Thursday, April 30, 2009

Complete List of Books...

I've posted the list here as an html file. (Opens in a new window...)

You'll see there's much cleaning up to do...and I intend to do some (all?) this weekend....particularly where authors are concerned: some are listed last name first, some the other way around. (And we can't do an author sort or run author stats until that's fixed!) Lines are missing from the table, because excel doesn't add them to empty cells when you convert to HTML. Sorry, I wasn't coding this by hand! =)

There are columns for Awards and Genre because some folk had entered that on their lists. I'd be interested in seeing those columns fleshed out - just to see what kind of stats we'd get. I'll do some of that when I clean up the list...but I may need some help because there are some books I've just never heard of. (More than "some" actually! =) )

Does anyone know of a way that we can share the spreadsheet on line so that anyone could contribute? (I don't mind emailing files....but surely there's a better way?)

Finally....I want to thank Amanda for sending over her excel files to start with and for offering to help. And I want to thank Linda, Jen C, and the mysterious "M" for volunteering to help as well.... (Your time will come!) =)

Is anyone interested in keeping tally of when books are read? I admit I'm curious...but I can't begin to think how to organize that for the list. Perhaps if we can get folks to update a sharable list?

Off to write!


finished: MIDDLESEX, Jeffrey Eugenides

Awesome read. (Someone on my blog told me the word "awesome" was retired in the early 90s; guess I never got the memo.)

Anyone else read it?

Anyway, here's my review.

Alyce, Book Review, *Suzanne Collins, *The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 2008
ISBN: 978-0439023481
384 Pages
Young Adult Fiction (Hardcover)

Summary (from the publisher):

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before -- and survival.

This is my first book for the Fill in the Gaps 100 Project. This review was originally published on my book blog, At Home With Books.

My Opinion:

The Hunger Games is one of those books that everyone else has been raving about, and I am joining their ranks. It was a fast paced and intense read that will hold your attention throughout. I was in suspense while reading, wondering if Katniss was going to survive, and whether or not her friend Peeta really loved her or if he was just using her to stay alive.

The kids who fight in the games are called tributes, and their ages range from twelve up through the late teens. It is somewhat disturbing reading about these kids chasing each other around trying to kill each other, especially since their game mimics modern day reality shows in everything but the killings.

It really made me take a step back and think about the reality shows on television - the horrible things that people live through on shows like Survivor, and how the producers of the show manipulate things (like food, awards, living conditions) to make the show more exciting. Even though participation in today's shows is voluntary and there is no killing involved, I think the voyeurism of the audiences in the book is reflective of viewers today and their love for "reality" television. It really makes you think about the ethical limits for manipulating "reality."

The Hunger Games is disturbing in much the same way as Lord of the Flies by William Golding, yet I enjoyed it much more because Katniss's initial motives are selfless. She only enters the competition in order to save her sister's life.

The nice thing about this story is that it is a young adult novel. So even though the kids do fight and kill each other, the images portrayed are not overly gruesome in detail.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who likes: an exciting read, reality television, post-apocalyptic stories, Lord of the Flies, or the short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

The Hunger Games is the first book in a series. The second book, Catching Fire, releases September 1, 2009.

Rating: 5/5

Author Information:

For information about the author and her books, please visit her website.

eBook Reading on the Rise

I recently came across a very interesting survey about the reading of e-books being on the rise. It's an academic survey, but I can't help feeling like the findings translate (or will soon) to recreational reading.

You can read about it here on my blog. (This will open in a new window.)

I enjoy reading e-books - a lot. In fact, I'm going to be reading Middlemarch electronically, via

There was a time (not too long ago actually) when if you'd asked me if I enjoyed reading electronically, I'd have told you, "no way." I just loved being surrounded by my (thousands of) books.

I still love my books, although I'm willing to part with a few these days...but the convenience of carrying several around with me at a time has been really eye-opening.

How about you?


Mercedes Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs

I only had three of these books on my list, because at the times I was unaware that there were four. I have finished all four and written about them at my blog.

So that's three off my list and I buy Silver Phoenix today and start reading it. Yes, I am going to finish To Kill a Mockingbird. I am. I am. I am.

Project Fill-in-the-Gaps

1. Underworld - Don DeLillo
2. Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
3. The Mountains of Madness - HP Lovecraft
4. The Jungle - Upton Sinclair
5. The Jungle Books - Rudyard Kipling
6. Peace - Gene Wolfe
7. The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter
8. Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
9. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
10. Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen
11. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
12. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
13. The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula LeGuin
14. The Dispossessed - Ursula LeGuin
15. The Odyssey - Homer
16. Iliad - Homer
17. The Complete Plays - Christopher Marlowe
18. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
19. Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway
20. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
21. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
22. A Swiftly Tilting Planet - Madeleine L'Engle
23. A Wind in the Door - Madeleine L'Engle
24. Many Waters - Madeleine L'Engle
25. Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy
26. All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy
27. The Crossing - Cormac McCarthy
28. Cities of the Plain - Cormac McCarthy
29. The Essential Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe - Edgar Allen Poe
30. The Golden Ass - Apulieus
31. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
32. The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon
33. The Yiddish Policeman's Union - Michael Chabon
34. Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury
35. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
36. Marathon Man - William Goldberg
37. Friends of Pancho Villa - James Carlos Blake
38. Master and Commander - Patrick O'Doyle
39. The Stranger - Max Frei
40. The Greek Myths Vol. 1 - Robert Graves
41. The Greek Myths Vol 2 - Robert Graves
42. Watchmen - Alan Moore
43. Little Big - John Crowley
44. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell - Susanna Clarke
45. The Sheltering Sky - Paul Bowles
46. The Female Man - Joanna Russ
47. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
48. Grendel - John Gardner
49. Lush Life - Richard Price (read)
50. American Tabloid - James Ellroy
51. The Maltese Falcon _ Dashiell Hammet
52. The Wolfman - Nicholas Pekearo
53. Perfect Circle - Sean Stewart
54. Daughter of Hounds - Caitlin Kiernen
55. Low Red Moon - Caitlin Kiernen
56. Paradise Lost- John Milton
57. Dante's Inferno - Dante
58. Lud-in-the-Mist - Hope Mirrlees
59. Daemonmania - John Crowley
60. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales - Brothers Grimm
61. The Wizard of Oz -L. Frank Baum
62. The Turn of the Screw - Henry James
63. Beowulf
64. The Aeneid - Virgil
65. Portrait of a Lady - Henry James
66. The Mutual Friend - Frederick Busch
67. One Thousand and One Arabian Nights - Various
68. Glass Soup - Jonathan Carroll
69. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
70. The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories - Jeffrey Ford
71. Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
72. Perdido Street Station - China Mieville
73. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 1 - Arthur Conan Doyle
74. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol 2. - Arthur Conan Doyle
75. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
76. House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
77. Persuasion - Jane Austen
78. The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing
79. The Good Terrorist - Doris Lessing
80. Summerland - Michael Chabon
81. Werewolves in Their Youth - Michael Chabon
82. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
83. Rebecca - Daphne De Maurier
84. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
85. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
86. The Somnambulist - Jonathan Barnes
87. The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Charles Dickens
88. Drood - Dan Simmons
89. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne
90. The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
91. Anno Dracula - Kim Newman
92. House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski
93. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
94. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
95. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
96. 1984 - George Orwell
97. Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
98. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke
99. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
100. Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Statistical Update!

I have finished compiling "The List!"

I will post it when I have more time, probably tomorrow. However, I wanted to give a quick update to let everyone know that progress is being made.

This is a raw list with all readers and their choices. Consequently, there are many duplicates of books. If someone listed an author, but no title, I listed "TBD" in the "book" spot. I did the same for those who said, "next five Pulitzers" (or other prize) - so that at least we had numbers to work with.

Unless I've miscalculated, we have 52 lists posted, giving us a potential of 5200 books. The list has 5,137 books listed, for an average of 98.7 designated "reads" per poster.

