Kristel's 12 in 12; Pyramid Style

DiskuteraThe 12 in 12 Category Challenge

Bara medlemmar i LibraryThing kan skriva.

Kristel's 12 in 12; Pyramid Style

Denna diskussion är för närvarande "vilande"—det sista inlägget är mer än 90 dagar gammalt. Du kan återstarta det genom att svara på inlägget.

Redigerat: dec 15, 2012, 7:02pm

Kristel's 12 in 12, Pyramid Style (I was going to try to not repeat books but I will not be able to finish if I stick with that decision, so a book can fulfill other categories)
1. Rabbit, Run by Updike (1960), Rabbit, Redux, Rabbit is Rich, Rabbit at Rest
Adventures by the Book
1. The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte
2. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
Sci Fi
1. The Time Machine by H.G.Wells
2. At the Mountain of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
3. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
First Novels
1. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
2. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
3. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
4. The Collector by John Fowles
See the USA in a Book
1. San Antonio, Texas; I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle
2. Michigan; Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
3. Monterrey, California; Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
4. Georgia The Color Purple by Alice Walker
5. Pennsylvania, Rabbit, Run and Rabbit Redux by John Updike
Around the World (Books set in different Countries)
1. Kafka On the Shore by Haruki Murakami Japan
2. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx Newfoundland
3. The Devil to Pay In the Backlands by João Guimarães Rosa Brazil
4. Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres, Turkey
5. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Murial Spark Edinburgh, Scotland
6. Blue of Noon by Georges Baitalle (London, Germany, France and Spain)
Too Good To Miss (recommendations)
1. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
2. The Body of Jonah Boyd by David Leavitt
3. Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. by Somerville and Ross
4. Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow
5. Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoevsky
6. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
7. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Tag, Your It (PBT)
1. Ireland; Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. by Somerville and Ross
2. Memoir; The Liars' Club by Mary Karr
3. Culture; Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
4. War; The Devil to Pay In the Backlands by João Guimarães Rosa Brazil
5. Suspense, State of Fear by Michael Crichton
6. historical fiction, Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer
7. New York: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
8. Thriller: The Collector by John Fowles
F2F in real place
1.Matched by Ally Condie Read by Kate Simses
2. Lark & Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips
3. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
4. a field guide to burying your parents by Liza Palmer
5. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
6. Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada
7. Exit the Rainmaker by Jonathan Coleman
8. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
9. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Auditory Sensation (Audio Books)
1. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, read by Jeremy Irons
2. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
3. Middlemarch by George Eliot
4. Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoevsky
5. Arthur & George by Julian Barnes
6. Because They Hate by Brigitte Gabriel
7. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
8. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
9. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
10. Rabbit is Rich by John Updike
A Book a Decade
1. 1900s: Tono-Bungay by H.G.Wells
2. 1910s: The Charwoman's Daughter by James Stephens
3. 1920s: The Green Hat by Michael Arlen
4. 1930s: Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers
5. 1940s: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
6. 1950s Barabbas by Par Lagerkvist
7. 1960s Promise at Dawn by Romain Gary
8. 1970s Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow
9. 1980s The Color Purple by Alice Walker
10. 1990s (The Invention of Curried Sausage)
11. 2000s The Master by Colm Toibin
Sheherezadian Paradox (1001 Books Before You Die)
1. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
2. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
3. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
4. The Shipping News by Annie proulx
5. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers
6. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
7. Dracula by Bram Stoker
8. The Invention of Curried Sausage by Uwe Timm
9. The Invisible Man by H.G.Wells
10. Half of Man is Woman by Zhang Xianliang
11. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
12. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

dec 18, 2011, 3:17pm

I like your categories and I can't wait to see what titles you choose.

dec 18, 2011, 11:25pm

Interesting set up, looking forward to following your reading.

jan 3, 2012, 12:01am

I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle
4.5 stars
This is the story of Doc, a heroin addict, who is down and on his way out and South Presa Street, San Antonio, Texas. Doc has lost his license but still manages to make enough money with his profession to get himself ‘straight’ every day. Doc does abortions. Doc is also haunted by the ghost of Hank Williams. This story is filled with wonderful characters. It covers the shooting of President Kennedy, explores Catholicism and Mexican native shamanism. It actually covers so much but yet remains completely entertaining.
I am so glad that I read this book by Steve Earle, singer-songwriter, actor and activist. It was reviewed and rated 5 stars by Susan T in June and I just wanted to read it and I finally did. I liked this book because of these elements
1. Hank Williams, I remembered the movie back in 1964 that I just loved.
2. The shooting of President Kennedy November 22, 1963.
3. Abortion. This book covered it so well. It didn’t condone abortion but it certainly gave the people faces.
Anyone who is doing 2011 as your year, get this one and read it.

jan 3, 2012, 1:45am

I am a big fan of both Steve Earle and Hank Williams. Just checked my library and they have both the book and the audio. Definitely adding to my wishlist.

jan 11, 2012, 9:33pm

Cloud Atlas published in 2004 by David Mitchell
4 stars
I listened to the audio by Scott Brick (Narrator), Cassandra Campbell (Narrator), Kim Mai Guest (Narrator), Kirby Heyborne (Narrator), John Lee (Narrator), Richard Matthews (Narrator). The narration was well done. It is a story that spans many centuries, each section going forward is interrupted and the next begins. It has been described as nesting Russian dolls. The middle story completes itself and then the reader progresses back through the years to the first story told by Adam Ewing. The theme is of ‘man abusing and using others’. There is a morality aspect in the stories, mostly in the first section and there is science. The story can also be described as dystopian and reminded me of Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Owell’s 1984 and We by Zamyatin. The author references Melville and others in the story. Italo Calvino was an interpretation for the layered plots only Mitchell makes the return jouney.

I enjoyed the book, the narration was good but I found it hard not to be distracted. I think this is a book to listen to while actually holding and reading along. The diction can be challenging (like A Clockwork Orange). By listening to the book it was harder to catch the connections between the stories but then some reviewers have criticized the book as failing to create the connections so maybe it wasn’t just me.

jan 11, 2012, 9:33pm

You'll love it!

jan 12, 2012, 5:20am

I loved cloud atlas and have read pretty much all of Mitchell's books since (apart from 1 which I hope to get to this year) I wouldn't have thought it would be a natural candidate for audio book though!

jan 12, 2012, 8:04am

Both Cloud Atlas and I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive look really good. I've added them to my queue.

jan 13, 2012, 8:52pm

Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. by Edith Somerville and Martin Ross (Violet Martin)
4 stars
This tale was published in 1899 and is a series of comic tales of Anglo-Irish life dealing with hunting, shooting, horse riding and some drinking. The servants and publicans play minor roles and it is mostly about the elite of society with only a faint hint of struggles of the working class against the landlord class and Irish self government. The lady authors were of the elite class and the story is limited by their vision. Major Sinclair Yeates becomes the resident magistrate of Skebawn. He is of Irish extraction and not quite English but he isn’t Irish either. The scenes are of rural Ireland and West Cork and is pleasantly depicted as green fields, bogs, rivers and coastland. There are many outdoor scenes. The stories are lots of fun.

jan 16, 2012, 4:01pm

->10 Kristelh:
I saw parts of a TV series made from that and picked up the omnibus, but it has slumbered on a shelf since then so thanks for the reminder!!

jan 16, 2012, 4:06pm

I want to read Cloud Atlas, especially before the movie comes out. It's been on my TBR list since it came out.

Redigerat: jan 19, 2012, 9:54pm

The Master by Colm Tóibín
3.75 stars
This 2004 novel by Irish author Colm Tóibín is a fictionalized biography of Henry James. The time period is the late 1800’s and it reads like a who’s who in literature. Henry James, the author of The Turn of the Screw, The Wings of the Dove and many others was an American who lived his life in Paris, Rome, London and other less known places. Henry James spent some time in Ireland. He didn’t like it even though the James family was from Ireland before they immigrated to the U.S. After the failure of his play, Guy Domville Henry James goes to Ireland to get away from the public. He spent time there with English people who were policing Ireland for the King. Ireland is described as squalor and threatening, those of mendicant class and those with money and manners. Henry James never married and this book present James as sexually inhibited, frustrated man who never married. There is allusions to his being a secret homosexual but this is only speculation based on letters her wrote to the a young Norwegian Hendrik Andersen. Hendrik Andersen was a sculptor who wanted to start a art political system called the World City which would be a Utopia of artist creating a better world. There was a large age difference and the affection expressed could have been fatherly and European in nature and never meant to be sexual. Henry had many sexually suppressed relations with females including Constance Fenimore Woolson. Henry never really wanted to give up his solitude and share his life beyond short periods and he never married.
I enjoyed this book and now look forward to finishing The Wings of the Dove which has sat on my shelf half read for way too long. The author also describes Henry James way of writing his stories which are really about his observations and his family and himself. In The Turn of the Screw the girl and boy are Henry and his sister Alice. Many of the females in his books are his cousin Minny Temple. This was a very enjoyable read.

jan 19, 2012, 9:55pm

Barabbas by Pär Lagerkvist
3 stars
This story is about Barabbas, the man who was released from prison instead of releasing Jesus. Barabbas was the scapegoat. I never thought about what Barabbas may have thought and how his life may have been affected. This short tale gives us a look at the man Barabbas, the man acquitted. Pär Lagerkvist is a Swedish author. This book was added with the second edition. My guess is because he was Swedish and could represent that country. The story was written in 1951 and Mr Lagerkvist was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1951. I don’t think a book like this would be written today and it would never win the Nobel Prize. The author writes this story with historical accuracy especially about Roman rule. The first part takes the reader to the crucifixion and after that switches to the focus on Barabbas. At first Barabbas watches the crucifixion, then he tries to figure out the followers of Jesus. The Christians are not represented well. The author shows them at biased and unloving even though they talk about Jesus taught love. Then Barabbas finally disappears and we find him a slave in mind where he is chained to a man who is a Christian. The slaves have a metal necklace around their necks that identify them as slaves of the Roman government. Barabbas’s partner has ‘Christos Iesus’ on it. Barabbas has ‘Christos Iesus’ scratched unto the back of his metal. Later, when they are brought before the Governor, the partner tells the governor that he is a slave to Jesus, Barabbas tells the governor that he put it on his metal ‘because I want to believe’ but he doesn’t believe. His partner is crucified and Barabbas is released and made a personal slave of the governor and taken back to Rome upon the retirement of the governor. The author reportedly struggled with his own lack of faith. This book is about a crisis of belief. Barabbas feared the realm of the dead and the final pages finds Barabbas in the catacombs looking for the Christians and ends with the great fire of Rome. He is arrested and crucified as a martyr of a faith he doesn’t understand.

