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Good Fiction Guide [Paperback]

Jane Rogers
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 4 2005 0192806475 978-0192806475 Second Edition
Wondering what to read next? Let the experts help you out. When it comes to reading we are spoilt for choice, and that choice can be a little daunting. That's why this great guide to the world of fiction is every reader's best friend. Packed with accessible introductions to over 1,100 must-read authors and over 4,100 superb titles, the Good Fiction Guide is a book you'll go back to again and again, in the search for your next enthralling read. Every entry includes read-on suggestions for similar authors, helping you to discover great fiction by authors you might not have heard about before. The Good Fiction Guide also contains overviews by 34 best-selling authors introducing their favourite genre, and recommending their twelve favourite books. These include Nigel Williams writing about Humour, Val McDermid introducing Thrillers, and Michael Dibdin on Crime. Whatever your preference, from classics to crime, history to humour, short stories to science fiction, the Good Fiction Guide has it all covered. An indispensible guide for reading groups, serious bookworms, and anyone who would like to read more.

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From Amazon

Reading is like a huge treasure hunt. Every book leads to another title. The Good Fiction Guide, which lists 5,000 different books by over 1,100 authors--from Achebe and Adams to Zelazny and Zola--provides useful extra sign posts. And because its subject is fiction--not literature- it ranges eclectically from Henry to Helen Fielding and from Anthony to Joanna Trollope. Thirty-four jargon-free essays by literary cognoscenti include Adele Geras writing entertainingly about teen novels, John Sutherland is informative on classics and Mike Harris thoughtful about war. Film adaptations, Western, and magic realism are among other topics covered. The alphabetical author listings give biographical details and an assessment of output followed by helpful cross-referencing. Below the John Creasey entry, for example, are listed Ed McBain, John Harvey and Colin Dexter to point the way through crime writing. If you like Dickens, try Thackeray, Dostoevsky, George Eliot and Peter Carey. Inevitably there are strange omissions. It's curious that children's author Philip Pullman is included but not Harry Potter's creator JK Rowling. Odd, too, that there is no mention of Paul Scott's The Jewel in the Crown or EM Forster's A Passage to India in the India essay. "Each essayist's "top twelve" is entirely his or her own choice," writes editor Jane Rogers. "I've rejoiced to find favourite books recommended, been outraged by the omission of equally good writers and been tempted into entirely new areas of fiction by the enthusiasm of essayists." --Susan Elkin --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Another intriguing addition to Oxford's collection of literary guides, this resource for the general reader offers information contributed by 60 writers, critics, and translators in two formats: 34 four-page subject essays and more than 1000 alphabetically arranged, paragraph-length author entries covering 5000 books. Certainly, it is similar to other Oxford handbooks, such as Margaret Drabble's The Oxford Companion to English Literature (LJ 10/15/00) and Peter Parker's A Reader's Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers (LJ 7/96). This reference, however, is unique in that it encompasses popular and genre fiction for both adults and teens, as well as classics, contemporary literature, and international works translated into English. Because selection is based on reader enjoyment, authors are included only if their books are well known, strong sellers, in print, and recommended by the contributors. The essays explore a wide range of topics, from the science fiction of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Richard Hoban's Riddley Walker, and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale to a literary/geographical analysis of French writing and the progression of the adventure story from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Authors were chosen for their specialized knowledge and thus conclude with their Top 12 recommendations. The informal style and inclusion of personal details about the authors' lives create a livelier, more engaging source than standard companions. Highly recommended for literature collections. Marilyn Rosenthal, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback
As both a very heavy reader of broad tastes and interests, and a librarian (i.e., a professional recommender of books), I'm always on the look-out for new lists of other people's reading recommendations. This one runs to nearly 500 pages, most of it in the form of brief, individually authored articles (from less than half a column in length to two-thirds of a page) on writers who mostly have been originally published in English, ranging from Defoe and Dickens to Patricia Cornwell and Neal Stephenson. There are also nearly three dozen topical essays -- Canada, Fantasy, Film Adaptations, The Sea, Teen, etc -- which I frankly found too idiosyncratic to be of much use. It took me several weeks to work my way slowly through this thing, notepad at hand to jot down authors and titles that were new to me, or which the reviewer convinced me I ought to reconsider. I filled more than a dozen pages, which means I can happily push this volume on other dedicated readers. Not that I don't have some caveats. No such book can be all-inclusive, of course, so I won't complain about the (in my opinion) excellent authors who were omitted. Though I'm annoyed that a relatively minor science fiction author from the '50s like John Wyndham is discussed, but not the innovative John Varley. On the other hand, can you even begin to talk about Robert Coover without mentioning his most widely-read novel, _The Universal Baseball Association, Inc.?_ Or Stephen King with no mention of _The Stand,_ which is as close as he has yet come to a magnum opus? There seems also to be a heavy emphasis on British writers, with many minor names being included out of proportion to less-known U.S. authors; this bias is not noted in the Introduction, but becomes obvious as you browse. Well, an editor's lot is never an easy one. But they really should have included a title index.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a useful and well constructed guide... Oct. 2 2001
