March 31, 2008

Shadows is here!

Pollyanna’s Booklist

This is Pollyanna’s Booklist where all is fairies and strong, self-sufficient young women and dragons and unicorns and loving kindness.

Comments are closed.  This thread has moved to Pollyanna’s Booklist on the forum!

See what everyone’s recommending!  Our hard-working resident librarian has added over 400 recommended titles to LibraryThing.

Please join the discussion at Robin McKinley's Web Forum.

Comment by Anonymous

If you haven’t read Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway, GO READ IT. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and I work in the book industry. It’s about a high school girl who breaks up with her boyfriend, and he writes a song about the experience for his rock band. The song shoots up the charts to number 1, and soon Audrey is as famous as her ex-boyfriend. Other rock stars want to date her and girls want to be her, but she just wants to live her life and maybe date the geeky guy she works with at the ice cream place in the mall. So so so funny, and so good.

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Comment by Anonymous

Not to get this off on the wrong foot or medium but the Douglas Adams quote makes me want to recommend the BBC Radio versions of the later Hitchhikers books – the Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential Phases. They have most of the original cast back and in some ways the audio versions seems the truer version than the books.

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Comment by Anonymous

Gerald Morris’ series based on King Arthur.
Kate Seredy’s The Good Master
The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcox

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Comment by Maureen E

Second the first two! I haven’t read the third.

 
Comment by handyhunter

Also, Kate Seredy’s The Singing Tree, sequel to The Good Master. :)d

Comment by CB

Add to Kate Seredy’s books, “The Chestry Oak”, unfortunately out of print (only copy I could find is $143.09, too much for me), but an unforgettable book.

 
 
Comment by KatrinaRose

Especially read “Savage Damsel and the Dwarf” by Gerald Morris. I laughed so hard at times I swear I burned off calories.

Comment by Robin

Menopausal Woman really wakes up at this rec. :)

 
 
 
Comment by Anonymous

The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters (started in the 1970′s, now going on 19 in the series)– very funny and action-packed, set in Egypt and England in the late 1800′s to early 1900′s, with at least one murder in every book, although not true ‘murder mysteries’.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith–a stand-alone book about a young English girl and her eccentric family, set in the early/mid 1900′s (I think).

Sorcery and Cecelia (plus two sequels so far) by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, also Dealing with Dragons (plus 3 sequels) by Patricia C. Wrede–YA fantasy, the Cecelia books set in early 1800′s England in an alternate universe with magic, the dragon series just plain fantasy, hilariously funny.

The Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King–about a retired Sherlock Holmes and his young, American, feminist assistant; excellently written.

Pretty much any book by Mary Stewart–most of her books are classified as ‘suspense romance’; some are low-key, some quite exciting, just the right amount of mush. Some of my favorites are My Brother Michael, The Moonspinners, Nine Coaches Waiting, Airs Above the Ground.

The Sherwood Ring and The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope (not sequels)– YA historical fiction, set in the early/mid 1900′s (I think) and Elizabethan England respectively.

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Comment by handyhunter

I love love love The Perilous Gard* and Mary Russell series.

*I always think of it with The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Marie Pope; The Forestwife by Teresa Tomlinson; Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw and The King’s Daughter by Suzanne Martel. I think I read all those books in the same time frame, and continue to re-read them.

Comment by Robin

YES. Except you mean Elizabeth Speare, for Blackbird–Pope is Perilous Gard. Anyway, YES. Several people have mentioned the Mary Russell series so I’ve just ordered the two I don’t have. I love these too. The only one of yours I don’t know is the Martel–it goes on the list! :)

 
Comment by handyhunter

Sigh. Yes, I did mean Speare. And Martel is unfortunately out of print; I hope you find a copy! The version I have is translated into English from French, which may account for the slight stiltedness of the language, but I love the story anyway. :)

 
Comment by eiriene

I’m working my way through the Mary Russell series now, and it’s great.

 
 
Comment by ssshunt

My favorite Stewart mystery is Touch Not the Cat. Hopeless romantic. But I loved Airs Above the Ground, and all the Merlin books, of course.

Comment by ichimunki

The first books I read and loved from Mary Stewart and which I still love are: Rose Cottage and Stormy Petrel.

Comment by Robin

Interesting. My favourites are her early ones: Wildfire at Midnight, My Brother Michael, This Rough Magic, The Ivy Tree, Nine Coaches Waiting, Madam Will You Talk. . . . Even if everyone seems to SMOKE an awful lot.

 
 
Comment by Susan from Athens

I like her early ones and the Merlin trilogy very much but was very late in starting to read her as she was somebody I was “supposed” to read. She was a friend of my Aunt’s and one of her early books mentions Electra in the acknowledgements. Mary Stewart knew my father from Durham, where her husband was a lecturer (in geology I believe) and he gave her the introduction so she would get a more intimate view of the country. My Aunty had taken her around Athens and to Delphi, after which she wrote My Brother Michael… So my Aunt has all these early books in original hardback with dedications and was like… you should read them you know. And my reaction was (typical teenager) no way, no how… But then I just swallowed them whole. Just goes to show.

Comment by Robin

Gosh–all that quotation stuff, I knew her dad was a lecturer I’d thought he was English–! And she married another one? A glutton for punishment. I hope she was a nice person. One wants authors one likes to be nice people (!!! –Disingenuous Alert–)

 
 
Comment by ags

YES!! I LOVE Mary Stewart, but yes!, they do SMOKE all the time (the only exception appears to be Airs Above Ground, really love that one, it was the first of her books that I read).

 
Comment by Dinah

I only every read Mary Stewart’s childrens books. “A Walk in Wolf Wood”, (a sister and brother pulled into the past in germany, to unfold a werewolves curse while remaining on their toes to stay undiscovered) “The Littlest Broomstick” (a very clever young girl, I quite enjoyed her, in a rather dark and twisted witches college) and “Ludo and the Star Horse” (alas, no girls that I recall in that story). For youth of course, but I quite love them.

Comment by Robin

For youth of course, but I quite love them.

*********** A good book is a good book. Full stop.

 
 
 
 
Comment by dracoangelica

I would GREATLY recommend some new books that have recently come out.

PRINCESS BEN by Catherine GIlbert Burdock. Imagine for once, a princess that isn’t a willowy, blond, graceful twit! Meet Ben, chunky and loving herself anyway. While the heroine’s weight is not the main focus, to me, it is what puts this book apart from you’re average, ‘princess saves her world’ YA read.

THE SWAN KINGDOM: Ever read the fairytale, ‘The Wild Swans’? This version makes more sense and also features a high-powered princess who kicks major tail in the name of her kingdom.

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Comment by Elizabeth too

Princess Ben has been a huge hit with every kid who has picked it up!

 
Comment by Katie

I loved Princess Ben! I especially liked how Ben changed through the course of the story and how she solved the typical “evil stepmother conundrum.”

Comment by Anonymous

I couldn’t get through Princess Ben–at the beginning of the book, she refused to LEARN anything. I think that people who will soon be in charge of running an entire COUNTRY must behave responsibly. If you are a princess, what you really have is responsibility–the power and evil step-mothers are secondary compared to the importance of the future well being of everyone who lives and dies, starves and feasts, and all that under you.
I hope that made since. I guess I just feel like as a normal person I have so many responsibilities to everyone else that I get really annoyed when characters refuse to do little things like learn algebra when the fate of a country rides on it.
So, I suggest Companions of the Night, by Vivian Vande Velde. First, she has a ridiculously cool name that I’m very envious of. Second, the book is about vampires. Not very nice vampires. :)

Comment by Robin

User name please. . . .

 
 
 
 
Comment by Judith

I just finished “The Miracle of the Bells” by Russell Janney. There was a film by the same name based on this book made in the late 1940s, which I haven’t seen, so I can’t compare the two. The book is about a film promoter who brings the body of an actress back to her old hometown to be buried. He loved her but never told her. The things that happen in the town form the basis for most of the story, although his relationship with the actress is also told in flashback.

Although there’s some pathos in the book (the heroine dies, after all!), it’s mostly a happy, happy story about a man with a can-do attitude who refuses to accept defeat, and how his attitude becomes infectious, and how people, upon discovering their own efficacy, turn from mean people into nice people.

The fictional “Coaltown” in the book is a real place by the name of “Glen Lyon”, geographically set exactly where Coaltown is set in the book. The church of St. Michael the Archangel was a real church in the town, and was razed in 2005. The church of St. Leo’s is there, under the name of St. Adalbert’s (which is the name the author gives to the Czech church; odd, since St. Adalbert is a Polish saint). The “Breaker”, which in the last part of the book is speculated as something that might be there forever, closed around 1971 and was destroyed in a fire in 1974. If you decide to read the book, Google “Glen Lyon” for a street map of the place, and you’ll see the few streets that make up this tiny town, including the cemeteries where much of the action takes place. If you pull up the satellite picture, you’ll see the blank lot where St. Michael’s used to stand, right next to the real St. Adalbert’s (St. Leo’s in the book) at the corner of West Main street and South Market Street. The Breaker used to stand where East Main and West Main divided.

Judith

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Comment by librarykat

Caroline Stevermer’s solo books are also great fantasy reads; I particularly enjoyed A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magics.

If you like modern artists and mysteries solved by precocious middle school students who are gently but acerbically guided by a woman old enough to be their grandmother, I recommend Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3 and The Calder Game by Blue Balliett. I’m about 2/3 done with The Calder Game right now. I read the first two during several lunch hours at the library where I work one day a week. The first two books also involved a fair amount of math.

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Comment by Loramir

Also by Caroline Stevermer, together with Patricia Wrede, is the series of books about Cecy and Kate: Sorcery and Cecelia, The Grand Tour, and The Mislaid Magician, all of which have long and humorous alternate titles. Very funny and lots of adventure and romance.

 
 
Comment by Maureen E

P.G. –I’m re-reading the Crestomanci series for the first time in ages and Christopher reminds me a lot of one of his characters (Psmith).

Ursula LeGuin

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Comment by Wenna

If you like fantasy that is good for a laugh (hang on – you ARE on Robin McKinley’s blog, so never-you-mind!) you should check out Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci series. It’s a series about alternate universes to our own, some of which are magical, and therefore are patrolled and protected by a magician/sorcerer called the Chrestomanci.

She also has a wonderful book called ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ that was made into a beautiful animated movie by Studio Ghibli. But the book has a far, far better storyline than the movie version, and shouldn’t be missed.

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Comment by Robin

I would almost deny access to anyone who doesn’t know Diana Wynne Jones. It’s probably even a worse failure than not knowing who Calvin and Hobbes is, would be. On the other hand think of what a HUGE TREAT would be waiting for anyone new to her. I always feel this way about people who haven’t read LOTR yet. LUCKY OLD YOU. :)

Comment by Alannaeowyn

*winces in guilt*

Calvin and Hobbes, yes. Lord of the Rings, yes. Diana Wynne Jones….no. I’ll have to get to her after I finish Charles deLint, what with all this sideways pressure.

 
Comment by Brynne

I love, love, love DWJ! I’ve got to add Dark Lord of Derkholm and Year of the Griffin to the list….as well as basically anything else she’s written….

 
 
Comment by Sean

I just read the first in the Chrestomanci series and was left a bit confused. I kept waiting for Gwendolyn to change her behavior for the better, and it took me a long while to figure out that that wasn’t going to happen. In retrospect I can see that she is supposed to be unapologetically bad. I’ll probably reread it, but I was wondering if anyone else got off on the wrong foot with this series. . . .will start dipping into the Dalemark quartet next.

(Not sure if this is sufficiently Pollyannish to be unscreened. . .just looking for feedback on the first book and series as a whole.)

Comment by Robin

I’m not sure where the Pollyanna lines run myself, but I’ll say that I adored CHARMED LIFE from the first paragraph. It’s certainly one of my favourite Joneses and may even be number one favourite. Big comfort book for me.

 
Comment by Wenna

Sean, I waited for Gwendolyn to change too – upon her replacement I figured it finally wasn’t going to happen. Then I got attached to Janet, and went from there. Thankfully, I had already read Howl’s Moving Castle, and The Year of the Griffin by that time. The Dalemark quartet (I’ve read three of the four, can’t find Spellcoats, ARGH!) is wonderful.

I should warn people that Jones’ Castle in the Sky is NOTHING like the Miyasaki film Castle in the Sky. Completely different stories – the film can’t have been based on the book.

Dogsbody is waiting for me to tackle this weekend!

Comment by Robin

*Love* Dogsbody. Funny that people should expect Gwendolyn to change–I took her at face value, like Cruella de Ville. :) Also Jones does such **magnificent** villains–how about Aunt Maria?? **Shiver.**

 
 
Comment by Tiffany

I loved Dogsbody. It’s still one of my favorite books. ^^ I liked Howl’s Moving Castle, Fire and Hemlock, and I remember liking the Homeward Bounders.

Comment by Robin

Yes. Howl and Dogsbody are very high on my list too. It’s really CROWDED at the top of my DWJ list. :)

 
 
 
Comment by Melissa Mead

How many Chrestomanci books are there? Just when I think I’ve read them all, I find more. Which is good, only I don’t know what I’ve missed.

 
Comment by debka_notion

My DWJ favorites definitely include Howl, but also Fire and Hemlock, and Hexwood, which I still don’t Quite understand, but love all the more for it. But then, I also tend to love Patricia McKillip (Especially Alphabet of Thorns, and The Cygnet and the Firebird) so perhaps that makes sense.

 
Comment by pooka

there’s a sequel to howl’s moving castle. it’s called castle in the sky. it was quite good.

 
 
Comment by Anonymous

Stardust, by Neil Gaiman. And, can I recommend comic books? Cause if I can, I’d recommend the Sandman series also by him. His title character, the Sandman (yes, that’s the guy who goes around putting people to sleep) is pretty cool, but the real draw for me is Death–a cute and cheerful goth girl with a top hat. Speaking of girls who do important things.

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Comment by Robin

You can certainly recommend comic books. I bailed on the Sandman, much as I worship at the Gaiman altar, because it’s too GRUESOME. I don’t deny it’s also brilliant.

Comment by Dinah

Oh, don’t bail out on Sandman! It is terribly gruesome, especially at the end of the very first story arc, and a lot of fans abandoned it at that point. And perhaps don’t read ‘the dolls house’ But the rest is just brilliant! Season of Mists, and The Dream Country are awesome. He just plays with myths and gods and our cultural stories so well.

 
 
Comment by handyhunter

I would also recommend Gaiman’s 1602 – the X-Men/Marvelverse AU set in that year. It’s all kinds of awesome, even for a Marvelverse newbie.

I don’t love it as much as I love Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men (which I love more than is healthy), but that’s less to do with 1602 and more to do with (Whedon’s) Scott Summers, possibly.

 
Comment by Aerin Starwalker

Stardust is fantastic, I saw the movie first, and then found the novel. The movie is just crack, but awesome anyway, and the book is tons of fun too. I might have to check out his other titles.

