Thursday, October 25, 2007

Recommendations?

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

ain't that the truth!

Kat said...

Anything by Neil Gaiman. I'd start with American Gods, or if you want something lighter, Good Omens is fabulous.

Anonymous said...

there's this series by ted dekker (circle trilogy) just called black, red, and white. I think they are christian, but not really. Less christian then chronicles of narnia, but similar use of some symbolism. Umm... sssss.

Sauce said...

Dead Eye Dick, Kurt Vonnegut.

A good book about a life that didn't amount to much in Southwest Ohio. I can relate. Also, like a great deal of Vonnegut books it involves Hitler, the Nazis, painters, a twelve year old murderer and a neutron bomb going off in Ohio. How fun. Also, delicious recipes.

Sauce said...

Oh, also, avoid black holes.

Duby said...

I'm going to have to disagree with Kat. If you've read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, Good Omens is an insignificant, team-written puff of pedantry. Might as well go watch Dogma. And if you want a literary battle between Heaven and Hell, better to read Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials series (before the movie!)

(Sorry Kat! I read Good Omens right after Hitchhiker's, so it (and its wit) really didn't have any chance. That being said, I've been ridiculed for not having read Gaiman-only books by people with glorious tastes in literature. So, based on my trust and faith, I have to second the anything-by-Gaiman recommendation, so long as it's not for a book co-written with Terry Pratchett.)

For something less dense than Jorge Luis Borges but with more gravitational tug, try Italo Calvino. Good places to start: If on a winters night a traveler and Cosmicomics. You can't go wrong with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and once you read a Milan Kundera, your thoughts will never stop riding along its contours.

If you have some fudge-room on the "small" part, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children is incredible. I haven't particularly enjoyed most of his other books, though.

Another book even larger but also heavy and superlatively engaging: A Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin.

Somewhat smaller: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.

For something to toy with your mind: Phillip K. Dick

For something to toy with your mind more playfully than Phillip K. Dick: Stanislaw Lem

While we're on the Eastern Europeans, there's always Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, one of the best Russian novels of the 20th century. Karel Capek's War with the Newts reads very quickly and easily, but if you take it slow enough, you catch a whole other level of satire. And if you're looking for a good treatise against Utilitarianism, look no further than Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground. No matter how many times I read it, the first page (through the last!) always amazes me.

Remember the old animated Watership Down movie with the song by Art Garfunkle? The book is even better...

and any memoir by Richard Feynman is severely entertaining.

I also second the Kurt Vonnegut.

I'm reading George Eliot's Middlemarch right now, and it's damn good. I had to follow up Harry Potter with something that shouldn't be flown through.

Well, these are all pretty standard or canonical suggestions, so there's a fair chance you've read all or some of them. One of my friends gave a hearty recommendation for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

**Longest, most arrogant comment EVAR!!!!**

Lev bez hrivy said...

Other possibility in the intersection: little buxom better half during honeymoon... :-)

Anonymous said...

ragtime, by e.l. doctorow

Anonymous said...

Another Roadside Attraction - Robbins

jazzmoth said...

The black hole in the center of The Milky Way.

It's a good read, and it's possibly the oldest black hole in the galaxy! Now *that's* good literature...

Hey, you wanted recommmendations.

Wolfger said...

I just finished reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and I have to heartily second Kat's recommendation. This book sucked me in much faster than most books do, and I finished reading it in near-record time.

I also have to recommend my long-time favorite: The Amber series (the 5 books on Corwin are better than the 5 books on Merlin, but all 10 are good) by Roger Zelazny.

Anonymous said...

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss:

http://www.patrickrothfuss.com/content/index.asp

Kieran said...

If you are interested in some mystical and historical speculation I've got to recommend Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. It's a heady adventure.

Oh yes, I must also agree to avoid black holes. Good suggestion. One time, my uncle . . .

Constantin said...

If you like fantasy: Robert Jordan's 'The Wheel of Time' series.

If you like funny teenage novels for an easy read: 'Maximum Ride' by James Patterson.

If you like philosophical stuff that makes you think: anything by Paulo Coelho.

George Orwell's '1984' is a must-read classic, of course.

I would also recommend the audio versions of the books above.

Anonymous said...

aka: Reason why I was late to work this morning...

Billy Splatts! said...

We Die Alone

Anonymous said...

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Skyler said...

For non-fiction: A Brief History of Almost Everything. One of those books that gives you the strangest facts ever to slip into conversation.

CeeKay said...

You want writing that really sucks you in, try The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, starting with Interview with the Vampire. She creates the most richly detailed world I've ever read, and absolutely makes you fall in love with her characters (I personally have been obsessed with Lestat for years). If you're not into vampire stories, you certainly will be. :)

The Squeaky Wheel said...

