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What are the best books you've read in the last 2 years?

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#1 of 34 OFFLINE   Marty Christion

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Posted July 21 2004 - 03:27 PM

Two years ago, some people listed their favorite reads:


I've read a bunch of those, and now I'm looking for some other recommendations. Fiction or non-fiction, what do you recommend?

#2 of 34 OFFLINE   David Williams

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Posted July 21 2004 - 07:07 PM

I don't know if it was mentioned in the other thread (I know, lazy) but on the short list of the 5 best books I've ever read you would find Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett near the top of that list. The story revolves around a man called Tom the Builder in 12th Century England as he spends his life building a cathedral. I was turned on to it by a history teacher in high school for a class project and I'm sure it will be considered one of the classics of 20th Century literature.

Under the heading of 'Reading for Pleasure', I read almost exclusively nonfiction with a bit of fantastical fiction thrown in. Stuff by Laurell K. Hamilton (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series only), Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum), J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl series - second best in the genre next to HP) and Dan Brown (Angels & Demons, Da Vinci Code) for examples.

One of the best nonfiction books I've reread recently is a collection of famous true crime muder essays called Unsolved!: Classic True Murder Cases. Most of the articles are between 80-40 years old, and feature detail by detail examinations of the Ripper case, Lizzie Borden (with crime scene photos), among others.

Happy reading! Posted Image
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#3 of 34 OFFLINE   Jonathan White

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Posted July 21 2004 - 07:48 PM

"The curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time"

Over in the UK this book was really hyped up, winning awards left right and centre and was probably the most talked about book of the last year. This was all justified, superb book, check it out.

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#4 of 34 OFFLINE   Angelo.M



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Posted July 22 2004 - 12:15 AM

Flags of Our Fathers (non-fiction) The story of the men who raised the American flag during the battle of Iwo Jima--one of the most brutal battles in modern military history--as told by the son of a flag-raiser.

#5 of 34 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted July 22 2004 - 02:31 AM

Other than books directly connected with my work, probably Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Regardless of the historical insights, easily in the top ten of great works of English prose. Be warned - it's quite long.

Also, The Skeptical Environmentalist (temporarily forgotten the author's name - sorry!). The book isn't anti-conservation (far from it), but points out that we should get our fears about environmental change in perspective (e.g. did you know that the weather systems causing El Nino actually result in a net saving of lives?). A wonderful level-headed antidote to the BS put out by the sort of doom-mongering environmentalist who wants us all to die so they can say 'I told you so' with their smug dying breath.

#6 of 34 OFFLINE   Andy Sheets

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Posted July 22 2004 - 02:53 AM

Let's see...ones I've read in the past couple of years that I've liked... (Most of the books I read are older works. I find fiction today frustrating because most of it seems much too padded and self-indulgent.)

Richard Stark's series of hard-boiled crime novels. Stark is actually a pseudonym for mystery writer Donald Westlake. Back in the 60's, Westlake decided to start writing more hard-edged work and he came up with this character Parker, a cold-blooded professional criminal who spends most of his time either plotting heists or beating the shit out of people that cross him. The first in the series is The Hunter, which has been annoyingly retitled Payback after that Mel Gibson movie that was based on it (John Boorman's Point Blank is another adaptation). Really tight, lean writing in these books.

The Magic Wagon, by Joe Lansdale. This one is about Wild Bill Hickock's body being cursed by indians. Not the very best work that Lansdale has ever done but still pretty cool. Pretty much anything by Lansdale is recommended by me to some degree (except Act of Love, his first book. That one's pretty rough). If you look for his books, just make sure to check the general fiction, mystery, and horror sections of the bookstore; most of his books are difficult to categorize.

The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, by Robert E. Howard. I had already read most of the stories in this book but it's just such a nice edition, reprinting Howard's Conan work in chronological order, with some stories being uncensored for the first time in years. First of three volumes that will be coming out over the next year or so.

Maybe I'll remember more later but those are the ones that stand out the most in my mind Posted Image

Edit: Oh yeah, thinking about Conan reminded me of a couple other fantasies I've read recently.

Imaro, by Charles Saunders. This one can be hard to find since I don't think it's ever been reprinted, but it's basically an African equivalent to Conan. I think Saunders wrote this when he was very young, so it can be pretty rough in places, but it's still entertaining and he does some cool stuff with the setting.

Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart. Best way to describe it, I think, is that it feels a Chinese The Princess Bride. *It's really good.* IIRC, it won a World Fantasy award back in the mid-80's and then fell into obscurity. All the characters are memorable, the humor works, and it has one of the most joyous endings I can remember reading in a novel.

#7 of 34 OFFLINE   Adam.Heckman


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Posted July 22 2004 - 04:50 AM

The best book I've ever read, hands down, is 'The Fountainhead' by Ayn Rand. Amazing book. Not only is plot great, but it drives the characters. The characters are different from any that I've read or seen before. I recommend this to anyone. Everyone that I know that has/is reading this book cannot put it down. At first it looked intimidating to somebody that really only read fiction like Tom Clancy and Stephen King, but now I've read it 3 times and each time I take away more and more.

#8 of 34 OFFLINE   James T

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Posted July 22 2004 - 08:56 AM

I guess this is a matchmaker thread with my other thread where I needed to find a book similar to Greg Rucka's Atticus Kodiak novels...so the best books I've read in the past two years have been Greg Rucka's Atticus Kodiak novels. A Fistful of Rain(non Kodiak story) is pretty good too, but the ending kinda felt cheap, as if he didn't quite know how to end the book(unlike his previous books where you can tell he planned 'that' ending from the start).

