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Sunday Salon – Help me out! (times two)

March 29, 2009

The Sunday Salon.comHappy Sunday, all!

My first plea for help is a bit of a repeat – I’m still looking for more book blogs to add to the Book Blogs Search. I think cross-linking to other people’s reviews is one of the easiest ways to promote book blogs and book bloggers, and to recognize all of the hard work that people put in to writing their reviews! Several people have already sent me lists of sites to include, for which I’m very grateful… however, I know there are tons of book blogs that you guys read (or write?) that aren’t on my list. If you could send me a list of URLs, that’d be awesome.

Even more awesome would be to include a mention of the search on your blog (if you do things like link round-up posts), encouraging your readers to come and a) make sure they’re included, and b) give me a list of their favorites that I’m missing. I want to make this something that’ll be useful to the book blogging community at large, and the more sites I’ve got, the more useful it’ll be.

My second plea for help is more personal. I’ve been in a minor reading funk for a good long while now, and I need a bit of a kick in the pants to snap out of it. My problem isn’t that I haven’t been reading… it’s more that I haven’t been *excited* about reading. I make my way through books well enough, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had more than one book in a row that actually makes me want to read it instead of working on my knitting, watching DVDs, re-reading an old favorite, etc. This isn’t to say that I haven’t read some good books recently; it’s more that I haven’t read many that stayed glued to my hands. Part of this is surely my attitude and attention span, but I’m hoping part of it is the books.

So, what I want from you is recommendations for books. Books that will totally suck me in and not spit me out until I finish. Books that will make me want to stay up late at night reading, and will tempt me to skip work to read some more. They don’t have to be *great* books, they just have to make me want to read them. They don’t have to be short or quick-reading books, either – Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, for instance, wouldn’t be the best choice, because even though it was great and totally absorbing, it was over within the space of an evening, pitching me straight back into a “Reading? Enh.” funk.

If you see something on my mighty massive TBR list that would fit the bill, that would be fantastic; otherwise, I should be able to get most things from the library. I’m just tired of being ambivalent about spending my time reading… I want something that’ll make me enthusiastic.

So… recommendations, please. And… go!

24 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2009 1:55 am

    I see you have some Lois McMaster Bujold fantasy books on your read list, but I definitely prefer her Vorkosigan Saga novels to anything else written by her. I remember not being able to put the books down, reading them on my PDA everywhere I could, and completely loving it. So I suggest giving the series a try (you can start with a prequel Shards of Honor or with the first Miles book The Warrior’s Apprentice).

  2. March 29, 2009 4:30 am

    I found that the Twilight series of books got me reading more. I read all four in two weeks, which for me was unheard of. Tithe by Holly Black was a brilliant book too. I would definitely go easy reading books to get back into reading.

  3. March 29, 2009 4:32 am

    Just a quick look through your TBR – these would be my recommendations, in no particular order:

    –Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
    –High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never by Barbara Kingsolver
    — Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
    –The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
    –Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
    — A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    Each of these has drawn me in and held me to the end. Good luck with the slump!

  4. March 29, 2009 6:16 am

    Both The Handmaid’s Tale and High Fidelity totally stayed glued to my hands. I was surprised that the first one did, because somehow I was expecting it to be one of those ultimately rewarding books that feel a little bit like work. But not at all.

    And I was just as surprised to become completely engrossed in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. That’s a peculiar book, though, and maybe you need to be in the right sort of mood to get into it.

    Good luck getting over your funk!

  5. March 29, 2009 10:54 am

    Arggh. It’s so hard to be stuck like this. I don’t know what you love, but I would suggest the Mary Stewart books, The Wizard of Earthsea by Le Guin, Spindle’s End by McKinley or anything by Patricia McKillip. They are all very well written, exciting and easy to take in. There’s also Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book which, I feel, has the wonderful intensity of his Sandman series. Good luck!

  6. March 29, 2009 11:45 am

    I understand this too well since I’ve been in a funk for the better part of the year (hence my mostly comicbook reading lately). While there are lots of books to choose from, I’ll pick this as mere suggestions:

    Holes by Louis Sachar (short, fun and sweet)
    Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (hilarious)
    Possession by AS Byatt (engrossing)
    World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (riveting)
    Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind (compelling, steep in atmosphere)

    Then again, when I had a major funk last year I resorted to reading a series (hence I started and finished the Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books – all eight of them one after the other). So I don’t know if you’d like to read just one book, start a new series or maybe finish an old one (I see Harry Potter in French on your list).


    And here are two book blogs I follow that I can’t find on your table:

  7. March 29, 2009 1:22 pm

    Can I second the recommendation for Perfume? I really liked that when last I read it, incomplete understanding (I read it in original German which isn’t a language I’m stellar at) and all.

