This is documentation of my adventures making my way up the list of
the Modern Library's 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
It's a boring & severely text-heavy site I've created for my own personal edification.
My goal is to get as few hits as possible. How am I doing?

Modern Library Rank

Title & Author

What the Cover of My Classic Looks Like

Let's Bitch about this Classic

What's Going on in My Life at the Time I Read this Classic

Classic Bitch Rank
Click here to view the list thus far as rank ordered by Classic Bitch.
4 Lolita
by Vladimir
Nabokov

(1955)
SHHH! READING IN PROGRESS... AUTUMN 2016: LIFE IN PROGRESS... ?
5 Brave New World
by Aldous
Huxley

(1932)
Surprising, maybe, how little of it I remembered from Western Civ I in college.
more...
Summer–Autumn 2016:

(vixit)
66
6 The Sound and the Fury
by William
Faulkner

(1929)
Not great, but at least better the second time around...possibly because the first time around, I didn't actually read it! (Sorry, Mrs. Bresnick.)
more...
Summer 2016:

(vixit)
73
7 Catch-22
by Joseph
Heller

(1961)
Now I know why, despite having read this book in college, that I remember none of it!
more...
Spring–Summer 2016:

(vixit)
76
8 Darkness at Noon
by Arthur
Koestler

(1940)
Not much to say here. Super puzzled that this would be a top-ten pick.
more...
Winter 2016: Not much to say here either still, and it's not because nothing's happened (I've been back & forth to California three times in as many months, had a birthday, & even enjoyed a string of great press [1, 2, 3])... but I still just feel like crawling out of my own skin. 87
9 Sons and Lovers
by D.H.
Lawrence

(1913)
I was expecting the worst, but this is surprisingly readable D.H. Lawrence! Apparently, I prefer his earlier stuff to his later stuff.
more...
Autumn 2015–Winter 2016: Suffering three simultaneous griefs—some literal, some figurative, all painful—so books, videos, alcohol, solitude, & work are all helping get me along and through it...not there yet. 34
10 The Grapes of Wrath
by John
Steinbeck

(1939)
Writing so good that I had remembered several scenes from the first time I read it way back in high school.
more...
Autumn 2015: Autumn is my favorite season, but this fall has been the worst of my life, and I'm still licking my wounds. 30
11 Under the Volcano
by Malcolm
Lowry

(1947)
One of the worst things I've ever read in my life. (That's why it took me forever; apologies.) The Modern Library must be joking if they believe this book belongs anywhere near the top ten. It doesn't even belong on the list, period!
more...
Spring–Autumn 2015: My dad visits; meet a couple of new people and go on a couple dates; Bina, Frenchie, Spannbauer, & I cruise to Bermuda for a girls' getaway over 4th of July; I start back to regular work at a great part-time job that finds me in a Burlington law office working for & with good friends three days a week; Nutty Steph's closes to nightlife, so some of my events experience new life in new venues; Amy & I roadtrip to Portsmouth NH; [scratch-and-sniff to reveal a secret message here>>] I am in love; building my home is finally within my grasp, but—maybe improbably—I decide against it for the time being & other reasons; Adam moves to Burlington; Bill goes to the E/R (heart attack?); Will & I travel to NYC to see Steely Dan in concert! 94
12 The Way of All Flesh
by Samuel
Butler

(1903)
Although I was disappointed by some of the specific turns the plot takes in the last 50 pages, I didn't want this story to end.
more...
Spring 2015: Cranking up event production while attempting to pick up little bits of other work; weird spring: I use my air conditioner, and use my heater, all in the same week...twice; one great weekend reminds me what it is to love & be loved. 31
13 Nineteen Eighty-Four
by George
Orwell

(1949)
NOW I know why we only ever talked about this book in high school in 1984 but never actually read it!
more...
Winter–Spring 2015: Holing up to watch videos & drink scotch in the dark early evenings with Bill transitions back to playing tennis in the sunny late mornings with Bill; my low back gives me trouble for the first time; booking more private parties of late; couple dates; best WORST. SONG. EVER. ever (PS, that's me in full gown, makeup, heels, & wig singing a duet with a gorilla). 74
14 I, Claudius
by Robert
Graves

(1934)
Not as bad as I thought it would be.
more...
Winter 2015: I'd like to build one of those super energy-efficient modular homes & am very much in that process right now; birthday this year is comprised of quite a few different disparate celebrations (I feel loved); having grown up on the west coast with Trader Joe's, I thought Trader Joe's Vermont would be no big deal: I was wrong/I am reconverted; new snowshoes; as extempo continues to go very strong, I am now working on producing some storytelling showcases. 78
15 To the Lighthouse
by Virginia
Woolf

(1927)
"Will it be fine, or won't it?"
more...
Autumn–Winter 2014: Impending loss of job, place to live, & the holidays all hit at once; multiple job applications, multiple interviews, but the only offers carry 1990s-era wages (no dice); I run out of gas in the middle of the road for the first time in my life; after an embarrassingly long dry spell I officially get 'off the list' (of single people who haven't had sex in a while)—the experience is brief, meaningful, & completely changes my mojo moving forward(!); take up looking at real estate in earnest again, make a couple offers, but I'm still stuck in my studio & wanting out. 79
16 An American Tragedy
by Theodore
Dreiser

(1925)
Overwritten.
more...
Summer–Autumn 2014: Continuing to look at houses; have developed a raw milk habit; Jazzyaoke is off to a rollicking start; Dad visits & we take a great driving trip between Washington DC & Savannah & back (one giant party); various Oktoberfests remind me how much the sound of a brass band cheers me; tennis winds down as the cold & snow descend; semiannual WORST. SONG. EVER. means crazy good fun; time to look for more work: my most lucrative subcontracting gig slashes pay by 50%, so I quit; ex-affair is trying to get me to forgive him. 58
17 The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson
McCullers

(1940)
Poor Carson McCullers has to share the cover of my used paperback with a giant Oprah badge. She looks bummed about it.
more...
Summer 2014: Tennis, tennis, tennis; singles events; lots of socializing...some of it confusing. 29
18 Slaughterhouse-Five
by Kurt
Vonnegut

