Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's the best book you've read recently?

With the school holidays upon me, my thoughts turn to life before children, when a holiday meant a complete break and, probably, a lovely pile of two or three new books to read. I'm thinking there won't be much of that going on in the Fibro in the next few weeks...

But, just to torture myself, I'm going to compile a reading list. With your help. So tell me, what's the best book you've read recently?

[image: from one of my favourite websites]


  1. I've been trying to read Lionel Shriver's "So Much For That" for a few months now. Damn kids and their requests for attention.

    I listened to an interview with Lionel on Life Matters a few months ago. Smart lady.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

  2. My favourite book for 2010 was "Must You Go" by Antonia Fraser (or Antonia Pinter). It is her autobiography about her life with Harold Pinter and is a wonderful read.

    It covers a period of time that was fascinating politically and he must have been an amazing character to live with. Fundamentally though, it is just a beautiful love story.

  3. I just finished Sing Me Home by Jodi Picoult, and loved it.
    I did a review on my blog the other day, if you want to know more about it.
    Also I love the Arn books by Jan Guillou (there are three of them)

  4. I just read 'The Slap', but really, I wouldn't bother. Didn't enjoy it that much. I loved 'The Room' last year and at the moment I'm reading 'Unaccostomed Earth' by Jhumpa Lahiri and it is beautiful. Also just finished Lorrie Moore 'Like Life' I normally love her. Her language is so gorgeous and her images so memorable, but some of the stories in the collection just made me want to tell her to stop being such a clever clogs. So, that's my tuppence worth!

  5. It was actually a while ago now, but I'm planning to reread it...The Young Widow's Book of Home Improvement by Virginia Lloyd. Heartbreakingly lovely.

  6. I've just started Jodi Picoult's 'Sing You Home' and I'm pretty sure I'll love it, just like I've loved all of her other books!
    Good Luck with the reading!

  7. I'm about half way through 'The Art of Possibility' by Rosamund & Benjamin Zander. My brother gave it to me for my birthday and every time I go and have coffee somewhere by myself I read a few more pages. I don't agree with some of their concepts but it on the whole an interesting and uplifting read. He is a conductor and talks a lot about the dynamics of leading a group of musicians.

  8. Total rubbish, things I am too book snobbish to admit to reading. I asked for some holiday reading at Christmas amd have now got piles of rubbish to get through, but I should also say I have been enjoying a few of them. There was a section in a book I really really loved last month, covering an Australian womans time as a POW in Borneo in WW2, we had our honeymoon there, I loved reading again about a country I loved and some history (though fiction). If you are happy to speed read some chapters it was ok. Also reading Maggie Alderson at the moment, easy read, not too sure where it is heading though.

    Wanted to read the Happiest Rufugee too, but a friend was telling me the first half is great the second not so much, which has put me off...

    Look at me rambling about books, I read heaps so can babble about this for ever, but rarely keep my books and also forget the names of them very quickly.

  9. I've been boring everyone silly lately saying how much I LOVED Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna. It's in my Top 10 - maybe even Top 5-books of all time. I am in awe of Kingsolver's talent: her language, how she effortlessly intersects the the personal and the political;the sensuousness of her Mexico;the unforgettable Frida Kahlo. I could go on and on...
    Have you read it?

  10. Ooh great question and I'm going to pop back in to get some more recommendations myself.

    My favourites this year so far have been
    "The Book Thief" Murcas Zusack - unputtdownable

    "Wesley The Owl" Stacey O'Brien - a lovely true story - if you love animals this is a goodie

    "The Lacuna" Barbara Kingsolver - a thick and juicy novel with a historical base. Featuring Fridah Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Stalin and a cast of other interesting characters - it was thought provoking and sumptuous in its language - true Kingsolver magic

    And I'm currently giggling my way through
    '365 Nights - A Memoir of Intimacy" by Charla Muller
    You've probably heard of it - she promises her husband sex for each day of his 40th year - and this is an insight into what unfolds.

    Happy reading - whatever you may choose. x F

  11. I'm with Toni and The Mummy Hat - Jodi Picoult's newest book Sing Me Home. Just finished it yesterday and loved it. She has an amazing ability to pick a controversial topic and then write from multiple perspectives. I definitely recommend any of her books.

