The two big books of the month are now out and both have long holds queues. Dan Brown's Inferno is a bit easier to find readalikes for as his brand of intellectual, historical, adventure thriller has been often duplicated. Also, at the BPL we already have this list of Dan Brown readalikes posted online and available in print at the library.
Khaled Hosseini is a bit harder to match with suggestions while people wait for And The Mountains Echoed. Hosseini crafts moving, character centered tales, with a strong emotional pull and a setting or frame in Afghanistan. Some people read his books because of their Afghanistan frame, but many who were first drawn to him because of that current events frame have learned to love his storytelling style.
I have read both of Hosseini's previous titles, but only A Thousand Splendid Suns was read since the blog began. Here is what I had to say about that title in March of 2008:
I also listened to the popular A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini's follow-up to The Kite Runner tells to stories of two women, Miriam and Laila, as they live through three decades of war in Afghanistan. With his second novel, Hosseini has shown that he is an excellent storyteller who is here to stay. I especially enjoyed the detailed history lesson which this book provided. Mostly, I was riveted by the two women, their voices, and their stories.
Those who like Hosseini's setting of Afghanistan should also try the current nonfiction best seller Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson or the fiction title The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra. Those who enjoyed learning about the history of Afghanistan may also want to delve into the Iranian Revolution (a neighbor of Afghanistan). Here I suggest The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. In this accessible graphic novel, Satrapi tells her personal story of living through war and Islamic revolution in Iran. Much of her story resonates with that of Miriam and Laila's. Finally, those readers who found the women's friendship against all odds very appealing, I suggest Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Although this novel takes place in China, the laotongrelationship between the two main characters has many similarities with Hosseini's novel.Since Hosseini does not write quickly, people are literally clamoring for And the Mountains Echoed. The reviews are also fabulous, pushing demand even higher. People want this book right now, and you are the one that has to tell them that they are not going to get it.
But look on the bright side. Times like this are when you have a chance to shine. Yes you will have to take the patron's hold for And the Mountains Echoed, but look at all of the other books that are sitting on your shelves just waiting to be read by someone at this very moment. You have the perfect opportunity to show these patrons another great title they can read while they wait. Do not let this captive audience leave without even offering to give them a title to read now.
That's where I come in. Besides the titles I mentioned above and other books with a Afghanistan frame, here are some titles that are also intricately plotted stories, told with lyrical language, characters you care about, and a reflective tone. Again, these are NOT your typical Middle East set suggestions. Most importantly, these books will be on the shelf. Links are to my reviews where possible:
- The Round House by Louise Erdrich [But that may be off the shelf, so try another book by her]
- The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
- The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
- Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens
- The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
- Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
- City of Thieves by David Benioff
- The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall
- Peace Like A River by Leif Enger
There is no reason for your patrons to leave unsatisfied when they come in hoping to get a copy of And the Mountains Echoed because there is always another book they will like somewhere else in the stacks.
Feel free to add your own readalike suggestions in the comments.