Saturday, November 24, 2007

Feed my brain

I am in need of book recommendations. I'm on a serious Jodi Picoult kick right now and the library has run out of novels for my consumption. My wallet has run out of excess cash with which to purchase more. And so I turn to you, Wise Internets, for a delightful list of alternative novels to fill my brain with literary goodness.

I enjoy Picoult's novels because of the rich emotional lives of her characters and the complexity of the situations they find themselves in. I love that the stories are not one sided, rather you jump from character to character and fully understand the situation they find themselves in. I love that she can take a tragic situation and weave it into something beautiful every time, even if it is not always what you might consider a happy ending. Being emotionally drawn into a story is key for me.

My problem is this, I read the same type of novel by the same author until I am forced to try something new or the phase ends. Usually I run out of novels first, but in cases like my high school Mary Higgins Clark phase, my interest waned before I got to the end of her endless list of novels. Currently, I am not at the end of Picoult's novels, but until Christmas rolls around and I get a BN gift card or two, I don't really have access to any more. Which is why I come to you, lovely readers of all that is good, I need suggestions that my brain might accept as a substitute.

I've tried Hornby. I recently read Long Way Down and finished it, but it didn't really draw me in. I read it because it was available and I felt the need to read. It was good, but not really what I was looking for. I loved the Time Traveler's Wife very much. I'm currently reading this book, but it doesn't count as reading because it is for informational purposes. In fact, I sort of doubt I'll get through it without an novel to alternate it with and reward myself.

So tell me, what are you reading? What should I be reading? What is your favorite novel? Help me feed my poor little brain!

You know, like KayTar feeds Blue Baby, except with books instead of cookies.


Becca said...

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver was very good. She also wrote The Poisonwood Bible which I also loved.

Two of my other favorites are The Red Tent and Israel, My Beloved. Ooh, just typing that makes me want to go unpack my books so I can read Israel, My Beloved again.

S said...

Based on your liking Picoult, I'd recommend

--Anita Shreve (try Light on Snow)
--Elizabeth Strout (Amy and Isabelle)
--Chris Bohjalian (Midwives)
--Ann Patchett (Bel Canto)

Sonja said...

One of my absolute favorite book is "Kindred" by Octavia Butler! Is is similar to the Time Travelers Wife, but based more on American History.
The other book I read this summer an loved was "Love in present tense" by Hyde (?) The first chapter is a little hard to get through, but well worth it!
Also, have you read "Life of Pi" by Martel? Very good!
Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

If you'd like to indulge your Canadian side, I recommend Anne Marie McDonald's Fall On Your Knees. A beautifully written page-turner. It first came out in Canada, I think, but it eventually made Oprah's must-read list.

flutter said...

Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
any of the Diana Gabaldon books

Anonymous said...

If you like beautifully written historical fiction, I'd recommend Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks.

Another of my all-time favs is Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.

I'm going to come back to this post with paper and pen and take down some suggestions my friend. Thanks for the post!!

Kristin said...

I just read Red Tent based on AJ's was good, but not great...I had a problem with some of the scriptural liberties taken. AJ warned me of that, but still...

I also liked Lovely Bones and Secret Life of Bees that another commenter suggested.

One of my favorites that is being turned into a movie is The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory. It's the best (and first) in that series.

Oh...and one of my favorite things is going on my library's website and requesting books I want from other branches or even other library districts. All at no cost to me. I can't remember the last time I bought a book thanks to this. So, your Piccolt fetish doesn't have to end...yet.

Felicia said...

Water for Elephants was really good, but I can't remember who wrote it right now. But if you want I can ship you some books. I have to many!!! And I never know what to do with them when I am done with them. We can start an interenet bookexchange. oh, lack of sleep is kicking in, but let me know.

Janet said...

You know what else is a great Kingsolver book? Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's not fiction, but she is such a gifted storyteller that it kind of reads that way. If you're at all interested in the whole "buy local, live sustainble" issue then you will enjoy.

