The Day I Read A Book.

A continuation of the books I read in 2011.  Read about April.

May

  • By the time I got around to reading it, I’d forgotten all of the reviews of Elizabeth Strout‘s Olive Kitteridge.  I’d forgotten that Ms. Strout’s work was more anthology of related stories than novel, that the setting was a small New England town in coastal Maine, that the titular character wasn’t in fact the main character after all.  Worth the read, but it’s up to the reader to decide if it’s worth the hype.
  • The Wolfen by Whitley Strieber is an absolutely terrible novel that everybody in the world should read.  I mean, it’s about a pack of way-more-intense-than-werewolves wolves living, hunting and killing in 1970s New York City and the two police detectives that are tracking them down.  Oh, and I should mention that parts of the story are told from the point of view of the wolves.  So awesomely bad.  One of my goals for 2012 is to get my hands on a copy of the film adaptation.
  • Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table, a Collection of Essays from The New York Times edited by Amanda Hesser is pretty self-explanatory.
  • So is, in a way, Elizabeth Graver‘s The Honey Thief, as it is about a thief of honey, but imagine how boring a story it would be if that were it as far as plot were concerned.  The novel is about mothers and daughters, religion, inheritances and friendships, as well as honey.
  • I purchased a copy of Room at Fully Booked in Manila; at that point in our trip, I had read all of the books I’d packed and The Wolfen off of Keith’s iPad, and was desperate for something to read, as I had three days in Hong Kong and a twenty-something-hour flight back to the States to get through.  I hadn’t followed the previous year’s hoopla surrounding Emma Donoghue‘s novel but it just so happened that Room‘s plot fit in perfectly with my kidnapping/crime obsession.  Though told from five-year-old Jack’s point of view, the reader quickly realizes that Jack and his mother live a grim and terrible sort of life: abducted at nineteen, Jack’s mother had gotten pregnant and gave birth in captivity, and all Jack knows of the world is the 11 x 11 room he was born in.  Though I sometimes find the use of children’s first-person narration in adult novels to be gimmicky, Jack’s perspective was unique and interesting enough to keep me reading.
  • After years of trying, Keith and I secured reservations at elBulli in November of 2010, and for that reason I was particularly interested in The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià’s elBulli by Lisa Abend, which chronicles not a year of elBulli so much as a year in the life of a stagiaire at elBulli.  It’s fascinating to learn of all their backgrounds, interests, successes and failings, regardless of whether or not you’d eaten at the restaurant or not.
  • I should’ve kicked my kidnapping kick before reading Still Missing, as I found the abducted narrator of Chevy Stevens‘s novel to be both irritating and without redeeming factors.  Skip it.
  • Laura Lippman‘s I’d Know You Anywhere is also about kidnapping, is leagues better, and ultimately forgettable.

June

  • I hadn’t read any Nick Hornby in years; it was only Juliet, Naked‘s availability at my local library that made Mr. Hornby’s most recent novel my first of his to read since About a Boy.  Funny stuff, this, and a must-read for those who have music nerds in their lives or who are self-aware music nerds.
  • My book club needed something to read, so I recommended In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff, simple because I already had it out of the library and had just started the book the same day.  The mystery takes place in turn of the century New York — a genre, historical period and location that the ladies in book club all love, so for that reason it was it good fit.  The main character, a detective with a tragic past, transfers out of a gritty and corrupt New York City precinct to sleepy, quiet Westchester County.  Instead of finding tranquility, he’s face-to-face with the most brutal murder he’s ever seen.
  • I’m not going to lie, I read Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family and Finding the Perfect Lipstick by Molly Ringwald only because I was on a Breakfast Club kick.
  • Sue Miller’s The Lake Shore Limited is told from the perspective of four characters, a writing technique that I as a reader and a writer really enjoy.  Sometimes it can be done beautifully (In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, for example) but more often than not, this is done in a mediocre fashion.  Ms. Miller is a fine writer, and she tackles this well, but I didn’t find any of the four characters to be unforgettable.
The Day I Read A Book” by Jimmy Durante.

Beth Eats + Drinks Imports.

Beth and her husband Bob moved to Prague in 2008; I miss her terribly but am glad she’s gone since hearing about life in the Czech Republic is fascinating.  Here’s what she wrote about her food diary:

I realized how many things I eat (well, drink — all my tea and coffee) I brought from the States… but that’s just because I was just there. Usually it’s less of a mix, more Czech. I’m trying hard to be healthy (8 servings fruit & veggies etc).

6.23 am: Trader Joe’s French roast (imported in my suitcase).  Small black cup for me, giant beermug full for Bob.

