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{ Category Archives } 1000 books

The Garden Party

by Katherine Mansfield; from Librivox, narrated by Luci Burgoyne Mansfield’s book collects a series of stories about life in the 19th century, mostly for women, mostly for the wealthy or at least the middle-class.  There are a number of character sketches or scene sketches with lot plot arcs that deliver a punch.  Some thoughts on […]

Day of the Triffids

by John Wyndham Is great. If you aren’t familiar with the book, Day of the Triffids is a classic post-apocalyptic story about two things. First, these mysterious plants (which the book sort-of attributes to man-made science shenanigans) that provide a delicious new source of energy are also extremely dangerous, as they can walk around and […]

The Thin Man

by Dashiell Hammett I usually suggest books to my mystery book club that make them grumble. I’ve asked them to read City of Glass and Gun with Occasional Music and Storm Front, none of them a conventional mystery. This time around, I picked The Thin Man, which a few people in the group had read, […]

That sneaky ol’ Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; trans by W.A. Neilson; narrated by mj for So I’m not much of a reader of medieval poetry or romance.  I’ve read The Song of Roland and Beowulf, of course, but I’d be lying to say I feel confident interpreting the work.  That said, a few thoughts (replete […]

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens; narrated by Mark Smith for I only read one Dickens book before I started on the “1000 books to read before you die” project.  And while A Tale of Two Cities is pretty great, in High School it was just a book to read.  But now I’ve read both Great Expectations […]

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Re: Colonized Planet no. 5, Shikasta

Personal psychological historical documents relating to visit by Johor (George Sherban) Emissary (Grade 9) 87th of the Last Period of the Last Day, by Doris Lessing Sigh. I picked this book for my book club and it’s a bear. I didn’t really like it much until the last 100 pages or so, and even then […]

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Arsene Lupin: the George Lasenby of Gentleman Burglars

The Hollow Needle: The Further Adventures of Arsene Lupin by Maurice LeBlanc; narrated for Librivox by various readers The second novel in the Arsene Lupin series by Maurice LeBlanc finds the master thief and head of a criminal underground hunted not only by his old police nemesis and by the copyright-avoidingly-named Homlock Shears, but also […]

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I, Robot

by Isaac Asimov I just finished reading the seminal story collection by Isaac Asimov about the emergence of robots and their effect on mankind. Predicated on the three laws of robotics, Asimov’s stories explore various problems that arise from different ways these play out. As usual, they’re well written, character-driven stories that tease out particular […]

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

by Agatha Christie The only Christie novel to make the 1000 books you must read before you die list, Ackroyd serves as a metonym for every Christie novel, or at least every Poirot novel. It’s skillfully written, with a wide net of characters, an intriguing puzzle mystery with plenty of side distractions (affairs, debts, scoundrels, […]

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Miss Lonelyhearts

by Nathaniel West There seems to be a distinct slice of fancy-pants literature in which mopey people mope about, do mopey stuff, and generally bemoan the lack of motivation that leads them to mopery.  I’m thinking here of The Magus and The End of the Affair.  In this case, West’s novel focuses on the eponymous […]

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith Having never read the non-zombie version of this book, I started out reading both editions side-by-side, one chapter at a time.  The process was extremely unsatisfactory, as whichever book I read second became an exercise in reading for differences, rather than a reading of the novel itself.  Around chapter […]

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The Ethics of Creating Life, Part 1: Frankenstein

by Mary Shelley My students in New Millennium Studies read Frankenstein over the last couple weeks, and we’ve been discussing it in class.  I’m most interested in the notion of obligation as it appears in the book.  To whit: Victor starts all the problems when he violates his essential parental obligation to his ‘child,’ the […]


Things Fall Apart

by Chinua Achebe I re-read this book in preparing to teach it for my New Millennium Studies class this semester and enjoyed it still.  I’m most interested here, however, to talk about the role of the title in shaping the book.  Unlike many books I read, whose titles are more prosaic in describing the shape […]

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The Man Who Was Thursday, a nightmare

by G.K. Chesterton; narrated by Zachary Brewster-Geisz for Librivox Chesterton’s writes of a philosophical police detective on the trail of a secret anarchist’s society whose leadership council is organized around the days of the week (hence the main character, Symes, becomes Thursday).  As the story progresses, it becomes a meditation of the very notion of […]


by H. Rider Haggard; narrated by various readers for Librivox She disappointed. I’ve read two other Haggard novels, King Solomon’s Mines and Allan Quartermain. Both of these novels could be summarized using roughly this plot description: A group of English Gentleman adventurers travel into the the depths of unexplored Africa, where they encounter ancient civilizations, […]