What is the best book you've read in the past year?
January 15, 2004 9:59 PM   Subscribe

I've recently had a schedule change at work that leaves me with large chunks of time that I usually fill with reading. Since January 1st I've read 9 books. The problem is that I seem to have exhausted my personal "to read" list and end up in the public library empty-handed. What is the best book you've read in the past year? I'm open to any genre.
posted by ttrendel to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (68 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
jeffrey eugenides - middlesex
bill bryson - short history of nearly everything
edward bunker - education of a felon
charles bukowski - ham on rye
lundy bancroft - why does he do that?
arthur nersesian - the fuckup
robert greene - the art of seduction
peter viertel - white hunter black heart
jimmy lerner - you got nothing coming
james mcmanus - positively fifth street
steven pressfield - art of war
jean donaldson - culture clash
david mamet - true and false, three uses for a knife, on directing film (three diff books)
posted by dobbs at 10:16 PM on January 15, 2004

Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day is absolutely astonishing. It seems so mundane, quiet, pedantic even - but that's all just a brittle shell for the astonishingly sad, emotional narrative beneath. It's also a very quick and easy read. (It won the Booker Prize.)

Alan Lightman's Reunion is an elegantly written short novel, about youth, loss, and love with a ballerina. The descriptions are sensual but light, and note-perfect. His Einstein's Dreams, Good Benito and the devastating The Diagnosis are also excellent.

Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot G. Enough has been written already: but it's terrific.

Ian McEwan, Atonement. It's a heartbreaking novel, written with tremendous clarity, confidence, and focus. It's about justice, truth, forgiveness and - indeed, atonement. It's great, and far better than the other sort of novels that share its setting (eg, [gasp] Virginia Woolf).

And finally, an absolutely fascinating read is Michael Ondaatje's The Conversations: Walter Murch. The noted Canadian novel/poet sat down for several discussions, over a period of years, with Murch, the editor of such films as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now (and the director of Return to Oz). Their conversations range from theories of Art, history, translation, through to the filmmaking process, and the discussion of particular movies Murch worked on. Ondaatje's a sensitive interviewer - he's genuinely interested - and Murch is a fascinating, gentle, polymath genius. The greatness of this book came as a complete surprise to me, as I'm not really a film buff.
posted by Marquis at 10:18 PM on January 15, 2004

Although these are not books I have read in the past year, if you haven't read the Three Kingdoms (attributed to Luo Guanzhong), Outlaws of the Marsh (by Shi Nai'an, Luo Guanzhong and translated by Sidney Shapiro) and The Journey to the West (by Anthony C. Yu), these are all good (and thick) books to fill up large chunks of time. :)
posted by cup at 10:23 PM on January 15, 2004

Julie Orringer - How to Breathe Underwater

You can read an excellent interview with the author first if you want to know what you're getting into. It's a collection of short stories mainly about young women. Top-notch.
posted by Aaorn at 10:42 PM on January 15, 2004

I second crying of lot 49...

It might be worth your while to go into a bookstore and ask what books the booksellers would recommend.


my favorite books I read in the last year
"Pixel Juice" by Jeff Noon
"Sea came in at Midnight" by Steve Erickson
"Box Office Poison" by Alex Robinson
"Making of Toro" by Mark Sundeen
and many others.
posted by drezdn at 10:47 PM on January 15, 2004

The Makioka Sisters–Junichiro Tanizaki
posted by smich at 10:47 PM on January 15, 2004

I'm finishing up Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. It should fill up a good chunk of your time.

(p.s. to Marquis: The Crying of Lot G is Yo La Tengo, The Crying of Lot 49 is Pynchon)
posted by gluechunk at 10:47 PM on January 15, 2004

I can second Marquis' recommendations for anything Lightman. Just finished Reunion myself and it was very good. I'll also second his McEwan and the book on/with/by Murch. Murch's In the Blink of an Eye is also excellent.
posted by dobbs at 10:48 PM on January 15, 2004

It isn't fiction, and it was more than a year ago, but Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond is a pretty smokin' read.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:52 PM on January 15, 2004

2003 was the year of the short story for me. Some winners:

The Collected Stories, John Cheever
Indelible Acts, A.L. Kennedy
Cathedral, Raymond Carver
Stories, TC Boyle
After the Quake, Haruki Murakami
A Relative Stranger, Charles Baxter
Early Works, John Updike (currently reading).
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:58 PM on January 15, 2004

not in the last year, but...

