Monday, April 03, 2006

Reading Recommendations Requested

Going to the library is one of my favorite things to do on Mondays (typically my Sabbath). It's one of my favorite things to do almost anytime, but Monday is when it usually happens. We have a great library in our community and on relatively warm days our house is within walking distance.

My usual modus operandi at the library is to scan the new fiction, then the new non-fiction, picking up titles by authors I know or publishing houses I respect. I can usually walk away with at least 2-3 books doing this. Sometimes while I'm at the library I'll remember a book someone recommended or that I read about.

I read a lot. I was an English major and have always been the kid who stayed inside on a warm sunny day to read a book. I like fiction that reads like a memoir, actual memoirs, books that teach you about something while telling a really good story (but not preachy, moralistic books), semi-trashy romance novels (though usually not the historical variety).

I loved "The Time Traveler's Wife" and read it in an afternoon. I don't mind what a lot of people call "fluff" as long as there's a story to it and they aren't trying to sell something. And, despite the fact that I am a pastor, I usually avoid anything overtly religious (unless it's for work, then it's pretty hard to avoid that whole God thing).

So, dear readers, what should I read? Recommendations? Your top 5 books? The book you recommend to everyone? The ones you've read over and over again? Please, tell!


reverendmother said...

I was an English major too!

I haven't read much fiction lately. I am into memoir these days.

A Prayer for Owen Meany is in my top 5 books. It helped me discern my call to ministry.

Andrea said...

Ooh. Can't ever resist commenting when someone asks for book recommendations!

Crossing to Safety - Wallace Stegner
Travelling Mercies - Anne Lamott
The Small Rain & A Severed Wasp - Madeleine L'Engle
A Place on Earth - Wendell Berry
The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell
Unless - Carol Shields

And for something a little 'lighter'...
I love the Jan Karon books...but I'm sure you've read them already.

What are YOUR favourites?

(and I have a reading list at the side of my blog if you're interested)

Quotidian Grace said...

I love the Merrily Watkins mystery series by Phil Rickman. St. Cassarole put me onto it--Merrily Watkins is an exorcist for the Anglican Church and the series is set in England. It feeds my Anglophile tendencies.

juniper68 said...

Hi Pink,
I was right there with you - indoors on the sunny day, probably re-reading Laura Ingalls. (when I graduated from seminary, I asked my husband "can I go to library school now?" he hardly ever says no to me, but he did that time! well, maybe for my NEXT career...)

Just put out a plea over at my place for someone to please read so we can talk about NEver Let Me Go, which reminded me a little for some reason of The Time Traveller's wife (which I also liked).

And I just read and really enjoyed a book called The Peabody Sisters - a biography of 3 19th century American women.

Sally said...

Me too, indoors reading when others were riding bikes or swimming, often devouring a book a day. I still do.
Good stuff I've read recently some fluffy..
The Death and Life of Charlie StCloud.-Ben Sherwood
The Year of Yes- Maria Hedley
Despite the falling snow-Shamin Sarif
I love Douglas Coupland and the post modern cahllenge his novels bring...have you read Life After God or Hey Nostrodamous...or Elanor Rigby? All good stuff.
Happy reading!

Pink Shoes said...

I think was some sort of sick joke on myself to put out this request the week before Holy Week.... These are all delicious suggestions... I've read some of them and loved them, so am looking forward to making my way through the rest of them.... Keep the suggestions coming! And, Andrea -- I suspect I'll do a follow-up post in a few days with my own personal favorites!! Check back...

Mary Beth said...

I was an English major, too, and then I got a Master's in English for good measure. (My poor daddy thought I was trying to make myself as unmarketable as possible!)

I love these: Diane Mott Davidson, Susan Wittig Albert, ALL of Madeleine L'Engle and CS Lewis,
Susan Howatch's Church of England books, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books, Barbara Kingsolver...this is just off the top of my head.

Enjoy (once Holy Week is done!)

Teri said...

I too am often a book-a-day reader...

I just read a book called "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" which was surprisingly good (by a Ukrainian author, I English!). I also enjoyed the book "The Map of Love" by Egyptian woman author Ahdaf Soueif. I read a Jane Green novel recently, which I loved as a fluff book for a day. The Secret Life of Bees and the Mermaid Chair are great figuring-out-yourself woman stories. The Blue Castle, by LM Montgomery, made my week a couple weeks ago. Of course some standard faves include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Pride and Prejudice and the Princess Bride(my favorite re-reads).
I envy Westerners and your libraries! That's something I miss living in Egypt. I can't wait to settle down somewhere in the US (or Europe or whatever) and have libraries full of books in English that I can read for free!

Teri said...

PS, for story-driven romance novels, try Julia Quinn...particularly the Bridgerton series. (though the first is by far the best: "The Duke and I". You will soon recognize the same story line in the rest of the series, but at least the characters develop!)

Bad Alice said...

English major here, too. I don't get to read as much as I would like. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
2. Travelling Mercies by Anne Lamott
3. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (actually, all three of the His Dark Materials trilogy).
4. Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris.
5. Possession by A.S. Byatt

Susie said...

"Looking for Mary" by Beverly Donofrio - I just read it, and it was awesome and hilarious and wonderful. And I'm not really a Mary devotee. Her writing is a lot like Anne LaMott's, I thought.

Also, for something on the more serious side, I love Frederick Buechner's "Telling Secrets." A friend gave it to me in seminary.

St. Casserole said...

Find Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins' series like "Prayer of the Night Shepherd" or "The Smile of a Ghost". Seven in this series: all are fabulous reads.

St. Casserole said...

Susan Howatch's Church of England series enchanted me for hours.
Do read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (suggested by Andrea, above), it's subtitle should be Jesuits in Space and IT is Worth Reading!

RevHRod said...

Funny how all the English majors come out of the closet when there's a question like this one...

I have developed a deep love for adolescent literature over the years. Not fluffy teenage girl junk, but the classic good books they make you read in school.

I had an adolescent lit class in college that made me realize how often books for middle schoolers are better crafted than adult novels simply because the author has to use concise, clean language, no sex and less violence.

So, my suggestions:
Anything by Madeleine L'Engle
"The Chronicles of Narnia" in their original order.
"Hoot" by Carl Hiaasen, which is coming out as a movie this month. Funny and smart.
The "Ramona the Pest" books by Beverly Cleary when you need a nostalgic good laugh.
"Fever 1793" by Laurie Halse Anderson. Haunting story of life during the American Revolution.
"Maniac Magee" by Jerry Spinelli

Basically I'm a sucker for anything that was ever nominated for a Newberry Medal.

WeavingLibrarian said...

As a librarian and English major it is almost impossible for me not to post. Much of what you have already gotten on your list is wonderful so I will only mention The Necessary Beggar by Susan Palwick. An amazing story.