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skfinkel's avatar

Suggestions for great books for this summer's reading...

Asked by skfinkel (13511points) June 18th, 2007

By summer I don't mean necessarily "light reading," rather a really good book with time to dig in.

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30 Answers

elliottcable's avatar

My very favorite author is Terry Pratchett, but I don't know if you'd like his style. Sarcastic/comedic fantasy. It probably qualifies more as 'light reading' anyway.

If you haven't read it, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment is the best 'Classic' that I've ever read - it's EXTREMELY heavy reading, but it is a book to seriously EXPERIENCE. I'm considering re-reading it soon as well.

sarahsugs's avatar

The WWI trilogy by Pat Barker. In order, they are: Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road. She is a fantastic writer, and the books are absolutely gripping. They are based on real historical characters. They tell the story of a psychiatrist working with "shell-shocked" soldiers in England during WWI, one of whom is a poet protesting the war, all of whom have serious internal conflicts about the war. All of the characters face profound dilemmas about loyalty and "sanity" and personal morality. I'm in the middle of the last one and wish there were more.

Evan's avatar

I would recommend the first 4 or 6 books in the series (depending on who you ask) of Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series. It's just straight up good story telling. After that he gets too bogged down in pedantic, overly didactic, and superfluously philosophical diatribes that are inspired by excessive individualism on par with Ayn Rand's seminal works - which leads me at least to want to tear out my heart with a spoon and throw it in his face.
..which is odd, because the first 4-6 books are by far some of the best stories i've ever read in all my litterate life. :) oh well, right?

hossman's avatar

If you're looking for fiction (but firmly rooted in his own life) I'd recommend Solzhenitsyn's "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." Riveting work taking you inside the daily life in a Soviet gulag, it's a short novel and a fast read, you won't get bogged down. Reminds you that there is a dark side to communism and there were some valid reasons for the Cold War. This is a work with huge historical significance that contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, I'd put it up there with "Uncle Tom's Cabin" for a positive contribution to humanity.

For lighter fiction reading, I'd recommend Orson Scott Card's "Lost Boys" (not related to the vampire movie) or any of his Ender series.

Evan's avatar

I'll second "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" and I'll double and triple second the Ender series.

LauratheRockStar's avatar

Douglas Adams.

Specifically: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

maggiesmom1's avatar

I've been really enjoying books by Jodi Picoult lately - they're well-written, have lots of insights into different cultures, & they're not "fluff" at all.
Also, if you like historical fiction, I recommend Phillipa Gregory (The Queen's Fool & The Virgin's Lover, esp)

gsiener's avatar

I'd also recommend the site Great social site for sharing book recommendations with friends, and easy to use.

samkusnetz's avatar

i'm a big neal stephenson fan... "cryptonomicon" and the three books of "the baroque cycle" are brilliant, epic works of historical fiction that fascinated me for over a year, all told... his earlier works, also great, include "snow crash" which is one of the original cyberpunk novels, "zodiac" which is a comic and poignant work of fiction on the subject of environmental activism, and "the big U" is a more coarsely written but still way fun examination of campus life at a big university.

hossman's avatar

Agreement with Sam on Neal Stephenson, but be careful, his conspiracy "theories" can start to seem plausible, and the next thing you know, you're seeing the Illuminati everywhere. Although, just because you're not paranoid DOES NOT mean there aren't men in black suits following you.

gailcalled's avatar

I loved the Pat Barker WWI trilogy. She deliberately obfuscated the fact that she was a woman...the books have a masculine feel. I would add all novels by Alexander McCall Smith, Laurie King and Kate Atkinson. They write in several different genres and voices but all fun. Smith's series on the Botswanan lady detective, Precious Ramotswe, is the lightest reading. Also, returning to Jane Austin is a nice summer project. Check out the Booker winners for the past 10 yrs also.

jessie's avatar

I really enjoyed "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It's engaging, charming story that I couldn't put down.

occ's avatar

I love Barbara Kingsolver and her new book is a quick read and really enjoyable, "Animal, Vegetable , Miracle" It's an autobiographical account of how her family decided to spend an entire year eating only food that came from within a 100 mile radius of their home in Kentucky.

justin's avatar

If you like Umberto Eco (or were told you should but didn't get through The Name of the Rose), I would check out Baudolino. It's much more fun, still ventures into rather esoteric religious debates that may slow you down, or spark your interest, but centers on storytelling and adventure.

skfinkel's avatar

Thanks so much. Book orders are now at the library!

nomtastic's avatar

"a complicated kindness" by miriam toews. coming of age in a small town and family dynamics. yum. also, "what's eating gilbert grape?"

ajl's avatar

East of Eden by John Steinbeck is a great option--a classic, but pretty easy, excellent reading.

elliottcable's avatar

Marked as a 'great question'. Keep the replies coming, people!

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gailcalled's avatar

Corelli's Mandolin, by Louis de Bernieres - a story of the people living on a small Greek island during WWII, how they cohabited w. the friendly Italian occupiers and then how they dealt w the horrors of the Nazis. One of my all-time faves, recommended to me by my brother. (Movie is a D-.)

Maybe time to reread ULYSSES, MOBY RICHARD, SHAKESPEARE, etc.

nomtastic's avatar

i'm loving "china boy" by gus lee -- the story of a chinese-american kid growing up in an african-american neighborhood in san francisco in the 1950s. beautifully told.

sarahsugs's avatar

Also The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje. One of my favorite books of all time. Very challenging and esoteric and beautiful. (And a hundred times better and more complex than the movie.) Plus anything by James Baldwin. My favorite is Giovanni's Room.

susanc's avatar

Also by Louis de Bernieres, EVEN BETTER than Corelli's Mandolin, and longer too:
a sweeping historical drama, no kidding, called BIRDS WITHOUT WINGS, having to do with people in a tiny town in Turkey before, during and after WW!, which changed everyone's life forever and ended many. Extremely funny, very moving, full of details of life in a three-religion town where the social ecology was stable till the Great Powers decided to make a complete hell of ordinary people's lives for the next fifty generations.

JoJo28156's avatar

fifth business by robertson davies

jamwebb's avatar

I'd recommend "A Thousand Splendid Suns" if you're a fiction reader. I'm a huge Khaled Hosseini fan, so if you loved "The Kite Runner" his new book is a must. Currently, I'm reading "What Is the What" by Dave Eggers and it's a "fictionalized" memoir about a young man's trials during the Sudanese conflict.

marabu's avatar

milan kundera is a great summer read, or, well, I read all his books in the summer :)

Of course the famous "unbearable lightness of being" is recommandable, and I especially like "immortality".
The first one is about relationships and life in the communist system in czechoslowakia, and the second one is about immortality in all its aspects (and or really close to all aspects!)

henry_david's avatar

Walden. Just look at my name. Henry David Thoreau’s works are so enjoyable to read.

hossman's avatar

“The Book of Joby” is simply wonderful. Good both as an entertainment read, but also exceptionally thought provoking.

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is brilliant. Don’t be put off by it being listed as Young Adult fiction. This is a must-read for anyone. Twice I found myself laughing and crying at the same time. I have not found any other book that can explain as clearly to non-native Americans what it is to be a Native American today, and how they view non-native Americans. It is relatively short, but fantastic on several levels. Read, read, read this book.

St.George's avatar

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, by Michael Chabon.

ljs22's avatar

anything by Irvin Yalom or Jane Austen. Just finished Persuasion, so good!

irocktheworld's avatar

Ohh Ohh!! You should read Skeleton creek! I’ve read it before and it’s a really good book! Maybe read the twilight series if you’d like, they are really awesome!!! =)

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