Words that Work: It's Not What You Say it's What People Hear
-Dr. Frank Luntz

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I also loved the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Time Traveler's Wife. After reading the Time traveler's wife, I couldn't sleep for a week it marked me so.

Caleb White said...

Douglas Adams is a genius.
hitchhiker's all the way. I'm on my 4th read through the 5-book trilogy!

caren said...

I started to put Hitchhiker's Guide on here, then figured you'd already read it. So - if not, I heartily recommend it!

THe Holographic Universe sucked me in and, like Brief History of Almost Everything, addresses black holes.

Snowdrops said...

Have you tried any of David Mitchell's works? Cloud Atlas, Ghost-written, number9dream and Black Swan Green are all absolutely amazing in their own unique ways. He managed to create incredibly believable worlds not only with his keen eye for details in describing physical settings but more importantly keen ear for authentic dialogue, whether we're talking about 19th century Australia, 80's middle-class Britain or a post-postmodern futuristic Asian world. His novels suck you right in, you'd get really involved with the characters and you literally can't put the book down until you're finished. An exemplar of the "black hole" book.

A Paperback Writer said...

Hmmm... I've been a big Hitchhiker's fan for roughly 25 years (my all-time favorite chapter is ch.15 in Restaraunt at the End of the Universe, about time-travel and grammar), but I still loved Gaiman's and Pratchett's Good Omens.
And since the time-travel theme keeps popping up here, may I suggest Connie Willis' Doomsday Book? I've read it 7 or 8 times now, and I still have to read it all in one sitting, since I can't stand to put it down once I start. (It's sequel is wonderful, as well -- To Say Nothing Of the Dog. And then, of course, I must recommend the original work on which the latter is based -- although it has nothing to do with TIME travel, just regular travel. That last would be Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat [To Say Nothing of the Dog].)

alw said...

three books that really sucked me in:

"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" by Michael Chabon

"The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen

"The Ministry of Special Cases" by Nathan Englander

chana said...

I have to say this is THE most interesting, flame-free comment thread I have ever read on indexed!

Esp. considering I have no interest in reading any of these books with the possible exception of A Brief History of Almost Everything.

Lemons said...

I've missed several classes due to being sucked in by the Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe.

Anonymous said...

Lois McMaster Bujold. Excellent characterization combine with exquisite plots to make very good reads. Scifi: the Miles books. Fantasy: the Chalion books or the newest (although yet to be finished, boo hoo argh) series, the Sharing Knife set.

Patricia A. Mckillip. Her (mostly fantasy) stuff is really prose; it's beautiful to read. It has the most delicate flavors. The characters are so complete, that your heart breaks for them; so perfect that it hurts. Start with the Riddle Master of Hed trilogy.

Thanks for the suggestions, folks, I'm going to go hit my used book store now!

-The Plot Thickens

abi said...

Oooh, my very favorite recent-ish find is the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, starting with The Eyre Affair. Assuming you loved Douglas Adams (and who doesn't?), you'll be sucked into Fforde's books - what Adams did for sci-fi, Fforde does for literature. Enjoy!

booktapes said...

King Dork by Frank Portman

Jim said...

Apathy by Paul Neilan, its a comedy book...its different then most book, but its funny and interesting

Tara said...

Oooh, everything by Barbara Kingsolver, if you like well-written fiction that makes you laugh and cry. Particularly Prodigal Summer (a little lighter) and The Poisonwood Bible (quite a bit heavier). Also (by other authors whose names I can't remember), The Secret Life of Bees, and The Mermaid Chair.

Sonya said...

I'll second the Kingsolver recommendations, especially Prodigal Summer. My most recent favorite fiction book is Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.

At the moment I'm reading Complications by Atul Gawande for my book club. Non fiction stories about doctors and medical care. Brrilliant, compelling writing. I'm at a point where he's going to say something very good or very bad about a major surgery that I had, and I'm dying to know what he thinks.

Thomasd said...

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris is one of the best books I've read recently. For a short, though-provoking read, try God Debris, by Scott Adams

Anonymous said...

Frank Portman's "King Dork" was something I stumbled on last year. Simply hilarious. It is billed as teen fiction, but is a really great depiction of being an outside in high school (like many of us), and obsessing about bands and rock & roll (Rush and Pink Floyd were mine from the '80s). One of my recent favorites!

Anonymous said...

The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell, about Jesuit missionaries making first contact with singing aliens. It's a book about faith, which sucked me in despite my claim to atheism. And if you read The Sparrow, you need to complete the story with its sequel, Children of God. Both are quick reads that lure you into finishing in one sitting.

Shulamit said...

Hm...books, black holes, and first
babies.

Sasuke said...

Fahrenheit 451

Small, heavy, and sucks you in for sure.

Anonymous said...

Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged!
or the Fountainhead
George Orwell 1984

 
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