 
 
Comment by handyhunter

I just read The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne. The only thing I dislike about this book are the heaving man-boobs on the cover. Everything else is awesome. It’s everything a romance book should be: lovely, engaging characters, including female ones who hold their own without being anachronistic; great friendship and banter, especially with the secondary characters; a romance that develops nicely, without clichés or contrivances (even the old captor/captive thing works well, the way its done here, when sex is not used as a weapon or bargaining tool, and there is no huge discrepancy of power between the two main characters), and between two adults who act like adults and the professional spies they are; amazing attention paid to the dialogue — one of the main characters is French and she speaks English, but the cadence of her language is French throughout (and different from the rhythms and patterns of the English speakers); that’s what makes it work, not the dropping in of the odd French word here and there. And just wonderful writing all around. I highly, highly recommend this book. I think her next book, My Lord and Spymaster, comes out later this year (July?).

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Comment by Kittee

_Tea with the Black Dragon_ and _Twisting the Rope_ by R.A. MacAvoy are two of my favorite comfort books. Martha is a great heroine; middle-aged yet still wierd and adventurous. And it’s hard to go wrong with a dragon as your sidekick.

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Comment by librarykat

I LOVE those two books – Tea with the Black Dragon was my very first booktalk in front of teenagers many years ago! My copies are locked up in one of the almost 100 boxes of books in my house (no bookshelves!), so I haven’t had a chance to reread them in almost 10 years.

Comment by Robin

good grief, woman! Get your SITUATION SORTED!!!!!

 
 
 
Comment by Nema

The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, and The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. They form a series. Slightly spoilerish warning: the main character (Eugenides) has his hand cut off in the second book. But don’t let that stop you! The characters are complex and wonderful, the writing beautiful, and the setting (a sort of Byzantine never-never land) well worth visiting.

Anything by Robin McKinley. I particularly love The Blue Sword, Spindle’s End, Outlaws of Sherwood, The Hero and the Crown, and Sunshine. (Dragonhaven was quite different but equally amazing. I have not read Deerskin yet.)

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart. “My personal name is Li and my surname is Kao, and there is a slight flaw in my character.” Sorry if I misquoted that–the book itself is a truly epic fairytale, with divinities, living legends, and an amazingly funny and humble hero/narrator.

Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Adventures series, for those who love character driven sci fi.

And for any medievalists out there I highly recommend Catherine Jink’s Pagan books. Pagan Kidrouk is first a squire, later a cleric, and always a wiseguy. Funny, action-packed, and (to the best of my knowledge) historically accurate!

Rosemary Sutcliff, as well. The BEST historical fiction out there, with a focus of Roman and post-Roman Britain.

Georgette Heyer. Amusing, entertaining, and always tasteful Regency Romance. What’s not to like about a romance, for example, where the man calls the woman “my dear hornet”?

If you have not read Lord of the Rings, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars (or whatever appropriate equivalent), and do not watch the movies. Go forth and read.

In the Castle of the Flynns by Michael Raleigh. Read it for the laughs. Read it for the heartbreak. Read it for the chicken getting loose on the city bus and making for freedom.

Sorry to blather so long, hope you find congenial company (or have found such company) in these books!

-Nema

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Comment by Robin

One day soon I’ll get over to Pollyanna and post something myself. Thank ALL OF YOU for using it. I particularly like these LISTS where I can think, okay, if they like that, then we’re probably reading on the same (ahem!) page. Love Bridge of Birds, love Heyer . . . find Sutcliff almost too *sad* to read (SWORD AT SUNSET nearly killed me) but I absolutely agree she’s about the best there ever has been. And LOTR, well! Therefore I’ll have to try some of the others. :)

Comment by Aerin Starwalker

Rosmary Sutcliff is a great author, I love her books, they are on the sad side though. Must be the history in them ;)

 
 
 
Comment by elanova

Some children’s books that I have enjoyed:

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh (I’m extremely pleased that they’ve reprinted this.)

The 13th is Magic! by Joan Howard (I really wish they would reprint this one.)

The Ordinary Princess by M. M Kaye (Comfort reading in my opinion. I wish I had that fairy godmother.)

Coraline by Neal Gaiman (Read this in daylight with someone there to tell you it’s really just a story and not REAL.)

The Treasures of Weatherby by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

As i write this I realize that the only “adult” books I’ve read in the past six months or so are Georgette Heyer romances and books on container gardening. The romances were much more fun.

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Comment by Robin

Season of Ponies, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder!

Comment by Elizabeth B

*Loved* that book.

 
Comment by GeekMom

Got goosebumps just reading Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s NAME!!! I read everything I could get my hands on by her, back when… they’ve never left my imagination, even though I’ve long since left the town where I read everything the library had by her ’til the print faded. And borrowed some on interlibrary loan. A client of mine was rather startled when, in the midst of redoing her home network I got all excited to find the sequel to ‘The Egypt Game’ on her daughter’s bookshelf. Silly ageist perceptions of appropriate reading material!!

About Coraline by Neal Gaiman — I’ve heard that children under, say, age 10 or so just take this story at face value and don’t get creeped out by it the way adults do. Does anybody have any experience with this? My kid is just over 1, so I’ve got a while to wait…

Love Patricia McKillip – was next to McKinley at the library. :)

Nobody’s mentioned the Darkangel Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce. (Darkangel, Gathering of Gargoyles, Pearl of the Soul of the World) They are so beautifully written, the setting is amazingly original and the characters are complex. The reluctant heroine is a favorite.

Gormenghast, anyone? I read it and loved it – haven’t gone on to the sequels yet. I ordered the BBC radio production of it – the only problem is it’s on cassette, and I don’t have a cassette player anymore!

Every Pern thing by Anne McCaffrey ever written, but especially the Menolly books, Dragonsdawn, and Dragonseye (Red Star Rising in the UK – I guess they thought it would get mis-shelved over here. Probably would.) Also liked the first two in the Crystal Singer set. The Pegasus and later Rowan series are wonderful.

I adore anything Andre Norton wrote having to do with magic – all the Witch World novels and short stories. All her gates…. Not so big into the harder sci-fi stuff.

 
Comment by Kilaani

OHHHHHH…. I’ve been looking for the book Season of Ponies since I was a teenager! I had forgotten the name. It was a book I bought at a school library fair when I was probably in second grade!
I got goosebumps like the writer above when I saw the name and wondered, “could it be?”….. and YES! It Was! Yay, I can order it.

THANK YOU! :)

Comment by Robin

Jodi’s the one who should say ‘you’re welcome.’ :)

 
 
 
 
Comment by ssshunt

I do love The Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip. She wrote it in about three months and it’s got a few ragged edges, but that’s one of the reasons I like it. And I’m don’t mean to suck up but The Blue Sword is a big comfort read to me–I swear I have some of it memorized.

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Comment by Robin

Only some of it? :)

 
Comment by Ashley

I have read every book I can get my hands on by both McKillip and McKinley. I read The Blue Sword every year and it’s like watching my favorite movie again. A true old friend. The Hero and the Crown the prequal is also very enjoyable.

I’m reading Sunshine again right now. It went well after the Charles De Lint I just finished, Windershins. Urban fantasy meets great character developement.

I read what was said about a sequal to Sunshine and I am in the “want one” camp.

McKillip’s Harper Series is great and Od Magic.

 
 
Comment by Jane

How about ‘Dragonskin Slippers’? (Jessica Day George) It was fun…. and Victoria Walker’s ‘The Winter of Enchantment’…. and its sequel…. ?

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Comment by Sarah; cincinnati

Pamela dean’s secret country work – YA, but much denser and more complex, so it impresses you at 40 the way “usual YA” would at 12. And the poetry quotes are fun to track down. Speaking od denser, go read Lois Mcmasters Bujold’s speech on how hard it is to find good new reading material in middle-age than when you were a kid, because your level of sophistication is so sky-high that relatively few authors can broaden your horizons in an astonishing way – whereas horizons are very easy to broaden when you’re 12. (Whooah….. if that’s how its spellled.)
Heinlein for hard sf of course, and Bujold’s Chalion series is even better than Vorkosigan, especially the interesting theology (what am I saying, how could this be interesting? but it is!)
Absolutely the Mary Russell series (discovered from Pollyanna list, yay, thankyou!!!), and Dorothy Sayers, and Georgette Heyer – and in the Heyer/ Bujold Venn diagram overlap, try the Liaden universe by Sharon Lee/Steve Miller. A lot of really good noir fantasy recently (thank goodness we got off the derivative pastel unicorns after 30 years), Laurell Hamilton – Merry Gentry is better than Anita Blake, though both skirt my absolute limit on sex and violence – also Carrie Vaugh’s Kitty books, C.E. Murphy, Patricia Briggs …. The first 2 Borderlands books about Lord Rabbit from Lorna ? Freeman?; she’s having much trouble getting the next one published which is a huge shame….Oh yes, the Mirador books by Sarah Monette, wonderful wonderful protagonist Mildmay although see the above comment on sex and violence……Lots more but brain-freeze has set in on author’s names.

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Comment by Robin

how hard it is to find good new reading material in middle-age than when you were a kid, because your level of sophistication is so sky-high that relatively few authors can broaden your horizons in an astonishing way – whereas horizons are very easy to broaden when you’re 12

************ YES. Well done her. do you have a link for this, or shall I just google for her web site?

Oh, Anita Blake is worth TEN Merry Gentrys!! :) But they’re WAY over my limit for sex and violence . . . I just read them anyway.

Comment by Sarah; cincinnati

Here’s the link to Bujold’s essay.
http://www.dendarii.com/collide.html
Anyone who is thinking of O’brien’s Maturin series should read C.S. Foresters hornblower series first – it’s much better writing (characterization), if you can get past the silly name, which admittedly took 3 years of ignoring the recommendation when I was a teen. Teens. There is also a Hornblower-in-space type series (Fisherman, David Feintuch, same moral-angst-of-commanding-officer).
You probably wanted to avoid nepotism, but Dickinson’s The Changes series are great YA, and Inspector Pibble is delightful. In middle-age, it’s GREAT to find middle-aged to elderly protagonists who Do Things.

Comment by Robin

I wouldn’t DREAM of discouraging nepotism. :) I loved Pibble before I discovered this bloke also wrote YA fantasy too.

And yes, I read a lot of Hornblowers a long time ago, and they’re one reason I never really got into the O’Briens, although I know it’s supposed to work the othe rway around. Another reason is that I kind of bailed on boats and sailors but maybe I should try again.

 
 
 
Comment by Robin

Forgot to say–YES the Secret Country (trilogy, I think).

Comment by Robin

. . . And THANK YOU for the Bujold link.

 
 
Comment by Kristen

Nodding in agreement… making notes… oh…

Is this what’s going on with Lorna Freeman’s books? Those are some of the most original books I’ve read in ages.

 
 
Comment by Susan in Melbourne

A thematic approach……
Dragons and other sentient beings
Anne McCaffrey’s “Pern” series: A semi-feudal society has developed on a new world, and ‘Holds’ of dragons and their riders protect people by flying and breathing fire to burn away a destructive organism that falls like rain. There is always a large cast of characters, and the dragons are very personable. As the series develops, the people learn more about the technology that brought their forebears to this world, with a consequently interesting clash of cultures.

Mercedes Lackey’s “Jouster” series: A slave boy hides a dragon egg, nurtures its hatching, and imprints on it. When the dragon is large enough, they fly together away from captivity, back to his homeland, which he finds is in the grip of evil magicians. In a series of books, he turns around dragon training, good battles evil, new societies develop.

Naomi Novik “Temeraire” series: Anne McCaffrey meets Patrick O’Brian…Historical fantasy set during the Napoleonic wars. Our hero is a British naval captain, and on capturing a French ship, finds the precious cargo is a very rare dragon egg from China. It hatches, he imprints it, so has to leave off being a naval captain, and join a dragon regiment (to his horror). All the historical stuff sounds familiar and accurate, and the dragon contributions are woven into the war in a fascinating way. And Temeraire, the dragon, is ADORABLE. Subsequent books see them travel to China, Africa, et al.

Mercedes Lackey (again) “Valdemar” series: This started as YA book “Arrows of the Queen”, and developed in a series of trilogies and single books, both sequels and prequels, into an adult series. No dragons, the sentient beings are “Companions”, spirits disguised as white horses, which partner with a Herald. Heralds protect society – spies, police, fighters, judges, mediators, etc. It’s a dangerous job, particularly when renegade mages and insane neighbouring kings try to destroy the country. This is a very engaging series, with lively characters, interestingly varied societies, and the added attraction of Companions, fire cats and bond birds working with the humans.

Robin Hobbs “Assassin” series: I read the first and third series in this nine-book collection, and avoided the second series – sentient, talking ships? Creepy! However, having run out of Hobbs’ books and needing more, I gave in and read the second series, and I think it is now my favourite. The figureheads at the front of the ships are carved from special wood which is brought to life and bonded to the captain’s family. A mad ship, deserted, rotting on the shore, figurehead blinded, is brought back into use and is instrumental in fighting off pirates, invasion and sea serpents. Hobbs’ books are quite dark, but never to actual despair, with challenging moral issues and strong characters.

Sharon Shinn’s “Samaria” series: Like the “Pern” series, this is about a created world where the population has lost the connection to the technology that brought their forebears to it. This time the genetic engineering has been done on humans (not dragons), and a race of angels has developed. The angels provide leadership for their communities, and use music to manage the weather. I think it is best to read the second book of the original trilogy first “Jovah’s Angel” as all becomes clear about the origin of the world in it. The challenges for change in a society when a manufactured religion runs headlong into its technological beginnings are fascinating. Very engaging characters.

Sharon Shinn (again) “Twelve Houses” series: It is stretching it to say there are sentient beings in this series, but some of the characters are able to shape-change into birds and cats, etc. A moderate king is in conflict with aggressively conservative, anti-mystic nobles, and sends out a diverse group of spies to investigate. Adventure, romance, fantasy, prejudice. Sharon Shinn’s website has a number of review quotes including: ‘ “The most promising and original writer of fantasy to come along since Robin McKinley” Peter Beagle’.

So, she must be good! (I’ve just read ‘Dragonhaven’, hence the dragon theme. I enjoyed it very much, and await ‘Chalice’ eagerly.)
Susan in Melbourne

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Comment by Susan in Melbourne

Postscript:
I had to look up Naomi Novik’s website to check that I had the correct spelling of Temeraire, and was momentarily distracted by her blog, where I discovered that she was dodging the chore of checking proofs by re-reading her Georgette Heyer collection. All the very best people do it! For years I’ve thought it was just me and my immediate chums with this Heyer fixation, but through this blog find this is not so…..
Susan in Melbourne

Comment by Robin

this Heyer fixation, but through this blog find this is not so…..

********** Yes. We’re our own well populated little world. :)

 
Comment by Susan from Athens

There’s a reason why those books have never been out of print since they were written.

