Stuff on Sundays: Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 1


I am thrilled that over 70 readers have signed up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge so far this year, and several already have already gotten started and shared reviews.  Sign ups are open until December 1st 2014. The challenge asks participants to read 12 books over the year, each from a variety of different categories. These are:

  1. Award Winning
  2. True Crime (Non Fiction)
  3. Romantic Comedy
  4. Alternate History Fiction
  5. Graphic Novel
  6. Cosy Mystery Fiction
  7. Gothic Fiction
  8. War/Military Fiction
  9. Anthology
  10. Medical Thriller Fiction
  11. Travel (Non Fiction)
  12. Published in 2014

One of the things I have noticed in several sign up posts  is a request for reading suggestions. I encourage participants to look for recommendations from other bloggers who they read and follow or browse Goodreads Listopia , I thought I might offer a few of my own gleaned from my own browsing. I’m going to cover the first six today, and the next six early next month.

Award Winning

You don’t have to read a Pulitzer Prize or Man Booker winner for this category, you could read a book that was awarded a Hugo or a Ned Kelly or a Newberry. For this category I am considering Burial Rites by Hannah Kent which won the Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award,  Neil Gamain’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which won amongst other awards the Specsavers Book of the Year or Past the Shallows by Favel Parret, a winner of the ABIA award.

True Crime

I’ve already met this requirement, reading The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber though I had planned to read Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink or perhaps Orange is The New Black by Piper Kerman .  I used to read a lot of True Crime when I was younger but have read very little for a long while. In True Blood by Truman Capote is a classic example of this genre as is Helter Skelter  by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry and Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon, but if you prefer something lighter then The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales might work for you. Popular true crime authors include Ann Rule, Joseph Wambaugh and John E Douglas and it is worth browsing their work.

Romantic Comedy

I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending The Rosie Project by Graeme Stinston or any of the three Bridget Jones books by Helen Fielding for this category which I have read, but there is plenty of choice available. Contempory romance authors like Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Kristan Higgins are popular.  If you prefer YA try Meg Cabot or Louise Rennison or if you like a a paranormal twist try Molly Harper or MaryJanice Davidson. There are few men who write romantic comedies but you could try Nick HornbyTony Parsons, or Mike Gayle.

Alternate History Fiction

This category is a challenge for me so I have been browsing extensively. The most recommended seem to be  1984 by George Orwell, Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Stand or 11/22/63 by Stephen King all of which I have read. The Fatherland by Robert Harris is also popular but it doesn’t interest me but I am curious about Jonathon Strange and & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke and World War Z is an option (I haven’t seen the movie yet). I did stumble on a website devoted to Alternate History fiction and if you still aren’t sure what you want to read then Uchronia is worth browsing.

Graphic Novel

I read my very first Graphic novel for this challenge – Cemetery Girl by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden and was pleasantly surprised by it. I know very little about the genre though I have learnt you can even get non fiction graphic novels like the true crime story about the Green River Killer by Jeff Jensen and Jonathon Case. Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and Len Wein seems to be popular, as do The Walking Dead volumes by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Tony Moore. V for Vendetta by  Alan Moore by David Lloyd is a stand alone and several of Neil Gamain’s books have been turned into graphic novels. I also discovered that my favourite TV series of all time – Buffy The Vampire Slayer has been continued in graphic novel form – I so want that!

Cosy Mystery Fiction

One of my favourite comfort genres I nevertheless rarely get a chance to read any. The genre just isn’t published here in Australia at all but it is huge in the US and UK. The thing I love about cosy’s is there practically something for everyone – if you love pets then try Rita Mae Browns Mrs Murphy series , if you are a foodie then try Diane Mott Davidson’s Culinary Mystery Series or the Hannah Swenson Series. If you like scrapbooking then Laura Child’s series might be for you or if you hunt for antiques on the weekend try the Trash and Treasure series by Max Allan Collins under the alias Barbara Allan. There are also cosy’s that take place in almost every time period , and amateur sleuths who hold all manner of occupations. Lets not forget the classics either which include Agatha Christie’s volumes. I suggest you browse Cosy-Mystery Unlimited for a comprehensive representation of the genre.

Don’t forget to check out what other’s are reading on the challenge review link page

What is your favourite book in any of the categories above, what  would you recommend?

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. cleopatralovesbooks
    Jan 26, 2014 @ 08:13:25

    Great suggestions here, good even for those not participating in the challenge.



