Eight Crazy Nights: A Tote Bag of Books

Book CoverIt’s another giveaway in our Eight Crazy Nights of fun here at Smart Bitches.

Today’s prize: a totebag with three novels from the Harper Perennial Olive Editions. They’re cute and little and a fabulous repackaging, in my opinion, of some hefty good books.

The prize bag includes a copy of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kindera.

Want to heft a bag of books? Just leave a comment with your answer to the following question: what was the best book you read this year that wasn’t a romance? Comments close in 24 hours, so share your recommendations and keep your fingers crossed.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Katy says:

    The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs – Hilarious!!

  2. 2
    darlynne says:

    Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. How can you not love a discarded milk carton named Curdle and the little girl who saves an alternate London? Funny, smart and, for a change, a girl is the Chosen One.

  3. 3
    Larn says:

    I really enjoyed Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama.  Initially, I read it just to get a bit of insight on who Obama was.  Not normally much of a nonfiction fan, so I was surprised at how hard the book was to put down.  I HIGHLY recommend it for anyone who would like a bit of insight into our next president.

  4. 4
    Larn says:

    And it really helps if you quote the book title accuratly.  It’s actually Dreams FROM my Father.  Duh.

  5. 5
    Kelly W. says:

    Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

  6. 6
    Larn says:

    “Accurately.”  Damn

  7. 7
    Val says:

    Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.

    I know I’m behind the times – shut up!! My TBR stack is a tottering mismash in no chronological order. And you Bitches keep reshuffling it!

  8. 8
    Morgan says:

    Under My Skin, Volume One of Doris Lessing’s memoirs. Beautiful and fascinating insight into one of the world’s most important writers. I love reading about writers and writing. I usually wait until they are dead before emabrking on any auto/biographical delving, but this time I could not resist. It is a good one—can’t wait to read Volume 2!

  9. 9
    Venus Vaughn says:

    That wasn’t a romance?  Oooh, tough one but I’m even going to go out of fiction altogether to answer that one. 

    Reading the OED by Ammon Shea, and I hope the link below works, I’ve never tried to use this feature before.

    Reading the OED

    A lover of dictionaries sits down and decides to read the entire Oxford English in a year.  He documents it for us.  And man, he has such a wonderful voice I’d read almost anything he writes.

  10. 10
    Morgan says:

    “emabrking” Guh. Larn, you aren’t the only one misusing the keyboard today :o}

  11. 11
    katiebabs says:

    Heartsick by Chelsea Cain. Loved it!!

  12. 12
    Tina M. says:

    Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

  13. 13
    Madeleine says:

    Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I knew *nothing* about the Biafran war before reading this book, and I still only know enough to talk about the novel. BUT, it is truly excellent: sympathetic, compassionate, skillful, clear-eyed…Also, Kainene will probably go down in history as one of my favorite characters.

    Runners up…Arcadia (Stoppard), A Place of Greater Safety (Mantel), and The Homecoming (Pinter). Yes, two of those are plays.

  14. 14
    Kym says:

    How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper. It’s in my top 10 list now.

  15. 15
    Cat Marsters says:

    Well, it’s weird but I really, really enjoyed London: A Life In Maps by Peter Whitfield.  So strange to see areas I know as city-centre being marked as tiny rural hamlets.

    As for fiction, I read two Jim Butchers this year: Small Favor and Captain’s Fury, and as ever I’m astonished at the detail, characterisation and relentlessly exciting pace he manages to put onto each page, especially in the Calderon books where the world-building is just wonderful.  Yes, Princeps’ Fury is on my Christmas list!

  16. 16
    Yvette Davis says:

    I’ve got three of them for you, though by no means an exhaustive list.


    One of my favorites this year was Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, the DaVinci Code author. I happen to love his turn-the-page-NOW tension which gets my heart beating faster than even most romances do, and being mainly a sci-fi chick, I loved that he included the recently operational Large Hadron Collider in the story. My only issues with the book are that he always throws in a little spurious but not serious romance that never ends with a bang.

    I also liked but didn’t exactly tear through Nobel Prize winning author Jose Saramago’s The Double. I can honestly say that I would never, ever, copy his form. But, I cannot say that the book was poorly written. All in all, it’s a difficult read. If you haven’t glimpsed his style yet, let me tell you this: Imagine two-page sentences with no quotation marks to tell you who’s talking, no punctuation other than commas, and no paragraph breaks at all. Sound confusing? It is. That’s why it took me about two months to read it. But I am still glad that I did.

    In the non-fiction realm, this one stood out:

    Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

    If you ever wanted to know just exactly what happens to dead bodies left out in the grass to decompose, what really happens to bodies donated for science and medical purposes, and just how much bacteria you’re made of, you’ll be wanting to pick this one up at the local library. Just don’t eat it at the dinner table!


    Yvette Davis

  17. 17
    Yvette Davis says:

    Err…I mean, read it at the dinner table.


    (Unless you’ve got a fine chianti to go with it?)

  18. 18
    Lys says:

    I really enjoyed Devil May Ride by Wendy Roberts

  19. 19
    Lil' Deviant says:

    I really enjoyed To Hell and Back by Lilith Saintcrow and
    Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost.
    I wouldn’t consider them Romance. *shrugs*

    But I also enjoyed Easy Green Living by Renne Loux.  Though it was a little over whelming.  I thought it was informative.

  20. 20
    Vuir says:

    The Case of the Not-so-nice Nurse, by Mabel Maney

  21. 21
    Virginia Hendricks says:

    Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.  It has some romantic overtones to it, but its a YA book and not a romance.

  22. 22
    Kristi says:

    I thought Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a fascinating read.

  23. 23
    ruth skerjanec says:

    I have many choices but I will throw out there Jim Butcher’s Princeps’ Fury.

  24. 24
    Renee says:

    His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. Well, actually, the entire Temeraire series.
    Alternate reality during the Napoleonic wars, from the perspectives of a British former naval captain turned Dragon aviator and the dragon he rides, Temeraire. Dragons and big ships! What’s not to love? I listened to the audiobooks, and am currently listening to the fifth in the series. The production is great.

  25. 25
    Sarah L says:

    darlynne, I loved Un Lun Dun as well.

    And I can’t believe you guys are asking me to pick just one!!!! Can’t be done, I tell you, even if it disqualifies me.

    Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaughn
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    Small Favor by Jim Butcher
    The Scourge of God by S.M. Stirling
    Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle
    Vampire Academy and Frostbite by Richelle Mead
    The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint
    Valor’s Trial by Tanya Huff
    World War Z by Max Brooks
    Nurk: the Strange Surprising Adventures of a Somewhat Brave Shrew by Ursula Vernon
    The Courtney Crumrin series by Ted Naifeh
    Amulet: Gift of the Stonekeeper by Kazu Kabuishi
    Company by Max Barry
    Sorcery and Cecelia and the sequels by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.
    Don’t Hex with Texas by Shanna Swendson

    And yes, some of these have romantic subplots, but the romance was not the primary plot, so I feel safe in including them.

    Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care

    But if I had to choose just one, bamboo slivers under my fingernails, etc., I’d have to go with World War Z. It’s an amazing book; funny, touching, sad but not depressing. Well worth picking up, IMHO.

  26. 26
    Marski says:

    The Tale of Desperaux I read to my daughter.  I was a bit disappointed with the movie, of course.  It was such a great story, there was no need to change anything.  And that acid induced veggie man of inspiration? 

    I also read one of Anne Rices totally edgy books but can’t go into that here….

  27. 27
    Kelly C says:

      HOLD TIGHT by Harlan Coben.  Who, IMNSHO, can’t write a bad book.

    Spaminator : yet43

    You’re damn right I am NOT yet43

  28. 28
    Linda says:

    Best book I’ve read this year is Little Brother by Corey Doctorow.

    In a nutshell it’s Orwell for the net-generation.  Satisfaction for techno-geeks guaranteed.

  29. 29
    Karla says:

    Best non-romance I read was also non-fiction.
    The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS by Elizabeth Pisani

  30. 30
    stephg1221 says:

    I have two books, that left a lasting impression
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; loved the book hated the heroine’s name
    People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, I love books about books

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