merry10's 2009 reading

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merry10's 2009 reading

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1merry10
Bearbeitet: Dez. 28, 2009, 10:21pm

Current books:
The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney, Henry Handel Richardson

Chronology of reading;

December
65. Howard's End, EM Forster
64. Paintings in Proust, Eric Karpeles
63. Proust's Way: A field guide to In Search Of Lost Time, Roger Shattuck
62. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larrson
61. Swann's Way, Marcel Proust
60. By Heart: 101 Poems to Remember, Ted Hughes (ed.)
59. The Forgotten Garden, Kate Mortimer

November
58. Howard's End is on The Landing, Susan Hill
57. The Tree of Man, Patrick White
56. Tamarisk Row, Gerald Murnane
55. Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett

October
54. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, Mario Vargas Llosa
53. The Europeans, Henry James
52. Everything I Knew, Peter Goldsworthy
51. The World Beneath, Cate Kennedy
50. Summertime, J.M. Coetzee

September
49. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
48. The Spellman Files, Lisa Lutz
47. The City and The City, China Mieville

August
46. First Among Sequels, Jasper Fforde
45. Great Expectations (graphic novel), Charles Dickens, Jem Green (ill.)
44. Brooklyn, Colm Toibin

July
43. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Edward Fitzgerald, Tony Briggs
42. The little red writing book, Mark Tredinnick
41. Burnt Shadows, Kamila Shamsie
40. The Art of Fiction, David Lodge
39. The Lieutenant, Kate Grenville

June
38. Ransom, David Malouf
37. The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter
36. Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson
35. Oranges are not the only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson
34. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
33. The Gravedigger's Daughter, Joyce Carol Oates
21. The Leopard, Tomasi di Lampedusa (reread)
32. Wizard of the Crow, Ngugi wa Thiong'o
31. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
30. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
29. My Driver, Maggie Gee
28. The Beggar Maid, Alice Munro

January to May
27. The Women in Black, Madeleine St.John
26. Fugitive Blue, Claire Thomas
25. Confessions of a Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsella
24. The Undomestic Goddess, Sophie Kinsella
23. Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris
22. Urn Burial, Kerry Greenwood
21. The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa
20. Fire on the Deep, Vernor Vinge
19. The Overcoat, Nicolai Gogol
18. The Chosen Vessel, Barbara Baynton
17. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
16. My Antonia, Willa Cather
15. Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, Vincent Lam
14. The Quiet Life, Kenzaburo Oe
13. The Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West
12. The Outlander, Gil Adamson
11. Ex Libris, Anne Fadiman
10. The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge
9. Farthing, Jo Walton
8. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami
7. The View from Castle Rock, Alice Munro
6. The Super Crunchers, Ian Ayres
5. The Chrysalids, John Wyndham
4. Mapp and Lucia, E.F. Benson
3. Taking Pictures, Anne Enright
2. The Robber Bride, Margaret Atwood
1. The Girls, Lori Lansens

My 2008 reading: http://www.librarything.com/topic/26607

2merry10
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:11am

Hi Centurians, 100 book challengers and reading addicts. I have come to join this hardy band and intend to trek through mountains of too be read books this year. Happy reading!

3merry10
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:13am

"Too be read" should probably read "to be read", but somehow the "to" looked better with more letters in it. Too much too read too little time.

4mrstreme
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:00pm

Hi there! I have starred your thread and look forward to reading your posts! I promoted myself to the 75 book thread - come by and visit! =) Happy New Year!

5judylou
Jan. 3, 2009, 12:33am

Meg, you are too right!

6merry10
Jan. 5, 2009, 6:38am

Too right, Judy, too right indeed.

7merry10
Bearbeitet: Jan. 5, 2009, 7:09am

1. The Girls: A novel, Lori Lansens, 2005

This is the story of two sisters destined to be close, to share -almost everything - for the whole of their lives. They are conjoined twins. Uncomfortable as that sounds, this is a book of marvellous insight, warmth and cleverness. Ruby and Rose share the writing of a memoir and what I loved about it was the rightness feeling of the personal observations.

I also enjoyed the theme of writing about writing, that the fictional memoir developed alongside the narrative of the life stories. Uplifting.

This is a book I picked up after reading teelgee's 2008 list. Thank you teelgee! It's a great Orange January read.

8merry10
Bearbeitet: Jan. 5, 2009, 7:10am

2. The Robber Bride, Margaret Atwood, 1993

The Robber Bride is set in Toronto. It has four women characters Tony (Intellect), Charis (Intuition) and Roz (Street-Smarts) who battle with Arch-villainess Zenia who tells them all how it really is. Zenia is the woman who manipulates, tells stories, takes what she wants and utters uncomfortable truths. What Tony, Charis and Roz discover is that whatever Zenia takes has been made available to her through the gullibility or greed of others.

I found it interesting a bit like a superhero comic (maybe that's just me or maybe that's the way Atwood made these characters, kind of cartoony). I was in a particularly surly mood coming to read it and then found parts of it quite funny!

I thought it was great. Probably the girliest Girlybook I've read by Margaret Atwood. Three woman characters without good mothering challenged by an archetypal villainess written by a woman writer. It's all dealing with relationships, partnerships, motherhood, daughterhood and the healing nature of female friendships even between such tripolar characters.

