On My Bookshelf, No. 9

To see previous posts in this series, click here.

This is my bookshelf.


Here is a snippet of what’s on it, ten at a time.


Passing (1929) by Nella Larsen

Quicksand (1928) by Nella Larsen

Christy (1967) by Catherine Marshall

Life of Pi (2001) by Yann Martel

Of Human Bondage (1915) by W. Somerset Maugham

Let the Great World Spin (2009) by Colum McCann

The Paris Wife (2011) by Paula McLain

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940) by Carson McCullers

The Thorn Birds (1977) by Colleen McCullough

The Nanny Diaries (2002) by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus


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


62 thoughts on “On My Bookshelf, No. 9

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      1. Thanks for the comparison. That is usually the case. The only exception I can think of to this rule is “Hearts of Atlantis,” where the movie stops where the book should have and was less over the top. And, this was a Stephen King book no less.

  1. Gosh, I read Christy in the 60’s. Yes, that’s how old I am! Of Human Bondage put me off Maugham permanently. I also didn’t much enjoy Let the Great World Spin. However, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and The Thornbirds are both good in their different ways, although I didn’t think The Thornbirds deserved quite the attention it got years ago.

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure what kind of attention The Thorn Birds got at the time, but as I read it, I liked it, but it seemed sensational rather than truly literary. Love Christy!

      1. Oh, it was wildly popular, but it is definitely sensational. I couldn’t really relate to the main character having an affair with a priest, or maybe it was the priest that I couldn’t relate to, having an affair with a very young woman.

  2. Passing and Quicksand I read as part of American Literature degree. Both very good about the Jazz Age and race relations in Harlem at the time. I really enjoyed the Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Life of Pi (that last one a very quick read). I remember the Thorn Bird series, but I’m not sure I’ve ever read it. I have read some Maughman but not Of Human Bondage.

    1. I’m so impressed that you’ve read Larsen’s work! It seems like she hasn’t gotten very much attention, although she deserves it. It is sad that she basically stopped writing after these books.

  3. I enjoyed Life of Pi for two reasons: the story and the philosophy. It was one case where I actually saw the movie before I read the book; I agree with your statement that the movie wasn’t bad, just different. Not many movies adapted from books can make that claim.

    1. Glad you agree. That’s the best way I can think to describe it. The movie had more of a magical realism feel, while the book didn’t.

    1. I really liked it, but I’ve tried other Maugham books and haven’t been able to get very far with them. I think you have to be in a serious mood to read him.

  4. Christy! I don’t know too many people who have even heard of this book, let alone have it on their shelf. I love Christy.
    I also love Life of Pi.

  5. I loved Life of Pi and there is a quote from the heart is a lonely hunter that I love about homesickness. And I see you have the blind assassin- awesome book!

  6. I read Christy as a teenager loved it. I recall thinking back then if I ever had a daughter I’d name her Christy after reading that book. Ha! – the teenage romantic. I was also into the Love Comes Softly series and all books of it’s ilk. My sister and I were desperate to become the virtuous prairie wives depicted in these books. We even created pettycoats to wear under our skirts and bonnets. Little did we know there was more to (modern) womanhood than becoming a prairie wife, and thank goodness there is! In fact Christy was adventurous and stayed independent for quite awhile in the books but that tidbit was lost on us because we wanted her to just settle on a man already and get going on the wifehood chores.

    I’m adding Passing & Quicksand to my list and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was spectacular. I liked Life of Pi too, although I haven’t yet seen the film.

    1. I love your memories of Christy! I read it as an adult, after seeing the TV series, so I didn’t have the same romantic notions. I wanted to name one of my future daughters (and there were going to be 8 of them!) Mariah, after Mariah Carey. That didn’t happen. 😉 I hope you like Passing and Quicksand. They are from the Harlem Renaissance period and about race and women. Tragic really, but good reads.

  7. I’ve read “Christy,” and loved it. I also enjoyed “Julie” by Catherine Marshall. Have you read it?

    1. Larsen wrote during the Harlem Renaissance and her books are about what it was like to be African American and female. Passing is about a woman who can “pass” for white, and Quicksand is about a women in search of her identity but not really belonging anywhere. They are both really good, serious reads.

  8. Embarrassingly the only one of these I’ve read is The Nanny Diaries. (I have however read the Jhumpa Lahiri books to the left ;-). ). For some reason I can’t get past the first 30 pages of LIfe of Pi and I can’t’ figure out why. It’s been sitting on my bedside table for months. I seem to have some psychological block against it.

    1. I can see how Life of Pi would be hard to get into. Maybe just push through, because it does get exciting eventually. Or maybe it just isn’t for you. That’s okay too. 🙂

    2. Sorry to add to this so much later but I too struggled with Life of Pi at first. Eventually I really enjoyed it but you have to trudge through to about page 70 before the story really gets going. He gives you a lot of background detail! Keep at it because it is great eventually!