7.02 am: Second cup.

8.38 am: Cottage cheese, one cup. Water.

10.09 am: Pot of decaf peppermint tea, honey.

11.58 am: Big salad with greens (Vogerlsalat, not sure what that is), tomatoes, green onions, shredded carrot, and awesome homemade dressing (tahini/lemon juice/garlic/soy sauce/sesame oil/honey)

1.50 pm: 1 cup coconut chai, peanut butter lollipop (spoonful of pb).

6.04 pm: Bob is out for tennis and beer, so I’m on my own. It’s chicken and broccoli, and water.

Moist + Tender Chicken Breasts, from the kitchn

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, of even thickness
Salt and pepper
¼ cup flour
Handful of herbs (optional)
Olive oil and butter

If you have a little time before cooking dinner, lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts. It’s great if you can do this the night before, but it’s not necessary.

  1. Mix about a half teaspoon of salt in with the flour along with a little pepper. Chop the herbs finely, if using, and mix in as well.  Dredge both sides of the chicken lightly in the flour.
  2. Heat a large heavy skillet (with a lid) over medium high heat, with a little olive oil and about half a tablespoon of butter. Quickly sear both sides of the chicken breast until just faintly golden; you don’t want the insides to cook much at all.
  3. Cover tightly and turn the heat down very low. Cook for 10 minutes without lifting the lid. Remove from the heat and let sit for another 10 minutes, still tightly covered.
  4. Remove lid and serve. There is usually just enough chicken fat, along with pan juices, to make a simple sauce, too.

Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad, from The New York Times
Makes six to eight side-dish servings

1 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
2 heads broccoli, 1 pound each, cut into bite-size florets
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 fat garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons roasted (Asian) sesame oil
Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes.

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the vinegar and salt. Add broccoli and toss to combine.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil until hot, but not smoking. Add garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in sesame oil and pepper flakes. Pour mixture over broccoli and toss well. Let sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature, and up to 48 (chill it if you want to keep it for more than 2 hours). Adjust seasonings (it may need more salt) and serve.

Food Diaries.

My love of the food diary is pretty well documented — I’m absolutely fascinated by what people eat.  Instead of journaling my week in food, I got to thinking: What are my friends eating?

So I asked them.

I’ll be posting a day in their eating lives soon.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out what New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton’s been eating

Food Diary, Vol. 2: Day One.

11.49 am: Medium latte with sugar-free vanilla syrup and skim milk at South End Buttery.  The world’s most adorable shaggy-ish black dog with a red leash and matching collar is trying so hard to get inside, but not only is he tied up, but there’s a brick on his leash, further impeding him.  Still, he stands in the middle of the doorway, trying his damndest.  When I bend over to say hello on my way in, he wipes the entire right side of my face with his tongue, from my jawline right up to my eyeglasses’ frame.

12.04 – 1.08 pm: Multi-seed bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese, plus the extra cheese Stephanie scrapes off of her bagel, as I love schmear upon schmear of cream cheese and Stephanie does not.  It takes us ages to eat because we won’t shut up about dogs, having/not having babies, 30 Rock and Thanksgiving.

3.19 pm: Mug of hot milk with honey.

7.04 pm: Coke Zero while cooking.  It is sick how much I love this stuff.  I blame my parents — I was only allowed to have soda when we had pizza, was at someone else’s house or at a restaurant.  Now I can’t get enough of it.

7.56 pm: Two slices Kraft American cheese while cooking dinner.  What I said about Coke Zero up there?  Ditto for American cheese.

8.24 pm: Coke Zero number two.

8.50 – 9.15 pm: Garlic soup with spinach and pasta shells, along with toasted baguette slices and Gruyère cheese. It’s not quite cold enough outside for soup, even though it’s November, but it’s still pretty darn good.  And just barely over two hundred calories, in case you were curious…

Garlic Soup with Spinach + Pasta Shells, by Martha Rose Shulman for the New York Times
Makes six portions

2 heads of garlic
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon olive oil
A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a couple of sprigs each thyme and parsley, and a fresh sage leaf
Salt to taste
½ cup small macaroni shells
6 ½-inch thick slices country bread, toasted and rubbed with a cut clove of garlic
½ cup Gruyère cheese, grated and tightly packed
4 egg yolks
6 ounce bag baby spinach

