Personal favs that won't take long:
A Man Without a Country - Vonnegut
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love - Carver
Mr. Nice - Marks
If you have more time:
Pihkal - Shulgin
Rest in peace, DFW. That man was a legend gone far too soon.
My recommendations for now are:
Fiction - 'Independence Day' by Richard Ford. This book has hardly flown under the radar (it won the Pulitzer Prize), but I keep running into people who haven't read it. It is one of the few flawless novels of the past twenty years.
Non-Fiction - 'Team of Rivals' by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Again, this one is a no-brainer. Still, it presents a complete picture of Lincoln and his cabinet. I've read it twice, and I'm still uncovering nuggets of insight into Civil War America.
Essay - 'The Myth of Sysephus' by Albert Camus. One of the great existentialist essays. It does not merely ask difficult questions, but provides answers for the modern man in his daily clash with the great force Camus calls 'the absurd'.
That's all for now.
Also one of the few flawless movies of the last 20 years. The book must be even better!
Have you read William C. Davis
Look Away!: A history of the Confederacy
Great book, made me a John C. Breckenridge fan
You can read it online at the link below
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy- Douglas Adams
Hot, Flat, & Crowded - Milton Freidman
America; The Book - Jon Stewart
I think you mean Hot, Flat & Crowded by Thomas Freidman. I have not read Thomas Freidman, but Milton Freidman was a great economist and author.
You are correct. How that one snuck by the mental filter is beyond me...
I'm reading a collection of Flannery O'Connor's short stories right now. It's too bad she died so young as she was really talented.
There was a thread on this a little while back, but Cormac McCarthy is awesome. Blood Meridian is one of the best books I've read if you can deal with all the blood. I'd definitely recommend it.
I have been waiting to rip into some Flannery for a while now. I am so backed up with my "to read" pile. Damn Modern Warfare 2...
I've been keeping a book of John Cheever's short stories in my bag with me. I can pull it out and work on it whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Depressing, but excellent prose.
True Crime - Try Jack Olsen (Very descriptive).
The Long Walk (True Story of a Trek to Freedom) - Slavomir Rawicz
The Sweet Season - Austin Murphy
The Jungle - Upton Sinclair
So many great books. You've reminded of a few that I need hunt down. Thanks.
In my esteemed opinion, On the Genealogy of Morals and Beyond Good and Evil are required reading for any serious Michigan fan who wants to understand our role as the ultimate nobility in college football.
One's understanding of the concepts and phenomena illustrated in these works will be enhanced by a reading of the ancient Indian epics Mahabharata (esp. the Bhagavad Gita) and Ramayana, as well as the Norse Poetic Edda, the Finnic Kalavela, and the epics of pre-classical Greece. Just to name a few.
For the number of books in the series, I am surprised at the quality of the tale; character developement is fantastic and the world itself is well put together. Actually I recommend books 1-5; I had to take a break from it, hehe.
While I liked the first four books of Wheel of Time, some friends who usually like epic fantasy dropped it. I thought that Jordan was seriously in need of Samurai Editor for the books that followed. Things finally are picking up, but I wonder if he could have finished before his passing. I haven't read the latest one yet, but I'm going to finish the series.
George RR Martin's series A Song of Ice & Fire, mentioned below, is far superior, I think.
I'm currently reading "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman, which is like Harry Potter on drugs. Literally.
Anything by Chuck Palahniuk. Well...almost anything. Not "Pygmy."
"Last Night of the Earth Poems" by Charles Bukowski.
I agree with anything but Pygmy by Palahniuk. I found myself re-reading almost everything in the first couple chapters, then stopped reading it.
Brian's reference to a Malcolm Gladwell essay turned me on to Gladwell. I've since read Outliers and could not put it down.
Another Doris Kearns Goodwin book that is excellent: No Ordinary Time, which is part biography, part history of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Another book in the same vein of being part history, part biography is Taylor Branch's Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. It's the first of a trilogy--I have not read the others, but that read like a novel.
Fiction-wise, I love anything by John Irving or Richard Russo. I recently finished E.L. Doctorow's Homer and Langely and wanted to kill myself after finishing it.
Oh how I adore Richard Russo's work. The only negative thing I can say is that at the end of every book, I'm peevish that there aren't another 1000 pages in it.
