Willis, Connie. Impossible Things. New York: Bantam Books, 1994.
“Ado” is a super short story about an English teacher trying to get her class to study Shakespeare. The problem is this, every play is contested by some watchdog group. Mortician International takes offense to the word, “casket” in Act III, Students Against Suicide protest Ophelia’s drowning, and so on. Even the students are allowed to refuse to learn a subject. Willis prefaced the story with an explanation, “political correctness is getting out of hand” (p 115).
“At the Rialto” had me laughing from the very first pages. Dr. Ruth Baringer is a quantum physicist attending a chaos conference in Hollywood, California. Only she can’t even check into her room because her name isn’t in the registry. In fact, nothing is where it’s supposed to be. Rooms where lectures are supposed to be occurring either have talks on channeling or stand empty. To make matters worse there is a colleague who is hell bent on trying to distract Dr. Baringer from attending a single lecture even if it is the wrong one. The chaos is just trying to attend the conference on chaos.
Reason read: June is National Short Story month.
Author fact: Oddly enough I couldn’t find an award for Impossible Things which seems entirely impossible because Willis has won awards for nearly everything else she has written.
Book trivia: Impossible Things is made up of eleven stories of which I only read two.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Connie Willis: Too Good To Miss” (p 247).
Chaon, Dan. Among the Missing. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001.
Two short stories from Among the Missing:
“Big Me” is the creepy tale about a boy who thinks he sees his adult self in a substitute teacher at his school. Andy fantasizes about being a detective and spends his spare time torturing confessions out of cats and breaking into people’s homes. When he snoops around the home of his teacher he discovers a photograph of a boy who looks a lot like him. Soon Andy is keeping a journal of his adult self’s life as if it were his own.
Best quote, “Sometimes I think: if no one knows you, then you are no one” (p 52).
“Something to Remember Me By” is the even creepier tale about a man whose best friend had disappeared when they were fourteen. Even though it’s fifteen years later Tom still feels the guilt. The missing boy’s parents have inserted themselves into Tom’s life as if to keep the memory of their own son alive. Seeing them makes Tom feel guilty. What drives Tom’s guilt is the fact he knows more about his friend’s disappearance than he’s letting on. And, to add to the guilt he knows he can never tell.
Reason read: June is national short story month. Hence, a whole bunch of short stories.
Book trivia: Among the Missing is a National Book Award finalist.
Author fact: Dan Chaon has a website and the main page is his blog which appears to be links to reviews. So, not really his blog…theoretically. You can check it out here, if you want.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Short Stories” (p 220).
Lewis, Roy Harley. Death in Verona. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989.
Matthew Coll is looking for the real Romeo and Juliet. He has gone to Verona for a little holiday and to research the Capulets and Montagues to find out if these families did indeed exist. Matthew has reason to believe Shakespeare repeated a familiar story already told a few times and that a journal hand written by Sen. Capulet is out there somewhere. Unfortunately for Matthew, when he arrives in Verona his holiday isn’t what he expected when he finds himself squarely in the center of a murder and he’s accused of being the murderer.
Great line: “They stared at me blankly; crooks who obviously never contemplated legitimate means of making money” (p 107).
Reason read: The Arena di Verona festival is in June.
Book trivia: Death in Verona is the fifth book in the series featuring Matthew Coll, bookseller/detective.
Author fact: Roy Harley Lewis is a bookseller specializing in rare books just like Matthew Coll…hmmm… wonder if he is a closet detective as well?
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter simply called “Verona” (p 244).
Michaels, Lisa. Grand Ambition. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2001.
The year is 1928. America is spellbound by adventurous feats like the one of Charles Lindbergh’s first transatlantic flight. Amelia Earhart is in the news with her own daring flight. It’s only natural that a man by the name of Glen Hyde, interested in running whitewater, would want to set some records of his own.
