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The last book you read that blew your socks off?

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I'm kinda in a rut reading-wise and I need something to shake me up. I'm having a hard time finding something I'm enthusiastic about reading, which is weird for me, because I love to read. I need some recommendations of Really Good Books.

I'm open to just about anything - fiction or nonfiction in any genre or on any topic.

Scott -- 2nd Story -- Twitter

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The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Joe Queenan's memoir Closing Time has been my favorite of the books I've read recently.

Edit: Now that I've noodled this a bit longer, a few other favorites from the past 12 months are Lush Life by Richard Price, City of Thieves by David Benioff and The Ancient Rain by Domenic Stansberry.

Edited by J. Henry Waugh
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If you're in the mood for a fantasy novel, I'd recommend The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. My wife and I both recently read it, and we really enjoyed it.

Edited by opus

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Breath by Tim Winton. A dark story, but amazingly written. Also, if you haven't read it, Cloudstreet by the same writer is a serious classic -- a must read.

Saturday and Atonement by Ian McEwan are also both very, very good.

Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson, which was discussed in a thread here, is really excellent also. Like a lot of Johnson its very surreal in parts, like no other Vietnam novel, but wonderfully written IMHO. The definitive Denis Johnson book is Jesus' Son. Angels is very readable and probably his most conventional book. The rest of his body of work is also very good, but strange as well, (in a good way).

And on a totally different note: the Harry Potter series, all 7 books taken as a single work, truly did blow my socks off. The ending of book 7 left both my wife and I in tears. It contains one of the most redemptive moments I've ever encountered in literature.

And last but definitely not least, right here at Arts and Faith, we have Sara Zarr and Jeffrey Overstreet. You've probably already read their stuff, but just in case you haven't, both very highly recommended. Their work blew my socks off as well.

Edited by Harris-Stone
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Hmmmmm... it's been a long long time since I've had that feeling. I believe that Tobias Wolff's 'Old School' was the last time that happened, and that was about 5 years ago now. However, I did devour 'No Country for Old Men' whilst on my mini-jaunt across the US. Think I read it in two days.

Factual: the book I'm currently finding incredibly interesting is called 'Honoring the Civil War Dead' by John R. Neff. If you're interested in this sort of stuff but want something more public-friendly, try 'This Republic of Suffering' by Drew Gilpin Faust.


re-reading your original post. If you're in a rut, and want something amazing and (probably) totally left of field, try Carlos Fuentes' 'Constancia and other stories for virgins'. I remember being taken to a completely new place by those. Powerful exquisite writing.

Edited by gigi

"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

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Truthfully, the book that has most impressed me in the last year has to be Cyndere's Midnight by Jeffrey Overstreet. But you've probably already read that...

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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I finally read The Given Day by Dennis Lehane (author of Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, and Shutter Island). This is Lehane's first attempt at a work of historical fiction - taking a look at the historical events of the city of Boston in 1919 through the eyes of three main characters a Boston cop, a man on the run, and Babe Ruth (still playing for Boston's baseball team). Besides baseball and the "great molasses flood", this story also takes a look at the Boston Police Strike - the first time a police department in America ever went on strike. Historical characters besides Babe Ruth include W.E.B DuBois, Mitchell Palmer, Calvin Coolidge, and John Hoover.

Best thing I've read this year.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It's, in fact, the book I'm currently reading: My Name Is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok.

A friend has been telling me for a few years to read this book, and I finally complied. Absolutely prerequisite reading for all visual artists.

Yours truly,


No one with a good car needs to be justified. -- Hazel Motes

In the final end, he won the wars, after losin' every battle.-- Bob Dylan, Idiot Wind

Hot Rod Anglican blog ...

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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Silence by Shusaku Endo (my favorite novel)

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (best fantasy novel I've ever read)

Those three are all in my top 10 books of all time list.

So they aren't really what I'm looking for here, but great picks none the less :)

Scott -- 2nd Story -- Twitter

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the last book i read that "blew my socks off" was extremely loud and incredibly close by jonathan safron foer

I don't deny that there should be priests to remind men that they will one day die. I only say it is necessary to have another kind of priests, called poets, to remind men that they are not dead yet. - G. K. Chesterton

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Books that blew me away this year:

Tolstoy, A Confession

Greene, The Power and the Glory

Weisel, Night

McCarthy, The Road

Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (kinda shocking that I'd never read it, but it actually deserves its status)

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut


Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's my list:

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

Sula by Toni Morrison

Aurelia's Colors and Cyndere's Midnight by Jeffery Overstreet

The Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz

Cheryl R

I like to say that I practice militant mysticism. I'm really absolutely sure of some things that I don't quite know.~~Rob Bell April/09 CT


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The Pacific and Other Stories - Mark Helprin

Hey, I just finished reading this too (but my opinion differs from yours)!

My pick:

-The Song is You, by Arthur Phillips.

Thanks for mentioning this. I had not read any books from Phillips since Prague a long time ago and had forgotten he had a relatively new book released. I am halfway through this and think it is terrific so far.

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I wasn't expecting much, so I was blown away by the sheer adventure of ENDURANCE, Alfred Lansing. Great read, true story.

PASCAL'S WAGER, James A. Conner - outstanding biography of Blaise Pascal. A thrill to read.

GILEAD, Marilynne Robinson. Gently exquisite prose. Sentences and whole paragraphs to savor.

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

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