Yells vs the pile... a tale of inspiration or a horror story?
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I read 174 last year. I have a ways to go....
So the plan this year is to stop buying more books and try to read what I already own. Beyond that, I don't have any set goals. I am part of various challenges so I will plug away at those but other than that, the sky (or the TBR shelf) is the limit.
Infinite Jest by Wallace
Suitable Boy by Seth
The Kindly Ones by Littell
Once and Future King by White
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez
David Copperfield by Dickens
Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky
CBC Books - I have read 63 of the 100 so I have some catching up to do here.
Barney's Version by Richler
Book of Secrets by Vassanji
Sweetness in the Belly Gibb
What the Body Remembers by Baldwin
Best Kind of People by Whittall
Curiosity by Thomas
Light Lifting by MacLeod
Valmiki's Daughter by Mootoo
Navigator of New York by Johnston
Funny Boy by Selvadurai
Parcel by Irani
Yiddish for Pirates by Barwin
Outline by Cusk
The Back of the Turtle by King
Such a Long Journey by Mistry
Two Solitudes by MacLennan
Glorious Heresies by McInerney
Horse Heaven by Smiley
State of Wonder by Patchett
Ruby by Bond
What the Body Remembers by Baldwin
Bonesetter's Daughter by Tan
The Falls by Oates
Great Stink by Clark
Flamethrowers by Kushner
Almost English by Mendelson
God in Ruins by Atkinson
Purity Myth by Valenti. Wow, please tell me that this isn't all that wide-spread! I can't even imagine my parents suggesting a purity ball.
The phrase purity myth made me think of Leviticus, which has generated some fascinating thinking. But this is a different kind of purity.
Surprisingly, I’m kind of interested in the book now.
The Observations by Harris.
What a wacky tale this was! Young girl looking for work happens upon a house in a small village and gets hired as a housemaid simply because she can read and write. Pretty soon her employer starts asking her to do some pretty bizarre things and she finds herself mixed up in a big old mystery. It had a little of everything going on and definitely the escape I needed this week.
Bright Lights, Big City by McInerney
Sorry! I tend to finish books late at night and start a post to remind myself to update it later on.
I haven't seen the movie but recently I heard a podcast about this one and it sounded interesting so I picked it up from the library. I really liked it. At first glance, it looks like your typical run-of-the-mill book about a bored coked-up kid flitting from party to party but there is so much more going on. Yes, he parties too much and is on the verge of losing his job but he also understands that this isn't the life that he wants to live. He has a picture in his head of what life should be but it doesn't resemble his life at all so he almost feels like he has failed before he has even really started living. I could totally relate to that part.
I was already to give it 4-stars but the ending was a little odd and abrupt so I ended up giving it
I will have to watch the movie and see how it measures up.
If anyone decides to take the plunge, let me know if you liked it. She tells an intriguing tale.
A Wolverine is Eating My Leg by Cahill. Usually his books are humourous accounts of Indiana Jones styled adventures but this one was a bit different. I wasn't expecting the dark turn when he talked about visiting the aftermath of Jonestown. Or his rather grim description of a visit to a modern day cult. The rest was vintage Cahill but that chapter was a little out of place.
Are You Really Going to Eat That? by Walsh. Short essays on some of the more interesting culinary delights that the author has discovered around the world. I am not adventurous at all but a lot of these things sounded really delicious. Especially all the things that can be BBQ'd.
The Tale-Tellers by Huston. "To be human is to have a story and to tell stories – an ‘I’ only comes into being thanks to the ‘we’s’ which, through stories, we are taught to identify with and relate to. " This is from the amazon site and seems to sum up this wonderful essay by Huston.
Nadja by Breton. I am willing to concede that surrealist writing isn't for me. A man is in love with a woman who may or may not exist. The novel is full of interesting pictures of Paris and some of the sites that they may or may not have seen together.
The Art of Spelling by Vos Savant. A brief history of spelling and words and an even briefer tutorial on improving one's spelling.
Secret Library by Tearle. This is a fascinating look at literature through the ages. He looks at various fictional and non-fictional books written by both men and women. There is also a lot of interesting facts thrown in.
Hector and the Secrets of Love by Lelord. I liked the first book but this one is just weird. I think Hector needs a lot more help than his author can give him.
Are We There Yet? by Haas. I was hoping for a funny account of a family's travels around the world and I think that is what the author was going for but sadly it fell flat.
A Life Like Other People's by Bennett. A short little glimpse into the private life of Alan Bennett. This was a very personal account of his mother's depression and how it affected the entire family. Very real and very sad.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Watson. The perfect read for a lazy afternoon. Miss Pettigrew has largely given up on life. She is unemployed and on the verge of losing her apartment. She accidently gets sent to the wrong temporary job and it completely turns her life upside down in a good way.
The Fiery Cross by Gabaldon - I am about 200 pages in and fully wrapped up in the Fraser's lives again. I will continue to plod along and hopefully get caught up this year
ETA - finally finished! There is a lot going on but I found that this one dragged a bit.
The Forsyte Saga by Galsworthy. I just finished book one and while I am enjoying it, these people better improve at some point. Why does it seem like the more money someone has, the more they seem to whine and complain about spending it?
ETA - I am now well into book 3 and nope, most don't get better. I am enjoying this book a lot more than I thought I would and can't wait to finish. I just might have to continue on with the chronicles.
ETA - Finished! And loved every word. I even got the next book from the library so I could carry on. It just sucks you in and want to keep reading to see what happens next. And, in the end, I did feel just a little bit sorry for Soames.
Writers Gone Wild by Peschel. A series of interesting tidbits about various authors. A fun way to spend an afternoon - lots of biting, stabbing and boozing.
Fractured English by Lederer - I have read this a few times over the years and it always make me laugh. Bad punctuation, awkward sentences and punny headlines galore!