Anybody else enjoy Michael Connelly's books? I've read about a half dozen of them and for the most part I think they're all pretty good.
Just finished Frankenstein. Pretty big fan of the classics, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Three Musketeers, and Les Miserables. My favorite is probably The Count of Monte Cristo. There are many parallels one can derive from the story of Edmund Dantes and the creature in Frankenstein. Both were benevolent and kind creatures who became marked by revenge and vengeance in part due to circumstances out of their control.
Les Miserables is great - one of my favorite books ever due to the fact that I read insanely fast (which is a curse when it comes to reading for pleasure because books don't entertain me for as long as they should) and Les Miserables one of the few books that can stand up to my reading pace. It took me six weeks. For comparison's sake, Dune took me three days (though I had a lot more free time during those three days.)
But with Hugo - man - get the abridged version. Anyone who hasn't read Les Miserables and wants to, get the abridged version. I was a little peeved at missing out on some of the side trips Hugo likes to take in his books, but I'm working on The Hunchback of Notre Dame now, written by a much less mature Hugo, and man does it plod. I'm almost halfway through and the narrative hasn't quite gotten through 24 hours of time - the rest is flashbacks and history lectures.
The classics though - big thumbs up to them. After I get done with Hunchback I'm jumping into Nicholas Nickleby next. I love Dickens.
I haven't read Hunchback yet, but I don't think getting the abridged version of Les Miserables is necessary. All of the side treks, flashbacks and history lectures are part of what makes Hugo awesome, IMHE.
Yes, it was my favorite of all time and the movie did not even come close to doing it justice. Honestly, the movie needs to be really well done to do the book justice because of the serialized newspaper style that it was written in. There are so many subplots and too much dialouge to truly make it into a great movie IMO.
I also enjoyed 1984, very well done.
I'm rereading the Hobbit now, can't wait to see the movie.
Back in the day network TV would repeat certain movies. The Count of Monte Cristo with Richard Chamberlain was one I grew up with. I also read it many times, once in French (and I learned why the translation was abridged).
That was a very well written book; you'd think Charles Frazier lived back then, it reads so authentically. It's set in the American Civil War time period...
Finished The Stand by Stephen King over Christmas, great read
I read a lot of super-literary stuff, and I also read a lot of Stephen King. For my money, few writers are ever guaranteed to be as entertaining. When you open one of his novels, you know you're in for a good time.
His latest, Under the Dome, is very good. Maybe not quite on par with The Stand and Salem's Lot (my two all-time favorites) but close.
I haven't read Under the Dome yet (I got it for christmas, but don't have the time right now) but I agree that a lot of his recent stuff has been really great. Lisey's Story might be my favorite King book now.
The DT series is great. A little break from the norm for King, but very entertaining. I still need to finish the last one, but the lead up has been great. I'm a big King fan and agree that he is always entertaining. Roland Deschain, ass kicker.
The Stand is a fantastic book. I have read it a couple times and am about due to read it again. Too bad they never made a feature length movie or movies of it. The made for TV one was horrible.
...I have to put my 2 cents in re: Doris Kearns Goodwin, however. Don't read her. Admittedly, she writes very readable, largely accurate historical stuff, but she's kind of a hack. She had the whole plagiarism thing, and every time she opens her mouth to do quasi-political/historical commentary in real time she embarrasses herself. Again, just my 2 cents (maybe she annoys me in ways she wouldn't annoy most), but get your nonfiction elsewhere.
If anyone is a nerd into long, rambling, but really interesting books read "Goedel, Escher, Bach" by Hofstadter (I just finished it). For fiction, I recommend anything Vonnegut (Cat's Cradle and Sirens of Titan are my favorites).
+1 for that. Definitely my favorite author (and inspiration for my screen name). Of course Slaughterhouse V is a classic. I am partial to Galapagos and Mother Night as well. Mother Night is a huge downer on a lot of levels, but leaves you feeling like you just read a great book.
If you're like me, you love a good short story... Here are some my favorites:
Laurie Moore: Self Help
Charles D'Ambrosio: Dead Fish Museum
Denis Johnson: Jesus's Son
Stuart Dybeck: Childhood and other Stories
Aimee Bender: Girl in the Flammable Skirt
Dan Chaon: Among the Missing (Just finished this and wow!)
