Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dana, Book Review, *If You Want to Write, *Brenda Ueland

Here's a drive by book review. I haven't been in my house for more than about 48 hours in the last two months. Unfortunately, that also hasn't translated into good blogging or reading time, but I have read a few books. Here is the super quick and dirty review for one of my 100 books. Check out my blog for other books I've been reading.

If You Want to Write- Brenda Ueland
This was a decent book. I liked some of her advice, expecially about finding the microscopic truth in everything you write. It really had a quiet confidence to it. I don't know that I like it more than Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, but it was pretty good. Worth the read for any writer.

Review * "Tender is the Night" *F. Scott Fitzgerald

I just finished this book yesterday evening. I've been struggling to figure out how to review this book without giving away too much of the story.

The writing was excellent. It was easy enough to become absorbed in the story, and I did find myself wondering about the twist that I knew was coming up. However, once I put the book down, I couldn't decide if I was satisfied with the ending or not. But then it could be that was what Fitzgerald was going for.

Would I recommend this story? Yes. This is one I'd definitely tell you to pick up.

You can read the full review here: Mya Barrett Blog

Monday, June 29, 2009

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

Naked Lunch is a book about heroin addiction written, supposedly, while under that drug's influence. It is a series of often incoherent hallucinatory images of human degradation. Throughout the novel there are deliberately vulgar and graphic images of disease, of mutilation and of bizarre sex acts. In mid-book, however, there emerges a quite lucid satire on the various forms of political control. Burroughs sees drug addiction as a metaphor for totalitarianism, saying the only result of control is a desire for more control.

My full review can be found here.

June Check-In

This month I read 6 books off my list, and started a seventh that I had to abandon halfway through. Here's my list, with brief thoughts about each book and links to the full reviews. All my reviews are located at The Zen Leaf.

1. The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett - This was my first book by Pratchett and my introduction to Discworld. I enjoyed it more than I expected. 4 Stars.

2. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett - Cute book, I probably would have liked it better if I'd read it as a kid. 3 Stars.

3. Wild Roses by Deb Caletti - This is the best book I've read in years. Deb Caletti is fast becoming my favorite modern author. She writes books that ought to become classics. 5 Stars.

4. Atonement by Ian McEwan - I know everyone loves this book, but I just hated it. I had to force myself through every word. Sorry. 1 Star.

5. Tithe by Holly Black - Disappointing. I expected this to be wonderful, but it failed in almost every way. Bad writing, inane characters, glorification of unhealthy lifestyles...etc. 2 Stars.

6. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather - My favorite Cather book so far. This is the only book I've ever read that makes me want to visit New Mexico. 4 Stars.

7. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (abandoned) - I really wanted to like this one. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. In Villette, I just couldn't get past the awful writing and the horrible prejudice of the narrator. One day I do plan to go back and try to read the second half of the book, but for now, I had to put it away. I've heard it gets much better.

That brings my total to 20 read, 3 abandoned.

Alice Hoffman: Will You Still Buy Her Book?

Has everyone seen the Alice Hoffman kerfluffle yet?

In a nutshell: Roberta Silman at the Boston Globe reviewed her latest book, The Story Sisters, and gave it what's being called "a lukewarm review." (Here is the Boston Globe Link (opens in new window).

It's not a glowing review, but I wouldn't call it "lukewarm" either. Silman has done her homework, and she's obviously familiar with (and has even enjoyed) Hoffman's earlier works. But, Silman does say that the book, "...lacks the spark of the earlier work. Its vision, characters, and even the prose seem tired. Too much of it is told rather than shown..."

She does have nice things to say about the book, too: "Admittedly, there are some wonderful passages as the book winds to a close - about the heirloom tomatoes Annie grew in her garden and how Claire learns to design jewelry"

Hoffman responded by tweeting Silman's phone number and email address and told her readers to "Tell her what u think of snarky critics."

Hoffman also disparaged Silman: "Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron. How do some people get to review books?"

And then Hoffman put down the Boston Globe: "No wonder there is no book section in the Globe anymore - they don't care about their readers, why should we care about them"

I double-checked my Project 100 list to see if I had planned to read any Hoffman. I'm glad to see that I hadn't, because I'd be giving serious consideration to removing those books from my list.

What about you? Would these kind of tantrums from an author make you run out and buy the book, or maybe burn the books sitting on your shelf?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

I'm not sure how, but I had no idea these books even existed until The Golden Compass came out, and even then I didn't automatically reach for them. (I still haven't seen the movie, although I have been told it's pretty good. It might be, but Nicole Kidman makes me confused and irritable).

I wish I had read them then though - I just finished the trilogy last week and I really enjoyed them. At times the wordiness got a little irritating (especially the adamant tower...although I guess if a tower is adamant, it's adamant), but I really enjoyed it overall. And I am ABSOLUTELY in love with the name Lyra.

(More thoughts, spoilers and Lyra love here)

Next up for me is either The Yiddish Policemans Union or Lady Chatterley's Lover, I haven't quite decided. In the meantime I'm reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - how I managed to go through twenty five years of existence without reading one of his novels will be always be a mystery to me, but I'm rectifying that now!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

KOKORO, Natsume Soseki

So I've just finished the first of a number of Japanese classics I put on my Fill-in-the-Gaps list. I was kind of horrified when I was making up my list and realized that despite 10 years of studying Japanese, I really didn't know much about the Japanese literary canon. Hence Kokoro and several other choices.

Of course this meant that most of my very interesting reading was not the book itself but the introduction and Wikipedia articles on Natsume and the book. Natsume is apparently in the highest tier of Japanese cultural celebrities--his face was on the 1000Y ($10ish) bill from 1984-2000, which says something very interesting to me. Kokoro was written in 1914, only two years before he died of a stomach ulcer at age 49.

The book itself was (to me) more interesting as a reading experience than it was as a book, which may be a terrible thing to say about myself as a reader, but I'm being honest. The composition is unusual for what you expect of a novel--it's in three pieces, the first of which describes the nameless shiftless and self-indulgent main character's friendship with his nameless older friend, whom he calls "Sensei." The second third is about the main character's time at home over summer vacation with his family, while his father slowly dies of kidney failure and the main character puts off finding a job. The entire third third is a letter Sensei wrote the main character. Sorry for the spoiler, but at the end the story doesn't even retun to the narrator--it just signs off with the end of the letter, which runs about 80 pages.

The thing that struck me most about the actual story was probably the very casual misogyny. The story is ultimately about the sacred bonds between men, even though the problem between characters boils down to a betrayal over a woman. There are several of these sacred manly friendships throughout the book, which is also strewn with comments like "Although it's true that women are generally incoherent, my mother is especially loquiacious with her incoherence" etc etc.