George Michael: The Life 1963-2016 by Herbert
I was hoping to learn more about how such a talented singer could crash and burn so fast and while I did learn a few things, this book was a bit of a mess. Spelling errors (if you are going to quote someone's song lyrics, you should probably get them right), repetition and a continual focus on him being gay. I get that that was a huge part of his life and ultimately the reason for the drugs and alcohol etc, but he was so much more. How about more than a couple paragraphs about how charitable he was? Very disappointing.
The Pursuit of Love by Mitford. More unlikeable characters? I am on a roll this week.
Justine by Durrell. Don't know if my muddled brain just isn't getting this or if it is needlessly convoluted. Either way, not my cup of tea.
You've read a number of books that I've enjoyed in recent years - will be keeping an eye on your thread with interest.
Fight Club by Palahniuk. I wasn't a fan of the movie but I liked Choke so figured I would give this a go. It was okay. Weird...
Kingdom of This World by Carpentier. Haitian history told through a tale of magical realism.
I loved the Fight Club Movie and I loved the book. The other book I read by Palahniuk was Lullaby and I really liked it. I thought it was really different from Fight Club, though you can feel some of the author's political views in both books. I intend to read Choke at some point.
Carpentier has been on my radar for some time. What did you think of Kingdom of this World?
The Carpentier book was an interesting experience. I know nothing of Haitian history so I was keen to be educated but quickly found that this really wasn't the right book to teach me the intricacies of their past. The magical realism lent a mystical flavour to the book and for the most part, paired well with the plot. The story just washes over you and is something to be experienced rather than read.
I was just listening to a BBC podcast and they mentioned that some authors use magical realism to 'muddle the senses' and it allows them to write about things that they may not be allowed to write about. I never would have thought that but it makes sense. I wonder if there is a touch of that in this book?
The Accidental by Smith. Smith tells her story through the voices of 4 family members, each living with their own secrets. A mysterious woman shows up one day while they are on vacation and while no one knows exactly who she is and why she is there, they initially let her into their individual worlds. The story looks at the before, during and after effects that this woman has on each of their lives.
I think the 'muddle the senses' reference was meant to show that we sometimes read something that we may/may not understand and then question whether our senses have lead us astray.
The Drowned World by Ballard. In light to all the global warming stuff I have been reading lately, this one was rather disturbing. It's a dystopian look at a world experiencing rapid heating. The jungles are reclaiming the earth and we are regressing back to Triassic times. It felt like a slightly more literary Jurassic Park.
>57 AlisonY: I didn't enjoy The Accidental and in the years since I read that I've wondered a bit about Ali Smith's rise. Maybe the books got better from there; maybe I am just not the right rider for that particular train.
Little Birds by Nin. Oh my... I read Delta of Venus years ago but the book also had Little Birds in it and I never seemed to get around to reading it. This year, my mandate is to clean up the shelves a bit so I thought why not. The first story was about a man exposing himself to kids. Not the greatest start. Some of the stories were interesting while others were bizarre and/or disturbing.
I Want That by Hine. I seem to have a soft spot for books on marketing/shopping/advertising. This is a neat little book that looks at the history of shopping and how things evolved into the consumer-based society we live in today.
Read: 26 books in total. Non-fiction - 12, fiction 14. I normally read mostly fiction but have tried to get to more non-fiction book this month. Not a bad start! Only two from my list above so I will need to work on that.
Source: 24 off my own shelves (yippee!) and only 2 from the library.
Favourites: I have a few 4-star reads this month.
A Dry White Season by Brink
The Forsyte Saga by Galsworthy
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Watson
Secret Library by Tearle
The Tale-Tellers by Huston
Little Birds by Nin
Hector and the Secrets of Love by Lelord
George Michael: The Life 1963-2016 by Herbert
Nice balance of fiction vs non fiction, too. You can stop the non fiction here, you've read more than I read in a year!
Love in a Cold Climate by Mitford. I really can't say that I am a huge Mitford fan. I don't generally like all characters in books and some of my best reads have characters that I love to hate. But all these people are rather awful. I get that this is supposed to be subtle satire but it just didn't work for me. Perhaps if I was born a generation or two earlier it would.
(Not quite the right graphic but close enough)
Inside Mr Enderby by Burgess. Good grief, poor hapless Mr Enderby. Combine that with Burgess' wit and this one tickled my funny bone in the right way.
Hallucinating Foucault by Duncker. As soon as I saw Foucault in the title, I was hesitant to read this one (too many bad memories from university) but it was really good. A student is writing his thesis on a writer who has disappeared. His curiosity is piqued when he meets someone who also seems to have an interest in Paul Michel and encourages him to stop focussing on the texts and look more at the person behind the work.
Sula by Morrison.
>69 Yes, Sula is very intense! She certainly packs a lot into a short novel. I loved that each chapter is a different year so you get snippets of their lives and are left to infer the rest. The ending sentence in the cemetery really hit me. It summed their friendship in a nutshell.
>56 Yells: my masters thesis was on a triassic set of rocks. Maybe, if this happened, I would learn something about them. Sorry, bad humor. But I’m interested in the book.
The Player of Games by Banks. Having only read The Wasp Factory before, I wanted to try some of his sci-fi stuff. This is the second Culture book but apparently you don't have to read them in order.
I quite liked it. The long and short of it is Gurgeh is a master gamer who gets sent to a far off galaxy to play the ultimate game with an alien society.
Banks has created some fascinating worlds in this novel. Gurgeh is rather successful in his world but bored with what he has achieved. The Empire, on the other hand, is a violent place and the game is used to establish one's position within this society. Gurgeh isn't sure why he is being sent but the lure of the game is overwhelming and he quickly finds himself deeply invested in it.
The actual logistics of the game are rather confusing but it was meant to mirror life in the Empire and the winner would have to prove that they have a specific combination of attributes needed to successfully rule.