  1. Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice and water. Separate the head of garlic into cloves and drop them into the boiling water. Blanch for 30 seconds, then transfer to the ice water. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then drain and remove the skins from the garlic cloves. They’ll be loose and easy to remove. Crush the cloves lightly by leaning on them with the side of a chef’s knife.
  2. Place the garlic cloves in a large saucepan with 2 quarts of water, the olive oil, bouquet garni, and salt to taste, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Strain and return the broth to the saucepan. Taste and adjust salt, and bring back to a simmer.
  3. Add the macaroni shells to the broth and simmer until cooked al dente.
  4. Distribute the garlic croutons among 6 soup bowls and top each one with a heaped tablespoon of cheese. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl. Making sure that it is not boiling, whisk in a ladleful of the hot garlic broth.
  5. Add the spinach to the simmering broth and stir for 30 seconds to a minute, until all of the spinach is wilted. Turn off the heat and stir in the tempered egg yolks. Stir for a minute, taste and adjust seasonings. Ladle the soup over the cheese-topped croutons, and serve.

Advance preparation: You can make the garlic broth a day ahead and refrigerate.

Michael Pollan’s Rules of Food.

I don’t know why this has a publication date of October eleventh, since it’s accessible now, but whatever.

This past March, Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, wrote a post on Tara Parker Pope’s New York Times‘s blog Well; in it, he asked readers a few questions:

“I’d like your help gathering some rules for eating well. My premise is that culture has a lot to teach us about how to choose, prepare and eat food, and that this wisdom is worth collecting and preserving before it disappears…  Will you send me a food rule you try to live by? Something perhaps passed down by your parents or grandparents? Or something you’ve come up with to tell your children — or yourself?”

Pollan's food rulesAs someone whose mother regularly sent her to a suburban New York elementary school’s cafeteria with bamiya, mejadara and bulgur pilaf in her Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox, I particularly like rule number seven, “Don’t yuck someone’s yum.”  Did I mention that I grew up in the eighties, before Pad Thai was a regular feature on our dinner plates?  In a lunchroom full of PB and Js, baloney sandwiches and rectangular pizzas, my thermos and I were an easy target — not that I’m bitter or anything.  To this day, though, my hairs rise when my eating habits are mocked. So back off, people.  (Kidding!)

Number two was a rule in my house too, but that’s not nearly as sensitive a topic.  Or is it?

Maine Reading Round-Up.

Like I wrote on Monday, I got myself through almost eight books last week.  It was great — slinking around the boathouse, my quilt trailing behind me like a patchwork wedding dress, a book held directly in front of my face.  I purposely packed a mix of guilty pleasures and “literature,” though I’ll happily confess it was an uneven ratio.

The Time Traveler's WifeI started the week off with The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger; the novel is the story of Henry, a librarian who has unwillingly and unpredictably traveled through time since he was a small boy, and his wife Clare, an artist who has known Henry since he materialized in front of her when she was six.  Interestingly, the Henry Clare first meets is in his forties; when the pair meet as adults living in Chicago, he has no idea who she is, though Clare has fourteen years of his friendship and love under her belt.  Niffenegger alternates between both characters’ points of view, helpfully listing the date in the present, Clare and Henry’s ages during that time, the date in the past that Henry travels to, and the couple’s respective ages then.  You see, Henry always finds himself back at the important moments in his life; almost all of those moments revolve around Clare.

It’s an enviably fascinating story that Niffenegger creates, but I kept on throwing the book down and complaining to Keith that the level of writing didn’t come close to matching the elegance of the concept.  Clare and Henry’s first-person narratives are so similar that I found it difficult to tell them apart, and the novel’s dialogue was frustratingly forced.  At one point, for example, characters actually lecture on The Music You Must Listen To In Order To Appreciate Punk, listing pivotal bands from the 1970s; it is incredibly preachy and awkward to read, and feels as though it is lifted directly off of the back of a compilation album.  Flaws notwithstanding, I kept turning pages, eager to learn what was going to happen next — something every writer I know dreams of  in their readers.  In that sense, The Time Traveler’s Wife is a complete success.

A month or so ago, I had read a short article in the New York Times about author Maeve Binchy‘s cottage on the Irish coast.  When I was in high school, I went through a Binchy phase, checking copies of her novels out of the library and devouring them.  It’s been years since then, and I hadn’t given Ms. Binchy a second thought until the Times piece, which reminded me of how much I used to enjoy reading about life in 1940s, 50s and 60s Britain.  So back to the library I went, picking up Silver Wedding, Echoes and Light A Penny Candle; I read them back-to-back.  Their plots are similar, but only in the sense that each focuses on Irish families.

In Silver Wedding, Binchy allocates a chapter per character; she uses this space to tell their sides of the story, which circles around a couple’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.  Regardless of whether the tale is told by their wayward daughter, the chic maid of honor, the priest who officiated the cermony or the couple themselves, Binchy gives her each of her characters a richly-colored history.