    I’d also recommend The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox. Certainly stayed glued to my hands. (Afraid that say that most of the books I recognised on your list are books I haven’t read myself either… I did see that you read a fair bit of GG Kay’s works, though, so maybe picking up Ysabel might be worth trying?)

    As for the first request… I didn’t spot my blog on the list, so if you want to add it I’d be honoured. ^-^

    Hope you’ll find that book that keeps you glued to the page soon!

  8. March 29, 2009 1:36 pm

    Maria – Oh, excellent idea! I’ve also heard good things about Bujold’s other fantasy series, too.

    vivienne – For all of the problems I have with the Twilight books, I do have to admit that they were compulsive reading.

    terri – Brilliant, thanks for the help!

    Nymeth – I’ve had (and been avoiding) The Handmaiden’s Tale exactly because it seems like it’s going to be some effort to read… so thanks for the reassurance!

    Gavin – I do have the entire Mary Stewart Merlin trilogy (quadrology, I guess) on the shelf… Not sure why I’ve been avoiding them, maybe it’s because I had a hard time with Once and Future King, and they’ve gotten (unfairly) lumped in with that.

    Lightheaded – Thanks for the suggestions, and the funk commiseration! The Harry Potter’s actually in Spanish, and while I’ve read the first four books in both languages, it was a while ago, and my Spanish isn’t getting any less rusty the longer I let those books sit on my shelf. :)

    Shanra – I’ve added your blog to the search (although I haven’t gotten around to updating the page yet). I know I will probably love either Ysabel or The Last Light of the Sun, but I think I’ve been avoiding them because once they’re done, I won’t have any more GGK books to read. Silly, huh? I don’t know what I’m saving them for, if not a reading funk.

  9. March 29, 2009 3:03 pm

    I loved the following from your TBR list:

    Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
    High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
    White Oleander by Janet Fitch (one of my all-time favourite books)
    The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
    Possession by A.S. Byatt
    Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
    The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, Twelfth Annual Collection (more of a series recommendation; I haven’t yet read this particular volume)
    The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2007 (now this one I’ve read. It’s great).
    The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
    The Unnameables by Ellen Booraem

  10. March 29, 2009 4:25 pm

    First, The Book Blogs Search. My former blog Just A (Reading) Fool is there, but my new blog an unfinishedperson (in an unfinished person in the universe) isn’t. That’s where I’ve moved everything. It’s at

    Second, I think you’ve received a lot of good suggestions and even though I’ve read maybe one Thomas Hardy novel, I would suggest Tess of the Durbervilles by Thomas Hardy, because I think you need something with a little bit of meat to get you going. I was somewhere and saw the miniseries of the show. I was intrigued by it (of course, not that I’ve read it yet ;).

    Third, I can relate to the reading funk. I’m slowly working my way out but with an Agatha Christie reading challenge. It’s helping slowly.

  11. March 29, 2009 8:19 pm

    Some of my favorites are:

    The Harper Hall Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey
    The Crystal Singer Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey
    The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
    The Gate To Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper

    My favorites that I’ve read so far this year are:

    The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly
    The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

    I don’t know which of these you have already read, but they are the first that come to mind. I love losing myself in Anne McCaffrey’s dragon books when I need a break.

  12. March 29, 2009 9:36 pm

    I will help you out on both accounts – I’ll blog about your search engine next week. I looked over your TBR list. I loved Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink as a young adult. It was good. I have also read and enjoyed Little Children, but I can’t remember that being as engrossing as you’re hoping. There have been three books recently that have me taking extended breaks at work and sitting in the day care parking lot before picking up the kids – Serendipity by Louise Shaffer, Foreign Tongue by Vanina Marsot (not out until 4/14, though), and A Silent Ocean Away by DeVa Gantt. I hope some of that helps. It could be this time of the year for you. Your spring break should be coming up soon, right?

  13. March 29, 2009 10:23 pm

    I agree that you should try the Mary Stewart books–they’re quite different from The Once and Future King. I also agree that High Tide in Tucson and The Handmaid’s Tale are well worth reading. I also liked Brooks’ Year of Wonders. And I have another suggestion for you–try The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (see my review here: Also if you’re interested, I have posts about High Tide in Tucson and The Handmaid’s Tale that you can find by looking up Kingsolver and Atwood in my author index.

  14. March 29, 2009 11:07 pm

    I looked through your TBR list, and here are the books on it that I’ve read (I linked to my reviews):

    The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
    – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
    The Know-It-All by A. J. Jacobs
    The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson

    Of those, I’d suggest The Secret Life of Lobsters (hilarious) or A Heartbreaking Work (very funny, but also sweet, and long). All the others were good though.