 
 
 
Comment by jake the girl

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway (that was me up above, I’m just repeating myself)
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Betwixt by Tara Bray Smith
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry (for younger readers, but my FAVORITE)
Red: The Next Generation of American Writers–Teenage Girls–On What Fires Up Their Lives Today, edited by Amy Goldwasser
CHALICE by Robin McKinley! LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT! Worth the wait, buy it in hardcover!

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Comment by Robin

Where did you get a copy??? ARe you another bookstore person? (Am I losing my mind? :)) Be sure to make these remarks again next September when it becomes available to everyone else. . . .

 
 
Comment by unicorngirl

Phillip Pullman – best known for His Dark Materials – absolutely amazing. (Movie of Golden Compass was alright but does not do book justice.)

I saw this mentioned on your lj one somewhere but not here, so Patricia McKillip. My absolute adored favourite is “The Forgotten Beasts of Eld” (it won some award, as it should). Rest are good too, sometimes a bit confusingly airy but even if you’re not sure what’s going on, the language is beautifully poetic.

I don’t know if you would like this, but Jane Lindskold wrote a series of books about a girl raised by wolves named Firekeeper, in a rather neat and highly detailed medieval world. I have forgotten which is the first book, but it is the best, and they are called things like “Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart” and “Wolf Captured” etc, things with “wolf” in them. Firekeeper is definitley one of my favourite “goes out and does things” heroines.

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Comment by Robin

Love McKillip. One of the best.

Someone has mentioned Lindskold before–no, I don’t know her. Will have to look!

 
Comment by Alannaeowyn

The first one was Through Wolf’s Eyes. I think then it’s Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart. Just a second….
Yeah. Through Wolf’s Eyes; Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart; The Dragon of Despair; Wolf Captured; Wolf Hunting; and Wolf’s Blood. I read them mostly in order, except that I realized too late that The Dragon of Despair was part of the series, so I read it after Wolf Captured. Which was a bit confusing.

 
 
Comment by Diane in MN

Here are a few that haven’t yet appeared on Pollyanna’s list:

John M. Ford, The Dragon Waiting

Raymond Chandler

Guy Gavriel Kay

Patrick O’Brian. Try The Golden Ocean if you don’t want to get into the Aubrey/Maturin series.

I’ve just finished Geraldine McCaughrean’s new book The White Darkness–very good.

And anyone who hasn’t read Kipling should go and do that right now.

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Comment by Robin

I know I’ve said I ADORE Raymond Chandler but have I said I also loved DRAGON WAITING?

 
 
Comment by Susan from Athens

Oh Diane, yes I love most of Guy Gavriel Kay, although some of it (particularly the Fionavar Tapestry series) is heart breaking.

I like Kipling’s poetry very much, and have read some of his essays as well, but have stayed away from his fiction due to my allergy to dead white guy literature. Where does one start as a benighted adult?

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Comment by Robin

A Collected Short Stories. Most people–possibly including Diane?–will tell you to start with KIM. I think the titular character is a major pain in the patootie and I’ve never loved the book. Kipling also just couldn’t put a novel together. Structurally KIM is a mess although India as a character is superb. But a good collected short stories . . . off the top of my head, try The Man Who Would Be King and They, for the amazing early Kipling and the amazing late Kipling. Don’t get me started: Kipling and Tolkien are probably my two greatest literary influences–so you can see also why I have **such** a fixation on Women Who &^%$#@!!!!! *Do* Things.

 
 
Comment by Hannabelle

I’ve recently been introduced to a new author whom I’m now going through one of my “I’m obsessed with this author and won’t read anything else by anybody else until I get over it” phases.

Jasper Fforde. Eyre Affair is the first book of his I read, and I highly recommend him in general.

He has a Douglas Adams/J. K. Rowling/Lewis Carroll/Terry Prachett kind of feel. If you’re well-read, a former English major, or just tired of authors who feel they have to explain every allusion to you because they assume modern readers are apparently stupid, he’s the man for you!

Eyre Affair is about a literary detective from England who has to protect characters in famous books from being murdered by the evil (I love this name) Acheron Hades! Take Earth and history as we kind of know it, throw in some rather bizarre twists and characters who actually live, breath, and can have the book they exist in modified by outsiders, and run along to Fforde land.

Truthfully, I could spend all night writing about authors I love, but I’ll stick with him for now :)

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Comment by Wenna

Oh, yes. The whole series is amazingly well thought out. He writes in levels – I’ve re-read his Thursday Next books over and over again and it never fails – I find a new pun, ‘get’ a joke that I missed before, or have to jot down a new title to find at the library or book store.

His Nursery Crime series is wonderful, too. (Hopefully I’m not being too superlative.) Jack Spratt is a detective out of the norm – he’s happily married with four children. Other than having to deal with his unruly neighbors in ‘The Fourth Bear’ (they just happen to be Punch and Judy) he lives a good life, solving nursery crime by day, and a home life at night. Makes you laugh! (If it doesn’t make me laugh I wonder if it’s worth reading.)

 
Comment by Meredith B.

I would just like to add that any fantastic society in which literature is so important that diehard believers go door-to-door like the Jehovah’s Witness and try to convert you to a belief that all of Shakespeare’s works were written by Francis Bacon is surely a world that I would like to visit.

 
 
Comment by EJ Smiles

Jasper Fforde – start with The Eyre Affair. Anyone who’s familiar with classic lit will love the references. The plots are zany but the laughs abound. And who can possibly resist a story about a literature detective??

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Comment by Robin

YESSSS!!!!!! :)

 
 
Comment by Heather

OK, here are my recommendations:

Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. I had a young college friend practically BEG me to read these books. I was leery, but it turns out there are really good. The characters become very well developed, and Meyer does a good job describing both teenage love and teenage heartbreak, that kind of heartbreak that’s shattering but not overly dramatic. Plus, it’s vampires with none of the “vampire porn” sex and minimal violence (usually just a big fight in the end).

If the category of Books Read When 12, I recommend A Swiftly Tilting Planet, by Madeline L’Engle. It’s the third after Wrinkle and Wind in the Door, but I think it’s the best. It did a good job of warping my concepts of good, evil, and consequences of your actions in a great way. Plus it had a unicorn and a cool dog.

(My two cents on the Merry/Anita question: Merry has MUCH better men (eg Doyle), but Anita had much better plots, until a few books back. So I refuse to read any new Anita books until at least HALF of her boyfriends get killed by some horrible demon and Anita goes on a bloody rampage. But I liked the older blood, guts, and gore books. Not very Pollyanna at all.)

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Comment by Wenna

If you haven’t read any of Madeleine L’Engle since you were 12, unless you are 13 you are missing a lot. You may have missed An Acceptable Time, Troubling a Star, and some of her gorgeous adult fiction like Live Coal in the Sea and The Small Rain.

I haven’t seen Tamora Pierce mentioned. Her ‘Woman who Rides like a Man’ is the book I most often drag out of the bookcase when I’m sick. It goes well with chicken soup.

When depressed, I read Sunshine and eat dark chocolate, though.

Comment by Robin

Tamora got recommended a lot in the old lj book threads, so everyone is probably resting. :) MAYBE we’ll get so organised as to troll back through some of that . . .

When depressed, I read Sunshine and eat dark chocolate, though

******* LOL and sympathy. . . .

 
Comment by Maren

The lists from LJ will definitely be included on LibraryThing when it’s up and running. :)

Comment by Robin

Yes, and I’m working on a reply to your last email! Really! [sweating . . . ]

 
 
Comment by Marian

I just had to look up this “LibraryThing” and I love it!!! It’s incredible!! After about 10 minutes I have 77 books up. The only problem is that I have a chem midterm in an hour, and I don’t know any chemistry- why does the world conspire to distract me??????

At least I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

 
Comment by welkinawe

Love Tamora Pierce, I know they are teen level but the characters are amazing and it moves sooo fast. I never want the stories to end. I loved the Kel (protector of the small) books and the Trickster’s two books.

I also love Brian Jacques. The books about mice in an abbey called Redwall. His discriptions of the feasts are amazing. I bought the Redwall Cookbook because of them. The stories are sweet and so encouraging. I’ve gotten my mom hooked on them :)

 
 
 
Comment by anef

If we’re on historical novels, I think the following are terrific:

Gillian Bradshaw – late Roman, very historically accurate, beautifully written, and the romance is always part of an intersting story. My all-time favourite is The Beacon at Alexandria, where enterprising Byzantine girl runs away from forced marriage, disguises herself as a eunuch and goes to study medicine at Alexandria.

Diana Norman – again, really well written and historically accurate. The author is very good on women trying to fight against the constraints of their time, usually hampered by men who are very happy with those constraints, thank you. Anything that’s in print is excellent.

Grace Ingram – one of my all time favourites is Red Adam’s Lady. It’s difficult to get hold of an has truly frightful covers, but just try it. It’s set in 1173, and our heroine is forced to marry Red Adam who kidnaps her mistaking her for the Wrong Sort of Girl, and then has to marry her to make up for it.

Patricia Finney – really excellent Elizabethan adventure stories. She’s also written some very funny detective stores set in th Scottish borders at the same time, under the name of P F Chisholm.

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Comment by AJLR

Absolutely yes to all four of these authors! Could be a copy of one of my bookshelves. :) And I loved ‘The Beacon…’ too.

And how about Elizabeth Chadwick? Her earliest ones were a tiny bit heaving bosom but the characters, plots and setting always made sense. The books for the last few years have been quite remarkably good, I thought. The two books about William Marshall (one of my favourite characters in history) are superb.

 
Comment by Lissy

I’m surprised no one so far has mentioned Guy Gavriel Kay’s novels – the Fionavar tapestry series is very LOTR-like, always makes me cry. But the ones I really like are his semi-historical fiction novels, e.g. A Song for Arbonne and Tigana.
Think medieval France (or Italy, or the Byzantine Empire) with two moons and often some magic thrown in. Thoroughly recommended :-)

 
Comment by Kristen

Gillian Bradshaw… my favorite was the Sand Reckoner, about Archimedes. One of the first “adult stacks” books I gave my son. He’s now busy reading Ray Feist and Janny Wurtz’s collaboration set in Tsurani… there’s a woman (main character Mara) who knows what she wants!

 
 
Comment by ravenedgewalker

Kij Johnson – the fox woman and fudoki
Guy Gavriel Kay (think someone else mentioned him) and his poetry book Beyond this dark house is gorgeous.
Alice Hoffman – Green Angel
Adele Geras – The Tower Room (and the other two of that series are pretty good also)
Rachel Klien The Moth Diaries
Alison Croggon Pellinor? I forget what the series is called – but they have appendices…very nice!

and just for fun, since it always makes me laugh…..the Art of coarse Acting – Michael Green is hysterical in parts. Especially if one is involved/has been involved/knows someone involved in amateur dramatics!

and that is enough of that, since work calls.

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Comment by Robin

I love Alice Hoffman. She’s another one should be getting mroe mentions here. :)

 
 
Comment by Maya

my two cents…

I second Robin Hobb, and I *have* read the middle trilogy – Ships of Magic. wonderful! totally different kind of thing from the Assassin and Fool trilogies… the woman has quite an imagination.

Melanie Rawn – Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies set in the same world, and Exiles, although it’s an unfinished trilogy, is also great. she’s also in the category of writers who write about women who (*&&%$&*( do things :)

Tad Williams – I’ve just read the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books, but they were great.

has anyone mentioned Tamora Pierce yet? I know she was mentioned on the first blog, but I thought I’d say her name again just because. she writes YA novels with wonderful characters.

George R.R. Martin – not sure if you’d like him, Robin, as he writes pretty gruesome stuff sometimes, but it’s compelling fantasy all the same.

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Comment by Robin

I read the Sandkings which frankly I STILL have nightmares about and have never gone near him since although I’m told he wrote a brilliant vampire book (Fevre Dream?).

Comment by Sarah; cincinnati

Go and find Tuff Voyaging by George Martin – it is funny, thought-provoking, and avoids the gratuitous nastiness of his later works. And yes, Fevre Dream was really, really good.

 
 
 
Comment by Cara

This is not in the fantasy group, but has anyone tried Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver? It is one of those lovely books that has many female characters that I would just love to spend a few weeks with. It also has the added benefit of talking about gardens in a way that makes me able to smell the plants as I read it.
I also love Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana and the Lions of al-Rassan. There is a great, strong, independent female physician in Lions that lived with me for a long time after I finished this book.
Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten is also fantastic. It’s a great adventure and very atypical romance.
I’m also loving the Mercy books by Patricia Briggs. Mercy is a great heroine.

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Comment by Robin

Pollyanna is NOT only about fantasy. Please do post other things! :)

Comment by Sarah; cincinnati

OK, Tove Jansson, both for Moomintroll which is the deepest comfort ever (but very perceptive for a small-child series) and the adult stuff like Sun City. Did anyone say Kim Harrison yet? Dorothy Dunnett’s historical works, even if you eventually get irritated by the uber-Renaissance Man omniscience of Francis Lymond. Judith Merkle Riley’s books are great historical fun.

 
Comment by GeekMom

OK, here’s some recent (for me) non-fantasy I forgot the first time through… Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Incredible. I worked at a (small, independent) book store and watched as that book possessed each of the staff members one by one. Then I read it and found out why. I also read the Mermaid Chair, but liked Bees better.

Also Ian McEwan’s Atonement. It made me cry.

Oooh, and a prescription for laughing so hard you leak…Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral. It is laugh-out-loud-and-share-it-every-other-paragraph funny. BONUS: it includes recipes!!!

Comment by Robin

Oooh: Who is Being Dead by? Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady by Florence King is one of my all time laugh-till-you-hurt-yourself books.

 
 
 
 
Comment by KatrinaRose

Ok, here we go-
Y/A and SciFi/Fantasy Shelf:
Megan Whalen Turner, “The Thief”, “The Queen of Attolia”, the “King of Attolia”,
Patheon of gods, ancient Greece-like setting, court intrigue, mystery, smart characters.
Juliet Marillier, “Daughter of the Forest” Series, especially “Son of the Shadows”
Ancient Ireland, strong female characters, a little romance, a little magic.
Sharon Shinn – For a truly great kickass heroine, read “Mystic and Rider” I like ALL her books, both adult and YA.
Priscilla McKillip, “Od Magic”has all the poetry but a clearer story than some of her others.
Orson Scott Card, “Ender’s Game” very well written.
Brain Sanderson, “Elantris” created a new world that I felt I had never visited before. Great characters, suspense, a (very) little romance, one of my have-to-read-til-the-end books.
Ursula L’Guin “Tombs of Atuan”, one in a series, but it can be read alone.
Gerald Morris “The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf” Hilarious take on Arthurian Legends.
Meyer’s “Twilight” Series. Vampires second only to “Sunshine”.
Susan Cooper “The Dark is Rising” Don’t watch that movie unless you have read the books because I know all ready they are going to butcher them.
(Please note me skipping over the McKinley Section, since we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t love her books, and a comment can only be so long..)
Other Good Books:
L.M. Montegomery, “Anne of Green Gables” series, these books have never gone out of print. The last one, “Rilla of Ingleside” makes me cry like a baby every time.
L.M.Montegomery, “The Blue Castle” HIDEOUS cover, GREAT book written when author was older. It always inspires me.
Diane Gabaldon “Outlander” series, especially first three. Yes, there are some pretty explicit sex scenes (not always happy ones), but it is SMART writing about a WWII nurse sent back in time. And she has some serious pluck folks. Not to mention a hero that might have ruined all real men for me. :)

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Comment by Anonymous

L.M.Montegomery, “The Blue Castle” HIDEOUS cover, GREAT book written when author was older. It always inspires me.

