Open Phones

Friday, July 25, 2008

We take your calls on summer-reading tips.

Your Suggestions
Do you have a book you're dying to recommend? Post it on our comments page!

Comments [94]

Soledad Robledo from Santiago

Anything by Borges- essays or short stories. His view on time is simply fascinating.

Jul. 31 2008 05:17 PM
Virginia Parks from NYC

Fiction - The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber. Life in Victorian England for women of various classes.

Non Fiction - The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. If you haven't read it, give it a try. An amusing, touching account of the creation of the EOD.

Jul. 28 2008 08:20 PM
Betsey from Northampton, MA

City of Thieves David Benioff

The Outlander Gil Adamson

Jul. 28 2008 03:36 PM
Gail Abramson from Teaneck, NJ

A Free Life by Ha Jin.

His newest, I believe. He is a compelling story-teller.

Jul. 27 2008 01:11 PM
Dave Dunlap from Millbrook, NY


Fiction: Not much summer fluff here but I recommend Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". It affected my outlook on the possible near future and how we better have a plan to survive. Not only the end of oil, but the possible outcome of the Cheney plan for Iran and what it could do to our world. A work of profoundly important contemporary fiction.

Non: "The Last Emergency". James Howard Kunstler. If we don't take stock of our future we may live to see these events.

Good reading...
Dave Dunlap

Jul. 27 2008 01:10 AM
ileen from upper west side

Non-fiction - Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution by TJ English

Fiction - you have too many choices already, but make mine your non-fiction choice. You won't be disappointed.

Jul. 26 2008 11:09 AM
Annabelle from NYC

"Sharp Teeth" (2008) by Toby Barlow
Yes, the one that is written in free verse. My favorite piece of fiction I have read so far this year (and most of what is published these days I consider to be drivel).
Non-fiction: Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century (2008), Tony Judt
His essays that you thought you read, but you won't remember if you had. Still sounds fresh (and prescient).

Jul. 26 2008 09:51 AM
Laurie from Brooklyn

Highly recommend The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, anything by Alan Furst (WWII thrillers), Suite Francais by Irene Nemirovsky, anything by Shirley Hazzard, Spies by Michael Frayn, Identity Theory by Peter Temple.

Jul. 26 2008 09:00 AM
Daniel from Manhattan - Fort Washington

"Travels With Herodotus" by Ryszard Kapuscinski. His last book. "Luminous....Like Herodotus, Ryszard Kapuscinski was a reporter, a historian, an adventurer and, truly, an artist." --The Wall Street Journal

Jul. 26 2008 03:58 AM
Christine from Bayside, NY

Remember to use your public library when picking up your summer reads!!! :-)

Jul. 25 2008 11:27 PM

Fiction. Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris
Ad office life in a bad economy. Satirical original, funny and very well-received.

Jul. 25 2008 03:52 PM
Dan from NYC

re #73, I think you mean the reverse.

Jul. 25 2008 02:15 PM
lillym from NJ

"How the soldier repairs the gramophon" By Sasha Stanishic, young Bosnian writer. War seen through the eyes of a child, full of Felliniesque characters, tragedy, humor, and magic.

Jul. 25 2008 01:30 PM
Jamie from Queens

Anastasia by Vladimir Megre

Its non-fiction but sometimes seems like it is Fiction because some of the things written can sound bizarre. It is the first book of The Ringing Cedars Series, about a woman living in the Syberian Forrest and her living philisophy on the meaning of life and everything in between. This book was first published independently in Russia and has since become a best seller and translated into many languages. A very profound book.

Jul. 25 2008 01:17 PM
Janet Sullivan from The Upper West Side

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (fiction ) and The Nature of Air and Water by Regina McBride (also fiction)

Jul. 25 2008 01:16 PM
MaryAnne LoVerme from brooklyn

fiction: Free Food For Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

Jul. 25 2008 12:59 PM
Betty from Brooklyn

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

13 interconnected stories about a retired math teacher named Olive Kitteridge. Wonderfully written.

Jul. 25 2008 12:44 PM
lorraine herman from hoboken

fiction- Half Broken Things by Morag Joss
A british Silver Dagger award-winner

Jul. 25 2008 12:40 PM
Marilyn Murray from Chatham, NJ

Good Reading:

A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry

The Nine

Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan

Jul. 25 2008 12:29 PM
Marion from New York

Recommended reading: Dark Tide: The Great Boston molasses flood of 1910 by Stephen Puleo

Yes--a molasses flood, which killed 21 people (and dogs and horses) and injured scores more. A huge tank containing 2.3 million gallons of molasses used for industrial alcohol, required by munitions manufacturers during World War I, collapsed in the Italian neighborhood in Boston. A surreal read.

