Readers told me 3 books they loved, 1 book they hated, and what they’re reading right now. In turn, I’m recommending 3 books for each reader. (Or more, if I can’t help myself.)
This week we’re choosing books for Katie of Cakes, Tea, and Dreams, who says:
I know you and I have similar (though not identical) tastes, but I’ll give it a go anyway:
3 books I adore: Gaudy Night (and anything by Dorothy Sayers); A Circle of Quiet (and anything by Madeleine L’Engle); The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
1 book I put down because it was NOT working for me: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
The last book I read: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill – such a fun YA story. Currently reading Micha Boyett’s wonderful memoir, Found.
Recommending books for Katie makes me nervous: I feel like she’s read everything, and I suspect our to-be-read lists already overlap a good bit (although she does read a lot of modern fiction that I skip over). I’d love to be able to introduce her to something new, but I’m not sure I can do that!
I have a long list of books that I would recommend in a heartbeat, but I either know or strongly suspect she’s already read them: Flavia De Luce and Maisie Dobbs, Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, I Capture the Castle, and a good many foodie memoirs.
(I once again asked on facebook for your suggestions. Read those here.)
Best series chronicling women’s lives: The Virgin in the Garden by A. S. Byatt
Best religious series that has a lot more grit and sex than you’re expecting: Glittering Images, Susan Howatch
Best modern novel that readers love to hate: Atonement by Ian McEwan
Best modern novel for Downton Abbey fans: Snobs, Julian Fellowes
My picks for Katie are all British, which I didn’t do on purpose, but strikes me as a good idea all the same.
The Virgin in the Garden is the first book in Byatt’s Frederica Potter Quartet, which I read forever ago and want to read again. The series follows the unusual life of a Cambridge academic, starting in the 1950s. Byatt is known as being a faithful, intelligent chronicler of women’s lives, and this series is no exception. These novels are smart, leisurely paced, and unquestionably cerebral.
Glittering Images is the first book in Howatch’s 6-book Starbridge series, which are set in the Church of England. Forget everything you’re thinking when you hear “religious thinking”: these books could fairly be categorized as psychological dramas, and are pretty racy. The first 3 books take place in the 1930s; the second 3 in the 1960s. Each book is narrated by a different character; the books can be read as a series (in which case, start here) or as stand-alones.
Many readers love to hate McEwan’s breakthrough novel Atonement. (Count me among them, on many days. On other days, I admire the structure that gets readers up-in-arms.) But since Katie loves all things British, I think this haunting, wistful novel is worth reading once. (It reminds me of Rules of Civility, which I think Katie would also like, if she hasn’t read it yet.)
Snobs, by Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes, is fluffy and just for fun, although as an American I found its gossipy examination of British class structures fascinating.
Please share YOUR recommendations for Katie in comments. Thank you!