Books I’ve Missed

I received some interesting answers to my questions from yesterday (and I welcome more at any time!).  I will clearly have to read Scott soon, and I’m thinking of a couple of possibilities: perhaps Waverly because it’s what we’ve got on the shelves, or perhaps Ivanhoe, which Victoria highly recommends, or perhaps The Heart of Midlothian, recommended by Ed.

In answer to my question about what types of books I’m missing, I got some great responses, which fall into these categories:

  • I need to read some science fiction/fantasy.  I knew this would probably come up — it’s an area I know little about.  I read some Isaac Asimov as a teenager but that’s about it, unless you count books like Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, which has science fiction elements, which I’m not inclined to count, as I didn’t pick it up for that reason.  Stefanie suggested Ursula LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness, so I think I’ll start there.
  • I haven’t read much historical fiction, although I read a lot of novels published in previous centuries.  I pick historical fiction up now and then, but not often — I’ve read Ferdinand Mount’s Jem and Sam, about Samuel Pepys, and Beryl Bainbridge’s According to Queeney, which has Samuel Johnson and the Thrales in it.  I’ve also read the first novel in Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Trilogy and the first of Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey-Maturin series, both of these suggested by Victoria.  I liked them both … but I wasn’t in love with them to the extent that I wanted to keep reading the series.  I think I have a hard time with series unless I can breeze through them fast like I did with Philip Pullman’s series (which, now that I think about, is an example of speculative fiction I’ve read).  I consider this a failing of mine.  I did really like reading about late 17C England in the Stephenson novel, however.  Both Victoria and Danielle recommended Michael Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White, so I think I till turn to that one next, or perhaps Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.
  • Finally — mysteries.  I’ve enjoyed the Maisie Dobbs books I’ve listened to, but there are more.  And Danielle recommends P.D. James, whom I will read at some point soon.

Thanks for these great suggestions!


Filed under Books, Reading

10 responses to “Books I’ve Missed

  1. Oh do give Fingersmith a try! Once you get going you can definitely breeze through it–you won’t want to put it down! I should try and read some science fiction as well. Never Let Me Go has been as close as I come, too. I’ve thought about it, but I never seem to pick one up!


  2. I hope you like Left hand of Darkness. And I second Danielle on the P.D. James suggestion. I’m not much of a mystery reader myself but I love P.D. James. In the same category you might like Amanda Cross. She is the late Carolyn Heilbrun’s alter-ego. The main character is an English professor and the books are full of jokes at the expense of tweed wearing MLA attendees.


  3. I second both Danielle and Stefanie on P.D. James and Fingersmith. And I enjoyed Silent in the Grave (which could count as both a historical novel & a mystery) by Deanna Raybourn.


  4. Oh yes! ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. 🙂 In fact, all Le Guin is wonderful; she writes classy shorter fiction too.

    Speaking of shorter fiction, have you ever heard of Kelly Link? She writes ‘weird’ fairy tales and her latest collection, ‘Magic for Beginners’ is fantastic.


  5. keil

    Hello, I’ve stumbled on your blog by coincidence. Thank goodness for tags!

    You have a fantastic blog. I’m surprised we don’t have more books in common except for Don Quixote. From your list that’s the only one I’ve read. How are you finding it so far?

    Well anyhow, just wanted to let you know I’m truly enjoying your blog and I will be stealing book recommendations from you! 🙂


  6. Okay I’ve got two to recommend. For sci-fi/fantasy check out To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. A joy of a book. And, for mysteries I would recommend Martha Grimes.


  7. I am currently reading The Mists of Avalon, which is fantasy, and the best book I have read in a long time…I am completely immersed in the world of Camelot (I read about this on Danielle’s blog, I believe). For mysteries, I am a mad fan of Dennis LeHane’s Patrick and Angie series…there are five and they take place in Boston – amazing books. I have Nightwatch by Sarah
    Waters lined up for my vacation…I will let you know. And my dad is right now a huge fan of the books Towing Jehovah and its sequel, the author’s last name is Morrow, can’t remember the first nae – these are science fiction.


  8. Danielle — Okay, Fingersmith it is! And perhaps we can read some science fiction together? 🙂

    Stefanie — Left Hand of Darkness is on its way from Bookmooch. I’m sure I’ll love it! And I think we have some Amanda Cross novels around here; if you liked her you might try Joanne Dobson who writes academic mysteries as well.

    Sarah — thank you for the recommendation! I will have to check it out.

    Victoria — I have heard of Kelly Link; another one to check out. And I know I can always turn to your blog for more!

    Keil — why, thank you! Thanks for stopping by. I’m loving DQ — if you want to read more on it, check out It’s a group blog devoted to DQ I started earlier this summer.

    Iliana — I’ve read posts on the Willis novel, and it does sound like fun! Thank you for the recommendations.

    Courtney — We have The Mists of Avalon at home I’m pretty sure — I’m glad you are enjoying it, and I look forward to your report on the Sarah Waters! 🙂


  9. Left Hand of Darkness is a great choice, and when you’re done with that, read The Wizard of Earthsea. The Crimson Petal and the White is also a really good choice (I have all of these, if you want to borrow).


  10. Roh

    Hallo! If you’re in need of more suggestions, I recommend Karin Lowachee and Justina Robson for some SF, K J Bishop and Ellen Kushner for some fantasy, and Dorothy L Sayers and Alexander Macall Smith for some detective fiction – though there are people who’ll disagree with me on the last two.

    Le Guin, Waters and Link are surefire winners, though I currently prefer Waters’ Tipping the Velvet over Fingersmith.

    Happy reading!


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