Ok, I don't really expect to read 100 books before the baby is born. Do I own 100 books that I have never read. Yes, yes I do. I do hope to get through at least a book a week though, which would get me to 20 (in addition to mommy books and such).
I just finished The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy. When I was 15 I read Tess of the d'Urbervilles which I just thought was spectacular (I actually remember telling Camille's mom all about this book). I mean, Tess is wronged, sexually, by a noble and it costs her her reputation and later, her husband. In the end of the book, she stabs the guy to death. STABS HIM TO DEATH!!!! Then she flees to Stonehenge, where she dies. How is that not a great book for a 15 year old girl? After reading that, I bought every Hardy book I came across. However, I never read any of them. Yes, a little strange, but then I went to college for 12 years (and three degrees).
Anyway, back to The Mayor. Other than the older English and the English dialogue, this is another great book. Michael Henchard gets drunk one night and sells his wife and young daughter. Fast forward 19 years, when his wife, after realizing the sale wasn't legally binding (and finding out that her "new" husband has died) returns to find Michael. Michael, disgusted with himself for what he had done, swore off alcohol, and turned his life around. His wife finds him to be one of the richest men in town and he has become mayor. Yet, alas, this is but the beginning of the story.
Although Michael has sworn off drinking, his personality and temper have not changed, and the rest of the book tells of his downfall due to both. This downfall involves a Scotsman, who he convinces to stay in town and work with him, an old lover, and his daughter, who turns out not to be his, but husband number 2's. Every action of Michael's becomes painful, as the reader realizes the dire consequences for his behavior. Like a horror film when you wonder, Why are you going into that room! In the end, he is able to do what is right, but it takes every last bit of energy and life he has.
The Mayor doesn't have the feminist appeal of Tess but Hardy's understanding of human character is amazing. He is a great writer and his characters are consistent. While I'm going to read a book by someone else now, I will return to the stack of Hardy books that I own.