Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The 2006 Challengers Answered! (After a Year and Much Out-sourcing)

Remember way back in '06, when I challenged you to a book duel and y'all took me seriously and made with your lists? And remember how I made a few suggestions and then promptly did nothing else as I moved on to the next new thing, thus re-affirming my flakiness in y'alls eyes.

Well, guess what? I'm not the flake you thought I was. Nope. I'm just really, really slow.

That's right, I've kinda-sorta completed a list of suggestions for those of you who offered up you "five books that you loved." Which means that the one or two of you who submitted your lists and still read this blog with some sort of regularity now may have something to add to your reading piles (or now have something to disagree with me vehemently about).

But before you scroll down allow me a moment to explain why this took so damn long. First, my head kind of exploded when so many people took me up on my challenge. It's true. I thought I would get--at the most--five of you, and instead there were a lot, lot more. Secondly, I did try my damnedest to work on this while at the bookstore but funny things kept happening, like, you know, needing to work. So when I would come across a suggestion I would write it down on piece of paper and stick in in my pocket, then when I came home, instead of taking it out immediately upon returning home and recording the information it would stay there. It would continue to stay there, in fact, until I washed the pants and the little scrap of paper was then reduced to a little ball of unreadable mush that didn't do any of us any good.

So why didn't I work on it when I was home and unemployed? Good question. Probably because unemployment turned me into a little ball of unreadable mush, not good for much of anything. I need structure. I need something to drive me. I need that damn employment.

(Side note: this complete lack of drive is something that I always feared would happen to me if I moved back home with my parents for any period of time and the reason I turned down the opportunity to do so on many occasions despite the fact that my bank account would have thanked me.)

Turns out that it doesn't matter what this employment is, just so long as it occupies one part of my brain so the other half is free to do and work on whatever it needs to. Since I'm stuck in front of the computer for long periods of time where I'm not answering phone calls or learning the facts about horse racing (don't do it. Just don't ever do it.), I've suddenly got time to work on other things. Book related things. Like interviews and book giveaways and recommendations!

I can finally complete all those things I've promised without feeling like I'm not using my time wisely!

Break out the champagne and the exclamation marks people, it is time to celebrate. The original lists are in plain text, the books with suggestions previously attached to them are underlined and the new suggestions are highlighted in yellow (or at least they were when I set up the document). I was going to go into an explanation for each suggestion, but then my head got explode-y again and I decided to let you do the equivalent of reading the back by giving you the Amazon link. Hope these work for you, I'm interested to hear what you think.

(Disclaimer: As stated in the original post "I reserve the right to recommend the same book multiple times" because that's how most booksellers operate. )

The Challengers:


A Confederacy of Dunces - O'Toole: Apathy and Other Small Victories or Breakfast of Champions: Kings of Infinite Space by James Hines
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter - Vargas Llosa
Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff – Moore
Decline & Fall – Waugh: Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Persuasion – Austen: Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

Being There by Jerzy Kosinski

Susan Wilbanks:

Gaudy Night - Dorothy Sayers (characterized by humor and mystery) Laurie R. King mysteries, Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, Boris Akunin's Mysteries, To Say Nothing of the Dog by Jerome K. Jerome, Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik: Wolf's Hour by Robert McCammon
In This House of Brede - Rumer Godden: Mr. Blue by Myles Connolly (admit that I cheated a bit with this and looked at the also bought on Amazon. After reviewing the different choices, Mr. Blue sounded very fascinating with its inclusing of a different religious aspects. Might also want to check out nonfiction biography, Mother Angelica.
Sharpe's Triumph - Bernard Cornwell
Guns, Germs & Steel - Jared Diamond: Collapse, 3rd Chimpanzee and anything by E.O. Wilson, or Black Bodies and Quantum Physics: Tales from the Annals of Physics

Penny L. Richards:

Octavia Butler, Kindred
Michael Berube, Life as We Know It
Anna Lanyon, Malinche's Conquest: If you're interested in reading more takes on Malinche, there's the new book by Laura Esquivel called simply, Malinche.
Lindsay Clarke, The Chymical Wedding
Lisa See, On Gold Mountain: Bound Feet & Western Dress by Pang-Mei Chang, Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong

Interested in more historical fiction:

