Archive for the '1001 Books To Read Before Dying' Category

My First Classics Spin!

[Updated on Monday Apr 6th for SPIN NUMBER announcement…  Two – 2 – numtwo2]

I have heard that SQUEEEEing is no longer en vogue, if it ever was, but that is how I feel inside. I will abstain from doing any gauche celebrating in order to be acceptable in my community.

Here are my 20 books in anticipation of the soon to be announced CLASSICS SPIN:

[Edited to say that I try to explain what the spin is in my response to the comment I just received…]

Continue reading ‘My First Classics Spin!’

Far From the Madding Crowd

Thoughts fftmcbok Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, Orig 1874.

Naxos Audiobook 2014 Narration by Jamie Parker, Unabridged fftmcbytha 14 Hours, 52 Minutes

Classics Challenge – 19th Century backtotheclassics2015BUTTON

First, if you like books to movies, especially classics and you haven’t yet viewed the trailer, “it is my intention to astonish you all.”  (And watch the other ones, too.)

(go watch it, SO GOOD!!!)

Second, for a fabulous review by Roofbeam Reader, you can click here and also find the explanation for the title of the book. Edited to add a Second-and-a-half, read Stephanie’s review for a bit more of a feminist perspective and thorough analysis that is fun to read. (She points to another review (Danielle’s) that you can access her that gives even more textual dimension to what is Bathsheba and her adventures.)

Third, a warning. I will be spoilering from here on. If you only want to know what it is about, you can click above on the book cover to get to goodreads and/or the review links.

I rated this five slices of pie.  Gooseberry Pie. Which I need to make for my favorite auntie so if anyone has any access to gooseberries, please let me know.

Really, do not read further; I recommend the following only for those who have read and know the story (by which I mean Holly). I warned you!

read more…


“Souls alive, what news! It makes my heart go quite bumpity-bump!”

invisible line

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Sister Carrie Wrap Up #CarrieAlong

Thoughts scbytd by Theodore Dreiser, Bantam Classic 1984 (orig 1900), 400 pages.

From E.L.Doctorow’s Introduction:

And so in 1899, Theodore Dreiser, age twenty-eight, wrote the title “Sister Carrie” on a piece of paper, and having no idea what it meant, proceeded to compose the book to find out.

Love when I find authors who just write and let stories and characters reveal themselves.

EDITED for quick blurb as to what this is about; stolen word for word from Jill. Link to her review can be found later in this post.

The basic story goes like this: small town girl moves to big city. Finds a menial job, hates it. Gets picked up by a charming salesman, he buys her shiny things, she shacks up with him, the afore-mentioned ass shows up and wants some of that, they plan to runaway together, she finds out he’s married, he kidnaps her and so they still end up running away together, he stops buying her shiny things, he loses his job and stays home in his tatty clothes all day, she becomes an actress, dumps his ass, and buys her own shiny things. Rocking chair. The end.

Trish tweets: “boo!!! … Finished on plane. Did not like ending! So unhappy. :(

Unhappy? You expected HAPPY?! 

My response: “I took it more contemplative and “far away”. Guess now I will have to do a post. :).

So, I didn’t expect happy. I expected RUIN and SHAME. Well, we don’t quite get that. Ruin, yes: for Mr. Hurstwood. No shame. More like “Shit happens.” Shrug.

The Introduction is fabulous, by the way*. He states, (and Trish? this might explain the theme that runs through it all)

“Longing, the hope for fulfillment is the one unwavering passion of the world’s commerce. Dreiser is of two minds about this passion. To a populace firmly in the grip of material existence, the desire for something more is a destructive energy that can never be exhausted; it is doom. Hurstwood, whose success as manager of  high-class drinking establishments is not sufficient, fixes his further ambition on Carrie, and is ruined. But the desire of something more, the longing for fulfillment, is also hope, and therefore innocence, a sort of redemption. Carrie at the top of her profession, is left looking for something more, and though we understand she will never find it – no more than Hurstwood has, her recognition that she in unfulfilled is the closest thing to grace in the Dreiser theology.”

When I say that I took it “far away”, I meant that I could imagine this on film where the camera zooms out and away from Carrie in her rocking chair to view the entire city, the whole globe spinning away in the ‘longing’ and never finding contentment. This race to achieve and accumulate more more MORE is what is immoral.

I was SO GLAD that Dreiser drops in an update on Mrs. Hurstwood and her success on her material gains goal and I found it humorous that Drouet was still oblivious and yet successful. (He didn’t ‘grow’ but could still dine and dress the fashion.)

