into my bag has already begun and will continue for the rest of the evening.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

One Fifth Avenue

Ugg. Why did I finish One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell? I'm not even sure what to write other than don't read this book. I have tried to start a new habit of not finishing books I'm not really into, and I've been doing better, but for someone reason I kept reading. I'm not sure if I expected it to get better or if it was more like a train wreck you can't look away from.
I read Lipstick Jungle a few years ago on the recommendation of a coworker and ended up actually really liking it. I also enjoyed Trading Up, althought not as much. So I thought One Fifth Avenue would be a good, light, entertaining read. Not so much. All of the characters were horrible. Not a redeeming one out of the bunch. They were a bunch of self-absorbed New Yorkers, intent on gaining more money and power. The writing was slow and boring, and Bushnell refers to her own book Sex and the City multiple times. Seriously.
So, again, I have no idea why I finished this thing. I would like my evening back.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Modern Fiction

My reading of Mrs. Dalloway and my plan to continue with the Woolf in Winter read-a-long inspired me to look up Ms. Woolf in my trusty Norton anthology. I read the introduction and overview, and then read her essay Modern Fiction. In it, she explains her thoughts on, obviously, modern fiction. She talks about her writing style and the progress of writing fiction. In what written in 1925, the same year as Mrs. Dalloway. I don't normally post quotes, because I'm not really a quote person for some reason, but there were a few passages I found especially interesting.

"Examine for a moment an ordinary mind on an ordinary day. The mind receives a myriad impressions - trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel." That's a perfect little summary of what she does in Mrs. Dalloway.

"[I]f he could write what he chose, not what he must, if he could base his work upon his own feeling and not upon convention, there would be no plot, no comedy, no tragedy, no lover interest or catastrophe in the accepted style...Is it not the task of the novelist to convey this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit, whatever aberration or complexity it may display, with as little mixture of the alien and external as possible?" Again, she gives a good description of what she's trying to do with Mrs. Dalloway, and what I have heard she goes even further with in To the Lighthouse. Mrs. Dalloway doesn't have a plot in the traditional sense, and Woolf does convey the story through a series of thoughts, allowing us to judge and connect with the characters based on their thoughts, instead of their actions alone. I think that's part of why there are such strong reactions on both ends of the spectrum for the various characters. You are in their heads, you know their thoughts, so that helps you understand why someone does something you don't like, and you can justify liking someone whose actions you don't care for because you know where they are coming from. Conversely, a character might not do anything you don't like, but you may not like them from their thoughts.

"Mr. Joyce is spiritual; he is concerned at all costs to reveal the flickerings of that innermost flame which flashes its messages through the brain, and in order to preserve it he disregards with complete courage whatever seems to him adventitious, whether it be probability, or coherence, or any other of these signposts which for generations have served to support the imagination of a reader when called upon to imagine what he can neither touch nor see." Well, that explains why Joyce is difficult to read! I've read The Portrait of the Artist as a Young man twice, once in high school where I hated it and once in college. The first time, it was the first modernist piece of literature I had read. The lack of "signposts" challenged me greatly, and I couldn't understand why someone would write that way. The second time around, my college professor did a much better job of setting up modernism and as I already knew what to expect and was a more experienced reader, I actually ended up enjoying it. I plan to attempt Ulysses at some point, but haven't been brave enough yet. It's funny that Woolf mentions having read Portrait, and that his latest work, Ulysses, "promises to be a far more interesting work."

"'The proper stuff of fiction' does not exist; everything is the proper stuff of fiction, every feeling, every thought; every quality of brain and spirit is drawn upon; no perception comes amiss." I am glad that I read Mrs. Dalloway for the first time after having come to accept this, because I think that allowed me to enjoy it more. It also made me more likely to read other modernists, because it gave me a focal point other than Joyce and Nathanael West (who I'm not sure is technically a modernist).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mrs. Dalloway

