Some Book Recs: Literary Fiction

Some Book Recs: Literary Fiction

This is a Friday newsletter bonus. I set quant topics aside and recommend a few literary fiction books.

I describe literary fiction as works written at the highest level of craft, demonstrating brilliant style and character portrayals along with — not instead of — great plotting. I read literary fiction along with genre fiction (mysteries, science fiction, etc.)

My list is idiosyncratic and random. I might have listed 100 others; yet each of these has stayed with me, and each is outstanding and unique. If you read any two of them, I hope you'll love at least one. Some are well known but others may be new to you.

BTW, in the cases of three authors — Murakami, Murdoch, and Powers — I recommend titles that are the best places to begin reading their work. Those books are excellent and yet not the pinnacles of their works, which you can discover later.


A Few Recommendations

Karl Marlantes. Matterhorn. A semi-autobiographical novel that depicts, as well as any novel could, what it is like to be in combat. Read it and understand why soldiers view war as a far last resort when diplomacy & leaders fail. Amazon, Powells.

Haruki Murakami. A Wild Sheep Chase. A great introduction to Murakami: quirky, readable, surreal, rollicking, set with unforgettable locations and mysterious characters. After this, read Dance Dance Dance. Amazon, Powells.

Iris Murdoch. The Sea, The Sea. A Booker Prize winning novel (1978) that combines exquisite, which is not to say comfortable, psychological and emotional depth with powerful evocations of relationships, passion, and place. Amazon, Powells.

Ruth Ozeki. A Tale for the Time Being. Ozeki is a novelist and Zen teacher. This book skillfully weaves current day Japan, the Canadian BC Coast, a character named Ruth Ozeki, historical Japan, and the Zen teachings of Dogen. Brilliant. Amazon, Powells.

Richard Powers. The Echo Maker. A meditative examination of "what happened?" in a car crash in a beautifully portrayed small Nebraska town. Explores memory, the brain, human connection, family, and the contingency of life. Amazon, Powells.

Leo Tolstoy. War and Peace. You've heard of it? It's a fantastic read, one of the best novels ever. But IMO you must pick a period to read 100+ pages daily, to keep the characters and plot in your head. Read the concluding essay, too! Amazon, Powells.


On my Short List to Read ...

Hernan Diaz: Trust.

Barbara Kingsolver: Demon Copperhead. Or maybe catch up with Flight Behavior.


Other Genres?

Sometime I'll share my recommendations in other genres, including Mysteries, Science Fiction, and perhaps others like espionage and historical fiction.

If you'd like recommendations for quantitative research & analytics ... I'll compile those sometime, too! Meanwhile, book recommendations are given at the end of each chapter in the Quant UX book, the R book, and the Python book.

Happy reading!