Joe Hill’s Favourite Horror Villains

Joe Hill, author of NOS4A2, lists his favourite horror villains.  We love a good bad guy so I thought I’d share this list with you but first here’s a bit more about Hill’s novel:

 

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4A2

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.  Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”  Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son. (read more on GoodReads)

 

Mr. Dark in Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way Comes

A masterpiece of modern Gothic literature, Something Wicked This Way Comes is the memorable story of two boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, and the evil that grips their small Midwestern town with the arrival of a “dark carnival” one Autumn midnight. How these two innocents, both age 13, save the souls of the town (as well as their own), makes for compelling reading on timeless themes. What would you do if your secret wishes could be granted by the mysterious ringmaster Mr. Dark? Bradbury excels in revealing the dark side that exists in us all, teaching us ultimately to celebrate the shadows rather than fear them. In many ways, this is a companion piece to his joyful, nostalgia-drenched Dandelion Wine, in which Bradbury presented us with one perfect summer as seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old. In Something Wicked This Way Comes, he deftly explores the fearsome delights of one perfectly terrifying, unforgettable autumn. (read more on GoodReads)

 

Anton Chigur in No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men

In his blistering new novel, Cormac McCarthy returns to the Texas-Mexico border, setting of his famed Border Trilogy. The time is our own, when rustlers have given way to drug-runners and small towns have become free-fire zones.  One day, a good old boy named Llewellyn Moss finds a pickup truck surrounded by a bodyguard of dead men. A load of heroin and two million dollars in cash are still in the back. When Moss takes the money, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law–in the person of aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell–can contain. As Moss tries to evade his pursuers–in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives–McCarthy simultaneously strips down the American crime novel and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headlines. (read more on GoodReads)

 

Abbot Enomoto in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

In 1799, Jacob de Zoet disembarks on the tiny island of Dejima, the Dutch East India Company’s remotest trading post in a Japan otherwise closed to the outside world. A junior clerk, his task is to uncover evidence of the previous Chief Resident’s corruption.  Cold-shouldered by his compatriots, Jacob earns the trust of a local interpreter and, more dangerously, becomes intrigued by a rare woman—a midwife permitted to study on Dejima under the company physician. He cannot foresee how disastrously each will be betrayed by someone they trust, nor how intertwined and far-reaching the consequences.  Duplicity and integrity, love and lust, guilt and faith, cold murder and strange immortality stalk the stage in this enthralling novel, which brings to vivid life the ordinary—and extraordinary—people caught up in a tectonic shift between East and West. (read more on GoodReads)

 

Amazing Amy Dunne in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?  As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (read more on GoodReads)

 

Ursula Monkton in The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what. (read more on GoodReads)

FBF: All TIME 100 Novels #18 Call It Sleep

All TIME 100 Best Novels

#18 Call It Sleep by Henry Roth

 

Call It Sleep was published in 1934 and was met with critical acclaim.  That it was a great literary work was accepted and he has often been compared to James Joyce.  The problem seemed to be that the public didn’t take to it.  The poor sales of Roth’s only book are largely attributed to the fact that it was published in the lowest of times of the great depression.   In Richard Severo’s article he says: Call it Sleep

“When “Call It Sleep” was first published, Lewis Gannett, writing in The New York Herald Tribune, predicted that because of the stark way the book described life on the Lower East Side, it would not be very popular. But he thought that anyone who read it would “remember it and talk about it and watch excitedly” for the author’s next book.  In fact, the book was much discussed and readers did indeed wonder what Mr. Roth would do next. But for 60 years, he wrote nothing major.”

It wasn’t until 30 years later when Call It Sleep was republished that it sold over a million copies and finally gained the attention it had always deserved.  Severo continues:

“Over the years, the critical acclaim for the book grew. Irving Howe, who reviewed the 1964 edition for The New York Times Book Review, said, “At the end of a novel like ‘Call It Sleep,’ one has lived through a completeness of rendered life, and all one need do is silently acknowledge its truth.”

