Last night, I got a text message from my sister: Book recommendations?
We exchanged a few messages to determine what she was in the mood for, before landing on a couple of titles I really hope she picks up. (I’m admittedly protective of my books. If I love something that someone else decides is just okay, I get defensive. What do you mean you don’t “get it?” What do you mean the character wasn’t believable? What do you mean you hated the story? But, anyway…)
You see, Pat and I are each from families of readers. Rarely does a Sunday dinner or a family birthday celebration go by without some of us talking about what we’re currently reading, how we’re liking that book, and what’s next on our list of “must reads.”
But it took me and Pat awhile to figure out books we both enjoy. Pat’s more into science fiction, mystery, and suspense. He just finished up 11/22/63 by Stephen King and NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. I’m working through Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, on my never-ending quest to finish all of the Booker Prize-winning books. (My all-time favorite, The Remains of the Day, is a Booker Prize winner, and another good one, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, was the 2014 recipient.)
These days, though, we’re on a roll – below are three books that we’ve read (based on the other’s recommendation) in the past year that we’ve both enjoyed.
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt. Genuine, laugh-out-loud humor in books is hard to come by – I’ve seen lots of authors do it well, and some not-so-well. DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers is one that succeeds. I read this book a couple of years ago, and the main thing I remembered, when recommending it to Pat, was how funny it was. When Pat finished it recently, he remembered the humor – but he also reminded me that the book is an action-packed chase story with some dark moments that dampen the humor and round out the book. We both really loved this one – and, it looks like they’re making it into a movie starring John C. Reilly. Read it before it gets to theaters (hopefully soon).
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. When I finished this book up earlier this year – based on my husband’s recommendation – I immediately thought: why haven’t I read this earlier? As an English major, this book is brimming with underlying themes; it’s a study of the relationship between silence and power, and a unique, almost-coming-of-age story that I thought would have been on my reading list at some point in high school or college. Pat appreciated the characterization and the story – I did, too – while I was drawn to Cuckoo’s Nest as an avid reader who appreciated that the novel called out the “control dynamic” that permeated life in the 60s.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Surprisingly, I read this one first. I’d been going through a dystopian fiction kick (isn’t it awesome how there’s so many books that fit any descriptor? I could have been on a coming-to-America kick, or a growing-up-rich kick, or a women-in-the-50s kick, and I’d have still found so many books that’d meet my needs), and I stumbled across this one. I was glad I did. There were tons of references from video games, books, and movies of my childhood – most I understood, and some I didn’t. Those didn’t stop me from enjoying the book – it’s a rapidfire race toward a prize that kept me reading late into the night. Pat especially appreciated that he got the chance to recall games and movies that he’d kinda forgotten about – plus, who doesn’t like a good page turner?
‘Til next week,