–I second. If you can get past the covers they put on Heyer, you can enjoy this.

Comment by Kilaani

YES! I keep wanting to see a film made of the Blue Castle. I’ve identified with Valency all my life – it’s my favorite of all of L.M.’s books – and I was an Emily and Anne fan for the longest time. I could see the actress that played in Mansfield Park doing a wonderful job as Valency (since she’s probably close to 30 by now)…

 
 
Comment by Katherine

“The Blue Castle” is my very all-time favorite (and other hyperbolic statements) book of L. M. Montgomery’s. “Rilla” is definitely the best of the Anne series (Walter!!!), though “Anne of the Island” and “Anne’s House of Dreams” come close seconds for me.

But definitely don’t miss her Emily series. It’s the most gothic of her series without being too much so. I always loved Anne, but I wanted to BE Emily. I still do, really. And for tearing at the heart romance, it’s one of the best in any era.

Comment by KatrinaRose

I second that one, Anne inspired me, but Emily haunted me. Read them both!

 
Comment by Thinks Too Much

I loved Anne, but Emily was much more real becasue she maintained her flaws. Anne’s were serenely ironed away. I also thought that she worked much more symbolism into this series. It’s also powerfully autobigraphical. Read her journals (they’ve been slowly released) and realize how many of the anecdotes were lifted practically verbatim from her life. (Or at least her life as she chose to project it. She edited her journals when she was older and much more successful. As she did, she apparently destroyed the originals.)

I’m also a sucker for the Blue Castle and also for the dated Jane of Lantern Hill. Not because her annoying parents get back together or for the dated women’s roles, but because it describes a girl becoming competent in the world around her.

I was also intrigued when I found that the Anne books were not written chronologically. Nor entirely by L.M.’s choice due to a demanding public and voracious editors. She loathed Anne by the time she was through.

I think that’s one of the reason’s I like Robin McKinley’s books so much. No book is a repeat of another with new clothes on. When a new book comes out, I have no preconceived notions of it, except that it will be beautifully written. Thank you for that, Robin.

Comment by Robin

Thank *you*. Although I certainly have repeating *themes.* And CHALICE is another one of my Beauty and the Beasts, just less literally than BEAUTY and ROSE DAUGHTER.

 
 
Comment by Thinks Too Much

I respectfully disagree. You can retell Beauty and the Beast 1,001 times. That’s the frame of the book. But what happens within the frame is entirely different. I have a penchant for fairy tale retellings. To oversimplify, a lit professor friend of mine says that all fiction starts with “A stranger came to town,” or “Our hero set out on a journey.” Everything else is window-dressing. But what you say underneath the bones of the plot is where the book really lies.

Enjoy The Blue Castle.

Comment by Robin

Hmm. Don’t know what you’re respectfully disagreeing with, but I’m the one says there are no new stories, just retellings of old stories, and it’s how interesting your retelling is that counts. And have you or your lit prof friend read Booker’s THE SEVEN BASIC PLOTS? I’m not sure it’s seven–but it’s the right idea.

 
 
Comment by Thinks Too Much

There are some prolific authors, some of whom I enjoy very much, who always tell the same story with the same voice though with different character names. In reading such books, a reader can have the same sense of comfort in reading them for the first time as they do from rereading an old favorite.

I had disagreed because, although you retell Beauty and the Beast more than once, it’s not the same book. Your books, though they may be retellings of the same story, do not read the same way. However, I do agree with you that there are no new stories.

I haven’t read Booker’s book yet. To loop back around to Emily of LM Montgomery’s creation, there is a wry scene in which a budding 11-year-old author describes her latest opus to a man who slyly refers to the Seven Plots as she rolls out each cliched plot point.

Comment by Robin

Oh, well, we agree then really. It’s *all* about the retelling. And I HOPE I retell, you know, differently. :) But it’s one reason why I’m not rich and famous–series sell. Familiarity sells. I do understand this–especially in this world we all need comfort, and those of us who like our comfort book-shaped, well. Writing a series has to be hard on your sense of, um, liveness. Some authors do it more successfully than others. I write what comes, and what comes to me jumps around a lot.

 
 
 
Comment by Loramir

Wow, is this really the only Outlander rec on here? Majorly seconded. And amen about Jamie, who has definitely ruined real men for me, together with Edward Cullen of Twilight. And it is SMART, as you say – just intelligent, realistic, darn good writing that I reread religiously. The sex is a bit explicit, but I don’t find it tasteless.

I also second the Juliet Marilier rec, and those two in particular. Those two ONLY, really – the third one had a terrible ending and practically ruined the series for me. I read the first two, particularly Son of the Shadows, regularly.

Red, from Daughter of the Forest, reminds me at times of Jamie Fraser from Outlander and vice versa.

 
 
Comment by Susan from Athens

I did notice the Kiplingesque touches in Blue Sword, which was my introduction to your work, rather further in the past than I want to contemplate…

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Comment by Robin

TOUCHES? It was just about pure Kipling for Girls. :) Well, plus horses. Kipling didn’t do a lot of horses. (And I didn’t like the stupid late political story with the horses all standing around in a field.) I hope you registered the *dedication.*

Comment by Susan from Athens

I have to say that my copy of Blue Sword is deeply buried in boxes, so deeply buried in fact that I have been having severe withdrawal symptoms and am contemplating re-purchasing (sorting the boxes may be a more economical way of doing it, but would take longer than I dare think about).
As you are such a Kipling fan, and nobody so far has talked about one of my passions, are you familiar with the poetry of Cavafy? They were very much contemporaries and Cavafy had an English education, so his poetry has many similarities to Kipling’s in its rhytms and even some of the themes. It also, for those very reasons I believe, translates really well into English. There are several good English translations available, but the Cavafy foundation are doing a marvellous job of putting his poetry and multiple translations thereof online and the link is here:
http://www.cavafy.com/poems/list.asp?cat=1
As always no translation entirely satisfies and I have done a few translations of my own, although without any permission at all, just to satisfy me personally

Comment by Robin

I do know him, but nto well enough. I will go look at the web site, which I did not know . . . but not tonight.

 
 
 
 
Comment by Susan from Athens

Two young adult books that got me on the road of fantasy and historical novels, and which haven’t already been mentioned are
Allison Uttley’s A traveller in time (about a mid-twentieth century girl travelling to Elizabethan England where she finds herself involved with the Babington family – of the plot of the same name to place Mary Queen of Scots on the throne) and Geoffrey Trease’s A Crown of Violets, (please avoid at all costs the current edition which is an English language reader and which has managed to strip the book of all the edifying details that made is so charming) which is a wonderful evocation of classical Athens, the way the city was run, pointing out so many details. Helped me pass a few history exams too. I always learned far more from fiction than I ever did from textbooks.

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Comment by Robin

Traveller in Time was one of those on my list of Books That Haven’t Got Mentioned Yet. Yes. Don’t know Violets, although I’ve read some other Trease (I think).

Comment by Susan in Melbourne

I love the way that this blog confirms my tastes in reading. So nice to find kindred spirits, as Anne would say. When I was in college, about a hundred years ago, I wrote a major essay on time travel in children’s literature, which of course had “A traveller in time” as its centrepiece. I always snivel and sob aloud when I read it – so satisfying.
I also enjoy the adult time traveller series by Diana Gabaldon (mentioned elsewhere). Implausible adventure that is pure escapism that can be re-read over and over in times of stress – I’m half way through the series AGAIN.
Susan in Melbourne

 
 
Comment by anef

Trease quotes Gilbert Murray’s translation of Euripides:

In Salamis, filled with the foaming
Of billows and murmur of bees,
Old Telamon stayed from his roaming,
Long ago, on a throne of the seas;
Looking out on the hills olive-laden,
Enchanted, where first from the earth
The grey-gleaming fruit of the Maiden
Athena had birth;
A soft grey crown for a city
Beloved, a City of Light:
Yet he rested not there, nor had pity,
But went forth in his might,

The rest may be found here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/eurip/trojan.htm

 
 
Comment by Jane in Sydney

The list already seems to include chunks of my library. Totally endorse the comments made about McKillip, R A MacAvoy, Gillian Bradshaw and McKinley who are all on the must have hardcover. The Lens of the World series by R A MacAvoy is worth hunting down.

Other comfort reads include anything by Martha Wells (I think all her books are in print), Melissa Scott ‘five-twelfths of heaven series’, Caroline Strevermer ‘When the King comes home’, and Emma Bull.

P.C Hodgell’s ‘Godstalk’, Dark of the Moon’, ‘Seekers mask’ and ‘To ride a rathorn’ are a highly original, action packed fantasy series. While Hodgell appears to be under what must be a publishing curse, I hope to get the next instalment of Jame’s adventures this decade.

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Comment by Robin

Yes, it makes me NUTS about Hodgell. There aren’t that many truly *original* fantasy writers around, and here we HAVE one . . . and she can’t get published. ARRRRRGH.

Comment by Jennie

I remember finding “God Stalk” in the library when I was a teenager (I vividly remember looking up, and seeing the spine, and thinking “ahhhh”), and then “Dark of the Moon” and then waiting, and waiting, and buying up library discards that contained her short stories to tide me over (And how could the library be discarding them! They were good!), and waiting. I remember my heart nearly stopping when I heard that “Seeker’s Mask” was going to be published and getting “Rathorn” so (relatively) soon afterward has only made this next gap even more painful. At this point, I would cheerfully set upon whoever it is who is making such *terrible* decisions and harangue them until they lift whatever barrier is keeping her books at a trickle.
Of course, they may not respond well to a harangue, so perhaps a sweet letter-writing campaign is called for, instead.

 
 
 
Comment by Kate

If you can get ahold of Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Greensleeves (out of print) read it. Rather unbelievable plot, wonderful characters. Maybe I’m too good at forgiving fantastic (or less than fantastic, if you like) plots if they allow for other aspects.

Also, Wind in the Willows. The pacing is delicious, the character’s relationships better than most books. Plus, this book rid me of depression after I’d been reading only [insert modernist short stories] and [a novella by the same author] for days…That’s gotta be worth something.

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Comment by Robin

Wind in the willows is one of those beyond-books for me: flesh of my flesh: It runs in my blood like LOTR and some of Kipling.

 
Comment by Anonymous

I have an ancient library copy of Greensleeves on my bedside table. I think the library in my hometown keeps it because people keep checking it out and you absolutely can’t find it at used bookstores except at ridiculously inflated prices. But I love love love the book.

Comment by Robin

I know Greensleeves as the *song.* What have I missed?

 
Comment by Elizabeth B

(Sorry, that was me above; I forgot to fill in my name!)

Eloise Jarvis McGraw wrote a wonderful YA romance called Greensleeves. You can sometimes find a used copy for less than $30, but more often it’s in the range of $60 or above. (I just found one for $29something and bought it instantly!)

 
 
 
Comment by Marie

My recommendation, although they are very hard to find, is the Bordertown series edited by Terri Windling. It’s a “shared world” type deal where the editors set up a scenario that Elfland has come back, and right on the border there’s a town that’s sort of between the two worlds. Many of the stories are, frankly, badly written, but all of the stories are good. It’s really fun to see the different characters show up in different stories, and I always wish it was real when I finish reading it.

There are four books, “Bordertown,” “Borderlands” “Life on the Border,” and “The Essential Bordertown” The first three are the best and are also criminally out of print. Definitely worth tracking down if at all possible.

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Comment by welkinawe

I have read the guide to Bordertown and “Finder:A Novel of the Bordertown” by Emma Bell. It was fabulous. I also wanted it to be real when I finished. This one is not short stories which I was glad of. Short stories always leave me with wanting more.

I recommend “Half.com” for books. So many out of print books are on there. There are books out there looking for a new home why not give them one?

Comment by Robin

Oooh! I’ve never heard of half.com. Thank you! :)

 
 
 
Comment by Meredith B.

The Wind in the Willows– there’s nothing like it, is there? I love that book.

I assume Narnia hasn’t really been mentioned because everyone assumes everyone else has already read it? I wrote a thesis on it when I was working on my B.A. The Horse and His Boy is one of those comfort books for me.

So are the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome– very pastoral, very imaginative, very individualistic. I wore out the first one in the series when I was younger and had to replace it.

Someone mentioned Patricia Wrede– yes, the Dealing With Dragons series is one that I turn to whenever I’m sick in bed. I spent a hideous weekend with a nearly incapacitating sinus infection in a town with only one incompetent bookstore, where they were fairly certain I was lying when I told them those books existed. I’m a Children’s Bookseller myself, so I will charitably hope that they were only having an off-day and refrain from posting their name here. Professional courtesy, you know.

I’ve gone on a historical mystery jag recently, and will add some to the Elizabeth Peters mentioned above:

–C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr books are set in the Regency Era, and they’re not your mom’s Jane Austen books (not to knock dearest Jane.)
–Robin Paige’s (actually a penname for a husband and wife writing team) Charles and Kate Sheridan series, set in the late Victorian and early Edwardian era, and rife with great historical detailing and strong-willed women.
–Deanna Raybourne’s two novels Silent in the Grave and Silent in the Sanctuary, set in the Victorian era, again full of strong-willed women, and spiced with interesting historical Gypsy lore.

I recently read City of Bones and City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare, part of The Mortal Instruments Trilogy, and I liked them a lot too.

But I really have to say that, as far as comfort goes, give me Narnia, a large pot of Earl Grey, and a batch or two of bread dough to knead and I can get through nearly anything.

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Comment by ghibbitude

for historical mystery I suggest the first 4-5 books from the Sano Ichiro mysteries by Laura Joh Rowland (Shogun Era Japan), or the Janissary tree, etc. from Jason Goodwin(Ottoman Turkey). Also, the Historian is rather good, by Elizabeth Kostova (Hungary/Turkey/Romania, and more) except it’s a vampire/mystery hybrid, so doesn’t really suit the genre wholly. Thoroughly enjoyable and almost like a travel log.

 
Comment by Robin

Swallows and Amazons is one of my comfort books

 
Comment by Alannaeowyn

The Horse and His Boy was the first Narnia book I read, and also the first time I stayed awake until (and after) midnight. That was a loooong time ago.