Redigerat: jan 19, 2012, 9:56pm

re: Cloud Atlas, When is the movie coming out? Good luck on getting it read, its worth it.

jan 20, 2012, 3:57pm

Barrabas looks interesting. Thanks for your review!

jan 21, 2012, 8:24am

Matched by Ally Condie and read by Kate Simses
3 stars
This was just a so so book for me. Another dystopian book written in the format of other dystopians. Bad government controlling all choices for the good of the masses. It is about a young girl matched by mistake to two boys and she knows both. She is drawn toward the forbidden one but really likes both. I think the book as a young adult book is really more on the lower end of young adult, more a tweenie book. I tried to think, ‘is this a book I would like my child to read’ and I didn’t find it offensive in anyway. It encourages thinking for one’s self rather than going the way of the least resistant. It is a trilogy and a F2F book selection. I doubt that I will read the next book, though I hear it is better.

jan 23, 2012, 10:03pm

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
5 stars
This book, set in the first two decades of the twentieth century is excellent telling of American culture through three fictional families but with so many actual personalities that it almost was like reading a newspaper. The first of the three families was white, living in New Rochelle, New York and only designated as Father, Mother, mother’s Younger Brother, the Boy and Grandfather representing the upper middle class, the second representing the immigrants were a Jewish family known as Tateh and Mameh (Yiddish for father and mother) and the little girl, and the third represented by the “Negro” ragtime musician Coalhouse Walker and his common-law wife Sara and their child. The last two family groups were largely invisible groups in America during this time known as the Progressive Era. The opening remarks by the narrator “There were no Negroes. There were no Immigrants,” reflects the selective vision of the upper middle class. Doctorow includes such personages as Booker T. Washington, Evelyn Nesbit (a Gibson Girl), Architect Stanford White and Harry K Thaw, J.P. Morgan, Ford and Harry Houdini giving the novel rich history. Music (Ragtime) often provides us with a picture of a time in history such as “Acid Rock Era” or the “Jazz Age”. The title centers the book on the African Americans and others that are marginalized such as the Jewish immigrants and political radicals like Emma Goldman. Doctorow has such a way of telling his stories, there never really is a protagonist. You might say that the culture is the protagonist just as the March was the protagonist in his book The March. Partly his story telling reminds me of Michener because of how much historical events are included in the story. If you like historical fiction, I recommend this book. The back cover says that this is “a joy to read and it reads like a streak” and it does.

jan 28, 2012, 7:24am

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, published 1977, 337 pgs
4 stars
Toni Morrison deserves her accolades and Nobel Prize in Literature. What a gifted writer. Song of Solomon is a story of the Dead family and specifically Milkman Dead or Macon Dead III. It is set in Michigan but also covers Danville, Pennsylvania and Shalimar, Virginia. Milkman is the only son born to Ruth and Macon and brought about by a spell prescribed by his aunt Pilate. From Milkman’s conception it seems someone always wants him dead. The epigraph of the story is The novel's epigraph reads, "The fathers may soar/ And the children may know their names." This book explores the importance of names but also connecting with your family history and personal self awareness and growth. The story starts with Milkman’s birth with the “flight” of an insurance man from the hospital roof and the theme of flight is followed through the book as a means of escape. The use of flying as literal pushes this work into the magical realism genre. Names are very interesting in this book and have layers of meaning such as pealing an onion. Milkman’s aunt Pilate, named from the Bible’s Pilate is also significant for her role of piloting Milkman on his journey to self discovery. This novel is very rich in detail but also extremely readable and enjoyable. This book won the National Books Critics Award, was chosen for Oprah Winfrey's popular book club, and was cited by the Swedish Academy in awarding Morrison the 1993 Nobel Prize in literature.

jan 28, 2012, 8:48am

Song of Solomon is my favorite of the Morrison books that I've read. I just love how she is able to balance writing an artsy, literary book with keeping it very readable. Nice review!

jan 28, 2012, 9:19am

I loved Song of Solomon too! It's one of my favorite books.

jan 28, 2012, 8:45pm

When I lived in Sweden, Song of Solomon was assigned to us at Uni the year she got the Nobel Prize and I remember being very enamored with it.

jan 30, 2012, 4:01pm

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
3.5 stars.
A story of three different crimes that occurred around Cambridge between 1970 and 1994. The first one is the disappearance of a three year old girl named Olivia, the second is the tragic motiveless killing of a lawyer’s 18 year old daughter and the third one is the murder of husband by his distraught wife. Jackson Brodie is a private investigator who comes to be involved in solving the never closed case of Olivia, finding the killer of Laura, the lawyer’s daughter and to search for the missing daughter of the woman who murdered her husband. This is a mystery that was easy to engage and read in just a few days. I liked a lot about this mystery; the negative for me was the degree of sexual content. It’s a complicated set of murders that don’t really seem to have any solutions and then bits and pieces start to come out. It’s filled with many twists and surprises and expected and unexpected resolutions.

jan 30, 2012, 5:01pm

Hmmm, I've been thinking of reading Case Histories, but I'm not a huge fan of superfluous sex scenes, either--not to the point of being prudish, but I feel that such things need to be incorporated into a story for specific reasons, and often it seems that the author has run out of interesting things to say, so he/she inserts a bunch of sex. How bad was it? Was it just a couple of scenes?

feb 1, 2012, 6:59pm

It wasn't too bad, but covers conversations about masturbation, bisexual, etc. I found it tolerable just don't always see the need to have sex in every book. I guess this book is a feminist book but I read it for the mystery.

feb 1, 2012, 6:59pm

Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
4.5 stars for graphic novel, by enjoyment 3. 5

This graphic novel was published in 1986 and is more than a comic story, it an art form. The story is of the age past the need for superheroes. The Keene Act has outlawed superheroes as vigilantes. The superheroes have gone into retirement and some have not done so well in retirement, dying of alcoholism. A couple of superheroes are still employed as government agents, the Comedian and Dr. Manhattan. Rorschach who is more Nazi and sociopath is still active underground and states he will never retire. The story opens with the murder of one of these superheroes. The story is set in 1985, Nixon is president. It is an alternate history, a social commentary, a philosophical study, science fiction and a murder mystery. It is also a multiple layer story with the tale of the Tales of the Black Freighter told in the background of the comic.

The book is more than its story. It is a 9 panel grid layout with recurring symbols. The color and detail of the drawings of the characters and the details are unique in comics. The detail is fantastic and I kept trying to study the panes for all the detail. The color was done by John Higgins and an European flat style. The graphic novel is meant to be read many times in order to discover the numerous links and allusions. Moore admired William S. Burroughs use of repeated symbols. The blood spattered smiling face is the symbol most common to this novel. The circle itself is a reoccurring geometric shape. Moore said that the novel was about power and corruption and ends with the question “Quis custodiet ipsos custodies. Who watches the watchmen?” –Juvenal, Satires, VI, 347 Quoted as the epigraph of the Tower Commission Report, 1987.

feb 4, 2012, 7:40pm

Promise at Dawn by Romain Gary
Published 1960
4 stars
This is a memoir written by Romain Gary and is also a book from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. Mr Gary wrote this memoir as a tribute to his mother. Romain Gary is of Jewish and Russian origin became a French citizen. He is the only son of his mother, he never knew who is father was and she raised him single-handedly and single-mindedly. The first chapter is the ending but only a glimpse and it leaves you guessing. Mr. Gary is lying on the beach at Big Sur. He also introduces us to the four gods; Stupidity, Absolute Truth, Mediocrity and Acceptance and Servility. In chapter 2, mother love is introduced. He talks about how her love made future love so difficult and he wished she would have had someone else besides to love. He talks about Freud and explores any possibility of Oedipus complex which he rejects. He describes the psychoanalysts as “sharks feeding on refuse underwater”. His mother early on painted the picture for her son’s life so concretely that Romain never questioned it. She planned that he would be an artist, he became a writer, she planned that he would get a law degree and then go into the French air force and be a lieutenant. He got his law degree, joined the air force but because of bias he was not allowed to be a commissioned officer because he hadn’t been a French citizen long enough. She planned that he would go into the diplomat service after he was out of the service. WWII came into the picture and Romain spent more time in the service than he was planned. He started as a private but he became an officer and he was decorated with the Cross of the Liberation pinned on by General de Gaulle under the Arc de Triomphe. He was not a man who was meant to kill though he was brave. He said many times that he never killed. In the end, he valued life especially the life of animals and he especially had a connection to the ocean. He felt that everything he did was really his mother’s accomplishments. She lived her dreams through her only son and he often talked about his career as a Champion of the World.
This was very good. I enjoyed his writing and humor though there is a backdrop of sadness throughout. This is not in the book but Mr Gary died in 1980 by self inflicted gunshot. His actress wife Jean Seberg committed suicide in 1979. Among his literary works areA European Education published in France in 1945 and The Roots of Heaven which one the Prix Goncourt, top French literary honor. It also became a motion picture.

feb 13, 2012, 9:59pm

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
3 stars
I really like Murakami’s writing and this rating is a little lower than my appreciation for this book. This is a story of a fifteen year old boy who is cursed by his father to kill his father and sleep with his mother and sister. Kafka runs away to escape the prediction but ends up seeking the mother who abandoned him when he was little. It is describe as “psychoanalytic magic realism” by the 1001 Books You Must Read reference book. There is a parallel story of an elderly man who is unable to read called Nakata, the two never meet yet they are bound together. This novel explores time, ghosts, music, forgiveness, dream-realities (a favorite subject of Murakami), violence, love, memory and loss. There is so much in this story that the author says a person needs to read it more than once to fully appreciate the many layers. The reason why I gave it only 3 stars is because this book is full of descriptions of a 15 year olds masturbation and sexual exploits and the old man’s interest in “taking a dump” so the book is not for everyone. I think the story could have gotten the same points across with less detail of Kafka’s penis.

feb 21, 2012, 9:09pm

The Liars’ Club a memoir by Mary Karr
3 stars
The title of this memoir really says a lot. First of all it is about the author’s father who used to meet with guys and tell whoppers but it also describes an alcoholic family. Life is a lie and no one discusses the truth or is it that Mary Karr tells stories like her father and you should be careful how much you believe. Ms Karr reveals her scars to the public. This is pretty brave. She also tells family secrets on her mother. Ms Karr had a horrible life and some of this was pretty awful to read. Her sense of humor lightens some of the misery. I also am happy to say that this dysfunctional family did survive and the mother daughter relationship ended up good.

feb 22, 2012, 9:37pm

Lark & Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips
Published 2009
Audio, read by James Yaegashi, Cynthia Darlow, Kate Forbes.
4 stars
This review may have some spoilers
I was a little leery of this book but found it to be good. The setting is the early fifties and the Korean War. It is the story of two children, Lark and Termite. Both are children of Lola. Termite is a child with disabilities. He has hydrocephaly and spinal bifida and his legs are right. There is magical aspect to this story. It is also a story of how war doesn’t just affect the soldier but the wounds affect others for long periods. There are three epigraphs in the beginning. The one from The Sound and the Fury reflects this; "Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to a man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools." The author uses four parts with various multiple points of view and the reader travels back and forth from Korea and the father of Termite to West Virginia with segments from Lola, Nonie, Lark and even Termite which does remind you a little of Faulkner. ***spoilers****Termite’s birth corresponds with the wounds of the father in Korea. I had the feeling that the wounds of the father are displayed in the disability of the son; the spine, the legs. There is also a parallel between the Korean boy and his sister. The experience of sound is a communication shared by the father and his son. ****spoiler end***. This was a well written book and I recommend it to those that enjoy Faulkner and magical realism that isn’t too excessive.

feb 22, 2012, 10:07pm

I was interested in your review of Lark & Termite. When it first came out, it caught my attention, but I never could decide if I would enjoy it or not. I will continue to think about reading it.

feb 23, 2012, 12:32pm

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
3.5 stars
A novel about Charles Ryder and his interaction with the family of Brideshead. It was published in 1945 and it addressed the sacred and profane. Grace is examined through the Roman Catholic family, Marchmain. It was revised by the author in 1959. I believe I read the revised version. I listened to an audio version read by Jeremy Irons who did a splendid job with the various voices. Charles befriends Sebastian. This friendship is one of love. Later Charles attraction to Julia is because she reminds him so much of Sebastian. It is never fully disclosed to be a sexual relationship but it could have been. Charles marries and later divorces. He married for what his wife could do socially for him and not for love. He divorced and was to marry Julia but that never works out and the story ends with Charles alone and childless. The setting is during WWII. The title comes from Charles coming to Brideshead as the military takes it over for a camp and then he recalls his interactions with the family and this home and it ends with Charles in the military trying to get the camp set up.

feb 23, 2012, 12:48pm

Jeremy Irons is such a fantastic reader, isn't he?! I even went for a book I would not normally pick up just because he read the audio and the book was the better for it!

