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zarnold's avatar

What's a really good book to get lost in?

Asked by zarnold (708points) March 15th, 2009

I know some similar questions have been asked, but I’m specifically looking for a really good, engaging piece of literature (fiction or non) since I haven’t read anything in a while and I probably spend too much time on my computer anyway. Thanks!

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70 Answers

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I keep coming back to this question because I can’t think of one single book to recommend. xD

The first ever fictional book I read was Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz… I was wrapppppedd… i finished it in hours.. great book.. over the years I’ve read so much Dean Koontz that I already know how the stories are going to go.. and that he always mentions a golden retriever and bougainvillea flowers .. so I’ve had to branch out to other authors.. but Mr. Murder was my memorable first.. have you read it?

essieness's avatar

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

willbrawn's avatar

Honestly the Twilight series. I loved them. And that’s coming from a guys point of view. Another. Narnia series.

aviona's avatar

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Are you a guy?...I think they’d be good regardless.

essieness's avatar

@aviona I almost picked up White Oleander yesterday, but didn’t. Maybe I’ll have to check it out.

Jeruba's avatar

Are you looking for something more literary or more of the fast-reading pop novel sort, like Robert Ludlum? A rich, meaningful experience or an airplane page-turner?

aprilsimnel's avatar

A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson. Aw, just read everything by Bill Bryson.

Oh, literature, eh? The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco. White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.

aviona's avatar

@essieness SO GOOD. I’ve read it at least 3 times.
The movie doesn’t do it justice at at all.

Jeruba's avatar

White Oleander is a very good novel.

I am currently reading On a Night Like This, by Ellen Sussman. I heard her speak and bought her book. I recommend it (even thought I’m only halfway through). Interestingly, it alternates between the man’s and the woman’s points of view, and I think she handles them both very effectively.

teirem1's avatar

The Sparrow and its follow-up The Children of God by Mary Doria Russel. Excellent and thought provoking anthropological science fiction.

Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose (recommended by aprilsimnel above) and also his book Foucault’s Pendulum.

zarnold's avatar

@essieness: I remember not being able to put the Poisonwood Bible down…amazing book, which is interesting because I couldn’t really get into The Bean Trees when we read it in English class.

@Jeruba: can’t we have both :)?

@all: Thanks for the suggestions, I definitely have a lot to go on!

srmorgan's avatar

Lush Life by Richard Price, especially if you live in or have any interest in New York City.


nikipedia's avatar

Middlesex, Jeffery Eugenides. And I will second the Poisonwood Bible.

kevbo's avatar

Cold Mountain is exquisite.

3rd for White Oleander.

Most everything by Chuck Palaniuk is excellent transgressive fiction.

If you want to get turned inside-out and upside-down by harsh Soviet history try The Gulag Archipelago (link is to the abridged version).

For a somewhat rambling but vivid tour of the underworld and slums of Mumbai, try Shantaram.

The Smell of Apples lives up to the allure of its title.

If you had asked a few years ago, Snow Falling on Cedars would have ranked as well.

prasad's avatar

Many books authored by Harrold Robins are quite good, like “The Pirate”, “A Stone for Danny Fisher”, and many more.

mcbealer's avatar

you must read White Oleander!

madcapper's avatar

Another Roadside Attraction – Tom Robbins
House of Leaves, totally can get lost in this one

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Falling Man by Don Delillo
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

nebule's avatar

I’ve only just started this and already I’m hooked…(12 pages in) The Gone Away World By Nick Harkaway

It’s a futuristic apocalypse type thingi (to be technical! ;-))

SuperMouse's avatar

The Death and Life of Bobby Z or The Power of the Dog both by Don WInslow.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Right now I am reading Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer and I am having a very hard time putting it down.

jonsblond's avatar

Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan.
Practical Demon Keeping by Christopher Moore.
Cell by Stephen King.

sdeutsch's avatar

@SuperMouse beat me to it – Kavalier and Clay was the first thing that popped into my head!

Also, The Never Ending Story is a good one – totally draws you in and doesn’t let you put it down ‘till you’re done. I also read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter recently, and practically read it start to finish without stopping – I was flying across the country, and I think I read for 11 hours straight – I didn’t want to stop to board my plane…

janbb's avatar

If you’re looking for some meat, you can’t go wrong with a number of the 19th century classics. War and Peace is wonderful, as is Anna Karenina. In the English, I would recommend most of Jane Austen, Our Mutual Friend and Nicholas Nickleby by Dickens and Barchester Towers by Trollope, which is very funny. I am currently rereading all of the Chronicles of Barset by Trollope and loving them.

A recent novel that I got lost in was Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susannah Clarke but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I also loved T.C. Boyle’s Drop City. For lighter but engrossing novels, I usually enjoy Alice Hoffmann, Sue Miller and Anita Shreve.

marinelife's avatar

@aprilsimnel Lurve to you for Bill Bryson. He is fantastic.

