March 25, 2009

Bring on The Summer Reading

The idea is simple. I want two book suggestions from anyone who comments. No fantasy or sci-fi. Must be well-written, both in prose and plot structure. No subject matter that deals with sisterhoods or people one might meet in the afterlife or tigers floating on a raft in the middle of the ocean, engaging in pseudo-philosophical reflection. No chicken soup for the soul (I'm not even sure what that means). I want to hear about books that hurt when you read them, that left you a little breathless, a little unsure, a little concerned that you might not find something this good again.

It's what makes book reading so addictive. You can mow through several mediocre ones and not think about them twice. But then you hit that corker, the one that floats into your head whenever you pause during the day, prompts you to research the author or subject matter, maybe write long-winded reviews for your own self-interest. The one that keeps you indoors with the blinds drawn, you in your pajamas, forgetting to eat, realizing it's six o'clock in the evening and you have forgotten to shower (again).

For me, Three Day Road, The Road, No Great Mischief, The Grapes of Wrath come to mind.

So, sock it to me. Be fearless. Old, new, in the middle--all good.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
it's a fatty, but he's such a good writer and wordy due to his law background, but sooooo good.
The Poisonwood Bible-Barbara Kingsolver
-about a missionary family that moves to Africa to "save the heathens". Written from the perspective of all of the ladies of all ages in the family. Very well done.
Ishmael-Daniel Quinn
-you have probably read this one, but that's ok
Fingerprints of the Gods-Graham Hancock
-connects worldwide sacred spots like pyramids, Nazca lines, Mayan stuff, etc.

Harry Tournemille said...

Thanks. We've got Poisonwood Bible somewhere here at home--always meant to read it. Great picks.

Anonymous said...

'the orchard keeper' - cormac mccarthy

'A high wind in jamaica' - richard hughes (for daddy.)

by the way i thought 'the road' was science fiction? - you snob.

Harry Tournemille said...

Thanks. Haven't read either of those.

The Road doesn't strike me as sci-fi, but I suppose the case can be made. More post-apocalyptic to me...but maybe they're one and the same for you?

Sam said...

The Road is not sci-fi because Cormac McCarthy is in his own genre.

You know all my favourites--American Tabloid, Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Brothers Karamazov, Sun Also Rises, Mystic River, etc. So I'll pick some new ones.

One book I keep meaning to reread is Thomas Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49. That was badass. It sets the stage for DeLillo and all the other post-post-modernists, but his sense of humour is actually funny. And it's 200 pages, unlike Gravity's Rainbow.

And I think you'd really dig William James's Varieties of Religious Experience. What David Milch fan can afford to be without it?

Harry Tournemille said...

Sweet picks, Samuel. I've read James' Varieties of Religious Experience--well, excerpts at least. I'll revisit it soon. Crying of Lot 49 looks awesome. Will check it out.

Sun Also Rises is a great, great book. It sits on my shelf, amongst my other Hemingways, taunting the rest of the books below it.

Ken Dyck said...

I'd second Sam's suggestion of the Karamazov Brothers. I'd also add Catch-22, Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, and Slaughterhouse-Five.

Harry Tournemille said...

Thanks Kenneth...all books made into films of varying success, I notice.

Sandra said...

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Milan Kundera)...Uh, hello! why have you not read this yet??

A couple other titles you would love: A hundred years of solitude and Possession. Both wonderfully written stories. Oh, and the Red Tent when you are feeling in touch with your feminine side ;)

Harry Tournemille said...

Excellent selections, dear Wifey. You are turning out to be better read than I am.

Anonymous said...

yeah, his own genre, cormac's the man.

and what about the helicopter he built out of a cocktail umbrella, a rubber band, and MacGyver's testicles.

that was so post post-modern!

i love the bs
keep it coming.

Sam said...

Both Unbearable Lightness of Being and Hundred Years of Solitude are on my list. Kundera's The Joke was awesome. I bought his nonfiction book on your recommendation, Harry, but haven't read it yet.

Anonymous--I'm glad you love the bs (netspeak for 'book suggestions,' I'm assuming) and I will endeavor to keep it up.