Oh, Mrs. Dalloway. You were at times exactly what I expected, and at times something completely different. I signed up for the Woolf in Winter read-a-long, the first of which is hosted by Sarah, because Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse have been languishing on my shelves for years. I'm not really into the modernists, so they could sit there for years and years more before I actually read them, so I thought this might spur me along.
I was surprised at how readable Mrs. Dalloway is. I don't enjoy stream of consciousness, but it made this a fairly quick read. I still get annoyed by the modernists though. All that art-for-art's sake and snobbiness and if you prefer the traditional stuff you must not really be that intelligent attitude. Just not my cup of tea. But, Mrs. Dalloway was still somehow better than I thought it would be.
I did think it was sad though, which is interesting because I took a sneak peek at Eva's post and she seems to go the opposite direction as I do. It will be interesting to see what everyone else has to say, which I'll check out after posting this. I feel sorry for Clarissa. I don't think she really loves her husband, or anything about her life. I don't think she's miserable, or even unhappy exactly, but you just get the feeling she just settled when marrying Richard. He could provide her with a comfortable life. I don't think she was meant to be with Peter; I'm not saying that, but I don't think she's in love with Richard either, which is sad. She lives her life for her silly little parties, because they are the only thing that makes her feel alive. That's just depressing. I still somehow enjoyed her story though. It reminded me a little of Wharton in some odd way, just written in a very different style. I guess it was the rich character who married more for convenience that for love.

On the other hand, I did not enjoy the Septimus story at all, mainly for personal reasons. SPOILER ALERT****************************
It's very hard for me to read about, or watch something about, suicide. A friend of mine committed suicide exactly 10 years ago today. I always react badly when an unanticipated suicide occurs in something I'm reading or watching, but the timing was especially bad this time. I will never understand how someone can reach that point, be so selfish that they do that, so weak. I know there are plenty of reasons people give for ending it all, and that there are physical problems that can lead to mental health issues, but I just can't understand it. For Septimus, it makes me so angry because he has this wife who loves him, wants to start a family with him, wants to help him get better, and he just spits in her face. I hurt for her, and especially because just before it happens she talks about how no one can separate them, she won't let the doctors take him away from her, but then he takes himself away from her. I still carry anger and regrets over what happened 10 years ago, and I can't imagine how one would recover from a spouse (or a parent or a child) committing suicide. So, that part of the book was difficult for me to read, although I get that Woolf was using him as a sort of symbol of the world as a whole being meaningless, life being meaningless, which again just made the book rather depressing for me. I don't regret reading it though, and I will read more of her works, so I'm glad I read it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


If you love books, and have ever been accused of owning too many, Biblioholism by Tom Raabe is for you. Although it's a little uneven, I really the good parts were worth it.
Why I say it's uneven is because I loved the first five chapters, but then lost interest in the next several. Then it picks up again around chapter 10. So, it's two-thirds awesome, which is still pretty good. And it's easy to just skim the middle if you'd like.
Now for the good stuff. I am definitely a book collector. Not in a rare book kind of way, but in a lots and lots of books kind of way. I completely identified with the book. I have a tendency to come out of bookstores with more books than I can carry. I wonder why book stores don't have shopping carts. I attend library book sales with multiple bags to stuff full. I have an entire room devoted to books, my own personal library. And shelves in other rooms too. Yeah, it's bad. I've even done the whole accidentally buy a second copy of a book you already own thing. I ignore household chores in favor of reading. I have books strewn all over the house, in every room. I have the tell-tell head tilt to the right symptom. That cracked me up because I've had people point out that I do that frequently, and the book says that because we spend so much time browsing books and have to tilt it to the right to read the spines better.
I also thought the part about reading while traveling was funny. I always travel with multiple books. Even if I'm just going away for a few days. For a four-day trip, I often take six books. The book said it takes most people a couple of hours to pack their clothes, and minutes to throw in a couple of books. It takes biblioholics a few minutes to throw in clothes and several hours to pack books! That's totally me. And I even try to trick myself. I'll promise myself that I'll only pack three books, but then an hour or so later, I sneak in another one that doesn't really count because it's a book for work. And then another because I might be really tired at night and just want a romance novel. And then I think about what if my first flight gets delayed and I end up missing my second flight and have to hang out in the airport forever. So I sneak another one in to a side pocket just in case. I'm not sure why I always end up doing it that way, but I do. And sadly I pack that many books even when I just take a carry on, which I usually try to do. My coworkers all stand in amazement and awe of me for my mad packing skills. Although they think I'm slightly insane for packing so many books.
So, in the end, it was nice to read about someone as crazy about books as me. But, I'm glad I got this from the library since it was a little uneven, so I'm glad I I'm trying to cure my book buying habit with library usage!

Pictures of my bookshelves:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

It's time for Teaser Tuesdays! Hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading, you just share two teaser sentences from a random page of your current read, but no spoilers.