Jul. 25 2008 12:21 PM
Sean from NYC

Non-Fiction - Divinity Constant by d.f.downey

positive apocalyptic science fiction, story driven rather than stylistic, very original

don't have a fiction suggestion

Jul. 25 2008 12:19 PM
Maggie Cadman from Manhattan

Next week I'm going to London for an NYU course: Modern British Drama 1950-Present. To get an idea of what led to post-war theatre, I'm reading a popular history AUSTERITY BRITAIN 1945-1951 by David Kynaston. Fascinating and well written.

On the fiction front, highly recommend a comic novel that's been out for about a year: SELFISH & PERVERSE by Bob Smith. It starts in LA and moves to Alaska. I laughed out loud all the way through, but amazingly, it's also quite touching.

Have a great holiday! We'll try not to have any major stories break while you're away.

Jul. 25 2008 12:18 PM
michele from brooklyn nyc

"Facing Death In Cambodia" 2005, Peter Maguire, Columbia University Press

Very accurate account of tragic events in recent Cambodian history up to the present and discussion of complexities in bringing K.Rouge killers to justice in a country where there is none. A case where the bad guys won and the world did NOTHING about it, a slap in the face to the Western notions of justice, democracy, retribution and the false-power of "moral politics" in the modern age. Sad to read but important and very well written.

"Noogie's Time To Shine" Jim Knipfel, 2008

Funny, silly and random, a nice contrast to the above!

Jul. 25 2008 12:18 PM
K from New York

For fiction I second

The People of the Book by Brooks

and also recommend

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

which I actually picked up because Orson Scott Card gave it a good review.

For non-fiction:

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana - by Haven Kimmel

It's a few years old but it had me laughing.

Jul. 25 2008 12:15 PM
camille from brooklyn

"The Art of Living" or "The Art of Co-operation" by Benjamin Creme: wise and thought-provoking.

This author, by the way, will be speaking this saturday (the 26th) at FIT's Haft auditorium 7pm free

Jul. 25 2008 12:11 PM
R West from NYC

People of Paper - Salvador Plascencia
beautiful, strange, and affecting

And I second "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay"- one of my very favorite books

House of Leaves! Amanda, that's quite the crazy book. I enjoyed it too.

All the non-fiction I'll be reading will be for class, sadly. Maybe I'll crack Guns, Germs, and Steel, my boyfriend loved it.

Jul. 25 2008 12:10 PM
Stephanie from Brooklyn

Everyone should read this:

I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World

by Mike Edison

You wouldn't believe a guy who worked for High Times and Hustler could be so smart and charming... very funny and opionated and kind of sleazy but in a good way, this is a real New York City book... very filthy in parts but really very sweet!

Jul. 25 2008 12:09 PM
Terri from Bed Stuy

Either one of these two big, sprawling novels:
The Discovery of Heaven, by Harry Mulisch or Sacred Games, by Vikram Chandra

They're very different stories, but both are beautifully written. Mulisch's is more philosophical, while plot is woven more fully into Chandra's, but it's the characters and their relationships to one another which pull the reader (well, okay, pulled ME)in.

Hannah Arendt, The Jewish Writings

A collection of her works, duh, concerning Jews and Jewish issues, but also providing a rich argument for any despised group on how to make their place in the world: by acting for themselves, rather than against others. She also demonstrates a minor key strain in Zionist thought, one which emphasized the need for a Jewish homeland, although not necessarily a Jewish state. At any rate, could perhaps could be paired with Steven Biko's 'Black Consciousness' (if you can find a copy).

Jul. 25 2008 12:07 PM
Don Wigal [WHY-gal] from NYC

A delightful trip to another time and place adn a perfect Summer take-along read is Robert Michael Morris' AN AMERICAN SCRAPBOOK. In narrative verse, the actor/poet shares with us several distinct personalities from a community of people he envisions while looking through an old photo album from a small Pensylvania town in the late 1880s. The book is laid out with the look and feel of an old album, so we soon feel we are visitig these charcters and their world. The book is available form the author at

Jul. 25 2008 12:05 PM
Jack Herbert from Manhattan

With folks staying near home this summer, why not take Paris along with you. Historian Mary McAuliffe's PARIS DISCOVERED is a wonderful collection of more then fifty short features on the people, places and stories that make Paris so fascinating.

Jul. 25 2008 12:05 PM
lorraine herman from hoboken

NF- Wild Trees
about the people who look for the highest redwoods in the forest and who have developed the harnesses to swing from them.

