Jim Will Tell You What You Want to Read: The Sequel

Almost exactly two years ago, I posted a blog entry saying that if you told me the last three books you’d read, I would make a recommendation for what to read next.

I loved the results—not only did it give me a fascinating snapshot of what our visitors are reading, it was really wonderful to engage with people about reading in general. Some people got back to me to let me know they loved the books I recommended. Others were…less thrilled. And a whole ton of others, let’s be honest, probably never read what I suggested. And that’s fine too!

I’ve wanted to do this again ever since, but I needed enough time to pass so that I wasn’t just recommending the same books all over again. Happily, I’ve read a lot in the past two years, so I have some fresh picks.

One small caveat: I won’t post my suggestions until tomorrow. Somebody has some dental surgery this afternoon! That said: bring ‘em on!

57 Responses to Jim Will Tell You What You Want to Read: The Sequel

  1. Here’s my three:

    Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor
    Across the Universe by Beth Revis
    Liar’s Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce

  2. Joelle says:

    I’ll play! I primarily read YA, but one of these is adult.

    The Year my Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman (love…second time I read it).
    Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King (love, love, love)
    Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer (liked)

  3. M.E. Anders says:

    What a fun idea!

    Here’s my three books:

    The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb

    Going Solo by Eric Klinenberg

    Habibi by Craig Thompson

    Really looking forward to your recommendations, Jim! :)

  4. Ha, sounds fun :) My last three:

    Game of Thrones
    Where Things Come Back

  5. Ciara says:

    I can’t believe that was two years ago! I remember it from then too.

    last three:

    bossypants by tina fey
    the babysitter murders by janet ruth young
    beauty queens by libba bray

    thanks :)

  6. Sarah says:

    Long-time lurker, but I thought I’d come out of the woodwork for this one. :-) Here are my three:

    Marcelo in the Real world by Francisco X Stork
    The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfield
    & re-reading Flowers for Algernon

    (& if re-reading doesn’t count, I also just started John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, which I’ve been meaning to read for ages)

  7. RamseyH says:

    I’ll play! Last three books:

    Getaway, by Lisa Brackmann
    The Children of the Sky, Vernor Vinge
    Stupid Fast, Geoff Herbach

  8. Oooh…

    Blackbringer, by Laini Taylor
    Demon Glass, by Rachel Hawkins
    The Exiled Queen, by Cinda Williams Chima

  9. Silver James says:

    I don’t think I played last time around so definitely jumping in this time.

    The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde

    Fair and Tender Ladies, Lee Smith (this was a “book blind date” and not necessarily something I would have chosen myself.)

    Guns and Roses, Anthology of novellas by the writers at Murder She Writes Blog (Allison Brennan, Toni McGee Causey, Karin Tabke, Lori G. Armstrong & Lorilei James, Roxanne St. Claire, Laura Griffin, Sophie Littlefield, Sylvia Day, and Josie Brown)

  10. Amy says:


    Never Eighteen – Megan Bostic

    The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

    Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

    > & I’ve off vowed books about dying teens for the immediate future.

  11. Andrea says:

    This is fun :-)

    How to read literature like a professor – Thomas C Foster

    Graceling – Kristin Cashore

    The adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

  12. Ken says:

    Pretty Monsters: Stories, Kelly Link

    The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

    Occultation and Other Stories, Laird Barron

    Thanks Jim!

  13. Bryan Bliss says:

    How to Save a Life – Sara Zarr
    The Big Crunch – Pete Hautman
    Badd – Tim Tharp

    (Ill take YA or adult… Or both.)

  14. Tez Miller says:

    According to Goodreads, the last three books I read:

    -Nicci French’s BLUE MONDAY
    -Kathy Hepinstall’s PRINCE OF LOST PLACES
    -Cecily von Ziegesar’s CLASSIC

  15. Ooh, how fun!

    Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood (I think you’ve heard of her)

    Legend by Marie Lu

    Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

  16. Robin Talley says:

    Me too, me too!

    Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
    The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
    The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

  17. Julia Pierce says:

    I love it!

