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like oprah's book club, but not

like oprah's book club, but not

I read at an early age. I didn't confine myself to books. I read cereal boxes and street signs and instruction manuals. Anything that had letters on it was my domain. To this day, I still read license plates as if they were words. I read road signs even though I already know what they say.

So suffice it to say that while most kids had this fantasy about being let loose in a toy store, my fantasy that one day I would be sitting in the corner of my favorite bookstore and the store would close and they would forget I was in there. And then I would get to spend the whole night in the bookstore, reading and browsing and being thrilled by the intoxicating smell of new books. I still think about that. A bookstore is still my favorite place in the world.

Aldo has his primer on how to shop in a bookstore (4/15 entry), but I think that's more for bookstore novices, for people who are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of paperbacks and hardcovers and sundry other paraphernalia. Me, I let my book sense take me through the store.

Yesterday, it failed me. For the first time.

I couldn't find anything that thrilled me. Maybe it was the mood I was in. Maybe it was the puppet show going on in the back of the store. Maybe I was a little pissed off that this particular book store's graphic novel section featured nothing but Star Wars books. I don't know. I just wandered aimlessly through the store, picking things up and putting them down and listening in on other people's conversations.

You know, that Byron dude.
Wasn't Beowulf a character on The Simpsons?
Mom, I think Casey just puked in the religion section.
Martha Stewart makes me hot.

I ended up in the children's section. I looked through the picture books and the shelves full of series for young readers, beginning readers, intermediate readers, readers who only like books with fart jokes, readers who only like books with creepy monsters. I picked up a book about the American Revolution for DJ. He only reads non-fiction. And books with fart jokes.

I spent the rest of my lunch hour wandering through the aisles, trying to find something that would jump off the shelf and into my arms and scream "Read me!" It never happened. I found a Henry Rollins book that Justin could add to his collection. I picked up book on creative writing for Natalie. I got a copy of Harold and the Purple Crayon for my nephew because he looks just like him.

Nothing for me. I can't trust my book sense anymore. It led me nowhere. I need something to read. I need a book that will grip me enough so that I won't want to put it down. I'll call in sick and ignore the laundry and forget to feed my children because this book is that good. That's what I'm looking for. It could be fiction or non-fiction, horror or fantasy or prose or epic poetry. It could have women or men or children or ghosts. I'm not picky. I just want it to be great.

So, what are you reading? Use the comments. Recommend something. Praise a book. Tell me about an author. Give me something to sink my reading teeth into. My book sense thanks you in advance.


I just finished reading, "Skipping Christmas" by John Grisham. Funny and a novel idea. It was a dad recommends book. My dad reads them and then sends them to me with post it notes to let me know if it's slow, fast, good, gets good etc. This one was a " it's good". I also really liked "Dreamcatcher" by Stephen King. The shit weasles were terrifying. They are making a movie out of it but I know it will be nothing like the book . He wrote it after his accident when he got hit by that car. He was heavily medicated. Oh the things he thinks of in this book..lmao. Hope that helps a little and let me know what I should read next. I have read everything I have and need something different.

A book I enjoyed about writing is Natalie Goldberg's "Writing down the bones".

A compelling tale of a man who builds a boat, and then finds himself stranded at sea: "Adrift" by Steven Callahan.

I started reading Dreamcatcher and got stuck about halfway into it. I haven't picked it up again yet. I think the whole excrement motif got to me.

right now i'm reading the tin drum by gŁnter grass and even though it's long and slow i'm fully enjoying his weird sense of character... just chock full o' strangeness...

in the line of poetry, it's not epic but jack gilbert's "the great fires" is an amazing collection... it's quiet but irresistable and perfect... my absolute favorite right now.

I just finished Dead in Dallas by Charlene Harris. It's sorta a cross between the funny parts of a Tanya Huff book and the actual mysteries from early Laurell K. Hamilton. And if that means nothing to you, it's a vampire/urban fantasy book where the main character is a telepath involved with a vampire, who works at a bar run by a werewolf. It's the second in a series (first being Dead Until Dark) and lots of fun. The book I just started is Justice Hall by Laurie R. King. A continuation of the Sherlock Holmes mythos. It's also really good, but like the sixth or so book in a series. The series starts with The Beekeeper's Apprentence.

Book sense, huh. I find books that way too - just wander through the bookstore with nothing in mind until the right book comes along. Books I've enjoyed are "Plagues and Peoples" about the relationship between disease (epidemics) and history, and "Creating Minds" about the seven kinds of intelligence and raising children.

