Hit Me With Your Best Book Suggestions

I may write about television, but I love books more than anything. That’s probably the main reason why I am looking forward to my six hour flight to New York City today. I will have all that time to catch up on my much neglected reading.

Sure, during the day I make time to read the news online and catch up on my favorite blogs, but in between writing article after article for the website I’m editing, attempting to pay my freelancers in a timely manner, and then keeping up on errands, laundry, cooking, etc., I just don’t have the time I used to to pick up a big, fat book and just read. That makes me sad.

So far, I have two New Yorkers, an InStyle, and an US Weekly to keep me occupied, at least on the way to NYC. I will probably take advantage of Virgin America’s cool in-flight entertainment system the rest of the way, which features several TV channels, games, music, and more. I love me some Mahjong.

On the way back, though, I want a book. Hardcover or paperback, I don’t care, but it’s gotta be thick and it’s gotta be good. I’ll have tons of bookstores to peruse while back there, like The Strand, so I’ll be able to pick something up before I hit JFK and won’t have to rely on the airport newsstand. But, I want to hear from you guys some suggestions on what to pick up.

I love non-fiction; not necessarily biographies (although those can be great), but more current events. I used to be huge into fiction, but have kind of given it up for non-fiction as of late. I’d love to get back into it.

Please, leave your suggestions in the comments section, and if you’ve read any of the books people suggest, let me know your thoughts on them as well. I want to enjoy my flight home!

By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

28 replies on “Hit Me With Your Best Book Suggestions”

THANK YOU everyone who gave suggestions…because my hotel charged way too much for Internet and my iPhone was acting wonky, I wasn’t able to read these until now, when I’m back home, but I’ll be flying again in a few months and will be pulling this up! Actually, I probably won’t even wait that long, and I’ll start reading some of these within a few days. I carve out time to work every day, I need to carve out time to read! :)

The last few times I flew, what kept me occupied was a combination of airline booze, xanax, and either Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series or Izabella St.James’ memoir of being a Playboy Bunny.  The St. James memoir is ridiculously trashy and filled with horrifying/juicy details which I promptly related to friends as soon as I got off the plane.

1491 by Charles Mann is great and engrossing nonfiction about the Americas before Columbus. A sequel called 1493 just came out, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.

Fiction?  GoT, obviously.  If you like fantasy, I’d also suggest Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey (sex and intrigue and a beautifully written alternate Europe) or the Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop (TW for rape, but an interesting take on good/evil and the society is matriarchal).  I’m 2/3 of the way through the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson, and it’s engrossing (if sometimes off-puttingly violent).

I second the Erik Larson!

I read a lot of short stories and poetry- have you thought about picking up a Raymond Carver collection? Because I’m read it now and if it wasn’t a library book, I’d be annotating the crap out of it. I’m also trying “Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness which is a book, and thick but… kind of meh.

Great non-fiction that I highly recommend — Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakuer about Mormon fundamentalism and its connection to the murder of a young mother and her child, and Devil in the White City by Erik Larson about a serial killer and the Chicago World’s Fair.

Fiction — I’ve been enjoying the Alex Craft novels by Kalyana Price. They’re of the supernatural investigator genre, but I think they’re probably a head or two above the average entry — the lead has actually other female friends she’s not in romantic or sexual competition with! I also liked The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms  and Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemisin, fantasy novels about fallen gods turned into weapons by the mortal rulers of the world.

There’s also the Zombies versus Unicorns anthology, which was a load of fun.

For non-fiction; I’d suggest anything by Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Infidel was probably my favorite of the three. The Wave by Susan Casey was a very cool look at giant ocean waves and extreme surfing.

Fiction-wise, I loved the Hunger Games trilogy and Beauty Queens. (Fair warning, Beauty Queens starts with a plane crash, so maybe not the best choice to read on a plane! I accidentally did that with a different book one time and was a wreck the whole flight.) Game of Thrones definitely qualifies as thick, and is really good if you like fantasy. (And if you make it to the Strand and still need fiction recs, ask for Ben and tell him I said hi!)

Non-fiction: Rebecca Kloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; John Simpson’s Unreliable Sources: How the 20th Century was Reported (a sort of potted history of the wars and conflicts of the 20th century, from a mainly British perspective); Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine.

For fiction, if you want a weighty tome, you can’t beat Game of Thrones, mainly because it’s followed by four other more weighty tomes. Although you could try with Shantaram.

I’ve been reading the Sookie Stackhouse books and loving them; I’ve only seen a few episodes of True Blood and was really meh about it (I feel like I definitely need to give it another chance), but the books are perfect fluffy fun reading.

I also highly recommend Mary Roach for great nonfiction writing that will both make you laugh and teach you some things. I loved her book Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, and I also really enjoyed Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

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