My reading has been crawling along, lately. But the last two books I read I quite enjoyed:

- We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver. It's a fascinating look an ambivalent mother and her troubled offspring. The ending still haunts me.
- Bloodletting and Other Miraculous Cures, by Vincent Lam. This may interest you, given your intense dealings with doctors of all flavours. Written by a Toronto ER physician, but it's fictional.

The other two books I have waiting on my bedside table, and highly recommended by friends are:
- Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert (My girlfriend signed up for yoga after reading it. Not sure what that means, but there you go.)
- Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer

Aliki2006 said...

I'm feeling brain-dead right now as far as book recommendations. I haven't read Picoult, but I also like to soak up books by one author until I've exhausted them.

Do you like mysteries? I'm enjoying reading all of Ian Rankin's books now--perfect for those short spurts of reading in the evenings.

Suz said...

I second the Barbara Kingsolver, but you also might want to check out God of Small Things (I'm blanking on the author right now). I'm also feeling the urge to read...I wonder if it has to do with the colder weather or the approaching holidays.

Beck said...

Check this out:
It's a fun site!

painted maypole said...

i see our children have similar naming habits for their baby dolls.

Some books I've read in the last few years that I loved include A Map of The World by Jane Hamilton, The Poinsonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and The curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (I forget who it is by).

i also liked Life of Pi, which I see someone else recommended.

metro mama said...

I highly recommend Lullabies for Little Criminals, by Heather O'Neill.

I'm also a big fan of short stories, especially Alice Munro's.

Anonymous said...

Dude. I just spent the last 4 hours in the car with my mom while she told me about everything you've blogged about in the last week. (She's a huge fan of yours, by the way.) Anyways, it's all too much to comment on. When I get back in town we need to have a girls night out. Desperately.

Personally right now I'm rereading "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" which is awesome. The movie is not.

Anonymous said...

Also, at the risk of being stoned to death by your other readers, The Poisonwood Diary is the worst book.


Junie's Blog said...

I wish I had time to read!! I envy you! lol Ummm pretty soon I have to read some children's book club stuff for a reading program starting in January but I doubt that is what you are looking for . . . :P

dawn224 said...

I love early Sidney Sheldon. Master of the Game ... any of them that had a cheesy miniseries made from it was a great read. Dorothea Benton Frank has some nice light reads too.

(I read My Sister's Keeper in one night. I sobbed. It wasn't pretty. The Tenth Circle ... my kid is never growing up. That's final.)

Bea said...

First - High Fidelity and About a Boy are so much better than A Long Way Down. Give Hornby a second chance.

Second - I am so with Jenny on The Poisonwood Bible.

Gretchen said...

Barbara Delinsky--esp Family Tree
Luanne Rice is good also. Just read Stone Heart recently--really good.
Marian Keyes
Jane Green

The Glass Castle

The whole Shopaholic series will make you laugh.

Oh, read The Girls by Lori Lansens.

I don't read heavy stuff :)

Also, check out I love that. Also you can go to for suggestions. If you join, let me know, I'll add you as a friend.

Sarahviz said...

The Last Summer (Of You and I) that was written by the woman who wrote Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (Pardon the mommy brain--the author's name escapes me!)

Anyway, it was a great book!

moplans said...

K has such gorgeous hair.

I posted about the last two books from my book club - The first man in my life and Doubing yourself to the bone. Next on the list are Ten Thousand Splendid Suns and The Washington Diaries. The sales guy at the book store was very excited about the washington diaries. those are both new though and you are looking for library books right?
The Poisonwood Bible was one of my favourite books ever.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh Babe.

You SO should not have read Long Way Down as your first Hornby.

About a Boy and How to be Good are ACES better.

I feel badly for leading you astray.

God of Small Things is by Arundhati Roy (sp??) and at the risk of offending the AWESOME is in my "WTF? What am I missing here? This book stinks." section of Books I Really Never Got Into. I never even finished it. Marika Pessl (or whatever) might end up there too.