the black book, orhan pamuk
house of leave, mark z danielewski
djinn, alain robbe-grillet
the new york trilogy, paul auster
hopscotch, julio cortazar

really good trashy, pulpy science fiction (imagine spillane + scifi setting):
altered carbon, richard morgan

non fiction:
the oulipo compendium, atlas press
posted by juv3nal at 11:38 PM on January 15, 2004

If you don't mind a bit of heavy-duty European literary fiction, then I can heartily recommend The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by Jose Saramago and The Melancholy of Resistance, by Laszlo Krasznahorkai. Victor Pelevin's books are also well worth a look: I particularly enjoyed Omon Ra and The Life of Insects.
posted by misteraitch at 11:41 PM on January 15, 2004

John Irving - A prayer for Owen Meany
posted by seanyboy at 11:47 PM on January 15, 2004

Time Enough for Love, by Robert Heinlin
posted by SpecialK at 11:53 PM on January 15, 2004

house of leave, mark z danielewski
house of leaves, dammit.
posted by juv3nal at 11:58 PM on January 15, 2004

Mark Haddon - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Steve Martin - The Pleasure of My Company
Gabriel Garcia Marquez - One Hundred Years of Solitude
posted by Alylex at 11:59 PM on January 15, 2004

General Fiction:
Zeno's Conscience, Italo Svevo
Woman on the Edge of time, Marge Piercy
The Life of Insects, Victor Pelevin
Our Lady of the Circus, David Toscana
Forgetting Elena, Edmund White
The Goldbug Variations, Richard Powers

A song of ice and fire, George RR Martin
The Demon Princes, Jack Vance
Ship of Fools, Richard Paul Russo
posted by vacapinta at 12:00 AM on January 16, 2004

darn! not only did i miss one but also it is the one i'd pick if i could only pick one:

The adventures of maqroll, alvaro mutis
posted by vacapinta at 12:08 AM on January 16, 2004

You read Catch 22 already, haven't you?
posted by Keyser Soze at 12:11 AM on January 16, 2004

A list of nonfiction that I read or reread this year (some new, a few older) and would recommend:

Kitchen Confidential - Anthony Bourdain
Word Freak - Stefan Fatsis
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio - Terry Ryan
The Botany of Desire - Michael Pollan
Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris
Lucky - Alice Sebold
Canadian History For Dummies - Will Ferguson (Don't be put off that it's a "For Dummies" - it is thorough, very well-written, and funny! We got his other books after reading this one.)
The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup - Susan Orlean
The Design of Everyday Things - Donald Norman
Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady - Florence King
The World's Most Dangerous Places - Robert Young Pelton
The Elements of Typographic Style - Robert Bringhurst (this is very dense reading - I think it is meant to be a textbook - but fascinating)

I haven't read many novels lately, but I reread both City of Light by Lauren Belfer and Where is Joe Merchant? by Jimmy Buffett this year. I get into pulpy wacky Florida authors like Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen for trashy reading.

Terry Pratchett's 'Discworld' series is a great timekiller - something like 20 or more books by now. He puts out a new one every year. Very funny. The Truth is a recent one that would make a good starting point.
posted by Melinika at 12:21 AM on January 16, 2004

All of Robert Caro's biographies of Lyndon Johnson (4 volume.)
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 12:31 AM on January 16, 2004

Another vote for Atonement, the single best novel I've read this decade. I'm also enjoying Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything right now, so I'll second that one too. Other recent favourites were Montaigne's Essays, Mil Millington's Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, and Giles Milton's Nathaniel's Nutmeg: How One Man's Courage Changed the Course of History.
posted by rory at 2:03 AM on January 16, 2004

Seconds on Middlesex and House Of Leaves, and then adding The Book Of Skulls by Robert Silverberg.

Also, start trawling through the nonfiction sections of your library. You can find the strangest stuff in the psychology, religion, and sociology sections. I personally love finding old books on phrenology and spiritualists.
posted by Katemonkey at 3:06 AM on January 16, 2004

In the last year:

They F*** You Up by Oliver James - studies of the role parents play in childhood development.
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (American version, not UK censored edition) by Greg Palast - the dirty world of George Bush Sr.*, Enron, Florida 2000, New Labour's abuses of representation and power*, etc.