I couldn’t get past the pronunciation of Drouet every time I had to read it in my head. Drew – eh?  Of course, I can’t help but think of the chipmonks every time I say Theodore. In my head. THEODORE

The Mr. Ames guy was odd. I get it and I’m sure there is a word for this kind of literary device for dropping in a character to move the story along and be significant but not a major player in the story. But it was odd.

Aw, heck. Carrie was a twit and she annoyed me to NO end. Really, dearheart?  Imagining Carrie’s thoughts: “Oh golly, Mr. Drouet is starting to bore me but I suppose I should be grateful for what nice things he is buying me…”

Word in the Intro states that Mr. Dreiser’s wife and editor tried to totally excise ALL references to any sexuality in book. I would say they succeeded. This was another interesting amusing bit that maybe what was not being mentioned was or was NOT important…  Nothing at all was said! It felt weird that it wasn’t’ intentionally left out but just ‘not there’.

And where the heck is Carrie’s mother? Where is Carrie’s idea that perhaps, something about this plan or LACK of plan might not be a good idea? la di da…    Um wait. Mr. Hurstwood is MARRIED?!?!  why the hell would this little problem bug Carrie so much when all the other little problems barely make a blip of a conscious thought of possible catastrophe?

The story of Carrie is hardly one of right and wrong, is it? Certainly, it’s not presented as a simple morality tale. Was Dreiser judging the basest of desires to be that we can’t be content or that we are too greedy and selfish and maybe we should try to be kinder along the way?

Also interesting to me is that the Introduction states that Family gets a pretty cynical view in this book, too. I would say he was cynical about a lot of things.

AND….  you may have seen my tweet about Dreiser and how he just might subscribe to the Law of Attraction. Or at least to how I understand the explanations of money as energy concept. “When each individual realizes for himself that this thing primarily stands for and should only be accepted as a moral due – that it should be paid out as honestly stored energy, and not as a usurped privilege – man of our social, religious and political trouble will have permanently passed.” Is it our THOUGHTS about what money is or isn’t that is the problem?

Finally, are the descriptions of the “HAVEs” and “HAVE NOTs” any different now versus then? Don’t young girls run off to the big city now and get sucked into a life of depravity just to have lovely trinkets? Too simple, right? Wouldn’t Carrie just be a terrific reality TV star… Um, no. Not sure she would have enough mindless babble for the cameras. But do you think this could EASILY be remade into a film set in today’s world?

Who is ready to watch the 1952 film?  carrie52film I want to see if for the costumes…

I think this book would be an excellent book club choice.

PIE MENTION on page 125: “he stopped with a mouthful of pie poised on a fork before her face.”

Four stars!  fourpie

Literary Odyssey
Jill’s Somewhere in a Book
Behold the Stars  <–fabulous and thorough review!!
Trish/TriniCapini’s Love Laughter Insanity
(yours? let me know)

Counts for the What’s in a Name 8 Challenge for family relationship category.

* Who wants my copy of this book – I’ll send it?

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

BUT OF COURSE I am joining the Back to the Classics Challenge


This year, there are 12 categories. And a PRIZE!  (hope to remember by December.) No required categories, just levels to accomplish for entries: Complete six – get one entry; complete nine, get two. Etc.

My choices/options for the categories are…  (go read the rules and join by clicking on the button above.)

1.  A 19th Century Classic — Dang it! Sister Carrie doesn’t count for this?!  (pub’d in 1900) ok, will look for something else… Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.
2.  A 20th Century ClassicSISTER CARRIE! It’s not too late to join our readalong of this. Check Twitter for  #CarrieAlong. See my post on it –> here <–.

3.  A Classic by a Woman AuthorThe King Must Die by Mary Renault. I adore the title, it’s under 400 pages.4.  A Classic in Translation  GERMINAL by ZOLA – watch for a readalong later in the year…

5.  A Very Long Classic Novel — a single work of 500 pages or longer.  This does not include omnibus editions combined into one book, or short story collections.  OPTIONS:  Mansfield Park (509 pages!) by the incomparable Miss Jane. (thought I would find more but everytime I looked at a title, it would be under 300 pages! huh)