And of course, as homage to JD Salinger, everyone should read Franny and Zooey (not really short stories...).
I'm trying to get into reading more fiction books, but I have stacks of non-fiction books that I haven't read yet. I will have to look into books mentioned by other mgobloggers.
I just finished Super Freakonomics. It was good, but not great and a easy read, much like the first one.
Some of my favorites:
Milton Friedman - Free to Choose & Capitalism & Freedom
F.A. - Road to Serfdom
Michael Crighton - Prey & State of Fear
John U. Bacon - Bo's Lasting Lessons
Non-fiction. By Erik Larson. The story of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair -- the political and economic forces against the fair, the incredible scientific and cultural changes brought about by the fair...and the story of the mass-murderer who preyed on those who came to the fair.
This was the only time in my life I stayed up all night to finish a book.
...if I remember correctly, Mr. Holmes was a Michigan man!
Forgot all about that. I must have suppressed it.
I can't believe this thread has strayed "on topic."
Just bought this on the recommendation of a co-worker. The whole World's Fair thing is kind of crazy and surreal to me. Maybe that's what Detroit needs to start its comeback.
I don't read a ton of books, but every so often I get in the groove. To me at least, this book was so damn unique ... the weaving of the two stories/plot lines (?) together was just fascinating. I couldn't put it down. And what an amazing time in history, the Exposition! Very cool.
"Whoever Fights Monsters".....By Robert Ressler and Tim Shachtman is an excellent, excellent, read. Also, they have another book in which i've just started entitled, "I Have Lived in the Monster"...
Which is pretty good too.
I've really become interested in true crime lately. Have you read "Helter Skelter"? It's one of the classics, but I haven't tracked it down yet.
Ann Rule has some pretty good stuff as well, check out some of her books sometime. "Lust Killer" was pretty good, creepy as well. BTW, she's also from Lowell, MI.
I can recommend a couple:
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger. I bought and read this book in the spring of 1991 while a senior in high school. I had just finished my H.S. football career here in SE Michigan and I could not believe how different things were in Texas as opposed to here.
Education of a Felon: A Memoir by Edward Bunker ("Mr Blue" in Reservoir Dogs). Fascinating autobiography about the life he spent in and out of prison.
Those are just two that stick out this minute. Having 3 kids under age 8 hasn't given me much time to read anything of note the last few years. I'm sure some of you on here can relate!
than most MGoBloggers, but I do recommend for anyone "Reagan's War" by Schweizer. It's an accounting of Ronald Reagan's nearly 40 year political career against communism starting from his Hollywood days extending into his presidency, and I think it's really well written and put together (along with sourcing).
For fiction, I'm a full-up Sherlockian, so I tear through any of the Sherlock Holmes related material. If you're looking for something in this vein, I can suggest the Mary Russell series of mystery books by Laurie King (start with Beekeeper's Apprentice), or Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith. Both are excellent independent series of books that stay true to the spirit of Holmesian deduction.
Ugh, now back to my real world job of reading through mountains of foreign military journals and material science conference proceedings....
Also worth a look over is this thread from WAY back:
I dug it up in August much to several people's chagrin. Still, worth a looksie.
I like the following:
1. The James Bond novels by Ian Fleming
2. Anything by P.G. Wodehouse
3. "The Road to Serfdom" by F.A. Von Hayek
4. Any of Mark Frost's golf books
5. Michael Lewis ("Liar's Poker" and "Moneyball")
6. "Den of Theives" by James B. Stewart
7. "Freakonomics" by Dubner and Leavitt
8. Anything by Thomas Sowell
9. Graham Greene spy novels
10. Niall Ferguson "The Ascent of Money"
Is a really fascinating read as well. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes reading about WWII.
"The Nightmare Years" or "the Berlin Diaries" by Shirer as well.
I enjoyed "Ticket to the Fair" (a close look at a mid-'90s Illinois state fair) and "Shipping Out" (a cruise ship experience). Haven't gotten to "Infinite Jest." Big book.
I'm very intimated with the size of Infinite Jest. I get anxiety thinking about opening to the first page. I'm going to do it though once my Kindle comes in the mail. This way I won't have to lug that thing around
I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan. Great read. Both touching and hilarious.
believe it or not wasn't on SNL, but in a movie called "Totally Awesome"....Don't know if many people here have seen it but it's hilarious. Check this clip out.