Grand Ambition starts with the first person narrative of Reith Hyde, father of Glen Hyde. Reith sets the ominous tone and the sense of foreboding. Keeping track of his son and new wife’s progress down the rapids of the Colorado River he knows they are late reaching their next point. Surely, something is wrong…
Glen, 30 and Bessie Hyde, 23 are a true life ambitious and adventurous newlywed couple who dared to go down the rapids of the Grand Canyon in a homemade boat in late 1928. Glen, an experienced boater, wanted to be the fastest man to complete the journey. Bessie was romanced by the idea of being the first woman to do the same even though she was a novice. They were almost at the end when something went horribly wrong and they were never heard from again. Lisa Michaels takes to task telling their heroic story, imagining what they went though and their ultimate demise. Interspersed between the adventure is the personal history of Bessie and how she came to meet Glen, fall in love with him and find herself boating down the rapids of the Colorado River. On the other side of the story is the search for Glen and Bessie. Glen’s desperate father, Reith, will stop at nothing to find his son.
As I was reading this I couldn’t help but think of my friend and the book he wrote about his own adventure down in the Grand Canyon. I wondered if he saw the same rock formations, the same rapids untouched by time.
Lines to remember, “…she had been a brief accident of his early twenties made into holy law…” (p 21), “Death didn’t miss you because you stood still” (p 44), and “Love is another country” (p 195).
Reason read: June is adventure month. Knowing this always makes me feel like I should be living an adventure, not reading about one.
Author fact: Grand Ambition is Michael’s debut novel.
Book trivia: I could see this being a really cool movie, but it’s not.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Adventure By The Book: Fiction” (p 7). Also from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “AZ You Like It” (p 31). As an aside, Grand Ambition is indexed as just Ambition in Book Lust To Go.
Boyd, Martin. When Blackbirds Sing, a Novel. London: Abelard-Schman, 1962.
When Blackbirds Sing is the last installment in the Langton quartet. We rejoin Dominic as he journeys back to war, re-enlisting at the start of World War I. Leaving his wife in Australia to tend to their sheep farm he heads back to England and reconnects with an old flame, Sylvia.
After killing a man and witnessing the atrocities of war Dominic has sobered of all immoral actions and indiscretions. He returns home to Australia a changed man inside and out.
I can honestly say I enjoyed this book much more than the last three (none of which I completely finished). Still, everything about Boyd’s quartet was old and stuffy. The series is supposed to depict the early 1900s but the writing seems older and more staid than that.
Reason read: to finish the series started in April – April being the best time to visit Australia.
Author fact: Boyd was better known for his book Lucinda Brayford.
Book trivia: The jacket cover for When Blackbirds Sing is hideous.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Australian Fiction” (p 29).
Braun, Lilian Jackson. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern. Read by George Guidall. New York: Recorded Books, LLC, 1990.
Jim Qwilleran is a reporter for “The Daily Fluxon.” He has led a simple life until he is asked to write for “Gracious Abodes,” a magazine specializing in interior decorating of lavish homes. Qwilleran is paired with David Lyke, an interior designer who leads him to all the fashionable homes he has put on his designer touch. Oddly enough after each cover story is published something terrible happens at the featured home. First, there is the home of George Tait. His expensive jade collection is stolen and his wife dies of an apparent heart attack. Then, house number two is raided for being a brothel after it is featured on the cover of “Gracious Abodes.” At the third residence there is a murder…Qwilleran keenly watches the behavior of his Siamese Cat, Koko, to figure out the mystery.
“Reason read: June is National Cat Month…or something like it.
Book Trivia: Get the audio version and listen to George Guidall read the character of David Lyke. It’s hysterical.
Author fact: Braun passed away two years ago which is a shame because I really think I would have gotten along with her. Her descriptions of cat behavior are spot on!
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Cat Crazy ” (p 52). Incidentally, Pearl says this particular “Cat” book is her favorite.
Barrett, Andrea. Servants of the Map. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002.
“Servants of the Map”
Max Vigne is an English Civil Junior Sub-Assistant surveyor in the Himalayas away from his wife and young family. As a member of the surveying party, through letters he describes his daily existence, leaving out the hardships and cruelties (like finding the body of a man who apparently died of the elements). Through those same letters the reader is exposed to Max’s inability to synthesize with this surroundings. Being from England he is embarrassed by his lily-white skin while everyone else on the team is dark and tanned. The differences go deeper than skin and culture. Max is drawn to the natural world, wanting to explore it more than reconnect with his marriage and life back home.
It is December 1905 in the Adirondacks. Elizabeth and Andrew run a private home for health-seekers. They have nine boarders at the moment and one, Mr. Martin Sawyer, is dying. Elizabeth thinks her husband hides whenever someone is sick but really he is channeling the healing powers of Nora Kynd. Andrew believes in the healing qualities of magnets. They “shift the shape of the aura surrounding each person into a new and more healthful alignment” (p 203). On Nora’s birthday he honors her spirit by placing magnets in the chimney, hoping it will help Mr. Sawyer.
There are a lot of other characters to keep track of. Here are just a few:
- Livvie and Rosellen – they help Elizabeth run the house
- Mrs Temple – the nurse who left three days earlier
- Dorrie and Emeline – they also run private homes for health-seekers
- Bessie Brennan – Dorrie’s mother. She was the first to rent a room to a sick stranger
- Mr. Woodruff – a Baltimore banker who roomed with Bessie
- Olive – Bessie’s cousin
- Aaron Brown – a boarder who died
- Mr. Davis – another boarder
- Mr. Cameron – an astronomy teacher from Connecticut, also a boarder
- Nora Kynd – she taught Elizabeth, Dorrie and Emeline their trade. She came from Detroit, Michigan and has passed away.
Barrett takes the time to jump back to Nora Kynd’s story – how she fled to America from Ireland; how she was separated from her only living relatives, her two younger brothers; how she befriended a healer by the name of Fanny McCloud who taught her everything she knew; how she came to the Adirondacks. Like “Servants of the Map” this story focuses on science, this time trying to cure people of consumption or tuberculosis.
Line I liked, “Trying to stay in touch without touch; how that effort changes us” (p 29).
Reason read: June is short story month and so the short stories continue.
Author fact: Barrett was born in Boston.
Book trivia: Servants of the Map was nominated for a Pulitzer. Very cool.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Good Things Come in Small Packages” (p 102).
Kahakauwila, Kristiana. This is Paradise: Stories. London: Hogarth, 2013.
There are only six stories in This is Paradise. The good news is that I wanted more. Kahakauwila does a great job pulling the Hawaiian culture to the surface of her character’s everyday life. We all have family issues, we all have dramas in our lives but on the islands of Hawaii all this commonality gets a twist. Life moves a little differently in paradise and the lesson to be learned, if I can be didactic for a minute, is that paradise can be painful.
Kahakuawila’s first story starts out disjointed and a little confusing. A lot happens in the title story. Told from the first person perspective it is all over the place. First we are surfers, then chambermaids, next successful career women, and then back to surfers at a bar and on the ocean. The first story This is Paradise reveals an attitude, a prejudice and demolishes a stereotype. It is the only story without a tightly wound plot other than to point out the perceptions of tourism. There is a real sense of “us against them” attitude. Having said all that, as a result the first person stories feel more connected to the Hawaiian culture.
However, “Wanle” is my favorite. In it Wanle is bound by blood to honor her cockfighting father. The need for revenge is as strong as her sense of family and even her sense of self. The conflict is her boyfriend, the “Indian.” He doesn’t like her fighting roosters. He doesn’t like the violence, doesn’t understand the need for revenge. Wanle must go behind his back to continue her obsession and the consequences are devastating.
Ferre, Rosario. The House on the Lagoon. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1995.
The House on the Lagoon is a clever story within a story. At the center it tells the tale of Quintin and Isabel Mendizabal. Isabel is trying to become a writer. The House on the Lagoon is her latest project. Multigenerational and historical it sounds a little too much like Quintin and Isabel’s own ancestors and personal history. Quintin, being a historian, finds Isabel’s manuscript and he simply cannot leave it as fiction. He has to edit the historical details and set the record straight. The more he edits the more he realizes the truth about his own marriage. Her unhappiness and his sense of betrayal create a powerful cauldron of simmering disaster.