I reserve the right to update the next statistic because the list needs to be cleaned up (the horrors of cut and paste from HTML into Excel!), but at first sort, the number one book to be read on the list is:

Middlemarch, by George Eliot! Nineteen people have chosen to read it.

The two runners-up on the list are Lolita (Nabakov) and Rebecca (Du Maurier). Sixteen people each want to read these two books.

I had help and many offers of help to compile the list...but their names are trapped in my mailbox. I thank them here...and will list them later when I can get to my mail.

More later!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Many Apologies!

I'm sorry guys. I'm not sure why my default is this blog. I got the "link" drop downbox down pat but I tried to do a widget on my person blog and it just posted to the top blog (which by default is this one somehow). I didn't even know where it went (it wasn't a copy and paste it just automatically sent it to your blog) and figured it was in la-la land. I just happened to come here and see it. OOPS! That wasn't intentional and I promise I'm not trying to use this blog for personal gains. SERIOUSLY. Many, many apologies smothered in embarassment.

Your technology-challenged idiot blogger pal,

The Biblio Brat's List


J.C. Montgomery's List
Cross-Posted on The Biblio Blogazine

To Be Read:

Allende, Isabel
-- Portrait In Sepia (Diversity)
-- Daughter of Fortune (Diversity)
Angelou, Maya
-- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Banned/Challenged)
Atwood, Margaret
-- Alias Grace (1001 Book)
-- The Blind Assassin (Man Booker Prize 2000)
Ackerman, Diane
-- The Zookeeper’s Wife (Notable Book 2008)
Bellow, Saul
-- Humboldt’s Gift (Pulitzer Winner 1976)
Boyne, John
-- The Boy In the Striped Pajamas (Notable Book 2007)
Brookner, Anita
-- Hotel du Lac (Man Booker Prize 1984)
Buck, Pearl S.
-- The Good Earth (Pulitzer Winner 1932)
-- Pavilion of Women
Cather, Willa
-- My Antonia (Western Canon)
-- One of Ours (Pulitzer Winner 1923)
Cervantes, Miguel
-- Don Quixote (Classics)
Chabon, Michael
-- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Pulitzer Winner 2001)
-- The Yiddish Policeman’s Union (Notable Book 2008)
Chekhov, Anton
-- The Cherry Orchard (Literature I should read)
Chopin, Kate
-- The Awakening (1001 Book)
Coehlo, Paulo
-- The Devil and Miss Prym (1001 Book)
Cunningham, Michael
-- The Hours (Pulitzer Winner 1999)
Díaz, Junot
-- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Pulitzer Winner 2008)
Dillard, Annie
-- The Maytrees (Notable Book 2007)
Dreiser, Theodore
-- Sister Carrie (Literature I should read)
Egan, Jennifer
-- A Visit From The Goon Squad (Pulitzer 2011)
Erdrich, Louise
-- The Plague of Doves (Notable Book 2008)
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
-- The Great Gatsby (Western Canon)
Ford, Richard
-- Independence Day (Pulitzer Winner 1996)
Faulkner, William
-- As I Lay Dying (Banned/Challenged)
-- The Sound and the Fury
Frazier, Charles
-- Cold Mountain (National Book Award)
French, Tana
-- The Likeness (Notable Book 2008)
Gibbons, Kaye
-- Ellen Foster (Modern Classic)
Guterson, David
-- Snow Falling On Cedars (Banned/Challenged)
Paul Harding-- Tinkers (Pulitzer Winner, 2010)
Hemingway, Ernest
-- A Farewell To Arms (Banned/Challenged)
-- The Sun Also Rises (Banned/Challenged)
Hill, Joe
-- Heart-Shaped Box (Notable Book 2007)
Hosseini, Khaled
-- A Thousand Splendid Suns (Banned/Challenged)
Hurston, Zora Neale
-- Their Eyes Were Watching God (Banned/Challenged)
Ishiguro, Kazuo
-- The Remains of the Day (Man Booker Prize 1989)
-- The Unconsoled (1001 Book)
-- When We Were Orphans (Notable Book 2000)
Johnson, Denis
-- Tree of Smoke (National Book Award)
Jones, Edward P.
-- The Known World (Pulitzer Winner 2004)
Kafka, Franz
-- The Metamorphosis (Classic)
Kantor, MacKinlay
-- Andersonville (Pulitzer Winner 1956)
Kincaid, Jamaica
-- Annie John (1001 Book)
Kingsolver, Barbara
-- The Poisonwood Bible (1001 Book)
Lahiri, Jhumpa
-- The Namesake (1001 B00k)
Lawrence, D.H.
-- Women In Love (Banned/Challenged)
Lippman, Laura
-- What the Dead Know (Notable Book 2007)
Lurie, Alison
-- Foreign Affairs (Pulitzer Winner 1985)
Márquez, Gabriel García
-- One Hundred Years of Solitude (Banned/Challenged)
-- Love In the Time of Cholera (Banned/Challenged)
McCourt, Frank
-- Angela’s Ashes (Pulitzer for Biography)
McEwan, Ian
-- Atonement (1001 Book)
McMurtry, Larry
-- Lonesome Dove (Pulitzer Winner 1986)
Morrison, Toni
-- Beloved (Pulitzer Winner 1988)
Nabokov, Vladimir
-- Lolita (Banned/Challenged)
Oates, Joyce Carol
-- The Falls (Prix Femina Étranger Award 2005)
-- We Were The Mulvaneys (A Must Read Author)
-- The Gravedigger’s Daughter (A Must Read Author)
Patchett, Ann
-- Bel Canto (PEN/Faulkner 2002)
-- Run (Notable Book 2007)
Porter, Katherine Ann
-- Pale Horse, Pale Rider (Classic)
-- Ship of Fools (Classic)
Pratchett, Terry
-- Nation (Notable Book 2008)
Proulx, E. Annie
-- The Shipping News (Pulitzer Winner 1994)
Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan
-- The Yearling (Pulitzer Winner 1939)
Roth, Philip
-- American Pastoral (Notable Book 2007)
-- Exit Ghost (Pulitzer Winner 1998)
-- The Human Stain (1001 Book)
Russo, Richard
-- Empire Falls (Pulitzer Winner 2002)
-- Bridge of Sighs (Notable Book 2007)
Stout, Elizabeth
-- Olive Kitteridge (Pulitzer Winner 2009)
Styron, William
-- Sophie’s Choice (National Book Award)
Taylor, D.J.
-- Kept (Notable Book 2007)
Tinti, Hannah
-- The Good Thief (Notable Book 2008)
Ulinich, Anya
-- Petropolis (Notable Book 2007)
Updike, John
-- Rabbit, Run (1001 Book)
Walker, Alice
-- The Color Purple (Pulitzer Winner 1983)
Waugh, Evelyn
-- Brideshead Revisited (1001 Book)
Wharton, Edith
-- The Age of Innocence (1001 Book)
Wiggins, Marianne
-- The Shadow Catcher (Notable Book 2007)
Wroblewski, David
-- The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (Notable Book 2008)
Xingjian, Gao
-- Soul Mountain (Nobel Winner 2000)
2012 Pulitzer Winner2013 Pulitzer Winner2014 Pulitzer Winner

Books Read:
001. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor -- Notes From the Underground
002. Shelley, Mary -- Frankenstein
003. Esquivel, Laura -- Like Water For Chocolate
004. Eugenides, Jeffrey -- Middlesex
005. Kesey, Ken -- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
006. Bolano, Roberto -- The Savage Detectives
007. Bronte, Emily -- Wuthering Heights
008. McCullers, Carson -- The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (DNF)
009. Austen, Jane -- Pride and Prejudice
010. Capote, Truman -- Breakfast at Tiffany’s
011. Atwood, Margaret -- The Handmaid’s Tale 
012. Gaiman, Neil -- The Graveyard Book
013. Hemingway, Ernest -- The Old Man and the Sea

Nancy, Book Review, *I Am The Messenger, *Markus Zusack

I read this book a month or so before starting The Project, but included it (and a couple of others) on my list on the strength of my First Rule #1:
Because I am so afraid of failing, that I can’t bear to start without having already started, I hereby roll the dates around a bit from 1 January, 2009 to 31 December 2014. Ok, that’s dumb. I know it is; fudging in four months like that.

