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Has Anybody Read Any Good Books Lately?

December 21, 2015
These are all good books, but I've read them, and I'm not in the mood to read them again.

These are all good books, but I’ve read them, and I’m not in the mood to read them again.

I have a little bit of extra time this week, so I’d like to read a book, maybe two, but I don’t want to waste my time with a book that isn’t any good.  I went to the book store a couple days ago and walked out with nothing, not because I’m a cheapskate (Actually, I am a cheapskate, but that wasn’t the reason I walked out with nothing), but because I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit myself to any of the books I looked at.

I don’t have reader’s block.  Reader’s block is when nothing interests me.  This is a little different.  I think I’m getting too hyper-critical.  I’m getting annoyed at bad dialogue in novels.  I’m losing interest in long paragraphs with lots of description.  I get suspicious that every minor subplot is filler.

I’ve always been a little critical of books and movies, but I’m getting worse, not better.  It’s good that I have high standards, but it’s bad when nothing meets them.

I don’t really want to read a recently-published book.  I’d read one of my own sure-thing books, but I save those for when I have reader’s block, and I don’t have reader’s block right now.  Maybe it’s time to read somebody else’s sure-thing.

If you want to make suggestions, I’m open to them. I’m open to just about any genre, except maybe romance (unless it’s humorous).   There are a few kinds of books, however, that I won’t read anymore:

  • No series.  I don’t have enough time to read a series, even if it’s good.
  • No books over 500 pages.  I can be flexible, but if it’s over 500 pages, it has to be self-contained and no filler.
  • Authors I won’t read anymore (because I’ve read three or more of their books already):   Stephen King, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Lee Child, Lawrence Block, Donald Westlake, Dennis LeHane, Amy Tan, Elmore Leonard, James Elroy, etc.  There are others, but I can’t think of them right now.
  • Authors I won’t read anymore (for other various reasons):
  1. James Patterson (doesn’t write his own books)
  2. Sue Grafton (alphabet series is a horrible idea)
  3. Janet Evanovich (terrible alliteration in her titles)
  4. Harper Lee (long-lost manuscripts discovered in attics/basements are always suspicious)
  5. Brad Thor (obnoxious name, even if it’s real)
  6. Celebrity author whose name I don’t want to reveal (yawned in my face at a book signing)

*****

When I get reader’s block and I need a sure thing novel, here are the books I can always count on.  These aren’t the perfect books, and I don’t want to build them up too much, but I always enjoy them, no matter how many times I read them.  They might be considered mindless.  They’re not literary fiction.  I have to be in the right mood to read most literary fiction, and I’m definitely not in the right mood now.

I would read one of these right now, but like I said, I’m saving them for my next bout with reader’s block.  If I were going to recommend any books (and I normally don’t do that because I don’t want to get judged by the books I recommend), then I’d recommend one of these.

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammet

Marathon Man by William Goldman

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

*****

What good books do you recommend?  What books do you reread when you get the chance?  What authors do you no longer read?

*****

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41 Comments
  1. Been Down So Long, Seems Like Up To Me

  2. I’d highly recommend both ‘Girl on the Train’ and ‘Gone Girl’ x

  3. The Weird Sisters. By Eleanor Brown. One of the best books I’ve ever read. Brilliant dialog.

  4. Whenever I see Brad Thor’s mug on a dust jacket, I hear in my head Phil Hartman’s voice from the Simpsons saying “I’m actor Troy McClure.” Only he’s saying “I’m author Brad Thor.”

  5. backpacking to love permalink

    Recently finished reading ‘In the skin of a jihadist’ by Anna Erelle, not really a novel but an amazing book. And I’d also say Gone Girl is a really goos read.

  6. Try Bashevis Singer

  7. Dave Eggers “You Shall Know Our Velocity” (Or A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius, if you’re in the mood for non-fiction memoir) Ray Bradbury’s “The Invisible Man” is excellent. I also like to dig into the works of classic sci-fi writers like Asimov or Heinlein if I’m in a modern literature rut.

  8. Peter Hitchens – Rage Against God

  9. Have you joined Goodreads? They give you recommendations based on what you’ve read and on what you have ticked for your “to be read” shelf. I often pick up good reading ideas from there.

  10. Try “the sense of an ending” by Julian Barnes. I loved it (as most of his books). Or “The Prince of West End Avenue” by Alan Isler – it’s my reader’s block book.

  11. “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion (a romance but really funny) and “the other hand” by Chris Cleave

    • I heartily second this suggestion. I really enjoyed this book I felt it was very well done.

      • ‘The Rosie Project’ suggestion is what I was referring to. I haven’t actually read the other one.

    • Dina permalink

      Agree, about the Rosie Project – a great read.

