Friday, December 12, 2008

Recommended Reading

My sister-in-law Kim was looking for a book recommendation this week and asked me what I would recommend to her. That's kind of a dangerous question. In fact, most people don't ask me about books, because they know I probably won't stop talking. But she asked, and if I've got a captive audience I'm going to take it.

I couldn't recommend just one, however. It's like if I had 500 children, how could you pick your favorite? I would be able to tell you the stinkers, that's for sure, but could I pick just one?? I don't think so.

I decided to go according to mood. Sometimes you want a book that's light and fluffy, sometimes you want some serious thought-provoking stuff, sometimes you want a rip-roaring adventure. So here's a list of some of my favorite books. Most of them I've read more than once, and all of them would be worth having a conversation about. I hope you enjoy the list, and please put in the comments other books you'd recommend, or your thoughts on my faves. Just don't tell the other books that they aren't my favorites - I wouldn't want to hurt their feelings.


If you aren't picky about bad writing and just want something action-packed, try The DaVinci Code. Sometimes I wanted to tear my ears off, but the story was too entertaining to stop.

If you are in the mood for romance, try Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Yes, it's trendy, and tends towards juvenile, but it's good, mostly clean escapism.

If you want a fictional Nazi-Germany book, try The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It's sad, (but aren't they all?) in a positive way. And Death is the narrator, which I just love.

If you want a great historical fiction book, and can handle a little bit of risque, try Memoirs of a Geisha. Might be too much if you're sensitive.

If you're looking for a Harry Potter replacement, try The Bartimaeus Trilogy. The first two books are great young adult fantasy. Skip the third book, unless you are okay with unhappy endings.

If you want a fantasy series that will last you for months and months of reading, try The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. He wrote 11 volumes and then died with one book left. It's being released next year. They suck you into this world, kind of like Harry Potter, but it's a big commitment. But you also don't have to ask what to read next for a really long time.


If you want to challenge your brain, but not too much, try Freakonomics. It's faux-intellectual - it gives you the feeling of learning stuff but in the most entertaining way possible. Plus now you have all sorts of facts to dazzle people with.

If you want something to talk to your doctor about on your next visit, try Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande (his other book, Complications, is also very good). It 's a fascinating inside look at the medical system, although slightly scary right before surgery. :)

If you want a true adventure story, try Into Thin Air. It's fast paced, a little heavy on the swearing, but a fascinating story of the disaster on Everest. If you want a little more Everest after that, try No Shortcuts To The Top.

If you want a good book about grief, try The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.

If you want a fun memoir, try A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel. Also the sequel, She Got Up Off The Couch. Totally fun and entertaining.

If you want a memoir about someone overcoming great obstacles, try The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

I feel like I've left off a ton of great books, so remind me in the comments.


rachel said...

Darn, I was hoping to find a new book. I have read all of those and I liked them all - well I guess I didn't finish the Bartemaus trilogy. But I liked the first one. I would add the Eragon books to great fantasy literature. I really like them a lot. And, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings would be on my list too.

Emilayohead said...

Yeah, I knew you had read every one of these books! I love Harry Potter too but I couldn't get into Lord of the Rings. And the Eragon audiobook for some reason I couldn't listen to it, I can't remember my complaint. I'll have to try both of those again.

Right now I'm listening to the book Sway - it's the science behind why people make irrational decisions. Oh, you know what series I've been enjoying a lot? Percy Jackson and the Olympians. The first one is called The Lightning Thief. It's children's fantasy, but it's well written and has a great plot and I've loved them. There are 4 so far. I'm trying to get Brad to read them, but he's reading the Narnia books right now.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Fablehaven series.
Em, I know you'll always prefer Harry Potter over it, but Fablehaven is still very entertaining and original.
- Ryan

Luisa said...

Hey Emily-- I hopped over from Rachel's blog and had to add one of my all time favorite books. Gorgeous writing. I just love it. It's no quick read. (It's not a suspense driven story at all.) Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Have you read it? I love it! I've read most of your recommends except for the 11 book serious. I'm not a big fantasy fan but I think I like it more than I think I do. (That totally makes sense!)

Luisa said...

Oh and I haven't read Twilight. I just can't bring myself to it!