Books You Are Still Thinking About

Still not much to report that would be of interest to you. Life-type stuff, and work, hunger for time and attention sometimes. As they say, dem's da breaks. When that happens, sometimes you just need to do something utterly absorbing. Knitting's not that for me - when knitting I can still have a conversation or get lost in my own thoughts. Most of the time that's great, but not always. Yoga can be absorbing, but you can't do yoga on the subway.

Actually, what I need is a good book.

Not just a good book. Or an entertaining book, even, though that would be a bonus. A good book. A book you're thinking about more than a year after you read it. Probably the last books I read like this were the His Dark Materials triology, and possibly Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. So I want to hear from you - what is the last book you read (fiction or non-fiction) that you are still thinking about, more than a year later?

Posted by jess at March 19, 2007 10:27 AM | TrackBack

Twilight (and its sequel, New Moon) by Stephenie Meyer. Absolutely devoured them both in a week (together they are close to 1000 pages). I'm a YA librarian, and read tons of books, and this series is amazing. P.S. i love His Dark Materials, you may want to try Ruby in the Smoke by Pullman, as well.

Posted by: Jennifer at March 19, 2007 10:46 AM

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Posted by: jenna at March 19, 2007 10:48 AM

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell and The Curious Adventure of the Dog in the Nighttime for fiction, and Don't Let's Go to the Dogs tonight for nonfiction. They are all on my "re-read immediately when the semester's over" list.

Posted by: Ashley at March 19, 2007 10:49 AM

Stranger Things Happen, by Kelly Link. It contains slightly bizarre, somewhat whimsical and absolutely beautiful short stories. I read her over and over again, and have passed on the book to at least three people whom have called it their new favorite read!

Posted by: Faith at March 19, 2007 10:51 AM

Sorry--it's The Curious INCIDENT of the Dog. Clearly it didn't stick with me as well as I'd thought :)

Posted by: Ashley at March 19, 2007 10:51 AM

I'll second Ashley on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; for nonfiction, the book "Working Poor: Invisible in America" was really an eye-opener.

Posted by: alyson at March 19, 2007 10:55 AM

Have you read "Reading Lolita in Tehran"? I read it several years ago and I'm still thinking about it and howmuch I loved it. It's a memoir, but it also talks about books and literature. It's quite absorbing and thought-provoking.

Posted by: Sarah at March 19, 2007 10:56 AM

I read a lot of books. these are some favorites from last year and this year, too.

Atkinson, Kate. Case Histories
McCarthy, Cormac. No Country For Old Men
Boyle, T.C. Tortilla curtain
Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia
Rash, Ron. One Foot in Eden
Straight, Susan. A Million Nightingales
Goodman, Allegra. Intuition
Egan, Jennifer. The Keep
de los Santos, Marisa. Love Walked In
O’Neill, Heather. Lullabies for Little Criminals
Thomas, Scarlett. The End of Mr. Y
Berlinski, Mischa. Fieldwork
Setterfield, Diane. Thirteenth Tale

Posted by: rebecca at March 19, 2007 10:57 AM

I second The Kite Runner - it's one of the most amazing books I've ever read. I just finished On Beauty by Zadie Smith and liked it very very much. I'll probably still remember it a year from now.

Posted by: grumperina at March 19, 2007 11:00 AM

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger

I second the recommendation for Reading Lolita in Tehran.

Posted by: Christy at March 19, 2007 11:01 AM

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I think everyone should read this book.

Posted by: Ingrid at March 19, 2007 11:01 AM

I am having much the same problem with finding good books I haven't read before. This is my favorite in the past not just one but two years: Naomi Mitchison, The Corn King and the Spring Queen. It will be medium-hard to find (although in NYC, who knows, it may just be at the library). This is the Literature choice. If you want something less dense, there's always the Robin McKinley area, or Patricia Wrede's Dealing with Dragons series, or Diana Wynne Jones. I honestly just go into the YA section at the library and pick stuff up randomly when I want fluff.

Posted by: eileen at March 19, 2007 11:03 AM

i read this one not too long ago but i really loved "never let me go" by kazuo ishiguro. then there's my favorite book of all time "the wind-up bird chronicles" by haruki murakami :) but i think that you already knew that.

Posted by: gleek at March 19, 2007 11:04 AM

I also loved Jonathan Strange, if you liked His Dark Materials. It's like Harry Potter for grown-ups.

Other good ones:
- The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. I didn't think that much of it when I read it but it still haunts me.
- The Namesake by Jumpra Lahiri. I found myself wondering what the characters were doing after I finished the book.
- The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. Also totally haunting.
- But Enough About Me, Jancee Dunn. For laugh-out-loud-great-for-the-beach-or-vacation-amusement.

Sometimes when I'm at a loss for a good book I go back and read a great one for childhood. One favorite is Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. Delicious.

Posted by: rfg at March 19, 2007 11:07 AM

1. Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin
2. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
3. The Gold Bug Variations, by Richard Powers

Posted by: Sami at March 19, 2007 11:08 AM

a long time lurker, finally de-lurking. Books: The Kiterunner, The Time Traveler's Wife, The Bookseller of Kabul.

Posted by: Meaghan at March 19, 2007 11:09 AM

hey, jess here -

actually, steph (gleek), i debated putting the wind-up bird chronicles on my list of the last books i read that stayed with me, but i read it under a year ago and felt i should play by my own arbitrary rules ;)

the kite runner i've read. solid. interesting. i have some critiques of it, for sure, including that i felt it was heavy-handed toward the end. but it did get me thinking, and that is the kind of thing i'm looking for.

these are great suggestions - keep 'em coming!

