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7 Sep 2011

5x5 {books}

Here are my last 5 reads friends... for 5x5.
4 charity shop (thrift store) finds and one lent from a friend.

In order of reading...

The Friday Night Knitting Club

A super easy Summer read type book. Very predictable chick-lit with a heart. I like to squeeze in pure entertainment 'twixt my Hemingways and Prousts, but this one was too saccharine for me. Knitters would likely really enjoy all the knitting goings on, which are central.

The Fry Chronicles. Stephen Fry

I think that the mark of a very good memoir is one that appeals to a wider circle than just the fans. I'm a big Fry fan but wouldn't recommend this one to anyone but a fan of Fry or traditional English comedy (Python, Blackadder), or someone interested in 80's showbiz and English universities. It was interesting but not show-stopping. Considering who he's rubbed shoulders with the anecdotes were mostly mediocre. Extremely honest, which I admired, yet sycophantic, which disappointed. I'm left ambivalent about Fry himself... hmmm

 The History of Love

Krauss has woven a delicate web of loss, regret, loneliness, and love. Nothing new, but it's what Krauss sees and how she shares it. Cuts to the heart. I didn't fully connect with the characters and yet I was deeply moved by them - enthralling. While there is a plot of sorts, if you read it for a linear or even coherent story, you've missed the point. Her writing is of extraordinary subtle beauty. The book-within-the-book is stunning. Put it this way, I'm not much of a re-reader, yet I'll be re-reading this. There were just too many beautiful phrases and passages, I know I missed nuances. Recommended to lovers of beautiful prose.

 The Pillars of the Earth (Deluxe Edition) (Oprah's Book Club)

An amazing story of medieval mayhem, murder, and erm, masonry. chuckle A seriously good plot, fabulous pace and suspense. Believable, likeable, and appropriately unlikeable characters really made the book for me. Some reviewers complain about the over-long descriptions of buildings, especially the central church. However, I found this a refreshing change to natural landscape descriptions in much fiction that I read. Follet managed to create a brilliant anchor to the whole novel. Caveats: I'm in no way squeamish - I watch Tarantino films - yet even I had enough of the brutality. It was Follet's insistence on graphic detail of cruelty (to women and even animals) that I could have done without. It was overdone - we get it, so-and-so is the villain. The s*x (anti-spam) scenes felt overdone as well. It's a really easy read. Over 1000 pages flew by. Recommended to fans of historical fiction.

On the Road (Penguin Modern Classics)
I then re-read On the Road, after 20 years, but I'm giving it a full post of it's own... soon, I promise.

Come join me on Goodreads.


  1. The History of Love is such a wonderful book!

  2. I've read Pillars of the Earth (enjoyed it), and of course I adore On the Road - such a profound influence for me. But I haven't read The History of Love, and will probably pick it up as a result of your recommendation. It looks wonderful.

  3. I couldn't agree more with Friday Night Knitting Club, yet I didn't predict the ending, which I felt was forced and too dramatic for the type of book it was. Pillars of the Earth I loved (historical fiction fan). I am so bad with keeping up with Good Reads. You've inspired me to try to keep up though :). Thanks for the link!
    xx oo

  4. The History of Love will be going on my "to read" list. I'm torn with Pillars of the Earth - I love historical fiction and Medieval times, but I'm not sure I want to read something that contains that much cruelty to women and animals. I'm not usually squeamish, but I get too involved at times when I read. These may be a bit much?

  5. Amanda, considering the size of the novel, they're really tiny parts. Distasteful rather than emotional I think.

  6. oh those look wonderful! I'm going to check out good reads!

  7. Thank you for this! I will be reading The History of Love (based upon your recommendation)I am one of those lovers of beautiful prose. And On the Road is still moving up my list...

  8. I loved the HBO series Pillars of Earth- :)

    I will have to add a few of these books to my book list.

  9. oh good, glad to see that the Knitting one just got a few stars cause I just passed it up in the local thrift store. I think I got the "vibe" that is was weak.
    Liking the idea of a booklist!

  10. Can't wait to read your On the Road review!!!

    Camila Faria

  11. I have been wanting to read The History of Love for quite awhile now...might have to move it up on the list of my books-to-be-read. Looking forward to your review of On the Road.

  12. Thanks, Mon. Really enjoyed this post and your reviewer write-up and ratings. I love prose woven throughout novels so The History of Love is one for my list. Many years ago, had a short-lived romance with a guy who mailed me a few of his fav books for 'safekeeping' while he made plans to come out to Australia from the UK, including On The Road. Anyway, it all went sour and I forgot about returning them to him. Or chose to forget. So OTR sat on the shelf and when I eventually read it, it was incredible. The journeys, the living to be done, the great characters - I immediately felt so bad about having not returned it but was reassured by the prospect he'd got himself another copy. Anyway, can't wait for your review and visit your place again.

    Have a lovely weekend!


  13. I'm excited to read your thoughts on "On the Road"!

    I read "History of Love" so long ago I barely remember it, but I think I liked it. Stirring review, huh?

  14. Lady Cordelia, yep, saved yourself some cents and time.

    Paula, ah, you were meant to keep it. lol

  15. Wonderful reviews, Monica! Glad to know that you liked Nicole Krauss' 'The History of Love' so much. I haven't read any of her books yet, but have read some beautiful reviews of her books. Though you have written only a few lines about her book, I found every word beautiful. I want to read 'The Pillars of the Earth' sometime, but it is so thick!

  16. Love it when you post reviews! I'll have to read The History of Love. Both Kerouac and Follett were already on my list.

    I spent a few minutes (okay, okay, probably an hour!) in a bookshop yesterday and I was browsing through The Letters by Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Still figuring out why I didn't buy it. Well, it's cheaper on Amazon and I've added it to my list.

    Looking forward to your review on Kerouac's On the Road.

  17. can't wait for the 'on the road' review. one of my all-time favourites!!!

  18. So glad you loved the History of Love. It's one of my favourite books!

    x E.

  19. I love when you do your 5x5 posts -- you always give me new ideas about books to read (and which to avoid). I've heard good things about Pillars of the Earth. Maybe I'll read that next. But first, I have the Hunger Games trilogy to keep me company at night.