Pressed Freshly

To say I was excited to be freshly pressed today would be a bit of an understatement. It felt like Christmas and front row seats at a Backstreet Boy concert all rolled into one (as sad as that sounds)!

I have to say that although this image is funny, it genuinely disturbs me. Where are her parents?!

Though I started this blog a few months ago, it’s only last month that I started to commit myself to it, so I’m really thrilled (my statistics graph is hilarious). Thank you to WordPress and to my little group of followers from before. Hello to all you new ones, I promise you’ll never hear me mention the Backstreet Boys again 🙂

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Literary Cupcakes

How absolutely amazing are these cupcakes?!?! They literally bring my two great loves together: books and cupcakes.

Little Bites of Wisdom
Photo: thetwistgossip.com

I’m annoyed my birthday’s already passed, because this would have been ideal! Which is your favourite? I’m loving the ‘One Day’ cupcake!

Photo: thetwistgossip.com

 

Other Lives But Mine by Emmanuel Carrère; A Book Review

This book can only be described as beautiful. The words heart-breaking, the sentences haunting, the image built washed in sadness, but also with a precise understanding of human emotion. If there’s any book that forces you to think about your place in this world in relation to others, to think of life and death, of grief and loss, of happiness and contentment; it is this one written by Emmanuel Carrère (and translated by Linda Coverdale).

Reading Other Lives But Mine

Other Lives But Mine is a creative non-fiction novel, and I’ll let Carrère tell you in his own words what it’s about:

Every day for six months I deliberately spent several hours at the computer writing about what frightens me the most on this earth: the death of a child for her parents and the death of a young woman for her husband and children. Life made me a witness to those two misfortunes, one right after the other, and assigned me – at least that’s how I understood it – to tell that story.

I was instantly drawn in by the first part of the book which takes place in December 2004. Carrère and his girlfriend Hélène are on holiday in Sri Lanka with their respective sons. By sheer chance, on the catastrophic morning of the now infamous tsunami, they decide to remain at their cliff-top hotel instead of going down to the beach. A halfhearted decision that saves their lives. Juliette, the four year old daughter of a young couple they had recently befriended, was playing at the water’s edge when the wave hit.

Only yesterday evening they were like us and we like them, but something happened to them and not us, so now we belong to two separate branches of humanity.

Her death and those of thousands around them is a highly sobering event, causing Carrère to reflect on his own life (the night before the wave, he and Hélène had talked about separating). The cold stare of death and the courage of others through adversity allows them to find a new, deeper appreciation for one another. His description of the chaos that ensued and of the conflicting yet honest human emotions experienced post-disaster is truly mesmerising:

Shortly after their return from Sri Lanka, Carrère is once again witness to death; this time, of his girlfriend’s sister (also Juliette) to cancer. At just 32, she left behind a husband and three small children. Juliette had already suffered from cancer as a teenager, the treatment leaving her with one paralysed leg and the other partially so. Despite this setback she went on to succeed, graduating from law school to become a ‘good’ judge on a defiant pursuit of justice.

Juliette and her family live in a small French town called Rosier, living a life that is stripped back to basics. A life in Rosier was ‘life as it appeared in TV ads, average in all things, devoid not only of style but also of the sense that style might be something to strive for.’ It is a life that Carrère readily admits he does not want but recognises that choosing to live there is to choose love.

It is after her death that Carrère decides to start writing this book, first interviewing her close friend and fellow judge, Étienne (who has also lost a leg to cancer), and then her husband, Patrice. This is the part where I felt the book faltered. We spend a lot of time focusing on Étienne’s life and work and in trying to explain how together they were greats judges, I felt Carrère focused too much on the legal details and duly got bored. That’s the only time that I put the book down.

It’s probably worth mentioning that this book can be classed as metafiction because quite a bit of space is spent discussing the writing process and the actual text itself, almost as if to justify its authenticity or indeed Carrère’s credibility as a narrator. He is incredibly open about bits of the book that he considered leaving out or sought approval from his subjects before publishing. This whole project appears to be almost cathartic.

Juliette’s courage in the face of death and the courage of little Juliette’s parents to go on after the tsunami gives a real insight into human resilience and into the nature of love and acceptance. Carrère always found himself lacking and I suppose what he is ultimately trying to explain to us is that these two deaths have taught him how to love and be loved in return. Seeing Juliette on her death bed in Patrice’s arms is enough for him to know that her life has been a success.

This book is a contemplation on mortality and by extension, the strength of the connections we make with other humans while we are alive. There’s a line that Carrère reads from his hotel magazine in the aftermath of the tsunami that stuck with me: “If we knew how vulnerable it makes us, we’d never dare to be happy”, a sentiment he says does not concern him as he has never dared to be happy. Makes you think…

Although distracting in sections there are parts of this book that are, to quote a reviewer, ‘sheer brilliance’. The writing is unadorned, simple; yet it is searing. Carrère is certainly one to look out for. Will definitely look to reading some of his other titles.

In Cold Manipulation

The award for the most self-centred, arrogant **** (I realise there are numerous four letter insults out there, so feel free to insert as you feel appropriate) must certainly go to Truman Capote. I suppose we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead but, having watched Capote (starring Philip Seymour Hoffman) the other night, I was really repulsed by the picture that was built of this legendary writer.

Photo: Irving Penn

I read In Cold Blood almost ten years ago, randomly picking it off the library shelves without being fully aware of who Capote was and that this specific title is considered to be one of the American Greats. I just thought the story was quite interesting and was going through a ‘criminal minds’ phase. I should probably clarify that my mid teenage years were not spent devouring Great Novels and philosophising about the morals associated with obtaining a Subject for one’s next work of literature over a glass of red. I drank coke and watched The OC all day (Seth and Summer 4eva, haha).

With hindsight, this show really was a pile of sh*t

I’m sure you all know the story surrounding In Cold Blood so I’m not going to dwell on that, except to say that Capote chose to write a non-fiction novel based on the murder of a family in a small Kansas town. He soon developed a relationship with the two murderers  (Perry Smith and Richard Hickock) once they were caught ( I, personally, don’t believe all that nonsense about Capote having a romantic/sexual relationship with Perry), and proceeded to plow them for information so that he could write his book. The book was not completed until after the killers had been executed; their death necessary for a tidy finish to a book that took years of research to complete.

Is the sacrifice of a human life required for the next Great American Novel to be written? I mean, how far can writers be allowed to go in order to produce good work? I’m probably being a little overdramatic, but when someone’s death is required for you to satisfactorily complete your novel, then surely something is not quite right. To allow these people to trust you and then swiftly deceive them, purely as a means to your own end, does not sit right with me. But where do writers go for story ideas these days? (We know journalists in the UK hack phones, haha).

The killers were indeed killers, there’s no mistaking this, so should I be overly concerned about their well-being or the way in which they were treated when they obviously had little concern for the well-being of the Clutter family when they murdered them?

The years surrounding In Cold Blood were arguably the most important in Capote’s life. It’s difficult to determine what led to his alcoholism and eventual demise. Why was In Cold Blood the last piece of good work he produced?

Ultimately, I appreciate that Capote is indeed a film, that there’s obviously creative licence and it makes for a better film if he’s portrayed as an a**hole. I haven’t carried out extensive research to establish what is true and what isn’t, but what I did find was not conclusive. I did, however,  find this interesting interview with The New York Times where Capote talks about his writing process, how he defined a new genre, and how amazing he generally is. He will probably always be a mysterious character and will be talked about for years to come. I just needed to vent because that film just made me so angry, but the truth will hopefully be clarified one day so I can determine whether he really was either the unintrusive author or the manipulative opportunist. Or both.


