Most Surprisingly Satisfying Books

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Like, you thought it was just gonna be okay and it was awesome, or you thought it'd suck but it was great, or you KNOW it's not all that hot but it just satisfies you inside like hot chocolate or the destruction of your enemies or Seth choosing Anna Stern over Summer on "The O.C." so you get Summer on the rebound and she wears the Wonder Woman outfit for you, or something.

Haikunym (Haikunym), Wednesday, 17 December 2003 20:17 (twenty years ago) link

Chabon - Kavalier & Clay.
I had heard the hype about this one but read it in a week, an amazing task for me, as I am a very slow reader. But it was really great.

Berkeley Sackett (calstars), Wednesday, 17 December 2003 20:22 (twenty years ago) link

I'm gonna have to think about this one.

Huckleberry Mann (Horace Mann), Wednesday, 17 December 2003 20:24 (twenty years ago) link

For me it would have to be Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk cuz i don't think i would have even picked up one of his books if someone had not recommended it to me. why? i guess cuz of his cult-following and that whole tough guy punk vibe that he cultivates. but it was very entertaining! almost in a clive barker or stephen king kinda way. highly inventive gross-out fiction. there were clever bits strewn thru the whole thing.i did keep thinking about who was gonna play the main characters in a movie version the whole time i was reading it, but that was okay(i kept picturing brad pitt whenever anyone acted super-crazy).

scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 17 December 2003 20:28 (twenty years ago) link

Dog of the South by Charles Portis, just because I knew nothing of him and bought him on a's very funny, sometimes slightly surreal comedic misadventures of a man trying to find his ex-wife who has run off in south america and mexico....I guess I'd compare it to A Confederacy of Dunces if I had to make a comparison.

btw Scott - thanks for starting this board! I'm really excited about it.

Matt Helgeson (Matt Helgeson), Thursday, 18 December 2003 01:02 (twenty years ago) link

i am a convert to Portis now after reading Norwood. I will have to get Dog Of The South. He's kinda gone through that critical reappraisal thing that happens every once in awhile(Dawn Powell being another one).Sometimes you need someone to come along and say, "hey, that guy who wrote True Grit, he's hilarious!".

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 18 December 2003 01:07 (twenty years ago) link

I began E.L. Doctorow's Book of Daniel expecting to be somewhat bored. Not only was I knocked out by it, but it might be one of the best political novels I'm aware of.

otto, Thursday, 18 December 2003 01:30 (twenty years ago) link

"The Remains of the Day" just coz it was a school book.

fcussen (Burger), Thursday, 18 December 2003 01:38 (twenty years ago) link

Steven King's Dark Tower series. I thought I was going to be bored by it, but I kept receiving rec's so I broke down and bought it.

Xii (Xii), Thursday, 18 December 2003 03:06 (twenty years ago) link

Paul Auster's Moon Palace, because I bought it from a sidewalk table in the East Village on a whim, and I started reading it a couple of years ago and quit, but then I picked it up again recently and decided to give it another go, and lo and behold, I tore right through it - finished the whole thing much faster than I usually finish books, and had a great time.

o. nate (onate), Thursday, 18 December 2003 03:41 (twenty years ago) link

I was racking my brains for an answer ot this 'til I saw "Lullaby" on the list. I'd tried Palahniuk before, "Choke" I think and not liked it and only picked up "Lullaby" in the airport cos I'd seen "Fight Club" on TV the night before. Found it funny, clever and strangely touching and gave me hours of pleasure deciding which of the other passengers I'd let live..(not so many, by hour 8). Everything else I've tried by him has been ordinary (in fact I was going to include his latest in the 'books you didn't finish' thread)
The only other book recently that surprised me was "The Lovely Bones". My girlfriend bought it but the whole 'Oprah'/bookclub/post 9/11 sensitivity thing that I'd heard from other people put me off it. Again it took another long-haul journey to get me to read it, and I'm glad I did. There's a beautiful steely reality to it that I wasn't expecting and a tightness and exactitude that made it really compelling.

Winterland, Thursday, 18 December 2003 10:34 (twenty years ago) link

Peter Carey's "The True History of the Kelly Gang", "The Stories of John Cheever", Paul Auster's "Leviathan", Haruki Murakami's "Hard-Boiled Wonderland..." - the last most of all. Have read every available Murakami since someone recommended him on another thread. Favorite so far is "South of the Border, West of the Sun".

