Summer Reading : LUSENET : Squishy : One Thread

Can anyone recommend some good books to read over the summer? I'm trying to compile a list to look for when school gets out and I have time to think again, and was wondering if anyone has any suggestions. Sell me on your favourite books, I have 2 1/2 months to kill!

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000


"A Heartbreaking work of Staggering Genius" by Dave Eggers. Awesome, so funny, and as existential as the author wants to be, heartbreaking.

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

Well, depending on what books you enjoy, this may or may not be a good list for you.

She's Come Undone or I Know This Much Is True, both by Wally Lamb
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
A Dangerous Woman, Mary McGarry Morris
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (don't think about the movie, it's way different
and my favorite that I just have to read every couple years, To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee.

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

I second the motion of To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (I've read it 3 times, it rocks, very very funny.)

The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro (very interesting character study. Read it then watch the Anthony Hopkins movie.)

All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque (WW2 book, very emotional, required English reading I actually liked.)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith (coming-of-age story about a young girl, Depression-era I think.)

Also, for light fare, I recommend Dave Barry, any and all of his books.

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

Probably at the top of my list would be Douglas Rushkoff's "The Ecstasy Club". The basic premise is a group of 15-22 year-olds that exercise their squatter's rights and inhabit an abandoned factory and turn it into a rave club. Very "alternative" in both style and content. Excellent. *****

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

I find that when in doubt, read books that are being or have recently been made into movies. That way at least you get to read the book before you see them. To that end I recommend: Other good books not in the movie realm are Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (can't remember the author), and mad props to I Know this Much is True and She's Come Undone.

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

I can't believe I forgot...anything by Francesca Lia Block is incredible. She writes mostly young adult fiction, but her stuff is beautiful. She writes about faeries and genies and wonderful things. Her best known books are the Weetzie Bat series, which are sort of a modern fairy tale set in LA. They're available individually or collected in the book Dangerous Angels. just search amazon :)

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

My all time number one favorite book is "The Stand" by Stephen King. "The Long Walk" by SK was good too and gives me chills just thinking about it. Ooo, the "Narnia" books are wonderfull if you like childrens stories. I just started "Hannibal" by Thomas Harris, I'm not really getting into so much though. Good luck on your book hunting : )

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

I second and third the Wally Lamb books, and I was thinking about reading I Know This Much is True again.

I just finished reading a book called Only Begotten Daughter. I can't remember the author's name, but it's really good. Also 'Was...' (again, aouthor unknown). It's loosely based on the facts surrounding the writing of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Warning: Many tears will be shed. It's not a light reading kind of book.

I also like books by Christopher Moore. Bloodsucking Feinds (A Love Story) is my favorite of his, and Practical Demonkeeping.

Seconding The Princess Bride and Where the Heart Is, too. See the movies if you haven't already.

The Stand by Stephen King is a great book. I've read it so often that I had to buy the unabridged version. I just re-read it. Again.

My boyfriend is reading the OTHER Hannibal Lecter book (Red Dragon?). He says it's pretty good.

I can't reccomend The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy enough (Douglas Adams). Funny stuff, that.

Tonight I'm going to the library to see what I can dig up. That's what I did last time. I just browsed the stacks until I found a title that I liked, and if the write-up was good, I borrowed it. The book I went to the library to borrow, though, sucked dingoes' kidneys. It was Vittorio the Vampire by Anne Rice. Will someone tell her to stop writing? Please? She's tarnishing her other books by writing such drivel.

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

Wow, I did the same thing a couple summers ago. This is what I read:

Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Emma - Jane Austen. Classics for a reason. Every girl should read P&P.

The White Hotel - D. M. Thomas. The first half is good for the rampant eroticism, second half is powerful human drama set against the Holocaust.

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote. It's more depressing than the movie but still interesting.

1984 - George Orwell; Brave New World - Huxley. I preferred the first, although both are good.

I also read an anthology of F. Scott Fitzgerald stories, which are quite good.

Finally - if this seems too weighty, read something by Robert Rodi, a comic gay novelist. His flights of fancy are very cinematic - I recommend Closet Case.

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

if your summer gets too lighthearted, try "orphans of the living" or "myth of the welfare queen." i'm serious- these two books made quite a difference in my outlook on life.

i just started the whole "last days" series, which i thought i would hate (modern christian writing?!), but find myself totally addicted to them. easy reading.

also... "redneck manifesto"!

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

I'm reading Memoirs of a Geisha now, and it's wonderful. Beautifully written.

If you haven't read them already, read the Harry Potter books. There are three in print and the fourth is coming out in July. They're delightful.

I have to second Laural on reading Pride and Prejudice and other Jane Austen books. I've read all of them more times than I can count.

If you want to get really serious, read The Odyssey (yes, the ancient Greek story by Homer about Odysseus/Ulysses). It's survived all these centuries for a reason, and the female monsters and villians are especially interesting.

Happy reading!

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

One of my favorite books ever is *The Dharma Bums* by Jack Kerouac. I think this book would make for some great summer reading. Trust me, this work is infinitely better than Kerouac's On The Road. Dharma Bums is all about Jack's experiences mountain-climbing in the high Sierras and learning to backpack, then taking off hopping freight trains and hitchiking across the country and back, and eventually spending two months in solitude on fire lookout as a forest ranger atop isolated Desolation Peak in the Cascades. Of course it is also about his own spiritual learning and antics with a bunch of "Zen Lunatics" in San Francisco, hence the title: Dharma Bums.

Also, I would highly recommend anything by Tom Robbins. I haven't yet read Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, but I have read virtually all of his other books and they are all fantastic. Who else could make a story that starts off with a newlywed couple driving across the country in a truck shaped like a roast turkey and involves the adventures of an animate dessert spoon, bean can, dirty sock, conch shell and painted stick uproarious and yet intelligent at the same time? That was from Skinny Legs and All, the last book of his I read and loved. You'll laugh out loud.

I am currently in the middle of reading The Horse Whisperer, the only book I've ever read after seeing the movie first. If you've seen the movie, the plot deviates slightly from the book version. I'm in awe, Nicholas Evans writes with such intense clarity and attention to detail. It's definitely worth reading if you haven't already.

I also have to strongly agree with everyone who has recommended Where The Heart Is, by Billie Letts. Speaking of which...

To those who have read this book already, was anyone else pissed off about the choice of character casting in the movie? The two main female characters in the book, Novalee Nation and Lexie Coop, were specifically described as overweight. Yet, they are being portrayed on-screen by waify Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd, who both look as though they may have packed on an extra five pounds between them for their roles? Fat girls can't act or something? What gives?? Sorry, I had to get that out while we were on the subject...I'm ok, now.

