Looking For a Book

I’m looking for something to read, but I don’t want anything but light crap- something like David Baldacci, Michael Crichton, Grisham, etc.

Anything new that fits that genre that you would recommend?

243 replies
  1. 1
    Yutsano says:

    I haven’t read it yet, but The City and The City by China Melville is supposed to be really good and fits that genre.

  2. 2
    Adam Tebrugge says:

    Better than light crap, juicy and filled with great stories:

    Just Kids by Patti Smith

  3. 3
    Orygunian says:

    Have you tried anything by Barry Eisler or Lee Child?

  4. 4
    cathyx says:

    Danielle Steele is pretty light.

  5. 5
    Sad Iron says:

    Dude, read The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. You’ll fly through them–cool take on children, media, and violence filtered through the “young adult” genre.

  6. 6
    Ecologia says:

    Hey, try “Jennifer Government”

    I think it will do you some good to see a book make fun of our Galtian Overlords.

  7. 7
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I just read The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly. It is a reasonably entertaining quick read.

  8. 8
    Breezeblock says:

    Read “The Wave” by Susan Casey.

    Very timely with the tsunami in Japan, and the big wave surfer who died Wednesday.

    You will be incredibly thankful to live inland.

  9. 9
    Wesindc says:

    Give Sci-Fi a try…Chung Kuo by David Winegrove Epic 8 volume novel about Chinese politics in a war ravaged world. I have the series for sale :-P

  10. 10
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Is that the basis for the new McConaughey Movie?

  11. 11
    Kitty says:

    You can’t go wrong with Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware novels, his latest is Deception from March 2010.

    Also, too sorry about WVU, but in your neck of the woods is West Liberty University who made the Elite 8 in NCAA II, the tournament starts Wed. Mar 23 in Springfield, Mass., they are undefeated and they’re pretty awesome, my best friend’s son is on the team!! (Shameless plug)

  12. 12
    Damned at Random says:

    I’m reading Lamb by Christopher Moore. My stepdaughter gave it to me. As a former Catholic, I am laughing ’til it hurts.

    Definitely outside the genre tho

  13. 13
    Donna says:

    John Scalzi. I’m reading the Old Man’s War series now and it’s awesome. I didn’t think it’d be my cup of tea (I like my sci fi to be more in the Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Lethem realm) but he is amazing.

  14. 14
    joe1347 says:


    Chung Kuo. Song of Heaven. Something on the still obscure side that may hit it big again. Memorable and timely book.


  15. 15
    tweez says:

    True Grit is pretty cool. Quite funny, easy reading, rather short though

  16. 16
    JimF says:

    If you want light sci-fi try Ringo’s “Live Free or Die”.

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yutsano: Yeah, my uncle suggested I read it before the movie came out.

  18. 18
    joe1347 says:

    And I’ll second Scalzi’s Old Man’s War as another pick.

  19. 19
    Wesindc says:

    @joe1347 I’m surprised Hollywood hasn’t condensed it into a movie yet. New release of the series this time 20 volumes! Ugh more money I can’t afford.

  20. 20
    jl says:

    List of Prime Numbers from 1 to 10,006,721 [Hardcover]
    Derrick, Norman Lehmer


    A little steep, but maybe should watch for the paperback?

  21. 21
    Grover Gardner says:

    Crooked Letter, Crooked letter is a wonderful mystery, set in the rural South. It’s the kind of book John Grisham *should* have written (and did, once). It’s reads quickly but is also beautifully written and deeply satisfying.

  22. 22
    RosiesDad says:

    Go back and read Ludlum’s Bourne Trilogy if you have never read them.

    Or if you want to read a great biography, read Jane Leavy’s “Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy.” A light read, apropos of spring training and an all around great baseball book.

  23. 23
    MikeJ says:

    I’ve been re-reading the Dortmunder caper books. The Hot Rock, Bank Shot, etc. Donald Westlake. Most (if not all) have been made into movies too, so it’s always fun to compare.

  24. 24
    Comrade Jake says:

    Have you read “Shit My Dad Says” yet? Quick read, hilarious.

  25. 25
    JWL says:

    ‘The Killer Angels’, by Michael Shaara.

    Not crap, but a Pulitzer award winner. A ripping yarn about the battle of Gettysburg that I found impossible to put down once I picked it up.

  26. 26
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason (formerly frosty) says:

    If you’re OK with a lot of action, I like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels.

    Harlan Coban’s stuff is good light reading.

    Other than that, anything by Elmore Leonard.

  27. 27
    soonergrunt says:

    Anything by Jack Higgins or Alistair MacLean.

  28. 28
    DJA-3 says:

    Paperback reissues of some great old 60’s-70’s crime books by Donald Westlake/AKA Richard Stark. I’ve been reading his Parker novels in order and they are near perfect- fast, elegant, great twists. Also just finished his book Somebody Owes Me Money and its a great light read- really cool to read somebody taking cheap pulp crime fiction and raising it to true comic art.

  29. 29
    2liberal says:

    snow crash. Early Neal Stephenson science fiction.

  30. 30
    Joel P says:

    Anything by Harlan Coben. Terrific mystery writer.

  31. 31
    Comrade Mary says:

    Yeah, Scalzi would be a good SF fit for you. And I know a bunch of us Pratchett fans recommended all sorts of books by him ages ago, but I don’t know if you picked up any.

    If you like thrillers, Elmore Leonard is great, but Carl Hiaasen is also a wonderful choice. He’s cynical, funny and has created some pretty memorable characters. There’s a free excerpt to hook you here.

    On the fifteenth of March, two hours before sunrise, an emergency medical technician named Jimmy Campo found a sweaty stranger huddled in the back of his ambulance. It was parked in a service alley behind the Stefano Hotel, where Jimmy Campo and his partner had been summoned to treat a twenty-two-year-old white female who had swallowed an unwise mix of vodka, Red Bull, hydrocodone, birdseed and stool softener—in all respects a routine South Beach 911 call, until now. …

  32. 32
    JPL says:

    I’m reading Cleopatra and it’s not light. Normally I can read while the Met Opera is on in the background, not this book. If you like bloodshed though, it has plenty.
    My next nook book is going to be The Tiger’s Wife: A novel by Tea Obreht (not that Tiger)
    Although you said light, consider The Warmth of Other Suns. Although it is quite large, it is very interesting and even us old folks can learn something about the great migration that occurred in out own country.
    Now for real light, I have been reading Donna Leon’s Brunetti mysteries.

    BTW I was disappointed with LeHane’s sequel to Gone Baby Gone. It might be the Russian mob but Moonlight Mile didn’t really interest me like his other books.

  33. 33
    Brian says:

    Not the same genre, but try Terry Pratchett. One of the best writers ever. I also agree w/Christopher Moore – try Fool or Lamb.

  34. 34
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason (formerly frosty) says:

    @Wesindc: My favorite Sci-Fi these days is the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold. Read ’em in order. Cordelia Vorkosigan had *sand*!

    Second is the Alliance-Union stories by C.J. Cherryh. Merchanter’s Luck is still my favorite.

    ‘course, I was always a huge Space Opera fan, starting with E.E. “Doc” Smith.

  35. 35
    DJA-3 says:

    I think MikeJ beat me to Westlake. But don’t forget the stuff he wrote as Richard Stark.

  36. 36
    Steven says:

    Another vote for Lee Child, the Reacher stories. Or Richard Stark. I actually got a “These are great.” from a cashier at Powell’s when I bought a Stark. You can imagine what those people see every day.