1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

So I stumbled upon this list on Pinterest earlier today (also available below) and have spent the past half hour going through it. All 1001 entries. It’s from the book of the same name, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

And as an English Literature graduate, I’m ashamed to say my total only came up to 48!! I’m starting to regret those years of briefly skimming books so I had just enough knowledge to churn out an essay. So I can’t count the dozens of books that I couldn’t quite classify as having read (even if I intimately know the plots and can probably pull out a good quote if asked). That’s my excuse. I know there are a lot of these lists out there with varying entries (although respected book critics have evidently provided the entries for this particular book), and not reaching a high number on this list does not in any way make you a lesser human being (I think).

What’s your number? Are any one of these titles your favourite? And is there anything that’s not on here that should be?

2000s

  1. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  2. Saturday – Ian McEwan
  3. On Beauty – Zadie Smith
  4. Slow Man – J.M. Coetzee
  5. Adjunct: An Undigest – Peter Manson
  6. The Sea – John Banville
  7. The Red Queen – Margaret Drabble
  8. The Plot Against America – Philip Roth
  9. The Master – Colm Tóibín
  10. Vanishing Point – David Markson
  11. The Lambs of London – Peter Ackroyd
  12. Dining on Stones – Iain Sinclair
  13. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
  14. Drop City – T. Coraghessan Boyle
  15. The Colour – Rose Tremain
  16. Thursbitch – Alan Garner
  17. The Light of Day – Graham Swift
  18. What I Loved – Siri Hustvedt
  19. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
  20. Islands – Dan Sleigh
  21. Elizabeth Costello – J.M. Coetzee
  22. London Orbital – Iain Sinclair
  23. Family Matters – Rohinton Mistry
  24. Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
  25. The Double – José Saramago
  26. Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
  27. Unless – Carol Shields
  28. Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
  29. The Story of Lucy Gault – William Trevor
  30. That They May Face the Rising Sun – John McGahern
  31. In the Forest – Edna O’Brien
  32. Shroud – John Banville
  33. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
  34. Youth – J.M. Coetzee
  35. Dead Air – Iain Banks
  36. Nowhere Man – Aleksandar Hemon
  37. The Book of Illusions – Paul Auster
  38. Gabriel’s Gift – Hanif Kureishi
  39. Austerlitz – W.G. Sebald
  40. Platform – Michael Houellebecq
  41. Schooling – Heather McGowan
  42. Atonement – Ian McEwan
  43. The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen
  44. Don’t Move – Margaret Mazzantini
  45. The Body Artist – Don DeLillo
  46. Fury – Salman Rushdie
  47. At Swim, Two Boys – Jamie O’Neill
  48. Choke – Chuck Palahniuk
  49. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  50. The Feast of the Goat – Mario Vargos Llosa
  51. An Obedient Father – Akhil Sharma
  52. The Devil and Miss Prym – Paulo Coelho
  53. Spring Flowers, Spring Frost – Ismail Kadare
  54. White Teeth – Zadie Smith
  55. The Heart of Redness – Zakes Mda
  56. Under the Skin – Michel Faber
  57. Ignorance – Milan Kundera
  58. Nineteen Seventy Seven – David Peace
  59. Celestial Harmonies – Péter Esterházy
  60. City of God – E.L. Doctorow
  61. How the Dead Live – Will Self
  62. The Human Stain – Philip Roth
  63. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
  64. After the Quake – Haruki Murakami
  65. Small Remedies – Shashi Deshpande
  66. Super-Cannes – J.G. Ballard
  67. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
  68. Blonde – Joyce Carol Oates
  69. Pastoralia – George Saunders