The part that gets to me the most about the misogyny is Sensei's eventual choice to commit suicide to avenge K, the friend from whom he stole his wife. The desicion is so selfish, having to do with his personal feelings of guilt, and totally ignores a fact that actually comes up in the book several times--his death leaves his wife, the Object, destitute and alone. Why was her interest never taken into account?

Has anyone else read Kokoro? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Book Review Sites


I'm sorry i didn't make this clear and apologies to those who requested for logolink. The book review sites are for members of the "fill in the gap" blog only as often in the posts of this blog people link their more comprehensive reviews to their own book review site. Sorry

Again a techno announcement! If you have a book review site, then please leave a comment with the link and a logobadge (you can see the bookbundle one on the side there) - i'd like all logo sizes to be 150x150px so it looks uniform (and is easier for me lol).

If you have a book review site but no logobadge, i can 'try' (and i am no graphics person) to make up a simple one (like the bookbundle one) - just let me know in the comments section.

thank you!

Edit: Please email me at emily.m.cross@aol.co.uk and i'll pass on the html for the moving text links and icon links

Here are the images and their links


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gappers, Help Me

I've been woefully lax in doing my reading. I don't know what my problem is. Or rather, I do, I just don't know how to get back on track.

My grandma died right as I signed up for this blog. Telling her about making my list was one of the last conversations we ever had. I added War and Peace to my list just because she lit up when I told her that I was thinking about it. Her funeral was only two days before I went to Hawaii, and I did do some reading on planes; but it's been a month and a half since then, and I've barely picked up Atmospheric Disturbances, let alone Middlemarch. I don't know if I can't read because I'm afraid to move on, or if I can't read out of depression alone--I have been spending an awful lot of time on Netflix, which is usually a sign that I'm about to go cry to my therapist about sucking at life.

I'm sorry to hijack this blog, but I figured if anybody knows what it's like to have your reading plans interrupted, it's people who've managed to come up with a list of 100 books they always meant to have read, and yet, haven't. Plus, my own blog still hasn't launched, which is my fault . . .

Ideas, suggestions? I went to BN today after work, and picked up some books by Gail Carson Levine that I never read . . . Ella Enchanted was one of my favorites as a teenager, and I enjoyed reading Fairest even in college. Maybe some light, fun reading is what I need to jump-start this project. What do you think?

The Original Tricky Dick

The radio show This American Life had a show about Origin Stories this week, and they began with the myth of the garage as the founding place for all software giants. No matter how bogus, the myths survive because they make better stories.

Ever try to explain the big bang to a five-year-old? Four of five sentences into it you realize how appealing it is to just say, “And on the sixth day, …”

Or, if you’re a former music major like me, how much do you love the movie Amadeus even though you know it’s a load of bullpuckey?

All this is a lead-in to tell you I read Shakespeare’s Richard III (1592).

For some odd cosmic reason I had picked up Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time (1951). It was calling to me off a library shelf and I answered the call. It’s great fun.* A detective is laid up and gets interested in a picture of Richard III, deciding that the man looks nothing at all like a murderer. From that point on he interviews everyone who comes in his room as a hostile witness. What surfaces is what we already know but often forget: all history is written by the victors, or at the very least with an agenda.

That aside, Shakespeare’s Richard III is well worth while. But not really for the story. It’s almost like Shakespeare knew the story is a leaky vessel and plugged it with and exquistely evil character, presenting Richard’s ominous pre-revealings of the events about to unfold.

The fun in the text is not at all in “what’s going to happen?” but in “how is he going to do this?”

I’m guessing it’s the kind of play you watch not for the drama, but for the acting.

*So much fun that I read Tey's The Singing Sands soon after. If you're going to read Tey, stick with Daughter of Time.

The Members List

Hey all,

Just a techie announcement - i've recently discovered how to do a scrowling blog roll (still working out the kinks). Anyhoo, i was thinking of setting up a member blogroll which includes all FITG peoples blogs.

Anyone interested, leave a comment to this post which includes the blog address you want included as yours.

Thank you

P.S. i'll be working more on the 100 list dropdown menu soon. Sorry for the slowness!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Brief Wonderous Life Of Oscar Wao

I was pretty excited to read this book. It was recommended by a friend. I typically do not read award winning books without hearing about them from friends. Just cause it won awards doesn't mean I'll like it.
I was enthralled by the first chapter. I knew people like Oscar. Occasionally I felt like Oscar. But then we switched to his sister, then his mother, then his grandfather, then his friend, Yunior. I liked hearing Oscar's story more or less from his own mouth.
I struggled with the paragraph sized footnotes towards the beginning of the book. I felt like I was reading a text book. I felt like I needed a Spanish dictionary to understand some of the converstations. Toward the middle of the book, I was just reading to finish it.
The writing is beautiful and you feel like you are in a different place. Diaz paints a stunningly real picture of these people's lives. I went into the book wanting to hear about Oscar and heard more about his family than I wanted. I know sometimes hearing the past can help you understand the future or the present but I felt like there were a couple of different books rivaling each other. It felt like too much and Oscar's story was lost along the way.
I'm sad that I did not enjoy this book more.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Middlemay 8: Sunset and Sunrise

Woohoo!! We've made it through 800 or something pages of Victorian prose!! I feel an enormous sense of accomplishment. I hope everyone else does, too!!

Thoughts and feelings on Book 8? Favorite passages?

Glass of champagne? I also have sparkling grape juice and, for the un-thirsty, virtual cupcakes in the back. If I haven't eaten them all already.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Matthew, Book Review, *J.D. Salinger, *Franny and Zooey, *B.S. Johnson, *Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry

Well, I appear to have emerged from a flurry of wedding planning with two more books read. I'm not entirely sure how that happened, but there it is.

Franny and Zooey (1961) by J.D. Salinger is one of those short, compact novels that feels like you need to read it two or three times before its contents really begin to sink in. I should correct myself, though, as this novel isn't really a novel so much as it is a short story ("Franny") and a novella (Zooey) that are thematically and chronologically linked to one another. The two main characters, Francis "Franny" Glass and Zachary "Zooey" Glass, are the two youngest siblings of the Glass family; most, if not all, of Salinger's short stories focus on members of the Glass family.

In summary form, the two plots seem straightforward enough: "Franny" involves Franny dealing with a growing sense of disgust during a date (my apologies for the alliteration there) that leads to her having a breakdown of sorts, and Zooey follows Zooey as he attempts to help Franny get through her existential crisis. Within those two sparse frameworks is an exploration of religion, family, faith, and eastern philosophy that manages to be deep, readable, and briskly paced all at the same time. I can think of more than a few authors who could stand to learn some lessons from Salinger's economy of language.

Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry (1973) by B.S. Johnson exhibits much of the same linguistic economy as Franny and Zooey, but in the service of a much different sort of story. The titular character, Christie Malry, is a young Englishman who decides to apply his understanding of double-entry bookkeeping to his interactions with society at large (one column for credits, another for debits, and every debit transacted must be balanced by a credit of equal or greater value). His boss yells at him (debit), so he steals some office supplies (credit); an ugly new office building annoys him (debit), so he scratches the finish on its brickwork with a coin (credit). It isn't long before the debits begin to pile up much faster than the credits, and Malry is forced to increase the severity of his attempts to recompense himself, escalating from faking delivery orders for his employer, to calling in fake bomb threats, to setting off actual bombs. From adherence to a simple ideal, a domestic terrorist is born.

Johnson is famous for his structural and narrative inventiveness (the most famous example of which being The Unfortunates, a "book in a box" composed of twenty-seven individually bound chapters meant to be read in any order--incidentally, The Unfortunates was recently republished in its original form) and Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry is no exception. Among other things, the author converses directly with his main character Malry, and characters freely discuss their actions in terms of what best suits the needs of the novel. Take for example this section, written in play format in order to focus solely on dialogue:
SUPERVISOR: Where were you yesterday afternoon?

CHRISTIE: At my mother's funeral.

SUPERVISOR: Why didn't you ask permission?

CHRISTIE: She died at very short notice. In fact, with no notice at all, on the evening before last.

SUPERVISOR: Long enough for you to arrange the funeral for the next day?

CHRISTIE: There wasn't any more time. It's a short novel.
Thankfully, Johnson uses these postmodern devices in a way that complements and enhances the narrative without being overly precious or smugly clever, two problems that run rampant through many postmodern works. In short, B.S. Johnson is good stuff.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls was a pleasure to read. I picked it up and other than stopping to sleep, I didn't put it down.

I hadn't read the blurb on the back of the book, and had avoided reading the details of other reviews, and so I had no idea what was going to happen to Pearl and May. That excitement of not knowing what comes next in the book, and the surprising shock of their life-changing secret was enough to make me never want to read a back cover blurb again.

This was a very entertaining historical fiction novel. My only complaint was that I didn't want it to end. When I came to the last page I thought for sure there would be more to the story. I would love to read a sequel just to find out what happens to the characters, and to me that means that the author did a good job.

I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of historical fiction, especially those interested in fiction about Chinese women.

To read my full review, visit my blog.

Review Canterbury Tales


This book took more time than usual and you will understand why when you read it.Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is a classic and very solid one at that.It is a beautiful piece of literature I must say.Its poetry and prose combined together.

Canterbury Tales is a set of stories told by pilgrims going to visit the shrine of Thomas Backet , a saint in Canterbury.
Rest of the review can be found here. Though I had read this book a few days back. I had totally forgotten that its on my Fill In The Gap list :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Housekeeping is a brilliant book about identity and memory, and perhaps the greatest novel I've read this year. It is the story of two sisters in Idaho in the 1950s from a family marked by tragedy and suicide. The are raised by their aunt, a former transient, whose unreformed lifestyle scandalizes the townspeople and forces the sisters to make a choice between freedom and conventionality.

This is a serious novel deep in meaning and rich in imagery, but its beautiful language is highly readable. I highly recommend it. My full review is here.

Review: Nella Larsen, Passing

I just have to share news of this startling little novella I just finished: Nella Larsen's Passing.

Set in the late 1920s in a society still under the shadow of Plessy v. Ferguson, it's the story of Irene and Clare, both of mixed-race heritage and light-skinned. They grew up together, but Clare moved away after the death of her father, and they reconnect as adults—when Clare is "passing" for white, in her everyday life. Irene passes occasionally, for momentary social benefits, but identifies more closely with the black community, and lives her everyday life openly within it. Irene learns that Clare's (white) husband is horribly racist and unaware of Clare's heritage, and has to decide whether to keep Clare's secret—when doing so may also save Irene's own marriage—or stand up for her beliefs.

There are many threads of tension throughout, and some of the sexual tensions are interesting to read so soon after finishing The Awakening. But the issue of "passing," the fluid racial identifications, and the social confines of the time are what made this so fascinating and challenging, and so different from things I'd read before.

Thinking back, my reading history has little that depicts the early/emerging black middle class and the choices available to them (in all aspects, not just race), and I thought a lot about how setting this story among the middle class made it very different from the options the characters would have had if it had been set in a different time or place—cf. Imitation of Life, for just one example. I hadn't had previous occasion to think about race choices (a concept foreign to my experience) in this milieu. This book's effect on me reminded me of the phrase "comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable"—a good thing, IMHO.

So although this was not on my Gaps list, reading it helped me realize that I had a gap—and on my next list I'll add Larsen's 1928 novel Quicksand.

PS: I read the Penguin Classics edition, which has a fascinating introduction by Professor Thadious M. Davis that I didn't read until after finishing the story. This intro is like a lit seminar, discussing virtually all the various threads of tension, as well as the place this work has in American literature in general, and Harlem Renaissance literature in specific.

Review: We Were The Mulvaneys

We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

This book had been lying around for a long time on the shelf , when I finally picked it up to read it , it was because this was the first book, that I could pull out in a rainy afternoon to while away my time. Now little did I know at that time ,that I would need more than an afternoon to finish this really beautiful piece of literature.

Joyce Carol Oates book takes a look at Mulvaney family of High Point Farm which is torn apart by a single incident which goes to have repercussions on the entire family. Story set in 1970s makes a real insightful read.

I had it up on the Fill In the Gap list so an added bonus for me. I have put up my complete review here. Check it out. 2 down ,98 more to go for this challenge.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

CURRENTLY READING....................

"With Malice Toward None:A Life of Abraham Lincoln" by Stephen B. Oates. I like reading about Lincoln, he is my favorite president. I started this book a few days ago, this is going to take some reading. Small print and lots of info on each page. So far I really like it. As of right now I am up to his first time in the legislation in Illinois. Very interesting! Has anyone else read this book? Or read any other books by Stephen B. Oates? Just wondering.

Mya Barrett, Book Review *John LeCarre *The Spy Who Came In From The Cold

What can I say about this book? When I first picked it up, I had no expectations at all. I'd heard the title, of course, heard people rave about it.

The book was a much easier read than anticipated. It was well written, extremely well paced, very interesting, nicely drawn, and in most parts intriguing. I enjoyed the main character, very much liked the secondary ones, and found myself flying through the pages.

