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Dienekes
2011-12-13, 09:12 PM
Hello folks. So I was sitting alone today thinking about how I'm mostly out of books. You see I almost always read science fiction and fantasy, and I love my science fiction and fantasy but for awhile I've just been bored with it. Which is a problem as I truly love reading, but it feels like I've slowed down considerably over the last couple of years.

Then it hit me, while thinking of the list of movies I like. They range a wide category of genres and they all entertain me quite well. So to get me out of this reading slump I'm asking you for the best books you can recommend that are not science fiction or fantasy.

There is one restriction though. The book cannot focus on romance. Romance bores me, while it's acceptable to be present (every story seems to have it for some reason) it cannot be the main drive of the story. Other than that, bring up whatever book you found remarkably interesting I'll see if I can give it a try.

Gnoman
2011-12-13, 09:16 PM
You could try a Mack Bolan (the character marvel ripped off to create The Punisher) book. They're the print equivalent of a cheap action movie.

erikun
2011-12-13, 09:16 PM
Tom Clancy comes to mind as something that I've read recently, was pretty good, and didn't have any fantastic elements in it.

Greensleeves
2011-12-13, 09:21 PM
Basically anything by Paul Auster. The man is amazing. The Book of Illusions is probably my favourite out of his works, but they're all very much worth a read.

Gnoman
2011-12-13, 09:26 PM
There's also Larry Bond and Dale Brown for techno-thrillers (though Brown tends toward scifi in his later books, the experimental planes and weapons in the first dozen or so are firmly grounded in reality, and there have been proposals to build one of his aircraft, even if nothing came of it.) The early Stephen Coonts books were straight-up, realistic books about combat pilots. For mysteries, the Johnathan Kellerman books are excellent. If you want historical fiction, try the Sharaa family (of Killer Angels fame) or W.E.B. Griffin.

pita
2011-12-13, 09:28 PM
Neuropath by Scott Bakker is my favorite thriller of all time, and it's the most unsettling book I've ever read.
Alternately, you can never go wrong with the classics. Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Twain... All worthy choices, especially if you haven't before. A personal dislike of mine is Charles Dickens. He was paid by the word, and it shows.

WalkingTarget
2011-12-13, 09:58 PM
The Three Musketeers or The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth.

You could also go for some nice non-fiction.

Erik Larson has some good popular history books (I liked Devil in the White City and Thunderstruck).

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter is hard to quantify, but discusses sentience using the titular mathematician, artist, and musician (and many other things). Dense, but I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Anything by Malcolm Gladwell seems to go over well.

Weezer
2011-12-13, 10:24 PM
If you're going with Clancy I would reccomend either Hunt for Red October or Red Storm Rising, they are far and away his best books (at least that I've read).

If you enjoyed the Bourne movies, the Bourne books by Robert Ludlum are very good.

Catch-22 is an amazing satire, utterly dripping with dark humor.

Das Platyvark
2011-12-13, 10:27 PM
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, is one of my favorite books of all time.
Also, Gogol is bloody fantastic.

comicshorse
2011-12-13, 10:30 PM
'The Wasp Factory' by Ianin Banks is both brilliant and very disturbing

All of the Flashman novels by George Macdonald Fraser are fantastic and should be read by anybody with even a faint interest in history. My favourite would be 'Flashman and the Mountain of Light'

Knaight
2011-12-13, 10:45 PM
You could try nonfiction. As such:

Guns, Germs, and Steel
The Rise And Fall Of The Soviet Empire
Diplomacy


All of these have some issues, but they were certainly memorable, and had titles memorable enough to track down easily.

Science Officer
2011-12-13, 11:08 PM
Do you like reading books?
Then I'd recommend If On a Winter's Night a Traveler.

It's a book about reading books.
In fact, it's about you, you are reading a book.
It's called If On a Winter's Night a Traveler.
But things are never as simple as they first appear.

If your criteria is non-science fiction, non-fantasy, non-boring, I think the other posters are right to recommend classic adventure novels.

Diskhotep
2011-12-14, 12:40 AM
I recommend "Why People Believe Weird Things" by Michael Shermer, and "Knife Man" by Wendy Moore.

The first examines various things people believe, like alien abductions, psychic phenomena, etc. and attempts to break down the logical fallacies in their thinking.

The second is a biography on John Hunter, the eighteenth-century surgeon who pioneered modern medical procedures and observational science in a time when doctors were mainly concerned with balancing humours and bloodletting.

H Birchgrove
2011-12-14, 01:06 AM
Erich Maria Remarque, for example his arguably most famous work, All Quiet on the Western Front about German soldiers during "The Great War". You will cry manly tears.

John le Carré, including his spy novels about George Smiley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Smiley).

Anything by Dashiell Hammett, but The Maltese Falcon or Red Harvest is a good start. Warning for some homophobia.

Lighter reading:
If you like machismo which don't quite manage to hide its stormy feelings, try Mickey Spillane, beginning with his first Mike Hammer novel I, the Jury. Not politically correct.

Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, beginning with Casino Royale. Sexist, racist, imperialistic/post-colonialistic, yes. But also witty, exciting, emotional, some times rather intelligent and fair for it's day. Think of it as the early Sean Connery films, but less ironic and more believable.

Feytalist
2011-12-14, 02:56 AM
Conn Iggulden writes historical fiction. His two series; the Emperor series (about the emperors of Rome) and Conqueror series (about Genghis Khan) are really quite good.