1900s

  1. Timbuktu – Paul Auster
  2. The Romantics – Pankaj Mishra
  3. Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
  4. As If I Am Not There – Slavenka Drakuli?
  5. Everything You Need – A.L. Kennedy
  6. Fear and Trembling – Amélie Nothomb
  7. The Ground Beneath Her Feet – Salman Rushdie
  8. Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee
  9. Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
  10. Elementary Particles – Michel Houellebecq
  11. Intimacy – Hanif Kureishi
  12. Amsterdam – Ian McEwan
  13. Cloudsplitter – Russell Banks
  14. All Souls Day – Cees Nooteboom
  15. The Talk of the Town – Ardal O’Hanlon
  16. Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
  17. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
  18. Glamorama – Bret Easton Ellis
  19. Another World – Pat Barker
  20. The Hours – Michael Cunningham
  21. Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho
  22. Mason & Dixon – Thomas Pynchon
  23. The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
  24. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
  25. Great Apes – Will Self
  26. Enduring Love – Ian McEwan
  27. Underworld – Don DeLillo
  28. Jack Maggs – Peter Carey
  29. The Life of Insects – Victor Pelevin
  30. American Pastoral – Philip Roth
  31. The Untouchable – John Banville
  32. Silk – Alessandro Baricco
  33. Cocaine Nights – J.G. Ballard
  34. Hallucinating Foucault – Patricia Duncker
  35. Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels
  36. The Ghost Road – Pat Barker
  37. Forever a Stranger – Hella Haasse
  38. Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
  39. The Clay Machine-Gun – Victor Pelevin
  40. Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
  41. The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
  42. Morvern Callar – Alan Warner
  43. The Information – Martin Amis
  44. The Moor’s Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie
  45. Sabbath’s Theater – Philip Roth
  46. The Rings of Saturn – W.G. Sebald
  47. The Reader – Bernhard Schlink
  48. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
  49. Love’s Work – Gillian Rose
  50. The End of the Story – Lydia Davis
  51. Mr. Vertigo – Paul Auster
  52. The Folding Star – Alan Hollinghurst
  53. Whatever – Michel Houellebecq
  54. Land – Park Kyong-ni
  55. The Master of Petersburg – J.M. Coetzee
  56. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
  57. Pereira Declares: A Testimony – Antonio Tabucchi
  58. City Sister Silver – Jàchym Topol
  59. How Late It Was, How Late – James Kelman
  60. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
  61. Felicia’s Journey – William Trevor
  62. Disappearance – David Dabydeen
  63. The Invention of Curried Sausage – Uwe Timm
  64. The Shipping News – E. Annie Proulx
  65. Trainspotting – Irvine Welsh
  66. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
  67. Looking for the Possible Dance – A.L. Kennedy
  68. Operation Shylock – Philip Roth
  69. Complicity – Iain Banks
  70. On Love – Alain de Botton
  71. What a Carve Up! – Jonathan Coe
  72. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  73. The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields
  74. The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
  75. The House of Doctor Dee – Peter Ackroyd
  76. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
  77. The Emigrants – W.G. Sebald
  78. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  79. Life is a Caravanserai – Emine Özdamar
  80. The Discovery of Heaven – Harry Mulisch
  81. A Heart So White – Javier Marias
  82. Possessing the Secret of Joy – Alice Walker
  83. Indigo – Marina Warner
  84. The Crow Road – Iain Banks
  85. Written on the Body – Jeanette Winterson
  86. Jazz – Toni Morrison
  87. The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
  88. Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Peter Høeg
  89. The Butcher Boy – Patrick McCabe
  90. Black Water – Joyce Carol Oates
  91. The Heather Blazing – Colm Tóibín
  92. Asphodel – H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)
  93. Black Dogs – Ian McEwan
  94. Hideous Kinky – Esther Freud
  95. Arcadia – Jim Crace
  96. Wild Swans – Jung Chang
  97. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  98. Time’s Arrow – Martin Amis
  99. Mao II – Don DeLillo
  100. Typical – Padgett Powell
  101. Regeneration – Pat Barker
  102. Downriver – Iain Sinclair
  103. Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord – Louis de Bernieres
  104. Wise Children – Angela Carter
  105. Get Shorty – Elmore Leonard
  106. Amongst Women – John McGahern
  107. Vineland – Thomas Pynchon
  108. Vertigo – W.G. Sebald
  109. Stone Junction – Jim Dodge
  110. The Music of Chance – Paul Auster
  111. The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
  112. A Home at the End of the World – Michael Cunningham
  113. Like Life – Lorrie Moore
  114. Possession – A.S. Byatt
  115. The Buddha of Suburbia – Hanif Kureishi
  116. The Midnight Examiner – William Kotzwinkle
  117. A Disaffection – James Kelman
  118. Sexing the Cherry – Jeanette Winterson
  119. Moon Palace – Paul Auster
  120. Billy Bathgate – E.L. Doctorow
  121. Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
  122. The Melancholy of Resistance – László Krasznahorkai
  123. The Temple of My Familiar – Alice Walker
  124. The Trick is to Keep Breathing – Janice Galloway
  125. The History of the Siege of Lisbon – José Saramago
  126. Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
  127. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
  128. London Fields – Martin Amis
  129. The Book of Evidence – John Banville
  130. Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
  131. Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco
  132. The Beautiful Room is Empty – Edmund White
  133. Wittgenstein’s Mistress – David Markson
  134. The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie
  135. The Swimming-Pool Library – Alan Hollinghurst
  136. Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey
  137. Libra – Don DeLillo
  138. The Player of Games – Iain M. Banks
  139. Nervous Conditions – Tsitsi Dangarembga
  140. The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul – Douglas Adams
  141. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Douglas Adams
  142. The Radiant Way – Margaret Drabble
  143. The Afternoon of a Writer – Peter Handke
  144. The Black Dahlia – James Ellroy
  145. The Passion – Jeanette Winterson
  146. The Pigeon – Patrick Süskind
  147. The Child in Time – Ian McEwan
  148. Cigarettes – Harry Mathews
  149. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
  150. The New York Trilogy – Paul Auster
  151. World’s End – T. Coraghessan Boyle
  152. Enigma of Arrival – V.S. Naipaul
  153. The Taebek Mountains – Jo Jung-rae
  154. Beloved – Toni Morrison
  155. Anagrams – Lorrie Moore
  156. Matigari – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
  157. Marya – Joyce Carol Oates
  158. Watchmen – Alan Moore & David Gibbons
  159. The Old Devils – Kingsley Amis
  160. Lost Language of Cranes – David Leavitt
  161. An Artist of the Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro
  162. Extinction – Thomas Bernhard
  163. Foe – J.M. Coetzee
  164. The Drowned and the Saved – Primo Levi
  165. Reasons to Live – Amy Hempel
  166. The Parable of the Blind – Gert Hofmann
  167. Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez
  168. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson
  169. The Cider House Rules – John Irving
  170. A Maggot – John Fowles
  171. Less Than Zero – Bret Easton Ellis
  172. Contact – Carl Sagan
  173. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  174. Perfume – Patrick Süskind
  175. Old Masters – Thomas Bernhard
  176. White Noise – Don DeLillo
  177. Queer – William Burroughs
  178. Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
  179. Legend – David Gemmell
  180. Dictionary of the Khazars – Milorad Pavi?
  181. The Bus Conductor Hines – James Kelman
  182. The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis – José Saramago
  183. The Lover – Marguerite Duras
  184. Empire of the Sun – J.G. Ballard
  185. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  186. Nights at the Circus – Angela Carter
  187. The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
  188. Blood and Guts in High School – Kathy Acker
  189. Neuromancer – William Gibson
  190. Flaubert’s Parrot – Julian Barnes
  191. Money: A Suicide Note – Martin Amis
  192. Shame – Salman Rushdie
  193. Worstward Ho – Samuel Beckett
  194. Fools of Fortune – William Trevor
  195. La Brava – Elmore Leonard
  196. Waterland – Graham Swift
  197. The Life and Times of Michael K – J.M. Coetzee
  198. The Diary of Jane Somers – Doris Lessing
  199. The Piano Teacher – Elfriede Jelinek
  200. The Sorrow of Belgium – Hugo Claus
  201. If Not Now, When? – Primo Levi
  202. A Boy’s Own Story – Edmund White
  203. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  204. Wittgenstein’s Nephew – Thomas Bernhard
  205. A Pale View of Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro
  206. Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally
  207. The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende
  208. The Newton Letter – John Banville
  209. On the Black Hill – Bruce Chatwin
  210. Concrete – Thomas Bernhard
  211. The Names – Don DeLillo
  212. Rabbit is Rich – John Updike
  213. Lanark: A Life in Four Books – Alasdair Gray
  214. The Comfort of Strangers – Ian McEwan
  215. July’s People – Nadine Gordimer
  216. Summer in Baden-Baden – Leonid Tsypkin
  217. Broken April – Ismail Kadare
  218. Waiting for the Barbarians – J.M. Coetzee
  219. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
  220. Rites of Passage – William Golding
  221. Rituals – Cees Nooteboom
  222. Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
  223. City Primeval – Elmore Leonard
  224. The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
  225. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
  226. Smiley’s People – John Le Carré
  227. Shikasta – Doris Lessing
  228. A Bend in the River – V.S. Naipaul
  229. Burger’s Daughter – Nadine Gordimer
  230. The Safety Net – Heinrich Böll
  231. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler – Italo Calvino
  232. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  233. The Cement Garden – Ian McEwan
  234. The World According to Garp – John Irving
  235. Life: A User’s Manual – Georges Perec
  236. The Sea, The Sea – Iris Murdoch
  237. The Singapore Grip – J.G. Farrell
  238. Yes – Thomas Bernhard
  239. The Virgin in the Garden – A.S. Byatt
  240. In the Heart of the Country – J.M. Coetzee
