Book Review: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front
by
Erich Maria Remarque

Rating:

On the cover of my copy of All Quiet on the Western Front, it also says “The Greatest War Novel of All Time.” I don’t know if I’ve read enough war novels to be an expert, but I can tell you it is one of the most powerful and moving books I’ve read.

German trench warfare. Image: Wikipedia

This is the story of World War I trench warfare and of Paul Baumer, a nineteen-year-old German soldier who has enlisted in the army. He and his schoolmates joined up at the recommendation of their schoolmaster and in short time must face the reality of a ruthless war. The novel mostly takes place on the front, where Paul and his comrades are fired upon and shelled and do the same to their French enemies in what becomes one of the most famous stalemates in history. Paul narrates his experiences and the deep bonds he develops with the men in his platoon, including the already close friendships with his boyhood friends and Albert Kropp, their superior.

One of the most intense times occurs after a brutal period when Paul returns home on leave. He describes his feelings of severe disconnection in seeing his family, whose lives, although by no means easy, are in stark contrast to what he has experienced. His father wants to know all the war stories, but Paul refuses, knowing that if he spoke about them, they’d be out there and would torment him forever. His mother, sick with cancer, wants reassurance that it’s not too bad on the front. Paul knows they will never understand what he and the other soldiers have gone through and so he lies to her, heart breaking at the pain of it.

On the night before leaving home again, Paul lies in his room,

I bite into my pillow. I grasp the iron rods of my bed with my fists. I ought never to have come here. Out there I was indifferent and often hopeless—I will never be able to be so again. I was a soldier, and now I am nothing but an agony for myself, for my mother, for everything that is so comfortless and without end.

I highly recommend All Quiet on the Western Front. Erich Maria Remarque was in combat during World War I and was wounded five times, the last time severely. You can read more about him on this Wikipedia link.

As you can see by the list below, there are many war novels out there and I have only read a fraction of them. Which ones have you read?

Great war novels, BCM links

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Read but not reviewed, Goodreads links

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Winds of War by Herman Wouk

Other war novels with Goodreads links

Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Covenant with Death by John Harris
The Debacle by Émile Zola
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Empire of The Sun by J.G. Ballard
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
From Here to Eternity by James Jones
The Good Lieutenant by Whitney Terrell
Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
The Hunters by James Salter
Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Regeneration by Pat Barker
Restless by William Boyd
The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

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Short reviews from 2013: Rebecca, Little Bird of Heaven and The Sun Also Rises

As I approach my 7-year blogging anniversary, I’ve been looking at some of the old reviews I posted. A lot of them are pretty short, with limited plot descriptions, and mostly my opnions. I’d love to go back and beef them up a bit, but I think I’d have to re-read the books before I did that. So today I’m just going to share three short reviews of books I liked, but didn’t say too much about!


Rebecca
by
Daphne du Maurier

Rating:

Rebecca is a great example of excellent and timeless writing. Daphne du Maurier’s story is suspenseful with plenty of well-thought out characters who give us a look into the life of the old English elite. How does a young bride find her place at the Manderley mansion as the second Mrs. de Winter? We watch as she stumbles through her early weeks at Manderley and tries to acquire Rebecca’s grace, please her husband, and earn the respect of the household staff and Maxim’s friends and family. All the while staying far away from the menacing Mrs. Danvers. The plot develops into an exciting twist of events that keep you reading enthusiastically straight to the finish.

Mr. and Mrs. de Winter are very busy and keep to an active schedule, but it is all leisure. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the lavish tea-times. How funny to think of people living this way!


Little Bird of Heaven
by
Joyce Carol Oates

Rating:

Joyce Carol Oates is an excellent writer and does a great job pulling you into this story of a murdered woman and two families that fall apart. I think she shows just how complicated and destructive family relationships can be. What I think is most interesting is how Oates’ main characters still cling to the idea of family, despite their estrangement.