Browsings by Dirda. A collection of short literary musings. Eclectic and entertaining.
I am in the middle of Kristin Lavransdattar (fantastic), A Breath of Snow and Ashes (pretty good), Crow Road (really good so far), Austerlitz (a little weird but interesting) and Don Quixote (also fantastic).
Maybe my problem is that I am reading too many long novels at once...
The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Bradley. I do love a good Flavia novel! This one involves a family vacation and Dogger has a bigger role finally.
Crow Road by Banks. Rhino farts and exploding grandmas. Gotta love it! There is definitely a serious side to this novel but Banks lightens the mood with a well-placed joke here and there. Interesting look at the joys and woes of family (with a little murder thrown in).
Austerlitz by Sebald. This novel is written as basically one long paragraph and is the story of Austerlitz as told through the voice of his nameless friend. It took a bit to get used to the rather unique format but once i got into it, the story just flowed over me.
Austerlitz, as an adult, is trying to piece together his childhood. He finds out that he was born in Prague and escaped the holocaust on a kinder transport to Wales. He travels back to try and find out what happened to his family.
Kristin Lavransdatter by Undset. This novel seems to have everything: love, death, murder, intrigue. Finished and wow... I laughed and cried. Well done!
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Gabaldon. Still ploughing on with the Frasers... Just started the next one and hope to finish all by the end of March.
As disturbing as Wasp Factory was, it clear what story he was trying to tell.
Cujo by King. I have been reading all the Stephen King books in order of publication and am up to Cujo. While Cujo itself is a spooky enough book about an overly rabid dog (I say overly because there seems to be a lot more than just rabies going on with this poor dog), it's really interesting to see King evolve as a writer.
Art of Discarding by Tatsumi. It's nice to read a book about organising and minimising and realise that you have already done most of what she suggests.
My Not So Perfect Life by Kinsella. A light read for a lazy day off. I still like the Shopoholic books better.
Good Rockin Tonight by Escott. An interesting history of Sun Records. Hubby and I did a road trip to Memphis a few years ago and Sun was at the top of my things-to-see list. What a fascinating place!
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Sullivan. A mystery that takes place in a bookstore and involves clues in books? I'm in! It was a little far-fetched at the end but overall, an enjoyable read.
Read: 18 books in total. Non-fiction - 3, fiction 15. Not very balanced this month so I need to work on that.
Source: 16 off my own shelves (yippee!) and again, only 2 from the library.
Favourites: I have a few 4-star reads this month.
Kristin Lavransdatter by Undset
Austerlitz by Sebald
Sula by Morrison
Hallucinating Foucault by Duncker
American War by El Akkad. Wow, that one will stay with me for a long time. It's fiction but with all that is going on today with climate change and such, this could very well happen. Scary.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by Berendt. Loved the lush descriptions of Savannah and it's interesting characters in the first half. I was a little less enthralled by the second half when the murder is discussed but overall, it was quite enjoyable.
Lincoln in the Bardo by Saunders. I finally made it through! Nothing against Saunders, because this is an amazing literary feat, but it's just not my cup of tea. I am still giving it 4 stars just for the sheer work and creativity that went into this novel.
Pecked to Death by Ducks by Cahill. I really enjoy Cahill's style. He travels all over the world and sometimes witnesses some pretty crappy situations but he knows when to drop a joke. This one has a mix of everything from ornery animals to environmental catastrophes.
Exercises in Style by Queneau. Very inventive yet repetitive (of course, that is the point). Queneau take a simple story about a man on a bus and re-invents it in 99 different ways. Some are really creative, some rather weird.
The Gunslinger by King. I am trying to read King's novels in order (or as close as I can get) so this one was next. I remember trying to read it many years ago and I didn't get far. I finished it this time but I am rather confused as to where the series is going. I will continue on as it's a rather fascinating story but man, I am confuzzled.
A Boy in Winter by Seiffert. This novel takes place in 1941 in a small Ukrainian village that is being taken over by the SS. The story covers three nights and shifts between three groups of people who are connected only because of the war. It's on the longlist for the Woman's Prize.
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Ward. Another Woman's Prize longlist title. I really wanted to like this one more but I just couldn't really engage with it. The writing is beautiful and some of the characters were great: Jojo (his love for his sister was wonderful) and Given (a clever insert).
You Need a Budget by Mecham. A rather basic book on budgeting but he has some interesting ideas that I will adopt.
Home Fire by Shamsie. Another fantastic book from the Women's Prize longlist. This one looks at a family torn apart by violence. Isma is raising her younger sister and brother after their father, a jihadist, left the family early on and her mother dies of a heart attack. Even after they all go their separate ways, their father's actions continue to follow them. It's a fascinating look at terrorism and it's far-reaching consequences.
The Boat People by Bala. I am working my way through some of the Canada Reads books and finished this one today. I have also been listening to the CR podcasts where the author does a brief intro & Q/A. Bala says that she got the inspiration for the book from a visit to Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. While she was looking at the displays celebrating Canada's liberal immigration polices, a boat of refugees was docked across the country in Vancouver. They were herded into jails for months while their stories were checked, double checked and then checked again. She wanted to write a book that looked at this issue from all different sides and I thought she did a great job at showing a balanced view.
An Echo in the Bone by Gabaldon. More adventures with the Frasers (although they aren't featured half as much as other characters.) This one plods along for 700 pages and then all hell breaks loose for the last 100 pages.
See What I Have Done by Schmidt. Next up is a fictional re-telling of the Lizzie Borden story. I am rather underwhelmed so far.
Finished and still underwhelmed. The story is told from the point-of-view of a few different people including Lizzie and her sister. In some ways this worked but it got a little confusing at times because it jumped forward and backwards in time. I think if I had of been more engaged with the story, it would have flowed better, but I was a little bored and just wanted the book to end.
