Monday, 28 July 2014

Sanctuary by William Faulkner

This book popped up in Janet Flanner's articles of Paris as a book that was translated into French. It made me curious so I thought: "Hey, I have this on my TBR shelves"! So I grabbed it and finished it in a couple of days. I have never read anything by Faulkner, but seem to know that he is one of the great American writers. I must say I did not understand too much of this book. There were a lot of characters, mostly dialogue so no explanation who these people were. And new persons tended to pop up here and there. Ok, after a while you got a little bit more information on them flashbacks, but still...

Short summary: Someone dates an innocent school girl, gets drunk and brings her to a bootlegger's camp for whom he is working from time to time. There are a few, criminal character's around
and a woman with a child. The men drink, moving around the girl Temple Drake, and at the end of a couple of days one man is dead and she is raped. Popeye (the man who raped her), takes her away an puts her in a whore house that belongs to a friend of his. In the meantime the bootlegger (also the father of the child) is accused of murder. A friend lawyer comes in to defend him. The story then goes between the accused and the lawyer and Popeye and the girl plus a few more people entering the story (not always clear to me why!).

William Faulkner

He wrote it in 1931 and the theme of the book - rape - being a sensitive subject at the time, made it a rather controversial book. I don't know if it is one of his most famous books? I have another one, Light in August on my TBR shelves so I will try this as well. Although it was a little bit 'messy' it was still rather fascinating and I had no problems finishing it.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Importance of Covers

A while ago I read a post somewhere, about how important covers are. How important are they really? Do you choose a book due to the cover, or do you go for title/author? Personally, I think a good cover attracts your attention to a book, but I would not buy it unless it was a book that interested me.

The Twilight series and their covers, which I think fits perfectly for these kind of books, has also changed the covers in other books. It seems, like in other areas, to be a trend. One popular book will be followed by covers similar to this book. The other interesting thing with the Twilight series is the interest it has given Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, being the favourite book of Bella. She is identifying herself with Cathy and sees Edward as her Heathcliff. There are several references in the series to Emily's book.

“Hand me that book, will you?” I asked, pointing over his shoulder.
His eyebrows pulled together in confusion, but he gave it to me quickly.
“This again?” he asked.
“I just wanted to find this one part I remembered . . . to see how she said it . . .” I flipped through the book, finding the page I wanted easily. The corner was dog-eared from the many times I’d stopped here. “Cathy’s a monster, but there were a few things she got right,” I muttered. I read the lines quietly, mostly to myself. “’If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.’” I nodded, again to myself. “I know exactly what she means. And I know who I can’t live without.”
Edward took the book from my hands and flipped it across the room – it landed with a light thud on my desk. He wrapped his arms around my waist.
A small smile lit his perfect face, though worry still lined his forehead. “Heathcliff had his moments, too,” he said. He didn’t need the book to get it word perfect. He pulled me closer and whispered in my ear, “’I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!’”
“Yes, I said quietly. “That’s my point.”

What might be surprising - or not? - is that the sale of Wuthering Heights increased due to the Twilight books. In 2005 when the first Twilight books came out Wuthering Heights sold 8.551 copies a year in Britain. Some years later Harper Collins reissued the book with a cover inspired by the Twilight covers and included the tag-line: "Bella and Edward's favourite book". Believe it or not, once it was out it sold 2.634 copies in a week and 34,023 copies that year.
Of course there have been 'wild' discussions on treating a classic like this. Some say Emily Brontë would turn in her grave to see such a cover on her book. Others say, what does it matter if it makes young people read the classics? Maybe in this way not only find their way to this book but to other. Although I must say I don't really like these new covers for this book, but love them for the Twilight books, I can agree that it can be useful if it makes people read the book in the first place. 
The following is from a The Guardian article :
"Controversy over the marketing of books is nothing new, of course. Last year Margaret Drabble complained, "I have had a weird feeling that I'm being dumbed down by my publishers and it's interesting there's an agenda of how it should be in the marketplace." Around the same time, Fay Weldon – author of such books as The Life and Loves of a She Devil, featuring a distinctly un-slender protagonist – expressed her displeasure that her back catalogue was being reissued with misleading chick-lit style covers featuring "little drawings of rather absurd people on pink and blue covers".
There might be an argument that it is the writer's job purely to write, and that it is the marketing department of a publishing house which is responsible for ensuring that the end result sells to the widest possible audience. That doesn't mean the choices for book covers is always right, though, as Australian author Justine Larbalestier found when she successfully tackled her American publishers over the US cover of her novel Liar. The children's book has "a short-haired black girl called Micah" as its central character; Bloomsbury's first go at a cover featured a long-haired white girl. Bloomsbury backed down." 