Jul. 25 2008 12:05 PM
Mary Beth Peil from Upper west Side

SHANTARAM by Gregory David Roberts...powerful 900pp
autobiographical novel of author's life and observations
living many years In India. You'll get hooked!

Jul. 25 2008 12:03 PM
Maura Spiegel from New York

Lush Life by Richard Price.

It's a smart cop story. It captures New York voices of all kinds. If you like The Wire, you'll love this.

Jul. 25 2008 12:02 PM
Jinan Martini from Brooklyn

My son has a summer reading list for his new high school. So I have been reading the books as well so we could discuss the books before he writes his essay. One of the books is the Known World by Edward P. Jones. It is about slavery in a fictional Southern County. The characters are wonderful and each has their own conflict with slavery. Beautiful writing and thoughtful.

Non-fiction - Obama's book - Dreams of My Father. Though I am sure that you have read it already. It helps in understanding how he has developed his views on racism and the minority expereince.

Jul. 25 2008 12:02 PM
Joel from NYC

Author: Naomi Wolf/Non-Fiction

"The End Of America"
A Letter Of Warning To A Young Patriot!

excellent read!

Jul. 25 2008 12:01 PM
andy from manhattan

charles bukowski's *run with the hunted* is far from new, but is an amazing chronological anthology of his work. it is amazingly funny, shocking, saddening, and beautiful in turns.

well worth the time! enjoy your break!

Jul. 25 2008 12:00 PM
courtney from harlem

Non-Fiction: "Now The Hell Will Start" By: Brendan I Koerner An amazing and untold story of a manhunt during WW2. Also, an interesting history of race & the military.

Jul. 25 2008 12:00 PM
anonyme from midtown manhattan

Nonfiction for the anthropologist in you - Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A Price copyright 1939 about several remote pre-industrial societies around the world without degenerative disease or prisons studied by the author over several decades - really fascinating with pics and nicely written. For your children and your children's children.

Jul. 25 2008 11:59 AM
D from NYC

Uh, that should read "drunk driver". Ha!

Jul. 25 2008 11:58 AM
Margaret Gracie from Garrison, NY

Best new novel & writer to appear in years, "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle," by Wroblewski. You'll dig its message on communication!

Jul. 25 2008 11:58 AM

Eat Pray Love sucks. The worst book I ever read. I actually returned it, that is how bad it was. I did not even want to have it in the house Brr.

Jul. 25 2008 11:58 AM
NC from NYC

(on another note, I'm so happy to get another week of Brian. The show is so great! I'll be on vacation the first week of August as well so I won't miss anything!)

Jul. 25 2008 11:57 AM
Beth from New York City

Non-fiction: One Drop: My Father's Hidden Life--A Story of Race and Family Secrets by Bliss Broyard

The author's father, Antole Broyard, was literary critic for the NY Times. He was born into a Creole family in New Orleans, and chose to pass for white as an adult. The author reveals not only her family's history, but the racism that is still so prevalent in our society.

Jul. 25 2008 11:57 AM
D from NYC


"The Hakawati" by Rabih Alamedinne. Amazing, gorgeous novel interweaving modern Lebanon, the Ottoman Empire, and folklore from all over the world.

"Shadow of the Silk Road", by Colin Thubron
Stunning nonfiction book; Thubron travels from Xian, China into Xinjiang and from there, across Central Asia, into Afghanistan and Iran, and finally ends in Turkey, following the ancient Silk Road by whatever means he can find at any given time (foot, train, bus, drun driver). He delves into the fascinating and varied history of these places, and so gives the lie to any notions of national, cultural, or ethnic purity. The part about the Uighur people is particularly great. And the writing is just beautiful and mesmerizing.

Jul. 25 2008 11:57 AM
ann ducati from new york, new york

Thomas H. Cook's "Master of the Delta" an extraordinary literary mystery.

Jul. 25 2008 11:57 AM

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

Jul. 25 2008 11:57 AM
James Conlon from Astoria, Queens

Fiction: Abdul Razak Gurnah, "Desertion."

Takes place over several generations on the Swahili coast of Africa. One of the most beautiful and informative books about a part of the work few know about.

Nonfiction: Linda Colley, "The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh"

The life and travels of an extraordinary women at the turn of the 19th century. From Jamaica, through North Africa, and on to Bengal!

Jul. 25 2008 11:57 AM


America privatizing the war in Iraq.

Jul. 25 2008 11:56 AM
Mike from Northern Manhattan

Correction: THUG POLITICS...

Jul. 25 2008 11:56 AM
Libby Barsky from Central Jersey

please read
"Our Daily Meds by Melody Peterson It is a huge expose of how the costs and diligence of " scientific research"
that once ruled the industry is now overwhelmed by the marketing of copy cat meds that are launched to improving our life style not health.
Facts she presents show more money spent for marketing than the costs for research.
It's make anyone think twice about the meds the doctors prescribe.

