Sunday, June 03, 2007

summer reading.

i don't know how many readers i've been able to lure back in the few days since my little self-imposed exile ended, however, i have a question for you all.

on tuesday, i plan on swinging by the library downtown and becoming the owner of a shiny new district of columbia library card. hooray for free books! (and hooray for a big city system that actually allows residents to renew books online! can you imagine?? chicago, i know you can't.) so, i am going to endeavor to actually utilize the library more than i did back in chi-town, because a) i really should read more and b) i am not made of money, so i can't afford frequent trips to barnes and noble and/or any more bookshelves.

the query here is this: i would love some "good read" recommendations. i have a few books in mind, but in order to adequately fuel my attempt to read more books for longer than say, three weeks, i'll need more than a few. plus, there's an upcoming family vacation in june that will involve little more than sitting around by the water, drinking, and reading - so in particular i'd love to hear about some lighter reads that you've recently enjoyed. none of that "confessions of a prada-wearing shopaholic good in bed devil" stuff, but i'm not looking for proust either, you know? fiction or non-fiction, i'm open to either!

sidenote: since i don't currently possess a library card, and after we moved in here we didn't have tv for about a week and a half, i was propelled to our own bookcases in search of my next read. as i scanned the shelves, i realized that i'd never read Jane Eyre. can you believe that? two english degrees, and that pillar of british fiction ignored for so long? what was i paying them for, anyway??

(i'm enjoying it thoroughly, by the way. i'm only about 100 pages in, but there's already much tromping about the english countryside, overwrought emoting, and of course a somewhat foreboding villian/hero who gallops around on a horse. i do love the classics.)

15 comments:

Jared Goralnick said...

For Fiction, mostly contemporary: try some Murakami (The Wind Up Bird Chronicle or his new book, After Dark, among others), Helprin (Winter Tale is amazing), Kundera (anything really...but certainly Unbearable Lightness of Being is the classic recommendation), de Botton (On Love, Kiss & Tell would probably be your style)

For fiction, classic: if you haven't much Nabokov or Tolstoy you're missing out. Try Fitzgerald's short stories...

For nonfiction, contemporary: you'd love Made to Stick, you might like An Empire of Wealth. Most of my nonfiction borders on business so you might not like that...but certainly you can't go wrong with Friedman or even Gladwell.

Stacey said...

Hey Kate. I'm still here. :)

I, too, have not yet read Jane Eyre, despite having a minor in English and its having been on my bookshelf for YEARS. Thanks for reminding me of it!

Book suggestions for more than chick lit, but less than Proust? That's an idea I can get behind! Here are a few off the top of my head:

-Anything by Bill Bryson (but "Notes from a Small Island" and "A Walk in the Woods" most of all)
-"Under the Tuscan Sun" (movie looked stupid, but book is good so far)
-Any mystery by Ian Rankin
-"Sailing Alone Around the World" by Joshua Slocum
-"True at First Light", Hemingway (kind of)
-"Ibid" by Mark Dunn
"The Hungry Ocean" by Linda Greenlaw

Enjoy!

Esther said...

Have you read Katherine Neville's The Eight or The Magic Circle? I'm partial to all Jeffrey Archer. I just finished Fast Food Nation, Nickel and Dimed and The Curious Incident of the Dog in Nighttime. Stephen Fry's Revenge is also good.

dorothy rothschild said...

For that light read, funny book, I recommend Sam Lipsyte's Homeland, which is a story about a loser guy who gets obsessed with his high school alumni newsletter and his upcoming reunion.

Also, anything by George Saunders.

I enjoyed Claire Massud's The Emperor's Children, which is a recent-ish New York novel about children of a famous writer.

I heart anything by Mary McCarthy, but especially Groves of Academe.

kate.d. said...

oh, so many suggestions already! thanks people (and keep them coming)!

i will look into all this stuff (well, except the kundera, jared - what is it with you boys and the kundera? :) i find him kinda overwrought and tiresome. but we can argue about that later....)

i have heard good things about gladwell - the thinky, New Yorker writer du jour, right? :)

and dot, i haven't read george saunders in a while, but i loved civilwarland in bad decline. any particulars of his you recommend?

DancingFish said...

Thanks for the congrats! It snuck up on everyone I think =)

I second the Bill Bryson recommendation. I enjoyed "A Walk in the Woods." I know you liked "The Poisonwood Bible" so maybe Kingsolvers' "Bean Trees" if you haven't read it yet. I heard her new one "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A year of Food Life" is suppossed to be really good as well.

V suggests "Geek Love" by Katherine Dunn.

Miz Shoes said...

Anything and everything by Christopher Moore, especially

Lamb, the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Friend
A Dirty Job
The Flashman Chronicles (all dozen or so books by George McDonald Fraser)
The Once and Future King
The Damon Runyon Omnibus
James Thurber's Carnival
Archy & Mehitabel
Tourist Season (and all other Carl Hiaasen)
The Joyous Season (Patrick Dennis)
Bug Jack Baron
The House of Nicolo (series)
The Reign of Favored Women (trilogy)
Spangle (and all other Gary Jennings)
John Henry Days
The Bushwhacked Piano
The Baroque Cycle (Neal Stephenson)

Miz Shoes said...

Upon re-reading your entry, I must recommend Jasper Fforde's, The Eyre Affair, the first in his literary detective series featuring Thursday Next. There is no pun too low to which he will stoop. No genre too sacred to skewer, no literary figure too beloved to tweak. I love this guy, and laugh as much as groan through every book. There is also a companion series which features Lt. Mary Mary, of the Nursery Crime Unit.

dorothy rothschild said...

Kate,

The last one he had out (other than The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, which is, well, brief), is called In Persuasion Nation.

Word, on Kundera, by the way. People can tell me until they are blue in the face that The Unbearable Lightness of Being is just the bees knees, but all it did was piss me off. Overwraught. Bloated. And oh yea, misogynist without even realizing that he's being that way. Bleah.

Heather said...

Wow, I got on the wagon late and got beat on making some great recommendation. I absolutely support Murakami, Tolstoy, Fforde, and Moore. If you want to try a great Russian novel that won't break your back as you carry it, try The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. If you're a history buff, 1421: The Year China Discovered America. If you haven't read Steppenwolf, that's a magnificent book. I like Kafka, but I'm pretty twisted and strange. I rather like Virginia Woolf too, especially Orlando and A Room of One's Own. If you like fairy tales absolutely read Gregory Maquire, if you like sci-fi try Phillip K. Dick (short stories are better than most of the novels), if you like dreams that enter the real world try Neil Gaiman. I'm absorbed by a non-fiction book called A History of the World in Six Glasses. It's fascinating!

caliban59 said...

Just came across your post on being female through Somewaterytart. Good stuff. Read some more of your writings. Here are some suggestions for ya:

Non-Fiction:
"Power, Faith, and Fantasy"- Michael Owen- study of USA's involvement in the middle east since our founding. Sounds dry- but it isn't. He really does bring the stuff to life and I have learned things I never learned in school>>>

"Memoirs of A Beautiful Daughter" by Simone deBeauvoir. Well written analysis of being female and being different.

"The People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn. History as seen through the eyes of those not necessarily white and rich.

Fiction: These are classics I always tell people who ask me:

Catch 22, The Stranger, The Accidental Tourist, The World According to Garp, No Exit, Slaughterhouse 5, No More Masks (An Anthology of Poems by Women), Adrienne Rich's Poetry, The Poetry of William Butler Yeats, What The Buddha Taught, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, The Transit of Venus, Antoine Bloye'...

Hope that helps get you started....

kate.d. said...

caliban, i am currently about halfway through a people's history - and i started it like a year ago :) yeah, it's one of those pick and put down between other reads kinda books...so many pages, such tiny print!

and i've always meant to pick up The Accidental Tourist. i should get around to that.

caliban59 said...

kate.d:
I read the Zinn book the same way... there is just too much info to digest in one sitting.

The 'Antonie Bloye'' book is by Paul Nizan and is a good companion to Zinn, I think. It is just the story of a man and his family and his utterly common life and how it (and history) pass him by. I read it in college years ago during an European Intellectual History class and was profoundly moved by the book. i can never explain why I ws moved- because nothing really happens in the book, but it just oozes sadness and wisps of a life left behind.

One other book I left out is "The Stand' by Stephen King. I know, I know.. some love him some hate him... I just think this is his best book and I read the unabridged version...

caliban59 said...

kate.d:
I read the Zinn book the same way... there is just too much info to digest in one sitting.

The 'Antonie Bloye'' book is by Paul Nizan and is a good companion to Zinn, I think. It is just the story of a man and his family and his utterly common life and how it (and history) pass him by. I read it in college years ago during an European Intellectual History class and was profoundly moved by the book. i can never explain why I ws moved- because nothing really happens in the book, but it just oozes sadness and wisps of a life left behind.

One other book I left out is "The Stand' by Stephen King. I know, I know.. some love him some hate him... I just think this is his best book and I read the unabridged version...

Siren Cristy said...

"The Stand" really is a great novel, in my opinion, regardless of your opinion of Stephen King. The anthropological and sociological levels of the book are often overlooked.

"Look at Me" by Jennifer Egan. Model in disfiguring car accident, smart teen coming of age; very authentic women's voices.

"The Last of Her Kind" by Sigrid Nunez. Two girls, one rich and white, and one poor and Latina, end up at Barnard at the end of the sixties. Both drop out, go their separate ways, but their lives intertwine in random ways throughout the years. Insightful regarding politics, feminism, race relations and women's lives.