Do You Read Enough Fiction?

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511739 f520 Do You Read Enough Fiction?For the last few years, about 90% of my reading diet has been non-fiction, most of it about human nature. Three of my favorite books are: Jonathan Haidt’s The Happiness Hypothesis, which I recommended last week; How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer (a “popular neuroscience” writer, if there is such a thing), and Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihlayi. I also consume lots of articles on the Web about evolutionary psychology, social neuroscience, behavioral economics — anything that promises to answer the questions of Who We Are and Why We’re Here.

When I was younger, my reading patterns were very different: I read mostly fiction. Then, somewhere along the way, I lost patience for it — for the made-up stories and intricate plotlines. Nonfiction seemed to provide more direct answers to the questions that consume me. I still make room for novels that are  gorgeously written or irresistibly page-turning, but that’s a much higher standard than I set for non-fiction.

But lately, I’ve started to think this is a mistake. I wonder if a single work of great fiction is a better route to understanding people than a mountain of psychology papers. I’ve noticed that I often feel for people who are very different from me by calling up fictional characters I “met” decades ago. When I read a newspaper article about extreme poverty, for example, I think of Rukmani, the Indian peasant heroine of Nectar in a Sieve, which I read when I was ten — and how terrified she felt that she’d run out of rice (she often did) to feed her family.

I tell you all this because I just came across a study suggesting that fiction readers tend to be more empathic than non-fiction readers. This could of course be correlation rather than causation — maybe the kind of person who likes fiction is more empathic to start with — but the researchers think not. They believe that there’s something about exposure to fiction that stimulates our empathic muscles.

This hit home for me, and it got me thinking that I’d like to start reading more fiction again. Awesome readers, can you please send me (and each other) your recommendations?  Please also share your favorite memoirs — a genre I believe is the best of both worlds and have always loved to read, even during my recent Serious Nonfiction Jag.

OK, I’ll start:

Fiction:

The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving

Howard’s End, by E.M. Forster

Memoirs:

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang

Growing Up Bin Laden: Osama’s Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World, by Najwa Bin Laden and Omar Bin Laden, with Jean Sasson

*I’d also love any recommendations of books that produce in grown-ups that spine-tingling, suspense-filled feeling that children come by so easily when they read fantasy stories.

*Also, a BIG THANK YOU for your responses to my last post on Is Deep Thinking Better Than Meditation? I learned so much from you.

Your feedback also made me think again that we need to have some discussion fora on this website, so you can start talking to each other about whatever topic strikes you.  Soon!


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  1. Valerie on 14.03.2011 at 20:57 (Reply)

    I love fiction! My all time favorite (at this moment!) is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Also like Leave No Child Behind by Randy Overbeck. The Time of My Life by Alison Wynn Scotch. Same KInd of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore (memoir). The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. There are many more that I like, but this is a good start!

  2. Susan on 14.03.2011 at 21:31 (Reply)

    A couple of Valerie’s favorites are also mine: The Help and Same Kind of Different as Me. Also great: Bel Canto, The Red Tent, Love Walked In, and The Book Thief. Enjoy!

  3. Susan Cain on 14.03.2011 at 21:38 (Reply)

    I loved “The Red Tent” too!

  4. Jen_Alluisi on 15.03.2011 at 06:35 (Reply)

    Oh, I’m a total fiction reader. I have a low tolerance for nonfiction books (memoirs excepted – that’s what the publisher’s call “narrative nonfiction,” where fiction and nonfiction lovers meet, and that’s probably why that’s such a huge market!). Anyway – fiction favorites. Well, I definitely have some all-time favorite classics like Jane Eyre, Little Women, the whole Anne of Green Gables series, and The Secret Garden. For more modern fiction, I’d recommend The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Memoir – A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel (and if you like that one, she continued her memoir in a second book, She Got Up Off the Couch).

    1. CFaye34 on 10.04.2011 at 23:42 (Reply)

      Jen_Alluisi-I loved, loved all of the books you mentioned reading as a child.I read the entire Anne of Green Gables and I remember being so excited when it was a miniseries on PBS! But I am exactly where Susan is right now, I can even say 100% of my current reading is Non-Fiction because I soak up anything regarding those topics she mentioned ‘evolutionary psychology, social neuroscience, behavioral economics ‘:)! However, it seems you and I had the same affinity for the classics when we were younger I’m going to take up your current fiction suggestions!

