Sunday, 1 January 2017

David Bowie's Top 100 Books.

I meant to start this challenge in 2016 but never quite made it. I'm eager to dive between the pages and see where they take me. Here are his top picks, as listed on and confirmed in The Guardian. 

  1. Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
  2. Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
  3. Room At The Top by John Braine
  4. On Having No Head by Douglass Harding
  5. Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard
  6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  7. City Of Night by John Rechy
  8. The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  9. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  10. Iliad by Homer
  11. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  12. Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo
  13. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
  14. Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell
  15. Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
  16. Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall
  17. David Bomberg by Richard Cork
  18. Blast by Wyndham Lewis
  19. Passing by Nella Larson
  20. Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto
  21. The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
  22. In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner
  23. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
  24. The Divided Self by R. D. Laing
  25. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  26. Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman
  27. The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf
  28. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
  29. Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter
  30. The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  31. The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodieby Muriel Spark
  32. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  33. Herzog by Saul Bellow
  34. Puckoon by Spike Milligan
  35. Black Boy by Richard Wright
  36. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  37. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima
  38. Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
  39. The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot
  40. McTeague by Frank Norris
  41. Money by Martin Amis
  42. The Outsider by Colin Wilson
  43. Strange People by Frank Edwards
  44. English Journey by J.B. Priestley
  45. A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  46. The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West
  47. 1984 by George Orwell
  48. The Life And Times Of Little Richard by Charles White
  49. Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn
  50. Mystery Train by Greil Marcus
  51. Beano (comic, ’50s)
  52. Raw (comic, ’80s)
  53. White Noise by Don DeLillo
  54. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom by Peter Guralnick
  55. Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage
  56. Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley
  57. The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillete
  58. Octobriana And The Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky
  59. The Street by Ann Petry
  60. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
  61. Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.
  62. A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn
  63. The Age Of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby
  64. Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz
  65. The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
  66. The Bridge by Hart Crane
  67. All The Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd
  68. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
  69. Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
  70. The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
  71. Tales Of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders
  72. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
  73. Nowhere To Run The Story Of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey
  74. Before The Deluge by Otto Friedrich
  75. Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia
  76. The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford
  77. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  78. Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
  79. Teenage by Jon Savage
  80. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
  81. The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
  82. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  83. Viz (comic, early ’80s)
  84. Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)
  85. Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara
  86. The Trial Of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
  87. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
  88. Maldodor by Comte de Lautréamont
  89. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  90. Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weschler
  91. Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  92. Transcendental Magic, Its Doctine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi
  93. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
  94. The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
  95. Inferno by Dante Alighieri
  96. A Grave For A Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno
  97. The Insult by Rupert Thomson
  98. In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan
  99. A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes
  100. Journey Into The Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg

    Saturday, 31 December 2016

    2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

    If there is a reading challenge I am wildly excited about this year it's time for the annual edition of the Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge hosted by Melissa of Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf. I don't know about anyone else, perhaps it's only me, but I have what seems like a zillion books on  the craft just sitting on my shelves and I always seem to be distracted by books I need to review, or being in a funk, or just generally forgetting I have them. (Shhhhh It can happen. LOL)

    This year I am adamant that I am getting at least some of them read. I could give you all the details but honestly, Melissa has them already and I just know you want to click on her sparkly image above and read for yourself. I am personally aiming for Crone level which is 16-20 books that fit the criteria. I'm so psyched about this one.

    1. The Sin Eater's Last Confessions: Lost Traditions of Celtic Shamanism - Ross Heaven  (Jan 01)
    2. Power of the Witch: The Earth, the Moon, and the Magical Path to Enlightenment - Laurie Cabot with Tom Cowan (Jan 01)
    3. Fairycraft: Following the Path of Fairy Witchcraft - Morgan Daimler (Reading)

    Thursday, 29 December 2016

    The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

    Just like some of you here reading this, I've read some of these titles but most often there have been far too many years that have passed since. I am choosing to revisit the titles and start fresh. There seem to be multiple lists floating around. Some with 338 titles, some 339. I have chosen the one listed below since it is associated with a GoodReads group that read titles from this list together regularly. I can't wait to begin reading but two days to go before the challenge officially starts. I'm participating in a few reading challenges this year so do check out my 2017 Reading Challenges page. Maybe something will catch your eye and inspire you to boost your reading this year! I must add too, this challenge will span across a few years. I can't devour this many books in one year.

