Thought it more useful to recap everyone's recommendations from the old forum than to give the link:
The Tyrant's Novel - Peter Carey
Enduring Love - Ian McEwan (superb opening chapter in particular)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
1. Papillon by Henri Charriere, which charts the adventures of the author in his many escapes from penal settlements in French Guiana and South America. Made into a film by Steve McQueen, but not a patch on the book.
2. Touching the void by Joe Simpson, the true story of the authors survival from probable death atop a snow covered mountain in the Andes. Think this was made into a film/documentary too but never saw it.
3. Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden, tells the story of Pablo Escobar the Columbian drug lord from his invincibility in public life in Columbia to his assassination by the CIA. [seconded by Corleone]
The first two books are about personal endurance and courage and are great books imo. The third of these books gives an insight into corruption and drugs in Columbia and is also a good read.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
A year in the life of themanwhofellasleep by Greg Stekelman
Life of Pi by Yann Martel [seconded by Law and Corleone]
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury; prescient, fast-paced, & even encourages you to read more books [seconded by Humbug]
Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh; even better than the film
Our Man in Havana - Graham Greene; light & funny, good summer read [seconded by Humbug]
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley; nicely ambiguous, & full of interesting ideas
Rushdie - "The Satanic Verses" starts with two guys chatting as they fall out of a plane, & picks up pace after that. One can appreciate what all the fuss is about too (although on the same lines, I'm looking forward to reading Saramago's "The Gospel according to Jesus Christ"). Actually enjoyed "Ground beneath her feet" more, though "Midnight's children" (which won the "Booker of Bookers" for being the best Booker winner of the first 25 years of the award) not so much.
Murakami - "Hard-boiled Wonderland and The End of the World"; very bizarre but very interesting. "A Wild Sheep Chase" is intriguing too, but I thought "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" dragged. Haven't yet read his most famous books.
Robert Harris' "Fatherland" and "Archangel", the first excellent as a kind of "What if?" and the second as a history lesson on Stalin
filth by irvine welsh or the sequal to trainspotting -p0rno - both very good
Reading John MacGaherns book at the mo. Very good, powerful stuff.
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, best book i've read, Human Traces not as good, but interesting nonetheless.
Sebastian Barry's 'A Long Way Home' is a good take on the WWI and the 1916 rising from an Irish soldiers pov (in British army obviously)
Murakami's (mentioned by law) Kafka on the Shore, good read.
John Banvilles 'The Sea' is obviously good too, got it after his booker (?) award
The Lance Armstrong biography. I never knew the endurance one had to go through to be such a sucessful cyclist,what having cancer can do to you and the quick turn around and determination he had to get back on the bike.....tear jerking stuff
The Ginger Man, by JP Donleavy is an absolute must read for anyone living and drinking in Dublin. Sebastian Dangerfield is the finest fictional character I've encountered.
Another classic which has some relevance right now is "Pity the Nation" by Robert Fisk about the Lebanon at war. It's nearly 20 years old but might as well have been written this week. A masterpiece of war jounalism but a feel good book this isn't. You'd really need to be into history and politics to read this one.
Anything by Wilbur Smyth - fictional genius, his books are all based around warfare from 15th to 19th centuries. While his work is all complete fiction his research on his subjects would leave many historians to shame, the attention to detail is brilliant.
Last book I read was "Alleluia America" by Carole Coleman - that's the RTE american correspondant that caused all the fuss some time back by grilling George Bush in an interview on Iraq, Guantanemo etc some time back. It's interesting - if (like me) you've always wondered why the hell the Americans re-elected Bush, and why they have such a pro-Israel bias Coleman explains it all...
Thought "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell was brilliant. Starts slowly, and kind of pretentious (but hey so am I) but by the end of both my head was spinning trying to figure out everything that was happening, which for me is a good sign. [Disputed by Cully and Whyohwhy]
?Ghostwritten? by Mitchell ? more straightforward & better than Cloud Atlas