Alright, had this really nice long post for ya and my browser crashed sighs so here's the short version:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel (unfortunately not available in the US yet) - got this for Christmas and wasn't totally sure if I'd even like it. Good thing was that once I started reading it I couldn't put it back down.

Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon - If you liked The Stand by King, give this a shot.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch - Really liked this one. It's an Oprah book pick.

Dreaming in Color by Charlotte Vale Allen - a chick book, but it wasn't a horrible read, I actually didn't mind it.

The Dragon Delasangre by Alan F. Troop - came to me from a friend who had received a whole slew of books from his friend in the states. Quick read for me, definately an interesting idea.

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong - Werewolf book! Canadian author! Actually really enjoyed this one... totally written from a female werewolf's perspective... one who's trying to live a "normal" life.

Hope that helps.

Sorry, that untagged comment is mine :p forgot to fill in the other parts LOL

Recommended: same as Mercy & Cleo...Dead Until Dark/Living Dead in Dallas (just finished the second one)...White Oleander...reading Bitten right now, so I can't really say...and My Year of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki.

Book choices: my choices have been sucking royally of late - probably because I've veered away from my usual habits and began reading book reviews by people who wouldn't know a good book if it slapped them.

Re: Dreamcatcher. I've read every single King book, and this one sucked. I managed to get through it by sheer force, but the plot was convoluted, the characters anorexic, and the shit weasels...please already. So this is a brain on morphine. Any questions?

I'm currently in book 3 of the Earth's Children series. Start with Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. Her novels are being reprinted.

Recommended: On A Pale Horse, Piers Anthony: Heaven, hell, purgatory, death, ghosts, and flying carpets. It's the first book in a series about the incarnations of immortality.

"Motherless Brooklyn" was amazing. I finished it on the train the other night and can't stop thinking about it. If you like words, you'll love it!

Another good book about words: "Bee Season." It got a little hinky towards the end (what with the Krishnas and Jewish mysticism and all), but all the spelling bee stuff was perfect. Someone who reads license plates would probably enjoy the 10-yr-old protagonist's theories about how some letters fight with each other.

Favorite book I've read in the past year: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon. Also enjoyed Straight Man, by Richard Russo (just ordered his latest -- Empire Falls -- which won a Pulitzer in fiction). I'm hoping Michael Cunningham comes out with a new novel soon. I greatly enjoyed his first 3: A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, and The Hours. (The Hours won a Pulitzer a couple years ago ... and no, I'm not a total book awards whore, but it's really cool when novels I read and really enjoy end up winning a big award. That never happens to movies I really like!)

I don't read books for entertainment (should I admit that). If it's not technical, or in someone's blog, it just isn't worth reading.

Anyway, my wife is the exact opposite. She's got lots of favourite authors, but her all-time favourite is Judith Merkle Reilly.

Apparently, she writes about women of strong character living in France during the 1500's/1600's (?)

If you want off-the-wall, read "Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel", by Milorad Pavic. I'm re-reading after several years. It's a dictionary, yet it's not.

The last fiction books I read were The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Summon the Keeper (and it's sequel, The Second Summoning) by Tanya Huff, and some Charles de Lint books. I've been kinda reading Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth and the Hero with a Thousand Faces. I just finished a book called the Elegant Universe which is about string theory in physics and the way the universe is. I have a couple of books on synesthesia(Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens;The Man Who Tasted Shapes) calling to me.

The feelings you expressed about walking into a book store have been the same as mine lately. Also when I walk into a music store.

I just got through re-reading "Harry Potter & the Sorceror's Stone" and then reading (for the first and last time) "Fast Food Nation." Not at the same time, of course, otherwise I would have thought Hogwarts was a slaughterhouse outside Greely, Colorado. "HP&TSS" is always an enjoyable read, whereas "FFN" was at once intriguing yet incredibly morbid. Suffice it to say I haven't gone to a McDonald's since I started reading it. I have yet to start a new book; I'm in need of something light and airy.

Everything by Tom Robbins. His stories are wild and sometimes slightly surreal but the best part is his command of the language...the man has a vocabulary that must be seen to be believed. Some titles:
Jitterbug Perfume
Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas
Still Life With Woodpecker
Another Roadside Attraction
Skinny Legs and All
Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates

Then there's Elizabeth Peters, an Egyptologist who writes delightful turn of the century mysteries featuring, hey, an Egyptologist! Begin with Crocodile on the Sandbank.