  37. 37
    auntieeminaz says:

    The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

  38. 38
    Anne Laurie says:

    Not quite the same genre, but since you liked BOOMTOWN and SOUTHLAND, have you ever tried Joseph Wambaugh? His most recent ‘Hollywood’ books are pretty good light police-procedural entertainment, but I think my personal favorites are The Black Marble and Delta Star.

    Also, Terry Prachett — Jingo is a good study on ‘patriotism’ in action (the war is even set in the fantasy equivalent of the Middle East!) and The Truth remains one of the finer commentaries on the uses & abuses of popular media.

  39. 39
    RosiesDad says:

    @JWL: That was a great book. Don’t know that I would characterize it as “light crap” (actually I wouldn’t characterize it as light crap) but it was a great read. And it motivated me to put the family in the car to make the 3 hour drive to Gettysburg to walk the battlefields.

  40. 40
    stuckinred says:

    Alas, Babylon is a 1959 novel by American writer Pat Frank (the pen name of Harry Hart Frank). It was one of the first apocalyptic novels of the nuclear age and remains popular fifty years after it was first published. The novel deals with the effects of a nuclear war on the small town of Fort Repose, Florida, which is based upon the actual city of Mount Dora.

  41. 41
    feebog says:

    John Grisham’s “The Confession”. Also found another good one from Grisham, “Playing for Pizza”, about a washed up NL QB who is recuited to play for the Italian Football League.

  42. 42
    jl says:

    The Jack Russell Terrier Canine Companion Or Demon Dog [Paperback]
    Don Rainwater
    nine dot ninety nine (cheap!)


    It has a funny cover, and great reviews.

    Not sure Cole would consider this light reading at this point, though.

    Looking for something a long the pets line that might cheer Cole up. Given Rosie and Tunch, that is tough. Nothing on mongoose or wild boar as pets.

    Rikki Tikki Tavi?

    By Kipling, which fits that martial spirit of the time.

  43. 43
    Comrade Mary says:

    @MikeJ: OH GOD YES, Donald Westlake! More stories of middle aged, cynical bastards who can’t catch a fucking break. Free excerpts here. I still read and re-read Bad News.

    He also wrote as Richard Stark, but while these books are great, they’re a little bloodier and more downbeat. I’d hate to see you off yourself with a rubber mallet, John, so stick with Westlake as Westlake for now.

    EDIT: Oh, and I’m a librarian. I used to give book talks to kids. You should respect my professional opinion above all others. So there.

  44. 44
    Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel) says:

    My GF runs this bookstore and writes this blog. Howzabout something pulpy?


  45. 45
    fmbjo says:

    I”m reading T.Jefferson Parker’s The Border Lords. A great read. Scary, informative weird and makes me glad to be living far away in the east.

  46. 46
    goblue72 says:

    Some recent bubble-gum reads I’ve finished recently – and I can sympathize, with all the crap going on in the world, we all need a little escape:

    1. The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack, by Mark Hodder – a steampunk story set in a Victorian England in which Queen Victoria has long since been assassinated, Bobbies fly around in steam-powered copter chairs and mail is delivered by genetically modified greyhounds. Sir Richard Francis Burton plays a Sherlock Holmes character, with poet Charles Swinburne standing in as a slightly fey, possibly bi-sexual Watson. Somehow, it all works.

    2. The Coffee Trader by David Liss – Its a finance thriller set in 17th century Amsterdam at the cusp of the coffee “fad” sweeping Europe involving a Portuguese Sephardic Jewish stock trader’s attempt to beat his rivals and corner the coffee market.

    3. Fool On The Hill by Matt Ruff – The Cornell University campus gets re-imagined as the setting for a modern-day retelling of St. George & the Dragon. Telepathic cats and dogs also play a starring role. You’ll never look at Tunch, Lily and Rosie ever the same way again.

    4. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest – Another steampunk book – this one set in late 19th century Seattle shortly after the Klondike gold rush. The Civil War has been raging for decades and a freak experiment with an experimental boring machine lets lose a mysterious gas which turned half the city into zombies. The other half live in poverty on the other side of a wall until a young kid decides to sneak into the forbidden half in order to figure out the truth of what happened and the secret of his own heritage. It started slow, but picked up steam halfway through. No pun intended.

  47. 47
    el donaldo says:

    Mieville’s Kraken.

    Crackin’ good. Hehe. Seriously, cracking good sci-fi, fantasy, detective noir blend.

  48. 48
    jl says:

    “stories of middle aged, cynical bastards who can’t catch a fucking break”

    Some one mention me?

    Sounds like I can identify. I will check it out.


  49. 49
    Lady Sybil says:

    I second the recommendation for Terry Pratchett. Also The Lincoln Lawyer, although the author, Michael Connely. has an even better series about Detective Harry Bosch. Try The black Echo or Nine Dragons, if you like hard-boiled.

  50. 50
    Susan says:

    The Help by Kathryn Stockett or anything by P.D. James.

  51. 51
    steviez314 says:

    The Yiddish Policemans Union by Michael Chabon

  52. 52
    Sarah in Brooklyn says:

    I’m reading Daniel Deronda, but I’m weird.

    For something fun and light, I second (or third, or whatever) The Lincoln Lawyer. Fun!

  53. 53
    Josh says:

    I see I was beaten to the punch, and it doesn’t quite fit your “Anything New” criterion, but I wunna add to the chorus: there’s eighteen newly-reissued Richard Stark novels that, I would say, might be light enough for you, although not quite crap—the writer’s craft is a lot better than the three guys you name. Also a recent reissue of Westlake’s first novel, The Cutie, from before he became funny.

  54. 54
    MikeJ says:

    @Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel): Tell your GF to up the price on Little Fuzzy since Scalzi just did his tribute.

  55. 55
    Trueblood says:

    If you want a conspiracy/mystery, fairly light and goofy, but still literary, check out Thomas Pynchon’s “Inherent Vice.”

  56. 56
    plaindave says:

    “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski. His first novel. TBogg recommended. A must for dog lovers.

    A real page turner. You’ll miss a bit of sleep.

    Just promise you won’t be angry with me when you finish it. My wife was furious.

  57. 57
    Maude says:

    The first book by Andrew Grant. It is a great read.
    The second one stank.

  58. 58
    scav says:

    Anything by Jasper Fforde, with a preference to the Thursday Next ones.

  59. 59
    Anne Laurie says:

    @MikeJ: Third the Westlake / Dortmunder recommendation — John Dortmunder would make an excellent J.G. Cole avatar!

  60. 60
    Kathryn says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason (formerly frosty): CJ Cherryh; Faded Sun and Chanur (love the Kif). Did you notice she is recovering the rights to, and e-publishing, her back catalog? Pretty ambitious but the way it needs to go, imo. Gives the money to the author.

  61. 61

    @JimF: I liked the action in Live Free or Die, but the strawman political parts made me wince.

    Also too, I’d like to third the recommendation of Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.

  62. 62
    Wesindc says:

    @Brother Shotgun Thanks for the recommendations. Those are a bit more Sci-Fi then I like. That’s the reason why I stuck with Chung Kuo series, they are Sci-Fi but not over the top. A story that I could see happening in 50-100 years IRL.

  63. 63
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason (formerly frosty) says:

    @Anne Laurie: All these years after reading it and I’m still looking at people and saying “So how come I got the Black Marble?” No one has a clue what I’m talking about.

  64. 64
    Citizen_X says:

    Christ on a crutch, Cole, read anything but Michael Crichton. He had turned himself into a trashmeister before doing the anti- (pro-?) AGW book, “State of Fear,” but with its publication, he became an science-hating, pro-ignorance propagandist. Fuck that motherfucker, and his estate, too.

  65. 65
    burnspbesq says:

    Anything by Walter Mosely.

  66. 66
    Baud says:

    This thread rocks. I’m so bookmarking it.