Ferre’s writing is grand. She writes about a time when grand patriarchs presented their heirs with gifts such as steamships weighing eight thousand tons each. A time when segregation had an unsettling effect on Puerto Ricans. Not used to inequality they worried about the color of their skin not being as pure lily white as their northern neighbors.
Quotes I loved, “If you wanted to know who someone’s relatives were, you only had to visit your grandmother slumbering in her rocking chair, wake her up, and ask her to whisper you her secrets” (p 22), and “A sovereign with shoulders spread like infantry battalions, strong cavalry thighs, and eyes so blue they made you want to sail out to sea” (p 27). Wow. Can you hear me licking my lips right now? Last one – “It wasn’t an easy victory; she had to fight for her bed as if it were a castle under siege” (p 83). Poor woman!
Reason read: In honor of Cinco de Mayo, a little Latin American fiction.
Author trivia: According to Amazon, Ferre was First Lady of Puerto Rico (1970 – 1972) while her father was governor after her mother passed away in 1970.
Book fact: This has nothing to do with House on the Lagoon per se, but my copy was underlined, notated and dog-eared. Someone definitely loved this book more than they should!
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Latin American Fiction” (p 144).
Boyd, Martin. Outbreak of Love. New York: Penguin Books, 1984.
Throughout earlier Boyd books (Cardboard Crown, etc) we have been following the Langton family. In Outbreak of Love we focus on Diana. She has been married for twenty-three long years to egotistical and stuffy musician named “Wolfie.” Wolfie is an adulterer and it’s this unfaithful behavior that brings the drama to the book. Diana, of course, finds out and decides she needs an interesting relationship of her own. Of course there is the requisite high society blah, blah, blah such as who is going to invited to so and so’s ball and have to sit next to the bore.
Quotes that caught me, “Will we have a little love first, or will we go straight out to tea?” Wolfie’s mistress asks. Here’s another, “It shook my egoism, but I was not prepared to abandon reason” (p 53).
Oddly enough, I read this one better than the last two Boyd books. I don’t really know what I meant by that except to say my attention didn’t wander as much.
Reason read: to continue the series started in honor of the best time to go to Australia (March/April).
Author fact: Boyd was born in Switzerland.
Book trivia: This is the third book in the four-book series called The Langton Quartet.
BookLust Twist: Book Lust in the chapter called “Australian Fiction” (p 29). Here’s a laugh – Pearl lists all four books in the quartet but she mixes up the order in which they should be read. She lists When Blackbirds Sing before Outbreak of Love. According to the back cover of Outbreak of Love, When Blackbirds Sing is the last book of the quartet.
Jong, Erica. Fear of Flying. New York: Signet, 1973.
I think I started this book about eight different times, starting when I was 16 or 17. As a kid I always misunderstood the cover art – a naked woman under an unzipped… something. I thought she was in a body bag which, now that I think about it, doesn’t really make sense because if that were the case, she would have been sideways in the bag. Therefore she shouldn’t fit. Having no idea what the book was actually about back then I didn’t know it was a man’s unzipped fly. Now I say, “but of course!” The takeaway from Jong’s Fear of Flying is the underlying message of freedom (especially freedom from fear). To fly is to be free and this is one woman’s story about wanting that ability to become unfettered and free. Her sexuality and psychology are just metaphors for the deeper meaning of feminism and a woman taking control of her life…like a man. Yes, there is sex and lots of it but that’s not what Fear of Flying is all about.
Favorite lines, “A little girl who was neither bitchy nor mealy-mouthed because she didn’t hate her mother or herself” (p 46),
Reason read: May is considered the “Birds and Bees” month so let’s talk about sex.
Author fact: Erica Jong has a sexy website here. I love the colors and the use of multimedia – very eye catching.
Book trivia: According to Jong’s website, Fear of Flying was her first published book.