Jul. 25 2008 11:56 AM
lily lim from brooklyn, ny

-The Corpse Walker by Liao YiWu
i bought 4 copies and mailed to friends

fiction (series)
Night Watch; Day Watch; Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (first shelf on the top at st marks bookshop as u walk in)
- i have bought so many copies of this book for friends.

Jul. 25 2008 11:56 AM
Ryan Murphy from New York

The novel, The Dutchess of Nothing, Heather McGowan, nothing more brilliant or soothing for doing nothing.

And try some poems!
My Vocabulary Did This to Me The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer

Jul. 25 2008 11:56 AM
anonyme from midtown manhattan

Ditto to Edgar Sawtelle - really great writing.
David Wroblewski

Jul. 25 2008 11:56 AM
Maggie Pouncey from Brooklyn

Read Netherland, the new novel by Joseph O'Neill. Not only is O'Neill a brilliant writer, but his book explores the little known microcosm of cricket players in NYC, and many diverse outer-borough communities.

Jul. 25 2008 11:55 AM
x baczewska from east vilage


by Jane Kotapish
(a fellow new yorker)

Beautiful, compelling writing.

Jul. 25 2008 11:55 AM
Mike from Northern Manhattan

I'm reading some street literature: Gangsta Politics by Dutch published by Tru Publishing. It's interesting...May be you can do a show regarding Street Literature.

Jul. 25 2008 11:55 AM
Richard Walker from San Francisco

Pirate's Dilemma - Matt Mason
Future of Ideas - Lawrence Lessig

Jul. 25 2008 11:55 AM

"The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher" -- qualifies as both nonfiction and fiction, since it describes the 19th century murder case that provided many of the themes and conventions of the modern "murder mystery" and reads like a detective novel. Kate Summerscale is the author.

Jul. 25 2008 11:54 AM

The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Omnivores Dilemma - Michael Pollan

Since everyone's talking M. Chabon, I would recommend against (sorry for the downer) the recent Gentlemen of the Road - a let down after all his other great books.

Jul. 25 2008 11:54 AM
Amy from Brooklyn, NY

Get your fiction and non-fiction fix in one:

Acts of Faith by Philip Caputo.

It's a couple years old, but totally amazing (if you haven't already read it).

Jul. 25 2008 11:54 AM
Bernie from wantagh LI

Plan B - Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester R. Brown will both alarm you and give you hope regarding the future challenges facing mankind to avoid the impeding declined of modern civilization.

Jul. 25 2008 11:54 AM
Ken from Soho

The non-fiction book I'd recommend is A New Earth
by Eckhart Tolle.

Jul. 25 2008 11:54 AM
Gail from Thompson, PA

FICTION: New translation of WAR AND PEACE


Jul. 25 2008 11:53 AM
Shana from Brooklyn

Non-Fiction: "River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma" by U Thant. It gives an in-depth and complex understanding of the history of Burma and surrounding areas, both independently and in relation to the West.

Jul. 25 2008 11:53 AM
maude from East Village

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris, He has honed his craft and is even more laugh out loud funny than ever.

Jul. 25 2008 11:53 AM
Matt from Manhattan

Tree of Smoke, Denis Johnson.

Can't think of any non-fiction right now.

Jul. 25 2008 11:53 AM
Dan from Bronx

Though I am not an Obama supporter, I would recommend Obama's "Dreams from my Father" after all, its worthwhile to learn a little about a Presidential candidate who was virtually unknown five years ago. Maybe its time to meet him.

Jul. 25 2008 11:53 AM
John from Brooklyn

The "Kingmakers..." book is by Karl E. Meyer.

Jul. 25 2008 11:53 AM
Kristine DiColandrea from Queens

"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer. This fictional novel, about a precocious boy who lost his dad in the World Trade Center, is, I think, the best literary memorial to anyone affected by September 11.

Jul. 25 2008 11:53 AM
Mike from Northern Manhattan

Here's the link to Amazon from the caller re: Kingmakers:

Jul. 25 2008 11:53 AM
Christine Hall from Stamford, Conn.

"Good Calories, Bad Calories," by Gary Taubes. It says that all these years of eating a low-fat diet are making us obese and causing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's.

Jul. 25 2008 11:52 AM
Brett from NYC

"Year of Living Biblically" by AJ Jacobs
one of the most entertaining books I've read. ever. Not only vastly informative about THE book that has so much influence on our culure as well as so many different traditions and societies, this book is FUNNY!

