Monthly Archives: March 2016

Copycat Covers

I finally found one!

Its the same cover, just flipped. One is a fiction and the other is a non-fiction about the fashion industry and only 3 years apart.

1048517  4993001

100 Best British Books via BBC

This is from December, but I love any opportunity to go through a list of books and cross off the ones I read. Its like the ultimate checklist…for hobbies rather than errands and other tedious to-dos.

This particular list was compiled by the following, according to the BBC post.

Lev Grossman (Time), Mary Ann Gwinn (Seattle Times), Ainehi Edoro (Brittle Paper), Mark Medley (Toronto Globe and Mail), Fintan O’Toole (The Irish Times), Stephen Romei and Geordie Williamson (The Australian), Sam Sacks  (The Wall Street Journal) and Claiborne Smith (Kirkus Reviews).  Others are literary scholars, including Terry Castle, Morris Dickstein, Michael Gorra, Carsten Jensen, Amitava Kumar, Rohan Maitzen, Geoffrey O’Brien, Nilanjana Roy and Benjamin Taylor. Each who participated submitted a list of 10 British novels, with their pick for the greatest novel receiving 10 points. The points were added up to produce the final list.

I’ve read 22 of 100. Yikes! That’s pretty terrible for an Anglophile. Does it count if I’ve watched the movie? No? Rats.

100. The Code of the Woosters (PG Wodehouse, 1938)
99. There but for the (Ali Smith, 2011)
98. Under the Volcano (Malcolm Lowry,1947)
97. The Chronicles of Narnia (CS Lewis, 1949-1954) * Books 1 -3 *
96. Memoirs of a Survivor (Doris Lessing, 1974)
95. The Buddha of Suburbia (Hanif Kureishi, 1990)
94. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (James Hogg, 1824)
93. Lord of the Flies (William Golding, 1954)
92. Cold Comfort Farm (Stella Gibbons, 1932)
91. The Forsyte Saga (John Galsworthy, 1922)
90. The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins, 1859)
89. The Horse’s Mouth (Joyce Cary, 1944)
88. The Death of the Heart (Elizabeth Bowen, 1938)
87. The Old Wives’ Tale (Arnold Bennett,1908)
86. A Legacy (Sybille Bedford, 1956)
85. Regeneration Trilogy (Pat Barker, 1991-1995)
84. Scoop (Evelyn Waugh, 1938)
83. Barchester Towers (Anthony Trollope, 1857)
82. The Patrick Melrose Novels (Edward St Aubyn, 1992-2012)
81. The Jewel in the Crown (Paul Scott, 1966)
80. Excellent Women (Barbara Pym, 1952)
79. His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman, 1995-2000)
78. A House for Mr Biswas (VS Naipaul, 1961)
77. Of Human Bondage (W Somerset Maugham, 1915)
76. Small Island (Andrea Levy, 2004)
75. Women in Love (DH Lawrence, 1920)
74. The Mayor of Casterbridge (Thomas Hardy, 1886)
73. The Blue Flower (Penelope Fitzgerald, 1995)
72. The Heart of the Matter (Graham Greene, 1948)
71. Old Filth (Jane Gardam, 2004)
70. Daniel Deronda (George Eliot, 1876)
69. Nostromo (Joseph Conrad, 1904)
68. A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess, 1962)
67. Crash (JG  Ballard 1973)
66. Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen, 1811)
65. Orlando (Virginia Woolf, 1928)
64. The Way We Live Now (Anthony Trollope, 1875)
63. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Muriel Spark, 1961)
62. Animal Farm (George Orwell, 1945)
61. The Sea, The Sea (Iris Murdoch, 1978)
60. Sons and Lovers (DH Lawrence, 1913)
59. The Line of Beauty (Alan Hollinghurst, 2004)
58. Loving (Henry Green, 1945)
57. Parade’s End (Ford Madox Ford, 1924-1928)
56. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (Jeanette Winterson, 1985)
55. Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift, 1726)
54. NW (Zadie Smith, 2012)
53. Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys, 1966)
52. New Grub Street (George Gissing, 1891)
51. Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy, 1891)
50. A Passage to India (EM Forster, 1924)
49. Possession (AS Byatt, 1990)
48. Lucky Jim (Kingsley Amis, 1954)
47. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Laurence Sterne, 1759)
46. Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie, 1981)
45. The Little Stranger  (Sarah Waters, 2009)
44. Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel, 2009)
43. The Swimming Pool Library (Alan Hollinghurst, 1988)
42. Brighton Rock (Graham Greene, 1938)
41. Dombey and Son (Charles Dickens, 1848)
40. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll, 1865)
39.  The Sense of an Ending (Julian Barnes, 2011)
38. The Passion (Jeanette Winterson, 1987)
37. Decline and Fall (Evelyn Waugh, 1928)
36. A Dance to the Music of Time (Anthony Powell, 1951-1975)
35. Remainder (Tom McCarthy, 2005)
34. Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005)
33. The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame, 1908)
32. A Room with a View (EM Forster, 1908)
31. The End of the Affair (Graham Greene, 1951)
30. Moll Flanders (Daniel Defoe, 1722)
29. Brick Lane (Monica Ali, 2003) * Read halfway before abandoning
28. Villette (Charlotte Brontë, 1853)
27. Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe, 1719)
26. The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien, 1954) * Books 1 – 3, just don’t ask for any details, I read them in a rush after seeing the movies.  
25. White Teeth (Zadie Smith, 2000)
24. The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing, 1962)
23. Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy, 1895)
22. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (Henry Fielding, 1749)
21. Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad, 1899)
20. Persuasion (Jane Austen, 1817)
19. Emma (Jane Austen, 1815)
18. Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro, 1989)
17. Howards End (EM Forster, 1910)
16. The Waves (Virginia Woolf, 1931)
15. Atonement (Ian McEwan, 2001)
14. Clarissa (Samuel Richardson,1748)
13. The Good Soldier (Ford Madox Ford, 1915)
12. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)
11. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen, 1813)
10. Vanity Fair (William Makepeace Thackeray, 1848)
9. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)
8. David Copperfield (Charles Dickens, 1850)
7. Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë, 1847)
6. Bleak House (Charles Dickens, 1853)
5. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë, 1847)
4. Great Expectations (Charles Dickens, 1861)
3. Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf, 1925)
2. To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf, 1927)
1. Middlemarch (George Eliot, 1874)