  241. The Passion of New Eve – Angela Carter
  242. Delta of Venus – Anaïs Nin
  243. The Shining – Stephen King
  244. Dispatches – Michael Herr
  245. Petals of Blood – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
  246. Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
  247. The Hour of the Star – Clarice Lispector
  248. The Left-Handed Woman – Peter Handke
  249. Ratner’s Star – Don DeLillo
  250. The Public Burning – Robert Coover
  251. Interview With the Vampire – Anne Rice
  252. Cutter and Bone – Newton Thornburg
  253. Amateurs – Donald Barthelme
  254. Patterns of Childhood – Christa Wolf
  255. Autumn of the Patriarch – Gabriel García Márquez
  256. W, or the Memory of Childhood – Georges Perec
  257. A Dance to the Music of Time – Anthony Powell
  258. Grimus – Salman Rushdie
  259. The Dead Father – Donald Barthelme
  260. Fateless – Imre Kertész
  261. Willard and His Bowling Trophies – Richard Brautigan
  262. High Rise – J.G. Ballard
  263. Humboldt’s Gift – Saul Bellow
  264. Dead Babies – Martin Amis
  265. Correction – Thomas Bernhard
  266. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
  267. The Fan Man – William Kotzwinkle
  268. Dusklands – J.M. Coetzee
  269. The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum – Heinrich Böll
  270. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – John Le Carré
  271. Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  272. Fear of Flying – Erica Jong
  273. A Question of Power – Bessie Head
  274. The Siege of Krishnapur – J.G. Farrell
  275. The Castle of Crossed Destinies – Italo Calvino
  276. Crash – J.G. Ballard
  277. The Honorary Consul – Graham Greene
  278. Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
  279. The Black Prince – Iris Murdoch
  280. Sula – Toni Morrison
  281. Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino
  282. The Breast – Philip Roth
  283. The Summer Book – Tove Jansson
  284. G – John Berger
  285. Surfacing – Margaret Atwood
  286. House Mother Normal – B.S. Johnson
  287. In A Free State – V.S. Naipaul
  288. The Book of Daniel – E.L. Doctorow
  289. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson
  290. Group Portrait With Lady – Heinrich Böll
  291. The Wild Boys – William Burroughs
  292. Rabbit Redux – John Updike
  293. The Sea of Fertility – Yukio Mishima
  294. The Driver’s Seat – Muriel Spark
  295. The Ogre – Michael Tournier
  296. The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
  297. Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick – Peter Handke
  298. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
  299. Mercier et Camier – Samuel Beckett
  300. Troubles – J.G. Farrell
  301. Jahrestage – Uwe Johnson
  302. The Atrocity Exhibition – J.G. Ballard
  303. Tent of Miracles – Jorge Amado
  304. Pricksongs and Descants – Robert Coover
  305. Blind Man With a Pistol – Chester Hines
  306. Slaughterhouse-five – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  307. The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles
  308. The Green Man – Kingsley Amis
  309. Portnoy’s Complaint – Philip Roth
  310. The Godfather – Mario Puzo
  311. Ada – Vladimir Nabokov
  312. Them – Joyce Carol Oates
  313. A Void/Avoid – Georges Perec
  314. Eva Trout – Elizabeth Bowen
  315. Myra Breckinridge – Gore Vidal
  316. The Nice and the Good – Iris Murdoch
  317. Belle du Seigneur – Albert Cohen
  318. Cancer Ward – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
  319. The First Circle – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
  320. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke
  321. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
  322. Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid – Malcolm Lowry
  323. The German Lesson – Siegfried Lenz
  324. In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan
  325. A Kestrel for a Knave – Barry Hines
  326. The Quest for Christa T. – Christa Wolf
  327. Chocky – John Wyndham
  328. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe
  329. The Cubs and Other Stories – Mario Vargas Llosa
  330. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez
  331. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov
  332. Pilgrimage – Dorothy Richardson
  333. The Joke – Milan Kundera
  334. No Laughing Matter – Angus Wilson
  335. The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brien
  336. A Man Asleep – Georges Perec
  337. The Birds Fall Down – Rebecca West
  338. Trawl – B.S. Johnson
  339. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  340. The Magus – John Fowles
  341. The Vice-Consul – Marguerite Duras
  342. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
  343. Giles Goat-Boy – John Barth
  344. The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon
  345. Things – Georges Perec
  346. The River Between – Ngugi wa Thiong’o
  347. August is a Wicked Month – Edna O’Brien
  348. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater – Kurt Vonnegut
  349. Everything That Rises Must Converge – Flannery O’Connor
  350. The Passion According to G.H. – Clarice Lispector
  351. Sometimes a Great Notion – Ken Kesey
  352. Come Back, Dr. Caligari – Donald Bartholme
  353. Albert Angelo – B.S. Johnson
  354. Arrow of God – Chinua Achebe
  355. The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein – Marguerite Duras
  356. Herzog – Saul Bellow
  357. V. – Thomas Pynchon
  358. Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
  359. The Graduate – Charles Webb
  360. Manon des Sources – Marcel Pagnol
  361. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – John Le Carré
  362. The Girls of Slender Means – Muriel Spark
  363. Inside Mr. Enderby – Anthony Burgess
  364. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  365. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
  366. The Collector – John Fowles
  367. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  368. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  369. Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov
  370. The Drowned World – J.G. Ballard
  371. The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
  372. Labyrinths – Jorg Luis Borges
  373. Girl With Green Eyes – Edna O’Brien
  374. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis – Giorgio Bassani
  375. Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
  376. Franny and Zooey – J.D. Salinger
  377. A Severed Head – Iris Murdoch
  378. Faces in the Water – Janet Frame
  379. Solaris – Stanislaw Lem
  380. Cat and Mouse – Günter Grass
  381. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
  382. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
  383. The Violent Bear it Away – Flannery O’Connor
  384. How It Is – Samuel Beckett
  385. Our Ancestors – Italo Calvino
  386. The Country Girls – Edna O’Brien
  387. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  388. Rabbit, Run – John Updike
  389. Promise at Dawn – Romain Gary
  390. Cider With Rosie – Laurie Lee
  391. Billy Liar – Keith Waterhouse
  392. Naked Lunch – William Burroughs
  393. The Tin Drum – Günter Grass
  394. Absolute Beginners – Colin MacInnes
  395. Henderson the Rain King – Saul Bellow
  396. Memento Mori – Muriel Spark
  397. Billiards at Half-Past Nine – Heinrich Böll
  398. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  399. The Leopard – Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
  400. Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring – Kenzaburo Oe
  401. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
  402. The Bitter Glass – Eilís Dillon
  403. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
  404. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning – Alan Sillitoe
  405. Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris – Paul Gallico
  406. Borstal Boy – Brendan Behan
  407. The End of the Road – John Barth
  408. The Once and Future King – T.H. White
  409. The Bell – Iris Murdoch
  410. Jealousy – Alain Robbe-Grillet
  411. Voss – Patrick White
  412. The Midwich Cuckoos – John Wyndham
  413. Blue Noon – Georges Bataille
  414. Homo Faber – Max Frisch
  415. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
  416. Pnin – Vladimir Nabokov
  417. Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
  418. The Wonderful “O” – James Thurber
  419. Justine – Lawrence Durrell
  420. Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin
  421. The Lonely Londoners – Sam Selvon
  422. The Roots of Heaven – Romain Gary
  423. Seize the Day – Saul Bellow
  424. The Floating Opera – John Barth
  425. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
  426. The Talented Mr. Ripley – Patricia Highsmith
  427. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
  428. A World of Love – Elizabeth Bowen
  429. The Trusting and the Maimed – James Plunkett
  430. The Quiet American – Graham Greene
  431. The Last Temptation of Christ – Nikos Kazantzákis
  432. The Recognitions – William Gaddis
  433. The Ragazzi – Pier Paulo Pasolini
  434. Bonjour Tristesse – Françoise Sagan
  435. I’m Not Stiller – Max Frisch
  436. Self Condemned – Wyndham Lewis
  437. The Story of O – Pauline Réage
  438. A Ghost at Noon – Alberto Moravia
  439. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  440. Under the Net – Iris Murdoch
  441. The Go-Between – L.P. Hartley
  442. The Long Goodbye – Raymond Chandler
  443. The Unnamable – Samuel Beckett
  444. Watt – Samuel Beckett
  445. Lucky Jim – Kingsley Amis
  446. Junkie – William Burroughs
  447. The Adventures of Augie March – Saul Bellow
  448. Go Tell It on the Mountain – James Baldwin
  449. Casino Royale – Ian Fleming
  450. The Judge and His Hangman – Friedrich Dürrenmatt
  451. Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
  452. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
  453. Wise Blood – Flannery O’Connor
  454. The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson
  455. Memoirs of Hadrian – Marguerite Yourcenar
  456. Malone Dies – Samuel Beckett
  457. Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
  458. Foundation – Isaac Asimov
  459. The Opposing Shore – Julien Gracq
  460. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
  461. The Rebel – Albert Camus
  462. Molloy – Samuel Beckett
  463. The End of the Affair – Graham Greene
  464. The Abbot C – Georges Bataille
  465. The Labyrinth of Solitude – Octavio Paz
  466. The Third Man – Graham Greene
  467. The 13 Clocks – James Thurber
  468. Gormenghast – Mervyn Peake
  469. The Grass is Singing – Doris Lessing
  470. I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
  471. The Moon and the Bonfires – Cesare Pavese
  472. The Garden Where the Brass Band Played – Simon Vestdijk
