Looks like you really hit a soft spot here Steph! Some nice reads to be found.
Certainly the great books by Terry Pratchett are a must read! They did wonders for knowledge of obscure English words for me! And I keep discovering new jokes and paralells even after x times reading. Also very nice is the deep knowledge of real world mysticism and legends that lies beyond the surface.
I often have several books started at the same time. Currently they are The practical encyclopedia of Feng Shui (Gill Hale) for home improvement ideas, Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the sea of stories for relaxation and I have Japanese Gardens by Günter Nitschke open for its beautifull pictures.
Recently I re-read The ultimate hitchhiker’s guide and finished some books I got earlier in the year from Family/friends. The first,Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters is a mix of the Jane Austin original with Sea Monsters thrown in for extra “Fun”. Nice, but nothing really special to me (sister in law is really into this kind of thing). I will not include the Dutch books, although one called coffee from an Iranian who got to the Netherlands and started writing was very nice.
Another recent read is Stalin’s Ghost (my Father really digs espionage books), which has a frighteningly real feel to it (something to do with the place the Polish president flew to when his plane crashed last year).
A book my wife got for her birthday was Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho. I recomend it, or many other of his books, if you like a something to think about. It does get a bit explicit in parts, be pre-warned.
I also have over a hundred older SF books I got from my parents when they last moved that I read again once in a while. And a lot of Dutch literature, some German and English classics, some Dick Francis books. And books from Jose Saramango and Rentes De Carvallo, but I read them in Dutch, not in portuguese :-)
One German book (or is it a play?) I really like (and recently read again after the “Arab spring” events) is Die Schule der Diktatoren by Erich Kästner. I got this from a Friend in Germany, years ago and still love to read it.
Another of my favourites is man and boy by Tony Parsons
Hm, almost an essay. Guess that is OK in a book club :-)
Oh, and I have another one for the historics and fact lovers here: Cod. A biography of the Fish that Changed the World about how the abundance of Cod in the coastal waters in the north of America influenced history. It also features old local recipies with cod from all over the world.