And then I got to the end. By the time I was through with the last chapter, I couldn't decide if I was angry, upset, or just plain disappointed. This, of course, is a personal opinion. You might love the ending. I, however, did not.

You can read the full review here: Mya Barrett Blog

Becky's Progress: Thirteen Completed Now

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
Skellig by David Almond
Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
Middlemarch by George Eliot

I'm still working on

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope

Stats Update!

Statistics Update for the "Second 1000" Books

These statistics are for the second 1000 unique books in our list of books (for all lists entered by the end of April. I will be getting to lists entered after April after I clean up the initial entries...)

These 1000 books start with the letter "L" and go partially through books beginning with "The" in the title. In fact, the last book in this list (number 1000), begins, "The End..." (Appropriate, eh?)

These 1000 books contain about 900 duplicate reads, so our original list of 5300 has been winnowed down to about 3500 unique reads. This number will collapse further when I get to the third 1000...(The "third 1000" list is currently at 1534 entries. It would not surprise me to see the list be de-duped down to less than 1000 entries.)

Some books were entered with the beginning "The" in the title, some were not. I've combined them as I've come across them, but I'm certain I've missed a few. When I'm able to combine all the lists and sort by author, the numbers will collapse even more.

In this middle section of the list, the book with the highest number of projected reads is Middlemarch by George Elliot (20).

Second place (tied at 17 requests) are Lolita by Nabakov and Northanger Abbey by Austen.

Rebecca, by De Maurier, is in third place with 16.

These numbers may change slightly as the other lists make it to my tallies.

Other books with high read requests include: Life of Pi, Martel - 15, Love in the Time of Cholera, Marquez - 15, and Moby Dick, Melville. Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut; The Bell Jar, Plath; and, The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky, all have 13 read requests.

There are 779 unique reads on this "Second 1000" list.

The authors with the most requested books on the list are:

Sue Grafton and Alexander McCall Smith with 8 each. (Both are Mystery/Detective Authors)

Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare both have 7 books on the list.

Jane Austen "only" has 6 (but has 7 if you include her co-authored book with Seth Grahame-Smith, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies...)

Mark Twain - 6

Toni Morrison, Jodi Picoult, Terry Pratchet, John Updike - 5

Margaret Atwood has 4 books on the list, as does A. S. Byatt, George Eliot, Neil Gaiman, Jenna Black, Steven King and Cormac McCarthy.

These numbers will climb higher when I combine all the lists.

Those readers with the most unique reads on their lists include:

Jason - 31
Iasa & Kristina - 34
Andromeda - 44

These numbers will go down as some of the "TBD" books are chosen and (will probably) duplicate some books already on the list.

As for paired reads...

Kelly and Moonrat have added 4 more to their list. Other players with uniquely-paired reads include:

Amanda/Amanda Snow - 2
Biblio Brat/Michelle - 3M - 2
Crystal/Merry M - 2
Goedi/Purple Clover - 2
Jason/Lisa - 2
Merry M/Shelley - 2

In this section of the list, we've actually got a trio with two uniquely-paired reads:
Briony/Kelly/Moonrat - 2

Contact me via email if you'd like to know what your uniquely-paired books are so you can hook up. I'll try to get these items posted to the Web ASAP so you can review yourselves...but it's still going to take a few weeks.


Review -Lady Susan

I am a Jane Austen Fan and a solid one at that, having read most of her books not once but many times.Lady Susan ,was one book that somehow didn't make up to my book shelf until recently.I saw a review on one of the blogs and promptly checked it out from my local library.I knew from the other reviews that it was one of the later published works of the author and it was in form of letters but didn't realise that it would be so different from rest of her works.By different ,I mean ,the protagonist,Lady Susan..She is not the usual strong minded but lovable characters Jane creates .Lady Susan is very beautiful no doubt ,but also selfish(seriously) and cunning .A combination, we don't usually attribute to heroines,not to Austen heroines at the least.But this one is!!

The main plot revolves around Lady Susan's attempts to find herself a good match ,within a short period of the death of her husband and also some one really rich for her teenage daughter , who hates this idea. To fulfill this task, she lands at the house of her brother, Mr Vernon , even though she hasn't been totally nice to him or his wife in the past.She uses her talents to accomplish her task to the fullest and that really makes it fun to read.Best part is when Mrs Vernon's brother falls for her even after knowing about her not so nice past history.And not to forget she has an affair with a much married man. The book is in form of letters written by the central characters, unfolding the story in a really nice manner.Certain moral issues are dealt with as is usual with any Austen book and the theme of younger men for older women also comes up in this one.

Not a long winding novel like the rest of her works but a quick read. Funny,rather interesting work of an author the literary world loves so much.I would recommend it to any classics or Austen fan.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


"Riders of the Purple Sage" by Zane Grey

This story is about Lassiter, a gunslinger who is looking for revenge. He shows up in the remote Utah town of Cottonwood. Jane Withersteen is a young and beautiful rancher of the Mormon faith. She is being pressured to marry a church elder, Tulle. The church elders have already run her hired hand, a gentile, off her ranch. Venters is running into trouble with the cattle rustlers that have taken Jane's red herd. He shoots one of their riders, the masked rider, then finds out the rider is a young woman. Vinters finds a hidden valley in the cannon and hides out there and nurses the young woman back to good health. Lassiter and Vinters now must save Jane from the church elders. They have taken everything she cherishes. Lassiter and Jane are on the run from the rustlers and church elders. They go to Vinters hidden valley to hide.
I don't want to tell you anymore as this will ruin the whole story if you haven't read this book. Great classic western, if you haven't read this I recommend you give it a try. A really great book!

The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

The Pickwick Papers was Dickens's first novel. It was begun as a series of illustrated pamphlets, and it was only as Dickens's writing caught the public fancy that it began to take on the characteristics of a novel. So it's a story that changes form as it goes along, but is always entertaining and often moving.

The plot is essentially an account of the adventures of Mr. Pickwick and his friends as they travel about England in search of novel experiences. Because of the nature of its publication, each of the early chapters is more of a standalone story full of slapstick comedy and just a touch of satire. As the novel progresses, it becomes more of a complete work resembling Dickens's other novels. There are moving scenes of debtor's prison, scathing commentaries upon the law courts, etc, just as one will find in his later novels. Reading The Pickwick Papers gives you the unique experience of witnessing from chapter to chapter the literary emergence of one of the greatest novelists of all time.

My full review is here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy Bloomsday!

Technically it's not Bloomsday in Ireland yet, but it is here in Australia so I thought I'd share!