  15. March 30, 2009 9:05 am

    What fun! The sugs in these comments should keep you busy! I can second The Handmaid’s Tale – I didn’t expect how amazing it would be. And The Secret Life of Lobsters IS awesome.

  16. March 30, 2009 10:51 am

    Memory – Lies of Locke Lamora it is! I only had the time to read the first 30 or so pages last night (through the prologue), but so far, it looks like it might do the trick!

    Alyce – Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve read the Outlander books, but I do have Gabaldon’s Lord John books (two, anyways), on the pile… I bet they’d work just as well!

    Literate Housewife – Sadly, spring break has come and gone, and a vacation where I was playing tour guide and host to friends, while fun, meant not as much reading as I could have hoped.

    Jeane – Thanks for adding your vote!

    Kim – While it’s your fault that Secret Life of Lobsters is on my TBR list at all (heh), I don’t think non-fiction is right for my mood at moment – too many places where I could easily put it down.

    Care – Looks like Handmaid’s Tale is the popular favorite; I’ll have to get on that!

  17. March 30, 2009 4:50 pm

    Oh … I’m right there with you! I’ve just pulled out of a reading funk, thanks to Wyrd Sisters, by Mr Sir Terry Pratchett, which isn’t on your list.’
    Um. I scanned it very quickly, but two that did jump out at me, are The Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri, which is a fantastic, beautifully written short story collection, and Magician, by Feist, because it’s one of my favourites.
    Good luck! :)

  18. March 30, 2009 7:48 pm

    Hi — I read about your links to book blog and book reviews at Care’s Online Book club and came over to check it out. I think that is a great resource — I know it is hard for me to track down other reviews and I would love to use this tool. My book blog is

    And as far as a recommendation, have your read “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett or the follow-up? They are great. But I’m not sure about your tastes so I don’t want to make too many recommendations.

  19. March 30, 2009 9:08 pm

    Looking at your TBR list I’d recommend Empire Falls by Richard Russo and White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Both fantastic books!

  20. March 30, 2009 9:31 pm

    Maree – I’ve been looking forward to Interpreter of Maladies, but short stories are too easy to put down for me right now.

    Jenners – I do have Pillars of the Earth on my TBR pile, although the size is a little daunting! (Also, I’ll do another round of additions to the search tomorrow, and will be sure to include your blog!)

    Natasha – Both ones that have been on my pile for a while too; not sure why. I’ll have to move them up the mental ranking system!

  21. ConUladh permalink
    April 3, 2009 4:34 pm

    Lies of Locke Lamora is a great choice, from your TBR The Blade Itself was also glued to my hands, very refreshing read. Very gritty, love it, same goes for Lies…

    Very fond memories of The Alchemist, a unique read I think (don’t ask me to explain that it’s been too long since I read it)

  22. April 5, 2009 9:44 pm

    ConUladh – I just finished Lies of Locke Lamora this weekend (review will be up tomorrow), and you’re absolutely right, it was a wonderful choice.

  23. trapunto permalink
    April 7, 2009 1:10 pm

    My sympathy! I get these reading funks too sometimes. For many years (though not so much now that the editorship has changed) my jump-start has been the “The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror” anthology. I’m not much of a short story reader or a horror fan, but their essays on best first novels, best literary fantasy, best YA fantasy, traditional fantasy novels, etc. of the past year has led me to some really good authors I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. The essays themselves are a pleasure to read as well. Then, I dip into the short stories for the heck of it; which also serve as mini-introductions to authors who may have written novels. If I like their ideas and their writing I look for their books.

    The new editor of the fantasy portion (with Gavin Grant) is Kelly Link . She is a better fantasist than editor, however; she would be one of my reading recommendations. I forgive her her genre because a lot of her short stories are pretty long; somehow they have the depth and atmosphere of mini-novels. Try Magic For Beginners. The title story is a bizarre and perfect celebration of what it’s like to discover the pleasures of creativity and the power of fantasy as part of an emotional education, as well as an inside-out homage to a well known *cough* fantasy TV series involving vampires.

    The last time I had one of those hyped-up, read-day-and-night, faith-restored-in the-wonderfulness-of-fiction experiences was with Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamhunter books. (Vintner’s Luck is a good one too, but over too fast and a little dark and grisly for me.) Dreamhunter and Dreamquake were intended as YA books but I have seen them shelved under adult fiction in some libraries. Who knew golems could be so sexy? It’s a little hard to get a handle on her world, but if you persist through the early chapters you’ll be enthralled.

    Good luck!


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