  12. Alice deGrey permalink

    Haruki Murakami is one of the authors I can reread endlessly. “Norwegian Wood” is my personal favorite (but it’s a sad romance, so probably not for you). “Kafka on the Shore” is great too and less romantic.

    Whenever I don’t know what to read next, I tend to go with classics I’ve wanted to check out for some time. I’ve a feeling you can never go wrong with classics (that’s not true, of course) because they’ve withstood time.

  13. Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Isiguro, The Buried Giant by Ishiguro, almost anything else by Ishiguro…
    Also, at this time of year: A Christmas Carol (try it aloud with family), and Dickens’ other Christmas short stories, to include A Christmas Tree and the Christmas chapter in the Pickwick Papers, A Good-Humored Christmas. It is a total riot, and very comforting.

  14. Have you read “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry? Wow! What an amazing book! Don’t be put off by the Western genre as this absolutely magnificent book could really be any genre – it is more about the characters. For me, no book comes even marginally close to this one. In fact, I couldn’t start a new book for about two weeks after finishing this one – felt like nothing would meet the standard and I also had this “traitor” feeling.
    I must admit that I abandoned it after 68 pages but decided to give it another chance and once I got to about page 100 I was totally hooked. I just wanted to read and read and read – in fact, that’s all I did on my wedding anniversary day. That’s how good it is!

    So, just give it a chance – get past the first 100 pages and you will be glad you did.

    • Several people have mentioned this book to me, but I haven’t been able to get past page 50. Is it worth plodding through to page 100? Is it really that good?

      • Oh yes! Absolutely! I had exactly the same problem….trust me…stick with it. Hard to believe but you won’t put it down afterwards. Everyone I’ve spoken to had the same and then ended up reading those 900 odd pages in a matter of days. Enjoy it! It is magnificent.

    • Oops – I just re-read the “requirements” and saw that no book over 500 pages…sorry but Lonesome Dove is closer to double that. Sorry 😦

      • That’s okay. I read Lonesome Dove decades ago, and it was great!! There was a sequel that I didn’t like much, but it hasn’t affected my love for Lonesome Dove. I think the sequel was less than 500 pages, and I still didn’t like it.

        • Totally with you – Lonesome Dove to me is a “lone-standing” book to live on its own in its own glory! Hope you find something to read wit the start of 2016!

  15. Do read ‘Tonight the streets are ours’ by Leila Sales. Its a very simple yet extraordinary.

  16. you might pop through my books reviews, I do one every Monday, but right now I can’t read enough of the Flavia de luce books. Each one can be considered a stand alone novel, although there are five or six of them. (Think Hercule Poirot, not the Hunger Games.) Detective stories. Well written and fun.

  17. I’m loving books by Robin Hobb but she breaks a few of your rules as she writes trilogies and her books are over 500 pages long. She’s still an amazing author though. 🙂

  18. I recommend All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Solid plot. Contemporary issues. Good midpoint twist. Ends exactly where it should.

  19. I know how you feel, since I’ve started writing my own book I’ve become too critical as well. I can’t read a book any more without trying to edit it. I’ve never noticed it before when authors told rather than showed, but now it really pops out and it bugs me so, so much.
    Anyway, back to your question and apologies for rambling. Earlier this year I read The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. It was amazing and short and not part of a series, and I happily recommend it 🙂

  20. If you wanted a series, I’d recommend Piers Anthony. I really enjoy his books, and they are just fun; nothing too time-consuming as they’re able to be picked up several days later without difficulty. But if you only want one book and don’t mind a serious subject, I strongly recommend Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo. I read it for the first time as a school assignment, and it stuck with me for years though I couldn’t remember the title. When I moved, I found the book and reread it. It is a phenomenal book, and I’ve recommended it to many people over the years; they’ve always purchased their own copy after reading it.

    Please don’t discount the book because of a song or movie based on it-it is a wonderful read and not long. The media that has come since the book are all enjoyable in their own right, but the book is something unique and brilliant. I hope you enjoy it.

  21. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Published in 1953, it blew my mind how scarily accurate he was in predicting what the 21st century would be like. An excellent read, not too long or complex and really makes you think!

  22. I read a really interesting first book last week. I found it interesting, confronting, enjoyable and weird all at the same time. It is called ‘Dietland’ and is written by Sarai Walker. Though it was published this year (which in a few days will be so last year) it is only 320 pages (hb) and I definitely think it is worth a go.

  23. I just got my hand on the book by this year’s nobel prize Svetlana Alexievich – Voices from Chernobyl. It’s not that long and it’s actually a really fast read. It is about Chernobyl so prepare to cry your eyes out and feel as hopeless as those people. It’s non fiction btw.

  24. Frog Music or Room by Emma Donaghue

  25. the namesake by jhumpa lahiri
    i loved it…you might too

  26. Mama Bear or And Crawling Things Lurk by Foy W. Minson

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