If you haven't seen it, I would recommend watching the TV version of Brideshead Revisited (1981) with Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder and Anthony Andrews as Sebastian Flyte - it's absolutely brilliant!

mar 4, 2012, 7:18am

Tono-Bungay by H. G. Wells, published in 1908.
This is a semiautobiographical fiction work. The narrator, George Ponderevo calls it a novel. George is a young man from the working middle class. His mother is a servant in Bladesover. George is sent away to learn a trade after he upsets the household. The major story follows George in the home of his uncle Edward Ponderevo. At this time George is studying the sciences with the plan to become a pharmacist with his uncle. His uncle loses his business and leaves George with the man who buys the business. The uncle finds a scheme to sell “Tono-Bungay” a treatment that will revitalize. George joins with his uncle even though he feels it is swindle because of his love pursuit. George is more interested in aeronautics and love pursuits. He marries rashly, has an affair, divorces and finally finds his one true love for which he sacrifices life to try and gain. George goes off on a sailing ship to gather quap which will restore his uncle’s good fortune and hopefully his standing with his one true love, Beatrice. The book is a statement on advertisement, class structure in Britain and marriage among other loosely woven topics. It is partly satire on capitalism, advertising and the gullibility of the public. It also portrays George and Edward Ponderevo who are driven by greed.
Wells is known for his science fiction writing. This novel is not science fiction but the subjects of “Tono-Bungay”, a pharmaceutical solution like you would by from the traveling medicine man, the creation of flying machines and air balloons and the quaf (radioactive elements) and the description of the quaf all are scientific topics.

H.G. Wells or Herbert George Wells was born in 1866 and died in 1946. He was a prolific writer in other genres besides science fiction but he is considered to be one of the father’s of science fiction. He considered himself a socialist. His father was a domestic gardener, shopkeeper and professional cricketer and his wife was a former domestic servant. He was from the impoverished lower middle class. Wells was apprenticed to various occupations including draper and chemist which he failed at. He started to attend school as a pupil teacher and he earned a degree in zoology in 1890. Well’s married twice and had numerous affairs. Tono-Bungay is very futuristic as it explores advertising and also the decay of radioactive elements.

This was a free book at Amazon and is also available at other sources on the internet for free.

mar 11, 2012, 8:26pm

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
3.5 stars
I am not sure if I liked this book beyond being able to say I read it and for the fact that now I will appreciate all the references. I listened to this book, read by Roy McMillan and also had the Penguin copy for reference. This book is a satire of the romance of chivalry that was popular at the time. It has contributed much to the growth of literature and therefore it does deserve to be a 1001 Book You Must Read Before You Die. The reference book states the “Don Quixote stands at the head of a long line of fictions of witch fictionality itself is the principal substance”.
Don Quixote has read himself mad by reading too many books of chivalry. He sets out to emulate a knight. We all have the picture of the beat up ol knight on a skinny horse jousting with windmills. To really enjoy the book for what it is, a parody of romances of chivalry during a time of transformation as humanism is taking hold; one has to remember the historical time of the writing. The subject of the book is the reader of the book, as this book is a layering of stories. Cervantes invents the novel by inventing the reader. Cervantes also uses the story for social commentary on the class and church structure. He addresses class and worth and incompatible systems of morality.
Don Quixote is told in two parts. Cervantes wrote the first part in 1605 and the second part in 1615. The second part, Don Quixote becomes the character read as many people he meets are already familiar with book one and know about him and Sancho Panza, is squire.

mar 13, 2012, 9:28pm

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
5 stars
This book is about the land of South Africa and starts with “There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills…..” It tells the story of South Africa’s tragic history. Alan Paton was a principal of a South African reformatory for young offenders. He began writing the book while on a tour of correctional facilities. He began writing in Norway and finished in the United States. It took him only three months to write it. It was his first novel. The title tells us that there is a tragedy. There is a tragedy of what has happened to the beautiful land, there is the tragedy of what has happened to the tribes, the family, the young and the old and the loss of tradition. Stephen Kumalo is a Zulu pastor from the hills. He makes a trip to Johannesbury to find his sister and his son, Absalom. Stephen finds his son in a prison because he has killed a European (white) reformer. The reader also meets the father of the slain reformer. His name is Jarvis. Both men are grieving for their lost sons, both father’s are on a journey to understand why their sons lives ended as a tragedy. The two father’s lives become entwined and their ways of coping with grief offers hope for change. This novel gives a picture of apartheid and ends with faith that there will be dawn of emancipation.

mar 19, 2012, 10:09pm

The Green Hat by Michael Arlen
4 stars
The Green Hat was written by a Armenian author, naturalized citizen of the United Kingdom and published in the London and the US in 1924. I read a 1924 edition, ILL loan book. As I mentioned, the pages were quite fragile. I am so thankful for libraries and ILL loans that make it possible to read these books. The Green Hat tells the story of Iris Storm. It is a satirical romance set in London. Iris is prevented from marrying her childhood sweetheart Napier Harpenden. She is widowed twice and suffers through several love affairs. There is so much tragedy that you just know there is going to be more and therefore there is an element of suspense in this modernistic novel. The narrator is a writer and introduces self, “writes the author”. Many authors and literary works are mentioned in the early chapters. I just finished reading Tono-Bongay by H. G. Wells and this book mentions H. G. Wells and mentions his book Tono-Bongay. It also mentions The Good Soldier and Ulysses. Also of note is the bigotry in the book. The author refers to Jews, Red Indians and glorious n……
***contains some spoilers***
Iris is of the March family. Her twin brother is a drunk and she meets the author when she tries to visit her twin brother. This book is full of suicides and telling lies to save honor. After her first husband dies by suicide, Iris tells everyone he died “for purity”. Everyone assumes that Iris wasn’t pure when she went to her marriage bed and her husband therefore jumped out the window. Her second husband gives her an emerald that doesn’t fit and tells her that she must learn to keep the ring on as she must learn to keep herself from affairs. That husband dies too. So Iris wears a large brimmed green hat and wears a green ring. There is a lot of green in the descriptions of clothing and scenes. Iris drove a yellow Hispano-Suiza car with a stork hood adornment. She drove fast. Iris decides that she will not let anyone keep her from Napier any longer. They are going to run away together and finally enjoy the love they have for each other. Only Napier is too much like his father and his concern for his own reputation makes him tell everyone what Iris meant when she told everyone her husband had died “for purity”. In the end, Napier fails her and Napier’s father wins the battle. Iris leaves with her green hat in her exotic car that “can do 76 if you like”. This book may have been written in 1924 I still found it to be very enjoyable story of high-speed modernity. The book has been republished by it has been republished by Capuchin Classics and I would recommend it if you like tragedy, romance and modernity.

mar 23, 2012, 5:57pm

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert and • Narrated by Anne Noelani Miyamoto
4 stars
This is more than a story of Rachel, a young Hawaiian girl who is sent to the island of Moloka’i because of Hansen’s disease. It is also the story of Hawaii and covers the years from the end of the 19th century into the 20th century. Brennert covers it all and in that way it reminds one of the scope of a Michener tale. At times it felt a little like too much information and not enough story but in the end it is a tear jerker. I listed to the audio and the narration by Anne Noelani Miyamoto which gave authentic voice to the story and its setting. This one has been highly recommended and it won’t disappoint.

mar 25, 2012, 3:50pm

a field guide to burying your parents by Liza Palmer
Published 2008
3.5 stars
This is an easy to read story of Grace Hawkes the third born of four who is disconnected from her siblings after her mother’s unexpected death. Grace is numb; she walked away and hasn’t felt anything since she receives a call from her older sister and her older brother telling her she has to come. Their father is ill. Grace hasn’t seen her father since he walked out of them. This is Grace talking. We get to live inside her head and know her thoughts. She is quite annoying. The story evolves and Grace becomes more likeable. We also get to know the other siblings who also have been struggling since the death of their mother. What are interesting are the twists. Their father who walked out on them, never contacted them has made the brother his power of attorney financial and health care. He never divorced their mother, he married soon after her death and now they find themselves at odds with this nice old lady and her adult son. The story peaks with a Perry Mason scene. I would not recommend this as a book for someone who is still suffering from the loss of parent or parents. It certainly brought back some of those losses to me including tears. It reads really fast. I think it took about 3 days.

mar 26, 2012, 2:05pm

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
3 stars
This work was published in 1895 and has been considered science fiction genre even though Wells would not have agreed. It has been an inspiration of many works of fiction and the authors coining of the concept of a time machine and the concept of time travel was also a contribution to literature and movies. H.G. Wells was interested in social reform. This book was really about social reform. The author did not believe in a utopia where things would be perfect and in this book, the time traveler visits a time in the future where man has become two races and has destroyed all sense of a human race. This book would also be a dystopian work. H.G. Wells has written many works. So far, I’ve read The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Time Machine and Tono-Bongay. There is strong themes of socialism, social evolution and science is Well’s books. I most enjoyed Tono-Bongay. The Time Machine is hard to connect to. The characters don’t really have names but generally are identified by their occupations such as the psychologist, the medical man, the editor. Mr. Well’s works are noted for their racism, which was not unusual for this time.