  67. 67
    burnspbesq says:


    IMO, Playing for Pizza is the best thing Grisham has written to date.

  68. 68
    McMullje says:

    Stephen White writes in the same vein as Baldacci, but if I had it to do over again I’d read the books in order. He writes well and the books are light but interesting.

  69. 69
    JWeidner says:

    Not exactly “light” but “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand is a great read. I’d highly recommend it – it’s as amazing as any work of fiction.

  70. 70
    Wesindc says:

    David Foster Wallace is/was another great author. Difficult read but well worth the effort. Infinite Jest has some great quotes that can bring a party to a stand still.

  71. 71
    JPL says:

    @Baud: Seconded.

  72. 72
    Citizen_X says:


    Telepathic cats and dogs also play a starring role. You’ll never look at Tunch, Lily and Rosie ever the same way again.

    You could always go with the ur-telepathic dog story, Ellison’s A Boy and His Dog.

  73. 73
    JPL says:

    Serious question:

    Do trolls not read?

  74. 74
    Mrs. Bitch says:

    Have you ever read any Tim Dorsey? He’s got a new one out and they’re usually an entertaining romp of a read — kinda like Carl Hiaasen or Elmore Leonard meets Dexter.

  75. 75
    soonergrunt says:

    @Anne Laurie: Hollywood Station was funnier than hell.

  76. 76
    Wesindc says:

    Oh what does it matter. SuperMoon is coming tonight and will kill us all. SuperMoon is bada** and don’t give a sh*t. Sorry trying to make light of how screwed we are as a planet.

  77. 77
    JPL says:

    OT..must thank msnbc online

    SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. — An Arizona veteran who received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq has given part of his award to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords…………….
    The Arizona congresswoman is recovering after being shot in the head outside a Tucson supermarket in January.
    Al Lee says she was wounded in the line of duty, just like he was in 2003 when he served as an Army National Guard sergeant………………………………………..
    The 53-year-old Lee travelled to Giffords’ Tucson office this week. He presented the special coin to one of Giffords’ staff members, Pam Simon, who was among the 13 people wounded in the Jan. 8 rampage that left six dead.

  78. 78
    soonergrunt says:

    The original Fletch books, by Thomas MacDonald if you can find them.

  79. 79
    WaterGirl says:

    I’d recommend Harlan Coben, not his Myron Bolitar series, but his stand-alone novels.

  80. 80
    auntieeminaz says:

    @Adam Tebrugge: Just Kids by Patti Smith is a fabulous book. Fascinating and the writing is superb.

  81. 81
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason (formerly frosty) says:

    @Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel): If you can find ’em, Donald Hamilton’s non-Matt Helm thrillers written in the 50s are still a good read. I know at least one of them has been re-released in a series of noir paperbacks.

    John D. MacDonald nailed Florida in the 60s as well as Hiaassen is doing it now.

  82. 82
    BudP says:

    Daemon by Daniel Suarez (and the sequel Freedom). Backstory is cool too.

  83. 83
    robertdsc-PowerBook says:

    Justin Cronin’s The Passage.

    Tom Clancy’s Dead Or Alive.

    Stephen Hunter’s Point Of Impact.

  84. 84
    Kevin says:

    Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy. The most fascinating female lead character I’ve encountered in the past 30 years.

  85. 85
    Jim Kakalios says:

    I’ve been pushing a novel written by a former student of mine – Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis.

    It’s a high concept alternate history – it’s 1939, and the Germans have developed a squad of superpowered X-Men. The Brits respond with Warlocks.

    Ian is not the first student of mine who responded to my tedious lectures by escaping to a world of his imagination – but he is the first to get a book deal out of it and write a page turning fun book. Thus, I take all the credit!

  86. 86
    Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel) says:

    @MikeJ: Whoa! Awesome. Thanks.

  87. 87
    Dinah says:

    Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford mysteries. Reading them in order is nice, but not necessary.

  88. 88
    WaterGirl says:

    Oh, and I second Stephen White. Definitely read them in order.

  89. 89
    Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel) says:

    @JPL: Why would a troll read something it could not comment on and irritate other readers?

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason (formerly frosty): I will pass that along. Thanks!

  90. 90
    Maude says:

    There was a new one I got out of the library, but it was an older Myron book and it was just awful. Stupid, cutsie and boring.

  91. 91
    Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude says:

    Anything by Donald Westlake. Oh, did somebody already mention him? Well, then anything by Carl Hiaasen (ferociously funny), and anything by Lawrence Block, especially the Bernie Rhodenbarr series (my personal favorites) and the Keller (Hit Man) series (clever, witty, and dark) and the late Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series.

  92. 92
    Jackie says:

    I totally second and third the nomination of “Lamb” by Christopher Morley. Funny as it gets on one level, and deep on another level, if you want to go there.

  93. 93
    Maude says:

    Did Baldacci write The Winner?
    That is a very good book.
    Not so light but excellent, John Harvey and Reginald Hill.

  94. 94
    WaterGirl says:

    If you like books on tape, I would highly recommend the books by Craig Johnson. Great narrator and dialogue that seems like it must have been written to be read out loud.

  95. 95

    @Damned at Random:

    everything christopher moore is awesome, he even makes the “vampire” genre, not just tolerable, but fun. set in contemporary san francisco no less. all that and a giant shaved cat.

    i highly recommend island of the sequined love nun after you are done with biff.

  96. 96
    LLeo says:

    The Southern Vampire Mystery series by Charlene Harris. Also called the Sookie Stackhouse books. They are what the HBO series True Blood are based on.

    I bought a kindle and these were the first books I read on it. BTW, I love the Kindle. It’s very portable, light, easy to read text, and goes for 30 days (if you turn the Wireless off).

  97. 97
    WaterGirl says:

    @Maude: Yea, I am not really a fan of the Myron Bolitar books, but I think the rest of his writing is terrific.

  98. 98
    Comrade Mary says:

    @MikeJ: Oh yeah, Scalzi read the first couple of chapters-in-progress of his Little Fuzzy tribute in Toronto last year. Pretty damn good, even for someone like me who never read the original. Scalzi gives great talk, too.

    @efgoldman: George V Higgins was brilliant.

    If I’m ranking my recommendations by “lightness”, I’d put them something like this:

    1. John Scalzi / Terry Pratchett
    2. Carl Hiassen / Donald Westlake
    3. Elmore Leonard / George V. Higgins / Richard Stark (Westlake pseud.)

    Leonard and Higgins get lots of cred from the literary establishment, so those of you looking for a little more to chew on may start there. But they are all fine, solid, honourable and often funny reads.

  99. 99
    JPL says:

    @WaterGirl: Stephen White is always a fun read. I have a used book store near me which I frequent. My son gave me a nook for Xmas and although I love it, I save that for heavier reads that aren’t in paperback yet. I still like Sue Grafton also.

  100. 100
    Citizen_X says:

    Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, which, besides being a wonderfully well-written story, takes a very, um, catholic view of religion (including atheism!).

    Even more so: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, wherein (spoiler, sorta) all gods are incarnated just by being believed in by someone. Great, disorienting stuff. Fave line: “Oh, sure, Jesus is doing great here, but a friend of mine saw him in Afghanistan trying to hitch a ride, and nobody would even pick him up!”

  101. 101
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    Hisham Matar. In the Country of Men. It’s not light reading but it might change your perspective on Libya.

  102. 102
    Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude says:

    @Dinah: I’ve always preferred the non-Wexford novels, the ones about psychopaths. She wrote most of them under the pseudonym “Barbara Vine”.

  103. 103
    WaterGirl says:

    @JPL: I loved Sue Grafton when I was in my 30s, maybe in part because we were the same age and thinking about the same things? I haven’t read her last few books, are they still good?

  104. 104
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Jackie: I should shut up, but yes, Lamb was a revelation (heh!).

    Ruth Rendell’s Wexford series is really good and quite readable. Her pseudonymous work as Barbara Vine is more downbeat.

    If we’re moving to British mysteries, the Dalziel and Pascoe books from Reginald Hill form another one of those engrossing, timeless series.

  105. 105
    Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude says:

    @Kevin: Absolutely must be read in order – They’re really a single novel in three parts. I wouldn’t exactly call them “light”, but they certainly make for compulsive reading.

  106. 106
    skippy says:

    well i was going to suggest barry eisler but i see he’s on your blogroll already.

    for something less international, i like the tony valentine novels by james swain.

    valentine is a retired cop specializing in catching gamblers who cheat the house. but there’s always murder involved.

  107. 107
    O.G. says:

    Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost is a hoot.

  108. 108
    steinway1957 says:

    I recommend Lee Child’s Reacher series and Barry Eisler’s John Rain series. Really fun reads and hard to put down.

  109. 109
    Cvcobb01 says:

    I’m struck by the thought that you might like the Patrick O’Brian series about an English Naval officer during the Napoleanic wars. It starts with Master and Commander (yes the movie starring Russel Crowe) and ending some 19 books later. Highly readable. Somewhat addictive. Last you through summer I bet.

  110. 110
    debbie says:

    Not very light, but an engrossing and very readable history book:”The Killing of Crazy Horse” by Thomas Powers. I love it when history is made interesting.

  111. 111
    JPL says:

    @WaterGirl: Used book store good.

  112. 112
    dadanarchist says:

    You should check out the books by the Wu-Ming Foundation, a collective of 4-5 Italian Marxists that write ripping-good historical novels that are also political critiques of our own era.

    The books are:

    – “Q” – written under the name Luther Blisset – an historical novel set during the Radical Reformation, about a radical Anabaptist and his run-ins with the sinister papal agent, Q.

    – 54 – written under the name Wu Ming – A cold war novel about the KGB, Cary Grant and many other things besides.

    – Manituana – written under the name Wu Ming – A frontier novel set during the American Revolution, pitting Brits v. Americans, Native American v. Native American, focusing particularly on the Mohwak.

    They are beach-reading for radicals. Highly recommended.

  113. 113
    mclaren says:

    Sharkey’s Machine by William Diehl is great. Orders of magnitude better than the film.

  114. 114
    Jim, Once says:

    @Ecologia: This was a great one! Anything by Dennis Lehane or Robert Crais or, or … so many are coming to mind, Imma gonna stop now.

  115. 115
    steve says:

    It cracks me up that John says he wants some light crap to read, something like Baldacci, Grisham, or Crichton, and then people suggest a lot of stuff that either isn’t light or isn’t even remotely like Baldacci, Grisham, or Crichton. Patti Smith? Neil Gaiman? Come on.

    I just finished Brad Meltzer’s latest, The Inner Circle, and enjoyed it. Very similar to Baldacci but without so much of the manly-man stuff. The legal thrillers by Phillip Margolin and Steve Martini are also enjoyable–like Grisham but a bit more edgy.

  116. 116
    MikeJ says:

    @O.G.: At first glance I read that as Sex Lives of Canadians. A vastly different book.

  117. 117
    LindaH says:

    Another vote for Terry Prachett. He is funny, but deep so he can be seen as light if you want to and if you want more, it’s there. I highly recommend his collaboration with Neil Gaiman “Good Omens”. Absolutely hilarious and just plain wonderful.

  118. 118
    COB says:

    Earlier Christopher Moore (Fluke and before) is delectable.

    HELL – by Butler is a gas!

  119. 119
    Jim, Once says:

    @feebog: I LURVED Playing for Pizza. Did not expect to.

  120. 120
    HBuellA says:

    Most of the comments have the books I have read and the authors I like to read. Not too long ago I discovered a new author, Daniel Silva and I recommend him for good reading.

  121. 121
    Jim, Once says:

    @plaindave: Edgar Sawtelle. Can’t tell you how much I hated this … but did finish it. A seriously f**ked up version of Hamlet.

  122. 122
    Gus says:

    @Sarah in Brooklyn: Just finished Daniel Deronda a few weeks ago. Just discovered Eliot a few years ago, and I love her. Currently reading The Tiger and Keith Richards’ autobiography. Both nice light choices.

  123. 123
    Waratah says:

    I think you would enjoy Lee Child’s The Enemy. This is when Jack Reacher was in the military and a MP. I was surprise how good it was.

  124. 124
    Francis says:

    I’m going to be a grouch and put thumbs down on Scalzi. The books are light and fun, but the underlying stories are just ridiculous. The narrator in Old Man’s War did not sound old to me at all, more like he was in mid-life (like Scalzi is). The combat scenes are either swiped from Haldeman’s Forever War (a much better book) or are absurd. (2-inch tall sentient beings, and the best way to kill them is by stomping on them? Really?) The later books in the series are worse.

  125. 125
    Dinah says:

    From 1958, best courtroom novel ever–Robert Traver’s Anatomy of a Murder.

  126. 126
    Jim, Once says:

    Um, OK. I’m here again. Every teacher should read Justin Cronin’s “Mary and O’Neal.” @Baud: Exactly!

  127. 127
    PurpleGirl says:

    @efgoldman: I sort of agree with the Robert Parker recommendation. Read the early Spenser books, skip the late/middle and then go back to the last few (when he recaptured the feeling of the early stories).

  128. 128
    JWL says:

    “Empire of the Summer Moon’.

    What do you know about the Comanche nation that you didn’t learn a John Wayne movie?

  129. 129
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude:

    I’ve always preferred the non-Wexford novels, the ones about psychopaths. She wrote most of them under the pseudonym “Barbara Vine”.

    Not quite; To Fear A Painted Devil was one of her first, from the mid-1960s, and A Judgement in Stone (probably the most widely known of her books, since there have been at least two movies made from it) in the mid-1970s. The ‘Barbara Vine’ books are pretty good — Anna’s Book is excellent — but I can’t agree with the critics who find them ‘more literary’ (i.e., worthy) than her earlier novels.

    For me, at least, the Wexford novels are more, well, reliable than her stand-alones. All of the Wexfords are readable, and some of them (Shake Hands Forever, A Sleeping Life, Speaker of Mandarin, Simisola) are extraordinary. The quality of her other novels, IMO, is a lot less even — for every Judgement in Stone there’s a One Across, Crocodile Bird, or Sight for Sore Eyes.

  130. 130
    And Another Thing... says:

    John Sandford – crime/mystery novels set in Minnesota.

  131. 131
    Aaron Baker says:

    Isn’t Lawrence Block still alive?

    Justin Cronin’s The Passage, already mentioned by someone else, is quite engrossing–though I’m not sure dystopian fiction qualifies as “light.”

  132. 132
    PurpleGirl says:

    @efgoldman: Ah, thanks for the comment on his personal life and its influence on the Spenser stories. I liked the early books and at some point stopped reading without really putting my finger on what was different. Then I picked up some more recent ones and it was like “wow, that’s Spenser.” (Although I really liked Hawk.)

    ETA: I was bummed when he died cause it meant no more new Spensers just as he was back in his stride.

  133. 133
    Anne Laurie says:


    Just discovered Eliot a few years ago, and I love her.

    If you haven’t already read Anthony Trollope, you should try him, too. The Way We Live Now is a good stand-alone, but the Barchester Chronicles, starting with The Warden, are probably closest to Eliot…

  134. 134
    RAF says:

    “Cutting for Stone” by Abrahm Verghese. Really fast read. It is fiction, based on medical advances through the years. Totally fascinating.