Reason read: from Book Lust in the chapter called “I am Woman – Hear Me Roar” (p 120).
O’Brien, Tim. In the Lake of the Woods. Read by L.J. Ganser. Grand Haven, Michigan: Brilliance Audio, 2011.
This is many different stories rolled into one. It is the story of an abused childhood. It is a vicious Vietnam War documentary. It is a quiet mystery. It is a love-with-abandon story and a tangled tragedy. John Wade is an Vietnam vet who lost the election for a seat in the U.S. Senate. The campaign was a complete disaster prompting John to take his wife, Kathy, to a secluded cabin in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota, so that he might lick his wounds in private. After a week away from the world Kathy inexplicably disappears. Using flashbacks to John’s childhood, college days, tour in Vietnam & relationship with Kathy, John’s psychological history is revealed. As a young child his father taunted him about his weight, teased him relentlessly about his obsession with magic. John learned at an early age to hide his feelings by imagining mirrors in his head, mirrors that reflected the world he wanted to live in and how he wanted people to treat him. In college his obsession with his future wife Kathy was like a sickness. He would spy on her incessantly, claiming he loved her too much to leave her alone. He would not spend hours doing this, but entire days. Then there was Vietnam. His enduring love of magic prompted the soldiers in his company to nickname him “Sorcerer.” This, along with the mirrors still in his head, allowed John to become someone else during the atrocities of war. He believed his violent actions were not his own because they belonged to Sorcerer. Throughout dating in college and during the political campaign as man and wife Kathy and John’s relationship was never on the same page. He spied. She needed space. She wanted children but when she became pregnant he convinced her to abort. He loved the campaign trail. She wanted off it. But did that mean John had something to do with her disappearance? O’Brien introduces a kernel of doubt when he describes Kathy lost in the maze of rivers beyond Lake of the Woods. The boat is missing after all…
My one complaint? The “evidence” involving quotes from wars other than Vietnam. I know why O’Brien did it. He wanted to show that the atrocities of war were not limited to the actions of soldiers involved in the My Lai massacre. It was overkill (pardon the pun).
Reason read: Minnesota become a state in May.
Book trivia: I am shocked this has never been made into a movie. Really. Another piece of trivia – this is the equivalent of an ear worm. I haven’t stopped pondering the possibilities since.
Author fact: There are a few autobiographical elements to In the Lake of the Woods.
BookLust Twist: You can always tell when Pearl loves a book. She either mentions it a few times in one Lust book or she mentions it in all of them. In this case In the Lake of the Woods was found in Book Lust in the chapter called “Vietnam” (p 238), twice in More book Lust in the chapters “Big Ten Country: the Literary Midwest (Minnesota)” (p 28) and “It was a Dark and Stormy Novel (p 128), and once in Book Lust To Go in the chapter “Vietnam” (p 246). Four mentions!
Mengiste, Maaza. Beneath the Lion’s Gaze. Tantor Audio, 2010.
The first half of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze tells of the downfall of Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia and self professed king of kings, and the subsequent brutal rise of the Derg. Selassie’s rein as emperor was, at first, a positive and influential one. Then in the early 70s popular opinion shifted as gas prices rose, food shortages become more frequent, and middle class workers went on strike. Famine was widespread and public outcry was loud. Tensions came to a head when a splinter group of the military overthrew the government, taking the great and powerful Selassie with it. Peppered throughout the historical tale are the human interest elements centered around one family. Hailu, a physician loyal to Selassie is witness to the brutalities of torture while his wife quietly dies of congestive heart failure. He eventually is arrested after aiding in the death of a tortured prisoner. This prisoner, a brutalized teenage girl becomes a focus of mystery. The reader doesn’t know her significance to Hailu and Selassie until the end. Meanwhile Hailu’s sons are on either side of the political fence. His older son, a professor, is the sensible one. Married with a family, he tries to stay neutral in the conflict. Hailu’s younger son is caught up in student protests and eagerly hands out pamphlets stoking the fires out outrage. Both sides will eventually feel the effects of being under the powerful and violent thumb of the Derg
While her subject matter is tragic (there is a lot of vivid violence and torture), Mengiste writes with such lyrical imagery that it is easy to keep reading her words – like adding a spoonful of sugar to the medicine, or, in my world, like listening to Natalie Merchant’s “What’s the matter here?” It’s a song about child abuse with a really catchy, extremely danceable melody behind it.