  473. Love in a Cold Climate – Nancy Mitford
  474. The Case of Comrade Tulayev – Victor Serge
  475. The Heat of the Day – Elizabeth Bowen
  476. Kingdom of This World – Alejo Carpentier
  477. The Man With the Golden Arm – Nelson Algren
  478. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
  479. All About H. Hatterr – G.V. Desani
  480. Disobedience – Alberto Moravia
  481. Death Sentence – Maurice Blanchot
  482. The Heart of the Matter – Graham Greene
  483. Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton
  484. Doctor Faustus – Thomas Mann
  485. The Victim – Saul Bellow
  486. Exercises in Style – Raymond Queneau
  487. If This Is a Man – Primo Levi
  488. Under the Volcano – Malcolm Lowry
  489. The Path to the Nest of Spiders – Italo Calvino
  490. The Plague – Albert Camus
  491. Back – Henry Green
  492. Titus Groan – Mervyn Peake
  493. The Bridge on the Drina – Ivo Andri?
  494. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
  495. Animal Farm – George Orwell
  496. Cannery Row – John Steinbeck
  497. The Pursuit of Love – Nancy Mitford
  498. Loving – Henry Green
  499. Arcanum 17 – André Breton
  500. Christ Stopped at Eboli – Carlo Levi
  501. The Razor’s Edge – William Somerset Maugham
  502. Transit – Anna Seghers
  503. Ficciones – Jorge Luis Borges
  504. Dangling Man – Saul Bellow
  505. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  506. Caught – Henry Green
  507. The Glass Bead Game – Herman Hesse
  508. Embers – Sandor Marai
  509. Go Down, Moses – William Faulkner
  510. The Outsider – Albert Camus
  511. In Sicily – Elio Vittorini
  512. The Poor Mouth – Flann O’Brien
  513. The Living and the Dead – Patrick White
  514. Hangover Square – Patrick Hamilton
  515. Between the Acts – Virginia Woolf
  516. The Hamlet – William Faulkner
  517. Farewell My Lovely – Raymond Chandler
  518. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
  519. Native Son – Richard Wright
  520. The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene
  521. The Tartar Steppe – Dino Buzzati
  522. Party Going – Henry Green
  523. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
  524. Finnegans Wake – James Joyce
  525. At Swim-Two-Birds – Flann O’Brien
  526. Coming Up for Air – George Orwell
  527. Goodbye to Berlin – Christopher Isherwood
  528. Tropic of Capricorn – Henry Miller
  529. Good Morning, Midnight – Jean Rhys
  530. The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
  531. After the Death of Don Juan – Sylvie Townsend Warner
  532. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson
  533. Nausea – Jean-Paul Sartre
  534. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
  535. Cause for Alarm – Eric Ambler
  536. Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
  537. U.S.A. – John Dos Passos
  538. Murphy – Samuel Beckett
  539. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
  540. Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
  541. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
  542. The Years – Virginia Woolf
  543. In Parenthesis – David Jones
  544. The Revenge for Love – Wyndham Lewis
  545. Out of Africa – Isak Dineson (Karen Blixen)
  546. To Have and Have Not – Ernest Hemingway
  547. Summer Will Show – Sylvia Townsend Warner
  548. Eyeless in Gaza – Aldous Huxley
  549. The Thinking Reed – Rebecca West
  550. Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  551. Keep the Aspidistra Flying – George Orwell
  552. Wild Harbour – Ian MacPherson
  553. Absalom, Absalom! – William Faulkner
  554. At the Mountains of Madness – H.P. Lovecraft
  555. Nightwood – Djuna Barnes
  556. Independent People – Halldór Laxness
  557. Auto-da-Fé – Elias Canetti
  558. The Last of Mr. Norris – Christopher Isherwood
  559. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? – Horace McCoy
  560. The House in Paris – Elizabeth Bowen
  561. England Made Me – Graham Greene
  562. Burmese Days – George Orwell
  563. The Nine Tailors – Dorothy L. Sayers
  564. Threepenny Novel – Bertolt Brecht
  565. Novel With Cocaine – M. Ageyev
  566. The Postman Always Rings Twice – James M. Cain
  567. Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller
  568. A Handful of Dust – Evelyn Waugh
  569. Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  570. Thank You, Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse
  571. Call it Sleep – Henry Roth
  572. Miss Lonelyhearts – Nathanael West
  573. Murder Must Advertise – Dorothy L. Sayers
  574. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas – Gertrude Stein
  575. Testament of Youth – Vera Brittain
  576. A Day Off – Storm Jameson
  577. The Man Without Qualities – Robert Musil
  578. A Scots Quair (Sunset Song) – Lewis Grassic Gibbon
  579. Journey to the End of the Night – Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  580. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  581. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
  582. To the North – Elizabeth Bowen
  583. The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett
  584. The Radetzky March – Joseph Roth
  585. The Waves – Virginia Woolf
  586. The Glass Key – Dashiell Hammett
  587. Cakes and Ale – W. Somerset Maugham
  588. The Apes of God – Wyndham Lewis
  589. Her Privates We – Frederic Manning
  590. Vile Bodies – Evelyn Waugh
  591. The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett
  592. Hebdomeros – Giorgio de Chirico
  593. Passing – Nella Larsen
  594. A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway
  595. Red Harvest – Dashiell Hammett
  596. Living – Henry Green
  597. The Time of Indifference – Alberto Moravia
  598. All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  599. Berlin Alexanderplatz – Alfred Döblin
  600. The Last September – Elizabeth Bowen
  601. Harriet Hume – Rebecca West
  602. The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
  603. Les Enfants Terribles – Jean Cocteau
  604. Look Homeward, Angel – Thomas Wolfe
  605. Story of the Eye – Georges Bataille
  606. Orlando – Virginia Woolf
  607. Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
  608. The Well of Loneliness – Radclyffe Hall
  609. The Childermass – Wyndham Lewis
  610. Quartet – Jean Rhys
  611. Decline and Fall – Evelyn Waugh
  612. Quicksand – Nella Larsen
  613. Parade’s End – Ford Madox Ford
  614. Nadja – André Breton
  615. Steppenwolf – Herman Hesse
  616. Remembrance of Things Past – Marcel Proust
  617. To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  618. Tarka the Otter – Henry Williamson
  619. Amerika – Franz Kafka
  620. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
  621. Blindness – Henry Green
  622. The Castle – Franz Kafka
  623. The Good Soldier Švejk – Jaroslav Hašek
  624. The Plumed Serpent – D.H. Lawrence
  625. One, None and a Hundred Thousand – Luigi Pirandello
  626. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie
  627. The Making of Americans – Gertrude Stein
  628. Manhattan Transfer – John Dos Passos
  629. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
  630. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  631. The Counterfeiters – André Gide
  632. The Trial – Franz Kafka
  633. The Artamonov Business – Maxim Gorky
  634. The Professor’s House – Willa Cather
  635. Billy Budd, Foretopman – Herman Melville
  636. The Green Hat – Michael Arlen
  637. The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann
  638. We – Yevgeny Zamyatin
  639. A Passage to India – E.M. Forster
  640. The Devil in the Flesh – Raymond Radiguet
  641. Zeno’s Conscience – Italo Svevo
  642. Cane – Jean Toomer
  643. Antic Hay – Aldous Huxley
  644. Amok – Stefan Zweig
  645. The Garden Party – Katherine Mansfield
  646. The Enormous Room – E.E. Cummings
  647. Jacob’s Room – Virginia Woolf
  648. Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
  649. The Glimpses of the Moon – Edith Wharton
  650. Life and Death of Harriett Frean – May Sinclair
  651. The Last Days of Humanity – Karl Kraus
  652. Aaron’s Rod – D.H. Lawrence
  653. Babbitt – Sinclair Lewis
  654. Ulysses – James Joyce
  655. The Fox – D.H. Lawrence
  656. Crome Yellow – Aldous Huxley
  657. The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
  658. Main Street – Sinclair Lewis
  659. Women in Love – D.H. Lawrence
  660. Night and Day – Virginia Woolf
  661. Tarr – Wyndham Lewis
  662. The Return of the Soldier – Rebecca West
  663. The Shadow Line – Joseph Conrad
  664. Summer – Edith Wharton
  665. Growth of the Soil – Knut Hamsen
  666. Bunner Sisters – Edith Wharton
  667. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce
  668. Under Fire – Henri Barbusse
  669. Rashomon – Akutagawa Ryunosuke
  670. The Good Soldier – Ford Madox Ford
  671. The Voyage Out – Virginia Woolf
  672. Of Human Bondage – William Somerset Maugham
  673. The Rainbow – D.H. Lawrence
  674. The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
  675. Kokoro – Natsume Soseki
  676. Locus Solus – Raymond Roussel
  677. Rosshalde – Herman Hesse
  678. Tarzan of the Apes – Edgar Rice Burroughs
  679. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – Robert Tressell
  680. Sons and Lovers – D.H. Lawrence
  681. Death in Venice – Thomas Mann
  682. The Charwoman’s Daughter – James Stephens
  683. Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
  684. Fantômas – Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre
  685. Howards End – E.M. Forster
  686. Impressions of Africa – Raymond Roussel
  687. Three Lives – Gertrude Stein
  688. Martin Eden – Jack London
  689. Strait is the Gate – André Gide
  690. Tono-Bungay – H.G. Wells
  691. The Inferno – Henri Barbusse
  692. A Room With a View – E.M. Forster
  693. The Iron Heel – Jack London
  694. The Old Wives’ Tale – Arnold Bennett
  695. The House on the Borderland – William Hope Hodgson
  696. Mother – Maxim Gorky
  697. The Secret Agent – Joseph Conrad
  698. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
  699. Young Törless – Robert Musil
  700. The Forsyte Sage – John Galsworthy
  701. The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
  702. Professor Unrat – Heinrich Mann
  703. Where Angels Fear to Tread – E.M. Forster
  704. Nostromo – Joseph Conrad
  705. Hadrian the Seventh – Frederick Rolfe
  706. The Golden Bowl – Henry James
  707. The Ambassadors – Henry James
  708. The Riddle of the Sands – Erskine Childers
  709. The Immoralist – André Gide
  710. The Wings of the Dove – Henry James
  711. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  712. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  713. Buddenbrooks – Thomas Mann
  714. Kim – Rudyard Kipling
  715. Sister Carrie – Theodore Dreiser
  716. Lord Jim – Joseph Conrad

