Fantasy Faction

General Category => Non-Fantasy Books => Topic started by: Overlord on December 30, 2010, 08:20:34 AM

Title: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Overlord on December 30, 2010, 08:20:34 AM
I don't read much 'non-fantasy' if I am being honest, but thought I would open this one up for you all.

When I was younger I read a lot of 'Famous Five' and 'Secret Seven' type novels, as I got older I went straight over to Fantasy.

I think the last non-fantasy book I read was 'The Life of Pi', it was OK but not fantastic... very, very weird put it that way!

If I do read Non-Fiction it tends to be biographies of business people or sports people.

So people, what's the best Non-Fantasy book you have read? :D
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: The Mad Hatter on December 31, 2010, 01:08:22 PM
So people, what's the best Non-Fantasy book you have read? :D
All of them. None of them.

That's a damned hard question to answer. How do you define best? Is it the book that has had the most impact on the world? In that case, out of the books I've read, it's the Bible, most probably the King James Version, since it's one of the most common. I'd put the Bible, whatever translation, in a special place along with the Talmud and the Quran. The three books of the sister religions have had a huge impact on the world. That impact can be negative, when some goofball misunderstands something - think Northern Ireland.

Or say we look at Non-Fiction.

One of the most interesting books I've read in the last year was Evolution vs Creationism by Eugenie Scott, which is an excellent book:
http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Evolution-vs-Creationism-Introduction-2nd-Eugenie-C-Scott/9780520261877-item.html?ikwid=eugenie+scott&ikwsec=Home (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Evolution-vs-Creationism-Introduction-2nd-Eugenie-C-Scott/9780520261877-item.html?ikwid=eugenie+scott&ikwsec=Home)

Cory Doctorow, Rael Dornfest, and Scott Johnson wrote Essential Blogging: Selecting and Using Weblog Tools, which I found very useful:
http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Essential-Blogging-Selecting-Using-Weblog-Doctorow-Dornfest-Johnson/9780596003883-item.html?ikwid=cory+doctorow&ikwsec=Books (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Essential-Blogging-Selecting-Using-Weblog-Doctorow-Dornfest-Johnson/9780596003883-item.html?ikwid=cory+doctorow&ikwsec=Books)

As someone who writes on Copyright issues, I found Cory Doctorow's Content very useful:
http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Content-Selected-Essays-Technology-Creativity-Cory-Doctorow/9781892391810-item.html?ikwid=cory+doctorow&ikwsec=Books (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Content-Selected-Essays-Technology-Creativity-Cory-Doctorow/9781892391810-item.html?ikwid=cory+doctorow&ikwsec=Books)

I was able to make a visit to the Highway Book Store this summer, and fill some of the holes in my Phoebe Atwood Taylor collection. Phoebe Atwood Taylor wrote mysteries under her own name, and as Alice Tilton. I love her stuff, but most of it's out of print, or hard to get. The Highway Book Store is the largest used book store in Ontario. Dangerous place. Hideous place. I rarely manage to get out without spending at least $200.00!

Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus is a fascinating book. You are using the theories in it here:
http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Cognitive-Surplus-Clay-Shirky/9781594202537-item.html?ikwid=clay+shirky&ikwsec=Books (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Cognitive-Surplus-Clay-Shirky/9781594202537-item.html?ikwid=clay+shirky&ikwsec=Books)

Clayton M. Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma has helped me understand what I've been seeing and writing about in my articles on Microsoft, and convinced me that what I'm seeing is actually happening:
http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/The-Innovators-Dilemma-Clayton-M-Christensen/9780060521998-item.html?ikwid=clayton+m.+christensen&ikwsec=Books (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/The-Innovators-Dilemma-Clayton-M-Christensen/9780060521998-item.html?ikwid=clayton+m.+christensen&ikwsec=Books)

There a ton of good books out there. The problem is finding the ones you would like.

Wayne aka The Mad Hatter
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: RGPorter on December 31, 2010, 08:35:46 PM
Wow hard to answer. I tend to read tons of fantasy, with varying subgenres tossed in. I can say, I also love the horror books and forensic type thrillers. With that said, i'm also going to look to dabble into some of the thriller/mysteries out there. Sadly the show Castle has me intrigued. :)
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: ChristinaJL on January 01, 2011, 09:51:39 AM
If I'm not reading fantasy, then it's either historical fiction or mountaineering/cycling biographies.

I really enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.  Best mountaineering book is Touching the Void by Joe Simpson and cycling Boy Racer by Mark Cavendish (cos he's so funny at times!!!)
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Arthum on January 02, 2011, 12:17:34 PM
I'd go for the science fiction book written by Frank Herbert, Dune :) A great book ;) I also have three Star Wars books on my shelves which I already read and they are also great :)
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Tiffany Kysis Tackett on January 02, 2011, 09:27:03 PM
If I'm not reading sci-fi/fantasy, it's because I have to read it for school or my mother threw it at me.  However, I do like non-fantasy books, it's just a different read for me.

For non-fiction/reference I'd say books on writing.  But I'm always reading those.

For history, Forest of the Kings which is about the Maya, or just about any book on Angkor Watt.

Blindness by Jose Saramago is one of my favorite books.  I'm not sure where it falls genre-wise, since it does have unexplained white blindness, which is the focus of the book.  Either way, it is a great read and reveals a lot about human nature.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is another one where I question the genre.  There are elements that are definitely not life as we know it.  It could be fantasy, but it takes place in England, with relatively normal people (or so it seems) for a great deal of the book.  Another one that reveals a great deal of human nature.

World War Z by Max Brooks, which is technically horror.  Yay zombies.  It's great, fast paced, and hard hitting.  I love it.

