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 Jeannie, whose books are:
Love: The House of Mirth, Rebecca, The Remains of the Day
Hate: Death Comes to Pemberley
Recently: The Fault in Our Stars
Jeannie describes her choices by saying her favorite books “don’t have to be cheerful and upbeat but they have to be SO GOOD.” I agree, which is fortunate because I still haven’t read The House of Mirth. (It’s on the list!) I felt like I was operating with a handicap here because of that.
My first impressions of Jeannie’s selections were that she adores substantial literary fiction and Gothic novels, but isn’t afraid to try modern popular stuff (like John Green) or an updated twist on a classic (like Death Comes to Pemberley).
For the first time, I asked you all on Facebook what books YOU would recommend. If your suggestions matched mine, I knew we had a winner. And you suggested books I’d never thought of, but which seemed like perfect matches. I’ll definitely be doing that again.
My first impressions, confirmed by readers: A Room With a View, My Cousin Rachel, Tess of the D’Urbevilles
Classic: Kristin Lavransdatter
Gothic novels: The Thirteenth Tale, A Long Fatal Love Chase
Modern: The Likeness, The Distant Hours, Angle of Repose
Jeannie’s list of favorites immediately brought three read-this-next selections to mind: A Room With a View, My Cousin Rachel, and Tess of the D’Urbevilles. These were great picks, but strikeouts all the same: Jeannie chimed in on Facebook and said she’d already read them! I was glad to know I was on the right track. Kristin Lavransdatter holds its own as a classic, but it’s less read than the heavy hitters I first turned to. Given Jeannie’s taste in books, I think it’s a likely winner.
Given Jeannie’s love for Rebecca, I’m recommending the neo-Gothic novel The Thirteenth Tale. Disclaimer: I haven’t read it yet. But I can see it from where I sit in my office, and it’s been heartily recommended by fellow book lovers with similar taste to my own (and to Jeannie’s). Either we’ll love it together, or we’ll rip it apart—together.
Anyone who loves Rebecca should also give Kate Morton a try. Jeannie says she’s already read—and loved—The Forgotten Garden. I recommend she read The Distant Hours next. This is a spoiler-free zone, so I can’t say why, but trust me—read it next!
I’m going out on a limb with The Likeness. It’s a modern psychological thriller, an Irish detective novel with blood and guts and f-bombs galore. Don’t read it if you’re not up for that—but if you are, prepare yourself for a gripping read, like Kate Morton or Rebecca circa 2014 Dublin.
Another novel I haven’t yet completed but very much want to is Louisa May Alcott’s A Long Fatal Love Chase. Alcott fans who know her only from Little Women and Eight Cousins may not recognize her in this darker piece, which was originally intended for magazine serialization. It reads more like something we can imagine Jo March (or perhaps adolescent Anne Shirley?) writing, not Louisa May Alcott!
Finally, I’m recommending Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose, for its complexity, its human drama, and its emotional pull—even if it’s not cheerful or upbeat. I have Stegner on the brain (I’ve read three of his books in a row) and I want to recommend a classic (or future classic; this one is a shoo-in) that I’m not 99% sure Jeannie’s already it. This fits the bill.
Please share YOUR recommendations for books that aren’t necessarily cheerful or upbeat, but are really, really good in comments. Thank you!