Motivated by my Third Rule #1:
I’ll write and post a review for each book I read.
I'm coming up for air to write reviews (or in this case, paraphrase and link) because I'd like to cross a something off The List.

So, without further blah blah, my review of 'I Am The Messenger' by Markus Zusack.

I Am The Messenger cover photoSitting at my kitchen table with a glass of wine, I wandered along with Ed Kennedy, an underage taxi driver and his argumentative friend Marv as they get drawn into a hilariously snarky quarrel about the use and abuse of Marv’s ancient blue Falcon. The car in question is illegally parked outside the same bank where Ed and Marv, and Ed’s best friend (with whom he is hopelessly in love) Audrey are lying face down on the floor. The robber is pretty small time: “useless” is, I believe the word that Ed uses in the first sentence, and that turns out to be his doom.

Ed Kennedy, no matter what he thinks of himself, is orders of magnitude more useful than than this bank robber. The author spends the rest of this charming book proving that to both the reader and to Ed himself.

Some days later, an envelope containing three addresses written on the back of a playing card is delivered. No instructions. Just three addresses on the Ace of Diamonds. What would you do if this happened to you? Right-oh, that's what Ed did too. He didn't sleep at all that night, and after a lot of thinking about it no one he knew seemed a likely suspect. In the morning he got up and went out on foot with The Doorman and a street map to find the addresses on the card.

All in all - two thumbs up, five stars and I'll read it again someday.

Full review including my favorite character, my favorite sentence, and my favorite assignment is here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Steven, Book Review, *J. M. Coetzee, *Waiting for the Barbarians

My first book for this challenge could be one of the very best. Waiting for the Barbarians is a brief but unforgettable novel about the corrosive effects of power. The setting is a remote fortified frontier settlement on the western fringe of a nameless and imaginary Empire. The narrator is the Magistrate who presides over this peaceful and unassuming community. He is a thoughtful man of mild temperament, enjoying fine foods and an occasional evening with a local prostitute.

The Magistrate's placid life is forever changed by the arrival of Colonel Joll, an agent of the imperial police, with several captives. The prisoners are barbarians, people who live beyond the Empire's western border. To the Magistrate the barbarians have always been a people of interest as potential trading partners, but Joll represents the new official policy that the barbarians are a threat to the Empire and are to be treated as enemies. Joll brutally tortures his captives, and begins insidiously to turn the townspeople towards his view of the barbarians as subhuman beasts whose only desire is to kill and plunder. Eventually the people joyfully take part in the torture of captives, even children taking their turns bludgeoning barbarians in the town square. The Magistrate alone attempts to stop the tortures and the punitive expeditions into the desert. He even takes a captive barbarian girl, now crippled from Joll's abuses, into his house in an attempt to expiate his nation's collective sins.

As one might imagine, Waiting for the Barbarians is a brutal story with graphic descriptions of violence and suffering. It is also a timeless allegory. While the novel may have been inspired by apartheid in Coetzee's native South Africa, one can't avoid disturbing thoughts about America's waterboarding controversy. But Coetzee's message is a more general one. Near the end of the novel the Magistrate reflects upon his inability, not just to live a simple day-to-day live, but even to understand those who do:

"What has made it impossible for us to live in time like fish in water, like birds in air, like children? It is the fault of Empire! Empire has created the time of history. Empire has located its existence not in the smooth recurrent spinning time of the cycle of the seasons but in the jagged time of rise and fall, of beginning and end, of catastrophe. Empire dooms itself to live in history and plot against history. One thought alone preoccupies the submerged mind of Empire: how not to end, how not to die, how to prolong its era. By day it pursues its enemies.... By night it feeds on images of disaster."

This is very thoughtful stuff. As citizens of a great empire, are we not only trapped in its historical paradigm, but doomed to project that paradigm into our own lives? Is it our birthright to be incapable of enjoying our day-to-day lives, free from conflict and free from the cloud of worry about the future?

Hello Ello 2: Contest to Win an Autographed Copy of the Silver Phoenix!!!

Hello Ello 2: Contest to Win an Autographed Copy of the Silver Phoenix!!!

Excel Spreadsheet

Is anyone else obsessed with Excel spreadsheets? I make them for just about anything. So of course, I have made one to keep my progress with my 100 books up to date. Here's a link to it, in case you want to use it yourself:

Fill in the Gaps Project Excel Spreadsheet

It updates automatically, so it's really easy. Plus, it's kinda pretty ;)


The Red Queen - Margaret Drabble

I'm about halfway through The Red Queen, and I'm really enjoying it. (You know a book is good when it makes a train ride go much faster!). If it wasn't for silly things like work, uni and sleep I'm sure I would have finished it by now, I'm so drawn in!

Has anyone else read it?

We hit 50 lists!

Has anyone else noticed? If I'm counting the sidebar correctly, we now have fifty book lists here. I think that's fantastic. There are so many interesting posts I can't keep up with them all. Thanks again to everyone posting their reviews (I haven't written a single one but I've been enjoying all of yours!), and compiling statistics both old and new. You have definitely inspired me to take my own reading even more seriously.

Apart from the fiction titles I'm reading for this challenge, I'm also reading The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and she describes how common it was for people in the late 1700s and 1800s (ladies especially-- but also the independent-minded men) to take their self-education seriously. Bauer quotes advice from Thomas Jefferson to his nephew, Randolph, to skip university lectures (largely "a waste of time") and read independently instead -- a proper use for "chasms of time not otherwise appropriated."

Bauer herself adds that all you need, in addition to the books, are "a congenial friend or two who can talk to you about your reading..." Thanks to members of this blog for being that congenial group.

Finished #2, The Member of the Wedding

I'm reading these a little more slowly than some of you, I think, because I'm reading other books in between! But I have finished the second book on my list, The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. I feel that I have to confess here that I adore Southern literature, and I've been hooked on McCullers since I read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter in 10th grade. This book was phenomenal. 5 out of 5 stars. McCullers just has this way of making you feel the characters emotions so close and personal that they might as well be your own...all the more impressive with the main characters is a preteen girl, and you haven't felt that way yourself in 20 or more years. I wrote a longer review of it over at my blog, Corrodentia Weekly, and also on GoodReads, if you're interested. I just got back from a trip out of town, so I did three book reviews in one post on my blog - look for the last book in the post to see my review of this one.

Up next is Middlemarch, as I'll be joining the Middlemay group to read this. First, though, I have to finish Eat, Pray, Love and then for my book club, I have to read The Graveyard Book. Whew!

Comments and Statistics

I was going to reply to the one comment made on my list, then decided it might be worthwhile just to blurt it to everyone. (Hi Moonrat! Thanks for commenting! :) )

One of the reasons I chose someone else's list to start with when I started compiling my list is because there are so many other authors that people are passionate about (or at least passionate about wanting to read) that I've never even heard of - or never considered reading before - because they're outside my comfortable reading zone. And even though I was using this challenge to fill in the gaps of my classics/Hugo/Nebula/etc. knowledge...I knew I wanted to read some books that, given an option, I wouldn't even read the title of, let alone the jacket cover. [There are just some aisles I never even walk down when I visit the book store...]

Thank you all for posting such really kewl lists!

That being said....I've started compiling a second list of 100 books, because it's clear my education won't be complete, even with 100. I'm really enjoying the reviews (which I'm using to populate this second 100 list). I only hope that mine turn out to be as informative as the ones I've already read.