 
 
Comment by Anna in Portland

Joy Joy– Thanks for access to new reading recommendations from a descerning group of readers (we’re here aren’t we:)?)! Can’t wait to search out the ones I haven’t eaten…er, I mean, read. Here are my contributions to the list:

Charles de Lint: Jack the Giant Killer and Greenmantle are my favs, these are both “urban fantasy”

***Pam Houston: Sight Hound (It is WONDERFUL), a multi POV novel about the opening and closing of doors in life, and that both things can be heartbreaking and heartmending…kinda what most good books are about now that I think about it.

Christopher Moore: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal… well what to say…I almost pee’d myself laughing at points and almost ugly-cried at other points, and that about sums it up.

Michelle Sagara: The “Cast in” series. Alt world fantasy, really enjoy the world building she does here, and the pace is brisk in a good way

Sellar and Yeatman: 1066 and All That…this book is the bathroom book, it amuses me to hear random bursts of laughter from the direction of the WC.

Hope this list introduces or reminds folks to/of great reads. And thanks again for providing the space!

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Comment by Marian

Tamora Pierce- some of the first fantasy I ever read. I particularly liked the quartet starting with “Wild Magic,” and I would maybe stay away from the “Circle of Magic” books- I felt like they were aimed at too young of an audience in fourth grade.

Simon R Green- they can be a little dark and scary (I would dread to read one of his books if he actually *tried* to write horror) but they’re also hilarious. I really like Shadows Fall, Drinking Midnight Wine, and Blue Moon Rising.

Terry Pratchett- His later books are my favorites, especially Jingo, Night Watch, and Thud!, but I don’t know that they’d be so enjoyable if you didn’t read the first ones. If you don’t have any background, try Going Postal.

And everything Marguerite Henry. Especially San Domingo and King of the Wind, and, of course, Misty of Chincoteague.

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Comment by Robin

SIGHT HOUND? Okay, gotta find this one.

And Marguerite Henry . . . Yessssss. :)

Comment by Susan from Athens

Also The Princess and the Hound, by Mette Ivie Harrison, which was suggested to me by Amazon’s tricks and which, reading so regularly here and being addicted to fantasy I couldn’t resist. I read it in one fell swoop, which is good – no putting it down in disappointed resignation *. It had twists and turns that I didn’t expect, which is also very good and quite unusual. I liked the “voice” of the main character very much, and it brought up a lot of good issues in interesting ways. There was something missing, but I haven’t quite put my finger on it. A good book, not a great book, but very appealing. And, well, a hound…

*I find it impossibly to toss books or sail them across rooms, even if they are books I despise-which this most definitely is not.

Comment by Robin

My only *pleasure* from a BAD book is hurling it across the room. . . .

 
 
Comment by Meredith B.

The only book I’ve ever thrown across the room was a volume of Blake– and it wasn’t really his fault. I unfortunately had to read All of William Blake (and Three Sources of Commentary) in the space of about ten days– I might have thrown any Romantic poet across the room under such circumstances.

 
 
Comment by Sarah; cincinnati

Oh, relief, I read everyone’s Pierce recommendations – and got one of of the Circle of Magics to taste – and was left thinking “umm, well, it’s well done but very non-challenging, I suppose I could give it to my 8 year-old…..” But if they aren’t all like that, then I can get my faith in the recommenders restored and go try another, more interesting Pierce….

 
 
Comment by maddie

I don’t think anyone’s mentioned Jonathan Stroud Yet? His Bartimaeus trilogy is hilarious, paticularly the first one, The Amulet of Samarkand.

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Comment by jules

I’ve just finished reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. Beautifully written, though at times terrifying and heart-wrenching.

It is set in a dystopian future (a very possible future, considering the direction human beings seem to continue so recklessly). Global warming has all but destroyed the environment, the government is useless if not downright dangerous, and many communities have built walls to protect themselves. Not to mention the fact that everyone now carries a gun. And yet, out of all this paranoia, violence, and hate, there is a young woman who is trying to change things for the better. Lauren is an incredibly strong heroine, who wishes to build a community based on trust and hope.

This is the first of two, but I haven’t read the second one yet. I would definitely recommend it.

As someone whose love of reading was born when she first picked up The Blue Sword, I have to say that I am thrilled to see so many Strong Female Types in literature, on this list. Many of the books mentioned here I already own and have read and re-read many times. More exciting, however, are those that I have not yet discovered. Thank you to everyone who has posted and continues to post here. I look forward to reading some of these suggestions!

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Comment by Robin

I worship Octavia Butler. She is one of the most amazing writers modern literature produced. I also cannot get my head around it that she’s *gone* and won’t write any more.

 
 
Comment by Maya

I mentioned her before on the lj thread/place/comments-of-hugeness, but I have to add Laurie J. Marks to this list. I have only read her (as yet unfinished) Elemental Logic series, which consists of Fire Logic, Earth Logic, and Water Logic (Air Logic is coming) and is totally excellent. Her other books are apparently hard to find, but one of these days when free time and spending money materialize out of the ether I’ll track them down.

Love Patricia McKillip. Although the Riddlemaster trilogy and Song for the Basilisk are my official favorites, I find myself rereading Od Magic most often. If you go in for that sort of thing, there’s some lovely political commentary to be found therein.

And concerning SANDMAN: this was the first Thing I read that was horroresque (at least in places), and I realized that I don’t much care for horror. But luckily I was captivated enough to keep going through the first few volumes, because the end is spectacular. And not horrific at all (and I like the later art better, too). So my suggestion is to read the first few really quickly on some sunny day and then keep going, because you have the backstory now and can read the rest with great pleasure and never have to go back to the first few again (not that they’re at all bad, because come on. This is Neil Gaiman. But they’re kinda gorey.), but you’ll want to go back to the last ones lots and lots. Also number eleven, Endless Nights, which can probably be read without the official ten volumes first, and The Dream Hunters, which is again independent and has gorgeous illustrations, and then the Death books: Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life. Really really good and fun.

And I’d just like to point out that the Dealing with Dragons series is officially called the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (I promise I’m not criticizing; it’s just that I’m the sort of person who likes things precisely correct, I can’t help it, I was born to be a nitpicking scientist).

That was longer than I meant it to be. And I think I had more to say at one point, too, but I forgot it.

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Comment by Robin

Oh, thank you very much about Sandman–I didn’t know. I’ve pined, rather, because I’m a big Gaiman fan. Thank you! :)

 
 
Comment by Maya

Oh and since we are officially not limited to fantasy I’d like to throw in the Chosen, by Chaim Potok. I reluctantly picked it up for ninth-grade English and did not put it down again until it was finished (something similar happened with Pride and Prejudice, come to think of it…). That’s what I forgot last time!

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Comment by Robin

Oh! I’ll look for it. I’ve never got over Primo Levi. Real Change of World View writer.

 
Comment by MelissaJane

Oh, Chaim Potok is a beautiful writer. My Name is Asher Lev and The Gift of Asher Lev are both wonderful – about a Hasidic boy with the talent of a Picasso trying to negotiate the space between art and God, art and Family, art and Self. I love everything of his.

 
 
Comment by Alannaeowyn

One book I really liked when I read it at, oh, ten? was The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. I Googled this to make sure I got the author’s name right, and it turns out they’re making a movie of it. Urk. With the heroine played by–guess who?–the girl who played Lyra in The Golden Compass. Which I haven’t watched either, but as I recall you did a delicious rant on.
Anyway. The Little White Horse is rather sweet, and beautiful and satisfying, although I’ll admit the heroine doesn’t precisely kick butt. I liked her anyway. It’s, let’s see, mystery, fantasy, historical, shoujo, romance.

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Comment by Robin

Butt kicking can be overdone. I get restive with the new generation of girls who are basically guys with tits and a few inner feelings. They’re better than the previous generation of girls who were ABSOLUTELY guys with tits which were still better than no girls at all. But there’s still space for development. And yes, Goudge is a trifle of her time, but I like Little White Horse. And Linnets and Valerians.

 
 
Comment by KatrinaRose

Here is a little postscript to my list, having just read this in the Old Blog about the Attolia Series by Megan Whalen Turner:

“… the main character gets his hand cut off? I don’t do mutilation in fiction.”

I would just like to clarify that although it is frightening and horrible, this is not a gruesome/gory scene. I do not do horror or gratuitous violence. “Sunshine” is about as violent as I get. :)
This event also does not happen until the second book. So the first book, “The Thief”, is safe.

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Comment by Robin

“Sunshine” is about as violent as I get. :)

******* Sunshine is slightly MORE gruesome than I get. :) I had a lot of trouble with Aerin killing Maur in HERO too.

 
 
Comment by Wenna

Judith Tarr! How could I forget? Especially her Lord of the Two Lands, King and Goddess, and the Hound and the Falcon Trilogy (warning – is tragic). She tends to write not from the standpoint of the central, famous character, but from a lesser character – a cousin, sister, servant, etc. Usually a woman.

While reading Lord of the Two Lands, during Alexander’s visit to the Oracle, I was taken away from my living room into a sandstorm in the Sahara.

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Comment by Sulis

My god, I love Judith Tarr! She (along with a select few: Robin McKinley, Lindsey Davis, Terry Pratchett, and Lois McMaster Bujold, most notably) is on my BUY IT NOW list, where, regardless of current bookshelf space or available reading time, I will pick up any book that I do not own. Most other authors get to wait until I find the book used, or have read the book and know it deserves the honor of being on my shelf. But really, anything she writes is worth picking up.

In particular, I am quite fond of Alamut, and The Dagger and the Cross. Partially, this is just because I love Morgiana. She’s so… unabashedly inhuman. She’s so distinctly in a class by herself.

The Throne of Isis is also excellent. She’s managed to take a crackpot archaeological theory (namely, that the pharaoh Akhenaten is Moses. Yes, that Moses) and turned it into an excellent story.

 
 
Comment by ichimunki

Wow! What a list! I hope I’m not repeating anything. Here are some of my other favorites:

- Long Dark Teatime of the Soul by Douglas Adams (because I like the part about Heathrow going up in a big ball of fire and I’m a fan of Dirk Gently.)

- The Glass Slipper and The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon

- Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones (my absolute favorite book)

- Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (I also like A Fine and Private Place)

- Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit

- Beauty by Sheri Tepper

- On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony

- All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (I love this series!)

- Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace

- Unwillingly to Earth by Pauline Ashwell

- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

- Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress

- The Amber Chronicles by Roger Zelazny

- Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison (completely addictive)

- So You Want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane (the whole series is fabulous)

- To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

- The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

- Betsy and Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace

- Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter

- Nicobobinus by Terry Jones

- Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson

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Comment by Robin

Oh, several huge favourites of mine here–but I’d choose Journey to the River Sea by Ibbotson. Fire and Hemlock and Charmed Life tend to vie for first place among the Joneses.

 
Comment by Brad K.

I love “Unwillingly”! This is somewhat dated science fiction, a bit rough about the edges, but a nice story.

 
 
Comment by ichimunki

I keep thinking of more books!

- An Alien Music by Annabel and Edgar Johnson

- Ballet Shoes, Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

- Linnets and Valerians by Elizabeth Goudge (and The White Horse!)

- The Fairy Book Series by Andrew Lang

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Comment by Robin

Oh, I’m so glad somebody else still reads Streatfeild! White Boots! And Goudge too, but you do still see her on the shelves.

Comment by Susan from Athens

Also very well worth a read, by Noel Streatfiels is her autobiography – was she ever a girl who did things – and Saplings, recently reissued by Persephone Books who are reissuing neglected books by women authors. This was completely unexpected as a book, as it is definitely for adults and it is a very clear eyed psychological portrait of how a family breaks up under the pressures of war on the home front. Sad, but well written and with unyieldign realism as to the effects of small pressures.

Elizabeth Goudge, but it’s been a while, Herb of Grace and Towers in the Mist spring to mind.

I must say I am enjoying Polyanna so much, because it is making me think of books I had forgotten, but which gave me so much pleasure at one time or another. Unfortunately my memory works entirely by association, so I have to pull on a string to start getting a result and this is certainly pulling a lot of strings…

Comment by Robin

Good!

Yes, I’m a fairly comprehensive Streatfeild fan.

 
 
Comment by Marie

I never knew the author of Ballet Shoes, but I definitely remember that book fondly from my childhood…I didn’t know there was another one! is it the same characters?

For Elizabeth Goudge, I’m particularly fond of The Dean’s Watch, and The Heart of the Family

 
Comment by Susan from Athens

The Fossil girls make guest appearances in The Painted Garden (postwar family goes to LA) and Apple Bough, both of which are delightful and Curtain Up! which I have not so far been able to lay my hands on.

 
Comment by Wenna

I think these are the books that I read as a child as ‘Theater Shoes’, ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘Movie Shoes’. Can that be right?

 
 
Comment by Judy-in-NY

Haven’t been following the book blog, which proves my life is out of control, but does anyone know that there is a Streatfield called The Whicharts, which is Ballet Shoes for adults???? Same characters and plot and everything, except that somebody’s mum was sleeping around and there’s sex and anti-semitism, and reading it (having grown up on Ballet Shoes) is like going right through the looking glass.

Comment by Robin

Do you know anyone whose life is NOT out of control?!?

 
Comment by Judy-in-NY
Comment by Robin

Sorry. I have no idea.

 
 
 
 
Comment by singingprincess

I love “Stargirl” and “Love, Stargirl” by Jerry Spinelli. Not for purely fantasy readers, (or those who absolutely must have a very happy ending.. you’ve been warned!!) but if you want a strong young woman? It’s the best.

Also the Amelia Peabody series (or anything by Elizabeth Peters) and Jasper Fforde, both of whom been mentioned. I think I’ve read the The Eyre Affair about 6 times, and it’s lead me to re-read (most of) the classics that are mentioned. And the classics that aren’t mentioned, but make you go “Oh, right!” when you read them.

What I haven’t seen on this list yet, are the classics!* I’m going to remedy that right now by mentioning Jane Austen. She is my very favourite author, and in her books are more strong (and, well, not so strong) women than you can count!

*unless I’ve missed something, which I confess, I might have.

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Comment by Robin

Yes, well done you, this has been bothering me too. I’m now adding George Eliot. And Anthony Trollope. And Charles Dickens. And . . .

Comment by Jennie

Ha! I was wandering around the stacks in the Library at the University of Manchester (which is woooooonderful….millions of books!) and didn’t understand why a few people had turned to look at me as I walked past–
until I realized I was muttering “Trollope, Trollope, Trollope” under my breath to remind myself to check out *The Warden* to re-read.

Comment by Robin
 
 
 
 
Comment by Diane in MN

I’m glad to see ichimunki mention Roger Zelazny–I especially like Lord of Light and also his last book, A Night in the Lonesome October. And A Girl of the Limberlost points in the direction of L. Sprague de Camp (because he mentions that book in one of his novels, which is why I read it many many years ago) for classic science fiction and fantasy with a sense of humor. And I’ll throw in Cordwainer Smith on the classic SF side–hard to categorize, but I guess the best adjective that comes to my mind is humanist, in the best Renaissance-y sense.

