Winter reading recs?
November 15, 2012 9:59 AM   Subscribe

My Nook is hungry- and I have silly tastes- recommendations?

Winter is just about here and it’s cozy-reading time- but I need some new material. I’m looking for a variety of material, some garbage to something a little more brainy. Give me your favorites!

-I like junky romance books- the more garbagey the better.
-I like memoirs. I just read UnOrthodox, and it was rather enjoyable.
-I’m about to finish Under the Banner of Heaven- which was a wonderful non-fiction book about Fundamentalist Mormons. I loved it (I’m atheist but I am not comfortable with disrespectful attitudes toward believers). Books on religion that are not trying to convert me are awesome. I would REALLY love a respectful, articulate book on the Quiverful Movement. Like REALLY.
-I like anything Post Apocalyptic. I liked the PostMan. I liked Water World. I’m not being at all ironic.
-I like nonfiction history books- more about people, less about war.

So- any thoughts? Please feel free to put your favorite book that doesn't fit into the above suggestions- they are just to get the ball rolling!
posted by Blisterlips to Media & Arts (50 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Your post-apocalyptic starter....The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.
posted by Joe Rocket at 10:02 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you read Mark Twain's "Roughing It"? Very funny book about his travels through the US and the shenanigans he gets into.
posted by Grither at 10:08 AM on November 15, 2012

For post-apocalyptic, try Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, or Neuromancer by William Gibson.
posted by ubiquity at 10:14 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series? If you haven't, you should. They are often shelved in the romance section, but they're more like historical fiction with some minor time travel thrown in. I love those fictional characters more than I love most real people.
posted by something something at 10:15 AM on November 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

For romance, lately I've been on a binge of reading/listening to the audiobook versions of all the Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle books. Very enjoyable, reasonably well-written, and manage to cleanly yet deftly negotiate issues of consent (the female characters aren't forced into intimacy, they choose it). The books cover a range of eras (Regency, contemporary, future) and genres (straight romance, romance-mystery-suspense, fantasy-science-fiction-romance). The Paid Companion (historical, no fantastical elements) is a good one to start with.
posted by Lexica at 10:16 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just tore through all of Courtney Milan's books, which are trashy (but well-written!) historical romance.
posted by mskyle at 10:17 AM on November 15, 2012

I like anything Post Apocalyptic.

I've been enjoying the Wool series. (Six novella-length books so far; I'm currently in the middle of the fourth one.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:18 AM on November 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Watergate: A Novel is excellent. It's historically accurate and a fascinating read.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:19 AM on November 15, 2012

This gets recommended all the time but The Devil in the White City is a good read. It intertwines the story of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago with a serial killer who was operating in the city at the time (nonfiction). Also by that author (Erik Larson) is In the Garden of Beasts, which is about the American Ambassador in Berlin during Hitler's uprising in the early 1930's (also nonfiction). There's a lot of interesting historical context but the writing is very much focused on the people involved--a lot of the content is in the form of real letters between the ambassador and various diplomats. His young party-girl daughter also factors in heavily and gets wrapped up with some interesting characters so there are a lot of her letters too. Historical stuff actually bores me a lot of the time but I loved this book.
posted by lovableiago at 10:22 AM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas" covers a few of those bases.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:27 AM on November 15, 2012

Memoir: I just finished "Back Story" by David Mitchell (the comedian, not the novelist). It's pretty great. It's a very human story, as opposed to your typical celebrity tell-all. I don't think you'd even have to know who he is to appreciate it.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:28 AM on November 15, 2012

I know that teen dystopian fiction is sorta all the rage, but I really enjoyed the Uglies books. They're horribly written but engaging.