    1. 1984 by George Orwell
    2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    3. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
    4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
    5. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
    6. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
    7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    8. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
    9. Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
    10. The Art of Fiction by Henry James
    11. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
    12. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
    13. Atonement by Ian McEwan
    14. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
    15. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
    16. Babe by Dick King-Smith
    17. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
    18. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
    19. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
    20. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    21. Beloved by Toni Morrison
    22. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
    23. The Bhagavad Gita
    24. The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
    25. Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
    26. A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
    27. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    28. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
    29. Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
    30. Candide by Voltaire
    31. The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
    32. Carrie by Stephen King
    33. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    34. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
    35. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
    36. The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
    37. Christine by Stephen King
    38. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
    39. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
    40. The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
    41. The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
    42. The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
    43. A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
    44. Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
    45. The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
    46. Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
    47. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
    48. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
    49. Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
    50. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    51. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
    52. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
    53. Cujo by Stephen King
    54. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
    55. Daisy Miller by Henry James
    56. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
    57. David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
    58. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
    59. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
    60. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
    61. Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    62. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
    63. Deenie by Judy Blume
    64. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
    65. The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
    66. The Divine Comedy by Dante
    67. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
    68. Don Quijote by Cervantes
    69. Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
    70. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
    71. Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
    72. Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
    73. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
    74. Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
    75. Eloise by Kay Thompson
    76. Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
    77. Emma by Jane Austen
    78. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
    79. Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
    80. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
    81. Ethics by Spinoza
    82. Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
    83. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
    84. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
    85. Extravagance by Gary Krist
    86. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    87. Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
    88. The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
    89. Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
    90. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
    91. The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
    92. Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
    93. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
    94. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
    95. Fletch by Gregory McDonald
    96. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    97. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
    98. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
    99. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    100. Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
    101. Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
    102. Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
    103. Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
    104. George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
    105. Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
    106. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
    107. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
    108. The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
    109. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
    110. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
    111. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    112. The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
    113. The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
    114. The Graduate by Charles Webb
    115. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    116. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    117. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    118. The Group by Mary McCarthy
    119. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
    120. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
    121. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
    122. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
    123. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
    124. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
    125. Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
    126. Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
    127. Henry V by William Shakespeare
    128. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
    129. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
    130. Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
    131. The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
    132. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
    133. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
    134. How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
    135. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
    136. How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
    137. Howl by Allen Gingsburg
    138. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
    139. The Iliad by Homer
    140. I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
    141. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
    142. Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
    143. Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
    144. It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
    145. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
    146. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
    147. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
    148. The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
    149. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
    150. Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
    151. The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
    152. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 
    153. Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
    154. The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
    155. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
    156. The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
    157. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
    158. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
    159. Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
    160. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    161. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
    162. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
    163. The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
    164. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
    165. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
    166. Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
    167. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    168. The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
    169. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
    170. The Love Story by Erich Segal
    171. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
    172. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
    173. The Manticore by Robertson Davies
    174. Marathon Man by William Goldman
    175. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
    176. Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
    177. Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
    178. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
    179. The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
    180. Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
    181. The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
    182. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
    183. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    184. The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
    185. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
    186. The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
    187. Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
    188. A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
    189. Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
    190. Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
    191. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
    192. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
    193. Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
    194. My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
    195. My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
    196. My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
    197. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
    198. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
    199. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
    200. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
    201. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
    202. Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
    203. New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
    204. The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
    205. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
    206. Night by Elie Wiesel
    207. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
    208. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
    209. Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
    210. Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
    211. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    212. Old School by Tobias Wolff
    213. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
    214. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
    215. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    216. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
    217. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    218. The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
    219. Oracle Night by Paul Auster
    220. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
    221. Othello by Shakespeare
    222. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
    223. The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
    224. Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
    225. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
    226. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
    227. The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
    228. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    229. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
    230. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    231. Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
    232. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
    233. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
    234. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
    235. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
    236. The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
    237. The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
    238. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    239. Property by Valerie Martin
    240. Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
    241. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
    242. Quattrocento by James Mckean
    243. A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
    244. Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
    245. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
    246. The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
    247. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
    248. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
    249. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
    250. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
    251. Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
    252. The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien
    253. R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
    254. Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
    255. Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
    256. Roman Fever by Edith Wharton
    257. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
    258. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
    259. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
    260. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
    261. Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
    262. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
    263. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
    264. The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
    265. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    266. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
    267. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
    268. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
    269. Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
    270. Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
    271. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
    272. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
    273. Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
    274. Sexus by Henry Miller
    275. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    276. Shane by Jack Shaefer
    277. The Shining by Stephen King
    278. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
    279. S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
    280. Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    281. Small Island by Andrea Levy
    282. Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
    283. Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
    284. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
    285. The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
    286. Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
    287. The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
    288. Songbook by Nick Hornby
    289. The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
    290. Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
    291. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
    292. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
    293. Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
    294. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
    295. The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
    296. A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
    297. Stuart Little by E. B. White
    298. Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
    299. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
    300. Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
    301. Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
    302. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
    303. Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    304. Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
    305. Time and Again by Jack Finney
    306. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    307. To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
    308. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    309. The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
    310. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
    311. The Trial by Franz Kafka
    312. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
    313. Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
    314. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
    315. Ulysses by James Joyce
    316. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
    317. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
    318. Unless by Carol Shields
    319. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
    320. The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
    321. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
    322. Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
    323. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
    324. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
    325. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
    326. Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
    327. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
    328. We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
    329. What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
    330. What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
    331. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
    332. Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
    333. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
    334. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
    335. The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
    336. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
    337. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
    338. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