I have seen criticism of her writing style, saying it’s too repetitive and rambling. In this story, I think maybe she’s trying to show the way her characters are processing their thoughts and trying to cope by repeating themselves, a very human behavior.

I was a little frustrated with the ending, not quite believing that Krissy would be satisfied with what is revealed. I also did not fully buy into the attraction between Krissy and Aaron.

This is not a nice story. It’s often twisted, ugly, violent and depressing. But I liked it anyway because it made me think about and cheer for the characters, hoping they would find a way to happiness. It’s a hard read, though, and now I want to read something to make me laugh.

Oates can be difficult to read because of her intensity, but I appreciate the depth of her characters and I always come back for more.


The Sun Also Rises
by
Ernest Hemingway

Rating:

In The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway describes aimless, jaded and wounded characters and their efforts to numb these feelings of emptiness by leading idle lives of excess. Hemingway’s great talent is that he shows these complicated emotions with his classic clean and simple writing style.

There are endless back and forth exchanges between the narrator Jake Barnes, Robert Cohn, Lady Brett Ashley, Mike Campbell and the people they meet in Paris and in Pamplona. Hemingway tells his story through these seemingly insignificant conversations and Jake’s narration where we discover important things about each character. We learn how Jake is still struggling to accept his war injury and understand his relationship with Brett. We see how Robert Cohn becomes more and more shunned as he pursues Brett. And with every one of Brett’s reckless relationships with the men who surround her, particularly Mike and the bullfighter Pedro Romero, we discover her own feelings of a lost life.

I particularly liked how Hemingway took his description of Cohn on the very first page of the book and directly tied it to Cohn’s exploding temper in Pamplona. I saw hope in Jake’s bitter-sweet relationship with Brett despite the overwhelmingly hopeless theme of the story.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

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Short reviews from 2013: Fahrenheit 451, The Art of Racing in the Rain and The Weird Sisters

As I approach my 7-year blogging anniversary, I’ve been looking at some of the old reviews I posted. A lot of them are pretty short and I’d love to go back and beef them up a bit, but I think I’d have to re-read the books before I did that. So today I’m just going to share three short reviews of books I liked, but didn’t say too much about!


Fahrenheit 451
by
Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is a very well written science fiction from 1950. Despite being written before the explosion of modern technology, Bradbury’s book-burning story makes many timeless observations about censorship and the suppression of original thought and personal interaction.

Bradbury’s seashells as earbuds and the parlors with surrounding interactive screens are hardly a stretch to imagine if you have ever competed with an iPhone, iPod or a flat screen for another person’s attention.

Despite many hopeless characters and some violent destruction, the ending is optimistic as Montag and his hideout professors devise a way to preserve the classics.


The Art of Racing in the Rain
by
Garth Stein

I loved this book. It’s a touching family story told from an original point of view.  Denny Swift is the main character, a husband and father – a family man. His dog, Enzo, tells Denny’s story and gives us simple insights into love, misunderstanding, pain, and loss. He cleverly narrates a sad story and leaves the reader feeling alright about the very difficult job of saying goodbye to the people (and pets) we love. Enzo is a true hero in the way he influences and communicates with Denny, Eve and his family.

You don’t have to know anything about driving a race car or even be a NASCAR fan to enjoy the connection Stein makes between being a champion behind the wheel and taking charge of your own destiny.

This is a fast read with a solid feel-good ending.


The Weird Sisters
by
Eleanor Brown

It is so nice to read book that is actually upbeat as it depicts characters who struggle and confront difficult problems. Eleanor Brown does just that in The Weird Sisters. This is a story about three sisters who face turning-points in their own lives. It is believable, interesting, funny and emotional as the three face their mother’s illness and their own relationships with their parents and themselves. Anyone who has siblings or children of their own will appreciate the dynamics that occur here.

Brown tells this story through what I guess you would call the plural first person, as she speaks as the collective sisters. In the beginning, I thought there was a fourth sister! It’s a little different and awkward at first, but I got used to it. I think she uses this format to show the unity between Cordy, Rose and Bean.

