We asked our readers: What was the last book that you couldn't put down, that kept you up all night, that you couldn't stop recommending? We were delightfully surprised by the number of replies we received. Here are some of our favorites. We'll be posting more on a regular basis, so check back often. And if you'd like to submit your own recommendations, click here for instructions.
÷ ÷ ÷
Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling
Recommended by: Linda L. from Olympia, Washington
Favorite author of all time: S. M. Stirling
Favorite type of book: I can't pick just one type! Sexy detective stories (Robert Crais, James Lee Burke, J. D. Robb); intelligent yet engaging sci-fi (Frank Herbert's Dune); sweet and clever nature writing, flowing like Tupelo honey (anything by Gary Paulsen).
I heard S. M. Stirling's Dies the Fire reviewed on National Public Radio and felt compelled to buy it and buy it fast. Set in the great Northwest, it's a tale of struggling woe and redemption following a bright flash in the sky that kills all electronics, downing a small plane flown by an ex-marine taking wealthy tourists sightseeing over the Cascades. It turns out the event affected electricity in an area far beyond the plane, which the small group of survivors discovers when they hike out of the wilderness to find highways with bumper-to-bumper dead vehicles, whose passengers are just sitting and waiting for the government to help them.
But is there still government infrastructure left to help? Should people start walking toward the big cities or gather all the supplies they can and head out to the hinterlands with kith and kin? How well would people like sheriffs, mayors, and Bill Gates survive in the new world?
Luckily, S. M. Stirling has given us nine page-turning books to suss it all out, with more books planned, Stirling-be-praised. I bought three used copies of the first book to hand out and was pleasantly surprised when I felt closer to friends who read and loved the book like I do. Rush to get Dies the Fire, used or new from Powells.com. Your survival in this world, and/or a post-apocalyptic one, just might depend on it.
÷ ÷ ÷
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Recommended by: Elizabeth V. from Romeo, Michigan
Favorite author of all time: Probably Abraham Verghese; maybe John Hart, Dennis Lehane, Mary Doria Russell, Richard Preston, Stephen King, David Wroblewski, or Joseph Kanon
Favorite type of book: I can't name a favorite genre, but my favorites all have this in common: they get interesting within the first few pages.
11/22/63 is probably the best time-travel book I've ever read. King writes terrific dialog, and the content is not typical of King. Jake, an English teacher/writer in Maine, learns how to step into the past. He decides to take this opportunity to prevent President Kennedy's assassination but has to spend five years in the "Land of Ago" before that date, 11/22/63.
This book is long. But even though I read the hardcover (read: heavy), while I was reading the last 50 pages, I felt terrible that the story was coming to an end.
÷ ÷ ÷
Reamde by Neal Stephenson
Recommended by: Leslie B. from Houston, Texas
Favorite author of all time: Mordecai Richler
Favorite type of novel: Spy novels
I loved science fiction when I was a kid, but as I grew up, I was put off by the poor writing. Neal Stephenson can write a suspenseful novel that happens to be sci-fi. And I particularly like the backstories of his characters in Reamde, as well as the varied geography of the setting.
÷ ÷ ÷