Sunday, October 11, 2009

Weekly Geeks: Recommend-fest!

This week's Weekly Geeks tasks sounds like too much fun to pass up. Here's what it says...

I wanted to talk this week about book recommendations. Where do you go for book recommendations? How often do you challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone? How often do you read outside your favorite-and-best genre? How often do you try a new-to-you author? How often do you take a chance? This week, I'd like to offer you a few opportunities.

So your assignment this week, if you choose to play along, is to ask your readers for recommendations. Choose a genre--any genre--and ask for recommendations. You can be as general or as specific as you like. Consider it as an "I'm looking for...."

The second part of the assignment is to write a list of recommendations and share them with your readers. Choose a genre--any genre--and share your list of favorites. I think of this as "If you're looking for...."

Okay, here's my thing. I love (LOVE!) historical fiction. Well done historical fiction about just about any time period makes my heart go pitter pat. One portion of historical fiction that I've never particularly gotten into, however, is that whole historical fiction sub-genre involving kings and queens and knights and court intrigues et cetera et cetera and so on. I see these sorts of books getting glowingly reviewed all around the blogosphere by lovers of historical fiction, and yet, I can't bring myself to go out and get some and give them a try. Your challenge? Recommend me some that are really worth trying.

Or, if you're up for an even narrower challenge that really won't broaden my horizons at all but will make me love you forever, recommend me a book in which the circus plays a major part, fiction or non-fiction. One that everyone hasn't heard of, by this, of course, I mean, not Water for Elephants. I've got a real thing for circus stories, and I'd love to add a few to my collection!

In exchange for your kind recommendations, I give to you Historical Fiction I've Ranked With 5 Stars on My Library Thing Shelf (that isn't about kings/queens/knights/court intrigues, of course)

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy. If I can't convince you, let Nymeth!

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich

Small Island by Andrea Levy

The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips

Sweetsmoke by David Fuller

Okay, that's not many. But they are all super, super good!

P.S. Can I interest you in my Blogiversary giveaway?


  1. I really enjoy historical fiction too. I'm afraid I can't recommend any of the kind you aren't too fond of as those are the kind I have mixed feelings about myself. Maybe your other readers will share some ideas with you that I can borrow as well. :-)

    The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy is such an awesome book. I third (behind Nymeth) your recommendation!

    I really want to read Sweetsmoke one of these days.

  2. The two that I've read and enjoyed for the 'turn the page' action are Nefertiti by Michelle Moran and The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory. Both have quite similar plot lines interestingly. I can't verify their historical accuracies, but I couldn't put them down, and I liked the intrigue of court life. It was so brutal!

  3. Oh! Circus books! Those sound like so much fun. :) (I have no recs, though.)

    I think I should do some short-er reading lists on random esoteric topics like that. Circuses! Time Travel! Fiction featuring diplomats!

    Um, back to your post. I enjoyed The Kitchen Boy, which is about Anastasia and her family (so-historical and royal). I read it during a read-a-thon, and it was perfect for that-light, with a strong sense of setting, and pretty short.

  4. Sadly, I have no books to recommend in the specific genre you mentioned...If I've read any over the course of my life, they haven't stood out in my mind enough for me to remember them.

    You did convince me to add The True Story of Hansel and Gretel to my "to read" list, though... sounds like a wonderful book.

  5. Circus books:
    Girl Clown by Mary Wise is an interesting memoir
    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn is a truly bizarre story about a family of circus freaks. Not everyone's cup of tea but I really liked it.

    I'm afraid I haven't read any good historical fiction about kings and queens and knights (unless you count Arthurian Legend, which I don't) - in fact, historical fiction is one of those genres in which I am most poorly read. I enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha, though, so I'll be sure to check out your other recommendations. Thanks!

    fellow Weekly Geek

  6. OK... circus books...

    How about:
    1) Mysterious Magical Circus Family Kids: The Chocolate Cake Turkey Lip Crumb Trail Mystery Adventure by R. Hawk Starkey
    2) Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
    3) The film MirrorMask (directed by Dave McKean, who has illustrated a number of Neil Gaiman books)

    I have other (non circus) suggestions on my post here.

  7. Wendy - Glad I'm not the only historical fiction lover that can't seem to reconcile my love of historical fiction with my decidedly mixed feelings about the Kings/Queens/Knights/Courts set (gosh, I really need to come up with a more concise way of referring to them KQKC? "Royalty" fiction?).

    Raidergirl - I've had my eye on Michelle Moran's books. I am interested in Egyptian history, so Nefertiti just might do the trick! I have actually read The Other Boleyn Girl - I liked it but didn't love it.

    Eva - I'd SO love mini lists on random topics. Do you think I could get people to recommend me books on possibly bizarre, possibly obscure and definitely narrow topics every week? LOL! I loved The Kitchen Boy, too. Maybe I'm not such a royalty fail as I thought!

    Debilyn - Yay! I'm such an evangelist for that book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    gautami - I think I will! The next time I see one, I'll definitely have to snatch it up.

    Melydia - I've never heard of Girl Clown, definitely will check that one out. I have read and really liked Geek Love. It's bizarre and disturbing, but it has that special je ne sais quoi. Definitely left an impact on me! Thanks so much for the circus recs!

    pussreboots - Yay - more circus recommendations! That first one's title is quite a mouthful. Sounds interesting! I've heard of Something Wicked This Way Comes, but somehow never realized it had to do with circuses. Dave McKean's illustrations are the ones in Coraline, aren't they? Very good and...creepy! I'll have to check this out, too. Thanks for the recs!

  8. I am reading The Devil's Queen by Jeanne Kalogridis right now and enjoying it (it's about Catherine de Medici). It's a very easy read. I'm with you that I have a hard time with historical fiction about kings/queens etc. unless I am really familiar with that time period and know all the players. I often have to do internet research before I read the book.

  9. I can't recommend any HF that relates royalty/court life etc. I'm sure there are some good ones out there, but most of the ones I've tried to get through (and some I did because they were well written) were romances set in a historical time and thus as much fantasy as history.
    However, you can take a look at 'Partners' and 'Homesteader'. The former is Western Canada in 1866 - '68 and the latter is 1886 - '87.

  10. OK, I'll put the Master Butcher's Singing Club on my list. :)
    I'm too far removed from my historical fiction faves - I can't remember any! and I don't know any circus books, either.

  11. oh yea! HOW did I forget about Geek Love! but you've read it... If you like reading about real people fictionalized... Can I rec The Book of Salt by Monique Truong abt Gertrude Stein? (I know, as soon as I hit submit - I thought of somethings.)

  12. I came back to see people's recs, and I can't BELIEVE I forgot about Something Wicked This Way Comes! Go Pussreboots! lol

  13. Funny that the historical fiction you read doesn't involve royalty when that seems to be all the rage right now. I don't read a ton of it, but Phillipa Gregory is a really popular choice (I've only read The Other Boleyn Girl).

    I've also heard that Nefertiti is really good but haven't read that either. Good luck!

    Something Wicked This Way Comes gets my vote, too. Perfect for this time of year.

  14. I've got to recommend Something Wicked This Way Comes as well....I like The Thief of Always by Clive's not a circus but it does have a sort of children's wonderland, where each day covers all the seasons and you have Halloween every evening and Christmas every night.

  15. I haven't done a WG in ages, maybe I should do this one or the one which is up for this week?

    Anyway, I cannot think of any circus books at all, except Water for Elephants of course ;o) And its also been a very long time since I read any historical fiction, although I have that Boleyn Girl book on my TBR...

  16. Thank you for this terrific list! :-)

  17. I reccomend simply to visit a1books online..they've got some great historical books there...