Saturday, May 15, 2010

Reading List

Yeah, so I know that we do this every quarter or so and then I always promise that I'll compile all of the suggestions into one Master List of Wonder and then I don't and then I need suggestions again but can't find the old posts since I don't use the tag section correctly and then I need to ask you all again--but I need some book suggestions.

Specifically, I need some AMAZING, COMPELLING, cannot-put-it-down-and-pity-the-non-reading-fools-as-you-read-it type of books. I have read so many duds this year that it isn't even funny. I've also started a lot of books and just said, "forget it" halfway through because I couldn't bring myself to care about what happened next. I miss that "swept away" feeling you get with a really good book.

I just finished "Between the Assassinations" and it was fine. Not great, not good, just fine.

I can't even begin to list what I like or have read but I do love Wally Lamb, Dave Eggers, John Steinbeck and Margaret George, so similarly genius authors would be good. I also like historical fiction or things set in interesting time periods or situations that I can read more books about, like stuff about old circuses or interesting royal families, etc. Does that make sense? I'll read just about anything though, which is what has led to this problem of reading so many books that kind of suck.

So please tell me the last REALLY good book that you read and you loved.

51 comments:

Melanie said...

Did you ever get that book Some Girls about Lauren Jillian and her life in the harem? I got it after I read the link you gave us to an interview with her. I haven't finished it yet, but I think it will be really good.

Meghan said...

I loved THE BOOK OF NEGROES but I don't remember author. Same with WATER FOR ELEPHANTS.

have you read Margaret Atwoods Orxyx and Crake or my ultimate favoutite book that was ever written.... A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry it will make you laugh and cry and be angry and you will learn more about India and the socila caste system with the backdrop of the social reforms.... mesmerizing I tell you ( In my humble opinion)

Anonymous said...

Two great books -
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
Enjoy!

Ashley said...

I LOVED Water for Elephants and A Fine Balance, both led to the interest in circuses and India.

I'll look into the other suggestions and put them on the list (I am trying to keep the list as I go this time, as an Amazon Wishlist). Some Girls is a great suggestion, can't believe I forgot about that one!

Anonymous said...

Snow Flower & the Secret Fan and Peony in Love by Lisa See are great books about women in 17th and 19th century China. Both are good, can be a little hard to get into but then I couldn't put either down.

Someone just suggested Devil in the White City by Erik Larson to me. I haven't read it yet but it's about a serial killer during the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. It's on my hold list at the library.

Signed, Mata Hari by Yannick Murphy was good, I read that a couple years ago.

Also, The Sultan's Harem by Colin Falconer was long, but good.

Hope you enjoy the suggestions- your blog is a daily read for me and I always end up laughing my ass off!

Jessica

SugarBritches said...

Pillars Of The Earth. Best book ever.

Kristie said...

Have you read a child called it by Dave Pelzer? Its wonderful, I am not much of a reader but i could not put it down. Also he has 2 or 3 other books that are amazing.. I just finished Chelsea Handlers My horizontal life, not great but ok kinda entertaining.. Any thing by Carl Hiaasan, Skinny Dip was my favorite!

Jillian, Inc said...

The Help was wonderful. Wally Lamb actually has a new book out but can't recall the title. One of my favorites of all time is Snow Falling on Cedars. Read it cover to cover on a 8 hr. flight to Hawaii. I even forgot to drink wine I was so enthralled. Eden Close by Anita Shreve is another of my all-time favorites. It's one of her early novels and very, very good. Happy Reading! I'm reading Laura Bush's bio right now and I don't think you're probably interested in that. haha.

Jewelie said...

Neil Gaiman, specifically American Gods. The man is a genius, and as far as I'm concerned can do no wrong.

Duel Living said...

Phillipa Gregory is sort of historical fiction/trashy suck you in reading. She wrote "The Other Boleyn Girl". It's a series that you won't be able to put down.

Anonymous said...

The Help by Kathryn Sockett

Anonymous said...

Kate Morton, "The Forgotten Garden"

Lisa See, "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" or "Shanghai Girls"

Historical, well written and original. Loved them! Thank you for your wonderful blog! You brighten my day! Arlynn

Ashley said...

Jillian, I was just reading today how she said she disagreed with George about gay marriage and abortion! I also posted not too long ago about something she said that made me realize she wasn't a Stepford wife (can't remember what, though). It would probably still irritate me, but may be interesting. Biographies are so iffy on the writing though, often boring!

Pillars of the Earth was an amazing, awesome, couldn't-put-it-down sort of book. I also loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan--old China-related stuff is great, I've been meaning to read Peony in Love and forgot. Philippa Gregory got me completely hooked on everything Tudor, I read every single thing I could find about them one year. Her later stuff wasn't as good, I didn't think. Child Called It was the saddest book ever, I bought it in an airport and finished it before take off because I couldn't put it down.

I've heard awesome things about the Help and am curious about the Sultan's Harem--a harem-related reading spree could be fun. I'm looking up the others right now.