Reason read: May 28th is traditionally celebrated as Derg Downfall Day to celebrate the end of the Derg in 1991.
Author fact: Beneath the Lion’s Gaze was Maaza Mengiste’s debut book. She has an interesting website that is also incredibly difficult to read (black backgrounds with white wording is almost never a good idea).
Book trivia: I am not going to spoil the ending of the book but I do want to say that Mengiste holds you in suspense until the bitter end. So much so that I found I had actually been holding my breath waiting for the resolution.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Ethiopia, Or As We Used To Say, Abyssinia!” (p 81).
Smith. Alexander McCall. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built.
What is that saying? The more things change, the more they stay the same. When we catch up to Mma Ramotswe and the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Mma Ramotswe is now still at the agency but she is now married to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. Her assistant, Mma Matekutsi is still at the agency (although there is no mention of her typing school) and she is engaged to a well-to-do furniture salesman. The big drama lies with Mma Matekutsi. She has a competitor, another woman trying to steal her fiance away with immoral tactics. Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe’s home life is doing well with the exception of her beloved tiny white van. As it becomes older it gets harder and harder to fix. She soon begins to hide the troubles from Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni for fear he will tell her to get rid of it. It seems unusual for Mma Ramotswe to love the tiny white van as much as she does but she considers it part of the family and goes to great lengths to keep it around. The one “mystery” of the book involves an always-losing football team. The manager is convinced someone is a traitor and losing games on purpose. Mma Ramotswe has been hired to find the culprit, which of course, she does.
A very good line, “Until you hear the whole story, until you dig deeper, and listen, she thought, you know only a tiny part of the goodness of the human heart” (p 60).
Reason read: This concludes my time with Mma Ramotswe and her friends. I started the series back in January with The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency in honor of Mystery month. I am sad to be ending this journey because I fell in love with the series.
Book trivia: Tea Time for the Traditionally Built isn’t the end of the series. It goes on but unfortunately I won’t be along for the ride.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Botswana” (p 42).
This list started as the Mini List of books I wanted to read between November 1st, 2012 and October 31st, 2013. I compiled this list of the 95-100 books I expected to read within a twelve month span of time. I should have known such a prediction would be setting myself up for failure. Lots of things got in the way of me strictly sticking to the list. For starters, there was (and still is) the inability to predict which (if any) Early Review books I would win from LibraryThing. Then, there is my never-ending habit of “filling in” with a shorter book at the end of the month. This is the scenario: Let’s say there are eight days left in the month of January and I have nothing left to read from the mini list for the month of January… so I scan the Big January list, looking for something 175 pages or less. I read that short(er) book and voila! I have read a filler that wasn’t on the Mini List.
Now, there are two new “things.” First, the decision to bypass a book simply because I’m not in the mood for it. Ugh! For the first time ever I skipped over a book simply because I wasn’t ready to read it. The House of Morgan by Ron Chernow fell victim to my whim. I won’t get to read the book about banking until NEXT April. Second, a big mistake – I forgot to include other books in the Martin Boyd series. There are three others that didn’t make the original list. Duh!
