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Book Club

Information and Reading Lists for book club meetings.

Escape with Compelling Stories and Characters

I consider these titles to be excellent works to escape with. 

I love mystery series. I'm a huge fan of Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Walter Mosely, Daniel Silva, CJ Box, Sophie Hanna, Elmore Leonard, and others. But reading about killing and killers wears me out. Especially when you find an excellent writer like Walter Mosely who goes beyond crime and comments amply on race and racism in the process of telling his stories. All the authors above have written at least 20 books in their series, so it can wear me down and I need a break....

My recommended authors below fit the bill. The works/authors below write sweeping narratives, some set in history, some in a fantasy history, but in any case the narratives are about the story, the people. There is nothing abstract about these stories. The characters and events described are vivid and entertaining. Some are set in historical settings and are highly educational as a result. 

List of Series

J.R.R. Tolkein, The Lord of the Rings + The Hobbit 

Anyone who hasn't read these books should waste no time. This is imaginative literature at its finest. It is so well written that, when I first read it back in 1966 (or thereabouts) I spent lots of time in the library digging through encyclopediae looking up the location and history of Middle Earth. It is hilarious at times, suspenseful, adventurous and thrilling. This is one of the books that you want to own and read them again and again. 

The Hobbit & The Lord Of The Rings Boxed Set
More information: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/0008376107/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_t0CbGbYZ1F56Q

 

James Clavell, The Asian Saga

The Asian Saga is an immensely satisfying read. Seven books in all, but each one filled with history, suspense and beautiful narrative. The sad news is that James Clavell died in 1994, but good news if you want to read the series. The books are long, but thrilling in every way and read very quickly. Also, even if you've seen the television adaptation, you should know that while it's good, it still only tells half the story in relatively little detail. The books are much better. 

1. Shogun: The Epic Novel of Japan (Asian Saga, book 1) Chronological order: 3

2. Tai-Pan: The Epic Novel of the Founding of Hong Kong (The Asian Saga Book 2) Chronological order: 2

3. Gai-Jin (The Asian Saga Book 3) Chronological order: 6

4, King Rat (The Asian Saga) (Asian Saga, 4) Chronological order: 1

5, Noble House (The Asian Saga Book 5) Chronological order: 4

6. Whirlwind (The Asian Saga Book 6) Chronological order: 5

7. Escape (The Asian Saga Book 7) Chronological order: 7

 

Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove Series

This series is nearly indescribable. If you haven't read them, you are set for one of the most enjoyable reads, ever. McMurtry is a masterful author and describes characters with clarity and depth of character that is rare in modern fiction. This series will make you laugh and make you cry. Always entertaining. 

1. Lonesome Dove

2. Streets of Laredo

3. Dead Man's Walk

4. Comanche Moon

McMurtry's first three novels are now known as Thalia: A Texas Trilogy. 

1. Horseman, Pass By

2. Leaving Cheyenne

3. The Last Picture Show

 

Jasper Fforde, Thursday Next Series 

This series is difficult to describe, but easy to categorize: it is science fiction, almost as much fantasy and humor as, say, Douglas Adams’s Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or Lewis Carrol. But it also could be called alternate history because it is set in mid-1980’s England where professional croquet is the national team sport, and people are so passionate about literature that people are identified by their beliefs in who wrote William Shakespeare’s plays. The lead character is Thursday Next, an agent in Special Ops -27, an agency charged with solving literary crimes. So far there are seven Thursday Next novels and they are all astonishing for their creativity. Thanks to Stefanie Pearlman for recommending this series.

 

Tom Wolfe, all of his books. Tom Wolfe’s catalog can hardly be described as a cohesive series, but each book is a fictionalized account of a monumental event or movement of modern history. Tom Wolfe was an early founder of ‘new journalism,’ so all of his books read like descriptions of real events. As a result of his unique writing style, it is difficult to tell which is fact and which is fiction between, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, and A Man in Full, or The Bonfire of the Vanities. He’s a great writer with gift with words and a great sense of humor.

 

Kurt Vonnegut, all of his books. Slaughterhouse Five is an excellent place to get started, but then pick up any of his other fifteen books. All his books are deeply satirical and cynical about mankind, but with a brilliant, humorous and thoughtful prose. Vonnegut’s stories are like Jasper Fforde or Douglas Adams, where the gravity functions like the weather, with strong days and weak days, and where science has created a dangerous substance called “Ice Nine” which can freeze anything and everything it comes in contact with, threatening the whole world. Vonnegut’s books aren’t long, he’s a master of pithy writing. It’s not uncommon to find illustrations and chapters of only one paragraph in his books. Every one of his books has been a thoughtful delight.

 

John Dunning, Cliff Janeway novels. Okay, this is crime fiction, but specifically for book lovers. Cliff Janeway is a retired Denver cop who is also an avid collector of rare books and first editions. There are five books in this series and they are well written, but while you read them you can learn a great deal about collecting books. Each book is excellent, lots of fun.

1. Booked to Die

2. Bookman’s Wake

3. The Bookman’s Promise

4. The Sign of the Book

5. The Bookwoman’s Last Fling