  135. 135
    Hungry Joe says:

    Connie Willis’ “To Say Nothing of the Dog,” a time-travel slapstick romance, if you can imagine such a thing, which Willis somehow did. And of course, there’s the uproarious classic Willis used as her touchstone: “Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog),” by Jerome K. Jerome.

    They’re not you’d call new — Willis’ book is from 1997, Jerome’s from 1889 — but I stone-cold guarantee both.

  136. 136
    Donna says:

    Snow Crash is UTTERLY bril!

  137. 137
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason (formerly frosty) says:

    @Cvcobb01: Thinking about historical novels brings me to the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser. Cowardly rogue gets caught up in complications and ends up doing the right thing despite every attempt to avoid it. Really funny and light.

  138. 138
    Tom Q says:

    @Aaron Baker: Far as I know, Block is still alive. But it’s been a long time between Scudder books. The others are well worth reading, as well, but the Scudder series is outstanding.

  139. 139
    skippy says:

    @WaterGirl: the thing that pissed me off about grafton was right around “j” or “k,” she decided there was no way she could write a detective story involving a world that had the internet, so she kept all of her stories in the 1980’s.

    a weird case of the world evolving past a detective series. i found it irritating, considering that every other detective write could write stories where their protagonist had access to google.

  140. 140
    JWL says:

    Rosies Dad: Just a three hour drive to Gettysburg?

    Man, I’ve crossed the continent three times via airliner to tour that hallowed ground. I’d be a pig in mud if I were a national park service employee who worked the eastern civil war battlefields.

    Better yet, I’d make a stab at being a self-employed tour guide of those sites.

    I also highly recommend Shelby Foote’s Civil War trilogy, but only to be read with a West Point Civil War atlas within reach. Between the two works, your mind will be blown at how much you’ll learn, even if your familiar with the ABC’s of those terrible fights.

  141. 141
    BarbF says:

    One of my all time favorite authors, Sharyn McCrumb. She lives and writes about the Blue Ridge Mountains, and reading her is pure poetry.

    Kinda mystery, kinda folksy, and some are downright hilarious. I highly recommend The Rosewood Casket, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, and She Walks These Hills. Oh, and The Song Catcher.

    No need to read in order

  142. 142
    birthmarker says:

    @burnspbesq: My favorite Grisham books are A Time to Kill and The Painted House. I am so getting Playing for Pizza!

    Because I proudly salute the utter schizophrenia that is the state of Florida, I went on a Carl Haissen and Randy Wayne White kick. Both good, entertaining, not too deep.

    For deep, I recently read Nothing to Envy, about North Korea. Depressing but very interesting.

  143. 143
    Elizabelle says:

    Recommend anything by Michael Connelly (Omnes recc’d The Lincoln Lawyer).

    Terrific Harry Bosch (detective character) series.

    Also some stand alone mysteries: Void Moon (re attempting a Vegas swindle), Blood Work (which became a Clint Eastwood film).

    Also recommend PD James. Love a good British mystery with complicated characters.

  144. 144
    AAA Bonds says:

    The series “Criminal” by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.

    You may balk when you Google it – but try it out. It’s what you’re asking for.

  145. 145
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Gah. FYWP. Sara Paretsky, Marcia Muller, Margaret Maron, William Kent Krueger, Sandra Scoppettone.


  146. 146
    Elizabelle says:


    Further proof this blog is not Red State or teatard land.

    Normally I can read while the Met Opera is on in the background, not this book.

    Arugula lover!

  147. 147
    Mark Smeraldi says:

    Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson; actually any of his books.

  148. 148
    JPL says:

    @skippy: Kinsey still uses index cards and a typewriter. If she were to jump to far forward, her neighbor would be long gone or 110 years old. I sorta understand her not wanting to kill off her landlord or the bar she frequents.
    I wouldn’t buy her books new though.

  149. 149
    David says:

    @HBuellA: Daniel Silva’s books are hit or miss I find; the best IMO is actually his first, The Unlikely Spy. About a spy in WW2 England, just really gripping and with interesting characters.

    Has anyone else noticed that Michael Connelly, while great at most aspects of book writing, can’t use contractions to save his life? It bothers me so much that I have a really hard time reading the books!

  150. 150
    Bill Murray says:

    I would certainly back the recommendations for Pratchett, Scalzi, Westlake, Moore (especially Island of the Sequned Love Nun) and McCrumb (although I have not read the series mentioned, her other two series’ are very good), and through in Charles Stross, especially his Atrocity Archives/Laundry books and John Welter’s “Night of the Avenging Blowfish”

  151. 151
    SmallAxe says:

    I agree with Lee Childs, Harlen Corben and Ellmore Leonard, all great ones.

    Another I haven’t seen mentioned yet is Greg Iles, really good thrillers especially Black Cross and Spandau Phoenix, alternative thrillers with Nazis and WMD how can you go wrong.

    I’m also a big fan of historical fiction and agree with Killer Angels as a great one on Gettysburg. I like the Roman time period so Simon Scarrow (a British history teacher) has a great series on his Roman Centurion Macro and his travels great reads, series starts with Under the Eagle.

    And shoot me for saying it because I hate the F’er’s politics but Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series is basically a modern day US James Bond thriller epic that is pretty good.

  152. 152

    I totally loved Justin Cronin’s “The Passage.” I wouldn’t call it “crap” and maybe not “light,” definitely pop fiction and a real page turner. It’s a huge book but I think I finished it in a week.

  153. 153
    Gina says:

    @LLeo: I second the Sookie Stackhouse series. Very good escapism without being dimwitted or dull.

  154. 154
    Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude says:

    @efgoldman: Lawrence Block is dead? When?

  155. 155
    SmallAxe says:

    oh and on Chricton, agree he was a putz in the end but his best book IMO is Travels, autobiographical work with short stories from his early career when he wasn’t such a Randian A-hole, it’s worth a read for sure.

  156. 156
    Ducktape says:

    How about something completely different? Tailachaser’s Song by Tad Williams. Tunch would approve.

  157. 157

    An older book, but The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston was another “summer reading” book I loved. Non-fiction but reads like fiction, about the hunt for a serial killer in Florence Italy. As an added bonus it features some misdeeds by the guy prosecuting Amanda Knox….

  158. 158

    If you’re up for science fiction, John, you can try these two recently translated books: Chohei Kambayashi’s Yukikaze and Tow Ubukata’s Mardock Scramble. Both are solid books and are better than most SF released here.

    If SF isn’t your cup of tea, then Other Kingdoms by Richard Matheson might be a good read. If you don’t know who Matheson is, he wrote I Am Legend and some of the best episodes of The Twilight Zone, including the classic Bill Shatner episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”.

    Good luck in your book search…hope you find one.

  159. 159
    Larkspur says:

    @Jim Kakalios: I also recommend Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis. It is elegant, creepy, and heart-breaking.

    And yes to Connie Willis, most recently “Blackout” and “All Clear”. Carl Hiassen is always good fun. Nevada Barr’s long-running mystery series starring Anna Pigeon is consistently good. More about Barr here.

    I’ve also enjoyed Zoe Sharp and her Charlie Fox series of mystery-thrillers.

  160. 160
    Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude says:

    @Anne Laurie: I find the psycho stuff enthralling, including the ones you mentioned. Her latest, “Portobello”, however, is really disappointing. She has no fewer than three mentally disturbed characters in this one, but the story line just sort of drifts away without any really frightening stuff and everybody living happily ever after.

