Book Recommendations

Book Recommendations: Since I did some extra work for the Gleewarts train trip last weekend, I now have a nice gift voucher courtesy of the folks at Gleebooks. I don’t know what to spend it on. Suggestions? Other than Harry Potter, my most recent book purchases have all been non-fiction or comic books. Which books have really been floating your boat lately? Stuff I know I like: fantasy or sci-fi that tells a real, engaging story (like Atwood, King, or Dick), biographies (both historical and recent), annotated classics, humorous essays (a la Steingarten or Bryson), really good short stories (a la Saki or Dahl). Stuff I don’t think I like: chicklit, William Gibson-type sci-fi, Pratchett (sorry, love), angsty autobiographies of people with horrible childhoods who go on Oprah, thrillers and spy books. That said, I’ll give anything a try. So come on, help me make a shopping list!


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  1. Laurel K Hamilton?
    Or have we already had this discussion? hehe…
    I like Raymond Fiest as well…

  2. Have you ever read the The Belgariad series by David Eddings? Its fantasy but its so engaging I just had to read every single one.

  3. Rodd’s got a couple of Feist‘s books, but I haven’t read any. They seem sorta “Lord of the Rings”-ish, and I should’ve mentioned that – while I read LoTR – I’m not a huge fan. Too much scenery, too many battles, too much poetry, too little humour.

  4. I just read a fantastic book called “The Accidental.” It’s about a family from London who go on summer vacation. I can’t really explain much more but it might be the best book I’ve read so far this year and it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

  5. Now THAT is a recommendation! It’s going on the list. 🙂

  6. Cook books are good, but we have a lot. It would have to be a MUST HAVE book!

  7. “Century Rain” by Alistair Reynolds LOOKS like hard sci-fit but it’s not. It’s a great story and quite spooky at times. Think film noir in space, and that’s about the closest I can get to describing it. I keep forcing it on people and so far everyone has liked it quite a bit.

  8. Oops. Sci-FI, of course. I don’t know what sci-fit would be; science fiction with fitness tips?

  9. World War Z, if you haven’t read it already. Verbal history of the zombie war, and surprisingly down-to-earth and human. Or House of Leaves– if that’s not annotated, I don’t know what is. I know those were popular back when they came out, but just in case you missed them.

  10. Have you read any Alexander McCall Smith books? My not be your kind of thing, but I really enjoyed both the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and also the 44 Scotland Street books (although, I think part of my fascination with the Scotland Street books is that the story is set in Edinburgh, and I can visualise much of where things are taking place).

    Also, I’ve enjoyed Kate Atkinson’s books – Case Histories, Not The End Of The World, Behind The Scenes at The Museum.

    On more of the Harry Potter side of things, have you read and of the Artemis Fowl books?

  11. I read the first Artemis Fowl book a few years ago, but I didn’t enjoy it much. Maybe it was because it was being hyped as the new “Potter” so much. I should give it another go.

    And thanks for all the recommendations… Recently popular stuff is good, because I probably missed it!

  12. My “most favouritist” book ever is Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.

  13. Oh, and John Hodgman’s book, The Areas of My Expertise is riotous if you like his sort of humor– things like “Secrets of the Mall of America”, “What You Did Not Know About Hoboes”, and other completely fictitious trivia.

  14. When I haven’t been reading HP, I’ve been enjoying “My Life in France” by Julia Child this summer. I’ve been cooking from her book lately as we’ve been watching La Tour, so it’s been pretty cool to learn about how she fell in love with France and French cooking. It’s been inspiring some not-so-healthy, but tasty dishes lately. I’d recommend it to a foody not feeling too calorie-conscious.

  15. Ooh, French food is definitely under-represented in our collection. It’s going on the list…

  16. Just to go with this theme, have you read “Julie and Julia”? It is the story of a woman called Julie cooking her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” (which she started as a blog). It’s been re-released with a horrid chicklit cover, but you can probably still find the (non-garish-pink) original version. And did I mention Julie is a Buffy fan?

  17. I like to buy anthogolies and then it hopefully leads to a love affair with authors i find there. I also love McSweeneys quarterly and the McSweeny’s editor, Dave Eggers, just released a book called “What is the What” which i want to read.

  18. Anything by Robin Hobb (except the first book in the latest trilogy strangely enough), I have been addicted to her for 10 years and get horribly excited anytime anything by her comes out. The Assassins trilogy – her first, was perhaps the best.

  19. I love me some Robin Hobb. In fact, I met Robin Hobb when I was in Sydney that time and met you! She just happened to be in the country on a book tour (for the aforementioned first book in the latest trilogy, which I really didn’t get into at first, but ended up really enjoying on the second try…) when we needed to kill time waiting for our plane.

  20. Oh I third Robin Hobb, the live ship traders is my fav! but you HAVE to start with the assasins trilogy

  21. Sounds like the Assassins trilogy is the bomb-diggity. Added to the list. 🙂

  22. If you haven’t read the His Dark Materials triology by Philip Pullman yet, I think you’d love it. Slightly Potter-esque sci-fi fantasy. (this is coming from someone who generally avoids the genre)

    My two favorite books written in the past ten years:

    1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon

    2. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides.

    Both won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, with good reason.

  23. The Eyre Affair, start of the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde (yes, two eff’s in his last name). Good for book geeks and English lit majors; funny and engaging — this one has a scene with Richard III done with participation like Rocky Horror.

  24. One vote more the Assassins trilogy.
    More sci-fi, what about Iain M. Banks, Ursula Le Guin, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander:Prydain Chronicle, Dan Simmons:Hyperion, Robert Holdstock:Mythago Wood, George R.R.Martin:A Game of Thrones, Cordwainer Smith, William Gibson:Neuromancer, Greg Bear:Blood Music.

  25. Yep, read Pullman. Loved it, and cried like a baby at the end. Have you seen the trailer for the movie? I got shivers at the sight of Jorik Birnison.

    Ooh, the Chabon and Eugenides are both ones that I always mean to read and yet forget when I get in the bookstore. Those are both definitely on the list.

    Rodd’s mom gave us one the Fforde books a few years ago (not the first one) and for some reason I just wasn’t able to get into it. Maybe if I read the first one…

    And jussi, Neuromancer is my #1 hated book of all time! I can’t stand Gibson. 🙂

  26. OK, read Cordwainer Smith, Robert Holdstock:Mythago Wood, and George R.R.Martin:A Game of Thrones,

  27. I second House of Leaves, The Eyre Affair, and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I read them all in the past six months, and they’re all excellent reads!

  28. Sorry to be so late. I completely second George R.R. Martin, although they’re even more Tolkien-y (battles), but really good.

    I have to recommend a new series I just picked up. The first volume is called the Lies of Locke Lamorra, and it’s a fantasy about a scheming band of grifters & thieves. Think Oceans 11 meets Robin Hood, but set in an alternate Venice. The fantasy stuff is pretty low-key at first; it’s all scams and grifts until you get really into it. I read this on an overnight train from Milan to Barcelona, and I LOVED IT. Great characters, great story. I’m reading the second volume, which just came out last week in the US. The author is Scott Lynch, and it’s all great.

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