What do you think about this question? Do you like covers with pictures and paintings on them, real people/photographs, designed covers? Do you have a favourite cover? Please share your views and favourites with us. 
I am looking in my own book case and find that most books by Joanne Harris and Carlos Ruiz Zafon have covers that I love. I just chose three books which I think have wonderful covers and they are:

I think they all say something about the book. I get disappointed sometimes when I realise that the cover does not say anything about the book. The two are one! A cover is very important.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Paris in July - Paris was Yesterday 1938-39

My last post on Janet Flanner's articles on Paris in the 20s and 30s for Paris in July. We have reached the last two years and are also getting closer to the World War II. There are several articles on the situation and uncertainty at the time. They are rather long and difficult to just make a small extraction, so I leave them out.

The articles posted here are just a few of what the book contains. If you are interested in Paris during these years you should read the book. Flanner has a sharp eye and ear for things and it is interesting to read. So, here we go...!


Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)

"With the death of Maurice Ravel, France has lost its greatest petit maitre of modern music. He was still a prodigy pupil at the Conservatoire when he composed two of the three works for which he was most famous - the 'Pavane pour une Infante Défunte' and 'Jeux d'Eaux,' regarded as the most perfectly pianistic piece since Liszt. The hypnotic Iberian quality of 'Boléro' is partially explained by his having been born at Ciboure, near the Spanish border. "

Susanne Lenglen (1899-1938)

"For fifteen years Suzanne Lenglen, the champion tennis player, was one of the few female public figures of France. She was respectfully admired as being typically French - hard-working, frugal-living, obstinate, given to making occasional scenes, authoritative, capricious, expert at her job. Her premature death was regarded here as a national loss, as if she had been a general, or an homme d'état, or a big man in science. ..."

Wonder what today's women
players would say playing
in these clothes!

Friday, 25 July 2014

A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine

Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell
I love Ruth Rendell's books. Some year's ago I discovered Barbara Vine and it was with great satisfaction I saw that this is a pseudonym for Ruth Rendell. She took up this pen name in 1986. The author explained to the National Post that "the two distinct bylines offered the opportunity to hone two distinct voices. The works published under her real name feature more 'excitement' and 'sensation' while the works published under the pseudonym 'don't have any sort of mystery in them, they don't have any revelations, really. They're just really about people.' She also said she used Vine to explore specific topics, like the evolution of morality."

Dark adaptation: a condition of vision brought about progressively by remaining in complete darkness for a considerable period, and characterised by progressive increase in retinal sensitivity. A dark-adapted eye is an eye in which dark adaptation has taken place. 
James Drever, A Dictionary of Psychology

I don't know if I agree that her books (as Vine) has no mystery in them or any revelations. They don't have in the sense that it is not a murder mystery, although death is often involved. Her books - from what I can understand checking a few of them - starts in present time and goes back to solve a family secret, or something that happened a generation ago. I think I read a book of hers many years ago but can't remember the title. I read Blood Doctor a couple of years ago which I absolutely loved. Needless to say, I also loved this book.

Faith, is the woman who tells this story. Thirty five years earlier her aunt was hanged for killing her sister. Now a writer wants to look into the story and background to write a book. He contacts Faith and the rest of the family for background information. Most of them are not willing to reveal anything, the whole thing being a black spot in their family. However, Faith is interested in why it was all done and she tells the story from her point and also include new information from family members.

It is a really exciting book and difficult to put down. The sisters, both dead by now and the murderess' twin brother (Faith's father) all seem quite peculiar. It is not only until the very end you understand the whole underlying frustration and relationship between the two sisters, and how it could all happened. It is a must read and an easy summer read that keep the suspension until the end.

She includes some literary references in the book which I would like to quote here.

"It is said of the novels of Jane Austen how remarkable it is that while giving an accurate picture of the social life of her day she chose so thoroughly to ignore the war in which Britain for a greater part of her life was engaged, to omit entirely mention of the Battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo."

"My father's eyes are blue,' said Francis in a dead voice. The sentence sounded curiously like the opening line of a play, a lost, never-acted Chekhov perhaps."