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Comment by Robin

Ah! I’ll have to try Night in Lonesome then–I loved Lord of Light. I thought Girl of the Limberlost was a total hoot, but I liked the moths.

Comment by Diane in MN

de Camp thought it was a hoot, too (can’t remember the exact words, but sentimental potboiler was the gist). I can’t say it’s a book I’ve ever returned to, but I was interested to find out that Gene Stratton Porter was a naturalist and what would now be called an environmentalist.

Comment by Robin

He wasn’t much of one or he wouldn’t have been having his heroine catching lots of rare moths to *sell.* I kept telling myself in his time they didn’t worry about this sort of thing.

 
 
Comment by Diane in MN

Actually, G.S.P. was a she (her name was Geneva) and you’re right, in the early 1900s catching all sorts of stuff for collections was standard procedure. She tried to preserve the swamp, which was being drained for farmland, but without a great deal of success. I have made a lot of trips to New England over the years and so knew that there’s a rest stop on the Indiana toll road named after her, and out of idle curiosity kept looking on the map to see where this monster swamp is located and could never find it–well, that’s because it was drained and planted. Swamp preservation was not on too many folks’ agenda in 1910 or whenever.

 
 
 
Comment by Laurel in NYC

Sally Watson’s stories–aimed at girls 10-14–turned me into an anglophile. Funny and charming (especially “Lark”!) and recently reprinted by Image Cascade.

After decades of writing uninspiring mid-20th-century teen novels, Mabel Esther Allan cut loose and wrote “The View Beyond My Father”. Glorious first-person narrative voice, pugnacious, witty. Blind Mary Anne has an operation, gets her sight restored–and then has to fight her dysfunctional family for her freedom. Set in 1930′s Britain.

Jean Little’s “From Anna” is a rare book: a girl with low vision gets glasses, and her world opens up. What we see–and how well we see it–sure influence the people we become… The scenes in which Anna draws and weaves a basket are particularly fine; descriptions of creativity and work don’t happen often in novels.

Speaking of descriptions of creativity and work: Lynn Hall’s “The Solitary” features a teenage heroine who leaves school early and becomes a rabbit breeder. Jane lives alone, repairs her home, gardens, heals from old wounds. An invigorating story of day-to-day survival and growth.

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Comment by Cecelia

I only discovered this list today, so if I repeat something already mentioned, please accept my apologies. :-)

Shannon Hale’s Goose Girl and Enna Burning
Patricia Briggs’ Hob’s Bargain
Elizabeth George Speare’s Calico Captive (I saw Witch of Blackbird Pond on the list earlier…) and The Bronze Bow
Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s The Golden Goblet (to go along with Mara, also on the list earlier)
Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s Dairy Queen and Off Season (more compelling than Princess Ben…at least, I thought so)
Garth Nix’s Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen (seriously, some of my favorite books EVER)
Edith Pattou’s East
Tracy Lynn’s Snow
Patricia C. Wrede’s Snow White and Rose Read (out of print, I think…but fabulous) and Mairelon the Magician and The Magician’s Ward
Vivian Vande Velde’s Heir Apparent
Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose
Cynthia Voight’s Jackaroo
Donna Jo Napoli’s Beast, Zel, Spinners, Crazy Jack, Bound
Avi’s The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
all of the Ann Rinaldi books (American historical fiction featuring teenage girls)
Louisa May Alcott’s Rose in Bloom and An Old-Fashioned Girl
L.M. Montgomery’s Magic for Marigold, and I have to mention it because it makes me cry buckets at least once a year…Rilla of Ingleside
Katherine Paterson’s Lyddie
Delia Sherman’s Changeling
Wen Spencer’s Tinker
Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks

and of course the rest of my favorites have already been mentioned.

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Comment by librarykat

A new graphic novel coming out from Scholastic Graphix is Magic Pickle by Scott Morse. This is actually a new full-color version of a 3-issue miniseries that he first did in black and white through Oni Press some years ago. This book is great for younger readers, ages 7 and up. Weapon Kosher is the Magic Pickle, so named by little Jo Jo Wigman. She may be young, but she’s ready to be the superhero pickle’s sidekick as he goes up against the Brotherhood of Evil Produce. It’s a hoot.

DC Comics has been publishing a line of comics aimed at teen girls, but I’ve been enjoying most of them. Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg tells the story of several girls named Jane who join together to commit guerilla works of art in their town, only to have their work misinterpreted by law enforcement as acts of terrorism. Good as Lily by Derek Kirk Kim shows what happens when 18-year-old Grace hits her head on her birthday night and wakes up to find her 6-year-old, 29-year-old, and 70-year-old selves visiting her in physical form.

Terry Moore finished Strangers in Paradise last year – 90 issues of great stories featuring two fabulously flawed, wonderful women, Francine and Katchoo. The stories have been collected in trade paperback.

And Art Spiegelman’s wife (he wrote Maus), Francoise Mouly, has just launched her own publishing house (because no book trade publisher would do what she wanted) to bring out graphic novels for the youngest readers. These books are wonderfully subversive, because their physical format and superficial appearance make them look like easy readers, but they do use comic book style panels and word balloons. The first three books are Benny and Penny in Just Pretend (think of Bread and Jam for Frances, and Frog and Toad are Friends), in which Benny doesn’t want to play with little sister Penny; Otto’s Orange Day, in which young Otto happens upon a magic lamp and wishes that everything would become his favorite color (but orange broccoli just doesn’t taste right …); and Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons – a much simpler book great for toddlers, in which Lilly enjoys different activities during each of the year’s seasons. Anyone who has young ones, or has young nieces/nephews, grandchildren, children of friends, etc. should look for these books. They were just published a couple of weeks ago. And they are FABULOUS. I reviewed Benny and Penny for Booklist in March – I gave it a starred review, the first of my reviewing career with Booklist.

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Comment by vcmw

Did I miss the Doctor Dolittle books? I haven’t read them since I was little so perhaps they don’t translate well to adulthood, I’m not sure.

and Mary Poppins, especially (for me) Mary Poppins in the Park.

Elizabeth Willey’s fantasy novels please me greatly (The Well-Favored Man, A Sorcerer and a Gentleman, The Price of Blood and Honor).

A Murder for her Majesty, by Beth Hilgartner, which is an Elizabethan mystery for kids, set in a boy’s choir in York.

Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, and Thomas the Rhymer.

not fiction at all, but I find Jennifer Michael Hecht’s nonfiction (Doubt: A history and The Happines Myth) compulsively rereadable.

to the graphic novels for kids list, I’d add the Courtney Crumrin books (Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things, Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics, Courtney Crumrin and the Twilight Kingdom) – the art is all neat and chunky, and the story does well by the creepiness of old fairy tales.

lots of people mentioned Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia books – I think they’re brilliant.

Holly Black’s novels are awesome – Tithe, Valiant, Ironside and the Spiderwick ones.

for non fantasy YA, I love David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Emma Bull? did War for the Oaks, Territory, etc. already get mentioned?

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Comment by Robin

It’s maybe not a bad idea to warn people that Dr Dolittle (and Mary Poppins) is breathtakingly politically incorrect. I hate abridgements and modernisations–read the real thing and accept that it’s of its time. Just be warned. I still read my Dolittles. :)

 
 
Comment by Sarah; cincinnati

Elizabeths Moon’s Paksennarion trilogy takes Tolkien’s ball and runs with it – in a lot of interesting and well-characterized directions. Her space-opera is ok too, even though I have reservations the depth of the Grand canyon about the military mindset – oh, and you HAVE to read Remnant Population, and Speed of Dark!!! I don’t think anyone’s done anything like this – think Flowers for Algernon with a good ending.

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Comment by Brad K.

I continue to re-read Deed of Paksennarion (Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold). I find that other than Paksennarion, Elizabeth Moon writes a good first book, and following books are often weaker. One science fiction really stands out – Once a Hero, and the follow on’s are pretty good, too. Her current ‘Vatta’s War’ series is better than just good, but the short installment packaging seems .. mercenary?

 
 
Comment by handyhunter

I read my second ever Georgette Heyer book a few days ago: Devil’s Cub. It was lovely. I really liked the main female character; she was level-headed and full of quiet determination. I loved her discreet exits especially.

The only other Heyer I’ve read is Cousin Kate several years ago. I recall liking it as well. I don’t know why I haven’t read more Heyer.

Also read Sarah Dessen’s Lock & Key, which was also wonderful. It was more about family and sibling relationships and friendship than romance. I liked also that it showed the main character slowly seeing the attraction of the good side, rather than the seduction of the dark side. It’s refreshing and really well done. I highly recommend this book.

And Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men comes out May 21!! (If Marvel doesn’t delay it again.)

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Comment by handyhunter

Well, of course, Astonishing’s been delayed again, but only a week this time, instead of a few months. With any luck, it’ll come out before next year.

Also, it appears that Diana Wynne Jones has a new book coming out in June called House of Many Ways. It’s another sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle.

Amazon has Chalice available for pre-order too.

Comment by Robin

Oooh! Another DIANA! OOOOOOH! :)

 
Comment by Brynne

AAAA! Seriously?! Another Howl?!?!

Howl’s Moving Castle was, like, one of three books I actually read FOUR TIMES IN ONE WEEK.

*tears of joy*

 
 
 
Comment by ichimunki

I’m so glad that Diane from MN mentioned Gene Stratton Porter’s background. I think that is what most drew me to her books.

I also wanted to mention:

- Frances Hodson Burnett (A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy). They made a mess of her books in the current movie adaptations but I do like the 1986 mini-series version from PBS. I haven’t seen that version for quite some time so it may not be as good as I remember.

- Granny’s Wonderful Chair by Frances Browne. I really loved the illustration plates from the old editions of this book.

- Did anyone mention George Macdonald? I really loved The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie and At the Back of the North Wind when I was a child.

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Comment by Robin

A Little Princess is one of the absolute formative books of my life.

 
Comment by Susan from Athens

Oh yes, me too, I loved the Little Princess, also one mentioned a lot less, The Lost Prince. I recently found The Making of a Marchioness, which was her big “hit” for adults, and found it a hoot. So many of the romantic novel’s cliches are in there, before they became cliches.

Comment by Robin
 
Comment by ichimunki

I love Granny’s Wonderful Chair – Burnett spent ages combing bookshops in England and America looking for this book after remembering the stories from her childhood. She finally wrote what she remembered of the book and republished them in another book but I have fond memories of the original Granny’s Wonderful Chair. You can see the preface explaining the history here:

http://www.online-literature.com/burnett/3044/

 
 
Comment by Becca

I love the Princess and the Goblin. George MacDonald is amazing!

 
Comment by Maureen E (elvenjaneite)

I waver between liking A Little Princess and thinking Sara is about as priggish a character as you can get. Secret Garden, on the other hand, is AMAZING and I swear is at least partially responsible for my currently frustrated gardening desires.

Comment by Robin

Secret Garden is fine but I don’t like Mary OR Colin. I completely see your point about Sara, I just love her anyway. :) . . . Trying to think of favourite Dickens; can’t; Mutual Friend, certainly, Bleak House in spite of Esther; Dombey and Son. . . .

 
Comment by Maureen E (elvenjaneite)

Secret Garden is fine but I don’t like Mary OR Colin.

Really? I guess I like the fact that they aren’t quite the normal characters for Childrens’ lit of the time.

I haven’t gotten around to Dombey and Son yet but my father swears by it. David Copperfield isn’t really a favorite but it was my first Dickens so it does have a bit of a special place in my heart.

 
 
Comment by elanova

The Princess and Curdie is on my all-time favorites list!

 
 
Comment by AJLR

Just remembered another great favourite that deserves to be in here – ‘The Hounds of The Morrigan’, by Pat O’Shea. An absolutely wonderful fantasy, set in Ireland, written primarily for children but extremely enjoyable at any age. It came out back in 1987 (I see from Amazon) and I read it then and will happily re-read it every so often.

There are so many books in this list I want to read…someone find a parallel universe where I can spend time doing that, please!

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Comment by Robin

There are so many books in this list I want to read…someone find a parallel universe where I can spend time doing that, please!

********* I am ****SO**** with you there. I remember Morrigan, did she ever write anything else?

Comment by AJLR

It looks as though there were one or two smaller pieces of illustrated work, but the sequel to the Morrigan book was apparently unfinished at her death last May (http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,2109552,00.html). What a loss!

When any writer creates a world imagined so vividly and in such detail, it almost seems as though it ought to be able to go on existing, under it’s own power, after they’ve gone. I find it’s a physical wrench sometimes to realise that there’s no more to be known about a particular creation.

 
 
 
Comment by Maya from Jerusalem

seeing as apparantly there’s another Maya on this list, I thought I’d take a queue from Susan from Athens and add something to my name to clarify :)

wanted to add Tanith Lee to the list. I’ve only read two of her unicorn trilogy – Black Unicorn and Gold Unicorn (the third – Red Unicorn – is making its way to me right now) and they’re great. I also read her White as Snow a few years ago, which is a somewhat darker retelling of Snow White. (I think it might have been connected with a project by a few authors to retell fairytales? maybe I’m wrong…)

also wanted to add Janny Wurts – mostly her Wars of Light and Shadow saga, but I also loved the Empire trilogy she wrote with Raymond E. Feist. very flowery in her language.

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Comment by Robin

Terri Windling edited a retold fairy tales series, maybe it was that. I have a short list of things I Really Wish I’d Written, and Lee’s pet peeve is one of them. :)

 
 
Comment by keep dreaming

I can’t quite believe that no-one has mentioned Joan Aiken – Dido Twite is such a great character and her short stories are wonderful. I’ve also just read Incarceron – wonderful but dark, and my daughter read Fearless (Tim Lott) which made her cry – both about girls resisting a tightly structured society.

E.L. Konigsburg anyone. I remember reading her as a child and I found a new book last year and loved it just as much.

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Comment by Brynne

I haven’t seen ANYONE mention Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart and Inkspell, which, although I haven’t read them in a couple years, were truly formative for me. I love Meggie and I love the whole premise behind the series. It feels like a book written by a bibliophile for bibliophiles.

Lloyd Alexander’s writing style sometimes bothers me, but I was raised on his Prydain chronicles. Lovely heroine there! Generally speaking, his protagonists are male but usually the secondary character is female and very vocal. Generally the male character is bumbling but good-hearted and the girl is eminantly sensible. An exception would be the Rope Trick (one of my favorites), where the girl is the protagonist.

Catherine Fisher’s Snow-walker trilogy.

Anything by Susan Fletcher (I don’t mean ‘anything’ as in a book title. I mean anything she’s written.) She’s got wonderful heroines and I really like her Dragon Chronicles. Shadow Spinner is excellent too.

I saw Shannon Hale mentioned earlier and I have to second that! Princess Acadamy especially.

Diana Wynne Jones, OF COURSE. Especially Howl’s Moving Castle, Dark Lord of Derkholm, their sequels, and Chrestomanci. I also love the Dalemark quartet, particularly Cart and Cwidder.

