Sunday, 12 October 2008

Help me with my reading block

I have an Amazon token that needs to be used up and I can't think what to buy. It was a gift, so I'd like something "lasting", something with substance and yet readable, not a tome that reminds me of a school textbook.

I did consider buying this year's Booker Prize short list but on refection I'm not too sure about them. I've been disappointed in the past. Non-fiction might be better. I'm interested in virtually anything with the possible exception of sport, so I'm open to almost any suggestions.

Help me out here. Tell me please, what books you think I should be buying with my token. Persuade me that yours is the right choice. Please?

Updated to add that I am trying to broaden my interests so don't worry about what my interests are. Tell me about a book you have enjoyed. I'm prepared to try anything.


  1. depends on the kind of books you prefer to read. for me, i'm into paolo coehlo's books, they're inspirational and all his books have been bestsellers.

  2. If you're at all interested in historical fiction, try the Earth's Children series by Jean M. Auel. There's sex, living life in the stone age, family, children and societal groupings.

    I love them. They're quite educational too.

  3. See for me I would go for travel books or art books. Or gardening books or cooking books perhaps. It really does depend on what your interests are. I went through a phase of buying lots of books - top classics - and now I have lost interest again. I go to the library instead. You can get other things besides books on Amazon can't you? It's hard isn't it - I would pick an interest and then zero in on possibilities. Lucky you - hope you find something.

  4. @Fortuitous Faery, I am interested in anything and have read in fact read Paulo Coelho. This is part of the problem, I've read an awful lot. I think I'm leaning towards non-fiction these days.

    @Solomon, historical fiction I do enjoy until I start wondering where the fiction ends and the fact begins. But then that leads me to other books on the same subject matter which I do love. I read the first Jean M. Auel years ago and enjoyed it, so thanks for reminding me of that.

    @Lily, thanks. I'm trying to widen my interests so any recommendation would be good. Travel books are a possibility, though I prefer to learn more in depth about places.

  5. Lost Boys - Orson Scott Card

    A memorable book for me. I don't exactly how to describe it, it is fiction but not Card's usual science fiction. I guess I would classify it as a mystery. It is not related to the movie The Lost Boys.

  6. Bad Science - Ben Goldacre - easy to read.
    Likewise, Seven Daughters of Eve - Bryan Sykes.
    And two in French that I've fallen in love with are La grammaire est une chanson douce, and Les chevaliers du subjonctif, both by Eric Orsenna, Mme Ba by him ain't bad either.
    I defy you to finish Stendhal's Le rouge et le noir, the only book I've evr consistently fallen asleep by page 5, reminds me to dig it out as am waking up at 2 a.m at the mo.
    Pagnol is also nice light easy reading.

  7. It's not possible to disregard your interests when trying to make recommendations, but sometimes there are subjects out there that you just don't yet know you have an interest in. I know my basic interests, of course, and so I periodically search Amazon for new (or additional) books in those interest categories. Photography or history, for example. I can't remember the last time I bought fiction, so I am pretty sure my interests don't lie in that area. :) But I always try to look at Amazon's new listings, or even the weekly best seller non-fiction listings to make myself look at new books or new categories. On the other hand, my Amazon search is often driven by specific projects I am working on: I buy a lot of books simply to learn about things. I have purchased over 25 books since March, for example, simply on the subject of British culture, or books written by popular British authors. (Which reminds me that I HAVE purchased fiction lately: Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter.)

    My advice is to continually keep up-to-date on subjects that interest you and have interested you for a long time; and, secondly, to constantly have "projects" you are working on that will drive you to learn more about that project.

    Or simply stop reading so damn much.

  8. Why not some good travel guides or travel related books?

  9. Well, Dancing in the Mind Field by Kary Mullis is very well written. This guy changed the world, won the Nobel Prize, and is one of the weirdest human beings on the planet (and I've worked with scientists, so that's saying a lot). Don't know if it's still in print though.

  10. I loved Eat, Love Pray by Elizabeth Glibert


  11. For a great change of pace, I suggest the book I wrote in memory of my dad (My Funny Dad, Harry). It's heartwarming, about family, cats, faith and death and how God helped me through the months following. There are a couple recent reviews by a couple bloggers who recently read it on the blog "My Funny Dad, Harry" at

  12. 1) Water for Elephants - I read it recently in one setting because I couldn't put it down. Very engaging story, somewhat a mystery and you don't see the end coming. Really very well written.

    2) I second the Earth's Children's series. Clan of the Cave Bear is one of my all time favorite books.

    3) Nora Roberts' Three Sisters Trilogy. Don't know if you like romances, but these are very good, mixing romance with paranormal. Well written and fast reads.

    4) Harry Potter - seriously, if you haven't read them, give them a try. I know they're children's books, but they are just as good as an adult.

    5)Little Brother - don't know your political leanings, but this book will give you something serious to think about when you're done. Another book I couldn't put down and read in one sitting.

    I'll stop with those. I could write forever about books.

  13. Despite your leaning towards non-fiction, I'd like to point you first to Isobelle Carmody's Obernewtyn series - set in a post-Apocalyptic earth where the medieval order is threatened by "mutants", people with unusual mental abilities.

    For an off-the-wall non-fiction, how about Mary Roach? She's written two books that I know of: "Stiff: the curious life of human cadavers" and "Spook: science tackles the afterlife". Dont expect detailed analysis of the subject, but she does do lots of research for her books, and injects tongue-in-cheek humor into what might be considered serious topics.

  14. @Hathor, thanks! I've heard of Lost Boys. Someone ages ago recommended it, but I'd forgotten, so many thanks for the reminder.

    @j, wonderful! Those are all going on the list apart from, of course, Rouge et Noir. I tried that some years back, though I do believe I reached page 6. I'm sure I did. Same as The Scarlet Letter. Pagnol: had to do one or two of those in French lessons so they've lost their appeal somewhat, though I should give them another try.

    @Max, of course there are subjects I don't know about. That, I suppose, is what I'm driving at. If you'd asked me 2-3 weeks ago if I'd be interested in a blog about chemistry, I'd have said no. Now I visit A Compound a Day every day! And of course, photography - why didn't I think of that? History yes, but it's a vast subject. Perhaps I should make a start on American history. I should. I'm never going to stop reading so much - never.

    @Lifecruiser, travel related books would be good - where to start? :)

  15. I just stumbled across your blog, so I don't know your interests. But this post caught my eye, (great idea btw) you always get such a great mix when you ask other people what they love :) So here's my favorite books:
    1) Personhood by Leo Buscaglia (coolest man ever, he was a professor in CA who taught a college course called "Love 101) - Fabulously insightful.
    2) The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino - Classic book, which has more to do with knowing yourself than being a salesman - great quick read.

    Good luck in your search for a new book, I hope you find something you will enjoy :)

  16. @Ann, that sounds really interesting, and I've never heard of it before. I know exactly what you mean about scientists. :)

    @Alicia, that's one I haven't heard of so I'll have a look.

    @Karen, I'd noticed your book while blog-hopping, and forgotten. I'll have another look.

    @Jodith, thanks for those suggestions too. The Harry Potters I tried when they first came out thanks to a friend who lent me her son's copies. I don't know if I'm up-to-date though. I've discovered Little Brother is available on free download from Cory Doctorow's site which is great!

    @willow - those are great suggestions too! Many thanks.

  17. @Monica, yes, I'm really pleased I asked because, as you say, the mix is fantastic. I haven't heard of either of your suggestions so they'll be investigated too :)

  18. I have an eclectic taste in books, reading from fiction, through faction to factual and enjoy it. A couple of books that we had in the book club, that were interesting were

    The Shadow of the Sun: My African Life by Ryszard Kapuscinski - a journalist in Africa

    The Discovery of Heaven: Harry Mulisch translated from the Dutch.

    We have also read The Secret History by Donna Tart, and it was well thought of by our group each of whom felt that it was one of the best we had read so far.

    One of my favourite new books is The Last Fighting Tommy: The Life of Harry Patch, the Only Surviving Veteran of the Trenches. Coming from a military background, and being a bit of a history lover, I love reading books by 'old' historians. You cannot get much closer to the first world war than a story by a veteran.

    If you like history, then I recommend Richard Holmes to you, he writes in a very readable style, having covered war walks both in UK and Europe, he has written about the army in India, Churchill and Wellington.. He also happens to work for our University as well

    Enjoy your book vouchers..

  19. @Sage, excellent! I haven't read any of those and they all sound really great. I'm beginning to think I need another token :)

  20. Hi a. --

    As I recall, you're a fellow crime novel fan. Have you tried anything yet by Lisa See, Sara Paretsky or Qiu Xiaolong? As far as non-fiction's concerned: Love the late Martin Booth's "Gweilo" -- but will put out the caveat that it helps to have a love of Hong Kong prior to reading it.

  21. Hi ytsl, yes I think we have some Sara Paretskys in the house, but the other two are new to me. Thanks! :)

  22. Oh, and the non-fiction, I'll have a look at the reviews. I know next to nothing about Hong Kong, apart that is, from what you've taught me, but that wouldn't be a barrier I hope.

  23. This is an interesting post; it drew me to read it not because I have any books to recommend but rather because I am also looking for new books to read. It seems I may be able to get a few from this lists. I'm sure I don't read as much as you but I always welcome an inspirational read. The most recent one I read were Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl and When Character was King by Peggy Noonan. I like the one by Viktor especially as it reinforces some of my own thinkings and values.

    A. I have an award for you. You may pick it up at your convenience at my blog. Have a great week ahead and wish that you will find some good books soon.

  24. Hi A - Thanks for stopping by the woods. I just finished reading Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd. It was very interesting to me as I am fascinated by English history. I also recently read Anne Perry's latest Thomas Pitt book, Buckingham Palace Gardens - she's as good as ever.

  25. There are so many books to choose from, I cannot list them all here. But, if you really interested, check out my Good Books or Amazon widgets at my site--I have hundreds there that you can choose from. Good luck and good reading.


  26. Generated Madness15 October 2008 at 19:02

    The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara. Who doesn't like the Che? Actually, I knew very little about Che Guevara until a friend who is a bit of a history buff gave me this book while we were in Nicaragua surfing.

    Cool blog by the way.

  27. Hi again a. --

    D'oh, forgot about the/our African connection! So... with that connection in mind, here's recommending Elenore Smith Bowen (pseudonym for Laura Bohannan)'s "Return to Laughter" (out of print but if you can get it) and also J. Nozipo Maraire's "Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter". Both keepers, if you can find them.

  28. Yes, the African connection YTSL! I will definitely look out for both of those. Possibly AbeBooks would be a good bet.

    I'm going to need another token I can see. :)


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