THIS IS SO FUN!! Can't wait to go to the book store. Keep them coming!

karenparker said...

Try Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah, it was a good read.

constance said...

When I read Water for Elephants, it spurred me to look up lots of circus info. SOme other books I've recently read that made me do research during and after the reading of the book are
"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" It is such a great book. It's fiction, set after/during WW2, written in the form of letters. It made me do research on the Guernsey Islands.

"The Commoner" by John Burnham Schwartz, a novel based on the real life of the current Empress Michiko.

I just finished "The Samurai's Garden: A Novel" and it led me to read up on some facts.

Kenny and Chrissy said...

_Lit_ and _Liar's Club_ by Mary Karr. Memoirs, but must reads.

Meghan said...

If you like things chinese...

Farewell My Concubine by Lillian Lee

Constant Frivolity said...

The Help - Fabulous

The Lady and the Poet - set in 1600's, very good

The Hunger Games - really writter for teens and not my typical read but really, really good

The Politician

Goodbye My Subaru - non-fiction about a NYC writer who buys a ranch in New Mexico and "goes off the grid"

Ashley said...

CF, is The Politician about John Edwards? That's what's coming up and then there are a couple of older fiction books with similar titles, so I wanted to double check.

Katie said...

Molokai and Honolulu, both by Alan Brennert. Both are historical fiction and pretty impossible to put down, though Molokai is slightly better than Honolulu.

Also, I just finished The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne and it was crazy good. It had the kind of ending that leaves you saying "WTF" and wishing it would go on for 10 more chapters. It's really short, though, and easily read in 1-2 sittings.

MzLiz said...

Just finished Girl With the Dragon Tatto, Little Bee and Still Alice (all good).
Water for Elephants (good)
Life of Pi (good/compelling/mysterious)
Peony in Love---tried reading it after Lovely Bones---could not take more "dead people in first person"--so did not finish it.
Pillars of the Earth.
Pearl S. Buck---The Good Earth, Imperial Woman, The Help (pretty good, mostly)

Caren said...

I'm going to totally differ from the type of suggestions you've been offered thus far... (not that they're not great suggestions)

Have you ever read anything by Christopher Moore? He's totally sarcastic, sick and twisted and hilarious. My husband and I both really love his stuff. I really enjoyed the vampire series he writes but he also has lots of other books that are equally as good, check him out!

Megness said...

Have you read "The Other Wes Moore" yet? It's by Wes Moore and about his life and another man named, you guessed it, Wes Moore. Same name, different life. Very interesting.

Also, there is one about Abe Lincoln being a vampire hunter that looks fairly fun. Haven't had time to read it yet...

Tara said...

I loved the 19th Wife, that was FANTASTIC. I'm also almost finished with a history called The Worst Hard Time about the dust bowl and its causes. I also enjoyed another history called The Big Burn that details a huge forest fire and how it gave birth to the conservation movement and the Nat'l Forestry Svc.

Uh, I have a degree in history...I like reading histories. :)

Anonymous said...

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a great book but I would suggest The Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff. Normally I wouldn't be the type to use multiple exclamation points but this book deserves it so... read it!!!!

Life of Pi was also good (although if I never read it again I will die happy).

Sarah @ Cole's First Blog said...

I'm going to add myself to the list of people recommending Water for Elephants (one of the best books I've ever read), and also suggest Midwives by Chris Bohjalian (or really anything by him). And Middlesex is hood, too - can't remember the author right now.

Deb said...

Winner of the National Book Award: A Novel of Fame, Honor, and Really Bad Weather by Jincy Willett. Dark, funny.

Foreskin's Lament by Shalom Auslander. Brilliant. Made me laugh out loud, and books never do that.

Lift by Kelly Corrigan. It will make you cry, and it's only 94 pages long, so it takes about 45 minutes to read.

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje. As close to Steinbeck as I can get you.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Riveting.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. You have sons.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Depressing as all get-out, but amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Deb said...

Now I'm checking out everyone else's suggestions. The Devil in the White City is good. Not brilliant literature, but really interesting and a solid page-turner. I drove my husband crazy with all the "did you KNOWs" that came out of that book. You have to be able to process dual narratives--the story alternates chapters between the story of the World's Fair and the serial killer. I dig that kind of thing, but not everyone does.

I loved Edgar Sawtelle and thought it was one of the best books I'd read in a long time (but that was a year ago, so I've said that a few more times about other books since). But it's essentially Hamlet, so there's a "been there, done that" quality about it.

Someone reco'ed Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Loved that book. I assume everyone's read it by now, which is why I never recommend it. Does that make me a reading snob?

Katie said...

I have to 2nd MzLiz's recommendation of Still Alice. Amazing, seriously.

Lisa said...

I'll add my vote for "The Help" - the only reason I put it down was because I had to sleep and go to work. I still finished it in four days!