If we're allowed to say sci-fi, Dune is my all time favorite book.  I've got a copy of the book, a comic from the release of the original movie, and the sci-fi channel's director's cut dvd all enshrined together on my desk.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Sharpy on January 04, 2011, 10:21:32 AM
A few titles I thought were fantastic:

Shadow of the Wind by spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a must for any reader out there, amazing thriller. Best way to describe it is "It's a book about a book."

Necroscope series by Brian Lumley. Sort of Sci-Fi/Fantasy best vampire books I have ever read. Read these years ago long before vamps become fashionable. There is a hell of a lot more to them than just vampires, they span 2 worlds and the twist on why there are in our world is fantastic. I can not recommend this series enough.

John Peels autobiography Margrave of the Marshes. Amazingly honest and frank telling of his life, was started while he was still  alive and finished by his wife and kids after his death. You will be amazed by how much this one man done for the music industry, he is in my mind one of lifes un-sung heroes.

Just a few off the top of my head will add some others soon.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: frankiehunter on January 11, 2011, 09:08:00 PM
I don't read much 'non-fantasy' if I am being honest, but thought I would open this one up for you all.


I have to copy this sentence and went to my bookshelf to check if there are really no non-fantasy books and I found one that really got close to me - Paolo Coelhos - eleven minutes, or stephen kings - blaze.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: AlexEatsBooks on January 12, 2011, 08:54:24 AM

Shadow of the Wind by spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a must for any reader out there, amazing thriller. Best way to describe it is "It's a book about a book."

I LOVED Shadow of the Wind. Have you read Angel's Game yet? Is it as good/better?
I really enjoy books about books. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak is a good read too.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Blodeuedd on January 12, 2011, 01:12:14 PM

Shadow of the Wind by spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a must for any reader out there, amazing thriller. Best way to describe it is "It's a book about a book."

I LOVED Shadow of the Wind. Have you read Angel's Game yet? Is it as good/better?
I really enjoy books about books. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak is a good read too.

Angel's Game was in my opinion not as good, but it was still amazing, I am just blown away every time by his language.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Sharpy on January 14, 2011, 11:13:49 AM
Yea Angels Game was no where near as gripping as "Shadow of the Wind" but still an enjoyable read.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Rhevian on January 14, 2011, 01:17:19 PM
Limiting the genre to recent mainstream fiction, I would say "Imperium" and "Lustrum" by Robert Harris - these are historical novels, based on the life of Cicero during the rise of Julius Caesar

Neal Stephenson's "The Baroque Cycle" (Quicksilver, The Confusion, The System of the World) is also an amazing trilogy that should appeal to many fantasy readers. These are historical novels, set at the end of the 17th C, covering the birth of modern science, maths and economics, but also a great rollicking adventure - with connections to his modern day cyberpunk novel "Cryptonomicon"
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: OneChapterMore on January 14, 2011, 08:34:58 PM
The Baroque Cycle is not a trilogy, it is a Seven book series in three volumes  :-\

Also, Saramago is Magic Realism

My favourite book of all time is a YA/SF cross, Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells

Other than that, non-fantasy top four, in no particular order:
1. The Road - Cormac MacCarthy
2. Blindsight - Peter Watts
3. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: missoularedhead on January 15, 2011, 07:51:01 AM
This is an insanely hard question.  Here's a list, in a completely random and totally all over the map sort of way:

Malcolm Lambert's Medieval Heresy from the Gregorian Reforms to the Reformation (essential reading)
Tad Williams' Otherland series
Iain M. Banks' Culture novels, most notably The Alegebraist
King Leopold's Ghost
Salt
pretty much anything by Peter Hamilton
Eco's Foucault's Pendulum (so much better than that Dan Brown dreck)
A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages
Fast Food Nation (changed how I eat…seriously)
every single thing Richard K. Morgan ever wrote…seriously.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Zefiris on January 29, 2011, 10:38:33 PM
The Travelling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon.

It is the perfect horror novel.

Well worthy checking out.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Funky Scarecrow on January 31, 2011, 12:43:47 AM
Lonesome Dove By Larry McMurtry, Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard, The Wanderers by Richard Price, Disturbia by Christopher Fowler and for sheer blood and thunder excitement, Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels.

Non fiction wise, I'd say The Use and Abuse of History: Or How the Past is Taught by Marc Ferro, Bulfinch's Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch, The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris (flawed but fun), The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins (far less dickish and smug than some of his later works) and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. An entertaining whistle stop tour of the history of western science.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Jatix on January 31, 2011, 09:39:31 PM
My favourite non-fantasy work is one that I would imagine many people would agree with, and that is the classic Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Every time I read it I draw more links to the modern world and it gives me the chills.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: The Mad Hatter on February 01, 2011, 02:44:28 AM
My favourite non-fantasy work is one that I would imagine many people would agree with, and that is the classic Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Every time I read it I draw more links to the modern world and it gives me the chills.

George Orwell was a genius. A scary genius.