    Thursday, 18 June 2015

    Book Trailer: French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley by Linda Kovic-Skow

    I'm going to be reading and reviewing this title in the next month. I'm happy to be continuing reading about France, having just recently finished Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod (review coming very soon). In the meantime, enjoy this book trailer.

    Wednesday, 17 June 2015

    BLOG TOUR: Every Father's Daughter edited by Margaret McMullan

    Published by McPherson & Company

    What comes to mind when you think about the word father? What does it mean to you personally? In Every Father's Daughter, Margaret McMullan has brought together twenty four incredibly gifted writers to share their deeply personal essays on this very subject.

    Where to start on this book? I try not to go into reading experiences with any expectations but I couldn't help it. When this title landed on my desk, I was a little hesitant because I haven't had, until recently, a stable father figure in my life. I had thought, albeit briefly, that this book would be celebrating all that was wonderful about father/daughter dynamics, and mostly by focusing on healthy and 'normal' relationships if such creatures exist.

    As soon as I read the introductions, I knew I was in for something completely different and before we had even reached the first essay, I was firmly hooked. The fathers in this book are not the perfect figures that we dream about, but very real, very human, very fallible. The relationships detailed are not perfect, and while there is happiness and joy within these pages, there can also be found sadness, longing, regret, and often a curiosity that is never quite satisfied.  It's not a book to be rushed through, but rather to be savoured, and considered.

    Even though the experiences were far different from my own, I found myself able to connect with much of the content, and empathize with the writers as I bore witness to their heartfelt testaments that almost always felt as though they were each discovering something new about themselves and their father. If I had one question to ask the writers, it would be about that. Whether the essays were as cathartic as I feel they would have been. At times reading the words upon the page caused a mild discomfort as though I, the reader, was peeking into the personal and secret diary of another. I don't intend for that to sound as negative as it may come across, rather it just gave me pause, and I appreciated the courage that it took to lay it all out on the pages.

