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"Big" Summer Book Recommendations

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Hey, Blueboarders! Help please?

Every summer I usually have a 'big' book to read in my pile by the hammock. By big I mean more than the usual number of 250-350 pages and a storyline that spans years/generations and just more generally 'epic' in storytelling. Examples of the kind of thing I'm talking about include Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife; Justin Cronin's The Passage, Lauren Hildenbrand's Unbroken, the Outlander series.

I'm looking for some recommendations from one of my most trusted and well-read sources: the Blueboarder's! What 'big' summer book should I read? (Please note I just re-read the last HP book in anticipation of the movie release so, unfortunately, that one's done)

I'm open to genre so let the recommendations fly!  :thanks2
#1 - June 27, 2011, 10:52 AM
THE BREAK, Available Now!
Great Plains Teen Fiction
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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke is a BIG book, an adult fantasy set in Victorian times.

I'm re-reading the last HP book right now!
#2 - June 27, 2011, 11:04 AM
critically-yours.blogspot.com

Did you read the Help? I seriously adored that book. I would consider that a big book.

#3 - June 27, 2011, 11:29 AM
PROPHECY: Prophecy Series (January 2, 2013)
WARRIOR (winter 2014)
KING (winter 2014)
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Mike Jung

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I'll second JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL - I looooove that book. Also, I haven't read it yet, but I'm hearing good things about A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES. And this is an older one, but Michael Chabon's THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY is a book for the ages.
#4 - June 27, 2011, 11:30 AM

I just finished Discovery of Witches. It was a bit slow at times and I found myself skipping vast sections of exposition to get to the interesting part. And then - Spoilerish



the book clearly sets you up for something big which won't happen til the second book. That bugged the heck out of me, BTW, because I didn't know there were any sequels!!!!!

#5 - June 27, 2011, 11:33 AM
PROPHECY: Prophecy Series (January 2, 2013)
WARRIOR (winter 2014)
KING (winter 2014)
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Anna: I'll definitely have to check out Jonathan Strange - love Victorian era set books whatever the genre.

Ello: I've heard amazing things about The Help. Several of my writer friends have recommended it. And I was thinking of getting a Discovery of Witches but someone else also said the same thing about the boring exposition. I think I'll skip that one.

Mike: I did read The AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY and ADORED it!! It was 2009's big summer read for me.

#6 - June 27, 2011, 12:17 PM
THE BREAK, Available Now!
Great Plains Teen Fiction
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twitter.com/nelsaroberto
http://www.out-of-the-wordwork.blogspot.com

Nelsa, I can't recommend the Help highly enough. I have to say that it is one of my all time favorites. I loved it so much and I'm actually really looking forward to the movie.
#7 - June 28, 2011, 09:18 AM
PROPHECY: Prophecy Series (January 2, 2013)
WARRIOR (winter 2014)
KING (winter 2014)
HarperTeen

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I also LOVED The Help. Loved, loved, loved it!

If you read nonfiction, some wonderful fat books are:

THE BIOGRAPHY OF CANCER (about cancer research, treatment, etc. through the ages; I don't like science, but I loved the book)

SNOWBALL, a very engrossing biography of Warren Buffett,

and THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, a biography of an impoverished black woman and her impoverished descendants mixed in with a study of the ethics and science of HeLa cell research (Henrietta's cells were used to research all kinds of diseases).
#8 - June 28, 2011, 11:56 AM
Author of SILVER PONY RANCH and ZEKE MEEKS series

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I loved A. S. Byatt's THE CHILDREN'S BOOK.  And the title is Blueboard-appropriate, even if not everything in the story is.  :)
#9 - June 28, 2011, 12:00 PM
THE CABINET OF EARTHS -- HarperCollins, 2012
A BOX OF GARGOYLES -- HC, 2013
THE WRINKLED CROWN -- HC, 2015
www.annenesbet.com

Well, it sounds like I absolutely HAVE to get THE HELP. These are all so great. Now how many 'big' books can I attempt to read? Because, like chips, with good books ya' can't just have one...

DebbyG: I have also been fascinated by THE BIOGRAPHY OF CANCER -especially since my mom is still dealing with the after effects of her own cancer struggle last year. And THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS has been on my TBR pile for a while but I have to get into the mood for these two, I think. Not sure these are 'hammock' reads for me yet. Still too close to that cancer scare I guess.

AnneN: I'll have to google THE CHILDREN's BOOK. Haven't heard of this one...
#10 - June 28, 2011, 12:34 PM
THE BREAK, Available Now!
Great Plains Teen Fiction
ILLEGALLY BLONDE
twitter.com/nelsaroberto
http://www.out-of-the-wordwork.blogspot.com

SECRET DAUGHTER by Shilpi Gowda is a great book that explores the value of girls here and in India.

I've just been loaned THE HELP by someone who adored it. Another book I've heard good things about is GIRL IN TRANSLATION.
#11 - June 28, 2011, 01:35 PM

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 I haven't read it yet, so I can't exactly recommend it, but I'm looking forward to reading Maine, which is a big summer novel (400 pages).
#12 - June 28, 2011, 02:53 PM

Oh man, Debby G and I have similar tastes! I also HIGHLY recommend The Emperor of Maladies: The biography of cancer - it is a brilliant read. I have to say it is simply fascinating. But it is definitely a non-fiction book.
#13 - June 28, 2011, 06:28 PM
PROPHECY: Prophecy Series (January 2, 2013)
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My big summer book last summer was Hilary Mantel's WOLF HALL. Wow. What a book. Historical fiction as I've never seen it before. Who knew Cromwell could be someone I'd grow to love? The book has really stayed with me, too, which doesn't always happen!