"It's all babies, isn't it? There was Elsie's baby that never was and now there's your aunt's and there was the baby that disappeared. have you done Macbeth at school?'
It had been a set book for School Certificate - for her, apparently as well as for me.
'Macbeth is full of babies and milk,' said Anne. 'You have a look. It's really strange that a play like that which is full of horrors should have all that babies and milk stuff, isn't it?
I asked her if she had thought that up for herself or had her English mistress told her? The English mistress, she admitted. I promised to look just the same, for Vera's story was full of babies and milk, too."

"...And she looked quite different. I don't mean she looked well in the sense of being healthy. She didn't. She was thinner and paler and her face was less full. This, I thought, must be because she was pregnant. She looked different in the way rich women do. One might paraphrase that interchange between Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald and say the rich look different, they have more scope."

"And she remembers Jamie's nanny's name: June Poole. I am amazed at myself for forgetting it, for was not Grace Poole the nurse and keeper of Mr Rochester's wife? The situations were very different, of course. Jamie wasn't deranged or female or a secret, though for a while he was a prisoner, and there was no part in this drama for a Jane Eyre."

"He looks like Vera now. The Anthony Andrews look has faded, the Sebastian Flyte ambience gone."

And another food for thought:

The time would soon come, he had told me, when he would leave for good, he would never go home again. I didn't altogether believe him and anyway that time hadn't yet come and I lived in the present. That's supposed to be a good thing, you know, an ideal, according to modern psychology. Odd, because the truth is one lives in the present when the past is too bad to remember and the future too dreadful to contemplate."

Paris in July - Paris was Yesterday 1936-37

Paris in July

The ever active Janet Flanner continues her articles. We have reached the years 1936-37. Only two to go!


Stein - Human Nature

"If French books have evaded the political question recently, one book written in France is going to go The Relation of Human Nature to Human Life; or the Geographical History of the United States. The new volume, Miss Stein says, will be pretty long - about two hundred pages - and will be something in the style of her little-known essay, 'Composition as Explanation,' or very clear. She explains the new book's material as follows. 'It is a discussion of the fact that huma nature isn't very interesting and that that's why politics are what they are, since they deal with human nature. The book also deals with masterpieces; what they are and why they are so few.' ..."
into it. This will be Miss Gertrude Stein's new volume, entitled

Considering how we see politicians an leaders today, and expect them to be nothing but good and have no flaws or negative aspects whatsoever, that is; a perfect person! As we all know, they do not exist. Therefore it is quite enjoying to hear about Léon Blum, incoming Premier, in 1936.

Léon Blum

"Léon Blum, France's incoming Premier, is an odd man. He is now chief of the Socialist party, and was formerly legal adviser to the Hispano-Suiza motor firm. As a brilliant youth, he took his first degree in philosophy, his second in law. He became a popular Parisian theatre and literary critic; was author of a objets d'art, with all three of which his beautiful apartment in a beautiful eighteenth-century mansion on the Quai Bourbon is always full. He has an odd gait, since he turns his toes far out; he wears spats and thick spectacles, is myopic and absent-minded. He is Deputy for the Narbonne vineyard district, and just misses being a teetotaler. His family were well-to-do Alsatians, his grandmother was an enthusiastic Communard, his brother René is art director fo the Monte Carlo Russian Ballet, other relatives run the family fine-lace shop on the Rue de 4 Septembre. Blum, who has been married twice, is a strong Judaist but not liturgically orthodox. His political god is the martyred Jaurès. His mind is subtle and dialectic; his speeches are lucid, fluid, and delivered in a flute-like tone. For years he has ranked as Parliament's master maneuverer; till now, he has even been ablt to maneuver his party out of taking responsible power - no small feat. His most important pre-Premiership speech was that he made to the American Club here. The speech's tolerance pleased Blum's Moderate European enemies and angered his French Communist friends. His reference to the harm done by France's not having paid her war debt was supposed to please Americans. The last time Blum had referred to the French debt was when Premier Herriot wanted to pay it. Blum's lack of support was what caused Herriot's parliamentary fall. That was in 1932. This is 1936.
book on Goethe, and another on Stendhal, which infuriated Beyleists; can recite Victor Hugo's verses by heart, also good kitchen recipes; loves Ravel's music; buys modern paintings; and adores cats, flowers, and fine


French Films

Jean Gabin, one of the biggest
stars in French film
French films used to be films which the French rarely went to see, American movies being their favourite. Celluloid has been changing lately. The movie that French fans are now queueing up for is the Ciné Marivaux's Un Carnet de Bla, which is not only one of the major films the French have ever made but also one of the grandest films Hollywood never made. ...

