Mail bag: What to read next?

A lovely reader recently wrote me a letter, said she loved Losing Clementine and asked if I could recommend other authors for her to try. (I never stop being amazed when people write me fan mail. It’s so astounding I can’t help but imagine some other author’s inbox has started rerouting their mail. “For me? Are you sure?” And then it’s all Sally Field at the Oscars over here.) Once I recovered myself, it seemed like an excellent, if somewhat shameless, opportunity to tout some of my favorite books.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Patchett takes the reader from the clinical, spartan world of pharmaceutical labs and into the sticky, bug-infested Amazon, without ever losing a bit of authenticity. Along the way, we’re forced to consider situational morality, the limits of science, what we can do vs. what we should and so much more. But it is always, in the end, about character, and Patchett never gets so enamored with theme that she loses sight of her story.






See more books after the jump.

Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

I believe this book should be required reading in the U.S. The story begins in a small Mexican village that has no men. All have gone north into the U.S. in search of jobs, leaving behind only women, children and the elderly. This vulnerable town is soon taken over by banditos. In order to save it, a group of teenage girls bands together and vows to sneak across the border, find their men and bring them home. The story is their Odysseus-like journey.







The Great Man by Kate Christensen

I buy everything Kate Christensen writes. For me, she’s the perfect mixture of good literature and great entertainment. This book is, in my humble opinion, her best. When the story opens the main character, a famous artist, is dead. He has left behind two families, one with his wife and one with his mistress, along with a less-famous artist sister. How they go on without him, how they remember him and the secrets he leaves propel the action. For this, Christensen won the PEN Faulkner Award. When she’d heard she’d won, she famously said, “They give that to women?” Answer: Not very often.