The Idiot by Batuman. What an odd book! On the one hand, it meanders along without a definitive plot (it's about a young Turkish American student's first year at Harvard and the book is basically a week-by-week account of her life). On the other hand, there is so much going on in this novel. There is the continuous reference to Russian literature (including the title) which was fun trying to puzzle meaning from. Then you have a character who has lived a rather sheltered life and is now trying to figure out the nuances of living in a dorm with others, make friends and understand all the popular culture jargon that is bantered about. And trying to figure out love.
And the Canada Reads nominees with:
Forgiveness by Sakamato. A sad yet inspiring memoir of a Japanese family living in BC during the outbreak of WWII. Definitely a huge stain on our history but one that I hope we continue to learn from.
ETA to add that this one won Canada Reads 2018. Congrats to Sakamoto and Bekker!
Eleanor Oliphant is Fine by Honeyman. This book made me laugh and cry and then laugh again. There is so much going on in this rather under-stated book. First of all, Eleanor is a very particular woman who lives a solitary life according to a strict set of self-imposed rules. She has no friends or family and has convinced herself that this is exactly what she wants. Until one day she makes a friend and her life is turned upside down (in a good way).
But this isn't the first time her life has been turned upside. As the story progresses, we find out more about her past and what has lead her to the life she has now. It's a roller coaster ride but well worth the trip.
Precious Cargo by Davidson. My 4th Canada Reads nominee and another good one (choosing a winner this year is going to be difficult). This one is a memoir about a struggling writer who takes a job as a bus driver to make ends meet and he is assigned a route with six special needs kids. I was worried that it would be just another heartwarming tale of transformation but Davidson didn't go there. Instead, it was funny, sad and inspiring. Highly recommended.
Secrets in Death by Robb. A little brain candy for the long weekend. Normally I enjoy these thrillers but in this case, the female author spends a lot of time making fun of her own strong, female character. Can't say that I was all that impressed.
Bone Black by hooks. A lovely little memoir about someone I read a lot of in university. It was basically short snippets of her life as she grow up and discovered who she was.
As You Wish by Elwes. A cute memoir of the making of The Princess Bride written by Westley himself. I can't believe it's been 30 years since that movie came out. Inconceivable!
Christine by King. Continuing my journey into Stephen King with this one. If anyone else wrote a book about a psychotic car, I would never read it. But King seems to take any odd subject and make it a creepy, enjoyable read.
I Am a Truck by Winters. This one was short listed for the Giller Prize last year. It's an odd little tale about a couple about to celebrate their anniversary when Rejean goes missing. The police find his Silverado parked on the side of the road with the door left open and a half eaten lunch under the seat. Agathe has always lived a rather sheltered life with her husband so his disappearance throws her into a tailspin. She eventually gets a job and in the process, begins to discover herself as she rebuilds her life.
I finished 4 of the 5 Canada Reads nominees and enjoyed them all. The theme this year is 'One Book to Open Your Eyes' and I think all of them fit that description.
I am plodding along with the Women's Prize nominees. I have a few more in the pile so hopefully I can fit them in soon. For now, I am in the middle of more brain candy: Night Moves by Kellerman. It's not bad so far.
Read: 23 books in total. Non-fiction - 5, fiction 18. Hmmm.....
Source: 8 off my own shelves (yippee!) and 15 from the library (yikes - it's those prize nominees that get me every time!).
Favourites: Quite a few 4-star reads this month.
American War by E Akkad (4 1/2 stars)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by Berendt
Lincoln in the Bardo by Saunders
Home Fire by Shamsie
Bone Black by hooks
Eleanor Oliphant is Fine by Honeyman
Secrets in Death by Robb
See What I Have Done by Schmidt
Night Moves by Kellerman. I think I need to stick with older thrillers. Authors today seem to think that they must throw in everything from sociopaths to serial killers. It was really good until the second half when everything explodes. Good book but there was way too much going on.
Marrow Thieves by Dimaline. The last Canada Reads nominee finished and it's actually my least favourite. It's a rather odd YA book about a world where most people have lost the ability to dream. Certain Native peoples are still able to dream so they are now being hunted and cultivated for this ability. Weird premise that I never truly understood.
Dune by Herbert. Loved this one! Wondering why I never read it before.
I just love this book! I was an 80's child so I love all the cheesy references. It's such a fun way to spend an afternoon.
I was on the fence when I started this book. The premise is similar to Ready Player One but the storyline couldn't be more different. Card really looks at the psychological effects of war on people (in this case, kids). While RPO is fun, this one is rather sombre and disturbing.
Different Seasons by King. Next one in my quest to read his works in order. The man knows how to write a great short story.
Ender's game was one of my favorite books, which I read at least twice, but that was when I was younger and I wonder how I would react to it now. What did you think of it?
Coincidentally I was thinking the other day of re-reading Songmaster which left a very strong impression and that I've read three times, I think.
I Let You Go by Mackintosh. This thriller had a million twists and turns. I was totally on board until the last one so it loses half a star for taking things too far.
It's difficult to make suggestions but maybe you could try The risen empire by Scott Westerfeld (this is an adult book by an author who mostly writes YA fiction - his Uglies trilogy predated the fad created by The hunger games and I adore it, maybe you would enjoy it also). Be aware that depending on the editions, the book is either the first of two or the whole thing published in one book.
Dystopia is a genre I'm really fond of and a book that IMO deserves to be better known is This perfect day by Ira Levin.
Congrats for being able to branch out of your comfort zone btw!
ETA - apparently, I own This Perfect Day. D'oh! Is it bad to have books but not realise that you have them? That doesn't indicate a problem, does it? :)
No, it absolutely doesn't indicate a problem. :) I hate it when the reverse happens though, when I think I have a book in my shelves and can't find it, or remember if I have lent it to someone. This actually happened to me for The Risen Empire yesterday.
