Today my blog is three years old, and I hope it keeps going for years to come. It has all been fun! Also, as of yesterday, there are 280 book reviews here, not including the weekly reflections on the fiction in The New Yorker (I still hope to add something similar for short stories published elsewhere, but finding the time . . .).

In an effort to personally revisit some of my favorite books (or, if not my favorites, books that have remained with me nonetheless), and to re-recommend them, I’ve decided to start a new monthly feature (or, at least, see if a new monthly feature fits here). It’s a simple list of five books worth reading or revisiting that were previously reviewed on The Mookse and the Gripes.

I’m going to try to recommend books that fit the month in some way (for example, most of the books on this July list emphasize the summer), but who knows? Links in the text are to the original post. Now, on to it.

  • The Ghost Writer, by Philip Roth (original review from July 4, 2008). This is not a summer book (it’s a crsip New England winter’s night followed by a painfully clear winter’s morning), but I’m including it here because it was one of the first books I reviewed on this blog, and Roth became in many ways the revving motor keeping this blog moving in its early days. It is still my favorite Philip Roth book.
  • The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides (original review from July 11, 2008). Now this is a summer book. Eugenides makes you feel the sticky heat as he tells this wonderful, awful tale. If you’ve only read Middlesex, I’d say you haven’t read Eugenides’ best.
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (original review from February 8, 2009). I’m sure most people reading this post have read this book (right?). But I can’t help but include it because, again, this book just emphasizes the summer: the wind blowing through the room, the lawn parties, the swimming pool. Plus, it’s a book that can be read every summer and never wear out.
  • A Month in the Country, by J.L. Carr (original review from March 8, 2009). Ahh, this is a lovely, peaceful book about a summer month in the country. A World War I veteran is called to restore a recently uncovered medieval judgment painting in a church in Oxgodby.
  • The Halfway House, by Guillermo Rosales (original review from May 17, 2009). Not a feel good summer book, but the empty heat of Miami is omnipresent in this quasi-autobiographical book about a highly literate Cuban revolutionary (a “double exile”) who spends time in a decrepit halfway house ran by abusive manager. It’s a cruel book, and one that not everyone will like, but I think its discomfort nicely done.
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By | 2016-07-06T17:29:14+00:00 July 1st, 2011|Categories: Monthly Recommendations|10 Comments


  1. sakura July 1, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I might just have to pick up The Virgin Suicides this summer as it’s handily sitting on my shelf. I read Middlesex last year and was really blown away by it. Many have said The Virgin Suicides is better so I’m looking forward to it. Thought the film was wonderful.

  2. Kevin J MacLellan July 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Congratulations Mookse (Trevor)!!
    You’ve been prolific these last three years. Here’s to many more!
    I’ve enjoyed your blog very much and can truly say I’ve been inspired and educated by it. So, pat yourself on the back and keep up the good work. ‘Ya dun good, lad.’
    “A Month in the Country” sounds like it’s right for me. I’ll take your advice.
    All the best,

  3. Liz from Literary Masters July 1, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Congratulations on your third anniversary! I have been following your blog (and KFC’s) for just a short time, but I’m sure I’ll be checking it out for a long time to come. Thanks for recommending The Ghost Writer to me a few weeks ago–I enjoyed it very much, and now am just starting The Counterlife. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time, found on this site, was Senselessness by Horation Castellanos Moya. Stunning. And about The Great Gatsby–I think I’ve read it at least five or six times and I had my book groups read it. Another winner by F. Scott Fitzgerald–Tender is the Night. Wow. Again, congrats on your blog birthday!

  4. Trevor July 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Sakura, it’s redundant for me to say so on a post where I recommend a book, but I certainly recommend you read that book :) .

    Kevin: A Month in the Country right for you? Yes, it is!

    Liz, I’m glad to hear about The Ghost Writer and that you found Senselessness. Did you know Castellanos Moya has a new books out? It’s Tyrant Memory. I have it but still need to read it!

    Thanks to all for the well wishing.

  5. Liz from Literary Masters July 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I have it on first request when it comes into the library, but if it takes too long, I think I may even go to the bookstore for this one!

  6. Lisa Hill July 4, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Congratulations, Trevor! I don’t always have time to comment but I check out your posts every time they bounce into my inbox. I like your broad grasp of the international scene as well as the focus on Canada, and I value your honesty and discerning taste. I’ve never been disappointed in a purchase I’ve made on your recommendation:)

  7. Trevor July 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I’ve never been disappointed in a purchase I’ve made on your recommendation:)

    Thanks! I hope to keep that up, Lisa!

  8. Joe Phelan July 6, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Ah A Month In The Country you’re putting me in mind to read it again.

  9. Betsy July 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Congratulations on three years, Trevor! As Kevin says, here’s to many more! I’m looking forward to your new section – 5 recommendations made together in a given month. Somehow, considering the books as a group from which to pick one seems very inviting. Already the Roth and the Eugenides beckon.

  10. Trevor July 18, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks Betsy. Nice to see you’re back from vacation! I myself am on a short one right now following a couple of tremendously busy work weeks. I hope to get caught up on here soon!

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