A whole bunch of Michael Crichton's books aren't all that fantastical, really. For example, The Great Train Robbery, Airframe, Disclosure, or even The Andromeda Strain or The Terminal Man.


I would recommend Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, but I'm afraid I'll get flamed off the forums. :smallbiggrin: But seriously, she's not a bad novelist if one disregards all the philosophonomics.

Serpentine
2011-12-14, 03:22 AM
I like John Marsden, particularly the Tomorrow... series. That one's about kids who go guerilla to fight off an unnamed Asian country that's tried to invade Australia. His other books are, I think, mostly drama, sometimes adventure, and are often quite dark, especially for Young Adult books.

Hm. I don't read much non-fantasy or sci-fi, so I can't think of much off the top of my head, and all my books are packed away so I can't check them for something good :smallfrown:

Cheesegear
2011-12-14, 05:19 AM
The Losers by David Eddings. Yes, that David Eddings.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Similar in tone and subject matter. Massively different in execution.

Selrahc
2011-12-14, 05:35 AM
P.G Wodehouse is a classic for a reason. The plots are pretty trite, but the prose is fantastic.

The Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser. Victorian era adventure novels with well done history. Unlike most historical fiction, they're primarily comedic in tone.

Stephen Fry writes some amusing things. The Liar and the Hippopotamus were both good.

Worth bearing in mind is the fact that a lot of older books are now public domain. Check out Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/) if you're ever curious to read someone like Dickens, Wilde, Twain or Austen and see what all the fuss is about.

H Birchgrove
2011-12-14, 07:13 AM
I would recommend Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, but I'm afraid I'll get flamed off the forums. :smallbiggrin: But seriously, she's not a bad novelist if one disregards all the philosophonomics.

... and the rape scene. :smallsigh:

Telonius
2011-12-14, 11:59 AM
Fiction:
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Lost Horizon, by James Hilton.
The Prisoner of Zenda, by Anthony Hope.

Nonfiction:
Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius.
Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville
Divine Horsemen, by Maya Deren.
Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond.
The Fall of Constantinople: 1453, by Steven Runciman.
When China Ruled the Seas, by Louise Levathes.
The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, by John Mearsheimer.
The Denial of Death, by Ernest Becker.
Teilhard's Mysticism of Knowing, by Thomas King.

... yeah, I think I'm just starting to list my entire required reading list from college now.

Emmerask
2011-12-14, 12:31 PM
Alternately, you can never go wrong with the classics. Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Twain... All worthy choices, especially if you haven't before.

Agreed, especially crime and punishment should be read by everyone imo, I recently read a new translation which was brilliant and far superior to older once.

Robinson Crusoe
Perfume, I think its a bit overrated but its still a good book

Or for a bit more educational/history there are a ton of meme books like Lucifer Principle, the Superorganism etc which I found very interesting.

Maxios
2011-12-14, 12:43 PM
To Kill a Mockingbird (I would also say who wrote it, but I can't remember her name)

Brother Oni
2011-12-14, 01:31 PM
If you're going with Clancy I would reccomend either Hunt for Red October or Red Storm Rising, they are far and away his best books (at least that I've read).

Rainbow 6 is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it.

Stay away from The Bear and the Dragon though - his knowledge of Chinese culture and technological capabilities at the time is somewhat lacking (and just wound me up).


To Kill a Mockingbird (I would also say who wrote it, but I can't remember her name)

My GCSE English knowledge throws up Harper Lee, which Google confirms.



Other book suggestions:
Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose is a good read.
Other people have mentioned the classics - The Prince by Machiavelli is one I suggest, along with Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Velaryon
2011-12-14, 02:07 PM
The Roma Sub Rosa series by Steven Saylor is an amazing series of historical fiction/mystery set in the final decades of the Roman Republic. The first one is is called Roman Blood, and in total there are ten novels and two short story collections, not one of which was disappointing. The stories are all painstakingly researched, and often include some interesting notes from the author at the end of the book.

Then there's James Clavell's unimaginatively-named-but-otherwise-totally-awesome Asian Saga. In chronological order, the series consists of Shogun, Tai-Pan, Gai-Jin, King Rat, Noble House, and Whirlwind. They're only loosely related, so you can read them in literally any order without any problems. They take heavy inspiration from historical people and events, but are different enough that I'm hesitant to call them historical fiction. Most of them are long books, and Whirlwind is a little dull, but otherwise they're very good books.

Dr.Epic
2011-12-14, 03:01 PM
Oh man! There's this one book I just finished reading. I forget the name of it. It's Victorian. The guy who wrote it also wrote the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's about pirates, and TREASURE located on an ISLAND. I can't recall the name. Let's see, Treasure, Pirates, Island, Treasure, Sailing, Island. A few movies have been made based on it. OH! Now I remember it:

Muppet Treasure Planet

I'm pretty sure that's it.
:smallwink:

Telonius
2011-12-14, 03:54 PM
Oh man! There's this one book I just finished reading. I forget the name of it. It's Victorian. The guy who wrote it also wrote the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It's about pirates, and TREASURE located on an ISLAND. I can't recall the name. Let's see, Treasure, Pirates, Island, Treasure, Sailing, Island. A few movies have been made based on it. OH! Now I remember it:

Muppet Treasure Planet

I'm pretty sure that's it.
:smallwink:

I think I got the images of those "Jeckyll and Hyde" guys, but I'm not sure. Are these right?
Jeckyll:http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100307212437/muppet/images/7/79/Drbunsen.jpg

Hyde: http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110426195727/muppet/images/5/51/Sweetumstms.jpg

ThePhantasm
2011-12-14, 04:50 PM
The Hornblower series by C.S. Forrester. Great naval epics with very little romance and a lot of action, intelligent strategy, suspense, and character development.

