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Favorite Books to Recommend May 14, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Audiobooks, Books, Fiction, Literature, readers, Reading, Reading lists.
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Recommending books is my business, or at least part of my business, and it can be a wonderful thing.  The right book at the right time is a real gift.  My friend Tim told me that Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole changed his life.  That book, like Tim, is one of a kind, and on that occasion I got it exactly right. 

Sometimes it doesn’t go so well.  Another favorite book of mine is Raney by Clyde Edgerton, which I think is funny and charming and very well-written.  I was delighted to recommend it to my friend Peggie, but it left her cold.  Oh, well. 

Anyway, I was recently asked for book recommendations by two friends.  I’ve decided to give both of them, and you, pretty much the same list.  I happen to think these are wonderful choices that would appeal to most book lovers. 

So – here are my choices, starting with some fine American novels:

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (especially good in audio)

If you like humorous fiction (and I realize this can be very subjective, even more so than literary merit), these are some terrific titles: 

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon (audio version is excellent)

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

And, some excellent nonfiction: 

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls 

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi 

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson 

I would love to have your recommendations, too!

Happy Reading, 

The Book Goddess

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Empire Falls by Richard Russo (Great Reads) October 12, 2007

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, Fiction, Great Reads, Literature.
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Empire Falls is one of my favorite books to recommend to people, and I don’t think I’ve had a dissatisfied customer yet.

This book has a wonderful sense of place – Empire Falls is a mill town in decline, still ruled over by the elderly daughter of the mill owners. 

Of course, there is a diner.  It’s managed by Miles Roby, the central character.  Once, he was a college boy with a bright future.  But he left school to take care of his aging mother.  Twenty years later, he’s still in Empire Falls and his wife is leaving him for the owner of the local health club.  Oh, dear….

Alongside the narrative of Miles’s midlife slump and the town’s decline, we have vignettes of the history of the leading family.  These stories eventually converge in a startling climax.

By the way, this novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2002.  Besides literary excellence, one of the criteria for the Pulitzer is that the novel portrays an aspect of American life.  I think Empire Falls succeeds admirably on both counts.

What books do you like to recommend?  I would love to know!

Tina Maura Albee

The Book Goddess