amaryann21's List from The List version 2.0

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Discussão1001 Books to read before you die

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amaryann21's List from The List version 2.0

Mar 8, 2016, 10:50 am

New thread for the next 300...

301. Ragtime

Ragtime is half story, half portrait of New York City (and some surrounding areas) in the early 1900's. The story focuses on a family who is never named (Mother, Father, Grandfather, etc.) and the people who come into their lives, including a young African American man who meets with some infamy.

The book is very readable, but there wasn't a good flow. The second half was better, because it focused more on the storyline, but I think Doctorow's style isn't my favorite.

Food: chopped salad. A lot of stuff thrown into a bowl, and while it all goes together because it's technically one dish, some bites are more harmonious than others.

Editado: Abr 12, 2016, 11:17 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Mar 12, 2016, 4:40 pm

302. Doctor Zhivago

I've been putting off the Russians for some time now. I didn't hear anything horrible, but I was afraid of getting lost in the sea of everyone having 5 different names. When I picked this up, I steeled myself for a long slog...

I was SO surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this. The writing is beautiful without being too showy or preachy. The story is of one man's life and starts before the Russian Revolution and ends with WWII. I really got to care about the characters, and a few times, I had to remember which person what being represented with which names, but it really wasn't so bad! I was really struck by the beauty of the writing. I also realized how little I know about Russian history and I love that books like this make me want to learn.

Food: borscht. Full of trepidation at first, because it's a new experience, but the more I consume, the more I like it. Delicious and I'm excited about a second helping.

Mar 13, 2016, 3:48 am

By 'putting off the Russians' do you mean you haven't read any of them? Even the really famous ones like War and Peace?

Mar 13, 2016, 4:08 pm

Correct. I was never required to read them in school, so they are all on my TBR pile.

Mar 13, 2016, 4:53 pm

I only started reading Russian lit a few years back (and I am 43). I was always under the impression that it was dark and dreary so I never tried. But when I finally picked one up, I realised how very wrong I was. I have read quite a bit now and love most of it. Doctor Zhivago is on my list for this year - loved the movie.

Mar 13, 2016, 5:46 pm

I'm excited to see the movie. I've held off, wanting to read the book first.

Mar 13, 2016, 6:30 pm

After watching Must Love Dogs years ago, I had to watch it :)

Mar 17, 2016, 9:57 pm

303. Cloud Atlas

This is a masterpiece. The story, or collection of stories within stories, is complex and interwoven and each has its own style and voice, but never was it difficult to read or follow. Each voice in the chorus drew me further into the worlds that were created. I have not read a book like this before and I am a little in awe.

I saw the movie when it came out and, in retrospect, I think they did as good a job as they could. The book is so much MORE. I will continue to think about this book for a long time. I'm so happy to have encountered it.

Food: a progressive dinner, in which one goes to different homes for each course. This is more than a meal, because you are immersed in the experience of dining as well as appreciating the food.

Editado: Mar 18, 2016, 4:49 am

>9 amaryann21: I loved this book too - one of my rare 5/5 books

Mar 18, 2016, 3:52 am

Sounds great - I've gotten Slade House out of the library which will be the first book of his which I have read but I'll make sure to include Cloud Atlas in my next three month set of reading. I'm a bit booked up for this three months.

Mar 18, 2016, 8:44 am

>9 amaryann21:, >10 puckers:, Cloud Atlas was also a 5 stars book for me.

Mar 18, 2016, 9:49 am

I keep thinking about how it's written so masterfully. I haven't given a book 5 stars in awhile, and this was one. I also usually trade my books after I read them, but this one is going in the permanent collection. I kinda want to just hold it and hope some of the genius rubs off on me.

Mar 18, 2016, 10:57 pm

304. A Severed Head

Martin has a wife and a mistress and a psychoanalyst. Until his wife falls in love with his psychoanalyst and then they both want him to be part of their big, happy family... sort of. Not in a sexual way, but they want to be absolved of any negative feelings and they NEED him to continue to be part of their lives. And that's just the start of the bizarro love quadrilaterals.

I feel like this book is a product of its time and, perhaps, the British culture of that time. I feel like it's supposed to be cheeky, but it just feels sad. The severed head theme feels to me like these people either are all intellect or all emotion and can't reconcile the two. I didn't not enjoy the book, but I feel like I didn't entirely get it.

Food: the last, cheap beer of the night after too many shots and the only person left is the sad drunk who's recounting their tragic love affairs. After awhile, it's a bit much.

Mar 18, 2016, 11:31 pm

Have you read others by Murdoch? I'm curious how it compares to some of her others, as I have A Severed Head coming up in my tbr pile soon.

Mar 19, 2016, 12:02 am

>15 amerynth: I'm pretty sure it's my first, so I'm not going to judge her yet. I've read great things about The Sea, the Sea.

Mar 19, 2016, 9:08 am

Indeed, The Sea, The Sea has been my Murdoch favorite so far.

Mar 19, 2016, 12:08 pm

305. The Call of the Wild

This is the story of Buck, a dog taken surreptitiously from his home and stolen away to the gold rush in Alaska. Told from his perspective, this short novel gives us a brutal look at the life of a sled dog and how Buck goes from a domesticated pet to hearing the call of the wild, literally, and going back to the beast of his ancestors.

I loved reading about the care of the animals by some of the characters. Sometimes it feels like a modern attitude to care about the quality of life of an animal. London did a fantastic job making the story feel authentic and adventurous and didn't humanize Buck too much, which I appreciate.

Food: venison steak. Meat, a little gamey, a little wild, a little exotic (for some of us).

Mar 25, 2016, 9:48 pm

306. Silas Marner

Poor Silas. Accused of a crime he didn't commit, he exiles himself to a small village and starts a new chapter in his life, one where he keeps very much to himself. A crime is then committed on him, which brings him to the brink of despair until a small turn of events brings light back to his life.

I enjoyed this story for its provincialism. The simplicity of the townsfolk and the depiction of the rich squire's family being a little myopic felt more realistic than caricature. Silas doesn't show his full depth of character until the end, and I came to realize that I really liked the strange little man. The message is somewhat along the lines of, "Good things come to those who wait" and "Trust in the Lord" and when you're selfish, you lose out, but none of it felt preachy. I like a more subtly delivered message.

I think the reading of this book was enhanced by the antique copy I acquired. It was published in 1900 and is a small, red leather bound copy, very well aged. I love the feel of it, knowing that others have held this same little volume, enjoyed the story. It carries its history with it.

Food: a shortbread cookie. Simple, a little sweet, easy to digest.

Mar 27, 2016, 10:36 am

307. Kitchen

Mikage has lost all her family and Yuichi and his mother take her in. Mikage is drawn to kitchens- clean, dirty, large, small, they have more meaning to her than any other part of the house. Slowly, she deals with her grief and, a few years later, is dealt another blow. She and Yuichi are pulled together and apart over the years.

There is a quiet, a patience in this story that feels Eastern. The emotion is allowed to be understated, which feels more genuine, than some of the Western writers techniques (I'm looking at you, Jodi Picoult) of smacking the reader in the face, screaming, "FEEL SOMETHING!". I am engaged in the story with this respect of feeling.

Food: clear broth. Flavorful, simple, delicious without pretension. Healthy.

Mar 30, 2016, 9:45 pm

308. Quicksand

Helga is looking for where she fits in. She's biracial in a world where civil rights haven't become a reality yet, and she isn't really a part of the Negro (her word) world and certainly not a part of the white world. She tries on several different cities and lifestyles and is happy for a time, until the same old uneasiness comes back. Life is like quicksand- the more you struggle, the faster you sink.

Reading this story was fascinating and sad. I wanted Helga to find her place and find happiness, but the dread was it was never to be achieved. The complicated picture of racism, particularly of how blacks viewed themselves in contrast to whites and the varied perspectives held, was something I hadn't considered much in the past. It gave me a lot to think about.

Food: heavy, dense cornbread. Tasty, but it sits in your stomach afterward, weighing you down.

Editado: Mar 31, 2016, 5:53 am

As a note do you know that quicksand, as portrayed on all those old westerns, is imaginary? It doesn't, and never has, existed. It traps you, it doesn't drown you.

So, like quicksand, could Helga's uneasiness and sense of not fitting in also be just in her imagination?

Mar 31, 2016, 7:09 am

Yes, I did :)

The analysis included in the introduction (which I never read first) states that Larsen's books are psychological rather than sociological. While I think Helga's perspective is influenced by the time she lives in, it's very much a personal journey for her, which suggests this may be entirely in her head.

Abr 1, 2016, 10:12 am

309. Passing

Irene grew up with Clare, but when Clare's father died, she disappeared and no one knew what became of her. Irene runs into her again, purely by chance, and finds out that Clare is "passing" for white to everyone in her life, including her very racist husband. Irene's feelings about this are many- anger, disappointment, betrayal, and fear for Clare's safety.

I have mixed feelings about the story as well. It wasn't easy to read. Irene's perspective makes sense, but the conflict she feels is very well portrayed and is transferred to the reader. Ultimately, the story is sad. The underlying commentary on race is dismaying, and I understand that feeling is a result of the time I live in, though I think it brave of Larsen to be writing about it in the 1920's.

Food: a madeleine, looking yummy and delicious, but lacking in taste and a little dry. You aren't totally disappointed, but wish it could have had more flavor.

Abr 5, 2016, 7:06 pm

310. The Secret Agent

Usually spy stories are exciting, full of action. Leave it to Conrad to make a spy story boring. Mr. Verloc is a secret agent, but apparently not doing a very good job. He's married to Winnie and has taken on her mother and brother, who is slightly irregular in the head. He runs a shop and hangs out with anarchists. And then there's an explosion.

Conrad uses too many words. There's too much to sort through to figure out what he's actually saying and in this book, all the action, what little there is, comes at the end. It's not even that good of a payoff. I don't see the appeal in his writing.

Food: a dry cappuccino with no sugar. Bitter, too much foam, and someone must have used decaf espresso.

Abr 11, 2016, 9:24 pm

311. The Garden Party

The Garden Party is about a wealthy family throwing a garden party the day they've learned a neighbor, quite poor, has died in an accident. One of the children is quite sympathetic and feels it inappropriate to throw the party in light of the death.

The short story highlights class difference and values in a brief, effective way. The lavish party, real emotion for the family being distracted by a new bonnet, a gesture of sympathy that isn't really sympathetic (or is it as sympathetic as possible?) and an ending that's not quite satisfying make for an interesting story.

Food: a cream puff where the cream has just started to turn. Looks beautiful, but there's some sourness that'll stay with you.

Abr 11, 2016, 9:38 pm

>26 amaryann21: Hmmm, is that bittersweet? It's been a while since I read The Garden Party, but I'd describe it, and most of the Mansfield stories that I remember, as bittersweet.

Abr 11, 2016, 9:46 pm

>27 Nickelini: I'm not sure I'd describe it as bittersweet. Bittersweet means there's real sweetness in the mix, and this just felt like the wealthy family was... removed. Their sympathy was nominal. The difference in the class realities was stark.

Abr 11, 2016, 9:58 pm

>28 amaryann21: Hmm, okay, yes, I can see that.

Abr 12, 2016, 1:17 pm

I keep waiting for you to run out of these great food metaphors and start repeating yourself. But you don't.

Editado: Abr 12, 2016, 3:12 pm

They're great aren't they? :-)

They are always spot on.

Abr 12, 2016, 5:05 pm

Thank you! I think it helps me both remember the books better and really think about how I experienced them. And I've only done 170, since I didn't start them right away, so I'm sure I'll repeat soon!

Abr 21, 2016, 5:59 pm

312. The Kreutzer Sonata

The man on the train has killed his wife. He's honest about it, and he was acquitted. He has some very strong opinions about sex and marriage. Did his wife cheat on him? We'll never know...

This was a short story, but a long experience. I couldn't figure out if Tolstoy was advocating against marriage and sex or not, but I found an epilogue online after finishing the story that showed that yes, Tolstoy was not in favor of marriage and sex the way the "Church" set it up. Interesting. I did listen to the Kreutzer Sonata while reading the last third of the story, and the best part of the story is when the main character describes his response to the music. That helped me understand a little better (and makes me wonder, is that part autobiographical, Tolstoy?). My professional opinion is that the main character is crazy, though. Certifiably.

Food: stinky cheese. Not super stinky, but mildly stinky. You have some trepidation about trying it, but you want to be polite and adventurous, but you have to try it several times to figure out whether or not you like it. And the next day, you're still not sure.

Abr 25, 2016, 10:48 pm

313. Saturday

This is the third McEwan I've read and my favorite so far. The story of Henry's day drew me in from the very start. Henry is a neurosurgeon and the descriptions of his work contain some large, impressive words (which I love). It's a Saturday, and he wakes early, sees an unusual sight, and goes about his day. The book is full of flashbacks that round out the story of his life and family.

The language of this book wrapped me up, flowed over and around me, and I wanted to take my time, pace myself, instead of racing to the end to see what happens. Most of the book is regular life stuff, which may be why it appealed to me so much. There is genuine love and care and what drama there is is handled with nobility. It's been awhile since I liked the characters in a book so much.

Food: a single square of high quality dark chocolate, 72% cocoa or higher. Thin, brittle, taking a few moments to melt in your mouth, but blooming with depth of flavor when it does.

Abr 26, 2016, 8:17 am

>313 amaryann21: Your food description made me remember the book even better than your review. Spot-on!

Abr 26, 2016, 12:09 pm

>35 Simone2: Thank you! I intentionally leave most of the plot out. I like to read books knowing as little as possible beforehand.

Maio 7, 2016, 3:47 pm

314. The Temple of My Familiar

Beautiful, a story about women, oppression of people of color, love, magic, family, and life. The variety of characters in the story is like a buffet of humanity, and they all have redeeming qualities. The back and forth between the US and Africa sometimes confused me because it was hard to remember when and where we were in the story, but that is my only complaint. This book was like being immersed in a warm bath.

Food: whipped cream, the real kind. Sweet and airy and slightly sweet, lingering on the tongue for just a moment after it's gone. Delicious.

Maio 7, 2016, 4:01 pm

>36 amaryann21: I'm the same, trying to know as little as I possibly can about the book before reading it. So I usually just read your food description if I haven't read the book being reviewed! It's a good way to get a tantalizing (or not!) idea about the book.

Maio 7, 2016, 7:10 pm

>38 ursula: I'm glad you enjoy them! I often wonder how much my "taste" is the same as others.

Maio 8, 2016, 2:14 am

Every time I've read a book that you have reviewed I've agreed with your chosen food.

Maio 8, 2016, 9:56 pm

>40 M1nks: That's kinda cool!

Maio 9, 2016, 11:00 am

Hmmmm. On one hand, I'm now looking forward to trying Temple of My Familiar, which is one of those 1001 books I own but wasn't sure I'd ever get to, so thanks for that. On the other hand, I don't like whip cream. And I do find your food descriptions more accurate than not. Hmmm.

Maio 9, 2016, 7:18 pm

>42 Nickelini: I think it's whipped cream because I LOVE whipped cream, so I hope it's a different lovely experience for you!

Maio 22, 2016, 3:36 pm

315. The Line of Beauty

Nick lives with the Feddens. Gerald, Mr. Fedden, is a politician and the whole family is wealthy. Nick lives with them on the suggestion of Toby, their son, with whom Nick went to Oxford. Nick is working on a doctorate on Henry James, kind of. Nick is gay. It's the 1980's. One is not openly gay while living with the upper crust in London. The book covers a span of 4 years, in which time things are very, very good, and then not so much.

Reading this book was interesting and painful. Nick's whole existence is due to the generosity or favor of someone else. He's a pet, never given any substance beyond what pleasure he can provide to someone else. He knows it won't last forever, but then again, why not? There's very little that's authentic about his life. It's frustrating to see him stuck in this loop, because he seems like a decent person and not actually trying to take advantage, but just used to where he is in his life and not in a hurry to get out.

Food: a display wedding cake. Beautiful, highly decorative, stunning in design, but actually full of Styrofoam.

Jul 23, 2016, 2:49 pm

316. The Once and Future King

Started in the late 1930's, this is the compilation of a four-volume set of the life of King Arthur, from his lowly beginnings as Wart, the squire of Kay, through his trials and tribulations with Lancelot and Guinevere and Mordred. White makes no attempt to stay solely in the time period and frequently makes tongue-in-cheek remarks about the differences between those days and modern times. This is a chunk of a book- almost 650 pages in my version, but very readable. The chapters are short and the action doesn't got bogged down too often.

White's portrayal of the characters in the story we've all heard is very human. Arthur is very noble, to be sure, but he isn't set up to be larger than life and we are privy to his struggles. White also lets us see Arthur wrestle with human nature and some philosophical treatise of war and conflict, might and right (though not often, thankfully- that can get boring). I enjoyed making my way through this saga.

Food: certainly a medieval feast. Venison, pheasant, sweetmeats, honey wine, stone fruit, both delicate and hearty bits of all varieties.

Ago 4, 2016, 1:13 pm

317. The Art of Fielding

I freely admit I've been delaying reading this book, despite hearing good things about it. It's about baseball, and baseball is boring, right? I devoured this book. It's over 500 pages and I finished it in a matter of hours. DEVOURED.

Yes, it's about baseball, but it's more about life. Henry might be the most amazing shortstop in history. Pella and her father, the president of Westish college, have a complicated relationship. Schwartz is an incredible guy, but where is he going? Owen... Owen is brilliant and the only one who might have his life together, but they're all so young and college is the time when you find out who you are. And they do. And it's compelling to read. My heart is full of these characters and their journeys and I'm not ready to let them go yet.

Food: a bacon cheeseburger. Delicious and filling and satisfying and just what you need every once in awhile. A lot to chew on, but you come away full.

Ago 5, 2016, 1:30 pm

>I loved this book too! (And I love bacon cheeseburgers) The characters, especially Henry & Schwartz, were truly compelling. A great read.

Ago 5, 2016, 1:55 pm

>46 amaryann21: I think I gave this a middle of road rating, but the more I think about it the more I appreciate it and remember it fondly. It was very well-done. Definitely one of the better contemporary books on the list in my opinion.

Ago 5, 2016, 3:59 pm

>48 japaul22: I think I was even more impressed because it's a debut novel. Perhaps I shouldn't be so impressed that someone could write that good of a book right out of the gate (and that isn't necessarily what that means, just that it's the first to be published), but I am!

>47 annamorphic: It's nice to stumble upon one that I really could sink my teeth into and be happy at the end. Doesn't always happen with the list, does it?

Ago 5, 2016, 6:12 pm

Really appreciate your review... I've been avoiding The Art of Fielding too for the same reasons. Your review gives me some hope that it will be enjoyable after all.

Ago 5, 2016, 8:26 pm

Me too. And your review made me put the book on hold at the library.

Ago 5, 2016, 8:52 pm

I'm glad I can be a positive influence!!

Ago 6, 2016, 1:01 am

>46 amaryann21: Yeah I agree that the idea of baseball being part of the book put me off. But I enjoyed it quite a bit too once I convinced myself to start it!

Editado: Ago 6, 2016, 3:30 am

I have no plans to read that because baseball. But I appreciate a book (or movie) that can make me feel, and think, and say it's wonderful despite a topic that bores me to tears. Good writing and good story conquer all. There's a baseball story in the Judy Blume anthology (not written by her, but by an author I can't remember) Places I Never Meant to Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers that blew me away, despite baseball. (This is an excellent collection, btw.)

So I can appreciate that this is a very good book, but I probably won't pick it up only because I have too many other books on my TBR.

ETA: Ah ha! I wrote a review of the Judy Blume book and noted the story in my comments: "Baseball Camp," by David Klass.

Ago 6, 2016, 3:30 am you have to know anything about baseball to read the novel? Could it be just as well about basketball or soccer or ice hockey or anything? (my knowledge about baseball is limited to what I have picked from Peanuts comics, one guy throws a ball, another tries to hit the ball, a third one tries to catch the ball...shortstop is apparently a player position?)

Ago 6, 2016, 3:45 am

I don't think you have to know anything about baseball. I'm trying to imagine if it were about cricket (I know zero about that), and I think it would be fine. X position is important, so-and-so is good at it, Y thing happens, which is good, Z thing happens, which is bad. If there was any in-depth discussion of the sport, I skimmed it and totally missed it. :)

Ago 6, 2016, 4:08 am

>55 hdcanis: Love your description of baseball. I grew up in Canada having to play softball (which for me is exactly the same thing as baseball even though I know they are not) from kindergarten until grade 10. Hated every second of it. Also, family reunions and church youth group. When I was in my mid-20s and climbing the corporate ladder, I was told "you really have to come out and play in the manager's softball game." I said no. Did I mention I'm not on the corporate ladder anymore? But other than all the politics (from wee young school age to adulthood), you have the general idea of the game down just fine.

I recently went to a pro baseball game. As a spectator, I didn't die, and it was almost interesting. But they gave me a drink and a meal, so there you go.

Ago 6, 2016, 4:10 am

>56 ursula: I think with these types of stories, it's all about the human dynamics. Sure, they're setting it against a sport, but it's REALLY about something else.

Ago 6, 2016, 3:30 pm

I agree with Ursula- you don't need to know anything about the sport to enjoy the story. I know the basics of baseball, but that's about it. I think Harbach gives enough information about each of the things that come up about the sport to make it understandable.

Nickelini, I can appreciate that. I found it for 50 cents at a library sale, so I picked it up and took it to work with me, planning to read it sporadically on my lunch break. Until I couldn't put it down.

Ago 6, 2016, 3:46 pm

>59 amaryann21: I found it for 50 cents at a library sale, so I picked it up and took it to work with me, planning to read it sporadically on my lunch break. Until I couldn't put it down.

That's fabulous! A true find.

Ago 10, 2016, 10:06 am

318. Blonde

It's no secret that Joyce Carol Oates and I are not friends, but this book brought us more to an acquaintance level and reduced some of the negative feelings I have about her work. Blonde is a fictionalized account of Marilyn Monroe's life, inspired (of course) by the actual events of her life. I don't know how much is true, because I don't know much about Monroe. I've never paid much attention to her, despite her icon status. But this book intrigued me and now I want to know more. So, Oates, thank you for piquing my interest. Job well done.

Reading this book wasn't always easy. First of all, it's a chunkster and heavy. I mean literally heavy. I may have developed tendonitis. And secondly, Norma Jeane had a ROUGH life. The psychiatric illness of her mother, the abuse at her hands, getting married at 15 and never really knowing herself or her worth intrinsically, just made me sad for her. It makes me wonder what she could have been without all the things that troubled her, or if that's part of what inspired her gift.

Food: dinner theater while watching "Hamlet". Lots of rich food and drink while taking in the comedy, tragedy and insanity unfold on stage.

Ago 10, 2016, 11:32 am

This was the first Oates I read, so I feel more more positively about her than you, lol. But I had also always been rather ambivalent about Marilyn, and wanted to know more after reading Blonde. And yeah, I felt like, had she not dealt with so agonizingly much shit, what worlds could she have conquered?? :/

Ago 10, 2016, 11:45 am

>62 .Monkey.: Exactly! My first Oates was Marya, followed by a non-list book for my book club We Were the Mulvaneys and both of them were torturous. Black Water wasn't so bad, and it was short.

Ago 10, 2016, 11:47 am

I am hit or miss with Oates. But that may be because she is probably the most prolific & diverse writer I have come across. The woman will quite literally write about anything.

I have Blonde in my pile to read this year so thanks for the positive review!

Ago 10, 2016, 11:53 am

>64 Yells: Maybe that's a better way to describe how I feel about her now. My initial experiences were overwhelmingly negative, so maybe it's tainted me.

And you're welcome!

Ago 15, 2016, 9:10 pm

319. Gabriel's Gift

Gabriel is a teenager whose parents aren't getting along. He's an artist who speaks to his dead twin brother. His dad was a rock star of a little fame. Gabriel doesn't like the au pair his mother has hired to watch over him.

Seems like disjointed facts, right? Yeah. The book kind of clunks along, and stuff happens with a few moments of feeling, but overall, it was just okay. None of the characters was developed enough to feel believable, especially Gabriel. He was inconsistent and it made it difficult for me really get into the story. I wanted more, and was left unsatisfied.

Food: a strawberry Pop Tart. Not actual strawberries, and not enough to be a real meal.

Ago 26, 2016, 3:49 pm

320. The Sorrows of Young Werther

Young Werther is a pretty happy guy, content with his life and delighted with nature, until he meets Lotte and falls madly in love. The trouble is, she's already engaged to Albert. Alas and alack! Whatever shall he do?

Blech. I'm sure this was scandalous in 1774, as it discusses suicide openly and as an option to get to Heaven (which would have been very much opposed to church teaching) and equates it with dying of a fever. The dramatic way in which Werther pines over Lotte is just too much for me. I want to shake him and tell him to get over it, find a hobby, find something else to occupy his time. Perhaps that's the pragmatist in me, or maybe I'm just too used to dealing with teenagers?

Food: tepid tea. Some flavor left, but you drink it to get it down, not because you enjoy it.

Ago 27, 2016, 5:03 pm

>320 amaryann21: I could very much identitfy with Werther, perhaps because I was twenty when I read it.
Your review makes me wonder whether it is the fact that it was written in the 18th century or the fact that you are older than Werther which makes this a less interesting read.
I won't reread it however, to find out. I guess it would not touch me as much as it did back then.

Ago 27, 2016, 9:54 pm

>68 Simone2: I think the time period in which it was written plays a part, and I don't think it's my age as much as I'm a therapist. I get it, I just don't like reading about it because it annoys me.

Ago 28, 2016, 2:40 am

I'd say it's a bit of an age thing too, I read Werther well in my 30s and was already "oh, get a grip, why don't you" without having dealt that much with teenagers after I was one.

Ago 28, 2016, 6:57 am

>68 Simone2:, >70 hdcanis: I read Werther not too long ago and even though I have not been a teenager for many, many years and don't know any teenagers currently, I loved it. I loved the language and the descriptions and am now looking forward to some of Goethe's longer works on the list!

Set 24, 2016, 6:02 pm

321. The Long Goodbye

This is my first time meeting Philip Marlowe, though not Chandler's introduction of this PI. Marlowe is a loner, unliked by most and not exactly a charmer. He commits an act of charity and finds himself entangled in a series of suspicious deaths.

"Hard-boiled" detective stories are not my thing. Those type of detectives tend to annoy me and I feel like they are caricatures more than characters. Marlowe wasn't so bad, though, and he grew on me a little. He had enough heart to get me through. As for the twists, they took their time coming, but they were pretty good when they showed up.

Food: a patty melt in a greasy spoon with a cigarette and strong coffee when you've finished. Dirty food, eaten on the sly, and afterward you feel like you've gotten away with something.