James Lee Burke writes the most lyrical cop novels EVER. His books are absolutely beautiful, in a gut-wrenching crime novel kind of way. The Dave Robicheaux books in particular, start wherever you want but Heaven's Prisoners is the chronological beginning. Ignore the fact that Alec Baldwin played Robicheaux in the movie.

Then Mark Helprin. I'm all about lyrical writers this morning. Winter's Tale is beautiful, gets a tad metaphysical at the end. Refiner's Fire is his best...kind of hard to find.

And finally, one from my all-time favorite list: Night of the Avenging Blowfish: A Novel of Covert Operations, Love, and Luncheon Meat by John Welter. Hilarious and melancholy at the same time...I read this one about once a month.


I know you've had to have read Microserfs by Douglas Coupland, but it's my guilty pleasure, and I've read it eight times.

What am I reading now? I'm reading Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm -- funny melodramatic satire about a woman who drives an entire college of boys to their death... Appropriately feminist.

Beyond that I always recommend Virginia Woolf. Atmospheric, beautiful, haunting language.

Interesting, I just picked up Microserfs off my bookshelf again. I thought I would re-read that until I found something else.

I did read Kavalier and Clay, thoroughly enjoyed it. Did all the Harry Potter as well as Fast Food Nation. Read Clan of the Cave Bear in high school.

I'm writing these all down for my weekend bookstore excursion. Keep them coming!

mark danielewski's House of Leaves - be afraid, be warned, be sucked into it so badly that you won't find your way out

I've been going back and reading the classics that I never had to read during high school and college, using the Random House list as a starting point. True, there are many excellent new books out there, but I've already discovered so many wonderful classics that I wish I had read before now.

Plagues and People is totally cool, also Devils, Drugs, and Doctors.
Today I'm reading one of the Narnia books that I came across when I was unpacking boxes. Funny, for a 100% non-religious type I'm a big sucker for the Narnia stuff.
Michele, you want more books you gotta come up and borrow 'em yourself. :D

I just read:
1. Kinfolk by Pearl S. Buck: entertaining, thoughtful, human but not sloppy.
2. A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: creepy, but I still read the whole thing. I still don't know if I liked it.
3. Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Read this book right now. It was very, very good.
As sad as it is to say it, Oprah's book selections are usually dead on for me. I'm about to read A Fine Balance. I'll let you know how it goes...

Thom Jones. Any- and everything.

Jonathan Lethem. Same.

David Sedaris. Ditto.

"The Dirt: The Motley Crue Story." You know you want to.

ZAZIE AT THE METRO by Raymond Queneau. (That's the book that I kept referring to in the browsemeister post, but never named.)

(PS - Your signed, personalized (but not mint condition) copy of INTERESTING MONSTERS should be arriving soon.)

2nd suggestion, but after reading the 8x "Microserfs" post(I've only read it once so far), I thought of Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game". I can't remember how many times I've read that, it's fantastic.

There are some authors with who you cannot go wrong.

Michele, I'd like you to meet Kafka, Salinger, Rita Mae Brown, Susan Sussman, Dostoevysky, and Poe.

As for books, acquiant yourself with "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," "Memiors of a Geisha," "Push" (by Sapphire), and "Recipes from the Dump."

Happy reading!

I'm only going to say this 600 times: the Gormenghast Trilogy, Mervyn Peake. It's a giant savory spectacle, each word to be savored... yum.

Mmkay, you need to read White Teeth. So, so beautiful. I ended up talking about it in a college interview when they asked me "what's your favorite book?" even though i hate questions like that. There can be no favorite books! There are far too many!

A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. Never, ever before had a book made me laugh out loud. This one did. The words of the author are what is so funny, not just the insane mishaps of the buffoon of a main character. The words are so funny. This book is just brilliant.

Also, I agree with the recommendation of Another Roadside Attraction, by Tom Robbins. Michele, I get the feeling you'd REALLY like this one. It's extremely strange.

Regarding House of Leaves that g mentioned, I really wanted to like the book more than I did. I thought the whole plot line of the house was interesting and some of the things he did (colors of words, text in the margins, etc.) was really great, but it seemed like he tried to do too much in this book. Definitely interesting, though.

Lately, some of the better books I read were The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (absolutely amazing book) and Anonymous Rex by Eric Garcia (a detective novel where dinosaurs aren't extinct and the main character is a raptor), and The Bear Went Over the Mountain by William Kotzwinkle (about a bear that finds a novel and gets it published. Very tongue-in-cheek). You should read ANYTHING by Christopher Moore - Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, Practical Demonkeeping, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, etc. Try Bill Fitzhugh as well. I really liked his novel Pest Control.

