Help Me Be Literate, People

So I have goals for 2010. Many goals. Achievable goals, I think. I’ve been reading a lot of bloggers that go through 50 books in a year, and they keep a list of them.  What a fantastic idea! I can do that! Reading is, of course, fundamental to the writing process.  So why does it seems like such a luxury?  But if I have a quota to fill, well then.  I can’t let myself down, can I?

This is where you come in.  I’m looking for book suggestions.  Light, dark, classic, contemporary, poetry, anthologies.  Whatever.  Tell me the books that you love to read.  What would you suggest?

I’d suggest August Frost by Monique Roffey. It’s one of my very favorite books of all time.  There are a lot of aspects that appeal to me (seasons, a bakery, flowers) and it pains my heart in the most exquisite way.  I would love to write like that.

Okay.  Hit me. What should I add to my list?

24 Comments on “Help Me Be Literate, People”

  1. Reading? What’s that? Okay, I’m feeling guilty now. I want to read more. I want to do this! I’m going to go read Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series now. I’ll let you know if it’s any good. My favorite not-so-new-but-new-to-me author is Tamora Pierce. I actually discovered her in Virginia, but I’ve loved everything she’s written. She’s not literary, but her plots and characters are so much fun!

  2. Hemingway’s short stories. All of ’em. The Finca Vigia edition in paperback has everything. 🙂

    Failing that, try The Old Man and the Sea, ’cause it’s only a novella, and awesome.

    Enjoy the holidays, good lady. See you on the flip side!

  3. Allright, I don’t have a wealth of suggestions, and they’re pretty mainstream so it might not help, but the few I have are as follows:

    Dark: The Road, Cormac McCarthy (and not because it’s a movie – the book is excellent).

    Twisted Romance: Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen (Incredible book – could NOT put it down!)

    Voyeuristic: When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris

    May not be your thing, but kind of a different view of faith and our response to it:

    This Beautiful Mess, Rick McKinley

    Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller – in this one they set up a confessional on a college campus, and instead of having students confess their own sins, the people in the booth confess their sins to the students who come in…very interesting.

    And how on earth could I forget, First Job, Rinker Buck – this book is the one that made me want to actually write – not just talk about writing – it also made me want to buy an old motorcycle and tour the state (and it’s one I found in the $0.99 bin at the bookstore, so it might be harder to find, think it’s out of print, but it’s cheap in the used bin at or Amazon.)

  4. Ooh, this one’s easy. These folks are at the top of my list of “Writers I Wanna Be Like When I Grow Up.”

    MAP OF DREAMS by M. Rickert
    MEET ME IN THE MOON ROOM by Ray Vukcevich
    THE NIMROD FLIPOUT by Etgar Keret
    HOWARD, WHO? by Howard Waldrop
    BLACK GLASS by Karen Joy Fowler

    That’ll get you started ;).

  5. It’s been snowing all month and I’ve only just realised the snowfall follows the direction of my cursor. 😀

    I recommend:
    Neil Shusterman’s ‘Unwind’
    Lisa Mantchev’s ‘Eyes Like Stars’
    Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’

  6. I would like to recommend ‘Custodian of Paradise’ by Newfoundland writer Wayne Johnstone (a woman newspaper journalist battles her own demons and seeks answers to a mystery from her past. Set here between 1915 and 1944, or so).

  7. Ooo, magic realism? I just finished and loved THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY – Therese Walsh has me sobbing for the last twenty pages. Let’s see, Sarah Addison Allen’s THE SUGAR QUEEN was sublime, and I loved THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY by Tiffany Baker. THE LACE READER was spectacular; adored THE CURE FOR MODERN LIFE (although that one was much more “grit-lit” than magic realism); THE WEIGHT OF WATER was heartbreaking, but worth every bit of pain; loved NEED by Carrie Jones; HOW TO BUY A LOVE OF READING by Tanya Egan Gibson was shattering; loved Eileen Favorite’s THE HEROINE’s; anything by Sherry Thomas or Meredith Duran; Carolyn Turgeon’s RAIN VILLAGE made my “keeper shelf” this year; LADY OF THE SNAKES…

    You know there are just so many I’d recommend, it’s probably better if I send you to my GoodReads account ( and say: “Anything with four or five stars is worth people’s attention.”