Thane of Fife
2011-12-14, 05:45 PM
I found One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to be quite good. Ian Fleming's James Bond stories are quite enjoyable, and I'd also recommend Ivanhoe, The Three Musketeers, and Dracula (I'm counting that as Horror, but you might consider it fantasy).

If I could only make one recommendation, though, I would say that the Sherlock Holmes stories are some of the greatest things ever written.

Weezer
2011-12-14, 06:01 PM
The Hornblower series by C.S. Forrester. Great naval epics with very little romance and a lot of action, intelligent strategy, suspense, and character development.

Along the same vein is Master and Commander (as well as the rest of the series) by Patrick O'Brian, naval epics set in the Napoleonic Wars with a lot of focus on naval strategy and character interactions. Also I've heard them described by historians as being well researched and reasonably accurate, which is always a major plus when talking about historical fiction.

BiblioRook
2011-12-14, 07:04 PM
I don't get alot of chances to recomend one of my favorate series. The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz is basically a light 'mystery' series. It's about a literal family of private detectives (from the parents that started the busness down to their 14 year old daughter) told from the oldest daughter's prospective dealing with issues both in and out of her family and relationships as well as dealing with whatever case she's on at the time. Yes, I mentioned there is alot of relationship talk, but I it's really not what I would call romantic in any way. It's much more about the disfunction nature of her family.

As usual, I'm horrible at discribing things, but I think it's hilarious and don't place it among my favorates lightly.

Dr.Epic
2011-12-14, 07:24 PM
I think I got the images of those "Jeckyll and Hyde" guys, but I'm not sure. Are these right?
Jeckyll:http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100307212437/muppet/images/7/79/Drbunsen.jpg

Hyde: http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110426195727/muppet/images/5/51/Sweetumstms.jpg

No. Muppet Treasure Planet was his only work to feature puppets.

thompur
2011-12-14, 07:27 PM
The Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy L. Sayers. The Nine Tailors may be the greatest mystery story ever written.

ThePhantasm
2011-12-14, 08:13 PM
Along the same vein is Master and Commander (as well as the rest of the series) by Patrick O'Brian, naval epics set in the Napoleonic Wars with a lot of focus on naval strategy and character interactions. Also I've heard them described by historians as being well researched and reasonably accurate, which is always a major plus when talking about historical fiction.

True, but I found M&C boring compared to the Hornblower series. I'm not sure why, Hornblower is such a more fascinating character to me. But M&C is rather popular.

Das Platyvark
2011-12-14, 10:55 PM
At last, more Hornblower readers!
I can't even begin to emphasize how much I love these books.

Knaight
2011-12-14, 11:04 PM
Well, if we are listing stuff from classes that we've enjoyed:
Recently Assigned
Crime and Punishment
The Stranger
Chronicle of a Death Foretold
A Tale of Two Cities
Oliver Twist
Hamlet
Othello
Twelfth Night
Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead
Arcadia

Assigned Some Time Ago
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A Hullaballo in the Guava Orchard
The Outsiders
Moby ****
MacBeth (The Scottish Play)

Selrahc
2011-12-15, 09:27 AM
Well, if we are listing stuff from classes that we've enjoyed:
Recent
Crime and Punishment
The Stranger
Chronicle of a Death Foretold
A Tale of Two Cities
Oliver Twist
Hamlet
Othello
Twelfth Night
Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead
Arcadia

Old
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A Hullaballo in the Guava Orchard
The Outsiders
Moby ****
MacBeth (The Scottish Play)

Why.. why is Hamlet(Othello, Twelth Night etc.) recent and Macbeth old?

Knaight
2011-12-15, 09:34 AM
Why.. why is Hamlet(Othello, Twelth Night etc.) recent and Macbeth old?

Because both recent and old referred to the grades in which the classes were taken, and not the works. Assigned recently, or assigned some time ago, effectively. Which is now edited in.

Shyftir
2011-12-15, 04:47 PM
Anything by Sir Authur Conan Doyle.

Dan Parkinson writes some of the most hilarious historical fiction ever. I suggest his Patrick Dalton series, starting with The Fox & the Faith. Also I laughed and laughed at The Calamity Trail. He does a bit of sci-fi and fantasy too, but I'm skipping those. Another one I really liked by him was Summerland.

Dienekes
2011-12-15, 07:58 PM
Thanks for a lot of these suggestions. Unfortunately I've read quite a few of them already, but I'm excited to start with those that I haven't. So far, I think I've read all of the old classics that have been discussed here.

Any others books would still be welcome, also, a bit of a more narrow request, I've never actually been frightened from reading a book. So is there any actually well written and frightening books out there?

The_Snark
2011-12-15, 08:22 PM
I'll second the recommendation of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. I seem to recall liking his books more than the Hornblower ones, though it's been long enough since I read them that I honestly couldn't tell you why. (And Hornblower certainly wasn't bad.)

While I'm here, I'll throw in a good word for Donald Westlake, specifically his books featuring John Dortmunder and company. Humorous crime fiction, sort of like a heist film played for laughs (mostly at the expense of the main character, a glum professional crook who would really prefer it if his job were boring, thanks very much). They're not laugh-a-minute, but they amuse me pretty consistently. I think the first in the series is The Hot Rock, but they're pretty episodic, so it won't matter much if you read some out-of-order.