  161. 161
    patrick says:

    The Devil In The White City is quite a few years old, but I read the first half on a flight from Michigan to Arizona and most of the second half on the way back. A great (true) story about murder amidst the planning and opening of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

  162. 162
    Emerald says:

    @plaindave: I was not furious. If you understand that the ghosts are real in Edgar Sawtelle, then the ending actually is quite good for the characters involved.

    Also it is a retelling of Hamlet, and that’s obvious from early in the book, so nobody should be surprised at the way the book ends.

    My suggestions: I love historical mysteries. First choice is Lindsey Davis’s Falco series–our favorite Roman gumshoe. Be sure to start with Silver Pigs. Although the mysteries are standalones, Falco’s family life evolves. These are good mysteries, excellent history, and also very funny.

    Second choice is C.J. Sansom’s Henry VIII mysteries with his hunchback detective, Matthew Shardlake. Each one gets better, and he gets the history right also.

  163. 163
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @steve: I’ve churned through the Meltzer books — they’re enjoyable, not taxing, comfort-food-ish… good call.

  164. 164
    DaveInOz says:

    I’ve really enjoyed a series of books by Steve Hamilton set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula region. Really well written in a wonderful setting which I knew nothing about. Make’s you want to visit. Try North of Nowhere, I think that was the first one I read.

  165. 165
    IanY77 says:

    World War Z by Max Brooks.

    That is all.

  166. 166
    HBuellA says:

    @David: I always buy a lot of books in the Bargain section of Barnes and Noble on line. Silva I discovered at the local Barnes and Noble or Borders. I had at least 5 of his books and donated them to our libraries to make room in my bookcase.
    The latest Michael Connelly I read is Dragons 9. I really enjoyed his earlier books. I never noticed the absence of contractions.
    My favorite authors are C.J Sansom, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth George, Faye Kellerman, and many others. I also like historical fiction novels set in England.

  167. 167
    SBJules says:

    @Aaron Baker:

    I think he is. when the Sacred Gin Mill closed is terrific.I recommend William Tapply’s last book, The Nomination. I’ll miss his writing.

  168. 168
    dan says:

    Just reread some great Stephen King book.

    Or listen to music.

  169. 169
    Donna says:

    Anything by Thomas Perry.

  170. 170
    Jules says:

    I know this is late, but will you read YA John?
    I think The Graveyard Book by Gaiman is a great, fun read with enough creepy to keep one happy.

  171. 171
    gelfling545 says:

    If you’d like a kind of mixed-up fantasy-sci-fi thing try The Madness of Angels by Kathy Griffin. It is NOT in any way about angels as traditionally conceived. It does leave you feeling “What if…” about a lot of things and can make you a bit paranoid about a plastic trash bag blowing down the street. I bought it somewhat by accident & found it amazing.

  172. 172
    JGabriel says:

    P.G. Wodehouse is pretty much the definition of light crap — if by “crap” you mean meaningless entertainment. If you’re not familiar with Wodehouse, any of these five from the Bertie & Jeeves series is a good place to start:

    Thank You, Jeeves (1934) – The first full-length Jeeves novel
    Right Ho, Jeeves (1934) – (U.S. title: Brinkley Manor)
    The Code of the Woosters (1938)
    Joy in the Morning (1946) (U.S. title: Jeeves in the Morning)
    The Mating Season (1949)


  173. 173
    CatHairEverywhere says:

    @<a href="#c

  174. 174
    CatHairEverywhere says:

    I second the recommendation of The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J.Maarten Troost and would like to add Lamb and/or Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore. Laugh-out-loud funny! Carl Hiaasen and Harlen Coben are great, too. I love Coben’s Myron Bolitar books.

  175. 175

    So, I’ve been mostly a lurker with a comment maybe every few weeks for three or four years now, all waiting for a single moment: when John would say he wants a new thriller to read, a mere month after I released my conspiracy thriller. It’s called New World Orders:

    Amazon link

    Best few word summary is one of the blurbs from other authors: “A bureaucratic apocalyptic cover-up.”

  176. 176
    Kevin says:

    @Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason (formerly frosty): Thank you! I was trying to remember his precise name. “Pyrates” is the funniest book I’ve EVER read. It may be hard to track down a copy, but trust me it is well worth it!

  177. 177
    gelfling545 says:

    @LLeo: Loved the Sookie Stackhouse stories but found the TV series extremely odrinary. Harris’s Lily Bard mysteries are interesting too. Very dark in tone, also very (to my northern mind) southern.

  178. 178
    AliceBlue says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned Grisham’s latest, “The Confession.” It’s a good page-turner.

  179. 179
    Bex says:

    James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series. Kris Nelscott’s Smokey Dalton mysteries. John Shannon’s Jack Liffey novels.

  180. 180
    gelfling545 says:

    @JGabriel: For language as sheer humor you can’t beat Wodehouse.

  181. 181
    CatHairEverywhere says:

    No wonder I love this blog. I made my way through the rest of the comments and found myself nodding my head in agreement many times. Also want to second the recommendations of A Year of Living Biblically and Fool. Light and fun.

  182. 182
    Anne Laurie says:

    @JGabriel: Trust me on this: If you like Wodehouse, or the Flashman novels, try Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion. Bertie Wooster (“Freddie Stanton”) gets to be the hero for once! Lighter than a good meringue, but it’ll make you laugh from the first page to the last. Tons of sly ‘homages’ to every Great British Novelist from Bronte to Dickens to Trollope, but it’s the sheer readability that’s kept it in print since the 1950s…

  183. 183
    andynotadam says:

    Great list, I’m making notes. I’d second (and third and fourth) Michael Connelly, Harlen Coben, Lee Child, Robert Crais–and that’s just the C’s–Narry Eisler, Elmore Leonard (his Raylan Givens character is the basis for the excellent FX series “Justified”), Lawrence Block, John D. MacDonald’s old Travis McGee series, Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford books and Carl Hiassen’s Florida follies. Also, I agree that Thomas Pynchon’s “Inherent Vice” is a blast and, unlike most everything else he has ever written, it is easily digested in a couple of sittings.

  184. 184
    chines says:

    Second The Hunger Games series–those were great. Mark Reads just finished his often hilarious reviews of the series (chapter by chapter). Really wonderful series–kind of bleak but definitely a fast, easy read. Just heard yesterday that Jennifer Lawrence (of Winter’s Bone) has been cast as Katniss for the upcoming film adaptation.

  185. 185
    piratedan says:

    science fiction/fantasy

    Glen Cook – The Black Company series – the travels of a mercenary company in a fantasy setting

    Glen Cook – Garrett mysteries – mystery noir in fantasy setting


    Lawrence Block – Burgler series – protagonist is a thief who has to solve crimes to prove he’s not the culprit

    would also second those that have recommended Child, Hiaasen and Bujold.

    Space Opera

    David Weber’s – Honor Harrington books, 1st one, On Basilisk Station and you can read it free on the baen.com site in their free library.

  186. 186
    RossInDetroit says:

    I just read It Feels So Good When I Stop by Joe Pernice. Liked it a lot.

  187. 187
    Sarah in Brooklyn says:

    @Gus: good to know there are other Eliot fans out there. I re-read Middlemarch every couple of years, nothing like it.

  188. 188
    Sarah in Brooklyn says:

    (OT, but can someone explain how do link to a previous post? Clearly I am doing it rong.)

  189. 189
    RossInDetroit says:


    Also, I agree that Thomas Pynchon’s “Inherent Vice” is a blast and, unlike most everything else he has ever written, it is easily digested in a couple of sittings.

    Seconded. Pynchon fan for 35 years. Could NOT get through Against the Day. Inherent Vice was so fun.

  190. 190
    newhavenguy says:

    Not really “light”, but James Ellroy’s American Tabloid trilogy is fun reading, if one is cynical enough.