(1969)
I'm beginning to wonder from here on up how many of these titles—like this one—I will have already read in my life. Slaughterhouse-Five was my bff's favorite book in high school. (Hi, Amanda.)
more...
Summer 2014: Having my first cavity since the 1970s drilled & filled makes me realize that 'modern' dentistry hasn't really changed since then, and this is highly suspect, (you can also still find a copy of Highlights in the waiting room); Mimi & Parker return; I make an offer on a house which is oddly rejected without counter in a buyers' market; we scatter Moxie's ashes on the one-year anniversary of her death; Frenchie's friends—and friends of friends—are all very nice when I say yes to a highly impromptu weekend trip to Cape Cod (a monoculture I still dislike) and end up on a harrowing SUP adventure (it turns out you can be both sunburned and hypothermic at the same time); Craig & Amy get married. 38
19 Invisible Man
by Ralph
Ellison

(1952)
Finished this one over a week ago, but go too busy to update the website until now. (Uncoincidentally, there was another time in my life when this book was assigned reading right along with the book below it here.)
more...
Spring 2014: Cali trip is a nice time & I kind of didn't feel like leaving this time; look at a couple more apartments to rent upon my return & decide I may as well look at some cheap houses to buy while I'm at it; playing a little tennis (per usual, I'm sick of my knee hurting, but I'll live); phenomenal extempo out at the Blue Barn in Maple Corner (many say the best ever). 44
20 Native Son
by Richard
Wright

(1940)
And now we come to the ninth book on the list that I have already read before. I would say that's why it goes so quickly (the second time around), but instead I think it's because it's just really spellbinding writing!
more...
Spring 2014: Knocked it off in two weeks, so not much has happened; Wednesday evening improv class ends & Sunday morning film society begins; run an 80s trivia game (although people still enjoy playing, these games are not sustainable anymore: a ton of work for not enough money); looking at apartments; getting ready for trip to California. 37
21 Henderson the Rain King
by Saul
Bellow

(1959)
Part of my mission in reading this book is to learn what might have resonated with my mother in the writing of Saul Bellow, as I know she read this one (and many others of his). In fact I purposely chose this 1970s-era edition paperback because I can see the same cover on her nightstand in my memory. Hmm...
more...
Spring 2014: I get a cute/different-for-me haircut that I am liking; I win a local storytelling event on April 1st with a tale about a time I was fooled; I have a ton of fun accompanying Joe W. on a little number at WORST. SONG. EVER., and the event is a bizarre-o laugh fest per usual; take a quick trip down to DC & back for visiting & fun; my landlord is successfully turning me—who has been an ally—into an adversary...so I begin looking to move; I emcee Full Circle Storytelling Night on behalf of The Wake Up to Dying Project & it goes great! 42
22 Appointment in Samarra
by John
O'Hara

(1934)
I scored a first edition 1945 paperback on ebay with this anachronistic gem printed inside the back cover: "We would very much like to put back into print again some of the steady Penguin favorites such as Pygmalion, Walden, Leaves of Grass and The Penguin Book of Sonnets, etc. but we are afraid that will have to wait till paper quota restrictions are no longer with us."
more...
Winter–Spring 2014: Studying & studying to add an endorsement to my license; auditioning storytellers for the Full Circle Festival; judging high school debate again; that my mother has been dead 10 years strains my own belief; practicing my guitar part for WORST. SONG. EVER.; started taking an improv class; struggling to get health insurance (the Affordable Care Act is a terrible piece of legislation); misplaced my debit card...then found it! 67
23 U.S.A. (trilogy)
by John
Dos Passos

(1938)
The Modern Library are big on squeezing entire series of books into a single spot on the list, and I think that if every series were counted by their individual books within them that I would be done with this project by now. This one was a whopper!
more...
Autumn 2013–Winter 2014: Bill M. & I help serve the community meal on Thanksgiving, but the way better bet turns out to be the Alice's Restaurant Misfits' Thanksgiving Feast at Charlie O's (who knew?); Pat & Frenchie & I put on our first ever singles' event, and it goes well(!); first trivia game in a long while draws a crowd that begs for more (but, alas, these games are hard to make money on anymore); with only one compelling reason—not two anymore—I stop taking birth control for the first time in years; 3rd annual Tell Off; doing very well by my New Year's resolution to get out more & try new/different things; studying to add an endorsement on my CDL; my dad absolutely surprises me by showing up at my 45th birthday party (all the way from California); turns out shampoo is something of a scam (& causes a vicious cycle), so at this writing I am three weeks "no 'poo"! 39
24 Winesburg, Ohio
by Sherwood Anderson

(1919)
That's a first-edition paperback to your left there! (Took me way longer to read than it should have.)
more...
Autumn 2013: I stumble upon a miracle cure for the lichen sclerosis (which is supposed to be autoimmune) that has irritated me for 15 years (hint: it's shea butter!); dating Bill a bit; I muster a team & we compete in the inaugural 24-hour StoryHackVT; driving work continues as I begin to get SSA work back; instead of fasting this year I'm in the middle of a month-long no-refined sugar/no-desserts way of eating (turns out cutting out sugar makes life way less pleasurable in general); WORST. SONG. EVER. vol III goes well & ushers the cafe in to their new digs with a bang; I air my grievances, & probably open up a can of worms, when I tell my dad that I perceive generalized misogyny in how he & my brother treat me. 69
25 A Passage to India
by E.M. Forster

(1924)
The Forster books on the list are in the right order!
more...
Summer–Autumn 2013: Driving, dancing, dating; catch up with a couple of friends & decide that I need to put attention toward maintaining relationships & do more of that in general; Miriam treats Pat & I to Kitchen Table Bistro (uncalled for...and fabulous); I build an events website, attend the Cheap Thrills Record Club, and Julia's movie sing-along; Blue Barn continues to work its magic; Mace & I travel to Foxwoods to see Steely Dan in concert, & I love them so much that it helps mollify my gambling losses. 26
26 The Wings of the Dove
by Henry James