Someone mentioned early on in one of the comments that they would like to see some statistics on the books. I've actually started doing that...although people keep adding lists and my spreadsheet is getting LONG. :) Is anyone else compiling statistics? If not, I'll be happy to share...but if anyone else were compiling, I didn't want to reinvent the wheel (and I'll probably stop). Here are the things I was going to look at:
  • Total number of books (since there's a lot of overlap)
  • Book which is on the most lists
  • Books which only one person chose to read (it might be interesting to see *why* those books were chosen at some point)
  • A running statistic (perhaps weekly?) of the number of books which have been read
  • Maybe some individual statistics on books which a lot of people are reading (% of people who liked it, who didn't etc.)
I'm open to computing other numbers of folk have some suggestions. (For instance, it would be GREAT to show the stats on fiction vs. non-fic vs. literary vs. SciFi, etc. I've started adding genre info to my spreadsheet, but there are just too many books I don't know where to if anyone's interested I may ask for help...) anyone else interested in statistics?

My Web Site:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Jenna's 100 List

I've just spent the last couple of hours compiling my list. It was a lot harder than I thought! I had to cull some books that probably deserved to be on the list more than others, but I am happy with the final product. (And I just had to add Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to the list! No, not a classic, but such a quirky concept that I couldn't pass it up!).

I used the "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die" list for inspiration. Many are classics that I really should have read a long time ago. Some are ones I'm not too familiar with but that had outstanding reviews and big literary awards to their names. This is pretty much in random order, except I put the Tolstoy at the top because I will be reading that first...

1. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
2. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
3. Austerlitz – W.G. Sebald
4. White Teeth – Zadie Smith
5. Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
6. The Red Queen – Margaret Drabble
7. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
8. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – Jamie Ford
9. Atonement – Ian McEwan
10. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
11. Amsterdam – Ian McEwan
12. Silk – Alessandro Baricco
13. Cocaine Nights – J.G. Ballard
14. The Master – Colm Tóibín
15. Schooling – Heather McGowan
16. Drop City – T. Coraghessan Boyle
17. Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
18. Prodigal Summer – Barbara Kingsolver
19. Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
20. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt
21. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury
22. Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
23. Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
24. The Book of Illusions – Paul Auster
25. Blonde – Joyce Carol Oates
26. The Crow Road – Iain Banks
27. Cloudsplitter – Russell Banks
28. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle – David Wroblewski
29. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
30. Underworld – Don DeLillo
31. Beloved – Toni Morrison
32. The Life of Insects – Victor Pelevin
33. American Pastoral – Philip Roth
34. Great Apes – Will Self
35. The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
36. Mr. Vertigo – Paul Auster
37. The Reader – Bernhard Schlink
38. The Clay Machine-Gun – Victor Pelevin
39. City Sister Silver – Jàchym Topol
40. The Pigeon – Patrick Süskind
41. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
42. Possession – A.S. Byatt
43. Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco
44. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
45. Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez
46. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
47. Night Watch - Sergei Lukyanenko
48. Rabbit is Rich – John Updike
49. Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
50. The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
51. Delta of Venus – Anaïs Nin
52. Misery - Stephen King
53. The Shining – Stephen King
54. The Wild Boys – William Burroughs
55. The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles
56. Ada – Vladimir Nabokov
57. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
58. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
59. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
60. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
61. The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein – Marguerite Duras
62. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
63. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
64. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
65. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
66. Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
67. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
68. The Rebel – Albert Camus
69. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
70. The Labyrinth of Solitude – Octavio Paz
71. Between the Acts – Virginia Woolf
72. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
73. Farewell My Lovely – Raymond Chandler
74. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
75. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
76. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
77. Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
78. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
79. Red Harvest – Dashiell Hammett
80. Les Enfants Terribles – Jean Cocteau
81. To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
82. The Counterfeiters – André Gide
83. The Trial – Franz Kafka
84. The Garden Party – Katherine Mansfield
85. Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
86. Ulysses – James Joyce
87. The Return of the Soldier – Rebecca West
88. The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
89. Dracula – Bram Stoker
90. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
91. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
92. Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
93. The Marble Faun – Nathaniel Hawthorne
94. Villette – Charlotte Brontë
95. Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell
96. Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell
97. Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë
98. The Count of Monte-Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
99. Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
100. Candide – Voltaire

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

First, a confession: I am a HUGE fan of Brett Easton Ellis. No one, and I mean no one, does a better job portraying young people's ennui and depression and angst.

Given that, with the exceptions of American Psycho, Glamorama, and Lunar Park, his stories are plotless wonders. Along with Jay McInerny, Donna Tartt is one of BEE's contemporaries; indeed, the characters (and the authors themselves) flow readily through all of this literary ratpack's stories. The Secret History is one of those books I'd always wanted to read, so I plopped the title on my List of 50. A yardsale last weekend netted me the book for a mere quarter, so let's get to it...

"Does such a thing as 'the fatal flaw,' that showy dark crack running down the middle of a life, exist outside literature? I used to think it didn't. Now I think it does. And I think that mine is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at all costs."

So starts Richard Papen's tale about a year spent at an elite liberal arts college in isolated Vermont. A working-class transplant from Plano, California, Richard soon becomes one of a small, close-knit group of unusual students tutored in the classical literature and language under the tutelage of the erudite and mysterious Julian. In the story, Richard reflects on the situations and events that led to a murder within the group of six students.The novel explores the circumstances and consequences of his murder on each of the characters. The impact of the murder of the surviving students is ultimately destructive.

The Secret History sucked me in, first on the strenght of the prose. Tartt writes densely, yet concisely, her voice is poetic in places, mirroring the classic education that immeresed the characters. And the characters are the second hook: Henry, the aloof, brilliant intellectual leader; Francis, the beautiful, sexually conflicted man; the twins Charles and Camilla, inextricably intertwined; Bunny, the insecure and needy victim; and Richard, the narrator who seeks absolute beauty in his flight from the coarseness of Plano. These are characters not easily forgotten.

Sex, drugs, debauchery, and violence weave through the story, oblique rather than explicit, a subtle contrast to Ellis' work. The characters and their actions waver on the edge of unbelievable, but Tartt manages to make all seem quite plausible. On a deeper level, the story follows a plotline similar to that of a Greek tragedy; indeed, literary references and allusions litter the story, often to distraction. The themse are classic as well: allusion of beauty versus reality, societal constraints versus complete freedom sans mores and conscience, relationships in a social context versus private relations.

The story started slowly, then dragged me in with talons. I carried the book with me everywhere, to the annoyance of my family. But then, about 100 pages from the end, the book sputtered to a slow, yawning finish. The epilogue ruined the story for me; a hasty recap of 'where are they now'?

In sum, a worthwhile read, but get comfortable before cracking the spine; at nearly 600 pages, it is not quick read. Peace, Linda

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Glengarry Glen Ross Review

Ya gotta love reading plays.
I just need to make a note to myself not to expect quite so much from the dialogue in a novel. (Ah, what the hell, let’s just say many novels fall short in the dialogue department.)
For example:
A: You haven’t talked to him.
M: No. What do you mean? Have I talked to him
about this? (Pause.)
A: Yes. I mean are you actually talking about this, or are we just…
M: No, we’re just…
A: We’re just “talking” about it.
M: We’re just speaking about it. (Pause.) As an idea.
A: As an idea.
M: Yes.
A: We’re not actually talking about it.
M: No.
A: Talking about it as a…
M. No.

But of course they are talking about it as more than an idea. (What “it” is you’ll just have to find out by reading – or watching.)
Because of course we’re never just talking about what our words denote.
The play was first performed in 1983, so the parallels to our time seem worth pointing out: it deals with desperate real-estate salesmen at a point when the market is drying up.
At first I thought it was an updated “Death of a Salesman,” but it turned out to be more fun than just that. The first act is made up of three scenes that get interwoven nicely in the second act (which is one scene).
I’ll leave you with this:
And if security concerns me, I do that which today I think will make me secure. And every day I do that, when that day arrives that I need a reserve, (a) odds are that I have it, and (b) the true reserve that I have is the strength that I have of acting each day without fear.

In true irony, this turns out to be a sales pitch. Good stuff.