    The last three:

    3)A Perfect Blood (Kim Harrison)

    2)Pale Demon (Kim Harrison re-read in prep for A Perfect Blood’s release :))

    1)Demons Don’t Dream (A Piers Anthony, oldie but goodie)

    (As you can see, I’m a re-reader. Once I love a book I can never part with it!)

  18. Cool idea!

    I’m actually reading/listening to all three of these simultaneously right now. I’m weird like that:

    American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  19. Mike Mullin says:

    Daughter of Smoke and Bone
    The Fault in Our Stars
    Jasper Jones
    (loved all three of them!)

  20. Kaitlyne says:

    Fun idea! I’m curious to see what you’ll recommend.

    Last three books (including the one I’m reading right now):

    Storm Front by Jim Butcher
    Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup
    Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

  21. Whew, I hope I’m not too late to the party.

    Before I post the last three books I read, I want to tell you how I fared in the last round. You had recommended Geek Love to me and knowing that it was one of your favorite books, I hesitated. It was an honor and I didn’t want to hate it or thought it was “meh” or whatever.

    So I read your suggestions to some other folks: Purple Hibiscus and This is Where I Leave You are two that come to mind, and enjoyed them a lot.

    It was only recently that I read Geek Love. I was mesmerized and horrified by the book and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a long time. It was a great suggestion.

    Here are my three:
    John Corey Whaley: Where Things Come Back
    Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner
    Holly Thompson: Orchards

  22. emily says:

    “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier,” Spy – leCarre [reading for about the 4th time since it was published — I want to see the film now and also watch the TV-series with Alec G. I love comparing various treatments!]
    “Team of Rivals,” – Doris Kearns Goodwin
    “Explosive Eighteen,” – Janet Evanovitch

  23. Tom Mitchell says:

    Oooh, this is fun! Can you do the same for my last three Saturday nights too?

    Mao’s Great Famine – Frank Dikotter
    The Art of Fielding – Chad Harbach
    The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

  24. Hillsy says:

    This could be interesting – I wonder if you’ll recommend anything on my to-read pile.

    Noonshade – James Barclay
    The City & The City – China Meiville
    THe Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson

  25. Anne M Leone says:

    Ohhh, this sounds like fun! Thanks!

    Malinda Lo’s Ash
    Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead
    Vicky Alvear Schecter’s Cleopatra’s Moon

  26. Dee says:

    I’ve already got too much stuff to read, but this sounds fun.

    The last three things I read were

    The Lost Life of Eva Braun by Angela Lambert
    Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
    A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

  27. Joan Mora says:

    Is it too late? I’m in–I played last time!

    The Baker’s Daughter, Sarah McCoy
    The Lost Wife, Alyson Richman
    The House at Tyneford, Natasha Solomons

    Thanks for running this again, Jim. Always fun to see what everyone’s reading.

  28. Bridget says:

    Hope I’m not too late! Here are my last three:

    I’ll Take You There by Joyce Carol Oates
    My Father’s Geisha by James Gordon Bennett
    Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson

  29. Clix says:

    Yay! Okay. My most recent three are:

    Bloody Jack, by Louis Meyer
    Soldier X, by Don Wulffson
    Inside Out, by Terry Trueman

    I lean toward YA, if you couldn’t tell ;D but I’ll take any rec, including nonfiction!

  30. My last three:

    The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta
    Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me?, by Mindy Kaling
    Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins

    And, currently reading – Friends Like Us, by Lauren Fox

  31. Sounds interesting! Michelle Hodkin did this recently, too, and I’ve liked her suggestions.

    1. Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
    2. Slide by Jill Hathaway
    3. The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers

  32. Fortress of Solitude by Jonathon Lethem
    The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
    The Marraige Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

  33. Jim says:

    Hey all!

    Having trouble signing in as myself, so that’s why you don’t see me as the commenter. Here are my suggestions for everyone who left their titles before 9:30 this morning. The other six of you, I’ll get there—I promise!


    Thanks for being the first to comment, Katie Carroll. Let’s stick with fantastical young adult fiction. Might I suggest Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorn?