Out 11, 2016, 2:53 pm

322. The Charterhouse of Parma

Fabrizio is the son of a nobleman and enthralled with Napoleon, so he sneaks off to join the army in France, but is soon exposed to the reality of war. The problem is, he has been branded a traitor by leaving to fight for Napoleon. And that's just the beginning.

Fabrizio is labeled the hero of the story, though nothing he does is what I would call heroic. He falls in love with every pretty girl who wanders across his path, and there's the weird relationship with his aunt that never really resolves. And he's a priest, but that's not serious, it's just to keep him out of trouble and give him status, because we can buy things like that. I get it, it was acceptable or understood practice at the time (and maybe still is, just not in the church?). I really enjoyed the bits where Stendhal talked to the reader about how he was going to skip over some parts because they were boring, or when he explained to French readers how Italian people are more emotional. Some parts of the story moved much more quickly than others. Overall, not a difficult read, but it sure dragged at times.

Food: salted caramel apple pecan pie cheesecake. Lots of ingredients and it's tasty, but you can't really find the apple because it's overshadowed by some of the other components, and you need to just take it slow because too much is too heavy. Satisfying when finished, but you won't go back for another piece for quite awhile.

Nov 26, 2016, 10:59 pm

323. Arrow of God

Ezeulu is the chief priest of Ulu and revered in all 6 villages, but this is a tenuous position and a fragile peace. The British are present and this changes the balance and calls alliances into question. Ezeulu himself is regarded as half man, half spirit and must also be the faith guide for his people.

The tribal practices, colonialism, and the wonderful (and sometimes cryptic) African proverbs were interesting and sometimes frustrating. I think that means it was well written and well-portrayed. I have grown to appreciate non-Western writers much more than before I started reading from The List, and this is a good example.

Food: kale salad. Bitter, sometimes taking some effort to chew, but ultimately you know you did something good for yourself when you're through.

Nov 29, 2016, 9:15 am

324. Jacob's Room

Jacob Flanders is very distinguished-looking. And very awkward. Apart from those two things, we don't actually find out a lot about him, though this is about his life. Women (and maybe a man or two) swoon over him, of which he mostly seems oblivious, or maybe just doesn't care. There's lots of letter writing.

This is an experimental novel and I enjoyed it much more than I expected I would. The imagery is gorgeous and caught me by surprise again and again. My first go around with Woolf wasn't positive, so I wasn't sure how this book and I were going to get along. I felt like I was following Jacob through his life, watching him observe scenes in the lives of the people around him, and then moving along to the next.

Food: do you remember that thing (was it a salad?) at that party? Man, it was so good... I should find out what was in that. That was a fun night. What was that stuff? It was yummy...

Dez 6, 2016, 8:57 pm

325. Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Cephallonia is a Greek island, home to Pelagia and her father, the doctor in their tiny town. Everything is very quiet and provincial and Pelagia falls in love with a boy in town. Then World War II changes everything, forever. The Italians occupy the island and Captain Corelli stays with Pelagia and her father, who are intent on showing him their frustration and anger at being invaded. Corelli is a good man, a talented musician, and even performs opera with several of his men while in the latrine.

This is an epic tale, covering decades and many lives, lives that are very, very human. I came to care for these characters. The atrocities of war are not glossed over. Parts were difficult to read because they felt so real. I really enjoyed this book and it moved very quickly for me. There is a lot of humor to balance the darker parts of the story, and I appreciate the lack of sugarcoating.

Food: a Greek meal- tabbouleh, roasted fish, and baklava for dessert. There's bitter notes, salty and briny, charred and meaty, and sweet and nutty to round things out.

Dez 31, 2016, 10:45 am

326. On Beauty

The Belseys are an interesting family- a mix of races and identities, leading to conflict in ideals and what they each value. Add to the mix the Kipps family, and the conflict grows. Howard and Monty seem to hate each other due to opposing perspectives regarding intellectual and prejudicial issues. But their families keep connecting, over and over and inappropriately over.

I like some of the characters- Kiki was very interesting to read, and the kids in the Belsey household seemed quite real. Harold, on the other hand, is not my cup of tea. I don't think he was supposed to be. But I wanted there to be SOMEthing likeable about him, and I didn't find it.

Food: peach salad with red onions and aged balsamic vinegar. It appears as though it's an odd combination of ingredients, and there are bites that are sharp and acidic and some that are sweeter and more mellow. In the end, it all works together, but I'm not sure how often I want to eat it.

Fev 13, 2017, 1:04 pm

327. The Remains of the Day

Mr. Stevens has served as a butler for decades and takes pride in his work, in doing it properly. Much of the story involves Miss Kenton, another of the staff in the household, and his recollections of their time together. Mr. Stevens served Lord Darlington for most of his life, and now the hall has been acquired by an American gentleman, and Mr. Stevens is having a difficult time adjusting. He takes a road trip and his musings make up the story.

I think Kazuo Ishiguro is quite a storyteller. The subtleties in how he conveys emotion are masterful. Mr. Stevens is wrestling with his identity in the story, in a way- he's a butler, but he's also a person, but he's SUCH a butler. Where does his duty to his profession and employer end and his own personhood begin?

Food: a proper cup of English tea with milk and arrowroot biscuits, by the fire, as the sun begins to set. Quiet, sustaining but not sweet.

Fev 13, 2017, 9:47 pm

328. The Buddha of Suburbia

Karim has an Indian father and an English mother and their life is normal, until Karim's father decides to affect the guise and behavior of a guru. This throws Karim, a teenager, into a new world of ideas and explorations.

The blurb on the back says that it's "sharp satire on race relations" in England, and I guess I have to take their word for it. There is a lot of discussion about race- at that time (70's-80's) Indians were called "black"- and the distinction between Indian and Pakistani, but it doesn't feel satirical, except in very small bits. Overall, this wasn't a difficult book to read, but it got a little tedious in spots.

Food: horned melon. Bright on the inside and outside, there isn't a lot of flavor, it's a little slimy, and the seeds get in the way of really enjoying the fruit.

Mar 30, 2017, 8:18 am

329. An Obedient Father

Ram Karan is obedient- to his corrupt boss and the way business is done, to his appetites with no regard for consequences, to his own desires, but to little else. But he's not bad, per se, it's just how things are done and he's trying to make up for the wrongs he's committed... sort of. And Anita and Asha, his daughter and granddaughter, must live with him because there's nowhere else for them to go, even though the past haunts Anita to the point of madness.

As in most Indian novels, the government and its corruption play a large role. This feels more relevant than in the past, but it's still hard to relate to on a cultural level. There are parts of this story that aren't easy to read, but others that tug at the emotions a little.

Food: obligatory dinner with your depressed aunt. The food is a little lacking- burnt edges on the cake, the salad is pretty wilted and is the meat starting to turn? But you know she needs someone to talk to and you'll listen to her problems and try to be supportive. Getting out of there and knowing you don't have to go back for a few months is a relief, though.

Abr 1, 2017, 6:14 am

>80 amaryann21: Great food comparison - again! I read the book and know exactly what you mean.

Abr 1, 2017, 1:12 pm

Thanks, Simone2! I had to think about this one a little!

Abr 9, 2017, 7:51 pm

330. The Butcher Boy

Francie's dad is a drunk, and this makes life hard for his mother, but he and Joe are best friends and that's what matters. Joe and Francie pull a mean joke on one of their peers and Mrs. Nugent, the boy's mother, is very insulting to Francie's family when she comes to tell Francie's mother about it. And the tragic tale is set in motion- or just accelerated, because, really, it was already tragic, but Francie didn't know that, did he?

There is a brilliance about this book, about how madness is portrayed, that is worth experiencing. It is not an easy tale to witness, though. And it feels like it could be very close to the real lives of many.

Food: a sour ale in a chaotic bar, where you start a chat with a stranger and slowly, you realize you may have entered into a conversation of which you no longer want to be part. There's something compelling about it, but is this person completely seated in reality?

Abr 10, 2017, 1:59 am

I found this rather a peculiar book as well; I felt sorry for Francie who really just wanted to be loved and to feel that there was something worthwhile about his family.

Abr 10, 2017, 10:07 am

>84 M1nks: Francie is the exact kid who I work with in real life, as a therapist, so my heart hurt for him. He's a product of his environment and his genetics. And very well written.

Abr 22, 2017, 10:29 pm

331. The Kindly Ones

I finally finished it!!!! No more door stoppers for awhile! (What's that? I just bought IQ84? At least it's a paperback)

This is heavy. I mean it literally and figuratively- 983 pages in hardcover is a strain on the wrists. But this is also a fictional memoir of a former SS officer during WWII, where he participated in the extermination efforts of the Jews, the Russians, the Poles, the gypsies, the disabled and mentally ill. And it's graphic. But the premise, that you and I would have done the same things he did, were we in his shoes, is intriguing and gives one pause.

There's some really distasteful stuff in here, and that's putting it mildly. Aue is a twin and has an unhealthy fixation with his sister, his only sibling. She is the perfect woman, in his mind, and therefore he cannot have a relationship with any other female. His relationship with his mother is virtually estranged, and I've got my own theory on where the twins came from that she was fostering came from. And the war... I read a brief article about the amount of research Littell put in while writing this and I can't imagine he took too much license. If you can step back and view the story in a theoretical, philosophical light, it's very, very interesting. But so much loss, so much pain, so much hate.

Also, if you are unfamiliar with the mythology of the Kindly Ones (as I was), it's worth looking that up. But I would of it after you finish the story.

Food: cold meat and hard bread, but it's all you have. You take just a few nibbles here and there at first, because it's not what you want, but eventually, the hunger is enough to take bigger bites.

Abr 22, 2017, 11:15 pm

I have this one lined up for next month so your review is timely. Not sure I'm entirely looking forward to the experience.

Abr 23, 2017, 12:04 am

It was rough, but worth it. So much mental fodder.

Abr 23, 2017, 8:31 am

Enjoying your reviews along with the paired foods. The only one I have read so far on this thread is Cloud Atlas and I 100% agree.

Abr 23, 2017, 10:51 am

Thank you, Lisa! It makes me think about the book in different ways, which I appreciate.

Abr 23, 2017, 9:34 pm

332. Invisible

This is Adam's story. He met a couple at a party in college, a couple with whom his interaction changed the course of his life, perhaps for the better, but at moments, it was definitely for the worse. We come to find out many of these events in his memoir, written and shared with a friend from college, and from an involved party.

What's real? What's fantasy? Who actually knows? I'm a fan of Auster's writing, so I enjoyed this story and it only took a couple hours to read. It's compelling, in a gentle, non-urgent way. His characters are complex and his plotlines take twists I don't expect.

Food: one spoonful of dandelion soup. Light, slightly bitter, with layers of flavor that take a moment to savor.

Abr 26, 2017, 3:31 pm

333. Chocky

A short little sci-fi story about Matthew and Chocky, the being that starts talking to him, told from his father's perspective.

The story is handled well, I think, and Matthew comes across as age-appropriate and genuine. His parents' reactions also feel well-depicted. I wonder about the state of atomic energy and its development in conjunction with the writing of this story.

Food: cookies and milk. A little snack after coming home from school, nothing heavy, leaves a sweet and satisfying taste in your mouth.

Maio 13, 2017, 10:21 pm

334. There but for the by Ali Smith

Miles locks himself in the Lees' guest room. He was there as a guest at their dinner party and they really don't know him. He's provided no explanation. The story is told in four parts, each from a different perspective of someone who knew Miles in a different way.

Interesting and weird. Be prepared not to get closure, because Smith, in my experience, likes not providing answers. But it's a fun ride. Brooke, the child who appears in multiple chapters of the story, is precocious and intelligent and witty and curious and someone I would want to talk to for hours. Her perspective is the one I enjoyed most. The book feels more like a character study than a story, and if taken with that expectation, it's a good time.

Food: a handful of mixed nuts. Filberts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, cashews and a walnut or two, a good snack and something to chew on, but nutty. REAL nutty.

Maio 18, 2017, 6:22 pm

335. Animal's People

Animal will tell you he's not human. How could he be? He walks on all fours, and humans don't do that. His back was twisted after the factory burned and he's been this way forever. He lives in the slums and when the American doctor comes to town, it shakes things up. The battle with the Kampani comes to a head, and Animal finds out what he's made of.

There is so much life in this book, of all different kinds. Love and hope and loneliness and despair and hunger and hate and faith, and Animal has his own unique perspective. A little slow to start, the story picks up speed and with a mixture of Indian mythology and drunken and drug-induced bits, Animal and his people come to life. My favorite parts are when Animal tries to help Elli, the doctor, understand his home and their clash in culture and way of life.

Food: a charred lime flavored with chili powder and a bit of salt. Sour, sharp, smoky, biting and an explosion of all flavors at once.

Maio 31, 2017, 2:09 pm

336. American Rust

Isaac and Poe have been out of high school for a couple years in their dying steel town, and they are an unlikely pair of friends. Isaac is a genius, but small, scrawny, and looks far younger than his age. Poe is the high school football star who could've been a college football star- big, brawny, and no one messes with him. Isaac has decided he's done taking care of his disabled father and is skipping town, and Poe walks a bit of the way with him, until they meet up with trouble.

This story very accurately reflects the life of a town in the Rust Belt. I lived in one of those towns for a number of years, and the story felt disturbingly like home. Ambition has no target, and it's easy to lose all hope. Isaac and Poe and their friends and family all have chapters to themselves in the book as the story progresses, and more than a narrative, this book is a portrait of post-industrial small-town America.

Food: raw red onion. Sharp, pungent, stinging, but common.

Jun 4, 2017, 10:38 pm

337. The Midwich Cuckoos

Midwich is a sleepy little English town and nothing of substance happens there. Our narrator and his wife have a night in London for his birthday and when they make their way home, they aren't allowed to reenter their hometown due to an "incident". 24 hours later, the incident is over and life goes on... until the ramifications are made known, and they are far more insidious than first expected.

This story inspired "The Village of the Damned", so if you've seen it, you know the plotline. Early British sci-fi is fun and the character development is more of an emphasis than in some later science fiction. Wyndham does a great job at building plot tension and even though I'd seen the movie and knew where things were headed, it was still a great read. And I love the cuckoo analogy, adds a great creep factor when you think about it in the context of the book.

Food: an orange Tootsie pop. A quick little treat, and if you just have a little patience, the reward at the end is worth it.

Jun 27, 2017, 9:32 pm

338. The Summer Book

Sophia, her father and her grandmother spend the summer on a tiny island in Scandinavia. In short chapters, the book describes their adventures. Nothing huge happens- they plant a garden of lovely flowers and trees, they have a antisocial cat, there is a huge storm, etc. It's exactly this lack of drama that brings a little bit of magic into the book. Sophia and her grandmother are close because Sophia's mother has died. They are each other's companions and they have developed a way of communicating in stories and make believe that is charming. Grandmother takes lots of naps and smokes when Papa isn't around, and Sophia keeps Grandmother's secrets and Grandmother makes the fear and anger go away when Sophia can't handle it.

There is a charming innocence to this book. It's full of light, quiet, and familial love.

Food: salt water taffy. Take small nibbles and let it melt in your mouth to make it last a little longer. Sweetness and nostalgia abound.

Jul 1, 2017, 2:00 pm

339. Kafka on the Shore

Kafka ran away from home, with no defined plan and minimal money. He's 15, and just needs to be gone from his father's home before he's destroyed. Nakata is in his 60's and due to a strange incident in his childhood, can't read or write, but can talk to cats. The book alternates chapters in telling their stories and strange, very strange things happen.

I don't know how to talk about the plot of this book other than to say I just needed to keep reading. It's not a thriller, but there is a compulsion of the same sort (my copy is 615 pages, finished in under 24 hours). Are these characters connected? Why and how? What's actually going on? Music, reading, philosophy and the surreal are all incorporated into an amazing adventure. I think this book probably bears repeated reading, delving more into the depths every time.

Food: trying a new cuisine for the first time. It's literally foreign, but the more you taste, familiar spices hit your palate in a new, exciting way. You want to try the whole menu, because it's stimulating and wonderful.

Jul 4, 2017, 10:40 pm

340. Some Experiences of an Irish R.M.

Major Yeates tells tales of his life in the Irish countryside, mostly consisting of hunts and adventures with horses, feuds between family members, and a little bit of drinking. Easy to read, but not always easy to understand because of the age of the language, this is a window into late 19th century Irish country life.

Food: tea and biscuits. A nice little snack before supper.

Jul 30, 2017, 9:13 pm

341. At Swim-Two-Birds

An Irish college student is writing a story, recycling characters from other literature, to amuse himself and to procrastinate from his studies. The writing is choppy, weird, and I feel like I'm missing a lot, because it's not funny to me, though I get some of the ironic bits. There were parts that made more sense than others, but mostly, I'm just glad I'm through it.

Food: passed appetizers at a party. A variety, but they always seem hard to find, or you keep getting the same one over and over, and some of them are not to your taste at all.

Ago 12, 2017, 2:01 am

342. Christ Stopped at Eboli

Levi's story is a combination of memoir and fiction of his year of exile in a small southern town in Italy comprised of peasants and gentry. He was a political prisoner and lived in this tiny fictional village, far from home, and painted, treated the locals (he was a doctor) and whiled away his time.

The writing composes a picture and song of the life of the people in the town, and Levi does them justice in his remembrance of them. He captures their drudgery, their hardship, and their acceptance of life as a forgotten part of Italy. The peasants (his word) feel no connection to their country, but instead feel as though they are an island in a nation that moved on years ago. The old superstitions and legends are their reality and they see no reason to live otherwise. A beautiful, rugged portrait of a time long past.

Food: honey and butter on a thick slab of coarse bread. Satisfying, lots to chew on, and a finish of sweetness and cream.

Ago 14, 2017, 12:12 am

343. The French Lieutenant's Woman

Ernestina and Charles are engaged, and Ernestina reluctantly spent a few weeks with her aunt in Lyme Regis. Charles willingly went with her, and during their stay, he encounters Sarah, or "Tragedy", or the French Lieutenant's Woman. Sarah entrances him, and more chance encounters lead to an unburdening of Sarah's soul to Charles, which leads to more trouble.

This book is half story, half treatise on Victorian society, but in a very readable way. It was published in the 1960's, so it's Victorian with some tongue-in-cheek, not taking itself quite so seriously. Fowles takes us out of the narrative at times, reminding us that he's allowing the characters to choose their paths in his role as creator. Ultimately, I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to, and there was a little bit of a riveting quality to watching this love triangle unfold.

Food: ham and cheese sandwich. A little salty, a little meaty, nothing very high brow, but enough for a meal that can be consumed without taking too much time.

Ago 23, 2017, 10:01 am

344. Cranford

Mary Smith is the narrator in a series of stories about the village of Cranford, where the ladies all feel they are "society" and have a strict schedule of visiting at noon and only for 15 minutes, unless there are cards to be played. There are sometimes small intrigues and scandals, but it's a quaint, quiet village and the stories center around Miss Matty, who I came to feel tender toward.

This is easy reading and not a lot of it. Sometimes it felt a little tedious, but mostly because the ladies are keeping up the image that they are more than they are. It felt true to a certain age of women in a small community.

Food: tea cakes. Small nibbles, some dry, some sweet, fancy on the outside, but mostly plain on the inside.

Set 5, 2017, 6:45 pm

345. Titus Groan

The first in the Gormenghast trilogy, this is the story of Titus Groan's birth and first year, as well as the emergence and rise of Steerpike, the shrewd 17-year-old who got out of the kitchen and literally clawed his way into the royals' lives. What a world this is! The descriptions of the castle alone are overwhelming, and the characters have so much life.

It took me a bit to get into the book, but once I did, I was pretty captivated. Peake gets wordy here and there, and sometimes I skimmed a little bit to get on with it, but I enjoyed the book and look forward to the second novel. There's a good building of suspense, which I appreciate, and Peake gives enough hints to anticipate the next move without giving it all away.

Food: lamb shank, roasted on a spit, with root vegetables. A hearty meal, a bit heavy at times, but lots and lots to chew on, definitely a meal that takes some time.

Set 8, 2017, 8:18 am

346. What Maisie Knew

Blech. This took too much time to read, and in the end, I couldn't find a good reason to have spent all that time. Maisie has two terrible parents who fight over her to get at one another, because neither really wants the responsibility of caring for her. When they both remarry and then betray those marriages, the pattern repeats with her stepfather and stepmother, who might love each other, but then they might hate one another just as easily.

There's just too many words, and I don't understand why this was important to write about.

Food: cold shepherd's pie, full of peas and corn. I despise shepherd's pie, peas and corn. A big pile of cold mush.

Set 11, 2017, 3:45 am

#346 Full agreement from me - I loathed it too. Though possibly I just cordially detest Henry James...

Set 11, 2017, 6:08 am

I actually liked that one, I found it rather moving.

Set 12, 2017, 5:21 pm

>106 BekkaJo: The Turn of the Screw wasn't so bad. But now I'm dreading Portrait of a Lady.

>107 M1nks: That's what makes the list so interesting- we all respond differently. I'm a family therapist and all I could think was "They are screwing up Maisie forEVER!"

Set 12, 2017, 5:34 pm

> Portrait has been the only James I enjoyed so far. The Wings of the Dove on the other hand.....

Set 13, 2017, 6:43 pm

> That's encouraging, at least! Screw was the only one I'd read before Maisie.

Set 13, 2017, 9:31 pm

347. Death in Venice

Gustav needs a vacation, and finally makes his way to Venice. Being a serious and acclaimed writer, pleasure makes him uncomfortable, so he only plans on being gone a short while. Life is for accomplishing things. Until... he sees the young, beautiful Polish boy on the beach, and becomes slightly obsessed. All his former theories and suppositions about sensuality and pleasure go out the window. In the meantime, rumors of an epidemic have started in the city. His dilemma- stay near his "love", or return to himself at home?

This was interesting to read, and there are a lot of references to Greek mythology. Having some knowledge of that topic helped, but Mann is wordy. There is a lyricism and flow that make it a bit easier than some, though. Venice is also a favorite city of mine, and I felt like I was able to visit with Mann's Gustav.

Food: a slice of slightly underripe peach. Firm, a little tart, bright and with a lingering sweetness.

Set 16, 2017, 10:07 am

348. Cane

This is a collection of stories and poetry of black life, mostly in the south, seen through the eyes of the oppressed. This was an eye opener for this reader, and one I'm grateful for. Published in 1923, the echo of slavery is loud and clear. And yet, there is beauty in this book, lots of it. The language, the prose begs to be read aloud and fill your ears. The whole of this collection is that life in this time was full of contradiction and struggle and pain and pride and beauty and life.

Food: black coffee at dawn, watching the sun rise. Bitter and strong, but energizing as a new day begins.

Editado: Set 17, 2017, 10:51 am

349. Where Angels Fear to Tread

Lilia's in-laws don't approve of her temperament and when she impulsively falls for an Italian son of a dentist, they swoop in to "rescue" her, only to find it's too late. They keep trying to influence the situation, all for the "right" reasons, but are they, really?

Forster does shine a light on the prejudices of the English middle class, especially in their perspective on Italian/Catholic/provincial life. The more subtle chauvinism is probably more Forster (and his time) than his efforts to be ironic. The book is short, thankfully, because some parts are just irritating to read.

Food: the dusty mints in the candy dish that have been there for God knows how long at your great-aunt's house. You've been coming since you were a little kid and they just might be the same ones that were there when you were 7.

Set 30, 2017, 10:17 am

350. The Sound of Waves

Shinji has grown up on the island and, being a very small island, knows everyone there. Hatsue comes back to her father after many years, and Shinji falls for her immediately. He is not without competition, however, and when a nasty rumor impedes his efforts, he must find another way.

Simple, preaching the power of honesty and perseverance winning over obstacles, this is a short and easy read. The ocean and it's many moods is the backdrop for everything that happens in the story and how the island functions with the power of the water.

Food: I make a slightly sweet cornbread with orange for the holidays, and this was a slice of that bread. Honey and orange with a coarse grain, light and delicious.

Editado: Out 1, 2017, 5:06 am

I read this book a while ago and enjoyed it as well. I would have made the food sushi myself :-) Plain, simple seafood flavours but filling and tasty, especially with a bit of tangy sauce.

Out 8, 2017, 11:47 pm

>115 M1nks: Sometimes the flavor of the book ties more directly to setting for me, but this one didn't. I also don't enjoy sushi, so I can see what I would shy away from that comparison!

Out 16, 2017, 10:18 am

351. Under the Volcano

This is a tragedy of a story. Geoffrey, the Consul, has a tenuous grasp on his life, mostly because his alcoholism has nearly consumed him. Yvonne, his wife, has returned to try to make another go of things, but can Geoffrey even make sense of her return, in his constantly intoxicated state? Is he able to even try?

I fear much of the symbolism and many of the references to other works have gone over my head, not having read Faust yet. Also, the sense of intoxication was WELL written and spun my head around many times. I'm left feeling unfinished, as I think may have been intended- cut short.

Food: too many tequila shots. Starts out with a sense of control, but quickly things get away from you, and you're left feeling sour and unsteady.

Out 22, 2017, 4:48 pm

352. The Wars

Robert Ross is just 19 when he enlists in the Canadian military and is sent to France to fight in WWI. Written in retrospect, as a researcher looking to piece together the bits of Ross's life, the story of a very young man fighting in the Great War is gritty, brutal, and inspires one to compassion.

The multiple perspectives told throughout the book, the little anecdotes and tangents, bring the characters to life. This could have been my great grandfather, or another ancestor. There isn't animosity toward "the enemy", just an unvarnished accounting of survival.

Food: one cold, sour dill pickle. Crisp, puckery, with a little bitterness, the taste lingers and though strong, cleanses the palate for sweeter things to come.

Nov 4, 2017, 10:19 am

353. Fathers and Sons

The two friends visit each other's families. Their fathers are trying to figure out how to survive and not own serfs. They both (briefly) fall in love with the same woman, but then move on. They both declare themselves nihilists, but that doesn't entirely work out, either.

Some of my lack of enjoyment in this book is my ignorance of Russian history. Apparently, this book introduced the concept of nihilism to the populace, or at least made it part of more common culture. It reflects the change of thinking in just one generation in the Russian people. I'm sure it was quite revolutionary at the time.

Food: cold, boiled potatoes with a not quite enough salt. An okay snack in a pinch, but not a great meal.

Nov 10, 2017, 5:03 pm

354. We

We is told by D-503, a part of the community that no longer has individuals, because "we" are so much happier being part of the collective machine that keeps things running smoothly. No more messy nature to deal with (it's behind the Wall), all walls made of glass so "we" are operating without secrecy, just happy, happy, happy!! Until D-503 FEELS something, and then it seems as though he's lost his entire world...

Written in 1920-21, this novel seems well before its time, but it was written by a Russian who was watching his world change, and his reflections on revolution and control by the state (and the propaganda the citizens were fed) are astute. I felt D-503's world crumble when thoughts contrary to what he "knew" entered his consciousness. This book was easy to read and contained bits of philosophy designed to make you think, not to change your mind.