Zenia and her dreadfulness made me positively gleeful. More soberingly though, you were challenged in the end to consider just what fault was hers, what kind of sympathy she deserved which was some, even if not a lot. How we connive with others and ourselves in the demonisation of other women if they threaten our view of ourselves and our relationships.

9englishrose60
Jan. 5, 2009, 8:09am

That's one for my wishlist!

10lenereadsnok
Jan. 5, 2009, 11:31am

>8 merry10:. Thanks for your review of The Robber Bride. I hope to get to that book this year, it has been on my TBR list forever. Great to see you liked it.

11shootingstarr7
Jan. 5, 2009, 12:40pm

It might be time for me to re-read The Robber Bride. I read it 5 or 6 years ago and didn't get much out of it.

12merry10
Jan. 7, 2009, 6:34am

3. Taking Pictures, Anne Enright

Book of short stories describing women's experience, their ambivalence, alienation or the gritty detail of a difficult moment. I found suprising moments of recognition. Excellent but discomfiting at times.

13merry10
Jan. 7, 2009, 6:37am

4. Mapp and Lucia, E.F. Benson, 1935

Entertainingly satiric novel of social machinations between Miss Elizabeth Mapp and Mrs Emmeline Lucas in Tilling, England, 1930. Superb wordsmithing and social swordswomanship.

14merry10
Jan. 7, 2009, 6:43am

>9 englishrose60: englishrose60, you read so many great novels. I hope The Robber Bride will be another.

>10 lenereadsnok: lenereadsnok, that is an interesting nick, how did you come by it?

>11 shootingstarr7: shootingstarr7, my reading tastes have sure changed over the last 5 or 6 years. I'm much more adventurous, and probably more forgiving of material I found dark or difficult. The Robber Bride is really quite a romp!

15lenereadsnok
Jan. 7, 2009, 10:09am

>14 merry10: merry: LOL, I bet it does sound silly to those of us outside of the United States. Lene (my name) reads n (in) (Ok)lahoma, one of the 50 states.

16merry10
Jan. 7, 2009, 3:12pm

Oklahoma makes a lot of sense now I know. Thanks Lene!

17judylou
Jan. 7, 2009, 7:40pm

Meg, I had that Enright book in my hot little hands yesterday at the cheap book shop. Should I regret not buying it I wonder?

18merry10
Jan. 7, 2009, 10:12pm

I borrowed mine!

19merry10
Jan. 7, 2009, 10:19pm

5. The Chrysalids, John Wyndham, 1955

I had read this as a teenager in the high school library so when I discovered this 1959 Penguin in it's traditional orange and cream jacket in the cellar I decided to reread. Very interesting and worthwhile. It tells a post-apocalyptic story of young people growing up in a society trying to rid itself of abominations - genetic mutations. What David discovers, is that he too, has a hidden difference.

20merry10
Bearbeitet: Jan. 8, 2009, 5:33pm

6. Super Crunchers, Ian Ayres, 2008

Had two interesting snippets on how analysing lots of data can improve public policy making and medical diagnoses.

21FlossieT
Jan. 9, 2009, 6:24pm

>13 merry10:: merry10, I read Mapp and Lucia for the first time last year and gather there are many more to come! It is really very English - but so funny. There is a UK TV series as well which my father-in-law LOVED long before he knew there were books too.

22merry10
Jan. 9, 2009, 6:35pm

FlossieT, I did enjoy them and have added "tarsome" and "au reservoir" to my vocabulary.

23merry10
Bearbeitet: Jan. 12, 2009, 6:32am

7. The View From Castle Rock, Alice Munro, 2006

The View from Castle Rock is a book of short stories based on Alice Munro's family history research and memoir. The Laidlaw family emigrated to Canada from Scotland in the 1830's. We have fictional reconstructions, family stories, excerpts from diaries and letters.

So much of what Alice Munro writes resonates with me, how she can see the ambivalences, tease out the social connections and differences in how people relate to each other.

There are paragraphs I read out to my DH, laughing at just how apt they were to our own country life, our own family history, or my mother-in-law's interest in family history research. I loved the chapter about visiting libraries in search of information.

I'm reading this now because I wanted a book by a significant Canadian author. I've read Alice Munro's Dance of the Happy Shades and am now on the look out for her other books.

24merry10
Bearbeitet: Jan. 15, 2009, 5:46pm

8. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami, 1997

I'm reading this for the Reading Globally January Japan challenge and it's my first book in translation this year.

I found this a very interesting novel that quietly washes over you but leaves you with so many different themes to think about. Toru Okada has lost his cat, then his wife leaves him. He meets a troubled teen and has lots of interesting conversations. He's not working, and is not madly looking for work. He starts moving into a supernatural underworld in search of his wife and the meaning behind Japan's occupation of Manchuria years before becomes part of the search. More info here

25merry10
Jan. 21, 2009, 10:50pm

9. Farthing, Jo Walton, 2006

Set in Britain, 1949, seven years after a history is changed by a negotiated peace with Hitler in 1942. This alternative history is presented like a Dorothy Sayers mystery, where a murder occurs during a weekend house party of a political elite comprised of the aristocracy. The death scene appears to crudely implicate a Jew. The point of the book is not the solving of the mystery, but to show how control of the media and law enforcement can allow the rise of fascism. I found it a window into the events leading to the Holocaust. Nasty but informative.

http://www.librarything.com/topic/53934

26merry10
Jan. 21, 2009, 10:52pm

10. The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge, 2007

Neuroplasticity anecdotes.