Happy reading.

-- Anonymous, June 02, 2000

I was disappointed with Where the Heart Is: the movie; however, I thought the book was wonderful. I'd recommend that book for a nice, bittersweet story.

If you want serious "head over heels" romance, I HIGHLY recommend "The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks. I just finished it last night and I spent a good 20 minutes crying at the ending because it was just so beautiful!!

Has anyone read the Griffin and Sabine trilogy? I'm wondering if it's really worth buying..

-- Anonymous, June 03, 2000

if you want a fairly quick, but really fun read, try something by Mark Leyner. My favorites are "Et Tu, Babe?" and "Tooth Imprints on a Corndog". Actually, read them both, in that order. Smart, odd, and funny as hell.

-- Anonymous, June 03, 2000

Most of my favorites have been mentioned. Let's just say I strongly agree with

"She's Come Undone" - love love love it, I can't express how much

"Sense and Sensibility"

"To Kill A Mockingbird"

"Memoirs of a Geisha" - I am currently reading it for like the tenth time

I also like Maeve Binchy books, all John Irving. Read "Little Women"? Read it again. Um, Anna Quindlen. Toni Morrison. And for beach or pool side summer reading, Judy Blume baby, "Summer Sisters".

Re: "Where the heart is", I thought they casted way off too. But, I read the book and saw the movie, and to me Natalie WAS Novalee, waif or no waif, so I am fine with it.

Re: Griffin and Sabine, I love these books. All the cool fold out letters and postcards. They are worth it for beauty and conversation alone. It's nothing you would take to the beach or on a plane, but they are great for the coffee table.

-- Anonymous, June 03, 2000

Maeve Binchy, indeed.

Nora Roberts, if you like fluffyish romance with some plot thrown in.

Jack Higgins for spy stuff.

The Lord of the Rings series - it's all stereotypical and stuff, but still I adore it.

Kathryn Reiss for ya historical fiction.

Michael Crichton - really, anything by him is fun. Especially The Andromeda Strain. But maybe it's just me.

-- Anonymous, June 03, 2000

I second the recommendation of Poisonwood Bible, also you might like Cold Mountain (I never read it but my friends still rave about it, a year later), and Snow Falling on Cedars was good too. And thanks Meredith, for asking this question, you've helped me out too! I'll post again if I can think of more.

-- Anonymous, June 03, 2000

Orlando, by Virginia Woolf. funny as hell. The Moor's Last Sigh, by Salman Rushdie.

-- Anonymous, June 03, 2000

Is anyone else annoyed by the whole Oprah's book club phenomenon? It seems like a lot of the books mentioned above are such generic must- reads these days. I'm not judging the books at all, and I'm sure they are all great. I did read Memoirs of a Geisha grudgingly and ended up really liking it (except for the last chapter). But I get so sick of riding on the subway or bus and seeing the SAME books always being read by 20s-30s-ish women. Can't people find their own books to read? Or is that not the way it works anymore?

-- Anonymous, June 03, 2000

I'm with you Clementine-- but I'm not going to get into the politics of the Oprah book club here (if I did, I'd probably drive you all crazy), so I'll just skip straight to recommending books.

Galatea 2.2 (by Richard Powers)-- They say it better than I can: "A splendid intellectual adventure a heartbreaking love story, a brief tutorial on cognitive science, and the autobiography of one of the most gifted writers of the younger generation." --Washington Post Book World

Demian (by Hermann Hesse)-- I like this Hesse novel better than Siddhartha, his more famous work. A mystical book, exploring religious, spiritual and ethical thought through the eyes of a adolescent boy.

Commodify Your Dissent (edited by Thomas Frank and Matt Weiland)-- collection of essays originally published in The Baffler, exploring the increasingly commercial nature of american cultural production. I know it sounds dry, but it's actually far from it. I LOVE this book- it's a cultural studies classic, and definitely eye-opening. Plus, essays are good for short summer attention spans.

My Year of Meat (by Ruth L. Ozeki)-- In my opinion, one of the most interesting novels of recent years. Two women, one Japanese and one Japanese-American, are forced to reconsider their identities via the production of a series of beef infomercials. It's as kooky as it sounds; a fairly light read but quite thought-provoking.

To Be Real (edited by Rebecca Walker)-- A diverse collection of essays on modern feminism; Walker went out of her way to find people with unconventional approaches to the topic. All are well-written and very accessible, and I found most to be fascinating.

-- Anonymous, June 04, 2000

lets see....
Shes Come Undone and I know this much is true - Wally Lamb...excellent excellent reads, I've read shes come undone almost 10 times and I've only owned it for 2 years
Circle of Friends -Maeve Binchy...haven't seen the movie but the book is a reader
Faye Kellermans Peter Decker and Rina Lazarous series for some good mysteries...that or Mary Higgins Clarks..good bath tub reads along with Nora Roberts
Anything by VC Andrews..especially her flowers in the attic series...crazy shit!
If you into a kids read..The Sky is Falling, The Lights com on again and the other one I forget *L* by Kit Pearson.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
The Bell Jar -Sylvia Plath
Chicken Soup for the soul books. for when you need soem inspiration
To Kill a Mockingbird I definitly third fourth fifth and sixth *L*
so many others, i'm a very avid reader..but these are ones I read over and over agian and never tire of.

-- Anonymous, June 04, 2000

A lot of your suggestions are really great! They will definitely help. As I'm watching them pour in, I just have to make a few suggestions of my own, for the rest of you.
-Noise, Russell Smith (suave Canadian, he. Very good, smooth, absorbing book about a guy who has a love/hate relationship with his job and his life, and his outlook on things, which is new and quite amusing.
-Anything by Susan Musgrave (amazing Canadian poet. She's been called the chance daughter of Sylvia Plath and Allen Ginsberg.)
-The Dharma Bums or On the Road by Jack Kerouac (he's actually Canadian too. The Dharma Bums is very uplifting. His spontaneous prose is very easy to read, enjoyable and strong)
-Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell (What it's like to live in Paris and London without the money to afford a single meal or shelter. Brutally honest, nonfiction, intense)
-Dorothy Parker! (she's great! Need I say more)
-The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (we read this for English class and I loved it. Gatsby's a good guy. I want him.)
Thank you so much for the ideas! Keep them rolling in, my list is expanding quickly. I'm working on it almost as much as...
finding a job.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

Angela -

I loved the first Griffin and Sabine book. The art is beautiful, the story is compelling and the "gimmick" of the book, i.e. the envelopes and postcards on the pages, works really well.