EchoesEchoes is set in the fictional seaside town of Castlebay, where Clare O’Brien  — yes, that’s two Clares in one week — struggles to make her family understand why she wants a better life than one resigned to running a shabby grocery store.  Her only way out is via studying and scholarships, so after years of hard work and the aid of her progressive schoolteacher, Clare escapes to university in Dublin.  There she reconnects with a childhood acquaintance, and soon falls in love.  Trouble is, he’s the son of the town doctor, and his snobbish mother has never liked Clare; she likes our heroine even less  once she gets pregnant.  This being both Ireland and the 1950s, Clare and the doctor’s son marry, which leads to even more troubles, the least of which is post-partum depression and infedility.

Unlike Silver Wedding and Echoes, I had read Light a Penny Candle years and years ago; still, I found myself surprised and engrossed in its pages.  It’s World War II; to avoid the trauma of bombings and shortages, Londoner Violet White sends her adolescent daughter to live in the Irish countryside with Maureen O’Connor, an old friend.  Soon Elizabeth White and Aisling O’Connor become the best of friends, and their lives forever bound to both London and the village of Kilgarret.  As they grow older, they together face the drama of boyfriends, sex, and family.

Now that I think about it, Binchy’s bibliography has got to be without a doubt my guiltiest of guilty pleasures, but let’s get one thing clear: her books are not even remotely trashy, no matter how scandalous I’ve made their plots sound.  They are written far too earnestly for that.

The Wednesday WarsI’ve got the weakest weak spot for adolescent fiction.  My love of Lois Lowry is well-documented, and I think I’ll be reading books geared towards young adults well into my sixties, especially if writers like Gary D. Schmidt keep on producing work like The Wednesday Wars.

The alliteratively-named Holling Hoodhood dreads Wednesday afternoons; it’s when the rest of his seventh-grade classmates get excused from school early to attend either CCD or Hebrew lessons.  The only lonely Presbyterian in his grade, Holling spends Wednesdays alone with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, who he is convinced hates him.  Indeed, Mrs. Baker is an imposing enough figure, and after she tries fruitlessly to pawn Holling off to a colleague, she resigns to actually, well, teaching.  The path Holling and Mrs. Baker take together isn’t a conventional one — sure, it’s paved with Shakespeare, but it’s also bricked with rats, surfaced with the Yankees (Holling lives on Long Island), and cobblestoned with the Vietnam War (it is the 60s).

Schmidt is clever with his narrative, confidently writing Holling’s thoughts and observations in a way which is both poignant and funny.  And I mean funny — there were times where I sat alone outside on the swing overlooking the cove, laughing my head off, much to the gulls’ confusion.

When it comes to books, I don’t discriminate between genres; I’ll read pretty much anything.  It doesn’t even need to be particularly well-written, though clearly that is ideal.  Sometimes, a compelling story holds more weight than the writing…  not that I’m saying quality of writing isn’t important.  It’s just that there are times where a plot can be so gripping that graceful syntax is secondary.

The Name of the WindThis isn’t the case at all in Patrick Rothfuss‘s The Name of the Wind, which is book one of his Kingkiller Chronicle series.  The story — that of a legendary musician/magician living under an assumed identity, and the past that has caused him to go into hiding — defines the phrase “page-turner.”  At one point during the week, I stayed up until well past three in the morning as too many exciting things were happening in the book, all preventing me from putting it down.

Rothfuss structures the novel interestingly.  The protagonist, Kvothe, is making a living as the proprietor of a backwoods inn; a traveling scribe realizes who the innkeeper is and convinces Kvothe to tell his story.  Kvothe complies, and so the book’s chapters then swing in and out of the present and past.  Obviously, Rothfuss isn’t the first author to pivot a plot through time, but what he does so cleanly is steadily build tension in both Kvothe’s first-person retelling of his own history and the third-person narratives that anchor that which takes place in the present — which is why you too will have a hard time taking a break from it.  Honestly, I can’t heap enough praise on this book, despite its terrible cover art.  If I can’t convince you to give it a whirl, maybe Publishers Weekly will; it listed The Name of the Wind as one of the best books of 2007.

Unaccustomed EarthMy friend Ben turned me on to Jhumpa Lahiri, though it took me a not inconsiderable amount of time to finally read The Namesake.  I still, embarassingly, cannot say the same of Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize-winning anthology of stories, Interpreter of Maladies (though I will say vehemently that I put in a request at my library ages ago).  I did, however, get my hands on Lahiri’s most recently published book, Unaccustomed Earth.

