Friday, April 10, 2009

Recommend A Novel to A Blogger

Enough psychiatry! I need an escape...from the psychiatry day job, the psychiatry blog, the psychiatry book, the psychiatry TV series. I'm not particularly fond of heights, and unlike ClinkShrink, I can't imagine lowering myself down a 170 drop pretending to be SpiderShrink.

So, someone, please recommend a novel! I'd like a great novel, one so compelling I can't put it down. I read Out Stealing Horses a couple of weeks ago and that was good, but heavy and brooding, it left me feeling cold and dark all day (it takes plays in Scandinavia). Any suggestions?


Rachel Cooper said...

Have you read Life of Pi by Yann Martel? Boy and Tiger get stuck in a life raft in the middle of an ocean... It's fabulous reading - I think I've read it 9 or 10 times now... and I may just need to read it again soon.

Please let us know what you end up reading (and what you consider!)... I too, could use some non-academic text to stimulate the lazier parts of my brain.

Jon Pagan said...

I am just about to finish what very well may be the best book I have ever read. It is called "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Zafon... Check it out on amazon and you can read a little bit about the story. I literally haven't been able to put the book down because the writing is that compelling. Even if you don't read it at some point, make sure you read it! I promise you won't be sorry!

Great blog, by the way!

Anonymous said...

Dune I found quite compelling.

Anonymous said...

What kind do you like? I just finished Time and Again by Jack Finney- it mixes history and time-travel, and I loved it.

For something lighter and brighter, I go to Terry Pratchett. A mixture of fantasy-humor-social commentary.

Spirits need lifting? Try The Shack by William Young- haven't read it, but have read great things about it.

Marie said...

Anything by Elizabeth Berg. She's my favorite "fluff" author. Sometimes it gets heavy, but it won't leave you down at the end of the day!

Anonymous said...

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
2. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
3. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War


Anonymous said...

I loved these:
"The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini gives a wonderful look into the mind of an immigrant from a strife-tron country. Lots of action, lots of introspection, guilt, atonement.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon
If you read this you can combine psychiatry with reading a novel. The narrator is autistic and goes about solving a murder mystery. Light. Fun reading.

"Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See Engrossing tale from a female perspective of life in 19th century China. Wonderfully rich descriptions.

"The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan
Maybe everyone has already read this, but if you haven't this is a "can't put it down" novel intertwining modern Chinese-American life with historic Chinese life, culture.

" The Hidden Life of Dogs" by Elizabeth Marshal Thomas: For dog lovers only: This is not a novel, but reads like one, if you love dogs.

"Marley and Me" by John Grogan
For dog lovers only: This is autobiographical not a novel, but funny and light except for the ending. Heart-warming.

Awake and Dreaming said...

I love, love, love books, so here's my thoughts.

If you're looking for something girly, anything by Jennifer Weiner is good. I really liked "Little Earthquakes" and right now I'm reading "Certain Girls" and I'm totally caught up in it.

If you want something to take you out of this world I would try reading Tamora Pierce, she writes children's/young adult fantasy and even as an adult I love it. It's my comfort reading. I'd recommend starting with "Alanna the First Adventure" or "First Test". It's all nights and magic and fun. There's also "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley if you like Camelot type books. And of course, Madeline L'Engle is always good.

If you're looking for something with suspense, I recommend reading Arthur Hailey. They're older books so the context is a little out of date, but I can never put them down. Same thing with Michael Crichton, for him, I recommend "The Andromeda Strain".

Right now I'm reading selections from a list of books that have been controversial or banned I found on Wikipedia, that can be interesting too!

so, there's my thoughts... books = awesome.

Ladyk73 said...

Try anything by Anita Shreve

Anonymous said...

a book? too good for video games?

Catherine said...

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

Tam Lin - Pamela Dean

The Wild Swans - Peg Kerr

Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson

Persepolis (graphic novel) - Marjane Satrapi

Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom - Qanta Ahmed

A Long and Fatal Love Chase - Louisa May Alcott

Welcome to the Monkeyhouse - Kurt Vonnegut

I also agree with the suggestions for Oryx & Crake, Snowflower, and The Curious Incident.

Dragonfly said...

The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak. Or We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Both stayed with me after reading them.

therapydoc said...

Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon a GREAT READ.

John said...

Oh my God! Amazing agreement here!

I second:

Curious Incident (although I firmly believe that A Spot of Bother, his newer one, is far better)

Never Let Me Go - I absolutely loved this

Oryx and Crake - fantastic too, but preferred The Handmaid's Tale

If none of these tickle your fancy, may I suggest a few more, that I have enjoyed recently? Trust me, I am one of those people who doesn't believe in sticking with a book you're not enjoying, so any of these beauties have, by definition, been unputdownable (at least for me).

Pharmakon - maybe a little close to home (psych-wise), but fantastic novel about family with elements of thriller and the history of psychopharmacology.

Rough Music / Notes On An Exhibition / Friendly Fire (all by Patrick Gale) - simply my favourite author, and his books are both devastatingly sensitive, and infinitely powerful (at least when it comes to describing the trials of family life). I ADORE him, and these are some great starters. Friendly Fire, incidentally, inspired me to apply to Oxford and I ended up there, and had the time of my life, so I owe that book everything.

