I am what my old college professor used to refer to as “a voracious reader”. I read A LOT – anytime, anywhere – usually for a couple of hours every night before going to sleep but, occasionally, while I’m waiting for appointments or for my significant other to finish shopping or for the traffic light to turn green. And yet, for someone who reads as much as I do, you would think I would be able to recommend far more great titles. The truth is, I’ve read many good books, many bad books, and many more average books, but few GREAT books. The type of books that keep you up until two or three in the morning. The type of books you recommend to friends because you want to vicariously re-experience the joy of discovery through them.
Over the years, every so often, I’ll offer up a list of recent reads I’ve greatly enjoyed. Past recommendations have included (but not been limited to): Frank M. Robinsons’ The Dark Beyond the Stars, Joe Abercombie’s First Law Series, George R. R. Martin’s Ice and Fire series, Iain M. Banks’ The Player of Games, Inversions, and Use of Weapons, Thomas M. Disch’s Camp Concentration, Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others, William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, Jeffrey Ford’s The Empire of Ice Cream, The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant and Other Stories, Elizabeth Moon’s The Speed of Dark, China Mieville’s The Scar, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and The Android’s Dream, Charles Stross’ Glass House, Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge edited by Lou Anders, John Steakley’s Armor, John Varley’s The Ophiuchi Hotline, Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, The SFWA European Hall of Fame collection, Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, the writings of David Sedaris, Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, Jason Aaron’s Scalped, Matthew Woodring Stover’s Heroes Die, Jonathan Barnes’ The Somnambulist, the writings of Jeffrey Steingarten, Christopher Moore’s Fool, Stephen King’s Misery, David Benioff’s City of Thieves, Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Gotham Central by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka, Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry – also by Jon Ronson, and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A fairly eclectic mix, no?
Well, today, I’d like to add a few titles to that list…
A college professor discovers his wife is a practicing witch. Dismissing the very notion of magic as superstitious nonsense, he convinces her to give up her mystical pursuits. She reluctantly agrees, destroying her protective charms. Soon after, however, the professor’s luck takes a turn for the worse and he quickly realizes that his wife isn’t the only would-be witch in town.
WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen
The fact that it’s filed under Historical Romance lead me to dismiss this book, but I picked it up on a lark last week. I read the first 100 pages the night before last, then ended up finishing the last 25o pages last night. A 93-year old nursing home resident reflects back on his youth during The Great Depression. At age 23, following the sudden death of his parents, he decides to forego his final exams at Cornell to join the circus. It’s a tale both touching and tragic peopled with memorable characters like the circus’s ruthless owner Uncle Al, a seemingly obstinate elephant named Rosie and, my favorite, a lonely dwarf named Kinko.
RELIC by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Despite the great things I’d heard on this blog by several of you, I avoided this book because I erroneously assumed it was park of a steampunk detective series. Also, I prefer standalone novels. As it turns out, I was wrong about both – the assumption that it was a steampunk detective series AND the fact that I preferred standalone novels. Relic is a great introduction to one of the greatest characters in the mystery genre, Federal Agent Aloysius Pendergast, and a wonderfully suspenseful read to boot.
In addition to reading novels, I’m also following a few comic book titles as well. I’m reading enjoying:
DAREDEVIL: END OF DAYS (limited series) written by Brian Michael Bendis
My favorite ongoing title is a gritty, noir thrill-ride that will, sadly, end in two issues.
I’ve never been a fan of the God of Thunder, but all that changed when Jason Aaron took over writing duties on the book. Aye, verily!
ULTIMATE SPIDERMAN written by Brian Michael Bendis
I was dubious about the new (alt. universe) Spiderman but Bendis has won me over with his gift for character and dialogue.
NEW AVENGERS written by Jonathan Hickman
Loved Hickman’s run on The Ultimates and love what he is doing here. One of the most engagingly complex super-themed titles out there.
HAWKEYE written by Matt Fraction
A unique take on the cape and cowl genre focuses on the life of Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, when he isn’t hanging out with his fellow Avengers.
ALL NEW X-MEN written by Brian Michael Bendis
Past and present collide when the original X-Men travel to the future and meet their contemporaries led by Wolverine.