There's no great literature to be found here but, it's so nice to lose yourself in such an involved story. The books are especially touching if you've ever endured a long distance love or started up a romance (via the Internet, perhaps) with someone you've never physically met.

I think the first book outshines the second and third - the last two only being written after the enormous popularity of the first. But once you read the first you have to go on to the others, really.

Now that I think about it, these books are perfect for online-journal junkies. Reading them gives you a sense of snooping around in someone else's life for a while. I must say though, for the record, that I was highly disappointed with the ending.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

i echo support for "cold mountain" and "snow falling on cedars." great books! right now, i'm reading "the virgin suicides" and it's the *perfect* summer read. it goes along very quickly, but has kept me interested every step of the way. the film version of this novel is the best movie adaption i've ever seen ... follows extremely close to the author's vision.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

I can't believe I forgot this:

Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs.

This is an amazing book. It's a murder mystery written by a forensic pathologist, and set in Montreal. She doesn't get too technical and bury the reader in details, but she still gives a good look into that profession. She gets my home town just right (although English Montrealers don't call the place la Communaute Urbaine de Montreal, which is CUM for short. We just call it Montreal). And it's scary stuff, too. After I read the book, I slept with a light on. Not for the squeamish (she is a pathologist, remember!)

As for the Oprah's Book Club phenomenon, I think that part of the reason that the books do so well is because they're actually good books. I have to agree, though, that people should just make their own book decisions, and not follow Oprah. When I worked at a bookstore, withing 30 minutes of Oprah reccomending a book, book club or otherwise, it would be sold out and on back order. I don't go for books because they're on Oprah's book club list, but if they happen to be there, that doesn't mean that I won't read it. Does that make sense? I'll read anything, whether it has a stamp of approval by a celebrity or not. One thing I do have to say about Oprah's Book Club: It's encouraged a lot of women to read something they wouldn't normally pick up. And it makes instant bestsellers out of authors like Wally Lamb who really deserve it.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

Right, Heather. I promise that if I ever get a book published, I will be whoring myself to Oprah from square one, I'm not ashamed of that. The woman has power, and she does pick talented writers. I don't like the mindless-following that so many of her viewers/readers exhibit, but I'm not going to hold it against the books.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

Wow...some great ideas. I'm *always* looking for something to read besides TIME magazine and my Dave Barry books (gotta love him though:)

My Suggestions

"Big Trouble" by Dave Barry - he's well-known for his humor columns, but this is his first piece of fiction and it is HYSTERICAL. If you read his articles regularly, you'll recognize a lot of it in here.

"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac - like everyone else said, amazing writer.

"The Girl's Guide To Hunting and Fishing" by Melissa Banks - Everyone said this was like an American whatsherface...the British gal that everyone finds annoying. Anyway, I've never read that book, but I did love this book...very funny stories about a 20-something single woman in New York City.

"The Graduate" by I can't remember - One of my favorite movies and the book is exactly like the movie, so I love it:) Plus, its a classic.

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson - If only for the opening line: "We were outside of Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold."

I second "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (quite possibly my favorite book) and also nomintae "Joy in the Morning" also by Betty Smith. Its *not* the sequel to "Brooklyn", but it seems like it could be...its very good though.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

A friend in the office and I are forever trading and recommending books to each other. We have a lot of the same interests and usually like the same writers. We talk about the parts that touched us, the parts that brought the tears, the laughs, the make you want to rip someone's clothes off in the middle of a busy intersection parts. I love having this extra set of eyes and ears in the literary world.

For a lot of women, I am sure it is the same with Oprah. Women who never miss a day of Oprah view her as a friend not just a celebrity. They know that most of the time Oprah's books are going to make them smile, shed a few tears, and walk away with a full heart.

I have read a few books recommended by Pamie, and not because I don't have a mind of my own. Because I think Pamie is smart and well seasoned and I would trust her opinion. Is that so different from Oprah?

I personally would not condemn something that took millions of trash watching, couch potato, talk show obsessed, "mindless" women, and encouraged them to start reading.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

Jack wasn't a Canadian, he was born in Lowell Mass. I'd recommend any of his works... DB is very good but Big Sur is *by far* my favorite. it's the story of his mental breakdown.

another great book (it's Oprah too...) is A Map of the World.

my all time favorite book? Practical Magic. Alice Hoffman has a way of taking ordinary lives and twisting them up so that they break your heart but touch it in a way also.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

i have to agree with the Wally Lamb suggestions (I know this much is true) ..but just one. I couldn't stand She's Come Undone. I wanted to slap that main character upside the noggin. Corelli's Mandolin. oh oh oh such a BEAUTIFUL book. so beautiful. please read it and then THANK ME! ;) anything by Jeannette Winterson (specifically The Passion) Master & Margarita (mikael Bulgakov. might have mispelled his first name) Jonathan Carroll books. he writes dreamscapes, in a way. Sleeping in Flame and Bones of the Moon were my favorites Love in the Time of Cholera is one of my all time favorites. i've reread it so many times The English Patient (didn't much like the movie, but the book is beautiful) Poisonwood Bible (wow such language) White Noise by Don Delillo oh oh oh and The Bone People by Keri Hulme. definitely in my top five. an amazing amazing read. i'll stop now. that's a big enough list. must. control. myself. .

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

Kerouac was of french canadian decent. Trust me. I have arguments with my very american friend about books all the time. He claims no Canadian ever wrote anything worth reading. Then prays that I won't mention that. Which usually I don't because usually I forget and just think of him as a pure blood American.
Trust me, I have background :)

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

The Oprah phenomenon is anything but. They're not "just books that Oprah likes." I work in publishing in New York and there is an unreal amount of research and statistics kept on what kind of books people buy. Oprah nails a lot of readers because she works with publishers & booksellers to highlight the books that her constituency would eventually find anyway.

Speaking of which, "What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day" by Pearl Cleage is fantastic. "White Oleander" by Janet Fitch is also good. I too love love love love love "She's Come Undone". Wally Lamb is simply gifted.

