Monday, April 02, 2007

Books to Recommend

My mother-in-law, the redoubtable Donna McEvoy asked about book recommendations which I am only so glad to give. I'm pretty picky when it comes to recommending. I feel like I really love about 1 in 5 books I read. These ones are recent favorites, ones I will definitely pick up and read again. I hope you'll share recent (and old) favorites as well.

The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
Set in Japan just before WWII, the main character (a Chinese man), goes to live on a island in Japan. The whole tone is calm and restrained but it's also very compelling. I learned a little about Chinese/Japanese history and loved the way the Japanese culture was portrayed. Inspiring characters.

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
This one takes some commitment. At just under 700 pages, I felt, at first, like I was doing a college assignment. I don't know if I would have finished it had I not had a vicious cold and been in bed for 4 days. Having said that, the emotional and spiritual journey the main character takes is realistic, genius and inspiring. This is a book that is meaty. The writing is beautiful and unlike most books I've read lately, it really isn't about the plot. It's very character driven. I could talk about it for hours, I really loved it.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The author lives in Utah, I believe attended University of Utah and is now really making a name for herself in the young adult fiction world. This is another "retelling" of a fairy tale (based on the Grimm tale of the same name), but it is an excellent retelling. I loved how the story unfolded, it's sweet tone and positive messages. I couldn't put it down.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The main character is a first generation Indian-American. Really compelling characters, culture and situation. Conflict reminiscent of My Name is Asher Lev.

Interpreter of Maladies
This is a compilation of short stories by the above author. She won the Pulitzer Prize for this collection. Although very engaging and interesting and touching, I did enjoy The Namesake more.

Peace Like A River by Leif Enger
I think I recommend this to everyone and everyone loves it as much as I do. Wonderful characters, interesting plot, beautiful message.


Mom in Mendon said...

Thank you, Erin! I've read a couple of these, but I look forward to the others.

liz s said...

i loved peace like a river. what about angle of repose? i was going to read that this week

Erin said...

I'm just re-reading Angle of Repose this week. So far I like it more than the first time I read it. It reminds me a little of you and Jared, the eastern wife and the western husband. Although Jared hasn't made you live in Leadville, CO - yet.

Sara said...

I read Angle of Repose when I was in the hopsital with Lucy.

The next time it was for the family book club. I found out the MEAN, AWFUL, HORRIBLE lady in the book was the lady everyone in my family compared me to. For this reason I hate this book and will never read it again.

Erin said...

Sara, you are talking about "Crossing to Safety." And if you mean we all compared you to the brilliant, dynamic, organized woman who created opportunities and relationships for all those around her, you are right. That is you.

Maravilla Family said...

great list, just in time for my beach vacation! i'm heading to the library today to hunt a few of these.

Tania said...

We loved The Goose Girl too. We're very lucky to have signed copies of all Shannon Hale's book, since I am good friends with her sister - we highly recommend them!