A Reader's Guide to Unfamiliar Literature
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about Edward St. Aubyn 2013-04-20 21:33:48

St. Aubyn is a brilliant author, honest, incisively observant, an extraordinary stylist, witty in an angry, even vicious way, ruthless in the very best tradition of literature. His books are engaging on both a visceral and intellectual level; they appall and delight and are breathtakingly written.
Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother's Milk and At Last are all linked by their protagonist, Patrick Melrose, who ages from early childhood to well into adulthood through the five books. It's a tour de force--and clearly, one should start at the beginning, with Never Mind.

about Kate Atkinson 2013-04-20 21:24:27

I love most of Kate Atkinson's witty, sharply observed, deeply imaginative books. The four "Jackson Brodie" ones (Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News, and Started Early, Took My Dog) are essentially detective stories but with fully dimensional characters, absorbing situations, and a classically appealing detective. If these interest you, read them in chronological order (starting with Case Histories).
Her other works are mainstream literary novels. Emotionally Weird is my favorite, a book with a strong emotional pull and a couple of deeply strange characters. But if it doesn't grab you, try another.
The only one I would NOT recommend starting with is Life After Life. It's received many enthusiastic reviews, but I found it very disappointing. It's also very long. Start elsewhere...but do try her, she's terrific.

about Julia Jones 2011-10-29 16:01:50

“The Salt-Stained Book,” the first volume in Julia Jones’ “Strong Winds” trilogy, is a thumping great sea tale of smart, sensitive Donny Walker, who at 13 is taken away from his mute, dyslexic mother and thrown upon the tender mercies of the English child welfare system. Donny is kept from bitterness and despair by a new passion for all things nautical, and new friends who share his enchantment.

“The Salt-Stained Book” is definitely the place to start reading Jones’ savvy, energetic, deeply imagined trilogy, which continues with the newly published "A Ravelled Flag."

about Stieg Larsson 2010-02-24 21:21:57

The three books whose English titles begin with "The Girl" comprise the late Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. Start with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, since it was the first of the three. The [much better] Swedish title, by the way, was "Men Who Hate Women."

about Stieg Larsson 2010-02-24 21:17:04

Stieg Larsson (1954-2004) was a Swedish writer and journalist.

Prior to his sudden death of a heart attack in November 2004 he finished three detective novels in his trilogy "The Millenium-series" which were published posthumously; "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest". Altogether, his trilogy has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide (summer of 2009), and he was the second bestselling author in the world 2008.

STIEG LARSSON, 1954-2004

Before his career as a writer, Stieg Larsson was mostly known for his struggle against racism and right-wing extremism. Starting in the late 1970's, he combined his work as a graphic designer with holding lectures on right-wing extremism for the Scotland Yard. During the following years he became an expert on the subject and has held many lectures as well as written many novels on the subject. In 1995, when 8 persons were killed by neo-Nazis I Sweden, he was the main force behind the founding of the Expo-foundation, a group intended on exposing neo-Nazi activity in Sweden. From 1999 and on, he was appointed chief editor of the magazine Expo.

During the last 15 years of his life, he and his life companion Eva Gabrielsson lived under constant threat from right-wing violence.

--from StiegLarsson.com

about Arthur Conan Doyle 2010-02-16 14:20:06

I agree with the comments above--the short stories are the place to start. Don't worry much about which collection you get or which story you start with. As long as John Watson is narrating what you're reading, you're in the right place. If you don't enjoy one, try the next. If you don't enjoy two--probably the Sherlock Holmes opus is not for you.

about David Henry Sterry 2010-02-13 15:31:17

Sterry writes very entertainingly and vividly, with a lot of humor.

about Wally Lamb 2010-02-08 10:15:40

I just FINALLY started reading my first Wally Lamb book ("She's Come Undone"). It is good enough to make me wonder why I waited all this time. I have such resistance even to glancing at certain very successful books. Why is that? Snobbism? In part, maybe. But also painful experience, because I find many widely-read books so bitterly disappointing.

about Elizabeth Taylor 2009-04-19 22:31:02

I just read my first Elizabeth Taylor, so I can't recommend which is best to read first--but I can say that the first one I read, "In a Summer Season," made me want to read all of them. Her sentences are pungent, strong, and her observations are so sharp they remind me of Barbara Pym. The domestic microsphere in which "In a Summer Season" is set also made me think of Pym. And the sheer pleasure of keeping company with her intelligent, wry and compassionate mind.

about Katharine Weber 2008-08-05 12:07:38

The Little Women is a terrific book--very witty, dry, closely observed--about sisters, growing up and family.

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Title Comments

This is a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. Okay, "duh," but if you are really unfamiliar with Doyle, the short stories are the place to start. There are now many editions of them, so don't worry about the title of the collection you happen upon first (or can afford, or find to download), just get a nice fat one and dig in.

about The Four Temperaments by Yona McDonough 2008-07-21 08:18:14

From: PEOPLE, September 2, 2002

Happily married Oscar, a first violinist with the New York City Ballet, is smitten by Ginny, an ambitious young dancer in the corps. Oscar's wife, Ruth, senses that her husband is having an affair. And if that's not enough heartbreak for one woman, Ruth later walks in on their son embracing Gabriel. Gabriel is also married, of course. Farcical elements aside, this is a story about ordinary people blindsided by powerful emotions. Telling a complex from five points of view, McDonough effectively limns the inner turmoil of richly developed characters. Dance lovers will swoon over the setting, but you don't need to know a battement from a releve to enjoy this fascinating, deeply human novel.
Bottom Line: Raises the Barre.