One last thing about the Oprah books: it gives me a little thrill when I pick up a book BEFORE it becomes an Oprah book, or pick up a book and like it before I notice the big-ass O on it. Free will, baby.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

Okay, so these are mostly girlie books--sorry guys anything by Billie Letts---all of her books are hysterical Summer Sisters by Judy Blume---a great beach read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere-- both by Rebecca Wells--if you haven't read them yet--DO IT!!! anything by Jude Devereaux for a light read---okay, so it's trash, but it's goooooood trash!!!! Backing up the Jane Austen reccomendations---Northanger Abbey is GREAT! and Pride and Prejudice a def. must! The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton---my FAVORITE book!!! The House of Mirth also by Edith Wharton anything by Fitzgerald Hideous Kinky by Anna Freud--a young girl's account of a romp around Morocco with her hippie mom and sister re-read those Nancy Drew books or hit the young reader's section at the library for some old favorites

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

oh another addition! i saw Galatea 2.2 on someone's list above, and i have to second that one. Galatea 2.2 is a fanbleepingtastic book. very intelligent. well written. *and* touching. on the Oprah front. many of the books she recommends, she recommends because she genuinely finds the books to have literary worth. You'll rarely find trash on her lists. My mom is an english teacher and claims the numbers of people (ok, mostly women) who read have gone up in leaps and bounds since the Oprah list started. If you read anyway, then you *will* find books on your own and usually will also find a good read that Oprah recommends. If you weren't reading before, well hell....if Oprah is introducing people to beautiful language...more power to her.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie. Hey, it's about rock and roll. How can you go wrong with that?

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

Here to tout Tom Robbins yet again...his new book is out (yippee! yeehaw! etc. etc.)! It's "Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates" - it's one of his easiest reads yet, and highly entertaining. Prepare yourself, though, it's a big book. ;)

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

Anything by Carl Hiaasen. "Sick Puppy" is very funny. Miami must be a very sick and demented place.

Also, almost anything by John Irving. "Prayer for Owen Meany" is about my all-time fave, as well.

---------------------------------- austingirl, lost in boston.....

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

I second the nomination of "Big Trouble" by Dave Barry. It's nice to see a newspaper columnist come out with such a fine piece of fiction. And my GOD, it is funny.

For the brainier humorists among you, I highly recommend Tim O'Brien's "Tomcat In Love." Kicks ass.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

All very interesting and I have to second The Girl's Guide To Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks, I got it for a girl friends birthday but made the mistake of reading the first chapter befor I gave it to her and had to get her another copy!

I notice that absolitely none of you read and non-fiction on holiday. Maybe you all have proper jobs or something and need to escape but if you can bear it checkout Stalingrad by Antony Beevor. It is NOT a boys action story of WW2 but the description of probably the most horific battle in WW2. I read it while on holiday in Istanbul with the temp in the 30s but still felt a cold chill as I read about the captured German Army being forced marched in the middle of winter until half of them were dead.

Not happy and funny but good none the less.


-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

Aside from the two Bridget Jones books, which everyone here seems to have read already, I would recommend "Layover" by Lisa Zeidner. I'm only on page 11, and it rocks. =)

"Girl, Interrupted" took me all of eight hours to read, and "Exquisite Corpse" by Poppy Z. Brite was just depraved.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

I'm in agreement with almost everything everyone else has mentioned. I have to add Anita Shreve to this list. I've read The Pilot's Wife and Fortunes Rock and they were both excellent reads, perfect for summer. Nothing too taxing, but not mindless dribble either. The Weight of Water is next on my list.

On the Oprah front, I agree that it has been a wonderful thing and that it has caused a big increase in reading in our country. But really -- doesn't it sort of make you feel like a lemming sometimes?

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

Along with the other great John Irving books mentioned before, I have to say that I really enjoyed Garp and Widow for One Year. Another book that I got really egrossed in, even though it was a bit outside my normal reading realm, was The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. It's a collection of his short stories about Vietnam...some true, some not, but still thoroughly enjoyable.

If you're really bored I could loan out my copy of Windows 2000 Enterprise Server or TCP/IP for Dummies. That's only if it's around naptime though...

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

I forgot to put in my $0.02 about Oprah's list. I read She's Come Undone about six years ago when I found a worn paperback copy at a garage sale. I fell in love with it, read it at least five times, then lent it a while back to a friend who promptly lost it. I refused to buy a copy for the longest time until I finally found it in hardcover without the big O.

I think it's great that she's promoting reading, etc., but it's that big non-removable O she puts on her picks that bothers me. I certainly don't recommend a book to a friend and put a big K on the front, like I'm responsible for the enjoyment you'll find inside. I can't fully explain why it bothers me, it's just the idea...the self promotion...etc. It seems creepy.

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2000

I noticed that "The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks was mentioned only once up there, but it is very easy to read and a great love story. I also ended up crying for a while after I finished the book! Sparks also wrote "Message in a Bottle," which is good even though it's a little far-fetched. Okay, it's a lot far-fetched but I liked it anyway. And the movie does it no justice. The movie should actually be called "The Movie Kind of Like 'Message in a Bottle' Except With Actors That Don't Fit Their Characters and Numerous Other Stupid Differences." Well, you get the idea. :) And thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. I'm definitely making a trip to the library soon!

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

Oh, no, not the Oprah book club...just stay away from that whole demographic. It's very possible there are some talented writers in there, but Jesus, there are books you need to read first. I'm not saying you should read Moby Dick, but unforgettable books are rarely on that list...So! Here you go.
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Lolita, Nabokov (Everyone in the world should read this)
Anything by Kerouac (Of course he was French Canadian! Jouale was his first language, I don't care where he lived! End of story!)
Poetry by Yusef Kumenyakaa, namely, "Neon Vernacular"
Poetry by Ginsberg (If you don't know who this is...oooooh!)
Alice Hoffman is good
The Poisonwood Bible, by Kingsolver
Girl, Interrupted, by Kaysen (I don't care if this took you ten minutes to read...if you picked it up and only took 8 hours and never thought about it again, you missed something.)
Anything by Salman Rushdie
Anything by Hemingway
Paradise Lost, by John Milton
East of Eden by John Steinbeck (possibly my favorite book)
Vonnegut Vonnegut Vonnegut (Pamie, you are so good enough for him. Start with Breakfast of Champions)

Oh, and Pamie, I really think you'd enjoy anything by Annie Dillard. Personally, I did not go for her stuff, because I'm too damn confrentational, but I sense a distinct common vein between her stuff and yours.

And! Stay away from A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Just leave that alone. Oh, it was so bad. Absolutely uninspiring and cliched. You'll fell like pulling your hair out, I'm predicting. This lead character...she's just such a victim...and her stupid little brother...I despised it so much I just remembered I wrote "Ewwww" on the cover. Steer clear, I'm telling you. Also! Stay away from The Awakening, by Kate Chopin.

Toni Morrison is good, but she has these sudden violent spurts...they're absolutely startling, really disturbing and fascinating at the same time. So. Not on a full stomach, but exceptional.

Everyone should read the Bible. I don't even believe in god, but The Bible is something everyone should be acquainted with. I should also take my own advice on this point.