Thane of Fife
2011-12-15, 09:58 PM
Here's some more that come to mind:

James Clavell's Shogun is some pretty quality historical fiction.

Son of the Revolution was a very interesting autobiography set in Cultural Revolution China.

I'll also recommend anything by Daniel Pinkwater. he most writes (comedic) books for Young Adults, but I think they are very worth reading. Many have science-fictiony elements, but Young Adult Novel and The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death are both pretty grounded (I'd recommend the latter over the former).


As for frightening stories, are there any things in particular which creep you out? I know that bugs creep me out, and stories centering on things like hordes of cockroaches give me the willies.

Brother Oni
2011-12-16, 02:57 AM
Thanks for a lot of these suggestions. Unfortunately I've read quite a few of them already, but I'm excited to start with those that I haven't. So far, I think I've read all of the old classics that have been discussed here.


You've read the Romance of the Three Kingdoms? Well done. :smallbiggrin:



Any others books would still be welcome, also, a bit of a more narrow request, I've never actually been frightened from reading a book. So is there any actually well written and frightening books out there?

Clive Barker does some decent horror, although his quality varies dramatically from book to book. I enjoyed his short stories anthologies (Books of Blood I think), and The Great and Secret Show (the latter books in that series went downhill), but they're delving a bit into fantasy.

I guess it depends on what frightens you - the last 'book' I read that even remotely disturbed me was a pharmaceutical industry guidance book that detailed how government bodies selected new drugs for perscription. I found it rather chilling how the lifespan of thousands of patients could be boiled down to a relatively simply quality of life calculation.

Daftendirekt
2011-12-16, 03:10 AM
The Three Musketeers or The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

I absolutely love the movie of The Count of Monte Cristo. After first seeing it, I got the book and tried to read it.

But good god. That thing is 1400 pages long, small print. And the film should have been called The Abridged Count of Monte Cristo. And it was rightly done. The story ran on and on FOR EVER, so many unnecessary details or little side events that just didn't need to be there. This is the one time I have ever thought the movie was better.



To Kill a Mockingbird (I would also say who wrote it, but I can't remember her name)

I can't be the only person who hates this book, and not just because we had to read it in high school.

Knaight
2011-12-16, 03:55 AM
You've read the Romance of the Three Kingdoms? Well done. :smallbiggrin:
This is only impressive when you read it in the original Chinese. Where "original" means "from any of the earlier revisions from several periods, but certainly before 1700, and probably before 1600 hundred if one is ignoring the more anti-Wei adaptation and going with the very first that is credited to Luo Guanzhong".

WalkingTarget
2011-12-16, 12:19 PM
I absolutely love the movie of The Count of Monte Cristo. After first seeing it, I got the book and tried to read it. The one with Guy Pearce and James Caviezel? I thought it was entertaining, but I had pretty much the opposite opinion (although I'd read the book first).


But good god. That thing is 1400 pages long, small print. And the film should have been called The Abridged Count of Monte Cristo. And it was rightly done. The story ran on and on FOR EVER, so many unnecessary details or little side events that just didn't need to be there. This is the one time I have ever thought the movie was better.

Agreed that it is very long. I won't say that all of the side events need to be there (mostly because it's been long enough since I read it that I don't remember everything) but films always make it a straight revenge story and generally simplify, well, pretty much everything. Not every plan goes off smoothly which seriously tests his resolve since his justification is that he sees himself as an agent of Providence.

Of course, that's not to say that everybody has to have the same preferences as me. If you prefer the film, that's fine too, but the byzantine twists and turns of his plans are what enamored me of the book in the first place - it's probably something that's really susceptible to the first-media-exposure effectTM.


Any others books would still be welcome, also, a bit of a more narrow request, I've never actually been frightened from reading a book. So is there any actually well written and frightening books out there?

I think the closest I've ever been to being scared by a book was House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. More in the "this must be what Lovecraftian tomes read like" kind of way rather than mundane fright, though.

Dienekes
2011-12-16, 12:26 PM
I absolutely love the movie of The Count of Monte Cristo. After first seeing it, I got the book and tried to read it.

But good god. That thing is 1400 pages long, small print. And the film should have been called The Abridged Count of Monte Cristo. And it was rightly done. The story ran on and on FOR EVER, so many unnecessary details or little side events that just didn't need to be there. This is the one time I have ever thought the movie was better.

I can't be the only person who hates this book, and not just because we had to read it in high school.

I've read and enjoyed both of those books. Also, Atticus Finch is one of my personal fictional heroes.


This is only impressive when you read it in the original Chinese. Where "original" means "from any of the earlier revisions from several periods, but certainly before 1700, and probably before 1600 hundred if one is ignoring the more anti-Wei adaptation and going with the very first that is credited to Luo Guanzhong".

Languages are my Achilles Heel. I've tried (and failed) to learn 3 of them now. So yeah, I think I'll be sticking with my English language translation thank ya.

Eerie
2011-12-16, 02:47 PM
I recommend The Years of Rice and Salt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Years_of_Rice_and_Salt) by Kim Stanley Robinson. It's a story about a set of characters who reincarnate through numerous lives in a world where the black plague totally destroyed European civilization. Very well written.

pita
2011-12-16, 02:52 PM
Any others books would still be welcome, also, a bit of a more narrow request, I've never actually been frightened from reading a book. So is there any actually well written and frightening books out there?