Redigerat: apr 7, 2012, 10:01pm

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx (1993)
4.5 stars
The story of Quoyle, a 36-year-old widowed man and his two daughters along with his paternal aunt leave New York for their ancestral home in Newfoundland. This is the story of Quoyle as he becomes a person that is more than his combined mistakes but it is also a story of Newfoundland. Quoyle is haunted by his love for his deceased wife and thinks that there can never be another love. He worries that his daughter Bunny has been damaged by the loss of her mother. In Newfoundland, Quoyle finds his voice as a newspaperman. He fears water but it’s the water that helps make him into the man that Quoyle becomes. The story is also about the waters and coast of Newfoundland. The author’s beautiful use of words paints the skies, the water, the rocks and the weather so that it is savored as the words are digested. Ms Proulx won the Pulitzer Prize for this work and it is well deserved. She captured the land and people, she wrote a book that is creative and original. I learned about Newfoundland, a little about boats and a lot about knots.

apr 21, 2012, 8:16am

The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte published 1993, translated from the Spanish by Sonia Soto
3.5 stars
Some of the words from the back cover that are descriptive of this book are ‘thriller’, ‘action-adventure’, ‘noir metafiction’, ‘thrilling twists of this stylish, Escher-like mystery’’. The front cover compares it to Umberto Eco (the Latin?) and Anne Rice (demons?). I haven’t read Anne Rice so just guessing. The Club Duma is the story of a book detective, Lucas Corso who is hired to track down rare editions for the wealthy and the unscrupulous. This book is a bibliophile’s dream, filled with references of old and great novels. Corso finds himself living fragments of Dumas’s story as he hunts down the authenticity of a section titled The Anjou Wine. At the same time he is researching a book of The Book of the Nine Doors for another client. Corso begins to be lost between reality and the surreal.
What I liked about the book is the mystery and tension and I also liked reading about the literary world. What I didn’t like is the two separate plot lines, while both interesting, never seemed to meld quite well enough. If the author had only wrote about the Dumas it would have been short and probably not very interesting. I enjoyed learning about old editions and the people who work with old editions and those that love them. I found myself over and over wishing I had read The Three Musketeers and various other works before I read this. I learned a lot about Dumas and hope I can get to one of his books in the near future.

apr 21, 2012, 12:48pm

I have read and enjoyed books in Pérez-Reverte Captain Alatriste series but have yet to venture into any of his other works. As for Dumas, I found The Three Musketeers to be a delightful romp but my favorite is still his The Counte of Monte Cristo.

Redigerat: apr 22, 2012, 8:25pm

Middlemarch, a Study of Provincial Life by George Eliot aka as Mary Ann Evans
First published 1871-1872
5 stars
This story of ordinary lives lived in provincial England is a study of characters. It is a story of marriage but also of not belonging. The main characters are the passionate, idealistic Dorothea, the idealist doctor Lyndgate, the self absorbed, intellectual Mr. Causabon and the narcissistic, self-centered Rosamonde. The last two are characters you can love to hate while sometimes the idealism of the other two can irritate as well. It also is a story of “be sure your sins will find you out” and “oh what a tangled web we weave when once we practice to deceive. Ms Eliot really brings out the destruction of gossip and rumors that is part of living in a small town. For a 900 plus pages novel, this story goes by in a flash. I’ve also read Silas Marner by the author and while it was also good, I especially enjoyed Middlemarch. There is a historical social commentary that also flows through the story and it is about reform; improving life for the middle and lower classes.

apr 22, 2012, 10:10pm

I loved Middlemarch too. I read it for a class in college, and I remember getting so engrossed in the story that I read way ahead of where the class was supposed to be.

apr 23, 2012, 1:28pm

I have The Club Dumas on Mt. TBR as well - it's a shame about the two storylines not coming together properly. The Three Musketeers is a great read, but I'm with Lori, The Count of Monte Cristo is my favorite.

apr 25, 2012, 7:41am

At The Mountain of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
Published 1936 as serial in Astounding Stories
At The Mountain of Madness is really a novella included in 1001 (1294) Books You Must Read Before You Die. It is a first person narration by the geologist Dyer who reports in scientific detail on a trip to Antarctica. The narrator feels forced to speak out about the previous scientific expedition to Antarctica to stop another expedition from going to explore Antarctica. While in Antarctica, a survey group, isolated by storm was transmitting back to the other team their unusual finds. After the storm no more is heard and when the other team goes to their camp, they find all are dead or missing and the camp has been left in a strange and horrible condition. The narrator and Danforth take up one of the planes to further explore the area and find evidence of a previous life form on earth. What they find leaves Danforth deranged and the narrator has kept his silence knowing that it would not be believed.
Lovecraft was influenced by Poe and references Poe in the story. Poe also would tell a tale of horror with narration and implication rather than direct. He creates the horror through slow building of suspense. This work is truly science fiction with its scientific detail and fantasy and horror with its references to the Mythos. This story references the Cthulhu Mythos and the mythology of The Old Ones. Lovecraft works have influenced the genres of horror and occult.
I did not enjoy this work though glad I read it. I struggled with the endless detail of the architecture and drawings. I spent time looking up images on the internet so I could get a picture of the many references to the Cthulhu Mythos and The Old Ones. Did it create horror. Yes, because my reaction to horror is “you dummy, turn around and get out of there already!” and that is how I felt when reading this story.

apr 25, 2012, 11:39am

This sounds like the horror movie, The Thing. I felt really bad for the dogs in that movie.

apr 25, 2012, 10:09pm

#48, Yes, I kept saying, pay attention to the dogs! It didn't go so well for the dogs.

apr 29, 2012, 9:24pm


maj 14, 2012, 10:03pm

The Devil To Pay In The Backlands by João Guimarães Rosa also known as The Devil in the Street in the Middle of the Wirlwind was written in Portuguese by the Brazilian author João Guimarães Rosa in 1956 and translated to English by James L Taylor and Harriet de de Onís in 1963. I read a first edition translated in 1963 book. Reportedly all translations are poor but also thePortugese is archaic and colloquial, making it a very difficult book to translate. The translation by Taylor and de Onis is the translation that the author approved as he actually helped with the translation. The author wanted it published this way.
This is the story of Riobaldo, a former jagunço who is an old man telling his story to an unnamed individual. It has been described as a cowboy story set in the backlands of Brazil. Jagunco are bandits and they formed gangs and warred with each other and with the government. Riobaldo is now married and a land owner. He tells his story of love for a fellow jagunco and his attempt to make a deal with the devil.
This is a long continuous narration without any chapters or divisions. The writing is full of proverbs and pithy statements but it goes on and on for 492 pages.
It probably gets a place on the list because of being written in Portuguese by a Brazilian author. I enjoyed it yet I could have appreciated a few less pages and knowing it was a poor translation set a negative flavor right off.

maj 25, 2012, 11:53am

Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers, published in 1933.
4 stars for enjoyment
Ms Sayers wrote detective novels but later shifted to theological dramas. This book is one in a series of detective novels featuring the hero, Lord Peter Wimsey and is set in an advertising agency. Wimsey is undercover, hired to investigate the death of one of the copy writer’s, Dean. Wimsey uncovers a cocaine dealing ring. It is an enjoyable mystery but the main reason the book made the list is because of Ms Sayers portrayal of the advertising world. Ms Sayers worked as a copywriter in the advertising world and was able to draw on her own experience. The drug dealers are using the agency to operate and the author can use the operations of the agency to develop the detective story. The main character Wimsey does conjure of ‘whimsey’ and he brings to mind Bertie Wooster from P.G. Wodehouse’s series of Jeeves. There is a detailed section toward the end of the book about a cricket game and I have to admit, none of it made sense but both Wooster and Wimsey are cricketers and athletes.

jun 2, 2012, 8:34pm

Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoevsky, written in 1866. I listened to the audible edition, Audible, translation by Constance Garnett, originally published in 1917, narrated by George Guidall and book, Norton Critical edition, The Coulson Translation, edited by George Gibian.
3 stars,
***the following review may contain spoilers but really minor to the whole.
Cirme and Punishment is called a masterpiece of Russian and world literature. The main character is a Raskolnikov, a young, intellect, a student who is perhaps ill or very depressed, no longer going to school, no longer earning any money. He is pondering something that causes him great stress. Then we find that he plans to murder, to murder a ‘principle’. Raskolnikov has a theory and he murders to prove his theory. Then the next several pages deal with the torment that Raskolnikov experiences after the act. Raskolnikov is also a man of noble character in spite of the act of murder. Raskolnikov does not consider his act of murder a crime or feel any guilt but the murder does leave him isolated. He is alone even though he wanders the streets of St. Petersburg and associates with a variety of other characters in the story. The author examines the alienation from the rest of humanity. His friends make every effort to help him but he rejects them and begs to be left alone. The reader sees all the other characters through the delirium of Raskolnifov. There is suspense in this novel. First the suspense to the reader about what is causing Raskolnikov such distress and then once we know, it is will he do it and why. The reader doesn’t find out fully until much later in the story. Once the murder is completed which is early on, then the suspense is what will happen now, will he be caught or perhaps he will commit suicide or maybe he will get by. Raskolnikov is an “egnigmatic hero” and we only find out about him slowly as we read through the six parts of the story. Only the epilogue truly reveals the essential characteristics of Raskolnifov’s character.
The novel stands as the great antecedent to the twentieth-century literature of alienation represented in figures such as Camus and Beckett.

Redigerat: jun 8, 2012, 10:17am

Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières, written in 2004.
4.5 stars
Set in the time before WWI and WWI followed by the birth of the country of Turkey, this is a story of love between two village children, Philothei and Ibrahim and starts with “…..why it was that Ibrahim went mad.” Iskander the Potter is the first narrator from a series of narrators who tell this tale of religious intolerance and zealous nationalism. It also is a tale of father-son relationship between Iskander and his son Karatuvuk. The story is set in Eskibahçe, a small fictional village in southwestern coastal Anatolia. While the village is a fictional village it is based on a the real village of Kayakoy, as it is called in Turkish, or Karmylassos and the events are based on history. Various chapters, titled Mustafa Kemal tell the historical rise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk the father of the Turkish nation. Iskander states, “life was merrier when the Christians were still among us” referring to a government decision to repatriate the Greeks living in Turkey to Greece and the Turks in Greece to Turkey regardless of the fact that these peoples had lived there for years and spoke the language of the native home. Louis de Bernières, is also the author of Corelli’s Mandolin set in Greece and some of the characters in that book find their origin in Birds Without Wings. The fateful love between Philothei, a Christian girl, and Ibrahim a Moslem plays out the tragedy of the religious intolerance and nationalism that is destroying their love and the peaceful coexistence that had been a part of this peaceful village of beautiful characters with names like Ali the Broken-Nosed, Stamos the Birdman, Mohammed the Leech Gatherer and Lydia the Barren. The author uses the metaphor of the birds without wings to describe the situation where people are fated to do things that do not agree because without wings we are forced into “struggles and abominations that we did not seek”.

