Good Books

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

good work, exalt

Booker longlist of 19 titles attached below; shortlist of 6 will be announced on 14 September and the winner on 10 October.

David Mitchell (two of whose three previous novels made the Booker shortlist) is 5-1 favourite at the moment, ahead of Peter Carey at 6-1, who would be the first person to win three times. Both have of course previously featured on this thread.

They are followed by Sarah Waters (who, I believe, previously wrote Tipping the Velvet, the lesbian thing which was televised) at 7-1, Barry Unsworth at 8-1 and Howard Jacobson at 10-1. Unsworth won in 2002, and Nadine Gordimer is a former (co-)winner too, in 1974, and won the Nobel Prize in 1991. Full list is as follows:

Carey, Peter Theft: A Love Story (Faber & Faber)
Desai, Kiran The Inheritance of Loss (Hamish Hamilton)
Edric, Robert Gathering the Water (Doubleday)
Gordimer, Nadine Get a Life (Bloomsbury)
Grenville, Kate The Secret River (Canongate)
Hyland, M.J. Carry Me Down (Canongate)
Jacobson, Howard Kalooki Nights (Jonathan Cape)
Lasdun, James Seven Lies (Jonathan Cape)
Lawson, Mary The Other Side of the Bridge (Chatto & Windus)
McGregor, Jon So Many Ways to Begin (Bloomsbury)
Matar, Hisham In the Country of Men (Viking)
Messud, Claire The Emperor?s Children (Picador)
Mitchell, David Black Swan Green (Sceptre)
Murr, Naeem The Perfect Man (William Heinemann)
O?Hagan, Andrew Be Near Me (Faber & Faber)
Robertson, James The Testament of Gideon Mack (Hamish Hamilton)
St Aubyn, Edward Mother?s Milk (Picador)
Unsworth, Barry The Ruby in her Navel (Hamish Hamilton)
Waters, Sarah The Night Watch (Virago)

Decent year for Hamish Hamilton in the Constructors’ Championship.

Smashing post at the top by the way Law. I’d no recollection of recommending that trio. Must put some thought into it now.

Celtic Minded 2 is out today (rock, must give you back Celtic Minded by the way). Decent interview with author Joe Bradley on It includes a chapter by an Rangers supporting academic called Dr Irene Reid who carries out a study on Neil Lennon’s treatment by the Scottish media after he got sent off at Ibrox last season. Will be interested to see what she has to say. That was the game where the ref, Stuart Dougal, allegedly called Lennon a ‘fenian bastard’ prompting the skipper to lose his head. He basically got off for pushing him after Rangers players Ian Murray and Marvin Andrews spoke up on his behalf. Anyway, should be a decent read.

I love this song about that incident [url=]Get it Right Fuckin Up ya Stuart Dougal I found myself singing it absentmindedly in work one day after I first heard it.

Just to second WOW’s recommendation of “The Sea” by John Banville. Very poetic, and most impressed that his voice in it is completely different to that in The Book of Evidence (the only other one of his I’ve read). Some authors (Murakami for example imo) basically only have 1 style and can get repetitive after a while, but I’d never have guessed the two books above were by the same author.

Also read Peter Carey’s “My Life as a Fake”, first one of his I’ve read, and would recommend that too.

Haven’t read The Sea, but Book of Evidence and Eclipse by JB were both excellent reads.

Ian McEwan - Saturday. Had read Amsterdam and didn’t like it (mainly annoyed by the glib ending) but this one is far more satisfying. Look forward to comparing it and “My Life as a Fake” to the ones Rock named by the same author.

Is Saturday the post-terrorist one? Mrs Rock may have read it and not liked it but I think I’ll give it a whirl. Can’t really remember if I liked all of Enduring Love or just the first chapter. I think it was decent anyway, if not ground-breakingly brilliant.

Yes that’s the one.

“The Cockpiss chronicles” By Alfred Pisscock

101 Days in Baghdad by Asne Seierstad. Excellent account of the first 101 days of the yanks ultimately successful attempt to get Sadam out of power.

Purely for the betterment of the Iraqi people of course.

Thanks for that Appendix, that was informative. Not

Read an absolutley cracking book over the weekend, its called “Tales from the rear view mirror” bu Donal Ruane.

Superb collection of short stories by a pretty bitter taxi driver, if you dont buy it just read the first one. I’n convinced its Steamboatsam…and so is the only other person I know who’s read it.

“The Executioner’s Song” by Norman Mailer and “In Cold Blood” by Capote. Compelling retellings of real-life murders and the events that followed. Waiting for Grisham’s “The Innocent Man” to come into paperback but find it hard to imagine it’ll be in the same class.

OUT by Natsuo Kirino. Deals with women and murder and the story bears an uncanny resemblance to the case of those two birds who were done for the murder of their mum’s African boyfriend earlier in the week, scary!

(thought I’d resurrect this thread from page 14)

Read Enduring Love and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close from your recommendations there recently Rock, both fine books though given how much the latter is about 9/11, think I could have picked a better time to read it than on a flight to New York.

Will shortly add a number of other books, I’m sure others have also come across some since the last time this thread was updated?

On that note I have since read Everything is Illuminated also by Jonathan Safran Foer and it is excellent, odd but brilliant.

For non-fiction I read A Secret Country by John Pilger about his native Australia which is a very good read.