I thought the Shakespeare references might be overwhelming because it has been a long time since I picked up a Shakespeare play. But they weren’t. They are there because they help explain the way the family communicates with each other. You don’t have to remember exactly what happened in King Lear or Macbeth to get the point.

Other people might think this original style is quirky. I did not. It works and, like the Shakespeare references, the style helps you understand the sisters and their story.


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New York Public Library’s Top 10 Checkouts of All Time

Image: Pixabay

Did you see the New York Public Library’s Top 10 Checkouts of All Time? They published the list this month to mark their 125th anniversary. I bet you know all ten of these books. Six of them are children’s books, but what about Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown? It didn’t make the list, but it made Honorable Mention and here is how the library explains it:

By all measures, this book should be a top checkout (in fact, it might be the top checkout) if not for an odd piece of history: extremely influential New York Public Library children’s librarian Anne Carroll Moore hated Goodnight Moon when it first came out. As a result, the Library didn’t carry it until 1972. That lost time bumped the book off the top 10 list for now. But give it time.

Years ago, libraries weren’t even open to children and, as explained in this recent Washington Post article, Anne Carroll is credited with “introducing an entire generation of children to libraries in the early 20th century.” She just wasn’t a fan of Goodnight Moon and a couple others.

Here are the Top 10 Checkouts:

  1. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  2. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  3. 1984 by George Orwell
  4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  6. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  8. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Thanks very much to K. for sending me this article!

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Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Vanity Fair
by
William Makepeace Thackeray

Rating: 4.5

Lately I’ve been trying to balance my reading with some of the classics I haven’t read. (See my Classic TBR list here). I was between books a few weeks ago and decided to read Vanity Fair. It’s been waiting patiently on my Kindle for years, one of those free, public domain books that are so easy to download. Until I started, I didn’t realize how substantial the book was. It’s a whopping 834 pages! For me, the only way to get through a book this long was to put the rest of my blogging and social media to the side. Reading Vanity Fair was definitely work, but well worth the effort!

The book is a satire about 19th century British society and takes place during and after the Napoleonic Wars. It follows the lives of about a dozen characters from various stations in society. The main story is about the naïve and sheltered Amelia Sedley, raised in riches and betrothed to George Osborne, spoiled son of the wealthy Mr. Osborne. Rebecca Sharp is Amelia’s orphan friend, a manipulator and social climber. And then there’s George’s awkward friend, William Dobbin, an honorable captain in the British army. Dobbin is secretly in love with Amelia and vows to protect her, even if he can’t win her heart. The second story is about Sir Pitt Crawley, his lineage and all the players who are positioning themselves to inherit a great sum from the Baronet’s half-sister. Captain Rawdon Crawley is the favorite nephew, and when Aunt Matilda’s health begins to fail, the dirty business of money begins.

Thackeray’s seemingly upper class characters, in an effort to match the truly wealthy and titled, live extravagant lives, traveling, gambling, and hosting lavish parties, but paying no bills. They skillfully avert their creditors by playing one off the other and sometimes leaving the country. Some of his characters change for the better during the period’s booms and the busts, but others do not. Of course, there’s also the war, which changes some lives, but doesn’t stop the posturing. Among all classes, there is no guarantee of happiness.

Thackeray also shows the timeless appeal of a story about two people who are meant to be together, but miss their chance and make other decisions that force their separation. Who doesn’t want to see how that works out?

Something should be said about the often forgotten appeal of a very long book. When you read a story in which characters come together and then are apart for many pages, you have time to think about them while other things happen. You can’t get that in a shorter book. Vanity Fair and other long books are big picture stories, showing how all the pieces eventually come together, over lots of pages. I like that.

I enjoyed Vanity Fair very much, but it was hard work to read. Thackeray’s sentences are long and convoluted and there are many, many characters to keep track of. For me, it was impossible to whip through and hard to read more than 50 – 75 pages a day without feeling wiped out.