Love the suggestions everyone. Anyone have any suggestions on books about Post-Communist Russia? I'm fascinated with it, especially after Scott Anderson's article in GQ:
For those that are haven't heard about it, Anderson wrote this piece on the FSB apartment bombings that took place around the turn of the Century. The reason that I didn't provide a GQ link is because you can't find it on their website. They ran the article, but tried every way possible to bury it. Here's an NPR article on why Conde Nast buried it and tried to make sure it wasn't read in Russia: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112530364
It's fascinating stuff and Anderson's investigative article is amazing.
I took an excellent class with Professor Michael Makin in 2008 called Russia Today. It was an upper level writing class so there was a lot of reading, and I can recommend some to you.
1. Putin's Russia (a good account of Russia after Boris Yeltsin resigned)
2. Armageddon Averted (attempts to explain what caused the Soviet Union's collapse)
1. Homo Zapiens (amazing novel about modern Russia, too hard to explain, just read it)
2. Skunk: A Life (also very good, also really hard to explain)
Both the novels try to explain Russia's identity after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Also, if you're still a student in Michigan, I highly recommend Professor Makin's class.
I would suggest "The Soviet Experiment" By Ronald G Suny. He's a professor here and I just took his course on the Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union and (of course) we read his book.
The majority of the book deals with the Soviet Union, but the last few chapters are about Post-Soviet Russia. Still, I highly recommend the book.
The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
Fuck!! This was my first double post ever.
....And of all the posts I could have DP'ed on.....
At any rate, commence massive negbang in 3....2....1....
(At least I have enough points to absorb the loss and still be able to start new threads.)
(And yes, I just managed to work "DP" and "negbang" into the same post.)
Might as well do it big if you're gonna do it.
I'm kind of addicted to buying books which is a problem because I don't have a lot of time to ever just read.
I recently began re-reading Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War (one of those epic books I should have read completely when it was assigned in college but never really did!)
Disclosure: I began with the "highlights" (Pericles' Funeral Oration).
I have the exact same problem of buying tons of books that I just don't have time to read. I'm kind of a serial reader and always in the middle of about 50 books at once.
History of the Peloponesian (sp?) War is sitting in a pile of other books in my closet.
Interestingly, Tucker Max, when asked what his top 3 favorite books are, said that, the Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Confederacy of Dunces. I have all 3 and actually planned on reading Confederacy of Dunces over the holidays but didn't have time and wanted to finish another book I'm reading first... The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell, which is very, very good.
I too have that problem. I can't walk into Barns and Noble anymore because that will only add to my growing stack of books that haven't been read. It doesn't help that B&N always sends me coupons.
my recommendations: (in addition to Infinite Jest), the Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami and in honor of the recently departed, A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn
I used to go to Shaman Drum a lot and was really sad when they closed. Borders is my bookstore of choice because I like supporting local businesses/corporations. I'm part of their Borders Rewards club which means I have a sweet plastic card on my keychain and get 30% off coupons in my e-mail all the time.
1. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
2. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
3. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
4. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
5. Lone Survivor - Marcus Luttrell
6. 100 Missions North - Brig. General Ken Bell (Ret.)
I've tried to read "Ulysses" by James Joyce several different times, but can't really grasp it yet. If any of you have been able to get through Ulysses be sure let me know how you felt about the book.
I really enjoyed the book but I wouldn't recommend trying to plow through it without a guide. I actually read it as part of the Joyce class they offer (or used to offer) at UM and found it incredibly rewarding. Without a roadmap though I don't know that I would have been able to make it through it.
I've always been a big fan of James Michener. "The Source" and "Space" are two of my favorites by him. I also recommend "Truman" by David McCullough.
For the Michigan fan, I really recommend John U. Bacon's "Blue Ice". Reading about Berenson, the story about how he wound up in Ann Arbor, and the excerpts about his feelings toward Michigan will give you shivers.
I love Michener as well, Chesapeake, Hawaii, Centennial and the one about South Africa
Read 1776, it's excellent.
Cosign on Blue Ice. Just finished reading it yesterday, can't agree more on it being great for any Michigan fan. Bacon just plain knows how to research a topic to death. Although it's hard to write a history of something without being repetitive, he made every season come to life on page.