Seconding Devil in the White City. So good - reads more like fiction than nonfiction. Also The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is great (incidentally, I first heard about it on AskMe.)
posted by radioamy at 10:31 AM on November 15, 2012

Diana Galbadon!
posted by Kazimirovna at 10:31 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

re: junky romance, have you read all the Sookie Stackhouse (true blood) books? They are pretty hilarrible.
posted by elizardbits at 10:37 AM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Also, I got awesome answers on my nonfiction history book askme a while back.
posted by elizardbits at 10:39 AM on November 15, 2012

Colson Whitehead's Zone 1.
Matthue Roth's Yom Kippur a Go-Go.
posted by mlle valentine at 10:43 AM on November 15, 2012

I've read Escape twice, and it is phenomenal - it's the story of someone attempting to escape the crazy fundamentalist religious sect she was brought up in. It blew my mind to hear how this lady lived and what it took to get out of that environment.

You might also like Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited - I read it not too long ago and enjoyed it a lot.
posted by meggan at 10:43 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Some romance I've enjoyed this year:
R.L. Mathewson' "Neighbors from Hell" series ("Perfecton", "Playing for Keeps" and "Checkmate") - self-published - needs some editing work, but HILARIOUS
Shannon Stacey
Jennifer Probst
Kristan Higgins
Lexie Couper - Love's Rhythm
Kelly Jamieson - Faceoff
Brenda Novak - When Lightning Strikes
Abbi Glines - The Vincent Boys & The Vincent Brothers
Lizbeth Selvig - The Rancher & the Rock Star
Chelsea Cameron - My Favorite Mistake

Mark Logue - The King's Speech
Paul Collins - The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars
Candice Millard - Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Ernest Cline - Ready Player One
posted by stampsgal at 10:43 AM on November 15, 2012

Leonard Nemoy's memoirs were great. ("I am not Spock" and "I am Spock"). I love love loved them.
I also really enjoyed Ellen Degeneres' books.

- Pretty much anything by Neil Gaiman is effing spectacular. American Gods is the best place to start.
- The Dune series is great.
- Ender's Game is also great. The author is a mega douche bad IRL though.
- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series is really good and really worth a read.
- The James Bond books, it turns out, are great. I am reading Casino Royale for my bookclub and I am enjoying it way way more than I thought I would. I intend to read more.
- And yes, the Outlander series is what you're looking for in terms of romance.

Have you read any Robert Fulghum? Or Erma Bombeck?
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:47 AM on November 15, 2012

Hitting both the memoir and books-on-religion themes, Rhoda Janzen has written two books on being a Mennonite.
posted by jabes at 10:50 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

For junky romance: check out Carina Press. They're not all junky (in fact, the editorial process means that at least the romance bits are super romancey) but when I want to read the trashiest I go straight there. Browse by romance category (I love to hit up their Holidays section right around now!) and pick up one of the novella length ones -- just right for that trashy craving!
posted by AmandaA at 10:54 AM on November 15, 2012

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose for non-converting religion book about Evangelical Christianity. (Not Quiverful, though.)
posted by INTPLibrarian at 10:56 AM on November 15, 2012

Rhoda Janzen's second book is actually about becoming a Pentecostal Christian in what sounds like a lovely church, and contrasting her new church with the Mennonite church in which she was raised. Also her experience of breast cancer, marriage, step parenting, and caring for her father-in-law. It's charming.

Speaking of books about religion, Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town That Talks to the Dead, by Christine Wicker, is a great account of the upstate New York Spiritualist haven from a respectful but totally skeptical point of view.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:05 AM on November 15, 2012

Seconding The Passage and its sequel The Twelve. I'm not a fan of horror or really sci-fi even and I thoroughly enjoyed both of them.
posted by fshgrl at 11:08 AM on November 15, 2012

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:19 AM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

How about post-apocalyptic nonfiction? Try The World Without Us by Alan Weisman.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:50 AM on November 15, 2012

From my (embarrassingly complete list) of junky teen dystopian files (which I think would mostly fall in the post apocalyptic file)

Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Uglies by Scott Westfield
Delirium by Lauren Oliver

A Great and Terrible Beauty Series by Libba Bray, is Victorian-y not post apocalyptic, but it was a fun read.

