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G'nightAugust 20, 2008


I would go refill that wine-glass, but I am SO sleepy already. That migraine like-to-kilt me yesterday, and today was a kinda rough day at work, so I'm better off with no more red wine. Digit, however, says, he approves of me tucked up on my writing chair and not off at work. And he says hello to you. Of course.

Me: I'm in an acquisitive mood. I get like this sometimes. I don't crave purses or shoes or clothes, ever. I crave either music or books (and sometimes yarn). And I mean I crave them like I crave water. The cravings don't overlap; I either want New Music or I want New Books. When I'm dying for new authors, I am soothed by music I already know and own. And when I have enough to read, or when I'm content in the depths of a comfortable book, I spend hours cruising the "Listeners Also Bought" aisles at the all-night iTunes store, trying to resist the "Buy Song" urge.

But right now it's books. I love my Kindle more than I ever thought I would, and I worry that I'll soon read all the words in the world. (Did you know that Milton is said to be one of the last people ever to have read all the words written? Thanks to his poor daughter, blind old Milty got through most or perhaps all of the written world available at the time. Love me some Milton, still sorry for his daughter.) But really: What's the best thing you've read recently and why? Please?


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I am really enjoying some light reading this summer. Marian Keyes. Love her usually Irish/London/New York based romances. Good stuff.. Buy them at my local used book sellers for around $6.00 each. Win-win.

I have discovered Elizabeth Gaskell this summer. A couple of summers ago I discovered the Tuesday Next books and LOVED them! Jasper Fforde writes those.

Dana Stabenow is my favorite Alaska Mystery author, Nevada Barr is my favorite other states mystery author...both have awesome strong women as their main characters.

Hey, thanks for the soothing Digit picture, he's one of my non-human heros.

I have been reading a lot of non-fiction. "A Lady's Life in the Rockies" by Isabella Bird (1873) is great. I also read "All the Way Home" by David Giffels (just released). He renovates a falling down mansion and writes about it. He's a great writer, and he tries to get rid of squirrels in his attic by taking an amplifier up there and cranking the music to 11. Gotta love that.

Hmmmm... Don't have access to a lot of books here, but brought a few back with me to savor. The best so far this year was "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. His follow up "In Defense of Food" was good but relatively lightweight in comparison to the depth and complexity of thought in the first book.

I just finished There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell: A Novel of Sewer Pipes, Pageant Queens, and Big Trouble by Laurie Notaro. Fluffy, but funny. We listened to My Life as a 10 Year Old Boy which is the memoirs of Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpsons.) And both books that Alan Alda have written are phenomenal. Never Have Your Dog Stuffed is his memoir and then Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself is equally compelling.

I just finished Kindred by Octavia Butler. I haven't had a book blow my mind like this in forever. It was poignant, political, and suspenseful as all hell. I am planning on reading anything and everything else she wrote.

Historical biography. There's a great one on Ben Franklin.

I haven't managed to read an awful lot this summer :-(
I have had so many design deadlines that the books have had to stay firmly on the "shelf" I read a lot while knitting (ereader on the laptop or pda) but the two books I really want to read at the moment are both in proper book form and not electronic and I dare not pick the up until the deadlines are fulfilled or I will never put them down :-)

Just finished Tracy Kidder's Mountains beyond mountains (bio - amazing md obsessed w/ hati). LOVED IT. Can't rec it highly enough. Also lately Stephen Baxter (scifi series) and before that was collapse (eh) and tipping point (loved it).

Whilst desperately trying to finish my ()&*^^ing dissertation I've not read an awful lot of fiction. But a fantasy author I would recommend for really good writing and world-weaving is Guy Gavriel Kay. Try The Lions of Al-Rassan if you don't mind a bit of a slow burn.

The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman by Angeal Carter was the last thing I read so good I didn't want it to end. Just a wonderful, wonderful book.

When I was in Grammer School I wanted to read all the books in the library. I was going to start with the first book on the first shelf. Never did get very far. LOL
Just finished reading Three Bags Full A Sheep Detective Story by Leonie Swann. Cute.
Right now I'm reading Irish Girls are back in town. by many Irish women authors. I have a few books on my mp3 player. I'm trying to get thru all of Jane Austin. I also read the books recomended by the San Francisco Public Library One Page One Book Series that they have. I'ver read some books I would never think about reading.