    Okay, Joelle. It seems almost pointless to recommend it since the entire universe seems to have bought it, but have you read The Fault in Our Stars yet? Because I swear, it’s the best YA novel I’ve read in the past couple years (that I don’t myself represent).

    Such a broad spectrum, M.E. Anders. A graphic novel, literary novel, and nonfiction title… For you, I’m going to stab in the dark and just pick a book I recently read and adored: Julian Barnes’ slim but stunning The Sense of an Ending.

    One adult and two YA, Rachel Searles. Let’s balance it with one more adult: have you read China Mieville? Might I suggest his The City & the City? It’s a weird and wonderful fantasy novel that’s a lot shorter than anything George Martin has done!

    Clearly, Ciara, you like funny. How about the deliriously funny memoir Everything Is Going to Be Great by Rachel Shukert (whose recaps of the TV series Smash over at vulture.com make my week).

    Okay, Sarah…you’ve been covering some dark territory in your YA. How would you feel about lightening it up a touch and reading Gary Schmidt’s Okay for Now? It’s pretty great!

    How WAS Getaway, Ramsey? I’m very curious about that one. And what to pick? A thriller, a fantasy novel, and an amazing YA novel represented by the best agent in the world (yeah, it’s mine). I’m sure I recommended her the last time through here, but have you ever read Chelsea Cain? Pure commercial thriller. Totally twisted. Compulsively readable. Start with Sweethearts.

    Hmm…Livia, did I already recommend Marie Lu’s Legend? I keep recommending it because I really, really loved it. I could always give you another!

    Silver James, it’s taking everything in my power not to recommend one of my own clients to you. But that’s cheating. So…let me go with…Mary Stanton. Her Beaufort & Company mysteries are a ton of fun. Try Angel Avenged and see if you like it!

    Ha—fair enough on no books about teens who die, Amy. Because I’m now thinking very particularly about “teens who live,” the first book that comes to mind is Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table. Late in life, a man reflects on his boat voyage from Ceylon to the UK when he was a boy. It’s sweetly nostalgic and lush, and while it’s totally out of genre based on your last three books, it should be a comfort to know from the start that the kid has to grow up to tell his own story!

    Andrea, I can’t even begin to identify what your taste might be, which I find particularly exciting. It seems you’re just generally a voracious reader. So I’m going right out on a limb here. I wonder if you’d be open to going with a book that’s almost Gothically dark: Donald Ray Pollock scorches the earth with the deeply unsettling but possibly brilliant Devil All the Time.

    Ooh—Ken, have you read Toby Barlow’s Sharp Teeth? Such a strange, but exciting novel that blends literary athleticism with good old fashioned horror.

    Bryan, I’ll go with a book I know your agent would approve of me recommending. Stop me if he’s already told you to check it out: David Almond’s brilliant YA novel Clay.

    Okay, Tez. Why am I having so much trouble with yours? I kept trying to think of dark, evocative fiction with thriller elements, and I feel like I’ve suggested them all so many times! But then there’s that von Ziegesar there that suggests you don’t mind very light. So I’m gonna finally say screw it to moody thrillers and just recommend a big ol’ beach read. J. Courtney Sullivan’s Maine. Read it at the tail end of last summer and was fully in love with it.

    It’s so hard to do these for my own clients! I bring in a lot of bias. Trying to judge only on what you listed (thanks for plugging Jessica Spotswood, Alyson!), I’m going to go with Andrew Xia Fukuda’s The Hunt which I loved.

    The Haunting of Hill House! Swoon. Robin, what about sticking with creepy (I’m ignoring the Levithan, you can tell) and reading Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca? A classic that I always missed out on and finally dove in recently and looooooved!

    Clearly, Julia, you like your urban fantasy. Might I suggest Kat Richardson’s delightful Greywalker series? Start with the first one and then see if you end up hooked!

    Sharon Bayliss, I feel like there’s a chance you’ll already have read it, but what about A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness? I so enjoyed it!

