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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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Listening to A Spot of Bother June 18, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Audiobooks, Authors, Books, Fiction, Reading.
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Are books better when read aloud by a gifted narrator?  I recently listened to A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon, most acclaimed for his wonderful Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.  Spot was published to slightly mixed reviews, but the audiobook, read by Simon Vance, won an award, and I myself thought it was fabulous. 

The book is told from the viewpoint of four members of a deeply dysfunctional British family.  Retiree George Hall is depressed and convinced that the spot on his hip is some kind of terminal cancer.  His wife Jean is having an affair with one of George’s former colleagues.  Their daughter Katie is having doubts about her upcoming marriage to Ray; and their son Jamie is commitment phobic and has consequently been left by the man he really loves. 

Haddon’s portrayal of the interior life of these characters is brilliant.  We see their changing emotions, their reactions to events, their failings and virtues.  We empathize, sometimes we are amused, and occasionally we laugh out loud.  

But let’s go back to the audiobook question.  It seems to me that we spent many more generations around the campfire listening to the storyteller than we have curled up with books.  And though I think print is the still the most convenient reading medium, I love being told a good story.  This is one.  Don’t miss it. 

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess