It's unsolicited recommendation time again! We've actually gotten a lot of hits on the blog for people searching phrases like "books for people who like..." and "if you like..." so I'm excited to do another in our series of "If You Like This, You Might Like That," since my first post seems to be coming up for people on Google searches. As always, I'd love to know if you have any contributions--let me know in the comments. Last time, the wonderful Chachic recommended Eva Ibbotson's work A Countess Below Stairs to fans of Downton Abbey and I quite agree. And we're off...
If you like wordplay and epistolary novels, you should read Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. In it, a town revers the man who created the pangram, "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog." As the letters fall off the statue in their town center, the residents see it as a sign that they should remove them from usage in daily life. One by one, the letters disappear from the book as well, to rather hilarious results at parts. You can fly through this one in no time at all.
If you liked Unwind by Neal Shusterman, contemplating whether or not you'd want to clone a person, or if you just want to read an awesome YA book that doesn't get enough play, you should try House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. House of the Scorpion is set in a future where there is a section of land between the US and Mexico called Opium that is used for cultivating drugs. It deals with issues like slavery, cloning, classism, and socialism and quite obviously, drugs.
I happen to love everything Bill Bryson writes. His style is engaging and I always find myself chuckling while I'm learning a metric ton of interesting factoids about every topic he covers. I've yet to jump into his A Short History of Nearly Everything, but his travel books are some of my favorites. If you enjoy commentary and travel books, love the vignettes on NPR shows like Fresh Air, can laugh about getting lost, or love learning random facts about things, you should check him out. Oh, or if you judge how awesome a place is by how much great stuff you have to eat and drink, he's a kindred spirit. I recommend I'm A Stranger Here Myself, In A Sunburned Country and A Walk in the Woods.
If you are a person who loves to learn a lot about an occupation and how things work while you are reading fiction and you enjoy reading about insane serial killers, definitely read Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. (Am I the only one who DVRs "How It's Made?") I always wondered how scents like fresh laundry, grass, and cotton candy could be bottled and now I know (perhaps a little too creepily well) how this is done. It is also a great book for people who, let's face it, don't read a ton of "real" literature and want to up their street cred. Beware the ending. (I see on Goodreads that this book's ratings are are all over the place, in general and among my friends. This frightens me a bit but I say go forth and read, then come back and tell me what you think.
I think I must've been a weird kid. Looking back, my favorite books are mostly the ones that are completely whackadoo, but I wouldn't want it any other way. My two favorite series were Betty Macdonald's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series and Louis Sachar's Wayside School series. Both series are early chapter books and accessible to most elementary-aged kids but they are so much more valuable because they are books I still enjoy as an adult and that parents will enjoy themselves when reading along with their children. In Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a quirky neighborhood woman who lives in an upside-down house helps to modify behaviors of local children in bizzare ways. I only just found out this minute that the books were originally written in the 1940s and 50s! The Wayside School books are set in a school that was accidentally built one classroom per floor vertically instead of spread out. Each student is weird in their own way and I still remember a bunch of their individual stories 15+ years after I first read them. (I also love Holes, by the same author.)
Like girls who do math? Reading about the Mexican-American experience? You should read What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Pérez . Published by Carolrhoda Lab, which is a publisher I actively check to see what they are releasing with giddy anticipation, What Can't Wait will appeal to people who enjoy the Fuentes brothers books by Simone Elkeles but maybe wish they were more about self-examination than romance. I am excited to read her new release, The Knife and the Butterfly.
Are you the type of person who daydreams about what it might be like to be in someone else's brain for a day? Freaky Friday social experiments? I'd love to be Kelly Link for a day, or actually, in many short story authors' brains. They are a hard sell and often times I find short story collections to be inconsistent. Pretty Monsters is fantastic. The only negative is that I wish each story was later developed into a full-length novel! I still smile thinking about the image of an entire kingdom in a handbag. If you like fantasy and short stories, you are missing out if you don't give this one a try.
I hope one or more of these books will strike your fancy. Do you have any book recommendations based on liking random things?
2/19/2012 04:00:24 am
I love this post, Flann!
2/19/2012 08:48:44 am
Thanks, love. I've never read his Troublesome Words but he is one of those authors I can say with confidence I'll enjoy no matter what they write.
2/19/2012 04:01:24 am
Great post! I've been wanting to read The House of the Scorpion for such a long time, and Kelly Link as well. And I love Calorhoda Labs. Basically I want everything on this list.
2/19/2012 08:52:03 am
Basically, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think you'd dig most if not all of it. And I not-so-secretly hope you read the Wayside books and the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books with your kids:)
2/19/2012 11:11:25 pm
Big Louis Sachar fan here. (I re-read Holes yesterday, actually.) Catie, you MUST read Wayside School with your girls! Do it for your country.
2/19/2012 05:09:49 am
You had me at Downton Abbey. I am crazy about that show, so Countess Below Stairs is going on my TBR list immediately.
2/19/2012 08:53:42 am
I wonder what you'll think about Eva Ibbotson. She's not for everyone but she's definitely for me. (and Chachic!) I've read a few of hers and they are beautifully written, if not always innovative plot-wise.
2/19/2012 08:57:18 am
Thanks, Lucy! Both of those books need more play. House of the Scorpion won just about every award there is yet most of my friends still haven't read it yet.
You should make this a regular feature, Flann! Thanks for the shout out about my Eva Ibbotson recommendation. I've heard of Ella Minnow Pea and it sounds intriguing, I wanted to grab a copy of that but it's not available here. *shakes fist at local bookstores* You should have added The Jolly Postman and the Griffin and Sabine books in the "if you like epistolary novels" section. :)
2/20/2012 07:57:52 am
Oh, it is totally a regular feature:) I only have two of them so far but I'm hoping to do it every few weeks. It is so fun to think of reasons why people might like books I love, and to analyze what it is exactly that makes me like them. Yours was a great suggestion--I hope you'll have more!
2/20/2012 02:26:51 am
The only things I've read here are Bill Bryson and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle--how sad is that? I'm really looking forward to House of Scorpion and Unwind, though! And hearing Chachic recommend Countess Below Stairs to fans of Downtown Abbey makes me want to read it even more. :)
2/20/2012 07:59:14 am
That's not sad at all! I'm happy that you've read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle:) I do think you'll enjoy the other three you mentioned, though. (especially Countess Below Stairs)
i still keep toying with the idea of getting what can't wait. i do like maths, just not in that freakish way.
3/3/2012 02:55:58 pm
It WAS awkward--that's why I couldn't let you get away with it:) And you know I don't know everything about everything. Just five minutes ago you told me all about L.M. Montgomery's life! And about Storyland Gardens. I read a quote the other day from this famous physicist and he said "I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others." (Neil Tyson) You helped me learn something today...and you know what I've spent the rest of my day doing so you know I'm working on the other bit as well. x
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