There seems to be consensus that Roth’s novel was a great one.  And while he gained his glory much later it seems that people have over time really wondered about what Roth got up to in life post Call It Sleep.  Here is a description of the novel by Grossman from TIME:

New York City, 1911. A young, painfully sensitive boy named David is growing up in the grimy Jewish slums of the Lower East Side, with his unemployable, rageoholic father and his angelic, nurturing mother. Call It Sleep has the setting of a gritty, naturalistic political novel—and it works perfectly well as such—but it is at heart a profoundly interior book. Roth tirelessly and unflinchingly records the daily damage that the harshness of slum life inflicts on David’s quiveringly receptive, emotionally defenseless consciousness; as a precise chronicler of minute impressions, and of the growth of an intellectually precocious mind, Roth’s only equal is James Joyce.

 

Has anyone read this book that would like to share their thoughts?

 

All TIME 100 Novels – Call It Sleep

Wed NYT BSL New Entries – 13 April 2014

This week there are 3 new entries on the list.  Here are the Wed RecoReads from the NYT Best Sellers List 13 April 2014:

 

In the top spot is the 2nd NYPD Red novel, NYPD Red 2 by James Patterson & Marshall Karp

NYPD Red 2 (NYPD Red #2)

When NYPD Red arrives at a crime scene, everyone takes notice. Known as the protectors of the rich, famous, and connected, NYPD Red is the elite task force called in only for New York City’s most high-profile crimes. And Detective Zach Jordan is the best of the best, a brilliant and relentless pursuer of justice. He puts professionalism above all, ignoring his feelings for his partner, Detective Kylie MacDonald, the woman who broke his heart when they first met in the academy.  But even with their top-notch training, Zach and Kylie aren’t prepared for what they see when they’re called to a crime scene in the heart of Central Park. They arrive to find a carousel spinning round and round, its painted horses grinning eerily in the early morning dark. There is only one rider: a brutally slaughtered woman, her body tied up and dressed in a Hazmat suit, on display for the world to see.  The victim, a woman of vast wealth and even greater connections, is the fourth in a string of shocking murders that have hit the city. As the public pressure mounts, and political and personal secrets of the highest order hang in the balance, Zach and Kylie must find out what’s really behind the murderer’s rampage. But Kylie has been acting strange recently–and Zach knows whatever she’s hiding could threaten the biggest case of their careers. (read more on GoodReads)

 

In #4 is the 10th Blossom Street novel, Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber

Blossom Street Brides (Blossom Street #10)

Lauren Elliott has waited years for her long-term boyfriend, Todd, to propose, yet he seems more focused on his career than their relationship. When Lauren learns that her younger sister is pregnant before she herself even has an engagement ring, she feels overjoyed yet disheartened. Knowing she can’t put her future on hold, Lauren prepares to make a bold choice—one that leads her to a man she never dreamed she’d meet.  Newly married to her second husband, Max, Bethanne Scranton is blissfully in love. But with Max’s job in California and Bethanne’s in Seattle, their long-distance marriage is becoming difficult to maintain. To complicate matters, Bethanne’s cunning ex will do anything to win her back.  Lydia Goetz, too, is wonderfully happy with her husband, Brad, though lately she worries about the future of A Good Yarn. As she considers how to bring in business, she discovers that someone has beaten her to the punch. Baskets of yarn are mysteriously popping up all over town, with instructions to knit a scarf for charity and bring it into Lydia’s store. Never before has her shop received so much attention, but who hatched this brilliant plan?  As three women’s lives intersect in unexpected ways, Lydia, Lauren, and Bethanne realize that love heals every heart, and the best surprises still lay ahead. (read More on GoodReads)

In #8 is Tempting Fate by Jane Green

Tempting Fate

When Gabby first met Elliott she knew he was the man for her. In twenty years of marriage she has never doubted her love for him – even when he refused to give her the one thing she still wants most of all. But now their two daughters are growing up Gabby feels that time and her youth are slipping away. For the first time in her life she is restless. And then she meets Matt . . . Intoxicated by the way this young, handsome and successful man makes her feel, Gabby is momentarily blind to what she stands to lose on this dangerous path. And in one reckless moment she destroys all that she holds dear.  Consumed by regret, Gabby does everything she can to repair the home she has broken. But are some betrayals too great to forgive? (read more on GoodReads)