From Wiki:

Bloomsday is a commemoration observed annually on 16 June in Dublin, Ireland and elsewhere to celebrate the life of Irish writer James Joyce and relive the events in his novel Ulysses, all of which took place on the same day in Dublin in 1904. The name derives from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses, and 16 June was the date of Joyce's first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle, when they walked to the Dublin village of Ringsend.

Middlemay 7: Two Temptations

Hi everybody!! Phew. Exciting book. Thoughts, feelings, opinions? Progress reports? Favorite quotations or passages?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

trying to read FAHRENHEIT 451

Thought it would be a nice short little read after Middlemarch. But BLECH. I can BARELY make myself turn the pages. WHY WHY WHY was this book on all these best-books-of-all-time lists?! Am I missing something?

Kelly A. Harmon, Book Review: *Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, *Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell is an alternate-history that’s set in 19th-century England during the Napoleonic Wars. It’s based on the idea that magic once existed in England and that it will be brought back with the help of two practicing magicians: Gilbert Norrell and Jonathan Strange. The story centers on their relationship (or lack there of) as they make England into a land where anyone can perform magic.

I looked forward to reading this book, particularly because it is a Hugo winner. In the end, I was disappointed. I could not finish the book fast enough. I found it completely intolerable.

Wordy, wordy, wordy. It felt very unfocused (until the last 100 of almost 800 pages).

See my blog for a complete review (JS&MR does have some redeeming qualities).

Recommended? No.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Review: Are you there God? It's me, Margaret by Judy Blume

This is a very heart warming story of growing up. I loved it! I could also feel for Margaret on her religion. As I don't really have a religion but I do talk to God. Does that make us weird, not normal? I don't think so. One of the things Margaret does is check out the other religions. She is checking them out to see what one she is going to be when she grows up. My full review is at my place, Just Books.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stone Diaries, by Carol Shields

Just finished this one (book 11 for me). I put up a (pretty glancing) review on thebookbook.

I can't really make up my mind about whether I liked this one or not. I think the take-home is that I didn't really enjoy reading it, but I'm glad that I've read it now that I'm done.

Anyone else have any thoughts?


"Alias Grace" by Margaret Atwood

This was a really hard book to keep reading, you don't know how many times I put this book down determined not to finish it! But about 1/2 way through I got interested enough to finish it and see what really happened to Grace. The whole book is of Grace telling her story from the time she leaves Ireland, up to and including the murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear and his mistress Nancy Montgomery. She is telling Dr. Jordan her life story from prison. I must admit it got kind of boring along the way. But about 1/2 way through it kind of picked up and I really wanted to find out what happened to Grace, Dr. Jordan, Jamie(who is a young man who testified against Grace at her trial and was employed by Thomas Kinnear), and of course Jeremiah, the peddler. If you happen to read this book, don't give up on it. It gets better!!

You can see my full post at my place, Just Books.

Frederica by Georgette Heyer, Review

When Frederica brings her younger siblings to London determined to secure a brilliant marriage for her beautiful sister, she seeks out their distant cousin the Marquis of Alverstoke. Lovely, competent, and refreshingly straightforward, Frederica makes such a strong impression that to his own amazement, the Marquis agrees to help launch them all into society.

Frederica is a fun, witty and intelligent read. It reminded me a lot of Pride and Prejudice in that you have so many young girls all intent on making a good match, while the two main characters really have no idea how well-suited they are for each other.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who likes a good historical romance. Visit my blog to read my full review.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Book Review of James Rollins' Black Order

Here is my book review for Black Order by James Rollins. I gave this one 3 out of 5 stars. It was good but came short for me. It wasn't on my list but it challenges whether I will keep the other one of his on there. I'm glad I finally finished a book. Period. :)

Still working on Middlemarch. sigh.

Sherrie's List

I've changed a few of my original list. The books in bold I have read.

1. Confederates in the Attic - Tony Horwitz
2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
3. June Bug - Chris Fabry
4. The Christmas Train - David Baldacci
5. The Life of Pi - Yann Martel
6. Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger
7. The View From Saturday - E. L. Konigsburg
8. Un Lun Dun - China Mieville
9. Fire by Night - Lynn Austin
10. Ladies of Liberty - Cokie Roberts
11. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
12. The Mysterious Benedict Society - Trenton Lee Stewart
13. Two Old Women - Velma Wallis
14. The Summoning - Kelley Armstrong
15. The Awakening - Kelley Armstrong
16. The Reckoning - Kelley Armstrong
17. Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear
18. Talking to the Dead - Bonnie Grove
19. Dead Man Docking - Mary Daheim
20. Travels with Charley - John Steinbeck
21. Trespassers Will be Baptized - Elizabeth Emerson Hancock
22. In The Woods - Tana French
23. Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen
24. City of the Dead - T. L. Higley
25. Winter Haven - Anthol Dickson
26. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society - Mary Ann Scaffer
27. The Beekeeper's Apprentice - Laurie R. King
28. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming - Joshilyn Jackson
29. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
30. The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night - Mark Haddon
31. The God of Small Things - Roy Arandhatj
32. The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
33. The English Patient - Michael Ondaaje
34. The Stone Diaries - Carol Shields
35. Snow Flower and The Secret Fan - Lisa See
36. The Zookeeper's Wife - Diane Acerman
37. Of Human Bondage - William Somerset Maugham
38. The Witches of Worm - Zilpha Keatley Snyder
39. Thirteen Reasons Why - Jay Asher
40. Cry, The Beloved Country - Alan Paton
41. The Red Queen - Margaret Drabble
42. The Lightning King - Rick Riordan
43. Are You There God? It's Me Margaret - Judy Blume
44. Drowning Ruth - Christina Schwarz
45. While I Was Gone - Sue Miller
46. Sula - Toni Morrison
47. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
48. A Virtuous Woman - Kaye Gibbons
49. Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
50. The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison
51. The Deep End of the Ocean - Jacquely Mitchard
52. A Million Little Pieces - James Frey
53. Back Roads - Tawni O'Dell
54. Daughter of Fortune - Isabel Allende
55. Gap Creek - Robert Morgan
56. Vinegar Hill - A. Manette Ansay
57. The Reader - Bernhard Schlink
58. The Bride of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder
59. Riders of the Purple Sage - Zane Grey
60. The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
61. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
62. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
63. Ann of Green Gables - Lucy Montgomery
64. The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
65. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson
66. A Treasury of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter
67. The Swiss Family Robinson - Johann David Wyss
68. Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
69. World Without End - Ken Follett
70. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
71. The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin
72. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
73. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - Judi Barrett
74. The Plot Against America - Phillip Roth
75. Amsterdam - Ian McEwan
76. Over Sea, Under Stone - Susan Cooper
77. Atonement - Ian McEwan
78. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten - Robert Fulghum
79. Dewey - Vicki Myron
80. Marley and Me - John Grogan
81. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
82. Pretties - Scott Westerfeld
83. Specials - Scott Westerfeld
84. Made in the U. S. A. - Billie Letts
85. Look Me In The Eye - John Elder Robison
86. Now You See Him - Eli Gottleb
87. The Tenth Circle - Jodi Picoult
88. The Blue Notebook - James Levine
89. Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood
90. The Undomestic Goddess - Sophie Kinsella
91. Genesis - Bernard Beckett
92. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
93. Jude The Obscure - Thomas Hardy
94. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
95. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
96. Winnie The Pooh - A. A. Milne
97. Mudbound - Jordan Hillary
98. With Malice Toward None - Stephen B. Oates
99. One Thousand White Women - Jim Fergus
100. The Wind in The Willows - Kenneth Graham
63 of 100