Format:Hardcover
This is a useful book for those interested in literature, wishing to expand their reading, or just looking for a good book.
The book has two main sections.
The first is a series of essays by leading writers in various fields. So Michael Dibdin writes on Crime, Lee Clark Mitchell on Westerns with other essays on other genres and also major countries of fiction such as America, France etc. Each essayist picks 12 examples of the finest books in each field.
These short essays are very useful as introductions to a field or area of writing and point you in the right direction for further reading.
The second section is an A-Z listing of over 1,000 authors with short biographical details and suggested reading.
Taken together these elements make for a most informative guide which I have found very useful to increase my reading and I am sure other lovers of books will find likewise.
There are some glaring ommisions - no Haruki Murakami?! - and some of the entries can be a bit snobbish but overall there is a good balance.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like I *need* another thirty years worth of good reading.... Dec 8 2003
By Michael K. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As both a very heavy reader of broad tastes and interests, and a librarian (i.e., a professional recommender of books), I'm always on the look-out for new lists of other people's reading recommendations. This one runs to nearly 500 pages, most of it in the form of brief, individually authored articles (from less than half a column in length to two-thirds of a page) on writers who mostly have been originally published in English, ranging from Defoe and Dickens to Patricia Cornwell and Neal Stephenson. There are also nearly three dozen topical essays -- Canada, Fantasy, Film Adaptations, The Sea, Teen, etc -- which I frankly found too idiosyncratic to be of much use. It took me several weeks to work my way slowly through this thing, notepad at hand to jot down authors and titles that were new to me, or which the reviewer convinced me I ought to reconsider. I filled more than a dozen pages, which means I can happily push this volume on other dedicated readers. Not that I don't have some caveats. No such book can be all-inclusive, of course, so I won't complain about the (in my opinion) excellent authors who were omitted. Though I'm annoyed that a relatively minor science fiction author from the '50s like John Wyndham is discussed, but not the innovative John Varley. On the other hand, can you even begin to talk about Robert Coover without mentioning his most widely-read novel, _The Universal Baseball Association, Inc.?_ Or Stephen King with no mention of _The Stand,_ which is as close as he has yet come to a magnum opus? There seems also to be a heavy emphasis on British writers, with many minor names being included out of proportion to less-known U.S. authors; this bias is not noted in the Introduction, but becomes obvious as you browse. Well, an editor's lot is never an easy one. But they really should have included a title index.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Guide to Accessible Fiction Nov. 26 2006
By A. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The first third of this chatty guide to modern and classic adult fiction is a series of essays recommending key authors and titles in 34 various genres/topics/national literatures. Each is written by a writer or editor (mostly British) with "a special interest" in the the subject, although very few are household names (the two most well known are probably crime writers Michael Didbin and Val McDermid). The essays are about four or five pages, and include a "Top 12" list of the essayist's favorites in that area. While these are somewhat fun to dip into, like all such essays they are awfully idiosyncratic, and thus need to be taken with many grains of salt.

Nonetheless, the editors should be commended for highlighting a good deal of world literature, with essays devoted to: Africa, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, The Caribbean, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Russia, and the U.S. However, other than this particular coverage, readers should be aware that the authors and titles selected for mention have a very strong British emphasis. Authors were only included if they are well-known (in Britain), in print, or seminal to a particular topic or genre. However, while most selections may be available in the UK, some may be much harder to track down elsewhere.

The remaining two-thirds of the book are small biographies of 1,000+ authors, with indications as to their key works, and three "similar" writers. For example, if you like Nick Hornby, try Roddy Doyle, Kingsly Amis, or J.D. Salinger. On the whole, an attractive, accessible book to dip into to get some ideas of new stuff to read, but hardly the last word on the topic.
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