Duff Says “READ!!” And, sometimes, watch a movie too.

Always Recommending Almost Anything By

  • Phillip Roth
  • Pat Barker
  • David Lodge
  • Haven Kimmel
  • Jonathan Coe
  • A.L. Kennedy
  • Graham Swift
  • Penelope Fitzgerald
  • Marilynne Robinson
  • Elizabeth A. Lynn

Moving into Greatness
  • David Mitchell, particularly “Black Swan Green”
  • Michael Cunningham, particularly “The Hours” and “Specimen Days”

Fun and Foibles in Academia
  • Michael Malone “Foolscap”
  • Richard Russo “Straight Man”
  • Michael Chabon “Wonder Boys”
  • Michael Frayne “Headlong” (not exactly academia, but feels like it)
  • David Lodge (pretty much all his books)
  • William Boyd (the novels are not IN academia but his characters could easily go there)

Good Things Come in Pairs
  • Ann Patchett “Bel Canto” and Niall Williams “As It Is in Heaven”
  • Nick Hornby “High Fidelity” and Tom Perrotta “The Wishbones”
  • Joan Didion “The Year of Magical Thinking” and Philip Roth “Everyman”

Favored Among Others
  • “King Hereafter” Dorothy Dunnett
  • “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” Michael Chabon
  • “In This House of Brede” Rumer Godden
  • “Lonesome Dove” Larry McMurtry (and the three that go with it)
  • “The Shellseekers” Rosamunde Pilcher
  • “The History of Love” Nicole Krauss
  • “Gone to Soldiers” Marge Piercy
  • “Birdsong” Sebastian Faulks
  • “The Lords of Discipline” by Pat Conroy (get over the fact that he wrote Prince of Tides and read this anyway)

My Top 7 Books on March 5, 1997
  • “Kim” Rudyard Kipling
  • “Possession” A.S. Byatt
  • “The Engima of Arrival” V.S. Naipaul
  • “As I Lay Dying” Faulkner
  • “The Baron in the Trees” Italo Calvino
  • “Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha” by Roddy Doyle
  • “Speak, Memory” Nabokov

Academically Dense
  • A.S. Byatt
  • Anne Carson
  • Jasper Fforde, the Tuesday Next series (you can read these and just MISS most of the literary references, and they’re still fun, but you can tell when stuff is flying over your head…)

Serious Sci Fi
  • Neal Stephenson “Cryptonomicon” is a great, great book.
  • Maureen McHugh “Mothers and Other Monsters”
  • Mary Doria Russell “The Sparrow” and “Children of God”

Time Travel
  • Audrey Niffenegger “The Time Traveler’s Wife”
  • Diana Gabaldon the Outlander series (I really love the first three, after that it falls off a bit)
  • Connie Willis “Doomsday Book” and “To Say Nothing of the Dog”

Read This Book AND See This Movie
  • Michael Ondaatje “The English Patient”
  • Milan Kundera “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”
  • Nick Hornby “About a Boy”
  • Mark Bowden “Black Hawk Down”
  • Read Stuart O’Nan “Wish You Were Here” and watch “A Walk on the Moon”
  • Read Philip Caputo “Acts of Faith” and watch “The Constant Gardener”

Read This Book BUT do NOT See This Movie
  • Michael Connelley “Blood Work”
  • Cathleen Schine “The Love Letter”
  • Nick Hornby “High Fidelity”

Looks Like Chick Lit But Isn’t (It’s Better!!)
  • Darcy Cosper “Wedding Season”
  • Rebecca Wells “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” and “Little Altars Everywhere”
  • Elisabeth Robinson “The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters”

Yes and No
  • Ian McEwan. YES: “Atonement” NO: “Saturday”
  • Zadie Smith. YES: “White Teeth” and “The Autograph Man” NO: “On Beauty”
  • Nick Hornby. YES: “High Fidelity” and “About a Boy” NO: “How to Be Good” and “A Long Way Down”
  • Alice Hoffman. YES: “Here on Earth” NO: “Turtle Magic”
  • Michael Connelly. YES: “Bloodwork” “The Poet” and the first five or six in the Harry Bosch series. NO: Everything written since then.
  • Dennis Lehane. YES: The (4 or 5?) Kenzie/Gennaro books. NO: The stand-alones.

  • Patrick Susskind “Perfume”
  • Martyn Bedford “The Houdini Girl”

Small-Town Blues
  • Haven Kimmel “A Girl Named Zippy”
  • Nicole Lea Helget “The Summer of Ordinary Ways”

Take Me to Another Place
  • Hilary Lifton & Kate Montgomery “Dear Exile”
  • anything by Bill Holm, but particularly “Coming Home Crazy”
  • anything by Sara Wheeler, particularly her Antarctica books
  • Anthony Bourdain “A Cook’s Tour”
  • Bill Bryson
  • Jenny Diski
  • Jeannette Wells “The Glass House”
  • Deborah Copaken Kogan “Shutterbabe”
  • Alexandra Fuller “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight”
  • Bruce Chatwin
  • Bruce Feiler