[* censored in all, or part, in the UK edition, because of British libel laws.]

Abuse Your Illusions (The Disinformation Guide to Media Mirages and Establishment Lies) edited by Russ Kick. Conspiracy tales ... or are they!? Dun-dun-duuuh!
Naked Lunch by William Burroughs. Still working my way through that one, intermittently. A piece of modern cultural heritage (like goatse.cx)!
Eats, Shoots & Leaves (The Zero Tolerance Guide to Punctuation) by Lynne Truss - lighthearted, witty and informative guide to ... punctuation and its history.

Recommended anyway:

The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe - Keysey & The Merry Pranksters acid-storm American culture.
Walking on Glass by Iain Banks - not telling ... read it yourself.
Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse.
posted by Blue Stone at 3:13 AM on January 16, 2004

I'll third Atonement; it is not so literary as to be unreadable. Also, Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver.

For crime drama, Jeffrey Deaver is my current favorite. If you never sampled Ed McBain, you can probably pick up a collection of his paperbacks on eBay for a decent price.
posted by mischief at 3:36 AM on January 16, 2004

True History of the Kelly Gang - Carey
Life of Pi - Martel

Daniel Plainway - Van Reid (old-timey and fun, like Dickens mixed with Hardy Boys)
Perdido St. Station and The Scar - Mieville (read because of recommendations in a thread here) : >
Just a Couple of Days - Vigorito (fun, scary, smart, ultimately hippieish--found by looking at those reading lists on the side of the page at amazon.com, which are good sources)

And I second Saramago, but I would start with Baltazar and Blimunda first (mmm!), then Blindness, then the others.
posted by amberglow at 5:03 AM on January 16, 2004

I second the Lyndon Johnson biography by Caro: it has corruption, power plays, sex, courage, tragedy and History in over four thousand pages. What more can you expect from a book?

And try 'The Big Con' (non-fiction) by David Maurer: start your own con game!
posted by NekulturnY at 5:13 AM on January 16, 2004

The Fall of Berlin, 1945
Molecules at an Exhibition
posted by Dick Paris at 5:42 AM on January 16, 2004

Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything is an excellent read, and reading it will give you dozens of other books to put on your list to expand on the topics Bryson covers.
posted by bondcliff at 5:49 AM on January 16, 2004

I'll second Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver
I'll second Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
posted by vito90 at 6:00 AM on January 16, 2004

I'll second Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel. I also second the recommendation for anything by Terry Pratchett.

I just finished reading Oxygen: The Molecule That Made The World by Nick Lane. If you have any interest in geology, chemistry, evolutionary biology, or medicine, it's a wonderful book that ties together a ton of fascinating information in a very well-written way.
posted by tdismukes at 6:11 AM on January 16, 2004

Oh, I also second amberglow's recommendation of China Mieville's books. Perdido Street Station is my favorite so far.
posted by tdismukes at 6:13 AM on January 16, 2004

My desert-island book would have to be Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie. Other good stuff that I've read of late:

Cat's Eye, by Margaret Atwood (pretty much any of her books is worth reading, actually)
The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby (a light read, but the book is significantly better than the movie.)

In non-fiction, check out The Secret House, by David Bodanis, and The Music of the Primes, by Marcus du Sautoy.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:43 AM on January 16, 2004

At the interface of philosophy and science is Consciousness Explained, by Daniel Dennett, which I mentioned in this thread. It's significantly altered the way I think about myself and others.

Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Clifford Stoll.

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill

Aging With Grace : What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives by David Snowdon

Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace. (I haven't seen the movie yet, so I can't say how it compares.)

And even though I'm only part way through it, I'll join the others here who have recommended House of Leaves.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:23 AM on January 16, 2004

I've been reading some nerdy librarian pop history lately. Notably:

The Book on the Book Shelf by Henry Petroski [my review]
Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles

When I have to think back to my favorite books, the one that always jumps to the head of the list are The Goldbug Variations by Richard Powers [review] and anything by Allen Kurzweil who wrote the Grand Complication and A Case of Curiosities [review]. If you're into short fiction, pick up Stephen Millhauser [writer of Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer and
The King in the Tree] or Angela Carter.