I See You by Mackintosh. Meh. It was an okay mystery but nothing to get excited about.
This Perfect Day by Levin. Found it! I didn't realise that I had the kindle version. D'oh. I could have sworn that I had a paper copy....
Anywho, great book so thanks for the suggestion! I love dystopian stuff and this was fantastic. Creepy, disturbing and sadly, somewhat realistic. I am still thinking about the ending.
The Cutting Edge by Deaver. Okay then. I wanted something interesting but that didn't require me to think. Instead I got a mystery that was way over the top and totally unbelievable.
City of Endless Night by Preston and Childs. Interesting story line and we finally see a bit of weakness in the super-perfect Pendergast.
The Stone Monkey by Deaver. Sigh, I am getting rather tired of super villains who defy all laws of physics. I just might be done with Deaver...
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by See. I just finished listening to audiobook. As usual, I find myself both horrified at some of the practices (ie: killing human rejects) but also fascinated by the world that See creates and immerses the reader in. She makes me uncomfortable at times and teaches me so much at other times. It's a rather unique reading experience that I enjoy overall.
Dark in Death by Robb. A rather solid murder mystery. After umpteen books in this series, I am surprised that she hasn't run out of ideas. She does have a habit of making Eve look stupid when she doesn't get pop culture references. That can stop any time.
Year of Less by Flanders. I wasn't expecting this to be as well-written and intriguing as it is. It's a rather no-holds-barred, bare-your-soul kind of book about rediscovering the important things in life. It motivated me to make a few changes.
Vi by Thuy. Love this author! Her novels are short little things but the stories she tells are so complex.
We Are Still Tornadoes by Kun. Letters between two best friends: one is off to university while the other is working in his dad's store. I was rather hoping that this would be a tale of a boy and girl who can stay friends without falling in love but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
The Railway Children by Nesbit. I am trying to fill in some YA blanks from my childhood. This is a lovely tale of children dealing with the mysterious absence of their father and a new life.
Sins of the Father by Archer
Best Kept Secret by Archer
Be Careful What You Wish For by Archer
Mightier Than the Sword by Archer
Cometh the Hour by Archer
This Was a Man by Archer
Got a little carried away with the Clifton Chronicles this week. I was sick most of the weekend so this series was a good way to pass the time.
All got rated a generic
Woman on the Edge of Time by Piercy
I read this a million years ago at Uni and loved it. I thought it was time for a re-read - still love it. It's part utopia/dystopia and part critique of psychiatry. Connie is hospitalised for supposed violent behaviour. It's never really clear whether she is there for convenience sake or what but the doctors are quite keen to experiment on her to 'cure' her. During her stay, she starts communicating with a person in another time who shows her an alternative world where gender has been largely eradicated.
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Jaswal
Well, apparently this really is a book about Punjabi widows writing erotic stories! Nikki, the rebel in her family because she moved out on her own and has no desire for an arranged marriage, takes a job teaching creative writing. She soon realises that her students aren't exactly what she thought they would be and the class becomes a secret club for women looking for a brief escape from the social norms of their community. The book takes place in Britain, so there is also an interesting look at social norms from an immigrant's point of view. Really interesting novel (although the mystery part was weird and unnecessary).
Pastoralia by Saunders. It took me a few tries to read Lincoln in the Bardo but when I finally finished, I thought it was briliantly done. Now that I have read some of his short stories, I am rather convinced that the man is a genius. These stories were varied and somewhat odd at times, but engaging and enjoyable.
Cocaine Nights by Ballard. What a weird, screwed-up mystery! But, then again, you kind of expect that from Ballard.
In A Free State by Naipaul. First of all, I love Naipaul's writing style. He is just so descriptive in his prose; I feel like I am actually there. The stories were interesting but I don't know how they connected to the prologue and epilogue. It was a little disjointed.
Uglies by Westerfield. I loved the premise of this book. It's a dystopian novel where they try to deal with power imbalances by making everyone 'pretty' on their 16th birthday. Once you have the operation, you live in a different place and are encouraged to have fun all the time. It's definitely a YA book, and the writing style reflects that, but it's also remarkably complex. I will definitely continue on with the series.
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ware. I like this one a lot better than Woman in Cabin Five but it was still a little over the top. I still don't completely understand why the killer did what they did.
Still Life by Penny. I tried reading this a long time ago but I guess it wasn't the right time as I didn't get far. This time, however, I really liked it. Lots of twists and turns but ones that aren't too far-fetched and unbelievable. I have the next few on kindle so I will continue on.
Spin by Wilson. I am fast becoming a sci-fi fan. A rather timely novel about climate change and the possibility of the end of earth.
Far From the Madding Crowd by Hardy. My first Hardy! It flowed well and I enjoyed the story but Bathsheba was more annoying than spirited.
I'm glad you liked Spin, and it really does seem as if you are becoming a sci-fi fan! :) You might like the Revelation Space series by Alastair Reynolds, which I'm currently reading.
I really liked the Uglies series and am always glad when people like it! I'm looking forward to see your opinion on the rest of the series. Westerfeld touches in a light way on heavy subjects for teenagers and I really liked that.
Woman on the Edge of Time is awesome. I read it in university and have thought about it ever since. I think this was the first dystopian/utopian book I read so it started the love.
Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Archer. A short but sweet novel of clever revenge.
Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Gabaldon. As much as I enjoy these books, the series is getting a little long in the tooth so hopefully the next one is the last.
Little House in the Big Woods by Ingalls Wilder
Little House on the Prairie by Ingalls Wilder
Farmer Boy by Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Ingalls Wilder
By The Shores of Silver Lake by Ingalls Wilder
The Long Winter by Ingalls Wilder
Little Town on the Prairie by Ingalls Wilder
These Happy Golden Years by Ingalls Wilder
The First Four Years by Ingalls Wilder
I've owned this box set forever. I know I read some as a kid but I have no idea where I left off so now I am reading them all in order.
for the series.