    This book runs through such a diverse set of experiences, and as you would expect from such a scenario, it also leads the reader on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. It's beautiful and tragic, raw and gritty, uplifting and devastating all at once, and while the elegant design may lead you to believe that it is a book written by women, for women, don't let that deceive you. This is a book that every father and father-to-be should have on their shelf.

    I have to comment too on the interior layout. Some pages separate the content and have a muted grey design which I found added to the luxurious style that I so enjoy in this collection. At first I had taken it as looking very feminine but the more I read, the more I noticed it, the more it brought to mind the paisley design that I have always enjoyed and found so masculine and easy on the eyes.  It may seem irrelevant, and perhaps the bibliophile in me pays far too much attention to detail, but it really did add something to the experience for me, and again, reinforced that this book is not for women only.

    All in all, I loved this book. Was it hard to read? At times, I found it mildly triggering having come from an abusive background but that discomfort was brief, and ultimately so very worthwhile. Margaret McMullan speaks of more essays that didn't make it into the book and I'd be happy to see another volume released.  What I'd love to see too, is a volume focused on the same relationship, but written by fathers.

    The takeaway? Great book. Not a fluffy read. A great gift for the upcoming Fathers Day weekend.

    Update: 18/06/2015

    I think this is a first for me. That I've gone back to a review to add content, because a book has lingered with me, almost hauntingly.  This morning I find myself thinking back over the essays, over the people within the pages, and most especially, the family connection and deep history that explains, or tries to at least, the characteristics of the loved ones featured. I find myself enamoured most especially by Alice Munro's contribution Working for a living which really captured the essence of family, and teamwork, and so much more. Also Joyce Maynard's My Father's Bible which didn't so much tug at the heartstrings, as masterfully and gently with perfect precision, play them much like a master musician and their most cherished instrument. Yesterday it was an essay to me. Today it feels like so much more.  I know this book is going to be remaining on my shelf for many years to come, close by where I can take it down from time to time, and savour the experience again. One essay at a time.  I've definitely fallen for this book.

    Authors Website:

    BLOG TOUR: Every Father's Daughter. A Q&A with Margaret McMullan

    I was really excited to be approached about this tour, though I'll admit, I was also uncertain how much I would connect with this book, given the subject matter. Paternal relationships are not my strong suit. The man I grew up believing to be my father, turned out not to be but given that much of my experience with him was violent, and highly inappropriate, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. My father by birth is another story altogether. We found each other late in life and we are still very much learning about each other. I was pleasantly surprised though. I have so many thoughts to share on this book, and I look forward to posting them a little later today but I thought I would start by sharing a Q&A with Margaret McMullan first.

    1. How did you decide which authors to reach out to for this collection?

    In the last month of my father’s life, I read to him Alice Munro’s essay, “Working for a Living.” We had one of our last book discussions about that fox farm, the cold work, and the landscape of Canada. She was the first person I contacted. I wrote her a letter and a few months later she called and said yes, of course you can reprint my essay. I was just stunned. The other authors followed. I invited the authors my father loved or had met at some point in his life. He had dinner with Lee Smith once and she was so quick to respond. Lee led me to Jill McCorkle. I also included three former students. In the end, this collection of women writers became one big circle of friends.

    2. How did your vision for this collection evolve from the start to end of this project?

    At first I saw this as a collection of southern writers, men and women. But then I realized I just wanted to hear from women, daughters. I moved away from regionalizing it when I began thinking of my father’s literary tastes and what kind of man he was. He was southern but he was also very much shaped by Chicago and the Mid-West. Each time I read an essay, I would think, Would Dad like this?

    3. What most surprised you about the creation of Every Father's Daughter?

    I was surprised how difficult such a great collection was to get published. Jane Smiley had a Pulitzer, Maxine Hong Kingston won the National Book Award, and Alice Munro had just won a Nobel Prize. I felt this book was no-proof. Who wouldn’t want to read these writers on this particularly personal subject? And who wouldn’t want to read about fathers? I’ve always thought this collection was a sure thing, but it was much more difficult to find a publisher than I had imagined. Apparently, anthologies were no longer fashionable in the publishing industry. One editor, who declined the book, has since contacted me to tell me how she genuinely regrets not taking it.