Just last night made DH take me to the bookstore as I had ripped through my reading pile at an unexpected pace.

Secret Of Lost Things - great if you have a Melville fetish. Takes place in a NYC bookstore in the 1970s.

Summerland - Michael Chabon - a young adult novel in the style of Harry Potter, the worst little league player in history must save the world by playing a full 9 innings in "other worlds." Sounds corny, but Chabon is a master.

New to the shelves - Jane Smiley's Ten Days In The Hills - I love Smiley and this one was released and made it to paperback before I even knew it.

Tell us what you pick?

Sadly, there hasn't been a lot of time for reading in my summer...But I did get a chance to read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver, and I absolutely loved it! I am so envying you the Kindle...Enjoy!

The last book I finished was Duma Key by Stephen King.

I can always tuck in at night and read several chapters of his books.

Best thing read lately? World War Z by Max Brooks (in the horror section but not overly horrible). Close second is William Manchester "A world lit only by fire" (medieval history), Mary Roach "Stiff" (all about cadavers) and Rachel Cain's Weather Warden series for light reading (in the sci-fi section). Marie Brennan's Midnight Never Come was pretty good too.

I HAVE to read. Even if it's just the ketchup bottle or something I've read a dozen times before.

I'm way behind the rest of the world with my reading, but I just enjoyed "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver, and am currently in the middle of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan.

I just burned through the first five volumes of Miyazaki's "Nausicaa" series. The first volume is quite similar to the movie, but the series then rapidly diverges. The artwork is subtle and gorgeous and the plot is compelling. The whole reading-right-to-left thing (this was translated from the original Japanese) still trips me up sometimes, but it's completely worth it.

Best book I read this summer and my friends liked also:
POST BIRTHDAY WORLD - here's your kindle link:

It's a story about a woman who has a choice in the first chapter then the book is written every other chapter- if she DID the thing, then if she DIDNT. fascinating IMO.


I just finished The Lovely Bones (I know, I know, where the hell have I been?). Now I'm reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which is so far really good. Before that the most recent great book I read was a couple months ago - Suite Francaise (Irene Nemirovsky).

I loved _Purple Hibiscus_ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigerian-American writer). I loved it so much I went out and got her 2d novel, _Half of a Yellow Sun_, a fictionalized account of the Biafran war via a love story.

Omnivore's Dilemma.

Anything by Sherman Alexie. But his short story collection, _Ten Little Indians_ is really excellent.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemitovsky. Altho it will make you cry, in both a good and bad way.

Breath and Shadows by Ella Leffland. I promise, you won't be disappointed.

The Ghost City, which was gripping, totally unputdownable. Non-fiction account of the way that water born transmission of cholera was discovered during the London epidemic on 1854, but also kind of a love letter to cities and and discussion of the way they transformed/are transforming the human experience of living on the planet.

Also reading Alasdair Gray and Christopher Brookmyre in chunks.
Both recommended.

Ghost MAP, not city. Doh.

Cormac McCarthy, The Road. I know it was an Oprah Book club thingie, which is somehow why I avoided it for so long...it's really simple and masterfully written, and very sad and hopeful. Great book.

I am a huuuge Ursula LeGuin fan, and I recently read a collection of non-SF short stories of hers, Searoad. It isn't my favorite of hers but it was very good.

When I read your description of your Kindle I went to Amazon and stared at the Kindle page again. Alas, my laptap is dying so I'm saving my pennies for that.

I've started to return to my reading habit after having it drastically curtailed by law school. I've always been a voracious reader [when I took a year off and lived on savings I read 3-4 books per day, loved it] so changing to a slow slow reader [not my actual reading speed but the amount of time spent reading] was a disorienting process.
I've been reading a very engrossing sci-fi/fantasy series by George R R Martin - Song of Ice and Fire; non-fiction by Jon Krakauer - Under the Banner of Heaven; an atmospheric novel from the 1930s by Elizabeth Bowen - Death of the Heart; A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger about his neighbor's murder in a Boston suburb when the Boston Strangler was active; and, because I'm going to Chicago in September, I'm about to start Devil in the White City by Erik Larson about a serial killer and the World's Fair in Chicago of 1893.