Wayne aka The Mad Hatter
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: JennyBeans on February 02, 2011, 02:53:02 PM
I read a lot of different genres, especially horror, and one of my all-time favorite non-fantasy novels is Swansong by Robert McCammon. I also LOVED Fated by S.G. Browne.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: thebeatpoetic on February 03, 2011, 12:55:30 AM
This is a tough question, so the ones I can think of, in no particular order:

-Red Earth and Pouring Rain: A Novel by Vikram Chandra
-Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
-Fury by Salman Rushdie

There's so many more, but those ones stand out as greats. Although I also really, really love Collected Stories by Roald Dahl. Actually, that would be near the top.  ;D
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Arthum on February 03, 2011, 02:18:23 PM
Ah finally had a chance to finish Sniper One while I was in the hospital :P Great book :) But also another great book which is The Hunt for Red October ;) I have to tell that Tom Clancy had a great idea to write such a book. I have to tell that it is awesome, full of suspense and interesting details about everything. I loved the false A-10 strike on Konovalov, that was great. It showed that only four A-10'ns could sunk a Russian ship :D But it was described with such detail I nearly thought that I was one of the pilots while reading it.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Sam Browning on February 03, 2011, 06:59:51 PM
My favourite non-fantasy book, without a shadow of a doubt, is a series with every book being equally brilliant The Oathsworn Series by Robert Low, the best comparison i can think of is The Black Company by Glen Cook if The Black Company were Vikings! It's about a band of vikings that have a close brotherhood the characters are all unique and quirky that you get attached to and you feel immersed within their world. Absolutely Incredible.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: WizardofWestmarch on February 07, 2011, 07:40:25 AM
Favorite non-fantasy book is probably Snow Crash.  Terrible ending, but somehow the rest of the book is so amazing I just don't care.  Pity I've never made it past the early hump in the Baroque cycle to where it supposedly gets amazing... I still need to read Anathem as well.

Already mentioned but another book that blew my mind was The Road.  I really need to read more McCarthy after the amazing way he blew my mind with that book.  Simply wonderful.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: AlexEatsBooks on February 08, 2011, 04:14:24 PM
Has anyone experienced Graham Joyce? He's such an amazing author and has really altered my thinking on many different levels. The first book of his I read when I was 15 was Dreamside - all about Lucid Dreaming and an experiment with four university students and their professor, which has some pretty nasty consequences. To this day it's still one of the most prolific books I've read.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: missoularedhead on February 08, 2011, 04:32:57 PM
Favorite non-fantasy book is probably Snow Crash.  Terrible ending, but somehow the rest of the book is so amazing I just don't care.  Pity I've never made it past the early hump in the Baroque cycle to where it supposedly gets amazing... I still need to read Anathem as well.

Already mentioned but another book that blew my mind was The Road.  I really need to read more McCarthy after the amazing way he blew my mind with that book.  Simply wonderful.

I read the first of the Baroque Cycle, thought it was pretty good, moved on to the second and…well, let's just say I didn't finish it.  Read Anathem, and was underwhelmed.  Stephenson has this tendency to overexplain absolutely every single frickin' detail…drives me mad!
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Gandledore on February 17, 2011, 08:32:09 AM
Anything and everything, crime stories, kids books, classics, some (but not many) biographies - usually Victorian figures, reference books, the lot. At the moment I am reading the original 1908 edition of Scouting for Boys. It's appeal now is in the very fact that it's dated, some wonderful Johnny English gung-ho in there. After this I will need a fantasy/steampunk fix of some sort, these tales (if done well, of course) are so stylish.  Cheers. Gandledore.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Nighteyes on February 17, 2011, 08:43:38 AM
David Mitchell is amazing - Black Swan Green, Number9Dream, Cloud Atlas etc - and has fantastical elements and sci fi in his books.

For classics: Frankenstein and Heart of Darkness are must reads!
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: WizardofWestmarch on April 01, 2011, 04:53:57 AM
Favorite non-fantasy book is probably Snow Crash.  Terrible ending, but somehow the rest of the book is so amazing I just don't care.  Pity I've never made it past the early hump in the Baroque cycle to where it supposedly gets amazing... I still need to read Anathem as well.

Already mentioned but another book that blew my mind was The Road.  I really need to read more McCarthy after the amazing way he blew my mind with that book.  Simply wonderful.

I read the first of the Baroque Cycle, thought it was pretty good, moved on to the second and…well, let's just say I didn't finish it.  Read Anathem, and was underwhelmed.  Stephenson has this tendency to overexplain absolutely every single frickin' detail…drives me mad!

I haven't gotten around to Anathem yet but friends of mine loved it to death. I find it amusing you got through Quicksilver because I made it 100 pages in and gave up... twice! But people I know who made it past the Waterhouse bits said it really got better after that. But Snow Crash blew my mind (in spite of the bad ending) and I highly enjoyed Crytonomicon as well. Diamond Age was weird but enjoyable... Maybe it's the software engineer in me *shrugs* People very much seem to love or hate Stephenson's writing.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: missoularedhead on April 01, 2011, 06:12:08 AM
Funny you say that, because everyone I know who likes his work is in the computer field somewhere, and everyone who doesn't like his work is in the humanities.  Although he did do his research on Newton…the guy drank mercury just to see what would happen.  He's such a loon!
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Nighteyes on April 01, 2011, 06:31:28 AM
Neal Stephenson must be one of the most intelligent men on the planet: knowledgeable on philosophy, mathematics, science, computers, history - and that's the problem with his books, you feel like you are being overwhelmed, and you need to take evening classes to understand them. 

I have read the whole Baraque cycle, Anathem, Diamond Age and Cryptonomicum.  Love them all, but want to sit down and reread them with a friend who is an expert on mathematics, one on science, one on computers, and one on philosophy.  I'll bring a decent historical knowledge to the table, and just teach each other and discuss all the different aspects of his novels. 

I would prob recommend Diamond Age as his most accessible - and Anathem as his toughest. Definitely worth reading at least one or two by him at some point in your life though - just be prepared to read slowly and have a lot of questions!
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Winter on April 05, 2011, 04:27:17 AM
I just finished Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things last night. It is a tragic tale, beautifully written and presented as a narrative puzzle to piece together bit by sad bit. Just, an excellent novel, deserving of the the accolades it has received in the past and those that it should continue to receive into the future. One of the best novels I have ever read, inside or outside the genre.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Shamrock on April 06, 2011, 07:18:49 AM
Some books that I really enjoyed that aren't fantasy are:
The Dexter series - Jeff Lindsay
Rites of Passage - William Golding
Age of Iron -J.M. Coetzee
Perfume - Patrick Süskind
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen

David Mitchell is amazing - Black Swan Green, Number9Dream, Cloud Atlas etc - and has fantastical elements and sci fi in his books.