  12. I'm not sure if I should admit this or not - the last book I read was The Deathly Hallows - and it will also be my next book as I have to re-read it before the movie comes out.

    I'm not a huge book person. Thank you A.D.D. It's sad, considering I used to work for Penguin. HAHAHA.

  13. So many great books, so little time. Can I have more than one?
    My To be Read List is huge.

    I'll go with some short story collections to narrow it down.

    Amy Hempel -The Dog of the Marriage and If I Loved You I Would Tell You This by Robin Black (she's also on twitter and very lovely).

    Agree with other commenters re The Slap. Couldn't get into it.

  14. I love making book lists. I set crazy goals to like read 100 books a year and then find I need to start again half way through the year because I have finished it. I just finished The Happiness Project and am reading The Book Thief and Simplicity Parenting and The Magicians Nephew - CS Lewis. I always read about 4 books at once. Depends on what mood I am in :) Enjoy x

  15. I recently finished "What is left over, after" by Natasha Lester. It's moving story of a woman who loses a child at birth and deals with still feeling she's a mother and coming to terms with her own mum. If you like Jodi Picoult's style, then you will like Natasha's writing style too. She's a new Australian writer.

  16. It's been out a while, but i have just finished chris Cleave's 'The other hand". Funny, yet horrific. Couldn't put it down.

  17. The Help by Kathryn Stockett was loved by all at bookgroup, and William McGahan's The White Earth was brilliant. Also just finished Kate Atkinson's Started Early, Took My Dog, the latest in her Jackson Brodie series. Would recommend them all!

  18. 'The Bridge on the Drina' by Ivo Andric. Slight recommendation is that it won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I work with a wonderful Bosnian/Serb woman, Zora. She gave me the book last year, and I finished reading it this morning.
    It's too hard to describe, other than to say it's a series of short stories, in which the (real) bridge is always there. Read it all the way and suddenly you understand a lot about this complex society that is at the crossroads of Muslim Ottoman and Christian Serbian worlds.

  19. I am so glad I posted this! So many books, so little time. No, I haven't read The Lacuna, but clearly I need to. I couldn't get into The Slap either. And I forgot that The Help was on my list, so I might move that up.

    Keep them coming people - this is great fun!

  20. Oh, so many! I fell away from reading in 2010 (too busy, I told myself) but in 2011 I'm back to devouring them.

    I just finished "All Different Kinds of Free" by Jessica McCann. Her first novel, it's based on a true story of a free black in the 1830s who moved from MD to PA, was kidnapped by her parents' former owner, and sold into slavery, separated from her children, who were sold to other owners.

    The cool part -- I discovered Jessica on Twitter, @JMcCannWriter . The small world of social media!

  21. Currently reading "Every Riven Thing" a book of poems by Christian Wiman. I don't usually read poetry. That's how good it is.

    I'm also reading Aryn Kyle's story collection "Boys and Girls Like You and Me" which is also pretty fabulous.

    You've got a lot of work ahead of you!

  22. Recent reads of mine include Teacher Man by Frank McCourt and Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immmaculee Ilibagiza. The first was interesting only to hear the perspective of McCourt as he describes his teaching... it is a bit self-loathing but I am glad I read it. The second... well, learning about Rwanda and its past from the eyes of Rwandan and hearing her faith in the human spirit is life changing. I don't remember the last time I read a book that moved me like her story did.

  23. If you're after an epic book that you can't put down read Shantaram by Gregory Roberts. I've only just read it even though its been out for about 20 years, but hey, better late than never, eh? Am half way through, The Room, but not loving it. I've been meaning to finish it for about 2 weeks. That's saying something.....Have read The Slap - which I actually quite enjoyed! The Help is on my list too. Oh, to be on a sunny beach with a cocktail, reading reading reading......

  24. Wow, so many great selections piling up here!

    I'm about to embark on Jonathan Franzen's Freedom (for our book club) but other than that I plan to get my hands on the (obviously popular!) Sing You Home

  25. Currently reading A Hospital by the River by Dr Catherine Hamlin (Fistula clinic, Ethiopia) I'm only a few chapters in so I wont say anything yet. Next up is "The Red Tent" which I am REALLY looking forward to, I've heard great things and I can't wait to hear the discussion from the incredibly diverse book group here in Qatar.