jun 16, 2012, 7:51pm

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, • Narrated by Jeff Woodman, Barbara Caruso, Richard Ferrone
Published 2005
3 stars
This story of a nine year old boy, Oskar Schell, set in New York City sometime after 9/11. Oskar’s dad died in the terrorist attack and this story is of Oskar as he tries to deal with his grief. Oskar’s relationship with his dad was very important and Oskar “heavy boots”. He is not as close to his mother and it seems he is even less close now that his father is gone. Oskar finds a key in a blue vase in his father’s clothes closet and he sets out to find out what the key unlocks. In this quest, Oskar travels to the five boroughs of New York City to find people with the last name Black.
The book was a little hard to follow. I was slow to engage but by midway I did get into the story. There is another story occurring along side of Oskar’s story and it was a little confusing. The story is mixed with humor and also quite sad. It is a story of mourning and grief. It is about trauma and the struggle to self destruct or preserver.
Oskar is nine and the story is told from a nine year olds perspective. Some have criticized the story for the voice not reflecting a nine year old. I actually liked the narrator but some reviewers have commented that the narrator is really Foer. I guess he has had many not so good reviews over this work. Everything is Illuminated is a better story. Another fault with the book is it isn’t really realistic that his mother would have let him traipse all over NYC and the whole idea that he could actually tract down a person who could reveal the mystery of the key is not so believable either. The story is good from the standpoint of that on this quest, Oskar is able to get out his grief to various strangers and heal a little and grow a little. I liked that part.
Foer’s style is different. I listened to this one but I did pick up the book to have a look and you do miss a lot of detail in the book that adds to the stories; pictures, pages with only a few or no words, etc.
The author explores trauma. He explores the trauma on the people and especially the children after 9/11. The author was criticized for making money off 9/11, but he gave voice to the victims of trauma and he is a New Yorker.

jun 24, 2012, 10:28pm

Ivanhoe or the Jew and his Daughter by Sir Walter Scott
Published 1820
4 stars
This review may contain mild spoilers.
A story of knights and yeoman set in the 1200s is historical fiction but it is also a romance and a political statement. It details the political and cultural hostility between the Saxons and their Norman rulers during the reign of Richard the Lionhearted in the twelfth century. Richard’s brother is trying to usurp the throne. There are historical and imaginary characters that assist The Black Knight in his campaign to return as ruler of England. The story revolves around three confrontations; the tournament at Ashby-de-la-Zouche, the siege of Torquilstone Castle and the rescue of the Jewess Rebecca from Templestowe where she is being tried as a witch. Templestowe is the seat of the Knights Templar, a monastic military order. The story also examines the political, chivalry and romantic practices of old. It pioneered the genre of the historical novel. A main theme for this book is reconciliation which is displayed through Richard, Ivanhoe and even with Rebecca.
I enjoyed this book. It was written to please and it does. Some complaints include the characters are stereotyped. Isaac the Jew is characterized as money hungry, tight fisted individual but Rebecca his daughter is the ideal woman. She is full of courage and virtue. She stays true to her faith. Christianity is not depicted in a favorable light. The Jewish characters are kinder and more charitable than any Christian in the book. Christians did not read the scriptures at this time and still behaved like that pagans they had been. I liked this quote from the book, “I envy thee not they faith, which is ever in thy mouth, but never in thy heart nor in thy practice”. Scott wanted to show he could write about something outside of Scotland and he did. He wanted to please the reader and he does. He wanted to describe what it would take for a united England to occur. It wasn’t meant to be a historical book but a work of fiction based on history. Some say that Rebecca would not have been burned as a witch at this time but the Grand Master could do as he wanted regardless of the law of the land. This is a good book to read for those that like happy endings.

jun 25, 2012, 5:05pm

I enjoyed Birds With Wings, tragic but fascinating period of history

jul 1, 2012, 9:28am

State of Fear by Michael Crichton
3.5 stars
The story State of Fear is about eco terrorists plot to influence public fear in order to get funding. The protagonist is Peter Evans, an environmentalist lawyer who is assigned to work with George Morton a millionaire philanthropist. Peter Evans is a whimsy, idealist who becomes involved in an effort to stop the plans to create natural disasters that will harm unknowing individuals. The heroes jet all over the world and the US; California, Arizona, Hawaii, Antarctic, Solomon Islands. I liked the infusion of research articles and charts. The author is known for his science filled suspense novels. I appreciated the challenge that we should examine our beliefs to see if they are truly facts or just assumptions. The title comes from this line "ecology of thought and how it has led to a state of fear" found on page 495. The book is also about manipulation through use of media. How much of what we believe do we really know or are we just accepting what we hear. This book has a tendency to irritate quite a few people but I think it has some valid challenges to us to at least examine whether we truly know what we think we know. Something my parents wanted to instill in me when I was a young person.

jul 2, 2012, 1:50pm

I've found that Chrichton's books (the ones I've read at least) usually have at least a little kernel of something that can be pondered - I like that about them, that it's not just action-action-action. Putting this one on the wishlist.

jul 2, 2012, 3:38pm

Some of Crichton's books are a lot better than others, though.

jul 5, 2012, 8:24pm

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
Published 1945
3 stars
Cannery Row is a series of vignettes about Doc and a group of characters that reside in Monterrey, California in an area called Cannery Row. Cannery Row is “…a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light…..” made up of whores, pimps, gamblers or saints, angels, martyrs depending on how you want to look at it. Doc is one of the key characters and is called Doc because he is college educated and is running a business collecting marine animals and other animals for college research and use. He is surrounded by Mack and the gang, the Chinese grocer, Dora and her house of prostitution. The town is a canning town for sardines, the time period is during the Great Depression and these people are resourceful Americans who are surviving. Love Steinbeck’s writing. This book is poetic and is more about place and community that about any one person. I do think it is semiautobiographical as Steinbeck actually studied science and Stanford University and was a qualified marine biologist. It probably isn’t the best representation of Steinbeck’s writing but it gives a picture of Steinbeck and of Monterrey during the depression.

Redigerat: jul 7, 2012, 8:07am

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Published 1897
4 stars
Dracula a Gothic horror novel written by Irish author Bram Stoker in 1897 has been sitting in my Nook since I purchased the Nook. Englishman Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to complete some legal transactions for Count Dracula. Dracula has a plan. He will go to England where he has bought a home in search of new prey. Dr. Van Helsing from Holland, Dr Seward, Quincy P. Morris from Texas and Arthur Holmwood, along with Lucy Westenra, Mina Harker and her husband Jonathan Harker join forces to destroy the vampire. The story is told through letters and diary entries including some recorded messages on a phonograph. The reader knows this story from the movies and all the vampire lore that has continued through the years. It also has been over analyzed to the point that people just don’t read it and may feel a little cheated if they do. In the standard of horror, this may not please today’s reader but for me, it was my first vampire book and it was a good place to start. I was and am a reluctant reader of vampire lit. The book is enjoyable, well researched and easy to read. I give it four stars for that reason, even if I really don’t like reading books about vampires. There is a enough technical information about vampires to bring the reluctant vampire reader up to grade. The two women are the most interesting characters in the novel. Mina is the most developed character. Of course they are the targets of Dracula. Lucy is weak and simple and an easy prey while Mina, the more desired, is stronger, smarter and a picture of the New Woman that is emerging at this time. I think the book does a splendid job of telling about vampires, creating tension and was complete in its accuracy of vampires as the Undead. And No, I will not be reading twilight but I may eventually read Interview With the Vampire because it is also on the 1001 list.

jul 8, 2012, 4:14pm

I think it's good that you started with Dracula for your background on vampires as the Twilight series has less to do with the undead as teen angst. Interview with the Vampire is a good place to go next. IMHO Rice really elevated the vampire in her books.

jul 8, 2012, 4:22pm

The Historian is also a good place to's not so much a vampire book as a mystery/travelogue with a vampire component. In fact, there's very little vampire in it at all!

jul 8, 2012, 5:28pm

I do enjoy vampire-stories, but I have not yet managed to get through Dracula - I'll put it on my Nook as well as a reminder!

jul 11, 2012, 8:58pm

Eva, The Hibernator and Mamzel, thanks very much for you recommendations; I think the Historian might be another good choice.

jul 11, 2012, 8:59pm

Eva, The Hibernator and Mamzel, thanks very much for you recommendations; I think the Historian might be another good choice.

jul 11, 2012, 8:59pm

Eva, The Hibernator and Mamzel, thanks very much for you recommendations; I think the Historian might be another good choice.

jul 11, 2012, 9:00pm

The Charwoman’s Daughter by James Stephens
Published 1912
3 stars
James Stephens, an Irish poet and novelist was reared in the slums of Dublin. He writes about the claustrophobia of the city, the small rooms the crowds and the loneliness but also of the liberation of the open streets. This is a story that is almost fairy tale like in quality. Mrs. Makebelieve (the charwoman and Mary’s mother) has to work as a Charwoman but she embraces her freedom and strongly believes that her “ship will sail in” and she will be rich someday. Mary is her only daughter and she is very protective. There is some very good things about this mother daughter relationship. She holds on to her daughter and maybe keeps her young but she also prepares her for her future marriage. Mary is nearing 16 or turns 16 during the story and she is just becoming aware of her body changing into a woman’s and she is also becoming aware of men. Stephen’s picture of Dublin (often described as a man’s town) is presented to the reader as both domestic and urban. This city comes alive in Mary’s eyes as she wanders through the city during the day while her mother is working. The author is known for his retelling of Irish myths and fairy tales. This felt like a retelling of Cinderella who worked like a charwoman for her stepmother only Mrs Makebelieve is quite proud and will be no one’s slave. A couple of quotes from the story that I liked and describes Dublin and the second one demonstrates the lyrical quality of the author’s words;
“She wanted to walk in the solitude which can only be found in crowded places.”
“Young girls dance by, each a giggle incarnate.”

jul 15, 2012, 12:16pm

Every Man Dies Alon by • By Hans Fallada, Michael Hofman (translator), Narrated by George Guidall
3 stars
Published 1947
This story is based on a true story of a German couple who lost a son in Hitler’s army decided to resist by writing postcards and dropping them over Berlin. The couple were caught, convicted and eventually die. Their story is really nothing. They never connected with other resistance movements and what they did only put them in danger. The side stories are the only thing that redeems this work otherwise it would be very blah. My favorite side story is the boy who runs away from Berlin, meets a woman who adopts him and is able to change his life. There were parts more interesting than others even parts of the couples story is interesting. The message is, we need to be true to ourselves and the book does show how easy it is for people to find themselves being untrue to themselves because of fear of upsetting the political power of the time.
The audio was well done; the narrator’s voice with a German accent is easy to listen to. I guess the book actually has some pictures of the postcards to view which would have been nice.

jul 20, 2012, 5:21pm

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Published 1961 5 stars
This best known work by Murial Spark, is a story of a woman teacher, Miss Jean Brodie who teaches at an girls day school in Edinburgh, Scotland during the thirties. Miss Brodie is unconventional to say the least. The story is told through the girls of the Brodie set, mostly by Sandy. Miss Brodie states; “Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life”. The book starts out by introducing us to the girls along with a prophetic statement about each of the girls. Miss Brodie teaches strongly in the areas of art and history and her own personal travel stories and neglects the subjects of math and science. Early on the reader learns that someone betrays Miss Brodie. There are some flash forwards in the story as well as some details in Miss Brodie’s life that are slowly reviewed. The main focus starts out with Miss Brodie’s love life. The girls are eleven in the beginning. There is a love triangle with Miss Brodie, the art teacher and the music teacher. Inserted into the story are some references to Mussolini, Hitler and to Franco. Major themes relate to individualism and education. Individualism has been taken away from the Brodie set. A teacher has used them to live her own life vicariously through them. The other major theme is the differences between curriculum and cultural learning. The question is, was Miss Brodie betrayed or did she finally trip herself up with her influence over young the young girls? This is a great book for discussion and I experienced it rather than just read it, which makes it a 5 star book for me.