27torontoc
Bearbeitet: Jan. 22, 2009, 4:28pm

I saw the series,(Farthing, Ha'Crown and Ha'Penny by Jo Walton and have put them all on my list of TBR!

28englishrose60
Jan. 22, 2009, 3:56pm

Farthing is now on my tbr list.

29merry10
Jan. 23, 2009, 6:44am

>27 torontoc:>28 It was an interesting way to get a history lesson.

30merry10
Jan. 23, 2009, 6:48am

11. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, Anne Fadiman, 1998

Great series of essays on the love of books. I really enjoyed the one on marrying two libraries. This book has had so many raves on LT. It's really a book lover's box of chocolates.

31merry10
Bearbeitet: Jan. 23, 2009, 6:58am

12. The Outlander, Gil Adamson, 2007

I really enjoyed this, but I wondered whether I would survive the heart-stopping suspense of the first chapters. Mary Boulton is on the run from two vengeful brothers after killing her husband. How she survives the Canadian wilderness with the kindness of strangers and her own sometimes wandering wits is a great story. Alias Grace meets The Tenderness of Wolves in a Western.

32MsMoto
Jan. 23, 2009, 7:10am

The Outlander sounds like a great read. How do you rate its chances for Canada Reads?

33merry10
Jan. 23, 2009, 7:21am

I'm Australian, so can't say, but this book was a rip-snorting adventure with a Gothic backstory. Lots of adventurous fun so should do well in any popular literature competition.

34judylou
Jan. 24, 2009, 12:56am

merry, I love your description of The Outlander :). I am also interested to see how you like your current book. I have had the Lam book on my radar for a while now.

35merry10
Jan. 24, 2009, 1:07am

>34 judylou: Judy, the writing is great too. Just so many moments of high drama that I found it quite theatrical, hence likening it to a Western! I'm reading the Lam book in between others, like my Katherine Mansfield collection. They are good.

36merry10
Bearbeitet: Jan. 24, 2009, 1:20am

13. The Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West, 1918

A compelling Freudian drama. A soldier returns from the front having lost 15 years of his memory. Three women must deal with the consequences. An old girlfriend, Margaret, his cousin Jenny and his wife Kitty.

I found the book remarkable for the contrast between riches and beauty with poverty and ugliness and for when true generosity of spirit and spiritual love softly shone. Rebecca West made a disconcertingly vicious depiction of class differences. I didn't think I would grieve because of her detached description, but I did.

The book's title has three meanings that change through the narrative. I was really impressed by this short novel. Just lucky to find this Virago Modern Classic in a second hand bookshop this week!

ETA: Now I know what a character driven plot looks like! Bit abstract before!

37jfetting
Jan. 24, 2009, 1:09pm

I loved Ex Libris, too - and the chocolate analogy is perfect!

This is the second rave I've read about The Return of the Soldier this week. It is moving steadily up the tbr list.

38Nickelini
Jan. 26, 2009, 6:58pm

Meg -- great comments on Return of the Soldier, which is currently hovering around "favourite book ever" status (although after much reflection, I'm sure it won't actually edge out James and the Giant Peach). I have two more classes on it, so I'm holding back on writing my comments. I know two of the meanings for the title, didn't realize there was a third. I'll have to go think about it, and if I can't figure it out I'll be back to ask you. My Penguin Classics edition doesn't have great notes.

39merry10
Jan. 26, 2009, 8:45pm

Spoilers: First there's the return of the injured soldier from the front (tragic for Kitty); then there is the return of the responsible man (soldier) from his sojourn in 15 year old memories (tragic for Margaret)and finally there is the return of the healed soldier back to the front (tragic for Jenny).

James and the Giant Peach you say! I'm not sure if I have a favourite any more. I have such difficulty giving less than five stars at the moment!

40merry10
Bearbeitet: Jan. 26, 2009, 9:12pm

14. A Quiet Life, Kenzaburo Oe, 1990

I picked this up for Reading Globally's January Japan theme read. It was a clever, dense novel about a Japanese family and I liked it. My response is here.

41cushlareads
Jan. 26, 2009, 10:49pm

Nickelini, my copy of The Return of the Solider's the VMC one with an intro by Victoria Glendinning. I liked it (but remember I'm not a lit major!) - if you have to do a paper on it, yell out and I'll scan it and email it over to you.

Merry sorry for spamming your thread... I see you're reading Katherine Mansfield... I really should do that one day!

42Nickelini
Jan. 26, 2009, 11:02pm

Cmt -- you rock! I just might take you up on your offer. Thanks!

43citizenkelly
Jan. 31, 2009, 8:39am

Diese Nachricht wurde vom Autor gelöscht.