My girlfriend (who used to own a bookstore and later worked in others) and I both buy way too many books. We also end up getting tons for free (usually advanced readers copies) because of all the conferences we go to and her connections in the business. We are constantly giving away boxes full to our friends. Our library is measured in linear feet rather than titles and pretty much every available inch of wall space in our place either has a bookshelf or a giant, unruly stack of books.
So in other words, if anybody wants to borrow anything, just let me know. As for recommendations:
Sports: "The Junction Boys" is a must read for college football fans. Provides a great perspective on the wild behavior of both coaches and players back in the old days. Pretty much shows that recruiting tactics are as clean as they've ever been despite our constant complaining about them and that Adam James has female sex organs.
New School: "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz is fantastic. Extremely gifted writer with a unique style/voice telling a very personal story about an entire country. For something lighter, I really enjoyed "Wonder Boys" by Michael Chabon.
Old School: "Main Street" by Sinclair Lewis, "Absalom, Absalom!" by Faulkner, "You Can't Go Home Again" by Thomas Wolfe, and "Ulysses" by James Joyce (preferably read aloud while strolling through Ann Arbor or Dublin)
+1 for Absalom! Absalom! One of my favorite books ever.
Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is another one I really like.
How would we go about borrowing book? If it is truly possible, I am interested.
Like many, I have a ridiculously long list of books yet to be read
Just started Fernand Braudel's three-volume meisterwerk Civilization and Capitalism: 15th-18th Centuries which should occupy a lot of my time. So far, it is absolutely amazing. When I finally finish this, I'll move on to...
Space, Time, and Spacetime by Lawrence Sklar (a title this good cannot be passed by)
...and a bunch of management how-to books and corporate finance texts. Typical.
Ace Ventura. It was a book written after the movie by the same name. I think it was about 75 pages, most of which were still frames from the movie. The plot wasn't great, but at the end I think there was a page you could lick and it tasted like Kool-Aid. Good read.
My Boring Ass Life
Chronicles his day to day around the time he made Clerks II. A very insightful book into the inner workings of Hollywood; Kevin seems pretty cool.
Positively Fifth Street
McManus describes a rather unlikely road to the main event final at the WSOP using his advance money from a magazine to buy into a qualifier. Excellent writing from the U of Chicago lit professor.
Michigan is a sea- and space-grant flagship university, but it is not a land-grant college.
I've recently gotten really into psychology books based on evolutionary psych. Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini, and What Every Body is Saying, by Joe Navarro open your eyes when it comes to human interaction. Really important books to read when it comes to leadership positions and interpersonal jobs.
Since most of you are braining it up in here, let me suggest something lighter.
Richard Riordan's "Percy Jackson" series.
Yes, they are kids' books, but they are ripping good reads. My sister is a children's librarian and suggested I start them once my son got done with them. They are a wonderfully imaginative modern take on Greek mythology.
They're turning the first one into a movie-- which I hope they don't ruin.
One of the best series I've ever read was the 'North and South' trilogy by John Jakes. Covers the events leading up to the American Civil War through post-war reconstruction (with a lot of emphasis on the Indian Wars).
It was written in the early '80s, so that's why I don't think it gets a lot of recognition now. The book has everything - unveiled vengeance, revenge, greed, heroism, brothels (threw that in for good measure). Plus, it holds as a pretty accurate refresher course on American History. I highly recommend.
I didn't actually read everyone's additions, but there's one series that my conscience requires that I post.
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
Four huge books (They average around 1000 pages each, with at least three more on the way. They're technically fantasy, but have a lot more to do with political intrigue and conflict than they do with magic. A word of warning, though: Martin is a notoriously slow writer, so there's a good chance that you'll get caught up and then wait for 3-5 years for the next book like I did.
Other good books of note:
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn (There was just a thread about the late Mr. Zinn and his book a few days ago, shouldn't be hard to find.)
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons (he does horror as well as Stephen King. Some might even say better.)
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond (An absolutely enlightening read dealing with the "fates of human societies" and why different cultures developed how they did.)
I was just about to post about The Terror, which is a helluva book.
I've heard that "Hyperion" is also very good, but I haven't read it yet. It's sitting on my book shelf, mocking me, while I read books for class.
