Book Recommendations and Reading

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  • I read Devil in the White City and really enjoyed the background on the building of the and staging of the Fair.  I particularly enjoyed the sections on Fredrick Law Olmsted



  • The winners of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction & Nonfiction were just announced a few days ago: http://www.ala.org/awardsgrants/carnegieadult#. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (fiction) and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (non-fiction) were the winners.

    I haven't read Doerr's book yet, but I highly, highly recommend Just Mercy. Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama. He primarily works with death row inmates and others who did not receive adequate counsel during their trials. The stories he tells about the inequities in our justice system will make you sad and angry, and he has a really lyrical writing style. I was really glad he won this award (and the book deserves many others).
  • Lilithcat said:
    No sure if this fits for this thread or not.  I love Erik Larson.  He writes novelistic history, taking historical facts and turning them into readable stories that flow like fiction.   Sometimes its easy to forget that they are real people and events. 

    "The Devil in the White City" is probably his best known work and is I believe being made into a movie. Its about the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 and the first known US serial killer.

    "In the Garden of the Beasts" deals with the first US Ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd and the rise of Third Reich. I found this one to be emotional and frustrating to read since you know what happens and all that could have been done to prevent it.  

    Currently I'm reading "Thunderstruck" which intersects the lives of Marconi and an Hawley Crippen, and inventor and a murderer.  So far it's laying the backstories and both are intriguing. 


    I had some problems with Devil in the White City.  I loved the sections about the Columbian Exposition, and thought the book worth reading for that alone.  But the parts about Holmes were badly told and unconvincing, as Larson relied on sensationalist books and what we would call tabloids, and failed to make clear, in the text, what was mere speculation.  The thread about Harrison's assassination was pointless; it had nothing to do with anything else in the book.
    I would have to re-read it, its been a few years and this was my first book of Larson and I don't recall all the details as you stated above.  I do recall that I did enjoy it when I read it.  Especially about the creation of the World's Fair.
  • I read Devil In The White City and was unable to finish it.  I think the serial killer stuff was just too gruesome for me.  I guess I'm a real wimp.  The "white city" part of it was all very fascinating though.

    I read All The Light We Cannot See and liked it well enough.  I'd give it a B+.  I read it right after The Light Between Oceans, and preferred Light Between Oceans.
  • My summer reading selection was Born With Teeth by Kate Mulgrew and it did not disappoint. She's certainly had an interesting life and it's great to see her finding more success late in life on OITNB - though I first knew her as Mother Seton in A Time For Miracles. My mother must have made me watch that 300 times (she taped it when it first aired in 1980!).

  • I'm about to finish Delicious!, by Ruth Reichl.   It's her first novel, about a young woman who moves to New York to work for a Gourmet-like magazine.  It's got several storylines- a romance and a historical mystery of sorts that get a bit convoluted at times, but it's still a good summer read.  Reichl's memoirs are also fantastic. 

    Anyone read Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Martel?  That's next on my list. 



  • I really enjoyed Station 11. It was a blend of some of my favorite genres and I thought that it was a really original story.
  • I loved Station 11. For a post-apocolyptic story, I thought it was very hopeful. It is beautifully written.
  • I didn't think Station Eleven was particularly original, but yes, I liked it and would recommend it if you haven't had your fill up post-apocalypse fiction.
  • I liked Station Eleven too, although there were several things about the plot that I didn't actually buy into. The writing is nice.
  • Thank you to those who recommended "A piece of cake." Damn, what a life!
  • Lori said:
    I liked Station Eleven too, although there were several things about the plot that I didn't actually buy into. The writing is nice.
    I read it over the long weekend, and I agree with your assessment.  Some of the plot strains credibility, but I enjoyed reading it so much that it didn't really bother me. 
  • Scout said:
    Lori said:
    I liked Station Eleven too, although there were several things about the plot that I didn't actually buy into. The writing is nice.
    I read it over the long weekend, and I agree with your assessment.  Some of the plot strains credibility, but I enjoyed reading it so much that it didn't really bother me. 
    Trying not to be spoilery: Among other things, I still want someone to give me an explanation that makes sense to me for why the people in the towns visited by the circus are living how and where they do. I can sort of see why people would want to cluster together instead of living in individual houses, but their choice of location makes no sense to me at all and in the book it's presented as if it's totally logical and nothing that needs to be explained.

    The thing is, i enjoyed the book enough that it was only a minor question while I was reading it. It only really bugged me in retrospect. 
  • This is clearly the book that everyone's reading--I just finished Station Eleven this morning.  Very well written and easy to get through (the book I read before this was Hild, which just took me forever--big disappointment because I'd really been looking forward to it.)

    But, anyway, the whole set-up, how it happened and how the world did and didn't work had issues.  This is kind of my ongoing issue with apocalyptic fiction--much of the book takes place around the Great Lakes and nobody's traveling by boat?  No one's managing a little electricity via wind turbines, solar panels or windmills?  I won't even go into the ins and outs of epidemics (a short incubation period is less dangerous than one with a longer contagious asymptomatic period.).

    So much of the "post-apocalyptic" world seems to be a version of life pre-19th century, but minus the fact that humans had all sorts of ways of coping without modern technology.

