2014 – terrible reading year

Sunday, November 9, 2014 Posted by

This last year, I tried to read only fiction written by women. I have read all the Kathy Reichs books but I decided to pick up and try new (to me) female authors to find some new favorites. I am not big into the Shopoholic type of books. Romance leaves me rolling my eyes. Someone gave me Eat, Pray, Love and the font alone irritated me. In short, I have started a lot of books that I put right back down again.

My notable exception to my reading drought is in Young Adult fiction. I checked out Lois Lowry’s book, The Giver, and followed it up with Number the Stars. I am just old enough that her fiction missed me when it was written. They were interesting enough that I reserved the book after The Giver at the library.

Looking forward to it.

Rory Gilmore’s Reading List

Monday, February 18, 2013 Posted by


Remember that show, the Gilmore Girls? I don’t even really remember when it was on but I thought it was cute enough. Someone more obsessive than me went through the shows and compiled a list of the books that Rory read or mentioned in the series. There is a lot of them.

Some of these books are on my to-read list and some are on my never-to-read list. I am reposting the list anyway with the books I’ve already read crossed out. Enjoy.

1984 by George Orwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe (Read some of them)
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Emma by Jane Austen
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – started and not finished
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inferno by Dante (Part of the Devine Comedy)
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
Myra Waldo’s Travel and Motoring Guide to Europe, 1978 by Myra Waldo
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby – read
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Holiday by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
The Rough Guide to Europe, 2003 Edition
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
Say Goodbye to Daisy Miller by Henry James
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Hotels of Europe
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole


Reviving this blog

Sunday, February 17, 2013 Posted by

I haven’t done anything with this blog in a while but I’ve been thinking about it and finally went through the heroic actions required to recover my password.  A couple of things. Lastpass is awesome. Editing the database to change the recovery email address is easier than changing the password directly.

Now that my baby is 3 and can walk run on his own, I have more time for reading. Hurrah! Let’s see if I can get this project done.

Oh and I think I have finally admitted to myself that I won’t finish The Jungle anytime soon. Maybe it is one of those books that only teenagers read.

Happy Birthday Laura Ingalls Wilder (Book 3)

Monday, February 7, 2011 Posted by

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born today, February 7, in 1867. For book 3 of my 365 part series, I read Little House in the Big Woods, a novel about a little brown haired girl named Laura Ingalls living in the woods of Wisconsin.

Laura Ingalls WilderLittle House in the Big Woods is an easy read, more geared toward children than adults, however there are some interesting parts of the book that I didn’t pick up on as a child so I am glad I reread it. I remembered the iconic bits – making maple syrup candy in the snow, Ma slapping the bear, and using grated carrot to color fresh churned butter. There are some more subtle points that I didn’t pick up on until I read this book as a grownup.

One of these points happened in the autumn, when 10 year old cousin Charley and his father, Uncle Henry, came to help Pa with the oat harvest. Aunt Polly helped Ma in the house and the younger children played in the yard but there was so much work to be done that Pa and Uncle Henry drafted Charley to help out in the fields. As Laura wrote,

Charley did not want to go to the field. He wanted to stay in the yard and play. But, of course, he did not say so.

Duh. Of course he did not say so because if he did object to helping out in the fields, he would be whipped. Pa and Ma also gossiped about Uncle Henry, Aunt Polly, and Charley, saying that Charley was spoiled because he did not have to put in a full day’s work. This makes me laugh and laugh just thinking about their tongues wagging about our children today and how they are never properly worked or disciplined.

So Charley heads out to the fields with the men to fetch water and whetstones with a sullen attitude any parent of a teenager would recognize. Rather than help out, Charley plays tricks on his father and uncle, hiding the whetstone, getting in the way, and other general unhelpfulness. Somehow he gets the idea in his head to head across the field and scream like he is being attacked or injured. This brings both Pa and Uncle Henry running as there are snakes in the nearby field. Cousin Charley laughs like this is the funniest thing ever. After being fooled a couple of times, Pa and Uncle Henry ignore Charley’s screams. When he continues to shout and cry, however, they finally head over to him only to find he was jumping up and down in a yellow jackets’ nest while being stung all over his body. They send him home where his mom and aunt undress him and pack him in earth to take down the swelling.

As a child, the pioneer cautionary tale of Charley and the bees is scary because it sounds painful. As an adult, I know that Charley could have died from so many bee stings. So when Pa snarked, “it served the little liar right”, I was taken aback. No one deserves to be stung all over their body, even a 10 year old playing an inappropriate prank.

There are a few incidents in the book that made me look askance at Laura Ingalls Wilder and wonder just how much compassion she had for others. All and all it was a good book but I am not sure I’d describe Laura as a kind woman based on the stories she told. Regardless, happy birthday Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder!

