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Author Topic: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?  (Read 79934 times)

Offline Shay_Fox

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #105 on: June 01, 2016, 09:17:28 PM »
Big fan of the already mentioned: Catch 22, Fight Club, and 1984.

Roddy Doyle - The Commitments
James Clavell - Shogun
Aldous Huxley - Ape and Essence
Marge Piercy - Woman on the Edge of Time
Jeanette Winterson - Oranges are Not the Only Fruit
DH Lawrence - The Rainbow
Mary Renault - The King Must Die
Bernard Cornwell - Sharpe's Rifles
Bernard Cornwell - The Last Kingdom
Bernard Cornwell - The Winter King
Colleen McCullough - The First Man in Rome
Ernest Cline - Ready Player One
Hermann Hesse - Siddhartha
Nick Hornby - Hi Fidelity
Kazuo Ishiguro - An Artist in the Floating World
Stephen King - IT
John King - The Football Factory
Irvine Welsh - Trainspotting

That's a great collection you have.

Offline MammaMamae

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #106 on: September 13, 2016, 12:20:18 PM »
* I'm a sucker for Russian lit, big fat epics from the 70s and 80s, and literary works shaped around fairy tales.  Love Brothers Karamazov, War and Peace, and The Thornbirds, Shogun, and anything by Angela Carter or AS Byatt.

* Contemporary realist lit fic, though I tend to prefer shorter books or collections of short stories in that genre.  Alice Munro and Colm Toibin are particular favorites.  And though their works are much longer, I'm obsessed with Elena Ferrente and Karl Ove Knausgaard.

* Non-fiction literary essays!  Ursula K Le Guin is FABULOUS as an essayist, and I also like James Wood's collections.

* Finally my old academic love, Theology.  Favorite theology classics are Pavel Evdokimov's Women and the Salvation of the World, and the work of Elizabeth Johnson, Elizabeth Behr-Segel, and Vladimir Lossky. 

Offline Jake Baelish

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #107 on: September 24, 2016, 10:12:37 AM »
The Stand by Stephen King is one of my all time favourites.

If that is still 'too fantasy', then I also love 'The Last Kingdom' by Bernard Cornwell. Historical fiction based on the viking invasions of England.

In Non-Fiction, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins has made a pretty massive impression on my life and views, so that has to be up there.

Offline Steve S

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #108 on: October 30, 2016, 01:25:58 PM »
A few of my favourites would be:

David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
The Lord of the Flies - William Goulding
Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates

The list is always changing though!


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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #109 on: November 28, 2016, 01:36:21 PM »
Really dig James Ellroy. Black Dahlia, Big Nowhere, LA Confidential, White Jazz, American Tabloid, Cold Six Thousand, Blood's a Rover, Perfidia, My Dark Places... take your pick, they are masterpieces.

Don Winslow is another wordsmith who's work is as addictive as heroin and hits you like a liver shot. Power of the Dog, The Cartel, California fire and life, Winter of Frankie Machine, Life and death of Bobby Z, Kings of Cool, Savages.

Benjamin Whitmer writes prose that can hit you deep, wriggle beneath your skin and stay there. Pike and Cry father are particularly fantastic.

Tom Franklin, William Gay and Donald Ray Pollock are, IMO, essential reading. Absolutely beautiful prose, the kind of story telling that amazes you with their craftsman ship and visions. Take your pick from their novels, each are beautiful and dark in equal measure.

Stephen King ...need more be said?

Same goes for Clive Barker and Robert McCammon.

Joe R Lansdale delivers a wild ride with each novel. Funny, violent, grotesque, mysterious, thrilling, chilling, spooky, drama. . . you name it, it's in there.

John Connolly's Charlie Parker series is superb. A mixture of thriller, murder mystery and horror all blended into one class act like James Lee Burke with his fantastic Dave Robicheaux series.

Peter Straub delivers novels that have inception-style-layers of intricacies wrapped up in gorgeous prose and chilling horror-mysteries.

Dennis Lehane is another author who's work should be checked out. Mystic River and The Given Day are 'perfect' books.

....um... I'd better stop now. Some books for those looking for something new to read. Hope you enjoy them :)

« Last Edit: November 28, 2016, 01:39:06 PM by MASTODON »

Offline S. K. Inkslinger

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #110 on: December 22, 2016, 05:51:33 AM »
Not sure if other people had similar tastes, but I personally like horror stories by Edgar Allan Poe. The tell-tale heart is just pure perfection, as well as The Fall of the House of Usher. The Raven poem is rather macabre and intriquing as well.

Offline ctrandall

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #111 on: July 08, 2018, 12:16:29 AM »
A recent great read for me was Peter Godfrey-Smith's Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Alien Intelligence. It's non-fiction but it's incredibly interesting. Godfrey-Smith examines the conditions under which octopuses evolved their particular kind of intelligence and, in the process, reveals how remarkably alien their minds are when compared to ours. He draws on the fossil record, current scientific research and his own experiences to illustrate just how intelligent octopuses really are (you will be amazed) while also pointing out the limits of their intelligence (they won’t be taking over the world for at least another 100,000 years or so).

The book deals with topics like perception, communication and aging (yes, current theory suggests the aging process plays a role in the evolution of intelligence) but never falls into dry academic-speak. Amongst his clear and cogent arguments, Godfrey-Smith intersperses tons of humorous, and even touching, anecdotes about octopuses refusing to cooperate with researchers, figuring out how to short-circuit lights and escaping their aquariums to go on nocturnal hunts in neighbouring fish-tanks.