  5. Melissa Wuske on 15.03.2011 at 07:29 (Reply)

    I love fiction and I’ve always thought it taught me more about people than nonfiction. I’m glad there’s research that agrees.

    Fiction:
    Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, and Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
    East of Eden and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
    Christy by Catherine Marshall
    The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
    Mansfield Park by Jane Austin (or, of course, any other Austin)

    Memoirs:
    An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina
    Riding the Bus With my Sister by Rachel Simon
    Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

  6. keishua on 15.03.2011 at 07:39 (Reply)

    Oh, I am the same way. I use to read only fiction and then became a Lit major in college. It is really hard for me to get back into fiction. Although, currently I am reading more.

  7. Mark on 15.03.2011 at 07:39 (Reply)

    Good morning Susan

    I just finished A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness which I enjoyed.

    An old friend is The Lord of the Rings Trilogy which I have read, or listened to, 6, maybe 8, times.

    Thanks, as always, for a thought provocative column.

  8. Hannah on 15.03.2011 at 07:40 (Reply)

    A Thousand Splendid Suns taught me so much – it’s set in Afghanistan and it somehow brilliantly weaves together the plight of women there as well as their recent political turmoil. It’s very readable and really very moving!

  9. Amy S. on 15.03.2011 at 07:54 (Reply)

    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell is one my all-time favorites and one I continue to recommend to people. Please don’t let the fact that it’s usually found on the science fiction shelves deter you. Even if you are not usually a reader of science fiction, it’s worth a read, trust me.

  10. Jennifer on 15.03.2011 at 08:53 (Reply)

    I really like anything by Neil Gaiman. The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde is a highly enjoyable detective series set in the fictional world. Robert J. Sawyer always blows my mind with his science fiction (start with the Hominids trilogy). I also recommend the Fables series: imagine if all the fairytale characters were real, and living in New York. It’s a comic book for adults.

  11. Barbara D. on 15.03.2011 at 09:15 (Reply)

    My favorite, most moving fiction book that I have read is “The People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks who won a Pulitzer Prize for this book.
    Other favorite books include: The Help, Tara Road, The Secret life of Bees, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Once and future King, Harry Potter, Banner in the sky(a middle school book, but worth reading) There are so many wonderful fiction books, so many great classics.

  12. Kathy on 15.03.2011 at 09:31 (Reply)

    Pope Joan

  13. Mary on 15.03.2011 at 10:21 (Reply)

    almost anything by Ursula Le Guin… one of my favorites by her is the Lathe of Heaven

  14. Julie on 15.03.2011 at 10:26 (Reply)

    I like fiction and nonfiction equally and can’t imagine giving up either. It gets my hackles up when people say fiction isn’t as valuable as nonfiction; I think you can definitely learn as much from F and NF.

    Anyway, I like a lot of the books mentioned above; here are some others.

    Fiction:

    The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    For the Relief of Unbearable Urges by Nathan Englander
    The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
    The Hours by Michael Cunningham
    The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
    The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan (really anything by Amy Tan)
    The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin (or his Tales of the City books)
    Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
    A Window Across the River by Brian Morton
    A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
    Modern Baptists by James Wilcox
    B*stard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
    Lying Awake by Mark Salzman
    The Tana French mysteries are great if you want a page-turner

    Memoirs:

    The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke
    An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser
    The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

  15. Mary on 15.03.2011 at 11:19 (Reply)

    A few of my favorites:
    The Wandering Fire Triology by Guy Gavriel Kay is well crafted with a classic plot line told in a remarkable new way
    Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
    I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven always restores my faith
    Song for a Basilisk, The book of Atrix Wolfe, or the Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip. These all have really great ways of looking at the world and the characters

    I tend to avoid the 10 cent dime novel and stuff that was churned out to meet publisher deadlines.

  16. Mary on 15.03.2011 at 11:23 (Reply)

    There are so many great recommendations! I also love anything by Amy Tan but my favorite is Saving Fish from Drowning.

  17. Jackie on 15.03.2011 at 11:29 (Reply)

    I really enjoy this blog – after a 20 year career in sales, quiet is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

    Great reading recommendations. My racing brain somehow struggles to be quiet enough to get lost in fiction like I did so often when I was young. It seems the only time my brain allows this is when I get on a plane and leave home. Crazy.