I don't know if you're totally not into Fantasy books, but if you might give some a try, Robin Hobb is an AMAZING author and her series of three trilogies starting with Assassin's Apprentice is just mind-blowing, especially the concluding book (the 9th book, which I just finished), Fool's Fate. It made me cry more than any other book I've ever read. And it's a fantasy book! Her books have a lot of great adventure and amazingly complex and thought-provoking worlds and magic, but they also have wonderful character and relationship development too. Damn good books. Nothing like Harry Potter. Waaaaaaay better. Don't get me wrong, I loved the Harry Potter books too.

Wow, kudos for you for being able to drink red wine with migraines! I thought that was an instant trigger for most - I know it is with me.

I just saw the previous person's comment about George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice & Fire series. That's an amazing series too, but it's super brutal (he doesn't mind killing off likable characters, just so you're forewarned). I listened to it on CD while on a super long road trip and while dying yarn & fiber and I would highly highly recommend listening to that series (so far it's 5 books each about 30 hours long) because the narrator Roy Detrice (sp?) is absolutely the most amazing narrator ever. He does young men, old men, young women, old women, and you can distinguish the same young woman's voice from the first story to the fifth story over 100 hours of narration later, even if you only hear from her for a few minutes every few hours. He's amazing. My local library had all of these books on CD, so I just checked them out from there and listened. Another book is supposed to be released in the next few months too...

At the Strand, on a trip to NYC, stumbled across a novel called "The in between world of Vikram Lal" by MG Vassanji, a Kenyan of East Indian ethnicity, now living in Canada (I think). Fascinating book about Indians living for generations in Kenya, how they fit into the culture, the Masai around them, and a military coup in the middle of it all. Really great book.

I will second the George R. R. Martin and Robin Hobb recommendations. Even if you don't normally go for fantasy, try George R. R. Martin -- wonderfully complex characters and very intricate, well-planned plots. The Liveship series from Robin Hobb is also very good. I preferred it to the Farseer Trilogy recommended by Margit (though that is good also).
Both the Martin and the Hobb books are available on Kindle, btw.

My recommendation is Shantarum.

It is now in my top five--maybe because I am back in India, in the location where he wrote about. But the story was good, language well done and true to Mumbai.

A top rating.

two by Tana French. i just read second in series "The Likeness" but you should start with the earlier "In the Woods".


"The Fish Can Sing" by Halldór Laxness

_The Last Chinese Chef_, by Nicole Mones.
Beautifully written - it's a love story and a foodie story and a regional history story and a little-bit-mystery and just an overall wonderful book.

I just finished "A Winter's Tale" by Mark Helprin. It was written in 1983. FANTASTIC. A sort of Magical Realism novel set in 19th and 20th century New York, among a diverse set of individuals whose fates are connected. This book is full of life, quirk, generosity, and hyperbole.

Am currently 1/3 of the way through "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle", a recasting of the "Hamlet" story, in part. All dog lovers should read it. It's just beautiful.

My friends and I have been enjoying the five hundred kingdom series by Mercedes Lackey. A nice twist on fairy tales with a bit of romance and humor thrown in.

"When you are engulfed by flames" David Sedaris.

I like how he looks at the world from a different perspective.

"What Should I Do With My Life?" by Po Bronson. He interviewed dozens of people facing a crossroads in their life, the process that they went through to make the decisions they did, and the consequences. Not all happy endings. Really interesting because it was real people dealing with real situations.

Reading "The Ten Year Nap" by Meg Wolitzer now.

I echo the recommendations for the Ghost Map, and World War Z. These were great books (and I read World War Z on my Kindle...)
I also just finished The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, and enjoyed it. I'm partway through The Shakespeare Wars (not Kindle, unfortunately) and finding it awesome, but dense.

I've also been working my way through the Terry Pratchett Discworld series this summer, and having a blast!

