Your incredibly absorbing summer reads: omnivore edition
August 13, 2017 10:47 AM   Subscribe

I need to distract myself from thoughts of the impending apocalypse and am looking for recommendations for books that you just couldn't put down. My tastes lean towards crime (true and fiction), psychological thrillers, mystery, politics, psychology etc. but I am pretty much open to anything these days, as long as it keeps me off Facebook and CNN.

Lately, I've devoured Emily Cline's The Girls, Naomi Alderman's The Power, and I have a copy of The Essex Serpent on my nightstand.

I'm not a fan of grotesque violence, misogyny, or very technical and detailed speculative fiction or family sagas. I can get pretty much anything that is published in English or French and right now, I'm loving paper over e-books. I'd particularly appreciate recommendations for things from small presses or works in translation that might not otherwise come onto my radar.
posted by rpfields to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
I proofread for Europa Editions, which seems like exactly the sort of press you're looking for! They even have a whole world noir imprint, much of which is translated from other languages. In terms of specific books, Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan novels are quite popular. Some other Europa books I've especially enjoyed include Maurizio de Giovanni's books (The Crocodile might be a bit grim for your tastes; everything else would probably work), anything by Alina Bronsky, and Philippe Georget's Mediterranean mystery series.
posted by ferret branca at 10:57 AM on August 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


If you've not read Navajo detective series are good reads. I became immersed in a fictional world that was different from my everyday life.
posted by mightshould at 11:06 AM on August 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Have you read Louise Penny's Gamache series? Highly recommend. The first book is Still Life.
posted by loveandhappiness at 11:16 AM on August 13, 2017 [7 favorites]


In The Woods by Tana French.
posted by kapers at 11:21 AM on August 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


I second Louise Penny and also recommend Martin Walker's Bruno, Chief of Police series.
posted by epj at 11:35 AM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie mysteries, especially When Will There Be Good News, are excellent.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 11:41 AM on August 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


I read Incendiary earlier this year. It's a true crime story of one of the first criminal psychological profiles. I couldn't put it down.
posted by Night_owl at 11:50 AM on August 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


I read David Mitchell's Slade House and Black Swan Green back-to-back last year as if I was in some sort of fever. (I haven't yet read Cloud Atlas or The Bone Clocks, but it seems everyone swears by them as well, so.)

He's problematic as hell in certain ways, but if you like James Ellroy (or might be inclined to be interested in his brand of bluntly exaggerated historical neo-noir), Perfidia is the best thing he's done since American Tabloid 20 years ago. I definitely couldn't put it down, which is saying something, given that I had to give up on his previous couple of novels.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 12:12 PM on August 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


the deaths by mark lawson,
pandaemonium by christopher brookmyre
or pretty much anything by paul murray
posted by speakeasy at 12:19 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I read Pines by Blake Crouch in about 2 days. I haven't gotten to the rest of the trilogy yet because I haven't had the time to set aside! My friend read it on the plane and immediately bought the other two and read those on the same flight.
posted by radioamy at 12:35 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm a big crime/ thriller fan and the John Sandford books are my absolute favourites. He has three main characters the books center around: two cops vs a computer hacker. Some of the books are about serial killers and those have a lot more violence but most are about "regular" murders and crimes. Why do I like them? The plots are pretty good and Sandford writes people and ambiguity really, really well which a lot of thriller writers don't. Especially the women
posted by fshgrl at 12:43 PM on August 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'll second Tana French, though my favorites are The Likeness (if you're willing to grant the premise) and the most recent one (The Trespasser?).
posted by salvia at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


the guardian's best summer holiday reads one and two gave me loads of ideas.

On booktube (ie youtube about books), my favourite booktuber is Jen V Campbell but there are loads of others, i like hearing them discuss the books and can work out from it how i'll feel about them. I like lauren and the books, rincey reads, bookriot and lots more, but i'm not a psycho-crime person.

Researching literary prizes using wikipedia's list, i did find some that seemed to have really interesting winners in the past and would be worth watching in the future. I was trying to find new sources of good recommendations, and tried looking at the wiki list of articles in that section and reading them and seeing if i liked the previous winners.

I like free stuff and have a kindle, so i've been expanding my old-time reading, discovering second-ranking and foreign (have some french) and didn't know about and so-old-it's-never-mentioned stuff, eg 17th century novels and biography. Gutenberg.org is the enemy of browsing, so you have to find somewhere that reviews the stuff... My favourite recent find is the autobiography of John Nicol sailor which is a couple of quid and very interesting.

use the longreads twitter feed for links to long news culture and science articles and the firefox addon Push To Kindle or similar to read them painlessly on kindle - lots of american journalism is longer than short books. Plenty on online magazines like aeon and nautilus write about science a lot

obviously you'd have to apply this advice a bit, eg crime or psycho lit prizes, but there might be foreign prizes with good books to discover in translation
posted by maiamaia at 1:59 PM on August 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


Seconding Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie mysteries. I recently read Susie Steiner's Missing, Presumed, which scratched the same itch.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:57 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


The Woman in Cabin 10, I could not stop reading it and have been recommending it to everyone. It's a mystery/thriller, so good.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 3:09 PM on August 13, 2017 [4 favorites]


I think you'd really like Fred Vargas. She has two main series, not all of which have been translated into English although it sounds like that's not a problem if you can find the French. The Commissaire Adamsberg ones are probably my favourites - the first one I read was An Uncertain Place which just sounded like the perfect book for me and was so damn good I have bought everything else of hers I can find. I particularly love the odd humour of her books, they're just so absurd at times they've had me laughing out loud.

Other crime/thriller novels by women that I've really enjoyed lately include An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire, Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta and The Dry by Jane Harper (her second,Force of Nature, is due out this month).

I also quite enjoy Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins series, and there are an awful lot of them if they turn out to be your cup of tea, since he's been writing them for a while.

I'm currently reading All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders and am finding it really hard to put down. It's not a mystery or a thriller exactly, more speculative fiction, but it has that wanting to find out what happens next thing down in spades.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:59 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Go read The Fireman by Joe Hill. You're welcome.
posted by floweredfish at 6:56 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's a bit raunchy, but I am loving Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta and am trying to savor it.
posted by pazazygeek at 8:04 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I just finished Final Girls by Riley Sager. The writing can be slightly cheesy a time times, but I had a hard time putting it down!
posted by sucre at 8:42 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


For fiction that is just as fun for adults as it is for teens,
Rachel Caine's Ink and Bone, a little bit steampunk, a little bit of school of magic motley band of friends, a lot of librarian-bad-assery
Patricia C. Wrede's Thirteenth Child is a fantasy frontier Western with a super engaging coming of age story.

For non-fiction that is engrossing but intense, I recommend Matthew Desmond's Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City and S. Lochlann Jain's Malignant: How Cancer Becomes Us
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:07 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh! One more fantasy-ish rec, Tremontaine and the associated books, originally by Ellen Kushner but now written in collaboration with some fantastic writers.

And for crime, I've binged thoroughly and happily on anything by Anne Perry and everything by Ian Rankin.
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:11 PM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm reading Lionel Davidson's Kolmysky Heights. It's good, faux-smart, absorbing fun.
posted by latkes at 10:26 AM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Thanks everybody! This list will save my sanity over the next few weeks. I've marked a few as "best answer," largely because they are pointing me to areas that I hadn't been aware of at all, but I am grateful for all your recommendations and will check them out.
posted by rpfields at 4:07 PM on August 14, 2017


The book that thoroughly engrossed me recently was Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones. It's a novel about werewolves. It's a coming of age story. Its more.

I couldn't put it down.
posted by Archer25 at 9:05 AM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


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