Monday, June 8, 2009


"The Bridge of San Luis Rey" by Thornton Wilder

(from Amazon.com)
Product Description

"On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below." With this celebrated sentence, Thornton Wilder begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world.

By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper seeks to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His study leads to his own death -- and to the author's timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition.

Very interesting book! It follows the lives of the 5 people who were on the bridge that day. The Marquesa De Montemayor and her companion, Pepita, Esteban, Uncle Pio and Don Jaime who was traveling with Uncle Pio. All of their lives are very tragic and they have family troubles with children and husbands. It also seems that at the time of their lives they were all seeking love. Brother Juniper's book about the people on the bridge is pronounced heretical. The book was ordered to be burned in the square along with it's author, Brother Juniper. I kind of liked this book, I read it pretty fast, but I'm not really fond of Thornton Wilder's writings. This is the second book of his I have read and I didn't care much for either one. But that's my opinion! Someone else who likes Wilder would really like his book!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I thought that Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford was quite enjoyable and educational. It was interesting to see what life was like for both the Chinese and the Japanese in the Pacific Northwest during World War II.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is thought-provoking historical fiction, yet it is also an emotionally intense story of love and family. Please visit my blog to read my full review.

Abandoned Book - Children of the Mind

Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card is book four in the Ender's Game series. Although I managed to make my way through book three, Xenocide, I couldn't force myself to finish this one. I didn't make it far enough into the book to give even a partial review, but I did want to share that I've scratched it off of my list.

Middlemay 6: The Widow and the Wife

Hi folks! Status reports, favorite passages, thoughts and feelings?

Reading lists: Mr Knightley on Emma's

While we're compiling reading lists... here's Mr Knightley critiquing Emma's (I think Emma is on a few lists?). No spoilers involved, I promise!:

‘Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old. I have seen a great many lists of her drawing up at various times of books that she meant to read regularly through – and very good lists they were – very well chosen, and very neatly arranged – sometimes alphabetically, and sometimes by some other rule. The list she drew up when only fourteen – I remember thinking it did her judgment so much credit, that I preserved it some time; and I dare say she may have made out a very good list now. But I have done with expecting any course of steady reading from Emma. She will never submit to any thing requiring industry and patience, and a subjection of the fancy to the understanding…’

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

Well, I'm quite blown away by this book, so much so that I think I might have to stray away from my list for a while to read more Coetzee, and maybe reread Disgrace itself.

At times it feels like a story of utter devestation and bereavement. Other times there are glimpses of enlightenment and redemption. The last scene made me weep, but I still don't know exactly what kind of tears they were -- despairing or cathartic or sentimental or...?? Coetzee does something masterful with point of view; I think I will have to reread it, if only to try to understand how he does it -- the mechanics of it.

Too many swirling thoughts to review it properly yet! But an astonishing book.

Jan's 100 List


My list of 100-to-be-read by 2014 is a mixture of many things since I’m quite an eclectic reader. My tbr shelf, 1001 books to read before you die, desire to read a second book by an author, reading Pulitzer Prize winner authors biographies and satisfying various challenges combine to make this list, as follows:


