Friday, April 23, 2010

Read any good books lately?

There are few things more satisfying than a good book, at least to me, which is why I am always on the hunt for interesting books to read, which isn't easy as I am extremely particular. (I know: huge surprise. Not.)

Since my last book post, I have read several good books, as well as several interesting and informative or thought-provoking (though not necessarily pleasurable) ones-- many of both were suggested by you guys. As there are not that many of either (as work has been keeping me busy), I've decided to list them all -- and have included links to reviews of them on Amazon. Also, because I am lazy, I am listing them in the order I read them, though I have placed an * next to my favorites. (While not a favorite, because of the often upsetting subject matter, I believe Gail Collins' book is a MUST read for all women, no matter how old you are.)

Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford (Fascinating re-examination of the life and impact of Ghengis Khan. Not what I expected, in a good way.)

The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick (If you like Philippa Gregory's books, e.g., The Other Boleyn Girl, you'll like this tale about a gallant young knight in the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II.)

House of Daughters* by Sarah-Kate Lynch (Great chick lit about a family of sisters set in Champagne, France. What's not to like?)

The Wordy Shipmates
by Sarah Vowell (An interesting, often amusing look back at the Puritans, especially if you grew up watching re-runs of The Brady Bunch.)

The Lexicographer’s Dilemma by Jack Lynch (The history of dictionaries, sort of, with lots of interesting facts and anecdotes, though a bit too wordy.)

The Creation of Eve
* by Lynn Cullen (Beautifully written historical fiction about a largely unknown, until recently, female Renaissance painter who studied with Michelangelo.)

When Everything Changed
by Gail Collins ("The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present," like the subtitle says.)

Remarkable Creatures* by Tracy Chevalier (By the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, which I also greatly enjoyed. I was and am fascinated by fossils, so this book, Remarkable Creatures, really appealed to me, though it is more about women in 1820s England than about fossils.)

So, read any good (or interesting or thought-provoking) books lately? If so, please let me know what it was in the Comments.


Tabitha said...

I hadn't heard of "the Greatest Knight", thanks for that one. Eleanor is my favourite woman from history, and I love William Marshall, too. I have "Captive Queen" by Alison Weir next to my bed for the next read, also about Eleanor.
My 2 biggest MUST READS for you are:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Man Booker winner last year, about Thomas Cromwell).
and Lords of Finance by my old boss, Liaquat Ahamed, which just won the Pulitzer for history. (About the central bankers who made the big calls leading up to & during the depression. Very timely.)

Anonymous said...

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Slow start and then it just races-part of a trilogy. LOVED LOVED

Water for Elephants-not much for America in the Depression (just so depressing) or circus/carnies but this was FABU...

J. said...

@Tabitha, I have picked up Wolf Hall at the bookstore and then put it down too many times to keep count, fearing it was yet another me-too book about Henry VIII's court, even though it has gotten good reviews. But if YOU recommend it I will pick it up. Not sure I'm up for reading more about the financial debacle, though I am sure Lords of Finance is excellent. Thanks for the recommendations.

@Anonymous, We have had a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on the nightstand for MONTHS, but I'm worried it's too scary/depressing for me. (I'm a wimp!) Interesting that you liked Water for Elephants, which I have also heard is a good read but have not wanted to read for the same reasons you cited. Maybe I will reconsider.

Anonymous said...

I recently read Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin. It was such a moving book that I had to read it twice. It ended up being a gift to my sister in law who also fell in love it. The author has several other fantastic books.

Lizzy said...

"Open" by Andre Agassi. He "opens" his soul and tells it ALL...he hated tennis from time he was 5, but his father made him practice hours a day. He is self-conscious about many things (hair, opposite sex, anger issues, his erratic tennis skills). He tells it all about Brooke and Steffi and his ultimate acceptance of himself.

Margaret said...

@Tabitha (and J) - if you haven't done so, check out "A Proud Taste for Scarlet & Miniver" by E.L. Konigsburg. It's a kids' book, but wonderful for anyone who loves E of A. I read it the year it came out ('73 when I was 9) and continue to reread it all these years later.

I've never read any of Weir's fiction, but I like her non-fiction books on Eleanor, the Six Wives, and the War of the Roses. Guess I'll go get "The Captive Queen" now!

Thanks for all the suggestions. Summer reading!

J. said...

@Margaret, thank you so much for the recommendation -- and like you and Tabitha will be getting The Captive Queen. (Will also probably get A Taste for Scarlet & Miniver and The Scarlet Lion, Chadwick's followup, again featuring William Marshall. Maybe we should create an Eleanor of Aquitaine/William Marshall fan club.)

@Anonymous #2: You read it twice, eh? That sounds like a glowing recommendation to me. Thank you.

@Lizzy: I'm not big on celebrity memoirs but will give this a look-see at the library. Thanks for the recommendation!

Little Miss Cupcake said...

I loved the Millenium series (starting with the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). They were all the rage here in France 2 years ago and I finally gotten around to reading them last summer. Dark, dangerous and sexually explicit though.

I have been a reading rampage as of late and since I am not home don't recall all. Am currently reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy about life on the plains in the late 1800's - I loved The Road. I also finished recently and loved The Reader, Down & Out in London & Paris (George Orwell's 1st published work), Where You Are Calling From by Raymond Carver, and not forgetting the Twilight series (excellent beach reading!). Am waiting for the last book to come out in paperback so I can finally find out what happens to Bella and Edward! ;)

Cornelia said...

"Let the Great World Spin" by Colum McCann is a wonderful book NYC focused story and won the National Book Award in 2009. "Olive Kittredge" by Elizabetgh Strout is another good recent read.

Anonymous said...

I recommend Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins. A strange love story and some WWII history.