Book Recommendations 2021 

Here are the books that really stand out from my last-decade-or-so Kindle collection. I am drawn to classics from approximately 1800 to 1950. I also read nonfiction and modern fiction. I find titles somewhere in the New York Times Book Review before doing further research. I highly recommend searching a title found here on Amazon Books, then reading reviews there. David Brooks said something about reading that caught me: “You can't have all the experiences in one life that you can find in books.”

Modern Fiction

Paul Auster: Moon Palace. 1989. A novel about a nonconforming young guy who gets saved in a few ways during the second half of the twentieth century. Find out what happened to him in Central Park and beyond. Very original.

Tom Barbash: The Dakota Winters. It is about the Dakota apartment building in NY, and John Lennon.

 

C J Box: Long Range. This author tells how a forest ranger/detective in Wyoming deals with modern technology while enjoying friends and a family life.

 

Emma Donoghue: Slammerkin. In old England, what could have happened when one was a prostitute.

Tana French: Faithful Place and The Witch Elm. A 2000's author with fun mystery, and characters bouncing off each other.

Alan Hollinghurst: The Sparsholt Affair. A writer of this century whom I would follow whenever one of his books sounds good. Here he wrote of the time when Margaret Thatcher was England's prime minister. It has history and human interaction. There's a gay point of view, and, not only a story of friendship, but of people who need to protect their power.

Lisa Moriarty: Big Little Lies. I read two books by this modern novelist and found the works about families, some glitz, and more, kept me interested by their atmosphere.

Daniel Silva: The Black Widow and House of Spies. These suspense novels about solving terrorism in Europe, Israel, Palestine, Morocco led to my focus on the countries of the Middle East.

Wilbur Smith: When the Lion Feeds and A Sparrow Falls. Books of true adventure in Africa, late 1800's, early 1900's.

 

Donna Tartt: The Goldfinch. A freewheeling adventure from NY to Las Vegas, but very much of the heart. A recently huge success. This book is our friend.

Randy Wayne White: Everglades and Shark River. Modern mysteries about a biologist/detective on the water in Florida.

Charles Willeford: Miami Blues. Part of a detective series. Brilliantly offbeat and funny.

Nonfiction

Peter Ackroyd: Shakespeare: I had no idea Shakespeare's life could be presented to this degree, along with his early era, and how at that time the theatre as we know it was created.

Scott Anderson: The Quiet Americans. I found out how the art of modern day spying began in 1940's America.   

Juliet Barker: The Bronte’s: Wild Genius on the Moors. A biography of the family of the writer Charlotte Bronte who wrote the classic Jane Eyre. Check out life a few hundred years ago.

Peter Gatien: The Club King; my rise, reign and fall in New York Nightlife. 2020 autobiography of a founder of disco clubs in the twentieth century.  Entertaining and has information about how businesses develop.

Paul Goldberger: Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry. Biography of the famous architect whose work could be called architectural sculpture.  

Yuval Noah Harari: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Very famous, published widely in 2015. Thanks to it, on my Kindle there is a timeline of history. I also still have a couple of ideas in my head about when and why we got going.

David Hill: The Vapors. How a springs town in Arkansas, and those who saw its possibilities lived in the twentieth century.​

Tony Horwitz: Spying on the South. Authentic, enlightening story of driving through, looking back on, and seeing today's southern US.

Harpo Marx: Harpo Speaks. An exceedingly entertaining biography of one of the Marx brothers' lives and of the brothers' entire early New York scene as their lives continued to develop. 

Michael Meyer: The Road to Sleeping Dragon. The author went to China with the Peace Corps. and regales the reader with that history.

Jack Miles: God in the Qur'an. I read this because I was curious about religions other than Christianity. There is a comparison of the major stories in Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religions. I was surprised at the similarity in the tales.

Jim Rosenberger: Revolver: Sam Colt and the Six Shooter that Changed America. A highly adventurous life, history and atmosphere you won't believe until you read. This invention made a lot more than a splash.

David Rundell: Vision or Mirage. Saudi Arabia consisted of roving camel riders until things began to change with the twentieth century. One leader made it happen. The holiest of pilgrimage sites lie in the west of this country.

Julie Satow: The Plaza. This history of the hotel in New York is fascinating.

Erik Larsen: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz  What happened in England (also Germany and the US) during WW II. Churchill in person. Check out his clothes. What happened with bombs and piloting, as well.

Henry David Thoreau: Walden. He went there and was not as alone as you may think. He did a lot of land and household maintenance. It is enjoyable and inspiring.

Helen Thorpe: Just Like Us; the true story of four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America. Published in 2009, I read it with a group. Engrossing.