1. Abaunza, Virginia – James Patterson

2. Ali, Ayaan Hirsi - Infidel

3. Anderson’s Fairy Tales

4. Asimov, Isaac – Foundation

5. Asimov, Isaac – I, Robot


6. Bartlett, Anne – Knitting

7. Bailey, Carolyn – Miss Hickory

8. Bealer, Alex W. – Only the Names Remain: The Cherokee

9. Best American Short Stories

10. Bible (parts)

11. Blotner, Joseph – Robert Penn Warren

12. Boyleston, H. D. – another Sue Barton book

13. Brooks, Geraldine – People of the Book

14. Buck , Pearl – A Bridge for Passing


15. Carroll, Lewis – The Complete Works of

16. Chevalier, Tracy – Girl with a Pearl Earring

17. Childs, Laura – The Jasmine Moon

18. Cleland, John – Memoirs of Maria Brown

19. Conroy, Pat – The Great Santini

20. Copeland, Germane - Prayers that Avail Much for Kids

21. Crook, Elizabeth – Night Journal

22. Crummey, Michael – River Thieves


23. Dale, Norman – The Exciting Journey

24. Dart, Iris Ranier – The Stork Club

25. Dart, Iris Ranier – When I Fall in Love

26. Dass, Ram – How Can I Help?

27. Didion, Joan – The White Album

28. Dinesan, Isak – Out of Africa

29. Dostoevsky, Fodor – Crime and Punishment

30. Dostoevsky, Fodor – The Idiot/Brothers Karamazov

31. Dubus, Andre III – House of Sand and Fog


32. Eaton, Clement – Henry Clay

33. Evans, Richard Paul – The Christmas Box


34. Faulkner, William – Selected Letters of

35. Foer, Jonathan Safran – Everything is Illuminated

36. Foote, John Taintor – The Wedding & Other Angling Tales

37. Friedman, Thomas – From Beirut to Jerusalem

38. Frizzell, Gregory – Returning to Holiness

39. Fulghum, Robert – It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It


40. Gaarder, Jostein – Sophie’s World

41. Gainham, Sarah – Take Over Bid

42. Gilbert, Sarah Goldsmith – Ferber: A Biography

43. Gilroy, Mark (created by) – Nightstand Read

44. Goldberg, Myla – Time’s Magpie

45. Grimes, Martha – The Horse You Came In On


46. Hargrove, Jim – Daniel Boone: Pioneer Trailblazer

47. Harrer, Heinrich – Seven Years in Tibet

48. Hersey, John – Here to Stay


49. Irving, John – The Cider House Rules


50. Joseph, Ronald – The Power

51. Johnson, Josephine – Seven Houses

52. Joyce, James - Ulysses


53. Kafka, Franz – the Trial

54. Kazantzakis, Nikos – Zorba the Greek

55. King, Larry – Larry King

56. Kipling, Rudyard – Kim


57. Lewis, Grace Hegger – With Love from Gracie

58. Lewis, R. W. B. – Edith Wharton

59. Lin, Jan - Living Inside Out


60. Mann, Thomas – Death in Venice

61. Martin, Lee – The Bright Forever

62. Matthiessen, Peter – African Silences

63. Maxwell, Katie – Bedside Manners

64. Mayle, Peter – Anything Considered

65. Mitchell, Margaret – Letters of

66. Momaday, N. Scott – The Names

67. Morgan, Margo – Mutant Message Down Under

68. Mortimer, John – Paradise Postponed

69. Mueller, Melinda – Apocrypha

70. Muir, John – The 8 Wilderness Discovery


71. Nabokov, Vladimir - Lolita

72. Niffenegger, Audrey – The Time Traveler’s Wife


73. O’Brian, Patrick – The Reverse of the Medal


74. Porter, Katharine Anne – The Never Ending Wrong


75. Quinn, Lin – The Best Mud Pie


76. Remarque, Erich Maria – Full Circle

77. Richman, Sidney – Bernard Malamud

78. Robinson, Marilynne - Housekeeping

79. Rolheiser, Ronald – The Holy Longing

80. Rolheiser, Ronald - The Shattered Lantern

81. Rushdie, Salman - Fury

82. Rys, Jean – Voyage in the Dark


83. Searles, John – Strange but True

84. Shaker/Barrows – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

85. Shakespeare, William – some plays

86. Shedd, Charlie – The Best Dad is a Good Lover

87. Sidney, Margaret – The Five Little Peppers at School


88. Tan, Amy – Saving Fish from Drowning

89. Tarkington, Booth – Your Amiable Uncle

90. Theroux, Paul – The Great Railway Bazaar

91. Turner, Ann – Dakota Dugout


92. Updike, John – Hugging the Shore

93. Updike, John – Rabbit Remembered


94. Van Fleet, Matthew – One Yellow Lion

95. Van Leeuwan, Nancy – Going West

96. Vickers, Salley –The Other Side of You


97. Walker, Alice – The Same River Twice

98. Waugh, Evelyn – Black Mischief

99. West, Rebecca – Black Lamb and Grey Falcon

100. Wiederkehr, Macarina – Seasons of Your Heart

101. Wilder, Laura Ingalls – Little Town on the Prairie

102. Wold, Joanne – The Way it Was

103. Wroblewski, David – The Story of Edgar Sawtelle


104. Xingjian, Gao – Soul Mountain


105. Yancey, Philip – Finding God in Unexpected Places


106. Zafon, Carlos Ruiz – The Shadow of the Wind

107. Zola, Emile – Terminal

108. Zola, Emile – Therese Raquin


Pulitzer Prize Winners for Fiction –

109. 2010

110. 2011

111. 2012

112. 2013

113. 2014

First one done: Never Let me Go

Finally i've gotten one off my list, and i can see why this book was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize 2005, and on the 100 books of all time list too. An exceptional complex book which i found hard to review without going into great detail, but if you want to read my review you can here and here

Just a little addition thought:

I think the power of Ishiguro's writing can be best summed up with this excellent quote :

"What I like in a good author isn't what he says, but what he whispers." Logan Pearsall Smith

Friday, June 5, 2009

Two New Poirot Short Stories Found

From The Guardian:

[T]wo previously unpublished Hercule Poirot stories have emerged from a mass of family papers at Agatha Christie's favourite home.

The first story, The Mystery of the Dog's Ball, eventually became the 1937 novel Dumb Witness, in which an heiress dies from falling down the stairs after apparently tripping over her fox terrier's toy. The title of the other new find, The Capture of Cerberus, has graced another story. The original was written to complete The Labours of Hercules, a collection of Poirot's 12 last cases. The first 11 were published in the Strand magazine between 1939-40, but the last only appeared in the book published in 1947 – a new story keeping only the title from the notebook version.

They will appear in Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making, to be published by HarperCollins in September.

Jane's List

Here's my list:

  1. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. A Long and Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
  3. Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold
  4. Love Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister by Aphra Behn
  5. The Needle in the Blood by Sarah Bower
  6. The Good Earth by Pearl S Buck
  7. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  8. The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  9. A Month in the Country by J L Carr
  10. Sylvie and Bruno by Lewis Carroll
  11. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  12. The Shutter of Snow by Emily Holmes Coleman
  13. Family Roundabout by Richmal Crompton
  14. Zofloya by Charlotte Dacre
  15. The Diary of a Provincial Lady by R M Delafield
  16. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  17. Marianna by Monica Dickens
  18. Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevky
  19. The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas
  20. The Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones
  21. The Brontes Went To Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson
  22. Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary by Ruby Ferguson
  23. Crossriggs by Jane & Mary Findlater
  24. The Home-maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  25. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
  26. The Magic Goblet by Emilie Flygarde-Carlen
  27. The Coquette by Hannah W Foster
  28. Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons
  29. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  30. The Horseman on the roof by Jean Giono
  31. The Odd Woman by George Gissing
  32. Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden
  33. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  34. Just Like Tomorrow by Faiza Guene
  35. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
  36. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
  37. The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall
  38. Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sea by Patrick Hamilton
  39. The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
  40. The Ghostwriter by John Harwood
  41. Ursula Under by Ingrid Hill
  42. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  43. A Hollow Crown by Helen Hollick
  44. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  45. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  46. A Simple Story by Elizabeth Inchbold
  47. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  48. The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins
  49. My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen
  50. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  51. Day by A L Kennedy
  52. The Princess of Cleves by Madame de Lafayette
  53. Longing by J D Landis
  54. The Victorian Chaise Longue by Marghanita Laski
  55. Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann
  56. The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox
  57. The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam by Lauren Liebenberg
  58. The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay
  59. The Silent Duchess by Dacia Maraini
  60. Deerbrook by Harriet Martineau
  61. The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham
  62. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
  63. Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
  64. The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow
  65. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
  66. As Music and Splendour by Kate O'Brien
  67. The World is not Enough by Zoe Oldenbourg
  68. Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill
  69. The Quincunx by Charles Palliser
  70. One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes
  71. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
  72. Manon Lescaut by Abbe Prevost
  73. Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
  74. Cullum by E Arnot Robertson
  75. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  76. Dissolution by C J Sansom
  77. Blindness by Jose Saramango
  78. Alfred and Guinevere by James Schuyler
  79. Katherine by Anya Seton
  80. The Hopkins Manuscript by R C Sherriff
  81. The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver
  82. The Far Cry by Emma Smith
  83. Summer in February by Jonathan Smith
  84. Loitering With Intent by Muriel Spark
  85. Saplings by Noel Streatfield
  86. Palladian by Elizabeth Taylor
  87. The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey
  88. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery
  89. Popco by Scarlett Thomas
  90. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  91. He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope
  92. Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  93. Cress Delahanty by Jessamyn West
  94. Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple
  95. Sudden Rain by Maritta Wolff
  96. One Way of Loving by Gamel Woolsey
  97. The Daisy Chain by Charlotte M Yonge
  98. Miss Mole by E H Young
  99. The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola
  100. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Wish me luck!

