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[personal profile] bluedaisy
I need some new fiction. What do you recommend?
Biographies, interesting histories also welcome!

Date: 2011-07-20 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What have you read and liked?

Date: 2011-07-20 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
a bigraphy on Ansel Adams (but not the autobiography since that one is pretty sterile) by newhall
Eleanor of Aquitaine by Meade or Weir
I'm really into biographies of powerful women who lived a long time ago.
If you're interested I could get you names of authors who worked on ones about Cleopatra, Lucretzia Borgia and Elizabeth I.
for slightly more dense (almost dissertation dense) but still fascinating reading about the way life was lived in the middle ages try "A world lit only by fire" by manchester.

Date: 2011-07-20 07:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Any more thoughts on what you are in the mood for?

I know you liked Sorcery and Cecelia, Gail Carrigor's Parasol Protectorate (Book 1 Soulless) is in that vane.

For biographies, a coworker just lent me about an air force pilot gone engineer gone military philosopher.

Date: 2011-07-20 03:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Corum's Boyd is in our library.

I've been meaning to get to the Endymion books, also in there. Ghost Story will be arriving shortly.

Date: 2011-07-20 03:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm looking to branch out--I've been reading O'Brien's Aubrey & Maturin series, and before that a bunch of Weber (as well as Tiassa, when it appeared on our doorstep). I'm in the queue for Dance with Dragons, but I want something maybe not fantasy?

Date: 2011-07-21 03:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For more SF, have you tried Alister Reynolds? Evocative but depressing. Elizabeth Bear's earlier stuff tended to drift that way.

For the line between horror and urban fantasy, I just discovered Harry Connolly (twenty palaces series), and a while ago, Tyler at Pandamonium handed me F. Paul Wilson's "Repairman Jack" books.

Date: 2011-07-20 03:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I already read Boyd (and quite liked it)

Date: 2011-07-21 03:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I guess that is the problem with too good of a recommendation ;)

Date: 2011-07-23 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Non-fantasy by a fantasy-ish author: Tom Holt's "The Walled Orchard" (comical pseudo-autobiography of a Greek dramatist). I chuckled through a chapter or two before S swiped it from me, and she reports that it gives a much better feel for what it was like to live in the glory days of Athens than her history classes ever did.

Montaigne's Essays. He coined the term essay. I've been slowly working through them for years, and they're like sitting by the fire with a wise old uncle. The sexism is infuriating to modern ears, but aside from that it's an interesting blend of anecdotes about the aristocrats of the day, second-hand Stoic philosophy, psychology, military and political advice and early humanist thought. I find they can serve as an emotional anchor in stressful times. The French is old but comprehensible (at least with modernised spelling, which is fair since orthography was at the typesetter's whim in his day), but a translation might be advisable if you don't enjoy deciphering archaic metaphors in a second language.

Martin Beck mysteries (co-authored by Sjöwall and Wahlöö) are classic and influential police procedurals. The prose is at once evocative and concise, even in English translation. There's a stark precision to the narration that fascinates me.

Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. The Devil lands in Moscow, circa 1930, in the middle of what would otherwise be a retelling of Goethe's Faust. The ensuing surreal chaos has much to say about Soviet life, the Crucifixion, courage, redemption, and literary politics, but can be read as straight slapstick comedy if you like. Translation matters a lot here; the early English versions were of censored texts, and maintaining the multi-level structure of the prose is challenging. I read and liked the Pevear/Volokhonsky, though sources I respect say that the Bergin/O'Connor version is the best.

Speaking of sources:
If you haven't noticed, that blog is probably my favorite online body of writing. Of the books suggested in the tongue-in-cheek post to which I link, I've independently discovered and enjoyed two, and mean to get to the others Real Soon Now.


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