Reading recommendations for the cold dark months ahead..

November 25th, 2009 by Rebekka in Uncategorized

As the image accompanying this post illustrates, (from january 2006) I’m a die-hard Stephen King fan, but this isn’t to say I don’t read anything else.

Here’s a short list of some excellent writers, that i’ve only just discovered in the last 2 years.. I personally can’t live without books.. reading in the bath, reading while i knit, and of course reading myself to sleep.. I urge people to check out the following, if they haven’t already:

Margaret Atwood.   Absolutely brilliant Canadian author, just entering her seventies, but still writing and still wonderful.  I’ve read nearly every book she’s written, and loved nearly all of them – there was one short-story book in which some of the stories failed to captivate me completely. But on the whole, a gem.  Sharp, cynical and at the same time extremely poignant and often hilarious ( laughing out loud from a book is a rare occurance for me, but her books have had this effect on me more often than not )

Some favorites of hers:    Alias Grace, The Robber Bride, Oryx and Crake, The Blind Assassin, The Edible Woman, The Handmaids tale…  If you’re anything like me,  you’ll start, get hooked and dig up everything by her at the library.

Tess Gerritsen.   A doctor turned novelist, this woman can out-gross any of her male counterparts.  Focusing in most of her books on reccurring characters – the main ones being a policewoman and medical examiner who work together on solving (usually quite gruesome) murders,  she uses her past personal experience as a practicing physician to lend credibility and detail to her intricate plots.  The one’s i’ve read so far have been of the un-put-downable sort:  The Mephisto Club, Vanish, The Surgeon, The Bone Garden, The Sinner, Body Double.   Great fun.

Fay Weldon. Only read two of her books as of yet,  but both were extremely enjoyable.  Probably a bit too feminist-oriented for the average male reader,  but I think she’s awesome.  I’ve read The Spa Decameron and Puffball so far, both were thoroughly enjoyable.  Will definitely be looking into more of her work.

Stephen White.  I like this guy.  Not very high-brow reading, (but then, that’s not really my thing),  his books pass the time very quickly.  Set in Colorado and most starring psychiatraist Alan Gregory as the main character, who somehow manages to get involved in intricate crime plots through his patients.  One’s i’ve read:  Kill me ,  The best revenge, Blinded, Warning Signs

Jeffrey Deaver:  Many people may remember the movie “the bone collector” .. well,  Deaver wrote the book. All of his books I’ve read so far (except one) involve the same cast of characters-  paraplegic forensics expert Lincoln Rhyme,  policewoman Amelia Sachs, and a bunch of others that have almost become well-known friends after reading more than two.   Deaver is an absolute master of the unexpected plot twist.. sometimes taking it to ridiculous lengths,  adding a new twist again and again when you’ve already thought many times that you’ve figured it out.  At times, his writing style can be a wee bit corny, (as are some of the titles , which remind me of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books) but that’s a small annoyance compared to the entertainment value.  I’ve read the following:  The Vanished ManThe Cold Moon, The Broken Window, The Twelfth Card, and Garden of Beasts, which is his best by far, not dealing with Rhyme and his buddies, but a World War II thriller set in Berlin, which i found genuinely captivating.

And finally, i’m going to briefly mention John D MacDonald.  Not because he’s a secondary writer (he’s HUGE), but because i’ve only read one of his books – The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper – and am currently on the second-  The Lonely Silver Rain.  I know, however, that i’ll be reading many more.  His writing style is wonderful,  written in first person from the point of view of the hero, Travis McGee (i can almost hear a film-noir-spoofish voice doing a voice over while i’m reading) and just really funny at times.. but a sortof dry humor that doesnt jump out at you.  Great stuff.

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31 comments for this post

Dear Rebekka,
Only just started following your blog. I love the theatricality of your work. Just finished a degree in Drama and Theatre Studies and Italian in Cork, Ireland, so not much time for anything but academic reading for a while. Now that’s over, think I’ll give Margaret Atwood a shot, because it’s quite strange to find yourself laughing out loud on your own. You kinda look around to see if anyone is lookng at you, and of course there’s no-one but you there!That in itself is hilarious! Found myself doing that with Italian playwright Dario Fo’s ‘Death of an Anarchist’It’s absolutely mental…a tonic! Thanks

Margaret Atwood spoke at UCLA on October 9! She’s really something. Read excerpts from her next novel, “Year of the Flood,” I’ve have to take a look at the books you recommended. :) Thanks for the info.

did you ever read any lovecraft stuff? if no I can only urge you too. billiant writing. also very nice was worldwar z by max brooks I read lately. but for that one I could also recommend the audiobook version. the actors/readers in that one are wonderful nad quite well known.

not horror, but amazing is by the way also neal stephenson!!! any book! treat yourself a bit of him at some point.

Thanks for the tip.. Oh, that reminds me, forgot to mention Nick Hornby… The Long Way Down and Slam are both awesomely funny books :)

If you like Margaret Atwood I think that you would like another Canadian writer Mary Lawson. She has written two really amazing books “Crow Lake” and “The Other Side of the Bridge” which are quite similar stylistically to Scandinavian authors like Kerstin Ekman and Marianne Fredrikkson.
Have you read any books by your compatriot Olaf Olafsson? I think that he is a fantastic writer, his book of short stories “Valentines” is ony of my all-time favourites.

OK, I’ll try Margaret Atwood. But let me just mention this novel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dune_(novel) . Frank Herbert’s imagery reminds me some of your photos (scenary portfolio, for instance).

When the world was on the brink of being consumed by a virus this summer I started reading Stephen King’s The Stand to get a handle of humanity at it’s worst. Epic book. He’s one of my favorite’s also.

the stand is an immense book.. However, the Dark Tower series is his absolute best work.. I’ve actually not read the first two in the series, but the others, (from 3-7) are amazing books. Completely recommended if you havent looked into it already..