 

 

 

 

Mai Jia’s Favourite Modern Chinese Novels

I am very interested in the novel Decoded by Mai Jia and while reading about Jia on GoodReads I found this lovely list of his favourite modern Chinese novels which I thought I would share with you.  First though, here is a bit about what I hope to be a wonderful book:

 

Decoded by Mai Jia

Decoded

Decoded tells the story of Rong Jinzhwen, one of the great code-breakers in the world. A semi-autistic mathematical genius, Jinzhen is recruited to the cryptography department of China’s secret services, Unit 701, where he is assigned the task of breaking the elusive ‘Code Purple’. Jinzhen rises through the ranks to eventually become China’s greatest and most celebrated code-breaker; until he makes a mistake. Then begins his descent through the unfathomable darkness of the world of cryptology into madness.

 

Red Sorghum by Mo Yan

Red Sorghum

Jia: “Thanks to Mo Yan, thanks to this particular novel, contemporary Chinese literature has gone in a completely fresh direction with a renewed sense of purpose.

GoodReads Blurb: Spanning three generations, Red Sorghum, a novel of family and myth, is told through a series of flashbacks that depict events of staggering horror set against a landscape of gemlike beauty, as the Chinese battle both Japanese invaders and each other in the turbulent war years of the 1930s. (read more on GoodReads)

Red Poppies by Alai

Red Poppies

Jia: “…one of the best novels to have been published in China in recent years, where the suspense is brought to a devastating resolution. Only a novel could do justice to such an epic theme: the rise and fall of the last of the traditional Tibetan chieftains.

GoodReads Blurb: Red Poppies is the story of the Maichi family, its powerful chieftain, his Han Chinese wife, his first son and presumptive heir, and his second, “idiot,” son, the novel’s narrator and unlikely hero. The time is the 1930s, the setting a stone fortress overlooking all the family rules, the arid plains of eastern Tibet, and a thinly scattered populous of peasant farmers, merchants, and ineffectual, often comical local lamas. A feud breaks out with a neighboring chieftain; an emissary from the Chinese Nationalists comes to the Maichis’ aid with the tools of modern warfare. In exchange, fields of bright red poppies, valuable in the Nationalist-sponsored heroin trade, are to be planted instead of grain in a deal that makes the family even richer and earns them the enmity of nearly everyone. (read more on GoodReads)

The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai by Wang Anyi

The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai

Jia: “…this novel serves to shine a narrow beam of light upon another kind of truth about life in China.”

GoodReads Blurb: Set in post-World War II Shanghai, “The Song of Everlasting Sorrow” follows the adventures of Wang Qiyao, a girl born of the “longtong,” the crowded, labyrinthine alleys of Shanghai’s working-class neighborhoods.  Infatuated with the glitz and glamour of 1940s Hollywood, Wang Qiyao seeks fame in the Miss Shanghai beauty pageant, and this fleeting moment of stardom becomes the pinnacle of her life. During the next four decades, Wang Qiyao indulges in the decadent pleasures of pre-liberation Shanghai, secretly playing mahjong during the antirightist Movement and exchanging lovers on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. Surviving the vicissitudes of modern Chinese history, Wang Qiyao emerges in the 1980s as a purveyor of “old Shanghai”–a living incarnation of a new, commodified nostalgia that prizes splendor and sophistication–only to become embroiled in a tragedy that echoes the pulpy Hollywood noirs of her youth. (read more on GoodReads)

The King of Trees by Ah Cheng

The King of Trees: Three Novellas: The King of Trees, The King of Chess, The King of Children

Jia: It is impossible to classify his ‘Three Kings,’ for these novels represent Ah Cheng’s unique creative vision. He is that rare creature among contemporary novelists in China: an intellectual with a profound understanding of the culture and way of life of Chinese people today.”