    Off the top of my head, some old favorites that haven’t been
    mentioned already are:

    Green Darkness and Great Maria by Anya Seyton
    The House of the Sprits by Isabel Allende
    In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
    Spring Moon: A Novel of China by Bette Bao Lord
    Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
    Ahab’s Wife or the Stargazer by Sena Jeter Naslund
    Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
    Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
    The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

  18. elledee on 15.03.2011 at 12:07 (Reply)

    This is me as well…I switched over to nonfiction several years ago, mainly because I felt I didn’t tolerate bad writing (and it seemed that nonfiction was always better written than most fiction).

    What astounded me at my last book club meeting, discussing a fiction book that I felt was not well written, everyone there was talking about the characters: “Why didn’t she end up with this person?” “I was hoping she would do this….”

    That probably seems obvious (what else would you talk about in a book club?) but I remember thinking, “Huh…characters…maybe I should pay attention to them and not just the pretty sentences…”

    So I believe that empathy study…I was just looking for my own pleasure in the reading (sentences I liked) versus looking at how the characters were developing, what they thought, felt, chose…

  19. Christy on 15.03.2011 at 12:08 (Reply)

    I am a passionate fiction reader and always have been, and a fiction writer and have been since I was eight years old. I think you can say things in fiction that many people will pay attention to more than in nonfiction. It also suits my mind very well, the identification with fictional characters and their personalities and interactions. When I do read nonfiction, it tends to be theology, psychology, books about various aspects of foreign cultures, or books about cooking and cooks.

    I thoroughly agree with Jennifer about the Thursday Next books: they are fantastically hilarious and incredibly deep in literary allusions.
    I also agree with Valerie about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I just read that for the first time this year; it was funny and heartbreaking and historical and the most delightful story, which is a magnificent combination.

    My very favorite books are old English classics, and my favorite English classic author is Dickens. If you want an author who will arouse your compassion for people caught in horrible situations that have still not gone away, you should read Dickens. He wrote about children being forced to parent their parents and about terrible, grinding poverty and about women being forced to give away their illegitimate children and about people trapped in financial situations they don’t understand and about the power of unjust people and the power of good and kind people.
    One of my favorite quotes is in “Bleak House,” where a completely insignificant orphan child dies, and he says, “Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, Right Reverends and Wrong Reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with Heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us every day.”
    But, of course, being Dickens, he’s not all doom and gloom but he’s delightful and funny and adventuresome and the ridiculousness of some of his characters is not to be missed.

  20. Dianna on 15.03.2011 at 13:06 (Reply)

    “Away”, a novel by Amy Bloom, also her short story collections “Come to Me” and “A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You” – Amy was a practicing psychotherapist while she began writing fiction but I think she writes and teaches exclusively now. For me, her underlying theme is always love, in one way or another: how it manifests in families, between lovers, how it drives us. Such a wonderful writer. If you only read one thing of hers, though, I would recommend her novel “Away”.

    For suspense and some very moving glimpses into human nature and our capacity to deal with grief and disappointment by moving on and making good things out our past sadness: “Case Histories” by Kate Atkinson. Followed by “One Good Turn” and “When Will There Be Good News?”, which carry on the story started in the first book.

    For a little more disturbing suspense: “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn. Quite a page turner! Also, she wrote a second book called “Dark Places” that I haven’t read yet. Dark is definitely where Gillian is coming from with her suspense.

    I hope you read “Away”. In a way, it’s a very introverted book because you are deeply inside the main character, her feelings and her history plus she experiences so much of her journey (literally!) completely alone. “Case Histories” is equally good, but different and more complex in terms of storylines. Both of these books continue to resonate with me. I remember distinctly how I felt when I read them, whenever I recommend them to someone.

    Have fun!

  21. Diana on 15.03.2011 at 13:27 (Reply)

    I second The Sparrow, a book that haunted me long after I’d read it. I also loved People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, but loved another of her novels more, The Year of Wonders.

    Some recent favorites of mine include: The Known World, Transit of Venus, Gilead, and The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy (this last being a complete departure from my typical genre or setting — it includes the most gorgeous prose I’ve read and, despite its persistent bleakness, is infused with a reverence for the most basic aspects of life and relationships. LOVED!).

  22. Clint W on 15.03.2011 at 13:33 (Reply)

    Thanks for your blog, Susan, which I found via your fellow introvert blogger, Adam McHugh. I’m also looking forward to your book.

