My girlfriend cheated on me. Help me find books to distract me.
May 20, 2013 10:09 PM   Subscribe

Long story short. Girlfriend of 2+ years cheated on me. We broke up, but this is right before I'm going to be spending a few months moving back home and doing a whole lot of nothing. I'm looking for recommendations for books to help keep me from dwelling on this, specific tastes below.

I'm generally a speedy reader, so I'm trying to build an arsenal of books to last me through this.

Some of my past favorites(in no order whatsoever):

The Sun Also Rises
A Song of Ice and Fire
The Kingkiller Chronicles
All of Neal Stephenson's work(except the Baroque Cycle)
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
Cloud Atlas
Anything by Terry Pratchett
Anything by John McPhee

The less relationship-y the book is, the better. I'm still in the sucker-punched phase so anything fun(but not necessarily light) or engrossing is best.
posted by aleatorictelevision to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend finding a genre or author with a huge catalog, that way you can just go down a big list. There are lots of sci fi and fantasy series in this style but you'll see that almost every genre has one or two authors with massive catalogs.

Lately, I have been enjoying Michael Connely's Harry Bosch books. I make it a point to read Raymond Chandler's novels every few years or so. If you happen to like Star Trek or Star Wars, there are more books than you could ever read set in those universes, as well as a lot of similar others. These sorts of genre novels are not literature but they are surprisingly entertaining. I also recommend checking out the rest of Michael Chabon's novels, maybe start with Wonderboys and go from there. Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Robot series are both incredible.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:18 PM on May 20, 2013

I think Krakauer, based on you McPhee preference. "Into the Wild" or "Under The Banner of Heaven."
posted by Duffington at 10:19 PM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sounds like you'll have enough time to go all through the Wheel of Time books, now that they are finally finished! You could also read Brandon Sandersons work in his own worlds, he has several series.

And I haven't read any of them yet, but I hear good things about Iain M Banks, specifically the Culture novels, which should take up some time. Ursula K Le Guinn is also one of the great scifi/fantasy authors, most well known for the Earthsea Chronicles.

And in a lighter vein, I found the Miles Vorkosigan books (space opera/intrigue) perfectly lightweight and engrossing enough to read for a couple of weeks straight.
posted by jacalata at 10:25 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Again, here I am to recommend the WOOL series. If you have a Kindle, the first one is free. [Previously]
posted by DarlingBri at 11:33 PM on May 20, 2013

You like fantasy but didn't mention Tolkien. On the off chance that you haven't read the Hobbit, do.

Better suggestion: the Laundry series by Charles Stross. Begin with "The Atrocity Archives."

"Magic is a branch of applied mathematics." The Platonic realm of numbers is something our plane of existence has in common with...other places. The old fashioned stuff with pentagrams and blood sacrifices worked disturbingly well, up to a point, but things heated up quite a bit once Turing just how much more could be done if the incantations were handled algorithmically. Since then the British government has been rounding up young computer scientists who are on the verge of accidentally writing a perl script that would summon Nyarlathotep and conscripting them into "The Laundry" an espionage agency tasked with keeping reality as we know it more or less intact.

Sample stories available online:
Down on the Farm
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:36 AM on May 21, 2013

Neverwhere & American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

Also, <3.
posted by fireandthud at 1:24 AM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Know what's super fun? Starting a quest to read every book that's ever won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction! (I'd start with the most recent and work backwards.)

Since you like Chabon - have you read Kavalier & Clay yet?
posted by sevensnowflakes at 1:50 AM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

How about the Harry Potter series? It's fun and engrossing. Lev Grossman's duology The Magicians / The Magician King is also very enjoyable. With both these suggestions I feel that the focus is more on friendship than on romantic love though others may disagree?

I am currently reading Declare by Tim Powers which is pretty great... it's a spy story with a supernatural twist and again, very engrossing.

Take it easy.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:08 AM on May 21, 2013

Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Cornbelt is my go-to favorite book recommendation. It is every bit the wild romp the title alludes to, and wastes no time launching directly into it with a perhaps-200-word run-on sentence as the first of the book.
posted by wrok at 4:06 AM on May 21, 2013

I enjoyed reading the Harry Dresden series as a guilty pleasure; he's a damaged modern-day magical type / film noir detective.

