Wednesday, January 20, 2010


1996 found me doing a great deal of rereading. One good thing about rereading is that LitAmnesia is less likely to occur.

1. The Snapper (novel) - Roddy Doyle. Re-read.

2. Zombie (novel) - Joyce Carol Oates. Oates gets into the mind of a serial killer who resembles Jeffrey Dahmer. She seems almost too comfortable in his skin. Chilling stuff.

3. A Prologue To Love (novel) - Taylor Caldwell. Re-read. Novel about the world's richest woman, an American named Caroline Ames Sheldon, and how various people in her life influenced her. Takes place in the years shortly after the Civil War and leading up to World War I. A little heavy handed, but good storytelling. I've always thought this could make a halfway decent movie.

4. Listening To Prozac (nonfiction) - Peter Kramer. Kramer discusses the different ways Prozac works on brain chemistry and presents testimonial after testimonial from people whose lives were miraculously changed by the little pill. I always meant to read Talking Back To Prozac, but never got around to it.

5. The Story of English (nonfiction) - MacNeil, Cran and McCrum. This was entertaining...I watched the PBS series as well. I love English so much; I'm soooooooo glad it's my native language. Thanks, Mom! Thanks, Dad!

6. Vox (novel) - Nicholson Baker. What I liked best about this novel, which takes place during a single phone sex conversation between two strangers is the recipe the woman gives for creamed dried beef and spiral pasta. Although I snickered appreciatively when she said that the pasta and the creamed dried beef sauce "make a sensual noise" when stirred together, after I read this book that dish went into the weekly rotation of meals. She used Stouffer's mix, but it's cheaper if you buy the dried beef in a jar and make your own sauce. Also, if the beef is too salty, you can rinse the stuff in the jar off a bit, which makes it a shade less unhealthy. Dang, I wish I had some now!

7. How The Irish Saved Civilization (nonfiction) - Thomas Cahill. I would really like to read this book again. Basically, while the Germanic tribes and the Vikings were running around ransacking Europe, the Irish monks were copying and hiding manuscripts that would have been irretrievably lost in the chaos and destruction.

8. Room Temperature (novel) - Nicholson Baker. A man looks at his life while he's doing a single nighttime bottle feeding of his infant child. I can't remember if the baby is a boy or girl.

9. Will Campbell and the Soul of the South (nonfiction) - Thomas L. Connelly. Will Campbell was an interesting person. As a pastor, first he ministered to black people in the South during the 1950s and 60s when it was quite dangerous to do so. Then, after the civil rights movement had gained some footing, he decided to minister to poor white racist people, saying that they couldn't help how their society had made them, and they needed grace most of all. His creed is that of St. Paul: "Be reconciled."

10. The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (novel) - Roddy Doyle. It's difficult to read the story of battered wife Paula Spencer, although from the way the story is written, the reader can see she's emerging from the worst of it. I would like to read the sequel to this book.

11. Letters To Alice On First Reading Jane Austen (novel) - Fay Weldon. In this epistolary novel, an aunt writes to her niece about Jane Austen. I remember the niece is struggling with her life, her novel and that she had green, spiky hair! A fun read for Austen fans.

12. Harriet Said... (novel) - Beryl Bainbridge. I vaguely remember two creepy little girls living in a resort town and making a game out of flirting with men and writing about it in a shared notebook.

13. Tony and Susan (novel) - Austin Wright. Now how could I forget a novel with my first name in the title?

14. Such Nice People (novel) - Sandra Scoppettone. She's a wonderful writer, but I seriously don't remember this book. I feel bad about that.

15. Clutter Control (nonfiction) - Jeff Campbell. Campbell wrote a series of books about how to clean and organize. I wish he could come and take my apartment in hand!

16. Rabbit, Run (novel) - John Updike. Re-read. How can such a despicable character like Rabbit Angstrom grab my heartstrings so hard?

17. Gardening For Dummies (nonfiction) - I liked the compost chapter the best, which speaks volumes about my gardening interest and skills.

18. The Budget Gardener (nonfiction) - Maureen Gilner. A lot of useful information. -- I remember feeling sorry that this was a library book.

19. Celestial Navigation (novel) - Anne Tyler. Re-read. During this next spate of Anne Tyler re-reading, I was clearly using reading to comfort myself. I think it's probably because I hated my job.

