Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fiction for Non-Fiction Readers

I know there are many of you who prefer non-fiction or who don't really like to read.  This is a list of fiction  for you.  These are books (some new, some old) that you will like even if you don't typically read fiction - or read at all.  This came about from a conversation I had with John.  He hasn't read fiction in many years but ended up reading the Stieg Larsson trilogy - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest.  He really enjoyed them.  So, in addition to those three, which I would also highly recommend, here is a baker's dozen to add to Larsson.

Tom Rob Smith - Child 44 ( and the sequel, The Secret Speech) - excellent book about a KGB officer in the 1950's who develops a conscience.
Richard North Patterson - Exile - he's written a number of very good books (Protect and Defend could be on this list too), but this one is superb about an American Jewish attorney (Jewish American attorney?) who defends a Palestinian woman who (whom? - Jen, Roseann, which one is it?) he once had an affair with.
Jodi Picoult - My Sister's Keeper - I've liked most of her books a lot, but this is the best - about a girl who was conceived in order to provide the means to keep her older sister alive - spoiler alert (for Donna's benefit) - the ending is not too happy.
Alex Berenson - The Faithful Spy - this is the first in a series, and this one is the best - about a CIA employee who spends ten years undercover with Al Queda.
Daniel Silva - The Unlikely Spy - he is mostly known for his series about Gabriel Allon, an Israeli Mossad agent who is also a world-class art restorer - but this book, his first, is about how Germany embedded spies in England a number of years before WWII and how England went about exposing them.
Nelson DeMille - The Charm School - a great concept for a book - an American prisoner camp in the Soviet Union where the Soviets learn how to be American so they can infiltrate American government, military, and society.
Jeannette Walls - The Glass Castle - even though this is non-fiction, I had to throw it in - the account of a woman as a child growing up in her highly dysfunctional family - almost too unbelievable to be non-fiction.
Pat Conroy - South of Broad - his latest (they're all really good) - a group of childhood friends through the years.
Ken Follett - Pillars of the Earth - one of the greats (the sequel, World Without End, is up there too) - 1100's England and the building of a church - it was a mini-series on HBO last summer.
James Clavell - Shogun - another all-time great - an Englishman in 1500's Japan - maybe one of the first books of fiction to explore Japanese culture.
James Michener - The Source - still another all-time classic - a re-creation of ancient Israel through the different layers exposed during an archeological dig - a truly amazing book.
David Benioff - City of Thieves - this was a total surprise - takes place in Stalingrad during WWII when the Nazis sieged that city - a Soviet colonel sends two young Russians - one a civilian and one in the military - into the countryside to get fresh eggs for his daughter's wedding.
Kathryn Stockett - The Help - a young white woman tells the stories of black maids in 1960's Mississippi - a seemingly accurate depiction of that time in that state.

P.S.  If there are any of you fiction readers who haven't read one or more of these, please do.  You won't be disappointed.


  1. Thoroughly mesmerized by Larsson's novels. At least with Dragon Tattoo and Fire, he spends, it seems, the first 1/3 basically on excessive character development; and, throughout, we learn copious details, many of which don't seem to matter...and yet, for someone who admires brevity in a writer, I crave the next word. He's a master weaver. Is the third in the trilogy as captivating as the first two? And thanks for all of the recommendations...I need longer days or less sleep in order to read all I want to read :)

  2. Do you recommend reading Dragon Tattoo even if I saw the movie?- Jen

  3. On Larrson's trilogy -
    I would definitely read Dragon, even if you have seen the movie. It is a good read, even wading through the family details.

    I believe the third, Hornet's Nest, is the best. But then again, it was informed by the first two novels. (Perhaps, like in a wine tasting, the third glass seems to be the best.)

    Three Favorite Books Of All Time -
    As far as this goes, I am finding selection of three books a daunting task. So many books, so many different subjects and kinds of writing. And, I often find that a book's value to me is influenced by my life circumstances and my stage of life.

    Will continue to cogitate on this.
    Good reading, y'all.

  4. I loved Shogun (and the ?? other sequels)
    Have your red Robert Ludlum? or James Lee Burke ( I really enjoy his series about Dave Robicheaux, retired cop).
    I think the writers who write about or are from? the deep south are so descriptive, like the book ?? Barbara Streisand and Nick Nolte did a move about? loved the book cant remember the name. Sorry.
    AND in the Romance category: Elizabeth Lowell writes great ?? adventure/mystery with info (a little like Ludlum does) about Pearls, Emeralds and the finding, cutting and theft of.. all with love and thrills.
    ; ) Just so you know.

  5. Hi Jolene...I've read a few of Ludlum's novels (The Bourne Identity, ...Supremacy, ...Ultimatum, The Scarlatti Inheritance, to name a few. I enjoy his characters, plots, and writing style.) My husband was a Burke fan, but I've never read him; however, we have many of his books; he's on my ever-growing list. Are you thinking of is The Prince of Tides, written by Pat Conroy. I've never read Conroy but did see the movie when it was first released. I'm not familiar with Lowell but will put her on my list, as well. Thanks for the info!