Monthly Archives: September 2012

#57 Revisited “The Once and Future King” by T. H. White


by Michael Niewodowski

#57 Revisited The Once and Future King by T. H. White (#477 on The List)

Hic jacet Arthurus, rex quondam, rex que futurus (Here lies Arthur, king once, and king to be) – inscribed on King Arthur’s tomb.


‘Magical’ is not nearly a strong enough term for T. H. White’s The Once and Future King. This re-telling of the classic King Arthur legend is set in antiquity, but told in a modern style.  From the magician Merlyn’s training of young Arthur (the Wart) to the Knights of the Round Table to the Quest for the Holy Grail to Lancelot and Queen Guinevere’s affair to the tragic ending, one episode is more enchanting than the other.

The Arthurian legends have been told and retold throughout the centuries, setting the scene for Britain’s rich history of fantasy literature, including Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Lewis’ Narnia series, and Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  The Once and Future King has become a part of our culture; it inspired the Disney film “The Sword in the Stone” and the musical “Camelot”, and J.K. Rowling cited it as a major inspiration for her novels.  It seems strange, therefore, that White’s novel is not better known; it certainly deserves as much recognition as the aforementioned works.  When I chose the book from my list earlier this year, I had never heard of it and had no idea what it was about.

There is a great deal of knowledge and wisdom to be gained from reading The Once and Future King; in fact some of the wisest and most inspirational quotes I know comes from the novel.*  For me, however, reading this book is all about experiencing childlike wonder and joy.  Turning the pages of this novel is like unwrapping presents on Christmas morning.  Consider the following passage in which Merlyn becomes frustrated with the Wart’s training:

Merlyn took off his spectacles, dashed them on the floor and jumped on them with both feet.

‘Castor and Pollux blow me to Bermuda!’ he exclaimed, and immediately vanished with a frightful roar.

The Wart was still staring at his tutor’s chair in some perplexity, a few moments later, when Merlyn reappeared.  He had lost his hat and his hair and beard were tangled up, as if by a hurricane.  He sat down again, straightening his gown with trembling fingers.

‘Why did you do that?’ asked the Wart.

‘I did not do it on purpose.’

‘Do you mean to say that Castor and Pollux did blow you to Bermuda?’

‘Let this be a lesson to you,’ replied Merlyn, ‘not to swear…’

(…a lesson I might have done well to learn earlier in life.)

When I was in a graduate English class studying Shakespeare and Marlowe, our professor talked about how much she enjoyed reading Macbeth for the witches.  In the midst of hundreds of hours and thousands of pages of intensive literary criticism, our brilliant PhD professor spoke about the childlike joy she got out of reading about mystical characters.  How refreshing!

We read for a myriad of reasons: to learn, to escape, to change, and to grow.  One of the best reasons to read is for the sheer joy of it.  Personally, I’ve found no novel that has given me more joy than The Once and Future King.  I can hardly wait until my son is a little bit older so that I can read it to him.  What a glorious book!


* “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something.  That’s the only thing that never fails.  You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds.  There is only one thing for it then – to learn.  Learn why the world wags and what wags it.  That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.  Learning is the only thing for you.  Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

Note:  No reading of The Once and Future King is complete without the posthumously published conclusion, The Book of Merlyn, as White intended.  The Book of Merlyn itself has an interesting story as a “casualty of war.”


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#100 “Aesop’s Fables” by Aesopus

by Michael Niewodowski

#100 Aesop’s Fables by Aesopus (#1001 on The List)

And the moral of the story is……

Human beings are problem-solving animals.  In a purely physical fight with any animal of equal mass, a human is sure to lose; what really sets us apart is our capacity for complex problem solving.  In Aesop’s Fables, many animals are given human problem solving characteristics.  The animals in the fables can to teach us a great deal about ourselves.

Many of the fables and lessons are familiar: The tortoise and the hare = slow and steady wins the race; the goose that lays golden eggs = don’t ruin a good thing; the boy who cried wolf = you can’t believe a liar even when he tells the truth.  However, what struck me while reading these fables is that many of the morals are in disagreement with each other.  One teaching that is universal, however, is that a person’s true character cannot be changed; for example, in the fable of the crow and the swan, the crow takes up residence in the water in hopes to wash away the black and become as white as the swan = although you change your habits, you cannot change your nature.