Food: ostrich steak. Meaty, rich, reminiscent of other meats you've had in the past, but with a slightly exotic flavor.

Dez 1, 2017, 7:33 pm

355. White Noise

Jack and his family (a composite of his four marriages, a few of his wife's and the ensuing children) live a quiet life in suburbia where Jack is an academic in Hitler Studies. An "airborne toxic event" exposes Jack to a substance that might (or might not) kill him at some point in the future. This obsession/fear of impending death colors the rest of the story.

The internet tells me this is postmodern literature, and DeLillo is making some remarks on consumerism, religion, academia, and family dynamics. It's a weird book with some moments of, well, maybe not profundity, but at least moments that made me think for a second. Maybe DeLillo and I just aren't super compatible.

Food: the day after Thanksgiving every year, my mother hosts a soup and sandwich dinner. There are 3-4 kinds of soup, and every year, my uncle puts all the different kinds into a bowl together and eats them mixed up. This is what this book is to me- a hodgepodge of themes and ideas, not all clear and sometimes they clash. Just like a bowl of sausage and kale/black bean/potato leek soup.

Dez 16, 2017, 9:10 pm

356. Wide Sargasso Sea

Antoinette grows up in the changing Caribbean, her mother gone mad with grief, but having been adopted by her stepfather, she makes an attractive bride for Rochester. This marriage is one of financial means, however, not of love. Antoinette is destined to become the mad woman locked in the attic chamber that we met in Jane Eyre. But she wasn't always mad...

So well written, this story makes the heart ache for Antoinette and her destiny. The beautiful descriptions of Jamaica and the islands, the mysterious and dark Christophine who wields her dark magic, I found myself under the spell of this book in just a few pages.

Food: a glass of dark, strong rum. Sipping it starts out warm and mellow, and shortly things start to get fuzzy...

Dez 17, 2017, 4:16 am

Just catching up on your thread and added We to my TBR list: it looks fascinating and besides, I quite like ostrich steak.

Dez 18, 2017, 7:00 pm

>123 annamorphic: It really was! SO thought-provoking! I hope you enjoy it.

Dez 20, 2017, 10:24 am

357. July's People

July has served (with pay) Bam and Maureen's family for 15 years, and when the blacks start to attack the whites and overturn the systematic control imposed on them, July takes the family to his village for safety. Maureen and Bam are supportive of equal rights for blacks and have always been uncomfortable with July calling them "master", but this is a new world for them. Suddenly, the dynamics are unpredictable and being in the minority is very challenging.

Reading this was very interesting. Gordimer captures the experience of this white family on multiple levels in a way that feels genuine, and July comes more and more to life as the book unfolds. This is a window into a unique time and place and I haven't experienced anything like this before.

Food: pepperoncinis. These little pickled hot peppers have a bite, both sour and spicy. They are sharp but compulsively eatable.

Dez 30, 2017, 5:17 pm

358. Survival in Auschwitz

This memoir of Levi's year in the concentration camp was originally published in Italian under the title "If This is a Man". It is his accounting of one year from 1944-1945, leading up to the Russian liberation.

Reading this was brutal, harrowing, and incredibly sobering. Levi's tale is not one of hope and overcoming adversity. He is a chemist by trade and brings this technical perspective to his writing. The chapters are similar to reports, though not in language of the profession. He relates the events, with minimal discussion of his feelings or the tone of the camp, so that when he does discuss those things, it's impactful. This book is relevant then, now, and for all times. If we do not view every other person as human, then we are doomed to inhuman behavior.

Food: plain grits, no butter, sugar, salt or cheese. Coarse, without spice, an experience to be endured when truly hungry.

Jan 18, 2018, 7:22 pm

359. The Hour of the Star

Macabea is poor and she's never known any other life, if you can call what's she's doing living. The writer, our narrator, not only shares with us Maca's story, but his own process of writing.

For 80 pages, this book took me much more than an hour in the best possible way. I wanted to take my time, consume this in small bits, and let it sink in. There's so much in this little book and it needs to be experienced, because I think everyone will take something a little different.

Food: French onion soup. I LOVE French onion soup. I have to eat it slow, because it's so hot, and I love to savor each bite. It can't be rushed to be enjoyed. There's the richness of the cheese and depth of the broth, the simplicity but unctuousness of the onion and crouton. It calls for seconds and thirds.

Editado: Jan 18, 2018, 10:14 pm

>127 amaryann21: I had forgotten that this novel had a fame story and was going to point out that Clarice was a woman. oops.

Jan 19, 2018, 9:51 am

>128 ELiz_M: I found it an interesting choice to have the narrator be male. I wonder about that.

Mar 3, 2018, 12:32 pm

360. The Sea, the Sea

Charles Arrowby was a successful actor and director and he's moved to Shruff's End in retirement to write his memoirs. The sea is right outside his door and he spends much of his time swimming. The quiet life he'd planned, however, is not to be, and people from his past come in and out, without warning. Charles is forced to confront much that he left unresolved.

The writing was easy and challenging at the same time- Charles can be quite selfish and self-absorbed, accepting his perspective as truth and others' as hogwash. The idea that it could be another way is something that takes quite a lot of time for him. There is delight in the images the writing creates and one feels the sea's presence without it being thrust into the absolute forefront.

Food: fish and chips with lots of malt vinegar. Hot, salty, burning your fingers a bit, with an acidic bite.

Mar 4, 2018, 10:07 pm

361. The Woman in White

I can't say I had super high hopes of a mystery written in 1859. However, this book kept my attention the whole way through and while it wasn't always unpredictable, there were a good amount of twists I didn't see coming! I also loved seeing the strength and intelligence of Miss Halcombe, though she couldn't be pretty AND smart, and the characters had real life to them. I was happy to be along for the ride with this story.

Food: Victorian sandwich. Not too heavy, a little tart from the jam, but a delicious treat.

Mar 8, 2018, 7:10 pm

362. The Midnight Examiner

The staff of a company of tabloid publications runs afoul of the mob (by accident) and hijinks ensue, with the aid of a fishing pole and a voodoo priestess. There's also a large painting of a naked woman.

This was a fun read, easy, nothing heavy. I enjoyed a respite from the more strenuous topics of some of the other 1001 books. This book clearly doesn't take itself very seriously, either, and that was enjoyable.

Food: Reese's Pieces. You can eat a whole bag before you even realize you're halfway in.

Mar 9, 2018, 2:23 am

>131 amaryann21: Isn't it though! One of my favourite 1,001 discoveries.

Mar 12, 2018, 12:15 pm

363. Crome Yellow

Denis spends part of his summer in Crome, pursuing his writing and Anne, though he's getting mixed messages from her. They eat, swim, watch the moon, and have intellectual conversations.

This is Huxley's first novel and his satire on aristocratic life in England is funny in spots, but kind of sad as well. There are little hints of Brave New World, like little easter eggs. It wasn't an unpleasant read, and I had one laugh out loud moment with the discussion of the word "carminative".

Food: lemonade that is a bit too tart. It's refreshing-ish, but causes some puckers.

Mar 14, 2018, 9:35 am

364. The Cement Garden

Jack tells us the story of Julie, Sue, Tom and himself living in their slowly decreasing neighborhood and what happens after his parents die. Except no one knows his mother has died but his siblings and him.

This is a creepy little story. There are some Flowers in the Attic vibes, right from the beginning, and the whole thing is uncomfortable, to say the least. Well written to evoke such a response!

Food: cream of mushroom soup. I hate mushrooms, and creaming them in soup is even worse. Salty, earthy, mushy, nothing about it is pleasurable.

Mar 15, 2018, 12:06 am

365. Schooling by Heather McGowan

Catrine and her father are back in the UK, after Catrine's mother dies. She is enrolled in the same boarding school her father attended, and is thrust into a new world while just starting to grapple with her the loss of her mother. Mr. Gilbert, her Chemistry teacher, takes a special interest in her.

Written in several different styles- stream of consciousness, play format- and with no distinction between past and present, this wasn't an easy book to read and often I had to just push through, letting the pieces fit together as they would. The further I got, the easier it was, and the more it made sense to the way we really think, rather than how stories are laid out. This especially worked for Catrine's adolescent mind as she was sorting through her new experiences in a foreign country without both her parents.

Food: spicy chili, but with a head cold. The flavors come through and at times, pungently, but everything is a little muddled, your congestion putting a damper on your taste buds.

Mar 17, 2018, 11:23 pm

366. Chaka the Zulu

Chaka (or Shaka) is a real historical figure, the creator of the Zulu nation. Never officially recognized by his father the king, he fought his way into his kingdom and was a bloodthirsty ruler, waging war on any and all neighboring kingdoms. In the book, he is credited with driving his people to cannibalism (previously unknown) due to lack of food from his warmongering.

All of Chaka's success (and madness?) is credited to sorcery in this book, and Chaka kept choosing fame, glory and an expanding kingdom over mercy and love of his family and subjects. At first, it wasn't clear if this was a testament to relentless pursuit of power or a moral tale.

Food: very rare steak. A little char on the outside, but real bloody on the inside.

Mar 18, 2018, 12:39 pm

367. The Island of Dr. Moreau

Pendrick is rescued from the sea by Moreau's assistant en route back to Moreau's island and forced to disembark with them there. He is horrified to learn Moreau is performing experiments on animals and changing them to be more man-like. Obviously, bad things happen.

Wells is good for a horror story with a moral. Here we have anthropomorphism, the question of what makes a human a human and a beast a beast, and the ethics and morals of doing whatever you like to other beings. Well done and a super fast read.

Food: raw red onion. Sharp, astringent, but not entirely unpleasant.

Mar 27, 2018, 8:56 pm

368. The Swarm

The human race has been destroying the planet for quite awhile now, and something has decided enough is enough. Underwater landslides are creating tsunamis, destroying port cities and killing millions. A highly toxic parasite, born by mutated crabs, is decimating cities along the coasts. Whales are attacking all by the very largest ships in coordinated attacks.

This sci-fi thriller is a chunk of a book, almost 900 pages long, but the plot moves along quickly and is supported by lots of research that makes the science approachable. I learned a lot by reading this book! The book also challenges the way we think about humanity and what makes a species intelligent.

Food: gourmet nachos. I love nachos, and the variety of ingredients together makes a delicious, delicious experience. With fresh ingredients, some a little out of the norm, it expands the palate and brings new appreciation to a dish everyone underestimates.

Mar 28, 2018, 6:27 am

>139 amaryann21: This one has been sitting on my shelf for years in hardback format, staring at me menacingly. I never felt like picking it up (it was a gift). However, I love nachos as well, so I'll move it up mount TBR. :)

Mar 28, 2018, 11:37 am

>140 Deern: I was definitely intimidated by its size, but it read super fast! To be honest, I don't expect this type of book to be on the list, so this was a very pleasant surprise.

Abr 2, 2018, 7:14 pm

369. Eva Trout

Eva Trout is a socially awkward woman, with not enough education and too much money. She can't seem to settle anywhere, and when she comes back from America with a child who is deaf and mute, nothing is really different. She seems to try to connect with the few constant people in her life, but is it ever really successful?

This was a strange book and I don't feel like I really get it. I read a couple reviews and commentaries immediately after finishing it, and I'm not the only one who felt that way. Everything feels veiled, like Bowen can't just come out with what she means, and maybe that's part of the story, but it was frustrating.

Food: lukewarm, underseasoned potato salad. It needs to be a little more something- cold, hot, salty, spicy, SOMEthing. It's okay to chew on, but not great.

Abr 7, 2018, 12:07 pm

370. The Player of Games

Gurgeh (his last name) is one of the best game players in the Culture. And he's bored- there aren't any new games, it's all versions of what's been done before. So, he's looking for a new challenge, and is invited to participate in the Empire's game, Azad. What he discovers on Azad is a world that, in his opinion, hasn't evolved at all beyond the basics of civilization, and maybe not even that far, considering how cruel and depraved they can be at times. But this culture clash is much more sophisticated than he realizes and the game is much bigger than the board.

I really enjoyed this sci-fi story. For a sci-fi novice, I get a little intimidated by lots of new jargon, and acclimatizing to Banks' style was easy. Reflections on present-day society were apparent but didn't feel agenda-driven. A very interesting and engaging book.

Food: a really good burger. Not overly complicated, a little char on the outside, cheese perfectly melty, everything complementing itself, all components working well together. Satisfying.

Abr 9, 2018, 10:19 am

Catching up on your thread. I have really enjoyed doing that; so many good reviews!

Abr 9, 2018, 10:31 am

>144 Simone2: Thank you! I've FINALLY done some more reading from the list!

Abr 9, 2018, 10:32 am

371. Silence

Father Rodrigues travels to Japan to seek his mentor, whom it is rumored has apostatized and renounced his faith. This seems unbelievable, and Rodrigues is determined to continue the missionary work his predecessors started. When he realizes the extent of the persecution of the Christians and experiences it firsthand, his crisis of faith brings a new perspective.

I had no prior knowledge of the events on which this novel is based, and I love that reading teaches me something new. The story was very personal in nature, yet anyone who has struggled with belief, with questions of why bad things happen, can relate with ease. It left me with a lot to think about.

Food: a good piece of bread. Simple, but when eaten with a little consideration, one can appreciate the work that went into making it.

Abr 28, 2018, 6:04 pm

372. Kiss of the Spider Woman

Molina and Valentin share a cell in prison, one for crimes of homosexuality with a minor, one for revolutionary activities against the government. Molina helps pass the time by relating movies he's seen, in great detail, to Valentin and they form a friendship. The subtext of an oppressive government and the morality of homosexuality, identity and love run through the story.

Aside from having to keep which character was speaking at the time straight, this was an easy book to read, once I got used to the style. Though it deals with serious matters, things never get too deep or philosophical. It really felt like observing two people have a conversation.

Food: cheese soufflé. Full of complex flavors, but airy, delicate, light on the tongue.

Maio 15, 2018, 10:12 am

373. Rosshalde

Johann is a painter of some fame who is estranged from his wife and eldest son while still living on the same property. Only Pierre, his younger son, keeps his tied to the homestead. When an old friend discovers how Johann's marriage has deteriorated, he challenges Johann to move on, let go of Pierre and free himself of what weighs him down.

There was a lot of simple beauty in the writing of this book. Hesse was dealing with his own divorce in writing this book, and it shows a lot of deep thought and feeling.

Food: an ice cold glass of cranberry juice. Tart, a hint of sweetness, cold and clean, but strong.

Maio 19, 2018, 4:50 pm

374. The Folding Star

Edward is in his early 30's, a writer newly come to Belgium to escape London and start fresh. He's a tutor and falls in love with Luc, one of his pupils, and distracts himself by exploring the gay scene of the city. His other pupil's father runs a museum of a deceased lesser-known artist and Edward takes on some side work helping him put together a catalog of the artist's work.

I'm not sure I appreciated this book the way it was intended. Sex scenes don't do much for me and there are lots of them. Edward seems both overly confident and completely insecure at the same time. The obsessing over a 17-year-old feels so... juvenile. At the same time, there are some big, deep themes- love, betrayal, WWII- and handled well.

Food: over dressed, wilted spinach salad. Too much vinegar in the dressing and the spinach is not so fresh. Several mouthfuls of tart and bitter aren't so tasty.

Editado: Maio 26, 2018, 11:19 am

375. The Killer Inside Me

Lou is the deputy sheriff in Central City, and everybody's pal. His father was a psychiatrist and a good man. There's a sickness in Lou, though... and only he knows about it. His father and adopted brother have been dead for years, and while Amy, Lou's girlfriend, suspects something bothers him from time to time, she has no idea.

This book is a slow burn, and in first-person narrative, Lou isn't trying to hide who he is or run from the truth. He doesn't take joy from his actions, it's something he has to do. You almost can't help but like the guy- evidence that it's a very well-written story.

Food: a dill pickle milkshake. Different, not sure if I like it, but I keep drinking until it's gone. And the brain freeze sneaks right up on me.

Jun 1, 2018, 7:13 pm

376. Troubling Love

Delia's mother has died, found in the ocean, just days after visiting. Delia goes home to Naples for the funeral and discovers her mother was involved with a man from the past, a shadowy figure who had created division in her family when she was just a child. Delia is forced to face her complicated relationship with her mother, making discoveries she had long buried.

Though it's short, there's a lot to contend with in this story. The writing is rich and full of troubling and beautiful imagery. Naples is one of the prominent characters in the book, dangerous, smelly and full of machismo. As Delia examines her childhood, the lines of story and recollection, truth and perception, blur and mix.

Food: limoncello. Strong, sour and sweet, and if you sip too much, it can leave your head in a spin.

Jun 6, 2018, 11:33 pm

377. High-Rise

The high-rise is new, top of the line, and the architect lives in the penthouse. Different from other apartment buildings, this one is huge and, once it is completely occupied, it is owned by the occupants- no landlords. It doesn't take long after full occupation for a strange shift in the community. Everything starts to break down and class wars begin, the lower floors warring against the middle and upper floors, all against the each other. Oddly, some of them continue to go to work as the building falls apart- electricity, water, elevators all failing.

This was a strange story, but I understand the parallels to society- we all go about our business as if nothing is wrong while we are polluting our environment and killing one another. War becomes part of life. This microcosm of the high-rise is meant to help us see what we're living in on a broader level. It still felt odd and a little forced, though.

Food: a chicken salad sandwich at the beach. Some of the sand has found its way into the sandwich, and it's kind of gritty, and maybe could have used a little more mayo, but not too bad.

Editado: Jul 7, 2018, 11:25 pm

378. Tender is the Night

Dick and Nicole appear to be charismatic, loving and beloved. Rosemary certainly falls into their charming spell when she meets them on the beach in France, but their story isn't quite what it seems. Dick is a doctor of psychiatry and the way in which he met his wife isn't exactly conventional.

One of the plugs I read for this book was, "If you loved The Great Gatsby, you'll love this even more!". I did not love The Great Gatsby and it appears Fitzgerald and I are not destined to be friends. The characters drive me batty. Everyone is so caught up in their own stuff, and a lot of it is material. Dick and Nicole were slightly better, but there's so little hope to the story. Infidelity is just... expected. I'm glad my life is nothing like a Fitzgerald novel, I'm just saying.

Food: a dry scone with too few bits of fruit. Every once in awhile you come across a tasty bite, but overall it wasn't worth the calories.

Jul 27, 2018, 1:21 pm

379. Anagrams

Benna and Gerard have love for one another, but they're never quite in sync, though they rely on one another consistently-ish. They play with words and phrases that are witty and fun, but not really anagrams. I guess I expected more literal anagrams?

This book wasn't easy. It's in two sections, both with Benna and Gerard, but are they related? I had a hard time figuring it all out and I wasn't interested in trying too hard. I like Moore's style, usually, but this was different, almost deliberately evasive. Perhaps it just wasn't the mood I needed at the time.

Food: an under-ripe peach. A little too hard, a little too bitter, and you keep hoping for that one bite that you remember is so delicious about peaches.

Ago 3, 2018, 10:18 am

380. The Poor Mouth

"After great merriment comes sorrow and good weather never remains forever."

This is satire on rural, poor Irish life under English rule- all potatoes and mud. Despite that, it was fun to read and if you have a decent knowledge of Irish history, the satire is more obvious and humorous. I'd love to sit down with these characters to talk.

Food: a neat glass of peated whiskey. Earthy, a little sharp, but warms the heart.

Ago 5, 2018, 2:18 pm

381. Ignorance

Irena and Josef were two of many, many Czechs who fled their home country with the Russian invasion, scattering to the winds, unsure they'd ever come home again. Twenty years later, communism has collapsed in eastern Europe and they can, if they so chose, go home again. But should they?

This book really explores the idea of home, of past, present and future, what it means to belong somewhere, what happens when you leave "home" and come back, and what part memory plays in all of it. Interspersed in the story is bits of history, particularly about the Czech Republic and its political past, which was interesting and very digestible. Of the three Kundera works I've read so far, this was my favorite.

Food: Greek yogurt. Dense without being unpleasant, satisfying and a little tangy.

Ago 17, 2018, 10:50 am

382. Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light

Pavel works for the state-run television station now, but he is a filmmaker and in past eras, was able to travel and make the films he wanted to make without censure. That's not the country he's in anymore, so this is, well, just the way it is. He's aware of wanting more and at one time, tried to escape the country, earning a jail term. He's in a relationship with a woman, but he doesn't really love her.

It all sounds depressing and it IS, but as I imagine living in a country that, in a short time span, went through the political and social changes that the Czech Republic did, it feels authentic and Klima does an amazing job at capturing the feeling of the time. Where IS hope? What is there to hope for? And yet, the inclination to want to hope is so very powerful. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book despite the bleak spots.

Food: warm Brie with water crackers. Mild in flavor, not too salty, good contrast in textures and meant to be nibbled rather than swallowed up.

Ago 17, 2018, 2:20 pm

383. The Goldfinch

I get to include this one, now that the 2018 list is out. I was not wowed by this book, and in fact it left me feeling sad and heavy. There's so much trauma in the story, so much loss. I much preferred The Secret History by Tartt, but it WAS interesting.

No food rating as it was over a year ago that I consumed this one.

Ago 18, 2018, 6:10 pm

384. Legend

The Drenai have lived in peace for some time now, and Ulric and the Nadir threaten that peace with attack on Dros Delnoch, the fortress with six walls. We meet many characters over the course of this tale, Druss being the chief legend among them, a warrior twice as old as most average men and powerful beyond imagining. The odds are heavily against the Drenai.

This is a fantastic adventure, with war and love and magic and wonderful, wonderful characters. The humanity of each shines through and no one is a caricature, as easy as it would be to let them be so in a genre such as this. I might have cheered almost aloud at one point during the story... just maybe.

Food: a crisp, delicious apple. Crunchy but not hard, tart and sweet at once, a delight to chew on from the first bite to the last.

Ago 18, 2018, 10:19 pm

>159 amaryann21: I enjoyed this one too. I wish there were more of these fantasy/adventure stories on the list to break up the earnest, angst ridden and somewhat gloomy novels that seem to dominate it.

Ago 19, 2018, 9:49 pm

>160 puckers: I actually questioned of I had the right book as I got into the story- could this REALLY be a 1001 book? But then I remembered Lord of the Rings. I agree with you, I'd love to see more like this. A welcome change of pace!

Set 7, 2018, 9:49 pm

385. Z

Z is based on actual events of the murder of a political figure in Greece and the speculation of who was involved and why that followed. Told from multiple perspectives- those involved, those who loved Z, his widow, and bystanders- the sense of what it was to experience this in one's own country is palpable.

Food: gorgonzola and almonds. At times sharp and pungent, other times sweet and mild.

Set 8, 2018, 3:55 pm

386. Gargantua and Pantagruel

There's a lot about this book that's giant. The amount of pages, the two main characters, the amount that almost everyone in the book eats and drinks, and the volume of ink spent on bodily functions- all giant. Gargantua is Pantagruel's father and most of the book is about Pantagruel's life, though we do get to know Gargantua a bit at first. A good portion, through the end, is spent on Pantagruel and his friends going in search of an answer to the question of whether his friend, Panurge, should get married. It becomes a quest, ending abruptly in a cave after getting to the Oracle of the Bottle.

At first, this was kind of fun. It's satire and very witty. But Rabelais is all over the map, no subject left unexplored, and it got a little tiresome. Perhaps this wasn't meant to be read at one go- it was published over a number of years. But now I know exactly what's being described when someone uses the adjective "Rabelaisian".

Food: a giant tub of over-buttered popcorn. At first, it's warm and yummy and you can eat it at a good clip, but soon you run into dry spots or oversaturated spots and your mouth just gets tired of chewing and it's too salty and wow, it seems like you haven't even made a DENT in it yet, but you bought it so you gotta keep going...

Set 9, 2018, 3:17 pm

387. Northanger Abbey

Catherine is honest, naïve and otherwise unremarkable. When she encounters others who are less forthright, she's genuinely confused by them, and it leads to a little bit of humor for the reader. Austen takes a bit of a jab at readers who look down on novels and our heroine does give in a bit to the "horrors" of such novels by letting her imagination run away with her.

I haven't revisited Austen in a number of years and it's like coming back to an old friend. If you've read her a time or two, you know what to expect, but it makes it no less entertaining.

Food: a petit four. Small and delightful, a bit of a sweet to relish.

Set 10, 2018, 11:55 am

388. Embers

Henrik is reaching the end of his life. Ensconced in his castle in the forest, the General lives a very solitary life- until Konrad, his best friend from childhood and early adulthood, comes to visit. The entire book takes place one evening as they meet, after 41 years without communicating, for dinner.

The prose in this book is just beautiful. Reading it felt like being in a dream. The subject matter wasn't always pleasant- the whole range of human emotion is visited- but even the less enjoyable moments felt like waves of cool water rather than a shock to the system. Books like this show the clear distinction between narrative and prose.

Food: an excellent veloute. Not a meal, but the sauce, when done well, is divine and lingers in the memory.

Set 16, 2018, 1:24 pm

389. Deep River

A collection of Japanese tourists travel to India to tour Buddhist religious sites. We get to know a couple of them prior to the trip- Isobe, whose wife recently died and Mitusko, the volunteer who helped take care of Isobe's wife and who is haunted by the memory of a college classmate. The trip starts and ends (for a few) at the Ganges River, the holy site where Hindus come to be purified and to have their ashes scattered.

This is the second book of Endo's I have read and both center around belief and faith. The characters come from different religions, if any, and the experience of the Ganges and of India is powerful for them all. Endo asks profound questions through his writing and maybe was on a journey of his own? The challenges each character face are personal and deep, and while they don't always find answers, the river changes them.

Food: flavored skyr. The process of fermentation makes this thick yogurt amazingly creamy and a little bit of fruit or vanilla takes the sourness away for the most part. It's a slow food, and enjoyable to eat.

Set 22, 2018, 2:11 pm

390. Mansfield Park

Fanny Price is the niece of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, gone to live with them because her parents won't stop having children and can't afford them all. Mrs. Norris, another aunt of Fanny's, came up with the idea, but she couldn't possibly take on a child with her small income. She is rather detestable, that Mrs. Norris. Fanny, obviously, is wonderful and of the highest possible character (that can be expected of her place in society) and there are matches of her cousins to be made, etc. etc. etc....

This is my least favorite Austen novel thus far. What I enjoy most about her writing is the tongue-in-cheek nature, where she pokes fun at the way society worked and how ridiculous that women should be flattered that a man wants to marry them, no matter what they feel or think of the man. There was almost nothing of that in this book, or perhaps I was getting so bored that I skimmed over it.

Food: meat pie with too tough a crust and too little gravy. Lots to chew on, but not enough flavor.