In the light romance vein- Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin are both good, I'd recommend any of their books
posted by dadici at 11:51 AM on November 15, 2012

I'm addicted to all things Kristen Ashley. Romance. They are like chips, once you start, you can't stop.
posted by cecic at 11:55 AM on November 15, 2012

Also, this article, is pretty judgmental of the Quiverful Movement, but it mentions a book, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality by Mary Pride as a "founding text" of the movement. I haven't had time to read the book yet, but you may find it interesting.
posted by dadici at 11:57 AM on November 15, 2012

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is one of the best memoirs I've read: fascinating, suspenseful, uplifting, and occasionally funny.

Since you mention memoirs, religion, and history--have you read Persepolis? It's held in very high regard (for good reason, I'd say).
posted by johnofjack at 12:08 PM on November 15, 2012

Sorry, last one I swear- you peaked my interest with the Quiverfull Idea, this blog is made up of adult children who were raised in Quiverfull Families, there is a range of opinions on the site, so far the 3 articles I've read have been pretty straight forward in tone and very interesting.
posted by dadici at 12:09 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

OK, you did say the more garbagey the romance, the better, so don't shoot the messenger here. Have you ever read any of Sandra Hill's viking romance books?

Some of them involve time-traveling vikings coming to the present day, or time-traveling women from present-day going to viking times; many are just vikings back in viking times. They are completely historically inaccurate, like probably well past the line of being offensive if any real vikings were to somehow read them, preferring instead to play up all the stereotypes you can think of. There is usually some overlap between the books, like you'll realize that the heroine's cousin that gets mentioned a few times in one book is the hero of another book you've already read. They're full of stupid puns, have embarrassing Fabio-in-tights style covers, and are super fun to read.

Here's an Amazon search for Sandra Hill's viking books, though I suppose you might want to try the B&N site if you're looking for the Nook.

Titles you might enjoy include:
* The Very Virile Viking
* The Reluctant Viking
* The Blue Viking
* Truly Madly Viking
and the list goes on for a long time.

The word "viking" has stopped making sense in my head at this point. Viking viking viking.
posted by vytae at 12:13 PM on November 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

For "post-apocalyptic" - If you have not yet read Riddley Walker, stop what you are doing right now and get a copy of it immediately.

Seconding "Devil In The White City" - adding another book by the same author, "Thunderstruck".

The Discoverers is a sort of combination nonfiction history and science book and it was fascinating.

And speaking of history - big love to Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe series, which starts with the Big Bang and brings us up to the beginnng of the second Gulf War in 2003.

And this was fun: America Eats. It's a hybrid of "selections from an abandoned WPA project" and "the editor follows up on some of the things WPA writers wrote about."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:28 PM on November 15, 2012

-I like junky romance books- the more garbagey the better.

There are a LOT of junky romance books available for free - several a day, it seems. Also lots and lots of thrillers and mysterys and post-apocalyptic, and some non-fiction. This Metafilter thread links to some of the sites where you can get free ebooks, including lots of recent titles on free as a promotion (not just classics). I like ireaderreview, Free Kindle Books and Tips and Pixel of Ink. Some are good, some are terrible, but you will definitely get your ($0) money's worth.

Most of these books are from Amazon, and thus they are in Kindle format (.mobi or Amazon's own format) -- if you download them to your PC and strip the DRM (instructions online), you can convert them to epub or whatever other format you'd like with calibre. Or if you have an android-based Nook, you could read directly with a Kindle app.
posted by jb at 1:03 PM on November 15, 2012

memail me for conversion instructions.
posted by jb at 1:04 PM on November 15, 2012

Also: on the junky romance side, you should try The Black Dagger Brotherhood. I began them because the names and plots sounded so ridiculous, I just had to read them, and was pleasantly surprised that they are much better than they seemed at first. Not good, really, but with surprisingly believable characters, for vampires.
posted by jb at 1:07 PM on November 15, 2012

I recently finished Religion for Atheists and thoroughly enjoyed it.
posted by lagreen at 1:23 PM on November 15, 2012

This is the Way the World Ends
posted by Gin and Comics at 1:47 PM on November 15, 2012

Robert Giradi should be paying me, because I am constantly recommending his book The Pirate's Daughter to everyone. I even buy up second hand copies to give to people, it is such an absorbing, entertaining, excellent book. Romance! Slavery! Ocean voyages! Other stuff!
posted by thylacinthine at 2:36 PM on November 15, 2012

For post-apocalyptic, I have to suggest Feed by Mira Grant. Post-zombie apocalypse, but surprisingly believable with lots of pop culture references and snappy dialogue. If you ever watched and liked Joss Whedon's Buffy, you'll probably like Feed and its sequels.