(1902)
When I saw that I faced even more Henry James back to back, I said something far worse, far longer, & far more 'colorful' than just the F-word out loud (very loud).
more...
Summer 2013: Dave & Kelly move back to central Vermont; I drive a couple loads of lumber; I attend the World Footbag Championships in Montreal (so cool); Tina is kidless for a stretch so we have some fun girls' nights out; an ex tries to come back into my life feigning unawareness of having hurt & betrayed me; I attend a singles party; beach weekend in Rhode Island for Jolie's 50th birthday. 90
27 The Ambassadors
by Henry James

(1903)
When I saw that I was faced with another Henry James book on the list—after vowing to never read anything else by this author ever again if it were up to me—I said the F-word out loud.
more...
Summer 2013: I lose the building, my dog dies, & my car breaks down. This has not been a happy time for me, I'm having a rough go of it, and to top it all off I'm stuck reading mordantly unenjoyable writing. I feel like quitting the reading list and life. If anybody has any good ideas, email me at bitch@classicbitch.com. I'd hop a train, board a tramp steamer, catch a wild hare, take a flyer, or maybe just chuck it all... 91
28 Tender Is the Night
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

(1934)
Before Kimye! Before TomKat! Even before Brangelina! It was the power couple & enfants terribles of the 1920s: Dicole.
more...
Spring–Summer 2013: This time period is absolutely dominated by two things: still trying to make the building deal work...and being present & sad watching my big dog slip gradually away from this life. 64
29 The "Studs Lonigan" trilogy
by James T. Farrell

(1938)
Two suggested subtitles for this book would be 'A not-so-brief chronicle of the history of bullying,' or: 'Never being vulnerable means never maturing!'
more...
Spring 2013: Big Moxie is in the last few months of her long, full, good life, diagnosed with bone cancer at age 10 (& 100 lbs); I run a mile on my busted knee; I almost get a job I don't really want & still can't figure if I'm relieved or bugged they ultimately never called me back; I begin the hemorrhoidal process of being able to bid on government work as a contractor (we'll see what comes of it); Dad invites me on a trip through OK, AR, & MO—fun; life is consumed with the building deal which is brought back to life by my friend & attorney, Dave; first time I've ever had to install my window A/C in spring!? 68
30 The Good Soldier
by Ford Madox Ford

(1915)
I was dreading this book coming up on the list because I've read it before, about 15 years ago, and found it a struggle & didn't get it. What a difference a decade & a half makes! This is a superb book; I loved reading it this time around, & my first impulse was to reread it the moment I finished. "But think of the fool that I was...."
more...
Winter–Spring 2013: The world's greatest head cold leaves me with tinnitus; I am still in negotiations for the building, judge high school debate again, and almost go on a date; I hear Jennifer O'Connor in an intimate house concert, dogsit one weekend, and travel to DC to visit Frenchie & welcome back Amanda. 25
31 Animal Farm
by George Orwell

(1945)
Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
more...
Winter 2013: I have been sick for a month; feeling too screwed on all sides, I don't buy the building...yet the deal never seems to fully die; my health insurance is cancelled unbeknownst to me (the 'explanation': "payment of premiums does not guarantee coverage"); in an attempt to be proactive & come up with a plan, my small family of birth holds a video conference call (Google+ Hangout) upon the news of the passing away of the longtime female companion of my 92-year-old great uncle (which has left him a widower with no dependents, senile, & alone); many hours of class, many hours behind the wheel, & many many tests later...I am now the proud holder of a CDL! 47
32 The Golden Bowl
by Henry James

(1904)
Really what it boils down to is a story of a handful of passive-aggressive, manipulative, noncommunicative people written (appropriately enough) in unreadable prose.
more...
Autumn 2012–Winter 2013: Two particularly virulent colds catch me this winter; I dogsit/housesit for over two weeks during which time there is a blizzard (which I have to shovel), the propane tank runs dry on a ten-degree-below-zero night, and the washing machine breaks (that being said, old Mox & I had one of what is probably the last long stretches of time together that we'll have in her lifetime, so it was sweet); Xmas Day & New Years Day potlucks with other holiday "orphans," and then continued yankee swaps (hate them), bonfires, & get-togethers well into the new year; "Worst. Song. Ever." II...and it continues to be epic; taking a night class & enjoying it more than I figured I would; Second Annual Tell Off goes even better than the first on all accounts (do NOT miss listening to the stories while they're posted this month!!); now seriously revisiting the purchase of a building in Barre! 92
33 Sister Carrie
by Theodore Dreiser

(1900)
The reading of this book paired perfectly with my trip. If you're in any doubt that the primacy of the male is fully intact then read Sister Carrie and/or visit my family...in which there are only men left (and me).
more...
Autumn 2012: I spend over two weeks in the California desert around Thanksgiving time helping Dad move into a new house (and also skateboarding & eating Mexican food), and I come home to storytelling & judging high school debate. 50
34 A Handful of Dust
by Evelyn Waugh

(1934)
I hereby proclaim this to be the absolute PAGE-TURNIEST book on the list!
more...
Autumn 2012: I carve a pretty cool death's-head pumpkin for Halloween; dentist appointment; extempo back at Kismet: full house, full roster of storytellers, & interior redesign of venue; as I write this I am in the middle of my annual ten-day fast. 5
35 As I Lay Dying
by William Faulkner

(1930)
Not really a novel.
more...
Autumn 2012: Busy work month, which is good; I attend Oktoberfest & kick some serious tail in Bavarian finger wrestling; Mimi & I win Julia's town-wide birthday treasure hunt/sardines game; househunting in Barre with friends; attempting to rehab my knee...I'm up to 3/4 of a mile running. :-/ 59
36 All the King's Men
by Robert Penn Warren

(1946)
I only ever faked reading this book back in high school when it was assigned. (Sorry, Mrs. B.) But I'm glad to read it this time around. Perhaps it's coming at an appropriate time...what with the 2012 Presidential debates going on just now. Additionally, I'm not certain I could have handled it or would have "gotten" it as a teenager.
more...
Summer–Autumn 2012: Amanda leaves for around the world again; I get my first ever breast imaging; I deliver the color commentary at the last roller derby home bout of the season; tired of my hair being in my eyes, I get a haircut; Dad closes on his new house; I look at a piece of commercial real estate in Barre (no go); I tell a story at a charity event in Bristol. 32
37 The Bridge of San Luis Rey
by Thornton Wilder