My library browsing strategy is generally to go to the new fiction shelf and the new non-fiction shelf and then choose a Dewey number [or LC] and just browse til I find something that piques my interest. Works better in larger libraries.
posted by jessamyn at 7:32 AM on January 16, 2004

I'll second:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez ,

don´t know if it's the best novel ever written, but it's certainly the best one I've ever read. I actually finished it in 2 evenings the first time I read it, just cause I was so caught up in it.

And add:

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, hard to explain if you've never been there. Well worth the trip.
posted by signal at 7:34 AM on January 16, 2004

The Tin Drum - Gunter Grass - superpowered jewish midget survives the holocaust.
Leisure: The Basis of Culture - Josef Pieper - essay on the nature and necessity of leisure, written in germany during the reconstruction that followed WW2
Neuromancer - William Gibson - the original cyberpunk.
A Fan's Notes (and it's sequels) - an autobiografical novel detailing the wacky adventures of an alcoholic english teacher.

These are, of course, merely snarky charicatures of brilliant books.
posted by clockwork at 7:41 AM on January 16, 2004

Iain Banks: Walking On Glass
Inga Muscio, Betty Dodson: Cunt: A Declaration of Independence
Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
George Orwell: Animal Farm
posted by *burp* at 7:54 AM on January 16, 2004

I second Steve Erickson, and I'm reading a new translation (by Michael Hofmann) of Kafka's Amerika: The Man Who Disappeared. It's good so far....
posted by Utilitaritron at 7:55 AM on January 16, 2004

Twentieth century: I'm currently reading through Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time, a roman-fleuve in "four movements" (reprinted by the U of C Press in '95). Very absorbing.

Some good British mystery novelists: Stephen Booth, Reginald Hill, Ian Rankin.

Nineteenth century: George Eliot's Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda; Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, Palliser novels (six) and Barchester novels (six); Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White and The Moonstone; Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre; Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray; Emile Zola's Nana; Stendhal's The Red and the Black; Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary...

Eighteenth century: Samuel Richardson's Clarissa (major undertaking, but worth it).
posted by thomas j wise at 7:56 AM on January 16, 2004 [1 favorite]

I'll second Milhauser and Kurzweil from jessamyn's picks : >

and add in The Notorious Dr. August by Christopher Bram
posted by amberglow at 8:03 AM on January 16, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great suggestions. These will keep my busy for quite awhile.

I'm about 200 pages away from finishing Infinite Jest. I tend to read about 100 pages at a time and then set it aside for a week or so.

I really, really wanted to get into Pratchett's Discworld series, but couldn't stomach any more after reading The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic, and Night Watch.
posted by ttrendel at 8:29 AM on January 16, 2004

daniel dennett's "elbow room" - i read this twice, and i'm still not sure i agree with all of it, but at least it deals honestly and directly with the problem (which is: whether we have free will if we're "just machines" or, more accurately, what "free will" might be). it's a surprisingly entertaining read (imho), easy to understand (compared to similarly weighty stuff from others, at least), and covers a lot of ground (worrying me most when discussing public morality, crime and punishment).

i've just received dunkerton et al's "giotto to durer" and it looks like it's going to be interestsing (and excellent value - quality, glossy images at $40 from amazon; or maybe i'm just used to paying over the odds for computing texts...)
posted by andrew cooke at 8:30 AM on January 16, 2004

Second Orhan Pamuk, Richard Powers (Galatea 2.2 is what turned me on to him), and the Ondaatje/Murch book (I'm only dealing with non-obvious books here -- I mean, any list of recommendations of Great Twentieth-Century Books is going to have Bulgakov, García Márquez, Grass, et al on it), and I will add two long, riveting reads: Olivia Manning's Balkan Trilogy and Levant Trilogy (memorably filmed as Fortunes of War, a BBC series starring the impossibly young and lovable Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh) and Paul Scott's Raj Quartet (filmed as The Jewel in the Crown) and its sequel Staying On. That's eleven novels total, which should keep you busy for a while!
posted by languagehat at 8:43 AM on January 16, 2004

Great lists, but my favorite author is Haruki Murikami.

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is my favorite of his books, but I like pretty much everything he's written (didn't like Sputnik Sweetheart). Norwegian Bird is his most "normal" novel.
posted by jasper411 at 9:26 AM on January 16, 2004

Has Haruki Murakami shown up here yet? I know I'm not the most original guy on the internet for recommending him, but Murakami is good.