Set 24, 2018, 9:53 pm

391. I, Robot

Set up as an interview of Dr. Susan Calvin, the history of sentient robots on Earth is presented. Dr. Calvin is a robopsychologist, and one of the preeminent scholars on how robots function within the Three Laws. If you're expecting Will Smith and that storyline, you're in for deep disappointment. This is more intellectual and subtle, and, I imagine, in the 1950's, terrifying.

I try to consider the context of when the novel was written and published when I read, and it's especially important here. Asimov's ideas were far outside the box, and there's much discussion of war and a post-atomic age in the novel. There are times when it certainly feels dated, but it's a great look at the fears and fascinations of that period. And it's a fun, quick read.

Food: a peanut butter granola bar. A little dry sometimes, but a good snack when you need something quick and yummy.

Set 29, 2018, 4:19 pm

392. The Collector

Fred collects butterflies and is really socially awkward. And he's more than a little obsessed with Miranda. After he wins the lottery, maybe he can make his fantasies into realities?

The first half is Fred's story, the second Miranda's, and while I got a little annoyed with Miranda, it felt pretty true. I enjoyed the style, definitely added to the creep factor. As I find when authors are accomplished at creating three-dimensional characters, i felt a lot of things for both of them beyond Fred is bad and Miranda is good.

Food: a handful of dry roasted peanuts. It doesn't take long to eat them and once you're done, that craving is satisfied for awhile.

Out 30, 2018, 6:13 pm

393. Nowhere Man

Josef has been a lot of places, but doesn't really have anywhere he belongs anymore. He grew up in Yugoslavia and left before the war, so his home doesn't really exist anymore, but he sticks out like a sore thumb in Chicago, though he is trying hard to be American. His story is told by the people who knew him in various parts of his life.

Hemon uses language like a paint brush in an abstract painting- it's surprising and colorful and unusual, but so very beautiful. I listened to this book and caught myself repeating a phrase over and over, just relishing the taste of it. It's a short book and felt a little abrupt at the end, particularly because an unrelated story is attached to the very end. If there's a connection, I couldn't find it.

Food: fresh, green grapes. They burst with flavor and vitality, with an occasional sour one thrown in.

Out 31, 2018, 7:42 pm

394. The Red Queen

The Crown Princess Hong, child bride of the Crown Prince in the mid-late 18th century, tells us her life story in all its sad and troublesome details. While she was a member of the royal family, there was much that she lost and little she gained with her title. Still, she loved her husband and children as well as she could and performed the duties required of her well. The second half of the book is Babs Halliwell's story, as it relates to the Crown Princess. She is sent the memoir and becomes mildly obsessed with her story, and coincedentally is traveling to Korea for a work conference. While in Seoul, she visits the palace grounds and feels an even stronger connection to this woman from the past.

The Crown Princess is a real woman and her memoirs are real. How much is embellished by Drabble, I don't know. The book is compulsively readable, and I'm still not sure why. Perhaps there really is something about this woman and her story that make the reader feel connected.

Food: melon sprinkled with salt and red pepper flakes. Slightly sweet, hints of fire, but never too much.

Nov 14, 2018, 8:57 pm

395. The Flamethrowers

Reno is an artist, or at least she aspires to be. She works in film and photographs and her famous artist boyfriend, Sandro, supports her efforts. He comes from a rich Italian industrial family, and things aren't going so well over there- strikes and underground militias and such. It's the mid to late 1970's, and much of the action takes place in NYC.

Perhaps it's that I don't know much about the art scene. Or that this era in history doesn't hold much appeal for me. As good as the prose is in spots, this book didn't do it for me. I found myself impatient and annoyed with many of the characters. Reno doesn't know herself and she's young and she does grow during the story, but it doesn't feel like enough to justify nearly 400 pages of story.

Food: organic homemade sugar-free flaxseed granola. It's good for you, or so someone says, but it takes a lot of chewing.

Nov 16, 2018, 8:25 am

396. The Comfort of Strangers

Mary and Colin are in love and on holiday, and bump into a kindly stranger as they are lost in the city. This doesn't turn out to be a casual friendship with a native. It's much more sinister than that.

At only 100 pages, this is a quick little story, but it packs a punch. The creepiness is a slow build, but McEwan gives us hints early on that something isn't quite what it seems. It reminds me of The Cement Garden, written in a similar style. I enjoy McEwan best in smaller chunks, I think.

Food: garlic butter caper sauce. Those hits of sour, salty brine pop up in the mix of the mellower sauce, some bites stronger than others.

Editado: Nov 18, 2018, 4:27 pm

397. A Kestrel for a Knave

Billy lives with his brother and his mother in a poor town, where his brother works in the coal mine. Billy isn't really good at school and his "friends" have a habit of getting in trouble. There's no bright spot in his life, until he takes a fledgling kestrel from its nest and raises it, patiently training it.

There's very little to redeem this story, and knowing that so many children are raised in homes just like Billy's makes it that much more difficult to read. Perhaps that's why it's important to read it. Perhaps I'm too empathetic to the plight of those who are abused, neglected and forgotten.

Food: celery and cucumbers on an appetizer tray with no dip. Kinda sad and forlorn.

Editado: Nov 27, 2018, 7:28 pm

398. The Beautiful Room is Empty

White is writing about himself in this autobiographical novel, about surviving his adolescence and young adulthood in the Midwest, about discovering and coping with his sexuality, about finding who he was and what that all meant. The 1960's and 70's weren't an easy time to be homosexual and this theme runs through the whole book. References to therapy of various kinds to "cure" him made me cringe, because this was real and for some, still is to this day.

I give White a lot of credit for writing with such honesty- not necessarily about the facts, but about the feelings of those times. The struggle to be someone that he wasn't, while trying to authentically find who he was- I think a lot of people can relate to that. His relationships with his family and friends, some whom he idealized at one point and later came to a different perspective, where insightful and real. The more I read this book, the deeper I appreciated it.

Food: a perfect looking piece of lemon meringue pie that didn't get quite enough sugar. At first, it's a little tart, but as you keep trying it, you actually start to appreciate that it's not too sweet.

Dez 2, 2018, 10:44 pm

399. A Dry White Season

South Africa, the Johannesburg area where Ben lives with his family, is a dangerous place for a black person who doesn't know his place. So when Gordon, the black man who's worked with Ben, a white teacher, at their school, tells Ben about his son's death and Ben helps him look into it, bad things start to happen. But Ben keeps investigating, and it dawns on him that the system he was raised in, the system that funs his entire world, is corrupt and prejudiced. That he, a white man, has privilege because of the color of his skin. And then he has to decide what to do, what is within his power and responsibility.

Reading the phrase "white privilege" in a book that was written in the late 1970s was surprising and hopeful. Witnessing this character wake up to realization of his race, what it really means, felt important, like I want to give this book to people I know so they can understand, or be validated in their experiences as well. Aside from the universal concepts, the story is painful and real and despairing and hopeful.

Food: the first time I ate oysters. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into, but I was going to be daring and try something new, and I was so happy when I had a mouthful of chargrilled oysters. Uniquely their own taste, I lost my fear of shellfish and a whole realm of possibilities opened up to me.

Dez 2, 2018, 11:54 pm

I am glad you liked this one. It left quite an impression on me too. What do you have planned for 400?

Dez 3, 2018, 8:14 am

>177 Yells: I started The Magus last night - since I have most of the month left, I figured I have time for a chunkster. I may keep a small backup as well, though!

Dez 14, 2018, 10:38 pm

400. The Magus

Nick doesn't have a lot of direction. He lost his parents on the cusp of adulthood, and with them, his sense of home, not that it was super strong to begin with. So after the breakup of what felt like a significant relationship, teaching English on a Greek island didn't seem like a bad idea. But what followed, after he met Conchis and Lily... was it real? Or what parts of it could have been? Was he hypnotized? Was it all an elaborate farce?

Reading this novel was like watching Westworld. Sorting through the storylines, the characters, the shifting realities was work at first, until I decided to just go along for the ride and see where it took me. And I loved being on the ride. There are LOTS of references to Shakespeare and Greek and Roman mythology, so I probably missed quite a bit, but it didn't feel out of reach. The story didn't resolve, leaving questions unanswered and yet, the journey was so very satisfying.

Food: imposter meals. When cupcakes are really made of meatloaf and potatoes, or nachos is really pastry and chocolate- it isn't at all what it appeared to be, but the deception makes it all the more delicious.

Editado: Dez 14, 2018, 11:40 pm

>179 amaryann21: Congratulations on 400. Love all your clever food parallels- do you have another 601 you can use?!

Dez 15, 2018, 12:02 am

Congrats! Imposter meals definitely fits this one.

Dez 15, 2018, 1:16 am

>180 puckers: Thank you! I'm sure gonna keep trying!

>181 Yells: Thank you! I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. Love that my rating fits for you, too!

Dez 16, 2018, 4:07 pm

Congrats! Seems like a fitting choice for #400

Dez 17, 2018, 10:49 am

>183 Henrik_Madsen: Thank you! It certainly left an impression and I wouldn't have picked it if not for the list!

Dez 18, 2018, 4:28 pm


Dez 18, 2018, 9:10 pm

Woo hoo! 400 - congratulations! Sounds like I would like that book as I love mythology and I love books that reference other books/literature. Looking forward to reaching it on my list.
And your food parallels are so clever - what a unique way to review books.

Dez 19, 2018, 10:37 am

>185 paruline:, >186 JayneCM: Thank you! The food analogies have been how I think about books for years, and I finally started writing them down. It helps me remember them better, too!

Dez 21, 2018, 1:11 pm

Congrats on 400! I've been enjoying your foodie descriptions.

Dez 23, 2018, 10:36 am

>188 LisaMorr: Thank you! I'm glad they're enjoyable!

Dez 30, 2018, 10:44 am

401. Lives of Girls and Women

Jubilee is a very small town in Canada, and Flats Road isn't in town, but outside of it. Del and her family raise silver foxes for their pelts and Del's life is about what one would expect for where she grew up. Del's mother wants more, of course, but there isn't a good way of getting it. Del herself is quite intelligent, but doesn't have a good way of directing it all the time. The reader is left imagining the next steps for our main character at the end of the short book.

Munro put a small note in the front of the book, saying the book is autobiographical in form, but not in fact. It's easy to imagine this being based on her own experiences, because it feels genuine without being boring- Munro's writing is vivid and tangible. The struggle of the time, of having limited options due to one's gender, is reflected without lamentation, but instead the forecast is made that times are changing. The frankness of the writing made it enjoyable to read.

Food: a tomato sandwich. Not complicated, food of the farmers and poor folk, but all the more delicious because of the simplicity.

Jan 20, 2019, 2:42 pm

402. Extinction

Our narrator is self-exiled from his family home in Austria, an imposing estate by the name of Wolfsegg. He fled to Rome years ago, because being home causes him such distress and agitation. We meet him on the day he has received a telegram that his mother, father and brother have died in an accident. The first half of the book is recollections of why he hates his family, his home, his birth country, and how wronged he was by all of the above. His two sisters are still at home and now, by birthright, he is the new master of Wolfsegg. The second half is his return for the funeral, but the tone is very much the same as the first.

I didn't know much about Bernhard before reading this book. Correction- I knew NOTHING about Bernhard. I took a minute to read about his life and writing before reviewing Extinction. Much of the sentiment in the book is Bernhard's own- anti-Austria, -Catholic, -National Socialism. That makes sense, as the main character is pretty virulent in his commentary. The reason for the title, Extinction, is that the narrator has an idea that if he writes Wolfsegg and Austria out of his brain, he will extinguish them and they will become, in essence, extinct. This was Bernhard's last book. It stands to reason that perhaps these were his own thoughts as well.

Reading a book without paragraphs isn't easy, but eventually it didn't feel quite so exhausting. This was a challenge, though, even for a reader who prefers challenges.

Food: a mediocre plated dinner at a work function with a keynote speaker who isn't particularly charismatic, but is very long-winded and repetitive. You can't leave and the food is adequate. You hold on as much as you can until it's over.

Jan 20, 2019, 3:48 pm

>191 amaryann21: - Great review and thanks for reminding me why I have no plans to ever read all 1001 books

Jan 20, 2019, 9:50 pm

>192 Nickelini: Ha! I did it for the January Challenge, and I'm not sorry I did- I started this a couple years ago and put it down.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:00 am

403. Of Love and Shadows

Irene and Francisco meet professionally, she the journalist and he the photographer. Irene was engaged to Gustavo, a military man, and had dedicated herself to him. But through her journalism, the corruption and evil of the ruling military become exposed to Irene, and she loses some of her optimism and innocence. Francisco has always known these things, of course, and knows the danger of subversive activities. Slowly, they descend into some of the true horrors that have been committed and come to terms with what this may mean for their future.

Allende's writing is beautiful. She writes with the voice of humanity- pain, joy, fear, love. The affection she feels for her homeland is obvious in the writing and that adds to the experience as a reader. The story isn't pretty is a lot of places, which makes it that much more striking and important.

Food: a three-course meal. Soup is the starter, good and simple. Steak is the main course, with some chimichurri, spicy and hearty. For dessert, an ethereal meringue, disappearing on the tongue the instant it hits. All complimentary flavors and a wonderful experience, hitting all the right notes.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:00 am

404. Lady Chatterly's Lover

Lady Chatterly's husband is paralyzed and while she has affection for him, love isn't really important to either of them. So, she takes a lover and finds out what it REALLY means to be loved, or so she feels. Mixed in with the story line is a whole lot of commentary on the social hierarchy of England, gender roles, and the coal industry and its impact on the working class.

This is my third Lawrence and probably a more entertaining one, but I still don't really enjoy his writing. I'm sure this was very scandalous for the time, especially as it flew in the face of traditional marriage and its graphic descriptions of the sexual act. I find the characters all to be mildly to very annoying and was happy when I was done with the book.

Food: instant oatmeal made with too much water. Thin, mildly flavored, and better when it's over.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:00 am

405. Pereira Maintains

Dr. Pereira is the cultural editor for Lisboa, a small newspaper that no one pays attention to. He misses his deceased wife and enjoys his omelets. His life is simple, until he attempts to hire an assistant. It's the 1930's in Portugal, and unrest is building in Spain. His assistant, while terrible at writing, needs Pereira's help with resistance efforts. Pereira maintains political neutrality and has no desire to get involved, but he slowly, surely, he finds his stance shifting.

This book is short and easily read. Observing the process of Pereira reengaging in life, finding something to really live for instead of just existing, made this book enjoyable in an unexpected way. I think I could read it again a few times and find new depths.

Food: a shot of whiskey. Short and neat, simple, but packs a punch.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:00 am

406. The Master of Petersburg

This is the imagined story of Dostoyevsky going to Petersburg after the death of his stepson, who was killed/committed suicide (depending on who's telling the story). He spends lots of time in his stepson's room, looking for answers. He meets some of the acquaintances (friends?) of his stepson and has several run-ins with the police.

The novel feels both very Russian and very Coetzee. Patches of it were hard for me to slog through and I feel I don't know enough Russian history to really appreciate the story. As with most Coetzee, I don't think I really get the acclaim.

Food: sauerkraut and pickles. Both mushy and sour and crisp and acidic, in parts.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:01 am

407. The Pigeon

Jonathan Noel is a security guard at a bank and very happy with his small life- his one room, his few possessions, and soon, he will own his room outright instead of renting. Everything is predictable and safe. Until there is a pigeon outside his door one morning. Suddenly, Jonathan's world is in turmoil, nothing is as it was.

This is a teensy little book, just over 100 pages, and easy to gulp down in just a few minutes. It passed by in a flash, and I felt such sympathy for Jonathan. Suskind is masterful with language. Jonathan's world was vivid and alive for me.

Food: a single, dark cherry. Just one bite of complex fruit- tart, sweet, fresh.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:01 am

408. Super-Cannes

Jane and Paul Sinclair have been invited to live and work (Jane is a doctor) at Eden-Olympia, a business park for huge multinational companies in the south of France. Paul is recuperating after a plane crash and he and Jane are to take the house of Dr. Greenwood, who recently murdered 6 other residents of the park, then killed 3 hostages and himself. Paul has lots of free time and finds himself very intrigued by the events of Greenwood's rampage. Not everything is as it seems at Eden-Olympia and Paul uncovers a very seedy underbelly.

This is the second book of Ballard's I've read and the theme is the same- rich people behave badly when they have everything they could ever want. And they justify it to the nth degree. While I found this one more readable and slightly more engaging than High Rise, there's a lot of distasteful in there.

Food: a very rare slice of prime rib, seasoned with too much garlic. Lots of blood and too much "spice" for my taste.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:01 am

409. After the Quake

These six short stories share an influence of the 1995 Kobe earthquake, in different ways. The stories aren't connected by any other thread, other than Murakami's incredible mind. I only read one story a day, pacing myself and letting them sit with me before moving on, because it felt right to do so. I love reading Murakami. I've never encountered anything like his work, and while I don't always think I understand it, it stirs something in me.

Food: mochi ice cream. Weird and different and delicious.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:01 am

410. The Tin Drum

This book took way too much time to read. It was a struggle in so many spots. Oskar is our narrator, and we hear his whole life, up to his thirtieth birthday, and it takes nearly 600 pages. Oskar is unsure of his parentage, and has a gift of drumming- he can influence the feelings and reactions of those around him. He can also break glass with his voice, though he grows out of that gift.

This is a story about WWII in Eastern Europe, but more about it's effects on Oskar and his world. This doesn't feel like magical realism, but perhaps it is. The book won a Nobel Prize in Literature, so I feel like I'm missing something important, but I'm also not sure I really care so much. There were parts that made for interesting story telling.

Food: an onion and cheese tart with some herb I can't identify that's overpowering the other flavors. Not entirely unpleasant, but it doesn't seem to be balanced, or maybe it's just not to my taste.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:01 am

411. A Tale of Love and Darkness

This is Amos Oz's memoir of his childhood, growing up in Jerusalem through the 1940's and beyond. Oz is a beautiful story teller and his writing is wonderful to read. He tells of his family history as his parents and grandparents left Eastern Europe and Russia in the Diaspora, of the struggles they found in Jerusalem, how they didn't really fit in with those who lived in the kibbutz, and how he tried to find his identity in this homeland that didn't feel like home to his relatives.

This book is a lot about love and a LOT about darkness. The chapters are short- there are over 60 of them, some only a couple pages and some a bit longer. This made it easier to handle, because some of this is heavy stuff. Oz acknowledges his memories may not always be 100% accurate, giving the reader some sense of an unreliable narrator, but with the understanding that it's only because this was his childhood and he isn't intending to deceive. I know so little about Jerusalem and particularly what life was like in this time period, so this was educational and gave me a brand new perspective to consider.

Food: a bazaar of tidbits to consume. Some spicy, some tart, some achingly sweet and some exceedingly bitter. A meal to be savored, one bite at a time, and to be thoughtfully considered.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:02 am

412. Vernon God Little

Vernon lives in a small Texas town and his mother is in a constant competition for who has the most appliances/vacations/etc. When 16 of Vernon's peers are shot at school and he's named as an accomplice because the gunman (now dead) was a close friend, things get... complicated. The story is told as a narrative from Vernon's perspective and, if you haven't heard already, his language isn't very polite.

I've heard from several folks that they hated this book. I can see it could be polarizing. There's a bit of Catcher in the Rye in the present day, and I love Holden. I also work with teenagers, especially ones with issues, every day, so the book felt truer to life than it might for some. The story is darkly humorous and biting at times. It also shines a light on the absurdity of our obsession with making a buck on someone's tragedy and the role media plays in forming our opinions without becoming a moralistic tale. I wouldn't say that I enjoyed this book, but it felt skillfully told, and an important perspective that doesn't ordinarily get shared.

Food: a saucy, messy barbecue sandwich, the kind that gets all over your hands and clothes. There's no being neat and polite with this kind of meal, and that's part of the adventure.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:02 am

413. The Heather Blazing

The reader learns about Eamon's life in alternating chapters, present and past. Eamon was the son of a professor and grew up during WWII and in a fractured Ireland. His life, though, isn't that difficult, considering, and much of the book is set in Cush, at the summer house where he and his father went when he was young and where he continued to go as an adult. The sea is Eamon's respite. As we get to know Eamon and his family, we see how and why he became the man he is presently.

The feel of Ireland is strong in this book, and it made me miss the smell of the sea. There's a quietness about this book- perhaps because there isn't a lot of action, and the drama is of a normal, familial nature. We experience Eamon's triumphs and heartaches with him and watch him grow, or fail, as we would a person with whom we are in close proximity. I appreciated reading it and felt like I knew Eamon when I was done.

Food: a thick slice of brown bread, spread with unsalted Irish butter. Simple, good, satisfying.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:02 am

414. Falling Man

Keith was in the towers when the first plane hit. He got out and showed up at his estranged wife's home, covered in ash and dust and carrying someone's briefcase. Lianne is shocked to see him, and gets him medical attention, and he moves back in. But that's just one of the storylines in this 9/11 tale. We also meet Florence, another survivor, Nina and her lover Martin, and one of the terrorists who was on one of the planes.

Reading about 9/11 still isn't easy. I don't know that it will ever be. This novel didn't over dramatize, moralize, or take sides. It simply observed, from different sides, the reasons, the fallout, and the human experience of how Americans' lives changed that day. While the subject matter was provocative, it was one of the easier DeLillo's to read, in my experience.

Food: a dark beer, just one, on a rainy afternoon in a smoky bar, in solitude and silence. A little heady, a little bitter, and full of contemplation.

Ago 1, 2019, 3:27 pm

>204 amaryann21:
>205 amaryann21:
Beautiful descriptions for both. Makes me want to read them.

Ago 2, 2019, 9:18 am

>206 gypsysmom: I didn't know what to expect from either and was very pleased. Bonus- I read each in a day.

Ago 8, 2019, 5:42 pm

>202 amaryann21:, >203 amaryann21:, >205 amaryann21: Echoing gypsymom - I want to read these three soon!

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:03 am

415. World's End

From the mid-17th century to the mid-18th, this epic chronicles the Van Wart and Van Brunt families, as well as the last of the Kitchawank tribe, in the Hudson Valley region. Bound to interact for three centuries, can Walter and Jeremy, last of their line, outrun their fates?

Dense with history, this novel was a feast of words and characters. There are lists in the front of the book to orient the reader, if needed- it's one of THOSE books. But the writing drew me in and I felt the weight of history for the region, the conflict between the first nations and colonists, the shifting politics and the implications for all who lived there. It's an investment of time, but worth the read.

Food: venison stew. A hearty meal, some times a little tough to chew, but it'll stick to your ribs.

Ago 11, 2019, 5:15 pm

>208 LisaMorr: Glad to inspire!

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:03 am

416. House of Leaves

Is there a way to synposize this book without spoilers? I'm not sure there is, and because the rollercoaster starts from page one, I shall refrain from trying. Suffice it to say, there are multiple stories going on here, lots of academic-style discussion, poetry, epistolary writing, and confusion. LOTS of confusion. And the writing doesn't follow any conventional rules, including which direction it is on the page.

And that's all part of it. This book is a challenge, no doubt about it. But if you're willing to invest your attention, it's worth it. I feel like I could read it 10 more times, and I would probably still feel like I've missed a whole lot. When you notice the little detail that's meaningful, it's like being in on the joke, knowing the secret handshake, and cracking the code. One review I read said reading this book is like becoming a player in the game and that's exactly it. Some won't want to play, and that's alright. But this... was FUN.

Food: smoked foam. Full of flavor, but it disappears as soon as it hits your tongue, leaving only the taste behind, a ghost of a meal.

Ago 15, 2019, 12:11 am

>211 amaryann21:
"smoked foam" hmmm

I guess when I retire and have time to think about all of this, I'll add it to my list. In the meantime, thanks for taking one for the (my) team

Ago 16, 2019, 11:14 am

>212 Nickelini: It's definitely one you need time and (mental) space for. But worth it.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:03 am

417. The Driver's Seat

Lise is a woman about whom we know very, very little. Of an unspecified age (between 28 and 34), denying English or American citizenship but never identifying where she is from, giving different backstories to everyone she meets, Lise is a bit of an enigma and states to be searching for her boyfriend, though she doesn't know who he is. The reader knows what's coming- Spark doesn't hide it. But the how of getting there is what holds our attention.

Just over 100 pages, this little slip of a book is fast and doesn't waste anyone's time. It does leave me with a little bit of whiplash- what the heck just happened and why?? Maybe that's the point.

Food: horseradish. Fiery, intense, a flash of heat when you aren't necessarily expecting it.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:03 am

418. Conversation in Sicily

A son visits his mother after fifteen years, upon receipt of a letter from his father that he's left her. What follows is confusing and not quite a story, but according to glowing reviews, it's a brilliant commentary on the war and quite artistic. I'll take their word for it, because it all went over my head. Thankfully, the book is short.

Food: sardines in oil. Slippery, and an acquired taste.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:04 am

419. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

You know the story- Quasimodo, the deformed hunchback bellringer of Notre Dame, falls in love with Esmeralda, the gypsy girl. But there's a lot more to the story, and it's worth the trip to 15th century Paris to learn.

Hugo is prone to philosophizing and history lessons, and this book is no different. He does get back to the story without too much wandering and I learned a few things along the way. Like Hugo proposes that architecture was the written history of mankind before the printing press and the ability to print books en masse killed architecture. Gave me some food for thought! I do think having been to Paris and to Notre Dame specifically helped when Hugo gave the layout of the city and the cathedral, which is a bit dry. I'm sure some of the history and politics of the time went right over my head and I'm not invested enough to delve into it.

Food: I had a ham and butter baguette in Paris that was simple, hearty, satisfying, and took a bit of chewing. Some might pass it up, but it hit the spot.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:04 am

420. Blood and Guts in High School

Janey is the main character in this mercifully short novel. When we meet her, she's 10 and her father's girlfriend. So, from the jump, this isn't a pleasurable read.

Described in various reviews I read, this book is described as metafiction, surrealist and post-punk feminist. I suppose I get the rage against the patriarchy/capitalism/the man vibe, but the collage of weird that makes up the rest of the book is not easy. There's a lot of sex, discussion of wanting it, my copy had drawings of genitalia, and all from a 10-13 year-old... uncomfortable to say the least, and I get that was the point.

Food: when you overcook the steak you made for dinner, and it turns all chewy and rubbery, but you paid for it, so you're going to eat, but it is NOT what you really wanted at all. You choke it down and hope you didn't burn the potato.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:04 am

421. The Scarlet Letter

It's another story we all know- Hester has a child out of wedlock but won't tell anyone who the father is, and has to wear the A of adultery in her Puritan town. I'm not sure how I've gotten this far without reading this classic, but it was an easier read than I expected. Hawthorne distanced himself from the moral judgement of the story, using the trope that he discovered the account of Hester and Pearl while working in a customhouse. I found that interesting.