Infinite Summer

I don't know if anyone else here reads The Morning News, but I thought I remembered some talk around here about reading David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" and this announcement caught my eye.

This summer TMN is co-sponsoring the ultimate book club event of the year: Infinite Summer, in which readers will tackle—to the last footnote—David Foster Wallace’s literary monolith, Infinite Jest. The reading doesn’t begin until June 21, so there’s still time to pick up your own copy. Our own Matthew Baldwin and Kevin Guilfoile are among the expert guides.
Happy Friday, everyone!

Stats Update - Woot!

An Update on Statistics: The First 1000 Books

Apologies for the delay on reporting any stats....May was an interesting Month for me, lots of time sinks, hardly and reading at all, and culminating in what I *thought* might have been a broken foot...but (thankfully) is not. (Still hurts like the dickens, though!)

I have been working on stats, but there's an incredible amount of data and it needs a lot of cleaning up: some folks didn't put authors on their list and I'm having to track down the ones for books I don't know. Some folks listed author names as First then Last, others the opposite...and to do any meaningful sort of the data, I've got to make sure that each entry is entered the same. The same type of thing is occurring for book titles: Some folks put titles with "The" in them with the "The" at the beginning, others dropped the "The."[Also: there's an incredible number of incorrect book titles on the list!]

Not complaining, just explaining! :)

So....keeping in mind that these numbers will more than likely change as I clean up the remaining data, here's what I've got for the first 1000 books on our list. This is 1000 unique books...starting with the letter "A" and ending partially in the letter "L."

The original number of entries was 5,137. This included any list entered on the blog up until April 29, 2009.

By sorting out the duplicates in the first 1000 books (in alphabetical order) we've reduced the actual unique entries by over 1040. So, my "total list" is down to about 4,300 items. This number will be further reduced as I match up the author/title records of entries beyond number 1000.

Here's what I have so far:

Entry number 666 is Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. (I thought this was funny.)

The number one book "to be read" in the first 1000: Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy (14 people want to read it)

Second Place book is a three-way tie: Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury), David Copperfield (Charles Dickens) and Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh). 13 people want to read these books.

Third place is shared by eight books: Bleak House (Charles Dickens), Crime And Punishment (Fyodor Dostoeveky), Catch-22 (Joseph Heller), Lady Chatterley’s Lover (D.H. Lawrence), Atonement (Ian McEwan), Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell), Beloved (Toni Morrison) and East of Eden (John Steinbeck). 12 people want to read each of these.

There are 746 unique reads on the list for the first 1000.

The author with the most requested books in the first 1000 is Ernest Hemingway (8). William Shakespeare, with 7, comes in a close second. Charles Dickens and Neil Gaiman both have 6 requested books (two of Gaiman's are co-authored.). Jorge Luis Borges, William Faulkner and Stephen King each have 5 requested books.

There are 35 books on the list with a number in its title. The list doesn't contain any books with "Book 1" or "Volume 2" in the title. Nor does it contain any books with the word "number" in the title, such as: Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers, by Betty Toole. Here is the list:

1984, Orwell, George
2666, Belano, Roberto
10 Short Stories, Pritchett, V.S.
100 Years of Solitude, Marquez, Gabriel Garcia
13 Little Blue Envelopes, Johnson, Maureen
13 stories, Welty, Eudora
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Verne, Jules
2001: A Space Odyssey, Clarke, Arthur C.
28 Stories of AIDS in Africa, Nolen, Stephanie
60 Stories, Barthelme, Donald
700 Sundays, Crystal, Billy
84, Charing Cross Road, Hanff, Helene
A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters Barnes, Julian
A Million Little Pieces, Frey, James
A Tale of Two Cities Dickens, Charles
A Thousand Acres Smiley, Jane
A Thousand Splendid Suns Hosseini, Khalad
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers Li, Yiyun
A Widow for One Year, Irving, John
Around the World in Eighty Days, Verne, Jules
Across Five Aprils, Hunt, Irene
At Swim-Two-Birds, O'Brien, Flann
Attack of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster, McLaughlin, Mark & McCarty, Michael
Bat 6,Wolff, Virginia
Butterfield 8, O'Hara, John
Catch-22, Heller, Joseph
Child 44, Smith, Tom Rob
Die 13 1/2 Leben des Kapt'n Blaubar, Moers, Walter
Fahrenheit 451,Bradbury, Ray
Fever, 1793, Anderson, Laurie Halse
Fifteen Legs, Silva, Bonnie
Four Past Midnight, King, Stephen
Henry V, Shakespeare, William
Henvry VIII,S hakespeare, William
La Storia ; Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience, Mangione, Jerre & Morreale, Ben

As for ourselves...

Goedi has the most unique list, with 43 books on it no one else wants to read. Krista has the second most unique with 35. Leslie comes in third with 30.

Edit: Adding a written "wink, wink" here as I didn't mean to offend anyone by implying that no one else anywhere (!) wants to read their choices.

The most "paired up" lists are Me (Kelly) and Moonrat who share 7 books (I'm not surprised there, because I did start-off using Moonie's list to begin with. The second-most paired are Becky and Melissa with 3 books. There are scads of books which two people share. (Note, Kelly and Moonrat, as well as Becky and Melissa share more than this number between them...this is just the number of unique pairings.)

There are no groups of three or more people who share more than 1 book between them.

Is there anything else anyone wants to know? I personally am dying to see how many Hugo Winners are on the list...as well as Pulitzers, Newberrys, etc. That portion will have to come with a little help from y'all...

Once I get the list sanitized, I'll post it on line so that we can add winning prizes and such (If the people who *know* add that info, it will save the rest of us a lot of time looking it up.) I'd also like to add a column in the DB for "Who's Read this Book?" to see how many we've actually read collectively.

Anything else?