In terms of recent hot novels, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is unusual and good until the last sentence, which I'm not sure I liked. Still highly recommended, though it's a quick read and won't sate you for long.

Must bookmark thread. Tons of interesting recommendatons, yet my book queue is already twelve strong and not necessarily light...
posted by furiousthought at 9:26 AM on January 16, 2004

Wow...MeFites have good taste!

Try reading Men At Arms for Discworld - but really, if it doesn't grab you, it doesn't grab you.

Other suggestions:
Fat White Vampire Blues by Andrew Fox, it's light and silly, but clever and funny and gives you a real slice of life of New Orleans. It's like the anti-Anne Rice (and she makes an appearance, under a different name).

I'm a big Iain (M) Banks fan, so I'd recommend The Bridge, and The Crow Road (Iain Banks), as well as Excession and Use Of Weapons (Iain M. Banks).
posted by biscotti at 9:33 AM on January 16, 2004

So many good suggestions! I'll add Patrick Süskind's Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Mitchell Duneier's Sidewalk, and Nicholson Baker's A Box of Matches.
posted by Hegemonic at 9:34 AM on January 16, 2004

I'm also reading "One Hundred Years of Solitude" now which I picked up excitedly after finishing "Love In The Time Of Cholera" which I also found terrific.

A random choice (especially if Drama isn't your thing) is "Prick Up Your Ears" by John Lahr (the New Yorker theater critic). This is a biography of Joe Orton, author of "Loot" and "What The Butler Saw" whose life and strange death (his lover hit him over the head with a hammer and then killed himself) make for some really great reading. If that seems too esoteric, though, I highly recommend Lahr's "Show and Tell" which features profiles of Woody Allen, Frank Sinatra, and Roseanne. Lahr is a terrific writer.
posted by adrober at 9:41 AM on January 16, 2004

I know this isn't bookcrossing, but if anyone here wants my hardback copy of Bill Bryson's 'Short History...' email me. It's taking up shelf space and bored me to tears - unlike his other travel books, which all were great.
posted by yoga at 10:06 AM on January 16, 2004

I'll second the recommendation for Fat White Vampire Blues. Very amusing.
posted by tdismukes at 10:21 AM on January 16, 2004

Oooh. I can see how starting with those might've put you off, ttrendel. Not his most accessible. If you want to try again I usually start friends with Small Gods. Men at Arms is a good suggestion above. Reaper Man got my reluctant ex-boyfriend finally into them - Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad are the first ones I read. Don't mind me, I try to sell everyone on Pratchett. ;)

I fifth, tenth, whatever - One Hundred Years of Solitude. I first read it 15 years ago and I reread it at least once a year. Dense enough for timekilling, too!

(It would be kinda neat to have a MeFi book trade thingie wouldn't it? I have a hardcover copy of Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers that needs to *begone*. =P)
posted by Melinika at 10:49 AM on January 16, 2004

Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March and The Emperor's Tomb. There's apparently been a Roth revival in the past year or so -- I stumbled upon him about 6 months ago, and there's an article about him in the New Yorker this week. Wonderful (if flawed) narratives of the last days of the Hapsburg Empire -- he works with a 20th-century mood in a 19th-century style. Also in the novels-of-disintegrating-empire genre, Embers by Sandor Marai is wonderful -- recently translated from the Hungarian after being out of print for decades. I'm currently enjoying Night Games by Arthur Schnitzler, a collection of his short stories and novellas (including the one that Kubrick based Eyes Wide Shut on), and I am constantly (and happily) in the process of reading Robert Musil's massive Man Without Qualities.

Now, for something completely different: nonfiction about the decline of those wacky Hapsburgs! A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889 by Frederick Morton is terrific -- a fascinating look at the cultural milieu of Vienna (Klimt! Freud! Schnitzler! Just to name a few!) within the framework of the double-suicide pact (or was it...?) of Crown Prince Rudolf and his teenage mistress. An intoxicating read.