Posted by: jess at March 19, 2007 11:11 AM

oh, and sami, interesting that you should suggest winter's tale! i've been considering that one for some time now.

Posted by: jess at March 19, 2007 11:12 AM

Another fan of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan is a fascinating, non-fiction book. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis hit the mark for me also. Then of course there is Perfume, by Patrick Süskind, one of my all time favorites. All are books i either have, or would, read more than once.

Posted by: holly at March 19, 2007 11:19 AM

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Posted by: Julie at March 19, 2007 11:20 AM

Jonathan Franzen: How to Be Alone
Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier and Clay
Walter Miller: A Canticle for Leibowitz

And though I haven't read it yet, I've heard amazing things about Dave Eggers: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Posted by: Leyna at March 19, 2007 11:20 AM

I'm reading some Philip Dick, Man in the High Castle- I don't know if you're into sci-fi, but I promise it's not the geeky beam-me-up kind of thing- a much more contemporary break from reality. I highly recommend Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch- a must read. One of my favorites that still gives me a shiver when I think about the plot....

Posted by: craptina at March 19, 2007 11:27 AM

Oh, The Eyre Affair (and subsequent books) by Jasper Fforde and The Company books by Kage Baker. Not sure that they are what you are looking for, but definitely were engrossing for me.

Posted by: holly at March 19, 2007 11:38 AM

Watership Down never left me. Neither did anything by Robin McKinley. And I fell so madly in love with Memoirs of a Geisha.

I'm discovering Charles de Lint, urban fantasy, and it's not life-shaking or anything but I really have enjoyed everything I've gotten my hands on so far. :)

Posted by: Kit at March 19, 2007 11:43 AM

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Posted by: Margot at March 19, 2007 11:50 AM

It's been posted before, but The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger is the best book I have ever read. I adore it. I read it in two days, then reread it right away. I've read it about 6 times in three years.

Posted by: Kerry at March 19, 2007 11:54 AM

It's been posted before, but The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger is the best book I have ever read. I adore it. I read it in two days, then reread it right away. I've read it about 6 times in three years.

Posted by: Kerry at March 19, 2007 11:55 AM

I loved a Winter's Tale when I read it over a decade ago! Bought it but haven't reread it.
Fav books in recent times:
The Corrections by John Franzen
Three Junes by Julia Glass

Posted by: OldRound at March 19, 2007 12:03 PM

A few I didn't see mentioned (though I endorse many that were listed):

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Atonement by Ian McEwan (who I first wrote as Ewan McGregor. Whoops)

And my perinneal favorite: Pastoralia by George Saunders

Posted by: doulicia at March 19, 2007 12:23 PM

Some great recommendations there. I loved Time Traveler's Wife and curious incident of the dog in the night-time, both were good escape books but the second will only last you a day or two. I just finished "Mara and Dann" by Doris Lessing. Recommended to me because I loved "His Dark Materials". I enjoyed it muchly (althoguh HDM is still better).

Posted by: schrodinger at March 19, 2007 12:35 PM

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Posted by: amy at March 19, 2007 12:38 PM

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Also her short stories, The Interpreter of Maladies

Posted by: Allegra at March 19, 2007 12:44 PM

I'm also delurking. I find myself thinking of the Broke Diaries. There's a big conference coming up at my job and I need something that will crack me up and that book does it each time.

Also the Half Blood Prince. The new one's coming out soon.

Posted by: Tamara at March 19, 2007 12:46 PM

Non-fiction would be the Dorothy Parker biography by Marion Meade. Fiction would have to be My Dirty Little Time Travel Secret - seriously weird, but entertaining!

Posted by: Becki at March 19, 2007 12:52 PM

Hmm, I completely detested the Murakami book that you mentioned. Recently I've been reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's short stories. Also loved loved loved The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger. I have an unreasonable (or maybe not so unreasonable) prejudice against bestselling novels, mainly as they all seem to be either chicklit or celebrity biographies. But that book is one which really deserves the merit.

Over the summer whilst on holiday, I read 'The Sea, The Sea' by Iris Murdoch which was hard to get into but is still making me thing and affecting me. She is an excellent writer - strange how I found myself, a fifteen year old girl, able to relate to the central character - a fifty-four-or-thereabouts year old man.

Posted by: Anushka at March 19, 2007 1:02 PM

What is wrong with me that I read the title of your post to be "Boobs you are still thinking about" - yikes!

My favorite YA books (very similar to His Dark Materials) are the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Love love love. And have them to lend if you'd like.

Anna Karenina is another old favorite. And Their Eyes Were Watching God, Confederacy of Dunces, and The Moviegoer. I can go on forever, but I'll stop now.

Posted by: MeBeth at March 19, 2007 1:07 PM

2 short story collections:

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (a Brooklynite ;) )


You are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett.

Posted by: connie at March 19, 2007 1:07 PM

1. A Fine Ballance - Rohinton Mistry
2. The Life of Pi
3. Outlander (series) - Diana Gabaldon

The first two are very literary and wonderfully able to make you look at your life in a whole different way. The last (series) is pure cream in that it can take you away from everything and make you fall into a world of fiction in your head. I love stories like that. Pure indulgence.