(1927)
I get lucky in that—while this is not the first book on the list that I've read before—it is the first one I still actually owned my copy of!
more...
Summer 2012: I try out a new interactive round of trivia, which comes off well; orthopedist says I've torn my ACL; Julia & I produce a fun half-time show for roller derby; I attend the Champlain Valley Fair to watch Figure 8 racing. 22
38 Howards End
by E.M. Forster

(1910)
Better than A Room with a View.
more...
Summer 2012: Lots of summer dogsitting & birthday parties; "Worst. Song. Ever." turns out to be one of the most successful events I've ever produced, so we'll do it again in winter; Frenchie visits (on her way to Maine) for mandatory Michigan Rummy & swimming holes, but no contradancing because my knee is still too sore; I watch a few very thrilling games (over the internet) as the US women avenge their World Cup loss to Japan by winning Olympic gold in soccer. 33
39 Go Tell It on the Mountain
by James Baldwin

(1953)
An epic struggle with religion: Is it a good thing, a bad thing, some of each, or just oppressive & indifferent? Semi-autobiographical, and it shows.
more...
Summer 2012: It's officially been three and a half months since I was in that three-and-a-half-year affair, and guess what: I survived; some tennis and many potlucks; I demo a stand-up paddleboard & enjoy it a lot; I blow my knee out doing something stupid on the water during a brief vacation in Port Douglas NY. 75
40 The Heart of the Matter
by Graham Greene

(1948)
Graham Greene writes like he knows what he's talking about. And I sure as hell know what he's talking about. Both of these things make me eminently sad.
more...
Spring 2012: More activities & hanging out with friends than I am accustomed to, Julia & I pitch two events to Espresso Bueno & then begin work on producing them; I spend half a week on Cape Cod (scenic but the least diverse place ever) & half a week in Boston (great contemporary art museum)—thanks to Lyn & Krissy for both; I learn that I am descended from Vikings, which I think is pretty cool; late spring weather feels more like early summer. 28
41 Lord of the Flies
by William Golding

(1954)
It's been nice to have a couple of thin novels to fly through back to back pretty quickly for a change. And it may be no coincidence that Deliverance and Lord of the Flies follow one right after the other on the list.
more...
Spring 2012: Storytelling, massage, tennis, movies, lots of dining out, raining, dog walking, Pecha Kucha, dance performance, event planning, thoughts in diametric opposition to feelings. 51
42 Deliverance
by James Dickey

(1970)
It may be impossible to write a review of this book without spoilers. Just as, forty years on, it's probably also impossible to encounter this story without it already having been spoiled.
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Spring 2012: I travel to DC to welcome home Amanda & visit Frenchie; my brother turns 45; I give up some freelance work that was no longer working for me & feel so much lighter for having done so; in a period in which I might normally be rebounding, I am enjoying a lovely romantic friendship! 41
43 A Dance to the Music of Time (series)
by Anthony Powell

(1951 – 75)






Took me one year to read all twelve books of all four volumes that were all crammed in at the number 43 spot by the Modern Library!
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Spring 2011–Spring 2012: 1. I participate as a rider in the fifth annual WNBR; I take a running clinic (but am beginning to feel that despite identifying as "a runner" I may have to give it up in my 40s due to injury); I get my eyebrows shaped & some laser dermatology on my face; selling a lot on eBay; Rick's surprise party at Wellspring Farm = a good time with friends; lots of potlucks, parties, events, etc in this stretch; I ask out two men in person, & I get shot down twice.
2. Dogsitting; roller derby; an ill-fated online date in Hurricane Irene; Vermont floods again badly; we say goodbye to Amanda; I build a portable stage & buy my own P.A. equipment & am thrilled with it; couple freelance emceeing gigs; Will & Julia get married; I take a trip to the NH seacoast; Dad visits from out of town & we have a blast together (nice visit).
3. I quit online dating for good & have since been on two NONline (i.e., actual, real, old skool) dates; lucrative freelance work; get in some last few mornings of tennis before it gets too cold & the nets come down; I do my annual ten-day fast; I resign from the GMFF board; Frenchie & I roadtrip to Savannah GA to visit my cousin for Thanksgiving; I travel to California for Xmas with family & extended folks.
4. Seems funny to have written above about just stopping playing tennis due to weather, because now we're just starting to play tennis due to weather; 2 trips to Foxwoods: 1 losing, 1 winning; allowed myself to be introduced to contradancing finally & am kind of addicted; yes, I am female & in my 40s & am teaching myself how to hacky sack & am just bad/good enough at it to have it be tremendous indoor exercise during an otherwise crappy winter; the day before my 43rd birthday signals "the end of the affair" I'd been having for the past 3.5 years, and I am left 1/3 terribly wounded & sad, 1/3 extraordinarily angry, & 1/3 grateful (depending on when you catch me); I produce the 1st annual extempo "Tell Off": storytelling tournament of champions; through strange & mysterious ways...I may have just met my "new best friend"...
24
44 Point Counter Point
by Aldous Huxley

(1928)
Forgive me for "going out on a limb" about as far as Leonard Maltin, but... Parts of this book I liked, and other parts I didn't like at all.
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Spring 2011: I eat too much, drink too much, & get too much sun visiting my family in the California desert, but a good time is had by all on vacation (despite the travel being Herculean); springtime means various & sundry medical checkups (everything's fine); I injure my foot switching running shoes (it's now feeling better); Langdon Street Cafe closes, but not before I play harmonica at the sing-along & hold an extemporaneous storytelling (which is going very very strong...just have a listen!); I train for some subcontracting work in St Johnsbury, which actually goes OK; Montpelier floods badly perhaps sounding the death knell for some already shaky downtown businesses in this bad economy; just beginning to believe I may have stayed too long in this town. 70
45 The Sun Also Rises
by Ernest Hemingway