Book 2: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Monday, January 31, 2011 Posted by

WARNING: Plot Spoilers

On a whim, I picked up The Time Traveler’s Wife at Shakespeare and Company in Paris. Normally, this is not a book I would seek out but expanding my reading horizons is the whole idea behind this project so I took a chance.

To sum up my feelings about this book in one word, meh.

I heard the book made it to the big screen but since I moved to Europe, I have only seen one movie and The Time Traveler’s Wife was not it. Incidentally, the author, Audrey Niffenegger, denied seeing the movie as well because she believed the script was written with 13 year old girls as the target audience.

Honestly, that would make sense. A few nitpicky issues with the book, such as when Clare gives birth, she is shaved immediately prior to being wheeled into labor and delivery. Shaving before birth happened with my mother’s generation but is not standard practice today, in Clare’s reality.

Also, there was exactly one historical event documented in the novel, September 11th. It felt cheap, like the politicians that break out the rhetoric just before they bash their opponents. I remember September 11th well. I also remember the day Reagan was shot. The day the Berlin Wall fell. There are a lot of important historical days to remember, not just September 11, 2001 yet it was the only one mentioned.

The plot of the book is a mix of love story and time travel told from the point of view of the main characters, Clare and Henry. The time traveler, Henry, suffers from a genetic condition that causes him to shift through time without warning, arriving at different periods of time, naked and starving. Since the world isn’t so accommodating to randomly materializing naked guys, Henry learns to pick pockets and locks, lie and steal, and generally conduct himself like a sly criminal. The details of the time travel are well documented in The Time Traveler’s Wife, it is the love story that ultimately is problematic.

The bigger issue that dooms the book is the love story between Clare and Henry. Clare first meets Henry when she is 6 after Henry time travels to the meadow near Clare’s childhood home. She accepts Henry’s crazy explanation for his presence and helps him with his food and clothing situations. Through the years, Henry materializes in this same meadow and starts a big brother-esque relationship with Clare – albeit a weird big brother who appears naked periodically. She hides him in her basement and brings him inappropriate food and her father’s castoff clothing.

In Henry’s reality, he doesn’t meet Clare until he is 28. She is 6 years younger and a college student. Confusing, no? Clare holds knowledge of her relationship with Henry that hasn’t happened to him yet and as time goes on, Henry travels to the future and learns what lies ahead of Clare. It is destiny, or so the author would have us believe.

Perhaps the book is better suited for teenage girls who still think that one cannot live without the great love in their life. I am a little beyond the teenage girl star-crossed lover stage, probably obvious by the Berlin Wall reference.

Audrey Niffenegger’s birthday is June 13th. Other writers she shares a birthday with include, poet William Yates, Gonzalo Torrente Ballester (Don Juan), and Marcel Theroux (The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes: a paper chase), saving me from reading any of their works.

Book #1: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 Posted by

For my first book, I decided to start with some light reading: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Although this book was published early in the 2oth century, it remains topical even today. If you don’t believe me, and really why would you, ask Glenn Beck:

Ah Glenn Beck. If I wanted to waste money on postage, I’d send him my copy of The Jungle when I finish it. Upton Sinclair intended The Jungle to be a commentary on worker’s rights but instead his 36 part serial caused an uproar over food safety. It was first published in 1905 in a socialist magazine and later printed in February 1906. President Teddy Roosevelt, the very one Glenn Beck derides, called Sinclair a crackpot and sent investigators to establish the validity of his claims. Not long afterward, the original food and safety act was signed into law.

From the FDA’s website:

In fact, the nauseating condition of the meat-packing industry that Upton Sinclair captured in The Jungle was the final precipitating force behind both a meat inspection law and a comprehensive food and drug law.

Upton Sinclair might have changed the food regulation laws in the United States but from the opening scene, the focus is on the plight of the workers.

The book begins with the wedding of Jurgis and Ona, two Lithuanian immigrants and working stiffs. At the urging of family, the couple arranges a wedding ceremony in keeping with Lithuanian tradition. Part of this tradition means that everyone in the community is provided with food and drink by the married couple, only to be paid back later in the evening with extra to start the couple on their life together. Things in America are a bit different and Jurgis ends up being cheated by vendors and partygoers alike. Jurgis responds to this with his typical, I will work harder.

And so far, every roadblock and cheat that Jurgis encounters is met with I will work harder. Sounds like a bootstrapper motto. Somehow I don’t believe that will work for him.

Happy Birthday Upton Sinclair: September, 20th!

Read The Jungle or listen to the audiobook free at Project Gutenberg.