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Dorothy W.

Wow -- thanks for putting together that list -- that's a wonderful resource (as so many of your posts are!).


Just bought the first two on the list--Folded Leaf and Separate peace, both sound very promising.

Straight Man is very fun to read! :)


Dorothy--It's nice having a list of book recommendations from a variety of bloggers! I always want to do this (put together a list with links) when I ask for suggestions, but I am usually too lazy!
Matt--I really do want to read William Maxwell (Litlove also recommends his book The Chateau!). I have a feeling his writing is probably good whichever book you choose. I also want to read The Folded Leaf and I wouldn't mind rereading A Separate Peace, too.


You might enjoy this article about Peter Ho Davies,,2078273,00.html


One of my long-term projects is reading all of Shakespeare's plays. (I'm currently on a summer hiatus; working through the three parts of Henry VII was occasionally brutal.) Although I do read Garber's chapter for each play, I avoid it until _after_ I've read the play itself, especially an unfamiliar one, in order to prevent her analysis coloring my own reading.

However, one thing that I've found to be helpful _before_ starting a new play is to read the corresponding chapter in "Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare". Asimov has some obvious opinions about certain plays, but he doesn't let them get in the way of providing a decent plot summary and generally interesting background information on the classical and historical references infusing the plays.

For example, in describing Oberon, Asimov discusses his possible origin in the German Alberich, the king of the dwarfs in the Nibelung tale (and in Wagner's Ring cycle), and then touches on his part in the medieval romance Huon of Bordeaux.

His analysis often goes on tangents that aren't necessarily germane to a given play, but I think that's part of the fun. Also, I've found that such investments can pay dividends later when Shakespeare uses the same, arcane reference in multiple contexts. (One example that immediately comes to mind is the Antipodes, which, sadly, was until recently a foreign concept to this modern, publc school-educated reader.)

(BTW, I enjoy your blog tremendously. I recently read, devoured actually, both Fingersmith and Excellent Women, and I might have never encountered them if you hadn't written about them here. Thanks!)


I have just got to get hold of that Peter Ho Davies book - it sounds wonderful. And the list is fantastic, Danielle! And now much easier to print off -thank you!! (one tiny thing - the book by Malcolm Bradbury is The History Man - I may have typed it in wrong).



If I keep reading Dorothy W’s blog and yours both of you will have sent me back to my old, old reading habits. But I do so enjoy both of your blogs and would never stop reading them. On a short note, I am a favorite of "Darkmans" by Nicola Barker. Why? Of the longlist it is the ONLY one I have read and it was sent to me by a very good friend of mine from my college years now a University English Professor. Take care,



Danielle, I think you will enjoy one particular section, spoken by Helena, in Act 3, Scene 2 in Midsummer Night.


No one suggested Possession by AS Byatt? It's such a good book! And a very academic setting. I think I've read it at least 3 times so far.

Have you started Kristin yet? I managed about 50 pages yesterday. It's so good!

Alex Foster

mmmm I do love me some academia lit, as I call it in my bookcollectorz software.

Remarkably, I've not read loads in that list. Though I love every book I have read--Wonder Boys, Secret History, Changing Places--excellent satire, there-- and Gaudy Night. Oh, how I love Gaudy Night.

That Faculty Towers looks great. Heh.


Gaudy Night is a favorite of mine as is Death in Holy Orders. All four titles written by Sarah Caudwell are delightful!

But lest you think all I do is rubber-stamp lists of titles that you create, I must confess that I never saw any great point to Knowles' A Separate Peace. I just found it deadly dull.

Kate S.

I'm looking forward to the Peter Ho Davies!

I do recommend the one Canadian book on the booker long list: "Consolation" by Michael Redhill. I have some criticisms of it, but it's definitely worth reading, and given your fondness for historical novels I think it would be a good one for you. It's a contemporary story and a historical tale which, woven together, essentially tell the history of Toronto.


Isabel--Thanks for the link. I didn't quite read all of the article as I am still working on the Welsh Girl. I don't think they were going to give away any spoilers...but just in case I'll go back later and read the rest. I plan on looking for his short story collections, too!
Chris--I'd like to read them all, too. I have a long way to go,though!! This is only my second (well, third if I count King Lear from high school, but that was so long ago I've forgotten everything!). I really find it helpful to read something about the play before reading the play--I will have to check out the Asimov book. I haven't come across that one! There is so much to know when it comes to Shakespeare I am happy reading as much as I can!! Thanks also for the nice words--I'm glad you've left a comment. Weren't Fingersmith and Excellent Women great! I am only too happy to share my book finds!!
Litlove--I very much recommend the Peter Ho Davies book!! I am hoping to finish it tonight or tomorrow. Thanks for letting me know about the typing error! Sometimes my mind is thinking one thng and my fingers are doing something else entirely! :)
Edd--Thanks for the heads up on Darkmans! I will watch for that one. I think it hasn't been published here yet. I've heard other bloggers talking about it, so I have a feeling it will be one to watch!
Kim--Quite a bit went on in Act 3 Scene 2--I'm curious about which speech you are thinking about? I liked the one where Helena talks about her friendship with Hermia--they even sewed together! I didn't get to watch the film, as I ran out of time, but I will later this week!
Heather--Oh, you're right. I will add it to the list. I really need to reread it! I have finally started KL. I am literally only 20-ish pages in, but I think it is going to read well! I was a bit afraid of the language, but it is not at all confusing!
Alex--I have not read many of the suggestions that people offered either, but I am looking forward to trying some new authors!
Jill--Eva didn't like A Separate Peace either. I read it, but it has been so long I don't recall enough to remember what I thought of it. I hate that I forget so much about books.
Kate--I will see if I can get my hands on it. I do like historical fiction. I was so unfamiliar with the titles on the Booker list that I've just read the ones I knew or already had. This is one of the things I like about these lists--discovering new authors.


I'm about 50 pages into A Separate Peace and I'm loving it, big time. It's about the friendship between two boys in a New England boarding school during WW2. One of the boys is asserting his homosexuality--wearing a pink shirt, using a tie as a belt...very funny but also very engrossing reading.

I passed by the used bookstore and couldn't help (of course) going in and taking a peek. I picked up The Folded Leaf...the writing looks very good. :)


Matt--I hope you will post a review or write something about the Knowles--I'm interested in it now! My Maxwell is also a nice used copy. That's where I first even noticed it--the used bookstore. It's so nice browsing there.


Oooh, I need to add another one - The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter. I had never heard of the author until my sister (a former English teacher) told me I HAD to read it. It was terrific.


I always have the same thing reading Shaky: it takes about five times as long reading a play as the actual performance is supposed to take. Makes you wonder how much you miss when you only see the play without having read it. I must say I always enjoy him more when I have read it.


Violetsme--This is also a new one to me as well. I will have to look him up and add him to the list! Thanks!
Hans--I think I would be lost without first reading up on the play before seeing it. I have a feeling a lot would just go over my head. I appreciate it much more when I read first and then watch!

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