44merry10
Feb. 1, 2009, 3:52am

Thanks for dropping in citizenkelly. I enjoy your reviews immensely.

45merry10
Bearbeitet: Feb. 1, 2009, 4:26am

15. Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, Vincent Lam, 2005, Canada

Vincent Lam is an doctor living in Toronto. In Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures he writes an amazing series of short stories about being a medical student, internist and emergency physician.They are full of the detail of medical life and the complex human emotions at play between medical students, doctor and patient, supervising doctor and internist and colleagues. Each point of view is explored brilliantly and each story reflects different moral and emotional challenges. 5 stars.

46judylou
Feb. 1, 2009, 4:28am

OK. That's been decided then - another one to the TBR tower.

47merry10
Feb. 1, 2009, 4:39am

Judy, I don't watch hospital shows, but I remember the med students at University and in the first story Vincent Lam is diarising their study lives. Hah! even in the glossary he talks about learning biochemistry, parts of the Krebs cycle occupying dreams! One or two stories will trigger strong emotions, especially if someone very close to you experienced an unexpected medical emergency.

48judylou
Feb. 1, 2009, 4:59am

Thanks, Meg. I have made a request for it from the library tonight.

49merry10
Feb. 1, 2009, 6:59am

16. My Antonia, Willa Cather, 1918

I loved, loved, loved My Antonia. Willa Cather writes a semi-autobiographical novel using a character Jim to describe her journey to live in Nebraska as a young child, her friendship and admiration for the immigrant women who settled there and her love for the country she had grown up in. I enjoyed Willa Cather's sharp observations of personalities, but I loved best her childhood memories of the country. From Project Gutenberg. Another 5 stars.

50merry10
Feb. 2, 2009, 6:39am

17. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis,1998

This was a fun homage to Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, Wodehouse and Thurber's Three Men in a Boat threaded with a time-travel novel. I enjoyed it a lot. 4.5 stars.

51Nickelini
Feb. 2, 2009, 10:42am

I just learned about Jerome K Jerome (great name) and Three Men in a Boat the other day, and it sounds like something I need to read. I won't pick up on those references until I do. Have you read it? To Say Nothing of the Dog sounds like fun--I'll keep my eyes open for it.

52merry10
Feb. 2, 2009, 3:27pm

Nickelini, you don't have to read it, but Three Men in a Boat is a funny book on its own account.

53amandameale
Mai 21, 2009, 9:17am

Deilcious books as usual.
#11 You will enjoy At Large and At Small just as much.

54merry10
Mai 28, 2009, 5:33am

I've been on leave from reading narrative fiction. To catch up:

18. The Chosen Vessel, Barbara Baynton
19. The Overcoat, Nicolai Gogol
20. Fire on the Deep, Vernor Vinge
21. The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa

Long Break

22. Urn Burial, Kerry Greenwood

A country house mystery for Phryne Fisher, detective. Easy read for devotees.

23. Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris

The characterisation of Southern waitress Sookie Stackhouse is charming and Charlaine Harris can write with an appealing humour, but I'm just not a fan of paranormal romance. Eeew. And there was an ugly undercurrent of violence against women.

24. The Undomestic Goddess, Sophie Kinsella

Fun romance. Unashamedly politically incorrect and a bit silly but enjoyable for all that. For much younger readers than this one with her first pair of reading glasses.

25. Confessions of a Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsella

After enjoying the voice of The Undomestic Goddess, I tried this earlier book and felt that it was totally out of my reading age bracket.

55merry10
Bearbeitet: Mai 28, 2009, 6:55am

26. Fugitive Blue, Claire Thomas

Debut novel, australian author, Miles Franklin longlister 2009.

My review - I liked this book. It's an imagined history of a 15th Century oil painting on a wood panel brought to a Melbourne art conservator. Claire Thomas weaves art history, art appreciation and 19th Century travel literature into a novel of love and loss.

I picked the novel up because I just love descriptions of colour and art pigments. So the novel is reminiscent of Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring and in it's structure of Geraldine Brook's People of the Book.

It is lighter, more detached, but cleverly structured. Look forward to more writing from this author. Classic Orange Prize longlister material.

More thoughts: I still think it is Orange Prize longlister material, but it has a twist which although perfectly plausible, wasn't to my boringly middle class sense of good taste. Still want to read Henry James to catch any references though.

56merry10
Mai 29, 2009, 9:10am

27. The Women in Black, Madeleine St.John

This was a charming novel, with ascerbic observations of social class in a group of women working at a department store. Australia in the sixties with migrants bemused by their new country, scholarships to University for the less advantaged and the realities of the world for women at that time. Witty and succinct at its best.

57judylou
Mai 30, 2009, 6:09am

Meg, good to see you back!

I have heard so many good things about The Women in Black just lately, that I will definitely have to get my hands on it soon.

58amandameale
Mai 30, 2009, 9:43am

#56&57 And did you know Bruce Beresford is making a film from the book??

59merry10
Jun. 2, 2009, 7:10am

>58 amandameale: I'd happily go see a film by Bruce Beresford based on The Women in Black. I wonder though, whether he will update the time period from the sixties to the present.