(1926)
I really like the writing of Ernest Hemingway. I can't help it.
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Spring 2011: 14th GMFF & I work more movies than I see; Michael & I have a lot of fun celebrating his birthday; I win a case of wine in a raffle; I lose my temper over a frustrating work situation and feel bad about it. 36
46 The Secret Agent
by Joseph Conrad

(1907)
Excellent "entry-level" Conrad! His writing might be getting more accessible with his age. If you want to try him out, this book would be a great place to start.
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Winter 2010–Winter 2011: I run a couple trivia games and one storytelling event for charity successfully; Bill Morancy's Film Society keeps me looking forward to Monday nights; on the board of the GMFF this year & particularly busy with it just now; my birthday twin, Tina, moves to Knoxville; a neighbor makes my homelife uncomfortable for a stretch of weeks (but it gets resolved); extempo searches for a new permanent home...but might just as well location-hop each month (since no perfect venue exists); I am solicited to come up with some new programming ideas for the Savoy Theater's CineClub; been a beautiful winter with lots of snow. 49
47 Nostromo
by Joseph Conrad

(1904)
Not my favorite Joseph Conrad. Expected better. For a "heist" tale I did not find it to be much of a page turner. This would be why it's taken me so long to read... (And now I see we have yet another Conrad coming up next!)
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Summer–Winter 2010: My storytelling event gets plagiarized by an institution of higher learning that ought to know better, so I call them out & call bullshit on them; I survive triple root canal, ask me how; I participate in the 24-Hour Comic Book Challenge; great 10-day fast/cleanse this year with apple cider vinegar; lovelife in typical "active limbo," if that's possible; end one trivia game/start another; everybody in the free world should see Client 9, (and if I get one X-mas wish it's: Eliot Spitzer for President!). 80
48 The Rainbow
by D.H. Lawrence

(1915)
*Phew!* Thankfully this one by D.H. Lawrence is much better than the other one.
more...
Summer 2010: Lots of potlucks & birthdays & storytelling & games & outings & dinners & happy hour & socializing in this stretch of summer; I am crowned Bananagrams champion of Marshfield, asked to sit on the board of the Green Mountain Film Festival, & host the most successful extempo to date; I cook & eat a rabbit & a duck; I am run off the road while jogging by a crazy driver (I'm pissed but OK); Montreal day trip with Michael; and I actually finish this book while houseboating over Labor Day (4th "annual" trip is our best yet). 77
49 Women in Love
by D.H. Lawrence

(1920)
This book would be better titled: Men in Love...with each other!
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Spring–Summer 2010: In this stretch, I both begin and end online dating again (12 coffee dates over 2.5 months yield no viable candidates); I start a light bookkeeping gig for a friend; camping at Kettle Pond I am the only one brave enough to jump in the 55-degree water; due to some bad news an intimate relationship gets rocky again; I do some open-mic public storytelling & some stand-up comedy and enjoy both; Dad & I Eurail around Switzerland & Germany for 10 days(!); I play volleyball casually with pals a few times & forget how much I like it; 4th of July in Cabot. 86
50 Tropic of Cancer
by Henry Miller

(1934)
I feel like the Modern Library has hit me with a three-combination punch: Roth, Mailer, & Miller right in a row. I am up to my eyeballs in disparaging epithets for women and their genitalia. How does reading this crap NOT take a toll??
more...
Winter–Spring 2010: Dad & I celebrate our birthdays together in NYC; Margaret & I attend the Neko Case concert in St. J; I volunteer at the Green Mountain Film Festival this year; first public storytelling event is popular and a big success(!); my father is being sued; I run a special "80's edition" trivia game at LSC; a little freelancing for UVM starts again; I attend the second Passover seder of my life (Michael & I make homemade gefilte fish!?); I am currently suffering for an NSA relationship that chronically leaves me wanting a string or two: Think I have to end it/I am sad. 65
51 The Naked and the Dead
by Norman Mailer

(1948)
Far shorter books have taken me much longer to read. My copy is 721 pages, but I knock off nearly 1/5 of it over two late weekend mornings spent in bed—my favorite time to read!
more...
Winter 2010: A few needed adjustments on my car leaves it a joy to drive & me with a little crush on my mechanic; doing OK by my new year's resolution to make plans with friends & get out more; I set the wheels in motion to produce & emcee a storytelling event on March 22 about which I am very excited; after much deliberation I willingly & happily resign my managerial role of the WNBR this year; planning & executing my 41st birthday leaves me, & those in attendance, joyously energized. 27
52 Portnoy's Complaint
by Philip Roth

(1969)
Eminently readable. Easy to go on a tear & just plow right through it quickly, as I did.
more...
Winter 2010: You can set your watch to our "January thaw," this year following right on the heels of some below-zero temps; just beginning to make plans for my birthday next month. 61
53 Pale Fire
by Vladimir Nabokov

(1962)
Here again on a list of best novels is a book I would be hard pressed to describe as a novel; it really isn't. Unusual reading. Entertaining in spots but...unusual.
more...
Autumn 2009–Winter 2010: I 10-day fast/cleanse for the 6th year running; Michael & I have a great time spending both holidays together (along with Moxie); my desire in the note below becomes prediction & then reality when I buy a used Audi TT in Michigan over Thanksgiving weekend & drive it back through Canada, whereupon I promptly sell my busted Subaru to auction (good riddance); intimate relationships find a new equilibrium; I run a wild trivia "pool" on New Years Eve that will go down as a personal success but a public failure. 71
54 Light in August
by William Faulkner

(1932)
If you should read but one Faulkner, make it Light in August.
more...
Autumn 2009: Friends & family reunion foliage cruise from Quebec City to Boston; freelance work continues, car situation still pends (but I'd love to trade my Subaru Baja for an Audi TT!), 1st Halloween at my "new" place sees ~25 trick-or-treaters, I begin online dating again! 23
55 On the Road
by Jack Kerouac

