Tag Archives: fiction


I found a couple of new lists of books on the web this week. In case you need reading suggestions for July, here they are:

  • The Top 20 Novels Set in Toronto. Local Literature! How exciting. I’ve read five from this list, including the Fionavar Trilogy, which is actually three books. In this case “top” means popular, which explains the breadth of the list. It includes fantasy (the Fionavar Trilogy), graphic novels (Scott Pilgrim), and books by CanLit icons (Atwood, Ondaatje). (5/20 = 25% of this list I’ve read)
  • 100 Greatest American Novels. 100 years, 100 novels, “American” novels, though some of the USAians listed work abroad (ex. Plath, Hemingway), and buddy who wrote the list includes William Gibson (born in the USA works in Canada) but not Carol Shields (same pedigree) which I find a tiny bit odd. His criteria are clear, and he invites revisions to the list with the rule being to add something you must eliminate something else. I’ve read 8/100 or 8% of this list. I tend to prefer British or Canadian writers I think, which may skew these results.
  • Time 100 Best Novels since 1923 (the beginning of TIME, haha.) I’ve read 19% of this list. Lev Grossman was involved in making the list, so he included Possession, a critical inclusion in my books.
  • Modern Library 100 best novels list includes two lists on one page, how handy. One list is the Modern Library Board’s list, the other is a Reader’s list. I’ve read 12% of the Board’s list and 26% of the Reader’s list. The Reader’s list is oddly skewed toward science fiction, which may indicate that somewhere someone was stuffing the ballot box in some way, or that only scifi fans found a way to participate in making the list.

So there you go, handy dandy reading lists for this July weekend.


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Seven Books I Am Not Interested In Reading

I’m not interested in these books, even though they are all on lists of the 100 books you should really read in your lifetime. Not Interested. These are the books that I’ve gotten close enough to to get a whiff of what they are about and what they are like and decided I was not interested. I’m not even sure I’m open to your arguments about why I should want to read them. But you can try.

  1. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by  Judy Blume
  2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  3. Ulysses by James Joyce
  4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  5. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  6. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

So tell me, why should I care about any of these?


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E is for Elephant?

Where the Elephant is in the room, the Elephant of unread books by authors whose names begin with E.

Actually E is for Eliot, as in George Eliot, the pen-name of Mary Ann Evans. I’ve read exactly one of Eliot’s novels, Silas Marner. I have other Eliot novels on my shelf in the to-be-read area. I also have a biography of Eliot in the to-be read area of my books. I think I should read Middlemarch next. But somehow, I never quite get to starting Middlemarch. Somehow Eliot/Evans never quite makes it off the shelf and into my hands. I’m not sure why this is the case, especially since I’m consciously trying to read older books these days. I found Silas Marner hard to get through, so I may be expecting the same of other Eliot works. Possibly you English Majors will tell me that SM was possibly not the George Eliot book to start with. I’d love to hear this, and also would appreciate hearing what you think I should attempt next.

What E-books have you read lately?

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Synchronized Reading

It is always interesting when I’m reading fiction and non-fiction that turn out to be about similar things. This doesn’t always happen. Of course, whenever I’m reading two books at once the two speak to each other. Even books I’m not reading right now also speak into what I’m currently reading. That is part of the fun of reading lots. Your brain works intertextually more and more. But I’ve just finished two fiction books that almost perfectly illustrate the first chapter of my current theological reading. That is pretty exciting.

My current theological read is The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic by James K.A. Smith. Smith’s book is about hermeneutics and reading texts. He discusses whether one can ever do this without interpretation. He claims that the need for hermeneutics is part of our status as creatures, created beings, not God, and thus it is not a result of the Fall (Garden of Eden, Eve, Adam, fruit, all that = Fall). I’ve just finished the first chapter in which he discusses and disputes a view of hermeneutics that I was raised with (and, it appears, so was he, #plymouthbrethren ftw). I enjoyed it very much. I’m interested to see how he builds the “Creational Hermeneutic” promised in the title of the book.

I just finished reading The Chosen and The Promise by Chaim Potok. These books are about growing up Jewish in New York in the 40s. The first book is set during World War II, and in it the protagonist learns about the holocaust. The second book is set in the years after the war with survivors of concentration camps living in New York. Both books discuss the reading and interpretation of sacred texts extensively. The key conflict in the second book is about the reading and study of the Talmud. It is very interesting. I’m glad I re-read these two just in time to start reading Smith’s book. It makes all of them more interesting.

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Crossover in Reverse

An enormous flap was made when J.K. Rowling, kid’s author, made the jump to Adult Fiction. Why is the same not true for people like John Grisham, Adult Novelist, who also wrote Kids Books? Or for Jasper Fforde, of Thursday Next fame, who has written some dragon books that look a lot like YA fiction? Or for Many Other Adult Novelists who have also published for children?

Let the flap commence.


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Why YOU should read

Apparently, people who read novels have better social skills than those who don’t. I’ve heard it argued that I shouldn’t read as then I wouldn’t be talking to people, and that is more important than reading some book. While talking to people is certainly important, reading a book, particularly a novel, may help with being able to communicate with people well. So do both. Read, then talk to people. Seems like a good plan to me.

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