60merry10
Bearbeitet: Jun. 2, 2009, 6:11pm

28. The Beggar Maid, Alice Munro
29. My Driver, Maggie Gee

61FlossieT
Jun. 6, 2009, 1:53pm

Some nice books recently!

62merry10
Jun. 8, 2009, 4:47am

Thanks Flossie!

My Driver prompted me to read

30. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

I was surprised how much I appreciated Conrad's prose. He creates amazing ideas and images. There is a masculine irony or dark understatement that made me smile in recognition. I read the introduction to the Penguin edition and any footnotes to make sure I caught as much of the references and symbolism as I could.

Now I think I understand or at least enjoy the reference in one of Maggie Gee's imagined topics for a writer's conference in Uganda - are people who don't think Conrad is racist, racist? There was perhaps a reference to Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello in the writing about that conference, even though Disgrace was mentioned specifically.

So Gee's My Driver is perhaps looking at whether contemporary Brits are racist, and cheerfully considers that at least her particular characters are ignorant and occasionally selfish and silly but on the whole happy to help out with a problem if they can.

63merry10
Jun. 10, 2009, 8:00am

31. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe, 1958, Nigeria

I thoroughly recommend Things Fall Apart. It is a tragedy of a man who values strength and traditional values faced with his own flaws and the irresistible change imposed from the outside. A story of Ibo tribal life before and after Western missionaries and government arrive.

64merry10
Jun. 18, 2009, 3:37am

32. Wizard of the Crow, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Kenya

Wow what a great African epic. Ngugi wa Thiong'o is an exile from Kenya and he has written a beautifully funny, wise and sorrowful novel about a corrupt imaginary state Abruria. The two main characters are marvellously sympathetic, in tune with nature and humanity and a great antidote to the crazy corrupt dictatorship and elite.

65merry10
Jun. 21, 2009, 2:37am

21. The Leopard, Tomasi Di Lampedusa, 1958, reread.

Sicily 1860, Don Fabrizio must manage the family and the estate through the annexation of Sicily into a new Italy.

I put the novel down around February 15th this year with only about 30 pages to go. Don Fabrizio's ironic appreciation for the passing of an age was resonating just a little to closely in a local way - hubris! Rereading did not awaken that close identification this time, but the domestic and the political registered more clearly this time. Great writing about the disappearance of a way of life that was predicated on a feudal system. Great families become weak, die out, estates crumble into irrelevance.

66merry10
Jun. 21, 2009, 2:50am

33. The Gravedigger's Daughter, Joyce Carol Oates, 2007

A few weeks ago reading around the threads on LT I came across mention of the Joyce Carol Oates reading group and a link to the most fabulous essay I've read about becoming a writer.
Nighthawk: A Memoir of Lost Time

I could not wait to get my hands on some Joyce Carol Oates and came home with The Gravedigger's Daughter. It didn't fill me with the exhilaration of the essay, but it was good. It's about a woman refashioning herself after a shocking childhood of domestic violence, poverty and social alienation. Identity and family are the themes. I skim read parts, but I enjoyed the unexpected style of the ending which reinforces the themes of the book.

67merry10
Jun. 21, 2009, 6:59pm

34. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith, 1949

Truly delightful story of Cassandra living in a castle with her pretty sister Rose, her stepmum Topaz, her writer's-blocked father and Stephen, the odd jobs boy.

68Nickelini
Jun. 21, 2009, 11:18pm

Meg - what do you think of The Leopard for a vacation read? I'm packing for Italy, and I'll be traveling with my own Don Fabrizio (my husband's name is Fabrizio), so I have that one on my tentative pile. I find that when I'm on holidays, I lose my liking for super literary works. Anna Karenina and The Robber Bride would be fine on a trip, Nabokov Kafka, not so much.

69merry10
Jun. 22, 2009, 3:05am

>68 Nickelini: It's a short novel, but you do have to read it closely to catch the nuances. I loved it and I'm very impressed by you being married to Don Fabrizio. I found him a most wonderful character. Have the most marvellous holiday.

70merry10
Bearbeitet: Jun. 22, 2009, 8:25am

35. Oranges are not the only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson, UK, 1985

I remember hearing Jeanette Winterson on the radio, how charismatic and interesting she seemed and her needing to hide novels, classics under the mattress from her mother as she was growing up. No book but the Bible was allowed

Oranges are not the only Fruit is a great coming of age novel about a girl growing up in a religious household with a very alternative word view. I thought this was going to be about the awful oppression of religious frootloopery but it was more quirky than anything. Jeanette grows to discover her own identity and sexuality.

Why I read this now: Found on Nickelini's reading list and it went just right with I Capture the Castle as a coming of age story.

71merry10
Jun. 22, 2009, 8:08am

36. Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson, UK, 1989

Fairytales, myth, historical imaginings, fantasy, mixed timelines, magical realism give a social commentary about love and sex finishing with an environmental message. Loved the stories of the 12 dancing princesses because Jeanette Winterson can create vignettes of gender relationships that really make you think.

Philosophies about reality, experience and fantasy are interesting, but make me feel like the author is rationalising delusion which is playing with my brain as the novel is just an entertainment and a fiction. I used to be impressed by this when I read Castaneda in high school, but now I just enjoy the twining of fairy tales with social commentary - yes I'm a lot less forgiving of fantasy outside fiction.