Aerin's List

Although I planned on doing this when Moonie first discussed it, I've only now gotten myself together and actually made the list.  I received a few recommendations, but mostly I chose books based on the fill-in-the-gap principle.  These are books I think I should have read, and not necessarily classics or popular works.   Because the limit was 100, I purposely excluded nonfiction (though I need still to replace Foucault).  And now I need a drink.  Honestly.  Who knew the list itself would take several hours to compile??

Adams, Richard.  Watership Down    
Alcott, Louisa May.  Good Wives    
Alcott, Louisa May.  Jo’s Boys    
Alcott, Louisa May.  Little Men    
Alexander, Lloyd.  The Prydian Chronicles    
Angelou, Maya.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings    
Avi.  The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle    
Baxter, Charles.  Feast of Love    
Bellow, Saul.  Henderson the Rain King    
Bradbury, Ray.  Farenheit 451    
Bronte, Anne.  The Tenant of Wildfell Hall    
Bronte, Charlotte.  Villette    
Brooks, Gwendolyn.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn    
Bryson, Bill.  A Short History of Nearly Everything    
Bryson, Bill.  A Walk in the Woods    
Bryson, Bill.  The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way    
Buck, Pearl S..  The Good Earth    
Burgess, Anthony.  A Clockwork Orange    
Byars, Betsy.  Summer of the Swans    
Camus, Albert.  The Stranger    
Cather, Willa.  O Pioneers!    
Chabon, Michael.  The Yiddish Policemen’s Union    
Clarke, Susanna.  Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell    
Collins, Wilkie.  The Woman in White    
Conrad, Joseph.  Lord Jim    
Cooper, James Fenimore.  The Deerslayer  
Dante.  The Inferno    
De Beauvoire, Simone.  She Came to Stay    
Defoe, Daniel.  Robinson Crusoe    
Dickens, Charles.  A Tale of Two Cities    
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan.  The Hound of the Baskervilles    
Dreiser, Theodore.  An American Tragedy    
Du Maurier, Rebecca.  Rebecca    
Eco, Umberto.  The Name of the Rose    
Eggers, Dave.  A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius    
Eliot, George.  Middlemarch    
Ellison, Ralph.  The Invisible Man    
Eugenides, Jeffrey.  Middlesex    
Faulkner, William.  As I Lay Dying    
Foer, Jonathan Safran.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close    
Forster, E.M..  A Passage to India    
Foucault, Michel.  Discipline and Punish    
Gaiman, Neil.  The Graveyard Book    
George, Jean Craighead.  Julie of the Wolves    
Hammet, Dashiell.  The Maltese Falcon   
Heller, Joseph.  Catch-22    
Hemingway, Ernest.  The Old Man and the Sea    
Herbert, Frank.  Dune    
Homer.  The Iliad    
Hosseini, Khaled.  The Kite-Runner    
Hurston, Nora Zeale.  Their Eyes Were Watching God    
Irving, John.  The Cider House Rules    
Jacobs, Harriet.  Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl    
Joyce, James.  The Dubliners    
Kaye, M.M..  The Far Pavilions    
Kerouac, Jack.  On the Road    
Kingsolver, Barbara.  The Poisonwood Bible    
Kipling, Rudyard.  Kim    
Kundera, Milan.  The Unbearable Lightness of Being    
L’Engle Madeline.  And Both Were Young    
L’Engle, Madeline.  Meet the Austins    
Lawrence, D.H..  Sons and Lovers    
Lewis, Sinclair.  Kingsblood Royal    
Lowry, Lois.  Number the Stars    
Mitchell, Margaret.  Gone with the Wind    
Moore, Alan.  Watchmen    
Morrison, Toni.  Beloved    
Nabokov, Vladimir.  Lolita    
Naslund, Sena Jeter.  Ahab’s Wife    
O’Dell, Scott.  Island of the Blue Dolphins    
Paterson, Katherine.  Jacob Have I Loved    
Pears, Iain.  Stone’s Fall    
Peet, Mal.  Tamar    
Pessl, Marisha.  Special Topics in Calamity Physics    
Plath, Sylvia.  The Bell Jar    
Porter, Katherine Anne.  Ship of Fools    
Pullman, Philip.  The Golden Compass    
Rand, Ayn.  Atlas Shrugged    
Rawls, Wilson.  Where the Red Fern Grows    
Robinson, Marilynne.  Gilead    
Rushdie, Salman.  Midnight’s Children    
Scott, Sir Walter.  Ivanhoe    
Shelley, Mary.  Frankenstein    
Shikibu, Murasaki.  The Tale of Genji    
Spenser, Edmund.  The Faerie Queen    
Steinbeck, John.  Cannery Row    
Sterne, Laurence.  Tristram Shandy    
Stoker, Bram.  Dracula    
Swift, Jonathan.  Gulliver’s Travels      
Taylor, Mildred D..  Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry    
Updike, John.  The Poorhouse Fair  
Virgil.  The Aeneid    
Vonnegut, Kurt.  Slaughterhouse Five    
Walker, Alice.  The Color Purple    
Waugh, Evelyn.  Brideshead Revisted    
Welty, Eudora.  The Optimist’s Daughter    
Wharton, Edith.  House of Mirth    
Woodson, Jacqueline.  After Tupac & D Foster    
Woolf, Virginia.  A Room of One’s Own    
Wright, Richard.  Native Son  

Becky's First Three Books

Hi! I'm just checking back in. I've been able to read three books so far.

Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
The Bone Doll's Twin by Lynn Flewelling

Of the three I've read, I've liked two. I'm currently reading The Warden by Anthony Trollope so I hope to have my fourth book read soon. I *hope* to take part in Middlemay if time permits.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kelly's List

Hi All!

This project fascinated me as soon as I saw it announced. I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I started with Moonrat's list, since that's where I heard about the project...but I've refined it since then. I've blogged (a very little) about it on my Web site.

Moonrat's (Andromeda's?) list was great for me to start with since it included a lot of authors I wouldn't normally choose for myself. My refining criteria:
  • Classics I hadn't read
  • Hugo and Nebula Winners I Hadn't Gotten to Yet
  • Pulitzer Winners
  • Some Writers I'd Never Heard Of...
  • No duplication of authors
Here's what I ended up with:

1. Native Son, Richard Wright
2. Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
3. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
4. Watership Down, Richard Adams
5. Ragtime, E.L. Doctorow
6. Middlemarch, George Eliot
7. 1984, George Orwell
8. Women in Love, D.H. Lawrence
9. The French Lieutenant’s Woman, John Fowles
10. Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott
11. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon (Hugo)
12. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
13. Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe
14. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
15. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt
16. House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
17. Persuasion, Jane Austen
18. Chocolate War, Robert Cormier
19. The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
20. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote
21. Underworld, Don DeLillo
22. The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
23. Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust
24. Of Human Bondage, Somerset Maugham
25. Bless the Beasts and Children, Glendon Swarthout
26. The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd
27. While I Was Gone, Sue Miller
28. The Best Short Stories, O. Henry
29. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
30. The Radetsky March, Joseph Roth
31. Digging to America, Anne Tyler
32. Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
33. The Stupidest Angel, Christopher Moore
34. East of Eden, John Steinbeck
35. The Privilege of the Sword, Ellen Kushner (Nebula Nominee)
36. The Conservationist, Nadine Gordimer
37. The Good Terrorist, Doris Lessing
38. Memoirs of a Good Daughter, Simone DeBeauvoir
39. Carry On, Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse
40. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas
41. Rainbow’s End, Vernor Vinge (Hugo)
42. A Fable, William Faulkner (Pulitzer)
43. The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter
44. American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser
45. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke (Hugo)
46. Sophie’s Choice, William Styron
47. Tuesday with Morie, Mitch Albom
48. The Snow Queen, Joan D. Vinge (Hugo)
49. The Plague, Albert Camus
50. Miss Lonelyhearts, Nathaniel West
51. White Teeth, Zadie Smith
52. Charming Billy, Alice McDermott
53. Cauldron, Jack McDevitt (Nebula Nominee)
54. Farming the Bones, Edwidge Danticat
55. The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin (Nebula)
56. Ulysses, James Joyce
57. Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Yukio Mishima
58. Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold (Nebula)
59. The Known World, Edward P. Jones
60. Kokoro, Natsume Soseki
61. The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot
62. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
63. My Antonia, Willa Cather
64. Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin
65. The House of Spirits, Isabel Allende
66. Herzog, Saul Bellow
67. The Stories of John Cheever, John Cheever (Pulitzer)
68. The Boat, Nam Le
69. The Optimist’s Daughter, Eudora Welty (Pulitzer)
70. Three Lives, Gertrude Stein
71. Hounds of Baskerville, Arthur Conan Doyle
72. Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang
73. Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
74. Possession, A.S. Byatt
75. Under the Net, Iris Murdoch
76. Housekeeping, Marilyn Robinson
77. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
78. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, Haruki Murakami
79. Runaway, Alice Munro
80. In America, Susan Sontag
81. The Stories of John Cheever
82. God’s War, Christopher Tyerman
83. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
84. A Model World, Michael Chabon
85. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
86. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Oscar Hijuelos
87. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley
88. American Pastoral, Philip Roth
89. The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx
90. The Book Borrower, Alice Mattison
91. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
92. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields
93. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
94. Bad Behavior, Mary Gaitskill
95. Empire Falls, Richard Russo
96. Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier
97. March, Geraldine Brooks
98. The Second Sex, Simone DeBeauvoir
99. Gilead, Marilyn Robinson
100. Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift

Linda's 75 In Five Years

One hundred books seemed so... daunting. So here's my First 75 and then some. As we journey together, I'll add another dozen... or so...

And now, in no particular order other than alphabetical:

1. 2666 - Bolano
2. A Circle of Quiet – L’Engle
3. A Death in the Family – Agee
4. A Room of One’s Own – Woolf*
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns – Hosseini*
6. All the Pretty Horses – McCarthy
7. Barrel Fever – Sedaris*
8. Bel Canto – Patchett
9. Bright Lights, Big City – McIerney
10. Cathedral – Carver
11. Cry the Beloved Country – Paton
12. Diary – Palahunik
13. Empire Sighs - Russo
14. Fall on your Knees – MacDonald
15. Frankenstein – Shelley
16. Gravity’s Rainbow – Pynchon*
17. In the Beauty of the Lilies – Updike
18. Jewel – Lott
19. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Clark
20. Life of Pi – Martel
21. Like Water for Chocolate – Esquirrel
22. Madame Bovary – Flaubert
23. Mansfield Park – Austen
24. Middlemarch – Eliot*
25. Misery – King
26. Moby Dick – Melville
27. My Antonia – Cather
28. Never Let Me Go – Ishiguru
29. Northanger Abbey – Austen
30. Optimists Daughter - Welty
31. Paris Trout – Dexter
32. People of the Book – Brook*
33. Poems – Blake*
34. Poems - Sexton
35. Portnoy’s Complaint – Roth
36. Possession – Byatt
37. Prodigal Summer – Kingsolver
38. Snow – Pamuk
39. Sons and Lovers – Lawrence
40. Straight Men – Russo
41. The Alienist - Carr
42. The Book Thief - Zusak
43. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Diaz*
44. The City of Fallen Angels - Berendt
45. The Corrections – Franzen*
46. The Count of Monte Cristo – Dumas
47. The Dubliners – Joyce
48. The Fifth Mountain - Coelho
49. The God of Small Things – Roy
50. The Heart of the Matter – Greene
51. The Hours - Cunningham*
52. The Information – Amis
53. The Koran*
54. The Lovely Bones – Sebold
55. The Naked and the Dead – Mailer
56. The Pilgrim’s Progress – Bunyan
57. The President’s wife – Sittenfield
58. The Radiant Way – Drabble
59. The Red Badge of Courage - Crane
60. The Red Tent – Diamant
61. The Secret History – Tartt*
62. The Shipping News – Proulx
63. The Soul Thief – Baxter*
64. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down - Fadiman
65. The Sportswriter - Ford
66. The Three Musketeers – Dumas
67. The Turn of the Screw - James
68. The Year of Magical Thinking – Didion
69. Their Eyes Were Watching God – Hurston
70. Tree of Smoke - Johnson
71. U.S.A. – Dos Passos
72. Ulysses – Joyce
73. Water, Carry Me – Moran
74. White Oleander – Fitch*
75. Wide Sargasso Sea – Rhys
76. The Outsiders - Hinton
77. Infinite Jest - Wallace
78. Apologize, Apologize - Kelly (debut)*
79. Mudbound - Jordan (debut)*
80. Still Lisa - Genova (debut)*
81. All About Lulu - Evison (debut)*
82. Hurry Down Sunshine - Greenberg (debut)*
83. Repeat After Me - DeWoskin (debut)*


(Bolded and asterisked = read!)

Peace, Linda

Matthew, Book Review, *Stanislaw Lem, *Solaris, *Francis Bacon, *The New Atlantis

Having seen the movie adaptation directed by Steven Soderbergh, I felt that I knew what to expect from Solaris (1961): a meditation on death and love set in an isolated space station.

Well, I was right on the space station part, at least.

As it turns out, Soderbergh's movie ignored most of the book in order to focus on a single, small aspect of it -- the real main thematic focus of the novel is on exploring our concept of alienness. In a great many science fiction works, the aliens might look or sound totally different from us, but live and act according to motivations that are easily understandable to humans (for a nice visual example, look at how many alien species in Star Trek are only differentiated from humans by the shape of their foreheads and a handful of social quirks). By contrast, the alien species in Solaris, a sentient ocean covering an entire planet, is so mentally and physically different from humans that we might never be able to understand much of anything about it, much less succeed in talking to it. How we cope with the possibility that some subjects are beyond our ability to comprehend them is another major theme in the novel.

Moving on, I was surprised by how short The New Atlantis (1627) by Francis Bacon ended up being (it's only fourteen pages long in Britannica's Great Books of the Western World set). While the book is definitely lousy with the goofy, starry-eyed tone peculiar to all utopian novels, it's still interesting in that its main focus isn't on the minute details of how the utopian nation's society and government work, but on "Salomon's House," an institution devoted to learning, research, and scientific discovery. The way Bacon goes on at length about the scholarly virtues and social benefits of Salomon's House might sound quaint and antiquated when compared with our modern scientific laboratories and research universities, but back when The New Atlantis was first published in 1627 his ideas were far more groundbreaking.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lucky Jim, Lucky Reader

I’ve seen this book on several lists, so I won’t say too much yet and see if there might be some discussion later.
My favorite moment is probably a little throwaway line:
[…] an unlit building with a painted sign, faintly visible, reading Car’s for hire – Batesons – Repair’s.
It might get missed because it goes without comment, but in today’s blogoriffic world, the misplaced apostrophes would probably appear accompanied by several LOL’s.
Back to the book. A fun read. Anyone who has a chance to sit back take a little time with it over a few evenings is a lucky reader, indeed. Jacket copies invariably include comparisons to Wodehouse. But Amis’s plot and characters matter a bit more than Wodehouse’s, so the book seems a slow starter, in order to accommodate a certain build-up.
As a former grad student, the college setting makes sense, as does this bit about an article Dixon (the titular fortunate James) wrote:
It was a perfect title, in that it crystallized the article’s niggling mindlessness, its funereal parade of yawn-enforcing facts, the pseudo-light it threw upon non-problems.

I’m looking forward to tossing out some questions to others who have read it. Or, to be more honest in the vein that Amis seems to call for: I’m looking forward to attempt to impress you with the groped-at meanings I’ve forced on a work that primarily aims at entertainment.

Native Son, by Richard Wright

I finished reading this book a couple days ago, and finally had a chance to put up my review here. This was a difficult read for me, and took me a long time. I really wish I'd had some kind of classroom setting to talk about it all--there's a lot in it to be processed.

