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OT: looking for book recommendations

by LT, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 08:56

General book recommendations always welcome since I have a fascination with what people are reading, if they're reading at all, and the book discussion on this board is always good. If we're getting specific, I'm looking for something that's basically exactly the same as "I Am Pilgrim" (Terry Hayes) or "The Tourist" trilogy (Olen Steinhauer--I've read his backlist, too, but the Milo books are my favorites). This crowd seemed like a good place to start, as these are not really the typical fare for my book club and publishing friends and it's hard to re-read a good thriller more than once or twice.

As a token of my thanks, I remind you of this.

"When I wake up in the morning and I turn that film on, it's like reading a book and it's exciting. I don't read books, but if I read books it would be like reading a book." -- Les Miles



added this thread to the books tag

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Wednesday, March 09, 2016, 08:39 @ LT

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Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the

by Jack @, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 15:21 @ LT

French Resistance, by Robert Gildea, just published last September.

My dad just read it and says it was so good he couldn't put it down, and just gave it to me to read. I'm a WWII history buff, so this is red meat to me. The dust jacket has a glowing review from Anthony Beevor, one of the best writers today on WWII, so that's good enough for me.


If you have any affinity for detective fiction...

by Albie, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 17:04 @ Jack

you have to read the Bernie Gunther novels I mentioned below. Kerr weaves a lot of historical characters throughout the novels. Alan Furst is a fan too so you know they are good.


Jay Williams' memoir "Life is not an Accident"

by Aaron (Shakespeare), Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 13:48 @ LT

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Have you read Jane Smiley's Langdon family trilogy?

by Kevin @, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 13:10 @ LT

Those are good, though the list of names becomes a bit burdensome.

I read everything written by Elizabeth Strout. My Name Is Lucy Barton is a soft, understated one, more like something Kent Haruf would write. That is a compliment, though it's a bit of a departure from stuff like the Burgess Boys.

The newest Franzen book was horrible, in my opinion.

Just about finished with Alice Munro's Runaway and plan to move on to more by her.

I didn't realize until now that I've been reading a lot of stuff by hos.


I absolutely cannot get into Purity.

by LT, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 13:38 @ Kevin

And I mostly liked Freedom and The Corrections. I mean, not my fav's but they were fairly readable. It's like a parody of all the things Franzen gets criticized for, but even more extreme, and also not a joke. I feel ok not finishing that, I think.,

The only Jane Smiley I've read is "A Thousand Acres"--thanks for the rec on the trilogy. "My Name is Lucy Barton" is on my list too.

Thank you!


Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr

by Albie, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 12:21 @ LT

I am a big Milo Weaver fan and I think his detective, Bernie Gunther, is one of the greatest recurring characters in modern crime fiction. I have read every one and thankfully another is coming out next month. Supposedly Tom Hanks has optioned the books to make a series on HBO. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I also like the Harry Hole novels by Jo Nesbo. Also check out Adrian McKinty's books, both the Detective Sean Duffy series and the Bloomsbury series. Brilliant writer. I also like the Jack Taylor series by Ken Bruen.

Station Eleven is a great post-apocalytpic book. Ready Player One is a little cheesy but for an 80's kid like me it was pretty cool.

The Dinner by Herman Koch was pretty chilling.

On the non-fiction front, Tokyo Vice by Jake Edelstein is a great book about the Yokuza.

I also enjoyed Sex at Dawn about the myth of biologic monogamy. Not necessarily a great book to read with your spouse/partner, but fascinating nevertheless.

I also loved Last Call by Daniel Okrent about prohibition.

Engines of Change is a great book about the history of the automobile.

Double Cross by Ben McIntyre is a great story about one of the sketchiest heroes of WW II.

Hunting Eichmann by Neal Bascomb is a great story of that chase.

Priceless by Robert Wittman is cool book about the FBI's Arts Crimes Unit.

Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard fascinating book about the assassination of President Garfield and medical history.

Between the World and Me, by TNC - required reading in my opinion.


You've hit a lot of my favorites on there.

by LT, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 13:40 @ Albie

TNC, Priceless, The Dinner, Station Eleven--all really great.

Berlin Noir sounds like exactly what I was describing in my original post. And more love for Jo Nesbo. Thank you! (This is a delightfully eclectic list, by the way.)


Just wrapping up the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy...

by Jim (OFD) @, Naptown, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:55 @ LT

but I can't say that I would recommend it. I find it a bit of a mess with long stretches of inactivity. There are far better fantasy books/series out there.

Next up is American Gods, based on a recommendation from a friend. I have heard things both ways (love/hate) on it, so I am interested to see how it unfolds.