Short, juicy, reminds me of Orlando.

72Nickelini
Jun. 22, 2009, 11:15am

I thought this was going to be about the awful oppression of religious frootloopery but it was more quirky than anything.

I expected that from The Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit too. Love your word "frootloopery" and endeavor to use it four times this week. Great word!

73merry10
Jun. 22, 2009, 5:31pm

I should have spelt it 'fruitloopery', must have been late...

The Australian Parliament had an attack of frootloopery yesterday when the PM demanded the resignation of the Leader of the Opposition over an alleged forged email. Off with the Treasurer's head!

74Nickelini
Bearbeitet: Jun. 22, 2009, 11:45pm

>68 Nickelini: It's a short novel, but you do have to read it closely to catch the nuances. I loved it and I'm very impressed by you being married to Don Fabrizio. I found him a most wonderful character. Have the most marvellous holiday.

Well, I'm not married to that Don Fabrizio, but it's good to hear that he's a "wonderful character." I collect books with characters named Fabrizio. It's a fairly common name in Italy (there's a Fabrizio in the Godfather--he murders one of the wives--sorry, don't know if it was I or II--not III--have only seen the movies once, very long ago). So far I have The Leopard, The Charterhouse of Parma, depending which translation you read--Stendal was French, so some of the editions have Fabrice, and a children's book by Avi. Anyways, The Leopard isn't long, so I'll pack it along. If I don't read it, it won't be the end of the world.

75merry10
Jun. 23, 2009, 6:37pm

>74 Nickelini:. You won't regret it.

76merry10
Jun. 23, 2009, 6:39pm

37. The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter, UK, 1979

Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, vampires, werewolves - fairy tales told with electrifying style.

77merry10
Jun. 30, 2009, 4:41am

38. Ransom, David Malouf, Australia, 2009

Priam, King of Troy offers a ransom to Achilles for the body of his dead son Hector. David Malouf takes this incident from The Iliad and creates a marvellously written new story. 5 stars.

78merry10
Jul. 9, 2009, 4:51am

39. The Lieutenant, Kate Grenville, Australia, 2008 Reread

Kate Grenville takes the historical personage William Dawes, a marine and engineer on the First Fleet accompanying Captain Arthur Phillip to establish the first colony at Sydney Cove 26th January 1788, and redraws him as Rooke, the Lieutenant of her novel.

Historical record is interleaved with the narrative, to create a character who exercises a wider moral conscience inspite of incredibly harsh military conditions. Rooke through his relationship with a young Aboriginal girl Tagaran, develops his social understanding and the impact of his colony on the local people.

79merry10
Jul. 9, 2009, 4:54am

40. The Art of Fiction, David Lodge, UK, 1992

Book of essays on the novel. Topics include magical realism, intertextuality, stream of consciousness. Very enjoyable for the interested amateur.

80merry10
Jul. 9, 2009, 5:07am

41. Burnt Shadows, Kamila Shamsie, 2009

Epic! Hiroko Tanaka survives the Nagasaki bomb which kills her German fiance, visits his sister Ilse married to a Brit called Burton living in Delhi in the last days of the Raj, falls in love with Sajjad a young muslim, marries, and ends up raising a son in Karachi after the partition. The families intersect tragically during the post 9/11 terror. The book had characters that managed to gain my sympathies such that I could believe the final ironies in a riveting read.

Orange July read 2009.

81merry10
Bearbeitet: Jul. 16, 2009, 6:52am

42. the little red writing book, Mark Tredinnick, Australia, 2006

Tredinnick uses his love of nature writing and contemporary fiction to illustrate good writing. Cute book.

82cushlareads
Jul. 17, 2009, 5:15pm

You read such great books. OK, I'm adding books 38, 39, 41 and maybe 40 to my list now. I just shouldn't come visiting! The "maybe" on David Lodge's book is that I've read quite a few of his novels and really enjoyed them, but I don't tend to read books about writing.

Ooh, the library has 7 copies of The Lieutenant but they're all out. (Sorry, talking to myself on the keyboard!)

I've just started The Girls and didn't want to put it down after the first chapter. Hope it stays this good.

83cushlareads
Jul. 18, 2009, 1:14am

Just sent my husband to the library with a request for the David Lodge book and he found it - looks great!

84merry10
Aug. 2, 2009, 5:53pm

Thanks cmt. I did enjoy David Lodge's book. You could dip in and out as you pleased. I've had a good run with books lately.

85merry10
Sept. 3, 2009, 7:13am

43. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Edward Fitzgerald, Tony Briggs (ed.) 2009

This is a new edition of Edward FitzGerald's wonderful translation by Tony Briggs. I was amazed by how much of the poem I was familiar as it is quoted so often in books and conversation.

44. Brooklyn, Colm Toibin

This is my first novel by Colm Toibin and I completely loved it. Knowing that others consider The Master a greater achievement, I know I'm going to love reading more of this author.

45. Great Expectations (graphic novel), Charles Dickens, Jem Green (ill.)

My first Early Reviewer experience. A great graphic novelization of Charles Dicken's coming of age novel. Excellent for high school readers.

