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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top 10 Winter Reads

Like many readers, I tend to spend the winter reading long books. (Unlike many readers, I tend to spend a lot of the other three seasons reading long books, too. But that's neither here nor there.) I've got the mother lode queued up for this winter (with a few shorter novels sprinkled in). Here's a list: 

10. 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami (944 pages) — I missed out on joining in the initial post-publication wave of readership, from which the response seems to be generally positive. So I'm still excited to check it out.

9. Reamde, by Neal Stephenson (1,056 pages) — I've still never read Stephenson, and this thriller seems a good way to ease my way into his style; inasmuch you can ever ease into a writer by reading a thousand-page novel. 

8. Oryx and Crake / The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood (combined 824 pages) — Atwood's another author I've never read, and since I've been on a post-apocalyptic kick lately, and also since I've surprised myself by not at all hating those types of novels, these two are must-reads. 

7. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (601 pages) — You're going to kill me for this, but I've also never read anything by Steinbeck. I'm definitely going to knock this one out this winter.

6. The Submission, by Amy Waldman (320 pages) — I like the occasional fiction tinged with politics, and I'd already been interested in this one anyway because I like books about New York, and after Brenna at Lit Musing's positive review, this is a must-read this winter.

5. Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin (768 pages) — This novel is on a lot of readers' "favorites of all time" lists, and it's been on my shelves for a really long time, and see above about enjoying New York books, and it has freakin' "winter" in its title. Must. read.

4. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern (400 pages) — The "it" book of the late summer/early fall, I'm going to read it this winter.

3. To the End of the Land, by David Grossman (592 pages) — I bought this well-reviewed, though-supposedly-not-exactly-action-packed novel about Israel last summer, with every intention of reading it last winter. Didn't happen. Take two. 

2. Fathermucker, by Greg Olear (320 pages) — I'm hoping this short, funny novel provides some much-needed comic balance to some of the other heavier winter reads on the list.

1. 11/22/63, by Stephen King (849 pages) — Can't not read the new King.

See you in April!

(Note: This post is part of The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday meme. I definitely suggest heading over there to see what other readers are checking out this winter. Good stuff. )

47 comments:

  1. Nice selection of books - Fathermucker is good and very funny. Submission is on my list too!

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  2. I'm reading 11/22/63 right now and it's definitely one of King's best. East of Eden is a good Steinbeck,altho I would recommend The Grapes of Wrath as a better introduction to his work. Tried to read Stephenson as well,but no dice.

    I still have a copy of Anathem on hand,so perhaps it will be a New Year's resolution to tackle it again.

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  3. I've noticed you almost always read bigger books year round, which is pretty cool. I'm happy to see you plan on reading some Atwood this winter. I am dying to read the new King as well. (Confession: it will be my first Stephen King novel.)

    I bought East of Eden last winter and wanted to read it until I started seeing reviews that said it's a long book where nothing really happens... I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of it.

    Thanks for the link love! :)

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  4. Ugh, The Night Circus. I was hoping to never hear about that book again...

    I'm with you on 1Q84, but I need to (finally!) finish The Instructions first, now that it's on Kindle!

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  5. Great list! I'm hoping to re-read East of Eden one of these days, myself. And I've said it before, but I really cannot wait to hear your thoughts on Winter's Tale.

    I'm currently reading (well, listening to) 11/22/63, which (like Brenna) marks my first King. [Ducks to avoid flying object thrown at head.]

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  6. YOu've got two of my books on your list. :)

    11/22/63 and REAMDE. Can't wait to read those.

    (I loved CRYPTONOMICON.)

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  7. Cool! I'd love to read 1Q84 eventually as well ... but I feel like I need to ease into Murakami a little bit more first.

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  8. Loved, loved, triple loved Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood-I liked Year of the Flood a bit better. It seemed more developed to me. I just finished 11/22/63, and I really enjoyed it. Definitely on the less creepy end of King's oeuvre, but an enjoyable 800-something pages nonetheless. I've got Winter's Tale and 1Q84 on my list.

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  9. I really want to read 11/22/63 too! Quite the chunkster.

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  10. I heard Reamde is really cool and really different from what Stephenson usually does, so it got him in a lot of trouble because it has less of those technical passages where he just explains something.

    Being a fan of Stephenson's shorter stuff...makes me want to read it.

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  11. I forgot about The Submission. That could have gone on my list. Fathermucker is a fun read and East of Eden might be long, but you will still be sorry when it's over. It is wonderful (although I kind of like Grapes of Wrath better).

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  12. I have IQ84 & The Night Circus on my list. I've been hearing a lot of buzz about Reamde lately and I'm definitely going to check it out soon. I've never read East of Eden, I really feel like I should be fixing that soon!

    Awesome list, looks like you'll have a great winter of reading!

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  13. You and I have several books in common. I still can't really decide if I want to read Night Circus...

    Here's my list: Top Ten Books On My TBR List For Winter. And just two more days to enter my monthly giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card!

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  14. Forget Oryx&Crake and The Year of the Flood (for now). The first Atwood you should read is The Handmaid's Tale.
    The Submission is an excellent novel, and I can't wait to read your thoughts on it.
    It took me three tries to get through To the End of the Land and it was .... meh. I think I was expecting more from it.
    And I tried the audio version of The Night Circus but just could not get into it.

    My two cents on your very ambitious list. Good luck and happy reading!

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  15. I'm aching to read The Night Circus, but I haven't been able to pick up a copy yet. Maybe I'll get it for Christmas. :)

    I know what you mean about winter being a great time for long books. It's cold out, and it makes a lot of sense to snuggle on the sofa with hot chocolate and a good book.