Overall, I found it both highly enjoyable and informative.

Offline OnlyOneHighlander

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #112 on: July 08, 2018, 10:20:14 AM »
A recent great read for me was Peter Godfrey-Smith's Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Alien Intelligence.

This caught my eye in the bookshop recently. Sounds really interesting. It's going on the to-read list.
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Offline Neveesandeh

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #113 on: July 08, 2018, 04:40:31 PM »
I couldn't narrow this down to one book. If I could, it would probably be a history book. Almost all non-fiction I read is history. I have read some non-fantasy fiction, but right now not much springs to mind. 1984 is an obvious choice, but only because it is widely known to be excellent, and I certainly agree there.

With regards to non-fiction, Robert Harvey's 'The War of Wars', Peter Fronkopan's 'The Silk Roads', Richard Bassett's 'For God and Kaiser' and really anything by Michael Axworthy are the first books I would think to recommend.

I'm also very much into philosophy, but I would hesitate to recommend some works because they required serious editing. I read 'Thus Spake Zarathustra' and it ended with a hundred pages of notes where the translator struggled to explain everything. I now know why Nietzsche is at once so influential and yet so misunderstood.

Offline Skip

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #114 on: August 16, 2018, 03:39:39 AM »
Well that was a fun read, all the way back to 2011!  Here's a few of my favorites.

Marc Bloch, Feudal Society
Albert Camus, The Plague
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday
Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
John Dos Passos, The U.S.A trilogy
Graham Greene, Brighton Rock
Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest
Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
Richard Hofstadter, Goedel, Escher, Bach
Richard Hughes, A High Wind in Jamaica
John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Jack London, The Call of the Wild

Aw geez, I'll stop there. Not even halfway through the alphabet, and I left off all the excellent history books (except for Bloch, of course)
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Offline isos81

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #115 on: July 03, 2019, 01:15:15 PM »
My definite favorite is The Miserables (Org: Les Misérables) by French writer Victur Hugo. I still have the superior taste whenever I remember it.
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline Bender

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #116 on: July 03, 2019, 03:55:41 PM »
Non Fantasy is too broad a category:

Famous Five, Secret Seven - Enid Blyton
Hardy Boys - Franklin W Dixon
Perry Mason - Erle Stanley Gardner
Lost Horizon - James Hilton

Have read pretty much most books by:

Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Fredrick Forsythe, Michael Crichton, Jack Higgins, Clive Cussler, John Grisham, Arthur Hailey, Alistair McLean, Robin Cook, Ian Fleming, Louis L'Amour, Oliver Strange, Jules Verne etc etc.

In history, I like
Rise and Fall of Third Reich - William Shearer
Is Paris Burning? - Collins and Lapierre

Plus a fair bit of classics, Monte Cristo, Gulliver, Tom Sawyer, Two Cities, Huck Finn, Wuthering Heights...

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Offline Brand J Alexander

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #117 on: July 03, 2019, 03:58:33 PM »
Intensity by Dean Koontz and Where the Red Fern Grows
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Offline laughs

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #118 on: August 21, 2019, 11:29:21 AM »
I'm currently reading Neil Gaiman's Coraline, which I really like so far.

Moving on to non-fantasy now: I have two books I'd like to mention here.
1. Zadie Smith's Swing Time. The novel is a good account of the here and now. I haven't read much lit fiction that deals directly with the world as it is today, and Smith's work seems to be the exception. She's quite young for a writer (I think 40s).
2. Margaret Andersen's Sociology: The Essentials. It was deeply interesting, especially in relation to the question of what might make fantasy so alluring. I like simple language in non-fiction, and this one was simple and informative.

Offline David A. Werling

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Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
« Reply #119 on: July 13, 2020, 12:35:32 AM »
Hands down the non-fantasy, even non-fiction, book that has left an enduring impact on me is A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold.

It is a book about conservationism and naturalism, and in that regard it stands head and shoulders with the likes of John Muir, Mardy Murie, or Rachel Carson. This book made me rethink my distaste for cottonwoods, and in doing so made me rethink my beliefs, my life and my how I think… all because of one paragraph regarding cottonwood trees.

I think that all good writers have a little bit of the naturalist in them. The conservationist or naturalist has an uncanny knack for the habit of noticing. They notice the small deep down things, as Hopkins put it, that most don’t notice, and thus deprive themselves of discovering some of the most beautiful things this world has to offer. The most pessimistic among us are usually those who have no penchant for noticing at all. The writer or artist shouldn’t take this a badge of honor or an excuse for pride, because it carries the weight and responsibility of service. Just because a lot of folks aren’t good at noticing doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the beauty they are missing. The writer, the artist, for whom noticing is second nature, has the responsibility to say, “wait, stop, and see or hear or touch,” and doing that takes hard work.

Aside from this, A Sand County Almanac is probably the best prose I have ever read, and I’ve read quite a bit. If you don’t believe me, pick up this book and just read the first section of November entitled "If I Were the Wind." If it doesn’t make your heart skip a beat, if it doesn’t give you pause, then check your pulse. I’m sorry, but I dare not provide the quote, because I want you to get this book and pick up for yourself. You won’t regret it.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2020, 01:40:28 AM by David A. Werling »
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