What I've been reading - recommended books

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/14/what-ive-been-reading-reco.html

if you’re looking for a king recommendation then i believe the entire dark tower series of books represents one of the best sustained works of american fiction in the late 20th century. i would recommend starting with the first one and just keep on reading.


Hey Mark - thanks, these are great. I’m familiar with some of the books, and look forward to getting to know some others.

Would you consider making this a regular or recurring feature, qua Recomendo, Cool Tools, etc?


I liked that King book a lot as well. So many nice little touches. I’ve read about a dozen of his books over the years. I’d suggest reading Firestarter as that has some 60s notes (like the one you read) and because it has some critique on the government, etc. But he has lots of good stuff out there - I like his short stories, too.

My two suggestions for books - and I know - no one asked me - are Elizabeth Gilbert’s Signature of All Things - an historical novel about an female amateur botanist in the 18th and 19th Century - it’s really a great book. Also, the newest Michael Lewis book The Undoing Project - a book about the two psychologists who ‘created’ the field of behavioral economics.

And I second the idea to have book suggestions as a running feature. Books are tools by another name!

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Thank you! I will try to do that.


Thanks - two more for my list!


I don’t like Stephen King, but have been meaning to read 11/22/63.

I enjoyed Memoirs Of A Geisha but also found it a little sexist. As in, this was obviously a man writing, and he couldn’t really see things from a female point of view, or create a likeable female main character. Other than that, Golden definitely seems knowledgeable about Japanese culture, at least to me.

I could never get through Where’d You Go, Bernardette. Too white.

I really like Ira Levin, and am surprised I haven’t read A Kiss Before Dying.


As I recall, the protagonist of Memoirs of a Geisha was actually sold to the geisha house, not kidnapped.

The other thing I recall about the book is that the author largely transcribed the story from an account a retired geisha told him, and did insufficient work to disguise her identity. She sued him, successfully.

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Yes, that’s right, she was sold. I’ll fix that. Thanks/


Mark -

So far as Stephen King’s work is concerned, I would highly recommend reading The Stand. It’s good vs. evil on a very grand scale, with a lot of interesting and well-imagined characters. The novel is so much better than either of the adapted-for-TV efforts.

On a broader scale, The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern is a beautifully written and engaging novel. It’s sci-fi meets fantasy, and Morgenstern really surprised me with how well she can paint a scene in one’s mind.

Also, Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins. It’s pretty freakin’ amazing on most every level. One of my favorite novels of all time.

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I second The Stand for Stephen King. Also second Jitterbug Perfume (and Skinny Legs and All).


Still Life With Woodpecker.


If you’re a baby boomer or a Millennial, you MUST read “The Artist Who Loved Women,” the fascinating biography of Patrick Nagel, the 80s most successful yet anonymous artist, who died abruptly at age 38. You know his work, but probably not his name. I think Amazon even ships it for free.

I’m reading The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leon Padura and it is an excellent telling of the assassination of Trotsky. It explores the tangled ideologies of the USSR and Spain and shows the vulnerabilities of revolutions and revolutionaries while still managing to read like a thriller. It is difficult but completely worth it, and as an interesting note it’s also reviewed positively on the library section of the CIA website.

I am a King fan but you may have set a pretty high bar for yourself. His later work (like 11/22/63) has even more character development than his earlier stuff, some of it is a little lighter on the weirdness ratio. I guess you could try “IT” since some of the characters had a cameo in 11/22/63. I don’t recommend his most recent Bill Hodges trilogy.

Generation X not allowed?

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Of course! Although most X’ers get pretty harsh about the 80s, I suspect they’d enjoy the ride as well.

Rob Frankel

I get harsh about the 80s because I was there and couldn’t do anything about it.

That being said, I still wouldn’t mind reading the book. I don’t always read about things I like, just things I find interesting.

If you were there, it was a wild ride – and the book captures that. If you weren’t there, it lets you know what humanity’s most fun American decade was really like and why it will never happen again. I’m only teasing about the Gen X’ers. From what I can tell, Nagel’s work took a nose dive in value in the late nineties, but is enjoying a YUGE resurgence now, which is cool because I wouldn’t want his legacy simply forgotten.

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