The March - E.L Doctorow
This is a really good portrait of life during the American civil war. The storytelling is absolutely relentless, bombarding you with one compelling vignette after another. It's a broad, rich portrait of the time during William Tecumsah Sherman's march to the sea. Highly recommend!
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
I LOVED this book! I literally had a hard time putting it down. Have you read this yet? No? GO READ THIS! It's an awesome mystery story, that's totally conscious of avoiding cliches. Great characters! Great Story! Are you reading this yet? You should be!
The General in His Labyrinth - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This is a book about the great Latin American hero, Simon Bolivar. One might expect a story about a war hero to be full of action and exciting battles. However, this book focuses almost entirely on the great general's final days. Some of his exciting past is recalled as a flashback, but mostly, you're stuck with a dying man with a bad case of the woe-is-mes. So much of the story is focused on this depressing portrait of illness and physical deterioration, that the book just drags on and on. A very slow read, for me at least. I would recommend only to a real Latin American history devotee.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - Michael Chabon
This is a great book that covers a lot of topical ground: Comic book heroes, world war 2, sexuality, magic, celebrity, art, religion, love, racism. All the themes are explored thoroughly and beautifully, with strong, compelling characters you want to root for. I really, really enjoyed reading this one.
Galapagos - Kurt Vonnegut
This is a good book about an unexpected turn for the human race, framed around the scientific magic of Darwinism. It has an interested narrative perspective, and dabbles in the mystical nature of the afterlife. It's one of the few stories I've read where all the folks who are about to die are identified off the bat, and I liked that.