i am currently reading neal stephenson's baroque cycle - on book two out of three. really an excellent read with lots of ups and downs. historical fiction taking place in the late 1600s/early 1700s featuring many well known real-life characters (isaac newton figures prominently in an indirect way).
one of the best books i've read recently was 'the count of monte cristo' by alexandre dumas. an amazing portrayal of a lifelong thirst for revenge finally tempered by time.
also 'papillon' was really really good (forget the name of the author right now).