Book suggestions please!
July 19, 2012 10:47 PM   Subscribe

What authors are like these authors?

Book suggestions direly needed, as my favorite librarian is on summer vacation-- and a well deserved one. In the meantime, I am looking for a special kind of maybe-British-maybe-American-maybe global lit book.

I really adore anything by Douglas Adams and find his kind of humor never gets old. Finishing his Hitchhiker's Guide books is the reason I'm asking this question... there's no more of them!

In terms of other amazing authors, I am also very obsessed with Jonathan Coe (British, socialist, comic) and Michel Faber (Scottish, Neo-victorian, melancholy). I've read everything by Coe, for instance; he strikes this tone of nostalgia, irony, and political outrage that really resonates with me, and also his books are funnily honest about the quirks of his characters, and of course, I agree with his depiction of modern society as absurdly poignant.

Anything that references older books or literary traditions (like Stendhal, Flaubert, Jane Austen, or George Eliot, my ultimate favorites) is awesome for me and is likely to lead to much reading and re-reading. For example, I recently devoured Bridget Jones' Diary. I love women's romance in general.

I've tried with much luck to find authors who combine these tacks with a feminine point of view: British, comic, acerbic, honest: such as Barbara Pym. And there seem to be so few authors who do this well!

Who should I be reading next???

Thanks in advance as this is surely a bit of a weird list!
posted by kettleoffish to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
I think you are surely seeking The Good Book: The True Story of Y'All. Everything you need to read is in there. It's complete. You can't wear it out. It is the perfect book for you.
posted by FLAG (BASTARD WATER.) (Acorus Adulterinus.) at 10:55 PM on July 19, 2012

Jasper Fforde! Thursday Next series & Nursery Crimes! Brilliant, funny, very entertaining.
posted by smirkette at 11:07 PM on July 19, 2012 [10 favorites]

Someone's going to come in here any minute and say Terry Pratchett apropos of liking Douglas Adams' stuff.

Barbara Pym was great. Nobody else quite matches her distinct mixture of wit with a kind of repressed background sadness. But you might try Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, E.M. Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady, Stella Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm.
posted by zadcat at 11:22 PM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Seconding the Mitford recommendations. I read them recently and loved them.

I think you would like Elinor Lipman's novels. Start with The Family Man, her most recent. She, like Jane Austen, writes a good comedy of manners.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:48 PM on July 19, 2012

If you like Pym, check out the catalog at Persephone Books.
posted by hms71 at 12:16 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Muriel Spark, Muriel Spark, Muriel Spark. Ticks all your boxes with a firm, neat mark. If you haven't read "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie", start there. And then gorge yourself on everything she has ever written.
posted by my face your at 1:59 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Iain Banks is one of the few male writers who in my opinion writes a believable female character.

He's Scottish, comic, acerbic and honest to a fault. He writes "standard" fiction as Iain Banks, and writes some amazing science fiction as Iain M. Banks. Either way, he writes some awesome stuff.
posted by Sphinx at 1:59 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

You might enjoy Georgette Heyer, who wrote very amusing Period romances.
posted by bq at 2:11 AM on July 20, 2012

I've tried with much luck to find authors who combine these tacks with a feminine point of view: British, comic, acerbic, honest

Nancy Mitford. 1930ties writer , moved in the same circles as e.g. Evelyn Waugh, has a sharp sense of humour, wrote comedic romance novels as well as biographies of Voltaire, Frederick the Great and Madame de Pompadour, not to mention various essays and such (U and non-U being the most famous of them).

Jessica Mitford. Sister of the same, emigrated to the states to get away from her family. Socialist rather than a snob, worked as a muck raking journalist (The American Way of Death, The Trial of Dr Spock), also wrote Hons and Rebels, looking back at her and her sisters (one of which married Oswald Mosley, one of which became a Duchess, one of which blew her brains out moping for Hitler) childhood.

Virginia Woolf I've only read some of her non-fiction off (A Room of One's Own and her diaries) but she seems like a good fit as well based on that.

Margarey Allingham was a Golden Age detective novelist whose stories were always somewhat less than serious; not ha-ha funny, but with an unspoking understanding that this detectiving was all just a bit of a silly game.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:23 AM on July 20, 2012

You might like Christopher Moore's Fool.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:21 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle; Silvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes & Summer Will Show; maybe E.F. Benson’s ‘Mapp & Lucia’ novels.
posted by misteraitch at 4:28 AM on July 20, 2012

This might be a bit too much in the chicklit category, but Marian Keyes skillfully blends social commentary and humor. Note: Douglas Adams and Jane Austen are probably, with Keyes, my favorite authors.
posted by Milau at 4:33 AM on July 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tom Holt! I loved The Portable Door, about a guy and a very odd girl who go to work for strange and mysterious company. Very Pratchett-esque. Which is very Adams-esque.