Chris Hill (Chris Hill), Thursday, 18 December 2003 15:21 (twenty years ago) link

Becuse I'm an asshole, I often make snap judgements based on covers or titles that leave me with a completely unrepresentative idea of the true contents.
For a long time thought "Invisible Monsters" was a horror and "The Dancer Upstairs" was a film about about ballet... I'm very glad to have been wrong about those.
Similarly, my parents had a copy of Catch 22 in a red leather binding with gilt lettering - like a Bible - so for years I thought it was a religious text. Another pleasing suprise.

Most consistantly I'm suprised everytime I read an Elmore Leonard, I always think "It's an early one, he won't have found his feet" or "It's a recent one, he's losing his touch". He's never let me down yet.

Simeon (Simeon), Friday, 19 December 2003 13:49 (twenty years ago) link

I think the last book I was really satisfied by was Kathleen Tessaro's Elegance. I just loved the presentation of the UK hardcover edition.

For some reason I find Tracy Chevalier's books just suck me in, even though I don't think they're particularly good. I don't even know what it is that makes me stay up until 3am reading them or devoting entire Sundays devouring them, because there's nothing about them that stands out and I wouldn't even recommend them to anyone. I just finished the Lady and the Unicorn a couple weeks ago and I can't even think of anything that made me even like the book. I guess they're just a reliable vortex. VWOOOOMMMM....

Catty (Catty), Friday, 19 December 2003 14:45 (twenty years ago) link

MY GOD this is one of my most kick-in-the-gut tearjerker favorites in any medium. Probably because I worked in the service industry for so long and I'm hopelessly terrified of people now, or maybe it's just because it's so DAMNED AHHHHHH...

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Monday, 29 December 2003 05:15 (twenty years ago) link

aaaagh Ann you are useless today: I'm talking about:

""The Remains of the Day" just coz it was a school book.
-- fcussen (fcussen33...), December 18th, 2003."

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Monday, 29 December 2003 05:15 (twenty years ago) link

three months pass...
I'm picking up on the word "surprisingly" here.

Wait for it......Jaws II.

Dorien Thomas (Dorien Thomas), Monday, 5 April 2004 13:58 (twenty years ago) link

I picked up Andy McNab's thriller Firewall and stayed up all night to finish it.

Baravelli. (Jake Proudlock), Monday, 5 April 2004 20:42 (twenty years ago) link

I never liked War literature, not even the movies. So when I picked up Catch-22 I anticipated a boring encounter, but it turned out to be the best book i've ever read.

Fred, Tuesday, 6 April 2004 14:42 (twenty years ago) link

five months pass...
Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion, especially as my copy had a cover which would shame Mills and Boon

wtin, Thursday, 30 September 2004 09:49 (nineteen years ago) link

'Widow Basquiat' - can't remember the author. It was especially surprising because it was the free gift with an order from Canongate.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Thursday, 30 September 2004 10:59 (nineteen years ago) link

The Secret History by Donna Tartt, mostly because it was so hyped as "a literary mystery!" something apparently the world had never seen. But is really enthralling.

And Blankets by Craig Thompson. I was expecting it to be okay, but the raw emotion in that graphic novel just blew me away.

SJ Lefty, Thursday, 30 September 2004 15:14 (nineteen years ago) link

Oh, and also Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. I don't really like war stories or war literature, but I would recommend this one to just about anybody. Good stuff.

SJ Lefty, Thursday, 30 September 2004 15:15 (nineteen years ago) link

I found The Time Traveler's Wife to be much better than i anticipated.

Emilymv (Emilymv), Thursday, 30 September 2004 18:25 (nineteen years ago) link

The Master and Margarita-- I thought it couldn't live up to the hype of all its admirers, and it started out weird so I kept putting it down. Now I'm one of the YouGOTTAreadit ones. Also, A Fine Balance, that and The Reader, both Oprah books now on my top shelf

donald, Saturday, 2 October 2004 12:42 (nineteen years ago) link

Nicholas Monsarrat's "The Cruel Sea". It's the full story of WWII from '39-'45 through the crew of a British corvette. It's my very favourite novel, despite having little to no interest in a)WWII b)the British navy c)military life in general d)the sea in general. For some reason, however, I love this novel.

derrick (derrick), Saturday, 2 October 2004 19:22 (nineteen years ago) link

How about ... The Remains of the Day?

the bellefox, Tuesday, 5 October 2004 12:07 (nineteen years ago) link

The original MASH novel.

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Wednesday, 6 October 2004 00:54 (nineteen years ago) link

nineteen years pass...

Opus Pistorum

stwahberrymilkgirlll, Thursday, 4 April 2024 18:02 (three months ago) link

The Idiot and Either/Or by Elif Batuman.

Chris L, Friday, 5 April 2024 15:41 (three months ago) link

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