Here are a few of my favorite book suggestions for those that find themselves looking for a good read. I have tried to steer away from the blockbusters everyone has heard about (11/22/63, The Help, etc) and focus on some lesser known gems I have enjoyed.
A treat that defies categorization:
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt 9 This was unlike any book I've ever read. Set in the 1850's, about a famous pair of killers for hire. A taste of the old west, but also a modern fantasy feel to it. The relationship between the brothers was compelling, and the incidents they got into were fresh and interesting to me.
For those that like their books totally unpredictable:
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut 9 Just a crazy page-turner of a story that is amazingly unique. Never read anything like it and even though it borders on nutty, it has just the right amount of philosophy, interesting characters, plot, to keep me guessing and totally intrigued.
Larson is a master at historical story-telling:
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson 8 different look at hitler's rise to power through eyes of American diplomat. Interesting and disturbing.
Nonfiction that grabs:Through a Night of Horrors: Voices from the 1900 Galveston Storm by Casey Edward Greene and Shelly Henley Kelly 8 Details of this horrific natural disaster from letters, memoirs, and oral histories of survivors. Doesn't take long to read, captures the scope of the disaster, a window into that era and this specific tragedy.
Historical Fiction/Mystery at its best:
The Sherlockian by Graham Moore 8 I enjoyed this book so much! A back and forth between two tales, one modern about a missing Conan Doyle diary and a murder, the other set in 1900 about Conan Doyle and what he was up to during the time of that diary. A bit corny at times, but in an endearing way not annoying. Fascinating detail of Conan Doyle's life- a historical fiction type of thing.
A Classic Western:
Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry 9 His first novel, and it knocked my socks off. Love it when an author captures the longings and disturbances of the human heart so eloquently. What a contrast between the old "principled" West and the new "every man for himself" West. The movie Hud is based on this novel and pretty darn good. Stars Paul Newman, but doesn't follow the book exactly. In the book, Newman's character rapes the black housemaid and guess what...that sure doesn't happen in this 60's film. The maid is white and the attentions from Hud are far less brutal.
And for the Sci-fi/Fantasy lover:
a trilogy that I rarely hear talked about but I thoroughly enjoyed!
Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen by Garth Nix. Three books, all excellent.
An Amazon Review: After receiving a cryptic message from her father, Abhorsen, a necromancer trapped in Death, 18-year-old Sabriel sets off into the Old Kingdom. Fraught with peril and deadly trickery, her journey takes her to a world filled with parasitical spirits, Mordicants, and Shadow Hands. Unlike other necromancers, who raise the dead, Abhorsen lays the disturbed dead back to rest. This obliges him--and now Sabriel, who has taken on her father's title and duties--to slip over the border into the icy river of Death, sometimes battling the evil forces that lurk there, waiting for an opportunity to escape into the realm of the living. Desperate to find her father, and grimly determined to help save the Old Kingdom from destruction by the horrible forces of the evil undead, Sabriel endures almost impossible exhaustion, violent confrontations, and terrifying challenges to her supernatural abilities--and her destiny.