I'll have to come and make my own list from these suggestions now. :)

I received Aldo's book in the mail today, so I will start on that tonight. Meanwhile, I am really enjoying your suggestions, so more, more, more!

I've done Dostoevysky and Poe in both high school and college, though I should revisit Poe one of these days.

I should recommend something back, no? I just finished reading, again, Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, part of the Deptford Trilogy. Highly touted by me.

how about "high fidelity"? don't know if you've read it...if you haven't, disregard the movie. i promise it's funnier and better than that. it's the only time i've been really let down by john cusak.

I dunno...I didn't think High Fidelity was that great of a book. Almost too self-involved for my tastes...felt like it was going in circles. But to each their own :)

Oh wait, this isn't my website.

Graphic novel wise, my town sucks. It's all Batman. No Spiderman at all... none. Yeash. I hope that changes after the movie comes out here. And whatever happened to Deaths Head II?

As for great books, Iain Banks utterly rocks. Darkly humerous, bordering on outright sick, depending on your perspective. The Wasp Factory is a good start, while Complicity may be his best. Probably the only duffer he's done is Whit.
He also does some great Sci_fi, as Iain M Banks, Excession being massively funny and equally sick.

If you were looking for something totally warped though, I'd suggest Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, just don't expect it to make any kind of sense.

I recommend the Griffin and Sabine trilogy. These books are both satisfying to the artist and the reader....you see pages with postcards on them, you turn them over, and read what's written on the other side of the postcard. A story unfolds. Sometimes there are envelopes for you to open and letters inside for you to read.

Oh! Sort of like the Jolly Postman!

Well..depending on what type of books you like to read there's on in particular that I just finished...
Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel
-It's her autobiography of a her life and her terrible problem with depression. Though it may sound like the rest of depression memoirs, she is an amazing writer and once I finished the book I had a new appreciation for my life and the others around me.

In addition to what I wrote before, I'll have to strongly second Jo's recommendation for "A Confederacy of Dunces." In a word: brilliant.

Try Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress. Genetic engineering has let (wealthy) people custom design their children. TheFe are some who are Sleepless--they never need sleep and thus have a lot more hours a day to accomplish things. (Kress has two more books in this sequence.) For what I've been reading lately, check out my web site--it has a link to my reading list. If you want books about women's history, check out http://members.aol.com/peterow/pindex.html

Yes, you should absolutely read "A Confederacy of Dunces." My other recommendations are:

"Sometimes a Great Notion" by Ken Kesey
"The Bone People" by Keri Hulme
"Perfume" by Patrick Suskind
"The Collector Collector" by Tibor Fischer
"Wicked" by Gregory Maguire
"Paris to the Moon" Adam Gopnik


I'll 4th the confederacy notion
also lord of the barnyard is very good, as is warboy

I'll chime in on Confereracy of Dunces as well.

Others I recommend:
"White Boy Shuffle" by Paul Beatty (think post-modern hip-hop novel. wierd and funny.)

"Confederates in the Attic" by Tony Horwitz (look into the odd lives of civil war re-enacters.)

"The Hours" by Michael Cunningham (inspired by Virginia Woolf's life. enchanting.)

"Virgin Suicides" by Jeffrey Eugenides (better than the movie.)

"Wicked" by Gregory Maguire (life and times of the wicked witch of the west. very interesting.)

anything by Joyce Carol Oates.

I've started Aldo's book and I'll pick up Confederacy of Dunces, Wicked and Spelling Bee on my lunch hour today.

I thank you all for your suggestions. I think I'll have enough reading to get me through the summer!

no, wait, don't stop now.
jeanette winterson!
yevgeny zamyatin!
mikhail bulgakov - "the master and margerita"!

Glad my Confederacy of Dunces suggestion was so well received! You gotta read it first and let me know if you love it. :)

I also adore A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES. But I wouldn't urge you to stop ::cough:: reading another book to get to it. That would be just rude.

No, no. I'm going to finish the masterful INTERESTING MONSTERS first.

A nod to Confederacy.
"A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" (aka AHWOSG) by Dave Eggers was funny from go, though not just humorous, and entertaining throughout.
Just read 2 chap. into "Naked" by Dave Sedaris(?), I think, at the bookstore last night. Would have bought it for sure, had I not been broke. It seems to be an anthology of loosely related, "memoiry" shorts (heads up or actually "down", mass transit commuters).

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