Friday, November 5, 2010

Reader Recommendations

(This isn’t exactly a Friday Five, but I’d like some opinions so bear with me.)

The other day, Jacob was looking for a book to read (he’s a picky reader) so I suggested Dune. I remembered reading and enjoying it as a teenager.  He borrowed it from the library. 

Then, of course, I did the parent thing—I thought, “Uh, I don’t exactly remember the details of the book...maybe I don’t want him to read the book.”  So I started reading it again.  And I’m really enjoying it (so far nothing too objectionable).  I’m not a big sci-fi reader, but a well-written book is lovely whatever the genre.  One of the things I like about reading outside my favorite genres is that I pay more attention to the writing and how the author creates his/her magic.

What I’m loving about Dune is that although the pace is slower than I might have imagined, the author is spreading a lot of breadcrumbs for me to follow.  Plus, Frank Herbert, Dune’s author, does his world building with a restrained hand.  A lot of sci-fi is yawn inducing for me because they authors get too caught up in world building.  But in Dune I learn only what I need to know, i.e. no information dumps.  So instead of knowing every oddity of the setting, I learn what the characters experience, what their normative is.  And I’m fascinated.  Small details here and there create a more real, exotic world than a paragraph detailing the differences.  I guess what I’m saying is that I’m learning from a master about place and setting.  That’s what I like about reading out of my favorite genres.

What I’m asking for in this post is for you all to share with me who you think are masters of their genres.  I can’t wait to start putting books on hold at the library.  Thanks!  Here are a few recommendations that I have to share.

Detective Mysteries:

1.Agatha Christie.  But some of her more unusual books.  Try reading a few of her Tommy and Tuppence stories: N or M and By the Pricking of My Thumbs.  In these books (and others with Tommy and Tuppence) Christie allows the couple to age and their relationship to mature. Also check out some of her plays that have been novelized—very interesting style.

2.Dorothy Sayers. The Lord Peter Wimsey books.  (Especially the ones with Harriet Vane—Harriet’s a writer so you can’t help but love her. ;)

Don’t forget, share with us what you love and who the masters are.


  1. Personally for me it is George Orwell with his Animal Farm and 1984. He has a way with words and can actually make me feel like I am seeing the scenes and sometimes the ugliness of what is happening as in 1984.

  2. BTW, the first of Christie's Tommy and Tuppence stories is Partners in Crime, it's a collection of short crime stories. There was a TV series of the same name based on the stories. (Netflix carries the disks.) It's fun and witty and stars Francesca Annis. And it's worth watching for the 1920s period costumes and hat alone.

  3. Let me unpack some of my many boxes of books, and I'll get back to you. :)

  4. Ah! You nailed it with Christie and Sayers.

    I think in the youth novel genre J.K. Rowling, Eoin Colfer, Rick Riordian, N.D. Wilson and Beverly Cleary are really masters of books for kids/young adults. They have such a vivid understanding of that period of life and they are very imaginative and youthful themselves.

    Oh, and I think Elizabeth Peters takes the cake for period piece books. I'd have to say Twain for the travel genre...oh well, I am going on too much:)
    Oh! and Frankenstein is the best sci-fi ever!

  5. J R R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings! What else?

  6. Hmm.. Lemme think..

  7. I don't know a lot of sci-fi, but what I've read I love. I have read Dune and I thoroughly enjoyed it! My introduction to sci-fi, and still on of my all-time favorite books, is Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. Wonderfully deep and fascinating characters with plenty of social commentary, especially in the other books in the series. Highly recommend!