Food: a turkey sandwich with not quite enough mayo. Good, but a little dry in spots.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:04 am

422. The Breast

A man turns into a breast. That's the story.

Food: the first time you eat a circus peanut. Is it a marshmallow? Is it taffy? What is the flavor supposed to be? Weird, not entirely unpleasant... or is it?

Set 14, 2019, 11:33 am

>219 amaryann21: I had to look up what a circus peanut is. Ewww ...

Set 15, 2019, 3:18 am

>220 haydninvienna: Until I saw your comment, I would have just assumed they were peanuts you ate at the circus - like movie popcorn! So I looked it up too - they sound pretty gross.
And that book sounds weird! I am now intrigued to read it to see exactly how this story is told.

Set 15, 2019, 3:22 am

>220 haydninvienna: Until I read your comment, I just assumed they were peanuts you ate at the circus, like movie popcorn. So I had to look it up too - they sound pretty gross.

And now I am intrigued to read this book, to see exactly how this story is told! I saw it was Phillip Roth, so it is making a bit more sense now!

Editado: Set 15, 2019, 8:44 pm

>220 haydninvienna: >221 JayneCM: I thought circus peanuts might be a lesser known food item... and probably just American. They ARE gross.

Set 18, 2019, 11:44 am

You can eat a few circus peanuts and think 'hunh, not bad' but if you continue to eat more, you start to feel really, really gross. They don't have a lot of flavour but the texture is just plain odd. Exactly like the novella :)

Set 18, 2019, 1:03 pm

>224 Yells: I'm so happy you understand!! Thank you!

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:05 am

423. Platform

Michel only really connects with others through sex. After his father dies, he goes on vacation to Thailand and isn't necessarily discrete about why he's there. But on the vacation, he meets Valerie, who works for the tour company, and they fall in love. Michel is constantly surprised by her love for him and that he can love her. There's a bunch of economic theory, sociology and philosophy mixed in with the story.

I wasn't always sure what Houellebecq's point was, or if there was one. Is this commentary on how people don't love each other, or how jaded we are about sex, or about Islam, France's politics, West vs. East? All of the above? And the descriptions of the sex weren't titillating, they just were descriptive and repetitive. And plentiful. I don't think they added anything.

Food: a fake Funfetti cupcake. It's all colorful and you get excited because, duh, FUNFETTI, but then you take a bite or two and there's not a lot of flavor. It's easy to eat because it's a cupcake, not dinner, but you're left with questions about why it wasn't what it should've been.

Editado: Out 29, 2019, 8:44 am

>224 Yells: The exact perfect definition of a circus peanut! And weirdly enough, I kind of want to eat one or two right now, but not like, six...

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:05 am

424. Dead Souls

Chichikov is a schemer, and his current scheme is to buy the dead serfs that are still on the tax roles of other landowners. He is charming, beguiling, and has aspirations to be rich.

I struggled to make sense of this book. It was more a treatise of what does and does not make a Russian man than a coherent story. And the reader receives the message over and over that Russia is clearly the best nation to be from. There were a few bits that were entertaining, but overall, Gogol didn't think much of women and his agenda was pretty thinly veiled.

Food: prunes. Chewy, taking some work to get through, and you only eat them because someone said they're good for you.

Nov 18, 2019, 10:26 am

>228 amaryann21: Hey, I like prunes! Dead Souls will resonate with anyone who has been involved with sorting out the mess that the "finance industry" has made of things over the last 20 years or so. It's a long time since I read the book, but what I can remember of Chichikov's little game isn't all that far from dodgy mortgages.

Nov 18, 2019, 7:05 pm

>229 haydninvienna: Ha ha ha! This is why my food reviews are as subjective as the book reviews they're related to- we all have different tastes! It definitely is full of shenanigans and I have so little patience for that in real life, so it bored me to read over and over.

Editado: Nov 28, 2019, 12:05 am

425. Trainspotting

I didn't think reading about addicts and hooligans in dialect would be appealing. To be honest, I'm still not really sure why it was. But this book pulled me in, and I felt for the characters, really felt for them.

I'm not sure the group was really friends with one another- they probably aren't sure, either- but they used together, drank together, slept with one another, attended the funerals of some with each other, and maybe, understood each other like no one else could. But friends? Maybe a few. I don't know if I've read a more honest account of being addicted and directionless in fiction. The chase for the next high, knowing that it'll never end, or if it does, it'll likely be THE end... no delusion about the addiction, seeing what it does to your family, just heartbreaking, but at the same time, not written to get sympathy. About 2/3 of the way through, I felt the despair of being stuck in the cycle and I just wanted something to change for one of them.

Food: a greasy newspaper cone of chips (the British kind) with malt vinegar. Hot, salty, sharp, stinging, and full of oil, not good for you but they compel you to finish them all.

Nov 28, 2019, 9:31 pm

>231 amaryann21:

I think the dialect in that one scares me away. Also, addicts are generally super boring people. It seems like they'd get themselves into all sorts of interesting situations, but really, they're just doing the same old crap over and over. So I haven't picked it up.

I did see the film when it first came out and liked it, although it was disturbing.

Dez 3, 2019, 9:07 pm

426. The Path to the Nest of Spiders

Pin is just a child, but the children don't want him as part of their world, and when he tries to hang out with the adults, he's only allowed so long as he's entertaining them. No one takes him seriously and he just wants a place in the world. When he steals the German's pistol, he thinks this is his ticket. He falls in with Red Wolf, one of the legendary partisans, and finally feels part of the war, part of the adult world. But is it really where he wants to be?

This is Calvino's first novel, and perhaps that's why it feels so different from the other Calvinos I've read. I kept waiting for... something. I tried reading the preface after I finished the novel, but it rambled so much that I quickly gave up.

Food: weak lemonade. It's just not tart or sweet enough, and you stir it hoping the flavor will intensify, but it just doesn't satisfy.

Dez 26, 2019, 10:46 pm

427. Kokoro

Told in first person narrative, the reader follows a student as he befriends a man he calls Sensei, who visits a cemetery every month, who spends his days without a formal job, whose wife is melancholy and seems to blame herself for the strain in their relationship. The student goes home to his village as his father may be dying, and gets a mysterious letter from Sensei, which reveals everything.

The exploration of emotion, feelings of loneliness, guilt, purpose, familial obligation, connection and love are the focus of the story. "Kokoro" translates to "the heart of the matter", according to the translator of my edition. The story felt a little slow at times, but in the end, there was true depth of emotion.

Food: the last slice of bread topped with the last bit of cheese and mayo, in your apartment when you haven't had anyone visit in quite some time, and the loneliness is crushing.

Jan 1, 2020, 12:58 pm

428. Junky

This is Burroughs own recollections of being an addict, mainly to heroin, but he also used other substances. He has some strong opinions about addiction. He purports that one does not become addicted with one hit or injection, but that it takes months. This is directly in contradiction with what some experts say today, but that was 1953 and I don't know how things have changed.

Perhaps it's because I read Trainspotting not long ago, but reading about a person's experience of addiction is kind of boring. Burroughs says it, the characters in Trainspotting said it- it's all about finding your next dose and avoiding being sick. And then getting sober means the world around you becomes flat and colorless. Fortunately, this book is short.

Food: dry cornflakes. You just gotta chew them up until it's over.

Jan 1, 2020, 2:37 pm

>235 amaryann21: but reading about a person's experience of addiction is kind of boring

I came to that same conclusion a while ago -- addicts are actually boring, selfish people. It's more interesting to hear the stories of the people who love them.

Editado: Jan 1, 2020, 5:40 pm

>236 Nickelini: There is such despair of living in the addict's story- nothing matters but the drug. It's hard to read.

Jan 1, 2020, 5:42 pm

429. The Gaucho Martin Fierro

This is a poem of protest, written in the later 1800's, as the voice of the poor and common people against the rich and the Argentinian government. The gaucho was a rancher who traveled with his herd, cows or horses, and lived by his own code. In the poem, Martin is conscripted into military service because he is arrested at a party, and as a result, loses his home, his wife and children, and his herd.

I found the poem easy to read and the translation I had conveyed a lot of emotion. It does call to mind many populations who have been oppressed and overlooked throughout time and cultures.

Food: a piece of tender beef jerky, flavorful and sustaining. The required chewing isn't too much, and while simple, it's a decent snack that sticks with you.

Jan 9, 2020, 10:52 pm

430. The Name of the Rose

William of Baskerville, a Franciscan friar, and Adso, a Benedictine novice serving as a secretary for William, arrive at the Benedictine abbey in the Italian Alps just after a monk has died. Murder? Suicide? It's not clear, and he's only the first to die.

This is a great mystery with lots of philosophy, theology and history thrown into the mix. That might not sound like fun, but it actually is, because Eco was poking at the Church, not trying to make things too serious. William is a great character- Sherlockian, but very monkish at the same time. The mini series in which he was played by John Turturro kept coming to mind (unfortunately, I saw it before reading the book) and the tone of the character was well done in Turturro's performance. I very much enjoyed the word play and mystery- gripping to the end. I've also never read a book set in this time or place, so that was a pleasant experience.

Food: rich, dense, dark chocolate cake. There's a lot to savor and the flavor is complex, calling on the consumer to really taste each bite.

Fev 1, 2020, 8:15 pm

431. The Virgin Suicides

The Lisbon girls, all five of them, completed suicide. Not all at once, but this is known from the beginning of the book. The story is narrated by the now grown neighborhood boys, who observed the Lisbon quintet for all of their brief lives, and were fascinated by them. It's an adolescent love letter to the mysterious females who captivated their attention and have haunted them ever since.

Considering the subject matter, there is a dreamy quality about this book that I didn't expect. While acknowledging the tragic, the book does romanticize a bit, but it felt very true to adolescent mentality. The correlation between the time period in which the book is written and the events that transpired is interesting.

Food: creamy tomato soup. Slightly acidic, coating the tongue, warm and oddly inviting despite the color.

Fev 2, 2020, 2:00 pm

>240 amaryann21:

I'm confused as to what Lisbon refers to. Is it a surname? They're sisters? I've only ever heard this word used for a city in Portugal, but your description suggests that's not it.

Fev 2, 2020, 10:11 pm

>241 Nickelini: surname:
Cecilia Lisbon, Lux Lisbon, Mary Lisbon, Therese Lisbon, Bonnie Lisbon

Editado: Fev 3, 2020, 9:53 am

>242 ELiz_M: Thank you! :)
>241 Nickelini: It didn't even occur to me in writing it that it was a city, ha!

Mar 5, 2020, 8:19 pm

432. Treasure Island

The classic pirate tale! I finally checked this one off my list. Impressions: I don't know why this kid is braver and smarter than all the adults, pirates really ARE the most superstitious of all, and who's going to take care of the parrot when Long John Silver dies?

Food: popcorn. Not a lot of substance, really, but a great snack.

Abr 4, 2020, 9:53 pm

433. Anna Karenina

This is a Russian epic, and not to be entered into lightly. My copy was 868 pages and there's a LOT of farming. But the story is more than just Anna, it's Kitty and Levin and Stiva and Dolly and Vronsky as well. And farming. And politics.

I don't know as much about Russian history as I should to fully appreciate this novel, I think. But I can appreciate the reflection of the changing times that it shows. It wasn't a difficult book to read, but it takes a lot of time.

Food: Sunday dinner with the aunts and uncles when you're a kid. Lots of politics, talk about work, you have to eat your vegetables and wear nice clothes and you won't be excused from the table just because you finished your dinner. But there might be cake if you use your manners.

Abr 5, 2020, 3:12 am

I read Anna Karenina in 2007 when my mom was dying. It was the perfect book to get lost in during all those hospital and commuting hours (I read it on paper, and listened to it while I drove 40 min each way back and forth to the hospital). My mother's father was a farmer in Russia, and his father had been a wealthy farmer before the Russian Revolution, so I enjoyed the farming parts. But I know most readers don't. Your food description is spot on perfect (as it often is -- you have such a knack for this)

Abr 5, 2020, 10:47 am

>246 Nickelini: I know a lot of people really enjoyed the book as a whole, and I'm sure the current climate made it more difficult for me to really fall all the way in. It sounds like you personally connected to the story, which always makes it better. And thank you!

Editado: Abr 16, 2020, 11:55 am

434. Madame Bovary

Emma is Charles' second wife, after he's widowed. She spent most of her childhood in a convent, her only experience of male/female relationships the stories she read in smuggled novels. When her marriage isn't quite the romance she expected, she searches out excitement elsewhere. Poor Charles isn't very smart, but maybe that's for the best?

Perhaps reading this on the heels of Anna Karenina wasn't the best idea, but I finished this much, much faster. Less farming. I enjoy Flaubert's writing style and pace. And I think I need a new plotline for the next book!

Food: cheese and crackers. A substantial snack that still requires a bit of chewing.

Abr 16, 2020, 11:55 am

435. Flaubert's Parrot

Geoffrey Braithwaite is a retired doctor and fascinated with Gustave Flaubert. He travels to Rouen and Croisset and other sites from Flaubert's life, delighting in the smallest details. He finds two different stuffed parrots, both claiming to be "the" parrot that inspired Loulou, the parrot in one of Flaubert's novels. Parrots feature frequently in Flaubert's life and works, and there is speculation about the significance and symbolism. Overall, we learn a lot about Flaubert, and quite a bit about Braithwaite.

I really enjoy Barnes' writing and sense of humor. I read Madame Bovary immediately before this book and am glad I read them in succession. This novel wouldn't have made an impression in the same way without Bovary, and now I want to read more Flaubert.

Food: a plate of appetizers and crudite at a reception. Small bites of various flavors and textures, all consumed while discussing the reason for the gathering.

Editado: Maio 1, 2020, 1:04 pm

436. Cost

Julia and Wendell are divorced, but Julia got to keep the house on the cove in Maine. Jack and Steve, her grown sons, and Edward and Katherine, her parents, are frequent visitors. She also does a lot of her painting there, when she doesn't have to teach in NYC. Jack has always had... problems. In school, in society, in life. Marijuana was one of them, alcohol sometimes, but now, if Steve's suspicions are correct, it's heroin. And that is terrifying.

Robinson's use of language is beautiful and deeply engaging. Her exploration of family dynamics is intense, but real and very human. There's no judgement or agenda, just a mirror on each member of this dysfunction. The jagged edges of a family torn asunder by addiction was treated with respect, not tied in a neat little package.

Food: a dry red wine in a warm bubble bath. I sunk right into this story because of the skillful use of language, and even when the subject matter wasn't easy, I felt the embrace of Robinson's words

Maio 1, 2020, 10:07 pm

437. Queer

The next chapter in Lee's story, Queer starts in Mexico City, where Lee is not quite as addicted as in Junky, but not entirely sober, either. He's looking for love, or at least companionship, and really wants Allerton to be the answer. There's a great forward in my edition by Burroughs and where this story paralleled his own life, just as in Junky.

This was a very quick read. Lee's "routines" are quite funny and I could picture a guy in a bar just riffing these stories, to the delight (and annoyance?) of the surrounding patrons.

Food: one bite of ceviche. Cold, sour, strong, and not to everyone's palate.

Maio 5, 2020, 12:36 pm

438. A Maggot

A maggot is not just an insect larva. Fowles tells us in his prologue it is also an old word for a "whim or a quirk". In this tale of travelers and the mystery that follows, we find references to both kinds of maggot.

I am a Fowles fan. This is the 4th book of his I've read, and I very much enjoy him. There isn't a lot of prose and narrative to be found here, much of the book being transcription of interrogation and epistles from a lawyer to his employer. I did not know the author's aim until I read the epilogue and it made everything make a little more sense. I enjoy the style of letting the story unfold a piece at a time, while being confusing and mysterious.

Food: a fantastical dessert, with multiple textures and complementary flavors. It needs to be savored and experienced.

Maio 8, 2020, 2:27 pm

439. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

A new tenant has come to the crumbling Wildfell Hall, a widow and her young son. Our narrator for the first part of the book, Gilbert, falls in love with young Helen, only to learn of her troubled past. The second section is told by Helen herself, in her recollections of her marriage. Will there be a happy ending?

I listened to this as an audiobook and was pleased that I could speed the recording up a little bit. There's a LOT of moralizing, as may be expected for the time, and I get a little frustrated with books of this era and how long people go on thinking the other is indifferent or disinterested because of pride, and how long it takes to correct the miscommunication. Perhaps I really don't understand the "stiff upper lip" culture at all. This seemed a tale against marrying for status or money and against alcohol and carousing.

Food: salad with too little dressing and mostly lettuce. "Good" for you, but so much of it...

Maio 9, 2020, 4:42 pm

>253 amaryann21:

That's perfect. One day I want to rewrite it from the alcoholic husband's point of view -- I think living with Helen could have driven many to drink

Maio 12, 2020, 10:18 pm

>254 Nickelini: That made me laugh out loud! I agree!! Which makes me wonder about Anne Bronte... She may not have been a peach, either!

Maio 20, 2020, 8:14 pm

440. The Wasp Factory

Frank grew up on the island with his dad. There have been other children there at various times, and his mother exists, somewhere. Officially, legally, Frank doesn't exist. His former hippy father never got him a birth certificate. Frank has his routines, his hobbies... and they're a little disturbing. Maybe a lot disturbing.

I enjoy Banks' writng style and this is certainly a very different tale from what I've read before. There were some parts of this story that made me cringe, but the suspense built to a fantastic payoff.

Food: a rare roast beef sandwich on dark pumpernickel bread with lots of horseradish. Strong flavors, a little bloody, not for the diner looking for a light snack.

Editado: Maio 20, 2020, 11:14 pm

441. Agnes Grey

Agnes is the second daughter of the parson, in a poor but happy family. In order to try to contribute to the family income, she becomes a governess and finds it more of a task than she expected. There's lots of moralizing- you can't actually be happy in life unless you're living according to God's ways.

Thankfully, this one was short. There were still too many words and it's the same story as so many of this age.

Food: stale crumpets without marmalade during a visit to your spinster great aunt. Tales of how she could've had as many conquests as the town beauty abound, but she held herself to a higher standard

Maio 21, 2020, 4:02 am

I agree with >246 Nickelini:. I love the food comparisons on your thread.

I for one loved the farming bits the best as I really thought it showed the plight of people who are actually trying to do good and make actual changes for the better but are being revoked for their wealth.

Maio 22, 2020, 1:06 pm

>258 lilisin: Thank you! I really think my ignorance of Russian political and social history contributed to my frustration with it, particularly as it contrasts to Europe- France and England being referenced specifically in the book.

Maio 22, 2020, 8:59 pm

>257 amaryann21: Food: stale crumpets without marmalade during a visit to your spinster great aunt.

LOL. That's awesome. I've had Agnes Gray years and no desire to read it. I guess when I'm in the mood for a stuffy boring afternoon waiting for the adults to stop talking.

Maio 24, 2020, 8:12 pm

>260 Nickelini: The mercy of it is that it's not that long!

Maio 24, 2020, 8:12 pm

442. The Human Stain

Coleman Silk has been accused of making a racist remark about two of his students. This seems preposterous, and he claims it is, and look at his long legacy at the college! This, however, starts a downward spiral of events during which Coleman appears at Zuckerman's door (our narrator) demanding he write Coleman's story.

There's a lot going on in this book, as is usual with Roth. Lots of prose, that sometimes bog things down a little, but also some great surprises. The reader gets to know some of the characters a bit more in depth in this novel, something I appreciate, though I'm not sure how well it fits with the premise that Zuckerman is writing it.

Food: a giant plate of penne alla vodka. Rich, flavorful, and maybe a bit much sometimes, requiring a break before going on for more.

Maio 25, 2020, 3:40 am

>442 amaryann21: Penne alla vodka. Hadn't heard of it before but sounds like ideal lockdown food!

Maio 31, 2020, 11:06 pm

>263 puckers: It's SO good... but I can only handle small portions!

Jun 11, 2020, 4:37 pm

443. Half of a Yellow Sun

Biafra was the dream, to be independent from Nigeria. The war for independence in 1969-70 was intense, bloody and tribal. This novel follows Olanna and Kainene, twin sisters, in their experiences and roles leading up to and through the war.

Adichie's writing is easy, even when covering difficult topics. She allows the picture to stand before the reader's eyes in all its colors, smells, and emotions, forcing the reader to take it in without politics or preaching, just a mirror of events and prejudices that have stood for centuries. Reading this book right now was intentional, and it gave me much food for thought.

Food: chicken ginger soup when you have the flu. Hearty and almost medicinal, it's what you need for what ails you.

Jun 30, 2020, 11:49 am

444. A Boy's Own Story

This is the first in the autobiographical trilogy of novels White wrote about growing up and finding himself as a homosexual man. This focuses on his boyhood, though high school, starting in the 1950's.

White's writing is lyrical and the descriptions are beautiful, poetic without being too flowery, sensual without being too self-indulgent. The boy in the story reveals his conflicts about his feelings, ultimately saying he wants to love men but also be heterosexual, an impossible dilemma. There is real beauty in this novel.

Food: pickled carrot mousse with carrot cake crumb. I had this on a tasting menu and it was delicious and unexpected and silky smooth. The flavors were familiar, but the combination entirely new.

Editado: Jul 1, 2020, 11:45 pm

445. Epitaph of a Small Winner (also titled The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubras)

Bras Cubas is dead. Incredibly, he is writing his memoirs after his death, offering a unique perspective on his life, as he notes more than once.

Interesting, clever and funny in spots, very philosophical in others, and there were some phrases that gave me pause, inspiring deeper thoughts. I haven't read much Brazilian literature, and this being an older book (published in Brazil in 1880), it didn't feel the same as European literature of the same era. That's refreshing.

Food: wine, cheese and fruit, in nibbles. Several different complementary flavors, taken a bit at a time, to create a whole meal.

Jul 2, 2020, 11:30 am

446. The Year of the Hare

Vatanen, a journalist, hits a hare with his car and goes out into the woods to find it. This event results in a decision to abandon his life entirely and find a new one.

Reading this book was... different. I don't know anything about Finnish culture, and I'm very curious now to know what this books reflects of it. It's a very quick book to read and enjoyable, but it definitely left me a little puzzled.

Food: salmiakki, a Finnish salted black licorice candy. Different, intriguing, and perhaps not to everyone's taste.

Jul 4, 2020, 3:33 pm

447. Tarzan of the Apes

We all know the story. An English lord and his wife have a child in the jungle, they die and it's raised by apes. Later, Jane and her father come to the jungle and Tarzan falls in love. But did you also know he taught himself English (to read and write, but not to speak) and he has super-human strength?

I'm sure these novels were very popular at the time of their release (1912 for this one) and by the amount of Tarzan movies that are out there, the story is beloved. It feels dated and stereotypical and not even that exciting. At least it's not very long.

Food: Necco wafers. We all know someone (probably old) who loves this candy, and when you try one, you just don't know why. They're chalky and none of the flavors are very strong, and even the wrapper is weird- who still uses waxed paper? But the nostalgia is STRONG.

Editado: Jul 13, 2020, 4:46 pm

448. A Woman's Life

Jeanne is the only child of the Baron and Baroness, and we meet her as she's getting out of the convent, where she was schooled. She is FULL of romantic ideals and hopes, and her parents are very indulgent. Life, however, does not live up to those ideals and hopes and Jeanne does a lot of weeping and moaning.

Maupassant was a student of Flaubert, and I can see the influence. While I like the realism style- less prone to long passages of philosophy and such- they're SO melancholy. I got a little tired of Jeanne and her head-in-the-clouds approach. I despise fits of fainting. I don't know why that was ever a thing. And if this is what Maupassant thought ALL women's lives were like, I am sorry for his experiences.

Food: slightly unripe strawberries. They look beautiful and red and some bites are sweet, but several are bitter and hard.

Jul 13, 2020, 4:45 pm

449. The Lambs of London

Charles and Mary Lamb and William Ireland were real people, and all loved Shakespeare. The events in this historical novel are true, and so very intriguing. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of London and the dynamics between the characters, and I wonder if Ackroyd's biographies are written in the same style.

Food: tea and digestives with good company. A short visit, but memorable because of the company and it'll get you through until supper.

Jul 13, 2020, 6:57 pm

450. Sentimental Education

Frederic meets Madame Arnoux on a ship and falls in love, no matter that she's married. He has affairs and engagements in the years that follow, though always pursuing Mme Arnoux. There are a lot of money making schemes, moves to promote his societal standing, and the French Revolution is in there somewhere, too.

Henry James thought this book was dreary. I don't know that James and I see things the same way most of the time, but I might agree with him on this one. There's so much of the same activities, over and over, and they seem to mean so little. I don't think marriage meant anything other than, for some, a political move, like royal marriages or treaties between nations. It was a different time, I know, but ugh... for the amount of love and passion that's discussed, it didn't exist in this novel.

Food: oatmeal. Bland, lumpy, and you just need to get through it and on to the next meal.

Jul 14, 2020, 12:45 pm

This is one of my favourites too. However, the middle passage, with the not proper English was literally barely legible to me. In my head, I just imagine it not being there. Then the book is all the things you said it was.

Jul 15, 2020, 9:45 am

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

Jul 22, 2020, 9:34 pm

451. The Power and the Glory

Mexico is in the midst of revolution, or revolutions. The Red Shirts are in power and the Catholic church is now being eradicated. This is the setting in which we meet the nameless "whiskey priest", who is just trying to get out with his life, but he keeps being asked to perform his priestly duties by the underground faithful. In this process, he examines his life, his beliefs, and his own sinfulness.

As a Catholic, it was a very interesting and though-provoking novel. The role of priest has both changed dramatically and not at all in history, and much of that was reflected here. When it was published, it was not received well by the Vatican, of course, but I think there's a real lesson on humility and humanity, on what it means to have a vocation, and I think Greene represented not only a specific time and circumstance very well, but brought the question of faith and what one is willing to do for that faith to the forefront.

Food: peated scotch. Complex, smoky, harsh, not easily forgotten.

Ago 5, 2020, 4:20 pm

452. A Sentimental Journey

Yorick is traveling in France. He writes his travels with sentiment. He falls for various women and hires a valet. The story ends before he gets to Italy, as Sterne didn't have a chance to finish it.

Mercifully short, this book wasn't fun to read. Given to flights of fancy, it's not always easy to follow. The travel book was popular in this era, and Sterne's "sentimental" spin was difficult to grasp.

Food: a slightly stale Chelsea bun, eaten as you walk down a busy street. A little dry, some bites contain the sweet surprise of a raisin, and along the way, you hear snippets of the life going on around you.

Perhaps I've been watching too much Great British Baking Show.

Ago 18, 2020, 10:44 pm

453. Justine

My only reason for reading this book is its inclusion on the Boxall list. I'm not sure it was worth it. Justine meets with every vile, sadistic creature that could exist, and clings to virtue, mentally if not physically. This happens over and over and over and over.