1800s

  1. Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. – Somerville and Ross
  2. The Stechlin – Theodore Fontane
  3. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
  4. The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
  5. The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells
  6. The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
  7. What Maisie Knew – Henry James
  8. Fruits of the Earth – André Gide
  9. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  10. Quo Vadis – Henryk Sienkiewicz
  11. The Island of Dr. Moreau – H.G. Wells
  12. The Time Machine – H.G. Wells
  13. Effi Briest – Theodore Fontane
  14. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
  15. The Real Charlotte – Somerville and Ross
  16. The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  17. Born in Exile – George Gissing
  18. Diary of a Nobody – George & Weedon Grossmith
  19. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  20. News from Nowhere – William Morris
  21. New Grub Street – George Gissing
  22. Gösta Berling’s Saga – Selma Lagerlöf
  23. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  24. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  25. The Kreutzer Sonata – Leo Tolstoy
  26. La Bête Humaine – Émile Zola
  27. By the Open Sea – August Strindberg
  28. Hunger – Knut Hamsun
  29. The Master of Ballantrae – Robert Louis Stevenson
  30. Pierre and Jean – Guy de Maupassant
  31. Fortunata and Jacinta – Benito Pérez Galdés
  32. The People of Hemsö – August Strindberg
  33. The Woodlanders – Thomas Hardy
  34. She – H. Rider Haggard
  35. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
  36. The Mayor of Casterbridge – Thomas Hardy
  37. Kidnapped – Robert Louis Stevenson
  38. King Solomon’s Mines – H. Rider Haggard
  39. Germinal – Émile Zola
  40. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
  41. Bel-Ami – Guy de Maupassant
  42. Marius the Epicurean – Walter Pater
  43. Against the Grain – Joris-Karl Huysmans
  44. The Death of Ivan Ilyich – Leo Tolstoy
  45. A Woman’s Life – Guy de Maupassant
  46. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
  47. The House by the Medlar Tree – Giovanni Verga
  48. The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
  49. Bouvard and Pécuchet – Gustave Flaubert
  50. Ben-Hur – Lew Wallace
  51. Nana – Émile Zola
  52. The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  53. The Red Room – August Strindberg
  54. Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy
  55. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  56. Drunkard – Émile Zola
  57. Virgin Soil – Ivan Turgenev
  58. Daniel Deronda – George Eliot
  59. The Hand of Ethelberta – Thomas Hardy
  60. The Temptation of Saint Anthony – Gustave Flaubert
  61. Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
  62. The Enchanted Wanderer – Nicolai Leskov
  63. Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne
  64. In a Glass Darkly – Sheridan Le Fanu
  65. The Devils – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  66. Erewhon – Samuel Butler
  67. Spring Torrents – Ivan Turgenev
  68. Middlemarch – George Eliot
  69. Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There – Lewis Carroll
  70. King Lear of the Steppes – Ivan Turgenev
  71. He Knew He Was Right – Anthony Trollope
  72. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  73. Sentimental Education – Gustave Flaubert
  74. Phineas Finn – Anthony Trollope
  75. Maldoror – Comte de Lautréaumont
  76. The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  77. The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
  78. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  79. Thérèse Raquin – Émile Zola
  80. The Last Chronicle of Barset – Anthony Trollope
  81. Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Jules Verne
  82. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  83. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  84. Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens
  85. Uncle Silas – Sheridan Le Fanu
  86. Notes from the Underground – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  87. The Water-Babies – Charles Kingsley
  88. Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
  89. Fathers and Sons – Ivan Turgenev
  90. Silas Marner – George Eliot
  91. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  92. On the Eve – Ivan Turgenev
  93. Castle Richmond – Anthony Trollope
  94. The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
  95. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
  96. The Marble Faun – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  97. Max Havelaar – Multatuli
  98. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  99. Oblomovka – Ivan Goncharov
  100. Adam Bede – George Eliot
  101. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
  102. North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
  103. Hard Times – Charles Dickens
  104. Walden – Henry David Thoreau
  105. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
  106. Villette – Charlotte Brontë
  107. Cranford – Elizabeth Gaskell
  108. Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lonely – Harriet Beecher Stowe
  109. The Blithedale Romance – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  110. The House of the Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  111. Moby-Dick – Herman Melville
  112. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  113. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
  114. Shirley – Charlotte Brontë
  115. Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell
  116. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë
  117. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
  118. Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë
  119. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
  120. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
  121. The Count of Monte-Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
  122. La Reine Margot – Alexandre Dumas
  123. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
  124. The Purloined Letter – Edgar Allan Poe
  125. Martin Chuzzlewit – Charles Dickens
  126. The Pit and the Pendulum – Edgar Allan Poe
  127. Lost Illusions – Honoré de Balzac
  128. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  129. Dead Souls – Nikolay Gogol
  130. The Charterhouse of Parma – Stendhal
  131. The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe
  132. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens
  133. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
  134. The Nose – Nikolay Gogol
  135. Le Père Goriot – Honoré de Balzac
  136. Eugénie Grandet – Honoré de Balzac
  137. The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Victor Hugo
  138. The Red and the Black – Stendhal
  139. The Betrothed – Alessandro Manzoni
  140. Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper
  141. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner – James Hogg
  142. The Albigenses – Charles Robert Maturin
  143. Melmoth the Wanderer – Charles Robert Maturin
  144. The Monastery – Sir Walter Scott
  145. Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott
  146. Frankenstein – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  147. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
  148. Persuasion – Jane Austen
  149. Ormond – Maria Edgeworth
  150. Rob Roy – Sir Walter Scott
  151. Emma – Jane Austen
  152. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
  153. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  154. The Absentee – Maria Edgeworth
  155. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  156. Elective Affinities – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  157. Castle Rackrent – Maria Edgeworth