  9. Hmmm…Nella Larsen is a must-read for me in the future. Read Christy as a teen and liked it. After 20 pages or so of Life of Pi I left it for a time when I have at least a few hours to devote to reading it, because I feel I want to be able to fully concentrate on it when I read it. I was quite surprised at just how much I loved The Thorn Birds! Read it several years ago at the insistence of one of my fellow book club members who typically enjoyed books I didn’t and vice versa! I was shocked at how much I loved it! Nice collection!

    1. Thanks, Lynn! I enjoyed The Thorn Birds as well, while at the same time realizing how absurd it was. But I couldn’t put it down. Sometimes I need a really good romance to read. I hope you end up finishing Life of Pi!

    1. I really liked The Paris Wife, as much as you can like a book about a cheating husband, but I’ve heard some people say they didn’t. I appreciated it since I had read most of Hemingway’s work for a class in my master’s program and I liked seeing a fictional and more human side of him.

  10. My father was a huge Somerset Maugham fan and he gave me both ‘Of Human Bondage’ and ‘The Razor’s Edge’ to read when I was a teenager. I loved both and thought I was very clever to have read them!! I have since re-read them and loved them again. Also loved Life of Pi. Haven’t read any of the others. The one I would love to read (and have bookmarked it for future reading) is The Paris Wife.

    1. I need to read The Razor’s Edge. I have a copy but just haven’t cracked it open yet! Good for your Dad for introducing you to great literature.

  11. Oh, I missed Colum McCann. Of course being Irish I have read ‘Let the Great World Spin’ also adored ‘Transatlanctic.’ Saw him in 2013 at the Dublin Literary Festival. Funny and intelligent man.

  12. Nice shelf! I love Maugham and Carson McCullers. I also see the wonderful Jhumpa Lahiri hiding off to the side… Where would you recommend starting with Larsen’s work?

    1. I think the two novels here are Larsen’s only ones. She gave up writing after these. She might have a few short stories out there. So start with these!

  13. Interesting and eclectic. I’ve read most of these. I just discovered Passing earlier this year and was really vaught up in its description of race issues of a century ago.

  14. Oh man, there are very few books I have hated as much as I hated The Thorn Birds (I actually just wrote a review of it for my blog, but I’m not going to post a link–I’m new to blogging, so maybe that’s seen as a totally ok thing to do, but it just seems kind of rude to me). I’m reading my way around the world (I started with Australia) and so many of the “ten best Australian books”-type lists that I found listed The Thorn Birds as one of the best. I was expecting it to be great, especially considering the caliber of the other Aussie books I read for the project–and it just so wasn’t. I thought all the characters and their actions were so unbelievable, and the more McCullough tried to delve into their psychology the more unbelievable they were.
    On another note, Of Human Bondage is one of my favorite books and I also really enjoyed Life of Pi. I love the juxtaposition of all these books! This is such a fun blog.

    1. Thank you! I can understand why you would hate The Thorn Birds. I liked it, but I was young when I read it, and I think if I did so now, I might have a different opinion. It was definitely unbelievable, but sometimes those types of books appeal. What were the good Aussie books you read?

      1. Yeah, I think I was especially harsh on The Thorn Birds because I wasn’t really expecting a romance novel. I think if someone had told me it was Australia’s answer to Gone With the Wind I might have relaxed my expectations a little.
        My two favorites were Voss by Patrick White and Carpentaria by Alexis Wright. I hadn’t heard of Patrick White before I started this project, but he’s Australia’s only Nobel Literature laureate (so maybe the rest of the world knows him and I just found one of my cultural blind spots, but I do seem to get a lot of blank looks when I mention him). Voss is like nothing else I’ve ever read before; it was difficult to get through but definitely worth it. It’s the story of a 19th century German explorer who sets out to conquer the outback, and his relationship with an English woman who he meets briefly before setting out. Carpentaria is a modern novel by an Aboriginal author about a town at the center of two feuding halves of an Aboriginal tribe and the oblivious white people who live between them. It’s pretty trippy; it took me several chapters of not having any idea what was going on before I settled into it and started loving it.
        I haven’t read enough of your blog yet to get an idea of what you would like, but other books I really liked were Cloudstreet by Tim Winton, My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin, Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay, and My Brother Jack by George Johnston. Oh, and Henry Lawson’s short stories.
        …I’m not very good at picking favorites.

  15. There was a time in my life when I was obsessed with “The Thorn Birds”. Can’t tell you how many time I read it back then. It has,however,been many years since. Maybe it’s time to revisit…😊

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