My favorite recent is "I am the Messenger", by Markus Zuzak.
I read it probably a year ago and it still sticks in my head.
I think it's because it resonated so strongly with me. It has been hard to cope lately and I just feel this unending longing for something, anything, some kind of change; but I just feel stuck in everything. The main character is in a similar position. The book's all about that, but in a hopeful, good change kind of way.
It's not very long and a quick read.

Otherwise the latest best thing I liked "Company" by Max Barry. It's a wonderful caricature of a modern corporation from Hell. I laughed out loud at the description of HR. I like the first half better than the second, but it's still pretty good.

I'm adding my comment before I read the others because I'm afraid of my own book/music craving, and I will end up ordering everything anyone recommends. I have at least 20 books waiting to be read, so I am seriously bookstash-busting. The best book I've read lately? That would have to be the book I'm reading right now, "Crazy Good" by Charles Leerhsen, which is the story of Dan Patch, the wildly famous harness horse. Why? It's written with great humor and an irresistable subject: horses. I love books about horses, especially those who actually existed. Laura Hillebrandt's "Seabiscuit" is an all-time favorite book, one which I've read several times. The race sequences are thrilling to read. Oh, I also just recently read "Duma Key" by my hero Stephen King, which seems to me a return to his older, pre-accident, style. I liked it a lot, and some of the scarier parts were better left to daytime reading.

Sorry, correct spelling of "Seabiscuit"'s author is Laura Hillenbrand

I read for at least 15 minutes (usually closer to 1 hr) before going to bed. I'm in the middle of World Without End by K. Follett. I read THe Pillars of the Earth earlier this summer and couldn't believe how much I liked Follett's writing.

Two others I've read in the past that I recommend to EVERYONE: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I think about both of these narrators all the time. I so loved these I didn't want them to end. My book club is reading the Eugenides for our October meeting so I'm really looking forward to revisiting the book.

I just read A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel and I LOVED it, I didn't want it to end. I enjoyed her writing style, a pleasure to read. Her sense of humor appealed to me and at times had me laughing out loud; not trying hard to be funny but observing the way things are and seeing the humor.
It is a memoir of her childhood.
I don't read much fiction, but I am going to try some of hers.

The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson. A first book, fascinating, graphic, historical, and impressive. People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks. Both have a similar feel in that they transition back and forth in time to tell a story, both with strong romantic aspects. Anything by Deborah Crombie, evocative mysteries set in present day London. Amazes me that the author lives in Texas and writes such genuine British mysteries.

I was so fascinated to see one today in person - I'm really thinking about how cool it would be to get a Kindle...

Mmmm, I'm reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. It's amazing for a first novel. It's set in the midwest (I grew up there). It has dogs in it. (I <3 dogs) And although it's not an actual Mystery, it's enough of one to keep the pages turning. The storytelling is remarkable. My Disbelief Suspenders threaten to snap sometimes, but the words are just so beautiful.

"Big Dead Place" about the lower-rung laborers in Antarctica.
Picked it up this summer at Powells.
Put out a couple years back by Feral House Press-- that should tell you something about the tone of the book...
Did you know I am moderately-to-severely obsessed with Antarctica?
There is a website too, bigdeadplace dot com.

It's not new, but if you haven't read Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, do so immediately. It's extremely funny, extremely well-written, and sort of warped in that uniquely British way.

Second vote for "People of the book". Ripping read (although the Aussie characters are a bit lame...). Also, I'm reading anything by Sebastian Faulks at the moment.

Already posted from Maxly

two by Tana French. i just read second in series "The Likeness" but you should start with the earlier "In the Woods".

I second that. I was looking because I was SURE someone would have already recommended them, and there they are! You won't be disappointed!

"The Time Traveler's Wife"

It met all my criteria for a good book. It was a page turner, well written, with excellent characters that grew and changed. And it had something to say.

My kindle arrived today, and I can't play with it because I have a final exam tomorrow and we have a take-home final essay. I've only been reading class related Roman history stuff lately. I was reading "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman before that.

