Calling All Book Nerds!

Friday, January 11, 2013



For the past few years, I've been reading ebooks or borrowing library books. Most of my books are in storage, in my sister's garage (Thanks, Kate and Ralph!) and my shelf space is at a premium. Someday, I dream of having built-in bookcases in our future home. In the meantime, I very rarely buy books for myself.
But for Christmas, my awesome husband gave me a gift certificate to an actual bookstore, so I've got money to burn. So, help me out friends!
What books have you read lately that are worth the money and the shelf space? 
I have some books on my wishlist, like The Tenth of December by George Saunders and Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. What else should I put on my list? I'm open to anything really but my favorite genres are historical fiction and contemporary literature.

Leave a suggestion in the comments. To thank you for your help, I'll pick one lucky commenter to receive a $25 gift certificate to your local independent bookseller! I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner next Friday, January 18th. 
The giveaway is closed! Thanks to everyone who participated. I can't wait to take my list to the bookstore and browse my heart out.
The winner is... Michelle!



42 comments:

  1. "Tell the Wolves I'm Home" by Carol Rifka Braun A beautiful, heartbreaking book about love, family, art, and growing up. This book gutted me, in a good way.

    "Beauty Queens" by Libba Bray. It is my life mission to get everyone I know to read this book! It is hilarious, insane, and true all at once. I don't think I have ever read a novel that captures more accurately what it means to be a teenage girl, or a woman, in today's culture. This book brought tears to my eyes from laughing and from crying. I mean there's a Sarah Palin parody, and a stuffed koala named General Goodtimes...I've said too much. Just read this! Then save it and have your daughters read it when they are old enough. It's that good.

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    1. Thanks, Krista! If there's anyone whose judgement I trust, it's a librarian's... :)

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  2. I really think that The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht is a phenomenal book and so worth the shelf space. It's one I think I will come back to regularly, the way I used to re-read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon on a annual basis. Also was really super impressed by Anna Karenina, the Penguin Classic edition, translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky -- what a fine novel that holds up to the passage of time! Good luck!! :) Ariane

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    1. If you loved The Amazing Adventures of K & C, then I definitely will take your word for the other books! I've heard of The Tiger's Wife but never picked it up. Thanks!

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  3. I recently read The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lords and absolutely loved it! It's billed as a science fiction but I think it will appeal to a wide audience. The writing is great. The characters were my favorite part. She definitely created a very realistic and rich world in her book.

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    1. Thanks, Kim! I've wanted to add more sci-fi to my list since reading Ready Player One.

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  4. I totally agree with the Tiger's Wife recommendation! Beautifully written. I also really enjoyed Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann

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    1. Thanks, Emily, for seconding the recommendation! I can't believe that I still haven't read Let the Great World Spin. Thanks for the reminder.

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    2. Oh yes, I can't believe I forgot to mention Let the Great World Spin - such an excellent book!!

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  5. I am reading Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken, which is unputdownable. I just finished Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, about a tribe of ultra runners in Mexico, which was amazing, though I have no interest in running. Philip Roth's Plot Against America was amazing too.

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    1. Jon, I've been meaning to read Born to Run since both my brother and Heather have recommended it to me. I will definitely put it on my list. Thank you!

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  6. I really loved The Edge Of Never by J.A. Redmerski which is about about a 20 something woman who is tired of her status quo life. She leaves her world behind and gets on a bus with just a few necessities. It is a really sweet "road trip" story. Get it via epub or from the library. While I loved it, it's not a shelf clogger.

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  7. Have you read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"? So compelling...amazing story about race, medicine, access, and equity from the 1950s to now.

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    1. Yes! I love that book. It's on my list of 2012 books, which I posted a couple of weeks ago. Welcome to From Left To Write, by the way!

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  8. Have you read "We Need To Talk About Kevin"? It's one of the best books that I've ever read. The first 160 pages were a lot of work, for me, as it was a bit slow and verbose (I actually quit the first time I attempted to read this, then tried again a few years later). Starting around page 180, though, it was amazing. I actually gasped aloud at a few points (although some of the surprises would be ruined if you've seen the movie first).