All of Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s work. I haven’t read any of her books in a while but I remember particularly liking Libby on Wednesday when I was about thirteen (having been homeschooled most of my life, I greatly sympathized with her feelings about being thrown into a classroom) and and the Green-sky trilogy.

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis – this was a little creepifying the first time I read it but it also led to a boderline obsession with the Black Death. I’ve always been a history nut.

Patricia C. Wrede – particularly the Enchanted Forest Chronicles as well as the little duo of Mairelon the Magician and Magician’s Ward. I have all her Lyra novels as well, but they read a little too much like a Dungeons and Dragons adventure for my taste. She doesn’t do as well in a classic fantasy setting, I guess is what I’m saying..

I read a lot.

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Comment by Christina

I just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for this list. I’m always looking for new stuff to read, and clearly I just hit the jackpot.

I can’t even think of anything to add right now, though I can second a lot of things…love Heyer, love Connie Willis (“To Say Nothing of the Dog” and “Bellwether” are great), love Jasper Fforde, love Mary Stewart…and I’ve just written down about 20 more books to go find. Long live Pollyanna’s Booklist!

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Comment by Robin

Good. :)

To Say Nothing of the Dog is a big favourite of mine. I force it on people who don’t read long novels. :)

 
 
Comment by Anonymous

I thought I’d start with a list of my Absolute Favourites – these are the books that have stood the test of time and re-reading. So, in no particular order, but as they occur to me:

Charles Dickens: “Little Dorrit”/”Bleak House”/”Our Mutual Friend”
Jane Austen: “Pride and Prejudice” & “Persuasion”
J R R Tolkien: “The Lord of the Rings”
Lloyd Alexander: “The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man” & Prydain
Diana Wynne Jones: “Howl’s Moving Castle” & “Charmed Life”/”The Lives of Christopher Chant”
Elizabeth Gaskell: “Cranford” & “North and South”
Charlotte Brontë: “Jane Eyre”
Anthony Trollope: “The Warden”/”Barchester Towers” & “The Last Chronicle of Barset”
Jerome K Jerome: “Three Men in a Boat”/”Three Men on the Bummel”
P G Wodehouse: “Leave it to Psmith” & Jeeves and Bertie Wooster (can’t choose)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes (the same problem as above, but I probably prefer the stories in Adventures, Memoirs and Return)

I might have forgotten something and I don’t doubt – with time (15+ years or so) and re-reading (multiple) – more books will be added. Then of course there are my Favourites – books that I “merely” really, really – really love. (My favourite Georgette Heyer – well, obviously I’m fond of her books! – is “Devil’s Cub”.) Then there are the books I “only” love; and the books I “just” like…

“Beyond the stars are even more worlds”!

LRK

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Comment by Maureen E (elvenjaneite)

Oh yay, Gaskell! I would add Wives and Daughters to that list. And the three Dickens’ you listed are my three favorites!

Comment by LRK

“Wives and Daughters” is lovely – it’s one of my Favourites that I “merely” really, really – really love; perhaps because it’s unfinished…?

I love the fact that someone else has the exact same three favourite Dickens that I do!

 
Comment by LRK

To our Library Thing OH Maren – if you’d like some titles of Bertie Wooster & Jeeves books: “Thank You, Jeeves”, “The Code of the Woosters”, “The Mating Season”, “Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves”, “Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen”…

 
 
 
Comment by Becca

If you love fantasy and are picky about prose style, here are a couple of books I’d reccomend:

-Archangel by Sharon Shinn. Shinn has created an entirely believable world, where genetically modified “angels” rule due to their ability to beseech “the gods” for good weather, rain, and medicine. Oh, and it’s a love story.

–The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle. I’m assuming most of you have read this book already, but if you haven’t you need to go out and buy it. right. now. This is one of the best fantasy books ever written. And the main character may not be a human woman, but I think a female unicorcn counts…

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Comment by Wenna

Has anyone mentioned Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time?

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Comment by AJLR

Yes, the Richard III one! I loved that one too. And ever since reading it I’ve bristled slightly whenever anyone criticises Richard…:)

 
Comment by Susan from Athens

I love that book! I totally became a Richard supporter after reading it. A history book for modern conspiracy theorists.

Also her The Man in the Queue and The Singing Sands. There was a point in time when I had a major thing for Inspector Alan Grant.

And in the theme of Scottish characters, I have a soft spot for Sir Edward Leithen in John Buchan’s John Macnab.

Comment by Robin

I have a soft spot for *Buchan.* :)

 
Comment by AJLR

Yes, an amazing man, Buchan, wasn’t he. How one person could do all those things in their life – and obviously do most of them well!

Comment by Robin

I think he turned into a bit of high Tory type at the end, but yes.

 
 
 
 
Comment by Laurel in NYC

If you loved The Daughter of Time, try Sarah Smith’s Chasing Shakespeares. Its tone is very similar!

And her novel The Vanished Child is even better, I think. Elegant, musical prose, and characters who are dazzlingly aware of their cultures and their environment, unafraid of complexity…and the love story turns me to mush.

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Comment by MelissaJane

Oh, yes, I loved Chasing Shakespeares too, though it really upsets me that it’s forced me to give the time of day to the Oxfordians! The Vanished Child is the first of three – The Knowledge of Water and A Citizen of the Country are the others – which all have that lovely prose and moral complexity.

 
 
Comment by Anonymous

Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” series is becoming a quick favorite. I’m only a little over half way through the third book out of 12 (I think), but I love it. A myriad of strong women in this one.

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Comment by Brynne

Really? after a while I found his women extraordinarily irritating. Half of them did nothing but nitpick all the time and the other half were bossy know-it-alls. It just seemed to me like he was writing to stereotypes of “strong woman” meaning “bullying woman”.

It’s good through about #5 but then I found that the plot thickens to the point where it solidifies. ;)

If you enjoy it, though, that’s great!

Comment by Robin

Hmm? I’m losing track. Maybe you’re answering someone else (it’s hard to find the previous answer, or I haven’t figured out how yet). Your brief description sounded amusing, is all.

 
 
 
Comment by Diane in MN

For the Richard III supporters, look up Paul Murray Kendall’s biography of him. Kendall thinks Buckingham did the murders. I do too. The go read The Dragon Waiting.

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Comment by elanova

Am I alone in thinking Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is one of the best romance novels ever written?

I haven’t seen Sylvia Louise Engdahl anywhere on here yet – The Far Side of Evil is really wonderful. I’ve enjoyed her other books too, but that one is my favorite.

Samantha On Stage by Susan Clement Farrar and Ruth Sanderson also makes my list of fantasy faves – because I wanted to be a ballerina when I was younger. (I was a very girly girl.) I only changed my mind when I was informed in no uncertain terms that I had to choose between ballet and riding lessons. I chose the horses. I still sometimes wish I were a Russian ballerina, though.

I also loved the Blossom Culp books by Richard Peck: The Ghost Belonged to Me, Ghosts I Have Been, The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp, and Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death. How can anyone resist titles like that?

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Comment by Wenna

You are not alone in thinking A Tale of Two Cities is a lovely romance. If you can get past the first two chapters.

Bleakhouse is another good Dickens, though I know it has been mentioned, along with Middlemarch, by George Eliot. Can’t really recommend them enough.

I’m going to put in a plug for some of the ‘sequels’ to Jane Austen’s works. Some are silly, like the Elizabeth Darcy mystery series (mind you, I read them all anyway!), but others are great. I particularly recommend Julia Barret’s novels, as they stay fairly close to the original characters. ‘The Third Daughter’ is charming.

Comment by Robin

Funny. I like Two Cities about least of all Dickens: I always feel it’s too short and the structure shows too much; he needed a few more hundred pages . . .

Middlemarch is one of my all time favourite, favourite books.

 
 
 
Comment by anef

I don’t know if it’s quite the Done Thing to link to other people’s blogs and booklist, but this is both interesting in its own right and if you read the comments they have a lot of recommendations for recent Young Adult fiction.

http://scalzi.com/whatever/?p=702

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Comment by Robin

Why wouldn’t it be? Is this some netiquette I’m unaware of? I Has a Sweet Potato is someone’s blog–and all she says is please link, don’t copy and paste.

 
Comment by Robin

. . . and very interesting. And *I* like Westerfield!

Comment by anef

Somebody commenting on the Tor blog site said that reading Uglies gave him (or her) the same feeling that Don’t Bite the Sun did. Now that’s a recommendation!

 
 
 
Comment by Andrea in NJ

Some of my favorites that I don’t think have been mentioned yet:

I love pretty much anything by Meredith Ann Pierce (wish she was a more prolific author!!!!!)
The China Garden by Liz Berry
The Autumn Castle and Giants of the Frost by Kim Wilkins.
Navohar by Hilari Bell
Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series
L.A. Meyer’s Bloody Jack series (a kick-butt teen pirate heroine!)
Juliet Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret
Jaqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s series (a bit dark, and NC-17 rated, but great reads)
Everything by Anne Bishop (Daughter of the Blood series, Belladonna, etc)

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Comment by Mel

I’m probably repeating lots of things but:
Diana Wynne Jones (Fire and Hemlock and Howl are probably the faves)
Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels books (dark though)
Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel books (very very dark in places and gory and sexy)
Guy Gavriel Kay (particularly the Fionavar trilogy – book three always makes me cry – and The Lions of Al-Rassan)
Jenny Crusie (wonderful smart funny romance)
Patricia Briggs
Sarah Monette’s Mirador books (again with the dark and sex)
Sheri S Tepper (more the earlier stuff and if you like your feminism fairly strident)
C.E. Murphy’s urban fantasy
Lilith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine books
L.M Montgomery (I’m an Anne girl through and through)
Lucy Boston (the Green Know books)
Who wrote the Katy books (what Katy did etc? Susan Coolidge? Loved those as a girl, along with Streatfield and Nesbit, it’s good to have parents and grandparents and librarians who feed you books)
Mary Grant Bruce (who I’m not sure is well known outside Australia but did a wonderful growing up on a big property series set before er WWI I think)
Susan Cooper
Susan Elizabeth Phillips (more wonderful romance)
Eloisa James (wonderful funny historical romance)
Loretta Chase (ditto, Mr Impossible is my fave)
Heyer (of course)
Terry Pratchett
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden books
Lois McMaster Bujold (Miles and Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls mostly but I love all of them)
Lynn Flewelling
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (gory)
Dennis Lehane (the Kenzie and Gennaro ones but mega violent and gory – I only read them in daylight)
Lindsey Davis
Elizabeth Bear
No Place Like Home by Barbara Samuel (another one that makes me bawl)

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Comment by Brad K.

If you are reading Patricia Briggs and Anne Bishop – what about Kelley Armstrong’s Ladies of the Underworld books – Bitten, Stolen, Haunted, Diime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, No Humans Involved? A bit sexy, not as dark as Bishop.

Briggs ‘Mercedes Thompsen’ books are great to read, and re-read. Blood Bound, Moon Called, and Iron Kissed – they just keep getting better. Urban fantasy, not nearly as dark as Armstrong or Bishop.

 
 
 
Comment by Anonymous

Love this list! I’ll add a couple of British authors, long out of print: John Kier Cross (“The Other Side of Green Hill” and some pretty wild and fantastic science fiction and spy thriller-eque stories, from the 40′s and 50′s) and a huge endorsement for Joan North (“The Cloud Forest”, “The Whirling Shapes”, and “The Light Maze”) – as far as I can tell, these three books are the only ones she wrote (more’s the pity – they are great!). Phyllis/WA state

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Comment by Robin

Never HEARD of these, how delicious! (I’m still thinking about chocolate . . . )

 
 
Comment by MaryMR

Just finished Sunshine (though I’ve meant to read Beauty for a while, this is the first of your works I’ve read. Enormously impressed. And I usually revile vampire fiction, but you’ve really created magic here. Thank you. Please keep giving the world your wonderful fiction. I will be reading *everything* else you’ve written.

NOW… on to other great books, that so far I’ve not seen enough mention of/or are totally not mentioned. BTW first off, I agree with many folks here, disagree with a very few and am looking forward to my Library Thing groaning even more than it current is. (I’m ‘divageek’, look me up.)

Mentioned rarely and I think more needs to be said:

Dorothy Dunnett!!!!! If you are going to wade through O’Brien or Hornblower with it’s rarely mentioned women (hey, they are great, I’m not knocking ‘em), please, PLEASE read Dunnett. Amazing women who do deeply dangerous things that are still believable for their place and time–just remarkable. And talk about twists and turns and romance! You want romance with got it with a capital ‘R’. Now that said, I am the first to admit that the first of the Lymond series is a tough read and honestly no. 2 is only slight less so, but they ARE worth it and I promise you that when you are reading books 3-6, you will be pissed at having to do ANYTHING that interrupts your reading. Many a delighted late night awaits you.

Now your other Dunnett choice is to start the Niccolo series which takes place a century before and has a very different tone and prose style. I recommend people start here, but you have to go on and read the Lymond series. I actually did them simultaneously (I’ve finished Lymond and am half-way through Niccolo).

Daughter of the Forest (The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Book 1) by Juliet Marillier. Some one trumped the 2nd book, but this one absolutely floored me. Also some one mentioned The Swans fairy tale–this book is an amazing retelling. Has some difficult stuff, I won’t lie, but transformational and worth it.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (haven’t read the rest of the series). Well, as I say above, I’m not a fan of vampire stuff. This and Sunshine are the *only* vampire things I’ve done and, well, I can read this. Also, the voice of Bella the heroine is so real and genuine… though nothing can, of course, replace Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (one of my favorite, favorite books), I did feel that Twilight and it’s singular voice was influenced by that classic.

Another book not mentioned here (though the author has been) and I think folks here would love it given the lists, is Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover. It’s been recently reissued by reader demand (!) and wow! Again the heroine’s voice is true and it’s a wonderful depiction of a young girl going from utter dependence on a mother to being her own person.

Liaden series by the team of Sharon Lee and Steven Miller. Highly enjoyable and smart world building (there’s an economy!), lots of adventure, interesting romance that depends on delicate and delightful conversation, and funny stuff that goes from gentle humor to laugh-out-loud delight. Can’t recommend them enough, but not always easy to find. That whole publishing thing… ARGHHHH!!! WHAT IS UP WITH THAT PEOPLE?!!

Connie Willis–all of hers are a solid hit and a good read, but as others have mentioned, do NOT miss “To Say Nothing of the Dog”. So seriously wonderful.

Another deep shout out for Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn, which begins the quartet, delights in it’s main character–what a heroine. And a wonderful adventure and surprising romance. I was half in love with her myself… I also liked Shin’s gentle SF retelling of Jane Eyre titled Jenna Starborn and I really enjoyed all the Archangel series, though I haven’t read them all. But Mystic and Rider is a tour-de-force.

