I know this is supposed to be a crafty blog, but I feel like I've been reading like crazy lately and I personally love, love, love, book recommendations - so I'm going to give some based on some of my recent favorites!
I picked up one of Ann Patchett's non-fiction books somewhere (half-price books? i don't remember) for just a couple dollars and totally fell in love with her style. I'd also recently heard a piece on NPR about her opening a local bookstore and I know she's not a big fan of Amazon, to put it mildly. I can totally understand that. I don't shop at Walmart for the same reason. However, I haven't been able to give up Amazon. so sorry, Ann, for the Amazon links. This non-fiction book of hers was Truth and Beauty and it was about her lifelong friendship with Lucy Grealy, also an author. I loved it. Because of that one, I got the kindle version (actually I checked it out of the Dayton library electronically) of State of Wonder and it was amazing. It's one of those books that you just don't want to end. It's about a researcher who goes to the Amazon to check on a drug development cell there and lives with the natives. The women there chew the bark of a rare tree and it allows them to be fertile far longer than normal. Of course it's also about the relationships between all the characters, which is what Ann Patchett does so well, in my opinion. So after that I bought Patchett's Patron Saint of Liars for my kindle because it was only $2.99. It's about a woman who runs from everything in her life but ends up living at an old hotel converted into a Catholic home for unwed mothers. Again, the story of the relationships - told from her point of view, her daughter's, and her husband's, is super.
Aside from my Ann Patchett spree, I've read some other great books - lots of times I find some surprising stuff on Amazon's list of 100 for $3.99 or less (again, Kindle versions) - things I'd never try otherwise. World Made by Hand was one of those. It's by James Howard Kustler and it's a postapocalyptic novel but instead of being all Mad Max-like, it's like the world goes back to colonial times where everything is smaller, if you know what I mean. Travel isn't possible (and there isn't anywhere to go anyway) and things seem more conservative - people convert back to mores and traditions their grandparents might have lived by. It's pretty interesting. There were some bad reviews about the female roles being so weak, but I think it was kind of part of the times, mentally, for the people building a new kind of world based on old ways. Sure, they're modern folks so you'd think something would have stuck with them, but I just have a hard time getting too political about novels so it didn't bother me. I really liked it a lot actually.
I'm kind of a cheapskate and usually don't pay a lot for my Amazon books, but I'd heard so much about Murakami's new novel 1Q84 that I had to splurge. It's about a million pages long, so I feel like I got what I paid for in terms of bulk! Aside from that, it was amazing. Weird and interesting - which is what he does. It's about a world split into two. I don't even want to try to explain more than that. Just read it!
Lastly, a co-worker leant me a copy of The Tale of Edgar Sawtell (oh man, it's only $2.99 for a Kindle edition right now!) - it's another long one, but I feel like I actually slowed down as I was nearing then end because I didn't want it to be over. It's about a mute boy whose father dies, and how he slowly figures out what happened. It's also about his relationship with the dogs that he family bred and trained. It was so good - I was surprised when I just looked at some people's comments about the ending. I thought it was perfect and totally unexpected. I found a copy for $2 at a used bookstore, but it's totally worth more than that.
Ok, those are my recommendations. What are you reading? do tell.