    You say you gave up much of your fiction reading to read about human nature, but how about combining the two? Of course, all good fiction features well-defined, interesting characters. But I’ve never read any fiction that gets me more inside the heads of characters, as if I were really getting to know someone new, like the writing of Alice Munro.

    A good place to start is a href=”http://amzn.to/i0TAli” target=”new”>Carried Away: A Selection of Stories, with short stories from across her decades of writing.

  23. Joe BW Smith on 15.03.2011 at 15:19 (Reply)

    The Shipping News by Annie Proulx, Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow, Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy have been my favorite fiction selections over the past couple of years. I’m reading more fiction these days as well.

  24. Alexis on 15.03.2011 at 15:32 (Reply)

    Thank you for this beautiful post. I am an avid fiction writer, and since I was a child have always felt that it helped me to interpret and interact with people better. I have a couple of recommendations for you:

    1) Anything by Michelle Moran. Start with Nefertiti. Beautifully researched historical novels.

    2) If you’re looking for fantasy George R.R. Martin is a recent writer who has writes in Lord of the Rings scope. A Game of Thrones is the first book.

    3)Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

    As for memoirs, they’re not my favorite, but I did fall in love with Chosen By a Horse by Susan Richards. Such a beautiful and inspiring story.

  25. Allison on 15.03.2011 at 15:33 (Reply)

    I’ll have to come back later and read all the recommendations people are posting! I like to say there are two types of “favorite books” — those that maybe you haven’t read in years but have stuck with you, and those that you read again and again because they’re enjoyable.

    In the former category, my favorite books of all time are To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee), East of Eden (John Steinbeck — really anything by Steinbeck), and Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen — though this one kind of straddles both categories).

    In the latter category, I was recently surprised by how much I got drawn into Petty Magic (I think the author is Camille DeAngelis?) — a fun fantasy/love story. I still love the (YA) Jessica Darling novels by Megan McCafferty. And if you like historical fiction, especially medieval England, Sharon Kay Penman’s books are wonderful (I recommend her trilogy about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine: When Christ and His Saints Slept, Time and Chance, and Devil’s Brood).

  26. Kristi on 15.03.2011 at 16:09 (Reply)

    I also think that *writing* fiction is a wonderful way to increase empathy. (Grad students, you are free to test that hypothesis!) As a writer you really have to get into someone else’s mind, often reprehensible ones, and write about it in a way that engages empathy.

    I have far too many favorite books, but recent ones are The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

  27. HeatherY on 15.03.2011 at 19:11 (Reply)

    I go through phases of non-fiction vs. fiction. I have a similar temperament to what you’ve described (losing patience, desiring the more direct route). I recently finished “Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard”. The above mentioned “Flow” is on my ever increasing wishlist.

    I’ve recently found myself reading a lot of films’ synopses; telling myself I probably won’t get around to seeing them – or that I’m saving myself time if I want to know about a film – but don’t have a desire to see it. This backfired on me a bit because I wanted to see “The King’s Speech” before anyone had heard of it. I knew I would love it. I read articles containing the journal entries of Lougue, and about the screenwriter. I went in with TOO MUCH INFORMATION. I believe I “successfully” zapped the enjoyment out of it for myself.

    Here are some recommendations:

    Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses – Claire Dederer (Memoir)

    In a Perfect World: A Novel – Laura Kasischke

    April Witch: A Novel – Majgull Axelsson

    Drowning Ruth: A Novel – Christina Schwarz

    Lullaby – Chuck Palahniuk

    The Last Child – John Hart

    The Castaways: A Novel – Elin Hilderbrand

    That Old Cape Magic – Richard Russo

    And for a quick, cute, movie-esque read: Anything by Sophie Kinsella (I do not enjoy shopping, but bought “Shopaholic and Baby” in a moment of weakness while pregnant – and am very glad I did).

    Hmmm. My “off the top of my head” list is sort of eclectic, yet not. I wonder what that says about me?

  28. Val Ann C on 15.03.2011 at 19:15 (Reply)

    Sour Sweet by Timothy Mo. A nearly forgotten novel from 1985. A story of a Chinese family in England, and how some of them cling to tradition and some of them embrace their new world.

  29. Empathy and Fiction on 15.03.2011 at 20:37

    [...] of my new favorite blogs, Quiet: The Power of Introverts, had an article today about fiction and empathy. The author shared a study that suggests that people who read fiction are more empathetic than [...]