Posted by: Trish at March 19, 2007 1:09 PM

If you haven't read it, you should because I know you'll really get a lot out of it: _My Brother's Keeper_ by John Edgar Wideman. It's the memoir of John Wideman and his relationship with his brother who is in jail on death row; it's interesting to see his perspective on race and on a basic level it's interesting to see how two people with such similar experiences growing up could turn out so differently (one was a Rhodes scholar, successful writer and professor while the other is a muslim convert stuck in prison and didn't even kill a man). I read it ... 6 or 7 years ago? It still makes me think.

I recently read _Stiff_ by Mary Roach, which is in a chatty journalist style-- the history of cadavers-- but it's relatively light and entertaining and also gets you thinking about your responsibilities to the world after you've gone.

This isn't new, but I loved _Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius_; _She's Come Undone_ by Wally Lamb-- also not new, but compelling.

Posted by: life× at March 19, 2007 1:14 PM

I agree with Curious Incident, Life of Pi and Timetraveller's Wife, but I would also like to add a couple more.

Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is excellent, and A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth is delicious. Both of those I couldn't stop reading for sheer love of them, but hated it when they were done.

Posted by: Bryony at March 19, 2007 1:15 PM

I second (or third) Life of Pi, Perfume, Jonathan Morrell & Mr. Strange, Time Traveller's Wife and heartily add Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, The Devil in the White City (reconstructed non-fiction), and Brick Lane.

Perfume & Time Traveller's Wife for me qualify as 'thinking about for a year', but I wouldn't read them again for reasons that would ruin the plots to talk about. The ones that were the most fun AND thought provoking were Prodigal Summer & Jonathan Morrell - but they're all really good, or I wouldn't have put them on the list.

Posted by: Rachael at March 19, 2007 1:28 PM

Almost forgot - one of my all time fav authors - Neil Gaiman - American Gods is the best in my opinion.

Posted by: Rachael at March 19, 2007 1:35 PM

Enduring Love, by Ian McEwan. One of the best beginnings ever.

Posted by: Abby at March 19, 2007 1:54 PM

Delurking, because I must suggest: Gone With the Wind (I'm from Indiana and was "forced" by a co-worker to read it when I moved to the South. I am so glad I did); also, Handling Sin by Michael Malone (funny!)

Posted by: Lee Ann at March 19, 2007 2:00 PM

*The Time Traveler's Wife - LOVED IT.
*The Island by Victoria Hinslop - I bought this in paperback in Taiwan, not sure if it's out yet here, but it's amazing and I can't wait to read it again!
*I've been on a young adult book kick lately, and I'm working my way through The Dark Is Rising series - excellent books, in the vein of His Dark Materials, Narnia, etc.
*Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides - I've read this about once a year every year for the past 3-4 years.
*The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - suspenseful and wonderful.

Posted by: Laura at March 19, 2007 2:12 PM

A Prayer for Owen Meany. I read it years ago and it's always stayed with me, it's just wonderful.

Posted by: heide at March 19, 2007 2:17 PM

Books I can't get out of my head:
Dogs of Babel - short and haunting
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
A Thousand Days in Venice and the sequel A Thousand Days in Tuscany - really beautiful memoirs of a woman who moves to Italy.
Bel Canto
A Prayer for Owen Meany

Posted by: Claire at March 19, 2007 2:27 PM

I can't believe I didn't mention The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. Very very good read.

Posted by: Claire at March 19, 2007 2:29 PM

I'm de-lurking and I have to be blaphemous and say that I didn't care for Life of Pi, couldn't get into it at all despite the intersting concepts behind the story. Oh well, here are my three:
Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni (biography of a young female iranian/american jounalist, could not put it down!)

Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks (very enlightening and thought provoking look at women in the islamic faith)

Tess of the D'ubervilles by Thomas Hardy (classic fiction, read it 8yrs ago and still think about it)

Posted by: Cora at March 19, 2007 2:34 PM

I read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel 2 years ago and I still can't get it out of my head. Very recommended.

Posted by: Heather at March 19, 2007 2:56 PM

Well, I think that most of these have already been listed, but here they are anyway...

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
Bel Canto - Ann Patchett
Truth and Beauty - Ann Patchett
Prodigal Summer - Barbara Kingsolver
Outlander series - Diana Gabaldon
Bread Alone - Judith Ryan Hendricks
The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory
The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley

Enjoy your reading time!

Posted by: Mandy Harris at March 19, 2007 3:25 PM

The first book that came to mind for me is Possession by A.S. Byatt. I read it over 10 years ago but still think about it. I love its layered plot and academic setting.

Another more recent read is Blindness by José Saramago. This book's characters haunted me for a long time.

I also love Pullman and Murakami. Wind-up Bird Chronicles is another affecting read.

Posted by: Nicole at March 19, 2007 3:33 PM

I would have to agree with the previous commenters about Curious Incident. I would also add Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden, The Cripple and His Talismans by Anosh Irani, and The Girls by Lori Lansens.

Posted by: Knitography at March 19, 2007 3:41 PM

In French, Testament à l'anglaise de Jonathan COE et Clara et la pénombre de Jose Carlos Somoza. I think the English titles are The Winshaw legacy and perhaps The art of murder for Somoza (the original title is Clara y la penumbra).
Enjoy your reading ! Et à très bientôt,

Posted by: anne at March 19, 2007 3:42 PM

Another book lover here!

