It has been way too long since I did this – the last one was back in November. But since then I’ve been trying to catch up and keep ahead of the reviews. And now I’m in a position where I don’t currently have reviews to write for the blog. Weird. Anyway, Part 1 and Part 2 both helped me cut down my Goodreads TBR a little bit, so let’s do this again.
I originally saw this on Becky’s Book Blog
Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
Order on ascending date added.
Take the first 5/10/however many books. If done again, start from where you left off.
Read the synopses of the books
Decide: should it stay or should it go?
Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote’s fancy often leads him astray—he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants—Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers’ imaginations for nearly four hundred years.
With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote has been generally recognized as the first modern novel. The book has been enormously influential on a host of writers, from Fielding and Sterne to Flaubert, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner, who reread it once a year, “just as some people read the Bible.”
This is one of those books that, for years, I’ve thought, “I should read that.” But I’ve yet to pick it up, and to be honest there are constantly so many other good books being released, I only have so much patience for ‘Classics’. This one goes.
Flowers in the Attic – V.C. Andrews
Such wonderful children. Such a beautiful mother. Such a lovely house. Such endless terror!
It wasn’t that she didn’t love her children. She did. But there was a fortune at stake—a fortune that would assure their later happiness if she could keep the children a secret from her dying father.
So she and her mother hid her darlings away in an unused attic.
Just for a little while.
But the brutal days swelled into agonizing years. Now Cathy, Chris, and the twins wait in their cramped and helpless world, stirred by adult dreams, adult desires, served a meager sustenance by an angry, superstitious grandmother who knows that the Devil works in dark and devious ways. Sometimes he sends children to do his work—children who—one by one—must be destroyed….
‘Way upstairs there are four secrets hidden. Blond, beautiful, innocent struggling to stay alive….
I actually tried to read this book many, many, many years ago. Well, no – my mother tried to make me read it, when I was way too young. I didn’t even get to the worst parts, wouldn’t find out for years after what actually happened in that attic. I just remember being extremely bored by the first few chapters. And then I had nightmares about something happening to my dad. So I put it down and have never picked it back up. By this point, I don’t think I ever will. This one goes, too.
The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen
Jonathan Franzen’s third novel, The Corrections, is a great work of art and a grandly entertaining overture to our new century: a bold, comic, tragic, deeply moving family drama that stretches from the Midwest at mid-century to Wall Street and Eastern Europe in the age of greed and globalism. Franzen brings an old-time America of freight trains and civic duty, of Cub Scouts and Christmas cookies and sexual inhibitions, into brilliant collision with the modern absurdities of brain science, home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental healthcare, and the anti-gravity New Economy. With The Corrections, Franzen emerges as one of our premier interpreters of American society and the American soul.
Enid Lambert is terribly, terribly anxious. Although she would never admit it to her neighbors or her three grown children, her husband, Alfred, is losing his grip on reality. Maybe it’s the medication that Alfred takes for his Parkinson’s disease, or maybe it’s his negative attitude, but he spends his days brooding in the basement and committing shadowy, unspeakable acts. More and more often, he doesn’t seem to understand a word Enid says.
Trouble is also brewing in the lives of Enid’s children. Her older son, Gary, a banker in Philadelphia, has turned cruel and materialistic and is trying to force his parents out of their old house and into a tiny apartment. The middle child, Chip, has suddenly and for no good reason quit his exciting job as a professor at D—— College and moved to New York City, where he seems to be pursuing a “transgressive” lifestyle and writing some sort of screenplay. Meanwhile the baby of the family, Denise, has escaped her disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man–or so Gary hints.
Enid, who loves to have fun, can still look forward to a final family Christmas and to the ten-day Nordic Pleasurelines Luxury Fall Color Cruise that she and Alfred are about to embark on. But even these few remaining joys are threatened by her husband’s growing confusion and unsteadiness. As Alfred enters his final decline, the Lamberts must face the failures, secrets, and long-buried hurts that haunt them as a family if they are to make the corrections that each desperately needs.
I don’t know why this is on my ‘Want to Read’ list. Looking over the blurb – why is it so long? – it might be one of those books I maybe saw a review for, thought, “Oh that looks good” and added on, but I honestly can’t see me ever getting to this one. Like the other two, it goes.
Canada – Richard Ford
“First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.”
When fifteen-year-old Dell Parsons’ parents rob a bank, his sense of normal life is forever altered. In an instant, this private cataclysm drives his life into before and after, a threshold that can never be uncrossed.
His parents’ arrest and imprisonment mean a threatening and uncertain future for Dell and his twin sister, Berner. Willful and burning with resentment, Berner flees their home in Montana, abandoning her brother and her life. But Dell is not completely alone. A family friend intervenes, spiriting him across the Canadian border, in hopes of delivering him to a better life. There, afloat on the prairie of Saskatchewan, Dell is taken in by Arthur Remlinger, an enigmatic and charismatic American whose cool reserve masks a dark and violent nature.
Undone by the calamity of his parents’ robbery and arrest, Dell struggles under the vast prairie sky to remake himself and define the adults he thought he once knew. But his search for grace and peace only moves him nearer to a harrowing and murderous collision with Remlinger, an elemental force of darkness.
A true masterwork of haunting and spectacular vision from one of America’s greatest writers, Canada is a profound novel of boundaries traversed, innocence lost and reconciled, and the mysterious and consoling bonds of family. Told in spare, elegant prose, both resonant and luminous, it is destined to become a modern classic.
A literary coming of age novel, I think. And there are so many good fantasy and horror coming of age books, that I can’t imagine myself picking up a ‘literary’ one. Plus, whenever I do pick up something ‘literary’, I often find myself getting frustrated at the way the author writes women. Canada might not be bad in regards to that, but I have no interest in checking it out. This one goes.
Unexpected Gifts – S.R. Mallery
Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives’ behaviors help mold our own? In “Unexpected Gifts,” that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, weaving yesteryear with modern life until finally, she gains enough clarity to make the right choices.
I have to admit, I’m a little torn on this one. It sounds intriguing, for sure, has an interesting premise, and the reviews on Goodreads all look really positive. So for now, this one can stay.
Well, 4 out of 5 gone. Not bad. I might actually be able to get my Goodreads TBR – if not my actual physical TBR – down a fair bit if I keep doing this. Might stop things like recommendations glitching on me (I always live in hope).
Have you read any of these books? Think I made the right decisions?