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  16. I bought '11-22-63' the week it came out (well, okay, I called my local bookstore and ordered my copy) and I began reading it... what a book! I'm over 200 pages into it and can't put it down!

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  17. Great list of books! Half of them are on my to-read list as well; although half of that half are not on my shelves, so it will be awhile until I get to them. Too many already bought books waiting to be read. :)

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  18. Good List . Stephenson is a must ( The Diamond Age ! ). Totally agree about the Stephen King ; my guilty pleasure . Also heard great things about Oryx and Crake ; also on my TBR for next year

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  19. I cannot for the life of me understand why To The End of the Land was so highly praised. I found it sucktacular. Be warned...

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  20. Good luck! I read East of Eden stuck in an airport during a blizzard- it's a California book that feels wintery in a lot of ways.

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  21. Really excited about Fathermucker - and I've heard so many positive things about The Submission. Wish I could've fit that one in around 9/11...

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  22. Yeah, people seem to be raving about 11/22/63 - it's quickly moving up my priority list. East of Eden, I picked mostly by default because I have a copy of it and not Grapes of Wrath...

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  23. A long book where nothing really happens? Uh oh.

    I know I've been saying I'll read Atwood forever, but I'm finally going to. I promise!

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  24. You're reading The Instructions?! That's awesome - I read it about this time last year, and absolutely loved it!

    You weren't a Night Circus fan, eh?

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  25. Magical realism in New York City? Yes, please. :)

    No judgment at all King - I'm not one of his die-hard fans by any stretch (HATED Under The Dome), but he's usually pretty entertaining, if not exactly a cerebral challenge.

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  26. Oh man, I've had Cryptonomicon on my shelf for years. It's so intimidating-looking. If I like Reamde, I may finally give it a shot...

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  27. I enjoyed your Norwegian Wood review - as I think we've discussed, that was also the first Murakami I read. Kafka On The Shore was next, and blew me away.

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  28. Atwood has such fiercely loyal fans - it's one of the reasons I'm so intrigued by her.

    Glad to hear another positive review of 11/22/63. Seems like King is moving away from the (what some consider horror) to more realistic (but strange) fiction.

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  29. Yeah, it sure is - typical King. ;)

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  30. Honored that you came by to comment - cheers!

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  31. Is there a definition of what Stephenson "usually does" though? Seems like he's been all over the place - from sci fi to historical fiction to this thriller-type thing.

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  32. Glad to hear you liked East of Eden - it's not really a long book where nothing actually happens, is it? ;)

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  33. Yeah, the buzz about Reamde is certainly intriguing - Stephenson is quite prolific!

    You're right, it should be a great winter of reading!

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  34. I wasn't sure about The Night Circus either - but the reviews are all so overwhelmingly, ridiculously positive, I want to see what that's all about.

    Good list! I'll be interested to hear what you think of The Marriage Plot - I'm currently about halfway through.

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  35. Why The Handmaid's Tale? So may people have recommended those other two - interested to hear your take!

    Sounds like, as a few commenters below say, that, yeah, To The End of The Land is indeed 'meh.' All the reviews said it was pretty slow-moving, and I'm prepared for that...

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  36. Exactly - and less good sports on TV and more darkness. ;)

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  37. Great to hear! I'm excited about it...

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  38. I know what you mean - making lists like this helps prioritize the dozens upon dozens of unread bought books. We'll see if I actually make it to even half these...

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  39. Funny how fans of Stephenson seem to always recommend something different (Ben above recommended his short fiction). I guy I work with said I'd be remiss without reading Snow Crash - and of course, many folks recommend Cryptonomicon...

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  40. D'oh! I've acknowledge that I've been warned. :)

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  41. I hope that "feels wintery" is a good thing!

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  42. Good list. Submission seems to be mentioned as a top book in all the best of the year list. I was skeptical when I saw the overplayed subject but it must be a special book. Looking forward to your review if you get to it before I do.

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  43. I'm with Suzanne--yours is a really ambitious list, and full of good stuff. I thought Stephenson's Reamde was excellent. A bit more conventional than most of his other books (Anathem is probably one of the most creative, challenging books I've read in the past five years) but it's still a great story. The attention to detail behind the video game world within the story does a better job of bridging the virtual/physical gap than any of his earlier work. I hate to say it, but I found 1Q84 really disappointing--there were chunks that were beautiful and powerful and mysterious and all the rest of what I had hoped for (especially in the last quarter or so) but there were also long stretches that were slow, stilted, or just plain skippable. I haven't made the leap and bought that new Stephen King book yet, so I look forward to reading your review to cement whether or not I take the plunge. Last thing I'll say is that East of Eden is simply a phenomenal read, one of those books that I wish I could read again for the first time. The chapter where Lee tells his story is some of the best American writing ever. Something to look forward to.

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  44. Interesting list. There are quite a few on there that I ought to get to sometime soon. I do think winter lends itself to long reads. Too bad I live in the desert and it was 83 degrees just yesterday.
    On the Steinbeck tip: I am a somewhat recent convert to his works. I started with East of Eden and LOVED it so much I moved onto The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. I have a great number of his books on my TBR pile, as a result of each of these books. His prose is flawless and I could live in some of the sentences in East of Eden. I have a feeling you are going to enjoy it very much. I don't necessarily agree with those who say that nothing happens, but it is a very meditative book. If you want a less meditative read, start with Of Mice and Men (not just due to length comparison). I was reading it last year and was literally about to fall asleep when ONE SENTENCE woke me up (never had that happen to me before). I finished the book that evening! It was one of the most amazing reading experiences I have ever had.

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  45. why do you bother to write about shit you've never read?

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  46. On the subject of long reads...something nobody has ever read. CLAUS, A Christmas Incarnation. 3 volumes. 850,000 words.

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