For classics: Frankenstein and Heart of Darkness are must reads!
Joseph Conrad was almost the death of me during my undergraduate studies, urgh Heart of Darkness and Nostromo. Deepest darkest Africa isn't the horror, his books are. Although it might have been that my lecturers made it so boring, maybe I will try to read them again some day.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Nighteyes on April 06, 2011, 07:28:32 AM
Some books that I really enjoyed that aren't fantasy are:
The Dexter series - Jeff Lindsay
Rites of Passage - William Golding
Age of Iron -J.M. Coetzee
Perfume - Patrick Süskind
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen

David Mitchell is amazing - Black Swan Green, Number9Dream, Cloud Atlas etc - and has fantastical elements and sci fi in his books.

For classics: Frankenstein and Heart of Darkness are must reads!
Joseph Conrad was almost the death of me during my undergraduate studies, urgh Heart of Darkness and Nostromo. Deepest darkest Africa isn't the horror, his books are. Although it might have been that my lecturers made it so boring, maybe I will try to read them again some day.

The horror! The horror!
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Shamrock on April 06, 2011, 09:02:59 AM
Some books that I really enjoyed that aren't fantasy are:
The Dexter series - Jeff Lindsay
Rites of Passage - William Golding
Age of Iron -J.M. Coetzee
Perfume - Patrick Süskind
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen

David Mitchell is amazing - Black Swan Green, Number9Dream, Cloud Atlas etc - and has fantastical elements and sci fi in his books.

For classics: Frankenstein and Heart of Darkness are must reads!
Joseph Conrad was almost the death of me during my undergraduate studies, urgh Heart of Darkness and Nostromo. Deepest darkest Africa isn't the horror, his books are. Although it might have been that my lecturers made it so boring, maybe I will try to read them again some day.

The horror! The horror!
Off the topic have you ever watched Whatever Works? It's directed by Woody Allen? In the one scene the old guys comes running out of his room screaming:
"The horror! The horror! You switched my night lamp off!"
Not sure of the exact quote but I almost peed myself laughing.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Nighteyes on April 06, 2011, 09:06:16 AM
^never seen it I'm afraid.  Will look out for it for sure :)
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: ChrisMB on April 22, 2011, 02:48:59 AM
Most of the books I read that are not fantasy-based are history books. I keep going back to William Urban's The Teutonic Knights and Medieval Mercenaries for inspiration, and I love Peter Marren's Battles of the Dark Ages. Military Blunders by Major Steven Eden, U.S. Army (Hey that's how he's credited on the cover so that's how I cite him) is a great piece for armchair historians and it helped me with some lessons on occasion.

The only non-fantasy author I actively seek out is Jodi Picoult. I've read all of her books since I was given The Pact in high school, and although they are all the same in terms of structure, there's something about her writing style and the characters that makes me come back to them. It also helps that I attended a luncheon with her as the guest speaker, and her staunch position on researching a subject to know it inside and out really stuck with me. If anyone would like to get into her work, I strongly recommend either The Pact or My Sister's Keeper.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Mr Soul on June 21, 2011, 05:56:37 PM
That's a really hard question to answer. I read so much and on a fairly wide range of topics.

I'll have to give it some thought. But for now, I'd have to day the best non-fantasy (non-SF), fiction I've read in the last couple of years was Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Roojets on July 01, 2011, 06:56:40 PM
Its a tough question to answer. But To Kill A Mocking Bird is the only book I've read more than twice and its brilliant for so many reasons.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: ScatteredK on July 08, 2011, 12:04:29 PM
Its a tough question to answer. But To Kill A Mocking Bird is the only book I've read more than twice and its brilliant for so many reasons.


I couldn't agree more! My mom and I read this every summer :)
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Mr Soul on July 17, 2011, 03:16:18 PM
Journey from the Land of No by Roya Hakakian. A memoir of the author's childhood in Tehran around the time Khomeini came to power.

Beautifully written. Hilariously funny at times but very sad at others. The Hakakians were members of a surprisingly large Jewish population in Iran.

I've given several copies of this book as gifts.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Khaldun on September 29, 2011, 02:33:27 AM
For non-fiction check out
the 43 laws of power
collapse, guns germs and steel (both by jared diamond)
confessions of an economic hit man
freakonomics.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: akapaoloverdi on October 18, 2011, 09:01:38 PM
Here's my two-penny-worth!
In fiction I'd say if you haven't read Joseph Heller's 'Catch 22' then give it a go. It's amazing and funny and scary all at once, with moments of farcical insanity juxtaposed with heart-breaking scenes of the effects that war has on combatants and civilians alike.
I also rate James Ellroy's works with the LA Quartet (LA Confidential being the most famous) and the American trilogy starting with 'American Tabloid' probably his finest. Be warned though, they are not for the feint hearted.
Chuck Palahniuk's 'Fight Club' is a good easy read with lots to say and make you think as is his 'Haunted' which gets a prize for some of the most disturbing scenes I've ever read.
Non-fiction I tend to go with biogs and autobiographies and can recommend 'Groucho and Me' by Groucho Marx, 'Teller of Tales' about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and 'Homicide' by David Simon upon which the tv series was based.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: oppos3d on December 19, 2011, 03:17:38 PM
Has anyone read The Lost Symbol by Robert Brown?  I loved the movies and wondered what people thought of this book.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Nighteyes on December 19, 2011, 04:11:58 PM
Has anyone read The Lost Symbol by Robert Brown?  I loved the movies and wondered what people thought of this book.