Ashpea9288's avatar

Any of the Harry Potter books

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Another vote for White Oleander

The Awakening by Kate Chopin (as well as her short stories), Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, and Light on Snow by Anita Shreve are really great also.

Jeruba's avatar

@zarnold, of course you can! I certainly read across a wide range, and I know that many others here do too. But you didn’t indicate your breadth of taste. There’s no point in my recommending Andrea Barrett if what you really want is Jonathan Kellerman.

I’ll add a vote for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and I too found Under the Banner of Heaven a compelling nonfiction read. And Hurrah! for the nineteenth century classics, especially George Eliot and the Brontës.

I hated Cold Mountain, the half of it that I was able to get through for a book club. I’d have quit sooner otherwise.

essieness's avatar

@nikipedia I was going to say Middlesex, too, but I wanted to control myself.

@zarnold The Poisonwood Bible affected me deeply. One of those rare books that really makes you question your life and actions.

serenityNOW's avatar

I’d secong Madcapper and suggest anything by Tom Robbins – smart but not “too smart” and funny as hell – kind of like Fluther.

Also, if you’re looking for an engrossing mystery thriller that isn’t your typical gritty, retired L.A. cop turned detective, etc. check out Tana Frenchs’ “In The Woods”. Takes place in Ireland which makes a beautiful setting for the book and it’s amazingly hard to tell it’s a debut novel.

I’m also in the middle of “Beautiful Boy”, by David Sheff but I think I packed it away in a box! Moving account of his son’s addiction, although rather sad. I was just thinking last night that I’m a dolt for packing it away.

fundevogel's avatar

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is an engaging and entertaining read. I think it’s non fiction, or at least closely based on real events, but it reads like fiction. It follows the almost everyday lives of the residents of Savannah Georgia, a small city that seems dedicated to keeping their Old South alive as best as possible against encroaching art students, drag queens and wealthy homosexuals. The characters are pretty amazing.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

the book of lost things!!!!
i cannot rave about it enough, it is such a great book. it’s got a lot of references to fairy tale sort of things, but it’s really dark, and it takes place during world war II (i think!). and it’s just. wow. i love it.
it’s by john connolly. i’ve never been so intrigued and just, captured, by a book.

Ashpea9288's avatar

The PostSecret books are good too…they’re not really literature, but once you start reading the secrets it’s really hard to stop.

tabbycat's avatar

The last books I really got lost in were Khaled Hosseini’s two books—‘The Kite Runner’ and ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns.’ They are both really remarkable, and I’m sure they will become classics.

I can think of so many good books to get lost in that I’d better not start listing them. I certainly concur with many of the suggestions above, especially ‘Anna Karenina,’ ‘The Poisonwood Bible,’ ‘White Teeth,’ ‘The Awakening,’ and Jane Austen. Others I have especially liked in recent years include ’ Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things,’ Harriet Doerr’s ‘Stones for Ibarra,’ and anything by Richard Russo, Michael Ondaatje, or Kazuo Ishiguro.

futurelaker88's avatar

first book(s) that came into my
mind this time and everytime
i hear this question…The Chronicles of Narnia.” those books are like nothing you will ever read. they are so compelling and original and addicting. and i HATE to read!! must read books.

jlm11f's avatar

Lurve to you for this Q. This is one of my favorite questions and I am glad it was asked when I just started my spring break. I just put Middlesex, White Oleander and Poisonwood Bible on hold in the library. I will be going there in a bit and am ready to get lost in some fantastic books :)

essieness's avatar

@PnL Get ready. Poisonwood Bible is going to make you cry. And possibly wish you weren’t an American…

Pcrecords's avatar

Off the top of my head. Everything is illuminated.

Jeruba's avatar

@tabbycat, lurve for The God of Small Things. I thought it was extraordinary. That’s the only book I have ever read whose narrative structure was concentric circles. Most of my book club found it difficult and bewildering, so it’s not for everyone, but I loved it.

amandala's avatar

House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski. One of the most compelling books I’ve ever read. It was absolutely phenomenal, from the first page to the last.

Pcrecords's avatar

Mark Gatiss’ three lucifer box novels ate fantastic fun. The vesuvias club, the devil in Amber, and black butterfly. Just brilliant.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I read the The Vesuvius Club. I liked it. Very Wildean in his style, is Mr Gatiss.

Pcrecords's avatar

Glad you liked it, now read the other two!

mirza's avatar

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

janbb's avatar

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, particularly if you’re a dog lover. I didn’t like the ending but the rest was fantastic.

Jeruba's avatar

Here, as a public service, is an alphabetical list of all the titles recommended above, together with authors if named, and, below it, a list of authors recommended generally.