Aesop’s Fables originate in ancient Greece, and many of them deal with the Greek gods and goddesses, including creation stories.  We tend to dismiss the ancient Greek beliefs as mythology, although it is evident that most of the ancient Greeks took the gods quite literally.  Nowadays, we are much more intelligent and educated. We all know that death is a natural and inevitable phenomenon, and not a personified supernatural being; we know that the earth revolves around the sun, and that Apollo doesn’t drive the sun across the sky with a chariot; we know that Zeus didn’t create the animals and give them all their characteristics.  Right?

I believed in creationism until I was in my twenties.  This was not ‘intelligent design’, but full-on creationism- as in God blinked the humans, the animals, the earth, and everything in it into existence in six days.  Although I was raised Catholic, I attended a Fundamentalist Christian school.  We were taught from books called Evolution: The Big Lie and others.  Our World History teacher assured us that there was irrevocable evidence of ‘the great flood’, and that the proof that humans and dinosaurs co-existed is many cultures’ legends of dragons.  I was taught and believed a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis.

My own father tried to educate me on this issue; I prayed for his soul.

When I finally learned and accepted scientific fact (thanks in large part to the Discovery Channel) it was a huge shock to my system.  Evolution was not a vast secular conspiracy to tear Christians away from their religious beliefs as I had been taught indoctrinated to believe.  I started to question all the truths and beliefs I had held so closely.  I am no longer resentful of this experience; rather I am thankful that it instilled a questioning and problem-solving nature in me (although, if we are to believe Aesop’s Fables, I ALWAYS had that questioning nature).

The Dalai Lama recently said, “If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change.”*  Wouldn’t the world be a much better place is all religions followed this tenet?  To their credit, the Catholic Church has made huge strides on this issue (I think they learned a lot from the Galileo affair), however, they have a long way to go, and progress is slow.  The Fundamentalists, and many other religions, dismiss or re-write science, history, and reality to accommodate their beliefs, all while praying to the heavens for knowledge, wisdom, and guidance.

Aesop’s fable of the wagoner is a story of a man whose cart gets stuck in the mud.  He prays to the gods to help him; finally a god comes down and tells him to start pushing the cart, saying, “If you won’t lift a finger to help yourself, you can’t expect the gods or anyone else to come to your aid” = heaven helps those who help themselves.  If we ourselves are not willing to educate ourselves and sharpen our own problem solving skills, we deserve the ignorance so many of us are mired in.


*  The article is well worth reading.


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#99 “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel

by Michael Niewodowski

#99 Life of Pi by Yann Martel (#49 on The List)

A boy adrift on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean…..with a Bengal tiger.  I admit; I only had to see this image from the preview for the upcoming movie version of Life of Pi, and I rushed to the library to check out the book.  Yann Martel’s first novel is a spellbinding adventure story.  Part survival tale, part religious contemplation, it is a book that I would recommend to anyone with an adventurous spirit.

Life of Pi follows the story of Piscine (Pi) Molitor Patel, the son of a zookeeper, growing up in Pondicherry, India.  Even as a young teenager, Pi has a daring character; he simultaneously becomes a practicing Hindu, Christian, and Muslim, much to the chagrin of his parents, not to mention the pandit, priest, and imam.  Pi quotes Gandhi: “All religions are true.”  When Pi and his family (mother, father, brother and most of the zoo) set sail for a new life in Canada,  Pi’s great adventure begins. Cast away on a lifeboat with a 450 pound tiger, Pi puts all of his endurance, survival skills, and faith to the test.

It is strange that in life, sometimes the greatest tragedy can lead to the greatest triumphs.  Pi’s greatest tragedy lead to his triumph- conquering certain death either from the high seas or at the claws and teeth of a hungry tiger.

The greatest tragedy in my life led to one of my greatest triumphs.  I am a September 11, 2001 terrorist attack survivor.  I worked on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center up until 9/11.  On that horrible day, I watched the towers burn from less than a mile away; a few hours before or after, I would have been in the building myself.  As a direct result of this tragedy, for nearly the next decade, I dedicated myself to service.  I took a job at a lower socio-economic high school, teaching Culinary Arts.  I gave thousands of hours of my own time, and thousands of my own dollars to build a program from scratch.  I gave heart and soul to my students and to the community.  I know that I made a huge difference in many people’s lives; after my work as a father, I am most proud of my accomplishments as a teacher.  This culminated in telling my story- this story- to a crowd of thousands of teachers, students, and industry leaders.

Pi’s high-seas adventure ended with a disappointment.  However, the rest of his life became his greatest adventure yet.  My teaching adventure ended with a disappointment.  The rest of my life has just begun.

Life of Pi teaches us that we write our own Story.


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#98 “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace

by Michael Niewodowski

#98 Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. (#107 on The List)

(Hamlet takes the skull): “Alas poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio—a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred my imagination is! My gorge rises at it…..” Hamlet Act 5, Scene 1.