(1957)
Are you beat, or are you gone? Before you answer that question, know that midway through the last century, both of those adjectives were considered high compliments!
more...
Summer–Autumn 2009: Paula & I get a few swims in at Number 10 pond in late summer; on the cusp of—and spending a lot of time researching—either fixing my car or selling it (and getting a "new" one!); contract work for UVM continues (so I've been commuting by bus to Burlington a couple of days a week); I turn an emotional corner on a relationship, which feels at once healthy and sad. 4
56 The Maltese Falcon
by Dashiell Hammett

(1930)
I feel like it's been a while since the list offered up something one can just READ read. This book qualifies.
more...
Summer 2009: I am living the somewhat depressive car-less life when the transmission blows on my car after only 70K miles (thanks, Twin City Subaru for trying to lowball me on a trade-in & for not even saying, "Sorry"!?); I go dragonboating with Sheeheys & honorary Sheeheys of the PD Paddlers; pals & I take an outing to Middlebury College's Museum of Art; the traveling is the most difficult part of going to help Frenchie move from Denver to Washington DC, but we get it done! 52
57 Parade's End
by Ford Madox Ford

(1928)
It takes a very long time to read this befuddling 836-page cross between The Sound and the Fury, The Alexandria Quartet, Slaughterhouse-Five, Memento Mori, and Finnegans Wake. And somehow the fact that I've never even fully read two of those is perfectly fitting...
more...
Spring–Summer 2009: Love life ranges between a bit more dating, relative abandonment of online dating...at least for now, the joyous return of an erstwhile lover, and the second pregnancy scare of my life (also negative); 3rd annual WNBR (2009) Montpelier; a routine physical reveals that all of my complaints can be met with the cheery expression, "Welcome to your forties!"; couple of job interviews, & I pick up some freelance work that should keep me busy for the next three months; an unseasonably cool summer thus far, but I'm not complaining; I win $60 in a poker game! 93
58 The Age of Innocence
by Edith Wharton

(1920)
There is a damned good reason why nobody has ever said that the "big loves" of our lives come easily.
more...
Spring 2009: I go on the first face-to-face date with a person I meet online, & after a handful of dates it becomes clear that I have met a friend...but a good one! 56
59 Zuleika Dobson
by Max Beerbohm

(1911)
A 24-chapter book that's only about 21 chapters too long!
more...
Spring 2009: Fun with fake tilt-shift photography; doing lots of work for the timebank; got hired for the 2010 Census; KU loses in March Madness, Green Mountain Film Festival wraps up; online dating is fun! 84
60 The Moviegoer
by Walker Percy

(1961)
This novel would work better as a short story.
more...
Winter 2009: I go to an art opening of my favorite painter, Craig Mooney; Miriam turns 51; Dad turns 70(!?); I think my love affair may be ending, but I am a 40-year-old woman, & it's spring, so I begin online dating.
81
61 Death Comes for the Archbishop
by Willa Cather

(1927)
Well written & touching, but My Antonia (another Cather offering) is far better.
more...
Winter 2009: I turn 40 years old & love it(!); for my birthday: I host a party at my new place, Dad visits from California, & we spend time up in Montreal (music, food, gambling) & time in Vermont (snowshoeing, birthday shopping, trivia game). 53
62 From Here to Eternity
by James Jones

(1951)
All I really need to know about men I learn in this book.
more...
Winter 2009: For Jodi's birthday we sled down the Lincoln Gap (kids, don't try this at home); three years after laser eye surgery, & I still have 20/20; I make a big, adult purchase: one of those expensive sofas you keep for life. 21
63 The Wapshot Chronicle
by John Cheever

(1957)
I find a used copy of this book on eBay & upon receiving it, the pages come unglued from the binding, & it promptly falls apart.
more...
Winter 2008–Winter 2009: I get the most demoralizing job rejection ever; while housesitting for Will I rediscover & affirm that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best movie ever made; I score a sweet apartment (and am almost done moving in)! 60
64 The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger

(1951)
I've read this one before. It holds up!
more...
Autumn 2008: A couple of big beautiful snowstorms; a couple of chiropractic adjustments; making plans with pals for X-mas. 7
65 A Clockwork Orange
by Anthony Burgess

(1962)
"This Sunday morning the charlie read out from the book about chellovecks who slooshied the slovo and didn't take a blind bit being like a domy built upon sand, and then the rain came splash and the old boomaboom cracked the sky and that was the end of that domy." (For a translation of this, click on "more" below.)
more...
Autumn 2008: Looking at a lot of apartments but trying to stall a move until I find out about the location of a job. 72
66 Of Human Bondage
by
W. Somerset Maugham

(1915)
I initially pick up a cool vintage paperback with Kim Novak on the cover, but it turns out to be abridged. At first I think I can get away with this, as I have read this book before. But not wanting to cheat the spirit of this project, I swap it out for the one at left (unabridged).
more...
Autumn 2008: Bryan & I bid a tearful goodbye; I drive back across country from California to Vermont with my dog stopping along the way to fly fish with Dave & Kelly in Montana; I look for housing & employment but get two of my trivia games back in the meantime(!); I am having a love affair; there are lots of parties to go to & reconnecting with friends to do; I am loved. 20
67 Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad

(1902)
A new favorite author I have discovered during this project may be Joseph Conrad!?
more...
Summer–Autumn 2008: A dear friend for whom I participated in an intervention in 2007 hits her one-year sobriety mark (yay!); Bryan & I take a mini-vacation to visit my brother & his wife at their house for a few days; I 10-day fast/cleanse again this year & it goes pretty easily(!); my bank account is nearly overdrawn; I finish "spring" cleaning out in California & prepare to drive back to Vermont. 62
68 Main
Street

by Sinclair Lewis

(1920)
Just like a food & wine pairing, Classic Bitch recommends that readers of this book listen to the album The Kinks Are the Village
Green Preservation Society
.
more...
Summer 2008: I begin dating (a lot!) a wonderful man while here in California, & this isn't even the speculative "new relationship" I was referring to in the previous entry just below!? What can I say? When it rains it pours, & Classic Bitch has gotten a bucket & is collecting the drops, baby!! 17
69 The House of Mirth
by Edith Wharton

