Yesterday, I wrote about what the Nagoya International Center has to offer in terms of crime and sci fi/ fantasy.  Today we will look at some popular bestsellers and also some of the leading writers in contemporary American and British fiction.


The NIC has loads of bestsellers, like all good libraries everywhere.  I usually describe best sellers as books that everyone else seems to have read but me.  Think John Grisham’s latest best seller or the latest Michael Crichton or Stephen King.  Actually, I’ve read books by all 3 and enjoyed them.  Grisham writes a pretty neat thriller.  I read the Firm years ago and really quite liked it.  I also read a couple of others but can’t remember which.  (If you like John Grisham by the way, please read the Quiet Game by Greg Iles; its a terrific thriller.)  Crichton wrote Jurassic Park which was great andd the Lost World which completely BLEW ME AWAY… not… It just blew.  I also read Risng Sun, which was incredibily presient in showing how those crafty Japanese were steadily taking over the world.   When do we get the China version.  Someone will have to write it soon.  (Be warned: expect lots of thrillers about computer hacking this year.   Some thing like that will become the next Dan Brown).  Rising Sun was an enjoyable read though.  As was, to a lesser extent, Disclosure.  I kind of got sick of him after that.  So, the library has heaps of popular best sellers.  Which is great.  We don’t all have to like the same stuff, different jokes for different folks and all of that, same is true with books.  One reason why popular fiction is possible is because it’s easy to get your teeth into.  If you are trying to learn English as a foreign language, Tuesday with Morries by Mitch Albom might be a good start.  It’s very touching, but that old man sure does hug a lot!  I had a friend from China who really like Nicholas Sparks.  Try him.  Nicholas Evans might also be good.  If you are interested in Ireland, read Maeve Binchy, starting with Circle of Friends.  Irish writing is generally very strong.  There’s also a book called Angelas Ashes by Frank McCourt which was popular anda good book.  Ken Follet’s novel is too think for me, but a lot of people really like it.  For spiritual books, read Paulo Coehlo, although I can’t stand him.  That’s just me.  The Celestine Prophecy was also a big best seller as was the Power of Now.  I also think they have a novel by Deepak Chopra.  People interested in Australian writing should try Bryce Coutrney if there is some to be found.  Finally, my favorite popular writer is Stephen King.  I think the Dead Zone is terrific, as is the Shining, Carrie, Pet Sematary, the Stand and some short stories.  I think the Bachman books are very interesting although very dark.  Please remember he is a horror writer, so you might not like him.  A slightly softer version of Stephen King is Dean Koontz.


The Nagoya International Centre has lots of great contemporary American literature.  The Help, Water for Elephants, Cutting for Stone, the Life of Pi  and Carter Beats the Devil have all been surprise successes over the last few years.  The library also has books by Paul Auster, Sherman Alexie, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Andre Dubus III, Don De Lillo, James Ellroy, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathaan Saffran Foer, Ernest Gaines, Tim Gutteraux, David Gutterson, Joanne Harris, Joseph Heller, Barbara Kingsolver, Wally Lamb, Chang Rae Lee,  Jonathan Lethem, Cormac McCarthy, Larry McMurtey, Tom Perotta, Richard Powers, E Annie Proulx, Philip Roth, Richard Russo, Amy Tan, Anne Tyler, Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Tom Wolfe, and David Foster Wallace amongst others.


The library also has books by Kate Atkinson, Iain Banks, John Banville, Pat Barker, Suzanne Clarke, Jonathan Coe, Jim Crace, Jennifer Donnelly, Emma Donoghue, Joe Dunthorne, Anne Enwright, Giles Foden, Anne Fine, Sebastian Faulkes, Zoe Heller, Mark Haddon, Andrea Levy, David Mitchell, Ian McEwan, Harry Thompson,  and Irvine Welsh, amongst others.

The above authors are generally considered some of the best in contmeporary British and American literature and have won most of the prizes that literature has to offer but


so I’ll recommend some books particular reader might like.

1)  Oprah Book Club lovers.  I would try Water for Elephants, the Help, the Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns (in Non Fiction?!?), Wally Lamb, Snow Falling on Cedars, Cutting for Stone, Sashenka, Barbara Kingsolver, Margaret Atwood, Curtis Sittenfield, Glenn David Gould, Amy Tan, Connie Mayflower, Sherman Alexie or even Annie Dillard.

2) Black Experience. Ernest Gaines, Toni Morrison, E Lynn Harris, Andrea Levy, Austen Clark, Sherman Alexie, the Help, Barbara Kingsolver and maybe Gangleader for a Day

3) Immigrant Experience:  Kahled Hosseini, Andre Dubus III, Eriani (Middle Eastern), Juniper Lhari, Rohinton Mistry (Indian) Amy Tan (China), Chang Rae Lee (Korean), David Gutterson (Japan)

4) Historical Milieu: Sashenka (Russian Revolution), James Ellroy (America, 1960s), Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr (World War 2), Toni Morrison  and Alice Walker (African American suppression) Jonathan Lethem and Jeffrey Eugenides (1970s) , Tom Wolfe (1980s), Jonathan Coe (1970s) (1980s), Pat Barker (World War 1),  Sebastian Faulkes (World War 1) (World War 2), David Gutterson (World War 2, Japan internment),

5) Post modern, beat and transgresive:  David Foster Wallace, Don DeLillo, Eugenides, Franzen, Lethem, Saffran Foer, Glenn David Gould, Coe, Ballard,  (post modern;)  Vonnegut, Hubert Selby Jr, Jim Dodge, Kerouac, Bukowski, Ken Kesey, Joseph Heller, Burroughs (beat)  Selby Jr, Burroughs, Welsh, Palahuik (Transgressive)

6) Western: Cormac McCarthy, True Grit by Charles Portis, Lonesome Dove, Daniel Woodrell, Tim Gutteraux, E. Annie Proulx, and just to throw one out there, Richard Russo.  I think people might enjoy him if they like their prose lean and clean and like a bit of an American Drawl in their literature.  I just love his writing.  He’s funny and insightful and writes for the ordinary person.  Tobias Woolf and Flannery O’Conner have stories you guys might enjoy.

Given I haven’t read all of the above titles and authors, I recommend the following books as books I enjoyed, in imperfect order: Slaughter House 5, Harry Thompson, The Help, Jonathan Coe, the Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, I know this Much is True, Cutting for Stone, Middlesex, Birdsong, Regeneration, Catch 22, Damned United, American Tabloid, the Color Purple, the Joy Luck Club, Small Island, Snow Fallling on Cedars, Prep, Sashenka

Thanks for reading.


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