Books I’ll Never Stop Recommending

This week we’ll be letting you in the inner sanctum: our bookshelves. Books are for sharing, right? I am a librarian at heart. I love to introduce people to new, awesome books. If I see a book I love in the clearance section at Half-Price Books, I have to restrain myself from plucking it off the shelf and shoving it into the arms of the first person I see.

Books I love to ply on my friends the most:

71QB6T2Y96L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Forget the movie! They never would have made it right! I love Kevin Spacey—adore—but he was never Quoyle. This book always makes me want to travel to hinterlands Canada in the middle of the winter, and I don’t even like the cold.



birdbybirdBird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I’ve read this book about six times, and I’ll probably read it again this summer. I used to cling to it because I wanted to be a writer and I didn’t know exactly how. Now that I’m not just an actual writer but a published one, it’s more about Lamott’s voice. I’ve started reading her fiction, and it’s beautiful and charming in the best possible way.


338691 Still Life by Louise Penny. I could go on and on about the mysteries I love that I’ve shoved onto my friends, but perhaps no book represents the infectious disease that is a beloved book than this one. I’ve gotten so many friends and family members hooked on the series just by giving them a copy of this first book—I’ve run out of people to give it to.


17869112The Fiddler in the Subway by Gene Weingarten. Some of these essays, originally printed in the Washington Post, are hard to read, but I guarantee you won’t be the same after reading them. I think this is one of those books that fiction writers should read to see how characters (in this case, real people) can be fully drawn on the page. Oh, and the writing is gorgeous.


I’m going to cut myself off here, because I could do this all day. If you want a book recommendation, tell me in the comments the last book you loved.

Author: Lori Rader-Day

Lori Rader-Day is the author of the mystery THE BLACK HOUR (Seventh Street Books, July 2014). She grew up in central Indiana, but now lives in Chicago with her husband and very spoiled dog.

21 Replies to “Books I’ll Never Stop Recommending”

  1. Great list of books Lori.

    I couldn’t agree more about The Shipping News. A masterpiece. (And what a dreadful movie).
    Every writer (regardless of what they are writing) should have a copy of Bird By Bird.
    And don’t even get me started on Louise Penny. I, too, have started every person I know on these books and many people that I don’t know. If I could buy everybody a copy of the first book, I would certainly do it.

  2. Guilty of only having read 1 of these, too! Headed over to update my TBR pile on Goodreads… Now if only someone could finagle me some more reading time…

  3. I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t read Bird by Bird, at least not in its entirety. I’ve read bits and pieces of it, enough to know that I really, really need to read the whole thing because if even a fraction of it is that genius…I can only imagine.

  4. I think we’ve all touched Bird by Bird, but I guess I’ve been stuck in ‘old white men’ – Steinbeck, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, or slightly more modern Coetzee (latest was Slo Man, and Elizabeth Costello, but they are all good) and Saramago (I started with Blindness, but then went back and read all of his novels in order while waiting for Seeing – but again they are all great reads). Must admit that I’ve given up every time I started Joyce’s Ulysses, but loved Dubliners; I’ve also attempted but not completed Proust – that’s a challenge I still plan on conquering now that I’ve retired again. OK this is getting too long. I’ll stop.

    1. I have to admit that I don’t let myself be bothered anymore that I haven’t read all the classics or all the Super Serious Writers like Coetzee. I tried. Didn’t take. We have to read what we love. I never want reading to feel like a chore. I’m out of school, so I’m allowed to feel this way now.

  5. I agree with your comment just above, Lori. I don’t keep up with the SSW writers anymore either … Blah. Too little time when there’s so much great stuff in the genres I actually like to read!

    I’m reading Bird by Bird right now (again) as a matter of fact. The perfectionism chapter is striking a cord.

  6. Lori, You sold me on Still Life. Just hoped over to BN to get it on my Nook. I love (and write) mysteries and have heard great things about Penny but haven’t read a one. So now I will. Also loved Bird by Bird (read at least 3 times) and Shipping News. Thanks for the recommendations. And I’m looking forward to the rest of the weeks’ posts.

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