UNCANNY X-MEN written by Brian Michael Bendis
The flipside to the All New X-Men focuses on Cyclops and his rebel faction as they attempt to recruit new mutants to their cause.
DAREDEVIL written by Mark Waid
One of my favorite comic book characters written by one of my favorite comic book writers.
THE INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK written by Mark Waid
Bruce Banner, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.? An intriguing new take on the un-jolly green giant.
DEADPOOL ILLUSTRATED written by Cullen Bunn
The merc with the mouth kills his way through the classics. In issue #1, he took down Ishmael and Moby Dick. In the latest issue, he goes toe to toe with Tom Sawyer. What’s not to love?
Actor/comedian Brian Posehn shows off terrific comic book writing chops as he pits Deadpool against a murderous ghosts of dead presidents. Take that, Lincoln!
17 thoughts on “March 9, 2013: Recommended Reads!”
Thanks for the recommendations Joe. I wrote a few of them down I would like to get. TV is so boring lately, work is so hellish lately, a good book and some nice quiet time sounds pretty good. When I was a teen, I would go to the library and pick up an arms load of paperbacks. (There is something about browsing the isles in a library or bookstore) Two to three weeks later I would return with them all read and load up on another batch. I wish I still read like that. Books are a whole new world in themselves. Thanks again.
Hoping Tam Dixon and Das get to feeling better real soon! Take care ladies!
I keep meaning to read Water For Elephants but haven’t but it’s on my “to read” list. 🙂
Personally, I am working on the classics – Asimov, Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Niven, Ursula Le Guin. I took an English course in university that focused on science fiction novels. Best course ever. I would have just coasted through university if all my courses were like that.
I have been meaning to try a few of the books you suggest, Joe. I doubt if I will read any comic books though, er, excuse me. I mean graphic novels. Cough cough. I’m not a big comic…er graphic novel…fan unless they are educational like some of the ones on historic figures that came out a few years ago. I know…they were not much of a hit.
Tam Dixon and Das, eat oranges, blueberries and garlic to feel better…uh, not all at once. Bleh!
Last thing that I couldn’t put down was the Hunger Games trilogy. I read it just before the movie came out and I literally couldn’t put it down. I had started reading it on my lunch hour and as soon as I got home I continued reading until I was done. I had all 3 books read in a matter of days. I agree with you – very few books have done that to me.
@ Ponytail & Patricia Stewart-Bertrand – Thanks! My biggest problem (it seems the case whenever I’m sick like this) is that I can only sleep for about 2 hours at a pop, then I wake up ready and raring to go. And HUNGRY. I just can’t stop eating. How’s it go? Feed a fever, starve a cold, or starve a fever and feed a cold? I can’t remember! But I sure as hell know I ain’t starving anything right now! 😛
And thanks to the whole ‘spring ahead’ thing, I woke up at 1:30 and now an hour later it’s 3:30. Good thing I’m just sleeping in tomorrow…or eating in…or drinking in…probably a little bit of all three. 😀
You may not be a fan of ongoing series but I would strongly recommend Terry Pratchett. His Discworld series is a more satirical take on fantasy and he often uses it as a way of taking established genres and having some fun with them.
Thanks for the book suggestions! I bought Water for Elephants for my mom but didn’t’ read it. It looked sad. I may borrow it from her, if you promise I won’t be crying all the way through it.
Patricia Stewart-Bertrand: A Sci-fi course? Sounds great! Did they cover Heinlein? I really loved The Moon is a Harsh Mistress novel. Oh and thank you for the get well wishes.
Ponytail: Thanks for the good health vibes. I’m feeling more myself today. I was dragging all day yesterday and couldn’t seem to catch a nap (mind wouldn’t slow down). After a good night’s sleep, I’m back to normal (or as normal as Iget). We overslept and missed church but we are thinking of going to the zoo. It’s supposed to rain, so maybe it won’t be as crowded. (fingers crossed)
Das: I hope your “code” is better. Had to laugh at my hubby yesterday, he said the same thing you did “there’s a code in my node”.
Laura: I loved Hunger Games but the last one in the series depressed me. Are they going to make all three into a film?