Neuropath by R. Scott Bakker and John Dies At The End by David Wong are the closest I've ever gotten to being scared by a book. Neuropath dug into my head and didn't leave, and John Dies At The End has some incredibly disturbing ideas. But John is a fantasy comedy, so it's not what you're looking for.

Feytalist
2011-12-19, 02:14 AM
Books that scare me in a sort of a general way are medical-type thrillers. Like Outbreak by Robin Cook, and there's one by Tom Clancy. Executive Orders, I think. Both deal with outbreaks of Ebola. Stuff like that kind of frightens me.

There was also a few medical experiment-type books by Michael Crichton. The Andromeda Strain, The Terminal Man, stuff like that. Dean Koontz also has a few, but damned if I can remember their names at the moment. Koontz has a way with descriptions that can freak me out quite a bit as well.

I enjoy Lovecraft, but his works are usually just lovingly detailed descriptions of weird things. Not really all that frightening, I think. Still good.

pam
2011-12-19, 10:43 AM
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, is one of my favorite books of all time.

I second Cloud Atlas, really astounding book. Some science fiction in it, but only for part of the book. Other genres found in the book include historical fiction, contemporary political thriller, and broad farce.

There are at least one or two other books called Cloud Atlas, so if you decide to get it, make sure it's the one by David Mitchell.

Pokonic
2011-12-19, 11:48 AM
Depending on your age, I would recomend the Hunger Games. The whole thing is solid, the plot twists will leave you honestly shocked, and the actual setting just gets bleaker the farther in you read. The second one is even better, but as a warning: the third book might leave you feeling empty inside.

Das Platyvark
2011-12-19, 09:35 PM
Depending on your age, I would recomend the Hunger Games. The whole thing is solid, the plot twists will leave you honestly shocked, and the actual setting just gets bleaker the farther in you read. The second one is even better, but as a warning: the third book might leave you feeling empty inside.

First had the right sort of impact, suitably chilling. Second was decent, simply trying to hammer the same point home. There was no third book.

The first two, at least, were awesome, and a good introduction to the dystopia for YA readers. Dark, yes, but the whole thing seemed a little hackneyed.

Pokonic
2011-12-19, 09:57 PM
First had the right sort of impact, suitably chilling. Second was decent, simply trying to hammer the same point home. There was no third book.

The first two, at least, were awesome, and a good introduction to the dystopia for YA readers. Dark, yes, but the whole thing seemed a little hackneyed.

Heck, I try to pretend there was no seconed book. However, it had more than a few plot twists to make you wanting to keep reading. The third book, on the other hand, put the whole thing over its head and never realy got my attention.

Cristo Meyers
2011-12-19, 10:13 PM
I think the closest I've ever been to being scared by a book was House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. More in the "this must be what Lovecraftian tomes read like" kind of way rather than mundane fright, though.

Agreed. That book is more slightly disturbing than anything, especially if all the individual parts work as well for you as they did for me. Either way it's definitely worth looking at.

Joe Hill also has some decent horror-type novels. Still less on the mundane scary side and more on the disturbing side (he takes after his father (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_King), I guess) but Heart Shaped Box and Horns are also good reads. He also has a short story collection, but it's currently sitting unread in my pile so I can't give a yea or nay on that.

Liffguard
2011-12-21, 06:55 PM
Fiction
Shogun by James Clavell. One of the historical fiction novels. Sprawling, epic, byzantine but totally engrossing.
Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. What 300 wishes it could be. A more plausible, measured story of the build-up and battle of Thermopylae.
Rope Burns by FX Toole. Short-story collection rather than a novel, based around boxing as a theme. Two of the stories were combined to make the movie Million Dollar Baby. Features prose that combines stark minimalism with some real poetry.

Non-fiction
A Fighter's Heart and The Fighter's Mind by Sam Sheridan. The first is an autobiographical account of a guy who travels the world learning about different fighting traditions and wondering "why do we fight?" The second is subtitled Inside the Mental Game and is explicitly an exploration of the mental aspects of combat and expands upon the first book's exploration of "why?"

Velaryon
2011-12-22, 05:32 PM
Fiction
Shogun by James Clavell. One of the historical fiction novels. Sprawling, epic, byzantine but totally engrossing.

Yes! Another vote for Shogun! Really I'd read all of Clavell's books... except maybe Whirlwind. That one really dragged. Shogun is probably the best, but Noble House and Tai-Pan were pretty awesome as well.

alwaysowls
2012-01-03, 07:00 AM
Some of my favourite comedy writing:

Dave Gorman and Danny Wallace - Are You Dave Gorman?
A drunken bet sends a pair of best mates all over the world in search of people sharing the name Dave Gorman. I love Dave Gorman and Danny Wallace's writing; the two of them share a genuine delight in the absurdities of the world. They get themselves into a lot of bizarre situations and meet some incredibly strange people, but there's no sense of meanness or mockery in their writing; rather, they take joy in the oddness they encounter. The result is a ridiculously fun read.

Dave Gorman - Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure, America Unchained
The former follows Dave's failed attempts to write a novel while chasing Googlewhacks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Googlewhack) all over the world. The latter sees Dave attempt the impossible: travel from one side of America to the other without giving any money to "The Man", i.e., chain stores/hotels/gas stations/restaurants.