    Thanks for this post Alison, I've just added a few more to the list of books to buy when I get back to Oz in June.


  26. "Dog Boy" by Eva Hornung. It was the first book I read in 2011... there have been 13 since but it's still my fave by far so far. Blew me away- amazing story, briliant writing.
    I just finished Room and have to confess I wasn't blown away like so many others- it was OK, but I felt like I'd read it all before (probably because I had. Sofie Laguna's novel "One Foot Wrong" long-listed for the Miles Franklin a few years ago covered very similar territory but with an incredibly unique voice).
    On to to be read pile at present: Caribou Island (by David Vann, loved his "Legend of a Suicide"), Malcolm Knox's "The Life" (not out till June but have just been sent an ARC to review, hooray!), "How it feels" by Brendan Cowell, "Left Neglected" by Lisa Genova and "The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives" by Lola Shoneyin (Orange prize shortlist). They're all winking at me from my bedside table and I have no idea what to start with- but lots of great reading ahead!

  27. Some titles there i must suggest to my bookclub!

    Favourite book of all time is Shantaram - Gregory David Robert

    Best book i have read for a while is
    The glass castle - Jeannette Walls

    Want to read
    Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

    And for a bit of philosophy i think everyone should read
    The good listener - Hugh Mackay
    it is a fascinating book about communication... maybe its just me but i loved chapter 3

    love this post, amber

  28. There are soooo many good books out there at the moment. In the past year os so my absolute favourites have been:
    The Weight Of Silence
    The Literary and Potato Peel Society
    Eating Lolly - just read that and it's fantastic!
    At the moment I'm reading: When God Was a Rabbit.

    I hope you get to do a little reading, at least:) It does get easier as the kidlets get older. Promise!

  29. I read Room and found it completely engrossing. I found it hard to put down and read it over a few days. Prince Jackerjack is a very lovable, intelligent little five year old narrator. I'd recommend it.

  30. I recently read March by Geraldine Brooks. It's about the father from Little Women during the Civil War. Wasn't sure how I'd feel about it, since LW was one of my all-time faves, but it was absolutely engrossing.

  31. I had wondered about March, and not read it for the reason you outline above Meredith, but perhaps I will now.

    I loved Room, but did find it made me anxious throughout the first part, and I did find the ending a little too neat.

    Last year I read The Sound of One Hand Clapping, and was engrossed. The story stayed with me always. I had previously tried to read Flanagan's Death of a River Guide and hated it. I am now a fan girl, somewhat tragically!

    As for other books... many, many, many. They are currently all packed away for our move and the house seems empty without them.

  32. March is great do read it - very clever idea of developing a story around the father in Little Women

    As is Year of WOnders by Geraldine Brooks also but I wouldnt bother with the newest one of hers cant recall the name of it but something about a book?

    Lionel Shrivers new one is good but preferred We Need to Talk About Kevin than the new one but it is still good

    The Book Thief is lovely

    Other favourites:
    * The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
    * Oscar and Lucinda
    * if you like a bit of history then any of Edward Rutherferds are great ie Sarum, London, Dublin etc. Takes real facts/events and people from history and turns into a novel. Similar to Ken Follets Pillars of the Earth etc (bit trashy but a good read still)
    * Tracey Chevaliers one about the fossils - cant think of name is it Remarkable Creatures
    * loved Rohan Minstrys A Fine Balance huge and sad and moving and engrossing read about india and the caste system etc in the 70s. Amazing!

    * Water for Elephants was a good read too (about to be a movie but not sure how it will go on the big screen)
    * Bereft looks good but havent read

    Sure there are plenty more but thats it off the top of my head. Hanging for a new book

  33. I really liked Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey. xx

  34. Another vote for The Book Thief, but the best book I have read in recent time is Any Human Heart by William Boyd. It is a fictional autobiography and I can't at all explain why I adored it but I know I'm not alone!

    Have picked up some good recomms here. Fab timing!

  35. I have two books on my bedside table at the moment...

    Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson. Read it a few years ago and wanted to revisit it.