GoodReads Blurb: When the three novellas in The King of Trees were published separately in China in the 1980s, “Ah Cheng fever” spread across the country. Never before had a fiction writer dealt with the Cultural Revolution in such Daoist-Confucian terms, discarding Mao-speak, and mixing both traditional and vernacular elements with an aesthetic that emphasized not the hardships and miseries of those years, but the joys of close, meaningful friendships. In The King of Chess, a student’s obsession with finding worthy chess opponents symbolizes his pursuit of the dao; in The King of Children—made into an award-winning film by Chen Kaige, the director of Farewell My Concubine—an educated youth is sent to teach at an impoverished village school where one boy’s devotion to learning is so great he is ready to spend 500 days copying his teacher’s dictionary; and in the title novella a peasant’s innate connection to a giant primeval tree takes a tragic turn when a group of educated youth arrive to clear the mountain forest. As moving and enduring as the best of Jack London or Knut Hamsun, The King of Trees is as relevant today as it will be tomorrow.  (read more on GoodReads)

Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke

Dream of Ding Village

Jia: “If viewed from a strictly literary viewpoint, there are many things to criticize about Dream of Ding Village, but there are two things about this book that are worthy of admiration. First, it shows that a novelist can act as a social conscience, and secondly, that novelists should keep their eyes open to the realities of the world around them.”

GoodReads Blurb: Officially censored upon its Chinese publication, and the subject of a bitter lawsuit between author and publisher, Dream of Ding Village is Chinese novelist Yan Lianke’s most important novel to date. Set in a poor village in Henan province, it is a deeply moving and beautifully written account of a blood-selling ring in contemporary China. Based on a real-life blood-selling scandal in eastern China, Dream of Ding Village is the result of three years of undercover work by Yan Lianke, who worked as an assistant to a well-known Beijing anthropologist in an effort to study a small village decimated by HIV/AIDS as a result of unregulated blood selling. Whole villages were wiped out with no responsibility taken or reparations paid. Dream of Ding Village focuses on one family, destroyed when one son rises to the top of the Party pile as he exploits the situation, while another son is infected and dies. The result is a passionate and steely critique of the rate at which China is developing and what happens to those who get in the way. (read more on GoodReads)

FBF: All Time 100 Novels #17 The Bridge of San Luis Rey

All TIME 100 Best Novels

#17 The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

 

The Bridge of San Luis Rey was published in 1927 and Wilder’s 2nd novel.  It won him the 1928 Pulitzer Prize and is highly acclaimed the world over.  Here is the blurb from GoodReads:T100_novels_Bridge of San Luis Rey_copy

“On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.” With this celebrated sentence Thornton Wilder begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world.  By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper then embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His search leads to his own death — and to the author’s timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition.”

According to Wikipedia on writing this novel Thornton Wilder said that he was posing a question: “Is there a direction and meaning in lives beyond the individual’s own will?”  In the same article there’s an impressive list of novels that themselves were influenced by or make reference to this novel:

  • This book was cited by John Hersey as a direct inspiration for his nonfiction work Hiroshima (1946).
  • Qui non riposano, a 1945 novel by Indro Montanelli takes inspiration from the novel.
  • David Mitchell’s novel, Cloud Atlas, echoes the story in many ways, most explicitly through the character Luisa Rey.
  • Ayn Rand references the theme in Atlas Shrugged, her epic of a fictional USA’s decline into an impoverished kleptocracy. In the aftermath of a disastrous collision in a railroad tunnel, she highlights train passengers who, in one way or another, promoted the moral climate that made the accident likely.
  • The book is mentioned in passing by a character in The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands, the third book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

Interesting, right?  I’m very intrigued by this book!  The bridge itself  is based on the great Inca road suspension bridge across the Apurímac River, erected around 1350, still in use in 1864, and dilapidated but still hanging in 1890.

Anyone read this book?  Thoughts?