The Couple Next Door by Lapena. An okay mystery but I found it really predictable.
Fatal Grace by Penny. The second is the series. Good mystery but a little too unbelievable. The killer came up with that method of death? Really???
The Phoenix and the Carpet by Nesbit. I remember the mini series from my school days. Loved this story!
The Talisman by King and Straub. I read this eons ago but remembered nothing about it except the final scene. Still creepy and enjoyable weird.
It by King. Another one I read eons ago that I am re-reading. This one terrified me then and now. Still don't like clowns.
Fatelessness by Kertesz. Wow, what an amazing book. I was expecting yet another WWII book about concentration camps (and preparing for the wave of horror to pass over while reading) but this was completely different. What a unique perspective of a horrific situation. I immediately bought the rest of the trilogy.
The Violent Bear It Away by O'Connor. I love her short stories but I wasn't a fan of this longer novel. It reminded me a lot of my evangelical grandfather so that may have coloured things a little (or a lot).
Cycle of the Werewolf by King. Interesting short story with cool drawings to accompany it.
House of Mirth by Wharton. Not a lot of mirth in this one. A fascinating look at the lack of choices that women had at the time. Very sad!
not a lot of mirth
This comment made me finally look up what mirth means and apparently it's not a vine of some sort. I have learned something today. :)
Horrorstor by Hendrix. Funny, weird and mildly scary. It's a tongue-in-cheek horror story that takes place in a faux-Ikea store.
Berlin Alexanderplatz by Doibin. I don't generally like experimental fiction especially in translation (I always feel that things get lost). While I can appreciate what he has done here, I was bored by the story and rather horrified by the casual violence.
The Story of the Amulet by Nesbitt. The last in the trilogy. These are such fun books about a group of siblings travelling back and forth in time. In this one, they are searching for the other half of an amulet that will give them the power to cure their mother and return their father from the war.
Dead Air by Banks. I seem to like Banks or something. This one reminded me a lot of Ballard's stuff.
The Fan Man by Kotzwinkle. Wow, man. This like made me laugh out loud a lot man. No idea how this made the 1001 list but oddly enough, I am glad it did.
Platform by Houellebecq. Similar writing style to Ballard. The plot was interesting: guy finds out that his father was murdered so he goes off on a Thai adventure to forget about life for a while. Despite his racial crudeness, he attracts the attention of a woman who becomes his lover once they return home and she helps thaw his bitter heart.
The Devil and Miss Prym by Coelho. Yet another morality tale of good versus evil.
Atrocity Exhibition by Banks. A disturbing look into the mind of a psychiatric patient who has set up an exhibition of atrocities in his mind.
This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Borowski. This one will stay with me for a long time. A collection of short stories of a concentration camp from the point-of-view of a non-Jewish prisoner.
The Eyes of the Dragon by King. Stephen King does fantasy. Interesting story but a little too much like Jeffrey Archer does fantasy.
Squeezed by Quart. What an eye-opening book on poverty in America.
Bibliophile by Mount. What a cute book! It's filled with drawings of bookstores, books and authors around the world plus book trivia and neat book-related facts.
The Bookshop Book by Campbell. A quirky book about bookstores around the world plus a ton of other book miscellanea. An awesome book to pick away at.
Misery by King. The movie is great but man, the book has so much more going on. King describes the descent into madness so well.
Mysterious Affair at Styles by Christie. Her first novel and the first Poirot. Very well done! I liked following the clues to the end. Newer mysteries are more about the twists but she is about the gradually build up and subsequent reveal - I prefer this style.
The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man by Jonasson. Not near as funny as the first (mostly because this one had quite a lot of non-fiction thrown in that made me really sad for the future of this planet - the author really hates Trump!).
Maisie Dobbs by Winspear
After person after person recommended this series (it has been suggested every year by people weighing in on Santathing suggestions for me), I finally decided to buy the first book and loved it. What a delight! Parts were a little overdone but the general story is lovely. Maisie is plucked out of poverty by a kind benefactor who recognises her intelligence and sends her off to university. WWI interferes and she is briefly sidelined but now it's years later and she is working as a PI.
Birds of a Feather by Winspear. I am quite enjoying this series.
All We Ever Wanted by Giffin. It's not often that I read a book and hate everything about it. This made me so incredibly angry, mostly because this shit happens all the time.
An Incomplete Revenge by Winspear. This has become my brain candy after a trying day.
>169 Yells: I have Shirley Jackson slated in for the new year! Looking forward to this one, and many others.
>182 Yells: Ordered full collection of Edith Wharton after reading her ghost stories online. I've read only 2 of her novels, so Mirth is next! Then Frome perhaps. She has poetry too, and is buried in France, because … why not. She turned out to be quite the rebel, when I looked at her biography info. I like a polished persona with a spark of rebellion. =D Architects still visit her home to study her design ideas, indoor and outdoor. Lovely gardens, lovely use of space. Left only due to divorce. Glad she combined many of her experiences into effective plot fodder.
Now Wharton I have read quite a bit of and I am still looking for a happy book. Here's hoping that someone in Age of Innocence cracks a smile!
I have become a Shirley Jackson fan... enjoy!
The Mars Room by Kushner. Loved it but man, what a sad book. Some people are born with the world stacked against them.
Among The Mad by Winspear. Can't seem to get enough of Maisie these days.
Heartland by Smarsh. Disturbing to read especially in light of all that is happening in the US.
The Running Man by King/Bachman. So different from the movie.
Ad Nauseam by McLaren and Torchinsky. Interesting articles and tidbits from the world of advertising.
The Mapping of Love and Death by Winspear. Brain candy again... bad week :)
Minimalism by Nicodemis. I love de-cluttering but man, these two make it sound boring.
