In the Gnostic Gospel According To Thomas, Jesus supposedly says, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." These books, like so many of the ones that came before them, have helped to bring forth what is within me.
FICTION in chronological order:
Alan Furst, Blood of Victory. One of my favorite contemporary authors.
Naguib Mahfouz, Miramar and The Thief and the Dogs. Nobel prize-winning Egyptian author.
Colm Toibin, The Heather Blazing.
Anita Brooker, Leaving Home. Another contemporary favorite.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind. Very exciting, interesting story for the book lover in you.
Alan Furst, Dark Voyage.
Jack London, Martin Eden. An extraordinary novel, which I think most college students should read. Lots of quotable moments.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Violins of Saint-Jacques.
Eric Ambler, A Coffin for Dimitrios (that genre I like so much...pre-World War II international political military spying, before the world became the insidious uneasy place it is).
James Baldwin, Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone started out well but got very lost very fast.
Alan Furst, The Foreign Correspondent (yes, I love Alan Furst novels and with their rich history and local color of Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s, they are very good).
Baroness Orczy, The [Old] Man in the Corner, detective thriller a precursor to that genre of fiction that gave us Nero Wolfe books, is a series of seemingly unrelated tales, all surprising and all very intelligent.
Voltaire, Candide Zadig & Other Stories was hilarious, bizarre, and very beautifully Voltaire.
Kobo Abe, The Ruined Map was arch; a private detective backdrop with weird turnings.
Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard and Pecuchet, unfinished yet brilliant.
Hubert Selby, The Room (god awful).
Jose Saramago (one of my heroes), Raised from the Ground. A very beautiful novel, timeless in its depiction of men and women bound to the land, and the cruelty they endure from the power of the landowning elite and the government (based on events in Portugal prior to the revolution, or one of them at least).
Anita Brookner, Strangers. "Fate is rarely kind, and nature never."
Alan Furst, The Spies of Warsaw (they keep getting better; not the spies, the books).
Anthony Trollope, Dr. Wortle’s School, an appropriate morality novel eyebrow raising in its time I’m sure about relationships, loyalty, honor, trust.
Anita Brookner, Latecomers.
Neil Stephenson, Snow Crash. outrageous, funny, and baroque (in a good way) novel of Los Angeles’ future.
Philipp Meyer, The Son. Ambitious, interesting, well-research and captivating gets a high recommendation from me.
Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was at times funny but mostly, being mixed with historical background of the Dominican Republic--which was far from being a republic, it was average.
Alan Furst, Spies of the Balkans, was another foray into history with suspense as its train ride.
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland, bland portrayal of two Bengali Indians and the struggles with normality vs. defiance; yes, it was bland.
Simone de Beauvoir, The Blood of Others (de Beauvoir never disappoints me; she is another one of my heroes).
Tariq Ali, Redemption, was so well-written and scary in its portrayal of political fraud and humiliation (kind of redundant, true).
Jean Rhys, Quartet
Penelope Fitzgerald, The Blue Flower, a novel about the 18th century German poet Novalis. It doesn’t end happy. Think Goethe’s Werther.
David Sedaris, Barrel Fever, so funny, it had me in constant stitches.
Jean Rhys, After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie.
Orhan Pamuk, A Strangeness in My Mind My main man, his latest novel. A beautiful book of modern Turkey, covering several decades in the life of one Mevlut, a man of melancholy nature but immense self-respect. It is not easy nor profitable being a good man.
Philipp Meyer, American Rust, was one that I could not put down, but I did, because I had to go to sleep you know. This is a hard story about Pennsylvania and how American industry big shots turned their backs on labor and gave us a wasteland in the Northeast. But there’s more to it than that. His characters are incredibly sympathetic even though at times incredibly irritatingly dumb.
Lionel Shriver, Big Brother examines the menace of food, what depression does to you with food as its ally, and then the dangers of the fast-cure methodologies that leave your body and psyche scarred, as if you didn’t already have enough to begin with.
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea. This book was written in a Faulknerian confusion without William Faulkner’s adeptness with language and literary style. I don’t recommend it.