Like Interpreter of Maladies before it, Unaccustomed Earth is a collection of stories; there are eight of them here, the final three of which are intertwined.  Is that trio the most memorable of the bunch because of it, because of their connection?  My answer to that, even if Lahiri gives the reader more pages to better understand the cardinal characters, is not necessarily.  Equally noteworthy is the smitten grad student infatuated with his new housemate, the daughter trying to reconnect with her widowed father, and the young girl remembering her parents’ circle of friends.

What’s fascinating to me is that while Lahiri tackles similar topics in her works — assimilation, Westernization, the push/pull of tradition — she does so in such a way that instead of seeming redundant, she gives her themes even more depth by expounding upon them.  It is as if Lahiri is gently awakening the reader by tenderly opening the curtains of each window in a house, until the entire building is flooded with a brilliant light.

So there you have it, the seven books I completed while in Maine.  The eighth, which I started in the boathouse’s bed and finished on the bus in Cambridge, was Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.  It’s widely and rightly considered to be a modern classic, as Robinson’s deft prose tells the tale of the elderly Reverend John Ames as he painstakingly begins a journal of his life to pass down to his young son.  Robinson fully immerses the reader in Ames’s thoughts, slowing the pace to reflect that of an aging, rural preacher.  Gilead isn’t a fast read, but each page — each word — is worth your time.

Semi-Embarrassing…

I kind of got out of the loop when I was out of town last week, only skimming the sites I normally read, which must be how I missed William Grimes’s New York Times article “Volumes to Go Before You Die.” I only saw it because Deirdre Fulton wrote a response on The Phoenix‘s literary blog Word Up. Essentially, British professor Peter Boxall surveyed over a hundred notable literary critics and scholars to determine the 1001 most notable books of all time, and published his findings as 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

Now, I love a good list, so there was simply no way that I was going to go through Boxall’s findings and not tally up my score. Like Ms. Fulton, I used this handy-dandy spreadsheet to help me out, courtesy of Arukiyomi, and got some pretty shameful results: I’ve only read 136 of the 1001 books, or 13.59%, and some of them are just flat-out inexplicable. For instance, why is it that I’ve read Interview with the Vampire and not any Joyce whatsoever?

Anyway, here’s my list, though I should add that I never finished The Magic Mountain, mostly because it seemed like it was never going to end.

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  3. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  4. A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham
  5. A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift
  6. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  7. A Room With a View by E. M. Forster
  8. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  9. Ada by Vladimir Nabokov
  10. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  11. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  12. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  13. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  14. Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
  15. Anagrams by Lorrie Moore
  16. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  17. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  18. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  19. Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow
  20. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  21. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  22. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
  23. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  24. Candide by Voltaire
  25. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
  26. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  27. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  28. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  29. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
  30. The Cider House Rules by John Irving
  31. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  32. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  33. Crash by J. G. Ballard
  34. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
  35. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
  36. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  37. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  38. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  39. Emma by Jane Austen
  40. Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard
  41. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
  42. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  43. Felicia’s Journey by William Trevor
  44. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  45. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  46. Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard
  47. Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis
  48. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  49. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  50. The Golden Bowl by Henry James
  51. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  52. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  53. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  54. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  55. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  56. Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud
  57. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  58. The Hours by Michael Cunningham
  59. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  60. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  61. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  62. Howards End by E. M. Forster
  63. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  64. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  65. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  66. Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice
  67. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  68. The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
  69. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  70. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  71. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  72. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
  73. Like Life by Lorrie Moore
  74. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  75. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  76. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  77. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  78. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  79. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  80. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
  81. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
  82. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  83. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  84. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  85. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  86. Neuromancer by William Gibson
  87. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  88. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  89. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  90. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
  91. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  92. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  93. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
  94. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  95. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  96. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  97. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  98. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  99. Rashomon by Akutagawa Ryunosuke
  100. Regeneration by Pat Barker
  101. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  102. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  103. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  104. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  105. The Shining by Stephen King
  106. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
  107. Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg
  108. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  109. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  110. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
  111. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
  112. Sula by Toni Morrison
  113. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  114. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
  115. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  116. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  117. Them by Joyce Carol Oates
  118. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  119. The Third Man by Graham Greene
  120. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  121. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré
  122. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  123. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  124. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
  125. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  126. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  127. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  128. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  129. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
  130. Watchmen by Alan Moore and David Gibbons
  131. White Noise by Don DeLillo
  132. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  133. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  134. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
  135. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  136. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman