Monday, July 20, 2009

Recommendation Round-Up


The main purpose of this blog (and, I’m sure, most other book blogs!) is to recommend books and foster a discussion/community with other book lovers. Over the years, I’ve had many people come to me for book recommendations (hence the birth of this blog!) and it recently got me thinking about the books I recommend.

I always recommend these three, which are included on my Goodreads “all time favorite” list:

Gloria by Keith Maillard – the most under-rated novel of the past few years and my absolute fave. Tells the story of Gloria Cotter, a college graduate in the late fifties, torn between passion and society’s expectations. Set in West Virginia, like most of Maillard’s novels. I’ve read it a couple times (and need to read again!), and I can’t recommend it enough! For some ungodly reason, it is out of print; pick it up at a library or used bookstore.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – a classic, but my favorite classic. Francie Nolan is growing up in Brooklyn at the turn of the century. She is such an enjoyable and heart-warming character to read, and because the novel spans several years, I couldn’t get enough. I’ve only read it once, but I remember it as magical.

A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins – my first foray into travelogues. I went to elementary school with the author’s son, which is how I heard about this book. Apparently it became a NYT bestseller as well! It is about Peter’s walk with his dog through the nitty-gritty of America in the 1970s when the times, they are a changin’. I love the story and the characters he meets. Jenkins has many more books on other walks, but this it the first and therefore (I believe), the best.

My most recent frequent recommendation is Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. It was recommended to me by my friend, former co-worker, and librarian (she also recommended Gloria to me, so I trust her judgment). You can read my review of The Help, because I have nothing but nice things to say about it. It’s been my personal favorite read this year, and I’m sure it’s one of 2009’s best new books. My mom just finished it too, and she gave me such an interesting first-person account of the issues Stockett raises in her narrative!

What are some of your all-time favorite books to recommend? 

Do you have a person you go to for recommendations? 

Have you read something recently that you’ve been recommending to others?


Salvatore said…

I think the book I've given out the most (bought as a gift) is 'Blindness' by José Saramago. Which is funny because I was leant it when I read it. It's a wonderful, intense, and highly provocative novel.

Poetry wise, Nick Laird's 'On Purpose' I've gotten a few people to read. It's an absolutely stunning collection. My review of it from days of yore:

Recently I've been pushing the Marilynne Robinson's 'Housekeeping'. I've in the middle of 'Home' right now, which is brilliant, but 'Housekeeping' just seems to be the perfectly crafted novel. Everything that is 'necessary' in a novel seems to be there. Evocation of emotion, gripping plot, pregnant prose. 'Home' will probably end up being my favourite of hers, but 'Housekeeping' is a delight to read.

J.T. Oldfield said…

I like your questions at the end. Have you been reading Farm Lane Books? Jackie said that when she started adding comments at the end of her posts, she started to get a lot more comments.

Kari said…

I have read that post by Jackie! I believe it was when she was talking about the Blog Improvement Project, which I would have liked to participate in. But the blog didn't exist at the beginning of the project, so there's always time! I can just make changes as I go.

colin said…

I always seem to suggest 'Blindess,' 'Disgrace,' and 'Middlesex.' Probably because they are the three most powerful books I've read.

I always go to Sal (of this blog) for recommendations. He reads enough to know about every book and usually–though not always!–we have a very similar taste.

Lately, I've suggested 'Y: The Last Man.' It's a comic, but it is absolutely fantastic.