Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book recommendations for fall

Leafed through a lot of books over the summer, and have included the best of the lot below as my fall reading suggestions. As per usual, I have listed books in the order I read them and linked the titles to the listing on Amazon, where you can find a longer summary, customer reviews, and purchase the book. Starred (*) books are favorites.

Btw, I am still looking for a book that will make me laugh (that is not written by Chelsea Handler, of whom I am not a fan) -- that is also well written with well formed characters. Bonus points if it also contains a little (or a lot) of romance.

Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren. Nineteen-year-old aspiring actress (and call girl) from New Jersey takes a gig in Brunei -- and discovers she's part of a modern-day harem. Not your grandmother or mother's harem story. Or maybe it is. (Never been in a harem. Not sure about my mom, though, who was a model back in the day. Hi mom!) Considering the crummy jobs and pay I've had, harem girl didn't seem like a bad way to go. Amusing.

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell. A collection of Gladwell's New Yorker pieces. All thought provoking. Learned a lot from reading this (about dogs and their owners, hair color, ketchup, investing, Ron Popeil, the pill, and more).

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee. A beautifully written novel about two British ex-pats in Hong Kong who wind up having an affair, a wealthy Chinese couple, and life in pre- and post-World War II Hong Kong.

The Reef by Edith Wharton. A book about morality and class and duty, set in England and France -- i.e., pretty typical Edith Wharton.

Still Life by Louise Penny. A well-written mystery that takes place in the fictional village of Three Pines in Quebec. The writing and the detective, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Montreal Surete, reminded me of Agatha Christie (whom I adored). If you enjoy mysteries, check out Still Life -- and its many sequels.

How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life by Mameve Medwed. For Antiques Roadshow fans, flea market goers, and anyone who has ever felt lost and horribly wronged and finally got it right.

*Sisters of Fortune: America’s Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad by Jehanne Wake. A fascinating, eloquently-written biography about four extraordinary American sisters -- 19th-century landed heiresses and the granddaughters of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (Maryland), one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence -- who take London (and Paris) by storm in the early to mid 1800s. Highly recommend (as did the New York Times Book Review).

*The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin. If you enjoy Edith Wharton (and/or Henry James), you will enjoy reading The American Heiress, the fictional story of one Cora Cash, American heiress to a flour fortune, who marries an English duke. The story takes place in Newport, New York, and England in the 1890s, and despite the book's length (around 440 pages), I found it to be a quick and enjoyable read.

I also read several "historical romance" novels -- by candlelight -- during the six days we were without electricity (thanks to Hurricane Irene), none of which I'd recommend, though they helped me pass the time. Just curious: Is there such a thing as a non-formulaic, well-written romance novel or romantic work of historical fiction? 'Cause I have yet to come across one.

In addition, I read the much ballyhooed memoir by chef Gabrielle Hamilton, Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, which I LOATHED. But if you are a fan of Anthony Bourdain and/or grew up in Manhattan during the 1980s and 1990s and did your share of rebelling and drugs you may like it (as the spouse did).

For more book recommendations, click here (which will take you to a list of all my "Book Nook" posts -- just scroll down).

To let me -- and my readers -- know about a book you enjoyed reading, please leave a comment, by clicking on "Post a Comment" at the bottom of this post. If you don't have a Blogger/Blogspot blog, just leave your Name (no URL necessary) or a nickname. You can also click on Anonymous.


MaryRC said...

Georgette Heyer wrote a couple of historical romances that I enjoyed: "The Spanish Bride" (based on a real story of a major in Wellington's army and his wife) and "An Infamous Army" with the battle of Waterloo as the background to a love story. She wrote other historical romances but these are the only ones I've read.

I tend to go back and forth on Heyer. I love some of her more comic works like "The Grand Sophy" and "Friday's Child" but most of the time I find her affectations annoying. She liked to show off her knowledge of Regency slang but a page of someone saying the same thing in 20 different slang terms gets a bit much.

If you've never read her, I recommend "April Lady" and "Cotillion" as well as the titles above.

If she seems formulaic, it's because she invented the modern version of the Regency romance (Jane Austen being the original of course) and people have been ripping her off ever since.

J. said...

@MaryRC, Thank you! I am not familiar with Georgette Heyer, and her books sound like just what I was looking for. I will definitely (literally) check them out at my local library.

MaryRC said...

You're welcome. I do think you'll enjoy them (like I said, I go back and forth!).

Anonymous said...

What do the two asterisks mean for Sisters of Fortune and The American Heiress in your blog "Book recommendations for fall"
Sept 24,2011? I will probably read both books so am curious about them.

J. said...

@CAW: "Starred (*) books are favorites."