The Marquis is a libertine, and this is his philosophy in novel form. Virtue is stupid and will not be rewarded, so what's the point? Following one's basest nature, that of hedonism, is how humans are made and if someone calls that "evil", it's only because of religion and law, which are trying to control us. Pursuing pleasure at all costs is what we are meant for, and will not be punished. Reading this book is just tiring and wholly unpleasant, downright disgusting and disturbing most of the time.

I can't think of a food that I would actually eat that would be the equivalent of this book. And that's saying a lot.

Ago 19, 2020, 2:05 am

>227 LisaMorr:

Wow. No food reference? First time ever?

Ago 19, 2020, 10:07 am

>278 Nickelini: I thought about it for awhile. I couldn't think of something actually edible that would disgust me as much as the book did.

Ago 19, 2020, 10:13 am

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

Ago 19, 2020, 2:50 pm

Balut? Maggot cheese? Surstromming? I'm not sure I can think of something nasty enough to describe anything by de Sade.

Editado: Ago 19, 2020, 7:08 pm

>281 Yells:
Those are all some truly disgusting suggestions. If we want to stay French though, I suggest authentic andouille sausage. Now, I've had andouille sausage in North America and it was NOTHING like the andouille I had in Brittany many years ago. This was ugly, and when I cut into it, it made a nasty sound and gunk oozed out of it, and it smelled vile. There was no way I could eat it. I think tears welled up in my eyes. I was so disappointed and horrified. That was the end of my "I'm going to try all the local delicacies" phase of travel.

Ago 19, 2020, 9:41 pm

>282 Nickelini: Kind of makes you wonder, in a country known around the world for it's amazing cuisine, how does something like this make the cut?

Ago 19, 2020, 10:00 pm

>283 Yells:
That is an excellent question

Ago 20, 2020, 12:30 am

>281 Yells: You feel my struggle. I had to Google surstromming- that sounds decidedly unpleasant. But someone actually LIKES those things, yes? And I don't know if I want to meet the person who actually likes de Sade. The one 5 star review I read here on LibraryThing was from someone who completely missed the point and thought it was actually upholding virtue.

>282 Nickelini: That sounds horrible. I love andouille in Lousiana... but that... ew.

Ago 20, 2020, 12:31 am

454. Blood Meridian

I've never been into westerns. Cowboy "heroes" and Indian "villains", a super tired trope that never made sense to me. But this isn't that. The kid, whom we follow throughout the book, meets up with Glanton (an actual historic figure, who had a gang for hire) and his band who are scalpers on contract for towns in Mexico, hunting Apaches and Comanches and sometimes killing indiscriminately, among other things. One of the gang is the judge (also based on a real person), a huge, hairless, intellectual possessed of esoteric and varied knowledge and capable of all kinds of cruelty.

Listen, there is nothing pleasant about this book. This is no John Wayne western. But it might actually reflect some of the reality of the wild west that's been so romanticized. And McCarthy's portrayal of the landscape is STUNNING. The description of the desert, the mountains, the canyons makes me want to go there immediately. Minus the bloodshed.

Food: blood sausage. You know what it is you're eating, and so there's a level of squeamishness, but it's balanced by a flavor that is delicious, to some.

Ago 22, 2020, 3:37 pm

455. At the Mountains of Madness

A team goes to Antarctic to explore and stumbles upon an ancient race. Chaos and horror ensue.

I think I might have expected a little more out of Lovecraft. Sure, his descriptions of creatures is pretty extensive, but everything was "grotesque" and "decadent" and I felt like he needed to make better use of a thesaurus. Perhaps at the time (1930s), suggestion rather than outright description could produce more of a horror reaction in his audience, but I felt like he didn't go quite far enough, whereas other parts of the book could have been scaled back a bit.

Food: a chicken salad sandwich with too little mayonnaise. It's fine, but could use a little more seasoning and moisture to make it really good.

Set 3, 2020, 12:08 pm

456. Pnin

Pnin is a college professor, a Russian emigre in America. He doesn't have many friends. His wife left him for another man, and then approaches him for help with her son instead of asking the child's father. Pnin goes from one temporary living situation to another.

Pnin feels pathetic. Despite his physical description of being powerfully built, I couldn't help picturing him as a small, thin, weak character. Nabokov's descriptions are lengthy and instead of feeling rich and pulling me into the story, I literally kept falling asleep while reading.

Food: Melba toast. Bland, dry, takes more effort to chew than they're wort

Editado: Set 15, 2020, 5:53 pm

457. Justine

Justine is Nessim's wife, and the embodiment of Alexandria, according to our narrator. They have an affair, though he is in love with the unfortunate Melissa, and is friends with Nessim as well. Their group of friends is all society people, mostly wealthy or connected.

When the book began, the writing seemed engaging and I found some of the prose really delightful. As the story continued, things got muddier and drawn out and I started falling asleep as I was reading. The narrator does state that he's telling things not as they happened, but as they happened to have significance to him. Perhaps it's a style in time thing, but I feel like I lost a lot of story in the style.

Food: rose'. Good when it's cold and sparkly, but take too long to drink it and it gets warm and starts to fall flat.

Set 15, 2020, 5:56 pm

458. The Shadow-Line

A young man with experience on sailing ships gets bored and takes a commission as a captain. It's a lot harder than he thought, because maybe the former captain is haunting the ship, but also because it's hard.

This apparently has some autobiographical bits for Conrad, and I think it's his version of a coming of age tale. Conrad bores me and at least this one was short.

Food: an overbaked potato with too little butter and no other toppings. Dry and mealy.

Set 27, 2020, 6:02 pm

459. The Quiet American

Pyle and Fowler were some kind of friends, thrown together because of the war in Vietnam, and because Pyle fell in love with Phuong, Fowler's woman. Pyle is American, and the USA is newly involved in the conflict. Fowler is a British reporter, not a military man or a political ambassador. He narrates the story of violence and love, danger and weariness.

It took me far longer to get through this story than I expected. I'm not sure why, perhaps Fowler's perspective of world-weariness may have worn off on me. Maybe a war story isn't what I want to engage in right now. There are complicated layers of emotion in this novel as well, and nothing is quite so straightforward as it seems.

Food: warm, too sour orange juice. Too much acid, not enough sweet.

Out 17, 2020, 5:11 pm

460. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

Is it the devil or schizophrenia? And while we're at it, can a person be predestined to go to Heaven, and therefore none of their actions after they are revealed to be predestined matter?

These are just a couple of the questions I had after reading this novel, and falling asleep nearly every time I'd read a few pages. Save this for a bout of insomnia, or if you're really, REALLY intrigued by James Hogg.

Food: very thin soup, with just a couple pieces of carrot and three grains of salt in the whole pot. Boring, boring, boring.

Out 29, 2020, 11:31 am

461. Season of Migration to the North

Our narrator, never named, returns home to his village in Sudan after completing his education in the UK. Upon his return, he meets a new face in the village, Mustafa Sa'eed. This man also grew up in Sudan, went to London for his education and came back, but other events occurred in Britain as well, things he only reveals to our narrator.

This novel was written as a reflection of postcolonialism on Sudan by Britain and the devastating effects it had. It's seen as a counterpoint to Heart of Darkness, in some ways, and I think it's effective in its aim. The writing is lyrical in spots, and brutal in others. I felt like I was looking into a window on a world I'll never experience, that doesn't exist anymore, but the echoes are still being felt.

Food: cardamom tea. Fragrant, a little spicy, and drunk to stimulate the salivary glands before the meal.

Nov 4, 2020, 9:48 pm

462. 1Q84

I am a Murakami fan. He's not for everyone. And this book is exceedingly hard to describe, like some of his others. Aomame (who, for some reason, is always called by her last name) and Tengo are our main characters and we spend a good portion of the book(s) not knowing why there's a connection between them. Aomame is a sports trainer, Tengo is a teacher and a writer, and both enter a parallel-ish world, where there are two moons, and something else is happening, as we learn bit by bit.

The title is a bit of a pun on 1984, the year the books are set. Apparently, the pronunciation of the number 9 in Japanese is very similar to the pronunciation of the letter Q. I love how Murakami creates an enveloping world that I can immerse myself in easily. There were some repetitive moments, and I was left wondering if that was intentional, a device of some kind, or just filler. Books are a prominent feature in this novel, as they are in some of Murakami's other writing, and I'm a sucker for books about books. It's a weakness of mine.

Food: a progressive French-Japanese fusion meal, growing in complexity of flavor, spanning 3-4 hours. An odyssey of taste, color and aroma, savored and relished as a unique experience.

Dez 29, 2020, 7:56 pm

463. Kristin Lavransdattar

Kristin is the daughter of a well-born gentleman and his wife in Norway in the 1300's. The trilogy follows her life in lots of detail, and it has its moments where it isn't boring, but honestly, I never needed to know this much about Norwegian politics in the Middle Ages. It's also hard to read about women really not having any place but as daughters to be negotiated with as brides, often without their consent, only to be bearers of children, then to be turned out when the next generation takes over. I understand that that was the reality of the time, but it's not entertaining to read about. Nor is it educational, not at this point.

There's a lot of Catholic influence in the book, and use of shame and guilt. Women are expected to be pure and spotless until marriage, but "boys will be boys", and no shame follows them. Perhaps someone else finds a lot of value in the reading of these books, but it seemed like a storyline that's in so many that just isn't the way life is anymore, or should've been then. Kristin does reflect a lot toward the end of the third book, but it's a LONG journey to get there.

Food: a giant pot of vegetable soup. The first couple bowls aren't so bad, but it gets pretty tedious after awhile and you feel the need to not let any go to waste, so you're real happy when it's over.

Dez 30, 2020, 1:51 am

>295 amaryann21:
Thanks for taking one for the team. I'll pass on this. Although I'm interested in some degree about life in 14th century Norway, I'm lookimg more for a 10 page article written in a quality magazine.

Jan 10, 2021, 8:56 pm

>296 Nickelini: You can definitely pass on this one. I think reading the Wikipedia article about it should suffice.

Jan 10, 2021, 8:57 pm

464. The Names

James is a risk analyst and currently stationed in Athens, where his wife (from whom he is separated) and son are living as well. He travels all over the world, as do most of his colleagues in Greece. He learns of a cult from a friend, a cult who kills seemingly randomly, and is obsessed with language. This is the extent of the plot.

DeLillo is a difficult author for me. I feel a disconnect when reading his novels, like I can't quite get all the way in. I find his dialogue strange at times, too. I think this book was easier to get through than some I've read previously, and I did enjoy the focus on language.

Food: cheese pizza. It's decent, but nothing spectacular, and could really benefit from another topping or two to spice it up.

Jan 22, 2021, 11:25 pm

465. Sputnik Sweetheart

K narrates our journey in Japan and in Greece, the tale of his friendship with Sumire. Unrequited love connects them, but their friendship is more important to both than K's feelings that Sumire can't return. She travels to Greece with her employer, Miu, and things take a strange twist.

The more I read Murakami, the more I enjoy him. Surreal is definitely his wheelhouse, but surreal with devastatingly human experiences. Things might be implausible, but he makes them feel as though you've lived them, too. His language in this book is gorgeous. When I finished the book, I had to sit in silence for a few minutes and let it wash over me.

Food: a handful of pomegranate segments. Intense, sweet, a little bitter, a little tart, lingering on the tongue with a firm taste memory after your first experience.

Jan 26, 2021, 9:57 am

466. Pavel's Letters

Pavel is Maron's grandfather, a victim of the Holocaust, though he had renounced his Jewish heritage and joined the Baptist church in his adulthood. This book is an exploration by Maron of her grandparents and parents, their interaction with one another, the rise and fall of the Nazis, and the subsequent rise and fall of communism in Germany. That description is much drier than the book, however.

Maron is a great storyteller, though the disjointedness is a bit jarring. The style, though, feels reflective of her experience of exploring family history. I found her perspective of watching her mother join the communist party and truly believe in its goodness, and later her own rejection of the party, very interesting. It gave me new insight into what an incredible time it would have been to live in Germany, the sense of turbulence and disruption and reaction to all that had happened and how they thought they were doing the right things for themselves and their country.

Food: a foraged meal. Mushrooms, nuts and berries found here and there while wandering through the woods.

Fev 4, 2021, 4:53 pm

467. Manhattan Transfer

The only constant character in this book is the city of New York, and we peer into the lives of many who live within her confines. Spanning a few decades, this book shows us through the Gilded Age into the Jazz Age, through WWI, and staring at the economic depression that looms. The reader looks into windows at snippets of lives, moments of joy, heartache, sorrow, elation, and the rest of the gamut of emotions.

I found snippets of prose in this book to be transcendent, and some of the descriptions stopped me for a minute in their beauty. The book is divided into three sections, and the mood changes as we move into darker times for the city and its residents. The sensation of being in a very specific moment and place in time was palpable, a considerable feat accomplished.

Food: at first, it was like those candied fruit slices- bright, full of strong flavor and sweetness. Then, it became darker and darker chocolate, until it was almost bitter.

Fev 20, 2021, 11:04 pm

468. Gormenghast

This is the second novel in the Gormenghast trilogy, preceded by Titus Groan. In this installment, Titus grows from a boy to a man and wrestles with his impending earldom. Steerpike makes progress on his nefarious plot to gain power. And Irma Prunesquallor wants to get married.

There was more plot than prose in this novel, a refreshing change from Titus Groan. I learned that Peake had originally planned for this to be a whole series, but he died before he could complete more than the first three. He was inspired by Tolkien, but, imo, he's just not as talented. I did feel more engaged with the story this time, though.

Food: an apple in winter, after it's been sitting out for a few weeks. Still flavorful and juicy, but a touch mealy and withered in spots.

Mar 13, 2021, 6:26 pm

469. Memoirs of a Geisha

Written as a memoir, this is a fictionalized account of a woman who goes from peasant child to being sold into an okiya (household of a geisha) to becoming one of the most famous geishas in history. It's written as a first-person account, told to a translator in the USA.

In his acknowledgements, Golden says he met with a well-known geisha from the 1950's and 60's to research his story. It was speculated that he wouldn't get the level of frank honesty that he feels he got, as being a geisha requires a certain level of mystery and secrecy. Even as fiction, this novel is a great window into a world that will never exist again.

Food: cold miso noodles with lime and ginger. Familiar flavors mixed with new tastes, surprising and delicious.

Mar 20, 2021, 12:12 am

470. Rameau's Nephew

This short novel is a conversation between Rameau's nephew and his friend, known simply as "myself". It's philosophical and moral in nature, with music mixed in. Rameau's nephew asserts that he wants all the best things by doing the least amount of actual work, and doesn't feel he's doing anything wrong nor compromising himself to do so. "Myself" takes the opposing view, that material things aren't the pinnacle to be attained, and being a person of moral character and good reputation is more important.

Rameau's Nephew was not published during Diderot's lifetime. He names several politicians, artists, actors, and well-known personages of the time, and it is thought he didn't publish because he didn't want to embarrass them (or himself?). I didn't enjoy reading it, but it's mercifully short.

Food: a raw oyster. I do not enjoy raw oysters, but at least the experience is over quickly.

Mar 25, 2021, 11:38 pm

471. A Handful of Dust

Brenda and Tony had a lively son, an estate in the country, and very few problems. Brenda got bored, and decided to take up with John Beaver. This, obviously, was a bad choice and the events that followed are the moral of the story.

Despite the "it's all the woman's fault" tone, the story read quickly and had some unexpected twists. It kept my interest more than I anticipated.

Food: a mouthful of hot, black coffee. Bitter, strong, not unpleasant, but maybe missing a little sugar.

Mar 28, 2021, 1:23 pm

472. Decline and Fall

Paul Pennyfeather gets caught up in the annual Bollinger club celebration and loses his clothes. This is the kick off for a series of events in Paul's life that involve death, children, amputations, prison, and prostitutes, not necessarily in that order.

The story is absurd, and Paul gets swept along in it. It makes for a fun read, while Waugh is poking fun at English society. Several of the character names were laugh out loud clever.

Food: onion ring mints. Yes, these actually exist, and while I've not tried them, this is the level of absurdity. And I will try one when it runs across my path.

Mar 28, 2021, 4:48 pm

>306 amaryann21: sounds like fun!

Mar 31, 2021, 1:27 pm

>307 elik82: one of the more fun novels on the list!

Editado: Abr 13, 2021, 9:59 am

473. The Big Sleep

This is a Philip Marlowe novel, a classic hard-boiled private detective story. Marlowe is hired by a rich family who is being blackmailed and stumbles into much larger criminal activities. Cigarettes, whiskey, rain, and shadiness.

Chandler writes this genre well, and while the reader knows what to expect, it's still quite enjoyable to read. There are some great twists.

Food: a greasy cheeseburger. Nothing fancy, decidedly low-brow, but it hits the spot every once in awhile.

Abr 27, 2021, 11:41 am

474. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Hercule Poirot may be retired, but when you're the world's preeminent detective, mystery finds you wherever you hide! Roger Ackroyd was murdered, and Mrs. Ferrars was being blackmailed. What's the connection? Poirot knows...

Classic whodunnit, Poirot style. Christie at her best. A slim novel, it's fun to just be along for the ride.

Food: french fries. No effort required, they're gone before you know it!

Abr 29, 2021, 4:05 pm

475. The Razor's Edge

Larry snuck into Canada to fight in WWI, and he came back different, just not interested in the American ideal anymore. When he tells Isabel he wants to go to Paris and loaf, she was on board at first, because she loved him. This was just the start to a pair of divergent paths. Which did the "right" thing?

Maugham is the narrator as himself in this novel, and there is speculation that it's based on people he knew. He opens the book with that assertion, though it's not clear who exactly. Larry is ahead of his time, as an American, though the ideals he sought and the wisdom he pursued would make their way to the United States eventually. Maugham makes no conclusions, other than perhaps everyone got what they were looking for.

Food: chicken noodle soup. A satisfying meal, nothing fancy, but heartening when it needs to be.

Maio 13, 2021, 1:36 pm

476. Life and Times of Martin Chuzzlewit

There are two Martin Chuzzlewits- the grandfather and the grandson. Which is the story about? Yes. It's about all the Chuzzlewits, and the people they interact with in England and the United States. It covers a LOT of ground, more than I'm used to in a Dickens novel.

Dickens wrote this after he visited the United States, and it seems as though he didn't really enjoy his trip. His characters' experience are pretty negative. It seems as though Dickens wanted to make this novel all things- comedy, tragedy, and moral tale all in one. Maybe it was a little much. The clever names he gives his characters, though, is very enjoyable.

The copy of this novel that I read was from 1905 and it made me think about all the changes the world has been through since it was published. It cost $1.25 new, about $37 now.

Food: steak and kidney pie. Some bites are delicious, and some are just offal.

Maio 24, 2021, 10:12 pm

477. The Light of Day

George is a private detective, a PI, and he's gotten in over his head. He tells his story, as he remembers it, a bit at a time.

It's almost a stream-of-conscious novel, though there seems to be a pattern to the timeline the further into the book that I got. Staying with it, allowing the lens to open up further and further until the whole picture was revealed, was the patient task of this book, and it wasn't unenjoyable. A lot of elements of noir, which I normally am not into, but this was less hard-boiled than some.

Food: arriving part way into the second course of a German banquet. Not quite sure what's being served, it's all tasty and familiar, but you've no idea what's coming next.

Jun 9, 2021, 2:25 pm

478. The Afternoon of a Writer

The writer lost his language in the past, but has regained it. Now, though, he lives in fear of losing it again, and has a schedule by which he intends to prohibit that from happening again. Mostly, he stays away from contact with others, but forces himself to be among people at least a little. The book is the telling of an afternoon and evening in his daily life. Not a lot happens.

I wonder how much of this is autobiographical for Handke. I wonder how universal this is for writers. This was an interesting picture into the brain of a solitary writer, and it left me with questions about the relatability for other writers.

Food: an under-ripe pear. A little hard, a little dry, a little rough, but still tasty.

Jul 21, 2021, 10:16 am

479. The Magic Mountain

Hans Castorp intends to visit his cousin for three weeks on the mountain with the other tubercular patients. Instead, he stays for seven years.

Mann took a long time writing this book, and it shows. He was first inspired by his wife's own stay at a mountain sanatorium for tuberculosis, and then WWI happened, and he needed to include a lot of thoughts about society and economy and religion... so many thoughts, in the form of debate between two characters. I fell asleep multiple times reading this book.

Food: a bushel of raw carrots. At times, tasty and fresh, but after awhile, your jaw just gets tired of chewing and it's an awful lot of roughage.

Jul 21, 2021, 9:37 pm

OMG - I love the comparison of eating a bushel of raw carrots to the reading of Magic Mountain. You nailed it!

Editado: Jul 21, 2021, 11:13 pm

>316 DeltaQueen50: and you know its supposed to be good for you so you keep on chewing!

Jul 22, 2021, 9:42 pm

>316 DeltaQueen50: Thank you! It was the only thing I could think of, and I'm happy you agree!

>317 puckers: EXACTLY! That's what I was thinking!

Jul 22, 2021, 9:42 pm

480. Leaden Wings

This is a window into Chinese life after the Cultural Revolution, from the factory worker up through ministers and politicians, such as they were at the time. As someone who is not well educated about China, this book made me ask lots of questions and seek out answers. The culture of the time, how relationships between men and women in particular, is so interesting, and I wonder how much is still present in today's China.

Food: shrimp crackers. Something totally different for me, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

Set 7, 2021, 10:12 am

481. Giles Goat-Boy

This is an elaborate allegory of the world during the Cold War, and the coming of a new Messiah.

It took me two months to read this book. I kept falling asleep, because the characters were farcical and the plot frustrating and confusing. I picked up on the overall allegory in the first few pages, but it got muddy quickly. It became a slog, and wasn't redeeming by the end.

Food: baked beans. Someone really loves these, I bet, but it isn't me.

Set 7, 2021, 11:05 am

I love baked beans, but that novel doesn't sound like it's for me :-)

Set 10, 2021, 7:52 pm

>321 Nickelini: Haha! Touche!

Set 20, 2021, 10:04 pm

482. The Circle

The Circle is the fastest growing tech company, and it's changing the world. Mae has a college friend who's made it into the "Gang of 40"- the decisionmakers and administrators- and is able to get Mae a position. Mae feels like she's part of the revolution, changing the world for the better. But are the changes actually making things better? How far is too far? And how do you know?

This book reads quickly and Eggers has a very engaging style. Some of the blurbs call this a "parable" or a "dissent", but it's really the age-old question- should you eat from the Tree of Knowledge? There are always consequences and we can't unknow once our eyes are opened.

Food: potato chips during a suspense film. You get so wrapped up in the action that you don't realize you've eaten the whole bag.

Set 28, 2021, 5:20 pm

483. The Master of Ballantrae

James and Henry are brothers, in that birth order, in Scotland and are landowners. James is the heir apparent, until war is imminent, and when he rides off to support the effort, he is presumed dead after it is reported that none in his group survived. But of course, he's not. Nevermind the fiance the left behind- he rode off to support the losing side and is now considered a traitor, so he can't come home. But that doesn't prevent him from asking for money. LOTS of money. And like the bad penny he is, he keeps popping up, driving his brother and his wife (James' former fiance) crazy with fear that James will ruin them.

I was unaware of this Stevenson title, and it was fun to read. There is quite a bit of action and the story moves right along. There are pirates and Indians and Native Americans (still called Indians at that time) and treasure and duels... all kinds of fun!

Food: chicken wings. You can gobble them up fairly fast, and it's a tasty meal.

Out 4, 2021, 3:12 pm

484. H is for Hawk

This memoir about raising a goshawk is as much about grief and finding oneself as it is about hawking. Helen lost her father unexpectedly, as an adult, and the grief that ensued was tremendous. She took the time after to learn how to raise and train a goshawk, referencing frequently T.H. White's book, The Goshawk, and early manuals and journals about hawking.

From a psychological and sociological perspective, the book is interesting and insightful. Beyond that, it's quite slow and there isn't much action. I'm sure for many, this was a snooze. I found Helen's insights into her experience remarkable, especially the difference between the male and female perspective in viewing the actions and mood of the hawk.

Food: applesauce. One texture throughout, nothing exciting, but something appealing at times.

Out 4, 2021, 4:57 pm

485. Effi Briest

Effi's marriage to Innstetten is fortuitous for her and for the Baron, financially and for future connections. Effi is still a child, though, just 17 and Innstetten was a contemporary of her parents. She isn't ready for love, not married love, anyway, and while she tries her best to be a good wife, Major Crampus is a wily one.

This was a much lighter read than Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, to which it is compared. I found all the characters more realistic and likeable as well. I wonder, however, why this theme? Is it a moralistic warning to women of the ruin that awaits them if they stray? With marriages being about connection and money, so much of the literature of the past treats extramarital affairs as a foregone conclusion, while others preach of ruin and despair. Interesting... I did enjoy Fontane's writing style, and find myself so much more drawn to the old, subtle writing rather than our current need to spell everything out in lurid detail so that you don't need to draw your own inferences at any point in time.

Food: a mid-afternoon cup of coffee on a dreary day. A small thing, not spectacular, nothing outstanding, but appreciated.

Out 7, 2021, 10:19 am

486. The Book of Illusions

David Zimmer lost his family suddenly and tragically, and when he found Hector Mann's silent films, they made him laugh for the first time in a very long time. A further investigation into Mann and his mysterious disappearance led to a project that gave him purpose and a goal, further saving his life in a very literal way. But where it took him next was entirely unexpected.

I love Auster's writing. This is the 6th Auster I've read, and I think I love him a little more after each book. The subject matter is always a little different, weird, atypical, and I think that's part of the draw. The balance of action and prose is spot on. This book tugged at my heart and held my attention to the very last sentence.

Food: NY style cheesecake, plain. Rich, not very sweet, and the perfect density- enough to need to chew a little.

Out 18, 2021, 11:01 am

487. The House in Paris

Henrietta and Leopold's paths are only to cross for a few hours, in the Fisher home in Paris. Henrietta is taking a train to her grandmother's, Leopold waiting his mother's arrival. We learn the tangled web of Leopold's genesis, the connections between Henrietta, Naomi Fisher, and Leopold's parents, and the swiftness with which life can change.

Having read only one other Bowen (Eva Trout), I wasn't expecting the delight of this book. While the subject matter is sometimes unpleasant, the prose is magnificent. Bowen can turn a phrase with a level of skill I don't often experience.

Food: black pepper ice cream. Sweet with bits of heat, a flavor surprising and not often encountered.

Out 22, 2021, 12:39 pm

>328 amaryann21: I have The House in Paris on my shelf - I will certainly be pulling it down for a read soon!

Editado: Out 27, 2021, 10:13 am

>329 DeltaQueen50: Some of the phrases were just striking... I'm paraphrasing because I don't have the book in front of me, but one that I remember was something like, "Her sister's body looked lonely" but more elegantly phrased.

