I'm still browsing in the book, Read This! by Hans Weyandt, that I talked about last week. I'm still putting together a list of Handpicked Favorites as the bookstore owners and salespeople did in the book. And I'm still choosing titles off the top of my head. Soon I'll look at my database and search out titles I have given 5 stars to but that don't immediately come to mind. Here are my first 5 titles again with annotation:
Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope. A Victorian novel with all that the term implies: it's long, it has plots and subplots and sub-subplots, the characterization is first-rate, and it has a minimum of car chases and explosions. It may be my favorite Trollope novel.
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. This is a gem of a book, short, charming, funny, sad, atmospheric, and a bit mysterious. The setting in the book, Lake Knucklebone, is in reality Lake Pend Oreille (Lake Earring) and it's a treat to go there and look at the railroad bridge that plays such a prominent part in the story.
A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Published in 1977 this classic of travel literature is the story of the author's trek alone in 1933-1934 when he was 16 (!) from the Hook of Holland to Czechoslovakia. The author followed up with a second volume, Between the Woods and the Water (1986) which takes him through Hungary and Yugoslavia to Romania. These two books are among my favorites for gift-giving.
Antrobus Complete by Lawrence Durrell. This is a collection of three small books about life in the British diplomatic corps in the Balkans: Esprit de Corps (1957), Stiff Upper Lip (1958), and Sauve Qui Peut (1966.) They are hilarious, the sorts of books that have you laughing out loud in inappropriate places, so be sure to read them at home.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Everyone knows about this book but it really is extraordinary and it's a novel for nearly everyone.