  8. I can send you my reading list, if you’d like. For myself though, I recently ordered The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, The Overcoat and Other Short Stories by Nikolai Gogol, and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Zafon.

    Other books that I will be reading over the next few months:

    In Search of Lost Time (aka Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust

    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    And some mentionable ones I wish to obtain:

    The Torture Garden by Octave Mirbeau

    Eroticism: Death and Sensuality by Georges Baitalle

    The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

    Books I have read that I recommend:

    Roberto Bolano’s Distant Star or By Night in Chile.

    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

    Teatro Grotesque by Thomas Ligotti (or, really, any of his collection of short stories).

    And yes, I have a substantially long to-read list. If you’re interested, just email me.

  9. I only seriously recommend a few books to people. They are:

    Imajica, by Clive Barker
    Lightning, by Dean Koontz
    Messiah, by Boris Starling
    Pillars of the Earth, The, by Ken Follett
    Timeline, by Michael Crichton *

    *Obviously far better than the movie.

    Those are probably my top five favorites books outside of classics, like Of Mice and Men, for instance.

  10. as I told you recently I read a couple of anthologies, both in the Noir group — one was Las Vegas Noir and the other New Orleans Noir — I’ll let you borrow them next time I see you. Also Anything by Poppy Z. Brite a writer from New Olreans — her early stuff is more horror, later is, well just different. Even though I do not like Anne Rice, I love (love, love, love) Christopher Rice’s Desity of Souls (yes Ann’s son) or The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Let’s see who is also good and fun. Oh you might want to reread (or read for the first time) The Shining bc Stephen King has said he is coming out with a Sequel to The Shining and it should be called Doctor Sleep. It’s what happened to Danny Torrance after he grew up.

    In other words get reading… I also will be coming back to his page to pick new books to read bc I am very much wanting to grow my list of books next year. I think I will go for 30 new books this coming year, that will not count the books that I reread when I have not had time to get to the bookstore and buy new ones.

  11. “Something Wicked This Way Comes”-RAY BRADBURY…actually almost anything by the man….

    If you wanna be a writer, regardless of genre, you need to read the master…One of the greatest writers of all time!!

  12. “Gilead” by Marilyn Robinson was great, my favorite book I read this year. She spun a story in first person AND in a journal-style narrative–two of the things they tell us writers not to do–and just killed it. It’s the only book I’ve read where I had to sit in my chair for a while afterward contemplating how much in awe I was at the storytelling.

  13. “Booklife”, by Jeff VanderMeer. Seriously, if you haven’t read this already, you MUST. It is priceless info for any writer.

    Seconding Bradbury. Adding Charles de Lint to the list, especially for “Someplace to be Flying”. The man writes a phenomenal female character.

  14. There happens to be other writers I wish to add to this ever increasing list of yours. However, it should be warned, tha these are writers whose books you have to move fast on and can only really be found at this site (in limited quantities):

    Reggie Oliver
    Quentin S. Crisp

    There are clearly more authors you may find yourself investigating, and I encourage you to do so, of course. But, these two I’ve happened to hear plenty of good things about, so I thought I might pass along the recommendation.

  15. I can see you’ve gotten a lot of really great suggestions already. I thought I would suggest something a little different. I always enjoyed Jean Shepherd. He’s just great for comedy and good old American nostalgia. His book of short stories, “Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters” is a riot. I’ve heard comedy is one of the hardest things to write.

  16. I did the 50 books in 2009 and it really has helped me read more widely and more often than I would ordinarily. I’m doing it again in 2010 definitely!

    The best book I read in 2009 was Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. It was published years ago, so used copies are easy to find if you don’t want to commit yourself to a full-price “maybe I’ll like this maybe not.” 🙂

  17. How about The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrie Niffenauger or some such spelling?

    Neither dark, nor horror, but an interesting study in what the establishment considers sufficiently non-genre as to be literary…

  18. Techniques of the Selling Writer, by Dwight Swain! If you haven’t yet.
    The Scarlet Letter
    Treasure Island
    The Zombie Survival Guide
    Batman: THe Long Halloween
    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
    Will in the World (about Shakespeare)
    Any play by Shakespeare!
    On Writing
    Star Wars Journals: Darth Maul

    Good luck being literate! 🙂

  19. Yeah! I was thinking of trying to do this too! My ultimate book suggestion: Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

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