6.  A Classic Novella — any work shorter than 250 pages.  For a list of suggestions, check out this list of World’s Greatest Novellas from Goodreads.  Wide Sargasso Sea – WOW – I thought this was a chunkster!! until I looked it up to see if qualified for category #5. Must have it confused with Middlemarch? OH CRAP – this was pub’d in 1966. NOW WHAT am I going to choose?  Candide!  or  Heart of Darkness!!
7.  A Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title.  First name, last name, or both, it doesn’t matter, but it must have the name of a character.  Jude the Obscure will fit just fine.
8.  A Humorous or Satirical Classic.  Humor is very subjective, so this one is open to interpretation.  Just tell us in the review why you think it’s funny or satirical.   For example, if you think that Crime and Punishment and funny, go ahead and use it, but please justify your choice in your post.  {no idea here…}

9.  A Forgotten Classic.  This could be a lesser-known work by a famous author, or a classic that nobody reads any more.  If you look on Goodreads, this book will most likely have less than 1000 ratings.  This is your chance to read one of those obscure books from the Modern Library 100 Best Novels or 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  Books published by Virago Modern Classics, Persephone, and NYRB Classics often fall into this category.  
{no idea here, neither… I really do not know how to judge this at all by just looking at the titles I have on my Club 50.}

10.  A Nonfiction Classic.  A memoir, biography, essays, travel, this can be any nonfiction work that’s considered a classic, or a nonfiction work by a classic author.  — Will have to do more research.  Likely something by Virginia Woolf will work but I was trying to titles already on my Classics Club 50.
11.  A Classic Children’s Book.  A book for your inner child!  Pick a children’s classic that you never got around to reading.  Again, I have no idea for this one.
12.  A Classic Play . . .


Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Sister Carrie Readalong Announcement #CarrieAlong

This January, a few of us are committing to reading Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser.

The hashtag will be #CarrieAlong for those who like to discuss books on Twitter.  (That would be me.)

This classic would count for the following challenges (and likely a few more! feel free to add such in the comments)

The What’s in a Name 8 wian15 for the FAMILIAL RELATION category. (Click on the button to learn more.)

The Back to the Classics Challenge backtotheclassics2015BUTTON for any of these categories:

  • 20th Century – Sister Carrie was published in 1900.
  • Very Long – Sister Carrie is over 500 pages.
  • Person’s Name in the Title

This would count for the Victorian Reading Challenge VictorianReadingChallenge(again, the button will link to more details.)


Other interesting facts to entice you…

Sister Carrie is on the 1001+ Books to Read Before You Die.

If you don’t recognize the author, perhaps you know of his most famous book, An American Tragedy? (I have not read this, fyi.)

Mr. Dreiser has been noted for having pioneered “the naturalist school and is known for portraying characters whose value lies not in their moral code, but in their persistence against all obstacles…“, according to Wikipedia. I couldn’t tell you what the naturalist school is, so this should be a FUN learning experience.

Probably would count as a BANNED BOOK though it isn’t the right month for that reading challenge. Dreiser was communist! (gasp.)

and, YES! There has been a movie based on this work of fiction! The studio called it Carrie because otherwise people might think the story was about a nun. (It’s not, in case you were wondering.)

Laurence Olivier and Jennifer Jones! carrie52film <— links to Nominated for Academy Awards* of Best Costume and Art Direction…

I am curious if Stephen King was aware of Sister Carrie; wondering if we can find any allusions or related themes or ???  — or not.

The cover of the edition I own is NOT in goodreads and I am taking a poll whether or not I should add scbytd since I have the power of being a goodreads editor. What do you think? (Bantam Classic Feb 1982, EL Doctorow Introduction)

Quote on the back cover:

When a girl leaves home at eighteen, she does one of two things.
Either she falls into saving hands and becomes better,
or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse.”

Ha, guess which kind of tale THIS is going to be!


Join us?

RULES and REGULATIONS:  none, other than start or finish it in January of 2015 and discuss here or at any of the joiner-in-ers’ blogs. I won’t even do a linky-thing. Just leave a comment. I’ll post on the very last day of January so you can check in here or then. Thanks!

* 1953 Academy Awards for Art Direction AND Best Costumes went to The Bad and the Beautiful.

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

I’m Joining the Classics Club

Based on how many classics I managed to read in 2014, I’ve decided to join The Classics Club.


The rules dictate that I list the 50 classics that I want to read. In no particular order (and then I will probably consult the 1001 Books to Read Before I Die lists when I eventually stall…OK – consulted it quite early before I realized I could sort my ToBeRead books on goodreads by published date!) I’ve defined ‘classic’ as anything over 25 years old.