To Green Angel Tower does drag on a bit.

by PAK, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 14:21 @ Jim (OFD)

Williams was going through a divorce when writing it, and has acknowledged that his rather grim personal life at the time leaked into the finished book. He's a frustrating author - he has tremendous ideas that never seem to quite come together as well as they should.

All that being said, I loved the series, despite the flaws. It melded so many different mythologies so well.


The Magic Treehouse Series

by Pat, Right behind you, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:42 @ LT

I'm 12 books in with the kids and still don't quite get it. The treehouse is magic and can take the two little kids to any time/space period mentioned in a book. Because they have yet to die while going to the Arctic or Amazon or the moon, they become master librarians and get to keep risking their lives for some reason or another. Also, Anne the 8 year old is really reckless. "Let's go hug this lion!"

I hope the upcoming movie clears things up.


A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

by HCE, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:02 @ LT

It's like Midnight's Children meets Game of Thrones meets Catch a Fire, a bloody, sprawling mess of a near masterpiece. I loved it.

I also loved Aristotle Detective by ND's own Margaret Doody: a murder mystery set in Ancient Greece with Aristotle in the Sherlock role. One of the more enjoyable books I've read in years.


Please review more books.

by LT, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:04 @ HCE

"Midnight's Children meets Game of Thrones meets Catch a Fire, a bloody, sprawling mess of a near masterpiece" is an amazing description. (Also sounds like just what I'm looking for, thanks!)


anyone here ever read' My Wicked, Wicked Ways' by

by Mike (bart), Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:00 @ LT

Errol Flynn? It's the craziest fucking book, especially the parts from before he gets famous


Jo Nesbo's The Snowman

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 09:59 @ LT

if you are looking for a pretty gritty crime book that is being turned into a Michael Fassbender movie.

If you want something more spy oriented, John le Carre's Karla Trilogy--Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People--is the pinnacle of the form.


I have not started Jo Nesbo yet.

by LT, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:15 @ HullieAndMikes

This was a good endorsement. Thanks!


Donald Westlake comma anything by. Hilarious crime reads.

by Buck Mulligan, Martello Tower, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 09:51 @ LT

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Some stuff that could be good for you at the moment

by Mike (bart), Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 09:32 @ LT

meaning breezier reads that probably don't require tons of time for silent contemplation

- The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene is something you'd really enjoy if you haven't already read it. Great writing, enjoyable set pieces, message, etc.

- The Reveneant was good. Very strong writing/sense of place, but not a life changing book or anything

- Flash Boys (Michael Lewis) is an interesting page turner; like a really long magazine article. I'd include Kevin Roose's "Young Money" in the same bucket

- Harry Turtledove is a guy who churns out an insanely high volume of alternate history books. He has one series (Worldwar? or something like that) set in a universe in which Aliens invade earth in 1942, and another (Southern Victory?) which traces the history from 1864-1945 of a world in which the South defeated the North in the Civil War. Again, the writing gets very repetitive and tendentious over the courses of multipe books, but the premises are super fun for a few weeks.

- I've plugged this book here a million times, but if you want a super-engaging history of 20th century America and a great explainer of the rise and fall of neighborhoods, regions, etc. I would strongly, strongly recommend American Odyssey by Robert Conot


I actually had no idea The Revenant was based on a book.

by LT, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 13:44 @ Mike (bart)

That is embarrassing.

Alternate history is actually quite appealing to me right now. The current political scene had me thinking of "The Plot Against America" recently and while I didn't really like the book enough to revisit it, Harry Turtledove sounds great. (A coworker recently recommended "The Man in the High Castle" on Netflix but I haven't gotten around to starting it.)


Since I can only listen to SportsTalk radio for 23hrs a day

by hobbs, San Diego, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 09:29 @ LT
edited by hobbs, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:08

I like to squeeze in audiobooks during my daily free listening hour. A couple of interesting Tech books I finished recently might be of some interest to somefolks here.

The first was 'How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy'. Its basically about how the digitization of music destroyed the music industry model. What was fascinating about it was that I/We were right there at the birth of the MP2/MP3/Napster/Oink/WinAmp/Shaun Fanning digital era and little did I know of the real backstory that was playing out and how those changes would destroy the existing music model replace it with something else entirely.

Semi-related. Can anyone in a paragraph or less explain AOL's internet business model? Their merger with Time-Warner was mentioned in the book. I remembered the deal and at the time I thought their mission was to bombard the world with junk mail. Even in the dotcom bubble their value was hyper inflated beyond belief.