  30. Dermot on 16.03.2011 at 06:35 (Reply)

    Some real-life adventure and exploration stories:

    Seven Years in Tibet – Heinrich Harrer
    Touching the void – Joe Simpson
    Into Thin Air – John Krakauer
    The Kon-Tiki Expedition – Thor Heyerdahl

    And some fiction:
    Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
    The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
    Three Bags Full – Leonie Swann

  31. Michelle on 16.03.2011 at 07:36 (Reply)

    Small Gods, Sir Terry Pratchett
    Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See
    The Samurai’s Garden, Gail Tsukiyama

  32. Catherine on 16.03.2011 at 12:40 (Reply)

    I can’t wait to read through all of these comments, but here are some of my favorite works of fiction:

    The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Murial Barbury
    The Known Word by Edward P Jones
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
    Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    Anything by Jane Austen
    Anything by John Green (for my YA fix…)

    I’m drawing a blank for memoirs right now. I loved A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, but I’m not sure how much it sparks empathy. I’m sure I’m forgetting one of my favorites… I want to read that new-ish one,Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

  33. kbirdcarr on 16.03.2011 at 12:44 (Reply)

    I do learn a ton from fiction. I recall having a greater perspective about those who end up homeless by reading a John Grisham novel, “The Street Lawyer.”

    I agree with others that people have recommended above:
    • Any Jane Austen is great
    • Any Jhumpa Lahiri is great
    • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is terrific
    • The Help
    • Water for Elephants
    These have all given me greater empathy and perspective toward different people groups.

    Memoirs:
    • Look Me in the Eye (about a man who has Asperger’s)
    • I also enjoy humorous memoir types, such as any book by David Sedaris or A. J. Jacobs

  34. Eileen on 16.03.2011 at 15:53 (Reply)

    Sometimes when I am on the Metro (in DC) I think about this scene from The Namesake where she loses a bunch of shopping bags of stuff she just spent a ton of money on, but then she calls the transit system and they have her stuff because some kind soul reported it as lost. I love the memory of that scene! It lifts my spirits — people can surprise us and often do! Plus, do a random act of kindness so you can be part of stories like that one. (It’s a much nicer thing to think about on the Metro than some of the negative press that you hear about urban life.)

  35. Sam on 16.03.2011 at 17:14 (Reply)

    A Prayer for Owen Meany! Wow, I’m so glad you’re recommending it… it is one of my favorite books of all time, and it is by far the one book that has greatly impacted my life and how I see the world. It’s just amazing. That’s all there is to it.

  36. whatfireflies on 17.03.2011 at 13:43 (Reply)

    It’s already been mentioned in another comment, but George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice And Fire” saga (A Game of Thrones is the first book) really deserves a special place in any fiction bookshelf.

    It’s a dark, grimy, medieval world with a few fantastic elements to distract the reader, but not enough to make it seem unreal. It’s a book about its characters and their personal stories, more than about the world in which they are set. As a consequence, there are not “good” and “evil” sides, as in most other fantasy stories. Every character lives his or her life balancing their own self-interest, those of their families and loved ones, and the interests of the realm as a whole, if the person is so inclined. When violence, war, and hurt ensue—and they do, pretty fast—they seem natural consequences of what has happened before, and it is often difficult to pinpoint a single culprit. This makes the story much more real and deep.

    A fascinating aspect is the way in which it is written: as a series of third person subjective chapters, where each chapter follows chronologically the previous one, but is told from the point of view of another character. This adds a lot of depth to the whole story, because you see the stark difference in how different characters see the world—and each other.

    There is a tv show coming out in a month based on the series. By all accounts it’s going to be awesome, but it’s also going to burn pretty fast through a lot of material from the books. Seeing as the books harbor dozens of mysteries, turning points and plot lines, I would advise you to wait and read the books before watching the show.

  37. Star on 18.03.2011 at 11:19 (Reply)

    Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov – amazing read…

  38. Elizabeth on 18.03.2011 at 11:23 (Reply)

    Here are some more that I don’t think have been mentioned above:

    Home by Marilynne Robinson
    Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
    When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (children’s book)
    The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage (children’s book)

    Expecting Adam by Martha Beck (memoir)
    The Liar’s Club and Cherry by Mary Carr (haven’t read her third memoir, Lit)
    The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer (memoir)

  39. Rachel on 18.03.2011 at 11:35 (Reply)

    We share the same nonfiction reading interests. How We Decide–a fascinating read!