Vanity Fair was first published as a 19-volume monthly serial from 1847 – 1848 and was originally titled, Pen and Pencil Sketches of English Society and included Thackeray’s original illustrations. The title comes from the 1678 Christian allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyon, and refers to the pilgrim’s stop at a town called Vanity where there is a never-ending fair.

Have you read this classic? Have you seen the 2004 movie starring Reese Witherspoon? I’m going to watch that soon!

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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden
by
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Illustrated by Tasha Tudor

Rating:

Classic children’s books don’t get any better than this story about a spoiled, but frail and lonely ten-year-old orphan girl who is sent to live on a vast English moorland manor, with a reclusive uncle she has never met. In a delightful transformation, fresh air, exercise, surprise friendships, returned health and the newfound wonders of a secret and neglected garden are the springtime magic that brings Mary Lennox and her new family together.

Mary has lived a privileged life in India, waited on by her Ayah and knowing nothing about good manners or other people’s feelings. Her parents have died of cholera and now she must learn how to be kind to others and do things for herself. She’s been warned that her uncle has little interest in children. In fact, Archibald Craven is determinedly away when Mary arrives at Misselthwaite Manor and she is left in the care of the housekeeper, Mrs. Medlock, and the young housemaid, Martha Sowerby.

There are many secrets at Misselthwaite, including long corridors, hundreds of unused rooms and strange noises in other parts of the house. She’s told to stay in her own rooms when indoors, so Mary explores the outdoors where she finds many gardens and meets the groundskeeper, Ben Weatherstaff, and a friendly robin. When the robin flies to the top of a tree in an enclosed garden with no apparent door, Mary knows she must find a way in.

Once discovered, it’s a secret Mary longs to share with someone she can trust. And when she meets Dickon, Martha’s younger brother, she knows he is the perfect friend to tell. Dickon knows all about gardens and the creatures on the moor and has a magic about him that makes him glow with happiness. As the two children plant flowers and clear out the weeds, Mary learns about the unbearable unhappiness the garden represents to her uncle. And the alarming cries in the night reveal another secret about the manor.

As Mary befriends the people in her small world who struggle with their own problems, she entrusts them with her secret and learns that the greatest joy comes with helping each other. It’s a delightful story in which goodness rises to the top of much loss and sadness. The author does not shy away from these realities; she tells of them plainly and shows that faith and a little bit of springtime magic are no match for Misselthwaite’s troubles.

There is more to tell, but some secrets are better enjoyed first-hand. I recommend The Secret Garden to all readers, young and old, who enjoy books about children, friendship and the joys of finding a way out of unhappy times. I especially enjoyed this Tasha Tudor Edition, published in 1962 by Harper Collins. The artist’s illustrations are beautiful and give the reader a wonderful picture of Burnett’s story.


I read The Secret Garden as part of my library’s Summer Reading Challenge to read a children’s classic.

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The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence
by
Edith Wharton

Rating:

Newland Archer appears to have it all, wealth, class and every imaginable comfort. Life is not difficult for any in his New York circle. In 1870, appearances are everything to high society and marrying the lovely May Welland will make Archer’s life complete. So complete that he can see exactly how his life will play out, every detail, day after day. Despite a vague malaise, he’s resigned to this future until May’s cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska, returns to New York, on the run from a disastrous European marriage. That’s when Archer’s internal torment begins.

Eccentric and free-thinking, Ellen does what she wants. And although the powerful Mingotts and Mansons welcome her return to the family, they expect conformity, not scandal. At the helm is Mrs. Manson Mingott, Ellen’s grandmother, who does what she must to keep the family on course.

I highly recommend this 1920 classic which was initially published in four parts in the Pictorial Review magazine. The Age of Innocence won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and portrays a period of time on the verge of change and in which the New York upper class clings to appearances, convention and the subtle, but highly important details that define them. Like all classics, there is plenty of analysis and you can find some of it here on SparkNotes.

