Recommendations for literature belong here.


  1. He died last week (and was attacked over on CifWatch within hours of doing so), so maybe it's as good a time as any to recommend Jose Saramago.

    I particularly recommend 'blindness', and 'Seeing' (which is the unofficial sequel to the former) as a good place to start.

    (I really wanted to read 'Seeing' again during the last election, but I'd left my copy in blighty!!)

  2. Nadeem Aslam

    The Wasted Vigil - a love letter to Afghanistan and an elegy to its casualties.

    Maps for lost lovers - a poets universe set in a northern English town.

  3. Put this up in the wrong place in a fit of keen-ness!

    Patrick Ness - Chaos walking trilogy
    The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters of Men.

    Little Big, John Crowley

    John Wyndham

    Alisdair Reynolds

    Robert Silverberg

    Ray Bradbury

    Iain Banks

    Gorges Perec

    Jonathan Carrol

    Tim Powers

  4. East Bay Grease - Eric Miles Williamson


    Leaving Las Vegas - John O'Brien

    (Figgis did a reasonable job with the film, but the book is roughly about a thousand and fourteen (and a half) times better!!)

  5. Ok, will repost this here since they were all literature..

    Anything by John Wyndham

    TCAM Harper Lee

    Time Traveller's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, Stieg Larsson

    Anything by Anne Rice, Stephanie Meyer or Charlaine Harris (spot the theme there....)

    and if I'm stuck in an airport looking for something to read I usually go straight for one of the Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell, but that's more of a Ronseal than a hearty recommendation....

    Oh and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen! (Paul Torday)

  6. TCAM, Dotterel?

    To Chill a Mockingbird? To Cook a Mockingbird? To Castrate a Mockingbird?

    Oh, so much fun to be had *gg*

    Also, for one moment, I thought you recommended Stephenie Meyer, of Twilight notoriety. Glad I misread; what kind of stuff does Stephanie Meyer write? ;-)

  7. Ok elementary I'm busted, on two counts:

    1) I can't spell without a spell check unless it's the scientific name of a species I'm studying

    2) I like Twilight, so sue me!

  8. 'Feast Of the Goat' by Mario Vargas Llosa, about the Trujillo dictatorship and assassination in the Dominican Republic. I've read a few by him and it's the pick of the bunch IMO.

  9. 1) Hmm, don't know if getting an acronym wrong in one letter counts as "wrong spelling", in the literal sense. I guess you wouldn't have called it "To Cill a Mockingbird", although that would be prety cool, anyway.

    I only realized because the same book was abridged to TKAM in an article I read after reading your post, and the K stood out for me as different.

    2) Wouldn't dream of holding your liking Twilight against you, I know quite a few women smarter than me who devoured the books.

  10. Well, I was thinking of the misspelling of Stephenie Meyer too! (Actually my spell check is trying to auto-correct it now so that'll be why then!)

    Not saying it's great literature, more like Harry Potter: the sort of book you clear a day for to read cover to cover as a guilty pleasure.

  11. Dott, I think the spelling mistake was done by Meyer's parents rather than you.

    Maybe I'll give 'em a try - of course, I'll have to disguise myself when buying, and destroy them after having read them, before anyone finds out I read a Twilight book ...

  12. elementary,

    Buy em from a charity shop, and give em back when you've finished, you could buy the little old lady behind the till's silence with a cup of tea and a biscuit.....

  13. But what about my fingerprints on the book pages? Or the DNA of the spit I will spit when yelling at Bella/Edward/Jacob/the author?

    Some CSI gal could make a tight case proving I read those books.

    No, it's the fire afterwards, I think ...

    Before we steer even further from the topic, I would like to mention that I recently (yesterday) finished reading "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier, recommend it for its style which follows the day dreams of the protagonist without being daydreamy in itself, as well as for having exquisitly stageable dialogue scenes; the ending, however feels a bit weird, like a sudden jump in genre, and the creepiness of the novel is abandoned for a "danger looms - danger is averted by pure luck - danger looms again" ping pong game.

    Also, the last big reveal feels a little small, the way it is presented, but that may be because I watched Hitchcock's movie before I red the book, so I knew what would be revealed in the end.

  14. Ah, I see, you can't give them back to charity shops if you're painting them red anyway...


  15. "Paint them read"? Turn of phrase? Elementary dimwit?

    Please explain :-(

  16. "I watched Hitchcock's movie before I red the book, so I knew what would be revealed in the end"

    Only because you picked up on my spelling earlier you understand :-)

  17. Well, Dott, I only paint books read if I have seen the movies based on them before.

    Note: I realized the spelling mistake here, in this post, but think it is too good to correct it.

  18. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

    incredible book about the Viet Nam war. O'Brien is a Viet Nam vet and the book is written as a memoir. Some of it's true and some of it isn't -- O'Brien never really lets you know what is & isn't, though.

    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

    Hard to describe this one -- very complicated and surreal but an easy and pleasant read, nonetheless. Quite possibly the best novel I've ever read.

  19. 'Life and Fate' by Vasily Grossman.

    This is often describes as the 'Soviet War and Peace'. Set in WW2 at the time of the battle of Stalingrad, it details a wide cast of characters, like Toslstoy. The main character is Jewist nuclear physicist and his immediate family as he continues his research, always fearful of the state security. (The book was banned in the USSR for it's critical treatment of the authorites)

    It also deals a lot with Stalin's cult of personality and his negative influence, ordering troops into battle as cannon fodder far away from the front lines.

    It also details a lot of antisemitism, which although was small, existed in Stalin's USSR.

    Vasily Grossman was an extraordinary man. A journalist with the Red army, he was at all the battles, and with the soldiers all the time as the war progressed from Stalingrad to Berlin. His diary of this time has also been published- I will read it sometime soon.

  20. I agree with John Wyndham, who got me started on the SF trail. He did seem to have a predilection for very capable women.

    Another genre would be Eric Ambler....just as literate as Wyndham. It's so nice not to have foreign words translated in the next sentence. American authors are particularly guilty of this practice, which is both lazy and arrogant by turns.

    Lastly Hans Helmut Kirst, whose Gunner Asch series is excellent. But as a stand alone 'The wolves' is hard to beat.

    And yes I do seem to be stuck in particular Zeitgeist.

  21. Two favourite short stories:

    The Dead by James Joyce - not at all inaccessible like some of his novels. There's also a lovely film version by John Huston.

    The Aleph by Jorge Luís Borges. Reminded of it by JorgeyBorgey posting on Waddya today!

    For aeroport novels, I agree with the Larsson books and Cornwell. Interestingly, Cornwell, always struck me as being quite right-wing, but she has moved to the left since 9/11, I think.

    The Elizabeth George books are great crime fiction too, but need reading in order as there's a meta-plot.