...A second surprisingly fine French films is La Grande Illusion, starring Jean Gabin (who starred in Pépe le Moko, which is a third French surprise for those who didn't see it in London, where it was last spring's foreign hit). ..."

Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

"The aristocratic Mrs. Edith Wharton was born Jones in a fashionable quarter of New York, arriving appropriately during the quarrel between masters about servants known as the Civil War. The parents of the novelist were without talent, being mere people of the world. From them into her veins ran Rhinelanders, Stevenses, early Howes, and Schermerhorns intact. Her corpuscles were Holland burghers, colonial colonels, and provincial gentry who with the passage of time had become Avenue patricians - patrons of Protestant church and Catholic grand opera as the two highest forms of public worship - a strict clan making intercellular marriages, attending winter balls, dominating certain smart spots on the Eastern seaboard, and unaware of any signs of life farther west. In blood they were old, Dutch and British, the only form of being American that they knew. As a child among them, little Miss Jones started living in what Mrs. Wharton later entitled their Age of Innocence - a hard hierarchy of male money, of female modesty and morals. ...

...Though she spent another forty years writing about human relations, it was in her friendship with Henry James that she really attained her literary height. Their Platonic amity lacked none of their style, and contained all the warmth of which she never wrote. As if preparing herself for her own future expatriation, she first fell under his distant tutelage, then under the personal spell of her country's greatest prose exile. He selected her, at the expense of Mrs. Humphry Ward, as his choicest female pupil. ...

Edith Wharton's Paris home
...Mrs. Wharton's real excellencies were never marketed. Even those who loved her most came by accident upon her golden qualities. She was regarded as cold. Yet a chord of Bach once recalled to her a moment passed half a century ago with a woman who was ever after to be her fondest companion. And to the same woman she wrote, after clipping her garden's roses in the summer dawn, that the ripe sweetness of the flowers personified and brought their amity endearingly to mind. Mrs. Wharton had the tender and reserved sentiments of the truly literate. From many she earned the title of Dearest Edith, and for herself, long before her death, she had gained what she hoped would be her final epitaph - 'She was a friend of Henry James.'"

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Challenges - half year update

End of July and I am going through my challenges for the year to see where I am. I not only promised to read at least 12 books from my TBR list, but I also promised to read around 27 books (some of the are also on my TBR list) during the summer months! Well, here I am for the moment.


As for Fiction I have so far read the titles in read. It is seven for seven months so there I am up to date.
Five more to read before the end of the year.

Den Inbjudna (L'invitée) by Simone Beauvoir (1943) 
Röde Orm - Sjöfarare i västerled by Frans G. Bengtsson (1941) 
Röde Orm - Hemma och i österled by Frans G. Bengtsson (1945) 
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (1900) 
Simon och ekarna by Marianne Fredriksson (1985) 
Ensam drottning (Lonely Queen) - Sofia Magdalena by Gerd Ribbing (1959) 
A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine (1986) 

Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene (1969) 
The Angel Avengers by Isak Dinesen (1946)
Lisbeth by Ragnhild Hallén (1948)
Äcklet (La Nausé) by Jean-Paul Sartre (1938)
It's Not What I Meant by Deborah Tannen (1986)

The Non-Fiction part goes very slowly. Probably because most of the books are very thick indeed. Only read one from the list and still on The Sleepwalkers which I think I haven't read in since March or something. Four more to go...!

The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë by Daphne du Maurier (1960)
Civilization - The West and the Rest by Nial Ferguson (2011)
The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark (2013)
Freud - A Life of Our Time by Peter Gay (1988)
Tolkien - Min vän Ronald och hans värld by Arne Zettersten (2008)

However, I have read some books outside the list, of which the first one is Non-Fiction.

Levande 1600-tal (Living 17th century) by Gunnar Wetterberg (2003)
John Dollar by Marianne Wiggins (1989)
The Kreutzer Sonata and other short stories by Leo Tolstoj
Men Without Women by Ernest Hemingway
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope

Robert Grave's library in Deia
Then we have my summer reading challenge which also tries to take into account the Challenges. Here are 21 books that I would like to read this summer. The first one about Hemingway I will save until September and a Swedish challenge. I have only read 4 of them, and are reading two of them. If you don't already know I am always on several books at the same time. Take the one the goes with my mood for the moment.
  • Ernest Hemingway by Carol Baker
  • The Sun Also Rise by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Empty Family by Colm Toibin
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley
  • The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell
  • Curry, A Global History by Colleen Taylor Sea - Read
  • The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco
  • The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey - Read
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  • Requiem in Vienna by J. Sydney Jones Read
  • The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna
  • Tiger by Tash Aw
  • The Gift of Rain by Tan Twang Eng
  • Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller
  • Sacred Hearts (reading) 
  • Young Werther by Johan Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Pope Joan by Woolfork Cross
  • A Writer's Notebook by Somerset Maugham (reading)
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton! Read!