Wharton was born in 1862 and grew up in the New York upper class. Her writing style is full of detail, subtle ironic humor and commentary on a way of life she knew well. I particularly enjoyed reading about the different players in Archer’s world and how they plotted behind the scenes. Fashion, interior décor, dinner parties, the opera, winters in St. Augustine and summers in Newport, Wharton’s characters live in an insulated world, but are nevertheless vulnerable to unhappiness. Women especially had few rights or freedoms. They had to conform or be cast out, as Wharton shows in both May and Ellen. I liked Archer because he’s aware of the problem and is surprisingly modern in his thoughts. Wharton also shows how her characters are uncomfortable mingling with the creative bohemian writers and artists in New York, a world which Ellen Olenksa represents. I also enjoyed reading about the newly rich outsiders in the story. Julius Beaufort is a successful banker and host to many New York galas, where Archer and his aristocracy flock, but they quickly distance themselves when he faces financial ruin.

The big questions are if Archer and Ellen can resist their passion and whether May and her family can keep the two apart. Some satisfying confrontations underscore how binding their situations are and, to today’s reader, point to solutions their world was not ready for.

The book finishes with a jump to the future in which Archer contemplates his decisions and how his New York society and the larger world has changed. Perhaps this is where Archer belonged all the while.

I’m all set to watch the 1993 movie version of this classic, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder. My work friend Mary tells me the movie is very true to the book, something I love to see!

 

For more about Edith Wharton, check out this 2009 article from The New Yorker.

I read The Age of Innocence as part of my Build a Better World Summer Reading Challenge to read a book that is considered a classic.

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Summer Reading Challenge – create a movie soundtrack to your favorite book

One of the fun squares on my Summer Reading Challenge BINGO card is to create a soundtrack to my favorite book if it became a movie. For those of you who don’t know, my #1 all-time favorite book is Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk.  Wouk has been writing books for decades, most notably The Caine Mutiny, which was published in 1951 and won the Pulitzer Prize, Marjorie Morningstar, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, and of course, Youngblood Hawke.

Read all about Herman Wouk in “Who’s That Author?” here. And by the way, Wouk is 102 years old and at age 100 published Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year Old Author.

So you can make sense of my soundtrack, here’s a quick summary of Youngblood Hawke:

Youngblood Hawke is the story of a young author from the coal mines of Kentucky who arrives in New York and becomes a hugely successful and prolific novelist. Publishers, agents, Broadway producers, filmmakers, real estate developers and, of course, women, all want a piece of this larger-than-life, good-natured and ambitious personality. Hawke’s goal all along is to make enough money so that he can really get down to business and write his most serious work, something he calls his American Comedy.

He has a work ethic like no other, writes all through the night, sleeps very little and spends the rest of his time trying to manage his new successful life, with many detours. Pushed to his limits, Hawke ignores recurring symptoms of a head injury from years ago. We watch and hope for the best as he works maniacally and under incredible financial pressure to complete his latest book. His dream is just ahead and we hope for the best.


Here’s my soundtrack!

  • Everyday I Write the Book – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
  • Talk of the Town – The Pretenders
  • The Book I Read – Talking Heads
  • It’s Hard To Be a Saint In The City – Bruce Springsteen
  • Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield
  • I’m So Anxious – Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
  • Reelin’ in the Years – Steely Dan
  • Gone Hollywood – Supertramp
  • Life’ll Kill Ya – Warren Zevon

Note:  Youngblood Hawke was actually made into a movie in 1964 and starred James Franciscus, Suzanne Pleshette and Geneviève Page. My song choices are my own. You can check out the details of the film here.


I created this movie soundtrack as part of my Build a Better World Summer Reading Challenge.

What’s your favorite book? Can you make a soundtrack for it?