Several non-Hapsburg-related books (I do read those too) I've enjoyed in the past year include Ha Jin's Waiting, Keri Hulme's The Bone People (fascinating but grim), Ian McEwan's Atonement (as many other people have raved -- truly, it's a stunner), and Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn. Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is great fun, if you're into dead bodies. Next up on my nightstand is the much-anticipated Italo Svevo's Zeno's Conscience.
posted by scody at 10:57 AM on January 16, 2004

As far as Iain (M) Banks is concerned, I'll add:

The masterfully crafted, science-fiction, Consider Phlebas.
And the bizarre, twisting, waking-dream of a science fiction novel that is Feersum Endjinn. [both "M"]

But stay well away from Canal Dreams [no "M"]! The only book he wrote while drinking: stinky and dull (his Hemmingway experiment failed.)
posted by Blue Stone at 11:43 AM on January 16, 2004

Consider joining and helping to liven up Bookfilter.com with more reading- and book-related posts.
posted by theora55 at 12:52 PM on January 16, 2004

I just finished Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller and loved both of them.
posted by Succa at 1:31 PM on January 16, 2004

Fiction: Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

Non-Fiction - The Corner by Simon and Burns
posted by perorate at 1:40 PM on January 16, 2004

Samuel Johnson is Indignant, by Lydia Davis.

About five pages from the end of the book, I became intensely sad that it was about to end. I think it's the only time a book has ever caused that particular reaction in me... It's a mix of short stories and prose poems, all of incredible quality. She won the MacArthur Foundation's "Genius" award, and not undeservingly. It's also very accessible - no high lit-kid stuff going on here, so I think just about anyone would appreciate it fully.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:54 PM on January 16, 2004

(It would be kinda neat to have a MeFi book trade thingie wouldn't it? I have a hardcover copy of Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers that needs to *begone*. =P)

That's a pretty sweet idea... hmm.... wish I had time to implement it. I'm sure it would take off, even if not as well as the book swap. (Would it be groups of six, as in the CD Swap, or something smaller and more manageable, like, say, three?)
posted by kaibutsu at 2:59 PM on January 16, 2004

As well as:
William Gibson - Neuromancer
you should read:

William Gibson - Pattern Recognition
Which is less cyberpunk and more nigh-fi.

Then ALL of Philip K Dick's short stories. All of them.
posted by armoured-ant at 4:47 PM on January 16, 2004

(It would be kinda neat to have a MeFi book trade thingie wouldn't it? I have a hardcover copy of Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers that needs to *begone*. =P)

In the intro to that doesn't he claim that if you don't like nonfiction you can send the book to him and he'll send you back a copy on disk or something with all the names sear-and-replaced? I always wondered whether he'd actually do that.
posted by juv3nal at 7:23 PM on January 16, 2004

This desert island books thread from us drubken monkeys at 9622.net should provide some more ideas, too. A distillation into a list can be found here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:46 PM on January 16, 2004

My Year of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki
posted by krisis at 10:19 PM on January 16, 2004

Crap. 'here' should be here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:15 AM on January 17, 2004

kaibutsu, maybe I was thinking of something like Trodo.

But I think I was pipe dreamin'. I have a lot of books to get rid of right now and I'm going nuts trying to think of how to do it as painlessly as possible. They don't like my taste down at my stepmother's consignment store. =P

juv3nal, I dig nonfic and I just didn't dig that book. I don't care if he's willing to repitch it as fiction, it would still mean I'd have to sit down and reread it. Heh.
posted by Melinika at 6:22 AM on January 17, 2004

Second 'Life of Pi' by Yann Martell, completely agree with Marquez's '100 Years of Solitude' and 'Love in the Time of Cholera' and add a few fairly recent hits: 'The House of Sleep' by Jonathan Coe, Donna Tartt's 'Secret History' and the amazing 'Perfume' by Patrick Suskind.
posted by niceness at 8:44 AM on January 17, 2004

ufez in the unread books thread reminded me of Dos Passos--I recommend anything by him too.
posted by amberglow at 9:45 PM on January 17, 2004

*Everybody* should read The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Possibly the coolest book ever written.

Anything by John Irving, but especially The World according to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and Hotel New Hampshire.

I'm reading Life of Pi right now, and it's pretty freaking cool.

I'll chime in with vote #112 for One Hundred Years of Solitude.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Cancer Ward by Alexsander Solzhenitsyn
and Anything by Gene Wolfe
posted by antimony at 2:28 PM on January 21, 2004

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