I read a lot. I read more than anyone I know. The librarians at my local branch all know me. So even though I try to be self-deprecating in my posts and I downplay stuff, I am not going to qualify my next statement at all. You should always always always
come to me for book recommendations. I won't steer you wrong.
Well, that is, if you like the genres I like. I like plot and plenty of it. Deep brooding character studies? Oh fuck no. Stream of consciousness anything? Absolutely not. My own stream of consciousness is more than enough work for me. Stories that capture the ambivalence, isolation and futility of modern society? Never. I have zero tolerance for whining.
I loved every book on the list below. They all have lots of story and a strong viewpoint for the narrator and something worth thinking about after. They aren't in any particular order.Fiction:Queen of the South:
A Mexican gangster’s bimbo has to flee to Spain, finds out she has a head for numbers and ends up one of the largest cocaine traffickers in the Mediterranean. The sex scenes are OK, but the part about how drugs are transported is very interesting. (Perez-Reverte)Kings of Infinite Space
: The protagonist fucks up his life so badly that he ends up working for a state agency. Can you imagine? And then strange things start happening. The sex scenes are surprisingly hot, considering how brief they are. (Hynes)Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love:
This book is all sexy all the time. You totally cannot borrow my copy, because you will bring it back all sticky. Cuban musicians and family in New York. (Hijuelos)His Dark Materials:
You should already know about this series. All three books are amazing and it is your own fault if you have heard of them but not yet read them. (Pullman)Perfume:
A man with an extraordinary sense of smell in 18th century France goes to excessive lengths to create the perfect perfume. If you can get the book on tape, the language is even better read aloud. (Suskind)Non-Fiction:The Outlaw Sea:
A book in three parts about how the ocean is essentially ungovernable. The middle part, about a ferry sinking, will keep you reading straight through the night. (Langeweische)Show Me a Hero:
I wrote about this book before, and how the City of Yonkers resisted integrated low-income housing. I didn’t tell you all the good parts, though. (Anand thought this book dragged in the second half.) (Belkin)Ballad of the Whisky Robber:
Very funny book about a Hungarian hockey goalie turned bank robber. (Rubinstein)Wrecking Crew: The Really Bad News Griffith Park Pirates:
My favorite movie in the world is that one where there is an underdog, and she trains really hard, and does her push-ups in slow motion, and then there is a competition, and he just barely qualifies for the world championship finals, so he does windsprints, and then the end is the real finals and you just don’t know what will happen? I love that movie. The only thing that could possibly make that movie better is if there is some sort of redemption-through-sports and they all kick their drug habits. So this book is pretty much perfect. The sex scenes are more disturbing than hot. (Albert)Kid's books:
I started reading kid’s books again when I was in law school. I needed a break from the overwhelmingly dense language in casebooks. I’ve stayed with kid’s books even though I am done with all that, because they tend to be plot driven. Some of them are incredibly good. Holes:
This is one of my favorite books ever. It is spare and perfect. (Sachar)Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes:
Chris Crutcher’s books always have two themes, athletics and abuse. Thankfully, I can’t say how accurate his writing on abuse is, but no one writes better about what it is like to train hard for a sport. Swimmers will especially like his books. Whale Talk
is also good.After:
This book terrified me and I sat petrified on my porch couch for a long time when it was done. A high school slowly sinks into a totalitarian regime. (Prose)Ella Enchanted:
The movie looked horrific, from what I could see on the plane. But the book is clever and sharp, with a good strong girl protagonist who has a curse on her from birth. (Carson Levine)
I know lots of other good books, if you’ve already read these. I didn’t include the classics, like Their Eyes Were Watching God
, because I figured you already knew about them. If you want to talk genres, I could also make recommendations for mystery and science fiction books.