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Old 10-12-2014, 15:44   #1
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Book recommendations that are off the beaten path.

I work in a library and am currently being tasked with purchasing £1000 worth of mainly adult fiction (though there is a little in the budget for non-fiction).

Obviously we're covered for all standard stuff you'd expect a library to have; bestsellers, new books by popular authors etc., so I'm looking for recommendations for books that you've been impressed by that seem to have flown under the radar. I've picked stuff that falls into that category for myself and I've also spoken to our reading group for recommendations, but I figure you lot would probably have some good ideas too. It doesn't have to be recent.

Any recommendations are gratefully received.
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Old 10-12-2014, 16:08   #2
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Anything by Jonathan Carroll.
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:03   #3
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Lawrence Norfolk - Lempriere's Dictionary. A great book!

Anything by Tom Robbins - eg., Skinny Legs and All.

Peter Hoeg - Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow - ties in nicely with the vogue for Nordic crime.
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:39   #4
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HHhH by Laurent Binet if you dont already have it. Fascinating fact based novel about resisting the Nazis in Prague
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:43   #5
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Bit of an oddity (definitely a love or hate book) but how about
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Old 12-12-2014, 11:24   #6
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The Quincunx, Charles Palliser
A sort of hyper-Dickensian riff, which follows John Mellamphy from a happy if poor childhood in an English village through many adventures and misfortunes that take him through London slums (and sewers), the servants' quarters of a great estate, and a "swell mob" of pickpockets (among others), all while gradually unraveling his family history and trying to recover what may be his rightful inheritance.

Full of mysteries, clues, deeply researched corners of English history, variations on seemingly every Dickens story, confusing family trees left as an exercise to the reader, and a complex internal structure based on the quincunx pattern, Palliser's brick of a novel is great fun while at the same time enormously bleak.

Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, Barbara Comyns
Starting with a flood that has ducks paddling through the living room and people rowing through the garden, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead tells the story of a tumultuous and tragic summer in a sleepy village, mainly through the eyes of the Willoweed family: tyrannical grandmother, ineffective father, three motherless children and various long-suffering servants.

The eccentric family, the internal monologues and shifting points of view and the apocalyptic imagery makes Comyns almost feel like an English William Faulkner.

The Long Ships, Frans G. Bengtsson (translated from Swedish)
Kidnapped as a boy and pressed into service by raiders, Orm grows up a viking, and thereby gets to see (and pillage) the world as he raids France, Spain, England and various other places, and later participates in power struggles back home. Throughout he makes unlikely friends and dangerous enemies, relying on his smarts and open-mindedness as much as strength and bravery. Orm's colorful adventures in a dangerous age, and the vikings' matter-of-fact if not downright cheerful attitude to violence, reminds me of nothing so much as The Three Musketeers, and Bengtsson manages to portray the barbarians sympathetically while not sugarcoating their destructiveness. It also offers an interesting study of the transition between paganism and Christianity, and is notably non-racist for a book about Norsemen written in the 1930s. Recently reissued with an intro by Michael Chabon.

Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart
When the children of his village are poisoned and fall into a coma, a young peasant boy seeks out a wise man to cure them. He finds old Master Li Kao, an eminent scholar with "a slight flaw in his character": drunk, thief and (when the occasion calls for it) murderer. Together they set out across China to find the legendary great ginseng root of power, a universal cure. They must deal with bandits, ghosts, tyrants, misers, mistresses, labyrinths, monsters and gods as they steal and spend multiple fortunes, escape certain death time and again, and eventually realize the much bigger quest they have unwittingly embarked on.

After a slightly slow start, this light fantasy novel based on Chinese history and mythology turns into a nonstop adventure that bears comparison to some of the better Terry Pratchett books. Its two sequels (still fun, but not quite as fresh) make up an accidental trilogy.

Last edited by bronso; 12-12-2014 at 11:33.
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Old 12-12-2014, 12:02   #7
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Thanks for the suggestions. No thanks button in this forum so this is the best I can do. I'd heard of some of your recommendations but some were new to me.
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Old 12-12-2014, 22:26   #8
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I have just blown through "The Last Policeman" trilogy by Ben Winters.

This is the blurb for the first book

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?

Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.
I really enjoyed these books, basically the lead character is a man who was destined to be a detective and joined the Police force, then after just over a year on the job he is promoted to detective just as the world is due to end. Despite this he seeks to solve a murder at a time where everyone is almost literally a dead man walking.

Highly recommend these novels to anyone.
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Old 13-12-2014, 18:36   #9
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John Ross 'Unintended Consequences' - cleverly woven fictional story regarding gun control in the United States that incorporates real events. Stat heavy but fascinating.
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Old 14-12-2014, 16:08   #10
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Where are you - is there local authors, or book set in the area - as they are often overlooked and any help etc.
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