I also enjoyed "Ready Player One", which is similar to parts of Neal Stephenson's REAMDE in some ways.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:11 AM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Any non graphic novel by Neil Gaiman.
Robert Rankin
Jasper Fforde
A Prayer for Owen Meaney
The 100 Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window

All of these are escapist and avoid any wishy washy namby pamby oity toity girlie whirly lovey dovey nonsense.
Good luck, chin up.
posted by BenPens at 4:18 AM on May 21, 2013

I loved the rollercoaster that is Lights out in Wonderland by DBC Pierre - I read it in pretty much one sitting.
posted by honey-barbara at 4:32 AM on May 21, 2013

House of Leaves.

Feel better!
posted by BibiRose at 5:55 AM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Aztec by Gary Jennings is all kinds of gross but absolutely fascinating.

Carl Hiassen
writes excellent books set in Florida, mostly to do with corruption. It's hard to recommend a favourite because most of them are great.

If you like dialect and are not faint-hearted, Irvine Welsh's books are worth reading. The chef one is terrible though, I'd avoid that.

Roddy Doyle's Barrytown trilogy (The Committments, The Snapper, The Van) is wonderful.

Every Douglas Adams book.

Ben Elton has written some good books: High Society, Blind Faith and Meltdown are worth checking out.
posted by h00py at 6:03 AM on May 21, 2013

Wvweything Jacalata said + the Robin Hobb series:

Also Anything Douglas Adams
posted by irishcoffee at 7:15 AM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've heard really good things about The Name of the Wind from the Fire and Ice / Dark Materials crowd.

I read nearly a book a day for three months last summer for the same reasons. Good luck.
posted by mibo at 7:39 AM on May 21, 2013

Dune. Depending on how hard up you are, you could even venture into the expanded series (anything after Chapterhouse, written by Brian Herbert & friends).

There is some lovey-dovey stuff in the first couple of books... but SPOILER it mainly ends in tears
posted by sparklemotion at 9:32 AM on May 21, 2013

TA Pratt's Marla Mason series.
posted by foxfirefey at 9:36 AM on May 21, 2013

Neverwhere & American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Um, American Gods starts out with someone being cheated on, so... I wouldn't. It's been some time since I've read Neverwhere, but I think there's a bit of romantic blah blah in there too.

Try F.M. Busby (all of it - space opera, often includes romance, but in the least possibly romantic way ever of all time period full stop), and David Eddings (fantasy), which is more about being snippy with your co-adventurers than mushy Snuggles McRelationship stuff.

In fact, a lot of the old fantasy stuff would work. Try visiting Pern (Anne McCaffrey) or Darkover (Marion Zimmer Bradley)? Both often feature relationships, but in a sort of "real people would never say this" sort of way.
posted by Nyx at 10:36 AM on May 21, 2013

You might like Kim Stanley Robinson. He's more SF than fantasy, but I suggest it because you like Neal Stephenson (I have also read all of his stuff except the Baroque Cycle, I just couldn't do it). Robinson has written a good number of books (at least three trilogies) and the serious sciencey stuff should give you something absorbing to chew on.

Wikipedia entry with bibliography.

Good luck!
posted by Cyrie at 11:13 AM on May 21, 2013

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King would keep you busy for a while. I loved it!
posted by Kloryne at 12:14 PM on May 21, 2013

Just a quick note -- I love Lev Grossman's The Magicians, which I see someone recced above, but it may not be the best series to read right now since it does feature friendship but also has romantic infidelity and unhappy people in unhappy relationships. You can memail me if you'd like spoilery details to decide for yourself.

Seanan McGuire's books are not high literature or anything, but I find them enjoyable urban fantasy fluff. Max Brooks' World War Z is a quick, engrossing read ... you might like David Farland's books which has some interesting high fantasy ideas (although I would stick with the Earth King books, the Scions books go off the rails). If you're a Star Trek fan, you might also try the novel tie-ins, particularly the Rihannsu ones by Diane Duane and Uhura's Song, which have excellent worldbuilding and don't require much detailed Trek knowledge.
posted by angst at 8:47 PM on May 21, 2013

Infinite Jest is by far the best book I've ever read and it will distract you the whole time you're at home. Also, it's about the dangers of happiness when the search for it leads to isolation, so perhaps it's particularly relevant to you right now.

I hope you feel better soon.
posted by Fister Roboto at 9:41 AM on May 22, 2013

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