Here's my teaser from Biblioholism by Tom Raabe, which I'm really enjoying:
"When we blow into a new town, we scour the cityscape for something somewhere that lives up to our notion of proper bookselling. But the only place we find it is in our dreams."

True dat. Anytime I travel, I always check out the bookstores. Since I usually travel for work and am helping put on an event, I don't always have time or the means of transportation to go to the bookstores, but I always look. And I have two favorites from my travels: Powell's in Portland and City Lights in San Francisco. You MUST go to these when you are in either of those cities. That's a direct order! City Light is the most unique bookstore I've ever been too. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the Beat poet, founded it. It has an entire section on anarchy and a floor of Beat poetry. Yeah, you don't get that in most bookstores! And I love Powell's. It's HUGE. It takes up a whole city block. It's almost perfect, except it's almost too big, so you know you're missing a ton. It's probably good that I don't live in Portland.

I'm really enjoying this book, and can't wait to review it! Find out more later this week!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Well-Educated Mind

I've noticed that quite a few bloggers are talking about reading deliberately is one of their goals for this year. When I started Mrs. Dalloway, I was rushing through it and realized I seemed to be missing something, and decided to refresh my memory about modernism and stream of consciousness to see if that helped me read below the surface a bit. When I did, one of the books I pulled all my shelf was The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. I realized this is a great book for anyone wanting to read more deliberately.
Bauer is a professor at the College of William and Mary, homeschools her kids, and writes a ton of books. She's writing a whole history of the world series, the latest book of which I'll review in a few weeks. She's insanely smart. Anyway, this book focuses on how to read different types of works - novel, history/political, poetry, drama, and autobiography/memoir. She has tips on questions to ask yourself, things to look for, and journaling. She has very specific steps for each type of work. Plus, it has background info on each genre, and information on reading in general. The end of the book has an annotated bibliography, with suggestions for the best edition of the work. It's a great reference book, and I find myself pulling it out fairly often. So, if you're one of the people who made it a goal to read more deliberately this year, I highly recommend picking up a copy of it!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly

Even just knowing the basics about Grace Kelly's life - that she was a movie star who became a princess - you know she had one interesting life. So when I saw High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly by Donald Spoto on display at the library, I had to pick it up.
I don't normally read biographies, although I read a few last year and discovered I enjoy them. The only Grace Kelly movie I've seen is Rear Window, which is wonderful. You can't take your eyes off her when she's onscreen, even though Jimmy Stewart is also wonderful. So, I was excited about learning more about her life, and I wasn't disappointed.
This biography had all of the details I wanted, but not a lot of fluff. It's to the point, and is shorter than a lot of biographies appear to be, at 273 pages. It covers her entire life, although it focuses primarily on her time in Hollywood.
One of the things I was most surprised by was her battle against the movie studio. She had a contract with MGM, but fought them constantly about roles they were trying to force her to do, or not allow her to do, and her salary. Initially, she actually made a lot less than she did as a model, but became a very well paid actress by the end, compared to other actresses (although not well paid when compared to the actors she was working with). She seems like a very strong, determined woman who knew what she want and didn't want the studio controlling her. There's actually a lot of information in the book about how the studios worked back then, which I also found interesting. They were really in complete control of the actors, even dictating marriages and what they could wear off the set. Grace usually managed to get her way though, which is quite impressive. Spoto has written numerous old Hollywood biographies, and he seems to have a very good grasp on how everything worked back then, and he knew Grace personally, along with others who he interviewed about her, so his story seems very believable and accurate.
I also enjoyed reading about her relationship with Prince Ranier. They met as part of a ploy by the magazines to get stories and photos to sell of the Cannes film festival in 1955. They had just a 30-minute conversation, but that led to a seven-month letter writing relationship. They fell in love through these letters, then he came to the states to propose. How romantic is that? And very not Hollywood, even in those days. She then left everything here to go to Monaco and be a princess, which isn't as easy as it sounds. She had to adjust to living in a foreign country where she didn't speak the language and was viewed as an outsider. Most citizens didn't feel like a Hollywood actress was appropriate for a princess, and she didn't like many of the traditions they had, such as all women who came to visit her having to wear a hat, which she promptly changed.
I highly recommend this book if you like biographies, this period of history in Hollywood, or if you're just interested in a quick read about an interesting woman. It made me want to go watch her other movies right away, along with some of Spoto's other books.