• Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age

    Kenzaburo Oe

    It seems most of Oe’s works are at least semi-autobiographical; supposedly all his works feature a character based on his son Hikari who is developmentally disabled. This book is about a similar boy whose name is also Hikari, but goes by the nickname Eeyore, and a similar father...more

  • Sad Little Breathing Machine

    Matthea Harvey

    For whatever reason, this collection didn’t strike me as much as Modern Life did. But there were poems I liked.

    The Crowds Cheered as Gloom Galloped Away

    Everyone was happier. But where did the sadness go? People wanted to know. They didn’t want

  • The Westing Game

    Ellen Raskin

    I never read this when I was younger, but I kind of wish I had. It’s a complicated mystery based around the occupants of an apartment building who discover they’ve all been named heirs to a $2 million estate, except they need to compete against each other (in pairs dictated by the bizarre will) on a strange riddle in order to win...more

  • The Sweet Life in Paris

    David Lebovitz

    Only recently did I get with the program and start reading David Lebovitz’s blog — I’ve tried to make up for lost time by making his butterscotch pudding several times in the last few weeks. I assumed this book...more

  • The Woman in the Dunes

    Kobe Abé

    An entomologist seeks out a remote seaside village for an insect expedition and as night falls seeks shelter from the villagers. They offer him shelter with a widow who lives in a house inside a deep sand pit and he wakes up in the morning to discover they have removed the ladder, trapping him. In time he discovers that a few villagers...more

  • Dance of the Happy Shades

    Alice Munro

    I was partway through this collection of short fiction when I had to check to see if this was Munro’s first collection of stories (which it is). So often her stories seem to leave no stone to untouched, and, even though it’s not as long as a novel, you still have the sense that the narrative is entirely complete at the...more

  • Infinite Jest

    David Foster Wallace

    I’m hesitant to say much about the end of Infinite Jest, mostly because I feel not having much knowledge about the book before I started reading it made things more interesting — though I guess the How-to on the Infinite Summer blog did say some pretty specific, though...more

  • Infinite Jest (½)

    David Foster Wallace

    It seems right after the ¼ mark, the chapters start getting more epic in length (as well as a greater number of lengthy endnotes). But also subtle threads begin appear, tying all these separate stories together a little bit more. Eventually the story starts moving into this place where it seems like ...more

  • Infinite Jest (¼)

    David Foster Wallace

    I hadn’t read anything by David Foster Wallace when I first heard about the Infinite Summer project and in general find that I don’t love brilliant dead white dudes as much as other people do. But I like projects and novels that play with the idea of a novel and felt aimless...more

  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog

    Muriel Barbery

    Luckily I had some warning from Helena that the ending of this novel might be disappointing, so I wasn’t too annoyed when I felt letdown by it as well. The Elegance is definitely still worth a read, at least if the idea of two closet intellectuals unknowingly living in the same fancy...more

  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being

    Milan Kundera

    I first read this book years and years ago; long enough ago that when I recently saw the movie version, I could barely remember what parts of the story seemed the same or totally different. On my last day in Vienna I spied a copy in a bookstore and bought it as a souvenir, since I...more

  • Averno

    Louise Glück

    I remembered reading Louise Glück before but I didn’t go back and refresh my memory on what I said about The Seven Ages until after I read this book. I think I have to deduce that I’m not that into her poetry as I could almost say the exact thing this time around.

    The title refers to...more

  • Modern Life

    Matthea Harvey

    There are many interesting takes on “modern” life in this collection of poems. From the kind of anachronistically futurist Robo-Boy placed in a banal contemporary setting to the militarily apocalyptic series that maps words found between future and terror in the dictionary. The two semi-...more

  • Brideshead Revisited

    Evelyn Waugh

    For some reason I always assumed this novel was first of all science fiction and secondly a sequel, and it definitely is neither. Not sure where I got confused — maybe I was thinking of Eraserhead?

    Set between the wars in upper-class England, it is instead an...more

  • Art and Fear

    Paul Virilio

    It’s a little ridiculous how long I’ve been reading this book, considering it’s less than 100 pages long. It doesn’t even feel so dense but running at such a blistering pace that it’s a difficult to continually put it down and pick it back up again, as it becomes necessary to constantly backtrack to get back...more

  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma

    Michael Pollan

    I read The Botany of Desire years ago and since then it seems like Pollan has been popping up everywhere, both due to this book and last year’s In Defense of Food.

    Like The Botany of Desire...more

  • The Fatal Eggs

    Mikhail Bulgakov

    It’s been many years since I last re-read The Master and Margarita… [I believe this link is for the Michael Glenny translation — there’s...more

  • Reading Lolita in Tehran

    Azar Nafisi

    An intriguing concept, pairing a memoir about living through the Iranian Revolution and the resulting totalitarian regime with literary criticism of Western literature as an attempt to put it all into perspective. Unfortunately Nafisi’s effort fell flat to me, mostly because the writing feels too weak for the task...more

  • The Grapes of Wrath

    John Steinbeck

    I managed to get through all my schooling without ever reading The Grapes of Wrath (or any other Steinbeck novel), and since all sorts of people keep saying how “timely” it is, my curiosity got the best of me. Initially it felt like slogging through required reading until a certain point where I was amazed at “how timely!” it is. But...more

  • Wide Sargasso Sea

    Jean Rhys

    Years ago I read Jane Eyre for the sole purpose of reading Rhys’s retelling of it from the perspective of the woman locked in the attic. Luckily the book stands solidly on its own so my now hazy memories of Jane Eyre didn’t get in the way...more