1001 Books to Read Before You Die (Sort-Of) Challenge: 51-55

“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” – C. S. Lewis

Except for me it would be a cup of cocoa (not a fan of coffee or tea). There’s nothing like sitting curled up in a blanket with a cup of cocoa warming your hands, a good book open in your lap and fat flakes of snow falling outside. It’s even better when you’ve just come in from shoveling that mess outside. There’s been a lot of that for me this winter.

But I digress. Here are my next five recaps/remembrances.

Saturday by Ian McEwan9781400076192_p0_v4_s260x420

This was one I read as an audiobook while doing chores around the yard. It had the misfortune of being the first Ian McEwan novel I read after Atonement. While I found it well written and interesting, it did not live up to the high expectations of its predecessor (though, admittedly, few would; Atonement is still one of my all-time favorite book/film combinations).

9781593081256_p0_v4_s260x420Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

It’s little secret that I’m a huge fan of Austen. I’ve read Sense and Sensibility at least twice and it is fantastic. Even though there were more Bennet sisters, I can’t help but feel that Elinor and Marianne Dashwood capture the sincerity of that complicated and loving bond better than in any of Austen’s other novels. Sense and Sensibility may only rank fourth out of six Austen novels on my list, but given how much I love five out of those six, it’s still a pretty high honor (still have no real use for Mansfield Park and Fanny Price).

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse9781593083793_p0_v1_s260x420

What I remember most about reading Siddhartha is sitting curled up in an overstuffed chair at my favorite Barnes & Noble store with a copy, waiting for my brother’s prom to end so we could give him the necessary ride to his after-prom. I mostly picked it up because I was intrigued. I’d read Hesse’s Demian in high school and found it interesting though it wasn’t exactly a novel I adored. Siddhartha proved to elicit much the same response. There’s something mesmerizing about Hesse’s style of writing that is hard to nail down or explain.

9781593082512_p0_v1_s260x420Silas Marner by George Eliot

After having listened to Daniel Deronda as an audiobook, I was interested in dabbling with George Eliot again, though not necessarily for another 800 or 900 pages. I had Middlemarch sitting on my To Read bookcase but it was just a little too daunting. When I found a copy of Silas Marner at the bookstore, I snapped it up. All the great and amazing things that George Eliot’s prose possesses but for a fraction of the time commitment. Perfect for sampling Eliot while there are other things going on in life are eating up your reading time.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser9781593082260_p0_v4_s260x420

This was a book that I first inflicted on myself. It was one of those books, like Moby Dick, that I’d heard I should read because it was groundbreaking. But when I actually sat down to read it, I found it a chore to get through. When it showed up on the syllabus for one of my graduate classes, I think the entire campus heard me groan. It was easier to see those reasons why it was groundbreaking that second time through but it was also even more insufferable. I found that knowing how the novel ends does not make it easier to get through Sister Carrie. I was only too happy to leave it unfinished as the class moved on to other things. Once was more than enough.


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