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What should I read next? Advice Please!!


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Initial post: 23 Mar 2010 23:08:07 GMT
Ellie says:
18-year-old Girl, who is studying English Literature A Level, and I'm looking for something new to read on the train! If anyone has any suggestions on something that is easy to get into and is also sophisticated enough to encourage a literature lover, I would be very very grateful! I've read the `classics' (Austin, Hardy ect.), done some feminism but would encourage more. I've just finished The Bell Jar - Plath... What next?!?!! Suggestions?

Posted on 24 Mar 2010 08:12:38 GMT
I Readalot says:
As you have The Bell Jar (tough read) how about Virginia Woolf? Her novels have recently been mentioned in the fiction forum. Orlando, a fantasy, comments on gender roles throughout history from the 16th century (Orlando a male nobleman) to Woolf's present day (Orlando now a woman writer). If you read Mrs Dalloway then a perfect linking novel is The Hours by Michael Cunningham. For a more modern author A S Byatt, Possession is an amazing novel but I know some people who couldn't get into it, the narrative involves prose and poetry, I found her latest novel The Childrens Book more accessible. For contemporary novels by women it would be worth your while looking through the Orange Prize longlist, there are some interesting titles.

However, don't discount crime novels, I have recently started reading Jo Nesbo a Norwegian writer, very well written, compelling and very hard to put down. For something completely different there is always - my personal favourite - Haruki Murakami, magical realism at its best. Two of my recently published favourites are Dona Nicanor's Hat Shop and Ruby's Spoon.

Also, have a look at the discussions in the fiction forum. There are a lot of regular contributors most of whom read everything from the classics to 'trash' quite a few of us have Eng Lit degrees and all are voracious readers. Word of warning, once you start down this route you could end up having more recommendations than you can read in a lifetime!

Posted on 24 Mar 2010 10:29:03 GMT
C. Waite says:
Hello Ellie - If you fancy something biographical but different how about Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild by David Stenn. I couldn't put it down and read most of it on the train! Clara was one of the biggest 'silent' stars in Hollywood in the 1920's and her story is both gripping and sad (sometimes horrific!).

Posted on 25 Mar 2010 08:37:19 GMT
I Readalot says:
Hi again, a few more feminist suggestions taken from an OU Course I did a few years back under 'Literature and Gender'. If you want to try some poetry then (apart from Plath) Emily Dickinson is ideal, short and enigmantic poems, many just a few lines. Short stories - 'Behind a Mask or A Woman's Power - A M Barnard (better known as Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women) and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (she also wrote poetry). The novel The Colour Purple by Alice Walker and a couple of plays Ibsen's A Doll's House and Caryl Churchill's Top Girls.

Posted on 27 Mar 2010 14:16:06 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Mar 2010 14:16:51 GMT
hiljean says:
If you haven't read "The Go-Between" by L P Hartley I would definitely recommend this. To my mind it's the nearest thing to a perfect novel, very evocative, full of pent-up emotions and suspense. I am assuming you've read "Jane Eyre"? If not, that is a must. For fun why not read "The Pursuit of Love" and "Love in a Cold Climate" by Nancy Mitford (must be read in that order). I would second Orlando by Virginia Woolf, and A Room of One's Own.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Mar 2010 17:31:10 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Mar 2010 17:33:12 GMT
LEP says:
Try Wedlock by Wendy Moore. it is the true story of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore to her dreadful second husband Andrew Robinson Stoney. Includes duals, abductions, escape, chases across England, and divorce.
It is not at all dry and is as fast-paced as any adventure novel. A good acount of the rights of women in Georgian times and how it was virtually impossible to escape an abusive marriage.

Posted on 28 Mar 2010 13:49:01 BDT
Sam Quixote says:
Race of a Lifetime - the amazing true story behind the 2008 American election and the making of a President. Lots of stuff on Hillary too and what shes like. Fascinating book.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Mar 2010 22:50:32 BDT
DavyA says:
Off the wall suggestion - A General History Of The Robbery & Murders Of The Most Notorious Pirates by Captain Charles Johnson. It's published in the original 18th century text and includes case studies of the female pirates Mary Read & Anne Bonny.Certainly reminded me of doing A level English Lit (but with a bit more fun involved)

Posted on 29 Mar 2010 06:58:53 BDT
S. E. Wilde says:
Read some Margartet Atwood ... her dystopian Handmaid's Tale is a chilling work, and her study of childhood friendships in Cat's Eye will probably resonante with any young woman.