For August, and the Austen Challenge hosted by Lost Generation Reader I have decided to read Emma. I didn't like her last time I tried to read the book. Maybe I am more flexible now? Who knows? Let's see!

Some of the books above will also fit into the History challenge, A Century of Books, Book Beginnings on Friday, Motif Challenge (for links go to my Challenge page. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Paris in July - Paris was Yesterday - 1935

This is for Paris in July and we have got to year 1935 in Janet Flanner's articles on what is happening in Paris and France.

Shakespeare and Company

"Miss Sylvia Beach, who is Shakespeare and Company, the most famous American bookshop and young author' fireside in Europe, is shortly to sell in manuscript important modern writings which she, along with the world's other booksellers, has been selling only in print. As first publisher of James Joyce's complete Ulysses, Miss Beach has unique Joyceiana, comprising collector's items that no one else on earth has, not even Mr. Joyce. To bibliophiles, the sale's finest item will be her first edition of Ulysses, 1922, blue-morocco binding, printed on white Dutch paper, the second volume off the press in the rare edition of two hundred, and containing a poem Joyce wrote her, his inscription, and, bound in the back, his original plan of the book. ..."

There is a private not of Flanner here which I will relate in short. Sylvia Beach at this time had to sell some of her treasures since she was out of money. Since she was hoping that some Americans might be interested, Janet Flanner announced the sale in her Paris Letter in The New Yorker. Unfortunately, it did not seem to help. Flanner was given a numbered, uncut first edition of Ulysses, which had an original page of the manuscript, which Joyce had overwritten with his typical extra entangling sentences, dealing with the so-called Circe incident. In 1950 Flanner decided to sell the treasure and offered it to a friend who was going to give it to the Morgan Library. Flanner said she would sell it for the market price which would be around 500 dollars. To her surprise the market price was only one hundred dollar, which seemed to little for a book that cause so much stir in 1922. Sylvia Beach accepted the sum and was delighted that is should belong to such a glorious Library. The fellows of the library wrote in their announcement of the purchase:

"This volume is a presentation copy from the publisher, Miss Sylvia Beach, and is in mint condition in its original printed wrappers. Accompanying it is an early draft of the manuscript, a portion of the controversial Circe episode."

"The card catalogue on the acquisition further noted that it was accompanied by Miss Beach's engraved calling card, pasted on the book's from lining, and bearing her autographed inscription, 'For Janet Flanner with Sylvia Beach's love and gratitude.' She always gave more than she received, Publishing Ulysses was her greatest act of generosity. J.F."

Sylvia Beach seemed to have been a real lover of books. The books being more important that her survival instinct!

André Citroën (1878-1935

The recent bankruptcy and death of André Citroën, France's greatest automobile manufacturer, ends a curiously un-French career. Before the war, he was a salesman in a motor house, which promptly failed; during the war, he was the organiser of the arsenal at Roannes; after the war, he was the father of the little five-horse-power car that gave him international fame and over a billion franc annually. He sent great photographic expeditions into both Asia and Africa, as publicity wrote his name in electricity on the top of the Tour Eiffel, built beautiful model factories with playgrounds and nurseries, gambled a million francs a throw at gamin tables, believed in mass production in the American manner, and so died without a franc. ...

... When he crossed the Spanish border on a motor trip, he was topped by a customs officer, who asked, 'Name?' 'Citroën,' he replied. 'I didn't ask the car's name but yours,' said the officer. 'Oh, ' sid the manufactuer, 'I'm Citroën, but it's Hispano.' It was. He was a likeable, sly little man with charm and the ability to wrap people and banks around his finger. His errors lay in  believing that Paris was Detroit and in stating with satisfaction on his deathbed, 'After I'm gone, the House of Citroën will fall.' It had fallen long before. It was, indeed, doomed to fall from its inception. For France is not the USA.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Lonely Queen (Ensam drottning) by Gerd Ribbing

A lovely, paper copy version of the old style!
Sophia Magdalena, Danish princess, was betrothed to the Swedish king/crown prince when she was five years old. They actually married in 1766 by proxy when she was 20, and she was crowned queen in 1772. This was a marriage of convenience, as often in those days, and its main reason was to keep a good relationship between Sweden and Denmark. The book tells her story between the years 1783 - 1813. I don't really know why it starts at this date, and why the earlier years are not included. Maybe it would have been too long? The book was written in 1959, so written in a different style than is done today. It is full of extracts from memoirs, letters and other writings at the time, which give you a good idea of the different characters and the times.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Paris in July - Paris was Yesterday 1933-34

Paris in July - We have arrived at 1933-34 with Janet Flannery.


