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More Books You Should Read

If you think that there's a lot of sci-fi and fantasy on this list, you're right. I tend to prefer sci-fi and fantasy.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanah Clarke - this is a nice little book, but I really like it for the footnotes. I'm the sort of person who can't help but read the footnotes, and these are such lovely ones. There are entire stories in the footnotes.

Sorcery and Cecilia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer - it's a Regency novel told by letters, with magic. Really, what is there not to like?

Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury - I prefer this to Fahrenheit 451, because I sometimes find Fahrenheit to be a bit dull and preaching. But this is a wonderful thriller, and Bradbury can write.

The Star Beast by Robert Heinlein - Heinlein is one of the great sci-fi authors, or at least, some of the time. This is one of those times. It isn't as dated as some of the other books (there aren't slide rules all over the place), and the characterizations are nice, and I hope everyone likes Lummox.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov - while I'm on the subject of sci-fi, I have to mention Asimov (and if you've seen the movie, it doesn't count). The three laws and how they work out are fascinating (and no, I don't plan to read the Foundation series - it's just too large).

The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne - I've liked Hawthorne since I first read The Scarlet Letter in high school. I'm continually fascinated by Hawthorne (I also recommend his short stories as a good place to start).

The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling - if you haven't read these, you have lead a sad, sad life. Kipling is at his best with the Just So Stories, with his wonderful narrative voice that is just like someone telling you a story ("best beloved"), and his quirky little line illustrations, and how the stories take on the peculiar quality of fable.

The Winter of Magic's Return by Pamela Service - Merlin comes back to post-Apocalyptic Britain. Yet another reason that I'm addicted to King Arthur stories.

The Princess Bride William Golding- yes, you've seen the movie, but have you read the book? Even if Buttercup is more of a ditz, it has the Zoo of Death. You also find out which bits are cut (like the packing and unpacking of hats, and all the political commentary).

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackerey - the real reason to read Vanity Fair (besides the fabulous writing) is because it shows so clearly what being a social schemer does to Becky Sharp.

All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams - it is difficult to say where you ought to start with Williams, because it is so hard to find anything of his, but All Hallow's Eve is as good as any (also make sure that if you're reading Charles Williams, you're reading the right one who was an Inkling and not the one who wrote rather mediocre detective fiction).

Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip - McKillip writes such lovely fantasy, which has an almost dreamlike quality. I have no particular reason for choosing Alphabet, except that I really like it.

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton - once again, you should just read all of Chesterton's novels, but start with this one. If you like the Inklings (and who doesn't?) then you should read Chesterton. Any Chesterton makes me want to set out on an Adventure.

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald - this is, I think, MacDonald at his best. It is mythic and beautiful, and my favorite chapter is quite possibly the fairy tale Little Daylight. (And of course you should also read Phantastes and Lilith, but I think North Wind holds together better than either of these.)

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie - I do hope you've already read this, but if you haven't, you should.

The Heris Serrano Trilogy by Elizabeth Moon - spaceships, foxhunting, and great-aunts. Intrigued yet?

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik - dragons in the Napoleonic wars . . . this is brilliant because dragons are so huge that they require not merely one person, but an entire crew, and are basically intelligent, flying ships (with a captain, crew, and boarding party).

Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt - the best way I can describe this is a sort of cross between Robin Hood and Zorro, which is really not a very good description at all.

Possibly More Books to Follow


Jan. 20th, 2009 09:36 pm
bonny_kate: (Default)
Books You Should Read, if You Haven't Already

I'm going to leave off all the long, hard books that I suspect no one will read anyway, or at least, not with my convincing, so I shall sadly not tell you here to read Dante's Divine Comedy, Spencer's Faerie Queene, and Homer's Iliad. Because if you're going to, you probably already have. But, in no particular order, some Recommended Books:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - if you haven't read this already, why am I still talking to you? Go get it, read it, read it again, and then we'll talk. Actually, read all the chronicles, but read this one first, because if you only read one (horrors!) then this is the one to read.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - I shall be most disappointed if you haven't read this (along with The Hobbit) because it is just so wonderfully good. Do not neglect the Appendices. They are Important (well, you can skim the ones on pronunciations if you like).

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers - you should read all the Wimsey novels, as well as her essays, but Gaudy Night is the place to start. If you only read one Wimsey novel (and I'm not sure we're still talking if you only read one) this is the one. I am in awe of Sayers.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - this is a total classic, and even if I like some of the middle Anne novels better, it is best to start at the beginning.

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley - somehow this rises above all those other horse books where someone finds a horse and it ends up being the fastest, best horse in the world. I know this because I think I read all those other horse books, and this is the only one I still read.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle - this happens to be the only book by Peter Beagle that I like, and I like it tremendously. The first page or so is just completely wonderful. I also have a fondness for the cartoon, in spite of its shortcomings.

The Once and Future King by T.H. White - now this is Important, so please pay attention. The first bit of The Once and Future King is called The Sword in the Stone. Check out the book The Sword in the Stone and read it first. There are differences in the story, and it works better if you read The Sword in the Stone and then continue on with the rest of the bits in The Once and Future King. Incidentally, I think this book is responsible for the way I associate King Arthur and Robin Hood.

Rose Daughterby Robin McKinley - McKinley is rather hit and miss for me, but when she is good, she's really, really good. This is my favorite because it is Beauty and the Beast the way it should be told.

The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones - this is just brilliant. It is funny, and witty, and totally mocks the typical fantasy quest, but in a good way. Besides being brilliantly funny, it is also a good story in its own right (and by the way, Deep Magic is a very close contender for the book by Diana Wynne Jones, but Dark Lord edged it out by the barest margin today).

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - this is a classic for a very good reason. I am constantly reading this, being somewhere past the middle at present. I think it is Austen's best work, and it is certainly a good place to start (but why stop there?).

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - I realize that Dickens can be challenging, so that's why I think you should start off with something nice and short. It's only a hundred or so pages, and you get all the brilliance of Dickens without having to go through nine hundred pages (although I am slowly working my way through Dickens and very much enjoying it, because it is brilliant, it did take me a while to get hooked and it was A Christmas Carol that did it).

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - I like to think that Bronte and Austen tend to balance out one another. I will admit to having a greater fondness for Austen, but Jane Eyre is just so good that it belongs on the list.

Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare - but you had better not stop with just one play, but go on to read lot's of them (to my shame, I haven't read all of Shakespeare, and my present excuse is that my lovely Penguin Complete Shakespeare is in one of the boxes on my floor).

The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix (namely Sabriel, Lireal, and Abhorsen) - which I put on here because I really like them. The writing is wonderful, the characters are terrific (especially Mogget and the Disreputable Dog), and so it makes the list.

Dracula by Bram Stoker - partially because this is the vampire novel, but mostly on its own merit, and for Van Helsing, you should read this.

To Be Continued, Possibly


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Kate Saunders Britton

April 2017

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