Danny Wallace - Join Me, Yes Man, Friends Like These
In Join Me Danny starts a cult by accident. No, really. Friends Like These follows his efforts to track down his old school friends. Yes Man, which is nothing like the horrible Jim Carrey movie, follows Danny's attempts to live more positively by saying "yes" to everything. It's an hilariously funny story, filled with all sorts of silly hijinks that had me laughing out loud, but there's also a very sweet little message at its heart: Saying yes starts things. That one little word can draw you into all kinds of new opportunities, experiences and relationships. It can also get you into a lot of trouble if you're not careful, but mistakes, they're an experience in themselves. And more often than not, action is far more rewarding than inaction.

Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello and Amy Sedaris - Wigfield: The Can-Do Town the Just May Not
This is a book that was designed to be performed, and to get the most out of it you have to listen to the audiobook, in which all the characters are voiced by Colbert, Dinello and Sedaris. It's the story of a small town, its three mayors, and its questionable, disturbing and generally bizarre citizenry. Ridiculous fun.

David Sedaris - Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, etc.
Marvellously funny American humorist whose sardonic, self-deprecating essays on his family, childhood and personal misadventures are always great fun. His SantaLand Diaries (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=161Fyi6fid0) (an account of his stint as an elf in Macy's SantaLand) and Six to Eight Black Men (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYdpte1W0vk) are among my favourite Christmas reading materials!

Anh Do - The Happiest Refugee
A well-known Australian comedian, Anh Do arrived in the country as an infant with his family, escaping the turmoil of post-war Vietnam. They survived for five days on a tiny leaky fishing boat packed with 40 people before being rescued. His story of his family's perilous journey, of growing up in poverty in Western Sydney, and of his eventual rise to success, is deeply moving, but it's also filled with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

Caesar
2012-01-04, 04:47 PM
1984 -George Orwell
A Brave New World -Aldus Huxley
Catch 22 -Joseph Heller
Lord of the Flies -William Golding

preferably in that order. beware, you may wish you took the blue pill.

Dienekes
2012-01-04, 04:55 PM
1984 -George Orwell
A Brave New World -Aldus Huxley
Catch 22 -Joseph Heller
Lord of the Flies -William Golding

preferably in that order. beware, you may wish you took the blue pill.

Read all but A Brace New World. And really, while they were excellent I wouldn't call any of the above particularly disillusioning.

danzibr
2012-01-04, 05:00 PM
The Sand Reckoner. A historical fiction (too fictiony for ya?) about Archimedes.

AtlanteanTroll
2012-01-04, 05:07 PM
M*A*S*H by Dr. Richard Hooker. Read it with Catch 22 for double the fun.

Knaight
2012-01-04, 05:32 PM
Read all but A Brace New World. And really, while they were excellent I wouldn't call any of the above particularly disillusioning.

I'd consider Lord of the Flies a particularly bad candidate for red pill status.

Brewdude
2012-01-10, 02:49 PM
So, one way to ease yourself into non fantasy/sci fi is to read some of Neal Stephenson's historical or contemporary work.

Cryptonomicon
The Baroque Cycle (3 or six books, depending...)
Zodiac
The Big U
Cobwebbed

Other books I've read and think are awesome:
You Are Not So Smart
John Adams (the biography that the HBO show was made from)
Freakonomics
The Tipping Point
Blink
Rich Dad, Poor Dad (if you think what's in this book is obvious, it's not for you)

AshesOfOld
2012-01-10, 08:46 PM
I enjoyed The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Also Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is an incredible real story about an australian criminal who flees to India.

Also, I know it's kinda fantasy, but The Iliad and The Odessey by Homer are great reads, if you don't mind the poems. Otherwise you can find some rewrites by contemporary people I'm sure.

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason is an exciting book about a really old book.

Oh and have you read The Process by Kafka?

dehro
2012-01-11, 10:16 AM
"The Lüneburg Variation" and "canone inverso" by Paolo Maurensig,
"Focault's Pendulum" and "the name of the rose" by Umberto Eco,
"Hadrian's memoirs" by Marguerite Yourcenar,
"Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover" by Anthony Summers,
anything by Georges Simenon,
anything by Frederic Dard,
"Slaughterhouse five" by Kurt Vonnegut

Dienekes
2012-01-11, 11:37 AM
"Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover" by Anthony Summers

A funny book, but most of his more outrageous claims are not corroborated by anyone. I rather dislike when people print poorly verified schlock and scandal and call it history.

dehro
2012-01-11, 11:42 AM
A funny book, but most of his more outrageous claims are not corroborated by anyone. I rather dislike when people print poorly verified schlock and scandal and call it history.

I've read it several years ago..and just saw the J Edgar movie a few nights ago...which brought it back to my mind.. I won't claim I know any of the things said by the author to be true...or false..but it did make for good reading, if I remember correctly.

H Birchgrove
2012-01-11, 12:39 PM
The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek. Great satire of The Great War (Eastern Front), the Austro-Hungarian Empire, military bureaucracy, etc. Sadly unfinished, but it's made clear that the hero survives the war.

Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships and A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick [sic!] by Jonathan Swift. The first two parts of Gulliver's Travels are great, intelligent fun, but the latter parts are very cynical and pessimistic, and A Modest Proposal even more so. Good stuff though.

Muz
2012-01-11, 12:49 PM
Page three here, but if you're still looking for suggestions, try Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. It won the Pulitzer, and is about two retired Texas rangers driving cattle from Texas to Montana (through much wild country) in 1876.

GoblinArchmage
2012-01-17, 12:47 AM
It doesn't look like anybody has mentioned Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, yet. In that case, Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.

Knaight
2012-01-17, 10:56 AM
It doesn't look like anybody has mentioned Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, yet. In that case, Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.

Followed by Chinua Achebe's criticism of Heart of Darkness. Speaking of which, Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is also worth reading.