Posted on 29 Mar 2010 11:22:08 BDT
D. Pearson says:
Hi Ellie
Not easy to get hold of a copy, so you may need to try your local library or buy 2nd-hand, for about £10, but Skallagrigg by William Horwood is a stunning work, superbly researched. Would never have read it but for a recommendation from a friend, and one of the best reads I've ever had

Posted on 29 Mar 2010 23:15:46 BDT
Book worm says:
Hi Ellie, as above, Skallagrigg is excellent. Someone left this review on Amazon - "It is the ultimate "quest" novel: not only does it tell the immensely moving story of Esther's inspired search for the abandoned Arthur, but at a deeper psychological and spiritual level it also challenges us to search for the meaning and identity of the Skallgrigg for ourselves." Otherwise, have you read the Colour Purple by Alice Walker or The book of Night Women, by Marlon James. Both excellent reads.

Posted on 30 Mar 2010 00:43:02 BDT
C. Madden says:
Have you read The Book Thief? It's one of those books which has been recommended over and over during the last few years and there are divided views on it. I adored it, found it extremely moving and easy to read and if I had had it to read as a teenager I would have been ecstatic!

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Mar 2010 17:05:24 BDT
Ellie
I also like to read the classics. Back in 2006 I read "The Turn of the Screw" and was so disappointed with the story that I wanted to read something completely different. A friend recommended that I read "Little Angels Don't Cry" which is a true story of the first 11 years of the writer's life as a little girl in an orphanage in France.
I found it excellent and have subsequently reread it several times. The style is very different to anything else I have read. I often go back to the site to see if there is a sequel. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough - excellent reading.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Mar 2010 18:42:59 BDT
vee1534 says:
The little stranger / Sarah Walters (I think spelling is correct)
Ideal for the train, although you may get so wrapped up in it you might miss your stop

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Mar 2010 20:44:34 BDT
An Thousand Splendid Suns, an absolute must read, also the Kite Runner.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Mar 2010 13:30:19 BDT
amantedofado says:
If you are looking for biography, there is only one book, really. It's an autobiography by the artist Gwen Raverat, the grand-daughter of Charles Darwin. The title is 'Period Piece', and it's an account of her childhood in late 19th-century Cambridge, written in middle life, with an astonishing level of recall. I have read it many tiomes, again recently, and I never cease to be fascinated by her beautifully written description of a world that has entirely vanished. The Darwins, her aunts and uncles, all come across as the most interesting and delightful people you could hope to meet.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2010 12:04:39 BDT
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Posted on 6 Apr 2010 22:46:38 BDT
all students of modern literature should read DH Lawrence (of course) but more pointedly "Crome Yellow" by Aldous Huxley, which i call the shining jewel of modernism. its easy to read, funny, sad and a great window into the lush drawing room chit chat of the early mods. brilliant.
you should also read "the good soldier" by ford madox ford (1914), which is not about a soldier in the strict sense. its many devices will broaden your understanding of modernist writing while keeping you entertained.
finally, get a cheap copy of "the intellectuals and the masses" by john carey for a few pennies. this book exposes the staggering snobbishness of many of the novelists from that modernist era. carey's book is a real class act and will point you in the right direction concerning those writers.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Apr 2010 09:49:39 BDT
What about a complete unknown? No Easy Road by Patsy Whyte - one to watch for the future.

Posted on 7 Apr 2010 11:47:45 BDT
I'm going to recommend Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I read it 12 months ago and I kid you not - the book haunts me. I think about it all the time. I'm not going to give a review - just read it for yourself.

Posted on 10 Apr 2010 21:05:43 BDT
February83 says:
For a challenging and hugely entertaining book about literature art and much more, read Sexual Personae by Camille Paglia.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Apr 2010 17:28:20 BDT
light says:
If you want to try out some French literature try reading Emile Zola's L'assomoir or Germinal. George Eliot's Middlemarch is superb, as is North and south by Elizabeth Gaskell (great love story). If you want to try books about the 1920's and 30's have a look at Patrick Hamilton's twenty thousand streets under the sky (utterly heartbreaking) or Slaves of solitude (funny and sad). Daphne Du maurier's short stories are very good as are some of her novels such as Rebecca and my cousin Rachel.
If you want a bawdy read about the 18th century try Slammerkin by Emma Donaghue.
If you liked the incomparable Jane Eyre try the Wide Saragasso sea by jean Rhys ( an account of the mad Mrs Rochester's early life and marriage).

To get ideas I often check out the Listmania lists that feature next to books I have liked on amazon.
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Initial post:  23 Mar 2010
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