All Time 100 Novels – The Bridge of San Luis Rey

 

 

Wed NYT BSL New Entries – 6 April 2014

This week there are 5 new entries on the list.  Here are the Wed RecoReads from the NYT Best Sellers List 6 April 2014:

 

In the top spot is Missing You by Harlan Coben

Missing You

It’s a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years.  Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her.  But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable.   As the body count mounts and Kat’s hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there. (read more on GoodReads)

 

In #2 is the 40th Discworld novel, Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Raising Steam (Discworld, #40)

To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it’s soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.  Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work – as master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank his input is, of course, vital… but largely dependent on words, which are fortunately not very heavy and don’t always need greasing. However, he does enjoy being alive, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse…Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi’ t’flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all going off the rails. (read more on GoodReads)

 

In #11 is The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C Rosenberg

The Auschwitz Escape

A terrible darkness has fallen upon Jacob Weisz’s beloved Germany. The Nazi regime, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, has surged to power and now hold Germany by the throat. All non-Aryans–especially Jews like Jacob and his family–are treated like dogs.When tragedy strikes during one terrible night of violence, Jacob flees and joins rebel forces working to undermine the regime. But after a raid goes horribly wrong, Jacob finds himself in a living nightmare–trapped in a crowded, stinking car on the train to the Auschwitz death camp.As World War II rages and Hitler begins implementing his “final solution” to systematically and ruthlessly exterminate the Jewish people, Jacob must rely on his wits and a God he’s not sure he believes in to somehow escape from Auschwitz and alert the world to the Nazi’s atrocities before Fascism overtakes all of Europe. The fate of millions hangs in the balance. (read more on GoodReads)

 

In #12 is William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher

William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back

Hot on the heels of the New York Times best seller William Shakespeare’s Star Wars comes the next two installments of the original trilogy: William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back and William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return. Return to the star-crossed galaxy far, far away as the brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor, and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power, and soliloquize in elegant and impeccable iambic pentameter. Illustrated with beautiful black-and-white Elizabethan-style artwork, these two plays offer essential reading for all ages. Something Wookiee this way comes! (read more on GoodReads)

 

In #13 is The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

The Cairo Affair

Sophie Kohl is living her worst nightmare. Minutes after she confesses to her husband, a mid-level diplomat at the American embassy in Hungary, that she had an affair while they were in Cairo, he is shot in the head and killed.  Stan Bertolli, a Cairo-based CIA agent, has fielded his share of midnight calls. But his heart skips a beat when he hears the voice of the only woman he ever truly loved, calling to ask why her husband has been assassinated.  Omar Halawi has worked in Egyptian intelligence for years, and he knows how to play the game. Foreign agents pass him occasional information, he returns the favor, and everyone’s happy. But the murder of a diplomat in Hungary has ripples all the way to Cairo, and Omar must follow the fall-out wherever it leads.  American analyst Jibril Aziz knows more about Stumbler, a covert operation rejected by the CIA, than anyone. So when it appears someone else has obtained a copy of the blueprints, Jibril alone knows the danger it represents. (read more on GoodReads)

 

10 Self-Help Classics from Tom Butler-Bowden

50 Self-Help Classics: 50 Inspirational Books to Transform Your Life from Timeless Sages to Contemporary GurusI have been reading Tom Butler-Bowden’s 50 Self-Help Classics and I wanted to share with you a selection of 10 of these classics that you may or may not find interesting.  I have also really enjoyed his other books 50 Psychology Classics and 50 Spiritual Classics.  I love a good reading list and Bowden’s books are like deluxe reading lists – love them.  They are in no particular order and the quote which follows each title is but one of Bowden’s selections for his book.  If you have read any of these books please share your thoughts with me.  What are some of your favourite ‘self-help’ books not on this list?