86merry10
Bearbeitet: Sept. 3, 2009, 7:29am

46. First Among Sequels, Jasper Fforde

A great Thursday Next novel with some hilarious satire. This one hit my demographic right where it hurts - middle aged, mother of teenagers, reasonably read in the typical classics. Meta-metafiction.

87merry10
Sept. 3, 2009, 7:27am

47. The City and The City, China Mieville

Borges meets Chandler meets Eastern Europe. The unfolding of a great crime mystery illuminates the nature of The City and The City. Post Cold War cubed. Glasnostroika

88merry10
Sept. 4, 2009, 4:58am

48. The Spellman Files, Lisa Lutz

The Spellman Files is about a family of private investigators from the point of view of difficult but entertaining daughter Isabel Spellman. Family secrets are investigated as thoroughly as any case. Great characters, snappy one-liners, it's very entertaining.

89judylou
Sept. 4, 2009, 5:27am

Meg, some good reads here as usual. I just finished The city and the city as well. Did you like it?

90merry10
Bearbeitet: Sept. 4, 2009, 9:04am

Yes I did Judy! One of my favourite novels in the mystery/political thriller genre is Gorky Park and I thought The City and The City had a lot in common outside of the speculative elements.

91merry10
Sept. 4, 2009, 9:04am

Judy, I think you might enjoy The Spellman Files so if you see it in the library, grab it. Light reading but not lightweight.

92judylou
Sept. 5, 2009, 1:52am

Meg, I have it already. Bought it at an opp shop last year. I will hunt it down and read it soon.

93merry10
Sept. 17, 2009, 12:31am

49. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

Marvellous novel creating the life of Thomas Cromwell and the personalities and politics of the Tudor court and the English Church. Mantel makes Cromwell a very engaging character, a far cry from the Cromwell that is the villain of Robert Bolt's A Man for all Seasons. Anne Boleyn is portrayed as a difficult, complex and intelligent woman. Great reading.

94merry10
Okt. 2, 2009, 8:22am

50. Summertime, J.M. Coetzee

From my review on the work page

Of the few Coetzee novels I've read, I find that one of my preoccupations reading literature is always to be found in his writing - that is; of the quality of an individual's empathy that contrasts with a sense of otherness, of not quite belonging.

Coetzee is writing a novel comprising a biographer's first drafts - the real deal if you will - of interviews with people who knew the writer Coetzee before he became widely acclaimed. So you might imagine you are reading Coetzee's own biography of himself, while realising he is giving a gentle poke at the craft of biography and of celebrity and that perhaps you are reading his own wish to preempt hagiography or otherwise. The cognitive dissonance kept me wryly smiling nearly all the way through.

I'd like to read more of Coetzee's earlier work as some of the chapters are an "uncovering" of their inspiration.

I'm left with a picture of man who wrestles with relationships, with family, with a moral relationship with the world that's cognitive rather than intuitive. Who attempts to bridge himself into the physical world through manual labour and the odd awkward affair but must retreat to solitude where even memories of the Karoo, the South African landscape are compromised. I appreciated the ambivalent ending.

Structure in this novel, as in Diary of a Bad Year, is almost as audible or as comprehensible as the words used to write it, words which are wiser than I'm used to reading most days.

95merry10
Okt. 16, 2009, 3:01am

51. The World Beneath, Cate Kennedy, 2009, Australian author

A cracker of a story! Cate Kennedy examines a week in the lives of three people. Sandy and Rich meet at the protests against the building of the Franklin Dam in Tasmania in 1982. It's an event that's coloured their lives and self perception since. Rich leaves Sandy with a baby Sophie. When Sophie turns 15, Rich suggests a six-day hike in the Tasmanian wilderness.

Cate Kennedy really had me squirming in the early parts of the book with her accurate and uncomfortable observations of character and place and the inevitable difficulties you knew Rich, Sophie and Sandy would face. The episodes in the wilderness crackle with tension and revelation while Rich and Sophie battle the conditions and Search and Rescue work out how to find them. By the end of the book you're punching the air with tremendous satisfaction.

As fellow LibraryThinger, gunung has observed, this is a book that will probably win the Miles Franklin for its incredibly acute observation of Australian characters, lifestyles and landscape.

96merry10
Okt. 17, 2009, 8:15am

52. Everything I Knew, Peter Goldsworthy, 2008, Australian author

Warning - spoilers of a sort.

I read this book quickly but was impressed by Peter Goldsworthy's torrid coming of age book. Robbie Burns is a 14 year old who is infatuated by his new English teacher. Young Miss Peach is impressed by Robbie's naive creativity and nascent brilliance and attempts to mentor his early narrative efforts. Robbie's stories become increasingly turgid apocalyptic fantasies as his disastrous infatuation with Miss Peach develops.

His obsession with Miss Peach changes his perception of the small South Australian town and his destroys his friendship with part-Aboriginal Billy.

Peter Goldsworthy enjoys working with the illicit and like Maestro, I feel a sense of restriction as the older less open Robbie Burns returns to sort out his parent's effects. Robbie's obsession with time travel stories is the framing device for the major event of his life and its futility.

