Monday, August 6, 2012

Readalikes: John Lanchester's Capital

"As readers who love big, enveloping social novels mark the bicentennial of the birth of  Charles Dickens, the writer at the very heart of this literary tradition, Lanchester's many-themed Capital moves this popular genre forward. His inquiry into what we posess and desire brings other recent, smart, entertaining, and topical novels about money, home, and identity to mind, tales about the entwined lives of very different characters striving to keep body and soul together in a storm of change."
~Donna Seaman, "READ-alikes: Getting Ahead", Booklist (3/15/12)

As a library worker, I find that customers often ask me for book recommendations.  Sometimes I find it difficult to make suggestions, particularly if the customer is not very specific about what they like. Or many times people ask about "the last great book you read" & when you tell them they blink & say, "OK, what else?"  or ask another employee for their suggestion.  So, I have taken to employing the other tools available to me (& to you!) -  NoveList Plus, a library eResource, & the "You Might Also Like These..." suggestions, displayed at the bottom of the record for many (but not all) books in the library catalog.

Let's start with John Lanchester's Capital, described as "an epic novel that captures the obsessions of our time. It’s 2008 and things are falling apart: Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are going under, and the residents of Pepys Road, London—a banker and his shopaholic wife, an old woman dying of a brain tumor and her graffiti-artist grandson, Pakistani shop owners and a shadowy refugee who works as the meter maid, the young soccer star from Senegal and his minder—are receiving anonymous postcards reading 'We Want What You Have.' Who is behind it? What do they want?"  Booklist's Donna Seaman has compiled a list of readalikes, none with a publication date older than 2003, that includes
Look up Capital in the library catalog, & you will find under "You Might Also Like These..." 12 title & 10 author suggestions.  If you hover over "Why did we recommend this?" under each title & author, the reasons for the suggestions vary: "if you like literary fiction about London, England you may like this"; "these books are both literary fiction about neighbors"; "both these books are also about suspicion".

If you log on to NoveList Plus (available with your valid library card), you will find the same list, as our catalog enrichment is powered by NoveList, but you will also be able to "Search for More". NoveList Plus is an eResource, which you can find listed on the Books & Literature LibGuide or using the A to Z eResource List (both LibGuides & eResources link from the library's home page). Using NoveList's list of genre, subject & location of the book, you can choose which elements interest you most to find more titles like Capital.  It's kind of fun to mix & match!

For myself, based on what I've read in the past (& not having read Capital), I might recommend White Teeth by Zadie Smith (character-driven, race relations, social classes); Life Class by Pat Barker (interpersonal relations, war & society,working class men); The Crimson Petal & The White by Michel Faber (strong sense of place, stylistically complex,social status); & Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (suspenseful, swindlers and swindling). 

Have you read Capital? Do you agree with the suggested readalikes? Do you have some readalike recommendations of your own?

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