Recommended Titles

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon
American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld.
Anna Karenina
Another Roadside Attraction, by Tom Robbins
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
Barchester Towers, by Trollope
Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff
Black Butterfly, by Mark Gatiss
The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly
Cell, by Stephen King.
The Children of God, by Mary Doria Russel
Chronicles of Barset, by Trollope
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
Cold Mountain
The Death and Life of Bobby Z, by Don Winslow.
The Devil in Amber, by Mark Gatiss
Drop City, by T.C. Boyle
Everything is illuminated
Foucault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco.
The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy
The Gone Away World, by Nick Harkaway
The Gulag Archipelago
the Harry Potter books
House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski
In the Woods, by Tana French
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susannah Clarke
Light on Snow, by Anita Shreve
Lush Life, by Richard Price
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
Falling Man, by Don Delillo
Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
Middlesex, by Jeffery Eugenides.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie
Mr. Murder, by Dean Koontz
Mutant Message Down Under, by Marlo Morgan.
The Never Ending Story
The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco.
Nicholas Nickleby, by Dickens
On a Night Like This, by Ellen Sussman
On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
Our Mutual Friend, by Dickens
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
The PostSecret books
The Power of the Dog, by Don Winslow
Practical Demon Keeping, by Christopher Moore
A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson
The Smell of Apples
Snow Falling on Cedars
The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russel
Stones for Ibarra, by Harriet Doerr
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski
The Vesuvius Club, by Mark Gatiss
A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
the Twilight series
Under the Banner of Heaven, by John Krakauer
War and Peace
White Oleander, by Janet Fitch
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith.
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

Recommended Authors

Jane Austen
the Brontë sisters
Bill Bryson
George Eliot
Alice Hoffmann
Kazuo Ishiguro
Sue Miller
Michael Ondaatje
Chuck Palaniuk
Tom Robbins
Harold Robbins
Richard Russo
Anita Shreve

SuperMouse's avatar

@Jeruba what a fabulous compilation! I finished Under the Banner of Heaven this afternoon – I could not put that book down. I was thinking about asking a question relating to it but I thought it might be too esoteric.

Jeruba's avatar

Esoteric we got. Ask away. (New question, though, right?)

Blondesjon's avatar

I would recommend getting lost in the World Atlas, but have found it impossible to do so.

MacBean's avatar

@Jeruba AWESOME. Thanks for taking the time to do that! <3

zarnold's avatar

yeah, thanks so much!

tabbycat's avatar

@Jeruba, What a wonderful reading list! That could keep any of us happily busy for a long time. I see lots of books I would like to read, and even more that I would like to reread.

Jeruba's avatar

You’re welcome. I just copied and pasted this page into a text file, separated, sorted, and cleaned up a little. I thought I’d like to draw upon it myself, and then I decided to share it.

jonsblond's avatar

@Jeruba Thank you. That was very thoughtful of you. :]

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba Thanks from me too. I thought this would be a great page to reference and you made it even easier.

paradesgoby's avatar

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

fullOFuselessINFO's avatar

Twilight was incredible.
its kind of girly tho…
The Kite Runner is amazing too… and that is followed by A Thousand Splendid Suns which i havent read but heard is really good.

Jeruba's avatar

[Note to later posters: If you’d like to avoid duplication, you can check the cumulative list above.]

z28proximo's avatar

“The Sword of Truth” saga by Terry Goodkind. The first book is named “Wizard’s First Rule” It’s fantasy set in a different world with castles and swords and magic. I’ve read the saga over a couple of times. I like some books more than others. The second book is my favorite and you can start on that one if you want. It won’t damage the story, too much. :) I’ve never read anything as good as this set of books.

madcapper's avatar

@z28proximo yeah I read these books (well the first 6) and totally lost interest after that. It is pretty much exactly the same idea as the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan ( the similarities are ridiculous) and not as good. There is better out there…

prasad's avatar

Hadley Chase are too good!

SeventhSense's avatar

John Irving is an outstanding fiction author:
These are enjoyable reads which you can really get lost in:

The World According to Garp(same name movie)
A Prayer for Own Meany (Simon Birch-movie)
A Widow for One Year (The Door in the Floor-movie)
The first two are on my top ten books written in the last 30 years.

Pcrecords's avatar

After seeing the film a friend recommended the original novel ‘let the right one in’. Both film and book fantastic.

SeventhSense's avatar

Pleasantly intrigued by your marble notebook avatar :)

Pcrecords's avatar

@seventhsense thanks. It’s actually a QR code. I forget what it says now, but it’s possibly plugging something.

SeventhSense's avatar

So am I being subliminally influenced? <:)

Pcrecords's avatar

No. No. makes shifty eyes of course not. Buy our albums.

SeventhSense's avatar

OK It’s all clear now….

Pcrecords's avatar

@seventhsense Saw your image, it’s kinda cool. Who should I make the cheque out to?

In the meantime this is how I make my images.

To everyone else sorry this isn’t about books. But hey Stuart Maconies books are great.

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