@ Tam Dixon – Seems the code is going around. My fever broke today, my nose isn’t as stuffy (still snotty, and very sneeeeeeeeeezy!! aaaaaa-CHOOOOO!) and in talking with a friend with similar symptoms and who has been diagnosed with Influenza B, I’m wondering if that’s what I have. I haven’t had a real flu in ages. Not going to worry about it since I seem to be getting better. *hugs bourbon bottle – a.k.a. The Fever-Breaker* 🙂 Okay…so maybe it wasn’t the bourbon, but the garlic-infused chicken and broccoli in white sauce…or the frequent naps, or just the passing of time. As long as I’m getting better it really doesn’t matter.
What DOES matter is that it seems my jaw is out of place. I had some pain after my last dentist visit/cleaning on the 1st, and last week I woke up with my jaw stuck open, but I thought that was it. Nope. Over the past 24 hours every time I wake up my jaw is out of whack and I have to adjust it back, and now that whole side of my face is terribly sore to the touch. Ugh. If it’s not one thing, it’s aaaaaaaaaaaaa-CHOOOOOOO!!! Crap. 😛
Das: TMJ is not fun. I was told to try Aleve and soft foods for a while. Good luck I’m glad you’re feel better.
Pendergast is a fantastic character, one of my favorites. You should read the sequel Reliquary, a good read.
Get well soon, all you invalids!
Thanks for the book recommendations. I’ve read many on your list (Lord of Light is one of my favorite books ever).
@Joe: I just finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and would recommend it. An interesting twist on the Magician’s Duel set in a very unique circus (as you might guess from the title).
But on my list of all-time excellent reads: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan books (start with The Warrior’s Apprentice). If you haven’t read them, Joe, I think you would enjoy them. And also by LMB but fantasy instead of Sci Fi: Paladin of Souls. Good characters, interesting plot, It’s actually the second book set in that world, but you don’t need to read the previous one (Curse of Chalion) to enjoy this one.
Oh, and Ender’s Game.
And maybe American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
Okay, I’ll stop now.
@das: I have TMJ, too. You have my sympathy (and empathy). I have a custom-made night guard that has made all the difference in the world. I love my dentist. I hope you feel better soon.
📚In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you📚Adler
I’ve read many books for pleasure and many for inspiration. Some have changed me forever and their words still cross my mind.
I can only read short things now because if my eyes. I miss books…so very much.
@Tam the second hunger games movie will be released in November of this year. The last book is being split into two for release in November of 2014 and 2015.
Well, I’m currently reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. It’s an eye-opener and I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but it’s growing on me. I’m glad it’s on my Kindle because the vocabulary is challenging. Touch the word and up pops the definition from the Oxford dictionary. Very cool. Next book up will be “An Election” by John Scalzi.
@cherluvyaI read a lot more in my youth too, my eyes just cannot keep up with my bookly appetite anymore, regardless of eyeglass prescription.
Hope you feel better soon das!
Wow, I’m really gonna have to check out some of those comics. Several of those look very interesting.
Well, I’ll post this here since it’s comics-related. Did you read the article about how DC is doing a 11-issue arc for Batman called Zero Year? I like where it fits in the overall mythos, and Scott Snyder has done a decent job so far, but the thing that scares me is the quote from Snyder: “We tried to preserve as much of Batman’s history as we could and keep what we could of this history intact,” he said of the change. Like they’re excavating an ancient artifact…. Hello! You’re the ones writing it, you can choose to leave it ALL intact if you want! I think it’ll be an interesting read, though.
Artistic license related: Now this damn new Oz movie did well, so far, at the box office so apparently, the Disney machine is already planning spewing more Oz movies out. I refused to see it on many grounds, namely because, well, James Franco and Mila Kunis. If they wanted to be serious about his movie and REALLY tell the origin of Oz and do that universe justice, they would’ve cast people who can act. The Disney movie machine is purely formulaic these days. The sad result of a bunch of exec’s putting pieces together of a “magic puzzle” to crap out movies America will consume in vast quantities. I wonder where Disney would be if it wasn’t for Pixar? Seriously, take away those resounding successes and I’d bet A LOT of other movies don’t get made. Have you seen the trailer for “Planes”? Ugh…