Oh, and John Berry...I get tired of him like I get tired of Tomato Nation. It's good stuff, but with a little too much self-esteem for my tastes. Try Erma Bombeck.

Michael Crichton? He's excellent at plots, but a lousy writer. Think Airplane rides.

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

I'm afraid I have to stand up for "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." It might have seem cliched, but it was closer to the truth for a lot of Irish American families. I read it on the recommendation of my grandmother over 20 years ago. Her father died at 43 and was so much like the father in "Brooklyn" that it was scary. There was a happy ending for my Grams, but not her mother. She didn't remarry, but of course she had eight children, so that might have had something to do with it.

Everyone has their own opinions, but if you want to know about the Irish in New York at the early part of the century then this book is the place to go. It's a sweet story, and isn't that the whole point of summer reading? (I just can't see the average human hauling the Bible to the beach.)

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

Word on Jeanette Winterson -- I've only read Written on the Body, but man, that's good. I'd forgotten about her. I'm going to hop over to Amazon and add the rest of her books to my wish list.

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

Tom, I just finished Beevor's Stalingrad, and I have to agree with you. It's fantastic. I didn't mention it in my list of books because most people I know couldn't care less about WWII, or military history of any kind.

Other good military histories, for those who are interested, are anything by Stephen Ambrose, especially his books about D-Day and the last year of the war in Europe. The Cornelius Ryan books on WWII are also excellent, even though they're quite a few years old.

I've got a stack of books about submarine warfare in the Atlantic piled up for the summer. Something to fill my time when I'm not at work or studying.

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

i *definitely* disagree about "the awakening." it's a great book and kate chopin, herself, is an interesting character. i've read it several times and would recommend it for anyone's reading list. speaking of classics, "all the kings men" is simply incredible. "in cold blood" by truman capote is equally as mesmerizing, especially considering the death/murder/every-day tragedy we deal with on an almost daily basis in 2000.

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

I think you guys are missing the boat on Oprah's book club.

While everyone who's posted on this forum seems perfectly capable of making their own choices about what to read, the idea behind the whole Oprah thing is to appeal to people who might not consider picking up a book at all, or who think literature can be purchased at the checkout stand at the supermarket.

I read "She's Come Undone" when it was first published. I had stumbled upon a reading in my neighborhood and was blown away that a man could have created such a convincing female character. I really enjoyed it, and recommended it to all of my friends, but it languished in bookstores for over a year before Oprah started that book club and it became a HUGE bestseller.

While it is great to discover new writers or to savor an undiscovered gem, it is just as important to encourage people to read. I have too many intelligent, well-educated friends who aren't able to appreciate the beauty of words, and that makes me really sad for them.

I think it's wonderful that Oprah has gotten her audience excited about reading - who cares if the books she promotes become mainstream. It's great for the writers and it's great for the people who are discovering the joy of reading for the first time.

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

Hi all -

Well, I got into this thread very late, but I can't resist putting in my two cents, though I am mostly echoing everyone else.

Perhaps the best book I have ever read (bumping Grapes of Wrath from the top spot) is "A Prayer For Owen Meany" by John Irving. Beautiful & haunting. A wonderful book.

I can't stress enough how much I echo the support of the Wally Lamb Books. "She's Come Undone," which I read a couple of years ago, got me back into reading after a long spell of recovering from college where I was only reading required stuff. I didn't touch a book for about a year after college. I was burnt out. "She's come Undone" opened a stream....

Which led me right to "The Color of Water" which I don't think has been mentioned yet. Wonderful piece of non-fiction.

After that - here are my rec's in no order:

Hi-fidelity - Very fast read, funny & charming.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya sisterhood - also a very fast read, funny & charming

Harry Potter Books - wonderful!

Animal Dreams - Barbara Kingsolver

Where the Heart is - Loved the book. Loved the movie (and the casting) I also recommend her other book, "The Honk & Holler Opening soon" not as good, but very entertaining.

Going Down - can't remember author - but a hilarious book & a fast read

Snow Falling on Cedars - took me a while to get into, but once I did - WOW!

I also loved the Griffin & Sabine books.

That's all I can think of right now. Happy reading!


-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

Here are some of my favorites, and some that I'm currently reading:

A Widow for One Year, John Irving -- I love him, and this so far is my favorite of the books of his that I've read.

Tomcat in Love, Tim O'Brien -- I'm in the middle of it now, it's very funny.

All the Kings Men, Robert Penn Warren

A Small Rain, and A Severed Wasp, Madeleline L'Engle -- her kids books are great, but her adult books are just completely amazing, I learn something from them each time I read them

Freeze my Margarita, Lauren Henderson -- very fun and funny, she also wrote Black Rubber Dress and some other books that were sadly never released in the US so I haven't read

That's it for now, I'm sure that I'll have more later, but I've just got to say that I hated The Notebook. HATED it. I was angry at myself for days for spending $7 on that book and the bad writing and silly story. Sorry to those who liked it, but I can't remember a time when I read a book that I disliked more.

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

Being an Englishgeek, I have a lot of Englishgeek stuff.

East of Eden, Steinbeck. This will keep you busy for awhile, @ 778 pgs. Also far superior to highschool required S. like The Red Pony, and the James Dean movie, which is just terrible.

A Room With a View, E.M. Forster. Fairly thin (mine's in a big volume of novels) and very funny.

Moo, Jane Smiley. Biting satire of college politics, both in the student body and administration, that will keep you from wanting to go back to school even when you're bored to death in the middle of summer. 437 pgs.

Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson. A very strange little book, mostly focused on character development, where the characters are both people and environment. 219 pgs, but not a quick read.

Peter Pan, the story of Peter and Wendy, J.M. Barrie. Because apparently no one has ever read anything but the disneyfied picture-book version, and this is SO much better. Mine is a vintage 1911 edition, and 217 pgs.

The Writing Life, Annie Dillard. I think this is her best nonfiction/essay book. 111 pgs, but that's still thicker than Holy the Firm.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark. Also short, and made into a movie as well as a play, but the book lets flashback/forward play a big role. Catholic school and politics in the 1930s, if you want to be clinical about it. More like about characters and group interaction. 156 pgs.

The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco. A very intelligent (but not as scary and difficult as Foucault's Pendulum) murdery mystery set in an Italian monastery in 1327. Also made into a movie, which turned out to be where Christian Slater was discovered. 611 pgs.

Of course, if you really want to fill up the summer, you should read Moby Dick and Les Miserables, without skipping chapters on types of whales or the battle of Waterloo, and then get some German (or whatever) language books from the library and try to teach yourself a new language. You will be so happy to just watch tv after that, you won't need any more books for a week.

