It’s raining bugs… but there’s a book drought

April 6, 2010

The flea bomb is working… now and then we find a bug in its death throes. Sadly, many of these bugs are innocent of heinous clothes-eating crimes. I’m terribly sorry that our friendly spider population is collateral damage. Vale, daddy-long-legses.

While at Ma’s house, I plucked a novel from her shelf for a quick holiday read – Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. It made me cranky after a hundred pages or so because it was so formulaic. I read ahead, and lo, an amazing twist right at the end, who’d have expected it. Astonishing. The inevitable coupling of the two attractive, competent, single characters introduced at the start was the last straw and I flung the book on the table. Mild treatment really, considering my well-established proclivity to toss pulp fiction across the room in disgust.

Ma, in her wisdom, pointed out that if I knew what sort of book it was, why did I start reading it? Good point. And, she noted, I do an awful lot of complaining but what was the last book I read that I actually liked? Gooder point. I couldn’t remember.

So, livebirdians, I’m looking for recommendations. A novel. Or two. That won’t make me howl and roll my eyes. That doesn’t have the author’s name in gold uppercase type larger than the book’s title. That wasn’t written to a formula.

How do you find good books? Whose opinion do you listen to? Book clubs on the telly? Reviews in the paper? Book blogs? Your favourite librarian or fiction vendor? Do tell.



  1. The best novel ever written is Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse Five.’ His name will probably be written in black, and if it’s formulaic, it’s a very strange formula known only to him.

    ‘The Kite Runner’ and its sequel ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ are both excellent, but terribly bleak and depressing, so I would recommend reading ‘Dear Fatty’ by Dawn French in between. I know it’s not a novel, but it’s a lovely book, and it has the word “ladygarden” in it.

  2. Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451
    Truman Capote – In Cold Blood
    Anne Enright – The Gathering
    F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
    Graham Greene – The Power and the Glory; The Quiet American; The End of the Affair
    Joseph Heller – Catch 22
    Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea
    Nick Hornby – High Fidelity
    Anonymous (Joe Klein)- Primary Colors
    Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird
    Shane Maloney – Stiff (and others)
    Colum McCann – This Side of Brightness
    Cormac McCarthy – The Road
    Andrew McGahan – Praise
    John Mortimer – Rumpole of the Bailey (and others)
    Chris Mullin – A Very British Coup
    Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood
    Bao Ninh – The Sorrow of War
    Joseph O’Neill – Netherland
    George Orwell – every word he wrote
    Eliot Perlman – Three Dollars
    Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar
    Philip Roth – The Dying Animal
    John Steinbeck – The Grapes of Wrath
    Colm Toibin – The Heather Blazing
    Christos Tsiolkas – The Slap
    Anne Tyler – Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
    Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse Five

    Let me know if you need any more suggestions.

  3. The Women in Black – Madeleine St John

  4. How do you find good books?

    I tend to wander around the library until something catches my eye. Having said that I also read the book reviews in the Saturday paper, so I’m more likely to pick up the book whose reviews I remember as being interesting.

    Recommendations? Hm. I seem to have read a lot of non-fiction lately which I don’t think is what you’re after.

    I do really like Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond though, and I need to get the follow up. Still non-fiction.

    I’ll have to think more on this. Part of the problem is I’ve no idea what kind of books you read (other than those you throw across the room).

  5. Also? With you on Jodi Picault. I think I’ve read one of hers and it did absolutely nothing for me, other than irritate me intensely.

    No idea why they’re so popular with book groups.

  6. I’ve largely read non-fiction for ages … not sure why, ’cause when I get into fiction I read it like book addict …

    Am guessing my taste in alternative future history Australian sci-fi won’t suit yours …

  7. PS – RJ says read “The Danger Game”. She’ll lend it to you. We’re home this weekend.

  8. […] haven’t you been wondering what I’ve been reading? Remember my stroppy rant a while back about having nothing to read? Since then I’ve been plodding through wholesome […]

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