Somewhere along the line I’ve surprised myself by becoming a reader of contemporary literature. Surprised, because when I meet people who only read new fiction, it seems so disconnected from history to limit oneself that way, as if no one who’s now dead had anything interesting to say. I love 17th century poetry and 19th century novels. But of the books I’ve read in the past ten years or so that stand out in my mind and demand to be re-read and savored, many were written in my lifetime:

The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro

Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson

Fun Home, Alison Bechdel

American Gods, Neil Gaiman (in fact, almost everything I’ve read by Gaiman)

The Dispossessed; The Left Hand of Darkness; The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula K. LeGuin (in fact, almost everything I’ve read by LeGuin)

The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston

Alias, Grace; The Blind Assassin; Cat’s Eye, Margaret Atwood

We Bombed in New Haven, Joseph Heller

A Door into Ocean, Joan Slonczewski

The Lacuna and Animal Dreams, Barbara Kingsolver

Slam, Nick Hornby

Small Gods, Terry Pratchett

Also, I read quite a lot of children’s literature (for my own pleasure, not just my daughter’s), and it is almost all contemporary.

What era do your favorite books tend to come from? And, looking at the list above, do you have any books to recommend I should read next?

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