Read any good books lately?

So here I am, with about a month to go before school starts (gotta love the quarter system), and way too much time on my hands.

You’re all intelligent, well-read people; any suggestions for reading material while I’m lounging by the pool?

If you like fantasy literature then I would recommend anything by David Eddings. He wrote quite a few series of books, including the Belgariad and the Elenium. the elenium starts with the Diamond Throne and the Belgariad starts with Pawn of Prophecy, they’re all very good books with delightful characters.

hmmm… The Tommyknockers by Stephen King…
will open new doorways in your emotions and consciousness…
great for freaking out schoolmates when “open reading” comes along and you have to read an exerpt from your fav. book…

“The Beaver Papers”, (sorry, I’ll have to find the authors later). The basic concept is that “Leave it to Beaver” was being threatened with cancellation, so famous authors started sending in plot ideas to save it. The result is a collection of synopses that take off on famous literature: “The Beavers of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, “Thus Spake Beaver” by Hesse, “Beaver on a Hot Tin Roof” by Williams, etc. In between the pastiches is the continuing saga of the behind-the-scenes activity. Even Miss Lander’s toes don’t escape unriffed.

“Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: An Unauthorised Autobiography” by Chuck Barris, the host of the old Gong Show, is also a damn funny book. Three main plotlines–his public life making game shows, his secret life as a hitman for the CIA (so he says), and his constant quest to get laid. The woman with the fang had me nearly incontinent.

Not really intellectual, but good poolside reading.

I’m still looking for “The Saphire Rose” in my used book stores. I have all the rest of the Belgariad and Elenium.

The best books that I, also on the quarter system, read this summer are:

1–The Perfect Storm (Can’t remember author) – Everyone should read this one.

2–The Pilot’s Wife (by Anita Shreve)

3–Renato’s Luck (by Jeff Shapiro) - This one turned out suprisingly wonderful (I chose it from the library based solely on its cover)

John Julius Norwich’s three volume series, Byzantium
I’m about four fifths of the way through the first volume, Byzantium:The Early Centuries and hungry for more.

Also, anything by the the Most Reverend Joseph Raya, Archbishop of Aka, Haifa, Nazereth and all Galilee. He’s not only a wonderful writer with a talent for bringing really heavy spiritual and theological concepts down to earth, but also a really sweet guy. (I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him.)

Try Different Seasons by Stephen King.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is excellent.
Hannibal by Thomas Harris is a really good, gripping thriller.

If you haven’t read The Stand by Stephen King yet then I urge you to read that first.

Right now I’m reading The 48 Laws of Power by Joost Elffers (probably misspelled) and some other gentleman whose name escapes me at this time. How to claw your way to the top of the corporate ladder. Interesting and yet somewhat disturbing.

On the lighter side, George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series are really enjoyable. Historical fiction with a lot of humour. Super reading.

Sorry - what I meant was, of course:

On the lighter side, George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series is really enjoyable.

A Perfect Storm was written by Sebastian Junger

Go read lots and lots of Terry Pratchett, John Irving, and Vonnegut. :slight_smile:

Snow Falling on Cedars - excellent writing
Cider House Rules - but only if you like John Irving
Flawed Giant - LBJ biography
Pillars of the Earth by K Follet about cathedral building in 12th century England.

I’d also recommend A Son of the Circus and A Prayer for Owen Meany, both by John Irving.

Normally the reading I do for class is something I deal with rather clinically–if I read them for pleasure, the books would probably be better. Every now and then, though, I’m pleasantly surprised.

In The Lake of the Woods, by Tim O’Brien, is a VERY cool book. On the surface, it’s a mystery story, but it gets into the nature of truth and omission, the atrocities of war, and the disintegration of a career, a relationship, and a mind.

Was, by Geoff Ryman. Modern retelling of the Oz story, with intermingled plots of the “real” Dorothy Gael, Judy Garland, a homosexual actor dying of AIDS who is obsessed with The Wizard of Oz, and his therapist. Interesting blend of history, fantasy, and reality. At times, absolutely gut-wrenching to read, but you won’t want to put it down.

Both of these books are relatively quick and easy reads, but have a bit more depth than the average beach book.


The Pilot’s Wife–Anita Shreve

anything by John Irving

If you like mysteries, Elizabeth George is superb. Make sure you start at the beginning, though.

The Most Wanted–Jaqueline Mitchard (I liked it better than Deep End of the Ocean)


The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down–Anne Fadiman. This is a fantastic account of a Hmong child with epilepsy and the battle between her parents and her MDs. Anyone who is interested in medicine or in cultural differences will love this well-written and balanced book.

Into Thin Air–Jon Krakauer A very well-written account of tragedy on Mt. Everest.

The Perfect Storm–Sebestain Junger. Another tragedy.

Hmm, these seem like downers, but they aren’t. More like testaments to the human spirit with an eye to human fraility.

Modern Carpentry, by Willis H. Wagner. Easily read but a lot better than any collection of Sunset or Ortho cheapies, it’s a good basic reference for all phases of carpentry. The local union has used it as a text.

Well, I’d read it by the pool!

i second the suggestion of a clockwork orange.

and of course, any vonnegut you can find.

A couple good nonfiction books I’ve been reading:
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen
The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond

As far as non-fiction goes, Loewen's book is really well written; I haven't been able to put it down.

For a bit a levity in between the fourth Harry Potter book is pretty good, but it’s not as funny as the first three. A friend of mine described it appropriately as “The Empire Strikes Back of the Harry Potter series.”

If you had more time before school starts, I’d suggest starting on George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. There are three so far – A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords. Unlike many fantasy series, these books get better and better.

How about some short stories? I’m in the midst of Flannery O’Connor, and am still shaking my head that a woman could write stuff like this in the 50’s and not be burned for a witch.

Have you read Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”? Those stories would be good to have floating around in your brain – you can go back to them when you get stuck in a boring class.

Heck, just go to the library, stand in front of one of the fiction shelves, close your eyes and grab something. If it’s Danielle Steele, put it back, but just about anything else should be okay.

Any of Donald E. Westlake books featuring John Dortmunder. Enjoy a satirical crime novel while getting an excellent education in planning major heists.

“Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Best described as Monty Python meets The Omen. (BTW, Terry Gilliam is signed to adapt and direct this after completing his current film “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”)

Any of Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” novels.

“Starship Troopers” (not to be confused with the great steaming pile of a movie by the same name.) Also, “Glory Road”, a classic Heinlein fantasy.