Stolen Tongue by Sheri Holman
Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose


Snow Wolf- Glenn Meade: John LeCarre Constant Gardener and others, Katherine Neville's The Eight.
The Sculptress- Minette Walters: The Halo Complex by MJ Rose, A Great Deliverence by Elizabeth George
Lonely Hearts- John Harvey
lost boy lost girl- Peter Straub
Geek Love- Katherine Dunn: Clown Girl by Monica Drake

Phineas Poe by Will Baer
Stolen Tongue by Sheri Holman


1. Prodigal Summer - Barbara Kingsolver: Kingsolver's newest nonfiction--Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
2. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
3. Doomsday Book - Connie Willis: The Necessary Begger by Susan Palwick
4. An Equal Music - Vikram Seth: Possession by AS Byatt
5. The Assassin Trilogy - Robin Hobb

Susan Adrian:

1. Seen by Moonlight, by Kathleen Eschenburg
2. If I Never Get Back, by Daryl Brock
3. Suspicion, by Barbara Rogan: The Uninvited (if you can find a copy) by Dorothy Macardle, or Shattered Silk by Barbara Michaels
4. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis: The Necessary Begger by Susan Palwick

5. The Dark Is Rising, by Susan Cooper: Phillip Pullman His Dark Materials Trilogy

Robin Brande:

1. Polar Dream, by Helen Thayer: A Dream in Polar Fog by Yuri Rytkheu , Artic Dreams by Barry Lopez
2. Swimming to Antarctica, by Lynne Cox: Grayson also by Lynne Cox, about her adventures with a young whale when she was a child.
3. Road Fever, by Tim Cahill: Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, not zany like Cahill, but a great travel narrative.
4. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
5. The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman

Christine Fletcher:

1. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
2. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
3. Nobody's Fool, Richard Russo: October Light by John Gardner
4. The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton: Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
5. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

Because you are a fan of the classics:

Henry James' Turn of a Screw (very psychological) or Portrait of a Lady

Master & Margarita by M. Bulgakov


1) Lincoln's Dreams - Connie Willis: Kindred by Octavia Butler
2) Then She Found Me - Elinor Lipman: What Comes After Crazy by Sandi Shelton
3) The Easy Way Out - Stephen McCauly: The Zookeeper by Alex Maclennan
4) I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
5) Joy in the Morning - Betty Smith

Diana P:

Arrow's Flight by Mercedes Lackey
Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich
Dragonsquest by Anne McCaffrey
Face the Fire by Nora Roberts
Midnight in Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell

Allison Brennan's Trilogy The Prey, The Hunt, and The Kill
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Covenants: A Borderlands Novel by Lorna Freeman
Hammered by Elizabeth Bear
City of Pearl by Karen Traviss


1. A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L'Engle
2. Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson: Good Girls by Laura Ruby
3. The Ice Queen, Alice Hoffman
4. Christopher Fry, The Lady's Not for Burning: Arcadia by Tom Stoppard (a play for a play)
5. Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Patricia McKillip

Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey
The Fallen by Thomas Sniegoski
Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper
Anything by Robin McKinley

Lady T:

1)Northanger Abbey/Jane Austen
2)The Ladies' Auxillary/Tova Mirvis: Joy Comes in the Morning by Jonathan Rosen (if you want to stay with themes of change in Judaism) or Ghost of Hannah Mendes by Naomi Ragen
3)Mammoth Cheese/Sheri Holman
4)Swan Song/Robert McCammon
5)Popco/Scarlet Thomas: You've probably already picked this up, but The End of Mr. Y by Scarlet Thomas came out in 2006

Heartburn by Nora Ephron (book not the movie)


1. The Year the Music Changed by Diane Thomas
2. Come Like Shadows by Welwynn Wilton Katz: Ophelia by Lisa Klein
3. Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson: Dead Clever by Scarlet Thomas
4. The Goddess of 5th Avenue by Carol A. Simone
5. The Shelters of Stone by Jean M. Auel

The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Rodney Doyle


1. A Moveable Feast, Hemingway
2. All Didion: Day of the Locust and the Dream Life of Balso Snell by Nathanael West
3. All Chekhov (the stories, the plays): anything by Guy de Maupassant
4. Always Cheever, but never Updike: Nabokov or Apppointment in Samara by John O'Hara
5. My Phantom Husband, Marie Darrieussecq