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

slow reader? short attention span? me too. i've tested these out just for folks like us:

me talk pretty one day or naked by david sedaris. because they're short and will make old people stare at you when you're sitting all alone chuckling to yourself on the acapulco deck

blue heaven because there's nothing quite as fun as taking e at a mafia shindig

christopher durang explains it all for you i wanted to direct a production of titanic for my senior project, but the department chair was a little put off by the hedgehog-in-the-vagina thing

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

Thanks for all the suggestions. Here's my list:

Mating by Norman Rush Vox by Nicholson Baker (good couple reading. wink. wink.) All the Pretty Horses by Cormack McCarthy. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (heavy lifting, but worth it) I also vote for Harry Potter books. Great stuff.


-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

I am so glad to read that Pamie and Eric didn't finish that Dave Eggers book, because I didn't finish it, either, and I felt like a bad person. He just annoyed me. I read about half of it, and then I finally gave up. I feel validated now, and I'm going to pack the book away and stop worrying about it.

I never finished Confederacy of Dunces, either, for pretty much the same reason.

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

I did the same thing one summer too. I was dating an English major at the time and I had him make a Summer Reading list for me. It's by author, with a book suggestion.

Samuel Becket- "Waiting for Godot" Evelyn Waugh James Joyce- "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" JD Salinger- "Catcher in the Rye" William Faulkner- "Absalom! Absalsom!" (I read "As I Lay Dying") Maya Angelou- "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" John Barth- "Giles Goat Boy" Carl Sagan- that book for the layman Harold Pinter- "The Dumb Waiter" Thomas Hardy "Far From the Maddening Crowd" Jonathan Livingston Seagull Goodnight Moon Shakespeare- "Hamlet" Vladir Nabokov- "Lolita" Lewis Carrol- "Alice in Wonderland" Annie Dillard- "An American Childhood"

I didn't read everything on the list. I know I read more Barth and Salinger. It was a smart list and I enjoyed reading literature, versus crap. Not that there is anything wrong with crap, but I didn't have a lot to do that summer except work and watch tv. I needed something to make me think.

Good luck keeping yourself busy! I remember that summer as being really good for me as a person.


-- Anonymous, June 06, 2000

Tom: I love to read certain non-fiction; I just wasn't sure how broad the appeal of my personal picks was. I'm into biographies (most recent ones I've read were Bob Fosse, choreographer and director of things like Sweet Charity and Cabaret, and Audrey Hepburn), and Oliver Sacks books. He's a neurologist who writes about some fascinating case studies. Ever seen "Awakenings" or "At First Sight"? They're based on his writing. Cool stuff.

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000

Whenever anyone asks for a reccomendation only two words come to mind. "Good Omens" This is my favorite book on the planet. It's by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It's a quick read and funny as hell. You can find it at any mega-bookstore in the SF/fantasy section. Also, for summer entertainment, may I reccomend writing your own stuff? It's terribly theraputic, even for people who don't consider themselves "writers" That's all from me


-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000

OH I'm soooo happy to find people who didn't finishy the Confederacy of Dunces! Onto the rest: I agree with Sabine and Griffin, with John Irving, with Harry Potter. All of them, sure, go ahead. And Carl Hiaasen? They're all on my wish list, this guy is soo funny! But I'll add more crime novels and S/F to this : try to read all novels from Donald Westlake, this guy is the most talented funny crime writer of all times. Sometimes a bit obsolete, 'cause he already was writing last century or something, but always good. When you're done, swith to his other work, under the name of Richard Stark, and read them all as well. For this one you have to like gangsters, really. If you like the funny ones in crime like westlake, you can go on to George Chesbro and his star dwarf detective called Mongo, I love 'em all! Of course if you like Hiaasen and Co, you'll just love Elmore Leonard [adapted by Tarantino with 'Jackie Brown' and Barry Sonnenfeld in 'Get Shorty', two good movies IMO] hm, let's see, what else? OF course Lawrence Block as well, in the 'crime and fun' section, for his novels starring Bernie, the bookstore-owner / burglar.
By the same author, more dark crime stuff, starring Matt Scuder, ex-alcoholic private eye dating a whore and solving awful stories in NY. Great human insight, I think. From the fun side of life and litterature:
- all things Douglas Adams : The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide has them all in one book, great!
- all things Terry Pratchett, to laugh out loud and wake everybody up at three o'clock... Always my medicine read. for thr SF fans :
Dune [Franck Herbert], anything you want from Asimov, and ALL Fredric Brown [the sf stuff, the mysteries, the humor, all of it is cool].

BTW if one of you has a copy of 'the night of the Jabberwock' from Fredric Brown, I'm ready to pay good money for it. It is his masterpiece and it's out of print in the US and in France [I read the old french translation I stole from my father], I just don't understand AT ALL.

You like to cry, to feel, you love when it's true and it hurts?
Then read 'Now and on Earth' from Jim Thompson. One of the american genius writers, a bit too unknown it seems.
Of course if crime stories with human insight please you, for example if you read Matt scudder's adventures already and enjoy Kay Scarpetta as well [I guess you all know her?], then you'll probably like James Ellroy work as well...
My advice is to read them in order... [the Ellroys]

I KNOW there is a lot more, and that's because I'm only talking American/English Writing here...
An my poor brain forgets names as quickly as you click. But I might be back later for more ;-)
Oh! I forgot the 'tales of the city' series, of course.. Just read them, not always great, but good fun nonetheless.

This time I'm going. Happy reading!

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000

"The travelling Hornplayer" by Barbara Trapido. I think it's the best novel i have ever read. Really.

Also, " Aunt Margaret's Lover" by Mavis Cheek is funny.

I also read "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry on my summer vacation last year and though it isn't what i would call "my style" ( it's a western!- someone had left in our holiday house...) I enjoyed it and have since read another of his and enjoyed that too... I think he created really nice strong characters - especially his females - and i really appreciate that.

Antoine De Saint-ExupC(ry writes beautifully too. ("The Little Prince","Wind, Sand and Stars"...)

I really must underline the Barbara Trapido novel though. I want to read all of her stuff.

As for non fiction, almost anything by "Osho" is fantastic, "Passionate Marriage" by David Schnarch Ph.D is amazing (sexuality within commited relationships), "Mutant Message Down Under" (An American woman goes "walkabout" with a group of Aboriginals in the australian Outback- reads like fiction and is great), "Awakening Intuition" by Mona Lisa Schultz and too many others...

Happy reading.:)


-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000

I'll try not to repeat any of the previous suggestions, some of which I think are very good, but I would like to put in a plug for Confederacy of Dunces, which I think has only been mentioned in a negative light. It's hilarious and very accesible, the perfect beach read.

Other fiction titles:

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter (Magical gothic novel. Slightly overwritten in spots, but wonderful nonetheless.) Anything by Rebecca Brown (you might start with Annie Oakley's Girl, The Children's Crusade, or What Keeps Me Here. Don't start with A Modern Bestiary; it's clever, but not her best work) anything by Fiona Cooper (Terribly romantic and exuberant. I prefer her short stories, but her novels are good too) Girl Walking Backwards by Bett Williams (If you like coming of age stories. Well written.) Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair (Reads like a memoir of growing up black, poor, smart, and a girl in Chicago in the sixties. Better than her other books.) The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper (If you liked the Harry Potter books and don't mind reading ya lit.) The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Again, if you like kids books. A quick read, but fantastic.) The Hours by Michael Cunningham (A tribute to Mrs. Dalloway. Read it even if you don't like V Woolf.) either of Michelle Tea's two books (Fast paced. Self absorbed. Reads like a diary. Sometimes sexually explicit, but very gripping. You'll read it in one sitting.) Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin (Has he been mentioned yet? You should read him.)


The Motion of Light On Water by Samuel Delaney (memoir of being a young writer living on the lower east side. Accesible. Well- written. Very unlike his science fiction.) The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker (A bit weightier, but fascinating and easy to read.) Art Objects by Jeanette Winterson (I know she has been mentioned, but I'd like to put in a plug for her only nonfiction book.)

Poetry: Marilyn Hacker Eileen Myles

I should stop before this list gets too long.

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000

i agree with the previously mentioned positive recommendation for "confederacy of dunces." it's hilarious, weird and just extremely good! it's unfortunate the author committed suicide before the book was published. i would have liked to seen what came after "confederacy."

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000

Megan, John Kennedy Toole wrote a book called The Neon Bible when he was sixteen. It was published for the first time in 1990, long after his death. I haven't read it yet, but I have read a couple of good reviews. Obviously, it's not going to be as polished as Confederacy, but it might be worth reading.

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000

anything by Douglas Coupland. He writes fiction about our generation that is so amazingly detailed, it could be an ethnology. "Microserfs" is my favorite. Great strong, entertaining characters. I read "Miss Wyoming" on the flight from San Diego to Chicago and enjoyed it. Great writing about the significance of everyday events and how pop culture invades all aspects of our lives. "Life After God" is great, too. It was the only Coupland book that I didn't own, until I found it in a pile of trash in the alley behind my boyfriend's place...a very Coupland-esque experience in itself.

"Bone" by Faye Ng is great, too. This woman spent 10 years writing this book, and it shows. Amazing prose and story set in contemporary San Francisco. Family, culture, love, life and death.

Anything by Banana Yoshimoto. A very famous "gen X" author in Japan. I reccomend "kitchen" or "Amrita." Again, a great eye for everyday detail, and the magical world that lies beneath what we see in our lives and in other people's lives.

I know that "Cometbus" is technically a zine, but Aaron's writing and format has developed to the point that I really do see each issue as a mini-novel. A really great way of stepping into someone else's life, seeing the worth through their eyes.

I know it's a comic book, but Minimum Wage is really engrossing and terrifically funny. Best dialog and characters I've come across in anything. You can get the first 2 volumes in book format. Anyone that I have shown this comic to has become addicted.

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000

oops, I messed up that Minmum Wage link. You can order it from fantagraphics books, too.

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000

I believe someone already mentioned this, but "Naked" by David Sedaris. It's hysterical.

"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy. It's set in India with a lot of foreshadowing and flashbacks; I can't even describe it but it totally sucks you in.

"Human Croquet" and "Behind the Scenes at the Museum" by Kate Atkinson. Coming-of-age novels that are both easy reads and smart/witty/etc. I haven't read her new one yet...

"The Garden of Eden" by Ernest Hemingway. Much more interesting than, say, "The Old Man and the Sea" - and it seems like a great summer book for some reason.

"Bird by Bird" and "Traveling Mercies" by Anne Lamott. BBB is about writing, but it's so funny and entertaining that you'll like it even if you're not into writing. TM is about religion; I'm not religious but I still loved it. She's very nonjudgmental, and there are some great stories from her childhood.

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000

I have to second the Kate Atkinson recommendation, esp for "Behind the Scenes at the Museum", it has characters in it that will shine in your memory for years. Some good Australian authors - Thea Astley, esp her new one "Drylands", great portrayal of an outback town and its characters Peter Carey - "Oscar and Lucinda" "Bliss"(films have been made of both these) also "Illywhacker" "The Tax Inspector" Kate Grenville - "Lillian's story" (based on a true Sydney character, a homeless woman who would unexpectedly hop into cars and ask to go for a drive, and wore a small amount of money pinned to her dress so the cops couldn't arrest her for vagrancy), also "The idea of perfection" Russell Banks, Rick Moody and T. Coraghessen-Boyle - all Americans (I think) and all great! Esp TC Boyle... And thanks to everyone else for making my own reading list a page longer and even more unachievable in the years of good eyesight I have left to me....

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000

Kate Atkinson's Behind The Scenes At the Museum is a star. So is To Kill A Mocking Bird, Tamarind Mem by Anita Rau Badami which is a tale set in India and Canada, filled with memories, etc. But if you just want a good laugh, and I mean loudly, go in for The Queen And I by Sue Townsend. It's the best satire I have read. You do, however, need to have at least a vague idea about the British monarch.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2000

Give anything by Hanif Kareshi a try. He wrote the screenplays to a couple of GenX must-see films: "My Beautiful Laundrette", "Bhudda of Suburbia" "London Kills Me"--the films are great, the books are better.

Kareshi takes a microscope to his flawed characters, bringing out the absurd in daily life. Rife with dark humour, his stories circle themes of love, coming-of-age and race-relations in London.

If you want to get a taste of his style, pick up the recent short-story collection "Love In a Blue Time." I would also highly recommend "The Black Album" as a starter.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2000

The Robber Bride , Margaret Atwood
The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
Solomon Gursky was Here, Mordecai Richler
The Water-Method Man, John Irving - this is old and fairly obscure, but it still my favourite Irving novel, especially funny if you are a grad student
Still Life with Woodpecker, Tom Robbins
Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon
Werewolves in their youth, Michael Chabon
- a short story collection
The Psmith series, P. G. Wodehouse
For mysteries, anything by Dorothy Sayers or Elizabeth George - with both of these, it's worth reading their series in order to appreciate the character development of the detectives. Minette Walters is good too, as are the McKenna series by Orania Papazoglou.
Also on my list that I haven't had a chance to pick up yet, but want to read, are Michael Ondaatje's new one, Anil's Ghost and Naomi Klein's No Logo (nonfiction).