 

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your DreamsThe Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

“The best way to put the Law of Giving into operation … is to make a decision that at any time you come into contact with anyone, you will give them something. It doesn’t have to be in the form of material things; it could be a flower, a compliment, or a prayer … The gifts of caring, attention, affection, appreciation, and love are some of the most precious gifts you can give, and they don’t cost you anything.”

read more on GoodReads

 

The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist

“He had studied Latin, Spanish and theology. But ever since he had been a child, he had wanted to know the world, and this was much more important to him than knowing God and learning about man’s sins. One afternoon, on a visit to his family, he had summoned up the courage to tell his father that he didn’t want to become a priest. That he wanted to travel.”

read more on GoodReads

 

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus: AND How to Get What You Want in Your Relationships: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting ... Want in Your Relationships (French Edition)Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray

“To feel better, women talk about past problems, future problems, potential problems, even problems that have no solutions. The more talk and exploration, the better they feel. This is the way women operate. To expect otherwise is to deny a woman her sense of self.”

read more on GoodReads

 

The Road Less Travelled by M Scott PeckThe Road Less Travelled

“Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties in life as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy.”

read more on GoodReads

 

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for LivingThe Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C Cutler

“I believe that the proper utilization of time is this: if you can, serve other people, other sentient beings. If not, at least refrain from harming them. I think that is the whole basis of my philosophy.”

read more on GoodReads

 

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin FranklinThe Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

“And I was not discourag’d by the seeming Magnitude of the Undertaking, as I have always thought that one Man of tolerable Abilities may work great Changes, & accomplish great Affairs among Mankind, if he first forms a good Plan, and, cutting off all Amusements or other Employments that would divert his Attention, makes the Execution of that same Plan his sole Study and Business.”

read more on GoodReads

 

The DhammapadaThe Dhammapada (by Eknat Easwaran is the translation recommended to me)

“He who in early days was unwise but later found Wisdom, he sheds a light over the world like that of the moon when free from clouds.”

read more on GoodReads

 

As A Man Thinketh by James AllenAs a Man Thinketh (Tarcher Family Inspirational Library)

“Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results … We understand this law in the natural world, and work with it; but few understand it in the mental and moral world—although its operation there is just as simple and undeviating—and they, therefore, do not cooperate with it.”

read more on GoodReads

 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal ChangeThe Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

“People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.”

read more on GoodReads

 

Tao Te Ching by Lao TzuLao Tsu: Tao Te Ching

“Trying to understand is like straining to see through muddy water.  Be still, and allow the mud to settle.  Remain still, until it is the time to act.”

read more on GoodReads

FBF: All TIME 100 Novels #16 Brideshead Revisited

All TIME 100 Best Novels

#16 Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

 

Brideshead Revisited was published in 1945 and is described as Waugh’s great literary masterpiece who has himself referred to the novel in the past as his magnum opus.  Here is the blurb from GoodReads:Brideshead Revisited

“The most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder’s infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly-disappearing world of privilege they inhabit. Enchanted first by Sebastian at Oxford, then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognize only his spiritual and social distance from them.”

According to Wikipedia, Waugh wrote that the novel “deals with what is theologically termed ‘the operation of Grace’, that is to say, the unmerited and unilateral act of love by which God continually calls souls to Himself.” (Memo dated 18 February 1947 from Evelyn Waugh to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)This is achieved by an examination of the Roman Catholic, aristocratic Marchmain family, as seen by the narrator, Charles Ryder.  However, in 1950 Waugh wrote to Graham Greene saying that he’d reread the novel and was appalled.  In a 1959 preface to the novel the author explained the circumstances of the novel.  He wrote it following a parachute accident stating that: “It was a bleak period of present privation and threatening disaster – the period of soya beans and Basic English — and in consequence the book is infused with a kind of gluttony, for food and wine, for the splendours of the recent past, and for rhetorical and ornamental language which now, with a full stomach, I find distasteful.”

Despite Waugh’s own later feelings there are many that don’t agree with his criticism as evidenced by these words from John K Hutchens review in the NY Times entitled Evelyn Waugh’s Finest Novel:

Brideshead Revisited” has the depth and weight that are found in a writer working in his prime, in the full powers of an eager, good mind and a skilled hand, retaining the best of what he has already learned. It tells an absorbing story in imaginative terms. By indirection it summarizes and comments upon a time and a society. It has an almost romantic sense of wonder, together with the provocative, personal point of view of a writer who sees life realistically. It is, in short, a large, inclusive novel with which the 1946 season begins, a novel more fully realized than any of the year now ending, whatever their other virtues.”

