Monday, July 21, 2008

Gift from the Sea

Finished Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I purchased it at the Kerrytown Book Fair one year. I found it to be rather dated in its discussion of the inner life of womankind. This is not surprising since it was written in 1955. The shell motifs used to define each chapter are clever, but I'm afraid a found the book a bit dull.

Years of Grace

Finished Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes, which won the Pulitzer in 1931. It follows the story of Jane Ward, a fourteen year old girl, living in in Chicago in the late 1800s. We follow Jane as she grows up, experiences the three loves of her life, and sees the world around her change drastically. It was interesting to see certain products like saccharine and Karo appear in homes. The reader also sees the landscape of Chicago change as well. It's a grounded story. The characters are very real as are their situations. A great family saga novel. I really enjoyed it.

There were times when the book reminded me of The Forsyte Saga. Imagine my delight when Jane is at the reading of her father-in-law's will and remembers the passage "Soames Forsyte would cut up a very warm man."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Another List

According to The Big Read the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. Hmmm...probably true, but let's give it a try.

Below is a list of the top 100, with instructions for how to post the meme on your blog.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Put a line through the books you HATE.
5) Post your list in your blog.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - A A Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - L M Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E B White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

45 read and 7 on my TBR list. I'm pleased to see so much children's literature on the list (14).

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Far Cry from Kensington

Finished A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark. It was not originally on my summer reading list, however, the Anglophiles Anonymous group I belong to on Shelfari decided to read it together, so I picked it up at the library. A somewhat irreverent book, it features one of the quirkiest cast of characters I've ever encountered. Mrs. Hawkins, the narrator leads us through the tale of these characters, some residents of the rooming house where she lives, others colleagues from her "job in publishing." Mrs. Hawkins is extremely capable, extremely reliable, extremely patient, until one day she loses her patience and calls a hack writer to his face what she has called him in her head for a very long time. This phrase, while pretty accurate, causes her to lose several jobs and starts a chain of bizarre events, that while comic, are rather tragic as well. This was a weird book. Spark employs the phrase a few times too many for my tolerance, but otherwise it was a quick and amusing read. The only other book by Spark that I've read is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which was excellent of course.