Getting our ISBNs, asking for great novel recommendations

Received our ISBNs today! And they are lovely little devils.

Now I’m going to open a topic for you all, because I’m outlining the Workbooks to go with THE ART & CRAFT OF FICTION, and I’m going to use a lot of examples of character development and plotting from real books.

So tell me your favorites!

I love old stuff and read it constantly, because it was well-edited, which means the writing is almost always a joy and a delight to read or—at the very least—not ridden with cliches. But if you know of current stuff I should also be reading, please, by all means, point it out.

What’s out there that you’d love to see explicated for a workbook? What stories first made you want to be a writer? What writers do you go back to, again and again, for inspiration?

5 thoughts on “Getting our ISBNs, asking for great novel recommendations

  1. Kathryn says:

    Each year, I read the short stories in the Time Life Book of Christmas. One of those stories is “A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote. When I read it this year, I saw the editor’s note above it that stated Truman was a master of description. I read it with new eyes and thought it was more beautiful than ever.

    At the risk of sounding like a high school senior, I love “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I grew up in the deep South and I know everything and everyone Harper Lee describes in her book. It makes me sweat just flipping through the pages.

    I love A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago. Animal Farm was good.

    Anything Dickens.

    I think John Steinbeck is weird.


  2. Lady Glamis says:

    Ooo, Kathryn’s got a good one with Truman Capote’s short story. I own that one, and it is incredible.

    I’ve recently been reading Banana Yoshimoto. WOW. If you haven’t read her, you should. And Jhumpa Lhairi is incredible, too.

    One of my classic favorites is Marilynne Robinson, and of course, Flanner O’Connor cannot be beat for character development and plotting.

  3. Lyn South says:

    The Hunger Games & Catching Fire (YA books) by Suzanne Collins are fantastic. The 3rd book in the series, Mockingjay, comes out in August. Great characterization and plotting.

    Also great is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Beautiful, poignant, lyrical. Starts in 1939 Germany and goes through WWII…”Death” is the narrator. 9 yr old Leisel Memminger moves in with a foster family who hides a young Jewish man for a number of years. Amazing characterization, plotting (use of foreshadowing and imagery is fantastic)

  4. Kathryn says:

    I’ve been wanting to read The Book Thief. I’ve heard only great things about it.

  5. Hilary says:

    This is a totally out-of-the-blue suggestion but for unknown reasons the first thing that flew into my head was Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Yeah, I know, right? Why? Can’t tell you.

    My second thought was White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Seems like the kind of book you would like, somehow, and it makes first-time novelists weep. (OK, well, at least one I know of!)

    Oh, and The Kite Runner has a few HUGE problems on the macro level (IMHO) but also boats some unbelievably compelling set-pieces, which might be useful in a workbook situation.

    None are exactly what I would call “current” but they ain’t “old stuff,” neither.

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