I love finding new book recommendations from bloggers, but I sometimes feel that we get stuck in a bit of a rut, all reading the same things. This feeling was enhanced recently when I got into an email discussion with Heidi, a former lurker on my blog.
Heidi reads approximately 100 books a year, a pretty impressive number, comparable to many book bloggers, but when I asked her for recommendations I hadn’t even heard of the majority of books she suggested. Here are her suggestions:
The best contemporary and historical fiction book I have read this year is set in 17th century Persia. It is a first book by a new author Iranian American Anita Amirrezvani and is entitled Blood of Flowers (2008). As a first novel there are a few rusty points but overall it is really quite good and well-written. The main character is a young teenage girl whose fathers dies and she and her mother’s only option is to become servants in a rich uncle’s household, leaving their home and small rural village behind. Also because she has no dowry she is forced to become part of a renewable monthly marriage contract in exchange for money. However, she overcomes all her obstacles through creative and artistic talent (rug making which there is wonderful details about in the book). I hope she writes another but it took her five years to write this one! It was on the list for the Orange Prize and Boeke prize in 2008.
One of the most fascinating authors that I have discovered that I notice no one else seems to have heard of is Par Lagerkvist. He was the winner of the Noble Prize for literature in 1951 and is a Swedish author. He is not old fashioned to read at all and his books all feel very modern still. He was very much affected by the two world wars he lived through and his basic premise in all his books is exploring good and evil and how do we live a meaningful life in face of so much tragedy. The easiest way to jump in (and I am almost done) is The Marriage Feast a collection of his short stories. The stories are collected from 30 years of his writing and are very versatile (showing his range). So far I have read The Dwarf and The Sybil and have found both very unique and fascinating. His books and stories have a big impact and resonate—you stop and think about them afterword—paused…. The books are not all dark either (although The Dwarf is very dark) there is usually something hopeful within as well.
Another book I loved is John Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down (as well as East of Eden) another Nobel Prize winner! Both I have read many times. However, not many people have heard of the first as much. The book was banned in certain countries and even had a penalty of death if you read it at one time. It looks at the war from both sides the invaders and the invaded and discusses how it affects everyone and the different ways (It is set in Norway during WWII). It is such a short book (less than 100 pages ) but powerful. Mostly because it shows everyone’s human side—even the Nazis which is part of the reason it was banned.
Also fun books (and many do not think of this author as fun) are A.S. Byatt’s short stories The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye and The Little Black Book of Stories. Fairy tales for grown-ups. As a working mom I love my short stories!
I’d like to thank Heidi for suggesting some different titles for me to read. I hope to get hold of copies soon.
Have you heard of any of these books?
Do you feel that the range of books book bloggers are reading is getting smaller by the day?
If you are a non-blogger – can you recommend any books which aren’t getting the attention they deserve in the blogging world?