1. Fun Home. This is a graphic novel and for all you award-winner lovers out there, I think this won Time’s Best Book of the Year. If you haven’t tried graphic novels this is a great one to get started on – it’s an autobiographical comic by the author, Alison Bechdel, who while growing up discovers that she is a lesbian, and whose family runs a funeral home. It deals with her life as she looks back at her childhood and her relationship with her father – who she realizes was also gay.
2. Underground. You have probably all heard of Murakami’s fiction work but he is also a wonderful non-fiction writer. Underground deals with the Sarin attacks in Tokyo both before, during, and after, through a series of interviews with ordinary Japanese citizens. Amazing read and truly insightful not only into the events but also into greater Japanese culture.
3. The Sunne In Splendour. Confession time! I bought this because I was/am so obsessed with Game of Thrones, and discovered that the series was inspired on the War of the Roses, and thus wanted to learn more about it. The Sunne in Splendour does a great job of chronicling the historical events but not in a boring manner, and does take a more sympathetic view towards Edward III. And no…after reading it, I still don’t know who Jon Snow’s parents are. Sigh.
4. Shogun. James Clavell is kind of a badass, I love a lot of his fiction about Asia (though some of his titles are way better than others). Shogun is one of his masterpieces- it follows the story of a Dutch pilot of a ship that crashes on the shores of ancient Japan. Super insightful into Japanese and wider Asian culture. It has action, drama, romance, and even humor. Highly recommended.
5. The Bonfire of the Vanities. I’ve been a fan of Tom Wolfe for many years but just finished this book recently. It’s a great story about the excesses of the 80s and the finance industry in New York – and has a really engaging plot line. It was also fascinating reading this, given what’s currently going on right now in Wall Street – funny how history kind of repeats itself. I’ve never seen the movie but have heard that even if you’ve seen it, you should still read the book.
I hope this list was helpful to some of you! I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read these books, and would love some of your recommendations as well. Please share!