    4. In your introduction, you talk about how this book was a way for you to grieve. How did you come to realize this?

    This particular work felt meaningful because all along I thought so much about my father. I started soon after my father died. The work – reaching out to other women, asking for their stories, and then reading them was therapeutic because it reminded me that there are other emotions besides grief. After a while, after I organized and put together the book, after I wrote my own essay, my grief transformed. It felt less like sadness and more like love.

    I have encountered so many readers who have read the book and want to talk about an essay, and then, inevitably, these readers begin to tell me about their fathers. A conversation starts. This book has a power. We are remembering our fathers, and, in some cases, bringing them back to life.

    5. Did you come to realize anything about your relationship with your father as you read through the essays in this collection?

    I knew from the start that we were close, and that a good part of that closeness was how we stayed connected through literature. Now, I realize exactly how close we really were.

    Check back this afternoon for my review of Every Father's Daughter. See you then!

    Friday, 21 November 2014

    November: The Twenty-First

    Our daily adventure continues right here with The Twenty-First instalment of November: Ralph Conway's Immortal Diary. If this is your first day with us, I'd recommend you click here for links to the preface and previous instalments.
    The content appears here on The Literary Word courtesy of Table 13 Ltd


    I don’t normally listen at keyholes, but I couldn’t help overhearing this conversation between Eric and Chloe this morning - in which Eric was wondering if he ought to suggest to me that I go and see a psychiatrist. Mavis was in the upstairs bathroom. I descended a flight and was about to go into theirs, when I heard Chloe say: “Who?”
    To which Eric replied: “Ralph.” 
    I was riveted.
    “If anyone needs a psychiatrist,” said Chloe, “it’s you.”
    “Yes. You.”
    “What for?” asked Eric in a mystified tone of voice.
    “For offering him a job.”
    “He’ll be fine.”
    “You’ve got a short memory when it suits you.”
    “Anyway, he won’t take it.”
    “Huh. It’s so depressing having him festering in that room.”
    The idea of me going to see a psychiatrist is ridiculous. The biggest mistake I ever made was leaving this confounded book where Joan could get her prying little eyes on it. I don’t know - maybe it’s all worked out for the best. If she ever thought I entertained the notion of being immortal, she now knows I must have been disillusioned. But when she read this, I had not yet died up at Alison’s flat and really come back to life again as myself three days later. That’s still my secret, and I’m hanging onto it. I’m hanging onto it.
    There’s been a good Sunday feeling in the house today. Eric has all the Sunday papers of course. Mavis took the children out, and we settled down with a forest or two of newsprint and the television. The efficiency of the Epstein central heating is such that Chloe could quite comfortably lounge about on the floor in nothing but knickers and a large T-shirt. Joan is always banging on about me fancying Chloe. I always say I don’t, which has, what’s more, been true. Or more or less true. But she was sitting there, leaning on her hand, with her left leg out and her right leg bent, and I found myself looking at the little strip of mons-hugging white cotton that was ... you know. Eric had his nose in the News of the World. Chloe was studying the Observer. 
    And then, what with one thing and another, I found myself considering this part of Chloe’s anatomy in more detail and the phrase, Chloe’s clitoris, just sort of popped into my mind. Chloe’s Clitoris! It sounds like one of those French films. If you enjoyed “Clare’s Knee”, you’ll love “Chloe’s Clitoris”! 
    And, what with one thing and another, these musings gave me a ferocious hard-on under the Sunday Times Colour Supplement, which I had let fall onto my lap. Then Chloe looked at me and saw to which part of her anatomy my eyes were glued. I think I may also have been licking my lips at the time. Our eyes met. Mine probably looked lecherous and embarrassed. Hers were annoyed. She pulled the T-shirt well down over her bum. I averted my eyes to the television, just as the Blue Danube Waltz began to emerge from it.