February Recap

February has really been a bizarre and busy month for me. I read a lot but had absolutely no time to sit in front of WordPress to type anything significant about what I read. Here’s hoping for a quieter March.

Quick Stats:

  • Books Read: 7
  • Fiction: 7
  • Nonfiction 0
  • Audio: 4
  • Print: 2
  • Ebook: 1

But this is what I did read, in a series of mini-reviews, for February.

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1)

Maisie Dobbs (book 1) by Jacqueline Winspear. I feel like I read a Maisie Dobbs novel years ago, but I honestly can’t remember. Reading this first book in the series in a wonderful introduction to Maisie. In fact, that’s pretty much all this book is, an introduction and history of Maisie Dobbs. There is a mystery to be solved, but it doesn’t really appear until the near of the book. In the meantime, there is a wonderful history lesson in there about the WW1 and pre WW2 era. It’s an era of historical fiction that’s often neglected in favor of WW2. I like Maisie as a character though. She’s smart, she’s quiet and she’s very observant. She’s also so much better than Daisy Darylmple. Daisy almost feels like a parody of Maisie Dobbs now that I’ve read both books.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin. I am such a fan of Melanie Benjamin and her historical fiction. I devoured this book in about two days once I spotted it at the library. Its full of gossip and scandal, covering Truman Capote’s short stint as a literacy genius running with the “IT” crowd of socialites of the 1960’s and his eventual fallout from the group. I don’t think this was her strongest book, I think her strength is getting into the head of women more than men. But it was a good book for the month nonetheless.

Brooklyn

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. I had read so many good reviews about this book and its been all over the book-blog-o-sphere. I was thoroughly disappointed by the lack of depth or action in this book. Ellis is a flimsy character who does as she is told. Whether its to pack up and move across the ocean from Ireland to New York or marry a man she has iffy feelings about. There were a number of avenues that the author hinted at that could have made the book so much better had he explored those paths.

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café (At the Cupcake Café, #1)

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan. One of my favorite pick-me-up genres: Opening a Bakery changed my sad-sap life. In this tale, Issy has been let go from her job where she had an off-and-on affair with her boss. Down and destitute, Issy puts her severance package to good use opening up a little coffee off the beaten path and turning her hobby of baking into a real business. Along way, there is drama, yummy-mummy scandals and even a love triangle or two. The book is also sprinkled with wonderful cupcake recipes worth attempting.

A Window Opens

A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan. When Alice’s husband quits his high-powered attorney job at a major firm, Alice picks up the slack by quitting her part-time job of book reviewer for a full-time position at a major online book corporation not too dissimilar to Amazon. Along the way, she struggles with the balance of work, family, kids, husband and a sick father. Although at first glance it seems like a typical chick-lit book, I really appreciate how Egan did not glamorize the do-it-all persona of working moms. We can’t and don’t do it all. It is a constant struggle and more often than not, we guilty for whatever choice we made whether its family first or work first.

The Night Manager

The Night Manager by John Le Carre. Lets be real here. This book has been adapted into a mini-series staring Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston. It’ll air on AMC in the US sometime in April or May. So, of course I had to read it in preparation for the show. I liked the book a lot though. This genre is definitely not in my usual repertoire of books and it was a welcome change of pace from what I usually read. The characters were rich and full of depth and history. The story was interwoven so seamlessly and it never dulled or strayed. I could see myself reading more of Le Carre in the future.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce. I immediately picked up this title after I finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I wanted the story to continue and it did. Queenie’s side of the history adds so much more flavor and character to Harold and his family. I’m glad I read Harold Fry first, although the two books can be read independent of each other. I wonder what it would have been like to read them in reverse order actually. What would Harold’s pilgrimage to Queenie have been like had I known her side of the story first? It’s a wonderful book with wonderful and endearing characters. It’s equally heartbreaking though. I cried through the majority of the ending. Have a box of tissues at the ready with this title.