jul 20, 2012, 9:29pm

Happy to see The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was a 5 star read for you. I am slowly working my way through her books and have yet to be disappointed. She has such a sharp eye for detail, sociology and psychology!

jul 22, 2012, 5:54am

It would make a fab book club read :) glad you enjoyed it, it's a great book.

jul 23, 2012, 10:26am

I really must read more Muriel Spark as I thoroughly enjoyed that one

jul 29, 2012, 8:00am

The Body of Jonah Boyd by David Leavitt, published 2004
3.5 stars
The Body of Jonah Boyd , a novel by David Leavitt, published in 2004, is a story of the Wright family in Wellspring, California told by Ernest Wright’s secretary, Janet (Denny) Denham. It centers around a Thanksgiving meal in 1969. Ernest Wright is a psychology professor at the local college in Wellspring. This is a fictitious place modeled after Standford University. Denny is Mr. Wright’s secretary and she is invited to a Thanksgiving meal as one of the strays. The Wright’s invite some of the graduate students every year. Nancy finds out that Denny can play four hands at the piano so she becomes a regular visitor on Saturdays. Denny (Judith Denham) is having an affair with Ernest, plays piano with his wife Nancy, becomes Daphne’s and eventually Ben’s confidants and even becomes friend’s with Jonah Boyd’s daughter. In 1969, Nancy’s old friend, Anne who has remarried to an author Jonah Boyd visit. Jonah Boyd carries a single copy of his most recent book around in notebooks even though he is prone to lose them over and over. This is a story about the loss of this manuscript and the consequences that follow.
David Leavitt is an American author of several books including The Lost Languages of Cranes which is on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. Leavitt is a professor at the University of Florida. He was sued for plagiarism in 1995. I read this book because it was a recommendation by Nancy Pearl. I purchased the book years ago and finally am getting it read. My book is a first edition. I don’t think it ever sold many copies but it is good.
I enjoyed the writing. The story is contemporary story that explores family relationships and sexual struggles with the main theme being the problem of authorship. It is mostly told by an observer who is able to connect with each of the family members to learn their stories. There is the title which creates tension immediately because somehow there is going to be a body. Slowly small points are revealed, constantly building suspense and the reader is pulled along to find out more. The reader does not find out what is the significance of the title until the very end. Leavitt is a good author. Reading his book Lost Languages of Cranes wasn’t high on my list of books I wanted to get to because of the subject matter but now that I have sampled this author I look forward to reading it.

aug 3, 2012, 11:38pm

Blue of Noon by Georges Baitalle
1 star
A nihilist novel by Georges Bataille, Blue of Noon, is set during the Spanish Civil War and the early years of Nazi movement. The protagonist, Henri Troppmann is a sick man (physically and emotionally). This book is thankfully short, it is so horrible and not enjoyable in any sense of the word. The author has tried and achieved to include every human excretion and depravity in this novella. There are three women, Lazare--a political activist, Dirty--an alcoholic and Xenia--a young woman who nursed Troppmann back to health. Supposedly this is a rewrite of Don Juan but I have not read it so I wouldn't know and the author has used the writing of sex to describe the political climate. I do not feel this work has much merit.

aug 12, 2012, 8:29pm

The Invention of Curried Sausage by Uwe Timm, translated by Leila Vennewitz
Published 1993 in Germany
4 stars (at first I was thinking just 3 stars but when I started to think about how much is in this little book of 217 pages, I decided it was a 4) **this could have some spoilers in it depending on your preferences.
The story within the story (double narrator device) is set in Hamburg, Germany at the end of WWII. The protagonist, a young man who used to eat curried sausage at Mrs. Brücker’s stand sets out to find out how she came to invent curried sausage. Mrs. Brücker begins a long story which really is the story of her life at the end of WWII. A young naval officer, Bremer, is assigned to go to the front line to stop British tanks instead of returning to his map room in Oslo. He spends the night with Lena. He then decides to go AWOL because he has heard how he might die on the front line as the British are entering Hamburg. He believes he cannot leave her apartment and Mrs. Brücker does not tell him that the war is over. She keeps him 27 days. By telling her long story she has in essence taken captive another young man who has had to stay away more days than he anticipated to hear how Lena invented the sausage.
At first, I did not like Lena because of her dishonesty and unfairness with Bremer’s life. She is a strong woman who managed to survive the war, maintain her own opinions and she was able to use her capitalist ingenuity to become a woman who was able to take care of herself, her children and her grandchild. There is much to admire about Lena. Lena loves to make “much of little”. (pg 34). This reminds me of my German heritage. I did not like Bremer who chose to go AWOL and who did not acknowledge is wife and child.
I also liked Lena’s statement about old age, on page 146. “You know, the only unfair thing is old age…..” and “That’s the strange thing, for a long time getting old is something that happens only to other people. And then one day, somewhere around forty, you find it’s happening to yourself; you notice…” And yes, you do get to find out how Curried Sausage was invented.
Themes include ‘not telling important things”. This touches on her relationship with Bremer, her relationship with her husband who doesn’t tell her things and she doesn’t ask and even her own and the German people who choose not to wonder about the Jewish people who are disappearing. Another theme might be the power of food. Bremer gains weight in captivity while the Germans are losing weight and the Jewish people are skeletons. In the end we see Lena an old lady relishing her sweets. The curry is supposed to have antidepressant effects. Bremer loses his taste.
Apparently this would be a good companion read with The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. I’ve read some other reviews and in the most part the translation was good though there might have been a better choice than “chitlins”. Uwe Timm is a successful German writer. He has won the Jakob-Wassermann prize. Uwe Timm’s older brother died at the end of WWII. The author was an author in residence in 1997 to the Washington University in St. Louis.

aug 14, 2012, 9:55pm

Arthur & George by Julian Barnes, audio by Nigel Anthony
4 stars
Published 7/7/2005
This is my first experience of reading a book by Julian Barnes, an English author who won the Booker Man in 2011. I obtained this audio free on an offer I ran across on Twitter shortly after Barnes won the Booker. I had no idea what the book was about when I started to listen to it. I was greatly surprised and pleased to learn that it was about Arthur Conan Doyle. I wished I was reading one of his books while listening to this. Arthur & George is a work of fiction based on a lot of true events and is the story of George Edalj and Arthur Conan Doyle and how their lives intersect. George is the oldest child of Charlotte and Shapurji Edalji. His father is Indian and his mother Scottish (really she was English). George is half Indian and his appearance is different than other children. George also grew up with vision impairment and was not allowed to wear glasses because it was believe they would weaken his eyes. George was accused of ‘ripping’ a horse and causing its death. A third of the book is spent on the trial, conviction and imprisonment of George. This is the best part of the book. Julian Barnes explores or suggests that racism may have been a big factor in the conviction of George Edalgi. The reader is also following the life of Arthur Conan Doyle and his creation of Sherlock Holmes. Arthur decides to fight to have the wrongful conviction of George righted.
I enjoyed this book very much. Many reforms to court process came about because of the wrongful conviction of George. It led to the court of appeals. Another story theme is spiritualist and the complacency of the British over their death and eternal destiny. This was interesting but less so than the trial. The ending was somewhat flat but overall it was a very interesting story. The performance by Nigel Anthony was also a 4 to 5 star performance.

aug 15, 2012, 4:49am

Sound interesting, I have only tried Sense of an Ending which I heartedly enjoyed. Thanks for the review!

aug 15, 2012, 4:15pm

I am indeed a fan of currywurst, so I'll have to put The Invention of Curried Sausage on the wishlist. :)

aug 16, 2012, 12:24am

Nice review of Arthur and George! It is sitting on my TBR bookcase, waiting for me to quit committing to group reads! Such a patient book...... ;-)

The Invention of Curried Sausage - what a great title..... it makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Redigerat: aug 20, 2012, 9:50pm

Rabbit, Run by John Updike
Published 1960
4 stars
The novel is set in the late fifties and depicts five months out of Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom’s life. This novel is postwar fiction and while it is very dated, it is interesting to me because it’s the era of my parents. Harry and Janice could have been my parents. I could have been their child. Harry was a basketball hero in high school. Now he is married with one child and another on the way and a dead end job. He finds himself trapped and he runs like the rabbit who feels he must escape. This novel is told in the present tense which was fairly innovative then and it is in third person like we are in Harry’s head. As an author, Updike is hard to beat. I really enjoyed his words, sentences and how he could create pictures with his words. Harry is a nobody. There is nothing to admire about Harry. He is thoughtless and takes no responsibility. Rabbit, Run is the first of a series of books---Rabbit, Redux (1971), Rabbit is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990) which together will create a study of the ordinary American man in the second half of the 20th century. The setting is Mt. Judge, Pennsylvania. Updike has suggested that Harry’s last name, Angstrom, represents ‘stream of angst’. When Updike first wrote this book, apparently the publisher made him remove some of the sexual content but later he add it back. Themes in the book include the entire off limit subjects; sex, religion and alcohol. I think younger readers find this book hard to connect with because it probably just seems too unbelievable. It is filled with pictures of telephone polls, people walking instead of driving, television is fairly new product. Women didn’t, in general, go to college but got married and had their families staying home. Men didn’t help their wives and expected things to be waiting for them when they got home from work. The description of Janice having her baby while Harry waits in the waiting room (smoking) is exactly how it was, Janice staying in the hospital a full week before going home---exactly how it was.

aug 30, 2012, 8:23pm

Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer
Published 1979
3 stars
A story set in South Africa in the sixties and seventies and tells the story of Rosa Burger, daughter of Lionel Burger. Rosa’s parents were Afrikaner Marxists and political activists who opposed apartheid. Rosa loses both her parents to the political struggle. Her dad died in prison. Rosa has no identity of her own and she has no private life. Everything for Rosa is “because I am my father’s daughter” pg 62. He role is imprinted on her. The book explores the impact of apartheid on the people of South Africa. And the society that is racially divided. Rosa discovers that the blacks don’t what the solutions of “well meaning whites”. “ Blackness is the blackman refusing to believe the whiteman’s way of life is best for the blacks. Pg 163” Early in the book, Rosa states in her head that “desire can be very comforting”, she would like to live life without social responsibility and be anonymous like other people. She eventually does get to leave South Africa where she looks for a way to escape her father. She spends some time in France and England only to return to South Africa and her role of ‘her father’s daughter’.
I’ve read a few books about South Africa now and this is not one I would favor. It just was not that fun to read. The story is told through internal monologue as Rosa converses in her thoughts with Conrad, her father or other people. I gave it three stars but really I hovered over 2 stars for awhile. Gordimer won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.

aug 31, 2012, 9:22am

Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne, translated by William Butcher
Published 1866
3 stars
Jules Verne’s book about Professor Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel’s trip to Iceland to discover whether there is a way through a crater to the center of the earth. Professor Lidenbrock represents the theory that the center of the earth is not hot and Axel represents those that professed the belief that the center of the earth would be molten hot. Verne wrote adventure stories and as such, Journey to the Centre is one of his adventure story. The science fiction part examines the theory and also the geological discoveries of the earth. This short story has been translated many times and the original translation was not the best translation. Thanks to this information being shared before I started reading, I searched on-line and found this pdf file of Butcher’s translation. It included an introduction, foot notes and summary statements. Jules Verne is an enjoyable author. The book was started in 1864 and I think there were some rewrites according to this edition.