You'd also like Neil Gaiman a lot. And by stunning coincidence, he wrote a book *with* Terry Pratchett. A sign, I tell ya :)
posted by JoannaC at 4:36 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

You've read P.G. Wodehouse? His humor is certainly not as understated as some of the folks you mention, but I think Adams owes him a big debt. The easiest in for most folks are the Wooster and Jeeves novels and stories.
posted by OmieWise at 5:14 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try Peter Carey's The Chemistry of Tears, which features a really interesting female protagonist.
posted by mlle valentine at 5:19 AM on July 20, 2012

I think you should look into David Lodge since you like Coe. Some of his books are campus-focused but not all of them, he is funny, poignant as you like when he looks at society, and he does reference older books. Changing Places: A tale of two campuses references Dickens, obviously, Small World has Arthurian overtones, Therapy involves Kierkegaard's philosophy, Paradise News is concerned with the the imagery of paradise and Nice Work references Gaskell. I think Coe is the better writer, but they do have a similar sensibility up to a degree (more What a Carve Up! rather than The Rain Before it Falls) and he is very funny. Note that his most recent novels (after 2001) are poorer in my opinion.

As others have mentioned, Pratchett carries the mantle of Adams-like humour in a fantasy setting instead of SF, so if that isn't a problem for you, someone will probably come up with a more comprehensive answer on that.
posted by ersatz at 5:34 AM on July 20, 2012

Pym and Coe are two of my very favorite writers (and an excellent name for a bookstore) and I think you should read absolutely everything by Jane Gardam.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:02 AM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

All things J.P. Donleavy
posted by timsteil at 6:18 AM on July 20, 2012

If you have never read E. F. Benson's Mapp & Lucia books, you are in for a treat. (The above mentioned Tom Holt is an enthusiast and even wrote two fan fiction novels feature the characters - but he's not a patch on the originals.)

The novelizations of Red Dwarf weren't bad for funny sci-fi. (Not my area, sci-fi, so let others disagree.)
posted by BWA at 6:38 AM on July 20, 2012

The Sheriff of Yrnameer by Michael Rubens is one of the best comic science fiction books I've read in a long while.

After you've read the Mapp and Lucia books, go back in time to their progenitor, Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskill.

Some other late 19th/early 20th century English comic novels not to be missed include The Little Ottleys by Ada Leverson, The Semi-Attached Couple and The Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden, and of course Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbon.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:42 AM on July 20, 2012

If you enjoy historial genre stuff, melancholy and humor, I'd recommend Cloud Atlas, Pratchett (Going Postal is a personal favorite), and most especially Pandora In The Congo which is maybe my personal favorite book of the last 10 years, an incredible pastiche/critique/rip-roaring yarn of colonialist fiction.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:57 AM on July 20, 2012

Mary Wesley was a fantastic author. She books are touching, honest, with the most amazing characters. I have read them all many times over the last 20 years.

Neil Gaiman"s American Gods might work for you.

I will also add my vote to Jasper Fforde and Barbara Pym.
posted by Requiax at 10:38 AM on July 20, 2012

Seconding Wodehouse, Gaiman (especially American gods, Anansi Boys, and Good Omens), Holt, Heyer. I share your tastes according to your list, and I really enjoyed A Fraction of the Whole by Stephen Toltz and Lessons in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.
posted by meijusa at 10:58 AM on July 20, 2012

Definitely Terry Pratchett; Wyrd Sisters is a fun place to start, but all his work is delightful (Small Gods and Mort are two of my favorites). And I'd recommend Gail Carriger's Parasol Protecterate series, starting with Soulless - a strong female protagonist, pricelessly funny, sexy and smart.
posted by aryma at 4:20 PM on July 20, 2012

I apparently only show up in book threads to recommend Kate Atkinson. She splits the difference between British/socialist/comic and Scottish/neo-Victorian/melancholy. Start with Emotionally Weird or Human Croquet, but get to the Jackson Brodie detective novels (they're not really detective novels) soon after that.

Fforde's Shades of Grey is not as silly as his Thursday Next novels but just as fun and much more emotionally satisfying.
posted by MsMacbeth at 8:05 PM on July 23, 2012

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