Try John Connolly … “The Book Of Lost Things” I somewhow feel would float your boat.

Currently reading “The Dome” – if nothing else it’s a great substitute for weight lifting :-)

I am reading Stephanie Meyer´s The Host and it is very good, I do recommend it.

i read twilight and half of new moon before giving up.. was all a bit too melodramatic for my taste (“will you just go ahead and have sex, goddammit!” was what i kept thinking actually, before i realized the books were aimed at a more “innocent” audience tham me, presumably)
My friend was reading The Host tho, and i seem to remember she said it was better than the twilight books.. might check i out..

Neil Gaiman!! You´ll love him!! The guy who wrote Coraline, Sandman, Stardust….read The Graveyard Book or Neverwhere and tell me your opinion. I promise you will not be dissapointed ;-)

What are your favourite King books?

I love IT, Salem´s Lot, The Four Seasons, The Dark Tower series (of course),…

Im a Neil Gaiman fan already;)
i’ve read Coraline a few times, his other kids books (“wolves in the walls” and the one about trading the dad for the goldfish) , American Gods, and the Graveyard book is on my bedside table at the moment, my son took it at the library and i snatched it from him. just finishing another before i start on it;)

among my favorite King books would be (aside from the dark tower), The Shining, Desperation, Dolores Claiborne, The Dead Zone, Rose Madder, Bag of Bones, It and Salems Lot..

I too am a big fan of Stephen King. Wizard and Glass was probably my favorite of all the dark tower series. I have the edition that was illustrated by Dave McKean which is fantastic in its twisted beauty. What I loved about the book was that you knew it was going to end tragically but you didn’t stop hoping it would turn out otherwise.

I love the photo by the way. When I was reading King’s Duma Key last spring I had a few moments like that late at night when I was really creeped out and was thinking twice putting my feet on the floor when I got out of bed to go to the bathroom.

I’m such a whimp.

I read Duma Key this summer.. loved it until it started getting a little bit too far-fetched toward the end.. (the daughter returning as a sand monster, for instance? haha)
the first 3/4 were very good tho ..

I totally agree. It got kinda over the top there and lost me for a bit. The garden gnome is what got me though. I almost stopped reading there. The other thing that was scary is that I have vacationed on the gulf coast around that area many many times so it had that sense of familiarity. I was actually there this past summer.

Have you read any Guy Gavriel Kay? His Sarantine Mosaic books were fantastic.

oh.. you mean the lawn jockey? that thing was creepy as hell..

I’ll add this Guy Gavriel to the growing list of recommendations i’ve gotten from this post, haven’t read him..

YES! The lawn jockey. I’m not sure why I called it a gnome.

My friend has a photo of one in her flickr stream. I’m going to ask her to make it public so you can see it. :)

well if King had called it something other than “lawn jockey” i probably would have figured out sooner what in gods name he was referring to. Never heard the term before this book, and it was driving me nuts until i finally realized what it was ;)

hahahahaha.. holy shit that thing is horrid!

lol…isn’t it?

BTW, I had to read The Handmaids tale for my North American Literature class in high school. Not the ideal book to assign as reading material to 15 year old boys hahaha. I remember never getting though it. A bunch of us decided to rent the movie instead. That went over worse, I think we got halfway through and then went to play hockey.

hehe. no, i don’t imagine atwood had teenage boys in mind when writing it.. rather provocative reading, and definitely a bit on the heavier side.

Love the shot!

Can recommend the Steig Larsson “Millenium” series – should keep you on your toes for a number of nights.

i’ve read 1 and 2, they were awesome, #3 is next on my list :)

I almost forgot to mention Stephen Donaldson. I’m on book 9 of 9 on his Thomas Covenant series and I still can’t decide if I like it or I hate it. Right now I’m hooked on Steven Erikson but I’m going to finish it while on Christmas holidays. It’s very rare that I am so ambivalent about an author/book.

“Oryx and Crake” is one of my all time favorite books. I highly recommend “Neuromancer” by William Gibson and “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov. Enjoy hibernation!

If you like King, you should try Dean Koontz. His early books are really good (Watchers) … he seemed to get a bit off track there for a bit, some erratic performance, but the Odd Thomas series is excellent.

+1 vote for Dune. That series, and the Foundation series (by Asimov) are both excellent ways to lose a week of your life.

David Baldacci is excellent – his “Camel Club” series is really good.

I haven’t read Atwood. I’ll stop by the library. Thanks!

I’ve read one book by Asimov (Nemesis) but was 11 at the time and did not enjoy it…hehe.

Koontz i’m familiar with, i know I read Watchers sometime in my late teens, as well as one or two others..
btw, i love how many responses this post has gotten, I honestly think people read so much less than they did pre-internet, so its nice to know there are avid bookworms still at large ;)

This post has reminded me to spend less time on the internet and more time reading in bed. You’ve got quite different taste to me (I don’t like anything creepy), so I won’t offer my own recommendations. I’ll just thank you for reminding me of a New Year’s Resolution: Read more books! (I think the last five books I’ve read were about photography, but I find novels are much more worthwhile… when I can be bothered to make the effort with them).

Paul Malget wrote on January 9th, 2010

Rebbeka, read anything by Christopher Brookmyre, the man is a sinister comedy genius and if no one else wants to make a film from one of his many books, i`ll take a hand from anyone interested in shooting it !!! Love the photos on your site, I just spent a few days on fishing trawler, would recommend that for shaking the creative shits out of you. would not recommend an 8 hour drinking binge before finding your sea legs tho. Keep it comin. Paul.

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