sep 6, 2012, 10:12pm

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach read by Holter Graham
3 stars
F2F book club read
Chad Harbach’s debut novel, The Art of Fielding is a story of Henry from South Dakota who goes to a prep college in Wisconsin to play baseball. He plays short stop with the beauty of an artist but he is nothing but a scrawny kid with no personality off the baseball field. Schwartz gets him into Westish College and begins to train him and polish him. He plays perfectly until he makes a first error and then it’s all downhill until he eventually walks away from the game and enters the depth of depression. The story is about baseball, college life and it is about relationships. You could call this a romance for men. I did not like the first part of the book but I did get caught up with the characters in the second half. I did not like or feel that it was necessary to have the details of the gay love affair. I don’t need or want heterosexual or homosexual love making detailed in a story. I did like the baseball story. The author has talent in crafting a sentence, something I appreciate. I think while it was a character driven novel, many of the characters were just not that believable. The reader did a pretty good job with the various voices and the overall listening experience was good. I give this novel a 3 stars or really 50% good, 50% bad.

sep 8, 2012, 4:13pm

Exit the Rainmaker by Jonathan Coleman
Published 1989
Book read for F2F…3 stars
It is a true story, a biography of Julian Nance Carsey written by Jonathan Coleman. Who Carsey anyway? Jonathan Coleman worked for CBS News in 1981 to 1983. Carsey was a two-year college president who disappeared May 19, 1982. This biography is really about a no body. Carsey didn’t do anything illegal, he just walked away at the age of 47 from his job, his government consulting and his wife and all his friends. This is not a book I would have chosen to read because I guess, I really don’t care. But it is the book for my face to face book club and I try to read them all. It wasn’t hard to read and the question for me was ‘why did the author write this story?’. While it is a biography it also could be considered a sociology study of why would a man walk away. Does the book answer the question. No, I don’t think so, but Coleman’s investigation is thorough and you can come up with your own conclusions. What I always find interesting is how I can read several books at around the same time that seem to have connections. I just finished Rabbit, Run by Updike last month and while one is fiction and the other a true story, they are about the same thing. I also just finished The Art of Fielding which has less in common but both are stories of a college president.

sep 15, 2012, 10:06am

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Published 1985
5 stars
Alice Walker’s The Color Purple is the story of Celie, a black women in Georgia in the 1930s told in epistolary style. Celie writes to God because she is told “tell no one”. Celie is a victim of sexual abuse, bares two children that are taken away and then she is bartered off to another man to care for his children and serve as a sexual outlet when Shug isn’t available. Who is Shug? Shug is a black woman, blues singer. Everyone loves Shug but then some love to hate her. Celie loves Shug and finds a friend in Shug. Shug helps Celie to grow strong and finally Celie is able to rise above male domination and become an independent woman who can love the things of God. The characters are wonderfully developed and enjoyable. Having seen the movie (a long time ago) did not ruin the book. There is a lot in this book, feminism, racism, sexuality and spiritual journey. There also is a subplot of Nettie, Celie’s sister in Africa as a missionary which gives a picture of black women in Africa. It shows the European imperialism that destroys the Olinka and their way of life and mentions King Leopold for those of us who have read that book. Very enjoyable and a quick read.

sep 19, 2012, 8:06pm

Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
Published 1765
4 stars
A rather short story and the only one published by Horace Walpole tell the story of Manfred, prince of Otranto and the death of his son and only heir Conrad. The castle with its vaults and secret passages make for the setting of a gothic novel. The setting is chivalric Middle Ages and deals with cruelty and tyranny as well as usurping of the castle and title of prince. It’s a very quick and easy read for those working on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

sep 19, 2012, 9:48pm

Nice to see that Castle of Otranto was a good and quick read for you! I have that one on the list for next year's reading!

sep 22, 2012, 7:39pm

Because They Hate by Brigitte Gabriel, audio read by the author
3 stars
Published 2006
Ms Gabriel is a journalist who was an anchor for World News who grew up in war torn Lebanon during the war in 1975. She is an Arab Christian. She is passionate to tell the message that United States is at risk of further attacks by radical Islam. Ms Gabriel believes that the U.S. stance of tolerance is resulting in the US to be an easy prey and to be unaware of the dangers. In this 10 hour audio, the author tells her own story of survival, the history of Lebanon, Arab and Israeli conflict. Because of her passion and her unwillingness to be politically correct she has been widely criticized. But is this worth listening to? I think so, I think we need to be well informed and if we only hear one side or if we are afraid to question the policies then we might be guilty of apathy and as the author states, "social paranoia discourages free thought and expression. This book could have used some editing. She repeats herself quite a bit throughout the book. A written copy would be valuable that the audio as it is so much easier to research all the information that the author has collected. Ms Gabriel is a US citizen now and because of her past she is extremely passionate that what happened to Lebanon not happen here.

sep 24, 2012, 9:35pm

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells published 1897
4 stars
The Invisible Man is a tale of the antihero, Griffin, a scientist/student who found a way to make himself invisible which he saw as a means of power. “An invisible man is a man of power”. But there are disadvantages and everything he hoped to accomplish is halted by these difficulties, dogs that sense him, food which shows when ingested. Griffin can take his place beside Frankenstein and Faust as individuals who become more and more destructive as they pursue power. It is also a moral fable; invisibility places Griffen outside of society and alienates him. In the 1001 reference book; the reviewer states that the novel shows the author’s hostility to Nietzschean thought and particularly “superman”. The novel also reminds us that scientific discovery can be used to further evil rather than good. I enjoyed this tale and at first was thinking 3 stars but changed my mind and gave it four.

sep 24, 2012, 9:35pm

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Published 1869
3.5 stars
I finished the book in 86 days and it did feel like an endurance test at times. Now to write something about this masterpiece that will do it justice. The story is of two families, the Bolkonshys and Rostovs and uses their lives to portray Russia before and during the conflict with Napoléon. Tolstoy gives you a panoramic view as great as Russia; a view of the city, the country, the movement of armies. There is a lot of detail in these pages. His character develop is built on little physical details. Such as Pierre’s shortsightedness, Mary’s eyes, Lise’s lip. In the lives of these people, Tolstoy gives you insight through their eyes as unique individuals. Interspersed with the personal lives of the characters is the historical novel and Tolstoy’s own philosophy of history and power. I never was very good at paying attention to history when younger though it is a lot more interesting now, I will have to say, I learned a lot about Napoleon and the war of 1812 that I didn’t get in school. I’ve read all of the Tolstoy novels on the 1001 list now and while War and Peace is not my favorite, I really like Tolstoy’s works and am glad to have read them.

sep 25, 2012, 2:36pm

I have War and Peace on the to-be-read-list, but I'm waiting for the mood to strike.... It's a bit hefty to just pick up whenever. :)

sep 25, 2012, 9:35pm

I have War and Peace on the to-be-read-list, but I'm waiting for the mood to strike

The mood has struck me numerous times over the past three decades and I still haven't finished it!

sep 26, 2012, 10:15pm

I read 11 pages a day and that was how I stuck with it plus I read with others so there was support.

okt 5, 2012, 2:25pm

Rabbit Redux by John Updike
Published 1971
4 stars
The second stage of Harry Angstrom, ten years later, finds Harry working as a printer at the Val in the dead end job he never wanted. Harry is described as “Now when he plays basketball he is heavy”. His son is 13 and he and his wife live in the massed produced, ranch style home in the new suburbia while the downtown areas are being turned into parking lots. In this story, Janice engages in an affair and leaves her husband. Harry is a conservative man in a flower child, dope smoking, Black Panther world of the late sixties as the Vietnam War grows less and less popular. Updike carries through with his themes of guilt, sex and death from the first book Rabbit, Run with the addition of racism. Sex and racism play a big part in this book. In fact it’s a little too over the top for me but, hey, it was the big deal in the sixties with free love, women’s rights and all. So Updike catches the times succinctly and that is what I liked about this book. It was so real, so part of my “younger life” with ephemera of 2001: Space Odyssey movie, Armstrong landing on the moon, families sitting around mindlessly watching TV and programming like Laugh In. The Beatles music of Hey Jude and Yesterday is mentioned, as well as civil unrest, riots and the trial of the Chicago 8. Death is a major theme as well as in such quotes as “life does want death” and “To be alive is to kill.” (page 310) and “…to die will be to be forever wide awake.”(317)

okt 8, 2012, 12:39pm

Half of Man is Woman by Zhang Xianliang, translated by Martha Avery
Published 1986 (translation), published in China in 1985.
4 stars
The story is semi autobiographical of Zhang, a ‘rightist’ poet who has been sent to a labor camp and ‘hatted’. It is also a story of China during the Cultural Revolution. Zhang meets Huang and falls in love with the image of her naked and bathing herself in the canes. Zhang has never had a relationship. She was jailed for promiscuity. The author lets us see China through their relationship. Zhang is like a emasculated man, his impotency would represent the impotency of the people. The novel is about survival and regaining self. It is lyrical and beautifully written. It was considered too vulgar to be sold in China and was banned. It really isn’t vulgar compared to many other works found in 1001 Books…..
The author was sent to a labor camp in 1957 in the anti-rightist movement. He was officially pardoned in 1979 and apparently is still alive and works as a writer in China. He is 76 years old. I read Wild Swans by Chang a few years back and I think reading this first makes this book even better.

okt 8, 2012, 2:16pm

Perfect read for Banned Books Week! Unfortunately it is not available through my local library.

okt 11, 2012, 10:05pm

I got my copy from Abes Books

Redigerat: okt 11, 2012, 10:06pm

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, narrated by Kathe Mazur
3 stars
Published 2004
This novel is set in Florence, Italy during the 1400s. Alessandra Cecchi is the main character. We first are introduced to her as she is dying in the convent where she has lived for many years. Then we go back in time to when she is a young girl in Florence, Italy. She is the youngest daughter of a textile merchant and she loves art and wants to draw and paint. But girls marry, they don’t paint. The father hires a painter to paint their chapel. Alessandra is attracted to the painter because of her love of art. Because Charles is invading the family marries her off to an older man so that she won’t have to go to the convent to be kept safe from the invading army. Alessandra finds herself with more freedom to paint in her husband’s home but also great disappointment and betrayal. This is a time of change in Florence, Girolamo Savonarola, an Italian Dominican friar and preacher is preaching against the corruption in the church, the exploitation of the poor and the licentiousness of the Florentine culture. There is a lot happening. Charles of France is invading, there is someone killing and mutilating people in the streets and Savonarola is raising up an army of angels to fight sin in the city. There is mystery, love and art in this book. I did not so much like this book. I didn’t know much about this time, so from a historical fiction point of view, I did learn something but I just didn’t really like the story much. I didn’t like the fact that there seemed to be way to much sexual emphasis in the book that felt to modern to me and way too much detail. I didn’t much care for the narration either. Ms Mazur does an excellent job with the pronunciation of the Italian words but it felt so out of place with the rest of the sentence. Perhaps if she would have had an Italian accent it would have flowed better but it just felt disjointed. She also had a very harsh ‘s’ that grated in the ear for the first part of the book but that did disappear. I have another book by Ms Dunant on the shelf but I am afraid I won’t be feeling any urgency to read it.