I'd like to second A Prayer for Owen Meany - awesome book. Actually I loved everything John Irving has written.
Some other good reads that I still think about a year later are:
The Story of B and Ishmael - both by Daniel Quinn
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Geek Love - Katherine Dunn
The Alchemist - by Paulo Coehlo
The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino
Love in the Time of Cholera - by Marquez
Only Cowgirls get the Blues - by Tom Robbins
The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon

If you're looking for books of epic proportions:
Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (my all time favorite!)
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
The Handmaid's Tale - Margret Atwood
Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon

Posted by: Jody at March 19, 2007 3:48 PM

Most recent: On the Beach by Nevil Shute
Longest lasting impact: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Posted by: krista. at March 19, 2007 4:10 PM

hi, new blogger, just started looking at your awesome blog...for a book, House Of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski. I can't think of anyone who has read this and has not been affected by it, and definitely thinking about it for years afterward. it's big, thick, and incredibly captivating. I recommend it all the time

Posted by: Stephanie at March 19, 2007 4:20 PM

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Posted by: Debra at March 19, 2007 4:34 PM

I will probably never stop thinking about "The Navigator of New York" by Wayne Johnston.

Posted by: B. at March 19, 2007 4:39 PM

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
The Human Stain by Philip Roth
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

Posted by: Valerie at March 19, 2007 4:50 PM

Delurking for Garcia Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude. Simply amazing.

Posted by: abumblingbee at March 19, 2007 5:02 PM

Oh books. I love books. But books really depend on mood so here's a REALLY random list.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (interesting take on the story of Jacob and his sons)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (sweet coming-to-age story)
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Wicked by Gregory Maguire (inspiration for the musical by the same name but a lot darker and more political)
Anything by Margaret Atwood
The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (my first Hardy novel and the one that REALLY stuck with me)
The Giver by Lois Lowry (I swear, it never EVER gets old)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. (I love this book.)

And I could go on, but yeah. :) I agree on Curious Incident... especially if you're looking for a short read.

Posted by: Chelle at March 19, 2007 5:17 PM

I'm kind of surprised and at the same time not surprised at all that no one has mentioned any Stephen King. I understand that he is an author with which people either have a marvelous love affair, or an incredibly strong enmity. Either way, you should give the Dark Tower series a try, since it is and at the same time is NOT your typical Stephen King type of story. I find it engrossing.

Also, I love The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Thought it was worth a mention.

Posted by: meena at March 19, 2007 5:27 PM

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and Extremely Loud and Incredibly CLose by Jonathan Safran Foer

Posted by: Noo at March 19, 2007 5:27 PM

P.S. - I wanted to thank you, since I found the His Dark Materials Trilogy through your blog, and because of that, ended up also finding The Dark is Rising Sequence.

Oh! And there's a set of books by Garth Nix for YA, Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen that are pretty good.

Posted by: meena at March 19, 2007 5:28 PM

A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin

Posted by: Nancy at March 19, 2007 5:33 PM

The two books I'd wholeheartedly agree with, are Saramago's Blindness and Nicole Krauss, the History of Love.

I would add: J.M. Coetzee "The Lives of Animals" perhaps the most thought-provoking and wise book I've ever read. Also, by Mark Fisher, "The Ice at the Bottom of the World" may keep you up nights, and Barry Lopez's Resistance is good for something both ethically startling and sheer linguistic power. Amy Hempel's short stories also are worth tracking down.

Posted by: Sharon at March 19, 2007 6:09 PM

The Dogs of Babel by Carole Parkhurst (it's about more than just teaching a dog to talk, or else I wouldn't have finished it -- or thought about it 2 years later!)

Aloft by Chang-Rae Lee

Anything by Margaret Drabble

Posted by: Kelley at March 19, 2007 6:10 PM

I will second:

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
(which had a blurb on it that said "Harry Potter for adults" which was high enough praise to get my attention though it has nothing at all to do with magic but everything to do with a different world parallelling our own)

I will also second:

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
(about the people who live in the worlds accessed by retired subway stations in London -- totally engaging!)

And, if you haven't read the Time Traveler's Wifem it is one of the most beautiful heart-wrneching love stories I have ever read.

Good luck finding your next book.

Posted by: ana at March 19, 2007 6:36 PM

I second "On the Beach" by Nevil Shute and "100 Years of Solitude." Both beautiful books that have lingered with me for many years.

Posted by: Jackie at March 19, 2007 6:41 PM

I will third the suggestion of Jasper Fforde - I absolutely love his work, especially the Thurday Next series. For travelling, I love to read the books by Lilian Brown; short and sweet and they don't aks as much concentration as when I'm reading Virginia Woolf.

Posted by: Judith at March 19, 2007 7:18 PM

I'm a Sci Fi/Fantasy nut, though it certainly isn't all I read. I'm particularly fond of any good example of world-building. In the Sci Fi/Fantasy bracket, I have to nominate China Mieville (Perdido Street Station is a good start) and The Orphan's Tale: In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente.

I've got lots of nonfiction books I'm still thinking about, but that's probably because a lot of them presented information relating to my various obsessions and I like rummaging through the knowledge accumulated in my brain as often as possible.

Posted by: Corvus at March 19, 2007 7:20 PM

A Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks - a fantastic story set during the black plague in England in the 1600s (sounds hideous I know but it is great).
And To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - a classic which I love to re-read.

Posted by: Rose Red at March 19, 2007 7:25 PM

Nana, by Emile Zola.

