Reading Recommendations (for you and me)

Pretty much every year I ask for book recommendations from you all and here I am doing it again.

I’m off on holiday in three weeks time and from the moment I enter the airport to the moment I hit the sun-lounger to the moment I get off the plane again, I intend on reading lots and lots and lots.   Bothersome tasks like eating copious amounts of pizza, drinking Prosecco,  blethering to Dad, browsing in shops, running along the shore pathand taking pictures of lovely Italian buildings/scenery may infringe upon my plans slightly but there will still be lots of time for literary pursuits.  😉

So, any recommendation for books (fiction or non-fiction) that will utterly absorb me would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

Like last year, I am bribing you for this information with a cute picture of Marco (see above).  Unlike last year, I am also offering you something else: my own reading recommendations. Below is a list of books that I love.  The first eight are books I have read in the last year and enjoyed and the latter four are my all time favourite novels.

Fair trade? Hope so.

Recent Reads

  • Gillespie & I  by Jane Harris – A rather unsettling but entirely engrossing read set in Victorian Glasgow.  Stayed with me for weeks and weeks after I’d finished it.
  • Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler – Read this by mistake.  Thought it was something else.  Not much happens but I felt a part of the fictional family by the time I’d finished.
  • Bjorkmann’s Point by Håkan Nesser – Do you like cheesy crime thrillers? I do and I really liked this one.  Swedish. Not hugely original but a very entertaining read.
  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts- Epic true story of a Western fugitive and his experience of working in the underworld in India.  Oddly uplifting.
  •  The Woman in Black by Susan Hill – Love a good ghost story, I do.  Didn’t want to see the film until I’d read the book.   The book’s great fun.  Still haven’t seen the film.
  • Dark Matter by Michelle Paver- Another ghost story. Set in midwinter-Spitsbergen at the beginning of the 20th century.  Not perfect by any means but really, really scary!
  • Blood River by Tim Butcher – Non-fiction book about a journalist’s journey along the Congo river.  Opened my eyes.
  • The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson – Author of The Moomin stories.  I’ve loved her short stories for a while now but this novel was beautiful.

All Time Favourites

  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Set in early 20th century Barcelona. Mysterious, funny, touching, atmospheric… Just loved it.
  • We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver – Stunning writer.  Chilling character.  Thought-provoking issues.  Subtly gripping plot.
  • A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth – Big, big book.  Totally worth the time investment.  May have said this before on these pages but I cried when it ended because I wasn’t going to know the characters anymore.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – Heartbreaking.  Tolstoy’s prose is beautifully crisp.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Needs no introduction but if you haven’t read it, do.  I read it every year without fail.

28 thoughts on “Reading Recommendations (for you and me)

  1. I am currently reading “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett. It is my Book Club’s summer reading selection. I am enjoying it so far…

  2. sounds awful! pizza, prosecco, reading.. 😉
    We have quite a few the same on our lists.
    I read ‘The Room’ recently-and although it is quite depressing-it is quite like ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ in lots of ways.

    -Two favourite – ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ -by Barbara Kingsolver.

    ‘The Museum of Innocence’ – byt Orhan Pamuk.

    I’m going to take a few off your list for the summer!

    Not long now!

  3. I second those recommendations of books by Barbara Kingsolver and Kate Morton, and The Room.

    I really love Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. It is one I love to return to. I can see why you read pride and prejudice each year! I loved Les Miserables but it took a long long long time to read.

    We read lots of crime thrillers here – Jo Nesbo is an author E keeps suggesting I read – The crossing places by Ellie Griffiths is another recently discovery.

    Happy holidays!

  4. Long time lurker but this is getting me out of lurksville.

    I completely second John Lanchester’s Capital. Brilliant, moving.

    Some more of my recently enjoyed reads:

    The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
    All That I am, Anna Funder
    The Fault In Our Stars, John Green
    The Glass Room, Simon Mawer
    Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch
    Painter of Silence, Georgina Harding
    A Perfectly Good Man, Patrick Gale (haven’t finished this one yet but it’s a cracker)

    How to be a Woman, Caitlin Moran
    Nothing to Envy, Barbara Demick

    Apologies for the overkill, I’m a librarian, I can’t help it.

  5. Dear Wendy:
    – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
    – The book thief, by Markus Zusak.
    – Anything by Andrea Camilleri. Anything, really. He is that good.
    – Anything by P. G. Wodehouse. Same applies.
    – Molesworth, by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle.
    Enjoy your holidays.

