SEXIEST PERSONS ALIVE

Friday, May 29, 2009

give a book, get a book

I joined PaperbackSwap a few months ago and it's great. It's an online book swap networking site. You list the books you are willing to swap. You mail it out to an interested reader. You get a point when your book is received. And then you can cash in that point to request a book from some other member. It costs about $2.30 to mail each book.

I'm at a point where I've accumulated several points and want to order some sure-bet summer reading. There are a LOT of books to choose from.

Which brings me to the reason for this post. I would love to hear your suggestions, some of your favorite novels read over the past few years. Books that stand out as having been "one of the best books I've read in a long time." Or "books that I couldn't put down." As I said in my previous
post, I'm not into pain or violence or scary. So no murder mysteries or Stephen King, please.

Oh and I did see The Wrestler. As promised, I kept my laptop open through quite a few scenes, all of them, I think, took place inside the ring or in the locker room. I was glad I saw it. There were several emotionally wrenching themes presented in an intelligent, sensitive manner, having to do with substance abuse, parenting, and aging out of careers. It clearly was not about the wrestling so much as the man who is wrestling with his personal demons.

But back to the books. Here are a few of the books that fit this description for me. I prefer women authors but there is one favorite male author who has never disappointed.

For Love by Sue Miller. One of my favorite authors. The story of a woman whose mother enters a nursing home. She returns to help get the family home in sellable condition. She explores her long crumbling relationship with her mother and brother. She evaluates her teetering marriage. She revisits a key childhood friendship. I felt like I was listening to a client or a friend try to reconcile her past with her present. Oh, and if you don't know what a porte cochere is, like I didn't, you can see one here.

Fall on Your Knees by Anne-Marie MacDonald. I read this one years ago. I love novels that delve into childhood associations of Catholic teachings and how they interplay with other religions. I don't wonder why. I grew up a Catholic school girl whose next door neighbors were holy roller Presbyterian on the one side (we choreographed dances to gospel quartet music - her father played stand up bass) , and a liberal, somewhat eccentric (compared to my family's conservative conventions) Jewish family on the other. This novel is set in Nova Scotia. It spans the early 20th century and beyond WWI.

Three Junes by Julia Glass. This one I consider a found treasure. You know how you're walking along and out of the corner of your eye you see something that sparkles? You pick it up thinking it will be an old bottle cap but instead it turns out to be a gemstone? Three Junes was like that. The title caught my eye on the library shelf. I hadn't heard a thing about it. I brought it home to give it a try and I loved it. It's a story of a Scottish family with a matriarch who breeds dogs, her husband, their son who is gay, the family's struggle with acceptance, and the son's life in NYC.
Atonement by Ian McKewan. Although Amsterdam was the McKewan novel that drew me in first and probably is still my favorite. The movie, Atonement, was very well done. The mystery of the logistics of the library sex scene was answered, thanks to the visual aid that is film.



A Round Heeled Woman by Jane Juska. One of the bravest contemporary memoirs I have ever read. Real life "edge of your seat," interpersonal and emotionally moving tale of a woman, late in life, looking for love and connection.




The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve. Another of my favorite writers. This book of hers is my most loved. And I still have not seen the screen adaptation, starring Sean Penn. What is my problem? Adding to my "movies-to-rent" list now.





So how about it, reader? Have any suggestions for me?

33 comments:

Allison said...

Louise Penny's Three Pines series. You simply MUST read the first, "Still Life." The second was ok, the third, "The Cruelest Month" was very good, and I'm looking forward to reading the fourth. I devoured every one of them in a single sleepless night.

They are murder mysteries, but not typical murder mysteries. No gore or violence. Wonderful characters!

phd in yogurtry said...

Thanks Allison! I don't mind mysteries so long as I'm not reading CSI reports.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Apparently we have very similar taste in books. I'm reading Sue Miller's The Senator's Wife right now and just finished Anita Shreve's Testimony. I've got Chris Bohjolain's Skeletons at the Feast up next.

I love those authors plus Jodi Piccoult and Joanna Trollope are favorites. Three Dog Night and The Tender Bar were both great memoirs.

I could go on all day!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm glad you liked The Wrestler--I felt the same way as you did about it.

imom said...

I'm reading a Jodi Piccoult book for the first time and am loving it. I plan to read all of her books over the summer.

I recently read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and loved it, it was her first novel. I highly recommend it.

I've added the Wrestler to my Netflix queue, I've heard some very good things about it.

phd in yogurtry said...

jenn -- "Skeletons at the Feast" Have not heard of this. Nor Three Dog Night. Thanks. Will look them up. We've talked about Trollope. I like her books, too. They're quiet and everyday sort of life scenerios, and I enjoy them. And you are the second person whose opinion I respect to suggest Tender Bar. I had forgotten about that one.

imom -- Thirteenth Tale, I've heard of this, maybe saw it on Amazon and wondered if it was good. I'll check it out. Thanks for the suggestions.

Magpie said...

Love Paperback Swap.

The best thing I've read recently was The Quincunx - a Dickensian legal thriller - totally captivating.

phd in yogurtry said...

magpie -- ahh. sounds good, thanks. I love reading about that time period.

Hip Mom's Guide said...

I am a sucker for a bargain book and haven't met a library book sale I didn't love! A friend of mine recommended The Three Junes a couple of summers ago - one of her favorites, too. As for me, the two I'd recommend are The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck) and A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry). The Good Earth is a classic for a good reason! A Fine Balance is set in India and covers some difficult terrain, but is one of those books I thought about for weeks afterwards. I can't imagine that it wouldn't touch you. I also liked Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follet), which I read ages ago.