Pretty mixed feelings but it seems everyone besides the author agrees it is an all time great novel.  I’ll end with the description of the novel by Lev Grossman (co-compiler of the All Time 100 list) which is sure to twist your arm:

“Though it’s saddled with a faded doily of a title, Brideshead Revisited is actually a wildly entertaining, swooningly funny-sad story about an impressionable young man, Charles Ryder, who goes to Oxford in the 1930′s and falls in love with a family: the wealthy, eccentric, aristocratic Flytes, owners of a grand old country house called Brideshead.”

 

All TIME 100 Novels – Brideshead Revisited

 

Review: Finding Soutbek by Karen Jennings

Finding SoutbekI was kindly provided a copy of Finding Soutbek from the publisher, Holland Park Press, in exchange for an honest review.  Earlier this year Finding Soutbek caught my eye when it was shortlisted for the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature.

Here is the blurb from GoodReads:

The focal point of the novel is the small town of Soutbek. Its troubles, hardships and corruption, but also its kindness, strong community and friendships, are introduced to us in a series of stories about intriguingly interlinked relationships.  Contemporary Soutbek is still a divided town – the upper town destitute, and the lower town rich, largely ignorant – and through a series of vivid scenes, the troubled relationship between Pieter Fortuin, the town’s first coloured mayor, and his wife Anna is revealed.  In so many ways the past casts a long shadow over the present, not in the least through the unreliable diaries of Pieter Meerman promoted by Pieter Fortuin and Professor Pearson, a retired white historian. They give us a unique insight into the lives of the seventeenth-century Dutch explorers, and hint at a utopian society, suggesting that Soutbek is the birthplace of assimilation and integration.  The blossoming friendship between Anna, Sara, a foundling, and Willem, Pieter Fortuin’s nephew, is unsettled by David, Anna’s and Pieter’s son. His father has bought David a bright future, but when he comes back from boarding school David appears alienated from his father and from his old friend, the former gardener Charles Geduld, just as Anna starts to accept him as her son.  Is there hope, or are we left with Willem’s conclusion that ‘he would spend the rest of his life working off the debt of his family’s poverty’?

I quickly read Finding Soutbek as it flows easily, fluidly, interweaving the stories of the characters living in Soutbek and the journal entries of a 1600s explorer as he and his group made their way to the area.  It is set on the west coast of South Africa and follows the happenings of a small fishing town after a fire destroys the poor area of town and the release of a history book written by the town’s mayor.   The stories of the people are sad and even tragic but true as this is the story of many in South Africa.  This novel is about what people will do to make a better life, what they will (or will not) go through to stay alive, and what they will sacrifice to get ahead.  Jennings’ descriptions of the landscape and the place are vivid and the images of the river, the small poor town, the cliffs, and the Namaqualand flowers came easily to mind.  This is a story about people, impoverished people and people trying to break free from the bonds of impoverishment.  It is also about those people who seek out small sea towns for retirement but who turn a blind eye to those less fortunate than themselves who have and always will live there.  It is a story about a forgotten people who are trying their best to live in small towns on the outskirts of urban life in contemporary South Africa but where change has not yet arrived and where poverty threatens to extinguish them before it does.  The book unravels to make all kinds of revelations in both plot and character.  I would say this book is mostly character driven with sprinklings of well written descriptions of the landscape.  It was well written and I really enjoyed it.  I recommend it to anyone who enjoys books about people and character, and anyone interested in South Africa and how some live on its coast.