So, having said all that, here is the list of books STILL TO GO from the mini list:
- Abide By Me by Elizabeth Strout
- Among the Missing by Dan Chaon
- Apollo: the epic journey to the moon by David West Reynolds
- At Home in the Heart of Appalachia by John O’Brien
- Beyond the Bogota by Gary Leech
- Burma Chronicles by Guy Delise
- Burning the Days by James Salter
- Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lillian Jackson Braun
- Child that Books Built by Francis Spufford
- Conspiracy and Other Stories by Jaan Kross
- Deafening by Frances Itani
- Death in Verona by Roy Harley Lewis
- Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
- Fixer by Joe Sacco
- Going Wild by Robert Winkler
- Golden Spruce by John Vaillant
- Grand Ambition by Lisa Michaels
- Guardians by Geoffrey Kabaservice
- House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre
- Light Infantry Ball by Hamilton Basso
- Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin
- Ocean of Words by Ha Jin
- ADDED: Outbreak of Love by Martin Boyd
- Old Friends by Tracy Kidder
- Panther Soup by John Grimlette
- Points Unknown edited by David Roberts
- Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell
- Rose Cafe by John Hanson Mitchell
- Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham
- Southpaw by Mark Harris
- Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
- Time, Love, Memory by Jonathan Weiner
- What you Owe Me by Bebe Moore Campbell
- ADDED: When Blackbirds Sing by Martin Boyd
- Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
- Working Poor by David Shipler
ON DECK FOR MAY:
- Dining with Al-Qaeda by Hugh Pope (audio)
- Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
- Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengist (audio)
- Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco
- ADDED: Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou for the Early Review Program
- ADDED (because I am an idiot – I forgot to add the next books in the Martin Boyd series): A Difficult Young Man by Martin Boyd
- ADDED: The long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz
- Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
- Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day by Philip Matyszak
- Apples Are From Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins
- Arctic Grail by Pierre Berton (I started this last year. No, sorry – two years ago)
- Ariel by Sylvia Plath
- Author, Author by David Lodge (audio)
- Beautiful Swimmers by William Warner
- Before the Knife by Carolyn Slaughter
- Bellwether by Connie Willis
- Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates
- Billy by Albert French
- Brass Go-Between by Oliver Bleeck
- Breakfast with Scot by Michael Drowning
- Brush with Death by Elizabeth Duncan
- Brushed by Feathers by Frances Wood
- Camus, a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes
- Cardboard Crown by Martin Boyd
- Churchill, a life by Martin Gilbert
- City of Thieves by David Benioff
- Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
- Descending the Dragon by Jon Bowermaster
- Diamond Classics by Mike Shannon
- Domestic Manners of the Americans by Fanny Trollope
- The Evolution of Jane by Catherine Schine
- Edward Lear in Albania by Edward Lear
- Fanny by Edmund White
- Final Solution by Michael Chabon
- Flamboya Tree by Clara Olink Kelly
- Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Gerald Martin
- Galton Case by Ross MacDonald
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
- Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem
- ADDED (in lieu of House of Morgan): God: a biography by Jack Miles
- Gold Coast Madam by Rose Laws
- ADDED: Good City edited by Emily Hiestand
- Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan
- Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan
- Good-bye Chunk Rice by Craig Thompson
- Her by Christa Parravani
- Hole in the Earth by Robert Bausch
- Hole in the World by Richard Rhodes
- ADDED: Iliad by Homer
- Idle Days in Patagonia by William Hudson
- ADDED: Imperfect Harmony by Stacy Horn (for LibraryThing’s Early Review program
- Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
- Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith
- Lives of the Painters, vol 2, 3 & 4 by Giorgio Vasari
- Mortality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
- No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
- Of Human Bondage by William Maugham
- Playing for Keeps by David Halberstam
- Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
- Rosalind Franklin: Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox
- Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff
- Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
- Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
- Tatiana by Dorothy Jones
- Tattered Cloak by Nina Berberova
- Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
- Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
- Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery
- Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
- Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer
- Widow for One Year by John Irving
- Women of the Raj by Margaret MacMillan
- “Golden Angel Pancake House” by Campbell McGrath
- “Lepanto” by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
- “Listeners” by Walter De La Mare
- “Mandalay” by Rudard Kipling
- “Road and the End” by Carl Sandburg
- “Sea-Fever” by John Masefield
- “Winter” by Marie Ponsot
- “In My Craft or Sullen Art” by Dylan Thomas
- The Long Hill” by Sarah Teasdale
- “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
- House of Morgan by Ron Chernow (as previously mentioned)