Ullrich Volker: Hitler Downfall. History of Hitler and his gang going into and at the end of WW II. (Recent book)

Mark Vanhoenacker: Skyfaring; a Journey with a pilot. I wanted to know what it is like to be a pilot, so I read and enjoyed this some years ago.

Classic Fiction

Raymond Chandler: Farewell my Lovely. I only remember I loved the style of this detective writer of the 1930's-1950's.

Charles Dickens: Our Mutual Friend and Nicholas Nickleby. I get deeply into Dickens (1800's). I read these with pleasure, and because I was already familiar with others of his novels.

A J Cronin: Hatters Castle. A knock-down drag-out melodrama. This author from the UK wrote novels often, in the earlier 20th century.

Isak Dinesen: Out of Africa. I remember the brilliance of this novel taking place in the early 20th century.

Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles. Get into a real Sherlock Holmes novel, put on your costume, and grapple with it.

Edith Wharton: The Custom of the Country. A woman seeks riches and status through wealthy men repeatedly. Fascinating history, ambience, psychology.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Beautiful and Damned. High drama. I took these words from the Internet: "explores and portrays New York café society and the American Eastern elite during the Jazz Age before and after the Great War in the early 1920's".

William Faulkner: Light in August.  (1932) I found some of this 1949 Nobel Prize winner's work inaccessible, so I searched for this novel. Very original, mysterious and does not have the Faulkner style that you must work at to understand.

Ian Fleming: Casino Royale. I was curious because I enjoy James Bond movies a lot. I think this twentieth century book was the first of the Bond series, and it appealed to me and felt like a fairy tale, as some books do to me, in both style (and simplicity when compared to the movies).

E. M. Forster: Howards End. Atmosphere and originality of plot.

Herman Melville: Moby Dick. Psychology, history and harshness on the sea; I find it remarkable that an encyclopedia of whales was included.

Zora Neal Hurston: Their Eyes Were Watching God. One of a few books I know that seem to have sprung from a thunderbolt to the head. Blacks in the early twentieth century have life adventures. Powerful. 1936.

Ernest Hemingway: A Moveable Feast. My favorite Hemingway. It discusses his early days (a hundred years ago) as a writer. He spent time and flourished in Paris in the 1920's. I always enjoy his books, have been very curious, and read a lot of novels created around Hemingway's life in Paris, Spain, Switzerland, Cuba and America.

Christopher Isherwood: The World in the Evening. This novel has a strange (I love it) feeling as it develops, though at first there is a lot of earlier 20th century innocence. My sister said it was the best novel she had read. The author famously wrote Cabaret.

Henry James: The Portrait of a Lady. A standout by James. Love and decency in beautiful European settings of rich, social, and careful people.

Jack London: Martin Eden. This indicates the author's life. It is consuming. Unexpected events in a California mega life. I also liked Sea Wolf (which is hard not to compare with Moby Dick) by this early rock-star author.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Love in the Time of Cholera. Original plot grabbed my interest, but one has to be patient. I'll leave out spoilers that easily come to mind.

W. Somerset Maugham: The Moon and Sixpence. I love this author's work and read everything by him that beckoned on my Kindle. This is Maugham's novel version of the life of the artist Gaugin. Dive in. 

William Maxell: So Long, See You Tomorrow. Atmosphere from the mid-twentieth century. I read four novels by this painterly writer.

Dawn Powell: The Wicked Pavilion. A gripping work taking place in New York in the early part of the twentieth century. It's a magical creation.

Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged. I was reintroduced recently to Rand's individualist philosophy, by reading this kind of soap opera about the business of railroads and about romance and so much more, even science fiction.

Stendhal: The Red and the Black. At least two centuries ago a guy adventured with the European aristocracy, religion and love.

Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace. I snuggled through the winter with high-class folks in Russia. Found out about 1800's Russia (still people who played the role of serf and peasant), learned all about a country, how some lived, what various classes of society did, and all about wars in the early 19th century in Russia with Napoleon, from the author's POV. Love it, because lots of characters, visions, psychology, but at times this book is prolix.

Anthony Trollope: The Way We Live Now. Victorian satire.

Thomas Wolfe: Of Time and the River. This American author of the early twentieth century grabbed my interest. Here he makes a novel from his early career. I've read two of Wolfe's novels from this period, so I add this from the Internet: “…detailing his early and mid-twenties. During that time Eugene attends Harvard University, moves to New York City, teaches English at a university there, and travels overseas.”

Peter Akroyd: Shakespeare. an enthralling life and histoy . Insight to history.

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