"The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

A Paris-written book of extreme interest to both sides of the Atlantic, and, indeed, to one side of the Pacific, since both the ladies hail from California, will shortly be published in New York under the sly inscription The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. As some young foreign painters like Picasso, Juan Gris, and Matisse, and later some struggling expatriate writers, like Joyce and Hemingway, discovered years ago, Miss Alice B. Toklas is the friend who lives on the Rue de Fleurus with Gertrude Stein. And certainly any autobiography of the one must necessarily be a biography of, it not even by, the other, plus a complete memoir of that exciting period when Cubism was being invented in paint and a new manner of writing being patented in words, an epoch when not everyone had too much to eat but everyone had lots to say, when everything we now breathe was already in the air and only a few had the nose for news to smell it - and with most of the odours of discovery right under the nose for news to smell it - and with most of the odours of discovery right under the Toklas-Stein roof.
Considerable mystery and some secrecy still surround the book here - but not much, really. Among the few privileged to see it in MS., it has already provoked quarrels as to its merit, the quarrels being about which of its hundred of merits is the most meritorious: the Picasso part, or the analyses of Hemingway, the long, marvellous description of the cranky old picture merchant Vollard, the piece about William James in Harvard, or about Johns Hopkins..."

Being into the Paris years of the 1920, this should be an interesting read.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Greatest Books of All Time, as Voted by 125 Famous Authors

I love lists of all kinds. The problem is only, that I make a list, and then I never use or go back to it. It is just a pleasure to make the list in the first place. Maybe it gives me a sense of being in control of things? When it comes to my book lists, which I share on my blog, I tend to be more careful and go back from time to time to update.

In Pinterest I found this picture which made me a little bit curious. When I clicked on it I came to Brain Pickings where I found the article behind it. 125 writers have chosen their top ten books according to certain criteria. The writers are British and American including among others Norman Mailer, Ann Patchett, Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud, and Joyce Carol Oates. They have been asked  “to provide a list, ranked, in order, of what [they] consider the ten greatest works of fiction of all time– novels, story collections, plays, or poems.” 544 separate titles were selected and the writers should choose according to some given definitions. A short list of these definitions could look like:

"1. ‘Great’ means ‘books that have been greatest for me.’
2. ‘Great’ means ‘books that would be considered great by the most people over time.’
3. ‘Great’ has nothing to do with you or me — or people at all. It involves transcendental concepts like God or the Sublime.
4. ‘Great’? I like Tom Clancy.
From David Foster Wallace (#1: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis) toStephen King (#1: The Golden Argosy, a 1955 anthology of the best short stories in the English language), the collection offers a rare glimpse of the building blocks of great creators’ combinatorial creativity — because, as Austin Kleon put it, “you are a mashup of what you let into your life.”


1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
4. Ulysses by James Joyce
5. Dubliners by James Joyce
6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
7. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
8. To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
9. The complete stories of Flannery O’Connor
10. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov


1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
5. The stories of Anton Chekhov
6. Middlemarch by George Eliot
7. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
8. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
9. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
10. Emma by Jane Austen


1. William Shakespeare — 11
2. William Faulkner — 6
3. Henry James — 6
4. Jane Austen — 5
5. Charles Dickens — 5
6. Fyodor Dostoevsky — 5
7. Ernest Hemingway — 5
8. Franz Kafka — 5
9. (tie) James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Vladimir Nabokov, Mark           Twain, Virginia Woolf — 4


1. Leo Tolstoy — 327
2. William Shakespeare — 293
3. James Joyce — 194
4. Vladimir Nabokov — 190
5. Fyodor Dostoevsky — 177
6. William Faulkner — 173
7. Charles Dickens — 168
8. Anton Chekhov — 165
9. Gustave Flaubert — 163
10. Jane Austen — 161

From the books I have only read:
Madame Bovary and Crime and Punishment. From the authors Henry James is a favourite as well as Jane Austen (the only woman among all the men!). I have also read Hemingway, Kafka, and Dickens.

What do you think? Any ideas?