Dienekes
2012-01-17, 11:15 AM
Followed by Chinua Achebe's criticism of Heart of Darkness. Speaking of which, Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart is also worth reading.

I wasn't exactly impressed with the essay. Oh it was well thought out, I agree. But his claim that the depiction of Africans was racist made me sort of nod and think "yeah, it was written 75 years before your essay. Heck it was written 55 years before the civil rights movement. In all probability Conrad was racist, what did you expect?"

Balain
2012-01-17, 05:19 PM
I would suggest the following:

Les Miserable
The Three Muskteers
The Count of Monte Cristo
War and Peace
The Red Badge of Corage
Don Quixote

H Birchgrove
2012-01-18, 11:53 AM
I wasn't exactly impressed with the essay. Oh it was well thought out, I agree. But his claim that the depiction of Africans was racist made me sort of nod and think "yeah, it was written 75 years before your essay. Heck it was written 55 years before the civil rights movement. In all probability Conrad was racist, what did you expect?"

The point is that a lot of people today think Conrad was some kind of über-progressive anti-racist by the standards of today, not a relatively enlightened person for his day.

BTW, a friend/mate of mine used that (or a similar) essay as previous research/inspiration to analyse H.P. Lovecraft and his racism. My mate had found out that lots of Lovecraft fans flat out refuse to believe that Lovecraft is a racist, despite the things he had to say about Jews, people of colour and Italians.

Surfing HalfOrc
2012-01-18, 07:24 PM
Let's see. Donald E. Westlake's Dortmunder novels,or any of his comic crime novels are great (Dancing Aztecs; Help, I'm Being Held Prisoner)
Lawrence Block's Bernie the Burglar are funny as well.

I liked Little Ship, Big War, a book about the USS Abercrombie. It was about a Destroyer Escort during WWII. Also Hacksaw, a book about Ed "Hacksaw" Jones, a man who spent his entire life escaping from prison. It's an autobiography, but very funny and self-depreciating.

Casino and Wise Guys by Nick Piggaio (sp?) are about the Mob in Vegas and the story of Henry Hill in the 1960s-1970s. Both great reads, more about the day-to-day operations than just the "Big Guys"

The Unborne
2012-01-18, 10:55 PM
I saw Gogol' on the first page but no titles bearing his authorship.

Dead Souls and his Ukrainian short stories are my favorite works by him. I found these to be perfectly hilarious and absurd.*


*Deeply enriching and provocative also come to mind. :smalltongue:

Knaight
2012-01-19, 11:13 AM
The point is that a lot of people today think Conrad was some kind of über-progressive anti-racist by the standards of today, not a relatively enlightened person for his day.

BTW, a friend/mate of mine used that (or a similar) essay as previous research/inspiration to analyse H.P. Lovecraft and his racism. My mate had found out that lots of Lovecraft fans flat out refuse to believe that Lovecraft is a racist, despite the things he had to say about Jews, people of colour and Italians.

Exactly. Moreover, the essay questions whether he was even relatively enlightened for his day, and it makes a convincing point for the possibility that he wasn't.

Back to topic: A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. This is one of the most brilliant books I've ever read, about a day in the life of a man in a Russian gulag.

The Unborne
2012-01-19, 12:28 PM
Exactly. Moreover, the essay questions whether he was even relatively enlightened for his day, and it makes a convincing point for the possibility that he wasn't.


Are we talking about the dude who called Conrad a bloody racist? Seems like some professor is basing his whole accusation off of one book because I doubt one can come to that conclusion after reading Almayer's Folly or knowing about Conrad's personal history with colonization/imperialism.

H Birchgrove
2012-01-20, 10:49 AM
Are we talking about the dude who called Conrad a bloody racist? Seems like some professor is basing his whole accusation off of one book because I doubt one can come to that conclusion after reading Almayer's Folly or knowing about Conrad's personal history with colonization/imperialism.
There are different levels of racism. A person can dislike people of colour, but still defend them against imperialism, and/or be against genocide. (Also, a person can be against one form of racism and support another type; Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell allowed Jews to live in England while suppressing the Irish.)

In Heart of Darkness, Conrad states not only that the white man has no place in Africa, the black man has no place in the "civilized" world for his part. The comments on the black stoker showcase this.

The Unborne
2012-01-20, 11:50 AM
In Heart of Darkness, Conrad states not only that the white man has no place in Africa, the black man has no place in the "civilized" world for his part. The comments on the black stoker showcase this.

That's your problem. You are ascribing racism to a person based off what his characters say. It's my main issue with Achebe as a whole that he doesn't separate narrator from the author, something even freshmen in high school are supposed to learn. If I were to write a post in the PbP section from the point of view of a murderer or racist. That does not make me one in that instance.

If I was H.P. Lovecraft where all of my narrators and plot lines revolve around the savage other, or decrepit old men, anything non-anglo. Then yes someone could point out the racism/ageism/whatever-isms because they are reflected in all of my works.

For Conrad? This idea is based only on one novel. When there are others where he not only humanizes the colonized but also challenges the idea of the equally racist notion of the "noble savage," brings in gender dynamics (something void in HoD if IIRC), shows how ridiculous the Englishmen are for their objectifying of both natives and women.

Go ahead and call Marlowe the bloody racist, but do more research if you want to do the same for Conrad.


On topic: Slavnikova's 2017 has been a enjoyable read so far. I'm loving how it is infused with so many folkloric tropes and allusions to the Urals---a region always set oddly in the periphery of Russian/Soviet culture but also as a main literary destination for works such as Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago.

