Tag Archives: Ann Radcliffe

40 Books Before I’m 40 (Redux)…

So today is my birthday and I have turned the ripe old age of thirty one, which means I officially can no longer pretend I am in my ‘very late’ twenties, rather like at New Year I use my birthday to put the last year into perspective and focus myself for what I want in the year ahead. As it was the big 3-0 last year I pondered looking a decade forward and choosing forty books to read before I was forty. I promptly then went off the idea and popped it on the back burner for another time.

Well that time has arrived. I have spent the last few days whittling over books that I feel it would be good to give myself, albeit rather loosely, a nudge in the direction of reading. Some of the books were ones, like ‘Middlemarch’ which will get a special mention shortly, which I have been simply meaning to read, other more modern books I have been intrigued about. I was also greatly helped with my new edition of ‘1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die’ (not that I am suggesting this will be on my 40th heaven forbid) which I have spent long periods mulling over.

1001 40

The rules, for there must always be some guidelines or things just get silly (see I even sound older), were simply that the books must be published by an author that I hadn’t tried before – thought I better throw that in there before I get some emails/comments telling me I have missed some absolute gems. Simple as that! And here is the list…

  1. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
  2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
  3. Before Night Falls – Reinaldo Arenas
  4. Nightwood – Djuna Barnes
  5. The Heat of the Day – Elizabeth Bowen
  6. Wild Swans – Jung Chang
  7. Claudine’s House – Colette
  8. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
  9. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  10. Middlemarch – George Eliot
  11. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
  12. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  13. The Well of Loneliness – Radclyffe Hall
  14. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
  15. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway
  16. Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Peter Hoeg
  17. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  18. A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
  19. Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally
  20. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  21. Independent People – Halldor Laxness
  22. Lost Language of Cranes – David Leavitt
  23. The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
  24. Embers – Sandor Marai
  25. Fugitive Pieces – Anne Micheals
  26. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
  27. The Country Girls – Edna O’Brien
  28. Quartet in Autumn – Barbara Pym
  29. The Mysteries of Udolpho – Ann Radcliffe
  30. All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  31. Pamela – Samuel Richardson
  32.  Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
  33. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  34. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
  35. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
  36. Restoration – Rose Tremain
  37. Myra Breckinridge – Gore Vidal
  38. The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
  39. Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
  40. Therese Raquin – Emile Zola

So there they are! I have also made sure I miss some famous classics (‘The Leopard’, ‘The Iliad’, etc) and some lesser known ones (‘The Odd Women’, ‘A Crime in the Neighbourhood’) but those are on my periphery too plus I also need to have some for when I do my fifty before fifty don’t I?

Now you may have noticed that there is one book which breaks the trend slightly and that is ‘Middlemarch’. Which leads me to a little announcement, and I hope those of you joining in with Classically Challenged won’t be cross, as I have decided to postpone writing about it on the last Sunday of March and am moving it to the end of June. I know, I know, June is ages away. However after some thought, and having only got eight chapters in so far, I decided I don’t want to rush this read (and I am enjoying it so far) because of a deadline and with a fairly long trip to London next week, plus a literary festival to prepare and read for, oh and those solo podcasts too… you get the picture. I simply want to enjoy ‘Middlemarch’.

So what do you make of the list? Which have you read and which have you been meaning to? Let me know and I promise I will be back next week, well tomorrow, catching up on all the comments that I have been meaning to for ages. In the meantime there are things to unwrap, candles to blow out, cake to eat and some serious applying of anti-aging cream to be done!

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These Could Cheer Anyone Up

A big thank you for all the lovely comments yesterday and all your thoughts, it was really lovely to know that you were all out there giving me your support and condolances. I won’t be replying individually as I don’t really want to dwell on it and so today I thought ‘what would be a joyful post after yesterday’ and so I thought I would share with you what has been arriving through the post box over the last few weeks from publishers at Savidge Reads HQ. Who out there can say they can’t be cheered up by lots of books arriving? Plus what could be more appropriate on World Book Day?

I have decided to arrange them in sizes, so let’s kick it all off with the paperbacks…

The Castle of Otranto – Horace Walpole
Someone at OUP obviously read my first post of my ‘do I want to read’ series as sure enough it arrived along with two more gothic friends you can see below.
The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
Obviously this is one of the TV Book Group choices and I wouldn’t have heard of this without it am sure. I am looking forward to it just from the title alone. Might try and fit this in before it’s discussed on the telly.
I’m Not Scared – Niccolo Ammaniti
This looks like it could be a very me book as it centres on a ‘dilapidated farmhouse’ and dark discovery. I like the mystery of it and the covers quite dark and yet inviting.
The Italian – Ann Radcliffe
An author I have had on my radar for quite some time and not dared to try as Udolpho is so huge (see below) this looks much more manageable and just as gothic.
The Crossroads – Niccolo Ammaniti
Canongate must think me and Ammaniti are going to get on like a house on fire as they sent this with ‘I’m Not Scared’. Reading the blurb he sounds like an Italian Mankell would that be correct?
Alone in Berlin – Hans Fallada
I have seen the posters for this everywhere and so my Savidge Reads Radar has been beeping regularly alerting me that there could be a wonderful book out there I don’t own… which now I do, hoorah!
The Mysteries of Udolpho – Ann Radcliffe
Some say this is the greatest novel every written. I am hoping I have as much fun with this as I did with East Lynne the mother of all sensation novels, we will see.

