Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Book recommendations, Part 3

Once again, continuing with book recommendations. If you missed out, feel free to head here and leave me a comment to get your very own personalized recommendations :)

Jungletwins has thrown me for a loop and reported she enjoyed 5 books I've never read: The Shell Collector, The Namesake, Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, The Poisonwood Bible, and A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Hmm, that's trouble! I figured I would have read at least one book that everyone said was a favorite!

Okay, I checked these out on Amazon to get a better idea. First, I'd recommend Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. It's a collection of short stories. They're all stories about grown children of immigrants to the US. I liked many of these stories, but honestly didn't love them.

Less well-known is China Dog and Other Tales from a Chinese Laundry by Judy Fong Bates. Similarly, it is a collection of short stories about the immigrant experience, in this book from China to Canada. There were some really great stories in this collection, and the only one I didn't like was the title story. My only complaint with this collection is that it becomes somewhat repetitive. I did enjoy it more than Unaccustomed Earth, though Jhumpa Lahiri certainly gets more positive reviews so this might just be my own personal preference.

Not to get stuck on China, but the third (and fourth) recommendations I'm going to give to you are Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, or Peony in Love also by Lisa See. I like Snow Flower better, but if you've already read it, check out the other.


In direct opposition to jungletwins, Caitlin has very similar tastes to me! Yay! Her favorites are:

The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede
Larklight by Phillip Reeve
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

She hates:

The Twilight series (with a fierce and bloody passion!!!)
Pirates! by Celia Rees
Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Caitlin, throw My Sister's Ridiculous Badly Written Keeper on that list, and we'll be book-hating best friends!

Hmm, I'm going the fable/fairy tale/stories retelling route for you! You might enjoy the Fables collection of graphic novels I recommended to Ronnica here. Or, maybe try the Sandman graphic novels by Neil Gaiman. I completely love these books, which pull from various mythologies and other sources for story ideas. LOVE these, though they are darker than the Fables books.

If you've missed it, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley is a classic for a reason. It's a retelling of the Arthur legend from the point of view of the women involved. Very well done!

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (and the rest of the Thursday Next series) is very good. In these novels, it's possible for people, under certain circumstances, to travel between the "real" world and "book" worlds. Thursday Next, the main character, is a literary detective, trying to prevent changes to important works of literature. Funny and wonderful!

Lastly, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling edited a series of short story collections based on fairy tales. I've read a number of them, and they've been pretty strong in general. Snow White, Blood Red is the title of one of the collections, though there are others. Looks like it's out of print, but readily available on amazon used.


So how'd I do? Having so much fun with these!


Luckygirl said...

What about "Wicked" for Caitlyn? I liked that book. It's really well written and fairytale-ish, but also dark and witty.

Anonymous said...

Cool! I will check them out. I actually own Secret Fan, but have never read it. My Mom stuffed it in my bag last time I visited New England, and I forgot all about it. Time to dig it out!

Now- in a groovy twist- I am recommending all 5 books to you! They are awesome. The Ukrainian Tractor book is a scream. A friend sent it to me while I was on bed rest with my twins. Nominated for the Booker Prize,super- hilarious. The Shell Collector changed my entire view on short stories- its one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. Poisonwood Bible blew my mind. Its was so fascinating and intense and entertaining. I definitely didn't know anything about the Congo or missionaries before I read it, and wasn't sure I'd relate, but the family dynamic is so enthralling I was completely sucked in. Recipes (by Kate Kerrigan) is so sweet, sassy, heartwarming and full of great recipes too. Its a quick read, and I still pull it out when I'm having a bad week. The Namesake is wonderful- full of heart. The characters really come alive and its amazing to watch them grow and make mistakes and come full circle. Also, if you're in Massachusetts, you'll recognize most of the locales in the book ;)

Debbie said...

The Poisonwood Bible is my favorite book! I so recommend it to you.

monica said...

Not sure exactly where you are in MA- I am in Arlington and the reason I stay is that my kids (who are now ages 6 and 9 - I KNOW that seems really far away, but it will come sooner than you think!) can go out and just PLAY with other kids in the neighborhood. Actually, I started to appreciate that when they were 3 or 4. We can tell if other kids are home cause we can see the cars in the dirveways from our windows. My brother and his kids live out in Wayland and they have acres of lovely land, but there is no one the girls can just go play with without prearrangement. I also love my town because of its proximity to Boston (where I work), its diversity,, and because it has many, many adoptive families (my younger son is adopted and was born in Guatemala). Finally, I love the school - and I love that there are no buses, which means that everyone WALKS to their neighborhood school - and because you walk, you see all the other parents every day! It is amazing how a simple thing like walking to school can make for a very close community. I am sure you will figure out where you and your family "belong"!

Anonymous said...

I third the rec for Poisonwood Bible. It is great. I love her other books too but they are completely different. Also The Blind Assasain by Margaret Atwood is wonderful if you haven't read it yet.

Ronnica said...

I had heard of the Eyre Affair but nothing more about it...sounds intriguing, I think.

BTW, the story is up. Thanks for your input - I love the word "verily" but it's hard to sneak into normal English!


Caitlin said...

This is MARVELOUS!! I'm so excited now. I love retellings of fairy tales (I gobbled up everything by Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine back in the day). I'm definitely going to check those out!

Luckygirl: I love Wicked! (the book and the show). I've also read Son of a Witch, but I haven't read the third one yet...it's about the Cowardly Lion, but that's all I know. :)