1700s

  1. Hyperion – Friedrich Hölderlin
  2. The Nun – Denis Diderot
  3. Camilla – Fanny Burney
  4. The Monk – M.G. Lewis
  5. Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  6. The Mysteries of Udolpho – Ann Radcliffe
  7. The Interesting Narrative – Olaudah Equiano
  8. The Adventures of Caleb Williams – William Godwin
  9. Justine – Marquis de Sade
  10. Vathek – William Beckford
  11. The 120 Days of Sodom – Marquis de Sade
  12. Cecilia – Fanny Burney
  13. Confessions – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  14. Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
  15. Reveries of a Solitary Walker – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  16. Evelina – Fanny Burney
  17. The Sorrows of Young Werther – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  18. Humphrey Clinker – Tobias George Smollett
  19. The Man of Feeling – Henry Mackenzie
  20. A Sentimental Journey – Laurence Sterne
  21. Tristram Shandy – Laurence Sterne
  22. The Vicar of Wakefield – Oliver Goldsmith
  23. The Castle of Otranto – Horace Walpole
  24. Émile; or, On Education – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  25. Rameau’s Nephew – Denis Diderot
  26. Julie; or, the New Eloise – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  27. Rasselas – Samuel Johnson
  28. Candide – Voltaire
  29. The Female Quixote – Charlotte Lennox
  30. Amelia – Henry Fielding
  31. Peregrine Pickle – Tobias George Smollett
  32. Fanny Hill – John Cleland
  33. Tom Jones – Henry Fielding
  34. Roderick Random – Tobias George Smollett
  35. Clarissa – Samuel Richardson
  36. Pamela – Samuel Richardson
  37. Jacques the Fatalist – Denis Diderot
  38. Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus – J. Arbuthnot, J. Gay, T. Parnell, A. Pope, J. Swift
  39. Joseph Andrews – Henry Fielding
  40. A Modest Proposal – Jonathan Swift
  41. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
  42. Roxana – Daniel Defoe
  43. Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe
  44. Love in Excess – Eliza Haywood
  45. Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
  46. A Tale of a Tub – Jonathan Swift

Pre-1700

  1. Oroonoko – Aphra Behn
  2. The Princess of Clèves – Marie-Madelaine Pioche de Lavergne, Comtesse de La Fayette
  3. The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
  4. Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  5. The Unfortunate Traveller – Thomas Nashe
  6. Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit – John Lyly
  7. Gargantua and Pantagruel – Françoise Rabelais
  8. The Thousand and One Nights – Anonymous
  9. The Golden Ass – Lucius Apuleius
  10. Aithiopika – Heliodorus
  11. Chaireas and Kallirhoe – Chariton
  12. Metamorphoses – Ovid
  13. Aesop’s Fables – Aesopus

Book Review: The Grief of Others – Leah Hager Cohen

I first started reading this whilst lying on South Beach in Miami. Strange, I know. A book titled The Grief of Others isn’t the most holiday-friendly book, and reading it in my light-hearted surroundings did feel a little wrong, so I stopped. And then I lost my David Sedaris book (still mad about that), so was stuck with the crap that I seem to have accumulated on my kindle.

The Grief of Others – a beach read??

Once I was back in London, it took me a while to pick it up again, and there’s something about coming back to a book after you’ve abandoned it for a while that makes it even harder to start reading the second time, but I soon got into it.

I have to admit that it’s the cover of this book that drew me in: a little house with lit windows placed inside a glass jar. Very striking, absolutely love it.

This book charts the life of a family, one year after the sad death of their baby who died only 57 hours after he was born. The Ryries appear to be falling apart at the seams, each member of the family trapped inside the glass jar of their own sadness, unable to share their loss with one another. They never mention the child’s name or even acknowledge that they need to mourn him.

Parents John and Ricky struggle to keep things going, and though the routine of everyday life brings a certain normalcy to their lives, (‘Daily business, if not a balm, was at least a broth in which they’d been swept up and eddied along’), ‘their marriage was a broken body laid out on the bed between them’. Their struggle centres on a secret that Ricky has been harbouring, and once revealed, their entire relationship is brought into question. In this mess are their two older children, Paul and Elizabeth (nicknamed Biscuit), each neglected and acting out in their own way.

The unexpected arrival of John’s older daughter Jess reminds the family of a summer camping holiday they took eight years ago when they had first met her. Having not seen her since, Jess serves as a reminder of happier times and of what they once were.

The Grief of Others – Leah Hager Cohen

The book is certainly slow in places, and at about three quarters of the way through, I did get a little bit bored. We spend so much time in the heads of these characters, understanding how they feel, and as a result the narrative pace suffers because there is too much thought and not enough action. Having said this, Cohen really gets into the minds of these characters and she does build a truly realistic psychological portrait of a grieving family, and allows us to understand how our own personal tragedies can help us to fully comprehend the loss and heartbreak of others: ‘as if by possessing a fuller understanding of the complexities of loss, she could not help experiencing more particularly the losses of others.’

Despite its flaws I would still recommend this book, because at its best it’s really fragile and beautiful. And if you’re not convinced, I would suggest reading just the three and a half pages of the prologue because that is an example of truly exceptional writing.

Of Malcolm Gladwell, the Mystery of Mustard, and the Singular Reign of Ketchup.

I’ve never actively thought about ketchup. I frequently put some on my burgers, less frequently so on my fries (more of a ‘on the side’ kinda girl when it comes to fries or better yet, just plain salted), have maybe moved into the more complex world of barbeque sauce in recent years just to switch things up a bit, but have never really sat down to think exclusively about ketchup. It is just ketchup after all. And I can honestly say I never buy ketchup for at-home use. But then Malcolm Gladwell can really get you thinking about things that you wouldn’t normally spend more than a minute (if even that) contemplating otherwise.

What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

I bought a copy of his book, What the Dog Saw, from a second hand bookstore a while back and have dipped into it on occasion, randomly reading one of his many essays originally seen in The New Yorker.

