Reading list

One of my favorite questions to ask others is “what are you reading?”  I recently noted that one mark of a truly good friend, for me, is someone with whom I can exchange single-sentence emails that ask that one question.  Over the summer I asked for, and received, many wonderful suggestions.  I’ve written before about the stack beside my bedside table, about the actual, real anxiety I feel about the fact that there won’t be time to read everything I want to read in my life.  But I try.  Oh, I try.

I’ve read some beautiful things lately.  I adored Priscilla Warner’s Learning to Breathe.  I devoured the Hunger Games trilogy, fascinated and compelled by the story and the characters.  I can’t wait for the movie.  I read Meghan O’Rourke’s The Long Goodbye in tears, loving every page, and cemented my belief that some of my very favorite prose is written by poets (see also: Just Kids).

Right now I’m trying (trying!  unsuccessfully!) to write fiction, so I find myself turning in that direction.  Dani suggested I read Michael Cunningham’s A Home At the End of the World, so I plan to read that as soon as it arrives.  Also in my current stack:

Blue Nights, Joan Didion
The Underside of Joy (ARC), Sere Prince Halverson
The Bread of Angels, Stephanie Daldana
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Sue Monk Kidd
Admission, Jean Hanff Korelitz

Please, tell, me: what are you reading?  What’s on your list?  What’s your favorite fiction book, and why?

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  1. Posted November 8, 2011 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Favorite fiction. That’s a tough one. I’d say that Pat Conroy’s Beach Music is probably my favorite fiction. Deep, historic links to WW2, digs into complex familial relationships, and gorgeous writing.


  2. Amy
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    I’m reading Poser by Clare Dederer. Loved Lesrning to breathe!
    Also have Stev3 Jobs biography on my nightstand. Could not get through goon squad by jennifer egan

    Totally enraptured in wedding planning so not reading as much as I would like!

  3. Posted November 8, 2011 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    love this question always. and thank you for sharing your reads, lindsey.

    recently read…the way by krisen wolf, i am an emotional creature by eve ensler, and the long goodbye also.

    currently reading…slow sex by nicole daedone, 10 mindful minutes by goldie hawn and unbowed by wangari maathai.

    favorite fiction authors…paulo coelho, julia alvarez, isabel allende, marisa de los santos (all poets!).

  4. Posted November 8, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver. For the sheer fact that it’s the reason I live in New Mexico. Seriously! Her early fiction is set almost exclusively in the Southwest, and the way she evokes place is so stunning that when I read Animal Dreams as a teenager I vowed to one day live here. And so here I am.

  5. Trish
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Right now I’m reading Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier by Lisa Dale. I also have’Stories I Tell My Friends’ by Rob Lowe which is autobiographical. What a great, descriptive writer he is…

  6. Alix
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Right now I’m reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – heartbreaking and beautifully written. Almost every page has a phrase I want to commit to memory. And I also LOVED the Hunger Games – riduculously excited for the movie! But I’m a Brit Lit girl at heart, and my favorite fiction of all time is anything by Austen, E.M. Forster or the Brontes. The classics never get old for me.

  7. Posted November 8, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I recently finished a re-read of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, one of my favorite autumn reads. I’m in the middle of The Serial Garden, by Joan Aiken, and Mara, Daughter of the Nile, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. On y to-read list? Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and a re-read of Wives & Daughter, by Elizabeth Gaskell!

  8. Posted November 8, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Oh, how I love posts like these – and especially yours, responsible, as you are, for so many excellent book recommendations.

    I recently read and really liked Poser and A Visit from the Goon Squad. I will finish The Gift of an Ordinary Day later today and love it as much as you predicted.

    I too have a teetering stack next to my bed and am not sure which I’ll read next. Contenders include Julia Glass’s latest novel and a reread of Crossing to Safety (among my all-time favorite books).

  9. Posted November 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I just finished Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks – I love her work. So richly imagined and full of historical details.

    I loved The Hunger Games trilogy, too. SO compelling. Next on my list is the new Rick Riordan book – I enjoyed the Percy Jackson series and this new series is fun too.

    Can’t wait to hear what you think of The Bread of Angels – I loved it.

  10. Anne
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I have gotten so many wonderful book recommendations from you. Thank you!

    Some fiction I have read and enjoyed recently: Maine, J. Courtney Sullivan; Faith, Jennifer Haigh; The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh; Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese.

    Favorite books ever are so much harder. Animal Dreams definitely ranks up there; and anything by Pam Houston. I also really admire the novels of Curtis Sittenfeld (e.g., Prep).

