Wednesday, December 29, 2010

shop talk - books that will ruin your life: contemporary literary fiction

This morning I woke to an e-mail from lovely blog/NYC pal, Stephanie, asking for book recs so she can load up her Kindle. My first thought was, "So many suggestions! I need to narrow it down!" So I zipped her an email back asking what she likes to read. This got me thinking in general terms though, and since I am a bonafide bibliophile and list-making nerd, I thought I'd share some of my utmost favorites. I'm focusing today on literary fiction.

I've already posted my top historical fiction picks. To find them, go here.

Top Contemporary Literary Fiction

5. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

I'm crossing genres a bit here because this one is also Young Adult. (I'll probably do a post on YA novels at some point for those who are interested.) It is an incredibly unique and powerful story of a young girl growing up during the Holocaust. I know there are a lot of those out there but this one is different. First, the young girl is not Jewish (Most stories are told from the perspective of Jews.) and second, the narrator of the story is death. Morbid, yes. Amazing though. Definitely unlike anything you'll have ever read before.

4. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Bel Canto is the story of a group of people held hostage in South America after a birthday party full of diplomats is crashed by a group of terrorists. In these dire circumstances, Roxanne Coss, an opera singer performing at the party, and Mr. Hosokawa, a Japanese businessman must learn to communicate with one another, a task that eventually evolves into friendship. A great and interesting read!

3. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I read this three times in college. It is a finely woven tapestry of Latin American history, family, and amazing storytelling. Oh and Oprah really liked it too.

2. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

This is easily the best book I have read in the past 10 years. It tells the story a girl, Callie, born in Michigan in the 1960's who eventually became Cal, a teenage boy. And for the record, I "picked" this one long before Oprah did!

1. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

I first read The House of the Spirits in 10th grade and was immediately struck by it. I've loved magical realism, Latin American authors, and Isabel Allende ever since. It is the story of three generations of women--Clara, Blanca, and Alba--and is simply gorgeous, heartbreaking and thought-provoking. I met Ms. Allende in college and was like a blubbering teenage girl at a Justin Timberlake concert when I stood in line to get my well-loved copy of the book signed. I saw her speak again recently at the 92nd St. Y in New York and will say that if there is one author to see, it is her. She is lovely, personable, hilarious, and so interesting.

Runners Up (These books are also amazing.)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini (I liked this one better than The Kite Runner.)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

Find other book recommendations and reviews here.

PS - Steph, I hope this helps a bit!


DSS said...

Are you doing Goodreads?? If so, friend me or whatever. I'm Deserpatelyseekingseersucker. I'm looking for new books all the time, and although I've got 2 more to finish on the shelf, I'm ready to get excited about something new :)

Anonymous said...

It definitely helps! I just spent a fortune on Amazon :) Thanks for all your recommendations! xo

garden state prep said...

I love The Book Thief and have recommended it to so many people! I also used your historical fiction picks as a Christmas shopping list since my mom loved historical fiction - she was thrilled with the selection.