I read it months ago, but I'm still thinking about it...

Mario Vargas-Llosa’s Way to Paradise. It’s a novel about Gauguin and his grandmother, a socialist rabble rouser who toured France trying to organize the workers, told in alternating chapters.

Read it last winter, at least six months ago, and still thinking about it at least once a week.

What have you read recently that’s really stayed with you?

I am constantly brought back to Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, written in 1937 after his 6-month stay in Spain, by events in Hong Kong/China, local & everyday as well as at a state level. The ugliness of Communism (and by extension much orthodox group thinking based on dogma and doctrine, paying lip service to equality and change, but glorying in power, prestige, status, money and the status quo) has never been better explicated and exemplified. I first read it perhaps three years ago.

I didn’t read any of these recently (sorry!), but three books immediately came to mind and I just have to share:

The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. It’s historical fiction, which is really not my cup of tea, and it’s the only Follett I’ve read, but I loved this book. I thought about it forever after I first read it, and I keep it around for periodic re-reading. From Publisher’s Weekly via Amazon.com: “Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through 40 years of social and political upheaval as internal church politics affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists.”

Replay, by Ken Grimwood. Nothing like a story about a guy who gets to live his life over, and over, and over, and over to get you thinking about what you’d do differently if given the chance. Also stands up well to re-reading.

Timeline, by Michael Crichton. The movie was tolerable, but immensely watered-down compared to the book. This book contains the only fictional character that I’ve ever had a crush on (so far). I usually start a new book on the same day that I finish one, but I had to wait a few days to kind of “recover” from this book. Amazing. And, of course, it stands up to re-reading (the best books always do).

People look down their noses at Michael Crichton as a writer (I wish I had achieved a fraction of what he’s managed over all), but I enjoy his stories, including Timeline. I think it’s best to avoid the movies (I haven’t seen teh film version of this one) as there’s only so much dilution characters can take!

Nothing recent, but these books were stuck in my head for quite awhile:

A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
The World According to Garp - ditto
Steel Beach - John Varley

The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach. Certainly the best German SF novel ever (not that it has a lot of competition), but one of the best SF first novels ever written and destined to be a classic. It’s set in a society where people spend their lives weaving rugs out of human hair for the emperor – and the secret as to why will hit you in the gut. And just when you get over that, the final chapter blows you away.

When I was in high school I read Another Kind of Monday by William E. Coles from the school library. I don’t know what it is about this book, but it stuck with me for a long time. I need to get my own copy.

I read Alan Hollinghurst’s Line of Beauty last September and I’m still thinking about it. I keep meaning to re-read it, but it’s just circling around my brain. I don’t really know why - I was too young (and in the wrong country) for the Thatcher years, I didn’t really empathise or identify with the characters, but I can’t stop thinking about the book.

I like Ken Follet’s books in their own way, but the inevitable unintentionally hilarious sex scenes wear a bit thin after you’ve read 3 or more of them.

Most of the reviews I’ve seen indicate that The Pillars of the Earth isn’t typical Follet, and I don’t remember any unintentionally hilarious sex scenes. Give it a try. :wink:

If you liked Pillars of the Earth, try L. Sprague de Camp’s The Bronze God of Rhodes. It’s about the building of the Collosus of Rhodes, and resembles Follett’s book in many ways – a book about the construction of a massive project, in which the construction doesn’t even begin until you’re more than 1/2 way through the book. Well researched history and engineering. de Camp has written science, science fiction, fantasy, and history. But at one time he tried to be a straight historical novelist. That he didn’t sell better is a shame, because his knowledge and understanding of peoople and technology were excellent.
The only problem is that the book is Waaaay out of print. You need to search old book stores or used book sites.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman
I read this over two years ago but still think of it, I suppose chiefly because I don’t know “the answer”. The child dies because her family can’t treat her epilepsy because their culture sees it as a blessing, and because they can’t follow directions, and because the doctors don’t figure out how to communicate with them, and … who is right? Who is wrong? Everyone is right/everyone is wrong. Very thought-provoking.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
A truly amazing adventure story. I could not put it down. Two Years Before the Mast meets 100 Years of Solitude.

Actually, I’ve read it and liked it, but it does have its fair share of torrid romance book sex – including a rape scene and mistreatment of a prostitute to show just how bad one of the baddies was.

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane