In the Province of Saints by Thomas O'Malley
A haunting first novel by a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Ireland. 1970s. Michael is used to the small-town gossip and backbiting of his village, but when a neighbor dies, long-buried secrets and lies are exposed, and Michael discovers the truth about his family. Atmospheric and lyrical, In the Province of Saints brings you back to the mysterious, mystical Ireland of yore.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Don't write Tarzan off as pulp fiction. Yes, the book has a premise that verges on science fiction, and yes, the plot and writing keep the pages turning quickly 'til the end. But Tarzan is a great, immortal story, one that makes you think seriously about what constitutes a man and what binds a family together. Forget the silly movies and TV shows--if you've never read the book you're missing something deep and spell binding.
Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens by James Davidson
Ancient Greek society has been examined from many angles: architecture, art, politics. Now Davidson, a classics professor, adds sex and food to the list. It's a brilliant idea, and it enables him to get to the heart of the culture and to consider humanity in a broader sense, too. Details on the Athenian way of prostitution, seafood consumption, and wine drinking are colorful and unforgettable. A pleasure on pleasure.
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People and The Sound of No Hands Clapping by Toby Young
Toby Young's failure has been his success. Here's how it works: He undertakes a project (jobs, dating, etc.), fails at it in a public and spectacular way, then writes a book chronicling his demise. To all appearances, he's an idiot, yet you can't help loving him and rooting for him. It must be the funny writing about funny situations and his charming British point of view.