We live in very stressful times. From the up-to-the-second paced, information-overloaded world of modern technology to constant, screaming streams of bad (never good) news-casts to an excess of daily obligations, a hysterical reality pervades our culture. Infinite Jest* is a study in anxiety. It is a look at the frantic hyper-angst we experience daily and our desperate, futile attempts to process it positively.

It’s a comedy.

In fact, it is the funniest novel I have ever read. I laughed loudly dozens of times. Three times, I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks.

Set in an alternate present in which years are no longer told by consecutive numbers, but rather subsidized by corporate sponsors (most of the action takes place in the Year of the Adult Depend Undergarment), Infinite Jest loosely follows the lives of the Incandenza family. The characters are……..interesting. James O. Incandenza, the paterfamilias, has made a film, ‘Infinite Jest’ (aka The Entertainment), that is so entertaining that anyone who watches it, even for a moment, has no other compulsion but to watch it over and over again, eventually dying from lack of sustenance. Incandenza uses an actress in the film that is so beautiful that she must wear a veil over her face to stop men from falling desperately in love with her; Orin Incandenza, one of the three sons, does. If The Entertainment could be weaponized by Les Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents (Quebec separatist wheelchair assassins), it could be a nation destroyer. A CIA-like agent, Hugh/Helen Steeply, undergoes gender re-assignment surgery to more effectively infiltrate and stop the separatist group. Hal Incandenza, the youngest son, is a marijuana addicted, boarding school tennis brat, who plays Eschaton** and contemplates his relationship with his (now deceased) father.

Many of the episodes in the novel seem to be governed by a more extreme version of Murphy’s Law: if it can go wrong, it will; it can always go wrong, so it always will go wrong; when it goes wrong, it will go wrong in a very, very bad way. This leads to situations in which normal tasks like fixing a squeaky bed, re-parking a car, or interviewing with college admissions become epic struggles reminiscent of The Iliad.***

My father was tightly wound. An annoying song, a squeaky wheel, or a less-than-helpful customer-service-representative could send him into paroxysms of angry frustration that most of us will never know. Besides his more-than-full-time job as a surgeon, he worked sixty to eighty hours a week on home repairs, family auto repairs, and intensive yard landscaping. Even entertainment and relaxation were full-time jobs for him; he would meticulously plan out nearly every aspect of the family vacation- the rest of the family were clearly only along for the ride. For the most part, my father and I differ on this account. I consider myself to be fairly calm, although I imagine that many people that saw me working as a professional chef would say otherwise.

Anxiety and addiction go hand in hand. Most of the characters in Infinite Jest are extremely anxious, and extremely addicted. Much of the action is set at the Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House. In the world of Infinite Jest,
The Entertainment represents the ultimate drug; some characters literally beg to view the film, despite full awareness that it is essentially suicide.

I have recently come to terms with a fifteen-year adrenaline addiction. A professional restaurant kitchen environment is, by design, a high stress environment. Most chefs, myself included, would trigger the fight or flight mechanism to get a rush of adrenaline; this gave us the ability to accomplish superhuman feats of skill and organization. I honestly did not recognize the addiction nor even the ‘adrenaline drug’ while I was working as a chef. I feel very fortunate that I never succumbed to much more serious alcohol or drug addiction, like so many chefs and restaurant workers do.

We all need some sort of escape from reality— some entertainment. For now, I have replaced my adrenaline rush with this healthier(?) escape into 1001 novels and writing this blog.

At over 1000 pages (I listened to more than 56 hours of unabridged audiobook), and with 388 footnotes, David Foster Wallace’s novel is a magnum opus, extravagant in details, with intricate and intense plot and character connections****.

The hyper-anxiety– the hysterical reality– that Wallace so adeptly describes is amplified by his suicide less than ten years after publication of Infinite Jest.

(Hamlet, still holding the skull): “….Where be your gibes now, your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning? Quite chop-fallen?” Hamlet Act 5, Scene 1.

The rest is silence…..except, of course, for the footnotes.


*In an attempt to be true to Wallace’s style, I will use footnotes in this blog. In a break from his style, I will use asterisks in the place of numbers.

**Eschaton is a world domination and destruction game played on several tennis courts where tennis balls are nuclear weapons lobbed at opposing countries.