#9 of 34 OFFLINE   Elizabeth S

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Posted July 22 2004 - 04:25 PM

Serpent's Dance by Larry Brooks -- really found it hard to put down. I didn't care at all for his "Darkness Bound", but I'm giving him another try soon with "Bait and Switch".

I second Andy's recommendation for Richard Stark. I've read more novels by Donald E. Westlake (including his Stark and Tucker Coe pseudonyms) than any other author.

And while I read them over 2 years ago, I always must mention Victor O'Reilly, starting with Games of the Hangman.

#10 of 34 OFFLINE   Marshall Alsup

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Posted July 22 2004 - 05:16 PM

A Song of Ice and Fire series is the best I've ever read. It is three books so far and the 4th is near (hopefully). Its fantasy but there aren't many fantasy elements in it. If you dig political intrigue, lots 'o battles, or FANTASTIC characters this is the series for you. The first book is A Game of Thrones

Ender's Game - A sci-fi books about a children's military academy. This book was recommended to me by a million people and they were all right, it is absolutly awesom!

Currently I'm reading Snow Crash and I'd definaly recomend it, but I haven't finished so take my recomendation with a grain of salt Posted Image

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#11 of 34 OFFLINE   Mark Shannon

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Posted July 22 2004 - 05:23 PM

The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien Sphere - Michael Crichton The Sigma Protocol - Robert Ludlum The Forever War - Jow Haldeman I haven't had a chance to read any of hte Harry Potter series, though I would like to get started on those.

#12 of 34 OFFLINE   Tony-B



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Posted July 22 2004 - 05:50 PM

I'm probably the only one here that found Lord Of The Rings to be a major borefest. Posted Image

Best book I've read lately is by far 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke.
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#13 of 34 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted July 22 2004 - 09:31 PM

I think it depends on your age and mood. I loved the book when I was a teenager in the 70s and it was practically required reading for my age cohort. However, I picked it up a couple of years ago and couldn't get beyond the first few pages - I just found the language so ponderous. When the movies came out I thought they would flop because they'd retain the Tolkein dialogue. In fact, Peter Jackson et al did a neat job of filleting out the best and leaving a lot of the tweeness behind. Before anyone flames me, I am aware of how clever a lot of the references and allusions to Nordic culture are, etc, and I'm good friends with folks who knew Tolkein and I know a lot of the background detail to the writing. However, I do think that it's a rather laborious read if you can't accept the rather high-blown literary style.

#14 of 34 OFFLINE   John Watson

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Posted July 22 2004 - 10:51 PM

I have just finished ATLAS SHRUGGED, for the first time, and was screaming with the tediousness of its author's narrow mindedness. Much though I agree with the author's critique of the life-sucking force of "compassion", she is a terrible writer. The book is a tract not a novel.

I plan to re-read THE FOUNTAINHEAD, (Last read some 10 years or so) and if it turns out to be much better will press for the movie to be re-released. If not, out it goes.

Read Dicken's BLEAK HOUSE a year or so ago for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised. I no longer think of Dickens as a great novelist, but this one had a dream-like force that swept me along for weeks. I never would have thought of Dickens as a surrealist.

Read the original DRACULA last year, and found it very good. It can't be blamed for all the crappy movies. Posted ImageThe new Folio edition of FRANKENSTEIN has just arrived, and I think I'm going to enjoy it.

#15 of 34 OFFLINE   Adam.Heckman


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Posted July 22 2004 - 11:36 PM

I'll second Sphere by MC. I read it twice. Not like it's life changing but I'll be darned if it's not entertaining. Also, I read (YEARS ago) 2001. Loved it. So, another second for that one. Glad to hear somebody else mention Ayn Rand in this thread. I'm sorry to hear that Atlas was bad. It's still on my list though. Mark, I'll be checking out the Sigma Protocol. I read the Bourne books before they came to the big screen. Very entertaining, and VERY different from the screen adaptation. I was wondering which book of his to pick up next, this gives me a good excuse. Thanks.

#16 of 34 OFFLINE   CalvinCarr


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Posted July 22 2004 - 11:56 PM

A BOY CALLED IT, THE LOST BOY & A MAN NAMED DAVE. A series about a boy raised in an abusive household and how he dealt with it and came out a man. A real touching series. It brought me to tears many times.

#17 of 34 OFFLINE   Mike Brogan

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Posted July 23 2004 - 12:56 AM

My Top 5 reads in the last couple of years: A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole A Prayer For Owen Meany - John Irving Catch 22 - Joseph Heller Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - Mary Roach From Hell - Alan Moore All good stuff, especially "From Hell" which is so dense with detail and history that I had to read it more than once.

#18 of 34 OFFLINE   Rob Lutter

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Posted July 23 2004 - 01:04 AM

The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams
If Chins Could Kill by Bruce Campbell
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
The Monster Show: A History of Horror by David Skal

#19 of 34 OFFLINE   Seth--L



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Posted July 23 2004 - 01:38 AM

From this summer:


Goodbye, Columbus
by Philip Roth


We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda
by Philip Gourevitch

The Informant: A True Story
by Kurt Eichenwald
Well - There it is.
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#20 of 34 OFFLINE   Nick Sievers

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Posted July 23 2004 - 02:13 AM

That is the next book I will be reading, i've got a couple of chapters of Kick Me by Paul Feig to finish first though.
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