Could possibly be the worst book I ever read.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: oppos3d on December 19, 2011, 07:33:04 PM
Has anyone read The Lost Symbol by Robert Brown?  I loved the movies and wondered what people thought of this book.

Could possibly be the worst book I ever read.

Which is why I'm glad I come here before selecting reading options...  lol, thank you hound.  I guess I will wait for the movie.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Nighteyes on December 19, 2011, 07:45:56 PM
and i did quite like Da Vinci Code as a guilty pleasure read and enjoyed the Angels and Demons film.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: oppos3d on December 19, 2011, 08:37:12 PM
This is probably my favorite movie series thus far outside of the fantasy world, so that is disappointing to hear.  Hopefully the movie is good even though the book was not?  Highly doubtful, but possible.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: EDB77 on January 27, 2012, 08:52:18 PM
Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four for me too. I agree with Jatix, it's disturbing stuff when you thing about what's going on in the world.

Junky and Queer by Burroughs are pretty high on my faves list. Burroughs is awesome and mad as a sack of weasels.


Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Jexral on February 08, 2012, 12:19:39 AM
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.  I would say that it is the most beautifully written, thoughtful book that I have ever read.  Thinking about it right now is really making me want to go grab it from my shelf and read through it again, but, alas, I have other things I have to do.

Behind that, I'd probably put The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  I just read it recently, and it's the only one of his books that I've read (and for a minute there at the end, I was sure I would never touch another of his books, but he didn't do the thing I'd expected), but I will certainly be checking out some more of them through the year.  The writing is unique and absorbing, the characters and their plight compelling.  I love the minimalism of his punctuation.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Minion_ax on April 05, 2012, 02:48:27 AM
Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy.  One of my all time favorites.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Tattangel on June 10, 2012, 10:28:27 PM
I'm not usually into historical fiction ( my mum bought me the Brother Cadfael books a long long time ago and I'm afraid I really didn't enjoy them and I think they put me off!) but I read CJ Sansoms books a couple of years ago and really enjoyed them, so I'm tempted to try a few more authors that have been mentioned on this thread... Thanks guys!

 :)
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Wizard Police on June 28, 2012, 07:58:25 AM
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is my favorite book ever, both fantasy and non fantasy alike. I read it at least once every year.

Always Running by Louis Rodriguez is also one of my favorites, though it may be because living in the ghettos half my life it hits harder home with me.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Doctor_Chill on July 09, 2012, 03:57:16 AM
A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer. Beautifully written. It took him 27 drafts to write this book, which could be a good or bad thing. And to add in a cheesy way people will hate, seeing as some who have read it probably could've guessed the ending, it held me until the final sentence, which is something few books have ever done for me. A good "twist" at the end. And well written.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: David Bridger on July 15, 2012, 07:03:18 PM
If I can only have one, it'll have to be The Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulisch.

My top league reservists:

Shibumi by Trevanian;
I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven; and
all John le Carre's Smiley books.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Carl on July 31, 2012, 08:08:38 PM
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.

Seriously, it's a really good book. It's not the slog that some of his books are, even if it is one of the long ones.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Elfy on August 01, 2012, 12:19:58 AM
Cry Wolf by Wilbur Smith is one that I reread a lot and would love to see made into a film. It's about the annexation of Ethiopia by Mussolini during the 1930's. 
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: KylaWriter on August 01, 2012, 08:57:45 PM
I read more non-fantasy than fantasy these days- partly because the thought of starting a 3+ book series scares me because I just don't have the time.
Sophie's Choice is utterly transcendant and anything by Margaret Atwood. As for classics, Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy is my fave.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: AlmightyZael on August 18, 2012, 12:48:24 AM
I was really impressed by Joe Haldeman's Forever War.
That book was one of those rare ones that actually felt like a journey as I read it. It's up there in my top 3.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Lionwalker on August 18, 2012, 10:20:02 AM
Cry Wolf by Wilbur Smith is one that I reread a lot and would love to see made into a film. It's about the annexation of Ethiopia by Mussolini during the 1930's. 

I do have a soft spot for Wilbur Smith, read all of his stuff when I was younger. Haven't picked one up in years though.

 
I was really impressed by Joe Haldeman's Forever War.
That book was one of those rare ones that actually felt like a journey as I read it. It's up there in my top 3.

This is one of my favourite books. You should give John Steakley's Armor a try. (It is American spelling :) )

My all time favourite non-fantasy, non-SF book is Alexander Dumas's The Count of Monte Christo, the characters are amazing and the plotting just blows my mind away...
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Aximand on August 23, 2012, 06:21:00 AM

This is one of my favourite books. You should give John Steakley's Armor a try. (It is American spelling :) )

I second this. I couldn't get into it when I was younger, but read it about a year ago and loved it.

A non-fantasy book that stands out as one of my favorites is Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. I read it back in high school, and it really impressed me. Which reminds me, I need to put that back into my "to read" pile...
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: AlmightyZael on August 25, 2012, 07:20:20 PM
Cry Wolf by Wilbur Smith is one that I reread a lot and would love to see made into a film. It's about the annexation of Ethiopia by Mussolini during the 1930's. 

I do have a soft spot for Wilbur Smith, read all of his stuff when I was younger. Haven't picked one up in years though.

 
I was really impressed by Joe Haldeman's Forever War.
That book was one of those rare ones that actually felt like a journey as I read it. It's up there in my top 3.

