Looking for a good story. {literary matchmaking}

Looking for a good story. {literary matchmaking}

Literary matchmaking: matching readers with the right books, one week at a time

The details on this ongoing project, and the factors I’m taking to heart.

Readers told me 3 books they loved, 1 book they hated, and what they’re reading right now. In turn, I’m choosing 1 mainstream pick, 1 eccentric pick, and 1 YA/memoir/nonfiction pick for each reader. (Or more, if I can’t help myself.)

This week we’re choosing books for Megan, whose books are:

Love: The Thirteenth Tale, Me Before You, The Lost Husband
Meh: The Casual Vacancy
Last read: The Rosie Project

I loved Me Before You and The Lost Husband, and The Thirteenth Tale is on my list. Readers don’t love these books for their high style or gorgeous prose. They love them because they tell great stories.

And that’s what I’m looking for for Megan: novels that succeed because they’re good stories. They don’t have to be highly literary; they don’t have to be prizewinners. But they need compelling characters, in strong plots, that make you keep turning the pages.

This was a fun list to put together, because I love a good story.

My picks: 

Brand new: One Plus One: A Novel
Pageturner: The Secret Keeper
Classic: Jane Eyre
A good story:
The Power of One: A Novel

Since Megan loved Me Before You, I’m recommending JoJo Moyes’s brand-new book One Plus One, just released July 1. I just finished the audiobook yesterday and really enjoyed it. (You know it’s good when you keep finding excuses to pull more weeds, wash more dishes, walk the dog again, and anything else that lets you turn on that audiobook for another 15 minutes.)

The Secret Keeper is deliciously creepy and intricately structured, much like The Thirteenth Tale. And while I’m betting Megan has already read Jane Eyre, anyone who loves books like The Thirteenth Tale should read it at least once.

I’m recommending The Power of One because it tells a great story, and because I wanted to give her another new option, since I’ve already recommended the heck out of Rules of Civility, Bel Canto, What Alice Forgot, and other simply good stories I think Megan love.

Please share recommendations for Megan, plus books that you think fit the “just a great story” category in comments. Thank you! 

View all the literary matchmaking posts here.

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28 comments

  1. Jillian Kay says:

    I love a good story too. I just finished The Steady Running of the Hour, and loved most of it, and also would recommend Laurie King’s Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series.

  2. Second Glance by Jodi Picoult comes to mind – it’s not a normal Picoult book, it’s a ghost story, and I loved reading that story unfold! Maybe also Maeve Binchy, whom I love and just tells people’s stories. (Told. Sniff. RIP Maeve.)

    I haven’t read any of her books except The Rosie Project, though …

  3. Megan C. says:

    It’s my turn! I’m so excited today was my day, and you described my reading interests perfectly. I love a good story. I look forward to reading your recommendations and seeing what readers suggest in the comments. Thank you!

  4. Nolo says:

    FYI – I just saw Wild Swans for the Kindle is on sale for $1.99 at Amazon. Great story about a three generations of women in China – grandmother was a warlord’s concubine, mother was a member of the communist revolution and then denounced, and the daughter (the author) emigrated to the US. It’s from a few years ago but a worthwhile read.

    • LAUREN HOHMANN says:

      Read dream of the walled city. It’s a similar story line. I’ve read it 3 or 4 times, and given away as many copies as gifts

  5. Andrea says:

    I would suggest The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

    I also think Curtis Sittenfeld’s novels are page-turners in the best way: Sisterland (her most recent) and American Wife. (Sittenfeld is writing the Pride & Prejudice “update” for The Austen Project!)

    If you like mysteries, try the Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne series by Julia Spencer-Fleming. The first one is In the Bleak Mid-Winter. Love these!

    • Kerry says:

      I loved American Wife and read all of CS after that. Did not know of her new project. I will suggest The Red Tent and Peace Like A River as good stories.

  6. Leah says:

    Seconding your picks for One Plus One & The Secret Keeper! Both are incredible – and both Jojo and Kate are on my uber selective Autobuy Authors list.

    If she liked The Thirteenth Tale, I’d recommend Setterfield’s newest, Bellman & Black. I personally loved it, though other readers said it wasn’t as good as her debut.

    I’m wondering how Megan feels about Katherine Howe. Her debut (The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is pretty popular and I adored her follow up, The House of Velvet and Glass. Main character lost her mother and sister on the Titanic and hopes to connect with them through a seance. It was one of my favorite reads of 2012!

    • Ana says:

      I loved the Thirteenth Tale, and was so looking forward to Bellman and Black, but I put it down at around page 100 or so. Should I have finished it? Was it slow to get started?

  7. I love Kate Morton’s books, especially “The Secret Keeper” and “The Forgotten Garden.” They really keep you turning pages.

    Mary Stewart’s books are like that, too — I read “The Ivy Tree” a few years ago and I could not get it out of my mind for an entire weekend. She was SUCH a good writer (sadly passed away just a few months ago). “Nine Coaches Waiting” is another one of hers that I recommend highly.

    Of course, there’s “Rebecca,” which is the ultimate in page-turning good stories. Most booklovers I know have read it, but if you haven’t, fix that ASAP! 🙂

  8. keely says:

    What a perfect category, and one which describes the books I’m most drawn to!
    Where’d ya go, Bernadette?, the Flavia de Luce books, the Thursday Next books, and Alexander McCall Smith books come to mind. I’ve actually never read his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, but love 44 Scotland Street and I just read La’s Orchestra Saves the World.

    • Anne says:

      No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency has been on my list for ages! Bumping it up the list now that it’s been mentioned in this category. 🙂

    • susan says:

      I love all these books! The only other I would recommend is the Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It is kind of a modern-day Dracula.

  9. Andrea says:

    I think Chris Cleave tells the most amazing, unexpected and page turning stories – specifically ‘Gold’ and ‘Little Bee.’ I would also check out Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter – great story and I loved it, like I loved most of the books Megan picked 🙂

  10. Lisa T says:

    I’ve only read one of Kate Morton’s books–The Distant Hours. I read it for my neighborhood book club about a year ago? Anyway, I enjoyed it enough that I when I find her books used/discounted I buy them and add them to my to-be-read pile.

  11. JenTL says:

    Is it too late to participate?

    Books I love: Harry Potter, Atlas Shrugged, Pride & Prejudice, Girl at the End of the World
    Meh: 50 Shades of Grey
    Last book(s) read: Ink Mage, AG Riddle (Atlantis series), Book Thief

  12. Jennifer H says:

    Just added Thirteenth Tale to my library request list. Finished Driving Over Lemons a few days ago, which I think must have been one of your recommendations, as I never read non-fiction unless you have recommended it. It was a fun read. My tastes are so eclectic I could never give you what you need to “matchmake” me, but I usually add one or two books to my to-read list from your other matches, and have found new favorites. So thanks for the post series!

      • Jennifer H says:

        Maybe it was one of the books one of your readers liked; otherwise I have no idea where I heard about it. I would recommend it. The author is Chris Stewart and it is his story of how he and his wife left their life in England for a farm in the mountains of Andalucia (Spain). The descriptions of his encounters with the people he meets are pretty funny.

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