16 January 2013

reading lately: if/then recommendations

I've been doing some good reading lately, and I think part of why I liked these latest books is that they put me in mind of other books that I also liked in the past. So as a way to recap my recent reads, here's a little readalikes roundup.

readalike recommendations

readalike recommendations


Louise Erdrich's latest book, The Round House, is just as excellent as the others of hers I've read - I love how she weaves a story and characters. So if you've enjoyed any of her other books, especially The Plague of Doves, which is narrated by the father of this book's main character, I think you'll like it. I've seen it described as a "Native American To Kill a Mockingbird," as a coming of age story in the aftermath of a racist attack - that will be an interesting discussion point for tonight's book club... And though Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is much more young adult geared than The Round House, I thought it was similar in dealing with a teenage boy on a modern-day Native American reservation and issues of community and identity - and I really liked both.

Marcelo in the Real World reminded me very much of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, narrated by a teenage boy somewhere on the autism spectrum, and how he learns to deal with relationships and situations in the real world. But I loved Marcelo even more; he's one of the most insightful and endearing and quirky characters I've met in a while. This is another coming of age story geared toward young adults, and in that way it reminded me of Okay for Now (written by a professor from my college English department!), another really great read that's both funny and moving about a boy learning about love and loss and self discovery as he grows into the adult world.

Shine Shine Shine was, I'll admit, not at all what I was expecting. I saw it highly recommended and championed by one of my favorite authors, Joshilyn Jackson, so I expected it to be more like her novels, but it had rather more magical realism. These kinds of novels, like The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, sometimes prevent me from feeling any connection with the characters, I suppose since they don't quite feel real given the very creative and inventive world the author has created. But in the end, I did enjoy this unusual love story between a robot programming scientist with Asberger's and a completely bald-since-birth free spirit who lives under a false persona (and wig) not unlike a Stepford wife - so I decided that Joshilyn was right, and if you like her work (like A Grown Up Kind of Pretty, my most recent favorite of hers), you'll likely enjoy this one. The mix of science fiction/fantasy and more standard fiction also put me in mind of The Age of Miracles, one of my favorites from 2012.

Finally, Broken Harbor, Tana French's latest novel about detectives in the Dublin Murder Squad, is another that you'll definitely like if you've read any of her others. So good. Before Tana French, my favorite detective series was Kate Atkinson's about Jackson Brodie, beginning with Case Histories. Like French's novels, they're as much about the (well-developed) characters' pasts/prejudices/quirks as they are about the plot. These may be detectives solving mysteries, but they're certainly not gory pulp fiction - they're great novels. The sense of the setting (Ireland in both of these cases) and its history is also a crucial component. Though they can't quite compare to the aforementioned, Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan books like The Girl in the Green Raincoat have those similar kind of qualities for a detective story/mystery that I love.

What do you think - have you read any of these? Do the connections get you interested in any of them?

And if you're in the market for even more recommendations, I'm linking up with Book Week on Jones Design Company - check out what other people are reading there!

what i'm reading

10 comments:

  1. Ooh, I'll have to check out The Round House. I read Plague of Doves for a class last semester and loved it!

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  2. I don't know where you find the time to do all of this reading! I guess it's all a matter of priorities... I imagine you spend most of your waking, non-running, non-working time reading! Or you're an insanely fast reader. Anyway, I go slow like a turtle through my books. So many on my list. Currently reading Brave New World.

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  3. I should try Marcelo in the Real World because I loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I need to read more!

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  4. Excited to pick up a few of these books!

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  5. Diary of A Part time Indian is an absolute fave. Had son read too. Great to discuss a book with him.

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  6. This is awesome! I haven't read any of these because I haven't been reading much, lately, but that is one of my NY resolutions so I'll have to check some of these out!

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  7. I LOVE The Curious Incident - probably because I love stories narrated by or focused on quirky kids. (The Book Thief and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close did it for me too). I'm very excited to read about Marcelo! :) I can always count on your recommendations!

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  8. I love the way you did this!

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  9. What great recommendations! I'm looking forward to reading some new books. Thanks for sharing.

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