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A Reading List

I want to read more books. Many of the people on the flist, I've heard talking much of books that I have not read. So, I intend to compile a book-list, which I will keep on here, and add to and subtract from as I recieve recommendations and obey them.

To begin with, however, I should like the flist's assistance.

If you could recommend to me any ONE book or series of books, what would it be?

Genre is no object, but don't recommend anything you know I'd hate. If someone's already suggested your favourite book, please suggest something else instead. Also, please don't just give me the name of the book: try and sell it a bit, ie:

You should really read The Five Onions Go To The Circus because it's got a great story, about these five onions and their trip to a circus in the next town. It's not a very serious book, but it's an awful lot of fun, and I think you'd love the characters, especially Steve the Onion.

Or words to that effect...

I'm asking for just one single book (or series) from each person, in order to make the recommendations as absolutely passionate as possible.

Also, please do try and make sure the book is easily available, and not out of print or hard to find. Unless it's SO good that I absolutely must read it. And don't just not recommend a book because you think I might have read it: only skip things if you're sure I know them. I'd hate to miss out on a really good book, because someone has a vague feeling I've already read it.

If anyone else on the flist wants to begin a similar literary-recommendation system, I'll certainly comment with a recommendation!

So... what should I read?



( 18 comments! — Make Remark! )
Aug. 20th, 2006 06:20 am (UTC)

Considering how much you love Jane Austen, I think you'd probably enjoy Philippa Greggory's books. In keeping with your strict rule, I'll begin by waving The Other Boleyn Girl around. It tells the story of Anne Boleyn, told from the perspective of her sister (King Henry's mistress and later her lady-in-waiting). It's not very mentally taxing, but it's a well woven story that draws you into the character's lives. It's easy to read and the characters are three dimensional and likable. As an added bonus, it's also well researched, so unless you are a Tudor PhD Boffin, there aren't many glaring historical errors to detract. It's a story of passion, political intrigue and schemes and of course, lust.
Aug. 20th, 2006 11:24 am (UTC)
I've heard of it, but never read it. I'm a history student, but not obsessed with factual accuracy in fiction. So, I reckon I can certainly give this one a shot.
Aug. 20th, 2006 06:21 am (UTC)
The Adventures of English, by Melvin Bragg.

It's basically the biography of English - how it started as the language of the poor, and fought its way to become the language it is.

It has pictures of the only surviving manuscript of Beowulf!

I'm a linguistic geek, so I find all that sort of stuff fascinating, but it really does make you realise what a hard time the English language went through to get where it is now, and how close it came to being wiped out.
Aug. 20th, 2006 11:25 am (UTC)
Thankyou, my Dad just bought this.

In turn, I recommend "Mother Tongue" by Bill Bryson. Have you read it?
Aug. 20th, 2006 11:56 am (UTC)
Yes, I loved it!
Aug. 20th, 2006 08:21 am (UTC)
1. Night Letters by Robert Dessaix - this is a series of letters from the narrator who has been told he is terminally ill and packed off for venice to experience his last days in style. It's beautifully dense and vivid. Definitely a novel you wont forget.

2. Miss Garnet's Angel by Sally Vickers - another novel set in venice, miss garnet is single unmarried, a closet communist and her only real friend in the world has just died. So she goes off to venice for 6 months to get a new lease on life. It has wonderful descriptions of Venice and talks a lot about one of my favorite paintings in the world. Good light reading.

3. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.
4 intertwining stories, but beautifully written in a very individual style - in fact go read all her books.

4. A Song for Arbonne - Guy Gavriel Kay
High fantasy at its best. Prepare to break out the tissues and immerse yourself. GGK can be a bit hit and miss but this is his best (Fionavar Tapestry series isn't too bad for light reading)

5. The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, by Nancy Mitford.
These hilarious novels are thinly veiled portraits of the author's own family and acquaintances. I love these books to bits and Jessica Mitford's "The American Way of Death" an expose on the funeral industry is also a hilarious read
Aug. 20th, 2006 11:26 am (UTC)
Rebel!!! Rulebreaker!!!

Not that I endorse your behaviour, but I'll still add them all to the list.