    Right now I'm reading "Far from the tree" which is good, but huge and not in one of your preferred genres.

    Next on my list is "Defending Jacob."

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    1. Dana, you are the second person to recommend We Need To Talk About Kevin, so I better add it to my list! Thanks for the heads-up about the slow start to the book.

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  9. Ooh, I have a shelf on goodreads for just this kind of occasion!

    I do second the suggestion of Beauty Queens--that was a really fun book.

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    1. Julie, I will go over there and check out your shelf. I'll have to add Beauty Queens to my list, because that is the second mention!

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    2. Just to make it easier on you, my go-to recommendations from that group are: Lamb by Christopher Moore, Shutterbabe by Deborah something-something, and ...Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Looking forward to finding out the books you choose and what you have to say about them!

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  10. I would suggest Gone Girl and Little Bee, The Help was also a great book I read last year. My all time favorite is The Princess Bride. Don't know if you have ever seen the movie but the books is so much better. Another one is the The Host, they are making that one into a movie very soon so I may have to go back and re-read it.

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    1. I've read Little Bee, it killed me! The Help was great, too. I definitely have Gone Girl on my list. Thank you! I love The Princess Bride--if the book is better, it must be really good!

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  11. You totally need to read The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern (if you haven't already). The plot is interesting, but what really makes the book is the descriptive power of the author. It's one of the few books where I could actually visualize what was going on in my head like a movie, her descriptions were that evocative. Plus, who hasn't dreamed of running away with the circus, at least for a little while?

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    1. I've seen The Night Circus and been tempted to buy it just because of the cover. Thank you!

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  12. the stone boy- a short story by gina berriault.

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  13. oh and the round house by louise erdrich

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    1. I don't know if I can put a short story on my shelf but The Round House looks good! I'll add it. :)

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  14. I loved The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman (couldn't put it down). I also really enjoyed The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I forgot the author.

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    1. I love Alice Hoffman! I went on a kick last year and read a bunch of her books. I think I read The Red Garden but I can't remember now. I looked up the other book and it sounds good! I will look for it. Thanks!

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  15. The Rook: A Novel by Daniel O'Malley.

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    1. Matt, since you recommended Ready Player One, I totally trust you!

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  16. You have GOT to read Beth Revis's books. The final installment of the trilogy just came out this week. First is Across the Universe, then A Million Suns, and now Shades of Earth. It's a little YA, a little sci fi, and a hint of romance. Plus Revis is a former English teacher from my neck of the woods!

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    1. Thanks! I have never heard of her but I will check it out!

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  17. "Crossing to Safety" by Wallace Stegner is so great - one of those books I was so sorry to put down when it ended. Two of my favorite historical fictions are "Perfume" by Patrick Suskind - it has the more amazing descriptions of smells, a sense that probably doesn't get written about enough; and "The Samurai" by Shusaku Endo (I love all his writing). More recently, I adored "Bloodroot" by Amy Greene; I'd bought it for the Kindle and feel sad that I don't have a copy in my bookshelves. Also loved "The Quiet American" and "End of the Affair" by Graham Greene.

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    1. I love all these suggestions. I can't wait to look them up--they sound fantastic!

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    2. FYI, Bloodroot is the only new-ish book on my list. The rest are contemporary lit—but 20th century ;-)

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  18. The Tiger's Wife, definitely.
    Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon
    Crossing California, by Adam Langer, was great.

    I liked Unbroken, too.

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    1. I love Michael Chabon and I've been meaning to read Telegraph Avenue. Thank you!

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  19. I really enjoyed The Last Runaway. And Footprints in the Sand. And Vanity Faire was pretty good, too :)

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    1. Thank you! I'll have to look those titles up!

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  20. I just finished "Elsewhere" by Richard Russo...Really, really good! I highly recommend it. Its a memoir which, in part, takes place where he was born, Gloversville, NY not far from Albany...

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