For a shorter, faster, amazing amazing amazing book, Emma Donahue's ROOM is not to be missed. And since it beautifully portrays a five-year-old's perspective, you could call it research!
#14 - June 29, 2011, 05:48 AM

Ra:, I've been really waffling on ROOM because of the scenario behind the story. I know it's a brilliant book but a mother and child held in captivity kind of freaks me out...
But I'm going to check out WOLF HALL for sure...

AnnH - Note to self: Another book to google. MAINE

Hazelnut: Yup. I see SECRET DAUGHTER in at least one subway riders hands every week.

Keep the recommendations coming! My first day of vacation starts July 16th so I'm going to get at least 3 or 4 books mentioned here next week in anticipation of hours of uninterrupted reading time. Not that I'll be able to read ALL of them in one week but there is also some vacation time in August as well. I think I'll have one non-fiction, one fantasy, one historical, and - of course - THE HELP.

I'm loving this list so far...

#15 - June 29, 2011, 09:08 AM
THE BREAK, Available Now!
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I'd suggest WATERFALL and CASCADE by Lisa Bergren. They are the first two books in her River of Time Series. I stumbled across these books a week ago and loved them. They are around 400 pages each. I had trouble putting them down once I started reading.
#16 - June 29, 2011, 10:41 AM

BeckyLevine

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If you're not looking for teen books specifically, you might check out Naomi Novik's Temeraire series. Alternate history of Napoleonic wars, with the gunners and bombers flying on dragons. Beautifully written.
#17 - June 29, 2011, 10:44 AM

mcg0625

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I spent one summer in college working my way through North and South, Love and War, and Heaven and Hell by John Jakes. It was right after I finished Gone With the Wind, so I must have been in a mood. They're all great, certainly hefty in size, and definitely epic.
#18 - June 29, 2011, 11:01 AM

Stacy and Becky: Awesome! Furiously scribbling down titles here...

Megan: I fell in love with the BBC North and South series (Richard Armitage ... sigh) and I was wondering whether the Elizabeth Gaskell book could live up to the BBC interpretation. I've heard that the final scene in the TV series wasn't what was in the book - but how could it be? *most romantic movie scene EVER* but it makes me curious as to how Gaskell ended her novel...

Talking of Victorian-era novels (those were BIG books!!) makes me wonder whether I should re-read Jane Eyre (heard the new movie version is fabulous)? I haven't read it in years.

Edited to add: I've also heard George R.R. Martins A Game of Thrones is wonderful. Haven't seen the HBO series but I'm thinking of diving into that series. Has anyone read it?
#19 - June 29, 2011, 12:09 PM
THE BREAK, Available Now!
Great Plains Teen Fiction
ILLEGALLY BLONDE
twitter.com/nelsaroberto
http://www.out-of-the-wordwork.blogspot.com

THE HELP is amazing. These aren't quite as new, but THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman  is an adult lit take on school for wizards. If you're looking for strange, but quite compelling THE GARGOYLE by Andrew Davidson.
#20 - June 29, 2011, 01:29 PM

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I'd suggest WATERFALL and CASCADE by Lisa Bergren. They are the first two books in her River of Time Series. I stumbled across these books a week ago and loved them. They are around 400 pages each. I had trouble putting them down once I started reading.

If anyone wants to read WATERFALL, it's currently a free Kindle download on Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/Waterfall-Novel-River-Time-ebook/dp/B004NBYFA8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1312563597&sr=1-1
#21 - August 05, 2011, 10:18 AM

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I really loved THE LONELY POLYGAMIST by Brady Udall.  It's a sort of sprawling, sometimes heartwrenching but often truly laugh-out-loud funny story about the patriarch of a um... very unusual family. It reminds me of, If Cheaper by the (three) Dozen met World According to Garp.

I ADORE victorianish things and I cannot recommend FINGERSMITH by Sarah Waters highly enough. it is the story of a girl who has grown up in the worst part of London and is a professional pickpocket, who decides to pull off the perfect con by pretending to be a ladies maid and stealing an ill woman's fortune... but then um... yeah I don't want to spoil it. Let me just say - there are two twists SO SHOCKING that I literally gasped aloud and had to stop reading because my mind got bent. AH-MAZING. For reals.

Also I loved THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE by Michel Faber, which is a "big" book if I've ever seen one - one of those epic romances that is totally readable, about a victorian prostitute named Sugar who climbs the social ladder.

Oh and THE TEA ROSE by Jennifer Donnelly (of YA book fame, though these books are not YA) -- I only read the first in the series, but it was really good - again, a victorianish love story spanning years and continents. EPIC!
#22 - August 05, 2011, 07:26 PM
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I haven't read it yet, so I can't exactly recommend it, but I'm looking forward to reading Maine, which is a big summer novel (400 pages).

I bought this the first week it came out -- eh, it wasn't that great. I adored the cover and was hoping it would be my "Big Summer Read" but it was super slow -- it's about this family reunion at their summer house, but no one even gets to the cottage until page 200. It had a massive ton of backstory for every character. A few of the characters were boring and or stupid. I recommend checking it out for free at the library.

I'm still looking for my Big Summer Read -- I was thinking The Poisonwood Bible? But I want something new.

Also, yes to The Help. AWESOME book. I think someone recommended it to me here last year, which is how I ended up reading it.
#23 - August 06, 2011, 06:20 AM
OPEN COURT, Knopf

Just to say, CC, The Poisonwood Bible is REALLY good. I read it a few years ago, and was kicking myself that I hadn't read it sooner. One of my all time favorites.
#24 - August 06, 2011, 10:49 AM
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