    That said, I did actually like the book.
  • I just finished Euphoria by Lily King.  I had not heard of it...but it was featured front and center in the airport book store and the cover was beautiful.  (I can't help it...I totally fall for covers).  Anyway, it was a very fast paced story about a love triangle between anthropologists researching tribes in New Guinea (based loosely on Margaret Mead).  I loved it.  It reminded me at times of The Poisonwood Bible and at other times State of Wonder, two books I adored. Seems there is something irresistible to me about these stories of intelligent/self assured people setting off to understand or educate and finding themselves completely over their heads in a world they can never understand and perhaps were not meant to.  Now that I know that's "my thing", I'm on the hunt for more like these...
  • I LOVED The Poisonwood Bible and sort of like State of Wonder (is that the one where people were sucking on trees in the jungle? :-)  I sort of like that genre too so I'll have to pick up Euphoria.  Your post made me think of the book/movie The Mosquito Coast, and the positively brilliant foreign movie Aguirre: Wrath of God.
  • Just finished Uprooted by Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire series. I picked it up to tie me over until the final Temeraire book comes out. I love that series.
    However, this book is absolutely wonderful in it's own right. A mix of Polish folk tales, magic, a dark corrupted wood and an appealing, headstrong, less than perfect heroine combine to make a moving, sometimes funny, sometimes potent with dread tale.
    The finale is like listening to music underwater, strangely beautiful and atmospheric.
  • I just finished Kindred, by Octavia Butler, and I absolutely adored it.  It was recommended to me since I like the Outlander tv show, but they really don't have that much in common other than time travel.  I can't recommend it enough, though.  Read this book!
  • SarahBeth said:

    I did add As You Wish to my wish list, it sounds awesome. I also love The Princess Bride. :)
    That book is wonderful, but it's a quick read. If you're going away and want reading materials for the whole trip, you might want to bring a spare.  I really enjoyed that book, though. 
  • Jessi03 said:
    I just finished Kindred, by Octavia Butler, and I absolutely adored it.  It was recommended to me since I like the Outlander tv show, but they really don't have that much in common other than time travel.  I can't recommend it enough, though.  Read this book!
    Oh, I love Octavia Butler's work--she was just so damn smart.  Kindred's so sad, but so good.  If you liked Kindred, you'll probably like Wild Seed.  I've read all of her books except two of them--I keep putting off reading them because once I do there will be no new Butler left for me to read.
  • edited July 2015
    Glammie said:
    Oh, I love Octavia Butler's work--she was just so damn smart.  Kindred's so sad, but so good.  If you liked Kindred, you'll probably like Wild Seed.  I've read all of her books except two of them--I keep putting off reading them because once I do there will be no new Butler left for me to read.


    Kindred struck me more as a teen fiction book than an adult book, did anyone else have that reaction? I liked it, but I didn't love it. I kept thinking it could have been a much longer book, and delved deeper into the actual emotions and situations that would have been present in a story like that. It seemed very surface-y, was my main complaint.
  • Jessi03 said:
    SarahBeth said:

    I did add As You Wish to my wish list, it sounds awesome. I also love The Princess Bride. :)
    That book is wonderful, but it's a quick read. If you're going away and want reading materials for the whole trip, you might want to bring a spare.  I really enjoyed that book, though. 

    OH MY GOD, I was in Barnes & Noble YESTERDAY, how did I forget to pick this up??????
  • Glammie said:
    Jessi03 said:
    I just finished Kindred, by Octavia Butler, and I absolutely adored it.  It was recommended to me since I like the Outlander tv show, but they really don't have that much in common other than time travel.  I can't recommend it enough, though.  Read this book!
    Oh, I love Octavia Butler's work--she was just so damn smart.  Kindred's so sad, but so good.  If you liked Kindred, you'll probably like Wild Seed.  I've read all of her books except two of them--I keep putting off reading them because once I do there will be no new Butler left for me to read.
    Thank you for the recommendation!  I want to read all of Butler's books now, and that sounds like a great place to start.  

    I'm working on finishing Antonia Fraser's "Warrior Queens" first, since that's due back at the library soon, though.  I love history books, but I'm having a tougher time with this one.  I feel like Fraser is easier to read when she can really delve deeply into one person (ex. Marie Antoinette) instead of skipping across several thousand years with many different women as focal points. 
  • I read the Fuggirls book The Royal We yesterday. Fun. LOTS of Fugnation in-jokes.
  • I just finished Euphoria by Lily King.  I had not heard of it...but it was featured front and center in the airport book store and the cover was beautiful.  (I can't help it...I totally fall for covers).  Anyway, it was a very fast paced story about a love triangle between anthropologists researching tribes in New Guinea (based loosely on Margaret Mead).  I loved it.  It reminded me at times of The Poisonwood Bible and at other times State of Wonder, two books I adored. Seems there is something irresistible to me about these stories of intelligent/self assured people setting off to understand or educate and finding themselves completely over their heads in a world they can never understand and perhaps were not meant to.  Now that I know that's "my thing", I'm on the hunt for more like these...
    Ooohhhh, I am putting this on my To-Read list!  I love the Poisonwood Bible.  
  • I just finished Queen Of The Tearling and liked it in a magical, feudalistic post Harry Potter kind of way.
  • I'm reading "Straight Man" & it is very funny. If you have ever been in academia, you will probably enjoy it too.
  • Currently getting my Sword Guns and Sorcery on with Black Gods Kiss by Lavie Tidhar.
  • I just finished The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, a very good novel about cultural clashes in 17th-century Canada, told through the eyes of an Iroquois captive, a Huron war leader, and a Jesuit missionary.
  • I just finished The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.  I liked it eventually but I spent a lot of time squirming over the heroine's self sabotage.
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