Anyone else read it? Any thoughts?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Matthew, Book Review, *Evelyn Waugh, *A Handful of Dust

After finishing A Handful of Dust (1934) by Evelyn Waugh last night, my first reaction was "man, this book hates the British upper class with a burning passion." That being said, the novel never makes the mistake of becoming a mere invective-laden screed; it skewers England's upper-crust society not by attacking it directly, but by showcasing the vapid lives and shallow thinking of its rich, aristocratic (and wannabe-rich, wannabe-aristocratic) characters. The fast, light pace of the book at times lessens the bite of its satire, but on the whole Waugh seems to have added in just the right amount of content to make his point and satisfactorily flesh out his plot and characters without bogging it down with minutiae and unrelated tangents. I don't want to spoil the ending, but I do want to say that I enjoyed the anti-colonial bent of it.

Well, that's one down, ninety-nine to go. This is fun.

Megan O, *Watership Down, *Richard Adams

I have finished my first book! Hurrah! It felt as though it took forever to get through despite not being a very difficult read. I'll post a real review over here tonight or tomorrow.

For now, I will just say that I went into this book knowing nothing about it other than Sawyer once read it on LOST. I found it in a thrift store and picked it up never looking at more than the title on the spine. When I opened to the first page I had not read the blurb on the back nor had I done more than glance at the cover. So I cannot even begin to describe how surprised I was that it was about rabbits. I think the fact that it was not at all what I was expecting (the title had me expecting a ship wreck because I am literal in that way) made the book more enjoyable. I can't say it is one I will be picking up for a second read and had it not been for this project I am not positive I would have finished it. I've never been one to buy into animals as main characters and found myself occasionally rolling my eyes at the whole thing. But the author was meticulous in ensuring that these rabbits inhabited as real a world as possible with their own language and myths and for that I give the author credit. Even if I was skimming the stories by the end.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Hi Everybody,

My copy of Middlemarch, by George Eliot, finally arrived!

I have gone through and flagged off weekly goals with post-its. Yumm. Thank you, Ms. Eliot, for kindly dividing your book into 8 sections of about 100 pages each. These, I think, are very, very convenient weekly reading breaks.

So, for anybody else who is ready to do Middlemay with me (that is, read Middlemarch over the month of May and some of June--like it? I'm very proud), I'd like to suggest we "gather" here every Monday at our leisure to check in and chat. That will give us the weekend to try to do a block of reading.

Here's my proposed schedule:

Monday, May 4: Book I: Miss Brooke
Monday, May 11: Book II: Old and Young
Monday, May 18: Book III: Waiting for Death
Monday, May 25: Book IV: Three Love Problems
Monday, June 1: Book V: The Dead Hand
Monday, June 8: Book VI: The Widow and the Wife
Monday, June 15: Book VII: Two Temptations
Monday, June 22: Book VIII: Sunset and Sunrise

I feel that 100 pages (give or take) is a good sched. If you want to read faster (God bless and help you) you can always talk about it ex post facto, and if you fall behind, other people's words of encouragement may inspire you!

Sound good?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Melissa W.'s list

For my list, I tried to choose novels that I've always been meaning to read. Books that, as someone with a degree in English, I maybe should have read a long time ago. I did not want any book on the list that I'd read before and I also didn't want to have any author more than once. I feel my list has a good range!

1. Atwood, Margaret - The Handmaid's Tale
2. Austen, Jane - Sense and Sensibility
3. Balzac, Honore - Old Goriot
4. Barrie, J.M. - Peter Pan
5. Baum, Frank - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
6. Bellow, Saul - The Adventures of Augie March
7. Bradbury, Ray - Farhenheit 451
8. Braddon, Mary Elizabeth - Lady Audley's Secret
9. Bronte, Charlotte - Shirley
10. Brookner, Anita - Hotel du Lac
11. Bryson, Bill - A Short History of Nearly Anything
12. Burney, Fanny - Cecilia
13. Byatt, A.S. - Possession
14. Cain, James M. - The Postman Always Rings Twice
15. Calvino, Italo - If on a Winter's Night a Traveller
16. Chandler, Raymond - Farewell, My Lovely
17. Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
18. Cheever, John - The Wapshot Chronicle
19. Chopin, Kate - The Awakening
20. Christie, Agatha - Murder on the Links
21. Coelho, Paulo - The Alchemist
22. Collins, Wilkie - The Moonstone
23. Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe
24. Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
25. Doctorow, E.L. - Ragtime
26. Dostoevsky, Fyodor - The Brothers Karamazov
27. Doyle, Arthur Conan - The Hound of the Baskervilles
28. Dumas, Alexandre - The Count of Monte Cristo
29. DuMaurier, Daphne - My Cousin Rachel
30. Eco, Umberto - The Name of the Rose
31. Edgeworth, Maria - Castle Rackrent
32. Eliot, George - Adam Bede
33. Ellroy, James - The Black Dahlia
34. Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury or As I Lay Dying
35. Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
36. Fitzgerald, F. Scott - Tender is the Night
37. Flaubert, Gustave - A Sentimental Education
38. Ford, Ford Maddox - The Good Soldier
39. Forster, E.M. - A Room with a View
40. Frank, Anne - The Diary of Anne Frank
41. Gaskell, Elizabeth - Mary Barton
42. Gibbons, Stella - Cold Comfort Farm
43. Godwin, William - Caleb Williams
44. Halse Anderson, Laurie - Speak
45. Hammett, Dashiell - The Maltese Falcon
46. Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the D'Urbervilles
47. Heller, Joseph - Catch-22
48. Hemmingway, Ernest - The Sun Also Rises
49. Highsmith, Patricia - Strangers on a Train
50. Hugo, Victor - Les Miserables
51. Ishiguro, Kazuo - The Remains of the Day
52. James, Henry - The Wings of the Dove
53. Kerouac, Jack - On the Road
54. Kipling, Rudyard - Kim
55. Lawrence, D.H. - Lady Chatterley's Lover
56. Lennox, Charlotte - The Female Quixote
57. Lewis, C.S. - The Lion, the Withch and the Wardrobe
58. Lewis, Matthew - The Monk
59. Marlowe, Christopher - Dr. Faustus
60. Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - Love in the Time of Cholera
61. Maugham, W. Somerset - The Razor's Edge
62. Melville, Herman - Moby Dick
63. Munro, Alice - The Love of a Good Woman
64. Murdoch, Iris - The Sea, The Sea
65. Nabokov, Vladimir - Lolita
66. Oliphant, Margaret - Miss Marjoribanks
67. Orwell, George - 1984
68. Pasternak, Boris - Dr. Zhivago
69. Poe, Edgar Allan - Murders in the Rue Morgue
70. Radcliffe, Anne - The Italian
71. Remarque, Erich - All Quiet on the Western Front
72. Richardson, Samuel - Clarissa or Pamela
73. Rushdie, Salman - Midnight's Children
74. Salinger, J.D. - Franny and Zooey
75. Scott, Sir Walter - Rob Roy
76. Shakespeare, William - King Lear
77. Shields, Carol - The Stone Diaries
78. Spark, Muriel - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
79. Steinbeck, John - East of Eden
80. Stendhal - The Charterhouse of Parma
81. Stevenson, R.L. - Treasure Island
82. Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
83. Tarkington, Booth - The Magnificent Ambersons
84. Tolstoy, Leo - Anna Karenina
85. Toole, John Kennedy - Confederacy of Dunces
86. Trollope, Anthony - Can You Forgive Her?
87. Updike, John - Rabbit, Run
88. Wallace, Lew - Ben-Hur
89. Walpole, Horace - The Castle of Otranto
90. Watson, Winnifred - Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
91. Waugh, Evelyn - Brideshead Revisited
92. Wells, H.G. - The Time Machine
93. Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth
94. Wilde, Oscar - The Picture of Dorian Gray
95. Wodehouse, P.G. - Thank You, Jeeves
96. Wolfe, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
97. Woolfe, Thomas - Bonfire of the Vanities
98. Yourcenar, Margaret - Memoirs of Hadrian
99. Zola, Emile - Germinal
100. Zusak, Markus - The Book Thief

