Please recommend some beach/commuting reads.
May 31, 2011 10:33 AM   Subscribe

I love the Southern Vampire Mysteries/Sookie Stackhouse novels. The subject matter is fun and compelling, but what I most appreciate is Sookie's voice. What else will I like?

The best way I can describe what I'm looking for is "smart beach read." I like chatty, self-aware narrators. Nothing too chick-lit. Nothing that takes itself too seriously. Compelling plot is a must.

It doesn't need to be sci-fi or fantasy or a mystery, but I like those things.
posted by giraffe to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried the Tess Monaghan mysteries by Laura Lippman?
posted by thebrokedown at 10:47 AM on May 31, 2011

OK, those are good, but the author I was really looking for was Janet Evanovich with the Stephanie Plum series. And if you find those to your liking, you may also enjoy Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen, who are pretty hilarious, though much more "male" in style.
posted by thebrokedown at 10:52 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

First thing to try would be Charlaine Harris's other books -- her protagonists all have those characteristics, and it makes them (for me, anyway) very easy to identify with.

You might like Shanna Swendson's Enchanted, Inc. series. They're fun, cheerful reads, and I like the protagonist a lot (lower tolerance for interpersonal drama than Sookie has). In spite of the covers and city setting, they don't really do the endless brand-name dropping I associate with chick lit, and Katie has a believably cramped apartment.

Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville books are also first-person, and the protagonist's a radio host, so she talks a lot. They've got a lot in common with the Southern Vampire books, though plenty to differentiate them as well (more attention paid to the outside world, not set in a small town).
posted by asperity at 11:33 AM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

I know this is sideways to your genre preferences, but I suggest the second part of Russell Brand's autobio, Booky Wook 2.
posted by nicwolff at 11:44 AM on May 31, 2011

You might really like (as I did) the Spellman novels by Lisa Lutz. It's a series about a family of private detectives, narrated by the pretty-dysfunctional adult daughter. I don't know if you'll find the plots compelling, but I found the characters compelling, and the books hilarious. They seem pretty superficial but over the course of the books, the narrator has to change, and the family deals with some heavy stuff. The narrator's voice is pretty compelling; she's smart and chatty. You might try the first one to see if they're your cup of tea.
posted by not that girl at 12:31 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm going to recommend something completely different -- The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway. A supremely chatty narrator and his best friend confront The End Of The World, mimes, ninjas, freakish mutants, love, and loss. Digressive, rambly, and genuinely funny, the book is also suspiciously well-written (its author is the son of John LeCarre). If you like distinctive voices, albeit in the service of a meandering plot, try it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:34 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite authors is Robin McKinley, and she has a book called "Sunshine" that also features a young woman and a vampire, but in a fresh, different way. The main character (Rae, aka Sunshine) doesn't have the same voice as Sookie, but she has a strong one that I really like. The vampires in the book are really different from the standard take on them - they're not sexy creatures of the night - and it's set in a world that is similar to ours, but which is different due to the presence of vamps and other supernatural creatures.
posted by PussKillian at 12:49 PM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]

I think you'd like Soulless by Gail Carriger, if you don't mind a wee bit of steampunk in with your vampires & werewolves. The heroine smart-mouthed (for Victorian England) and spirited, falling into lots of adventures.
posted by Margalo Epps at 1:16 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

I recommend checking out Kelley Armstrong. Her "Women of the Otherworld" series features several different self-aware female narrators, all of whom are enjoyable to get to know. I recommend starting with Dime Store Magic.
posted by epj at 1:51 PM on May 31, 2011

Kim Harrison's Hollows series, also called the Rachel Morgan series.
posted by Nixy at 2:46 PM on May 31, 2011

I recently read "Wild Ride" by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. It's a fun supernatural romance that takes place in an old amusement park.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:48 PM on May 31, 2011

Patricia Briggs, particularly the "Mercy Thompson" books. First one is Moon Called.
posted by anotherkate at 12:57 AM on June 1, 2011

Oh, speaking of Jennifer Crusie, her newest book is a (lighter, but still plenty creepy) take on The Turn of the Screw. It's called Maybe This Time, and manages to do romance and a ghost story very neatly.
posted by PussKillian at 2:52 PM on June 1, 2011

Tanya Huff's The Enchantment Emporium. Longer review. Shorter review. Amazon.

Ellen Kushner's The Privilege of the Sword. Amazon. Green Man Review. Strange Horizons review.

2nding Sunshine. There are some sample chapters on McKinley's website.

I find this a bit hard to answer, or at least to know where to stop, because one person's engaging narrative voice is another person's affected yammering on. There are lots of chatty narrators in cosy mysteries, such as Maggie Bruce's The Gourdmother.
posted by paduasoy at 3:35 PM on June 1, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers, everyone.

For anyone reading and hoping for more recommendations: check out Alan Warner's Morvern Callar. It's about a working-class woman in her 20s. It's strange and sad, but in a good way. You never really leave Morvern's head for the entire time she tells the story.

Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy has borderline claustrophobic narration from a character who is anything but self-aware. It's great.

Funny thing about Booky Wook 2, I read and greatly enjoyed the first Booky Wook. I might look into it, despite my not really wanting to read about Katy Perry.
posted by giraffe at 10:30 AM on June 2, 2011

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