I Need to Book A Book, Right Away.
September 25, 2008 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Need a book for a long flight. Would like to read Infinite Jest but that's not going to happen. Suggestions?

Need a book of fiction to read while I go India. I have two non-fiction books but I need a fiction book too. Something topical, current etc. I like realism. I tried to get Infinite Jest from the local library but it's out for a while. No luck at the used bookstores either. I get either bored or hooked in the first 50 pages. I leave Saturday. I can still overnight something from Amazon.
posted by Xurando to Writing & Language (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Also, liked Cryptonomican, Pattern Recogntion.
posted by Xurando at 2:00 PM on September 25, 2008

"Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. There's even a sequel out now but haven't read it yet.
posted by mrbarrett.com at 2:02 PM on September 25, 2008

If you liked Cryptonomicon, why not Stephenson's new one, Anathem?
posted by kindall at 2:04 PM on September 25, 2008

And if you liked Pattern Recognition, why not Gibson's new one, Spook Country?
posted by andeles at 2:11 PM on September 25, 2008

I though Spook Country was a short read, not that it's a bad thing. I liked it immensely. Or grab two gibson books.

Any Stephenson book will last your long flight.
posted by axltea at 2:13 PM on September 25, 2008

Why not overnight Infinite Jest then?
posted by mannequito at 2:16 PM on September 25, 2008

I read the FPP for Anathem. Seems like too much work. Read the other suggestions. Infinite Jest is unavailable everywhere. I've tried. Some places are asking $500 for a copy.
posted by Xurando at 2:31 PM on September 25, 2008

I'd also recommend DFW's first novel, The Broom of the System. It's much more accessible and straightforward. You can get a paperback on Abe for less than ten bucks.
posted by mattbucher at 2:40 PM on September 25, 2008

Not technically a book, but ... something I just posted to the blue that might help you pass the time.
posted by jbickers at 2:40 PM on September 25, 2008

Anathem took me about 30 pages to get into, and since then I've been loving it.

Can't say enough good things about a lot of Mark Helprin's work for long, dense novels. "A Soldier of the Great War" might suit you, but my favorite is "Winter's Tale" (though the latter might not meet your ideal magical:realism ratio).
posted by amelioration at 2:42 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

It might fall under topical - "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry is a great great book that takes place in India. Hilarious, tragic, just really really good.
posted by backwards guitar at 2:45 PM on September 25, 2008

Also check out these two Evan Dara novels, The Lost Scrapbook and The Easy Chain.
posted by mattbucher at 2:47 PM on September 25, 2008

If you are going to India, why not Life of Pi? Not terribly long, but super, super good.
posted by banannafish at 2:56 PM on September 25, 2008

I read The Corrections on a similarly long flight, and definitely recommend it.
posted by rottytooth at 2:56 PM on September 25, 2008

INDIA?! You have to read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, a swashbuckling, mostly true tale of an Australian prisoner who escapes to India and spends a few years there living in the poorest villages. I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me and one of my favorite books. It's easily 900 pages and I devoured it.
posted by HeyAllie at 2:59 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, The Years of Rice and Salt for sure. Not only long and involved, but a rather Stephensonian read as well.
posted by minervous at 3:04 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I took a risk an overnighted The Easy Chain. There was no review so I don't have a clue of what it's about. Hopefully I'll be surprised.
posted by Xurando at 3:06 PM on September 25, 2008

"The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen is in the same vein of Infinite Jest. Borders recently had it on paperback special, so should be easy to find and cheap.
posted by webhund at 3:10 PM on September 25, 2008

Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra. A long book, exciting enough storytelling to stand up to the attention span issues that come with international travel (I took it with me to Argentina), and set in India! It's ostensibly a mystery/crime/police story, but it's really so much more than that, with a great depiction of the fabric of daily life on all levels of Bombay society.
posted by matildaben at 3:11 PM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Last time I went to India I read Cormac McCarthy's The Road, start to finish. It was the perfect length. It was completely creepy and disturbing so it made for a really fast read.

I would also suggest a book about India, of which there are many great, great ones to choose from. Shantaram, mentioned above is my absolute favorite. I also read The Age of Kali on my last trip to India which is a series of fascinating essays that tie currentish events to Indian history, culture, and locations. If you want, you can MeMail me for other suggestions along these lines.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:53 PM on September 25, 2008

When asked for a book recommendation, I always recommend James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia
posted by tylerfulltilt at 4:42 PM on September 25, 2008

Seconding "Life of Pi". It's not really in the realm of realism but it's a great novel, very engrossing.
posted by Epsilon-minus semi moron at 5:07 PM on September 25, 2008

The Winds of War by Herman Wouk. I recommend this one to people a lot. There's something about World War II historical fiction that is pretty universally enjoyable, at least amongst Americans. It's also a really, really damn good book.

[Bonus: you can read War and Remembrance on the way back. Anti-bonus: War and Remembrance will give you nightmares.]
posted by Commander Rachek at 5:09 PM on September 25, 2008

heyallie beat me to the Shantaram recommendation, but I will second it as a must-read.
posted by judith at 5:35 PM on September 25, 2008

Woo hoo! The Easy Chain is awesome. There is some speculation that "Evan Dara" is a pseudonym for a more famous writer so I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on that when you are done with it. Steve Rusillo blogged about the book here: http://members.aol.com/russillosm/ and there are some reviews of it on GoodReads. Enjoy!
posted by mattbucher at 5:41 PM on September 25, 2008

My desire to share Infinite Jest is so great that I looked for Borders bookstores around you:

It seems that there are two bookstores about two hours away from you that probably have Infinite Jest. Could you call and ask to speak to a manager and see if they could overnight it to you if you pay online or something?
posted by suedehead at 5:48 PM on September 25, 2008

My favorite long book: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
posted by Stewriffic at 6:03 PM on September 25, 2008

I'm glad someone else recommended Sacred Games, which is what I was about to write. I'm flying to Berlin in two weeks and I'm bringing it with me just to read again!
posted by fiery.hogue at 6:36 PM on September 25, 2008

Since you're traveling to India (though it's not really about India, per se), I'm thirding Life Of Pi by Yann Martel. I read it recently and was completely engrossed by this original novel about an Indian teen who is shipwrecked on a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra and a Bengal tiger. It touches upon religion, philosophy, zoology, survivalism in a thoroughly mind-expanding way. A great read!
posted by jumpin' jordan at 7:50 PM on September 25, 2008

Not topical or current, but if you haven't read Moby-Dick, get it. It's long, it's complex, and it's a hell of a good read. And it's available in cheap editions that you can leave wherever you happen to be when you finish it.
posted by brianogilvie at 9:09 PM on September 25, 2008

Richard Powers' Gold Bug Variations is long-ish (and awesome).
posted by sad_otter at 9:16 PM on September 25, 2008

Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra

Catch 22
by Joseph Hellar
posted by Mephisto at 6:25 AM on September 27, 2008

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