In his essay titled ‘The Ketchup Conundrum’ he states how mustard now comes in dozens of varieties and asks why ketchup has stayed the same. He tells the story of Grey Poupon mustard and how it managed to claim a large segment of the market from French’s through clever advertising, thereby opening the door to variety in the mustard market.

Photo: Amazon.com

He then tells us about Jim Wigon, an entrepreneur peddling his World’s Best Ketchup brand, hoping to achieve what Grey Poupon did. His aim was to build a better ketchup and he attempted to do so with six different flavours. Sounds good in theory, not so hot in practice.

Gladwell then gives us some background information in the form of a food tester and market researcher called Howard Moskowitz. Moskowitz conducted some ground-breaking research for the food industry back in the 70s. When working with Pepsi and Campbell’s, he discovered ‘the plural nature of perfection’. By this he meant that there was no one perfect spaghetti sauce, for example, that would appeal to everyone. Diversification was the answer, a way to cater to different tastes. This might not sound particularly ground-breaking to you and I today, but back then, the food industry worked around the idea that there was a single product that tasted perfect.

Another thing that Gladwell talks about that I found particularly interesting was that information collected from regular focus groups where consumers are asked what it is they want from a particular type of product, is not to be trusted: ‘Moskowitz does not believe that consumers[…]know what they desire if what they desire does not yet exist.’ Apparently our minds are limited and we have to be told what we like, or maybe we’re just dishonest. Gladwell illustrates this idea with a very good coffee example in the video I’ve posted below.

Heinz

So when we come back to Wigon and his World’s Best, we see that he was ultimately exercising the Moskowitz theory but not selling enough to make even a marginal difference. World’s Best is one of dozens of gourmet ketchup brands that struggle. Yet Heinz Tomato Ketchup continues to grow year after year, never really tampering with their formula or bothering to experiment much (I’m not going to go into depth about taste perception: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami because that’ll prove to be rather lengthy). I found these two taste tests that were conducted between American ketchup brands and interestingly, Hunt’s  and America’s Choice came out on top. Never tried Hunt’s so can’t really comment, but they still trail way behind Heinz in terms of market share. What is it about ketchup that makes it an exception to the Moskowitz rule that we now see being used for pretty much everything that can be bought in a supermarket? 

I don’t know how long ago this article was written, but thought, surely things have changed now. Actually, I’ve just checked, it was 2004, and I’d like to think that consumers are now more sophisticated and more willing to experiment with different flavours etc. The emphasis on food has changed; it plays a much bigger part in our lives than it used to. The abundance of cooking shows and different dining experiences have turned every John and Jane Smith into a food critic. Food has become an entirely sophisticated affair and people are more discerning.

I’m not quite sure when this shift occurred, but I remember something a friend of mine was telling me earlier this year. She was saying how her priorities had changed quite a bit in recent years. She’ll go to a restaurant and not think twice about spending £30 on a meal, but a few minutes later, she’ll find herself in a clothing store and spend almost half an hour deliberating on whether to spend £10 on a top before ultimately deciding it wasn’t worth it. And as she was saying this, I realised how true this was for me too. I’d mindlessly spend £20 on a gourmet burger and sides (served with a slightly advanced ketchup, I’m sure, haha), and then agonise over a £4 necklace. Food has become more important to us. No more shopaholics, but foodaholics. I realise that there are still a very large number of people out there with a shopping problem, but I’d like to think that the Food Phenomenon is slowly catching up.

Photo: Julia Bainbridge, bonappetit.com

So what was my point again? Yes, the ketchup. To introduce an element of luxury to the most unsuspecting things has become very common now. The most basic food items have been spruced up and so ketchup must follow. And it has. Sort of. This obviously meant that I had to now find out what ketchup flavours were out there. Not an awful lot of variation from Heinz in the UK (they have chili/fiery chili, Indian spices, and balsamic vinegar) and no other brands came up when I Googled ‘gourmet ketchup’. So it seems when push comes to shove, people will always opt for plain old ketchup, plain old Heinz. But WHY??

The essay concludes by quoting Moskowitz: “I guess ketchup is ketchup.” Do you agree? Like coke is coke (Pepsi is just NOT the same, do not even get me started!)? And can you think of anymore ketchup flavours that have made it into the mainstream?

If you’d rather listen to Malcolm talking about some of these ideas, I found this video equivalent on Ted.com. He’s a really engaging speaker.

So it’s nice to occasionally stray from fiction. And it turns out you don’t even need to buy the book because the article can be found on his website.

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright: An Ambiguous Review

If it hadn’t been for the child then none of this might have happened.

She saw me kissing her father.

She saw her father kissing me.

The fact that a child got mixed up in it all made us feel that it mattered, that there was no going back.

I’m not sure how I feel about Anne Enright. This is the second of her books that I’ve read (technically 1.5 as I couldn’t quite finish the first) and although this book is miles better than her Booker prize winning The Gathering and has given me a glimpse into the reason why she’s rated so highly, there is still something that’s holding me back a little.

The Forgotten Waltz

The Forgotten Waltz is about adultery; about an affair between two married people, Gina and Sean. Set in Ireland, the entire story is told with hindsight and from Gina’s perspective, so we know from the beginning how this ends. But the story is still charged with us wanting to know how they got there, how this affair started, and how it developed.

Anne Enright writes well, there’s no doubt about that. Some of the passages in here really did take my breath away. She says things that are completely unexpected, but upon reflection, are things so true:

‘…I think how kissing is such an extravagance of nature. Like bird-song; heartfelt and lovely beyond any possible usefulness.’

How beautiful is that? Her depiction of the middle classes is also infuriatingly accurate and brought a smile to my face several times. For example, ‘The room where they slept was white…it was done in horribly similar, crucially different shades of f*cking white.’, and also ‘it was the kind of party where no one ate the chicken skin.’ I laughed at the obscurity of such a remark, but then instantly understood what she meant. These are self-consciously middle class people with middle class concerns, and in truly capturing the nuances of this world, Enright has succeeded.

Gina is very matter of fact, almost dispassionate when speaking of Sean and of the affair, an affair confined to the space of a hotel room, ‘we were only normal for the twelve foot by fourteen of a hotel room. Outside, in the open air, we would evaporate.’ She speaks as though Sean and the affair were these giant forces that were beyond her control:

But once we begun, how were we supposed to stop? This sounds like a simple question, but I still don’t know the answer to it. I mean that we had started something that could not be ended, except by happening. It could not be stopped, but only finished.

But it was hard for me to believe that someone so seemingly indifferent about something would sacrifice so much in order to attain it. She’s a walking contradiction; one minute repulsed by Sean and the next minute almost stalking him in true bunny-boiler fashion. She ultimately finds that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side: It’s pretty much the same colour, just a different type of blade. But I couldn’t reconcile this supposedly epiphanic realisation with someone as smart and cynical as Gina – surely a previously married woman would know that the romance and excitement of a new relationship soon slips into the ordinary?! All the more so if the other adulterer in question has a child. Come on. This is Adultery and Deciding to Leave Your Spouse 101.

A common thread in Enright’s work is the way in which her stories start off in a fascinating way and then they slowly begin to falter and stagnate. The momentum is not kept up, but the beauty of the actual writing (in this book anyway) keeps you going. And Gina is a very interesting narrator. You might call her unreliable, but she goes out of her way to remind you that what she’s telling you may not be what actually occurred, and that her recollections are doused in a self-interested subjectivity. And you can’t help but be grateful for the extent she goes to to prevent the oversimplification of the motivations behind this affair.