(1905)
The classic theme of two people's love for one another just never quite coinciding is made more poignant and frustrating when set to the backdrop of fin de siecle high society & the stiflingly traditional roles of men & women therein.
more...
Spring–Summer 2008: High highs & low lows in this stretch again; as an example of the former: I may be starting a new relationship; as an example of the latter: My dad is in a world of trouble after doing something grievously wrong, and as a result of his guilt—& as a result of my brother "taking sides" in the matter—my worldview, my concept of family, and my ideas about men absolutely disintegrate; as an example of something right in the middle: I drive cross country with Moxie & meet my family in British Columbia for a little vacation. 55
70 The Alexandria Quartet
by Lawrence Durrell

(1962)
A single volume of all four books is out of print. As a result, this book arrives to me (from a used bookshop in Indiana) smelling like it's been sitting on the back of a toilet for over two decades.
more...
Spring 2008: I find my first three grey hairs (under the guise of "seeing" them, my brother yanks them out); I travel to California by way of Denver for an extended stay with my dad; I take birth control for the 1st time in my life but both "reasons" for my doing this unbelievably dematerialize...causing me pain; my brother quits his job; my dad & his girlfriend break up; I arrive back in Montpelier in time for the 2nd annual Montpelier WNBR (2008) which I co-organize & which goes swimmingly; I don't get the Boston job; technically I am homeless & jobless. 43
71 A High Wind in Jamaica
by Richard Hughes

(1929)
A weird book. Enjoyable to read but weird.
more...
Winter–Spring 2008: I "graduate" from two years and nine months of therapy; I catch a rare (for me) chest cold and then head cold in rapid succession; back down to two trivia emceeing gigs, which is fine by me; I have a job interview in Boston (which goes well)—if I get it I'll move there, if I don't I'll drive out to California and stay with my dad for a few months. 46
72 A House
for Mr.
Biswas

by V.S. Naipaul

(1961)
A Bend in the River is the better Naipaul book, yet it's lower on the Modern Library's list.
more...
Winter 2008: Mercury in retrograde through my astrological sign and across my 39th birthday wreaks a blissful havoc I can't wait to experience again: I go on the first date I've been on in years; now have four trivia games to run (keeping me flush); I suffer from an attack of vertigo and swear off alcohol & caffeine (save for "special" occasions); I have a profound adult experience that gives me a lot of hope; and—at long last—my ex' buys me out of the house!!! 85
73 The Day of the Locust
by Nathanael West

(1939)
Skanky hos make men do crazy things!
more...
Winter 2008: Had a haircut & a dentist appointment. (What can I say? This book only took me a few days to read.) 45
74 A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway

(1929)
The first time I read this book, I was in high school.
more...
Autumn 2007–Winter 2008: I 10-day fast again for the fourth year running; my year-and-a-half course of study comes to an end (as do my unemployment checks...yikes!); I spend X-mas in California with my family and the new year in Costa Rica with Frenchie. 40
75 Scoop
by Evelyn Waugh

(1938)
Second Waugh book so far on the list and very different from the first!
more...
Autumn 2007: Got two Thanksgivings with friends; picked up some lucrative freelance work; spent several days in bed snuggling with & dogsitting Moxie; planning some X-mas traveling with Frenchie; one week left of class & then I'm done done!? 48
76 The Prime of Miss
Jean
Brodie

by Muriel Spark

(1961)
A thin surreal novella, sparingly written, that nevertheless packs a punch!
more...
Autumn 2007: First snow of the season; got a haircut. 13
77 Finnegans Wake
by James Joyce

(1939)
:-(

Well, that didn't last long! (See prediction below.)
more...
Summer–Autumn 2007: I travel to: Paris to welcome my dad across the finish line and attend a gala ball, Boston for Lyn's surprise 40th birthday, Montreal for Candace's bachelorette party, California to spend time with friends and family, and Denver (where I have a meaningful experience and the best time of my adult life); on the advice of my therapist, I go on a meditation retreat; I lose a longstanding trivia-emceeing gig but gain a new one. 96
78 Kim
by Rudyard Kipling

(1901)
I'm going to go way out on a limb here and say that no book will ever rank lower than this one. I had a hard time with it and just wasn't "into" it.
more...
Spring–Summer 2007: I travel to California to surprise my dad at his bon voyage party; I endure the worst 7-week class of my life; Moxie has $1600 ACL surgery; I bring to an end my year-and-a-half-long self-imposed "relationship hibernation" (at least in principle); Will & Jill & I do Montpelier's first ever WNBR (2007); Dad drives Peking to Paris! 95
79 A Room
with a View

by E.M. Forster

(1908)
I don't know what possesses me, but I rent & watch the Merchant-Ivory movie version about half way through the book.
more...
Spring 2007: I see two of the best films I've seen in a year: The Lives of Others and C.R.A.Z.Y.; my brother turns 40; I have a severe case of spring fever, complete with some fun un-Jen-like possibilities! 63
80 Brideshead Revisited
by Evelyn Waugh

(1945)
"To what does the title refer?" asks my therapist.
more...
Winter–Spring 2007: I play craps & blackjack in Montreal; I pay off my car; I take a solo vacation to Waikiki Beach where I never miss a day of surfing. 35
81 The Adventures of Augie March
by Saul Bellow

(1953)
This book takes me so long to read, I have nearly forgotten how to update this Web site!
more...
Autumn 2006–
Winter 2007:
I tank severely in the Bob Dylan look-a-like/sound-a-like competition; I fast solo for 10 days; my dad arrives unexpectedly for X-mas in VT when he gets stranded on the East Coast while traveling; I've been doing a lot of gambling; we get a monster snowstorm from which we are all still digging out; I celebrate my 38th b-day yesterday by drinking Goji juice, spritzing my face with a cucumber/ginseng mist, going to a yoga class, and having a mocha latte (nuff said!)...I think I may be mutating...which is OK.
54
82 Angle of Repose
by Wallace Stegner

(1971)
Everybody loves Stegner!
more...
Summer–Autumn 2006: My dad has a heart attack(!?) but is OK; proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same: Just as I am newly divorced, my brother gets married. 19
83 A Bend in the River
by V.S. Naipaul