Paul (whose profile is unavailable):

1. Tomcat Murr - ETA Hoffmann
2. At Swim-Two-Birds - Flann O'Brien: The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth
3. Master and Margarite - M. Bulgakov: The Twelve Chairs by Ilya Ilf
4. Carmichael's Dog - R.M. Koster: Kurt Vonnegut's novels, TC Boyle
5. The Kiss of the Spider Woman - Manuel Puig: Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn

Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer

Anything by Mario Vargas Llosa


1. World's End, T.C. Boyle
2. A Gesture Life, Chang-Rae Lee: Comfort Woman by Nora Okja Keller
3. Ex Libris, Anne Fadiman: Ruined by Reading by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
4. Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris: Bleachy-haired Honky Bitch by Hollis Gillespie
5. The Instance of the Fingerpost, Iaian Pears: Did you read Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose or Bombay Ice by Leslie Forbes or Season for the Dead by David Hewson

Goddess of Fifth Avenue by Carol Simone


1. Persuasion, Jane Austen
2. The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
3. Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie
4. The Far Pavilions, M.M. Kaye: Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz (first in the Cairo Trilogy)
5. Living to Tell the Tale, Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited by Vladimir Nabokov

The Eight by Katherine Neville

Ms. Librarian:

The Gate to Women's Country, Sheri Tepper
Combat in the Erogenous Zone, Ingrid Bengis
The Once and Future King, T. H. White: Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart
On Basilisk Station, David Weber: Linnae Sinclair's Gabriel's Ghost
The Pride of Chanur, C. J. Cherryh: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

Otterb (who shares a mind with Susan Wilbanks and should see her list):

The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Laurie R. King: The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin
Anything by Lois McMaster Bujold, favorities are Memory and The Curse of Chalion.
The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris: In This House of Brede - Rumer Godden
Pilgrim's Inn, Elizabeth Goudge
Liaden Universe books, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller


Prodigal Summer - Barbara Kingsolver
Possession - A.S. Byatt
Use of Weapons - Iain M.Banks
Acid Row - Minette Walters: An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears or Bombay Ice by Leslie Forbes or Season for the Dead by David Hewson
Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie


Song for Arbonne - Guy Gavriel Kay: The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey: The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop
Primary Inversion - Catherine Asaro
Hero and the Crown - Robin McKinley
Golden Compass - Phillip Pullman: The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper

Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear

Kate R:

1. Bartimaeus trilogy (it'll come out as one book some day)
2. Once and Future King TH White: See me telling everyone to check out the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper
3. Bottom of the Harbor (essays about old NY) Joseph Mitchell: A Pickpocket's Tale or City of Eros by Timothy Guilfoyle or A Beautiful Cigar Girl by Daniel Stashower
4. October Light John Gardner: Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
5. 100 Years of Solitude. Marquez

Because it is a mind trip and everyone should try a book where you can rearrange the sections and it comes with a set of instructions: Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar

I hope this works for y'all because I'm a wee bit smashed after putting this together, and flattened bookseller does not bode well for further productivity.

Image stolen from the Boss Lady who has other pictures of the cohorts and such for view if one scrolls down far enough on the side bar of her blog.


Diane P said...

Awesome job!!! I actually have a couple of those in my TBR pile.

Thanks for all of this work. I have about 10 books I am taking to Japan-11 hours on the plane but I plan to look these books up when I get back.

Robin Brande said...

Wow! I cannot believe you still remembered this and actually did it! Every now and then I'd think about it and just figure you ran out of steam or whatever.

Great recommendations! Thank you!

David de Beer said...

wow, you're more dedicated to this than I ever was (in my bookstore days) - specific books for specific books? oh, hell no!

in case you don't know about it, a neat little invention that's surfaced, and that actually does automated cross-references for likes/ dislikes, is librarything:


Chris said...

Congrats on completing such a monster list!

lady t said...

Ashamed to say that I forgot about this challenge*hanging head down*but kudos to you for taking up the gauntlet there,BSC! I've been meaning to check out that new Scarlet Thomas book and now I have an excuse:)!