Vodka Mom said...

I like books that are trashy, trashy, trashy.


AND i LOVE Stephen King!!!


but I still love you..........

Maggie May said...

The Big House by George Howe Colt

The World According To Garp by John Irving

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

The Far Pavilions forget author

Mental P Mama said...

Oh I loved Three Junes...I don't read much fiction, but you and I have similar likes;) Have you read Tracy Chevalier's works? I love them, too!

phd in yogurtry said...

maggie -- I loved Garp, especially the movie. Was just talking about the "flying in the car" scene at a party recently. As for the others, haven't heard of but will be looking into them -- thanks!

mpm -- I loved Pearl Earring. I don't think I've read anymore of hers. Should.

Nulaanne said...

The two books that I could not put down are both by Kris Radish. One is Danving Naked at the Edge off Dawn it is about a woman who walks in on her husband in their bed and how her life changes in that moment.

The other is The Sunday List of Dreams. This one is about a newly retired Nurse and how she reconects with her daughter.

JCK said...

Fortune's Rocks is my very favorite by Anita Shreve. And what about The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini?

Jason, as himself said...

I agree with imom--read The Thirteenth Tale. It says that it is a ghost story--but don't be fooled, it really isn't. It is brilliant and I loved it. Give it a try.

Also? The Birth of Venus. AMAZING book. I can't remember the author at this moment.

Health Psych said...

I'm not much of a fiction reader but I 'enjoyed' for want of a better word 'The boy in the blue pyjamas' by John Boyne but it is holocaust related so you might not fancy that.

I love Pure Drivel by Steve Martin, if you fancy a laugh (not so keen on his novels) and will read anything by Amy Tan.

Health Psych said...

Oh and David Sedaris...

Fragrant Liar said...

Somebody beat me with David Sedaris, but he is so worth the read, I'll just second him. I also like Carl Hiassen's Skinny Dip, Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides, Patricia Cornwell's Scarpetta series (start from the first ones, if you go with her). They are all excellent.

Fantastic Forrest said...

That is deeply weird. I was going to suggest Three Junes and then I saw you'd listed it.

I adored that. Especially the ending, about the trees. It made me cry.

Have you read any Anne Perry? She has two series, set in different periods of historical England, that are simply splendid.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

I adore Elizabeth Berg - Range of Motion & Talk Before Sleep are my favorites, though Durable Goods is poignant & lovely, too.

Also, Haven Kimmel's A Girl Named Zippy is a fabulously delightful memoir.

You're making me pine keenly for summer!!

Reinvent Dad said...

I'm reading three books at present...'6th Target' by James Patterson, 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' and 'The End of Prosperity' by Arthur Laffer. I don't love any of them, but at least I always have something to read unless, of course, I decide to surf the net instead.

Hanna said...

My favourite novels in the last couple of years were by far the two books by Khaled Housseini. The "Kite Runner" was already mentioned by someone else, but "A thousand splendid suns" is at least as good as Housseini's first novel, if not even better. Other than that, I liked "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy. Other than that, a very nice summer novel is "Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress" by Dai Sijie and, among psychs ;-), I'd heartily recommend the Hector-series by Francois Lelord; the first of which is "Hector and the Search for Happiness". However, I'm not sure if all of the books from the Hector-series are available in English.
Enjoy your books and the summer and best greetings from sunny Germany! :-)

Forrest Preece said...

Hi -- I am a (small) part of the Austin Daily Photo blog. My wife does almost all the work on that one.

Actually, I often prefer female authors as well, but right now, I am about 1/8th of the way into "John Henry Days" by Colson Whitehead and it is shaping up to be a fantastic read.

This author has a stunning knack for character development and the conceit of the book's main situation is clever indeed.

g said...

Do you get them back? Because part of my problem is that the books I like best I like to re-read.

My employer is doing a reading thing along with the City Library. As part of this I recently read "Loving Frank", "The Shadow Catcher" (Great book!) and "the Space Between Us." Liked them all, loved "The Shadow Catcher."

And the best thing about your post? You and all the commenters have listed more books for me to try!! I'm writing them down now!

bernthis said...

thanks so much for this. I have to recommend anything by Susan Issacs (all except her latest book) and Maeve Binchy. Her first four novels were great summer reads.

Dr. Deb said...

The Wrestler was a powerful movie to watch. I cried and found it to be such a great piece of melancholy art.

Jocelyn said...

INDIGNATION by Philip Roth was a revelation. How nice to just read damn fine writing and a simple story--no conniptions or pretense or anything. Just great writing.

Jocelyn said...

Oh, also: Elizabeth Berg never goes wrong for intelligent but accessible reading.

AnnD said...

Blood Ties by Jennifer Lash.

I can't imagine anyone would have it to swap but I got mine from Amazon for about $4.

WA said...

The Tortilla Curtain was fantastic.

I also just read "The 10 Year Nap" by Meg Wolitzer and "The Believers" by Zoe Heller. Both great writing, but didn't lovelove them.

But I did love "Notes on a Scandal" by Zoe Heller. They made a movie out of it with Judy Dench & Kate Blanchett.

Sara said...

I love this list. Can't wait to get started.

onelongjourney said...

We enjoy many of the same books -
Three Junes has a sequel you know - I think The Whole World Over. I recently read Olive Kitteridge - a collection of short stories linked by the title character. Also try - A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Bizarre title, but gently humorous book about dealing with an elder parent.