    Twice in two days! It’s always the way. My raging erection subsided as I became sucked into the film, which was “Goodbye Mr Chips”, starring Robert Donat. And anyway, Chloe’s got herpes. Or so Joan tells me.
    The tears started from the moment that Mr Chips ran down the railway platform in Vienna and proposed marriage to the girl, whom he loved, but whose address he did not know, as her train pulled out of the station. They kept on coming. They just sort of leaked out of my eyes. But the crunch came when - there’s this boy at the school called Collie, or Collis, Collie, I can’t remember which. Anyway, on his first day at the school, this Collie gets into a fight with one of the local boys. Come World War 1, Collie becomes an officer in the army. Before he goes off to the front, he comes to say goodbye to Mr Chips - and guess who his batman is. Yes, it’s that lower class lad with whom he fought on the first day of school all those years ago.
    It was when Mr Chips announced to the boys in the school that this Collie had been killed going to save the life of his batman, not realising that the batman was already  mortally wounded - it was this that for some inexplicable reason sparked off a veritable explosion of grief inside me, which, loth as I was to give them any grounds for the Ralph-needs-a-psychiatrist cause, I found I couldn’t contain. Whoosh! Out it all came in a great heaving sob. I buried my head in my hands and sobbed away like a good’un. At which point, the children came in with Mavis, and I beat a retreat upstairs. There’s nothing like a damn good cry. I felt limp, but purged. I heard the front doorbell ring away downstairs and wondered who it was. Shortly afterward, Eric came up and told me that Normal and Hilarious had arrived, which is what he calls his parents behind their back. Their real names are Norman and Hilary. Eric sat down on the bed.
    “Are you alright?” he asked.
    “Yeah. I’m fine.” 
    “Well, we all know what F.I.N.E.’s an acronym for.”
    “Do we?”
    “Fucked-up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional.”
    I told Eric I’d come downstairs in a minute. I splashed cold water on my face. My eyes looked a bit red. I had some Murine in my jacket. When I went to get it, I came across the letter from my bank. I sat down on the bed and opened it. It was one of those chillingly formal letters that tell you you’ve reached your limit and as of now all cheques will be bounced. It was dated the sixteenth. With any luck they’ll be bouncing the cheque for dinner in Brighton - at least I’ll be revenged on the tinned green beans.
    Otherwise, the outlook is grim. Grim. I have £360 in my deposit account, and my current account is £485 overdrawn. Money. I hate, hate, hate money. Why should I have to worry about bloody money?
    I went downstairs. 
    Mr and Mrs Epstein were very pleased to see me. Most of the discussion centred around Christmas and what Dylan wanted in the way of presents. The last thing I need at this juncture is Christmas. I’ve never known Christmas not to occur at anything other than the most inconvenient time. 
    There was a programme on genetic engineering, which I’d missed earlier in the week and which was being repeated. Eric recorded it and said I could watch it later. I went out for a walk. It was wet and blowy. On the walk, I imagined that instead of going back to Eric and Chloe et al, I was going back to Joan and Cosmo, and that we were married. We got married in a church with all the trimmings. I pictured Joan pregnant with our second child. Tomorrow, I’d go off to work in my company car, to my £15,000 a year job: just like any normal boring trendy middle-class person. I conjured up this vision of myself - and I liked it. Ralph the Provider.
    So this is the final capitulation. This is what I’ve decided. Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I am going to propose formal marriage to Joan. Apart from anything else, what with one thing and another, marrying Joan, when you consider the alternatives, well, the word convenient springs to mind. Somehow or other, the idea of a marriage of convenience is much more acceptable to me. I mean, if a marriage is not convenient, what is the point in it?
    And now I shall go and watch that programme on genetic engineering.

    I'm really glad I was able to take part in this opportunity. It's rare that we are offered the chance to read a book, collectively on a blog before the book is released. I can't wait for the release date so I can pick up a copy for my bookshelf.  How are you all liking it so far?