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Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary
by
Gustave Flaubert

Rating:

You may have already read this classic French novel from 1857, which caused a big stir when it was first published. Labeled as obscene and immoral, many readers were scandalized by Emma Bovary’s adulterous behavior in the book. When the storm cleared, however, readers and critics agreed that Flaubert had written a fantastic story about a young, unhappy middle class woman who does everything she can to ruin her life and the lives of those who love her. With this book, Flaubert also branded a new writing style called literary realism.

I first read Madame Bovary in college. When I picked it up again, I realized that most of what I had remembered was about Emma and her unhappiness and, of course, her secret affairs. Reading it a second time, years later, I saw more and I saw Emma in a different light.

If you haven’t read the book, here’s a quick summary:

Emma Roualt is a young woman living with her father in a French provincial town. She was raised in a convent, thinking she would become a nun, but her heart wasn’t in it, and when her mother died, she returned to live with her father, with a head full of romance novels and unformed ideas about love and happiness. In comes Dr. Charles Bovary, who tends to her father’s broken leg. They’re taken with each other, but Bovary is married, so nothing happens until his wife suddenly dies. It hadn’t been a happy marriage, so before long, Emma Roualt becomes Emma Bovary.

It isn’t until Emma settles into her new married life that she regrets marrying the first man who came along. And that’s where the trouble begins, first with Leon Dupuis, a young clerk in town. They resist temptation for now, but just wait until later. Emma gives in to unbridled passion when she meets Rodolphe Boulanger, however, a womanizing landowner. During their affair, she alternates between depression and mania and when it’s over, Emma crashes. Poor Charles, who adores Emma, is left clueless.

Second reads always teach you something new. This time, I became frustrated with Emma. I was struck with how poorly she regarded Charles. Even though I knew she wouldn’t open her eyes, I wanted her to appreciate him. I also became more aware of important secondary characters and their motives. Homais the chemist and Lheureux the draper are part of a terrific side story that drives the plot in the second half of the book and I admit I enjoyed seeing Emma lose control of her folly.

For those who have not read this classic, I’ll leave out the spoilers. And I will leave the scholarly reviews to the experts. I’ll simply say that the characters, descriptions and plot in Madame Bovary place the book at the top of my list. Take a look at a great review by Kathryn Harrison of the New York Times here. Or if you prefer your drama to be onscreen, check out the 2014 film here.

And for more information about Gustave Flaubert, visit Who’s That Author? Gustave Flaubert.

I read Madame Bovary as part of my Build a Better World Summer Reading Challenge to read a book I had read before.

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Food for thought – books with food references in their titles

Image: Pixabay

Whether it’s a direct reference or a more subtle metaphor, there is no shortage of book titles that have something to do with food.  It’s always fun to organize collections this way.  These classics, thrillers, children’s books and modern fiction all have this common food trait:


A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s memoir of his days in Paris, where he was part of the expatriate community of writers, artists and creative minds, known now as the “Lost Generation”


Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Capote’s character sketch of Holly Golightly, a nineteen-year-old runaway in New York who tries to escape her sad past


Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin

Exciting medical thriller that tackles the subject of obesity and the food industry’s role in this serious health problem


In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

In his guide to eating right, Pollan simplifies the dizzying task of figuring out what to eat:  Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.


One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes

Entertaining children’s book that uses hungry ants to teach math and a life lesson


Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig

Pete’s mad because it’s raining and he can’t go outside, so his parents turn him into a pizza in this quietly warm children’s story.


Taste by Tracy Ewens

Sophisticated and a little bit spicy romance about young professionals in the restaurant business


The Dinner by Herman Koch

Twisted tale about a seriously messed up and unlikable family with a terrible secret


The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

One of the greatest American stories of endurance ever told.  When The Grapes of Wrath was published, Steinbeck said, “I’ve done my damndest to rip a reader’s nerves to rags.”


We the Eaters by Ellen Gustafson

An argument for ways “we the eaters” can change the world by fighting against big companies like Monsanto and Cargill and buying more organic and whole foods


What do your books in common?

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