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I Need a Good Page-Turner! July 13, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, Book Reviews, Misc, On Writing, Reviews, Study.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Sorry if things have been a little slow lately.  Have some family visiting and it’s been craaaazy.

Anyway, I’m reaching out to see if anyone can recommend a good page-turner for me.  Actually, not just a good one, a great one.  An all-time best.

For whatever reason I haven’t been getting into books as much as I should be recently.  When I had been working on my major writing project I had to read stacks of books and articles to help me with my writing — and while they were helpful I didn’t necessarily enjoy them.  Nevertheless, I had to churn through them for the sake of my writing.

Now that I’m done with all of that, I feel like I need a ripper of a book to get me back in the groove of reading for pure pleasure.

I started reading Peter Temple’s Truth (winner of the 2010 Miles Franklin Literary Award) on the iPad recently but haven’t been able to really get into it yet.  Temple has a unique style that almost feels like he’s cutting corners with words to make his prose punchier, and it takes a while to get used to.  And so far the progression of the plot and dialogue reminds me of one of those classy Hollywood detective movies where you don’t really understand what the heck they’re talking about (at least at the start) but you know it’s good dialogue.

I also started reading my fourth John Grisham novel (after The Innocent Man, The Associate and The Firm), A Time to Kill, his debut work.  After I expressed my disappointment in The Associate some recommended that I check out his earlier stuff (before crap like ‘Theodore Boone — Child Lawyer!!’).  I’ve never seen the film with Samuel ‘Maryland Farmer’ L Jackson and Matthew ‘I have good genes!’ McConaughey, so I’m finding it quite an enjoyable read thus far, but as Grisham admitted in the intro, he does ramble on a fair bit.  Thus I would call it a good page-turner but not a great one — something that could keep me occupied on a train but nothing that would keep me up late at night.

A third book I barely started is Everyone’s Pretty by Lydia Millet, a dark comedy about the porn industry.  This was one of the books recommended to help with my writing but I thought it would be an interesting read too.  A few pages in and I’m somewhat intrigued, but haven’t gone back for more in days.

Not sure if have time to finish all these books in the short term as I have another book review to do for a trade publication.  It’s called Lives and Letters by Robert Gottlieb, a series of profiles on fascinating public figures, artists and entertainers including Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn, and so forth.  Being a published profile writer myself (ahem), I’m looking forward to this one, though the fact that I have to read it dampens my enthusiasm somewhat.

Am I just too picky here?  Some might say these are all perfectly good page-turners, but I’m not satisfied.  I need something to blow me away.  I’m not necessarily talking about a wonderfully written book (from a technical perspective — I mean, Madame Bovary is supposed be to ‘technically’ perfect but her ‘bovaries’ kept putting me to sleep).  I have pretty pedestrian tastes, after all.  I just want a read that will make me want to tear through it in a couple of days and inspire me to read more.

Help.  Anyone?


1. uioae - July 13, 2011

Try any Lee Child novel about the character Jack Reacher. They are definitely page-turners.

pacejmiller - July 14, 2011

Is Reacher anything like Bauer? If so, I’m sold!

uioae - July 16, 2011

Like Bauer, with less words and – if you can believe it – even more trigger happy.

2. Wyrd Smythe - July 14, 2011

The one I literally couldn’t put down the first time I read it and ended up reading all night was Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth. Starz recently made a passable miniseries out of it, but the book is one of the better non-SF books on my list. It’ll keep you busy a while.

A shorter, but IMO outstanding work, is Craig Ferguson’s novel, Between the Bridge and the River. I was so impressed, I ended up reading it twice in a short stretch. His autobio is fun, but that novel had me raving about it all my friends.

3. Anna - July 14, 2011

Child 44 by Tom Robb Smith. It is a fascinating thriller set in Russia. One f the best fiction books I read last year.

4. redheadmouth - July 14, 2011

If you have not checked out David Sedaris, I highly recommend his books. Hilarious.

5. TBM - July 14, 2011

I enjoyed A Time to Kill. And Red Head Mouth is right, David Sedaris is so so so so so funny. Each year we read his short stories about Christmas. I think the collection is called Holidays on Ice

pacejmiller - July 14, 2011

Te last book I read was actually sedaris’s naked, which was awesome. He is indeed a very funny man.

6. cbowiephoto - July 15, 2011

I just read Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants…. simply amazing.

7. castlenut - July 16, 2011

I just finished: Till We have Faces by C.S. Lewis — psyche & cupid myth retold from a different perspective — or if you haven’t already tried it Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, which is YA fiction, but THE book of the summer due to the hype behind the upcoming film.

8. Dinny Rex - July 16, 2011

Read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Amazing series. Stephen King books also make me stay up at night reading it until I finish. But then I get all paranoid and jump at every sound when it’s dark.

9. shetraces - July 18, 2011

Since you like Sedarat´s work, I will recommend Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I´m about 15 pages into it, and it´s had me cracking up. I think you´ll enjoy it.

10. shetraces - July 18, 2011

Sorry I meant Sedaris, and I think you´ll like Life of Pi because it´s heavy and light all at the same time.

11. Kevin - August 1, 2011

On Basilisk Station by David Weber, the first book of the Honorverse series and go on from there. Free copy available through here:


Assassin’s Apprentice by Robbin Hobb, the first book of The Farseer Trilogy, which is the first trilogy in The Realm of the Elderlings series.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, the first book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire. Recently made into a successful mini-series by HBO starring Sean Bean.

pacejmiller - August 1, 2011

Thanks Cave! Looks like I need to ask you about fantasy stuff!

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