What should I read on my vacation?
September 5, 2005 11:54 AM   Subscribe

What should I read on my vacation?

The combination of an upcoming week at a beach house and a Borders gift card has me wondering how to replenish my book supply. Recent faves include Richard Russo's "Empire Falls," Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation," Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point," and Kate Atkinson's "Case Histories," which I'm about halfway through. Tell me what I should read next. I'm not terribly partial to mass-market bestsellers, so no Dan Brown, please. And, as always, thanks in advance.
posted by shallowcenter to Society & Culture (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Other books you haven't read by those authors, or look on Amazon for "people who bought this also bought..."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:04 PM on September 5, 2005

I just read
"Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" and loved the everloving spit out of it. Just wonderful, completely engrossing, and long. Everything a vacation book should be.
posted by asavage at 12:16 PM on September 5, 2005 [3 favorites]

Don Delillo- White Noise. A truly fantastic work of fiction. I can't recommend it highly enough. I'd buy a copy for everyone I know if I could afford it.
posted by fake at 12:24 PM on September 5, 2005

I just read Freddy and Fredericka and it was great. Easy read, fast paced, as thought provoking as you need it to be, etc...

I am a sucker for Mark Helprin novels though...
posted by GrumpyMonkey at 12:25 PM on September 5, 2005

What asavage said.
posted by Hlewagast at 12:27 PM on September 5, 2005

I'm about 3/4 of the way through Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, which I've really loved.
posted by scody at 12:28 PM on September 5, 2005

Cormac McCarthy's got a new one everyone seems to like.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:41 PM on September 5, 2005

Anything by David Mitchell. Cloud Atlas is excellent, as is Number9Dream. Not only is Mitchell's prose amazing, but his books always have a really interesting structure to them. For instance, Cloud Atlas has six different stories that are all linked together. The book starts with the first one, then cuts off halfway through, then does half of the second one, etc, up until the sixth story. It finishes the sixth story, then goes back and finishes the fifth, the fourth, etc, until it finishes the first one, linking things up in a really clever way each time. Brilliant.
posted by number9dream at 12:44 PM on September 5, 2005

If you liked "Kavalier and Clay," try his superior debut, "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh." For some reason Jonathan Lethem's "Gun, With Occasional Music," seems appropriate. And yes, read "Cloud Atlas" -- though, number9dream, I think your comment is a bit of a spoiler...
posted by escabeche at 12:58 PM on September 5, 2005

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre. I enjoyed it so much. A great vacation book.

Either that or Stone Junction by Jim Dodge, another fantastic book that makes you feel alive.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 1:13 PM on September 5, 2005

Anything by Nick Hornby. I've read High Fidelity and just read About a Boy in one sitting yesterday. Though to be honest, that's because it was an easy read rather than a really great one. I've been told Fever Pitch is great, too. Anyway, he's good for vacation reads, I think.
posted by bibbit at 1:27 PM on September 5, 2005


Arthur Bradford's Dogwalker -- touching little stories from a young American writer of terrific talent

Franco Ferrucci's The Life of God (as Told by Himself) -- God's autobiography, a forgotten gem from the 80's. God created universe because he felt lonely but has had no direct control over it after the moment of creation. a not-omnipotent God as spectator of human history throughout the centuries


David S Reynolds' biography of John Brown is very interesting (and, I must warn you, quite sympathetic to Brown).

Antony Wild's Coffee: A Dark History -- especially if you're a coffee drinker

Italo Calvino's Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings -- because it's Calvino.

Roberto Calasso's K -- an elegant, amazing essay on Kafka's life and works.


Frank O'Hara's collected poems -- a much-needed resource to honor an American master

Charles Wright's The Wrong End of the Rainbow -- the new book by America's foremost poet of landscape
posted by matteo at 1:51 PM on September 5, 2005

WIth great disasters on everyone's mind, I've been reading 'The Great Influenza" by John M. Barry. I haven't really gotten to the epidemic yet, but the buildup on the history and politics of medicine in the early 20th century is pretty fascinating.

If you have a masochistic hankering to read for complete irony and linguistic outrage, any book by Clive Cussler will do. My son and I will read those and try to spot the most egregious use of cliche, hackneyed phrases, and outright slips of logic. I just found one the other day where a new character was bald at the end of his introductory paragraph, but had a lush head of hair at the end of the paragraph. That's more of a game than reading, though. If you're into noir and science fiction, I would recommend 'Altered Carbon' by Richard Morgan.
posted by umberto at 2:02 PM on September 5, 2005

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is truly excellent - it has done very well, but don't let that put you off.
posted by Lotto at 4:03 PM on September 5, 2005

Nick Hornby's latest, "A Long Way Down" is good fun. Just the thing for a holiday read, I think.
posted by Decani at 5:01 PM on September 5, 2005

I'm about 80 pages from the end of Glenn Duncan's I, Lucifer, and have enjoyed it a great deal. And if you've never checked out George MacDonald Fraiser's Flashman! and its sequels, they'd make great beach reading with a bit of brain behind it.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:33 PM on September 5, 2005

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold had a similar feel to Kavalier and Klay, and was a very good read.
Latest Nick Hornby is an excellent suggestion.
posted by cushie at 8:07 PM on September 5, 2005

If you have any interest in bicycle road racing, or competitive sports in general, The Rider by Tim Krabbe is a tasty morsel that you may not be able to put down. One of my all time favorite books of any genre.
posted by Manjusri at 8:31 PM on September 5, 2005

I always recommend John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces", because it's one of the few novels that you just laugh out loud at, the characters are such a hoot.
posted by willmize at 3:41 AM on September 6, 2005

Depending on what you like, and I know my tastes are schizophrenic . . . I've recently discovered Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, and they're fun reads. Probably one of the first times I've laughed out loud reading a book lately. I beleive there are four of them in the series, and they're all really funny. Just read them in order. Really.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:50 AM on September 6, 2005

I'll second "I, Lucifer". That was good fun.
posted by Decani at 10:41 AM on September 6, 2005

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