  191. 191
    RossInDetroit says:

    I just read Tom Standage’s book The Victorian Internet, all about the telegraph. Perhaps John would enjoy visiting an age when delivery of umbrage, ire and abuse required manual transportation and professional transmission.

  192. 192
    Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude says:

    Clearly I am doing it rong.

    Step 1: Spell correctly.
    Step 2: Position your cursor in the lower right corner of the post you want to link to. You should see a “Reply” button magically appear.
    Step 3: Click.

    If these steps do not work, you need to engage a very expensive computer consultant. Good luck.

  193. 193
    Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude says:

    @Sarah in Brooklyn: And pay no attention to me @Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude:

  194. 194
    ET says:

    Jasper Fford’s Thursday Next series and it’s spin off Nursery Crimes series.

  195. 195
    Mike says:

    I recently discovered British spy novelist Charles Cumming. Great plots, deep characters, strong writing – though he occasionally flirts with anti-American stereotypes. His latest book is The Trinity Six, which is a stand-alone.

    Other strong airport thrillers:
    The Quiet Game by Greg Iles
    Alex Berenson’s post-9/11 spy series

    The Sherlockian, mystery set among modern-day Holmes enthusiasts with entertaining parallel historical fiction plot involving Arthur Conan Doyle

    Great thread. Ordered three books based on recs.

  196. 196
    andynotadam says:

    @RossInDetroit: Yep, me too. Pynchon’s “Against The Day” was a hill too far and I’m willing to work. I think it took me about five tries to make it through Gravity’s Rainbow while in college in the mid-seventies, but I hung in there and I revisit it every so often.

  197. 197
    RossInDetroit says:

    Gravity’s Rainbow is still sort of my Hamlet. Every time I look at it there’s another level I missed. Plus I’m a sucker for a good fight scene.
    Against the Day had too many complex parallel plots that would be dropped for 100 pages before being resumed again. I couldn’t keep track of the characters or situations. For me it’s a failed book because it’s virtually unreadable without notes.
    I’ve been reading Neal Stephenson, who has the broad scope of Pynchon but with tighter narrative focus. Also good chase and fight scenes.

  198. 198
    Everett says:

    The Killing Floor by Lee Child. It’s a Jack Reacher novel, and really well-done. Light, engaging fiction with shitpiles of action. You won’t feel smarter when you’re done, but you won’t feel stupider either.

  199. 199
    Ronzoni says:

    Jeebus, I am too far down the comment line to make any impression, but for hiccup laffs, anything by Tim Dorsey, Paul Levine (the Jake McCallister series), Carl Haaisen, and lately for me, Janet Evanovich.

  200. 200
    RossInDetroit says:

    Oh, and my go to books for dumb fun will always include Jerome’s Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow and Three Men in a Boat. Silly nonsense but very entertaining.

  201. 201
    WaterGirl says:

    @Sarah in Brooklyn: Are you asking how to link to a previous post, meaning another thread? Or are you asking how to reply to a comment someone else made in the thread you are in?

  202. 202
    Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude says:

    @Ronzoni: Evanovich is good, but she keeps writing the same book over and over. I’ve given up on her.

  203. 203
    kindness says:

    Went and saw the movie ‘Paul’ tonight. Very cute. Lots ‘o laughs. It’s not reading a book but good for the soul.

  204. 204
    Carlo says:

    Sleepwalk With Me – Mike Birbiglia

  205. 205
    andynotadam says:

    Oh yeah, don’t miss “Beat the Reaper” by Josh Bazell. It is a real hoot. It’s about a Jewish ex-Mafia hit man who, after entering the witness protection program and completing medical school, is working as a medical resident in a crappy NYC hospital. He is inadvertently outed by one of his patients and true hilarity ensues. Really clever and very darkly funny. Bazell is an MD with an undergrad lit degree from Brown who wrote the book at the end of his actual residency at a non-crappy hospital.

  206. 206
    Ronzoni says:

    @Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude:

    True, and I am though with her also because I’ve read all the little Stephanie Plum novels that I found in a yard sale LOL. For a really stretched out series, George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman can’t be beat (and do read the footnotes).

  207. 207

    […] John Cole at Balloon Juice posted a call for recommendations for “something to read, but I don’t want anything but light crap- something like David […]

  208. 208
    kgus says:

    You might want to check out Joseph Finder; I’ve read only three of his books — Paranoia was the best.

  209. 209
    WaterGirl says:

    @skippy: It’s probably too late for you to see this, but that’s about when she lost me, too. I know this because I know that K was for Killer, but I have no idea what L was for. :-)

  210. 210
    SqueakyRat says:

    Almost anything by Michael Dibdin.

  211. 211
    tesslibrarian says:

    The Columnist by Jeffrey Frank was enjoyable, not heavy. David Sedaris recommended it (and sold copies) at a reading he did here in October, 2004.

    For non-fiction fun, The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick. Intersperses the search for Munch’s The Scream in 1994 with other undercover adventures recovering lost art. The detective is one of those people who wouldn’t be entirely believable as a fictional character; it’s one of those books you wish wouldn’t end.

  212. 212
    piratedan says:

    @Ronzoni: agreed, Flashman is a sporting good yarn. I lamented the passing of Mr Fraser before he could produce yet another nifty packet of papers.

  213. 213
    CanadaGoose says:

    I’m way late with this but if you haven’t read “1632” by Eric Flint, you’re missing a treat.

    West Virginians figure large in the story. UMW too.

  214. 214
    Steeplejack says:


    Late to the thread–although I read most of it earlier–and I will second the recommendation for Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer. It’s tight, it’s intelligent, and it goes down easy. Plus you’ll be able to knowledgeably mock the new movie when it comes out.

    There were a lot of good recommendations in this thread, but a lot of them don’t meet your “light” criterion.

  215. 215
    RosiesDad says:

    @JWL: We live in the suburbs of Philly; it was a fun day trip. (Until I tore my left lateral collateral clambering over a boulder on Little Big Top. That was 3 weeks of fairly uncomfortable recovery.) We went literally 2 weeks after I read Killer Angels; it made our day tour come alive because I could relate most of the geography back to the story.

    I’ll take your advice on Shelby Foote’s books as soon as I get through Nathaniel Philbrick’s “The Last Stand.” (Which I will begin as soon as I finish David Cay Johnston’s “Free Lunch.”)

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    Larkspur says:

    @andynotadam: Beat The Reaper is a lot of weird, violent, hilarious fun. It’s kind of in a class by itself. Crime, mystery, thriller, medical procedural, social commentary – all very unusual and vivid.

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    genghisjon says:

    James Lee Burke.He’s Ry Cooder on paper.

  218. 218
    RosiesDad says:

    @Carlo: I find Birbiglia much more entertaining to listen to than to read. The book was a bit of a let down compared with the work he’s done on This American Life and The Moth.

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    Groucho48 says:

    Lots of great choices! Not sure if these have been mentioned…

    The Myron Bolitar books, by Harlan Coben.
    The Leo Waterman books, by G.M. Ford.
    Tony Hillerman
    The Prey books, by John Sanford
    Bartholomew Gill
    The Butch Karp books, by Robert Tanenbaum. The first few are lots of fun, then he changed ghost writers and the series tanked.

  220. 220
    WaterGirl says:


    The Butch Karp books, by Robert Tanenbaum. The first few are lots of fun, then he changed ghost writers and the series tanked.

    Is that what happened? I loved his first few books, and I keep getting the new ones when they come out, but they don’t grab me in the way the earlier ones did.