The Second book was 'Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry'. Again, another tech book about recent events. Blackberry was an interesting story. A small Waterloo, Ontario Canada based company rose to the top of the telecom heap and dominated smartphone usage and sales. Seven years ago Blackberry held a 45% global market share. Apple and Samsung were barely in the game. Today Blackberry has a a 0.2% market share in an industry that's dominated by Apple and Samsung. This book tells the story of the steps and shrewd thinking that led to Blackberry's global dominated. Followed by the colossal errors in judgment by those same people that led to the companies implosion.

The books might not be everyone's cup of tea but they are both interesting reads about recent/current events.


I have actually been adding in more audio lately.

by LT, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:16 @ hobbs

Is there a "type" of book you like best in audio? So far I like nonfiction since it feels like there are more natural stopping points.

(And thanks for the specific recs!)


No. I'll listen to anything in audiobook format

by hobbs, San Diego, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:35 @ LT
edited by hobbs, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:43

For me its just more practical. Almost everything I read is historical non-fiction and those tend to be sizable reads. Given time constraints it's hard to put aside the time to tackle an 800 page work on FDR or Reagan. With audio books I can listen to them anywhere, at any time, and bookmark where I pause so that I can pick up right where I left off. I also don't have to tote around a 800 page hardcover book (I hate paperbacks).

I was a history major and fiction has just never held any interest for me. Now and again I'll stumble upon something fictional like 'One Second After' by William R. Forstchen', but even that book is based on realistic EMP attack on the United States and its aftereffects (we'd be so fooked).

BTW, One Second After is a hell of a book. I've mentioned it here before. You really don't realize how reliant we've become on computers and electronics until you think about it. Everything in our daily lives requires one or the other. If some rouge were to explode an EMP above the US we'd literally be back to life in the year 1853. That is one scary ass book.


Im reading Chernow's book on Hamilton right now

by DEM, Chicago, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 09:28 @ LT

mainly because I'm going to see the play and want to know the history pretty well. It's really good.

Waiting patiently to receive Dreamland by Sam Quinones. Early reviews are very good its about the heroin epidemic.


Just finished Dreamland

by CW (Rakes) @, Harlan County, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:50 @ DEM

Really good, really sad. The parallels between the evolution of the pharmaceutical industry and Mexican heroin cells (and how the former greatly profited the latter) is something.

If you want some "Hamilton"-adjace reading, I enjoyed Sarah Vowell's "Lafayette in the Somewhat United States." There aren't many crossovers with Hamilton save for the battles of Monmouth and Yorktown, but Lafayette was an interesting guy who was incredibly revered here for a lot of the 19th century, which is something I did not realize.

Also I know some people on here enjoy comic book movies, so I will recommend Glen Weldon's "Caped Crusade," about the history of Batman and evolution of nerd culture. It comes out in a couple weeks and was really heartening in explaining that for as long as there have been comic books and comic book interpretations on the screen there have been people complaining about them.


Have you read any of his others?

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 09:48 @ DEM

I just finished the Hamilton book, which I found pretty solid. I'm intrigued by the subject matter of his earlier works (Morgan and Rockefeller), but I'm wondering if they are worth the effort.



by DEM, Chicago, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 13:00 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

His Rockefeller book is among the best I've ever read


Chernow's Washington bio is excellent

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 09:55 @ Jeremy (WeIsND)

I really enjoyed learning Washington spent a decent part of his post-presidency as an embittered landlord traveling around trying to get his tenants to pay back rents.

Oh, and the whole being in love with his friend's wife thing.


Oh, hey, I just realized who you are.

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 09:23 @ LT

Hope all is well!


I have a few books going right now.

by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 09:09 @ LT
edited by Slainte Joe, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 09:21

I'm reading Hilary Mantel's novel A Change of Climate, which is pretty harrowing but excellent.

I'm also in the middle of...

Words in Air, the correspondence of the poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Actually, I'm only about 100 pages into this, and their friendship is just developing, so not really to the good stuff yet.

Poems by Elizabeth Bishop. This is her collected work. She is magnificent.

The Irresponsible Self: Laughter and the Novel by James Wood. A book of essays. I just read the one on Dostoevsky, and it was really beautiful. It's interesting to see a nonbeliever wrestle with Dostoevsky's concept of God and not be all that convincing in his disbelief.

I recently finished Skippy Dies by Paul Murray, and it's one of the funniest novels I've read in years. Like, A Confederacy of Dunces funny. Takes place at an Irish boarding school. Couldn't recommend it more highly, especially for the...uh...creative interpretation of "The Road Not Taken." (Uh...I should note that this is also a heartbreaking book whose main character dies six pages in. So it's funny as hell and heartbreaking. You know, Irish.)



by LT, Tuesday, March 08, 2016, 10:06 @ Slainte Joe

Those all sound amazing but "Skippy Dies" sounds like just what I'm looking for right now. Thank you!

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