Posted by: bernie at March 19, 2007 7:43 PM

Hmm, I've been thinking all day about what books I could suggest, and, wow! 73 comments?!
My suggestions for you are: Geek Love and White Teeth (although I remember you read On Beauty and didn't like it). Someone brilliantly suggested Winter's Tale, and I wholeheartedly agree! It is epic. Middlesex and Jasper Fforde's Thursday series are entertaining and cute, therefore easy subway reading. I really liked The Namesake when I read it, and now I can't remember what it's about... So I will totally go see the movie with Kumar from Harold and Kumar go to White Castle playing the lead :) And I didn't really get the Life of Pi: it's a simple tale and you're supposed to read all sorts of philosophical insights into it, but I didn't see it...
Well, it looks like you have quite a list to choose from. Good luck!

Posted by: Veronique at March 19, 2007 7:46 PM

I'm always worried people will judge me by my taste in books,but here goes: Push by Sapphire, Kathy Reichs novels (The tv series Bones is based on these, she is much older in the books), What looks like crazy on an ordinary day and I wish I had a red dress by Pearl Cleage. I also really loved Memoirs of a Giesha and have re-read all of these several times. I'll be back if I can remeber anything else interesting.

Posted by: Wanett at March 19, 2007 8:13 PM

Oh and I liked both of Danza Senna books. I have almost all of the books I listed if you want to start a knitter book swap ;)

Posted by: wanett at March 19, 2007 8:19 PM

I third A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I wouldn't marry my husband until he read it. Don't read the last 50 pages on the subway, though. You might get some odd looks.

Posted by: Karen at March 19, 2007 8:34 PM

Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. My absolute favorite book - something that I plan for and do read once every 2-3 years. A cross between Vonnegut (the wit/sarcasm) and Huxley (the meaning) but, well, a bit more intense. But not as hard as most Russian authors. Brilliant. You sound like you are, but you really need to be ready for this.

Posted by: Katyaflutes at March 19, 2007 8:36 PM

Two books jump to mind. The first is The Giver by Lois Lowry. It's a YA and the ending is so maddening that I can't put it into words. I do a Newbery project with my students every October and I am always amazed by what my students' reactions are to this ending. There are two books as follow ups/sequels, but I haven't gotten around to reading them yet. The other book is The Pilot's Wife. I read it on a plane (mistake) and my husband was traveling quite a bit then (another mistake) but it was a glorious read and I really had to ponder the ending.

Posted by: Ava at March 19, 2007 8:53 PM

If you are looking for something great to read that will allow you to zone out while on the train I would have to reccommend the following:

1. Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi. The title is a little misleading but I read it 8-9 years ago and I still love it.

2.Waiting by Ha Jin- Excellent read; main character is caught between the old and new China....

3. The Tamarind Woman by Anita Rau Badami- Great story about a western raised girl of Indian descent and her relationship with her mother.

4. The Best of Simple by Langston Hughes- I love any of this series which also includes Simple Returns.

5.The Living is Easy by Dorothy West- I really enjoyed this one.. It is worth sinking your teeth into.

I also agree that Caucasia, The Namesake and The Poisonwood Bible are also great reads.

Happy Reading!

Posted by: Rem at March 19, 2007 9:22 PM

You've got many good ones already but I'll add Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund.

Posted by: Mama Urchin at March 19, 2007 9:46 PM

I can come up with some more once I get my books and can look at them :)
But in the meantime... Ayn Rand books, in particular Fountainhead always draws me in, make me think and is long so it should last you a while on the subway :)

Posted by: stinkerbell at March 19, 2007 9:54 PM

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.

Posted by: Beth at March 19, 2007 10:10 PM

The Wars by Timothy Findley (or anything by Timothy Findley, really) and The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector. ALso, if you like the short stories, I also recommend Skin by Roald Dahl .... Quirky like his more kid-oriented stories but darker.

Posted by: Caitlin at March 19, 2007 10:42 PM

Yes! The Kite Runner. Also, Eat, Pray, Love also mentioned.

I would add The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, a memoir, and The Tender Bar, also a memoir.

Please, let's do this more often. I thrive on book recommendations! I must try to get through Jonathan Strange and Dr. Norrell again. I stopped.

Posted by: Deborah at March 19, 2007 11:12 PM

Absolutely the Time Traveller's Wife.

Also anything by Barbara Erskine, or Diana Gabaldon. You could always go (back) to the Narnia Chronicles.

What about classics you never read growing up? Dickens, Bronte(s), Austen?

Or Agatha Christie, PD James, Dorothy L Sayers?

Posted by: Catherine at March 19, 2007 11:19 PM

If you haven't read The Little Prince, oh, you must. ALL of you!

Posted by: Deborah at March 19, 2007 11:30 PM

Oh, Jess, how will you choose?

These haven't been listed, but are books that took hold of my mind in various ways:

*I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith (YAish, shockingly perfect coming-of-age story)

*The Bell, by Iris Murdoch (I really did not expect to like this one when I read it for a class, and ended up unable to stop thinking about it)

*A Room With a View, by E.M. Forster (because sometimes Forster is exactly right)

*The Vintner's Luck, by Elizabeth Knox (I think I read it the first time when I was 16, and I'm still thinking about it nearly 10 years later... Definitely one of my all-time favorites, despite being virtually unknown)

Posted by: Eva at March 19, 2007 11:38 PM

Infine Jest and (seconding) Confederacy of Dunces

Posted by: Renee at March 20, 2007 12:40 AM

Ooohh. what a fun question:

The latest Robert Oppenheimer biography by Kai Bird

The first volume of the bio on Eleanor Roosevelt by a woman (wiesen cooke, or something to that effect)

Barbara Kingsolver: her book of essays or

Poisonwood Bible or

Prodigal Summer
Mists of Avalon
The Devil in the White City
T.C. Boyle: Drop City
Fahrenheit 561 (right number?)

