An Awesome Reader & Her Magical Bag of Books

Tiffani is a new reader of my blog whom I have traded a number of e-mails on the topic of being an eclectic reader.  She has been enjoying my all over the map recommendations, and I asked her if she had any for me.  Well, I was expecting that maybe she would list one or two, so you can not even imagine my shock and excitement when she sent me the following list with her thoughts on each book.  Check it out!

The Witch of Portobello, by Paulo Coelho. Coelho is famously known for his book The Alchemist, but I loved Portobello so much more. Per the back cover, this book is about finding the courage to be true to oneself. More specifically it’s about a woman named Athena who becomes something of a spiritual leader. She is adored by some and hated by others. One of the interesting things about the book is how the story is told. It’s written as a series of interviews with people who knew of or were somehow affected by Athena’s message. Among other things it made me think about how we think we are portraying ourselves, versus how others see us. Often I underline passages that move me. There was a lot of underlining in this book.

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. You’ll find this in the young adult section. The story begins with Clay receiving a box full of cassette tapes (there’s a whole section about him trying to figure out how he’s going to play them given that everyone today has iPods not cassette players) from Hannah, a girl from his school who committed a suicide. On the tapes Hannah explains what led to her decision to end her life. This book made me think about the little and big ways we hurt others. One of the interesting things about the book is the clever set up in that readers get the story from two points of view – there’s Hannah’s voice on the tapes and Clay’s reactions as he listens.

I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason & Not a Girl Detective,  by Susan Kandel. These are light hearted mysteries, American cozies if you will. Kandel has written four or five mysteries that weave in a famous fictional detective character and/ or writer or director. In these two books Kandel takes on Perry Mason and Nancy Drew.

We Were the Mulvaneys, by Joyce Carol Oates. To be honest, Oates is hit or miss with me. I admire her prolific writing career but sometimes I just get bored with her novels. But not this one. This is about the affect on a family when the daughter is sexually assaulted. I don’t want to give away too much, but trust me, it’s worth the read.

Waking the Dead, by Scott Spencer. Fielding is an aspiring politician but he begins to wonder if he is losing his mind when he starts seeing his ex-girlfriend Sarah around town and hearing her voice on the phone.  See Sarah is dead, or is she? Or is this just his conscience keeping him true to the ideals he and Sarah shared…Waking the Dead is both something of a mystery and a love story and is beautifully written.

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, by PD James.  If you like mysteries, then anything by PD James. Especially,  An Unsuitable Job for a Woman.

The Opposite of Love, by Julie Buxbaum. This is about a young attorney who breaks up with her boyfriend just as he is about to propose. Basically she begins to question everything in her life. Disclaimer, part of the reason I liked this book may have had to do the fact that I was also an attorney in Manhattan who began to question my life. That being said, I thought it was a great book, a realistic one.

Literacy and Longing in LA, by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman. This is another story about a woman dealing with the fallout that is her life. She is something of an addict and her drug of choice is books. When she gets depressed she closes herself off in her apartment and reads. On a side note, the authors, Mack and Kaufman, write an advice column for the LA Times Magazine. People write in about their problems and Mack and Kaufman suggest books to help. One woman wrote asking for advice about pursuing a love affair with a married man. Mack and Kaufman suggested she read Anna Karenina.

Free Food for Millionaires, by Min Jin Lee. So very good. It would be a waste of time to describe what the book is about because the plot really isn’t the key. Rather this novel is driven by its characters. Some reviewers have compared it to a Victorian novel. Some have compared author Lee to Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens. They aren’t far off. Lee’s book is expansive in scope. She gets into the nooks and crannies of her characters. No one is absolutely good or bad, well, except for Ella, who is somewhat angel like and suffers accordingly.

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane

This is an amazing list. I have my work cut out for me.  I love hearing about what readers who don’t blog are  reading.  Of course I immediately asked Tiffani if I could share this list with all of you, and was so grateful when she said yes.  Thank you Tiffani!

Does anyone have more suggestions for Tiffani based on her list?

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15 Comments

    1. The only thing that I have read is We Were The Mulvaneys, and I liked it, but I totally agree that JCO can be hit or miss. About half the others I have wanted to check out and a few are completely new to me.

  1. Since I’m an ecletic reader myself, I enjoyed reading Tiffani’s list! I used to really be into mysteries, and P.D. James is definitely very smart. She makes you think a little more when reading her, if that makes sense. I’ve only read one Joyce Carol Oates and it was pretty memorable, but alas, I don’t remember the title! It was quite a few years ago. Thanks to Tiffani and you for posting this list — I definitely have added a few more titles to my TBR.

    1. I read Children of Men by P.D. James and while I don;t think it would be considered one of her mysteries, I loved it a lot. The writing was so good and thoughtful. I have been trying to get back to her for awhile and would like to try one of her mysteries.

  2. I, too, love I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason and fully intend to read the whole series! Based on this, I’d suggest Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series, Dorothy Sayers’ Peter Wimsey series, and Lisa Lutz’s Izzy Spellman series.

    I haven’t read any P.D. James or Coelho yet, but I’ve been meaning to for awhile.

    I’ve had Free Food for Millionaires on my wish list for years now.

    1. I think I have the first book in the Maisie Dobbs series. I considered giving it away because I still have not had the time to get to it, but now that you mention it I will likely keep it around a bit longer.

      I have read Children of Men by P.D. James and I loved it. She is suc a smart writer. I was happy to have a recommendation for another of her books.

  3. Wow! That is quite a list and thanks for sharing it with me. I see quite a few here I’d like to try. Especially The Witch of Portobello.

  4. Man you won the lottery, did you not? I actually have Free Food for Millionaires on my shelves, and had blown it off, knowing nothing about it. See that will teach me!

  5. Thank you for sharing the recommendations. This is a great way for you to find new things to read and for all of us to do the same. I read We Were the Mulvaneys and plan to reread it. I’ve got Thirteen Reasons Why on my shelf at home ready to go. Some of these others I have not heard of before and thank you for bringing them to my attention.

  6. Try Thirteen Reasons Why on audio — it’s a great fit for the book. I love PD James and have read most of her books. I’m drawing a blank on recommendations. I guess I need more coffee.

  7. I have a copy of We Were the Mulvaneys and Free Food for Millionaires, sound like I should dig them out. Literacy and Longing in LA (I read it under the title Book Lover) is the only one on the list I’ve read, and I enjoyed all the book references very much. The protagonist works in a bookstore in the novel, always a treat. I look forward to your thoughts on those you read. Enjoy.