50. Stoner – John Williams

49. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen

48. The Three Muskateers – Alex Dumas

47. Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd

46. Jude the Obscure – Hardy

45. the Woodlanders – Hardy

44. Rabbit, Run – Updike

43. Naked Lunch – Wm Burroughs

42. Cry the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

41. Love in a Cold Climate – Nancy Mitford

40. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

39. Murder Must Advertise – Elizabeth Bowen

38. The Painted Veil – WS Maugham

37. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

36. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

35. Heart of Darkness – Conrad

34. Germinal – Zola

33. The House of the Seven Gables – Hawthorne

32. Vanity Fair – Thackeray

31. Dead Souls – Nikolay Gogol

30. Candide – Voltair

29.  Orlando – V Woolf

28. Stranger in a Strange Land – Rob Heinlein

27. The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing

26. Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon

25. The World According to Garp – Irving

24. Confederacy of Dunces – JKToole

23. Twelve Years a Slave – Solomon Northup

22. The Way We Live Now – Trollope

21. Sister Carrie – Teddy Dreiser

20. Winesberg, Ohio – Sherwood Anderson

19. the Counterfeiters – A. Gide

18. A Handful of Dust – Waugh

17. The Ox-bow Incident – Walter Van Tilberg Clark

16. Brighton Rock – Graham Greene

15. West With the Night – Meryl

14. Eileen Chang’s Love in a Fallen City

13. They Were Sisters – Dorothy Whipple

12. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

11. One Fine Day – Mollie Panter-Downes

10. The Portable Dorothy Parker

9. the Bird’s Nest – Shirley Jackson

8. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

7. The King Must Die – Mary Renault

6. The Dud Avocado – Elaine Dundy

5. the Hunter – Richard Stark

4. Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes

3. Charlotte Sometimes – Penelope Farmer

2. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler – EL Konigsberg

1. The Double Helix – Watson


I’ve got FIVE YEARS to do this!  and I am allowed to swap titles in and out, I think, so as long as I get 50 titles read by 2020, I WIN.  This also means that I’m committing another five years to this blog. Whoddathunkit?!

Anyone up for a readalong on any of these, you know I am always up for a good Twitter hashtagging conversation.


Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Thoughts TCoMCbyAD Audiobook of 57+ hours. Actually 57 hours and 18 minutes, but I listen at a 1.25x rate…

Though I mentioned before that this narrator will likely make my worst-ever list, I have one word to describe the story and what I thought of this experience:



Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

East of Eden

Thoughts eoebyjs by John Steinbeck, Penguin Books 2002 (orig 1952), 601 pages, Tradeback AND Audiobook (narrated by Richard Poe, 25’28”)

So GOOD. Amazing work of fiction. Thank you Estella for suggesting I read along! EastofEdenReadalong-1024x1024

Page 255 – “What is there to understand? Just read it. If the Lord God wanted you to understand it He’d have given you to understand or He’d have set it down different.” (Amen Liz!)

Five slices of pie.

Five juicy perfectly-pastried slices of plum pie. With home-made vanilla ice cream from a hand-crank ice cream maker. Why plum? because something about this book reminds me of sandhill plums. I couldn’t find any reference to the possibility of these kinds of plums being found in Salinas Valley CA but who cares. I apparently found (or recorded) only one reference to pie in this amazing work of fiction. (TSBOOToTaOBtRBYDB!)

Page 494 – “I am so cowardly. I will not put my finger in any human pie.” (Lee – one of the BEST characters EVER. Samuel is close second.)


Page 509 – “That smart little son of a bitch – wrong word – must not call him that.” (Cathy – one of the most despicable characters EVER. Just whoa.)

If you like epics and stories of good versus evil with some startlingly clear and wise statements about humanity that don’t beat you on the head but just suggest, then you will appreciate this story. It has everything and Steinbeck achieves this masterfully.

Thoroughly enjoyable on all of my what-I-love-about-fiction buttons.

NOT intimidating. In fact, I am not sure what symbols I missed. Steinbeck LOVES his symbolism, doesn’t he? Oh well.

What I love about reading, especially with historical glimpses into the human condition, is that I get to realize that times have always been NUTS, people have always had its crazies and its wonders, and NOW isn’t anything special or more crazy worse or whatever. Olden days weren’t nicer or better or anything. Life is messy. And we’ve been on this path for a long, long time.