Nov 23, 2021, 10:22 pm

488. The Mysteries of Udolpho

Emily's parents die, so she is sent to live with her aunt until she comes of age. Her aunt marries an evil Italian count, and they move to Venice, where he plots and schemes to marry her off, even though she's in love with Valancourt, but Valancourt doesn't have enough money for her aunt and the evil count to approve the match. They go to the castle in Udolpho (halfway through the book), where mysteries ensue.

Radcliffe is, apparently, one of the pioneers of Gothic fiction. If this was the standard for romance back in the day (1794 is the publish date), I have the same feelings for the genre today as I do for this example. It was about 400 pages too long. On almost every other page, there was weeping or fainting or some combination thereof. And I think, to get through, every time you read the word "verdure", you should get to drink a bottle of wine. On second thought, that might slow things down, but it might make the whole process more pleasurable. I did not enjoy this book, but I didn't hate it.

Food: melba toast. They're small and cute and look fancy, but have a couple and you realize they're just dry, hard bits of toast.

Nov 23, 2021, 10:34 pm

>331 amaryann21: your food description is why I’ve given up on these books. Maybe they are great in a class with a talented professor but I don’t have the time or the interest to dig out the flecks of gem in these so-called classics

Nov 23, 2021, 10:36 pm

>332 Nickelini: Ha! Well, I hope our tastes are complementary! I know what you mean, though. I do understand the significance some of these works play in the history of fiction and literature, which is why I push through more times than not. But I also get great satisfaction in ticking them off the list, so that's a good motivator.

Nov 27, 2021, 10:52 pm

489. Nightwood

This isn't so much Robin's story as the story of the people who've loved Robin. She is the common denominator, but we really don't know much about her, just the experiences of her. Robin floats in and then out of multiple lives, and the destruction in her wake is the subject of this short novel.

My edition includes a preface by Jeanette Winterson, which I didn't read until after finishing the novel. I love Winterson's writing, and wanted to read her commentary after experiencing the novel first. I'm glad I did, because she helped me solidify some of my feelings. This novel doesn't read so much as a story as a wave, or succession of waves. Let them wash, crash over you, and just be in the moment of the wave. What I came away with: loving someone else even after they are out of your life is an intensely isolating feeling, but one that anyone who has lived it can relate to. Also, we all feel like we're the one that doesn't fit with the rest of the world from time to time. Feelings we may all feel, and yet, we feel like the only one who could possibly be feeling it in those moments. The prose in this novel is superior. Read it in as few sittings as possible- stay in it as long as you can.

Food: intensely dark chocolate mousse. Almost bitter, with just a hint of sugar, but deeply dark and smooth.

Nov 28, 2021, 9:53 am

I didn’t think I’d like that one but it’s on my TBR shelf and you make me want to read it!

Nov 29, 2021, 3:37 pm

>335 annamorphic: It's a short one and worth the trip!

Nov 29, 2021, 3:38 pm

490. Intimacy

Told in first person, our narrator tells us about how he will be leaving his wife and children in the morning. We spend the next 150 or so pages with him, reflecting on how he made his decision, what has transpired in his life, why he feels this is necessary.

This was an interesting book, one in which I became more invested than I expected. I haven't particularly liked some of Kureishi's previous writing, but this felt more... accessible? Honest? The voice felt very distinctly male, in a way that I don't feel I've experienced before, and that was interesting. The title of the book is the underlying theme, but it's not really discussed, which I also found interesting and gave me food for thought. I can't say it was enjoyable, but it was thought-provoking, and that's worth something.

Food: over steeped black tea. Bitter, dark, but not entirely unpleasant.

Nov 30, 2021, 7:47 pm

491. The Man of Feeling

In a collection of found documents (do ALL 18th century novels use this framework? Why was it so popular?), the story of Harley as a man of kindness and generosity, a man for whom helping his neighbors was more important than making money or finding success, comes to light. It's not a cohesive narrative, because several documents are missing, having been used as gun wadding.

Apparently, this is one of the forerunners of sentimental fiction. I don't know that I appreciate the historical context (or really understand it, perhaps), but it was an easy enough read. Short, without belaboring the point.

Food: a day-old madeleine. Inoffensive, slightly sweet, a little stale, but edible.

Dez 1, 2021, 10:10 am

492. Annie John

Annie is the only child in her family, growing up in Antigua, and we get to know her as she grows into young adulthood. Annie's intelligence doesn't always come out the way her mother wishes, and the influence of England vs. island culture is something she grapples with in her own understanding.

I read this in a couple hours. The style is easy to read, and deep with the feeling of what it means to be an adolescent girl. I had visceral memories of my own adolescence at times. The simplicity of the writing is deceptive- while the words aren't belabored, there's so much more below the surface, if you just spend a minute or two in contemplation.

Food: the first strawberries of the summer. You pick them before they're fully ripe, because you just can't wait, so they're a little tart, but the flavor... familiar, delicious, and you want more.

Dez 1, 2021, 12:04 pm

493. The Nose

What a weird little story! A man's nose goes missing, found in an unlikely place by his barber.

This small chunk of absurdity is a nice break from long, heavy, solemn, "meaningful" stories. It feels like this was a little playtime for Gogol, a game to see where it could go, and here I am, reading it almost 200 years later. I feel like I might be missing the point... something about cutting off one's nose to spite one's face... but I choose not to look below the surface today.

Food: one bite of pistachio pudding. Bright green, mild in taste, a little bit of something fun.

Dez 6, 2021, 11:11 am

494. The End of the Road

Jake doesn't exactly function the same way as everyone else, and he took the job as a teacher on the advice of the Doctor, part of his therapy for immobility. He wasn't supposed to make friends, and he certainly wasn't supposed to have an affair.

This was not a pleasant book. Nothing was enjoyable, I had very little empathy for any of the characters, and it felt of its time, somehow- I guess I didn't feel like it was relevant to the present much at all.

Food: a bit of gristly beef that gets stuck in your teeth and requires some work to get it out. More effort than it's worth.

Dez 8, 2021, 11:09 am

495. Cat and Mouse

It's all about Mahlke, this story. But is it, really? Or is it about trying to understand Mahlke, from an outsider's perspective? Set in WWII Germany, we meet Mahlke and our narrator and their friends in late childhood, at the incident when a cat is set upon Mahlke's Adam's apple, which the cat attacks as though it were a mouse, due to the prominence of said Adam's apple. As we follow along, into adulthood, things get more complicated, but not more understandable.

Fortunately, I found some good literary analysis of this short novel. I feel like Grass is over my head, and perhaps it's the cultural differences playing their part. Some of the review quips on the outside of my copy called this book "uproarious" and "hilarious", while I failed to find humor in anything that happened. In fact, it felt all quite sad. Interesting, in ways, but not funny. This is the loose sequel to The Tin Drum, and the main character of that novel is referenced a couple times in passing.

Food: plain yogurt. Easy to eat, but sour and sometimes a little bitter. Without something to sweeten up the experience, why does someone choose this?

Dez 11, 2021, 8:19 pm

496. The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum

Katharina murdered the reporter of the tabloid. This is how the story starts. The why and how is what comes to light as the book unfolds.

Boll was careful to state, at the beginning, that this was not based on anything factual and that any resemblances to actual people or institutions is purely coincidental. Perhaps the paper in the book was a lot like an actual tabloid that existed in the setting of the novel? Told in very factual, standard reporting, "just the facts, ma'am" style, the novel highlights the manipulation of certain elements of the media and how they affect the lives of real people.

Food: a shortbread cookie. Slightly dry, a great crumbly texture, over in a few bites.

Dez 14, 2021, 6:13 pm

497. Youth

John sees himself as an artist, specifically a poet. But he is waiting for his muse in order to really come into his success as a poet. He leaves Cape Town to go to London, one of the three cities where he can REALLY LIVE, and waits for life to find him. In the meantime, he becomes a computer programmer.

I have mixed feelings about Coetzee, and I'm not sure this book helped. It stayed very true to its title- John's thinking and behavior are super immature. His ideas about work, about women, about art... frustrating and insulting, in places. The only thing John feels he's successful at is misery, and reading about it, even though this is a short novel, is tiring at best. At the same time, there are moments of deeper thought- about his home in South Africa and it's turbulent past and present, about cultural differences in general, and the reader seems some maturation toward the end.

Food: animal crackers. Reminders of youth abound, especially when trying to identify which animal you're eating, but the fun wears off pretty quick for adults. And they're pretty dry.

Dez 16, 2021, 7:48 pm

498. Foe

Coetzee offers us a new take on Robinson Crusoe, through the eyes of a woman. Susan Barton was shipwrecked on Cruso's (different spelling) island, found by Friday and stayed there with them for a time. Friday is not capable of speech, having had his tongue removed, though it is unclear who conducted the mutilation.

This feels quite different than other Coetzee novels for the majority of the story, refreshingly so. Delving into the mind of a woman, questions of identity and truth abound. This center around Friday at one point, and particularly his inability to speak, which, for him, means he has no language at all. The implications of this are interesting when reflecting on Coetzee's own life.

Food: California roll. For the sushi novice, easy and interesting, not too outside the comfort zone. For the sushi lover, a snack before the more adventurous courses to come.

Dez 28, 2021, 3:54 pm

499. The End of the Affair

Maurice and Sarah had an affair, unbeknownst to Henry, Sarah's husband, during the war. Maurice and Henry are still good friends, and Maurice is still in love with Sarah, but she ended things. Maurice is a novelist and this story is told primarily from his perspective as he struggles to understand what happened and why.

This is my favorite Greene so far, I think the fourth that I've read. The writing is emotionally complex, but doesn't take sides, and allows each character to be fully who they are, no villains or heroes. The questions raised about suffering, belief, God, human nature, are fundamental and in times of great upheaval, commonly asked.

Food: an orange. Simple on the outside, but full of flavor and juice that deserves to be savored.

Dez 28, 2021, 5:20 pm

>346 amaryann21:
That was my favourite Graham Greene too, but maybe because I listened to the audiobook read by Colin Firth

Dez 30, 2021, 10:36 am

>347 Nickelini: Ooo! I bet that made it even better!

Dez 30, 2021, 10:37 am

500. The Things They Carried

O'Brien was a soldier in the Vietnam War. This book is a work of fiction, but inspired by his tour of duty. Written in short story format, the chapters are windows into the war, memories of events, but what's real and what's not is only known to O'Brien.

The facts aren't as important as the feeling of this book. The terror of never knowing where your enemy is, the camaraderie of one's company, often built on that terror and being in the fight together is present on most pages. O'Brien also recognizes that this is his process of coping. Not all his buddies made it, and not all that came home have fared as well as he has. This feels like processing, like someone who is still working it all out, and that makes sense. The humanity present in all the stories is brutal and tender and genuine.

Food: vitamin gummies. Not hard to consume, easy to chew, but not definitely not candy, because you know you're taking them because they're good for you.

Dez 30, 2021, 11:33 am

Happy 500!

Dez 30, 2021, 1:17 pm

Congrats on hitting 500! And with one of my favourite books from the list.

Jan 2, 2022, 3:36 pm

Congratulations on reaching 500 books! I've been enjoying your last few reviews and have added a couple to get for my shelves. I also listened to The End of the Affair as read by Colin Firth - I gave it 5 stars.

Jan 3, 2022, 10:58 am

>350 BentleyMay:, >351 Yells:, >352 DeltaQueen50: Thank you! I'm not sure why I waited so long on that one, but ultimately, I'm glad I did. And now I want to read more from him!

Jan 5, 2022, 10:50 am

Belated congratulations! Well done!

Jan 5, 2022, 2:27 pm

Belated congrats on hitting 500, and with such an excellent read!

Jan 5, 2022, 3:41 pm

>354 paruline:, >355 annamorphic: Thank you! It feels like a real accomplishment!

Jan 5, 2022, 4:34 pm

Oops seems I am late to the party too! Congratulations on 500, and with one of my 5 star books.

Jan 6, 2022, 12:27 pm

>357 puckers: Thank you! I'm glad I picked a good one, as the consensus seems to be. I never know about war stories... and there's so many!

Jan 7, 2022, 2:48 pm

501. Faceless Killers

Kurt Wallander is just filling in for the chief when the murder happens, so it becomes his responsibility by default. Who would brutally kill a farmer and attempt to kill his wife in this fashion, out in the countryside? Wallander isn't exactly real put together, and battles his own demons in the course of the story.

This book moves right along, and reminds me somewhat of the Harry Hole books by Jo Nesbo. I'm not sure if the resemblance has anything to do with both authors being from a similar geographic location, or if they just both like their main characters pretty flawed, but it makes for interesting reading.

Food: sloppy joe. The book isn't messy, but you want to gobble the story right up without putting it down so you can contain all the bits and pieces.

Jan 30, 2022, 2:32 pm

502. Cryptonomicon

This doorstop of a book (mine was 918 pages) jumps between "present day" (read: the late 1990's) and before/during WWII. There are connections between the storylines, which cover multiple characters, but they take some time to develop. A LOT of time.

If you're into cryptanalysis, or WWII code breaking, or tech of the 90's, or really technical math, you'll probably eat this book up. Me, not so much. I skimmed whole sections, because it was all math and I didn't sign up to read a textbook. The storyline eventually coalesces and there are some cool connections, but overall, it should've been at least a third of its length.

Food: dinner with a cadre of pompous chefs who practice molecular gastronomy and are hellbent on educating everyone in earshot about the hows and whys of the food in front of them.

Jan 30, 2022, 3:24 pm

>360 amaryann21: That one has always appeared to be everything I hate in a book, and your comments haven't made me change my mind. I guess it would be worse if it had sections about North American football (gridiron) and sections set on a navy vessel of some kind.

Jan 31, 2022, 3:41 pm

>361 Nickelini: Do sections set in submarines count? There a couple of them, though brief...

Jan 31, 2022, 5:56 pm

>362 amaryann21: Yes, I would classify a submarine as a navy vessel. Wow, that sounds like the book I'd dislike more than any other, anywhere, ever

Fev 8, 2022, 10:22 pm

503. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

Through the eyes and experiences of our young narrator, he recalls a summer just a few years before the persecution and murder of Jews during WWII, when he befriended the Finzi-Continis and spent time in their walled property. It has the air of magic, being a part of their world, and only the slightest whispers of what was to come were in the air.

This was a short novel, but packed with lots of prose. The futility of love in the face of war, the tightening noose around the Jews of Italy, the arguments between young people of politics they didn't really fully understand... all in the daily playing of tennis and the idyll of youth. The juxtaposition of the devastation that lies ahead with the light, golden summer made the novel interesting.

Food: pretzels with not enough beverage. A bit dry, and okay as a snack in a small portion.

Mar 10, 2022, 2:15 pm

504. The Return of the Soldier

Chris has gone off to fight in The Great War, leaving his wife and cousin to wait for his return. The loss of their 2-year-old son is not a distant memory yet. When Kitty receives word from a woman who knew Chris in the past that he is injured and does not remember the last 15 years of his life, she is shocked, but confident that he will regain his health and sensibilities. The process is, perhaps, more costly than anyone had expected.

This is a short tale, and packs a lot into not many pages. The conundrum of trying to bring tragic memories back into someone's life, of what it would mean if that didn't happen, is well written.

Food: a lamb "lollipop". A small bite, but filled with flavor and a good mouthful to chew on.

Mar 10, 2022, 6:07 pm

>365 amaryann21: Loved that lamb lollipop of a novella

Mar 12, 2022, 11:16 am

>366 Nickelini: I wish I'd read it instead of listening to it. I think I would have liked it more.

Mar 12, 2022, 11:17 am

505. Rites of Passage

Edmund is a member of the aristocracy and on board a ship for passage from Britain to Australia. He is keeping a journal of the passage for his godfather, a nobleman. During the voyage, a parson aboard the ship encounters great resistance to his presence and role from the captain and others. This results in extreme consequences.

I haven't read Golding since high school, but the style is familiar. A lot of flowery language in parts, which fits with the time and setting, but can be a bit of a slog to read. Most of the action is in the end of the book, which gave me lots to think about after I finished it.

Food: dark rum. Heavier than you anticipate and while it has a tropical feel, it can pack a wallop.

Mar 14, 2022, 2:02 pm

506. Story of the Eye

No. I didn't need to read that before I die.

I read some good commentary after finishing the book (the only good thing I can say it that it's short) and I understand some of the historical and cultural context. Also, the notes from Bataille at the end of my edition are informative as to his personal trauma growing up.

If you haven't read this one yet, inform yourself first as to why it's seen as important in history. Otherwise, it just feels like a disgusting waste of energy.

No food for this one. I can't think of anything I hate enough.

Mar 14, 2022, 4:05 pm

>309 amaryann21: Ditto…. I rated it 2-stars so I guess I saw some merit it. No clue now what that could be.

Mar 16, 2022, 10:35 am

>370 Yells: I found it more objectionable than Justine, though I'm not sure why?

Mar 16, 2022, 11:46 am

>371 amaryann21: I haven't got to that one yet but I did read 120 Nights of Sodom and that was bad enough. If you haven't read Blood and Guts in High School yet, you might want to wait. I've read some bad books but that one was the absolute worst for me. It is the only book I have ever thrown in the garbage (although 120 Nights probably would have joined it if it wasn't an e-book).

Mar 17, 2022, 3:31 pm

>372 Yells: Checked that one off a few years ago, fortunately. I think Sodom will wait for awhile. And I listened to Justine on audio, which I think made it easier.

Mar 23, 2022, 2:54 pm

507. The Blithedale Romance

Miles Coverdale is our narrator, and recounts his brief time as a member of an attempt at a utopian society, one that would function outside the conventional rules of the time. Ultimately, it did not rise to the hopes and dreams of its founders, and tragedy waits in the end.

Despite Hawthorne's attempts to dissuade any reader from thinking that there is a correlation to his time at Brook Farm and this story, speculation both at the time of publication and later is that they are very much related. I find that interesting, but also found the synopsis on the back of my copy rather misleading, as it called the language of the book "suggestive and often erotic". Perhaps by Puritan standards? It was a lighter book than some of his, and moved along quickly.

Food: raw carrots. You know they're good for you and not entirely unpleasant, but there's so much chewing...

Abr 10, 2022, 1:35 pm

508. Antic Hay

Gumbril gets 300 pounds per year in inheritance and sure, that's enough to get by on without doing anything, but he's interested in "everything", so... why not invent pants with a pneumatic cushion in them for sitting on hard surfaces?

I wish that was the whole story. I think I would've found it more entertaining. But instead, it's got shades of Gatsby. Lots of wealthy (with a few poor characters mixed in) folks eating out and running after pleasure and being bored and disillusioned because they can't ever find it again. Lots of discussion of love, but is there any effort to really find love, or is it all just hedonism?

Food: popcorn with too much butter. More isn't better- sometimes it just makes everything soggy.

Abr 12, 2022, 4:36 pm

509. Fantomas

This is the first in a long-running (31 books!) series about the villain, Fantomas, who seems to be uncatchable. Juve, the clever and erudite detective, has been hunting him for the last 5 years, and will he secure his prey this time??

This was entertaining and slightly more bloody than some mystery novels of the era. Full to the brim with twists and turns, it's definitely a good break from heavier, more serious novels. Juve is not quite as convincing as Poirot or Holmes, but he's written along the same lines.

Food: chicharrones. A great little snack, salty and crunchy.

Abr 24, 2022, 11:52 am

510. Closely Watched Trains

Milos is an apprentice at the railroad station in Czechoslovakia in 1945, which the Germans are occupying at the time. He is young and admires the bravado of a coworker who gets in trouble for inappropriate sexual conduct in the stationmaster's office.

This is a short novel, just a snippet of life for this character at this particular time. It portrays the feeling of the time well, for so few words.

Food: one swedish meatball. Just a bite, but rich in flavor and texture.

Maio 3, 2022, 12:47 pm

511. Winter

Sophia lives in the house alone, though it contains many, many memories, and at present, a floating head. Arthur is coming home for Christmas, but maybe not with the Charlotte he's told his mother about. Iris and Sophia haven't spoken in years.

Maybe it isn't important to know what's real and what's not. Maybe no one really does, though. I enjoy Smith's style, and can let the text flow without trying to figure it all out every second. This book feels more ethereal, gauzy, almost- you can try to grasp it, but it might just flow through your fingers and you'll be left with a handful of air. But that doesn't feel like a problem, it feels intentional. I don't know that I felt "winter" from this book, but I come from a place where winter means lots of snow and cold, and that's not the intention of this book.

Food: a whiskey-flavored marshmallow. Dissolves in seconds, leaving a ghost of flavor behind.

Maio 6, 2022, 11:27 pm

512. The Crow Road

Prentice is still in university, though he's getting closer to graduation. He hasn't figured any of it out yet, and he's fallen out with his father over whether or not God exists. Uncle Rory has been missing for years, and his grandmother has just died. What follows is part coming of age, part mystery, part recollection of the memories of that make family, family.

This is my third Banks, and he's a joy for me to read. His subject matter isn't always pleasant (The Wasp Factory???), but reading his words draws me in, paints a picture that I want to keep looking at. The family saga he reveals, a little at a time, in this story is heartfelt, a little mysterious, and soaked in good Scottish whiskey.

Food: fish and chips. Greasy, hot, perfect after a night of drinking, satisfying and fills you up.

Maio 12, 2022, 10:33 am

513. Out of Africa

Baroness Karen Blixen wrote this collection of remembrances about her time as a colonizer in what is now Kenya. She grew coffee on a farm in the hills and became invested in the lives of the people around her, both native and colonists.

Reading this, I wonder how progressive her thoughts were at the time. Some was difficult to read, 100+ years after it was written, due to the lack of concern about how the indigenous people were treated. Blixen seemed to have some insight into the fact that displacing people from their homes was wrong, taking their ancestral lands and hunting grounds was unjust. I enjoyed her writing style and reflections about how different African and European life were different.

Food: chicken a la king. A little stodgy, old fashioned, and if the gravy isn't too thick, enjoyable at times.

Maio 30, 2022, 12:45 pm

514. The Count of Monte Cristo

We know the story, right? Vengeance after wrongful imprisonment? I know, I saw the movie, too. But there's a little more to the story. Yes, Edmond goes to the Chateau D'If for 14 years, meets the old Abbe, escapes, finds the treasure. But his revenge is masterful. MASTERFUL. Wait and hope.

This was fun to read, honestly. Even though my copy is about 600 pages, I read it in two sittings and thoroughly enjoyed it. There's a little of the French history that I paid less attention to- Bonapartists vs. Royalists- but the characters are great and who doesn't like seeing someone get their comeuppance?

Food: grilled cheese. Satisfying, tasty, and you can eat it with one hand.

Jul 5, 2022, 5:18 pm

515. The Child in Time

He only looked away for a minute, and then Kate was gone. His daughter was just... gone. And it ruined everything. He and Julie didn't grieve in the same way, they couldn't manage together. Without Julie, all Stephen really has is his committee meetings and his writing, which isn't going great.

This is the setting for the novel, but it takes a lot of turns and twists before it resolves, in a way. Time is almost a character in and of itself, inconsistent in its flow, sometimes doubling back on itself. Perhaps, even when one is of a chronologically adult age, the child in oneself is still very present. Overall, I enjoyed the story, but there were moments when I had no idea where McEwan was going, and sometimes, if he was going anywhere at all.

Food: tofu stir fry, for the first time. There are parts I recognize and enjoy, others I'm not so sure about, and some need a little contemplation before I decide if I like them.

Ago 29, 2022, 8:55 am

516. Hard Times

Hard Times, indeed. Hard reading, too. This is Dickens' commentary on the social class system of England, and different characters represent the different classes and how they're seen and expected to behave. Dickens also portrays intellectual vs laborer life in the novel, having been a factory worker as as young person.

The second half of the novel moved a little quicker than the first, but I missed some of the witty humor that I usually find in Dickens. This felt like a more serious, more "messaged" novel than some of his others.

Food: kale, chopped in small pieces. Lots of chewing.

Ago 29, 2022, 3:28 pm

Catching up. You’ve read some fine books and I always enjoy your comments.

Out 5, 2022, 11:52 am

517. The Diaries of Jane Somers

Jane chronicles her life in diary form in two different eras- her time as an unofficial "Good Neighbor", someone who visits the elderly, and how it led her, a fashion magazine editor, to see aging and elderly women differently than she had in the past. In the second volume, Jane has an affair of the heart while balancing the needs of extended family and considers her past marriage in light of this new connection.

Lessing's writing is easy to read and the diary format is interesting... but there were also times the reading dragged. The setting is very much of its time (early 1980's) and setting (London) and this made it a little hard to relate to for me as a reader sometimes.

Food: pot roast with mash. Some yummy bits, some chewy bits, nothing super exciting, but solid sustenance.

Nov 21, 2022, 8:38 pm

518. Portnoy's Complaint

The title is accurate. This is 273 pages of Portnoy complaining- about his childhood, about his girlfriends, about his incessant need to masturbate, about his parents, about his lack of love, about his dissatisfaction with all the things.

It was tiresome to read. I'm sure, as I've read, that it was scandalous and a sensation when it was published. But it hasn't aged well. Maybe it wasn't meant to. I'm just glad it's over.

Food: cream of mushroom soup, condensed from the can. Gloopy, bland, and unappealing.

Nov 21, 2022, 9:10 pm

>386 amaryann21: Hmmm, I have been meaning to read an Australian book, The Trials of Portnoy: How Penguin Brought Down Australia's Censorship System - it may be a more worthwhile read than the actual book!

From the blurb:
In 1970, in great secrecy and at considerable risk, Penguin Books Australia resolved to publish Portnoy's Complaint— Philip Roth's frank, funny, and profane bestseller about a boy hung up about his mother and his penis. In doing so, Penguin spurred a direct confrontation with the censorship authorities, which culminated in criminal charges, police raids, and an unprecedented series of court trials across the country.

Dez 2, 2022, 1:29 pm

>387 JayneCM: I read about this (Wikipedia, I think). I find it all interesting- perhaps I'm jaded by today's "standards", but I didn't find it all that profane.

Dez 2, 2022, 1:30 pm

519. The Talk of the Town

Patrick is an Irish lad from a small town and his father died when he was 9. Told from both his perspective and entries in his girlfriend's journal, we get an inside glimpse at what at first appears to be an average young adult's life, going out with his friends and trying to meet girls.

The story gains depth and momentum as it moves forward, making the last few chapters hard to step away from. There are moments of humor, despair, and deeply moving emotion. The slow reveal is effective and compelling.

Food: a plate of greasy bar food after a full night of drinking. Hits the spot at first, but then combined with all the rest, makes for a bit of queasiness.