(1979)
Higher up on the list we go...but this is not one of my favorites. If you want to read a better book about Africa, read Mating by Norman Rush instead.
more...
Summer 2006: "Kiss me, I'm divorced!"; proving that there is such a thing as a free lunch, I begin a year-and-a-half's worth of coursework, part time, in digital forensics, with a continuance of unemployment insurance for the duration (& everything's paid for by the government); the 3rd annual houseboating trip—despite a dearth of sunshine—is our best yet, I think. 55
84 The Death of the Heart
by Elizabeth Bowen

(1938)
The narrative never really grabs me. This book is easily surpassed by, certainly not all, but many others on the list.
more...
Summer 2006: Frenchie visits from Colorado; Heidi, Jill, Margaret, & I attend the Willie Nelson concert outdoors, at which he serenades the full moon rising over the meadow with Moonlight in Vermont; Moxie is feeling much better; my unemployment runs out, but federal bureaucrats drag their heels when it comes time to extend TRA money to me. 18
85 Lord Jim
by Joseph Conrad

(1900)
Not the easiest read by any means, but worth making your way through it.
more...
Summer 2006: My dog suddenly suffers from incontinence, joint pain, & intestinal upset, making my life with her challenging & just plain sad (medication to treat any one of these symptoms seems to exacerbate the others, while her ailments destroy my house little by little right before my eyes). 16
86 Ragtime
by E.L. Doctorow

(1975)
We come to the second book on the list that I have read before, and loved even then.
more...
Spring–Summer 2006: My therapist tells me I am "doing hard work" & I don't disagree with him; three weeks until I must decide my next move employment- or school-wise. 3
87 The Old Wives'
Tale

by Arnold Bennett

(1908)
Now we're moving in the right direction! This novel stands head & shoulders above the rest thus far. You want the paragon of classic literature? Step convincingly back to a time when people got their news from the town crier, & the expression, "lo!" (with punctuation thus), found its way into the middle of conversation!
more...
Spring 2006: Still collecting unemployment (facing the chance to have it extended & take classes for a while); my transitional living arrangement (in an apartment) at times feels longer-term; while the legal dissolution of our relationship pends in family court, my ex moves on to polyamory, which leaves me feeling more curious than wounded. 1
88 The Call
of the Wild
by Jack London
(1903)
This is the third time around for me and this much-loved book from my youth!
more...
Spring 2006: About 1/2 way through my unemployment benefits; drumming up a little freelance work; glorious early spring weather; running & working out again. 10
89 Loving
by Henry Green

(1945)
Wow—this is a short tale that is a very quick read.
more...
Spring 2006: My brother announces that he is getting married—not engaged...married—after a mere 5 months. As a result, my dad & I frantically run interference. 83
90 Midnight's Children
by Salman Rushdie

(1980)
Let's just say that Rushdie is a writer's writer. *sigh*
more...
Winter–Spring 2006: My brother is dating a stripper; I am now single; I collect unemployment for the 1st time in my life; the 2nd anniversary of my mother's death comes & goes; I undergo laser eye surgery! 89
91 Tobacco Road
by Erskine Caldwell

(1932)
A spare volume in which not a word is wasted, this book is incisive and intense.
more...
Autumn 2005: On extended "vacation" in California, due to job and relationship woes, my father treats me to the first cruise of my life...The Mexican Riviera! 11
92 Ironweed
by William Kennedy

(1983)
Despite heavy critical acclaim, this book is nowhere near being my favorite!
more...
Autumn 2005: We undertake & complete our annual 10-day cleanse/fast. 82
93 The
Magus

by John Fowles

(1965)
This novel is just complex enough to leave me feeling that I misundertand it, but is so well written & captivating that... what's not to like?
more...
Summer–Autumn 2005: Two weeks until unemployment finds me still being paid but hardly working; permanent remedy of the plumbing disaster still pends; my partner & I consider separating (while simultaneously considering further business & real estate dealings). 2
94 Wide
Sargasso
Sea

by Jean Rhys

(1966)
Here is the first book on the list that I really haven't enjoyed very much at all.
more...
Summer 2005: I lose my job to people in India & the Philippines who work for 27 cents an hour, have no child labor laws, safety standards, or health coverage; we complete our home renovation project (but not without the plumbing from the 3rd floor leaking into the 2nd floor). 88
95 Under
the Net

by Iris Murdoch

(1954)
I like this book a fair amount on a microcosmic level, but macrocosmically I think the story falls a bit flat.
more...
Spring–Summer 2005: I travel to Iceland on vacation; my brother is diagnosed with thyroid cancer. 15
96 Sophie's Choice
by William Styron

(1979)
Here is yet another book in which the main character bears striking resemblance to the author!
more...
Winter–Spring 2005: My partner's dad dies; we begin a major construction project on our house; I see a therapist for the first time in my life. 9
97 The
Sheltering
Sky

by Paul Bowles

(1949)
Main characters named "Port," "Kit," & "Tunner"??? You're kidding me, right? I start out HATING this book.
more...
Winter 2005: I start back to work full time. 6
98 The Postman Always Rings
Twice

by James Cain

(1934)
I keep waiting for some scene that features a mailman, but it never comes!
more...
Winter 2004: I travel to Hawaii for my mother's memorial service. 12
99 The
Ginger Man

by J.P. Donleavy

(1955)
I would have enjoyed reading this book SO much more back when I was a teenager!
more...
Summer–Autumn 2004: On our annual houseboating trip, Jill breaks her neck. 14
100 The
Magnificent Ambersons

by Booth Tarkington
(1918)
This is a wonderful story with a simple premise that is not revealed until the very end: redemption via love.
more...
Spring–Summer 2004: My mom has just passed away. 8
¿WHO•WHAT•WHEN•WHERE•WHY•HOW?

FYI: If you are looking for Jen Dole who lives in Montpelier Vermont,
Jennifer Dole who attended the University of Kansas (KU) & was from Los Angeles (L.A.),
or Jenny Dole who attended Viewpoint School & grew up in Westlake Village California (CA),
...YOU HAVE FOUND HER.
Email: bitch@classicbitch.com