Reading: 2023

Titles Read = 73

Barney’s Version — Mordecai Richler
Literature, relationships, Judaism, hockey. Nice.

Colonel Jack — Daniel Defoe
Picaresque.

City — Alessandro Baricco

Wives and Daughters — Elizabeth Gaskell
An excellent author but a long, tedious subject. I blame it all on the lack of television.

Farmerettes — Gisela Sherman
While the Canadian boys were away in the war, young women stepped in to do the necessary farm work. Would have made a good family-oriented movie of the week.

1876: A Novel — Gore Vidal
Politics and corruption in the time of Grant.

Captain Blood — Rafael Sabatini
Swashbuckling. Movie more exciting (Corngold?)

Scattered All Over the Earth — Yoko Tawada

Petty Troubles of Married Life — Honoré de Balzac

Manhattan Is My Beat — Jeffrey Deaver
First book of Rune trilogy.

The Murderer — Georges Simenon

Gun Island — Amitav Ghosh

Time Shelter — Georgi Gospodinov (+)

Maisie Dobbs — Jacqueline Winspear
A female detective inured in the blood and death of the Great War in England. Read this one first to understand the series.

The Corsican Brothers — Alexander Dumas

The House of Twenty Thousand Books — Sasha Abramsky
Not literature, rather a deep dive into rare books, Judaism, Communism, history, and family biography with the house as the coordinating image.

The Biographer’s Tale — A. S. Byatt

Jacob’s Room — Virginia Woolf

The 120 Days of Sodom — Le Marquis de Sade
This is a tough one and probably not recommended for book club discussion … unless?

The Nice Guys — Charles Ardai
Movie treatment. Watch the movie (more fun).

The New Life — Orhan Pamuk

Tipping the Velvet — Sarah Waters
Full of naughty bits … and socialism.

A Widow’s Story: A Memoir — Joyce Carol Oates
Excellent memoir.

Girl with Curious Hair — David Foster Wallace
An excellent collection of the author’s shorter fiction.

The Cremator — Ladislav Fuks (+)
German? Arian? What to do with the pesky Jews … for the benefit of mankind, of course. Short. Sharp.

Manhattan Beach — Jennifer Egan (-)
What was this novel about? I assume to show off the author’s research skills and to check off as many popular plot elements as possible.

A Coffin for Dimitrios — Eric Ambler

The Beginner’s Goodbye — Anne Tyler

Glue — Irvine Welsh
I despise dialect.

The Lacuna — Barbara Kingsolver
Interesting build-up to the Red scare of the 1950s. Narrative built through fiction of letters and journals, from Trotsky to MacCarthy.

The Shadow Puppet — George Simenon

S. — John Updike
Too Hari Krishna.

Barefoot Boy with Cheek — Max Shulman

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook — Anthony Bourdain
You can see how the author might have ended his life when you read this one.

The Thin Red Line — James Jones
Lots of philosophical musing about what being human means wrapped up in the violence and pain of war.

The Naked Jungle — Harry Whittington
A husband, wife, and boy friend lost on a deserted island. Just fun.

The Poe Shadow — Matthew Pearl
Historic characters, fictional characters, imaginary fictional characters.

At Bertram’s Hotel — Agatha Christie

Robert B. Parker’s Blood Feud — Mike Lupica
Sunny Randall.

The Case of the Rolling Bones — Erle Stanley Gardner

The Case of the Perjured Parrot — Erle Stanley Gardner

The Case of the Baited Hook — Erle Stanley Gardner

The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle — Tobias Smollett
Lots of adventures. Lots of words. This one will tire you out (or put you asleep).

Owen Glendower — John Cowper Powys
Obviously fiction, yet this was a period of English history that I was always vague in my understanding. Not sure this helped but it was somewhat familiar.

Final Jeopardy — Linda Fairstein

Lemprière’s Dictionary – Lawrence Norfolk (+)
History, fiction, multiple shifting narratives. A good story that requires much from the reader.

The Midnight Library — Matt Haig
You can access the multiverse at the library or possibly at the video store (RIP).

Betrayed by Rita Hayworth — Maanuel Puig

Neon Rain — James Lee Burke

Alien Rice — Ichiro Kawasaki
So many novels about people relocated to the western diaspora, especially the USA; this one reverses the story and we read about how an American reacted to living in Japan.

Joshua Then and Now — Mordecai Richler

The Motherfucker with the Hat — Stephen Adly Guirgis

Starship Troopers — Robert A. Heinlein
Lots of important ideas to think about in this somewhat juvenile action story. The movie based on this story was pretty exciting too.

A Boy and His Dog — Harlan Ellison
Also a great movie.

The Manchurian Candidate — Richard Condon (+)
The plot is the plot. Could it actually have happened? Ask Frank.

Teeth — Hannah Moskowitz
Imaginative but not spectacularly.

Maiden Castle — John Cowper Powys

Cane — Jean Toomer

Open Season — C. J. Box

Slag Attack — Andersen Prunty
Three Bizarro tales involving mutant slugs wiping out mankind. Fun.

A Field Guide to Reality — Joanna Kavenna
Very imaginative … approach to reality. An easy read but pay attention as this is not plot driven.

What Girls Learn — Karin Cook
Simple, popular fiction. YA?

The Magicians — Lev Grossman
It would not be fair to give this, the first novel of a trilogy, a rotten score when it’s simply a matter of my personal dislike of such fantasy fiction but the obvious lack of imagination other than that copied from other, possibly better, works has me straining to hold back.

Cecilia — Fanny Burney

The Executioner’s Song — Norman Mailer

The Princess Cassamassima — Henry James

Stalingrad — Vasily Grossman (+)

Gargantua & Pantagruel — François Rabelais (+)
This novel series (picaresque?) follows two giants, revealing lofty philosophy while still acknowledging the farts of a dead donkey and at the same time providing the reader with a broad portrait of life in the sixteenth century.

Some Came Running — James Jones
Very much dated although it is interesting to explore this long gone treatment of women in the society: you know, the desperate girls down at the brassiere factory who will do just about anything to catch a man’s attention. Also, way too long, which suggests a look back at the movie to see what was changed or left out in the adaptation.

A Glastonbury Romance — John Cowper Powys (+)
Interesting mix-up of Passion story with the Arthurian legend in an effort to promote this part of England not to mention its toying with communism. All fiction, of course. Long, detailed; full of characters and events. Recommended highly for readers who seek escape in simpler times and who eschew the flash of science fiction. Or you could go to the festival.

Time Regained — Marcel Proust (+)
This final volume of Recherche is full of the author’s conclusions on memory and life. Although long and often wordy, Recherche may be the most important and thought provoking book I have ever read. A must read, even if in translation.

The Origin of the Species — Charles Darwin (+)
Tedious but also interesting, both for what Darwin describes and also for the detail of the process of discovery. A must read (even those who deny Evolution have more to celebrate in Darwin than in any other entity).