Originally posted by kosmo vinyl:
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides (Virgin Suicides)
anything by Bill Bryson
Sarah Vowell's stuff
David Sedaris' stuff
Lamb: the Gospel according to Biff;
Everything by A. S. Byatt is always at the top of her list, but it might be a chick thing...
Kosmette has good taste. Middlesex was definitely one of my favorite books in 2003. I love Sedaris' books - always a good laugh but it seems to be so much better when he reads (eg. audiobooks). Alot of the jokes come across better that way. The absolute best is when he imitates his redneck hip-hop brother. Or when he sings TV commercial jingles in the style of Billie Holiday.
If you like dark humour, then I would heartily recommend Chuck Palahniuk. The man is a genius. Choke is my favorite.
I'm a big fan of Richard Russo (he won the Pulitzer for Empire Falls and deservedly so). Empire Falls and Straight Man are my favorites. Russo writes about small towns in the NorthEast. What attracts me is that his protagonists are usually the kind of people we would see hanging out in the local watering hole - decent people with fatal flaws. There aren't happy endings in the stereotypical sense. Issues resolve themselves in the way that real life tends to, for better or worse.
If you like mysteries and want something more substantial than the usual brain candy (ie James Patterson or Johnathan Kellerman), try The Alienist (Caleb Carr) or The Dante Club (Matthew Perl). The Alienist is almost like Silence of the Lambs but set in turn of the century Manhattan, a time when the concept of forensic psychology was barely in it's infancy. The Dante Club is a murder mystery for literature buffs. Murders are committed and the common link is that the manner of death is copied from Dante's Inferno. Literary giants of the day are enlisted to help solve the crime. Both books use historical fiction to the max.
That's my two cents worth. Your mileage may vary.