Crystal's Fill-in-the-Gaps List

PROGRESS: 05/100

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
2. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
3. Kill Her Again by Robert Gregory Browne
4. Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
6. The Whole Truth by David Baldacci
7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
8. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
10. Marley & Me by John Grogan
11. Silas Marner by George Eliot
12. The Shack by William P. Young
13. The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
14. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
15. Tales by Edgar Allan Poe
16. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
17. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
18. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
19. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
20. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
21. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
22. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
23. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
24. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
25. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
26. A New Earth by Eckert Tolle
27. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow
28. The Last Lecture by Randy Paush
29. Henderson and Rain King by Saul Bellow
30. Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
31. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
32. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
33. Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
34. Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle
35. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
36. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
37. Persuasion by Jane Austen
38. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
39. Emma by Jane Austen
40. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
41. Lady Susan by Jane Austen
42. Atonement by Ian McEwan
43. Simply Perfect by Mary Balogh
44. My Antonia by Willa Cather
45. Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
46. Crazy Love by Francis Chan
47. A Genie in the House of Saud: Zubis Rises by K. F. Zuzulo
48. Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
49. Drum Roll by Ernest Hemingway
50. Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
51. Power Play by Joseph Finder
52. The Syndicate by Jon F. Merz
53. Company Man by Joseph Finder
54. High Crimes by Joseph Finder
55. Black Hole by J. P. Daly
56. The Devil Inside by Jenna Black
57. The Devil You Know by Jenna Black
58. The Devil's Due by Jenna Black
59. Speak of the Devil by Jenna Black
60. The Dust of 100 Dogs by A. S. King
61. Rowan of the Wood by Christine & Ethan Rose
62. Bite Me! by Melissa Francis
63. The Better Part of Darkness by Kelly Gay
64. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs [Mercedes Thompson Series]
65. Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs [Mercedes Thompson Series]
66. Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs [Mercedes Thompson Series]
67. Even by Andrew Grant
68. Confessions of a Former Child: A Therapist's Memoir by Daniel Tomasulo
69. The Chimney Sweeper's Boy by Barbara Vine
70. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
71. Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi
72. Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
73. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
74. Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
75. Good Grief by Lolly Winston
76. FIrefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
77. The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano
78. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
79. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
80. Anything by Ann Tyler
81. Dracula by Bram Stoker
82. State of Fear by Michael Crichton
83. Congo by Michael Crichton
84. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Drumas
85. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
86. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
87. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
88. 20,000 Leaues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
89. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
90. On the Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin
91. The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
92. The New Atlantis by Francis Bacon
93. Little Wars by H. G. Wells
94. Some Chistmas Stories by Charles Dickens
95. The Breach by Patrick Lee
96. Lilith by George MacDonald
97. All Things Considered by G. K. Chesterton
98. The Vicar's Daughter by George MacDonald
99. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
100. The Poetics by Aristotle

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Moby Dick - Herman Melville

I have finally finished it! I never thought I would, as reading Moby Dick was like reading a particularly heavy brick, but I did it. And as much as I thought I would hate it, now that I've finished I can say that it wasn't that bad. There were parts that I hated (that were generally about how to chase, kill, string up, decapitate, dismember and destroy a whale), but there were some parts that were really quite lovely.

If you have this book on your list, I wish you luck - it's the closest I'm ever going to get to running a marathon!

(I blogged about it, if you're interested)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Beth's List

Here is my Fill in the gaps list. It is a real mixture of books that I want to read and have been meaning to read that just keep getting put to the bottom of my TBR pile, or books that I feel I should have read, but just lack the motivation for.  

  1. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe.
  2. Moll Flanders - Daniel Defoe.
  3. Middle March - George Elliot.
  4. The Old Curiosity Shop - Charles Dickens.
  5. Larkrise to Candleford - Flora Thompson.
  6. The Ressurectionist - James Bradley.
  7. Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy.
  8. Frankenstien - Mary Shelley.
  9. Journey to the centre of the Earth - Jules Verne.
  10. The Hobbit - J.R.R Tolken.
  11. The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R Tolken.
  12. Priestess of the  White - Trudi Canavan.
  13. The Enchantress of Florance - Salman Rushdie.
  14. Lost in a Good Book - Jasper FForde.
  15. The Eyre Affair - Jasper FForde.
  16. The Liar - Stephen Fry.
  17. The Hippopotomus - Stephen Fry.
  18. Shadowmancer - G.P Taylor
  19. Tersis - G.P Taylor.
  20. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hossein.
  21. Sea of Poppies - Amitav Ghosh.
  22. In The Woods - Tana French.
  23. The House at Riverton - Kate Morton.
  24. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield.
  25. Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen.
  26. Mansfield Park - Jane Austen.
  27. Persuasion - Jane Austen.
  28. Lady Susan - Jane Austen.
  29. Captin Correlli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres.
  30. The Sunday Philosphy Club - Alexander McCall Smith.
  31. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde.
  32. 20,000 Leagues under the sea - Jules Verne.
  33. Round the world in Eighty Days - Jules Verne.
  34. The Phantom of the Opera - Gasto Leroux.
  35. The Hunchback of Notre-dame - Victor Hugo.
  36. Under the Greenwood Tree - Thomas Hardy.
  37. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas.
  38. The Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens.
  39. The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins.
  40. Flowers in the Attic - Virginia Andrews.
  41. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman.
  42. American Gods - Neil Gaiman.
  43. The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson.
  44. Labyrinth - Kate Mosse.
  45. The Interprtation of Murder - Jed Rubenfield.
  46. Little People - Tom Holt.
  47. The Secret Supper - Javier Sierra.
  48. The curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time - Mark Haddon.
  49. Bleak House - Charles Dickens.
  50. War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells.
  51. Jayne Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  52. Fleshmarket Close - Ian Rankin.
  53. Hide & Seek - Ian Rankin.
  54. Lady Chatterley's Lover - D.H. Lawerence.
  55. Blackberry Wine - Joanne Harris.
  56. Making Money - Terry Pratchett.
  57. The Fifth Elephant - Terry Pratchett.
  58. Virgin earth - Phillippa Gregory.
  59. The Golden Compass - Phillip Pullman.
  60. The Amber Spyglass - Phillip Pullman.
  61. The Subtle Knife - Phillip Pullman.
  62. Life, the universe and everything - Douglas Adams.
  63. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams.
  64. The Pirates Daughter - Margerat Cezair-Thompson.
  65. The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova.
  66. The Bell at Sealey Head - Patricia A McKillip.
  67. The Enchanted Chocolate Pot- Patricia C. Wrede.
  68. The Rose of Sebastopol - Katherine McMahon.
  69. The Outcast  - Sadie Jones.
  70. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson.
  71. Coraline - Neil Gaiman.
  72. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman.
  73. The Darcy Connection - Elizabeth Aston.
  74. The book of lost things - Joesph Connolly.
  75. Witches Abroad - Terry Pratchett.
  76. Wryd Sisters - Terry Pratchett.
  77. Animal Farm - George Orwell.
  78. Austenland - Shannon Hale.
  79. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte.
  80. The Bone Garden - Tess Gerritson.
  81. The well of lost plots - Jasper FForde.
  82. So long and Thanks for all the fish - Douglas Adams.
  83. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S Lewis.
  84. Carry On Jeeves - P.G Wodehouse.
  85. Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson.
  86. Beowulf - Seamus Heaney.
  87. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens.
  88. Atonement - Ian McEwan.
  89. The Canterbury Tales - Geoffery Chaucer.
  90. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh.
  91. The Tale of two Cities - Charles Dickens.
  92. The Magicians Nephew - C.S. Lewis.
  93. Runemarks - Joanne Harris.
  94. Sleep, Pale Sister - Joanne Harris.
  95. Ratcatcher - James McGee.
  96. The Shadow in the North - Phillip Pullman.
  97. Little Dorrit - Charles Dickens.
  98. The Great Stink - Clare Clark.
  99. The Nature of Monsters - Clare Clark.
  100. Eragon - Christopher Paolini.