Tara Calaby

writer, editor & phd candidate

Tag: 100 books (page 2 of 2)

Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez

I hadn’t really been looking forward to reading the two Gabriel García Márquez books that are on my 100 Books to Read Before I Die list, largely because I knew he was one of the Names when it comes to Magic Realism, a literary style I’ve never been fond of. This book, however, was another example of just why I HAVE my list, because I’d never have picked it up of my own accord, but I ended up loving it. I even ended up appreciating the kind of Magic Realism that he employs, amazingly enough.

It’s slow moving and strongly narrative-based, but somehow it draws you in and keeps you enthralled despite this. It’s the kind of book that sticks with you once it finishes and I think I’ll be thinking about it for a while.

Review: The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

I loved this. It’s made its way straight into my top ten. It certainly hit all the right buttons for me, in that it has all of the elegance and literary merit of classic British literature, yet manages to be an enthralling page-turner at the same time.

I really couldn’t recommend this book more highly, both for fans of the classics and those who generally stay away from them.

Review: The Outsider – Albert Camus

I think I completely missed whatever it is that makes this book a classic. Seriously, it obviously went right over my head.

That said, it was well-enough crafted. I just don’t see it as the life-changing book that so many people consider it to be.

Review: Pierre and Jean – Guy de Maupassant

I read this because it’s on my 100 Books list, and found myself v.much enjoying it. The style (at least in translation) is both readable and elegant and I found the content pleasantly reminiscent of Zola, in that there is a strong focus on human nature and failings.

Review: The Railway Children – E. Nesbit

I’ve always loved E. Nesbit’s stories, but somehow missed reading this one until now. Just as lovely and old-fashioned as the rest.

Review: The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene

Wow, this really was a brilliant book. Thought-provoking content, Greene’s usual command of language and an overwhelming feeling of foreboding all contribute to its power.

In a way, it’s not an easy book to read. The protagonist is more of an anti-hero than a hero, and it’s easy to feel disgusted with him at times. However, by the end, one can perhaps understand him, if not ever really like him.

Greene had a talent for writing in a way that produces vivid images in the reader’s mind, without weighing down his story with lengthy descriptive passages, and ‘The Power and the Glory’ is a perfect example of this. When the rains begin, you can almost feel the humidity.

Warning: There are a couple of passages in the novel where animals are treated poorly. One in particular was a struggle to read.

Review: Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

My thoughts on this are quite complicated. I very much liked the writing and the style, but the story didn’t grab me at all. I found myself utterly disinterested in Charles, the narrator, although Julia and Sebastian intrigued me a little more. In the end, I think it was like many other ‘classic’ novels are for me. I get great enjoyment out of the artistry, but that’s all, really. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s still a bloody good book; it’s just wasn’t a page-turner as well.

Review: Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut

Absolutely excellent book, and that’s high praise for someone who doesn’t say that a lot about books published after 1950. Horrifically depressing too, of course, in that quiet, underlying way that I’m particularly fond of. Great style, and very clever execution.

Review: Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay

I enjoyed this a lot more than I was expecting to, actually. I’d assumed it was mostly about the picnic itself and then a search for the missing people, when really it was a more psychological account of the way that such a mystery/tragedy affects the people caught up in it, which is far more my kind of novel.

The writing style is a little cumbersome, but I found I stopped noticing it after the first paragraph or two of a reading session.

Review: Nostromo – Joseph Conrad

Like ‘Heart of Darkness’ I think it’s a book that I’m more pleased to have read than I was to be reading. I like Conrad’s writing style, but I thought the structure of ‘Nostromo’ didn’t do it any favours. The entire first part seemed unnecessary to me, and it makes the book extremely hard to get into. If you manage to persevere until the second and final parts, however, there’s a good story amidst the descriptive passages. I didn’t find many of the characters at all sympathetic, which made me a little sad because there was Good Angst to be had if I had cared more about whether the main characters lived, died, floundered or prospered.

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