I am reading the The Snow flower and the Secret Fan right now ... entertaining but not earth shattering ... similar to how I felt about Memoirs of a Geisha. Historical Fiction/Soap Operas

Amy Tan, on the other hand is more thought provoking and very enjoyable.


I'd better stop!

Posted by: Jessica at March 20, 2007 1:20 AM

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult. I second the Poisonwood Bible -- I love that book enormously! That and King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild are two of my favorite books on Africa.

Posted by: Carrie at March 20, 2007 3:02 AM

I'd say The Time Traveller's Wife.

Fabulous sci-fi meets romantic drama.

No, really.

Posted by: Spider_knit at March 20, 2007 5:43 AM

The namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

It is the best book I've read in years. A true gem.

Posted by: Artinreality at March 20, 2007 5:43 AM

The God of Small Things by Ahrundhati Roy. Astounding book. Also, another vote for the Life of Pi. Apparently I have a thing for Indian authors. Perhaps it is because they have such an intimate yet formal relationship with the English language. These two are very intellectual, yet readable books. Good luck. One last thing, I thought Interpreter of Maladies was way better than the Namesake, mostly because it was a collection of short stories that never seemed to loose momentum.

Posted by: Rebecca at March 20, 2007 9:05 AM

I just finished last night Anna Quindlen's new book Rise and Shine. Not too sappy or dysfunctional, just a generally all around good read.

Posted by: nina at March 20, 2007 9:40 AM

Speaking of Stephen King, the Colorado Kid is very good, although I listened to it on audio, and I think it is probably better that way. Has anyone read Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill? He's Stephen King's son and this is his first book. It's supposed to be really good.

Posted by: kelly at March 20, 2007 9:41 AM

I second anything by George Saunders. (and Neil Gaiman)

Also, Amiee Bender write beautiflly surreal short stories - I highly recommend "The Girl in the Flammable Skirt".

And if you want to kick it old school, there's always "The Great Gatsby", "100 Years of Solitude", or "For Whom the Bell Tolls".

Posted by: lexer at March 20, 2007 9:52 AM

Books that I still think about years after: The Alchemist and The Poisonwood Bible. I just finished a great book a couple months ago. It hasn't passed the year test yet, but I have a feeling that it will: Midnight at the Dragon Cafe.

Posted by: Christy / Not Hip at March 20, 2007 10:22 AM

Delurking to add on The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. I read it for a class in college and have been thinking about it ever since. I also got into the Thursday Next series and I'm gonna go against the grain and vote a thumbs-down on Life of Pi. Extremely Loud and Close by Jonathan Safran Foer was mentioned a few times, but no love for Everything is Illuminated? I read it twice in one year. Fantastic. Good luck choosing!

Posted by: Jess at March 20, 2007 10:38 AM

Ok, I did a quick skim of the comments, and think that these books haven't yet made the list. I'm telling you, they're fabulous. The kind that you don't want to end, you know?
*The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Klay, by Michael Chabon.
*Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
*One Good Turn, by Kate Atkinson. (Perhaps the only sequel to be far superior than its predecessor.)
*The Guards, Ken Bruen.
Hope you enjoy them! Check out, too.

Posted by: anniemade at March 20, 2007 10:53 AM

I have to recommend "Blindness" by Jose Saramago. I read it 3 years ago & I still think about it.

Posted by: jennib at March 20, 2007 11:24 AM

Hi - although mentioned, Bel Canto for sure, and Don't Let's Go To the Dogs Tonight.

Must also mention The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. unbelievable. And just read The Observations, by Jane Harris - compulsively readable.

Posted by: Allegra at March 20, 2007 2:15 PM

I've had to go through my past book lists to see what I can offer, apart from Life of Pi and The Time Traveler's Wife:

The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shalimar the Clown, Salman Rushdie
The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield (very similar to the previous)
Smilla's Sense of Snow, Peter Hoeg
Anything by Alice Hoffmann or Jacquelyn Mitchard
The Dune saga, Frank Herbert and others

Posted by: MJ at March 20, 2007 2:31 PM

Jonathan Safran Foer's _Everything Is Illuminated_

Eden Robinson's _Monkey Beach_

GG Marquez's _One Hundred Years of Solitude_

etc. etc.

Posted by: kodachrome at March 20, 2007 2:34 PM

I second (or third) The Kite Runner.

anything by TC Boyle (Tortilla Curtain and Drop City are 2 I recall right now)

Blue Water, A. Mannette Ansay

Blackbird House, Alice Hoffman

The Bottoms, Joe Lansdale (loved this book, but did not like anything else by this author).

Posted by: Kim at March 20, 2007 2:46 PM

I second Kelli Link!
In the City of Shy Hunters-Tom Spanbauer, or anything else by him and anything by Aimee Bender

Posted by: LA at March 20, 2007 2:54 PM

Another lurker here, de-lurking to recommend Stoner by John Williams. And no, it's not about what you might think :)

Posted by: Melyssa at March 20, 2007 3:21 PM

I'd also recommend Kelly Link, especially as you like Murakami. But one book which has offered me huge amounts of pleasure and food for thought on repeated reads is Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock.

Posted by: Lady S. at March 20, 2007 3:22 PM

Everything by Margaret Atwood is wonderful, but my favorites by her are "Alias Grace" and "The Robber Bride." I read them both regularly.

I recently read "Howards End" by E.M. Forster and already want to read it again.