But you're very bad!!! :P
Aug. 20th, 2006 09:33 am (UTC)
I'm not sure where you stand on DWJ, but I'll give you:

Deep Secret, by Diana Wynne Jones. 1) Because it's one of my favourite books in the world and in my top three DWJs, and 2) Because despite its extraordinary wonderfulness it seems to be one of her least read, and thus you might not have come across it. Incredibly original magic use, wonderfully flawed characters, the adorably prattish Rupert Venables with his cravatte, and the deeper and darker significance of 'How Many Miles to Babylon?'

Um, oh, The Merlin Conspiracy is the sequel, so I suppose I'm allowed to rec that as well, but it's charmingly-not-nearly-as-good-as Deep Secret.
Aug. 20th, 2006 11:30 am (UTC)
I've never actually read ANY DWJ.

All: :O

So, I shall take your suggestion and read the one you've recommended first. Unless someone else recommends a different one, and it comes down to which one I see in a bookshop first.

But you get the point...
Aug. 21st, 2006 02:04 am (UTC)
Howl's Moving Castle Is one of hers i just finished giggling my way through. Other than that, i don't know :S

oh, Robin Hobb? I think i've told you to read her before. Get Assassin's Apprentice or i'll lend it to you or something... you should read that it's great ;D I know, i should give you a better more detailed run-down, but i'm really slack and my words are currently in the China/America trade area and i think the last thing you want to hear from me is anything on that :S

*points* those are two good books. Worth the read. and that's all i'll say :P
Aug. 21st, 2006 03:16 am (UTC)
I second Robin Hobb. Assassin's Apprentice is fantastic. It will change your life!*

*May be an exaggeration.
Aug. 21st, 2006 03:27 am (UTC)
Howl's Moving Castle and Assassin's Apprentice. Check.
Aug. 20th, 2006 11:03 am (UTC)
Evelina by Frances Burney. I have no idea if you've read it before, but you mentioned you're studying some Jane Austen at uni and you're frequently found gallivanting about 1807 - this makes me think you would thoroughly like it.
Novel type: Epistolary.
Year published: 1778.
Heroine type: Lively and intelligent, though prone to making humorous social blunders as a result of sheltered rural upbringing.
Love interest: Rich and Darcy-like.
Available in: Norton Critical edition, that I know of.
Why you should add it to your list: Because Percy Bullant says so. And so do I!
Aug. 20th, 2006 11:31 am (UTC)
This sounds very interesting.

And Percy Bullant? OH NO!!! I shall most certainly obey him! I dare not refuse!
Aug. 20th, 2006 11:31 am (UTC)
I'm not exactly sure whether you will like my two recommendations or not, but I would highly recommend:
(1) Randolph Stow's The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea. It is one of the great 20th century Australian novels. It is the story of a boy growing up in a large family in Geraldton, Western Australia in the 1940s, and his beloved cousin goes away to war and comes back a changed man. The way I describe it makes it sound a little cliched, but this book is anything but cliched - it is beautifully written and is one of my all-time favourites.

Also, I would also highly recommend Carson McCuller's The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, which is the story of a deaf-mute man, John Singer living in a small town in the American South. After his constant companion (also a deaf-mute) is forced to move away, he moves to a boarding house closer in the heart of the town and he becomes friends with 6 very different individuals, all of whom are drawn to him as a confidant. The book touches on the nature of the human condition without being preachy or contrived.
Aug. 21st, 2006 03:28 am (UTC)
These sound very deep! I might have to make sure I read them when I have time to digest them properly!

Thanks for the suggestions (rulebreaker!!!)
Aug. 21st, 2006 01:30 am (UTC)
I have no ability of recommending books...

Uhh... The Discworld series, but I'm rather sure you've read it. Or at least parts of it. But I love it, it's hilarious!

Since I'm really quite sure you've read that, I'm also going to mention The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which is also very hilarious and you need a certain sense of humour, and I'm pretty sure you have it :P The books go a little bit downhill from each other and I'm not a huge fan of the fifth one, Mostly Harmless but the first three are very good. Read.

Aug. 21st, 2006 03:30 am (UTC)
Read them, I'm afraid. Often. Thanks for the suggestion, anyway, though!

(and yes, I've DEFINITELY read Discworld. You weren't wrong there!)
( 18 comments! — Make Remark! )

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