This is one of my favourite books. You should give John Steakley's Armor a try. (It is American spelling :) )

My all time favourite non-fantasy, non-SF book is Alexander Dumas's The Count of Monte Christo, the characters are amazing and the plotting just blows my mind away...

Oh yes. It's been on my shelf for about two years. I will get around to it eventually  :) The first chapter or so I read through I could tell it would be one I would enjoy.
Have you read Dune? That's another of my TBR's. I heard that sequences aren't as strong as Dune, though.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Lionwalker on August 25, 2012, 07:48:33 PM
Cry Wolf by Wilbur Smith is one that I reread a lot and would love to see made into a film. It's about the annexation of Ethiopia by Mussolini during the 1930's. 

I do have a soft spot for Wilbur Smith, read all of his stuff when I was younger. Haven't picked one up in years though.

 
I was really impressed by Joe Haldeman's Forever War.
That book was one of those rare ones that actually felt like a journey as I read it. It's up there in my top 3.

This is one of my favourite books. You should give John Steakley's Armor a try. (It is American spelling :) )

My all time favourite non-fantasy, non-SF book is Alexander Dumas's The Count of Monte Christo, the characters are amazing and the plotting just blows my mind away...

Oh yes. It's been on my shelf for about two years. I will get around to it eventually  :) The first chapter or so I read through I could tell it would be one I would enjoy.
Have you read Dune? That's another of my TBR's. I heard that sequences aren't as strong as Dune, though.

I enjoyed the first few books, but then the last three, when the Honored Matres arrived things got a bit wierd. Haven't read it in like 10 years though.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: AlmightyZael on August 25, 2012, 11:11:06 PM
I haven't been reading for that long  :o
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Lionwalker on August 25, 2012, 11:16:46 PM
I haven't been reading for that long  :o

You mean reading books in general? :o

I'm going into my 19th year of reading several books a week.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Idlewilder on August 25, 2012, 11:17:25 PM
I haven't been reading for that long  :o

I've seen Lionwalker's facebook - he's pretty old. The white hair and the bald patch made it pretty obvious.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Lionwalker on August 25, 2012, 11:19:50 PM
I haven't been reading for that long  :o

I've seen Lionwalker's facebook - he's pretty old. The white hair and the bald patch made it pretty obvious.

That's my arse you've been looking at. Glad you like it.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Lor on August 25, 2012, 11:45:14 PM
My favourite non-fantasy book I've read, and therefore the one I liked best, is The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas Pere.

I just love Porthos.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Idlewilder on August 25, 2012, 11:48:18 PM
I'm going to ignore the Lionfreak's last comment and actually answer this one myself.

My favourite non-fantasy is probably The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It's got a fairly predictable structure, and cardboard cut-out, pantomime villains - but I don't care. It's fantastic.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: AlmightyZael on August 26, 2012, 02:45:30 AM
I haven't been reading for that long  :o

You mean reading books in general? :o

I'm going into my 19th year of reading several books a week.

Damn! Several a week. You lucky panda! I can't manage that in a month  :D I read really slowly, kinda painting a picture for each word. Annoying at times but I love the way it makes me feel in terms of atmosphere.

I used to read every now and then when I was younger. Only really started reading when I was 16 or so. So that's only 3 years of really reading. In that time I discovered that Fantasy and Sci-Fi are definitely my choice of genre.

Haldeman, Dick, Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov did a great job of hooking me.
Rothfuss, Brett, Butcher and Sanderson did the same for fantasy.

If anyone hasn't seen the series, I would recommend watching the Prophets of Science Fiction. Amazing!
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Jeni on August 26, 2012, 02:02:20 PM
The one that springs to mind is Decipher by Stel Pavlou. Although there are elements of sci-fi (fantasy, not so much) in it, it is mainly a thriller- a race against time to decipher the code and save our planet from imminent disaster that will bring about the end of civilisation as we know it and possibly the end of the human race altogether. Absolutely loved this book - so much so that once I'd read it I immediately went out and bought another copy for my brother. I've done that twice and he hasn't read either book. Not doing it again!
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: magisensei on September 20, 2012, 07:45:57 PM
Lets see if I am not reading fantasy/sci-fi then I am reading mystery and suspense, English literature (Cdn lit, American lit, Br lit), poetry, historical journals/diaries, graphic novels and a ton of other genres. 

Best mystery - one of my favorites: Donna Andrews' "Meg Langslow" series - if you like a mystery with humor - then this is your series to try - just read the titles and you will have a chuckle - e.g. Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon

English literature - one of my favorite author has to be Jane Austen and her novels; on a more modern note - Wayson Choy is one of favorite authors - his novel The Jade Peony

Graphic novels: one of my favorite authors/artists - is Terry Moore and his series "Strangers in Paradise" as a follows the life and rather usual adventures of his two female protagonist and their life (no superheroes here).   
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Elfy on September 21, 2012, 12:20:17 AM
If we're talking non fantasy series as opposed to individual books then for me it's George MacDonald Fraser's Harry Flashman books hands down. One of the things I love about those is that the author found these footnote characters in history (the books are set between late 1830's to the early 1900's) and wrote about them. They're so unbelievable that they couldn't possibly be real, but they are, and it goes to prove that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: JonRock411 on October 17, 2012, 04:26:09 AM
Count Of Monte Cristo, American Psycho, Looking For Alaska, Catch-22, Les Miserables, On The Road, Brave New World, 1984,  The Scarlet Pimpernel, Cosmos, Treasure Island,  I can probably think of more.   I find it helps to have read a wide variety of genres while writing.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Lejays17 on October 17, 2012, 11:54:09 AM
Probably The Eight by Katherine Neville.  Although, there are fantastical elements in there, it's more historical.  The sequel is utter rubbish thought!

