I’m going through a little dry spell lately with coming across a magical book. You know, the sort of book that, when you’re reading it, makes you feel transported, and which afterwards comes to almost signify a particular period or point in your life simply because of your strong attachment to the reading experience mixed in with and yet somehow highlighting other aspects of being alive. If you know what sort of feeling I’m talking about, and have a book that made you feel that way at some point, new or old, leave me a recommendation in the comments section. I’d love to collect a list of books that made ridiculous impressions on others, and see if that might not help with my search for something just like that right now.

Thanks in advance.






18 responses to “Recommendations?”

  1. PamM Avatar

    Chris, I was thinking on this and in the course of running your description through my mind, I reread your appeal. It seems odd to me, this phrase, “a list of books that made ridiculous impressions on others” in connection to your earlier discussion, “the sort of book that, when you’re reading it, makes you feel transported, and which afterwards comes to almost signify a particular period or point in your life simply because of your strong attachment to the reading experience mixed in with and yet somehow highlighting other aspects of being alive.” Are you saying that such magical reading is to be considered irrational due life experiences and/or youth? I’m not sure what you are looking for.

  2. Michael Kelly Avatar

    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

  3. Christopher Barzak Avatar

    Pam, “ridiculous” as in “huge”. Sorry about that. Huge impressions. Big.

    Michael, thanks! I haven’t read that one by Murakami yet!

  4. steve berman Avatar

    Phantom Tollbooth, Swordspoint, Rose of the Prophet trilogy (which I doubt you’ll like), the High King.

  5. Derek Avatar

    Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Murakami. Definitely one of my all-time favorites, though I’m sure you have read it already. A gorgeous, haunting novel.

  6. Haddayr Avatar

    Sorry; the last one that did that for me was Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which I’m sure you’ve read.

    I’ve been collecting books from friends looking for that same thing and . . . I just have been missing it.

    I didn’t even like _Slow River,_ which I realize means I am missing some important brain cells or my heart is a teeny tiny black black coal?

  7. Deb Weaver Avatar

    Chris: It isn’t often that I have encountered fiction that I would say changed my life. It seems that books have had a cumulative effect on me or something. However, one of the books that made a deep impression on me many years ago was Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. This was also true of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness. I’ve been hooked on both authors since then and have read everything they have written. Samuel DeLaney also has some great science fiction. Probably his most well known is Dhalgren. His life story is almost as interesting as the science fiction he writes. Some good fiction that I have enjoyed over the last few years that I recommend is Middle Sex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and one called Special Topics in Calamity Physics. I’m not sure if everyone would like the last one but I had a blast with the literary references. Neither Special Topics or Middle Sex is science fiction. I have also lately enjoyed reading Felicia Luna Lemus and T.Cooper although they aren’t for everyone. Right now I’m looking forward to reading a kid’s book by Jeanette Winterson called Tanglewreck. I’ll let you know what I think of it when I’m done with it. If you should read any of these I’d be interested in your thoughts about them. I do find that the older I get, it is more difficult to find fiction that will hold me and I tend to spend more time reading non-fiction.

  8. ndr Avatar

    Tristan Egolf, “Lord of the barnyard”. I read it in italian, ehm.
    When I read it, this novel touched me inside. No words.

  9. fusakota Avatar

    Hi, you are Genki?!
    My magical book is Maurice Druon ‘s “Tistou: Les Pouces Verts”
    This book changed my life two times, when I was 11 and 40.
    And one more book,
    “The Notebook the Proof the Third Lie: Three Novels” by Agota Kristof.

  10. lucy Avatar

    Ooooh, check out the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer. Edward Cullen is soooo dreamy and such a gentleman 😉

  11. Heather Avatar

    I don’t know about “magical” books per se… I’m a historical fiction girl myself. But if you’re looking for something transcendent, try The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – truly fascinating, wonderful fiction wrapped around the search for Dracula’s tomb across eastern Europe and into western Asia.

  12. N Avatar

    Have you every read anything by Banana Yoshimoto? She writes mostly novellas (Kitchen, Asleep, Hardboiled & Hard-Luck) but also novels (np, Amrita). Her stuff kind of reminds me of Karen Joy Fowler, though I couldn’t tell you why.

  13. ndr Avatar

    Yoshimoto! I loved Amrita 😉

  14. Lucy Avatar

    I just thought of a serious recommendation. Have you ever read the novel Chocolat by Joanne Harris? It’s quite different from the film–more magical and a little bit darker. It’s a new favorite.

  15. Midori Avatar

    Hey Chris,
    I’d recommend the novel, “Flying to Nowhere,” by poet John Fuller. (It’s op but I saw a used copy on Amazon.) It’s quite short — and utterly mesmerizing. A deeply condensed, magical and poetical narrative set in Medieval Wales. You could probably read it in an evening — and spend the next two days in a haze.

  16. Neal Avatar

    Hi, Chris,

    Here are a few that have done the “transported” thing for me, although I’m told I’m not in my body much anyway:

    Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman; also, his American Gods. The Visitor, by Sheri S Tepper. Several Stories from The Green Man by Datlow & Windling. Dreams Underfoot by Charles deLint. I assume you’ve already read Once & Future King.

    I also found Stehen Lawhead’s books, Taliesin and Merlin, pretty magical.



  17. Jennifer J Avatar
    Jennifer J

    I am also currently in a somewhat dry period, although I just bought a new stack of books and have high hopes. Some past favorites:
    – Ellen Klages’s “Green Glass Sea” – So good that I turned from the last page to the first to see if it had really been that good. It was.
    – Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Pump Six and Other Stories”
    – Ted Chiang’s “Stories of Your Life and Others”
    – Robin McKinley’s “Sunshine”
    – Nancy Kress’s “Beggars in Spain”
    – Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Bean Trees”
    – Pat Murphy’s “Falling Woman” (a fantasy favorite from the 80s)
    – Howard Waldrop’s “Howard Who?” (short stories that are delightfully strange)
    – Eileen Gunn’s “Stable Strategies and Others” (scarily good short stories)
    – “Perfect Circle” by Sean Stewart (wow.)
    – Raymond Carver’s “Where I’m Calling From”
    – Elizabeth Moon’s “The Speed of Dark” (written from the point of view of an autistic man who is as he is and not pitiable; this does not sound as if it will be gripping but it was.)
    – Kate Wilhelm’s “Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang”
    – “The Thread that Binds the Bones” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
    Happy hunting!

  18. Virginie Avatar

    I have a few books for your list. I’ve just read The Host by Stephenie Meyer, I think everybody should read it, it’s wonderful even if a bit too long maybe.
    My favorite of the year so far is Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
    Other books that changed my way to see the world are Sophie’s world by Jostein Gaarder and 1984 by George Orwell

    Happy Reading!!!

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