97merry10
Okt. 20, 2009, 10:14pm

53. The Europeans, Henry James, 1878

Big change of pace from the recent modern novels. Delightful social exchanges, the New England cousins of the 1840's perplexed by European manners.

98merry10
Okt. 23, 2009, 9:46pm

54. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, Mario Vargas Llosa

I found this initially very entertaining and with laugh out loud moments. I enjoyed the alternation of autobiographical fiction with flamboyant, almost surreally exaggerated short stories, but I lost the energy or patience except to skim the last third of the book and read properly the last chapter. It is a good book and I recommend it.

99englishrose60
Okt. 24, 2009, 12:19pm

^ I shall be reading this book shortly and after reading your post I am looking forward to it. Thank you.

100merry10
Bearbeitet: Nov. 22, 2009, 2:38am

55. Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett, 2009

Still good reading with that humanist bent that's become more apparent over the years. Lightly humorous fantasy satire.

56. Tamarisk Row, Gerald Murnane, 1974

Fabulous images rendered of a poor Catholic childhood in Australia during the 1950's. Racehorses, jockey's colours, marbles, piety.

57. The Tree of Man, Patrick White,

Wonderful Australian writing. Just amazing. Two Patrick Whites read now and both excellent.

58. Howards End is on the Landing, Susan Hill, 2009

A memoir of Susan Hill's personal library, her reading history and the amazing literary figures she has met, corresponded with or heard about during her 50 years of writing and publishing. Very English oriented. I found her defense of Penelope Lively's The Blue Flower and Elizabeth Bowen intrigues me enough to read their works. Bruce Chatwin, Patrick Leigh Fermor and others too.

101FlossieT
Nov. 22, 2009, 8:35am

See, this is why I love LibraryThing - I'd never have heard of book 56 without reading your thread, and it sounds REALLY interesting. Hope I can get hold of a copy...

I've got a copy of a Patrick White somewhere (Flaws in the Glass? Touchstone not finding it but it's something like that) but could never really get into it. Maybe worth trying again then.

102merry10
Dez. 3, 2009, 6:48am

Hi Floss! Don't bother with Flaws in the Glass, that is an autobiography which does not compare with his fiction in any way. You may like Voss.

103merry10
Dez. 3, 2009, 7:00am

59. The Forgotten Garden, Kate Mortimer

Undemanding gothic romance surrounding mystery of origin complete with evil stepmother. Very like The Thirteenth Tale. Some attractive fairy tales to parallel the mystery. A lovely garden described very attractively to reference The Secret Garden. Frances Hodgson Burnett inserted unattractively into the text. It's an easy read with a tragic romantic gallop to the finish.

104merry10
Dez. 8, 2009, 5:13am

60. By Heart: 101 poems to remember, Ted Hughes (ed.)

A charming little book of poems with lots of imagery and memorable rhythm. Ted Hughes introduces them with a memorising technique (linking images in unusual ways) and challenges you to try it.

I'll need a lot of practice as my audial (sic) memory is pretty poor.

It was fun to read over Keats' poems as I'm keen on seeing the new film Bright Star.

105merry10
Bearbeitet: Dez. 19, 2009, 7:35pm

61. The Way by Swann's, Marcel Proust

First volume of the classic In Search of Lost Time. I've read passages that have been inspired by Proust's writing, but there's nothing like reading the original. There are two parts to this first book, Marcel's childhood memories filled with ravishing imagery and an incredibly detailed account of Swann's obsession with Odette - an intelligent, refined but under-challenged man's descent into a kind of madness. Proust skewers snobbery throughout.

ETA: It's the ultimate slow reading experience. I stopped, came back, reread sections and was always rewarded.

106merry10
Bearbeitet: Dez. 20, 2009, 4:16pm

62. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larrson

Thriller with insight into the magazine industry and a hobby-horse about uncritical financial journalism. Crimes against women major feature of the novel. Enjoyed the repressed but supremely capable character of Lisbeth Salamander. Very handy to have photographic memory, extreme intelligence and uber-hacker abilities. Surprisingly enjoyable despite icky violence, and the fact that the novel appears on every must-read list of the last six months.

107merry10
Dez. 20, 2009, 3:47pm

63. Proust's Way: A Field Guide to In Search of Lost Time, Roger Shattuck

Handy introduction to the themes and structure of the Proust's multi-volume work.

64. Paintings in Proust, Eric Karpeles

Visual reference book for In Search of Lost Time. Wonderful.

108merry10
Dez. 28, 2009, 10:35pm

65. Howard's End, EM Forster

I was quietly absorbed by this book, but it builds to a real crescendo and you become amazed by how Forster grabs you by the end.

The Schlegels are a pair of cosmopolitan sisters and their academic brother. Margaret and Helen debate art, culture and social good. The Wilcoxes are an entrepreneurial, sporty, masculine family who spend little time on inner life or considering wider social issues. Mrs Wilcox, some archetypal symbol of English countryside, brings all together to connect the inner and outer lives of the heads of the two families, at least Margaret's.

I was amazed by Forster's gentle elision of Mrs Wilcox and Margaret through the house and environs of Howard's End which occurs at the end of the book.