    Okay, Mike Mullin. Michael and I put our heads together to come up with Steve Brezinoff’s The Absolute Value of -1. A great novel AND a great cover!

    Okay, Kaitlyne. You may not want to contend with this pick (it’s a monster), but Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 is a pretty stunning achievement. And it lives in a sort of weird space between fantasy and reality that looking at your reads, I feel like you could enjoy!

    Oh, Yat-Yee. So much pressure after telling me how moved you were
    by my last choice for you! I’m going to go with another mystical and moving novel: Ann Patchett’s lovely State of Wonder.

    History and mystery, Emily! Why not then go for a historical mystery? I love Jed Rubenfeld’s The Interpretation of Murder!

    Tom Mitchell, you’ve just read two of my favorite books in the Tournament of Books (Harbach and Barnes). Why not go for three and check out Alan Hollinghurst’s epic The Stranger’s Child?

    Okay, Hillsy. I’m going to stretch beyond fantasy on this recommendation specifically so I DON’T give you something already on your to-read pile. But it’s a novel that still creates a vibrant universe and is entertaining as hell: Patrick deWitt’s hysterical and thrilling Western (I know!) The Sisters Brothers.

    Anne Leone, how about going for a lesser known Francesca Lia Block novel? Ecstasia. Hate the title, love the novel. She and Malinda Lo are vastly different writers who give me similar feelings in some strange way.

    Dee! Nonfiction, a play, and a fantasy novel? I love it! I feel like I can give you anything! How about another play? Nothing compares with seeing it on stage, but Lynn Nottage’s Ruined can still decimate me on the page.

    • Thanks so much! I have read Discovery of Witches, but good call!

    • Tom Mitchell says:

      Thanks v much. Have ordered. Will let you know how it goes …



    • Joelle says:

      Jim, I finally got your recommendation, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, from the library and read it straight through (don’t tell Michael as I should’ve been writing). No offence, but you really couldn’t go wrong recommending this book…it is A FANTASTIC BOOK. However, I wouldn’t have bothered to read it if you hadn’t suggested it because while I loved LOOKING FOR ALASKA, JG’s others have left me uninterested. This is an amazing book though, so thank you!

  34. You did recommend Legend already, but I haven’t read it yet. Maybe with the double recommendation, I’ll have to bump it up in the to-read list :-)

  35. Silver James says:

    Jim, I’ll happily let you “break the rules.” Which book and which client do you want to recommend? I’m always looking for new titles/authors to add to my list! And I will check out Mary Stanton, the Beaufort & Company mysteries and specifically Angel Avenged.

  36. RamseyH says:

    Jim: Oooo, Sweetheart sounds just like my kind of twisted. Heh. Sample now on my Kindle.

    To answer your question, Getaway was so good I finished it at 4 AM. Or maybe that was just my sick toddler keeping me up. Either way, Brackmann’s delivered another phenomenal winner. I’m holding my full review for the release date (May), but fair warning: you’ll want to ensure quick access to a margarita before cracking Getaway’s spine.

    Also, just for the record, Vernor Vinge is definitely not fantasy! Hard SF is his thing. And mine. 😉

  37. Interesting that you should recommend State of Wonder, because I already bought the book.

  38. Joelle says:

    Thanks for the John Green rec. While I loved LOOKING FOR ALASKA, I haven’t been able to read anything else of his (lack of interest), but I put this one on hold and I’ll give it a shot! This was fun.

  39. Because I don’t have enough reading to do….
    The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe (finally got to this one!)
    The Man Within My Head by Pico Iyer
    Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Krauss

  40. Kaitlyne says:

    Would you believe I’ve actually got the entirety of 1Q84 (seriously, that title makes no sense in English!)–all three volumes of it–in the original Japanese. You’re right, a monster, but one I’m looking forward to as I adore Murakami.

    As such, I’ll definitely read it. Just anticipating it’s going to take forever to get through. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Jim says:

      I take it back! Terrible confession time–I hadn’t finished 1Q84 when I wrote this. But it was going so well!