***For example: consider the following excerpt from Infinite Jest:


Dear Sir:
I am writing in response to your request for additional information. In block #3 of the accident reporting form, I put “trying to do the job alone”, as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully and I trust that the following details will be sufficient.
I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, March 27, I was working alone on the roof of a new six story building. When I completed my work, I discovered that I had about 900 kg. of brick left over. Rather than laboriously carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which fortunately was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor. Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the brick into it. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 900 kg of bricks. You will note in block #11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh 75 kg.
Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and the broken collar bone.
Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulleys. Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind, and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of considerable pain. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel from the force of hitting the ground.
Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed approximately 30 kg. I refer you again to my weight of 75 kg in block #11. As you could imagine, still holding the rope, I began a rather rapid descent from the pulley down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles and the laceration of my legs and lower body.
The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my impact with the brick-strewn ground below. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the bricks in considerable pain, unable to stand or move and watching the empty barrel six stories above me, I again lost my presence of mind and unfortunately let go of the rope, causing the barrel to begin a
(pp. 138-140)

****See character map:


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My list so far……

My list so far……

by Michael Niewodowski

As I mentioned in my first post, I have already finished 97 of the books on the list of 1001. The following is a list of the books I have finished, the year I finished the book, the book’s number on The List, and some very brief thoughts on some of the novels. Some of the truly earth-shattering books I have read up unto this point I plan to go back and write about more extensively (I will probably re-read them before I write). These are noted with an asterisk.

1. “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. #992. Read 2007. No one can think of Spain without Don Quixote, and no one can think of Don Quixote without Spain. When I visited Spain, and we drove across La Mancha, I imagined Don Quixote rambling along on his poor, old Rosinante with his fat companion. To see the vast empty desert terrain of central Spain, and imagine a noble “not so bright” knight looking for adventure in the midst of it lends itself to a truer understanding of the term “quixotic”.
It’s interesting that when I first visited Spain and had studied Don Quixote (I had only read an abridged version), I was about to embark on my journey to University to study Spanish and Mental Health majors- quite a quixotic mix. Like Don Quixote, I became disillusioned with the idea of being able to single-handedly save the world, so I soon dropped the Mental Health major. However, this was to be FAR from the last of my quixotic endeavours……

2. “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe. #987. Read 2000.

3. “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift. #983. Read 2007. One of the two greatest satires ever written (#982 is the other, see below), Swift shows us our own faults that we don’t really want to see. I admit, I’ve been a Laputan and a Yahoo.

4. “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift. #982. Read 2003. All of us have prejudices; some of us are downright racist. Swift’s “proposal” for the rich to cook and eat poor young Irish children to prevent them from being a burden to society is far from modest, but when it was written, some readers actually thought he was serious!! Growing up in the deep south, I’ve witnessed plenty of racism and prejudice. I often imagine A Modest Proposal being re-written with young black children in the place of Irish. Again, Swift shows us the ugly side of ourselves that we don’t want to see.

5. “Justine” by Marquis de Sade. #951. Read 2010. The term sadism comes from the Marquis de Sade.

6. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, #938. Read 2006.

7. “Frankenstein” by Mary Wollstoncraft Shelley, #931. Read 2000. The subtitle, “The Modern Prometheus” is most telling.

8. “Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper, #925. Read 2001.

9. “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe, #916. Read 2009.

10. “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, #913. Read Pre-2000.

11. “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe, #909. Read Pre-2000.

12. *”The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas, #906. Read 2005.

13. “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte, #902. Read 2006. Seeing the moors of south England in person heightens the intensity of this novel, as well as Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles.

14. *”Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, #896. Read 2008.

15. “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau, #889. Read 2001.

16. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, #876. Read 2001.

17. “Silas Marner” by George Eliot, #875. Read 2001.

18. “Alices Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, #868. Read 2008.

19. *”Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, #867. Read 2001.

20. “Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There” by Lewis Carroll, #854. Read 2008.

21. “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, #837. Read 2002.

22. “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson, #831. Read 2002.

23. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, #825. Read 2009.

24. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde, #809. Read 2001.

25. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, #801. Read 2004.

26. “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, #794. Read 2002.

27. “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells, #790. Read 2004.

28. “The Hound of the Baskervilles” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, #781. Read 1997. Aptly, I was in England when I read this novel, and later visited the foggy moors of southwestern England.

29. *”Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, #780. Read 2006 (and again a few times).

30. “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair, #767. Read 2000.

31. “Ulysses” by James Joyce, #723. Read 2004 and again in 2009. The most difficult novel I have ever read- although I’ve visited Dublin, I still lack the basic background information to really comprehend the novel.

32. “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield, #714. Read 2006.

33. *”The Trial” by Franz Kafka, #701. Read January 2012.

