Saturday, April 21, 2007

What Shall I Read? - Recommendations Please!

I do not like to fly, and the thought of the 14+ hours from Chicago to Toyko, not to mention the legs from Richmond to Chicago and Tokyo to Taipei have me wondering what I'll do with the time. I am already collecting a pile of books to take with me. I have some new books I have not read, but do not want to weigh my bag down with hardcovers. So far my pile includes:
  • The Fetch of Mardy Watt by Charles Butler - Thanks to Michele at Scholar's Blog and the author himself, a signed copy arrived on my doorstep a short time ago. I am saving this one for the trip.
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman - Okay, I'll reluctantly admit I haven't read this, largely because I read several reviews comparing it to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a book of which I've never been particularly fond. But thanks to the enthusiasm of Fuse #8 and others for Mr. Gaiman and his work, I am ready to jump in.
  • Well-worn and loved copies of Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are ALL on the pile. I never travel without one copy of Jane Austen, though I'm not sure which it will be at this point.
  • I'm also quite fond of the works of E.M. Forster. Perhaps Howards End, A Room With a View or A Passage to India may make the trip.
I would love to take copies of the recent Newbery books, but alas, they are all still in hardcover. So, what are your thoughts? What paperback reads do you recommend for this long trip across the planet?


  1. Tricia,

    I'm giving you some adult titles.

    DRIVING MR. ALBERT: A TRIP ACROSS AMERICA WITH EINSTEIN'S BRAIN by Michael Paterniti. This nonfiction book is stranger than fiction...and a great read!

    ROSALIND FRANKLYN: THE DARK LADY OF DNA by Brenda Maddox. This is a biography of a woman scientist who should have been acknowledged as a contributor to the discovery of DNA.

    E=mc2: A BIOGRAPHY OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS EQUATION by David Bodanis. PBS produced a program based on this book.

    UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN by Jon Krakauer. A fascinating book about about the history of the Morman church and about present day fundamentalist Mormons.

    A novel that takes place in China: WAITING by Ha Jin. It's winner of a National Book Award.

    For middle grade and YA readers: GIRL IN A CAGE by Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris. It's an excellent work of historical fiction about Marjorie Bruce, daughter of Robert the Bruce, who is held captive by the English in a wooden cage in the center of a town square.

  2. As you know I am an Alice fan, but while Coraline definitely has Alice sort of stuff in it, it is MUCH MUCH MUCH creepier. It really is its own story (which I also happen to love). I'm not sure it is airplane reading though --- I'd go for Austen myself (or how about Dickens? I'm having a wonderful time listening to them. Just finished Nicholas Nickleby --- fantastic yet again!) I read aloud Coraline this fall and wrote one of my letters to her here:

  3. "A Big Storm Knocked It Over" or "Happy All the Time" or "Goodbye Without Leaving" by Laurie Colwin. There tends to be quite an overlap between Austen lovers and Colwin lovers.

    "Wives and Daughters" by Elizabeth Gaskell (a Bronte contemporary, and again I've seen overlap with Austen lovers for this Gaskell book in particular). Gaskell's better known for "Cranford," but I greatly prefer this one.

    For more modern fiction, have you read "The Time-Traveler's Wife"?

    How about Wendy Wasserstein's book of essays, "Bachelor Girl"? Very fun airplane reading.

    Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswick Journals, including "A Circle of Quiet" and "Two-Part Invention". And "A Severed Wasp," her adult novel that includes (mostly in small parts) characters from her YA books.

  4. Oh, and some Elinor Lipman: "The Inn at Lake Devine," "Then She Found Me," and if you're leaving after May 8 when it comes out in paperback, "My Latest Grievance."

  5. I'm not sure I should admit this after the Jane Austen/E.M. Forster selections, but I love the Henry VIII books by Greggory. The Other Boleyn Girl is one of my favorites, combining history and scandal and available in paperback.

    If you're looking for something light, my favorite funny books are:

    The Sex Lives of Cannibals - travel story about a Pacific Island

    Bitter is the New Black -
    a high power woman loses her job, but not her Prada purse

    Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About - can't be explained, but read the first few pages in the bookstore. If it's your kind of humor, you're in for a great read.