Is one of two books I tend to read every few years (the other is Dune). I whole-heartedly agree with you on the Song of Ice and Fire: if I build up the endurance, I may add it to my list of recidivist books.
The first 3 books were incredible. The 4th book was missing too much for me to finish it. I realize that missing part is coming in the next book but it made the 4th dull.
A heart-felt "me too" on Cormac McCarthy. I particularly liked Blood Meridian, although it is a bit of a downer (although that seems to be true of everything else of his I've read).
Tales of the Otori, Lian Hearn. This is a trilogy plus two, set in an imaginary medieval Japan. The narrator in most of the books is essentially a ninja adopted into the warrior class. Despite some flaws, overall I thought it was very well done. The initial trilogy was the best, though.
100 Years of Solitude, The Autumn of the Patriarch and Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Fantastic books (and unrelated to each other, I should add). After rereading them, I think I like The Autumn of the Patriarch the best--but I would recommend starting with one of the other two.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter, etc., by Jeff Lindsay. The TV series never bothered to stay too close to the original. Which frankly is good, because you can read the books after having seen the show without too much trouble. The books themselves are like candy.
I've also been reading a lot of history (Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, the Islamic conquest, ancient Egypt, China and more).
Duck is Dirty
H.P. Lovecraft's stories
Into Thin Air
Mister B. Gone
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me.
The Sneetches is all well and good but if we're going to include Dr. Seuss in the classics, then by far his most underrated work is And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
1. Vikram Chandra - Sacred Games. An epic novel about a policeman and a gangster in Bombay, starting with the day they meet and then moving back and forth between the gangster's past and the policeman's future. If you get interested in Bombay after reading it, I also recommend Suketu Mehta's book Maximum City, which is a nonfiction book about Bombay that might as well be a novel.
2. Gregory Roberts - Shantaram. More gangsters, more India. A novel about a man who breaks out of prison in Australia and goes on the lam in Bombay. Based on the author's life. Not the best-written book, but hugely entertaining.
3. Truman Capote - In Cold Blood. The true crime classic. Fascinating, disturbing, depressing, twisted. Brilliant.
4. Vikram Seth - A Suitable Boy. Well, if you like social novels, or family sagas, this is the one for you. Over a thousand pages and I'm absolutely dying to read the sequel, which comes out in 2013 (I hope).
5. Ernest Hemingway - For Whom the Bell Tolls. An absolutely perfect novel, even though it doesn't have a whole lot of plot. The passage where Pilar tells Jordan about what happened in the village is my favorite in any book I've ever read.
6. Mario Vargas Llosa - Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. A young man in Peru who works as a writer for radio soap operas begins dating his aunt, and confusing reality with his writing. Sort of.
7. George Orwell - 1984. Nothing I can really say about this one, other than it's one book everyone should read. What's amazing is how accurately Orwell seemed to pinpoint aspects of Communist Russian society, given how closed it was at the time.
8. Irene Nemirovsky - Suite Francaise. Intended to be a five-part novel about France under Nazi occupation. Only two parts - and sketches and notes for the last three - were written before the author was taken away by said occupiers. The book was found in a suitcase a couple of years ago (she was a known author in her day, but had mostly faded from memory). Breathtakingly tense and well-written.
9. Tom Rob Smith - Child 44 & The Secret Speech. The beginning of a series of crime novels about a KGB officer who questions his place in Soviet society in the 1950s. Violent, gripping, and fascinating for the level of detail they have about a time in history I knew little about.
I can't believe I neglected to mention my absolute favorite book.
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart - Written in 1949 (or thereabouts) it chronicles the fall of civilization when almost everyone is killed by a virus (swine flu style) and then it follows as the main character finds the few survivors in the San Fransisco area and they attempt to build a society of their own.
I think it's absolutely necessary if you consider yourself a fan of science fiction, but even if you're not it's a great read.
I just read "Blood Meridian", it was awesome. Like everyone said (and like most of his other books), gruesomely violent but beautifully written and the Judge has to be one of the top literary characters of all time. The purpose of this comment is to recommend the book and another called "Skeletons on the Zahara", I don't recall the author at the moment. It's about a shipwreck on the west coast of Africa in the 19th century. Blood Meridian reminded me of that story a great deal, the absolute savagery of man when the thin veil of society is lifted.
Anyway, I recommend both very highly.