    Coastliners by Joanne Harris. I have enjoyed her other books, I am finding this one hard to start, not because of the book itself but because I fall asleep every night a few paragraphs in!

    Before children I would stay up all night reading, how things have changed!

    Gill xo

  36. Al, I haven't read anything for so long! But first on my list is 'Sing You Home' for obvious reasons, then Jasper Jones, followed by Indelible Ink! I plan to read all three over the school holidays.

  37. Oh i just finished Pride and Prejudice (*sigh*), but i would safely assume you've already read this....hmmm, but Jane Austen can always be re-read xx

  38. Here are two that I think are must reads:

    Jasper Jones (but I've been bleating on about that one for so long that you've probably done it by now?)


    Born to Run (don't be put off by the fact that it is about fit people) x

  39. Oh I loved Born to Run, Maxabella! Keep thinking I should try barefoot...

  40. The one I am reading right now.

    Paul Theroux - Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. It is bloody brilliant.
    His descriptions and dryness, and heavy dose of curiosity mixed with cynacism and occassional wonder....
    Hmm, i'm waxing a bit lyrical but it is GREAT.
    It makes me want to get on a train and travel india and europe and....and and and...

  41. I've just finished Fever Of The Bone, by Val McDermid and I'm currently reading Mr Clarinet, by Nick Stone; Ill Wind, by Gary Gottesfeld; Perfectly Dead, by Iain McDowall; Diamond Eyes, by A.A.Bell

  42. Freedom - Jonathan Franzen (a great easy holiday read, human nature and relationships at their best)

    Any short story by Raymond Carver or Richard Ford - sweet vignettes of life.

    Any Human Heart by William Boyd was FANTASTIC.

    I really could go on and on and on and on. I read voraciously but I'll leave you with these.

    Oh, and I'm loving everyone's suggestion. My 'to-read' list just got MUCH longer!

  43. Im glad several added Jasper Jones as I thought of that while cooking dinner.

    Heres a list of what we have read at bookclub over the years (some I already noted above):

    * A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
    * A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
    * A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
    * A Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
    * About Grace by Anthony Doerr
    * Breath by Tim Winton
    * Idelible Ink by Fiona McGregor
    * In the Kitchen by Monica Ali
    * Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
    * Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
    * Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
    * Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    * Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    * Nourishment - Gerard Woodward
    * Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
    * Q & A/Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup
    * Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
    * The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery
    * The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobsen
    * The Good Parents - Joan London
    * The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer
    * The Housekeeper and the Professor
    * The Jane Austen Bookclub by Karen Joy Fuller
    * The Other Hand/Little Bee by Chris Cleave
    * The Road by Cormac McCarthy
    * The Slap - Christos Tsolkias
    * The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
    * The Spare Room - Helen Garner
    * The Stars Tennis Balls - Stephen Fry
    * The Woman Who Walked Into Doors by Roddy Doyle
    * The Writing Class - Jincy Willett
    * To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
    * Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

    Some I wouldnt bother with but a lot of good reads on here

  44. Wow Michele - there's my list! I'll just print out your comment and get on with it.

  45. You can read my 'Books that changed my life'sidebar on my blog; however recently I've read 'Little Women', 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius'and 'The Other Boleyn Girl'. I'm currently re-reading 'Greenwick Killing Time'by gorgeously talented Kinky Friedman who is in town in June.

  46. That should be Greenwich not Greenwick - the trials of typing on a laptop sitting up in bed.

  47. I am reading Crime and Punishment and loving it! Happy Maxabella liked my Born to Run suggestion - it is a great read. And Michelle's list there has made my day!

  48. I've just popped back in to see what was added Al, wow, what a list!

    I've just skipped through Michelle's list and one little novel popped out that really touched me last year, "The Housekeeper and the Professor".

    It's only short but it has such a sweet voice in the prose that I know I'll go back to it more than once.

    Happy reading, you are going to be busy and thank you, I've got a lot of great recommendations to follow up with.

    x Felicity

  49. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is just about the saddest book I've ever read. And I love it :)
    I also liked Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin... probably because of its ideas about the afterlife.
    Emma by Jane Austen is good too because Emma's just so annoying and interfering :D


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