If you like complex characters, and dynamics, try:

** The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (Check out Children of God at the same time. You'll see why.)

** I echo the Ann Patchett suggestions and also suggest beginning with Bel Canto.

** And I'm going to suggest Richard Russo's Empire Falls.

I'll stop there.

All should be available at the library.

P.S. I second Jenny's suggestion for night out. I will bring the rocks. ;) Multiple ones. This is because I will challenge you, Jenny, and say Life of Pi was the worst book. Ever. OMG NO, Dickens. God help me: Bleak House.

Using My Words

Chaotic Joy said...

I had this same dilmena, sort of. I only read what's at my used book store. I have read several Jodi Piccoult. I just started on Anita Shreve and am liking her. I also liked The Secret Life of Bees & Midwives. Bel Canto is on my bedside table right now but I haven't read it. I think I am the only person that hadn't read this, but I just finished The Kite Runner and it was great!

I have gotten some great suggestions off this. Thanks for posting your question.

Run ANC said...

Well, I don't have much time to read right now, but the last two books I read were great.

A Thousand Splendid Suns (although I like The Kite Runner better)
I Capture the Castle

crazymumma said...

I am reading the Harry Potter series right now. It is very very good.

Crow lake is an incredible book, To Kill a Mockinbird and all time favorite.

Kite Runner?

So many to choose from....

Family Adventure said...

I'm going through your comments for ideas myself. :)

I just finished and liked "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See and "Lullabies for Little Criminals" by Heather O'Neill, which someone else also suggested. I would also recommend
"The Voyage of the Northern Magic" by Diane Stuemer, a true story that I found incredibly moving.

Life of Pi - a classic!


Anonymous said...

Anything by Amy Tan, excellent writer. The Poisonwood Bible was the only book of Barbra Kingsolvers I didn't like, hated really.

What else? John Irving, Elizabether Berg, Carol Shields, Carl Hiasen, Christopher Moore, all excellent and varied writers.

The Kite Runner is fantastic.

Julie said...

Anything by Anne Tyler. She is my fav...but I have to say, I need to check out some of the above recommendations.

Stacy said...

I think you might like Perri Klaas--she's a pediatrician, mom, and writer of fiction and nonfiction.

~aj~ said...

Oh man, I could talk about books all day long!

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorites as well. I have found a lot of hers to be hit or miss though. I read a couple of not-great ones recently and then read Plain Truth and loved it (look for it at the library if you haven't read it yet!).

A couple other favorite authors are: Anita Shreve, Sue Monk Kidd, James Patterson and Debbi Macomber.

I'm currently reading "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" and am enjoying it. I love books about China in that era. I'd also highly recommend "Memoirs of a Geisha" and anything by Amy Tan.

You know how much I liked "Kite Runner" and I've heard that "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is even better. But you may have been the one to tell me that..I can't remember. :) lol

If you are in the mood for some good chick lit, I recommend anything by Sophia Kinsella, Jennifer Wiener and Emily Giffen. I just read something by Marian Keyes, "Anybody Out There?", expecting it to be very light-hearted and was greatly surprised about the depth she gave her characters. It was a sad, but funny book. Would definitely recommend it too.

Okay, that's all I've got off the top of my head. Email me though if you want more suggestions. I know I can come up with more.

Shel said...

My all time favorite novel series is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. There are 6 out so far and a couple more at least due. She also has written a mystery or two. The Outlander books are hard to categorize. They aren't romances, but sometimes are shelved with them. They are sort of historical fiction. A woman from 1945 walks through a cleft in a stone circle in Scotland and ends up in 1743. I was really skeptical before I read them. A friend lent it to me and I took it on Thanksgiving trip eight years ago. I finished the other books I had along and was faced with six long hours in a car with nothing to read. I cracked it open and couldn't put it down. I went to her the next day and got the other three books. I then bought them all and the subsequent three as well. The bonus thing is that they are pretty long so one book might last you several weeks depending on how much time you have to read. I think I average about two weeks for them if I haven't already read it. Seriously we are talking Roots length here. Definitely worth it though. Your library should have them. They are pretty popular.