LSS: Literary Snobbery Series, Whatnot
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The LSS Book List, Part 7

Visit the The LSS Book List page for more information about this post.


The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1895, L) – This is a short novel about war that is written by a person who has never been to the thick of a war. It ponders on the nature of fear, cowardice, courage and heroism with realistic impressions of battles. If you want to know what goes on inside the head of a soldier in action, pick this up.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989, L) – I’m collecting the striped Vintage editions of Ishiguro’s back list but I haven’t really bothered to go through them. But by all means, let’s put this title, the first book that I ever discussed with our book club, on this list. It’s a meditative book on greatness and dignity through the silverware, I mean lens, of a butler.

Remembering Babylon by David Malouf

Remembering Babylon by David Malouf

Remembering Babylon by David Malouf (1993, H) – The first ever winner of the IMPAC Literary Prize, one of the richest awards in the bookish community. The themes of isolation and identity are depicted in a fragmented narrative about a European boy, raised by aborigines, who struggles for his place in the world when he is reacquainted with Western settlers.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (1961, L) – A searing story about a middle-class couple who are ensnared by the trappings of their middle-class comforts. The Wheelers attempt to escape the dread that is gnawing at them, but the lure of further socio-economic advancement derails their plans, their marriage, and ultimately, their lives.

The Sea by John Banville

The Sea by John Banville

The Sea by John Banville (2005, M) – This is an enigmatic tale about Max who looks back on his childhood that is colored by his playmates, the siblings Chloe and Myles. He reconciles with a past that is culminated by the siblings’ swim to the sea, a swim that would change the rest of their lives. This is best read slowly because of its hypnotic, poetic prose.

The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch

The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch

The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch (1978, M) – To put it bluntly, this is a love story populated not by dashing boys and dazzling girls, but by old people. And by old people, we mean people who should be legitimately retired. Charles Arrowby, former theater director, retires to a seaside house in seclusion only to be reunited with his first love. The characters in this novel are fully fleshed out and they let us see clearly the reasons behind the things that they do.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (2011, L) – A short yet contemplative mind-bender that takes on the essence of history and the faulty nature of memory, this demands to be reread after finishing the unsettling last page. Tony Webster, in his old age, is given money and the diary of his friend from 40 years ago by the mother of his ex-girlfriend, also from 40 years ago. This unexpected reacquaintance with the past forces Tony to remember and rethink the events that happened among the four of them.

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles (1949, L) – Port and Kit travel to the North African desert in an attempt to save their failing marriage. Their uninteresting friend, Tunner, tags along. Something happens to Port. Kit runs away. At this point, brace yourself as Kit does some crazy stuff while sinking in the quicksand of her existential anguish.

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx (1993, L) – Quoyle is left to raise his two daughters alone when his vile wife leaves him. He tries to start a new life by moving to their ancestral home somewhere in Canada. This is a moving novel of hope and redemption that is tightly tied to knots (granny knots, square knots, etc.), which are introduced at the start of each chapter and which are entangled in Quoyle’s life.

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (1964, M) – George goes through what he assumes to be the last day of his life. We learn that he is a literature professor still grieving the death of Jim, his domestic partner. The loneliness that engulfs George is thickly pronounced without being overdone, and his resolve to end his life may or may not be swayed by his encounters with strangers, students, and friends.

Stay tuned for Part 8.

Format: [Title] ([Original Title]) by [Author] ([Publication Year, LSS Meter Level])


This is part of the Literary Snobbery Series (LSS).

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14 Comments

  1. I have been enjoying your series although most editions have left me thinking of the books unread on my shelves or the ones that sound so interesting that I should add them to my endless list. This time though I have already read almost everything (and some of my favourites including Remembering Babylon, Sheltering Sky, Remains of the Day, A Single Man).
    I also must say that I appreciate that I love the one paragraph synopsis – just enough to whet the literary appetite.

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    • Thanks! I actually have the list done but I don’t want to just post it as another book list. My real agenda here is not to make more snobs but to urge people to read some of these books. Hence, the short intros to each title. I’m glad to hear that you like those, particularly The Remains of the Day. It’s a book that will stay with me for a long time.

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  2. Speaking of Ishiguro, I don’t know if you visit the Guardian’s online Culture/Books section which is my literary cyber home base for reviews and discussions perfect for book lovers. They are hosting a live interview with Ishiguro on December 4 and the book available will be Remains of the Day. A podcast of the event should be available after that and I will be keen to listen to it. I do hope he has a new novel coming I have read all his work to date, but Remains of the Day is almost perfect in my opinion.

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    • Oh yes, I’ve heard of it and I feel sad that I’m separated by 8 time zones from London. I do subscribe to The Guardian podcast and they did a nice coverage of the Mitchell and McEwan book talks a few months back. So I’ll wait for their coverage.

      I’m also happy to tell you that Ishiguro will be out with a new book in March. It’s called The Buried Giant. It has been nearly a decade since Never Let Me Go and it’s good to know that there’s more to expect from him.

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  3. Monique says

    Ah, The Shipping News. Perhaps I should reread it. I might change my opinion of it after a second go.

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    • And we thought Ali Smith’s How to be Both, Julio Cortazar’s Hopscotch, Chris Ware’s Building Stories, and that “book” that’s like a deck of cards are original!

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    • I might be weird in that I really enjoy metatextual edginess when it comes to destroying the forms of narrative storytelling, but not so much with the violence and sex? That’s what has always pushed me away from Palahniuk and Irvine Welsh. I’ve attempted Hundred Thousand Billion Poems by Queneau, and although I didn’t really “get” it I found it really interesting.

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    • I have not read them yet as well. I think their brand of sex and violence seeks to rather entertain than to elucidate a truth or some essence. Not that sex and violence should always be about that, but using them for sheer entertainment is a bit pornographic to me.

      I’ve been catching Queneau’s name in the blogs that I follow although I admittedly remember him only because of his quirky surname. :D

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