 

south africa

4 stars

Wed NYT BSL New Entries – 30 March 2014

This week there are 4 new entries on the list.  Here are the Wed RecoReads from the NYT Best Sellers List 30 March 2014:

 

In the top spot is Power Play by Danielle Steel

Power Play

Fiona Carson has proven herself as CEO of a multibillion-dollar high-tech company – a successful woman in a man’s world. Devoted single mother, world-class strategist, and tough negotiator, Fiona has to keep a delicate balance every day.  Meanwhile, Marshall Weston basks in the fruits of his achievements. At his side is his wife Liz who has gladly sacrificed her own career to raise their three children. Smooth, shrewd and irreproachable, Marshall’s power only enhances his charisma – but he harbors secrets that could destroy his life at any moment.  Both must face their own demons, and the lives they lead come at a high price. But just how high a price are they willing to pay? (read more on GoodReads)

 

In #2 is the 8th Mercy Thompson, Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson, #8)

An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.  Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.  Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.  (read more on GoodReads)

 

In #3 is the 4th Clifton Chronicles novel, Be Careful What You Wish For by Jeffrey Archer

Be Careful What You Wish For (The Clifton Chronicles #4)

Bestselling author Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish For opens with Harry Clifton and his wife Emma rushing to hospital to learn the fate of their son Sebastian, who has been involved in a fatal car accident. But who died, Sebastian or his best friend Bruno?  When Ross Buchanan is forced to resign as chairman of the Barrington Shipping Company, Emma Clifton wants to replace him. But Don Pedro Martinez intends to install his puppet, the egregious Major Alex Fisher, in order to destroy the Barrington family firm just as the company plans to build its new luxury liner, the MV Buckingham.  Back in London, Harry and Emma’s adopted daughter wins a scholarship to the Slade Academy of Art where she falls in love with a fellow student, Clive Bingham, who asks her to marry him. Both families are delighted until Priscilla Bingham, Jessica’s future mother-in-law, has a visit from an old friend, Lady Virginia Fenwick, who drops her particular brand of poison into the wedding chalice.  Then, without warning, Cedric Hardcastle, a bluff Yorkshireman who no one has come across before, takes his place on the board of Barringtons. This causes an upheaval that none of them could have anticipated, and will change the lives of every member of the Clifton and Barrington families. Hardcastle’s first decision is who to support to become the next chairman of the board: Emma Clifton or Major Alex Fisher? And with that decision, the story takes yet another twist that will keep you on the edge of your seat. (read more on GoodReads)

 

In #4 is the 14th Joe Pickett novel, Stone Cold by C J Box

Stone Cold (Joe Pickett, #14)

The electrifying new Joe Pickett novel from the New York Times bestselling author. Everything about the man is a mystery: the massive ranch in the remote Black Hills of Wyoming that nobody ever visits, the women who live with him, the secret philanthropies, the private airstrip, the sudden disappearances. And especially the persistent rumors that the man’s wealth comes from killing people. Joe Pickett, still officially a game warden but now mostly a troubleshooter for the governor, is assigned to find out what the truth is, but he discovers a lot more than he’d bargained for. There are two other men living up at that ranch. One is a stone-cold killer who takes an instant dislike to Joe. The other is new—but Joe knows him all too well. The first man doesn’t frighten Joe. The second is another story entirely. (read more on GoodReads)

 

In#15 is The Accident by Chris Pavone

The Accident

As dawn approaches in New York, literary agent Isabel Reed is turning the final pages of a mysterious, anonymous manuscript, racing through the explosive revelations about powerful people, as well as long-hidden secrets about her own past. In Copenhagen, veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray, determined that this sweeping story be buried, is suddenly staring down the barrel of an unexpected gun. And in Zurich, the author himself is hiding in a shadowy expat life, trying to atone for a lifetime’s worth of lies and betrayals with publication of The Accident, while always looking over his shoulder.  Over the course of one long, desperate, increasingly perilous day, these lives collide as the book begins its dangerous march toward publication, toward saving or ruining careers and companies, placing everything at risk—and everyone in mortal peril.  The rich cast of characters—in publishing and film, politics and espionage—are all forced to confront the consequences of their ambitions, the schisms between their ideal selves and the people they actually became. (read more on GoodReads)

 

 

 

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