Both "Damage" and "Sin" by Josephine Hart are also books that are constantly on my mind.

"Bellefleur" and "Beast" are both Joyce Carol Oates novels that I read over and over.

Everything else I love has already been mentioned. Thanks for writing this question! Now I have a very long list of books to looks for. YAY!

Posted by: Renee at March 20, 2007 3:24 PM

Oh what wonderful books in the list above, what fun!

The books that have informed my view of the world in the past few years:
Letters to a Young Poet - Rainer Marie Rilke (Truthful, inquisitive)
Plainsong and Eventide - Kent Haruf (Simple characters, beautiful prose about humanity)

Lovely and Interesting recent reads:
The Madonnas of Leningrad - Debra Dean (Absolutely incredible - based in reality)
Three Junes (as mentioned above)
Beneath a Marble Sky (some prosiac writing but fun)
Snow - Orhan Pamuk
You also will enjoy A Winter's Tale with all of the New York historical references.

Just for fun recent reads:
The Book of Lost Things - Connely? (Fun fantasy)
Anything by Christopher Moore
In The Shadow of The Law (Just for the firm lawyers, cheesy, not really about firm life as we know it, but there are some parts that smack of truth)

Posted by: Mandi at March 20, 2007 4:57 PM

These might not be too recent, but here are some of my favorite fiction selections:

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde (who has a fantastic name)
The Awakening, Kate Chopin
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Patrick Suskind

Posted by: Specs at March 20, 2007 6:45 PM

Ian McEwan's Saturday; Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway

What an amazing list everyone has assembled...

Posted by: Kelly at March 20, 2007 7:46 PM

Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
The Winter's Tale - Mark Helprin
The Line of Beauty - Alan Hollinghurst
On Beauty - Zadie Smith
The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing
Mysteries of Pittsburgh - Michael Chabon
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

And...of course, the book secretly on my top 10 of all time, and the book that I most wish I'd never read so I could have the experience of reading it again for the first time...[drum roll]...Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann, the four-time winner of best dressed woman in television. LOVE!

Posted by: Sarah at March 20, 2007 7:49 PM

My all time favorite is Ahab's Wife A Novel by Sena Jeter Nashlund
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland
Three Junes : A novel by Julia Glass
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
The Birth of Venus: A Novel by Sarah Dunant
The Glass Castle : A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
The Whole World Over Julia Glass
Year of Wonders Geraldine Brooks
Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen hysterically quirky
Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund - a Memoir on Marie Antoinette *****very good

Posted by: gina L at March 21, 2007 1:52 AM

Yes to: The Sparrow, A Fine Balance, Waiting, Kite Runner, The Awakening and The Devil in White City. I would add The Things They Carried and The Shadow of the Wind.

Yes to short stories: Interpreter of Maladies (I much prefer her short stories). I would add Runaway and A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies.

For classics: I would suggest Wallace Stegner's Big Rock Candy Mountain.

But, my favorite book in years, hands down without question John Steinbeck's East of Eden. Written with such simple beauty it's effortless yet epic. I can only imagine how things would be different if I read this instead of The Grapes of Wrath in high school. Loved it.

Posted by: Diane at March 21, 2007 1:53 AM

still thinking about the inheritance of loss by kiran desai and white teeth by zadie smith, almost a year later. and reading on beauty by zadie smith now.
and i'm loving the recommendations in your comments... adding some new titles to my 'to read' list as well.

Posted by: amisha at March 21, 2007 8:30 AM

For the posters whol listed Snow by Orman Pamuk and Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, please email me. I just purchased Inheritance of Loss yesterday, and I had Snow in my hands but put it back. I'm very interested in hearing what you have to think!

Posted by: Deborah Eichel at March 21, 2007 8:42 AM

The Kite Runner

Posted by: Coleen at March 21, 2007 9:24 AM

If on a Winters Night a Traveler, by Italo Calvino.

Posted by: Sophia at March 21, 2007 12:11 PM

For the love of Pete! What a flood gate you opened with that tiny request!!!!!ok, heres my two cents....Household gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove- I read it 6 years ago and I still think about it.

Posted by: Olga at March 21, 2007 1:59 PM

I would have to suggest "The Snow Fox" by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer. If you are at all interested in fantasy books, the Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin is by far one of the best of the genre. The first 4 books are out with 3 more on the way.

Posted by: Jenn at March 21, 2007 2:43 PM

Hey Jess --
I recently read The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland and while doing so I thought you would enjoy it. The bonus: if you read it and don't find it to be a super memorable book for the plot line and characters, it will at least tease you into wanting to plan a trip to Italy. Say, with your old buddy from Munster?

Posted by: joyolivia at March 21, 2007 4:00 PM

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold and Small Island by Andrea Levy. I actually read both of them years ago, but they've never left me.

Posted by: Kathryn at March 21, 2007 4:05 PM

Anything by John Irving! Especially a Prayer for Owen Meany and the Hotel New Hampshire. Also the Liar by Stephen Fry. And Assasination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (best as an audiobook, I think). Not that you don't have enough books to try already :)

Posted by: Elli at March 21, 2007 6:53 PM

Hi Jess,

Well, it's disturbing as hell, but I still remember much of it years later: Geek Love

Reading right now and really adore and keep recommending to people I care about: Eat, Pray, Love

Read recently and loved and lent to friends: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and both novels by Jonathan Safran Foer

Recently finished and really loved: Bastard out of Carolina

Running with Scissors and A History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters - still think about both of these a few years later.