Sharon Kay Penman's Welsh Trilogy (specifically the first one Here Be Dragons) is another firm favourite.  Oh, and Firelord by Parke Godwin, realistic version of King Arthur.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: K.Trian on October 22, 2012, 06:51:50 PM
American Psycho, Catch-22, Brave New World, 1984

Seconded.

Also:
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Dina's Book by Herbjorg Wassmo
Ég heiti Ísbjörg, ég er ljón by Vigdis Grímsdóttir
The Little Mermaid by H.C. Anderson (ok, it's a fairy tale)
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Post Office by Charles Bukowski

There are probably more. I couldn't name just one.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: wikkels on January 20, 2013, 09:19:16 AM
The non-fantasy books I enjoy to read and enjoy include a huge range from classics for example Sherlock Holmes to 'suspense' or 'thriller' novels for example Grisham and Baldacci.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: SunnyE on January 28, 2013, 02:44:59 AM
Totally depends on what genre. And "best" is so subjective. I just go by books that I enjoy while reading them, the ones I really don't want to end. If I'm looking for light and funny, I always go for Janet Evanovich. Any of them; she's hysterical. For a good horror read, Dean Koontz or any of Stephen King's older stuff, plus Under the Dome was really good. For suspense/thriller/crime/mystery, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown, Jeffrey Deaver, Mary Higgins Clark, Iris Johanson, Michael Crichton, Michael Connelly are all consistently good. The classics are wonderful, and too many to mention. There were a number of historical novels I really liked: Slammerkin, The Expected One, Clan of the Cave Bear series. So many great books out there! It's a shame to limit oneself to just fantasy. It's my favorite as well, but I loved so many others, too.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Elfy on January 28, 2013, 04:03:41 AM
Totally depends on what genre. And "best" is so subjective. I just go by books that I enjoy while reading them, the ones I really don't want to end. If I'm looking for light and funny, I always go for Janet Evanovich. Any of them; she's hysterical. For a good horror read, Dean Koontz or any of Stephen King's older stuff, plus Under the Dome was really good. For suspense/thriller/crime/mystery, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown, Jeffrey Deaver, Mary Higgins Clark, Iris Johanson, Michael Crichton, Michael Connelly are all consistently good. The classics are wonderful, and too many to mention. There were a number of historical novels I really liked: Slammerkin, The Expected One, Clan of the Cave Bear series. So many great books out there! It's a shame to limit oneself to just fantasy. It's my favorite as well, but I loved so many others, too.
If you like Janet Evanovich I'd recommend taking a look at Laura Resnick's Esther Diamond series, she's almost the fantasy equivalent of Stephanie Plum. My non fantasy favourites tend to be historical.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: SunnyE on February 04, 2013, 02:16:14 AM
If you like Janet Evanovich I'd recommend taking a look at Laura Resnick's Esther Diamond series, she's almost the fantasy equivalent of Stephanie Plum.

Thanks! I'm not familiar with her, so I'll have to check her out. :)
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: shieldfire on February 04, 2013, 04:32:41 AM
Oh, a proper "how long is a string?" question :-)
For fiction I'd suggest "Life - a users manual" by George Perec. Or "Life and Fate" by Vassily Grossman.

The first is for everyone curious about their neighbours, or complete strangers. The second one is about life in Russia during WWII.

Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 2

Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Jaedia on February 04, 2013, 01:58:28 PM
I read a lot of chick lit and urban fantasy on the side and I've been meaning to give my historical shelf a good whack as it has been steadily growing over the last year or two and all I've read is Philippa Gregory who.. well.. historical fiction readers will understand I'm sure. >.<

I'll have to go with Milly Johnson, though. A chick lit author who always leaves me with a smile on my face by the end of her books.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: shieldfire on June 02, 2013, 01:21:01 PM
Life, a Users Manual. It must be up there in top 3. It's for everyone who has ever walked by houses, looked through the lit windows and wondered what, exactly was going on in that home.

Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 4 Beta

Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Timstar on July 15, 2014, 09:11:38 AM
The Count of Monte Cristo no question.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: OnlyOneHighlander on September 27, 2014, 04:51:56 PM

Some people might say these are speculative fiction, but I'm just happy calling them great:

The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherrill: For anyone who has ever felt like they don't quite fit in.

And

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: Like the perfect partner you'll wonder how someone like you ended up with something so great, you'll never think you're half as good as it and you'll love it all the same.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Yora on September 27, 2014, 07:07:43 PM
Now when I discount Star Wars and nonfiction books... I don't know. I need to think harder on that. Maybe I'll come up with something.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Shadowhand on September 27, 2014, 09:03:05 PM
My definition of "best" being the ones that have made the biggest impact on me as a person and influenced how I perceive the world (the fact that they were good reads is a given), I would have to say The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: sakiewek on November 25, 2014, 02:27:05 PM
I remember my best non-fiction. It was little polish novel called Medallions by Z. Nalkowska. Few short stories concerning II WW and its victims.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Saraband on November 25, 2014, 03:22:55 PM
Amin Maalouf's Samarkand is one of my favorite books of all time. Wonderful story set at the time of the Titanic, that jumps into Medieval Persia at a very interesting time, and then gets back to the Titanic, all the time telling us much about Persia/Iran's history.

Then there are some like 1984, anything by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, Baltasar & Blimunda, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Dante's Commedia, Kafka's Metamorphosis... Oh well.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: JMack on December 18, 2014, 12:07:03 PM
Bleak House by Charles Dickens.  Melodrama, of course, but what writing! What comedy and overwrought-ness (sic).