Quartet in Autumn by Pym. Four co-workers who barely know each other seem to find common connections after retirement.
Leaving Everything Most Loved by Winspear. Interesting turn of events.
A Dangerous Place by Winspear. I am adding Maisie to my list of people to never go on vacation with though. Agatha Christie, Angela Lansbury and now Maisie. No dead bodies on my vackay!
Killing Commendatore by Murakami. Dare I say that I was a little bored during the first half? I love Murakami but this one didn't dazzle me like some of his others. He re-used quite a bit from his other novels. It got a 3-star because of the awesome depictions of art.
I think you're the first person I've seen on LT actually read the latest Murakami. I personally have no desire to read it. Do you think I'm wrong?
An Ocean of Minutes by Lim. This book affected me more than I thought it would. A woman time travels in order to save her significant other and they make plans to meet up again in the future. Most of the book is her journey to try and find him in a completely different world. In the ending, I was crying in frustration alongside Polly.
Drunkard or L'Assommoir by Zola. I love Zola. His books can make me laugh and cry and pull out my hair in frustration. Everything is just so real.
Red Harvest by Hallett. Does everyone die in this book? Geesh....
The novel was quite eye-opening for me; not only for the elder care part of the story, but also because it looks at the unrealistic demands put on females in families. In addition to her job, Akiko did all the cooking and cleaning in the home and somehow became responsible for the care of her FIL (her husband was beyond useless but her son helped a bit). Her employer was surprisingly accommodating so she was able to keep her job in the end.
Overall it was an interesting novel and with parents in their 70s, a timely one for me.
Pierre and Jean by de Maupassant. Sibling jealousy and family secrets. A short novel with a lot of action.
Wild Harbour by Macpherson. A draft dodger and his wife hide in a cave and manage to survive for a bit but since their hiding place was really near the action, you know it is just a matter of time before something happens.
A Handful of Dust by Waugh
Satire at its best. These people are awful!
The Big Sleep by Chandler
My first Chandler and I really liked it. Marlowe is so very sarcastic and it was wonderful.
Rasselas by Johnson
A short novella about the search for meaning in life. A sheltered Prince and his sister escape with the help of a friend and set out to explore the world. Interesting ending...
Legend by Gemmell
As a fan of Game of Thrones, this one was right up alley. Lots of strategy and fighting mixed with a touch of magic. Very entertaining!
If Not Now, When? by Levi
Based on a true story of a rag-tag group of survivors, mostly Jews, who twart German plans as they try to find their way to freedom.
Castle of Otranto by Walpole
The birth of the gothic novel. A short but enjoyable tale of murder and intrigue.
Cider With Rosie by Lee
A lovely memoir of a childhood in the Cotswolds. I had no idea a kid could get so many illnesses and diseases back then and still survive. Yikes...
Cubs and Other Stories by Varga Llosa
A bunch of short stories about growing up and 'being a man' in Peru. The first story, The Cubs, was the best one. I felt for that poor kid.
Day of the Dolphin by Merle Hmm, talking dolphins used in warfare. Okay then...
Optimist's Daughter by Welty
A woman returns home to be by her father's side while he has eye surgery. The surgery goes well but he dies suddenly and now the daughter and her rather young stepmother are left to pick up the pieces. Between dealing the gold-digger and finding lost letters of her mother's, Laurel learns a lot about herself and her family.
Vathek by Beckford
Ah, the 1002 story of the Arabian nights (or so critics said about this novel). Beckford apparently loved the stories and decided to write one for himself. Not bad but I am glad it was short.
The Commandant by Anderson
I quite liked this one. It's based on a true story about a penal colony in what is now Brisbane in 1830's Australia. The commandant is a man named Patrick Logan and he is known for being rather heavy handed with punishment. His wife's younger sister Francis comes to stay and she is appalled by the violence (and not exactly afraid to call him out on it) . As the novel progresses, things go from bad to worse.
The Trial by Kafka
Imagine waking up one morning and finding out that you are under arrest but you are never told why. You spend the next year going experiencing a bizarre series of events as you try to make sense of things. Love Kafka!
Love in the Time of Cholera by Marquez
I obviously tried reading this book before (as evidenced by the bookmark stuck inside) but I didn't get far and don't remember much about it. I guess this was the right time as I finished it in two days and loved it. Florentino is a poor young poet who falls in love with Fermina, the rich daughter of a well known businessman (who is really a criminal). Needless to say, dad isn't too happy about this so he does his best to keep them apart, and through a series of events, she ends up marrying an up and coming doctor instead. Florentino can't get her out of his mind so while he waits for her husband to die, he sets about making his fortune (and pretty much sleeping with any one available).
The best part of the book is the writing style. It's just so sensual. With every page, you are invited to use all your senses to 'see'. From Fermina's heightened sense of smell to the brilliant colours of the décor in the house to the sounds along the waterways, it all brings the story to life.
Ulysses by Joyce.
What a trip this was! I started almost a year ago by listening to the Re: Joyce podcasts by Frank Delaney. He did a fabulous job unpacking each line and paragraph and really brought the prose to life. Unfortunately, after 6 years and 9 episodes reviewed, the poor man died before he could finish his ambitious project so I ended up finishing with the help of Shmoop.com.
On the one hand, it's a rather simple story about two Dublin residents, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, going about their day. There are a whole host of other characters who pop in and out throughout as well including Blooms' wife Molly and the actual novel. On the other hand, it's a multi-layered story told in a variety of different ways from stream-of-consciousness to a dramatic play. The last chapter is one very long sentence covering 20 odd pages.