Page 494 – “Laughter comes later, like wisdom teeth, and laughter at yourself comes last of all in a mad race with death,…”

TSBOOToTaOBtRBYDB = This Should Be One of the One Thousand and One Books to Read Before You Die Books.

BEST WORDS EVER!  “Bumptiousness” – page 215


I still have no interest in reading The Grapes of Wrath even though it won the Pulitzer. You can’t make me.

But I’ll agree to think about it.


Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

East of Eden, Part 1 and then some


I am LOVING East of Eden by John Steinbeck. As I have it on audio and it has been a fabulous escape from the real life, I have zoomed ahead and am into the last quarter of the book! I have 5 hours left on a 25.5 hours audiobook. I am in Chapter 42.

I am fabulously impressed. I don’t know why I was so reluctant to read this.


“It would be absurd if we did not understand both angels and devils, since we invented them.” 

― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

That said, and if you are still here, allow me to tell you what is going on in the ‘real’ parts of my awake living (and some of my sleeping dreaming time, too.)

We are moving to North Carolina sometime this fall if all goes well. Which it should. No reason all won’t be hunky-dory but as moving is always an adventure, I will just share our new motto:  “We’ll figure it out.”

I have my final project due Sunday in my grad class that I’m taking right now. I have company coming this weekend. My husband is ‘on vacation’. I am trying to ready my house to list (I am cleaning and de-cluttering and then some). I am making phone calls and setting up appointments for painters and septic inspectors and lawn care and storage units, etc.) Oscar has pulled a muscle in his neck and yelps every time he moves.

Never a dull moment.




Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Books in the House

I thought I posted this! Oooops. I’m going through my post drafts.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – FINALLY. And links well to my Bryson A Walk in the Woods (doh – hiking.)

James and the Giant Peach – gift from a friend, read and probably won’t review

Out of My Mind by Sharon M Draper – YA, loaned by a friend

Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Winner The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Thanks Fizzy! I’m a bit intimidated, actually.

Home by Marilynn Robinson, because I was so impressed with Gilead. Purchased at an Independent Book Store Bargain Shelf “Previously Read”.

East of Eden – Readalong!!!

The Secret Life of Violet Grant – selected solely on loving the name/color Violet.


More random stuff about books and reading:

I have pushed on with my audiobook of The Count of Monte Cristo and despite the. halting. odd intonations. of. the narrATOR! I am quite swept up in the story and even dreamed about Royalist vs Bonapartist ideology. Yikes, right?

“Oh the heartless scoundrels!  … Is the world filled with tigers and crocodiles?!”

I downloaded the audiobook for East of Eden. Ready to go!

A long time ago which I failed to note with my not quite established habit to secure a post-it note in the front cover of books loaned to me, MBR gave me Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. I have dipped into it often but it never ‘took’. Finally, I left it at the treadmill and have been regularly reading as I walk the Weight Loss 2 setting (30 minutes, ~1.72 miles) and now I’m on a push to finish the damn thing. I’m on to the Massachusetts chapter, about 25% remains. Though I have heard it is SO FUNNY, I’m actually finding it quite sad. The Park Service has limited funds or misuses it, the aphids are eating the hemlocks, unsolved brutal murders…  I have no ambitions to hike the AT but I am inspired to visit Mt. Greylock in Mass.

Side note: yesterday, I read about his visit to Harper’s Ferry and, of course, the name John Brown was mentioned. That is more motivation or a clue to get McBride’s The Good Lord Bird. (If any of my family is reading this, think Christmas present.)

School started two days ago. I will be alternating between feeling successful that I finished a project on time and stressing about doing such  — over the next four weeks. Right now I’m on the happy side of that pendulum. I have nothing due for two days and it is only commenting/responding. I suppose I should read what will come after that…

I got me a new laptop! A Microsoft Lenovo ThinkPad just so I can practice on this style – nothing more embarrassing than to sit at somebody’s computer and not know how to work that crazy mouse. I need to be fluent in all kinds computers for my job. I’m excited to play with it. I will create a nutty picture doing my homework surrounded by a Macbook, a ThinkPad, two iPads and an iPhone just to search the internet. I’m SO prepared. Bring it on.

Also yesterday (yesterday was a kick ass day overall – did lots of good things), I read on Iris’ blog that she has exceeded the 100 book count on the list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die and it occurred to me that I didn’t know MY count. According to my shelf in goodreads, I’m at 50. But that might not be all on the READ shelf, so I am astonished at 100+. Way to go!

OK, this was supposed to be a short update post. Gotta run.



Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

I prefer pi.


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