Now to the, what do you call these size books? I call them the middle/in between sized ones but am sure that’s not the official term…

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson
Winterson has been an author I have wanted to try for ages. I had this one already but the new 25th Anniversary edition is just gorgeous and so I will be delving into that very soon.
Once Again To Zelda – Marlene Wagman-Geller
A book I was alerted to thanks to the BBC’s Open Book. This is fifty stories behind fifty dedications in some of the world’s greatest books. With tales of why Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, Oscar Wilde, Grace Metalious, J.K. Rowling and many more, dedicated  their books to the people they did.
Orphans of Eldorado – Milton Hatoum
The latest Canongate Myths book which is set in Brazil a country I want to read lots more about this year.
Where The Serpent Lives – Ruth Padel
Any book that has the settings of London, Devon and the jungles of India needs to be read frankly.
Bitter Leaf – Chioma Okereke
I have read some cracking African fiction in the last few months and want to read more so Virago must be psychic as this debut is ‘set in a world that is African but never geographically placed’ sounds intriguing. I have a hunch this might get an Orange mention… maybe.
Rupture – Simon Lelic
The blogosphere has been going crazy over this book of a teacher opening fire in a school assembly, in the last month or so. Will I be joining them in raving about it?

Finally the bigger books…

Homer & Langley – E.L. Doctorow
Another author I have always wanted to read and this book of two brothers who holed themselves up (like a male version of Grey Gardens in a way) from the world and lived alone in a dilapidated grand old building of New York. I have an inkling this will become a favourite of the year.
The Songwriter – Beatrice Colin
I utterly fell in love with Colin’s book ‘The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite’ last year am hoping this book captures the same spell on me.
A Little Folly – Jude Morgan
Another author I loved last year as I read ‘The Taste of Sorrow’ and was mortified it wasn’t in the Man Booker Longlist as it was superb. Instead of the lives of the Bronte sisters or any other famous authors we are now treated to a scandalous tale of Regency London. I cannot wait!
The Pacific – Hugh Ambrose
A slightly leftfield rogue sending from Canongate. This has been made into a ten part series by Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg I gather. It looks a bit hard hitting as it’s about the real men involved in the war. I am intrigued but wary all at once.

So have you read any of those titles or anything else by any of the authors? Are any on your TBR or radar? What have you had arrive lately by post, by shopping or by library loaning?

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Tackling The Tomes

Following on from yesterday’s post about reading at leisure and just going off at a tangent I was mulling through my shelves and spotted one that has been getting no attention since I moved into my new house. Now I am a big fan of seeing other people’s shelves on their blogs, for example Claire of Paperback Reader has done a series of colour co-ordinated shelves which looked stunning. I tried this back in February and though it looked lovely I couldn’t ever find anything and so that became a bit of a nightmare, if an aesthetically pleasing on, I know it works wonderfully well for a lot of people though.

When I moved house back in July I inherited lots of new shelves in my room as well as the shelves “for books I have read” in the lounge. The question was how to organise them so I did a hardback shelf, a review paperback shelf, a non fiction shelf, a mixture shelf (books by Daphne, Man Booker winners and dare I say it books I haven’t finished), a short reads shelf and the shelf of today’s post The Blinking Big Books shelf.

Blinking Big Books

Now some of the titles have been must reads for ages and I think one or two of them may end up in my packing for my long weekend up north that’s coming up. The ones I have heard lots about and am looking forward to reading are…

  • Small Island – Andrea Levy (on of my Gran’s fav’s)
  • A Widow for One Year – John Irving
  • The Little Friend – Donna Tartt
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho – Ann Radcliffe
  • Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
  • Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
  • The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver (another of Gran’s favourites)
  • The American Boy – Andrew Taylor
  • Beyond Black – Hilary Mantel
  • Crime & Punishment – Dostoevsky

The ones I am not so sure about which have either been bought for me, sent to me or randomly purchased in shops ‘because they look nice’ (and could do with your thought on, though do give them on the ones above too) are…

  • Of Human Bondage – W Somerset Maugham
  • At Swim Two Boys – Jamie O’Neil
  • The Impressionist – Hari Kunzru (one my Mum very much liked)
  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics – Marissa Pessl
  • The Forsythe Saga – John Galsworthy
  • Rebecca’s Tale – Sally Beauman (a Rebecca sequel/prequel)
  • The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters – G. W. Dahlquist
  • The Madness of a Seduced Woman – Susan Fromberg Schaeffer
  • The Grave Diggers Daughter – Joyce Carol Oates

There are a few more (such as the book We Need To Talk About Kevin that I may try and re-read after failing miserably) but that’s quite enough for now. I would just like your thoughts on them especially as I always find really long books quite hard work. I don’t know why this is, one possible explanation is the fact I think about how many shorter books I could be reading. Or the fact they are a bit of nightmare to carry around with you when you are commuting, though I won’t be for quite a while so that’s another excuse down. It could of course just be I am reading the wrong ones?

What are your thoughts on great big books? Which have been your favourites? Do you avoid them at all costs? Do I have any gems above that I simply must read now? Anything big bookish to add?

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