okt 23, 2012, 8:29pm

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, audio narrated by Wanda McCaddon
Published, 1905
5 stars
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton is part love story and social commentary. The novel is a portrait of upper-class society life in the turn of the century Manhattan. It centers on the beautiful Lily Bart who lives beyond her means because it is all she knows. She knows she has to marry but she continuously sabotages all her chances and finally she is betrayed by an acquaintance that results in her expulsion from the only society and friends that Lily knows. The love story is between Lawrence Selden, a shabby genteel gentleman with not enough money to make him a good marital choice. There was much of this story that reminded me of other novels with wit centered on social commentary such as Jane Austen. It is a book of manners. This novel also addresses the plight of women in the late 1800s, beginning to desire liberation from dependence on men for their success.
The audio was one of the free ones I picked up from Audible with the whispernet. I thought the narrator did a very good job and I found it easy to listen and not get distracted. She had a voice and accent that fit the story.
Of course, this is a classic; Wharton is a well known American author. Some don’t like her, but I appreciate her work. Love Ethan Frome. This is only my second Wharton but I will read more. The Age of Innocence is also about turn-of-the-century Manhattan. The characters have depth, from Lily, to Selden to all the others who make up this New York City landscape. As Lily descends the social ladder and doors close, as she stays true to good manners there is a lot of emotional impact. Be forwarned, don’t read Edith Wharton if you want a happy ending.

okt 24, 2012, 12:21pm

@ 101 -- I really loved The Age of Innocence, if you're looking for some more Wharton! Not the movie, though...supremely weird casting, in my opinion.

okt 24, 2012, 9:18pm

102, Age of Innocence is on my TBR, I have it on my Nook so one of these days I will get to it.

okt 26, 2012, 2:26pm

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Published 1966
4 stars
This novel, first published as a short story and then a novella in 1966 was the joint winner of the Nebula Award in 1967. It has been required reading for youth 13 and up and it has held the prestige of being a banned book. The story is of Charlie Gordon, a man with mental disability. In the beginning of the story, the reader is introduced to Charly as a man in his thirties who is still in school trying to learn, working in a bakery and living independently. He is satisfied with his life, likes his job and views his fellow employees as his friends. Charly has been chosen as a test subject at a university because of his desire to learn. This experiment will involve a surgery that will make him smarter. The experiment has previously been done on animals of which Algernon, the white mouse, is one. Charly is asked to complete some tests against Algernon of which Algernon wins, he is asked to write a daily log for the professors who are in charge of the experiment. The experiment is a success and in fact the rate of increase in IQ for Charlie is phenomenal. Soon he has passed the professors who are running the experiment and he is able to work on the experiment himself. During this time, Charles loses his friends, his job at the bakery, his friendship with his former school teacher and he is adrift without any real connection to anyone except a young lady named Fay who loves dancing and sex. Flowers for Algernon is on the American Library Association's list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999. The main reason for the challenges has been the part of the book that examines Charles sexuality and exploration of sex. The novel was written at a time when ethical decisions regarding the mentally disabled was in the forefront, including the sexual rights of the disabled. Flowers for Algernon touches upon many different ethical and moral themes such as the treatment of the mentally disabled and therefore the sexual component is a necessary part of the book. This is not a graphic book, it examines sexual needs and expression in a realistic and appropriate manner in general. The fact that this sexual behavior all occurs outside of marriage is the one area that may be a source of concern for parents. I also felt bad that the parents were so poorly depicted, yet these flaws were common occurrences during the time period. The author’s background is psychology. The style of the book is epistolary. It is written as a log by the protagonist, Charly and represents his progress. The book has originality especially at the time and it represented some key issues of the time period. I hadn’t read this before, it became required reading after I graduated. I wrote my ethical dilemma paper on sexuality of the mentally disabled and would have liked to have read this at that time, but missed it then. I had seen a lot of comments about it, my daughter had read it and recommended it so I finally was able to get to it. I really appreciated the character, Charly. He was more likeable and happy before the experiment. I did not like him as the intellectual Charlie. The author used language and spelling in the logs to show the reader the advancements in Charly’s IQ and it made the story come to life. While I didn’t engage with the book in the same emotional level (not sure why), I think it is an emotionally powerful book. I think this is a unique science fiction book because of its subject being so very close to reality that you hardly are aware that you are reading Sci Fi. It shared the award with Babel-17 which I know nothing about. I gave it 4 stars which feels a little high to me but because it is such a strong book on its own merits, I gave it the 4 stars.

nov 1, 2012, 6:30am

been a long time since I read flowers for algernon but it is one of those books that stick in your mind

nov 2, 2012, 12:28am

Great review of Flowers for Algernon. That is one of the books on my reading bucket list.

nov 13, 2012, 10:17pm

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt, narrated by John Bruden
Published 2011, shortlisted for the Booker
3 stars

This western is not like any previous western that I’ve read. Eli and Charlie Sisters are hired guns (would be hit men in today’s world). They are hired by the commadore to kill Hermann Kirmit Warm. Charlie is the leader and Eli doesn’t like the killing but they are brothers first and killers second. This story is both sardonically funny and violent. It is filled with great characters from witches, prostitutes, trappers to the weeping man. While the cover design (the red and black one) is great, I didn’t have the book to lovingly hold but listened to an audio. John Bruden did a fantastic job of giving voices to the various characters. While I think the book would be fun to read it was even more so to listen to Bruden read.
I read through some of the comments made about this book and I felt this might encapsulate it for me, “picaresque Western” adventures of a rough and dishonest but appealing hero. In this case the Sisters Brothers.

nov 14, 2012, 12:05pm

I already have The Sisters Brothers on the wishlist, but I'll happily move it over to the audio wishlist instead - finding a new great reader is just so much fun!

nov 20, 2012, 9:14pm

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Published 1969
3 stars
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first of six volumes that make up the autobiography of Maya Angelou also known as Marguerite Ann Johnson. This is the years of three to sixteen and the birth of Marguerite’s first child. This autobiography gave me the closest picture of what it was like to grow up black and female in Arkansas during the thirties. Maya and her brother Bailey were very close. They were sent to live with the grandmother when they were three and four. Maya wondered what they had done wrong to be so rejected by their parents. Arkansas gave Maya her moral center and taught her to be wary of whites. In California she was able to find her strength as a African American woman. Ms Angelou’s love of literature was universal (not black or white) but something we as readers can relate. I believe that this book was included in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die because it was the autobiography of a Black woman. I also think the format of six volumes for an autobiography also makes it unique. It was enjoyable and fast to read but felt it was only a three star book .

dec 5, 2012, 9:54pm

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
published 2011
3 Stars

The book is about Tony Webster who is a divorced, father of one adult daughter and one grandchild who having sought to live in peace is now seeking to make sense of his life. The title The Sense of An Ending is borrowed from Frank Kermode’s book, published in 1967 subtitled Studies in the Theory of Fiction, the stated aim of which is "making sense of the ways we try to make sense of our lives". The book is two parts, in part 1, Tony is reflecting back to 1960s and his four school friends and then they are divided as they head off to college. Tony has his first serious girlfriend, Veronica but things don’t go so well, they break up and that is the end. Later his best friend, dates Veronica. Tony marries Margaret, they have Susie and later divorce. Tony is now retired, divorced and a grandfather. The second part, Tony receives a sum of money in the estate of Mrs Ford. Mrs Ford was Veronica’s mother, this triggers Tony to begin to think about the past. He remembers things he hadn’t remembered for years and there is much he doesn’t know. In fact, Tony “just doesn’t get it”. The short little book is about life, death, aging and it is also how little things that don’t seem so large at the time can have big consequences. The book is also about memory and time. The book won the 2011 Man Booker. The two parts, both narrated by Tony with the first part, the imperfect memory of events as Tony has chosen to remember them and then Part 2 where Tony begins to see what he has chosen to not remember and how badly he has acted. This structure lends originality to the story. There are only Veronica and Tony in which there is much character development and mostly Tony. The other characters are only known as they have interlaced with Tony. None of the characters are particularly likeable. I did not like Veronica. Tony was okay and until he got to know him better. I liked his friend Adrian but we only know a little about him. Reviews have mentioned that this brief story uses languages with impact. There is tension and mystery. The reader is not sure why Veronica behaves in such an angry manner. I like reading books about aging and the aged. I compared this at times to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout but don’t ask me how or why but maybe its just the inner narrative of older people. Its pretty philosophical and reading it again would be worthwhile. I wasn’t able to read it in one setting but it is a book that is made to be read from start to finish.

dec 11, 2012, 9:28pm

The Collector by John Fowles
Published 1963
4 stars

This debut novel by John Fowles tells the story of an abduction of Miranda Gray by Frederick Clegg and is told from two perspectives, the perpetrator of the abduction and the victim. This book was published in 1963 and is considered the first psychological thriller. Frederick Clegg is obsessed with Miranda Gray. Frederick Clegg is orphaned, raised by an aunt. He is socially awkward and a collector of butterflies. Miranda is a beautiful young woman who is studying art on scholarship. The shift in perspective is dramatic and takes us from the mind of Clegg to Miranda through a diary that Miranda has kept through the ordeal. Through this narration technique the reader is able to gain insights into both characters. There are allusions to The Tempest. Frederick Clegg refers to himself as Ferdinand and Miranda the object of his love. While Miranda refers to him as Caliban, a deformed man or monster from The Tempest. Fowles is a British author who has several great works of literature. Previously read The French Lieutenant's Woman and soon to read The Magus, I looked forward to reading this debut novel of John Fowles.

dec 15, 2012, 7:04pm

Rabbit is Rich by John Updike
Published 1981

The third novel in the Rabbit Angstrum series, Harry is middle aged, his son is away at college and he and Janice live with Janice’s mother. Harry is running Springer Motors and believes he is owner but really, he works for his mother-in-law and his wife. Harry has become obsessed with money. His son can’t make a decision and appears to be irresponsible (a lot like Harry) and he is also obsessed with the daughter he had with Ruth.
Rabbit is Rich was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction in 1982 and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 1981. Of the three that I have read so far, I liked this the least and I like Harry the least in this book. There is way too much sex talk and thoughts on Harry’s part and the words used are offensive. What Updike does so well is capture time. In this book, the reader revisits the first oil shortage, Carter administration, eighties inflation. It just wasn’t a very interesting time as the previous book but still a walk down memory lane. Harry does redeem himself with the last sentences of the book when he is holding his granddaughter.

This pretty much ends the challenge for me this year. I will eventually read Rabbit at Rest but don't think it will be this year. I did finish the three books that made the 1001 Books.... lists, however.

dec 15, 2012, 7:19pm

Congratulations on completing your challenge!

dec 15, 2012, 8:57pm


dec 16, 2012, 2:14pm


jan 2, 2013, 5:37am


jan 7, 2013, 9:08am

belated congratulations