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    Gian says:

    searched, didn’t see the name, you may enjoy some of the late Roger Zelazny’s stuff (he did on occasion win awards)

    but pick up nine princes in amber, and you may find you like his stuff. it’s part of a rather extended series, and can be light reading or more if you’re inclined to catch all the tarot card references (among others)

    to try and sumarize the plot? well it’s fantassy/scifi and really better done via wikipedia. But heck I’m late to the thread, this won’t be seen, and I don’t care to email it to you.

  222. 222
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason (formerly frosty) says:

    @RosiesDad: Growing up in York County, I’ve been to Gettysburg many times, but the most memorable trip was after reading Killer Angels. We went immediately to Little Round Top, found the NY monument and said, OK they were left of here. Found the next regiment halfway down the hill and said … they were left of here?

    Kept walking, and all by itself, all the way down the hill was a monument for the 20th Maine. And our reaction was, Oh My God, they were way out here with no one anywhere near them. It was really chilling.

  223. 223
    DPirate says:

    Anything new that fits that genre that you would recommend?

    I wish. Every new book I pick up gets hurled across the room amidst groaning and swearing due to the atrocious english they try to use. WTF happened to teaching sentence construction? I could swear they are writing in german and the editors are translating word by word.

  224. 224
    MoeLarryAndJesus says:

    Second on the Travis McGee books by John D. MacDonald.

    First (I think) on the Bernie Gunther series by Philip Kerr. Start with “March Violets,” though there’s a cheap anthology of the 1st three books called “Berlin Noir.”

  225. 225
    Tom says:

    If you haven’t read it already: Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy. Got the series for Christmas, halfway through the first… the guy’s a hell of a writer.

  226. 226
    Phoebe says:

    Does it really have to be new? If not, anything in the Modesty Blaise series, by Peter O’Donnell.

  227. 227
    Auguste says:

    Lee Child, Lee Child, Lee Child.

    Also, Henning Mankel.

  228. 228
    andynotadam says:

    Yes Henning Mankell, you just need a bit of patience–
    I mean damn, what’s a white boy gonna do, the muh fuh’s Swedish. So true to place, you’ll get chilly just reading Mankell’s descriptions of the Swedish countryside. Also a PBS Masterpiece Mystery series with Kenny Branagh as the protagonist detective, Karl Wallander.

  229. 229
    bob h says:

    If you want to go a bit upmarket, Jennifer Eagan’s “A Visit From the Goon Squad”.

  230. 230
  231. 231
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    Patricia Willis for Science Fiction — I’m reading her short stories now and there is the same flavor of make do and frontier as in Firefly.

  232. 232
    jprfrog says:

    Alex delaware (Jonathan Kellerman) is always a good choice, although the last few have been too short. I also like Connelly; the Lincoln Lawyer is terrific and the sequel, The Brass Verdict, is pretty good too. I’ve been in love with Vi Warshawski (Sarah Paretsky) from the day I met her…and a series set in Chicago is a relief from the bizarre world of LA.

    In a different vein are the series of novels by Alan Furst that begin with Night Soldiers. They are all set in Europe in the 30’s and reflect the growing menace of war…many are set in Paris but they range as far as Salonika (Greece), Warsaw, and Moscow. My favorite is Dark Star, because of the central character who comes from a place where much of my extended family used to live, Odessa, is altogether a pleasing fellow, and because the underlying mystery is so crucial to modern history. In the series, there is no one central character but there many who are major in one novel make small appearances in the others. Also, the writing is very good, almost the American answer to John le Carre, who was for a while the best living writer in English. Alas, the last couple have not had the momentum of the earlier ones…Furst may be losing his fastball (as le Carre did once the Cold War ended).

    Anything by Robert (not Thomas!) Harris: Fatherland, Archangel, The Ghost, and Enigma (the last especially if you are at all mathematically inclined…it also became a pretty good movie.)

  233. 233
  234. 234
    Phyllis says:

    @bmchgo: Christopher Buckley is a reliable hoot (except for Losing Mum and Pup, which is mostly bittersweet). Also have to second all those who have recommended Lee Child’s Reacher books. Reliably good reads. Met Lee Child at a writer’s conference several year ago and he was the most down-to-earth guy.

    Btw, a regular what to read thread would be a great thing, imho.

  235. 235
    patrick II says:

    Hardcase by Dan Simmons. Ex-con/detective Joe Kurtz can kick Jack Reacher’s ass.

  236. 236
    athena2 says:

    Many excellent authors given props on this thread. Do not neglect Elizabeth George’s wonderful series.

  237. 237
    karen marie says:

    @Comrade Mary: Anything by Donald Westlake is phenomenal, but his comic crime capers starring John Dortmunder are not to be missed in this life.

    Also, I second, third or fourth the recommendation of Fool by Christopher Moore.

    I would attempt to dissuade you from bothering with Lee Childs. Even on his worst day, Westlake is far superior.

    Walter Mosley is a terrific writer of mysteries set in 1960s LA. Anything of his you pick up will be satisfying.

    I can only assume you have read P.G. Wodehouse? If not, get ye to the library!

    Also in the mystery genre and always a good read — anything by John D. MacDonald.

    Russell Hoban. remembered usually for the post-apocalyptic novel Ridley Walker, has several wonderful human novels that are worth the time.

    Peter David’s Knight series are a wonderful re-imagining of Arthur, Merlin and Guinevere.

    I have sort of a love/hate relationship with Neil Gaiman but cannot recommend highly enough his early novel Anansi Boys.

    I love book threads!

  238. 238
    debbie says:

    Ivan Doig is a great storyteller. He’s along the lines of a Wallace Stegner, but his focus is on Montana. Nothing too heavy, but everything he’s written is very readable and goes pretty quickly.


  239. 239
    deecoz says:

    @Reader of the Most Depressing Blog Evah, Formerly known as Chad N Freude:
    It worked differently on the iPad. I got no reaction from the bottom right corner. I pressed link once and got option to copy. I pressed a second time, and the reply arrow appeared at right bottom of comment. Guess precise instructions may vary with your platform or browser.

  240. 240
    Tehanu says:

    Barbara Hambly — the vampire novels, starting with Those Who Hunt the Night; the Benjamin January mysteries, starting with A Free Man of Color; the science fiction and fantasy — my favorites are The Magicians of Night, Darkmage, and — don’t be put off by the title, it’s a wonderful book about making silent movies in the 1920s, Bride of the Rat God; and as “Barbara Hamilton,” The Ninth Daughter, with Abigail Adams as the ‘detective’ in Revolutionary War Boston.

    Also a shout-out to Connie Willis and Elizabeth George.

  241. 241
    ProgressiveATL says:

    Hi John, for all the educating and illuminating you do, thank you, thank you, wanted to share some stuff that might entertain you:

    Nonfiction, fun reading, author Paul Hoffman, not sure if kindle versions available:
    Man Who Loved Only Numbers: http://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-.....038;sr=8-7
    Wings of Madness: http://www.amazon.com/Wings-Ma.....38;sr=1-10

    Also, comic books, so much good stuff out there, here are some great possibilities to start you off, in no particular order:
    Action Philosophers: http://www.amazon.com/Action-P.....0977832937
    Girl Genius: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Gen.....038;sr=1-1
    Atomic Robo: http://www.amazon.com/Atomic-R.....038;sr=1-1
    Morning Glories: http://www.amazon.com/Morning-.....038;sr=1-1
    All Star Superman: http://www.amazon.com/All-Star.....038;sr=1-2
    Powers: http://www.amazon.com/Powers-V.....038;sr=1-1

  242. 242
    kelly says:

    pretty much anything by george pelicanos, loren estleman, and of course, the great jim thompson.

  243. 243
    Barry Eisler says:

    “Light crap?”

    I… am… devastated…


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