When we do something, we do it all the way. We read one book by P.G. Wodehouse, and then we have to read them all. Our book aisle reflects this, as you may have noticed. We have stacks upon stacks of authors and series, but it can be tough to figure out where to start. Problem solved. These are all good starting points for authors or series that we really must insist you get into. That way when we talk about them we don’t have to worry about “spoilers”.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

This may be Agatha Christie’s most well-known book, although there are certainly many other great books to choose from. The detective in this story is Hercule Poirot, that dignified Belgian detective who solves murders with his famous “little grey cells”. Christie has written more books about Hercule Poirot than most people have written books period, and she has several other detectives as well. In this book, Poirot spoils another perfect murder, the kind that could only appear in fiction, the setting and the characters are rich and wonderful, and as usual, you will never guess who the murderer is. Unless, of course, you have seen one of the many film or tv adaptations. Once you finish I promise that you will be dying to read more about Hercule Poirot, or Miss Marple, or any Agatha Christie book.

Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

We may carry more Wodehouse books than almost any other author. These make for great summer reads because they are all collections of stories, and you don’t have to read them in any particular order. These books are concerned with the wealthy and scatterbrained Bertie Wooster, the unfortunate situations he and his equally wealthy and scatterbrained friends get into, and how his ingenious valet, Jeeves, gets him out of them. You can start with any book, but we recommend this one because although it wasn’t the first book published, the first story in this book explains how Jeeves came to work for Bertie Wooster. These books are pillars or humor writing in general, and British humor specifically, and we have plenty more to choose from when you finish this one.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

You are probably aware that this is a series on HBO. As with everything else on TV, the books are so much better. The TV series is long, but they still have to condense things enormously. They show probably one in ten scenes, and they aren’t even the good ones. I picked this book up, and before I even knew it I had finished the entire published series. All 4884 pages of it. You would think a series that long would get boring, but despite the daunting length, the characters, settings, and major plot points all change so frequently that I was consistently enthralled and dying to know what was going to happen next. When Dance with Dragons finally arrived I faked an illness at work and went home to read it, something I haven’t done since Harry Potter. If you are already a fan of the HBO series, you should read the books, not only to find out what will happen next, but to find out what you missed. If you aren’t a fan of the series: What are you? Nuts?

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

This was my introduction to Vonnegut. It’s one of those rare and wonderful books in the same vein as Animal Farm: simple prose, easy to read, yet with ironic tinges and thought-provoking depths; a novel that can be read and enjoyed at many different levels. It is one of Vonnegut’s most entertaining novels,  and is filled with scientists and G-men and even ordinary folks get caught up in the game. These assorted characters chase each other around in search of the world’s most important and dangerous substance, “Ice Nine”, a new form of ice that freezes at room temperature. At one time, this novel could probably be found on the bookshelf of every college kid in America; but it’s still a fabulous read and a great place to start if you want to get into Vonnegut.

Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers

This book is on the Booksellers 100 greatest mysteries, and is super great. But really, any of the Lord Peter Whimsy mysteries, written by Dorothy Sayers, are hook-tastic. I love Lord Peter so much, I’m stalking him in blog form. Because if it’s in blog form, its less creepy! He collects first editions, (me too, and because of him) has an extensive knowledge of fine wines, (I’m working on it, mainly by drinking lots) and other culinary matters, played world class cricket for Oxford, (why I watch cricket) and he has a superlative manservant, Bunter (still looking for my manservant, so if anyone out there lives to serve, call me). And Lord P. isn’t a Nancy Boy, in fact he is kind of a bad-ass, albeit a smarty-pants one. Best of all, he has the most attractive (to me) of traits, a wry and self-deprecating sense of humor.

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

If you think non-fiction books are stuffy and boring, then you will find Erik Larson’s books refreshing. His books have a strong narrative, his characters are deep and engrossing, and contains extensive sources. This book is set in Berlin during the rise of Adolf Hitler, and concerns the American ambassador to Germany along with his family, specifically his flamboyant daughter Martha. You don’t read a lot about this period in history, probably because people don’t want to admit the extent to which people ignored or complied with Hitler. There are no real heroes in this story. We all know how things turn out, and nobody comes to the rescue. But, it’s easy to look back and point out people’s failures are shortcomings, and this book doesn’t do any of that. You realize that even some of the facilitators of Hitler’s rise where just regular folks, eventually swept away when they had a change of heart. If you like this book, read his other books, and keep an ear out for him on NPR, where he is a real treat to hear.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

I grew up on Greek mythology. I must have read D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths a thousand times. These stories are the backbone on which all other stories are built, some more than others. The Lightning Thieft belongs in the “more” category. This series is about the orphan children of the Gods of Olympus, and their battles against other gods and ancient monsters. These are great books for people who are dorks and proud of it. For me it was fun to recognize all the references, and see how Riordan twisted them just right to fit them into a book for kids. He obviously knows his mythology (he has made a career out of it three times over) and even though the gods appear in a modern setting, he stays pretty true to the way I remember them from the stories. For example: Medusa owns a garden supply store that sells incredibly life-like statues. Did I mention this book was for dorks? Take a quick look at the chapter titles if you don’t believe me. When you finish this five-part series you can jump right into one of his newer, ongoing series about Egyptian and Roman myths.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

The author describes this book as “Die Hard, with faeries” and that was enough to get me to read it. Die Hard with anything sounds pretty good to me. Not to be nit-picky, but it’s more like “Ocean’s Eleven” with faeries. Artemis Fowl is a child criminal mastermind, which is a pretty rare combination. He comes from a long, illustrious line of criminal masterminds, and Artemis plans to make his name by stealing from the magical creatures who live underground, unbeknownst to most humans. But stealing from magical creatures isn’t quite as easy as the Lucky Charms ads make it seem. After all, the famous LEPrecon unit is a highy trained tactical response team. As the series goes on, the characters remain largely the same, but Artemis starts to grow up a bit, learn the difference between good and bad, and help protect the magical creatures from the humans. The final book in this eight-part series is due on July 10th, leaving you plenty of time to read the other seven.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

“And who is this Neil Gaiman I keep hearing about?” I asked myself about 6 years ago. (I know, I know. I’m behind all major trends, just like normal. No new news there) Anansi Boys is the first Neil Gaiman I read, the book that got me hooked on NG, (at Kards Unlimited we now refer to him as “my boyfriend”. Speaking of creepy stalking) and is a book I straight up love. Everything about it fills me with a chortling delight. It is a giggle, summer reading on steroids. In fact, I first read it on the beach in Bermuda, and when I finished, I read it again, right away. There are more important NG books (American Gods, also SUPER, but darker) and its hard to go wrong with anything he has written. (Also, read Neverwhere, and Smoke and Mirrors. DO IT NOW!) Neil Gaiman is the author I wish I could read for the first time, again. *sob*

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

A world where wars are fought over literary matters such as the true author of Shakespearean works? Do go on. Thursday Next is a Literary Detective, or LiteraTec, who travels in and out of novels to catch her villain before too much damage is done. This is an action book for the literary elite, and it is glorious. Fforde sets the scene in the first book for many mysteries to unfold in the course of the series. This series is so rewarding not only for its many references and nods to literature and history, but because you can have a fun summer read without feeling 50 shades of trashy, no offense. This is so clever I never wanted it to end; and now it doesn’t have to because there are more to come! In the latest novel the fictional Thursday Next must come into the Real World to help solve the mystery of her counterpart’s disappearance!

The next book in the series, The Woman Who Died A Lot, is coming out October 2nd.

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