You know what's worse than a reading slump? Being able to read just about anything and not enjoying any of it. And that's where I've been for most of this year. I've read about 30 books since January (which is actually a bit low for me) and of them, perhaps four or five were genuinely enjoyable reads, books that captured my attention as opposed to just being a way to get through spare time. Truly joyous reading experiences, which used to be a staple of my life, have become vanishingly rare.
Which is where you, faithful AtWQ readers, come in: I want book recommendations. And not just good books. Not interesting or entertaining or diverting books. I want fantastic books. I want the books that made you grateful for their existence, the books that kept you up until 3 AM and made you late for work, the books you pressed into the hands of all your reading friends the moment you turned the last page. I want your all-time favorite books. Any genre, any style, any length, old or brand new. I'm in the mood for fun and plotty, but not so much so that there's nothing else to the book. I want something well-written, with interesting characters, and hopefully something to say--a few peas of meaning hidden under the french fries of plot. In short, I want a really good book.
So, if you would be so kind as to leave a comment (preferably with a bit more than a title--tell me what the book is about and why you love it as much as you do) I would truly appreciate it. And, lest I be accused of taking without giving, here's a recommendation of my own:
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
What's it about: Two Jewish cousins in 1940s New York who invent a successful comic book character. Also magicians, escapist acts, the Holocaust, true love, homosexuality, the history of comic books in America, radio serials in the late 30s and early 40s, New York's bohemian art scene at around the same time, and Antarctica.
Why it's one of my all-time favorite books: Because Chabon achieves a near-perfect blend of rollicking adventure (and his ability to turn something as mundane as two young people meeting at a party into an adventure is nearly magical) and intense character exploration. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is a novel about escape, which is sometimes necessary and sometimes destructive, and Chabon makes an exhaustive, fascinating study of this theme. It's also funny, romantic, and a heartfelt an ode to comic books and their history that managed to capture the heart of even this reluctant comic book reader.
OK, your turn.