The Memory of Old Jack by (I'm old and can't remember) was so painful as the main characters made these awful decisions that I put it down for 6 months before I could finish it. 

And True Grit by Charles Portis is a wonderful short novel.  Better than either movies, and those movies are pretty wonderful.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: ravenoak on December 18, 2014, 08:50:16 PM
To Kill a Mockingbird & The Great Gatsby as far as classics go. Toss in Fahrenheit 451 as well if we toss in Sci-Fi (which isn't Fantasy, but does fall under the same Speculative Fiction umbrella).

I've enjoyed Sue Grafton's A-Z mystery series so far and the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. Some books from school long ago like The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Bridge to Terabithia, The Outsiders, or The Watsons Go to Birmingham.

Shakespeare is always fun. I'll also toss in Jenny Lawson's Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir).
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: NightWrite on July 12, 2015, 04:50:12 AM
One of the most memorable non-fiction books I've ever read was Richard Preston's The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story. My little sister had to read it for one of her science classes in high school, and I read the copy she had gotten from her teacher. I'm not much of a person for stories focusing on diseases and their outbreaks, but I enjoyed the story none the less. Ended up buying myself a copy and it still sits on my bookshelf to this day despite how many times I've had to thin the herd.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: DDRRead on July 12, 2015, 07:06:27 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

Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Arya Stark on October 29, 2015, 10:23:57 AM
The Stand

Bridge To Terabithia also, not that it's some literary masterpiece, it's just so depressing and uplifting at the same time :'(
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: JRTroughton on January 10, 2016, 01:26:41 PM
The Wasp Factory is the most affecting book I've ever read. Only piece of literature to make me cry.

Just finished The Cement Garden, which hit a lot of similar notes, without ever really touching me in the same way.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Delaney on May 15, 2016, 01:09:00 PM
I recently finished James Clavell's Shogun. Wow. It really struck a chord with me, all 1300 pages of it. I think it could be the best book I've ever read!
Title: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: marshall_lamour on May 16, 2016, 06:17:54 AM
Two books which had the strongest and longest lasting effect on me were Camus' The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt and Yukio Mishima's Sun & Steel.  I would say Fight Club, but the novel's effect on me was only secondary to the film's, even though it wasn't long before I picked up the book and have read it several times since. I would also say Siddhartha, but I sometimes feel that I've outgrown much of the value it originally had for me (I'm sure I'll come back around to it later in life, though).  I would say Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, but it shames me to think that I was never stirred enough to live the sort of life it portrays.  Any of Nietzsche's later works could claim the top bracket without much of fight, and though I'm fond of Thus Spoke Zarathustra it's On the Genealogy of Morals that most thoroughly plagues my thoughts.

My current favorite work in the English language, however, would have to be Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. It's probably the most beautifully written book I've ever read and certainly among the most profound.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Shay_Fox on May 25, 2016, 11:14:39 PM
I love to read all type of books. But my favorite one is love stories. "A walk to remember" and "Fifty shades of grey" both are my favorite. And i love to read it again and again.
Title: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: xiagan on May 26, 2016, 08:35:04 AM
Douglas Adams 'Last Chance to See' is a book everybody should read. It's so good, funny, hilarious and tragic.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Nighteyes on May 26, 2016, 09:13:40 AM
Douglas Adams 'Last Chance to See' is a book everybody should read. It's so good, funny, hilarious and tragic.

One billion times this.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Peat on May 26, 2016, 03:20:31 PM
John Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Honourable mentions for the rest of his books (mostly), some of the works of Lindsey Davis and a lot of historians.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Nighteyes on May 26, 2016, 05:50:20 PM
John Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Honourable mentions for the rest of his books (mostly), some of the works of Lindsey Davis and a lot of historians.

Have you read his son, Nick Harkaway, who has a speculative element to his books.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Mr.J on May 26, 2016, 05:56:32 PM
John Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Honourable mentions for the rest of his books (mostly), some of the works of Lindsey Davis and a lot of historians.

Have you read his son, Nick Harkaway, who has a speculative element to his books.
Yes, yes, this. Tigerman is a terrific book.

Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Nighteyes on May 26, 2016, 06:04:04 PM
John Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Honourable mentions for the rest of his books (mostly), some of the works of Lindsey Davis and a lot of historians.

Have you read his son, Nick Harkaway, who has a speculative element to his books.
Yes, yes, this. Tigerman is a terrific book.

Angelmaker is even better! Great talent.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: ScarletBea on May 28, 2016, 09:29:13 PM
Angelmaker is even better! Great talent.
Oh, good to know. That book has been in my 'non-fantasy TBR' list for quite a while, but I end up never bringing it home from the library.

One recent non-fantasy book I really enjoyed was The universe versus Alex Woods, by Gavin Extence.
Quite surprising.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Peat on May 28, 2016, 09:53:11 PM
One was aware of the son's existence but was yet to read his works; obliged for the recommendation, peeps :)
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Shay_Fox 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.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: MammaMamae 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. 
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Jake Baelish 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.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Steve S 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!
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: MASTODON 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 :)



Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: S. K. Inkslinger 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.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: ctrandall 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.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: OnlyOneHighlander 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.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Neveesandeh 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.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Skip 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)
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: isos81 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.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Bender 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...


Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: Brand J Alexander on July 03, 2019, 03:58:33 PM
Intensity by Dean Koontz and Where the Red Fern Grows
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: laughs 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 (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/books/review/zadie-smith-swing-time.html). 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 (https://www.bartleby.com/textbooks/sociology-the-essentials-mindtap-course-list-9th-edition/9781305503083/solutions). 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.
Title: Re: Best Non-Fantasy Book you have read?
Post by: David A. Werling 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.