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Book recommendations
pungent elephant with sidecar
Yes, it's entry r out of a series of n in the "help rho figure out what to do over the summer" series!

I'm looking for book recommendations. Specificly, I'm looking for recommendations for books that I wouldn't normally read; the sort of books that are outside of my field and outside of my genre of choice. I already know plenty of good books about physics, and plenty of SF&F type books. What I don't know is what the best books to read for 18th century history are. Or what the world's best detective novels are. Or anything like that.

Since I'm looking to read outside of my normal range, what I'm really looking for are the very best books of their type. The really best examples of a genre, the books that best explain a certain subject, if possible, the books that you never tire of reading and the books that change your whole perspective on life. The sort of thing that's likely to get me enthused about a subject or genre and make me want to go and read more, and generally branch out.

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Fine, make the same post I was going to put on the internets tomorrow.

...actually, this is good for me. Now I'll just mooch off the responses you get. All I have so far are Walden, which I simply need to finish before I stab myself in the eye, and The Stranger by Camus.

I'm planning to make the sister entry to this one at some point, in which I give my own recommendations, so you can mooch off of that as well. And if I don't get around to making it, then you can prod at me, and I ca just give you the abreviated version that just contains the list of a few books.

Might I recommend that you help me start a crazy fandom for Hilari Bell? Wonderful author, one of my favorites.

I'm currently working my way through Cicero's speeches against Cataline. In Latin. Again. I love Cicero. He's so... Ciceroni.

my favourite canlit:

Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy - Fifth Business, The Manticore, World of Wonders.

they're also kind of my favourite books ever. but i'd argue among the best CanLit!


Well, there are some really obvious ones - Jane Austin really does give a very strong feel of her time. The Sherlock Holmes stories are very readable, if you never have...

For other things... I found Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" to be *very* interesting.

And then there are the *real* classics...

Have you read the Epic of Gilgamesh?

Tricky... I adored Le Ton Beau de Marot (possible spelling errors there). It warped my brain in good ways. It's about the issues involved in translating from one language to anohter. It's by Hofstadter.

Dante is a good read - The Inferno for starters, but you can read the whole trilogy. I read the first two and half of Paradiso, (in translation), but it felt wrong to go all the way through Paradiso, so I stopped.

I'm rather fond of Asimov's Union Club Mysteries. Many of his mysteries, actually. He's well known for his science fiction, but his mysteries are fun and he has a lot of them.

I find the combination of Elgin's The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense and Tannen's That's Not What I Meant are a great grounding in how language use creates arguments, how to recognize it and try to prevent it. Both authors wrote many other books in their series, but get rather redundant. Tannen especially. I do find that Elgin's second book in the Verbal Self Defense series is also useful and thought-provoking though.

And I always recommend Bellwether to anyone who hasn't read it.

I'm still struggling through Le Ton beau de Marot. It's a truly wonderful book (by a truly huge intellect -- the man is amazing!)

(And you spelled it correctly, except "beau" isn't capitalized. I'm looking at it now.)

Suzette Haden Elgin also has a livejournal - ozarque.

Possibly the first, or at least one of the first, detective novels ever written: Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone.

WIth you being British, and all, I assume you've read To Say Nothing of the Dog -- it's a wonderful book; the first Willis I read. And I enjoyed it even though I'm only American. I can only imagine the joy that Britishers get when they read it.

And that reminds me of _Two Men in a Boat_ by Jerome K. Jerome--one of the funniest books I've ever read.

For a small change of perspective, try _How to See Color and Paint It_ if you can find a copy.

Try Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels. :-) They're amusing and light-hearted mysteries, thnk they may turn into a good comfort read for me! Completely non-pretentious, good for when you want a distraction and nothing else.

World's best detective novels: pretty much anything by Dorothy L Sayers. I'd recommend Nine Taylors for a starting place.

Jared Diamond is fantastic for non-fiction, on vaguely social biology related topics but he's a total polymath and covers all kinds of things. I second the rec of Guns, germs and steel from the comments.

For modern biology and genetics, Steve Jones or Matt Ridley. Don't bother with Dawkins unless you really feel you must.

Best book on religion: Karen Armstrong: A history of God. Any of her stuff is worth reading though.

Best contemporary mainstream highbrow novels: Salman Rushdie: The ground beneath her feet and AS Byatt: Babel Tower. And when I say highbrow, they will really make you think, they cover all kinds of philosophical and scientific issues better than the great majority of non-fiction. And the kind of thing I recommend to people who mainly read SF/F but want to try out mainstream.

Best contemporary mainstream popular novels: Zadie Smith: White Teeth; Mark Haddon: The curious incident of the dog in the night-time; Louis de Bernières: Captain Corelli's mandolin. They're all very light reads but leave an impression.

Best 20th century novel that isn't Lord of the Rings: Chaim Potok: The book of lights. It's extremely Jewish, but I think you'll find the way Judaism is presented interesting even if you start from not knowing much about it. And it's also about the physicists who worked on the atom bomb, so will tie in to stuff you are familiar with. Life-changing, yes.

If not that, and if you can get hold of it, GB Edwards: The book of Ebenezer le Page. It's about this guy who's a bit misanthropic and reclusive, and his observations on human nature and society.

Best classic novel: Jane Austen: Sense and sensibility. I think you'll like Austen, she has a very acerbic sense of humour. You probably won't like Pride and Prejudice just because it's been cliched and parodied to death, and it's slighter than a lot of other Austen stuff anyway.

Magical realism - 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

A good book by an Israeli author: See Under:Love by David Grossman.

ooh, these books were compared, in this quote:
"In a few nearly mythic books, such as Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, Günter Grass's The Tin Drum, Gabriel García Máquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, large visions of history get hold in innovative ways. See Under: LOVE may be a worthy successor to this small but awesome canon." — Edmund White, The New York Times Book Review

(But I have not read either of the other two books mentioned in that quote.)

C. Northcote Parkinson, Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress . It's about how beaurocracy works, and how people in an office work (fsvo). And it's funny.

Should I recommend Zamyatin's We? It's a dystopia, so it might be filed next to 1984 and Brave New World, and those are Speculative Fiction.

Thomas More's Utopia is fascinating and fairly easy reading if you choose a recent translation (from the Latin) that exploits the wordplay and satire of the work. It's especially important and interesting to SF&F readers because, along with Plato's Republic (which I do intend to read - some day), it's the basis for most utopia/dystopia fiction, e.g. Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451.

Sir Thomas himself is also an interesting, contradictory, and perplexing historical figure who acts as a nice gateway into learning about Renaissance history and thought.

Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series are a set of books I enjoyed greatly that were outside my genre range. It's a serial set in San Franciso in the 70's and 80's, just people interacting and their lives changing.

Read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time? Everyone seems to have...

my favrit book is th town mowse an th contri mowse. i lik ar you my mothr to.

anothir good book is cald ogden nash's zoo. it has pomes bowt aminals.

behode th duk.
it dose not cluk
a cluk it laks
it qwaks.
an wen it dines or sups
it botums ups

thats won of em

A panther is like a leopard
except it hasn't been peppered.
Should you behold a panther crouch
prepare to say ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther
don't anther.

O kangaroo, o kangaroo
be grateful that you're in the zoo
and not transmuted by a boomerang
to zestful, tasty kangaroo-meringue.

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