Dez 28, 2022, 11:15 am

520. The Swimming-Pool Library

Will is our narrator, a descendant of a lord with enough of an income to not need to work, and openly gay. Set during a time when homosexuality was still considered criminal, but less prosecuted than it had been, there is a sense of freedom mixed with the possibility of danger. Will meets Charles at the gym, who is an older man interested in employing Will to write his biography. As Will reads through Charles' journals, he confronts history on global and personal levels.

The first half of this novel just made me tired- so much of the same, and while describing the sexual acts in detail was likely salacious at publication (or not?), it isn't shocking anymore. So much of what is commonly portrayed as stereotypical male homosexual behavior plays out in the book, and isn't really challenged (and then, perhaps mildly so) until the second half. The questions raised as we experience conflict with Will are important ones, not just at that time but still. How race and social status intersect with sexual identity is presented to us without explicit agenda.

Food: soup and salad lunch. The salad is a little mundane, rather wilted, but the soup has a little more substance and flavor. Ultimately, worth the whole meal.

Fev 3, 2023, 11:03 am

521. Mother's Milk

Patrick's mother is dying. Slowly. Which is giving him time to consider the life he's had with her, how it's influenced his marriage, parenting, and expectations in general.

I found the novel tiresome, mostly. Patrick is a lawyer and we get to hear from the perspectives of his wife, Mary, and his two sons as well, but there isn't a lot that kept me engaged. It was easy enough to read, but I mostly wanted Patrick to stop complaining about all the things he didn't get to have or is losing out on and actually DO something. Which probably makes this very relatable for some readers.

Food: raw cauliflower. Not bad, but not something you want to eat a whole pile of without a break.

Mar 3, 2023, 8:12 pm

522. Ratner's Star

Billy is a 14-year-old Nobel Prize winner, a genius recruited to work on a classified project, a signal from a far off galaxy. As he meets his fellow scientists (and I use the term loosely), all sorts of strange characters emerge, and most only for one brief encounter- a woman without a lap, a priest who thinks all the mysteries of God are to be found in studying the secretions of red ants, a scientist who lives in a hole in the ground. The lead on the project (maybe? He's got the biggest office, anyway) offers our young protagonist pills and invites him to a sex party. One of the characters doesn't have any vowels in his name and is wanted as a criminal for flashing his nipples at small children.

It's absurd. From start to finish, just an exercise in ridiculousness. The story, if you can even really call it that, shifts all over the place. From the few reviews I read after finishing, DeLillo was inspired by Pynchon and this is a bit of an homage. Pynchon does it better, if that was his aim. There were moments that made me laugh out loud, though, too, and a lot of poking fun at philosophy, science and the fields of abstract idea. Seeing it through a genius child's eyes actually worked a lot of the time, enhancing the tongue-in-cheek.

Food: a Jello salad from the 70s, containing carrots and pineapple. Why did anyone ever put those things together? Really not sure, and it wasn't totally unpleasant, but thank goodness the trend died out.

Mar 4, 2023, 7:22 pm

523. The Princess of Cleves

Mlle de Chartres has been instructed by her mother on the dangers of love and the importance of virtue- men will take your love and virtue and the only safe one to give it to is your husband. In an era when marriage was for economic safety and political alignment and love was for affairs, this wasn't the prevailing idea, I imagine. So, she married and while not attracted to her husband, she consented that he loved her and was a good man. Enter M de Nemours, the man that every woman wanted to be loved by and every man wished he could be. Of course, he falls for the princess and word gets around court that he's in love and has forsaken all his other mistresses, but that the one he loved did not return his affections. This creates all kinds of rumors and trouble.

Published anonymously in 1678, one can imagine the stir this story would have created. The confessions of inner turmoil and emotion of the characters wasn't done before, so this was a much more "modern" novel. When I look at the book in its historical context, I appreciate it more. The translation I have was very readable, far less annoying than several novels from the same time period. I do appreciate the brevity, though.

Food: day-old mini scone. A little dry, a little crumbly, but not a terrible mouthful.

Mar 23, 2023, 7:05 pm

524. Native Son

Bigger gets a job as a chauffer for a rich, white family who wanted to help out a young man who needed help- black, poor, uneducated. He kills Mary, the only daughter of the rich, white family after taking her out to meet her friends, who happen to be Communist. Set in the 1930's in Chicago, this sets the reader up for all the social and political dynamics of the time.

This novel was published in 1940, and as I was reading it, I kept thinking how much of this is still relevant right now in the US. Almost 100 years later, and so much hasn't changed. As one of the first novels that delved into race relations, oppression, slavery and its implications on society, I can imagine the controversy it created. As Bigger's lawyer defends him in court, I heard many of the arguments I hear even now. I hadn't heard of this book before I found the list, and this disappoints me.

Food: caviar. It can be polarizing- love or hate- and can be challenging to someone who's never encountered it before.

Mar 23, 2023, 7:59 pm

>394 amaryann21:

I remember this book being wonderful (read it in high school for my English class) but I obviously remember nothing of it other than that because this plot description didn't ring any bells. Will need to reread it.

Mar 24, 2023, 9:15 am

>395 lilisin: >394 amaryann21: I too read this for high school in my highly conservative home town in the 1970s. I do remember the plot. Nobody batted an eyelid that we were being assigned it. I feel certain that in today's world it would cause a lot of fuss.
Somebody disabuse me and tell me that it's still assigned! Even in conservative places! I'd love to hear that.

Mar 26, 2023, 8:00 pm

>396 annamorphic:

I'm from Texas (although really from the liberal city of Austin) and high school for me was 1998-2002. My school district was a rich white area but with very high educational standards so we had a well balanced -- not white-washed -- education.

Maio 13, 2023, 4:59 pm

525. The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas

Alice B Toklas is Gertrude Stein's partner, and this is a record of how Alice met Gertrude Stein and the life they had together in Paris and other places in Europe in the time surrounding WWI. It's primarily a list of who they knew and when, with reference to what Gertrude Stein thought of the painter or sculptor or writer's work, and how their friendship was, for some. Alice and Gertrude Stein were contemporaries of Matisse, Picasso, Hemingway, and many, many others. They drove around the French countryside bringing supplies and comfort to soldiers during WWI. The account also discusses Gertrude Stein's writing and when things were published.

Alice doesn't speak much about herself, but more of what she observed. Her devotion to Stein (always referred to by her full name, Gertrude Stein) is obvious throughout- and it makes me wonder, how much is this Alice's account, and how much is Gertrude's? Gertrude IS the author. But the account also speaks of Gertrude as a seeker of truth beyond emotion, of not being a sentimental writer. Overall, thinking of this era in time, of these incredibly creative people all being in the same place and how it fostered so much art, it's very interesting. I don't think such times can happen again in the same way.

Food: toast and jam. Spare, simple, but enough.

Maio 28, 2023, 11:01 pm

526. City Primeval

Detective Raymond Cruz is investigating the murder of a judge, one that he doesn't entirely think was out of line, and one of the suspects is Clement, a familiar face from a case in the past. Clement is pretty savvy and has a tenacious lawyer, but also, he just might be a sociopath who enjoys murder and knows how to get away with it.

This is a "hard boiled" detective novel and it's only on the 2006 Boxall list. I haven't looked up why it's there, which may make me appreciate it more, but the best thing I can say for it is that it's fairly fast-paced. Published in 1980, ways of talking about women and minorities, especially as characterized by law enforcement, are just not the way we think of as acceptable anymore. The characters all feel pretty stereotypical. I wouldn't choose to read this book without the 1001 Books list.

Food: gas station sushi. Maybe it seemed like a good idea once. Definitely a risk, and probably not going to leave you with a good taste in your mouth.

Jun 20, 2023, 11:23 am

527. What a Carve Up!

Michael Owen (our sometimes narrator) is writing a book about the Winshaws, a wealthy British family who has fingers in many, many pies. It's also about capitalism and war and greed and love and loss and a murder mystery. It also borrows from Clue and the movies about large, creepy mansions where mysterious things happen during storms.

I was so pleasantly delighted by this book. It's funny and touching and the characters weave in and out in unpredictable ways. I didn't see the end coming at all, which scores major points in my opinion. The timeline is very fluid and that was sometimes difficult to keep track of, but ultimately, it was all tied together in the end. For as humorous as I found it, it also had a great depth.

Food: chocolate cake. Delicious, not too sweet, and hits the right notes.

Jun 20, 2023, 12:16 pm

>400 amaryann21: I just started this one and I’m pleasantly surprised so far. Chocolate cake is about right.

Jun 25, 2023, 3:51 pm

>401 Yells: I'm happy you agree! It's not what I was expecting and now I want to read more murder mystery!

Jun 25, 2023, 3:51 pm

528. Concrete

Bernhard is not a fun author to read, in my experience. Here again, we have another novel with no paragraphs, no obvious transitions from one topic to the next, but at least, mercifully, this one is short.

Our narrator is writing a book on Mendelssohn. Well, writing might not be the correct term- he's been researching and making notes for ten years, but hasn't actually started WRITING yet. And it's everyone's fault why- his sister (whom he hates and loves), Vienna (a cesspool and the most perfect city in the world), his doctors (who know nothing and everything), and really, writing is a completely selfish and fruitless endeavor but also the most noble thing he could do. He does travel, toward the end of the book, and recalls a meeting with a young widow- by far the most interesting part of the book, because it isn't about him and his endless ranting back and forth.

Even though it's annoying, it wasn't difficult to read. If you've read Bernhard before, you know what you're in for.

Food: a raw onion sandwich on white bread. A contradiction of textures and flavors.

Jul 11, 2023, 12:42 pm

529. Enduring Love

Joe and Clarissa are enjoying a picnic and a helium balloon goes overhead, with a man hanging from the rope, yelling for help. Joe runs to help, along with 4 other men. This ends in tragedy, but also sets in motion events that Joe could never have predicted.

McEwan has grown on me, the more I read him. This novel moved quickly and kept my interest, even through the more scientific and academic passages relevant to the main character. The question of what is reality remains through most of the book and is very well done. As I'm writing this, I understand the title on multiple levels- well done, sir.

Food: soft caramels- chewy, a little sticky, and easy to eat.

Jul 12, 2023, 2:37 am

>400 amaryann21: I listened to What a Carve Up on audiobook years ago. I knew nothing about it going in and was delighted. I don’t remember it at all other than one scene involving a very crowded tube station. I must reread this! My best memory of it was listening while I was gardening in my front yard, laughing out loud, and thinking all my neighbors would think I was daft

Jul 12, 2023, 2:41 am

>404 amaryann21: Enduring Love is another book I enjoyed very much but don’t remember. Another must reread.

I have fond memories of reading this in one day on a beach in Maui and completely ignoring my husband and daughters the whole day

Jul 12, 2023, 2:43 am

>403 amaryann21: okay, Concrete was sounding maybe interesting, but not a fan of the onion white bread sandwich (is that a thing?!) so maybe not?

Jul 12, 2023, 10:20 am

>405 Nickelini: What a Carve Up was definitely a laugh out loud book! I only have Atonement left on the list of McEwan books, and that makes me a little sad. I imagine some people are fans of Bernhard- his style is not fun for me to read. I need breaks and paragraphs and transitions. And I only know that onion sandwiches are a thing from my mother lol!

Jul 12, 2023, 12:39 pm

>408 amaryann21: Atonement is still my favourite of his, although many people dislike it. I’m interested in what you will think

Jul 13, 2023, 10:37 am

530. Shame

I'm not a Rushdie fan. I'm reading his books because it gives me satisfaction of checking them off and perhaps I'll learn something I didn't already know. But I'm not a fan. His writing style frustrates and bores me. I've taken to listening to his books because then, at least, I can do something else productive at the same time.

This interwoven saga of two people- where they came from, the strange circumstances of their births, childhoods, marriage and adulthoods- covers a lot of ground geographically and politically. Rushdie tells the story in knots, tangles and bursts. It was hard to follow, but also, I probably wasn't very invested in following the story as I could have been. If you like Rushdie, you're in for a good time.

Food: 98% fat-free popcorn. Once in awhile you hit a salty kernel, but otherwise it's like chewing cardboard.

Jul 13, 2023, 10:38 am

>409 Nickelini: Looking forward to reading that one! I think it's the only one I have left on the list that's his.

Jul 13, 2023, 11:00 am

>410 amaryann21:

Look at you slaying this list! I have liked Rushdie in the past, but I'm kinda done with him (although I still have unread books of his in my shelves). I read Shame twice. It was assigned reading for a class, so I read it the summer before, but then I dropped the class. A few years later I did take the class, so had to read it again because I certainly didn't remember any details. I've read six Rushdie books and Shame was by far my least favourite. Good for you for surviving.

Jul 16, 2023, 1:48 pm

531. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle

Our narrator is an ordinary guy, as many of Murakami's characters are, until he isn't. He's just trying to figure out life's next steps after quitting his job, taking care of the household while his wife works at a magazine. When the cat went missing, the weirdness started.

Murakami is an adventure, every single time. You just don't know where he's taking you and why. Sure, things get a little bloody from time to time, but those are fleeting moments. This novel is a little quieter than some of his that I've read, a little more introspective. Perhaps it's all the time characters spend in wells. I love that Murakami doesn't explain all the things, he just explains enough, but leaves plenty of room for imagination and mystery. This is my last Murakami on the list, and without the list, I don't know if or when I would've found this author, who has become one of my favorite contemporary authors at the moment. I've been saving this book as a reward for getting through some of the others, and I think Shame deserved a reward!

Food: Moroccan couscous for the first time. Adventurous, each bite similar but a little different as the meat, fruits and spices come together.

Jul 16, 2023, 1:50 pm

>412 Nickelini: Since I have at least 3 more Rushdie on the list, it gives me some hope that you felt this was the worst! I own one of them currently, so I know I'll tackle it at some point, but I'm not in a hurry.

Jul 21, 2023, 8:13 pm

>414 amaryann21:
Of the Rushdie books on the list, we've read the same ones. You gave The Ground Beneath Her Feet 3 stars and I gave it 4 (I rather liked that one although I couldn't tell you much about it; you gave Midnight's Children 2 stars and I gave it 3; and you gave Shame 2.5 stars and I gave it 3. I read this all years ago and I will revise my ratings now :-) . . . I have good memories of Ground, so I'll leave that. I get why Midnight is esteemed, but I didn't enjoy it 3 stars, and my memories of Shame are ugh even though I don't think I minded it so much at the time -- definitely a 2 star memory.

The only other 1001 of his I have in my piles of books is Satanic Verses. Not sure I'll ever read it. I bought it because it was part of a set that I was collecting, and also as a support for freedom of speech and an up-yours to book banners. But it doesn't sound like a great read, so it can just sit on my shelf and look nice.

Ago 6, 2023, 12:32 pm

532. The Enigma of ArrivalThrough a series of shorter stories, Naipaul relates sections of his life with the English countryside as the backdrop. They are all tied together, and could very well have been one longer cohesive novel, in my opinion, but he chose to separate them into smaller sections.

This is a slow book- contemplative and thoughtful. Not plodding. Through repetition (which I questioned at first), the atmosphere is realized as integral to the rest of the stories being told. It's as though we're living in Naipaul's thoughts, in those moments of reminder- "here's what this brought up for me again". This is not a character-driven narrative, and as such, I needed to be in the right space to truly appreciate the book.

Food: cream tea with just a hint of sugar. Smooth, warming, best on a cool, rainy day overlooking a beautiful, quiet view.

Ago 9, 2023, 12:12 pm

533. Austerlitz

Austerlitz and our narrator meet by chance the first couple of times, and more intentionally after that. Austerlitz tells the story of his life, growing up in Wales, and discovering, while at boarding school, that he was sent to Wales before he was 5 years old by his parents from Prague, as the Nazi occupation spread. Little by little, we learn of Austerlitz's discovery of his parents and their fate, the reasons for his own mental and emotional struggles, and several discussions of architecture along the way.

This is a quiet book, even when revealing disturbing and upsetting information. Normally, lack of paragraphs is exhausting for me, but it didn't bother me in this book. There is an ebb and flow to the narrative, and the revelations Austerlitz experiences are ours, the readers', as well. There are photos interspersed throughout the narrative.

Food: cool water. No ice, minerally and clean.

Ago 13, 2023, 11:08 am

534. The Hound of the Baskervilles

I read this tale as a child, in an abridged child's version, and didn't get around to the full story until now. Sherlock Holmes is a fun distraction from real life sometimes, and I felt the nostalgia of returning to a story that delighted me.

I can't help feel a little pity for Watson, and if he's a doctor, when does he ever actually practice? He's at Holmes' literal beck and call, and no reasoning given for orders so much of the time. All in all, though, a fun diversion and a book that took only a few hours to read.

Food: cheese crackers. A snack reminiscent of earlier days.

Ago 24, 2023, 10:56 am

535. Fifth Business

Dunstable ducked, and the snowball hit Mrs. Dempster, and that's why Paul was born early. This moment defined so much of Dunny's life, perhaps the moment that influenced everything that came later. He enlisted to be able to fight in WWI, lying about his age, and it led to a life-long study of saints and the faith/mythology that surrounds them.

This is an interesting novel, though perhaps not as compelling a read as the author would have liked. I seldom read WWI novels and while this isn't really that, the references to the war are appreciated. The central theme is relationship and perception of self in light of those relationships. There are really fascinating pieces within the story, but ultimately, it's a little boring, and feels like it could've used some editing.

Food: graham cracker. Needs some additional flavor to really make it yummy.

Ago 24, 2023, 12:14 pm

>419 amaryann21: So many people adore that novel and he’s considered a Canadian great. I found it painfully boring and I can’t imagine reading any of his many other books

Ago 24, 2023, 2:08 pm

>419 amaryann21: >420 Nickelini: I read it decades ago and liked it a lot, but I may have been a less discerning reader at that time. And I did like graham crackers!

Ago 27, 2023, 8:17 am

>420 Nickelini: I found it boring as well. I had an edition with all three of the Deptford Trilogy novels in it and I gave it away after reading Fifth Business. I was disappointed, because I had heard some rave reviews about it.

Set 15, 2023, 1:36 pm

536. V.

There's a story here somewhere, I think. Maybe. Or not? There's a bunch of characters, and settings, and some war, and some spying, and some places and women with V names who might be all the same idea/person, the titular V.

Pynchon is slippery. I think this is the third or fourth book of his that I've read, and I come away from each feeling like I'm not really sure what I consumed. There are some images, but they're all a little hazy, and I don't know if there's a point, at least not one that I'm grasping. The numerous characters in this book made it additionally difficult. Still, it kept me mostly engaged until the end.

Food: poached eggs. On a Benedict, delicious. But without some good supporting ingredients, just kinda squishy and all over the place.

Set 25, 2023, 3:02 pm

>423 amaryann21: I’ve made a start on this novel today. My fifth Pynchon and your comments are spot on. Whatever food it is, I’m eating it blindfolded with no clue as to what is in the next mouthful, but I know there’s a lot of it and I’ll be none the wiser when I finish.

Set 28, 2023, 7:19 pm

>424 puckers:. Yes!! That's a great description! I'm battling my way through The Virgin in the Garden by Byatt and it's strange to say, I enjoyed Pynchon more.

Out 12, 2023, 3:15 pm

537. The Virgin in the Garden

The Potter family, Alexander and his play, Simmonds and his "experiments", and several other characters make up this meandering, complex storyline about... what? I'm not really sure, other than life, and England, and changes, and sex.

I'm not a Byatt fan. I struggle with her novels. I find them overly wordy, overly descriptive, and they wander in and out without resolution or apparent (to me) point. In one analysis I read, this book is reflective of the changing mores and culture of England in the 1950's. So, probably I'm just not an appreciative audience for this one because I have no context for that.

Food: cream of mushroom soup from a can. Thick, gloopy, not much textural contrast, and I don't like mushrooms.

Nov 4, 2023, 8:37 pm

538. Kieron Smith, boy

Kieron is a Scottish boy and this is the narrative of a few years of his life. He goes to school, climbs walls and trees, plays soccer, is annoyed by his older brother, and starts to take an interest in girls.

For the most part, all slang was able to be deciphered by context, or the occasional correction by Kieron's mother. It was interesting- lots of conflict between Catholic and Protestant factions, class division- but at times wandering and very true to form, living inside the head of a pre-teen boy.
Food: a cheese sandwich (or a piece with cheese, if you're Kieron). Easy to eat while running off to join your friends, unsophisticated, and a good tea until supper.

Nov 5, 2023, 12:44 pm

539. Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris

Mrs. Harris cleans homes, and plays the football lottery every week. When one of her clients shows her the Dior dresses she's borrowed for an event, Mrs. Harris falls in love. She works and scrimps and saves and sacrifices until she has enough to go to Paris for her very own Dior dress.

But, of course, that's only the preamble. Mrs. Harris doesn't belong in the House of Dior, she's not wealthy, she's just a housemaid. The ferocity and genuine nature of her character touch the hearts of those she encounters (most of the time) and herein we get the truth of the story. It's not a morale, per se, but it is the deeper heart of the novel. And it hit true. It was a delight to read, and a reminder that some people see us for who we are, simply because we're brave enough to show them.

Food: a pink champagne cupcake. Sweet, but not overly so, effervescent but lingering, just the right amount of delight.

Nov 5, 2023, 2:53 pm

>428 amaryann21: The movie is just as sweet (in a good way). I enjoyed both.

Nov 7, 2023, 5:03 pm

>429 Yells: I need to find it and watch!

Nov 7, 2023, 5:04 pm

540. Memento Mori

What would your reaction be to hearing a stranger on the phone tell you, "Remember you must die"? Particularly if you're in your 70s or 80s? For this circle of friends and relatives, some were very disturbed, others found it amusing, and all had their own ideas about who was behind the calls.

This short novel is a contemplation of death, in a way, but not philosophically in a way I expected. Spark's storytelling is stark, sometimes, but also wonderfully human. I don't often see the twists coming because there's not a lot of set up in the writing and that, for me, is delightful. The other feeling of this book is the recognition of how society looks at and treats the elderly among us, and how the elderly also perceive themselves through societal conditioning. It's given me food for thought.

Food: a shortbread biscuit. Crumbly and buttery, a tasty snack.

Editado: Nov 7, 2023, 5:18 pm

>430 amaryann21: I’m pretty sure that I found it on Prime.

Nov 7, 2023, 10:07 pm

541. In a Free State

Linda, Martin's wife, needs a ride back to the Collectorate, and Bobby is leaving the capital to go there, so he's roped into giving her a ride. It's part of what can be expected when you're a government official in Africa, I suppose. Bobby has complicated feelings about the Africans, though he probably wouldn't express it that way. They find out, during their journey, that the president has stopped sharing power with the king, and the king's tribe is now being persecuted.

Before the reference to Conrad, I felt the Heart of Darkness echoes, though a little more subtle. The exploration of what it is to be a colonizer in a "free state" of natives is presenting conversation, through several different encounters and perspectives. Written in 1971, the narrative is still relevant today. The running question of escape to South Africa, for the white settlers, kept bringing me back to the context in which the novel was written.

Food: beets. Earthy, dark, most people either like them or hate them, but they're good for you.

Nov 8, 2023, 5:54 pm

>428 amaryann21: >429 Yells: I love Mrs 'Arris - delightful.
I haven't watched the new version of the movie yet, but I loved the 1992 version with Angela Lansbury as Mrs. 'Arris.

Nov 8, 2023, 7:32 pm

>434 JayneCM: Well now I’ve got to go hunt that one down. I didn’t know there was an early movie. Angela Lansbury would be perfect in that role!

Nov 9, 2023, 5:36 am

>435 Yells: Oh it is delightful! And Omar Sharif as the marquis is also perfect.

Nov 20, 2023, 2:29 pm

I watched the one on Prime, and I'm glad I read the book first, because I didn't love the changes. However, it absolutely held true to the spirit of the story. I'll have to go look for the older one now!

Nov 30, 2023, 5:24 pm

542. To the North

Emmeline and Cecilia are sisters-in-law. Henry, Emmeline's brother and Cecilia's husband, has died and now they share a home, happily, and indefinitely. Emmeline is half of the partnership in running a travel agency, and Cecilia travels when she gets bored. Set in the 1920's, Cecilia's life is the more typical of the time. When Markie and Emmeline start to develop some kind of relationship, while Cecilia and Julian are in each other's orbit and trying to decide what that means, all the dynamics start to turn into something very different.

While the feelings in this novel run deep, the action (or lack thereof?) is very subtle. So much is unsaid and almost nothing is overt. Instead of being boring or frustrating, I found this added an element of atmosphere that felt very intentional. Emmeline never seems to fully inhabit her body or her place in the world, and one wonders if she even knows how. The sense of dread in the last chapter is palpable and so well executed. This is a short novel to be savored.

Food: cheese souffle. Full of flavor, but light on the tongue, airy and ethereal.

Editado: Dez 19, 2023, 12:08 am

>438 amaryann21: As you know, I love your food comparisons. This last one caused me to pause . . . I've never had a cheese souffle, so I have no idea what to expect. I hear they fall if you oven isn't in a perfectly still and silent place. Do they taste different if they fall? Are they just sludge or something? Where does one get a souffle if they don't want the stress of making one (I only know of this stress from movies -- it seems like a dish real people never make)

ETA: also, you've bumped Mrs 'Arris and the Muriel Spark up my to-read list

Fev 19, 11:54 am

543. Bunner Sisters

The Bunner sisters run a shop together, and eke out a living with a few friends and very few indulgences. When one buys the other a clock for her birthday, it sets into motion a series of events that seem, at first, fortunate for one.

I haven't read a story from Wharton yet that's happy. There's a lot of humanity, to be sure, but not a lot of joy. The characters evoke a lot of sympathy and paint a portrait of life for the majority, not the wealthy, who were more typically the main characters in novels. There's value in the reading, but it's not real uplifting.

Food: dry saltine crackers. Not bad, but not nourishing.

Fev 19, 12:10 pm

544. Torrents of Spring

Dmitiry falls in love and needs to secure an income to get married. He bumps into a childhood classmate who has a wealthy wife, and has to spend a number of days with them in order to complete the transaction. Nothing good comes of this.

The story is short and relatively easy to predict. The moral of the story is obvious, and I do wonder about the social climate of the time and what Turgenev was warning against, specifically.

Food: boiled brussels sprouts. Other preparations are tastier, kinda mushy.

Fev 21, 9:10 pm

>439 Nickelini: I think all souffles fall unless they are served immediately after coming out of the oven- part of the cooling process, and doesn't actually change how they taste. They stay fluffy! Of course, most souffles I've had are served with a sauce...

I appreciate that someone likes my comparisons! I will tell you, it seems like a lot of books I've read recently are tepid tea!

Hoje, 12:44 am

>442 amaryann21: I appreciate that someone likes my comparisons! I will tell you, it seems like a lot of books I've read recently are tepid tea!

Indeed. I've thought of adopting your rating method, but I expect my lack of creativity would soon catch up with me. If you just want to write "tepid tea" over and over again, I will support you with that decision.