This one is on my reading list. Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset tells the story of her heroine in 14th century Norway with great love and attention to detail. Book-of-the-Month Club famously said, "We consider it the best book our judges have ever selected and it has been better received by our subscribers than any other book." My friend (who's been urging me to read this for ages) tells me she'd give it ten stars if she could.
Setting: Tokyo, 1984. A young woman begins to notice troubling discrepancies in the world around her, which makes her think she's living in a parallel reality, which she names 1Q84, the "Q" standing for "question." The two storylines converge over the course of the year, exploring fantasy, self-discovery, religion, love, and loneliness. The translation itself has been highly praised. On my TBR because a friend who loves it calls it "the longest book you'll never, not once, lose interest in."
- by Wally Lamb
You all kept telling me amazing things, and I finally finished my first Wally Lamb novel. At nearly 900 pages, I feel like I earned it (which makes this a perfect candidate for an ereader). Lamb wrote one of the best endings I've read in a long time This is the story of two brothers born into a big, messy, complicated family. One is trying to keep his own life together as he attempts to watch over his schizophrenic twin. It's an emotional and challenging read, on many levels, but I thought it was so well done. From the Associated Press: "Every now and then a book comes along that sets new standards for writers and readers alike. Wally Lamb's latest novel is stunning and even that might be an understatement...this is a masterpiece."
From the publisher: "Thirteenth-century Wales is a divided country, ever at the mercy of England's ruthless, power-hungry King John. Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, secures an uneasy truce by marrying the English king's beloved illegitimate daughter, Joanna, who slowly grows to love her charismatic and courageous husband. But as John's attentions turn again and again to subduing Wales---and Llewelyn---Joanna must decide where her love and loyalties truly lie. The turbulent clashes of two disparate worlds and the destinies of the individuals caught between them spring to life in this magnificent novel of power and passion, loyalty and lies. The book that began the trilogy that includes Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, Here Be Dragons brings thirteenth-century England, France, and Wales to tangled, tempestuous life."
This is one of the few nonfiction works on this list, from the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. An essential read about a slice of forgotten American history detailing the decades-long migration of almost six million black citizens from the South to the North and West between 1915 and 1970, hoping for a better life, and how their resettlement changed the face of America. Wilkerson focuses on the stories of three individuals, giving us both an intimate portrayal and Big Picture view of what they experienced and how this changed the country.
- by Ron Chernow
This is THE definitive biography of founding father Alexander Hamilton, from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow, author of Washington: A Life. Many readers know it as the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. This well-written biography reads like a novel, and makes the fascinating life story of a fascinating man spring off the page.
- by Ayn Rand
From the publisher: "Tremendous in scope and breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand's magnum opus, an electrifying moral defense of capitalism and free enterprise which launched an ideological movement and gained millions of loyal fans around the world. Atlas Shrugged is the ''second most influential book for Americans today'' after the Bible, according to a joint survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club."
- by Herman Wouk
A masterpiece of historical fiction, this is the Great Novel of America's "Greatest Generation". Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.
- by Rumer Godden
On my TBR because I've heard this is wonderful. From the publisher: "For most of her adult life, Philippa Talbot has been a successful British professional. Now in her forties, the World War II–widow has made a startling decision: She’s giving up her civil service career and elite social standing to join a convent as a postulant Roman Catholic nun."
- by Leo Tolstoy
“Happy families are all alike;” begins this classic novel, “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” If you’ve never read Anna Karenina, a great time to find out why William Faulkner called this novel “the best ever written.” Whether or not you agree, you’ll be glad you read it.
Michener is best known for his sweeping historical sagas: he wrote this epic novel to commemorate America’s bicentennial in 1976. This is the story of the American West, and especially Colorado. It spans 136 million years, covering the prehistoric era, Native Americans, trappers, traders, homesteaders, gold diggers, and cowboys, right on up to 1970s America. Meticulously researched, and so accurate it’s required reading for some history classes. Gripping enough to keep you turning all 1056 pages, more than once.
From the publisher: "Best-selling author Alexandre Dumas—who also wrote The Three Musketeers—tells this heartbreaking yet heroic tale of Edmond Dantes who takes revenge on the men responsible for his unjust fourteen-year imprisonment, keeping him from the woman he loved and the life he was supposed to live. The Count of Monte Cristo is a must-have for any home library or literary aficionado." The companion audiobook narrated by Bill Homewood has an impressive 4.7 rating! Meredith surprised me by raving about this on episode 11 of What Should I Read Next, because I'd always thought of it as a dry, dusty classic. Since then I've discovered lots of her fellow readers who adore it. They describe it as a darn good story, about a man thrown into prison for a crime he didn't commit and his quest for retribution.
Talk about big fat books: This time-travel romance series has 9 books to date, totaling 9,381 pages, 300+ hours on Audible, and incorporating time travel, the Scottish highlands, romance, drama, and history. As she tells it, Gabaldon intended to write a realistic historical novel, but a modern woman kept inserting herself into the story! She decided to leave her on the page for the time being—it's hard enough to write a novel, she'd edit her out later—but would YOU edit out Claire? I didn't think so. You could happily lose yourself in this series (but heads up for racy content and graphic torture scenes).
- by Vikram Seth
From the publisher: "Vikram Seth's novel is, at its core, a love story: the tale of Lata's--and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra's--attempts to find a suitable boy for Lata, through love or through exacting maternal appraisal. Set in the early 1950s in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a compulsively readable tale of their lives and loves. A sweeping panoramic portrait of a complex, multiethnic society in flux, A Suitable Boy remains the story of ordinary people caught up in a web of love and ambition, humor and sadness, prejudice and reconciliation, the most delicate social etiquette and the most appalling violence."
I promised myself that I would read something, anything by Goodwin this year, and I did: Wait Till Next Year, which made the summer reading guide in the Nerdy Nonfiction category. I liked it so much I’m diving into the deep end with this straight-up history of the Lincoln era. My dad will be proud.
“I just love the world of Patrick Rothfuss." —Lin-Manuel Miranda From the publisher: "My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me. So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man's search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend."
From the publisher: "When her father remarries, the honest, innocent Molly Gibson suddenly finds herself with a new stepsister, Cynthia, who is beautiful, worldly and impetuous. This would be more than enough to deal with, but the new wife is the deeply snobbish (and darkly secretive) Hyacinth. Thwarted love, scheming ambition and small-town gossip underlie the warmth, irony and brilliant social observation which link the relationships and the inevitable conflicts as profound change comes to rural England. The most mature and rewarding of her novels, Wives and Daughters places Elizabeth Gaskell in the first rank of English authors."