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ibstubro's avatar

What's the best contemporary, English language, fiction book that you have read?

Asked by ibstubro (9144 points ) December 31st, 2013

I have to go with “I Know This Much Is True”, by Wally Lamb.
The story of identical twin boys raised by their mother and a gruff stepfather. One twin is institutionalized (mental) during their first year of college, leaving the remaining twin with the burdens of: caring for his brother; guilt over being the ‘sane’ one; and fear of being overtaken by insanity.
Rich, complex story that’s disarmingly easy to read. I probably read the book 5–6 times before I fully understood how complex the story is. Then read it another 3–4 times just to enjoy the full story.

Please give the author.
Brief synopsis (summary) – or just tell us what it’s about (no ending spoilers!).
Why the book pleased you.

This is not intended to be a ‘high-brow’ question. It’s for people who like to read fiction books. Nabokov to Evanovich. Kesey to (Spencer’s) Parker. I treasure books that take me out of myself and make me wish/want to stay abed all day!

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11 Answers

filmfann's avatar

Windham’s Day of the Triffids and Stephen King’s The Stand both share a common theme of the quick, unexpected fall of society, and the survivors struggles. I love both these stories.

ibstubro's avatar

I know “The Stand”, @filmfann, and I agree that it was an awesome book. In my library because it’s worthy of ‘another’ read.

I marked the other one down to look into. Thanks!

linguaphile's avatar

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston—it’s a 1930’s book so I don’t know if it qualifies as modern, but it’s one of my all time favorite books. It’s about a woman’s journey through the ups and downs of life.

Jitterbug Perfume or anything by Tom Robbins. How do I synopsize Tom Robbins… can’t.

Hide Tide in Tucson and anything by Barbara Kingsolver. “High Tide” is a collection of essays talking about different elements of life.

wildpotato's avatar

Most of my best books list are foreign language, like Silk, The Master and Margerita, and the peerless In Search of Lost Time. But for books written in English, my very favorite “best” book is Philip K Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. But the all-time best I have read in terms of writing, impact, and meaning is probably Ulysses.

@filmfann GA, I thought no one else knew about the triffids. Have you read John Varley’s Gaea trilogy? Different theme, but it stuck with me the same way Windham’s book did.

@linguaphile You would call High Tide fiction?

Blueroses's avatar

@wildpotato I can’t believe you mentioned The Master and Margerita. It is an amazing, overlooked book which is so easy to read now. It isn’t artsy-fartsy.

My favorite, contemporary book, would depend on my mood:
American Gods Neil Gaiman is a perfect novel, for me. Get an empathy for the main character, and live with him through changes. Learn something.
The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver made me think so hard about the excess that surrounds me.

I won’t go on and on and on… but I just mentioned 3 of my favorite all-time novels.

El_Cadejo's avatar

For me it’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? , ya, Blade Runner is awesome, but it doesn’t even begin compare with this novel. The amazing thing to me is that as short as it is(210 pages) there is so much depth and philosophy to the book. It took me a day to read it but several weeks to understand the full scope of the book.

@linguaphile I’ve had more than one person tell me to read Jitterbug Perfume. It’s close to the top of the list of “books I’m meaning to read but haven’t gotten around to yet”

Smitha's avatar

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. Salman Rushdie’s looks at the history of India and Pakistan as illustrated through the journey of Saleem Sinai. It’s a phenomenal read and beautiful story. I enjoy reading books relating to India’s history around the time of independence and partition, so this one was a indeed worth reading.

geeky_mama's avatar

My current favorite fiction (because my favorites change from time to time.. so I can only recall my favorite from what I read in 2013) is: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

While the wiki-link above can give you a more precise synopsis – but to me this book was about reconciling one’s childhood and childhood memories with our adult self-identity..and there were several bits of the writing that really struck a chord with me.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is:
“Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

TheRealOldHippie's avatar

“The Stand” (unedited version) by Stephen King ranks as my all-time favorite.

Two others that should be on everyone’s list are George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” How kids today can get through college having never read either is a mystery to me. They’re must reading.

geeky_mama's avatar

@TheRealOldHippie – Orwell’s “1984” is required reading in most High Schools… both my HS curriculum (25+ years ago) and my daughter’s (class of 2015) English classes required it..

linguaphile's avatar

@wildpotato High Tide is considered creative non-fiction… you’re right. In that case, I replace that one with another by Kingsolver “The Bean Trees” and its sequel “Pigs in Heaven.”

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