20. A Slipping-Down Life (novel) - Anne Tyler. Re-read. This early novel of Tyler's is one of my favorites.

21. Morgan's Passing (novel) - Anne Tyler. Re-read. Another Tyler favorite. I picked this up at Waldenbooks in the early 80s because the blurb on the front said that Morgan was like Garp, which was my favorite book at the time.

22. Searching For Caleb (novel) - Anne Tyler. Re-read.

23. Family Terrorists (novella and short stories) - Antonya Nelson. Sigh. All that Tyler left me with LitAmnesia!

24. Intuitive Eating (nonfiction) - Evelyn Tribole, M.S. R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S. R.D. I was in a TOPS group for a while and we took turns making presentations about eating healthily and getting the weight off. I did a book report about this book. We have to retrain ourselves to listen to our bodies tell us when they're really hungry and be aware of all the signals that masquerade as hunger. Also, if we start listening to our bodies, they'll tell us what we need to eat, like veggies and such. There was also a list of the different types of overeaters...the darkest one and the one that I couldn't quite wrap my head around was eating to punish oneself. Dark, disturbing. Overall, it was an informative, interesting read.

25. In The Beauty of the Lillies (novel) - John Updike. A multigenerational saga about religion in America. I seem to remember one of the characters falling into a cult that was like the Branch Davidians. I'd like to read this again. Changing the topic a little -- does anyone else have this problem: When a book is named after a song title or a bit of lyric, does the song play in your head constantly?

26. War and Peace (novel) - Leo Tolstoy. I have to admit that I ended up skimming most of the epilogue. Great novel, though.

27. Esio Trot (novel) - Roald Dahl. A mother-son read.

28. Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams (biography) - Lyle Leverich. I haven't read the Donald Spoto biography of Williams, but it seems a little more sensational than this one.

29. A Simple Path (nonfiction) - Mother Teresa.

30. Rabbit Is Rich (novel) - John Updike. Rabbit is 46 in this novel. His father-in-law has died and left the car dealership (now Toyota) to him. His son has gotten his girlfriend pregnant, so Rabbit is looking at grandparenthood. Age doesn't seem to have slowed him or Janice down; there's some icky and tacky 1970s stuff here like wife-swapping.

31. A Little Princess (novel) - Frances Hodgson Burnett. Re-read.

32. Anna Karenina (novel) - Leo Tolstoy. I liked this better than War and Peace, but again, the last chapter was too much. I don't really want pages and pages and pages and pages of Tolstoy's philosophy unless he can wrap it around some plot.

33. A Death In The Family (novel) - James Agee. Sad story about the death of the young father of a family who is killed in an automobile wreck as he goes to see about his own mortally ill father and how his death affects his wife and young children. Ironically, Agee would die and leave a young family before this book was completed. A family friend who was also an editor took the manuscript in hand and got it published to get money for the widow and 2 children. Winner of the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

34. Mary and the Giant (novel) - Philip K. Dick. Dick's mainstream fiction from the 1950s, before he broke through as a successful science fiction writer.

35. The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike (novel) - Philip K. Dick. More mainstream Dick from the same period. It's interesting to read his material from this period, but frustrating. How is it that his work didn't catch fire? It's really wonderful stuff.

36. David Copperfield (novel) - Charles Dickens. This was my first full-scale attempt at Dickens, but I didn't care for this novel. I shied away from him for years after this but finally felt some love in 2008 and 2009 when I read Great Expectations and The Old Curiosity Shop. Maybe I just finally got to the right time in my life for Dickens...who knows?

37. Puttering About In A Small Land (novel) - Philip K. Dick. Another mainstream novel, written in 1957. I believe this one is about a guy who owns a TV repair shop. His son goes off to boarding school, somehow adultery is a large part of the plot. Quirky and a great look at postwar America.

38. The Distinguished Guest (novel) - Sue Miller. I don't know why Sue Miller's novels don't stick with me. She and Kaye Gibbons.

39. The English Patient (novel) - Michael Ondaatje. Beautiful novel with unlikely characters coming together. I loved the language in this book and enjoyed the movie.

Fiction: 29

Nonfiction: 10

Male authors: 23

Female authors: 16

Books with multiple authors: 2

Canada: 1

Russia: 2

Ireland: 2

England: 4

USA: 30

1 comment:

  1. I'm having such fun reading through your old lists!

    - I have to agree, your #7 is a great book, one that is worth rereading.
    - YES, when titles are songs (as in #25) I sing them constantly.
    - Random thought on #36 - I tried reading this as a child and kept wondering when the famous magician would show up. LOL