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Madeline Rider asks:

I recently got rid of cable and have found myself reading far more! I would love any recommendations you could provide. Here are a few of my favorite books:

1984, Slaughterhouse 5 (I've read most of Vonnegut), Siddhartha (I've read most of Hesse, too), The Great Gatsby (can you tell, I really enjoyed high school english class), Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino (been debating diving into Out), and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. My guilty pleasure is Carl Hiaasen.

I like books that either get me contemplating my life and existence or really gross me out. I enjoy tasteful gore whatever that means. I can handle relatively difficult literature but prefer books I don't have to work too hard at.

Thanks so much :)

My answer is after the jump.

Hey Madeline,

Funny how that works, isn't it? If I had cable, I'd probably never read.

First: You should totally read Out. I think Out is better than Grotesque. You might also like the work of Edogawa Rampo, which is a pseudonym for a Japanese writer who liked Edgar Allan Poe so much that he adopted his name. (I am not kidding.) Rampo mostly wrote short fiction, and he wrote one especially good short story about a man who built a custom chair that he could smuggle himself into so that he could fulfill his fantasies of having a woman unknowingly sit on him. Creepy! Patricia Highsmith is the American version of that same kind of creepy thrill-ride. You might also like Tom McCarthy's The Remainder. It's a great twisty psychological thriller about a man who gets brain damage and then does the same things over and over again. If you haven't read Nabokov, too, I bet you'd love him.

Have you read Joseph Heller? I think he would probably appeal to your modern classic-loving side. The best thing about him is that none of his books are the same. I loved God Knows, a satirical novel told from the point of view of King David, but Vonnegut himself loved Catch 22 and, especially, Something Happened.

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You should feel no shame in liking Hiassen. Have you tried Elmore Leonard? His novels are fast, well-plotted and great fun. They're a great replacement for cable.

Good luck!

Are you about to go on a long vacation? Have you read everything by your favorite author but you still want more? Do you want to learn about a new subject, but don't know where to start? I can help. Ask me for book recommendations on Questionland