---Slavic Lit Nut.

Gaelbert
2012-01-21, 05:41 AM
1984 -George Orwell
A Brave New World -Aldus Huxley
Catch 22 -Joseph Heller
Lord of the Flies -William Golding

preferably in that order. beware, you may wish you took the blue pill.

Meh. 1984 is Orwell's second worst book, Lord of the Flies is just plain trash (fightin' words!). A Brave New World is good, I haven't read Catch 22 at all.


Followed by Chinua Achebe's criticism of Heart of Darkness.

The only critique of Conrad that I've held with was Edward Said's. It wasn't an outright condemnation, more of an exploration of Conrad and his texts, keeping in mind that he himself was both victimized and helped by colonialism.


I would suggest the following:

Les Miserable
The Three Muskteers
The Count of Monte Cristo
War and Peace
The Red Badge of Corage
Don Quixote

All excellent suggestions. I would particularly suggest The Three Muskateers and the Count of Monte Cristo. Neither are particularly "deep" books (in comparison to most Western canon), but they are greatly enjoyable reads and that, I'm afraid, is often an underrated quality.

I don't know what exact type of book you want to read, adventure stories, books focusing on character development, certain themes, certain styles, what have you, so I'll just toss out a bunch of different ones and we'll see if any are hits, shall we?

The Brothers Karamazov. This book terrified me, although it's more of a subtle, philosophical horror (that, depending on your view, may or may not last throughout the book) than an actual horror novel. Nihilists just scare me. They believe in nothing, you know? :smalltongue:
Anyways, if you want to read complex characters, or a book based around characterization, there is absolutely nothing better.
The Fall by Albert Camus. One of his lesser read books, also one of his more subtle books. It might take a few reads to get the majority of it, but I'd say it's worth it. It's not terribly long, either.
Against the Day by Pynchon. I don't even know what to say about this one. It's more lighthearted than others on this list, but don't let that stop you from taking it seriously.
Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. Not one of my favourite's of his, but it gives you a good introduction into his style, and apparently it's fairly popular. It's a book about war, and what it does to people.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. One of the most emotionally moving books I've ever read. It is, for lack of a better word, beautiful.
Short stories by Ernest Hemingway. His sparse, simple style really shines through in his short stories. His novels are excellent and worthy of reading, but his shorter works are really something else entirely.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. It's often considered the "poor man's Ulysses," which isn't entirely fair, but if you want Ulysses without spending years poring through it all, this is your best shot.
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. One of my all-time favourites. It's non-fiction, an autobiographical text about Orwell's time in the Spanish Civil War. That might sound dry, but the book itself is absolutely fascinating. I've lost track of how many times I've read it.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I'm a sucker for Jane Austen. She's a guilty pleasure of mine.

Anyways, that covers a lot of styles and themes. Hopefully there's something in there that might suit your tastes. Do keep in mind though, even though these books are considered "classics," don't approach them differently than you would any other book. By that I mean you should be reading each book, whether they be highly regarded or almost unknown, with care and thought. Some books surprise you, ya know?

Gnoman
2012-01-21, 02:40 PM
All excellent suggestions. I would particularly suggest The Three Muskateers and the Count of Monte Cristo. Neither are particularly "deep" books (in comparison to most Western canon), but they are greatly enjoyable reads and that, I'm afraid, is often an underrated quality.


Make sure that you don't get an annoteated version of either of these. The ones I got from the library completely ruined the plots by bluntly pointing out foreshadowing, explaining character's secrets, and that sort of thing.

The Mad Hatter
2012-01-21, 03:32 PM
Les Miserables is a great book.:smile:

Hiro Protagonest
2012-01-21, 03:56 PM
By fantasy, do you mean stuff set in different worlds with wizards and warriors, such as the Forgetten Realms novels, or does it include fiction with swords and magic artifacts set in the modern world?

If it's the second, I got nothing.

If it's the first, I recommend two series.
1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the sequel series The Heroes of Olympus. Basically it's "what if Greek/Roman myths actually happened?" except most mortals don't know about them (a rare few can see through the Mist). The two big locations are New York and... I think San Francisco, though it might be San Diego.
2. Ashtown Burials. Only the first book, The Dragon's Tooth, has come out so far, but it's great. It's set in 2007, and there's this order of explorers that could once be called an empire but is now a scattered collection of super-rich settlements (called estates) that somehow managed to keep itself and the true history of the world secret (the things we know about actually did happen, but an example of a hidden part is that Lief the Viking wasn't the first person to discover North America).

Hida Reju
2012-01-28, 04:40 AM
Well here are a few

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond a great breakdown of history and the rise of modern society.

Vertical Run by Joseph Garber sums of the fictional very bad day of an ex military turned corporate exec that comes into work one day and has a team of mercenaries trying to kill him.

Red Cell Rogue Warrior by Richard Marcinko an adrenaline fueled trip into the life of a ex seal called back to duty to put a black ops team together. Author is a retired navy seal commander and knows his technical stuff very well. Its hard nosed and a bit course at times with harsh language but still excellent read.

Vahhn
2012-02-01, 07:05 AM
If you never read José Saramago you might want to give it a shot.

Blindness is my suggestion, but if the theme does not offend you The Gospel According to Jesus Christ is a very interesting book.

All the books i read from him are good, so you can give any of them a shot :smallsmile:.

dehro
2012-02-01, 07:22 AM
Edward Bunker