Jul. 25 2008 11:51 AM
Jon Erik Larson from Oradell, New Jersey

Non-fiction: Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals

Jul. 25 2008 11:50 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

The Emperor of Ocean Park By Stephen L. Carter

Jul. 25 2008 11:50 AM
Orah Raia from Edison, NJ

Great fiction book:The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, truly wonderful writing!

Jul. 25 2008 11:47 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

My recommendation is "The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order" by Parag Khanna. Very informative!

Jul. 25 2008 11:36 AM
Meg from Connecticut

The Candy Bombers: the Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America's Finest Hour by Andrei Cherny.

A very detailed account of how the allies treated the city and its residents after W W II
and one caring American pilot's idea to help give the children something to look forward to.

Jul. 25 2008 11:19 AM
Syd from Staten Island, NY

My recommendation for the novel would be People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

For the non-fiction would be America 1908 by Jim Rasenberger.

Jul. 25 2008 11:14 AM
John from Ho Ho Kus, NJ

The Four Hour Workweek

quit your job and work four hours a week

NYT bestseller how to outsource all
your dirty work to other people

Jul. 25 2008 11:13 AM
Judy from Greenlawn

Novels: a tie for Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and Olive Kittredge by E. Strout (so beautifully written)

Fun nonfiction: Tell Me Where It Hurts by N. Trout, a veterinary surgeon's tales (tails?).

Jul. 25 2008 11:09 AM
Heather from Baltimore

I would reccomend Lush Life by Richard PRice as a novel to read. I purchased it recently for my husband, who is from Bergen Co., NJ and he loved it.

Jul. 25 2008 11:07 AM
Julia Collier from Upper Westside

I recommend

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill - with echoes of The Great Gatsby about a city where people come to re-invent themselves for better and worse. In Gatsby, pepple came from the West and the heartland to our city. In Netherland, New York is a post-cp0olinial center - and cricket is at, but this city of ours is now a post-colonial center, and O'Neill captures this in beautiful prose.

Girls Like Us - not well written but a fascinating look, and a classic beach read, about the rise of Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and Carole King, talented women who invented new roles for themselves as women in the music business and in the real world in the 1960s. If you are a middle aged women like myself, you will re-live those dramatic shifts and remember how it was for yourself to rethink your role as a woman in a new world....

Jul. 25 2008 11:06 AM
Steve Mark from NYC

Fiction - DRIFT by ME!! It's a thriller about a big and secretive oil company that's ;earned how to control Continental Drift. Lots of great reviews. Wouldn't it be cool to read one of your avid listener's books and then you can interview him.

Non-fiction - The Island at the Center of the World about early Dutch history, which took place right where your new studio is located.

Jul. 25 2008 11:05 AM
Gregory from New Brunswick

Fiction: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - By: Michael Chabon - Won the Pulitzer.

Jul. 25 2008 11:05 AM
O from Forest Hills

Nonfiction book

"Screwed" by Thom Hartmann about the war on the middle class and what we can do about it.

Activism and Democracy begin with us.

Jul. 25 2008 11:04 AM
chris from LIC

nonfiction: The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (if you haven't read it already)

Jul. 25 2008 11:03 AM
Lynne from Manhattan

The Yiddish Policeman's Union, by Michael Chabon. Wonderful, poignant, funny and extremely beautifully written.

Jul. 25 2008 11:02 AM
MoNYC from Sunnyside

I second #4. I loved Junot Diaz's book!

Jul. 25 2008 10:56 AM
MoNYC from Sunnyside

I second #4! Love Diaz!

Jul. 25 2008 10:55 AM
linsly from brooklyn

non-fiction: "The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire" by Matt Taibbi. Now when i get in arguments about how the american system is broken, I can actually cite real examples. The book is funny enough to keep from being psychologically crushing though.

Jul. 25 2008 10:27 AM

Fiction: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (it won the Pulitzer) - you will love it Brian, seriously.

Non-Fiction: Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop.

Jul. 25 2008 10:06 AM

'House of Leaves' by Mark Z. Danielewski

'The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art' by David Lewis-Williams

have a nice vacation! WAIT, you mean you're not STAYcationing? brian!

Jul. 25 2008 10:06 AM
NC from NYC

Nonfiction: "The Geography of Bliss" by Eric Weiner

Jul. 25 2008 10:02 AM
O from Forest Hills

The Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen with 2 books The Luxe and Rumors

"Duchess by Night" by Eloisa James

"Jaded" by Karin Tabke

"Simply Perfect" by Mary Balogh

anything by Dawn Thompson, "The Falcon's Bride" "The Ravencliff Bride"


Jul. 25 2008 09:55 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.