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2000

I read the Buddha of Suburbia a couple of weeks ago. It cracked me up. I enjoyed the allusions to different books and social movements I've got an interest in. It was well written, but still a guilty pleasure to me. I definitely second the recommendation.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2000

I forgot to mention "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath, if anyone here hasn't already read it at least once. It's not always a cheerful read, but it should be a required read, sort of a prerequisite for death. No one is allowed to die without reading "The Bell Jar." =) If I had my way...

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2000

Tom Robbins is definitely smart, fun reading. Perfect for summer. I also cannot recommend Ellen Gilchrist highly enough. All of her stuff is great, particularly the earlier books and stories. Even if you are not southern, you will love her.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2000

I really enjoy all of Douglas Coupland's novels: poetic prose about what it's like to be a twentysomething in this strange and wonderful country we live in. My favorite is "Microserfs," then "Shampoo Planet," and the newest, "Miss Wyoming"

I also just finished "Flamingo Rising" by James Barker (I think). I couldn't put it down, a very well written story.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2000

Xenia, I COMPLETELY forgot about Lonesome Dove. I loved that book like no other book I'd ever read. And it was a western! I don't like westerns! I adored every moment of was funny, sad, realistic, outrageous, everything. I would definitely recommend this book to you, Meredith (and anyone else). The relationships developed in the book are so great.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2000

Holy cow, is that a list or what?

Since everyone suggested the good, solid, adult reading stuff and most of my suggestions are up there, I'm going to plug kids lit.

Read the Harry Potter Series. You'll remember that being a kid was good and bad and ugly. And you'll escape into another realm unlike any you've escaped to since you were knee-high to a gopher.

-- Anonymous, June 08, 2000

I also forgot Music for Torching by A.M. Homes. Twisted take on suburbia but great. I couldn't put it down.

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2000

Two good guyish books:

Preston Falls, by David Gates. Tomcat in Love, by Tim O'Brien.

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2000

Thanks for the validation Sarah... " Leaving Cheyenne" by the same author is great too, and the Barbara Trapido book is great. This from the (all) amazing "blurbs" on the cover and inside: "The woman is brilliant. She deserves to be up there, topping the bestseller lists and winning all the prizes. And she actually makes you laugh...I enjoyed every page of this book" Daily Mail. And that is not one of those over-hyped quotes that fall way short of the truth. Not one of those "amazing" quotes that only consider a novel amazing because it makes no sense to them so they figure it must be brilliant or that is just really hip and everyone must praise the novel or else risk their reputation - again, lack of self trust. Thanks!

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2000

Props to Jessica. I'll take her advice over everyone else's because she is the only person to have included The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood on her list. But The God of Small Things does rock, too. Also the Ender series by Orson Scott Card. Science fiction, which doesn't normally interest me, but these books are amazing. Oh, also Blindness by Jose Saramago

Fuck Oprah.

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2000

Doug Coupland is great... I would recomend any of his stuff... I just finished a book called 'Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Repair' by Donald Miller ,great little book about these two guys who travelled accross the U.S. and some of their experiences/struggles....

-- Anonymous, June 10, 2000

1) Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale. Much like a (very heavy, physically) fairy tale for adults. The writing is beautiful, so beautiful. Flying horse involved, also bed of furs on top of a mansion in New York, and a bridge of light. It enveloped me completely - many weeks spent with large saucer-eyes, oblivious to all around me. My best friend cried when she finished it because there was no more. Sadly, Helprin was a speechwriter for Bob Dole (occasionally evidenced in a certain glorification of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps), but please don't hold it against him.

2) So Far From God, by Ana Castillo

3) Woman Hollering Creek, Sandra Cisneros

4) Bone by Fae Myen Ng (spelling not so good) - that's a second.

5) Ursula Hegi, Stones from the River

6) Anita and Me, Meera Nyal

7) Borderlands, Gloria Anzaldua

8) Push, by Sapphire (not a light read)

9) Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

There are so many wonderful writers who happen to be of color, particularly women of color - give them the love they deserve! I mean, I love A Prayer for Owen Meany too, but lord knows John Irving doesn't need any more buyers, and it's worthwhile to let publishers know that people want to read authors outside the mainstream.

-- Anonymous, June 12, 2000

There are so many good books out there. Here are some of my favorites:

Replay - Ken Grimwood An incredible story of a man who keeps repeating his life (think Groundhog Day, but more expansive).

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand I love all of her books, but this one is definitely epic in its scope and has an incredible message. Watch out - it's long!

Caucasia - Danzy Senna This is the first novel that Senna has written and it's really incredible. It's about a girl with biracial parents who gets caught in the middle.

Parable of the Sower/Parable of the Talents - Octavia Butler The beginning of a series according to Butler. I enjoyed the first more than the second, but the characters are very involving. It's about a woman during the early 21st century who tries to make sense of the chaos going on around her.

And a couple of childhood favorites:

Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea, the whole "Anne" Series - L.M. Montgomery Wonderful books!

Half Magic - Edward Eager I miss being a kid and believing that the magic in books could happen in real life.

-- Anonymous, June 20, 2000

I read anything I can get my hands on. But my summer favorite: 1. Skipped Parts 2. Sorrow Floats 3. Social Blunders all by Tim Sandlin Enjoy

-- Anonymous, July 03, 2000

God someone who wants to read with her summer, I thought it was just me! There are lots that I would reccomend but my all time fave has to be Angelas Ashes by Frank Mccourt so much better than the movie heartwarming stuff too! Theres also The womens Room by Marilyn french and Cats eye by Margaret Atwood. If you are into theatre I would say Perfect days by Liz Lochhead thwe funniest play ever The steamie (not sure who by and The Letterbox by Anne marie di mambro wonderful stuff also anything by samuel beckett and Harold Pinter too. Happy reading!!!

-- Anonymous, April 19, 2001

God someone who wants to read with her summer, I thought it was just me! There are lots that I would reccomend but my all time fave has to be Angelas Ashes by Frank Mccourt so much better than the movie heartwarming stuff too! Theres also The womens Room by Marilyn french and Cats eye by Margaret Atwood. If you are into theatre I would say Perfect days by Liz Lochhead thwe funniest play ever The steamie (not sure who by and The Letterbox by Anne marie di mambro wonderful stuff also anything by samuel beckett and Harold Pinter too. Happy reading!!!

-- Anonymous, April 19, 2001

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