List of Modern Classic novels

I’m surprised that I’ve read 9 of the 15 books on this list of Modern Classic novels since I tend to read non-fiction these days. Not only that but I really love several of these books.

Here are my reviews of the books I’ve read:

I think from the remaining books I’d like to read Cloud Atlas and maybe Kafka on the Shore.

What are your modern classics?


People may tell you that literature is dying, but plenty of authors are hard at work redefining the book world with groundbreaking and mind-bending works sure to be read and reread for quite some time. With so many books vying to be the next “Great American Novel”, this is merely a list of those who have earned their eminence and moved a generation some believed was devoid of literacy. Let us know what makes your list of modern classics in the comments.

1. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)

What is it about?

Spanning three generations, this novel chronicles a hermaphrodite’s shift in gender identity in 1960’s Detroit. The story jumps between Greece, Detroit and San Francisco in this moving coming-of-age tale with a twist.

Why you should read it:

While Oprah sang this novel’s praises by including it in her book club, Eugenides is a very skilled storyteller that understands…

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Song of the Week: “No Destruction” by Foxygen

This week’s song has an air of California psychedelia crossed with The Velvet Underground, but still feels fresh.  Mostly I just like the lyric “There’s no need to be an asshole/ You’re not in Brooklyn anymore”.  Enjoy “No Destruction” by Foxygen.


Do you like this song?  Or not?  Heard anything better lately?

Let me know in the comments.


Photopost: Signs of Spring

There is still snow on the ground and a chill in the wind, but it is Spring in New England all the same. On Saturday, my family and I went for a walk in the Arboretum in search of signs of Spring. We visited Drumlin Farm on Sunday where the newborn lambs were a definite sign of Spring.

Movie Review: Africa: The Serengeti

Title: Africa: The Serengeti
Release Date: April 1, 1994
Director: George Casey
Production Co: Graphic Films
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: Documentary | Nature Film | IMAX
Rating: ****

My son and I saw this movie at the Museum of Science twice in the past month because he liked it that much.  I also saw it nearly 20 years ago when it was a new IMAX release.  The movie dramatizes in the large-screen format the annual migration of wildebeest across East Africa’s grassland plains.  Other animals such as lions, cheetahs, zebras, crocodiles, baboons, elephants, giraffes, and hippopotamus are visited along the way as well as the human natives of the Serengeti, the Masai.  There are some cheesy moments (Masai on a mountaintop watching a passing hot air balloon, a newborn wildebeest’s struggle to walk played full hilt for the drama) but overall this is a terrific glimpse into one of the world’s greatest wild places.  And it’s narrated by James Earl Jones who says the word “predator” like no one else.  I could watch it again.

Beer Review: Samuel Adams New Albion Ale

Beer: Samuel Adams New Albion Ale
Brewer: Boston Beer Company
Source: 12 oz. bottle
Rating: **** (8.0 of 10)
Comments: This beer is a recreation of one of the earliest craft beers brewed 40 years ago by Jack McAuliffe whose New Albion brewery had to close up shop in 1982.  It’s a bright golden beer with a thick head and grassy/citrus aroma.  The flavor is sharp with an orange and hints of malt sweetness. The head thins out quickly but leaves some nice lacing on the glass.  This is an easy beer to drink and I hope it sticks around this time.

Book Review: When spiritual but not religious is not enough by Lillian Daniel

AuthorLillian Daniel
TitleWhen spiritual but not religious is not enough : seeing god in surprising places, even the church
Publication Info: New York, NY : Jericho Books, 2013.
ISBN:  9781455523085
Summary/Review: A Christian minister writes several essays about contemporary religious life, challenging people to go beyond seeing God in sunsets and waterfalls and seeking out God in the flawed human beings in the community around them.  Daniel is wise and humorous and at times sounds like a cranky old person (I looked at her author photo, she’s not), but always with the underlying goal of startling the reader into taking their relationship to God and community to a higher plane.
Favorite Passages:

“When you witness suffering and declare yourself to have achieved salvation in the religion of gratitude, you have fallen way short of what God would have you do, no matter what religion you are called to.

And by the way, while I think God does want us to feel gratitude, I do not think God particularly wants us to feel lucky.  I think God wants us to witness pain and suffering and rather than feeling lucky, God wants us to get angry and want to do something about it.

The civil rights movement didn’t happen because people felt lucky.  The hungry don’t get fed, the homeless don’t get sheltered, and the world doesn’t change because people are who are doing okay feel lucky.  We need more.” – p. 9

“At one point, the whole world was safe for animals.  Now their territory is constricted.  Human beings control so much of the landscape and we have huge areas where animals rarely go — schools, hospitals, stores, churches.  So I like to think of the sight of an animal in the airport as a special gift.  We get a glimpse of nature in a sterile place.  We get a dose of animal instinct in a place where we all have to behave ourselves.  It’s as odd as hearing a dog bark in church, and just as wonderful.” – p. 137

“I don’t want to choose.  The church has plenty of tents staked out on the battlegrounds of who Jesus is, and why it matters.  I pitch my tent in the field of mystery, and have yet to nail it down.” – p. 161

“I’m tired of playing by that dull and pedestrian set of rules, which has everything to do with a litigious, factoid-hungry culture and nothing to do with following Jesus.  I don’t come to church for evidence or for a closing argument.  I come to experience the presence of God, to sense the mystery of things eternal, and to learn a way of life that makes no sense to those stuck sniffing around for proof.” – p. 166

“I believe that there really is a connection between who we were raised to be and who we are now. It might bot be a straight line, but you cannot connect the dots.  God works through all kinds of religious communities at different points in our lives.

No spiritual home is all good or all bad. So give thanks for the small and tender blessings of every place that has never been our spiritual home, and for lessons you have learned.”  – p. 182

Recommended books:The Call to Conversion by Jim Wallis, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, and Pray All Ways: A Book for Daily Worship Using All Your Senses by Edward M. Hays.
Rating: ***

Song of the Week: “The Great Boston Molasses Flood” by Dead Milkmen

I thought I’d have to pass on the song of the week since I hadn’t heard anything that tickled my fancy enough to share on this blog.  Then my friend Erik tweeted me a link to the new single by the Philadelphia punk rock legends called “The Great Boston Molasses Flood.”  He noted “When I think of the Molasses Flood I think of you.”

The Great Molasses Flood is an actual disaster that took place in Boston’s North End on January 15, 1919.  It’s well documented in Stephen Puleo’s book Dark Tide and is featured on Boston By Foot’s Dark Side of Boston walking tour (which I lead).  Not only is the song historically significant, it also rocks.