  40. Deena Remiel on 18.03.2011 at 18:47 (Reply)

    I love reading fiction! As a child, it brought me to so many fantastical places. Yes, I read a lot of fantasy! Then, as I grew, I found realisic fiction helped me through those awkward pre-teen/teenage years. Romance swept into my life and showed me love. Fictional characters go through change from the beginning of a story to the end. Reading how they handle crises and come through as a survivor is valuable information. We are taught fortitude, perseverance, determination, and courage. Yeah, I think fiction rocks.

  41. Jen Crispin on 19.03.2011 at 19:39 (Reply)

    1. Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski is a wonderful book of science fiction written by a Quaker author. It tells the story of a human-like race coming into conflict with a race of all female “Sharers,” who exist in a perfect harmony with their homeworld through the use of a sort of genetic engineering. It’s very moving with clear parallels to movements of non-violent resistance in our history.

    2. If you want spine-tingling, my highest recommendation is House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. Completely engrossing and terrifying, but very smart at the same time.

    3. If you like memoir, I’d recommend The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Marketed as young adult fiction, it’s an easy read. And while it’s fictionalized, it is largely inspired by the life of its author, Sherman Alexie, who I adore. I would recommend anything by Alexie, really, but this is a good intro.

    4. For smart historical fiction with a feminist slant, try The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donaghue. I normally do not love short stories as a genre, but I love this book.

    5. Finally, a book that everyone should read but not enough have heard od, The Last Summer of Reason by Tahar Djaout. It’s a dystopian vision of religious extremism made all the more harrowing when you learn the author was later killed by religious extremists.

  42. Poppy on 11.04.2011 at 16:10 (Reply)

    Fiction suggestions:

    Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières
    (please do not confuse the book with the movie, which was horrible and did not do justice to the book)

    The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami

    Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels

    All three are faily old but they are novels that seen to have touched me the most because they popped into my mind right away even though it has been years since I have read/reread any of them. I can’t wait to go through the comments here and hope to find some gems to read. Thanks

  43. Michelle on 20.04.2011 at 03:06 (Reply)

    As an introvert I don’t know if it’s just natural to be a voracious reader, but regardless my 500+ books will attest to how much I read. So, below are my recommendations:

    Memoirs:
    Garlic & Sapphires or Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
    All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg
    Bleachy Haired Honky Bitch by Hollis Gillespie
    Anything by Laurie Notaro
    The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
    The Tender Bar by JR Moehringer

    Fiction:
    Monster of Templeton by Lauren Groff
    Going Bovine by Libba Bray
    Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
    MIsts of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

    and anything by:
    Neil Gaiman
    Martin Millar
    Maria V. Snyder
    Cassandra Clare
    China Mieville
    Paolo Coehlo

  44. Shirley on 01.05.2011 at 08:42 (Reply)

    I loved ‘The Red Tent’, and all ‘Women of Genesis’ books by Orson Scott Card, the ‘Time traveller’s wife’, books by Joanne Harris, ‘Geisha’ by Golden, ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ by Mayes, books by Margaret Atwood, ‘The Night Listener’ by Armistead Maupin and for giggles all (and I mean ALL) books by Terry Pratchett.

  45. Why Reading Makes You Self-Confident on 27.06.2011 at 21:19

    [...] This was great luck for the obvious reasons: reading is fun, reading is illuminating. Reading fiction even makes people more empathic, according to research I wrote about here. [...]

  46. That is very attention-grabbing, You are an overly professional blogger. I have joined your feed and stay up for in the hunt for extra of your magnificent post. Additionally, I have shared your site in my social networks

  47. Web Tasarım, İstanbul Web Tasarım, E-Ticaret, Google Reklamları on 18.04.2013 at 13:35 (Reply)

    Nice post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I am inspired! Very useful info specifically the last part :) I handle such info a lot. I was looking for this certain information for a long time. Thanks and best of luck.

  48. sonny on 29.08.2013 at 23:37 (Reply)

    Just along the lines of empathy and understanding, I felt extremely connected to the main charcter of the hunger games, who’s kind of an introvert…. I think its got something that makes every page amazing , exciting, and to me it never got boring or ‘slowed down’ so to speak. Brought up emotions within that made me live within the book for a few days until I finished it. Penguins

  49. John on 20.11.2013 at 09:32 (Reply)

    “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (David McDuff translation)

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Quiet: The Book

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Manifesto

1. There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.

2. Our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our “heed-takers” more than ever.

3. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

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