Also - did you read "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova yet? That was awesome, if a little slow in the middle. Here's a recap: "A young woman searches Europe for her missing father, who had been trying to locate the grave of Vlad the Impaler, the bloodthirsty feudal lord who inspired Bram Stoker's Dracula. Along the way, she comes across a slew of vampires who try to stop her." But it's not a hokey, romantic Twilight-style vampire story at all.

Another vote for "The Hunger Games" and book 2, "Catching Fire"; book 3 is due out in August.

I've been reading some biographies on my Kindle. "The Glass Castle" is good (sad in an Angela's Ashes kind of way), and so are "Pretty in Plaid" and "Bright Lights, Big Ass" (funny contemporary stories by the same woman). I just read "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" - it was entertaining, but not that great.

Joe Hill is Stephen King's son and I just read his "Horns" and "Heart-Shaped Box," along with a book of short stories. He's pretty good!

muddypelican said...

Moloka'i - so good about a hawaiian girl who has leprosy, some others: Driving Sideways, Somebody Else's Daughter, Speak Softly, She Can Hear.

muddypelican said...

And The Glass Castle. Excellent, and I'm Down

Getthebubbles said...

I second the recommendation for Christopher Moore - A Dirty Job and Lamb are his best!

I love travel books by Paul Theroux too.

Kelly said...

Horns by Joe Hill, Absolutely couldn't put it down. Loved it. Check it out on Amazon. Let me know what you think!

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of great suggestions so far- I second many of them...Water for Elephants, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I also really loved Loving Frank. But I have to pass on my obsession with the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. Could. Not. Put. Them. Down.

Kristenrocha1 said...

I just finished The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo....very good. From the middle to end I couldn't put it down ( sort of a slow start) and The Help is my most recent favorite...Water For Elephants is great (espcially since you mentioned circuses specifically) and if you're look for something light and hilarious Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea is awesome...you can't put it down and you'll laugh out loud.

kristenrocha1 said...

Ahhh.....and I just saw someone recomended The 19th Wife....I second that. I had forgotten all about it (which doesn't say much) but is really really good!

Happy Reading!

Amy said...

You may have read this one already since it's crazy popular, but is one of my all-time favorite books. "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey somebody. Really good book - hard to put down.

Anonymous said...

i like the Porter Osborne trilogy by Ferrol Sams ("Run with the Horsemen", "The Whisper of the River" and "When All the World was Young")

the.bleach said...

I think you would like "Her Fearful Symmetry." It's a ghost story by the author of "The Time Traveler's Wife." It's gripping.

kristin said...

My favourite of all time is still The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher--the kind you don't want to end....

The Thirteenth Tale.

The Book Thief.

In the Shadow of the Wind.

Plus, it never hurts to re-read the entire Anne of Green Gables series and all of Madeleine L'Engle's stuff!

Shelly said...

I've been in a similar boat this year, and it is cured by reading "The Help." I seriously don't want to put it down, but also don't want it to end. You know, one of those?

librarytigger said...

Second the Time Traveler's Wife, and for funny I like Jill Connor Browne's Sweet Potato Queen series (start with the SPQ's Book of Love) and Laurie Notaro is funny too. Mary Stewart wrote some good stuff, and the Nonesuch Lure by Mary Luke is good and has good historical descriptions. I also liked David Sedaris' essays.

For fiction, Katherine Kurtz has written some good stuff set in medieval times, as well as a bunch of stories about the Knights Templar.

Anonymous said...

I second "Shanghai Girls" Very good read.

I am just starting "Suite Francaise"...

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/09/books/review/09gray.html

eileen1220@aol.com said...

since you listed Wally Lamb as one of your favorites, you may have already read "She's come undone", if not, grab it, it is a read from cover to cover book in one sitting (if you can get away with it) kind of book. I can't remember my password for posting so am doing it anon. hope you enjoy. Eileen

Sarah I. said...

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. It's really, really good...historical fiction and it's a series so if you get hooked, you have other big, fat, juicy books lined up to read!

sarah said...

The Pillars of the Earth and its sequel, World Without End, were both excellent.
Wally Lamb's newest book is The Hour I First Believed, and it's awesome.
Historical fiction: The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
One of my favorite books ever is An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg. Absolutely amazing. The book on tape is also excellent.

sarah said...

Sorry, I'm a tool. I missed the part about circuses-read Spangle, by Gary Jennings. It's about a circus directly after the Civil War. His book Raptor is good too-it's about a hermaphrodite in the late fifth and early sixth centuries.
The Dogs of Babel, by Carolyn Parkhurst was odd, but sucked me right in.

Constant Frivolity said...

Yes, the politician is about John Edwards. Well-written and a very interesting look inside politics. I think you would really enjoy it. Even though my politics don't always (almost never) jive with yours :), this is a book for all. Kind of makes me wonder if we ever "know" who we are voting for.

kerriew said...

Someone already suggested the Book Thief, but I second that. SO good!
I'm saving this for when I need a book too - will be excellent.

Meghan said...

Have you read GEEK LOVE ?

Also, Lamb the Gospel According to Biff was a great read.