  11. Posted November 8, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I love talking books, as you well know. And you also often contribute in a significant way to my own reading list, so many of the books you suggest are not well-profiled in Canada, and so I’m grateful for the suggestions. I JUST picked up Christopher Paolini’s final book in the Eragon series – Inheritance. I expect I’ll consume it!!! Have you read them?

    I also hope to start The Marriage Plot soon, and State of Wonder.

  12. Posted November 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    The most recent work of fiction I read was “Loving Frank,” a fictionalized take on the little documented relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and one of his clients for whom he left his wife and she her husband. A great read!

    Among my all-time favorite works of fiction:
    The Poisonwood Bible, The Shadow of the Wind, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (for which the movie version will also be out shortly) and Pyewacket (a children’s book that I adore to this day – Grace and Whit might really dig it)…

    Truly, I just love books. 🙂

  13. Posted November 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Currently reading The Marriage Plot for Jana’s Maladjusted Book Club.

    I absolutely loved her last choice which was “If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This”. Great set of short stories all about love and loss. Really wonderful.

  14. Posted November 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Oh I have been reading nothing lately. It’s awful! Except the Yoga Sutras which is actually incredible. But it takes me an hour to read a page.

    A Home at the End of the World may be one of my FAVORITE books. I am so jealous you get to read it. I also loved Cunningham’s Flesh and Bone. Other faves include Long for This World by Michael Byers. Happy reading!!!!!!!

  15. Posted November 8, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Can I confess my totally weird response to this question? Despite the fact that I loved Poser, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Persuasion, and a bunch more of the novels cited here or on my shelf, I completely FREAK OUT with mental blankness whenever somebody asks me this question. I mean, I read plenty; I just can’t ever bring a decent title to mind when this question comes up. So, totally weirdly, I end up hating the asking of the question.

    This is going to totally disqualify me from ever becoming a “real” author, isn’t it? Or maybe I should just say, always, “War and Peace,” and then have two great quotations to sprinkle into conversation.

    Anybody else out there as lame and weird as this?

  16. Posted November 8, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lindsey –

    I owe you chocolate for a lifetime for your extremely kind words and support for Learning to Breathe. I have often felt so exposed and vulnerable as this book makes its way out into the world, and it helps me so much to remember the connection I was able to forge with you, through our shared emotions and experiences. I am truly grateful.

    I just finished and really loved Priscilla Gilman’s memoir, the Anti-Romantic Child – A Story of Unexpected Joy…


  17. Haile
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    I have to say this question totally freaks me out too, I’ve pretty much never met a book I didn’t devour. I feel compelled to add in some good old fashioned southern lit. Confederacy of Dunces for laugh out loud fun. While I’m on New Orleans, I’ll also add The Moviegoer and The Optimist’s Daughter. And anything by Lee Smith or Clyde Edgerton. I feel like all I’ve been reading lately is the back of a box of Cheerios. Thanks for the good ideas above…

  18. Posted November 9, 2011 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Gosh I so want to be a helpful contributor here but I just have not been in a fiction phase for ages now. I even got up to scan the bookshelves, but since I stopped buying books too in favor of the library, I’m really useless. So alas I can only thank you and some of the commenters for the great suggestions which I will now be adding to my reading list. xox

  19. Jennifer
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read a couple of page-turners lately: one non-fiction, one fiction.

    Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand: Inspiring and true WWII story of a remarkable soldier in the Pacific theater. I skimmed through some of the battle parts – too much detail for my taste – but I really liked the rest. It was an excellent reminder for me that any of my suffering pales in comparison to what some people have endured.

    The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach: I read a Vanity Fair article about the process of the book being published and decided to give it a shot. I devoured it. Vivid characters, compelling story. I’m sad that the book is not part of my life anymore!

  20. Posted November 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Not a current book, but a classic fiction read that I think you may appreciate – Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge. His words are filled with lyrical language and characters that linger in your mind.

  21. Posted November 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    I feel the same way about my TBR (to be read) list. There are so many books on it, I know there is just not enough time to get to them all. And I tend to be a slow reader because I really want to read with intention. I figure that the author has put a lot of effort into writing these words and the least I can do is to give them my undivided attention.
    That said, right now I’m reading a book written by a lovely friend of mine: Little Gale Gumbo by Erika Marks.
    Then I’m *planning* to read The Magicians by Lev Grossman

  22. Jill Resnick
    Posted November 16, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Love this question and all these new recommendations that I can now put on my list! Thank you.
    Some of my new and old favorites:
    Evensong by Gail Godwin. I’m not often a re-reader, but this one I go back to. Helps me think about spirituality
    Belong To Me Maria de los Santos: beautiful examples of strong, complicated, realistic female friendships
    anything Julia Glass
    The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
    State of Wonder by Ann Patchett