I recently discovered Adam Mansbach- and young (31) local jewish author - i have read Shackling Water which he wrote when he was 21 or so and Angry Black White Boy and I am now in the middle of The End of the Jews. I really enjoy being in the world he creates with words. www.adammansbach.com

War is A Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges. It's a quick but heavy non-fiction book about war written by a former theology student turned war correspondent. It's brilliant.

Also, fourthing A Song of Ice and Fire. It can take some getting into at first because it is so very insane and ridiculous and full of fantasy cliches (purple eyes, incest, etc.) but George R.R. Martin is some sort of crazed genius and the series is phenomenal. Plot twists like you cannot imagine. The characters are unbelievably complex and there is no firm boundary between good and evil, it's just pure good gory fun.

Books I have been into lately are actually audio books from podiobooks.com, in particular the books by Nathan Lowell, and book one and two of The Secret World Chronicle. Most of the Nathan Lowell books follow one character through 4 of the 5 books. I would recommend this order; Quarter Share, South Coast, Half Share, Full Share, and Double Share. These are set mostly in space and on planet orbitals, though South Coast is the odd ball out, it is in the same universe as the others and gives some background info for going into Half Share.
Secret World Chronicle is about Meta humans, their super powers and their fighting off the surprise attack done by the bad guys.
Podiobooks is a great place to find all kinds of audio books, most are read by the author and/or are first time authors.
As for paper books, I have been recommending John Ringo (www.johnringo.com) to anybody and everybody. The series I really enjoy of his is The Legacy of the Aldenata. I have never really been much into military Sci-Fi but this series has SO much humor running through it, it is like finding a vein of gold. Basically the 'good aliens' come to earth to warn us the bad aliens are on their way to attack earth and they need our help to fight because they have been genetically altered to be unable to fight. Even pushing a button to fire a weapon sends them into a coma and they eventually die.
For more fiction-y and less sci-fi-y I recommend ANYTHING by Joshilyn Jackson (who blogs at http://joshilynjackson.com/mt if you don't already read it).
In the huge-book-I-just-couldn't-put-down-category I would recommend The Deeds of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon. This is actually three books in one, thus why it is so huge. If you can't find The Deeds then try and find the three books separately. They are an intense read.
Now that I have delurked and made a HUGE comment, I'm going to go slink back into the darkness.

Wow, I'm amazed to see several books listed in the comments that I've read recently. I'm reading books again after years of nothing but blogs and magazines. I feel like I'm so behind the rest of the reading world, so I didn't expect to see a lot of other people reading the same stuff I am.

Anyway, the last thing I read that I thoroughly enjoyed was "The Time-Traveler's Wife". It has a sense of melancholy that I usually avoid, but in this case it drew me in. I abandoned "Three Bags Full" because I couldn't get into the mystery. "Animal Vegetable Miracle" is OK, but I had to skip over some of the preachy bits. I like "The $64 Tomato" better.

I just finished a novel called 'The God of Animals'. Oh boy. I know that you love your animals and that you have a kind heart. Read this one, it's compelling.
be well and grieve for as long as you need to-

Elizabeth Moon "The Speed of Dark" A "Flowers for Algernon" story, only with a different ending. Fascinating story of what it's like to be autistic and surrounded by the "normal" world.

I am a crime movie, crime t.v., crime novel addict. If you're not, you can stop reading this comment. In January, the greatest t.v. show ever broadcast (IMHO) ended. "The Wire" was a "crime" show unlike any other crime show. No mere "Law and Order", rap up the case in one hour by sending the bad guy to jail, episode. Each season of "The Wire" was like a novel. If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend renting the DVDs. It's a long commitment (five seasons of 10 to 13 hour-long episodes) but well worth it.

But you didn't request t.v. recommendations, you requested book recommendations. When Season 5 of "The Wire" ended, I filled the hole in my life by reading books by many of the people who wrote episodes of "The Wire", several of whom are also well-regarded crime novelists, including: Richard Price, George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, Laura Lippman. I recommend books by any of them. I haven't gotten to them yet but Richard Price and George Pelecanos both have new books which are getting good reviews. If you like crime writing, any of these authors' books is great for beach reading, couch reading, subway reading, anywhere reading.

Hope you've found something good to add to your Kindle!

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