If you loved Caesar’s Gallic wars in school but now, since the children have come along, have had less time to pursue your Latin reading, then this is for you. You would hardly think that it’s a huge market but apparently “Winnie Ille Pu” is a New York Times bestseller.
Archives for March 2011
I saw this before on Librarything and then it turned up on facebook (what is this facebook people speak of?) and felt I had to do it because I know I will triumph as I always finish everything.
The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. I’ve read 62. Ha. I knew, one day, I would be glad that I had read all of “A Hundred Years of Solitude”. I have bolded the ones I have read. Should you wish to do likewise, don’t let me stop you.
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 Dâ€™Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier [I heard the audiobook – does that count?]
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Travelerâ€™s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot (TWICE, I read it twice and I didn’t like it the first time – long story)
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 Hitchhikerâ€™s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
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 Corelliâ€™s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA 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 – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaidâ€™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 Jonesâ€™s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnightâ€™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 Inferno â€“ Dante
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 [I’ve read “Such a Long Journey” – that must count for something, it nearly killed me.]
87 Charlotteâ€™s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom [Please note, this may be one of the worst books I have ever read. I bought it in an airport; it was recommended by the bookshop staff.]
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
Daniel came home with a big cut across his forehead. “What happened to you?” I asked. “Mary Lou [McDonald, successful Sinn FÃ©in candidate in the recent election] hit me,” he said. “WHAT??” “Well, Michael, threw her at me and she hit me on the forehead.” It transpired that one of the candidate’s posters had fallen off a lamp post and Michael decided to test its aerodynamics by flinging it as his brother. I tell you, if it’s not one thing, it’s another.
“Greenwitch” by Susan Cooper
“The Grey King” by Susan Cooper
“Silver on the Tree” by Susan Cooper
So, I persisted with “The Dark is Rising” series – it’s alright, I suppose, but I think that there was something deeply appealing about the first book that is missing in the others. The author does have a great sense of place and that comes across in the settings of all of the books. I also like the way that she inserts Welsh phrases into “The Grey King” without translation or much by way of explanation. Nice touch. But for me, I think I am just too old to enjoy these properly. The nice thing about children’s books though, is how they respect the rules. In Greenwitch, the children are fighting the dark for the survival of mankind but they can only do it in the Easter holidays and our hero is worried that the week provided by the school authorities won’t be long enough. Well, rules are rules, even if evil is about to take over.
I thought the last book which was largely set in fantasy land was the weakest of the bunch. When she talks about England and Wales and an idealised landscape she is really quite unbeatable. The “Lost Land” is just tedious. But maybe not if you’re 13 which is probably when I should have read them.
“The Memory Chalet” by Tony Judt
A series of autobiographical essays, vaguely reminiscent of W.G. Sebald, except that I enjoyed them. The essays are full of nostalgia for the 40s, 50s and 60s which I found very appealing. They are very readable though about hard ideas so they make you feel clever. Always welcome. The one about French intellectuals is the best.
“Decca, The Letters of Jessica Mitford” edited by Peter Sussman [New Year’s resolution list]
Lads, this is a massive book. 700 odd pages. Why, oh why are American books so bloodly long?
Once you are sucked into the world of the Mitfords, you never really leave. Last summer I read “The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters” which was a collection of the sisters’ letters edited by Diana Mosley’s daughter-in-law Charlotte Mosley. I enjoyed it very much.
What this book suffers from by comparison is that it is all one voice. Only Jessica Mitford’s letters. The early letters are pretty dull but as she gets beyond her 20s, they are a lot more interesting. She becomes a much more compassionate and appealing person (I suppose we all do). And although she was doing very interesting things in her 20s, somehow she fails to convey much. I feel that she was probably putting up a brave front and that makes for a dull read.
If you are steeped in Mitford knowledge, then you will be aware that Jessica (or Decca – the nicknames, Lord, the nicknames – here’s a selection of the sisters’ nicknames for each other – Sooze, Cord, Honks, Bobo, Woman, Hen) is the second youngest, that she eloped to Spain with her cousin, Esmond Romilly; moved to America; stayed there when he died; married a radical lawyer and wrote about the American funeral industry. What I found really interesting was her life after Romilly’s death. This doesn’t really get a great airing in most of the accounts I have read. She was a committed communist, very happily married to a radical lawyer for the rest of her life. And she knew EVERYONE. Random example – Hillary Clinton was an intern in her husband’s office. They really were an extraordinary family. Each of the 6 daughters, other than Pam, did very, very unusual things. Jessica fell out with them all when she eloped with Romilly. As a dedicated communist, she was peeved with her sister Diana who married Oswald Mosley and didn’t see her for 34 years. There is a rather funny letter where she describes meeting Diana while weeding in her sister Nancy’s garden. When Diana asks what she is doing, she says that she refrained from saying that she was giving the irises lebensraum.
For someone so unconventional, she does seem to have been unhappy about her daughter living in sin. Not so much for the sin but because, I think, she felt that it made for a somewhat unstable relationship. She was a veteran of many anti-racism campaigns. She used to front to buy houses for black families in white neighbourhoods. In response to the regularly asked question “Would you let your daughter marry a negro?” she answered “Rather!” Her daughter’s partner was black.
I find myself veering wildly in my opinion as to whether I would like to be around her. At times her letters are so funny and loving and she bore all sorts of deprivations very cheerfully. But, my goodness, she was quarrelsome and not at all inclined to just let things go. In the end, I think this made her what she was but she could be difficult, I feel.
I did enjoy this book but it was just too long and I am already steeped in Mitford knowledge (though considering re-reading Nancy’s novels and “Hons and Rebels” after this). If you fancy getting into the Mitfords, and there’s plenty of material to go around, Charlotte Mosley’s book is just much better. If you’re there already, then this is worth a read. Perhaps more fun for an American audience than a European one as dramatis personae presumably better known.
“A Soldier for Eden” by James Congdon [New Year’s resolution list]
There is potentially excellent material here. This is the story of a young American boy who ends up joining the fedayeen by accident and proves himself an outstanding recruit. Unfortunately, the author has a gift for making everything dull. Not recommended.
Did I tell you that we are thinking of moving house? Well, we are. The man from the estate agent’s came around to look at the house and after some humming and hawing told me that it is now worth only just over two thirds of what we paid for it in 2002. Oh the pain.
To renew the children’s passports, we have to bring them to a police station and let a Garda look at them. This may or may not be because Mr. Waffle was not born in Ireland but in a country well known to harbour dangerous subversives (Canada, since you ask). So on Sunday we trooped into the station where the GardaÃ duly looked the children over and pronounced that they matched the photos. During that time, I fielded the following questions from the Princess based on a series of posters on the wall:
While doing this, I had also to break up a fist fight between the boys on the subject of Daniel’s wellingtons.
Unrelated: Praxis, please advise on the capitalisation of the title.