  2. Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    Jan 26, 2014 @ 09:47:00

    I love Alternate History books, and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was excellent (though you might not like it if you don’t like footnotes!) – some more suggestions for you:

    Never Let Me Go by Kazuro Ishiguro – it’s loosely set several decades ago.
    Farthing by Jo Walton – re-imagines life in England after Hitler WINS the war.
    The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon – different outcome for Jews.
    New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear – detective fantasy with vampires.
    Changeless and the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger – Victorian steampunk urban fantasy, with vampires and werewolves and ghosts part of Victorian society.
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson – haven’t read this one yet but it’s set in the 14th century and imagines life if 99% of the population was killed in the Black Plague.

    Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman – black-skinned people are superior, with white-skinned people their inferior servants.
    Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld – excellent re-imagining of the First World War, with steampunk and evolutionary science.

    Lots of choices there!



  3. Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    Jan 26, 2014 @ 09:59:58

    For Graphic Novel, I have some suggestions/recommendations to offer, too:

    Cairo by G Willow Wilson – present-day fantasy, rather fun
    The Arrival by Shaun Tan – no words in this one, but the amazing illustrations speak volumes.
    Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – an Iranian woman recounts her life growing up during the revolution. You can get the 2-in-1 volume, which I recommend.
    Safe Area Goražde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-1995 by Joe Sacco – deeply moving and confronting from journalist Sacco, tells one side of the Serbian-Bosnian war and genocide.

    These ones I haven’t read yet but have on my shelf:
    Skim by Mariko Tamaki – about a Japanese-Canadian girl growing up in Saskatchewan.
    Two Generals by Scott Chantler – about Chantler’s grandfather serving in WWII.
    Stitches: A Memoir by David Small – in the 1950s David Small had a simple operation but woke up with his vocal chords severed, with dramatic consequences for the whole family.
    Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann – set in Anorev, the “world between time”, this steampunk novel begins when 314 “dapper men” rain down from the sky
    Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle – an account of everyday life in Burma
    Nylon Road: A Graphic Memoir of Coming of Age in Iran by Parsua Bashi – as the title says.
    Zahra’s Paradise by Amir – set in the aftermath of Iran’s fraudulent 2009 elections, this one is fiction.
    A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return by Zeina Abirached – Zeina’s childhood memoir about growing up in Lebanon.
    Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. (I. My Father Bleeds History. II. And Here My Troubles Began) by Art Spiegelman – WWII where the Jews are depicted as mice, the Nazis as cats.



  4. kathrynsinbox
    Jan 26, 2014 @ 15:09:47

    Wow, there are some truly excellent suggestions here. Made me stop and think about the categories I haven’t chosen books for as yet. I had no idea that you could get non-fiction graphic novels.

    I definitely second the recommendation of Burial Rites for the Award Winning category–it’s an interesting glimpse at a time and place in history so different from our. (BTW I met Hannah last year when we both did a signing at the same bookstore and she’s absolutely lovely.)

    I’m considering World War Z as my Alternate History novel.



  5. Col
    Jan 26, 2014 @ 22:36:55

    The lists are great! I’m particularly grateful for suggestions on romantic comedy as I’d been worried about that. I’ve read several blogs praising The Rosie Project so I might go with that. In return a suggestion – I read my very first graphic novel just before Christmas, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil – it was great!



  6. Mystica
    Jan 26, 2014 @ 23:14:14

    Expecting to receive Burial Rites soon. Like the other suggestions also.



  7. rblerner2013
    Jan 27, 2014 @ 09:37:20

    I read a lot of Cozy Mysteries. In fact, I am a character in Duffy Brown’s Pearls and Poison which comes out in March. The first two boks in the consignment mysteries are good: Iced Chiffon and Killer in Crinolines.



  8. Jen G. (The Introverted Reader)
    Jan 28, 2014 @ 14:25:03

    I second Shannon’s suggestion of the Maus books. I have read a lot of Holocaust books in my time and these still blew me away. The author tells the true story of his father’s survival in Auschwitz and touches on the lasting effects on his family.

    My husband and I just watched World War Z this weekend. It was pretty good! By the end I just looked at him and said, “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” The suspense was killing me! It was just agonizing. I probably won’t ever get around to the book now though.

    Thanks for the suggestions!



  9. Trackback: Stuff On Sundays: Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 2 | book'd out
  10. Stephanie Shepherd
    Feb 17, 2014 @ 10:06:40

    For Graphic novels I’d throw out there a recommendation for the Fables series by Bill Willingham – fairy tale characters as refugees in modern day New York City. It’s a lot of fun and not for kiddos. I also second the recommendations for The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Never Let me Go for the alternate history category. One I am struggling with is the Rom-Com genre. I really prefer romances with a lot of humor so that’s good but I also really haven’t bonded with contemporary romance. Any suggestions of a historical romance that would count as a rom-com? I do also like some paranormal romance so maybe I’ll check out the two authors you list for that.



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