34. *The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, #699. Read 2003 (and again a few times).

35. “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf, #698. Read 2006. Woolf’s answer to Joyce’s Ulysses is more accessible and more personal.

36. *”The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway, #689. Read August 2012.

37. “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by D. H. Lawrence, #676. Read 2004.

38. *”The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner, #671. Read 2005.

39. “Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway, #663. Read 2007.

40. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, #649. Read 2011. A strangely appealing dystopian future is presented in this novel. I am drawn to literature about dystopias, but this one is the only one that actually seemed like a place I might like to live.

41. *”The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien, #610. Read Pre-2000.

42. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston, #609. Read 2007. Set in rural, pre-emancipation era Florida, this novel is a history lesson for anyone that lives in Florida.

43. “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, #608. Read 2006.

44. “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler, #599. Read January 2012. A hard boiled detective story with so much (really cool) jargon that the book came with a glossary. Teaches us that culture and language are often completely inseparable.

45. *”The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, #592. Read 2008.

46. *”For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway, #587. Read 1997.

47. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, #564. Read 2002. Although I’ve never been very politically active, this and 1984 are essential for an understanding to politics in our world.

48. *”1984″ by George Orwell, #547. Read 2005.

49. “I, Robot” by Isaac Asimov, #539. Read 2004.

50. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, #529. Read 1997.

51. *”The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, #521. Read 2000.

52. “Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming, #518. Read 2006. I’ve always been a big fan of the James Bond movies (I’ve seen them all), but reading this book was a far more enjoyable experience than any of the films.

53. “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, #508. Read 2000.

54. “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov, #496. Read 2010.

55. “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien, #494. Read 2000.

56. “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, #484. Read 2002.

57. *”The Once and Future King” by T. H. White, #477. Read Feb. 2012.

58. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote, #467. Read Feb. 2012.

59. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, #456. Read 2003.

60. “Solaris” by Stanislaw Lem, #448. Read Feb. 2012. “Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed.”– Solaris

61. “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein, #444. Read 2005.

62. *”A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess, #437. Read 2000.

63. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey, #436. Read 2006.

64. “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote, #408. Read 2007.

65. *”One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, #399. Read 2004 and 2011.

66. “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolfe, #397. Read July 2012. The novel reads like a 1960’s acid trip- which is most of what the book is about. This is as close as I get to doing psychedelic drugs.

67. “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke, #389. Read 2003.

68. “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo, #379. Read 2002.

69. “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, #375. Read 2005.

70. “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson, #358. Read 2004.

71. “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., #340. Read 2002.

72. “Interview with the Vampire” by Anne Rice, #320. Read 1994.

73. “The Shining” by Stephen King, #312. Read June 2012.

74. “The World According to Garp” by John Irving, #303. Read 2002.

75. “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, #301. Read in the 1980’s.

76. “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera, #256. Read 2002.

77. “White Noise” by Don DeLillo, #245. Read 2007.

78. *”The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, #242. Read Jan. 2012.

79. “Less Than Zero” by Bret Easton Ellis, #240. Read 2011.

80. “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, #236. Read 2009.

81. “Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, #227. Read 2008.

82. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, #223. Read 2007.

83. “The New York Trilogy” by Paul Auster, #219. Read 2011.

84. “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” by Douglas Adams, #210. Read July 2012.

85. “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquival, #195. Read 2002.

86. “Get Shorty” by Elmore Leonard, #174. Read April 2012.

87. “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis, #166. Read 2000.

88. *”A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry, #117. Read April 2012.

89. “The Untouchable” by John Banville, #100. Read June 2012.

90. “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden, #93. Read 2005.

91. “Sputnik Sweetheart” by Haruki Murakami, #78. Read May 2012. The opening paragraph is a cannonball- one of the most powerful in all of literature.

92. “Timbuktu” by Paul Auster, #70. Read May 2012. A novel told from the point of view of a dog, I read this while I was camping (tenting) with my 5 year old son and 5 year old Beagle. A must read for any dog lover.

93. “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood, #63. Read 2005.

94. “Ignorance” by Milan Kundera, #57. Read 2006.

95. “Choke” by Chuck Palahniuk, #48. Read 2004. I am a big fan of Chuck Palahniuk, especially Fight Club and Choke. The afterward for Choke is a biographical story of his inspiration for the novel- it is breathtakingly devastating.

96. “The Plot Against America” by Philip Roth, #8. Read Febuary 2012.

97. “Cocaine Nights” by J.G. Ballard, #102. Read August 2012.

I plan to blog about #98 by the end of the week!!!


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