  6. I can second the Jo Nesbo recommendation…just about anything. Headhunters, his latest , made into a film, the least good.
    On the Scandi vibe there is Mankell(all the Wallander stories in order) of course, Mari Jungstedt(Unseen, Unheard, unspoken….all 3 good and then a 4th in the series)Yrsa Sigudirsdottir also excellent author. Denis Lehane is a cracking read too especially Gone Baby Gone. James Joyce, Ulysses, a good holiday read, failing that opt for the shorter and less demanding, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Is it time to read John Buchan( again)? Shame that Lionel Shriver could not follow through after Kevin..what an amazing read.
    Love books, love explanations or excuses. I could go on forever

  7. As per someone elses recommendation above The Book Thief is excellent, as is Kate Atkinson’s series about detective Jackson Brodie:-

    1. Case Histories
    2. One Good Turn
    3. When will there be Good News and
    4. Started Early, Took my Dog

  8. Frequent lurker, occasional poster piping up:

    – I’m off to buy the Lanchester book on the strength of these recommendations. His novel The Debt to Pleasure is one of my favorite books.

    – My very favorite novel, though, is No Great Mischief, by Alistair MacLeod. It’s a poignant and beautifully told story of a family that emigrates from the Scottish Highlands to Cape Breton, Canada. Though it’s told from a 1980’s perspective, the past generations of the clan (and even their dogs) are deftly woven into the contemporary narrative. MacLeod has not written much, but everything he has published shines like a gem.

  9. I got hooked on cheesy crime mysteries by Laura Childs this past year. They are easy reads and always left me wanting more after I finished one. Here’s a link to her website – I started with the Tea shop mysteries which take place in Charleston, SC. I’m now reading through the scrapbook series and the stories take place in New Orleans. She always has a few recipes in the back of the book from those mentioned in the stories. I would have never thought I would have enjoyed books like these, but I do! I also enjoyed reading a few by Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm, which also has a couple of sequels. Enjoy your holiday!!

  10. The Help Kathryn Stocket
    any of the books by Sarah Addison Allen….all magical
    Still Alice
    Left Neglected both by Lisa Genova

    most happy reading

  11. I have just read and loved, Before I go to Sleep by S J Watson, couldn’t put it down, also The Dress by Sophie Nicol was a nice holiday read, and I’ve just started and think I will enjoy a new Anne Tyler The Beginners Goodbye. Enjoy your holiday.

  12. How can I resist such a cute pooch? Currently reading Jo Nesbo “The Snowman” and loving every minute of it .Will read “The Leopard” next. I am really enjoying reading Scandinavian crime novels at the moment.

  13. Hi Wendy, As you’re a English teacher a series I enjoyed but that is aimed at teenagers is the chaos walking trilogy. The first one is “The knife of never letting go” and I would say they are even better than the Hunger Games series. Also if you’ve never read read the Adrian Mole books they’re a definite must as they’re my all time favourites.

  14. I’ve read A Suitable Boy four of five times and have cried every time for the same reason. I have to put it back in my “to read” pile as it’s been too long since I visited them.

  15. just finished saturday by ian mcewan (sp?) and it read like a writer at the top of his game, just wonderful.

    but other than that, i’m having such a hard time reading at the moment…loving all of the recco’s here!


  16. Wendy,
    I finished “State of Wonder” and I loved it. Now I have a sample on my Kindle of “The Chemistry of Tears” by Peter Carey. We’ll see…

  17. Thanks for your brilliant bird photos.
    My book recommendation is Callum McCarthy’s “The Road” – unforgettable!

  18. Love your recommendations. I shall see if any of them can be read on the Kindle. (Do you have a Kindle?) I read “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain (its written from the pov of Ernest Hemingway’s wife) so then I read Hemingway’s “For Whom the bell tolls”, “A moveable feast” and “The old man and the sea”. All four are interesting reads.
    Have you tried “The hare with the amber eyes” – non fiction by Edmund De waal – and features netsukes (which I bet you have seen in real life)?
    I loved “The Mermaid Chair” by Sue Monk Kidd – very atmospheric setting.
    What about “Such a long journey” by Rohinton Mistry? I’d love to go to India.
    Another novel I really enjoyed recently was ‘Learning to lose” by David Trueba. It’s set in Madrid and I was so sad when it finished.
    Aren’t we lucky to have so much reading time?!

  19. Thanks for those recommendations. Just ordered the Jane Harris book. If you enjoy Scandinavian crime thrillers, I’d suggest Steig Larsson’s Millenium trilogy. I read all three one after the other and loved them.

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