Free Food For Millionaires by Min Jin Lee - my friends and I have all loved this.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman - romantic, heart-wrenching, escapist. Puts into words the often bizarre feelings that we've all experienced about another person, romantically, at some point. Full of longing and Mediterranean Summer heat.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson - the first of the Jackson Brodie novels. A series of truly intriguing mysteries, all involving Jackson Brodie, the only literary detective I have ever really warmed to, or see as anything more than one-dimensional. I can't recommend these highly enough!

What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn - this is one of the books I buy people as a gift. This Christmas, I bought books I'd loved for everyone, and hoped they'd enjoy them too (my friends mostly enjoying the same stuff I do, I think). Most of my purchases were appreciated, and this was the most popular. This story is so tragic, so involving and so funny, it's almost impossible that the author managed to combine all this into one book, but it is absolutely fantastic.

Others I recommend:

Wicked by Gregory Maguire. You must have heard of the musical that was based on this book? This book, is much darker and deeper than the show, but just as wonderful.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver(sp?). I read this over a very hot summer in my younger years and I felt the heat of the Congo resonate with the heat of my summer. Haven't gone back to it in ages, but I loved it then.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Greek hermaphrodite. Saga. Does it get better?

Anyway, check these out on Amazon if you're at all interested, so you can have a look at synopses etc, as I'm sure I haven't done them justice. I hope none of them let you down.

Btw, I'm a junior doc in England, starting my Psych training in August, and I love your site and your very different approaches to the specialty. I also love me some books, so this is a very excited first comment from me!

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Pure fluff? I'd try any of the Speedy Motors series (the first of which is The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency) by Alexander McCall Smith.

I have two toddlers so short stories are about all I have the time for -

Anything by David Sederis (his books must be fiction)

Anything by Sue Hubble - essays about science - but Waiting for Aphroditie is my favorite

The Girl said...

Pure escapism?

Try anything by Neil Gaiman. I loved Neverwhere and American Gods, and couldn't read them fast enough. His other books are great, too. :)

The Girl said...

I'm also in the middle of Middlesex (mentioned above) and it is a good read, too. :)

wxchick said...

Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Right now there are 6 volumes. You will be sucked in. =)

itsjustme said...

I agree with Anon 2's recommendation of "Snow Flower & the Secret Fan", Catherine's "Time Traveler's Wife" and Dragonfly's "The Book Thief". I could not put down "The Book Thief". I really want to read more by that author.

I just started "A Thousand Splended Suns" by the author of "The Kite Runner". I'm actually looking forward to my commute tomorrow, so I can read more.

I'm glad you posted this, I also needed some good book recommendations! Thanks, Dinah!

FooFoo5 said...

I am somehow always fortunate to be listening to NPR when some obscure (and for me, that would nearly everybody modern...) author is discussed or interviewed. These are people I would otherwise never have discovered on my own. Current favorites: Shusako Endo and Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago.

Retriever said...

Just start Alexander McCall Smith's hilarious "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series, whose protagonist Precious is an amateur detective in Botswana who snoops and fixes her neighbors' business. You will laugh out loud, but her comments on character and motivation are pretty universal in application. Wonderful characters. One in the series describes a woman searching for her supposedly straying husband who, it turns out, has been eaten by a crocodile while being baptized in the river by an evangelical sect. Smith grew up in Africa. It's light reading but good.

Other possibilities:

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons ("I saw something nasty in the wood shed..." is the most famous line)
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
(cool eccentric and tragic British family in the 1930s)

For a real brooding downer (but good) there's always Malcolm Lowry's "Under the Volcano" ("the world was always within the binoculars of the police")

Anonymous said...

Have you read I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle? Doyle used to write for the Simpsons tv show and Beth Cooper is a funny book along those lines--intelligent but lighthearted. Perfect for anyone who needs some un-brooding. Grab the paperback edition for extra laughs. The back pages are filled with true high school horror stories. I wish you good reading.

nardilfan said...

The Eyre Affair, the first book in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, is good light-hearted fantasy humour in the Rankin/Adams/Pratchett vein.

Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy starts with a fictionalised account of WWI officers in an army mental hospital, including Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. The first book, Regeneration, will stand on its own, but if you read the second book you need to read the third one too, really - they're less delineated from one another. It is kind of obliquely related to psychiatry, though, and you said you weren't looking for a busman's holiday.

It's kind of hard, actually, to make recommendations with such a wide brief! Hope you find something worth reading, anyway.

GwtMost said...

Hannibal, for some light reading. If elephants aren't your bag and you like science/philosophy-themed novels such as Sagan's Contact, 1984, or HG Wells' Time Machine, then I'd recommend Douglas Preston's thrillers. Thoughtful novels with consistently unusual and intellectually compelling plots. Ones I recall liking are Mount Dragon, Deep Storm, and Blasphemy. Still Life with Crows was interesting but too disturbing for me. Same for Relic. Unfortunately, don't know how good DP is on paper; I started to have serious eye strain 2 years ago so I now mostly listen to audiobooks from my library.

If you want something lighter, everyone with a quirky sense of humor needs to read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy before they die.

(Funny, I'll talk about just about anything, but somehow my recent reading list seems very personal.)

Anonymous said...

Here is a new Novel just released called "Nude besides the Lake" that is available at It is a fun adventure set in the Himalayas that treats full nudity in a humorous manner. The novel makes an interesting comment about shrinks too.