Loved, loved, loved The Eyre Affair. It's the first in a quirky, weird, witty, nerdy mystery series, and I can't wait to read the next four books.
It's brilliant. It's set in a fantastic world where literary characters and real people interact, and some people travel through time. The main idea of the story is that Jane Eyre has been kidnapped, so the book can't be enjoyed. And literary detectives have to find her and put her back into the book. Very postmodern. Very meta.
Another hilarious subplot involves Baconians and Marlovians fighting over who really could have written Shakespeare's plays. And getting trapped in a Wordsworth poem would be awesome. Not so much the Dickens books Fforde mentions (though the characters would be interesting to just sit back and watch -- Dickens is so good at character descriptions.) It's all really creative, and the coolest part is that the reader is supposed to take for granted that citizens care passionately and even obsessively about literature.
And the protagonist is a female detective named Thursday Next. She rocks.
In a weird way, it reminds me of "traveling stories" my sisters and I used to write in middle and high school (where you switch papers after 5 minutes and do your best to ruin the other siblings' stories). I used to want to be a detective, mainly because I loved mysteries (some friends called me Inspector Palmer for a while), so all my stories were about female detectives with dumb male sidekicks, and somehow time, reality, and belief stood still so that Indiana Jones and Anne of Green Gables could help solve crimes and save the world.
Sigh. Back to econ homework.