If you don't mind the supernatural elements, The Parasol Protectorate (starting with Soulless) is a lot of fun. It's sort of Jane Austen style romance with steampunk and werewolves. It gets a little overly silly for me in the more recent books, but the first few are great.
posted by ashirys at 2:39 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

-I’m about to finish Under the Banner of Heaven- which was a wonderful non-fiction book about Fundamentalist Mormons. I loved it (I’m atheist but I am not comfortable with disrespectful attitudes toward believers). Books on religion that are not trying to convert me are awesome. I would REALLY love a respectful, articulate book on the Quiverful Movement. Like REALLY.

I loooooove books about this stuff.

I've only found one decent book about Quiverfull and even that was kind of meh. It's Quiverfull: Inside the Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce.

There are a bunch of really, really great memoirs written by fundamentalist Mormons that I'd recommend first, though. Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer is the best. Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall is pretty much the modern equivalent, and is also very good.

I'd also recommend Leaving the Saints by Martha Beck, which is about a woman leaving mainstream Mormon culture.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:58 PM on November 15, 2012

I think most of the teen dystopian novels I was going to mention have already been added, but really teen/YA fic is where it's at for your basic dystopia fix. If no one's mentioned Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi and related titles, you should check that out.

For religion running into "regular" American culture, check out Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America - it's a decade old by this point and Postville itself has changed quite a bit, but still very interesting.

Also, check out Nook Lovers - they often have links to free or heavily discounted books for the Nook (as opposed to all those sites for the Kindle), especially romances.
posted by clerestory at 6:09 PM on November 15, 2012

Seconding Divergent and the sequel Insurgent. Post-apocalyptic with some angst and YA romance. I actually prefer it to Hunger Games in some respects since I can't stand love triangles.

For memoirs, I adored Jeannette Walls' The Glass Castle (her own memoir of her absolutely insane childhood) and her second book Half Broke Horses (a sort of faux-but-true memoir based on her deceased grandmother's awesome stories).
posted by gatorae at 8:02 PM on November 15, 2012

Oooh yes, stampsgal is right - Ready Player One is great! I'm not a post-apocalyptic/dystopian fan at all, and this brought me into that world and gave me lots of 80s-reference goodies to amuse me. Must read!
posted by AthenaPolias at 9:41 PM on November 15, 2012

Kinda trashy, but really enjoyable: Stephanie Bond's Body Movers series. (Disclaimer: I've only read the first three, but have been meaning to seek out the rest.)

Memoir: Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions, which is an amazing book about motherhood and mental illness. Seconding The Glass Castle, as well. If you've not read basically everything by Bill Bryson, he's worth investigating, as well--I'd suggest his travel memoirs as a starting point.
posted by MeghanC at 6:38 AM on November 16, 2012

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion has your romance AND post-apocalyptic boxes ticked. You won't find another story quite like it!
posted by wigsnatcher at 7:23 AM on November 16, 2012

You might like The Ghost Map by Stephen Johnson, about London's cholera epidemic, the birth of public health and epidemiology, and the turning point in human history toward living in urban areas.
posted by rosa at 10:01 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another recommendation: I'm 2/3 of the way through The Wild Child by Mary Jo Putney and was delighted when I checked GoodReads and found that she's got bunches more. Will the stiff-necked Lord Maxwell and his 10-minutes-younger twin brother make peace? Can mad Lady Meriel escape being sent to an asylum? OH GOD WHAT HAPPENS NEXT???
posted by Lexica at 4:17 PM on November 16, 2012

non-fiction history with a bit of memoir and junky romance: Sex With Kings
posted by par court at 4:54 AM on November 17, 2012

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