Not on the Nightstand

It's not that our book group has run out of books to read — it's more that we've lapsed into reading whatever's on someone's nightstand. These are my suggestions of books we might want to read in the coming years.

James Joyce, The Dead (longer than a short story, a classic piece of modernist writing, something that’s assigned reading, but better when you’re an adult)

Willa Cather, The Professor’s House (more somber than My Antonia, less poetic, wonderful story)

Simon Wiesenthal, The Sunflower (I’ve never read this, but it’s a classic of Holocaust literature)

Harper Lee,  To Kill a Mockingbird (I’ll admit it now, I’ve never read it, but even if I had I’d want to see what it’s like now, when I’m in my forties.)   

Ernest Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying (1993 novel — about race in
America, sounds wonderful and a real discussion starter)

John Milton, Paradise Lost (for when we’re feeling ambitious — and even though it’s long, and written in blank verse, there’s a reason why it still counts, if only for the observation that Satan is more interesting than God — and for all the really wonderful similes)

Anthony Trollope, The Eustace Diamonds (I love Trollope — he’s funny, has a sharp tongue, and is a great storyteller — this is a terrific read, one I really enjoyed)

I.S. Turgenev, Fathers and Sons (I’ve never read it, but I like Russian fiction and this is at the top of everybody’s list)

Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge (We’ve never read Hardy — this is a wonderful, later (I think) novel)

Franz Kafka, The Trial (another thing I’ve never read — seems like Kafka might be just what we need these days)

Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men (long, good read, great summer book, and something that’s really timely)

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms (there’s still a reason why he was so revered and this is a novel that’s so beautifully written it seems like a shame not to read it again — or for the first time)

T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland (worth reading, and not too long)

Wendell Berry, The Memory of Old Jack (a lovely novel about an ordinary man looking back over his life)

William J. Kennedy, Ironweed (I’ve never read this trilogy — this is the last of three — and supposed to be the best)

Clare Tomalin, Samuel Pepys:  The Unequalled Self (I read this a few years ago — it’s very long but it’s really good.  Pepys is such an interesting, original character and this biography gives you a clear look at England during Cromwell’s time.  Like many English biographers, Tomalin is a very good writer.)

Orhan Pamuk, Snow (something else I’ve been meaning to read — from the reviews, it sounds wonderful.  And we’ve never read anything from this part of the world (Turkey))

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One thought on “Not on the Nightstand

  1. Definitely read To Kill a Mockingbird — it’s one that you will likely get more out of now than if you had read it with everyone else in high school. Paradise Lost is fantastic — but maybe not a book club read 🙂

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