@SlowRain I have been meaning to ask (as my list of books to read becomes more manageable).
Which John le Carré Books would you recommend?
I have only ever read "Our kind of traitor" and "Agent running in the field"

@LN @SlowRain popping in as a random voice from the crowd: i have read exactly one, _tinker tailor soldier spy_, but it was excellent and you just reminded me i want to read the rest of them.

@brennen @LN
Yes, continue with the trilogy. I think The Honourable Schoolboy has the most complex plot of all of his novels, & Smiley's People is excellent!

I divide his output into 4 phases: the early works (1961-1971), the peak (1974-1989), post-Cold War (1990-1999), & the activist novels (2001-2019).

The early works were inexperienced & him struggling to find a voice. The peak was the peak, hands down. The post-Cold War was him trying to explore other stories. He also simplified his plots at this point. The activist novels were him raging against social issues. Also a further simplifying of his plots after 2006.

The 2 you have read were from his activist period. If you enjoyed those, you may enjoy others from that period as well. I think Agent Running in the Field is one of his worst novels, though (Absolute Friends is bad, too). He has been in noticeable decline since 2006. The narrative style was still there, but the issues he discussed overshadowed plot & character. Of these, I only enjoyed The Constant Gardener & The Mission Song.

His most mainstream & easily accessible novel is The Night Manager. It's also his fastest-paced--which is to say it's rather slow when compared to other thriller writers.

His most popular novel is The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. I read this after I had read all of his novels from his peak period. It's OK, but the narrative style is very basic.

The peak is where it's at. Be warned, though, the plots are dense. It's a brilliant & creative mind firing on all cylinders: plot, character, narrative, themes.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is often said to be his best novel among his fans. Read it early on because there are spoilers for it in other novels. Continue on with the rest of The Quest for Karla trilogy (The Honourable Schoolboy & Smiley's People).

After that, you may choose whatever you're interested in & whatever is available.

My favorites are (in order of preference):

A Perfect Spy
Smiley's People
The Little Drummer Girl
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Russia House
The Honourable Schoolboy
Our Game
The Mission Song
The Constant Gardener
The Tailor of Panama

@SlowRain I said I read it, but it is inaccurate, I listened to the audiobook of Agent running in the Field because he was narrating it. I always find it interesting when the author reads the book. You always get something out of it. I liked it, but I didn't consider the book anything exceptional.
Thank you for all this precious information.

@SlowRain And I had forgotten but I also read The Constant Gardener.

I think he did the audio for a lot of his books.

His books are not fast paced. I feel he was forced into simplifying his books by his publishers, first in the '90s & then again after '06. I have no proof of that, just a feeling.

A Perfect Spy is really his opus. He drew on a lot of his personal life in that one. But nothing else he has written comes close in impact, so I recommend saving that one for a little later.

I should add that I have not read The Naive and Sentimental Lover. It's his only non-espionage novel. I will read it someday, but it's not high on my list. It's apparently quite bad, too. Also, supposedly based on a scandalous part of his own life.

There's a funny story in the news today about Canada's spy agency misusing a le Carré quote in their advertising. DO NOT READ ANY OF THOSE ARTICLES! They contain major spoilers.

@LN @SlowRain I'm a big fan of his Smiley novels. His post Cold War stuff never struck me as being as on point/resonant with the times. Beyond the books, a number of his works have been adapters as mini-series. Alec Guinness as Smiley is absolutely the best. Worth seeking out the original, longer, UK versions and not the US releases.

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