I was dreading this book but by the end, I found myself enjoying it. I think once you get a rhythm going and understand where Joyce is coming from, it's not a hard read. There are a million references that went over my head (he talks a lot about politics and religion) but even without knowing those, it was accessible and enjoyable. At some point when I have another year or two to spend on a book, I might try tackling Finnegan's Wake.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin by de Bernieres. This book has been on my love/hate list for a long, long time. I honestly don't remember how many times I have started it and stalled. I would get 50 pages in, get bored and set it aside. The stubborn part of me can't completely bail on a book so this time I was determined to finish and get rid of it. You can imagine my shock and surprise when it turned out to be good! Personally, I blame the person who cast Nicholas Cage as Corelli because he totally ruined the movie for me and I think I projected that hate on to the book. Poor de Bernieres didn't deserve it because his book is lovely. It is a love story wrapped up in a history lesson and it made me laugh and cry.
Warlight by Ondaatje. I am not sure how I feel about this one. Beautiful writing, as usual, but I didn't buy the story. Two kids come home from school and find their parents packing. The father works for a multi-national company and is being moved to Singapore for a year so the kids are being left behind with a family 'friend' nicknamed The Moth (who may or may not be a criminal). Right.
Spoiler! Turns out mom is a spy and there are some bad people after her. She leaves the kids with someone safe to protect them (but they stay in their old home?) and she keeps an eye on them from afar. Dad just disappears because he wanted a divorce and the kids never see him again (nice dad). The whole thing seemed a little flimsy to me.
Half of Man is Woman by Xianliang. After reading Wild Swans a few years ago, I have been interested in the Cultural Revolution. This is a semi-autobiographical novel about a writer who is sent to a labour camp because his poems are too rightist. I am always fascinated to read about other people's experiences whether good, bad or otherwise.
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Hardy. Poor Tess! Honestly, this woman can't catch a break, can she? Her parents are awful, Alec is horrific and even her beloved Angel is an ass. The only happiness she finds is in milking cows on a farm and even that gets ripped away.
Washington Black by Ediguyan. I loved Half-Blood Blues so I was so excited to read this one. I thought it was a story about a young slave boy but it turned out to be so much more. It got a little far-fetched in the end but the story was so engaging that I could forgive that.
George Washington Black is a young slave boy living on a plantation in Barbados and one day his master dies. The next brother in line takes over and he is a nasty piece of work with a sadistic side towards slaves. His younger brother, however, is appalled by all this and just wants to visit for awhile to conduct experiments and work on his new invention; a flying machine called a Cloud Catcher. He adopts Wash as his assistant and teaches him about science and nature and together they discover Wash's talent for drawing and painting. The tension between the two brothers come to a head when they learn that their father has died. Shortly after, a tragic event occurs and changes the course of everyone's lives.
Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas. Fantastic! This book has everything; murder, intrigue, adventure, romance and above all... sweet, sweet revenge.
Midnight Examiner by Kotzwinkle. Do you laugh or cringe? Or both... oh my. If you enjoy the humour in things like the play Book of Mormon, this one is for you.
Vicky Angel by Wilson. A short YA book on the BBC 100 list. It's about a young girl who loses her best friend and must learn to deal with the loss and find herself.
Born a Crime by Noah. I went from not knowing who this guy is (don't have cable), to learn all about his childhood in this fascinating of a mixed kid growing up in South Africa during apartheid.
Midnight's Children by Rushdie. My first Rushdie novel. I liked it but wasn't blown away by it. I know a bit of the history, so I enjoyed that part, and I liked how he tied the birth of the children to the birth of the nation but I wasn't a fan of the magical realism. It just felt like an odd addition to the story. Or maybe the story went too far over my head.
Colour of Magic by Pratchett. My first but definitely not last Discworld book. I know Discworld experts all suggest starting with book 3 (as did Pratchett himself) but I just can't start a series anywhere except at book one, even when it's not a series per se.
Don Quixote by de Cervantes. Oh Don... roaming the land in fake armour fighting windmills and 'rescuing' damsels in distress. What's not to love? And poor Sancho. That man deserves a medal.
It could have been a lot shorter and still as enjoyable.
Katherine by Seton. I really liked this one. Part historical novel and part real, it takes place in the 1300s in England and is a story about a duke and his mistress and the lengths they go to to be together.
Our Homesick Songs by Hooper. A beautifully lyrical novel about a remote village in Newfoundland that is at risk of disappearing. Fishing was the biggest industry there but now the fish have all gone so the townspeople are moving elsewhere in search of work.
Good Omens by Pratchett/Gaiman. I really wanted to LOVE this novel but despite the wonderful humour that kept me giggling all throughout, the storyline was a bit boring. There were parts that were absolute genius but other parts that just made me scratch my head.
Heads You Win by Archer. After a busy Christmas, it's nice to curl up on the couch with some interesting brain candy. After his father is murdered, Alex and his mother escape Russia on a container ship. At the last second, they must choose between a ship bound for America or one bound for Britain. The story then splits and we find out what would have happen to them in each country. The story was great but the ending was weird.
Woman in the Window by Finn. What a disappointing book to finish the year with. Yet another 'thriller' about an unreliable narrator who, of course, has to be female and of course, a drunk (is there some kind of checklist that potential authors seem to think they must follow?) Highly predictable and rather boring. I finished it because I always finish books, but I should have skipped this 'must read' crap and cleaned the house instead.
Total read: 223, fiction - 190 and non-fiction: 33
Some of my favourites:
Kristin Lavransdatter by Undset
A Dry White Season by Brink
The Forsyte Saga by Galsworthy
Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas
Sula by Morrison
American War by El Akkad
Home Fire by Shamsie
Dune by Herbert
Vi by Thuy
Fatelessness by Kertesz (hands down my favourite book this year. So, so powerful)
The Fan Man by Kotzwinkle (don't ask, I don't get my fascination with this one either. But man did it make me laugh)
This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Borowski
Captain Corelli's Mandolin by de Bernieres
Washington Black by Ediguyan
Katherine by Seton