Christmas Present: Books for Mom edition
December 5, 2014 9:50 PM   Subscribe

Every year I load up my Mom's Kindle library for Christmas. This year I'm finding a lot of stuff on the non-fiction end but very little fiction that is up her alley. Her fave books: Neal Stephenson's "The Baroque Cycle" and Gillian Bradshaw's "The Sand-Reckoner." Got a rec? Expanded explanation of her taste inside!

Fiction things my mom likes: Books about Italy. Books about science, preferably taking place in the early 1700s or earlier, although she does also like science fiction. Books about artists. Books about doctors, again historical settings are preferable. Swashbuckling and witty banter are up her alley. If I could find her a book about a medical doctor and scientist/painter partner in renaissance Italy, that would pretty much be her ultimate book.

She loved loved loved Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle and re-reads it regularly. She likes the science aspects and also adores Jack Shaftoe - if there is another book with a Jack Shaftoe type out there she'd love it. Recently she enjoyed Empress Dowager Cixi. The Sand-Reckoner by Gillian Bradshaw is one of her favorite books. She doesn't like romance novels in general but did enjoy Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase.
posted by rednikki to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
An Instance of the Fingerpost hits a lot of those points, and it's a very good novel.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:11 PM on December 5, 2014

Cryptonomicon is another Stephenson, heavy on the science and math, with Shaftoes.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:24 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh! What about The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey? Sort of straddles modern day and several centuries ago, about working out what happened to the Princes in the Tower.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:36 PM on December 5, 2014

If I could find her a book about a medical doctor and scientist/painter partner in renaissance Italy, that would pretty much be her ultimate book.

How about a doctor who trained in Italy and now uses an early form of forensic science to solve a murder in medieval England? Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. It's excellent.

Your mother might also enjoy The Alienist by Caleb Carr.
posted by Georgina at 12:21 AM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's a few decades old now, but Umberto Eco's "The Name of The Rose"?

In Romance-land, I think she'd enjoy Courtney Milan's recent series, The Brothers Sinister. It's intelligent genre fiction with a heavy slant towards intellectual women who are interested in chess, natural sciences and the suffragette movement.

China Mieville's Bas-Lag novels (starting with Perdido Street Station) might also be worth looking into.
posted by kariebookish at 2:41 AM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites] might be useful.
posted by mecran01 at 6:05 AM on December 6, 2014

Maybe you could try Dorothy Dunnett Nicolo Rising series. Its historical fiction based around the rise of the merchant class in Medieval Europe. I reccomend it because the writing is just superb, but it goes right over a lot of people's heads. I thought, that from what you describe your Mom as liking, this would be right up her alley and she would certainly be up to the challenge.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:18 AM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown?
posted by stampsgal at 6:41 AM on December 6, 2014

I really liked Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, which is about a a 17th century English village during the plague and a young woman who cares for the sick and generally tries to help the village cope.

I also thought of the Doomsday Book, which seems a lot more like Stephenson in style. This involves time travel so is a mix of science fiction and historical fiction.

I second Dorothy Dunnet. Her books are brilliant but also not easy reads.
posted by carolr at 7:20 AM on December 6, 2014

Thanks everyone! Several of these recommendations include books that my mom also loves (The Alienist, Doomsday Book), which shows that everyone is on exactly the right track.
posted by rednikki at 11:14 AM on December 6, 2014

One of my favorite recent series is Deborah Harkness's All Souls trilogy. The first book, A Discovery of Witches, has lots of swashbuckling in present time (though with some centuries old creatures) and the second book, Shadow of Night, SPOILERS AHEAD takes place in the 16th century, travelling in England, France, and Russia. These books are by a historian and it shows. I'm not sure if liking scifi means your mom will also like fantasy/supernatural, but if she's open to it I think these are some of the richest stories in the genre.

Another neat one is The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. She writes a fictional history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, imagining all the people who had it over the years, back to it's creation in the 15th century.
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:04 AM on December 7, 2014

The Leopard

Also, you might try as a reference for mystery novels by era and location.
posted by mearls at 7:09 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to say that your suggestions formed the lion's share of my gifts to my mom this year. Thank you, MeFites, for being such brilliant people!
posted by rednikki at 2:28 PM on December 24, 2014

« Older I keep waking up too early. Is this pathological?   |   Time-Sensitive Seduction? Or: not letting... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.