Next on my list that I've heard amazing things about: The Alchemist

Happy reading!

Posted by: Marcela at March 21, 2007 9:57 PM

Delicious read: Outlander
Thought provoking: Time Traveler's Wife
Laughed outloud and shed tears: A Prayer for Owen Meany
Couldn't put down (once I got past p135): Lonesome Dove
New YA novel: An Abundance of Katherines
Nonfiction: A Civil Action
Read every year: Pride and Prejudice
And any Pat Conroy or Roth

Posted by: jill at March 22, 2007 12:10 AM

"My Name is Asher Lev" by Chaim Potok.

Posted by: jaws at March 22, 2007 10:53 AM

Wow! This will keep you busy for years!
I must chime in to second Snow Flower & the Secret Fan by Lisa See, and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Sparrow (and its sequel The Children of God) by Mary Doria Russell and so many others...
I would also recommend Kindred by Octavia Butler. It's difficult to read at many points, but definitely worth it. And Empire Falls by Richard Russo.

Posted by: Risa at March 22, 2007 1:24 PM

Fiction: Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon - I read it at least four years ago and I loved it so much I just wanted to be able to read it again for the first time. My favorite book of all time (don't see the movie, it's awful), The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay. So good I reread it every 2-3 years, and everyone I have *EVER* recommended it to has loved it (don't break my streak!).

Non-fiction: The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. Fascinating book, really made me think, and I often find myself remembering bits and pieces of it, thinking about it.

In general terms, I also love Neil Gaiman, particularly American Gods and Neverwhere. I also am in the midst of reading a really interesting and thought provoking trilogy (it's sort of Sci-Fi, but not really) by Kim Stanley Robinson - the first book is called Forty Signs of Rain.

Finally, if you like Philip Pullman (and I loved HDM, too), you might try the Sabriel trilogy by Garth Nix. It's another sort of YA fantasy-ish series, similar in feel, also excellent.

Posted by: Anne at March 22, 2007 1:59 PM

Real story: Left to tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza
Its the experiences of a Rwandan holocaust survivor - POWERFUL stuff
Fiction - The Namesake

Posted by: PT at March 22, 2007 3:34 PM

To add to the general overwhelm-ment...
Michael Cunningham's 'Specimen Days'.
Still thinking about it a year later.

Posted by: Carson at March 22, 2007 8:35 PM

I'm trying to think of ones that haven't been mentioned.
I loved The Hours by Michael Cunningham, especially if you haven't seen the film.
I have also just discovered Jane Austen, and adored Pride and Prejudice. Might not be meaty enough for what you're looking for though.
I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but I found Freakonomics really interesting.
And I'm going to mention Memoirs of a Geisha, because it was probably the most beautiful book I have ever read. It provoked such stunning images to me.

Posted by: Sarah at March 25, 2007 1:21 PM

The two best books I've read in the past year:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly CLose by Jonathan Safran Foer.

And The Known World by Edward P. Jones.

The book I've read more times than any other:
Anne of Green Gables

Posted by: Theresa at March 26, 2007 11:00 AM

People have suggested so many good books! I would add:

- The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco

- The Bonesetter's Daughter, Amy Tan

- The Seven Sisters, Margaret Drabble

- Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

BTW, of those books that have already been mentioned, The Time Traveler's Wife is a must-read. I wasn't thrilled by The Poisonwood Bible or The Life of Pi or the Outlander books.

Posted by: Jodi at March 26, 2007 7:43 PM

Just finished The Thirteenth Tale...great story!

Posted by: mel at March 27, 2007 10:34 AM

"Into the Forest" by Jean Hegland. I read it about 5 years ago and still think about it!

Posted by: Patricia at March 27, 2007 2:39 PM

Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino. This one is hard to find - you may have to special order but it is worth it. I have read most of his others, which were amazing, but this one really stuck with me, years and years later! It's one of those books that as you're reading you're thinking that you never could have come up with this in your own imagination. It hurt my brain like philosophy (in a good way).

Posted by: jodi spacek at March 28, 2007 1:45 AM

Ooh! I'm bookmarking this post for the comments alone! What a fantastic set of lists!

My favorites:
Life of Pi
Brideshead Revisited
East of Eden
Evidence of Things Unseen
The Quincunx

and of course rereading all the old classics is always a good standby. :-)

Posted by: Mary at March 30, 2007 8:15 PM

My two favorite books:

"The Periodic Table" by Primo Levi, which is a memoir told through stories of chemistry

"Confederates in the Attic" by Tony Horwitz, which is a non-fiction tale of a reporter's trip though the South to learn how modern southerners view the Civil War

They might be the type of thing that you have to be into, but oh well!

Posted by: Marianna at March 31, 2007 2:12 PM

Wow, I can't believe no one has mentioned Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. Breathtakingly beautiful, piercingly elegaic: it made me want to be a better person. I rationed myself to make it last longer.

Another book I doled out, for different (darkly comic) reasons: Under the Frog, by Tibor Fischer. Don't write him off if you've only read his other, lesser books--this one is genius.

Posted by: Katy at April 4, 2007 2:53 PM

I'm a bit late, but my $.02...

The most mind-blowing book I've ever read: Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin. Non-fiction, the second book by an autistic author. Insane, glorious, absolutely brilliant. I made everyone I knew read it and eventually lost my copy that way, must go get another one, now that I'm thinking about it.

Possibly my other favorite is The Once and Future King by T.H. White. Brilliant and hilarious and sad and terrible and painful and refreshing all at once.

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