      I’ve now finished it, and I wholeheartedly withdraw my recommendation. It was ultimately so disappointing.

  41. Amy says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for the suggestion of The Cat’s Table. Exactly what I was looking for, something different (with no dying kids). Looks perfect.

    I’ll check out IQ84 too.

  42. Liz says:

    What a fun idea…

    Secrets of Tamarind – Nadia Aguiar
    The Tale of Despereaux – Kate DiCamillo
    Speaker of the Dead – Orson Scott Card


  43. Kaitlyne says:

    Oh, I’m so glad you just mentioned that one. I loved Ender’s Game and I haven’t read Speaker for the Dead yet, but I’ve meant to for years. *Runs off to add it to her wishlist*

    I actually have several books I want to try out after reading through these comments. 😀

  44. Julia Pierce says:

    Sounds perfect! Thank you :)
    Also thank you for taking your time to do something so fun. You rock!

  45. Andrea says:

    Thanks very much, it looks a dark read indeed :-) I´ve put it on my list!

  46. Jim says:

    Caught up! Here are the rest of my recommendations!

    Welcome back, Joan! Do you need a break from war-time fiction? What about The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides? I don’t love it as much as I did Middlesex, but that was an awfully tall order. It’s still a wonderful, thoughtful, enjoyable read, lovingly couched in discussions of Victorian literature. It’s the novel equivalent of a comfy couch and hot cocoa.

    Did you love Ten Thousand Saints, Bridget? That book really bowled me over. How about Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding? I was so worried about the book living up to all the hype, and I can’t stand baseball, so I wasn’t much looking forward to reading it. But I loved that damn book.

    So, Clix, how about sticking to young male protagonists but moving to the world of adult fiction on this next one. Natacha Appanah’s The Last Brother is a very slim novel that packs an emotional wallop. It also spins out of a pretty fascinating piece of nearly forgotten history—Jewish settlers turned away from Palestine who end up imprisoned on Mauritius for three years. It’s a very curious book, but one that’s completely worth a look.

    Let’s see, Lindsey Archer…I want to recommend Rachel Shukert again, but I suggested her yesterday! How about Sara Barron’s hysterical People Are Unappealing* (Even Me)?

    Hi Ashelynn. It’s probably because she and Andrea Cremer were just on tour together that she leaped to mind right away, but what about Beth Revis’s Across the Universe? I’m not usually big on space settings, but she really pulls it off wonderfully.

    Dave! You’re the first person to write in where I’ve read all three of their most recent reads. Have you read Jonathan Tropper? I couldn’t recommend This Is Where I Leave You more strongly.

    Oh, come on, Molly! It’s not fair for an editor to jump in! Hmph. But wait…you finally read The Best of Everything. Did you love it? If so, absolutely jump on The Group by Mary McCarthy (no relation). It’s even better.

    Liz, it’s a few years old now, but did you read Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me? It skews pretty young, but it’s a really beautiful book.

    • Bridget says:

      Thanks Jim! I did enjoy Ten Thousand Saints, the characters were unique but very real at the same time. I’ve heard good things about The Art of Fielding, and I actually do enjoy baseball, so I will be sure to check it out!

    • Clix says:

      ON it! I am thoroughly intrigued and can’t wait to read it 😀

  47. Jamie Blair says:

    Fun idea!!

    My three:

    The Boyfriend List – E. Lockhart
    The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
    Catching Jordan – Miranda Kenneally

  48. Thanks, Jim! I just bought the Kindle edition.

  49. Julia Pierce says:

    Jim- I just wanted to say thanks for recommending the Greywalker series. I typically would have chosen something with more romance in it, but I find I am really enjoying this.

    We had a bit of a family trauma yesterday. In seeking to escape the house, I took my daughter out. She asked if we could go to the bookstore. I was thrilled that my 3 year old would choose that for our destination. After we played in the children’s area, I picked up Greywalker. At first I thought reading about death might not be fitting given the situation, but I actually have found myself able to lose myself in the book and let my mind unwind some of its…kinks.

    I will be recommending the series to my friends.

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