When I interview an author, or attend an author event and have the opportunity to ask a question, I always ask the author to recommend his or her favorite books. I’m always collecting book recommendations — from friends, family members, colleagues, blog commenters, customers, bloggers and reviewers, even strangers at airports. Of course, I can’t read all the books that are recommended to me, but certain titles come up again and again. And certain people have built tremendous credibility over the years.
Thank you, everyone, for the recommendations. Here are 10 that are on my to-read list; some have even made it to the to-read shelf in my bedroom:
Americanah (Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie) — Several friends who are terrific readers told me I HAVE to read this book. One was “shocked” I haven’t read it and another told me it is “extremely thought-provoking”.
Amsterdam (Ian McEwan) — Thomas Christopher Greene, author of The Headmaster’s Wife, says Amsterdam was the last truly wonderful book he read — “Not new, but . . . very smart and lovely novel. Wish I had written it.” I think I’ve read almost all of McEwan’s books, but somehow I missed this one.
Being Mortal (Atul Gawande) — Recommended by several thoughtful friends, and also by Ann Patchett (who I wish was my friend). On her bookstore’s blog, Ann says:
I’m all for people having different tastes, liking different books, but everyone needs to read this book because at some point everyone is going to die, and it’s possible that someone we love is going to die before us. Being Mortal is about having that conversation and thinking the hard things through. It’s not a depressing book, instead it’s thoughtful, probing, and smart.
The Buried Giant (Kazuo Ishiguro) — Bridget, our Penguin Random House sales rep, always has the best recommendations, and The Buried Giant is one of her 2015 favorites. I’ve loved Ishiguro’s other books and have been waiting a long time for this one.
Dark Rooms (Lili Anolik) — Several blog readers told me I absolutely must read this debut novel (which takes place at a boarding school, a setting I can never resist) — one said it’s a “perfect beach read”.
The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute (Zac Bissonnette) — Daniel, owner of Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, always has interesting book recommendations. He says “What a fun and fascinating read this is! On top of a great story and larger-than-life characters, there are actually some marketing lessons embedded in the narrative.”
H is for Hawk (Helen Macdonald) — Highly recommended by several trusted sources, including Perseus sales rep Johanna. The quotation she posted is enough to make me want to read the book, which has already won major literary prizes in Great Britain:
There is a time in life when you expect the world to be always full of new things. And then comes a day when you will realize that is not how it will be at all. You see that life will become a thing made of holes. Absences. Losses. Things that were there and are no longer. And you realize, too, that you have to grow around and in between the gaps, though you can put your hand out to where the things were and feel that tense, shining dullness of the space where the memories are.”
The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Richard Flanagan) — It won the 2014 Man Booker Prize, but I’m more impressed by my friend Kathy’s recommendation. She and I share similar taste in books and are both fascinated by World War II.
The Red Notebook (Antoine Lauren) — Sue, from the Cottage Book Shop, just texted me from her vacation to tell me to read Laurain’s latest: “You should pick up The Red Notebook — wonderful. I liked it more than The President’s Hat. Actually, I loved it.” Well, of course — it’s about a Parisian bookseller.
A Spool of Blue Thread (Anne Tyler) — Recommended by several great readers, including two of my favorite librarians. Andrea Larson at Cook Memorial Public Library says: “Her knack for capturing characters and making them not just real, but recognizable, is phenomenal. And she absolutely nails dialogue.”
Please keep your suggestions coming! What else should I add to my ever-growing list?
8 thoughts on “10 Books Recommended to Me (Thanks, Readers!)”
have you read Secret Wisdom of The Earth? Loved it.
Oh yes, I did — here’s a little mini-review I posted on publication day back in January. Still my favorite book of 2015! https://booksonthetable.com/2015/01/06/10-books-to-read-this-winter-2/ >
A few of these are on my TBR list due to recommendations, as well! And I just started reading Americanah a few days ago, after hearing wonderful things from so many people.
I really feel negligent that I haven’t read Americanah — truth be told, I didn’t love Half of a Yellow Sun, but everyone tells me Americanah is much, much better and a must-read.
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller. A current favorite I want to tell everyone about, especially because she’s a UK writer and so a bit under the radar here in the US. I discovered her writing on another WP site here in the blogosphere and bought her book as soon as it came out – tore through it and raving ever since. http://clairefuller.co.uk/
I just read great things about the Beanie Baby Book on Sophisticated Dorkiness…I’m adding it to my TBR for Nonfiction November!
Like your list. Amsterdam is sort of a fun read. I’ll likely read H Is for Hawk and the Adichie novel.
I would definitely recommend Americanah, Being Mortal and H is for Hawk – I loved all of these books. I have to admit I really didn’t get on with Amsterdam though!
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