The last 2 are SF and both by Neal Stephanson. They have wonderful heroines that seem believable to me. First and best (still I think) of all his is Snow Crash which is so brilliant and inventive–and surprisingly not that dystopian (the future is a very messy but not a hopeless place). The are two main characters, one male and one female and they partner is surprising ways. I also LOVED (somehow even more even though SC is the stronger work) The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer–how can you not love that title? And attention Dicken’s fans: this is retelling of “Little Nell”. Mr. Stephanson acknowledges his debt to the great CD.

Finally, I can’t second enough that folks should read or re-read Middlemarch. Thank you Mary Ann Evans (aka George Elliot).

Thanks everyone, this is an awesome book list.

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Comment by sarah;cincinnati

Dunnett’s Macbeth novel (?King Hereafter?) has the best heroine she has ever done. Which is pretty incredibly good. Don’t miss it!!

 
Comment by Brad K.

Three of the Lee, Miller Liaden SF books deserve honorable mention – Balance of Trade is really great, I have read this at least 10 times so far. A Conflict of Honors – Dutiful Passage, the ship, is a joy and a comfort for me. Scout’s Progress whipsaws from awakening joy to darkest fear and back.

Then there is Plan B, I Dare, Agent of Change, etc. Wonderful storytelling!

 
 
Comment by librarykat

I never could get into Dickens for some reason, but in high school I fell in love with Wilkie Collins’ books, such as The Woman in White and The Moonstone. Very odd, since he doesn’t seem to be all that much different from Dickens. I guess I’m more than a little weird.

And I know these aren’t novels but plays, but I love Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and Macbeth by Shakespeare. I’ve read all the plays and seen many of them on public TV, but these are my favorites. I obsessed over Hamlet in high school, and even “became” Hamlet (thinking of Dame Sarah Bernhardt as I did so) my sophomore year in high school for an extra credit project in English class – classmates were Byron, Shelley, Macbeth and his wife, and we did a take-off on Steve Allen’s show “A Meeting of Minds.”

I also discovered Poul Anderson in high school, especially his space merchant characters in Time Twisters.

And I went nuts for The Saint by Leslie Charteris; I used to watch Roger Moore’s The Saint (I can still hear the theme music in my head), but in high school I started searching for the books and thought they were so much more fun.

I also sought out books by Alistair MacLean – brought on by watching the movie Where Eagles Dare (I was also a Clint Eastwood fan, from Rawhide on) when I was 13. I own most of those – all boxed up and unavailable for re-reading right now, unfortunately, along with all my Charteris, Marjorie Allingham, Dorothy Sayers, and much much more.

Watching Star Trek (the original series) led me to many science fiction writers, including James Blish, Harlan Ellison, and more – I was reading the credits, you see, and these names kept popping up as writers. From the age of 12, I paid attention to writing credits on TV shows and movies, that’s how I discovered Leslie Charteris and Alistair MacLean and many more …

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Comment by Robin

I like Wilkie Collins too, although he’s far more uneven than Dickens. But Collins doesn’t have the farcical edge that Dickens does, I would have said, which makes him a little more straightforward a read–but it also means when he gets all purple-Victorian there’s no way out

 
 
Comment by Ellen Walker

I don’t think anyone has mentioned Connie Willis’ _Passage_ (or is it _Passages_?) – amazing plot structure, and vintage Willis style, breathless, funny & heart-wrenching.
Elynne Mitchell’s _The Silver Brumby_ and _The Snow Filly_, if you like horses at all. They were the books that made me into an addicted reader, in third grade, and the first books I bought, myself, in a book store (I had bought _The Lord of the Rings_ earlier, but my mother had to mail-order it – all three books together, hardback, cost nine dollars!).
Hard to find, but back in print – _The Cowboy and the Cossack_ by Clair Huffaker. It’s a book that is hard to categorize – sort of a western, but set in Siberia; sort of a coming-of-age book, but with occasional use of language many parents would not tolerate in a kid’s book; hysterically funny in some scenes, wise, tragic, heroic adventure.
_The Moon and the Sun_ by Vonda McIntyre – fantasy mixed with historical fiction, in the court of Louis the Sun King.
Anything by Barbara Kingsolver (well, _Poisonwood Bible_ is a little grim for comfort reading!), but especially _The Bean Trees_.
_Horse Heaven_ by Jane Smiley. I had read _A Thousand Acres_ years ago, and thought it was good but not comforting – so I was completely unprepared for _Horse Heaven_, which is delightful, joyous, playful (one of the main characters is a horse, and another is a Jack Russel terrier), and optimistic.
Anything by Annie Dillard, but especially _Pilgrim at Tinker Creek_ and _Holy the Firm_. These are extended personal essays peppered with interesting facts about science & nature that remind you how to look life straight in the face.
Barbara Hambly’s mystery/historical fiction series about Benjamin January – the first one is _A Free Man of Color_ – and her fantasy, especially _Dragonsbane_, my favorite of hers, though I also like _The Ladies of Mandrygan_, and the series starting with _The Time of the Dark_.
_An Edge of the Forest_ by Agnes Smith – sort of fantasy, sort of animal story, not quite like anything else I’ve ever read, but something about it sticks with me.
_Lord of the Rings_ goes without saying – I had read it at least thirty times before I started high school, and set it aside because I could quote much of it from memory.
_David Copperfield_ by Dickens – I missed this one when I was growing up, but read it a couple years ago and loved it.
_The Horsecatcher_ by Sandoz – a mostly-forgotten Newbery Honor book about a boy growing up in the Cheyenne culture in the early 1800′s
Newer books:
_Speak_ by Laurie Halse Anderson – realistic YA fiction with a great heroine, dark humor, and a terrific ending.
_Whale Talk_ or _Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes_ by Chris Crutcher (realistic YA fiction)
_Surviving the Applewhites_ by Stephanie Tolan – if you’re in the mood for something light and funny, this book pokes gentle fun at various stereotypes.
_Tangerine_ by Bloor (realistic YA fiction)
_A Northern Light_ by Jennifer Donnelly is mystery/historical fiction with a strong heroine.
_How I Live Now_ by Meg Rosoff – the plot sounds off-putting, but just pick up the book and start reading – it captured me immediately.
_You Don’t Know Me_ by Klass – realistic YA fiction
OF COURSE, all Robin’s books (especially _The Hero and the Crown_ and _Sunshine_), and I would also second Leguin (especially the Earthsea books, and especially, of those, _Tehanu_), McKillip (_The Forgotten Beasts of Eld_ and the Riddlemaster trilogy – try reading it aloud), Beagle (_The Last Unicorn_), Card (_Ender’s Game_ , & _Speaker for the Dead_), L’Engle (_The Arm of the Starfish_), Voight (the Tillerman series, and all her fantasy), and Paterson (especially _The Great Gilly Hopkins_).
If you’re interested in children’s books, especially if you have children or grandchildren to read to, see my blog:
http://whattoreadtochildren.blogspot.com/

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Comment by Elizabeth B

Yes, yes, yes! Lee and Miller, Emma Bull, Austen, Susan Cooper, McKillip, Sally Watson, Sarah Monette, Elizabeth Willey, Jarvis McGraw, Hodgson Burnett, L’Engle… So many wonderful, wonderful books.

I haven’t yet seen these mentioned, mostly because most of them are undeservedly obscure and/or out of print:

Wheel of Dreams, by Salinda Tyson

Nameless Magery and Of Swords and Spells, by Delia Marshall Turner

Unwillingly to Earth and Project Farcry, by Pauline Ashwell

The Hellflower Trilogy, by eluki bes shahar, and everything she’s written under her other pen name, Rosemary Edghill (including wonderful, funny Regency romances and a two-book collaboration with Andre Norton)

Deathgift and Sky Road, by Ann Tonsor Zeddies; she also did two books as Toni Anzetti and a third under her own name that ties in with those two.

The Cassandra Blaine trilogy, by Wilhelmina Baird; be warned that there’s some politically incorrect dialogue (“forked tongue”? you’ve got to be kidding me), but the stories are quite entertaining.

Doris Egan’s Ivory trilogy

Anything by Joan D. Vinge, though many of her stories are rather grim

Anything by Ellen Kushner

Anything by Delia Sherman

Children’s mystery books by Wylly Folk St. John, which are very hard to find nowadays

Mind-Call, by Wilanne Schneider Belden

Steven Brust’s Dragaera books–be warned, the main character starts out as an assassin, and in a lot of ways he’s really not at all a nice person. The books are very well done, though.

The Liavek series, edited by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull

. . . That’s probably more than enough. :)

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Comment by Mary Beth

Sigh…Everyone has already mentioned my favorites. It is nice to find people who enjoy reading what I do! Here’s a few that I think should be added.

- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
- Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
- Sylvia Townsend Warner
- Anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow & Teri Windling
- Anything by Sheri S. Tepper. My favorite is “The Fresco”
- No one has mentioned Mary Balogh yet, I don’t think…
- Kage Baker has a smashingly wonderful series about The Company. The first one is “In The Garden of Iden” Cyborgs, history and time travel – they are hard to get into, but after the first 4 books –woo hoo!
- Has anyone mention Diane Duane’s “Young Wizards” series?
- Suzanne Frank (aka J. Suzanne Frank) has a 4 book time-travel series that is surprisingly fascinating. Lots of great bits about ancient cultures.
- Mercedes Lackey has a new series with Luna set in the 1000 Kingdoms. There are 4 so far. They are surprisingly good and incorporate lots of fairytale elements.
- Elinor Lipman. Wonderful literary novels usually incorporating romance. Very witty.
- Barbara Trapido – “Temples of Delight”
- Lauren Willig’s “Pink Carnation” series
- Dawn Cook – “The Decoy Princess”, etc.
- Maria V. Snyder “Poison Study” and rest of series
- Did anyone mention Edward Eager’s children’s books? I LOVED them.
- Christopher Moore has been mentioned. “Lamb” did nothing for me, but I love “A Dirty Job” and “Fluke”
- Lynsay Sands’ Argeneau series These are good!
- Sheila Simonson (out of print, but great Regencies)
- Linda Howard (read the new ones, skip the old ones featuring abusive men)
- Jeff Lindsay’s “Dexter” series
- Harry Turtledove’s “Worldwar” and “Colonization” series. (Aliens invade, interrupt WWII)

Sorry if I’ve misspelled any author’s names.

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Comment by mialouise

The Time Traveller’s Wife – oh yesssssssss!

 
 
Comment by LRK

I’ve just finished reading:

“Uncle Silas” by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

I liked it – not loved it. Sometimes I found it somewhat annoying – but on the other hand he was very good at conveying fear, and Madame de la Rougierre and Uncle Silas were truly “creepy”. However it has inspiired the following list; a List of Books with (at least) a Touch of Gothic:

“The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë (Does anyone not know what’s in the attic? And does it matter? At all?)
“Cousin Kate” by Georgette Heyer
“Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen – the ultimate gothic comic relief

And then perhaps:

“Winter Rose” by Patricia A McKillip
“Fire and Hemlock” by Diana Wynne Jones
“Scent of Magic” by Andre Norton
“Shadow in Hawthorn Bay” by Janet Lunn

(I know I’ve mentioned “Jane Eyre” before – but that was a different list; were I to make a list of wonderful love stories it would no doubt turn up there too – I hope that is OK?)

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Comment by Robin

Re-mention of Jane Eyre is ALWAYS welcome. :)

 
 
Comment by Laura from Melbourne

A quote on one of your roses posts reminded me of a book I love The half-brothers by Ann Lawrence. I hope it isn’t spoilery to give the closing quote “… and a man shall ever see that when ages grow to civility and elegancy, men come to build stately sooner than to garden finely; as if gardening were the greater perfection”

A charming book with a spunky heroine, and some lovely gardens.

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Comment by Kristen

Some other recommendations:

Sherwood Smith: Crown Duel/Court Duel. much wonderfulness in a great setting, grand adventures, and with girls who rebel (literally)! She’s currently writing the Inda series…some of the best fantasy I’ve read in ages.

Lynn Flewelling… creepy, dark and mesmerizing book for the Oracle books. Nightrunners are just fun.

I need to second all the recs for Bujold… her new fantasy series The Sharing Knife (3 of 4 books published to date) is soothing and thought provoking all at once. Fawn definitely qualifies as a heroine who get to DO stuff.

Catherine Asaro: good sci/fi and romance hybrids. She’s got the science props and writes wonderful characters. Soz is one of my favorite female characters ever — tough and tender!

I’m currently reading Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty… Victorian finishing school where the girls discover MAGIC! all about empowerment and making choices.

fun list! thanks.

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Comment by Susan from Athens

On your recommendation (and somebody else’s on this list) I read Inda and The Fox by Sherwood Smith and enjoyed them both tremendously. They added tremendously to my summer holidays and strengthened my faith in fantasy, which had recently waned after a few too many badly-written books, which I will not mention in the spirit of Pollyanna.

Comment by Robin

which I will not mention in the spirit of Pollyanna

********** Well done you. I’m still tryign to figure out what the line is about mild, wistful caveats as opposed to I DIDN’T FLIPPING LIKE THE SUCKER. :)

 
 
 
Comment by vcmw (Ginger)

I forget if anyone mentioned plays?

I like Christopher Fry (especially the swoony “The Lady’s Not for Burning” and the french translation stuff he did)…
Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and The Real Thing, especially)

Or for poetry I am a swooning romantic at heart and I swallow all my political and class and gender awareness *totally* and indulge in scads of Rudyard Kipling and asstd. lords (Alfred, Lord Tennyson; George Gordon, Lord Byron, particularly… I think I started reading Tennyson because of the bit quoted in one of the Anne of Green Gables books about how “the splendor falls/on castle walls” and went on from there).

Edna St. Vincent Millay is my all time favorite poet though… her sonnets please me extremely (especially “Love is not all”) and Recuerdo is a very fun poem to read aloud.

I like Ogden Nash poetry a lot for its sheer fun, and Shel Silverstein (who wrote occasional very snarky things for grownups when not writing children’s verse).

Also Carl Sandburg, particularly The People, Yes, (poetry) and the Rutabaga Stories (short stories).

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Comment by Susan from Athens

Ooh, plays and poetry, where to start? Plays, the one that gets me going into shrieks of laughter is The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Terence Rattigan’s French Without Tears is full of good cheap laughs, and his Flare Path full of sad WWII melodrama, but very well written. More recent Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen is particularly good for science geeks and philosophers and Democracy is as current for today’s politics as it was about fifties West Germany. (That’s just off the top of my head).

Poetry, it’s even worse. There are the greats, those you love, those you champion, and the guilty pleasures. Poetry from ages past, in the original, even in translation. I was recently reading a poem by Petronius Arbiter (d. AD 66) translated by Ben Jonson (d. 1637) and just love the phrasing:
“There is no labour, nor no shame in this;
This hath pleased, doth please, and long will please;”

Or the Lady Ki No Washika (8th century – Japanese) translated by Graeme Wilson:

“It’s not because I’m now too old….”
“Because I fear that yes
Would Brink me nothing, in the end,
But a fiercer loneliness.”

Or Bertolt Brecht (translated by John Willett) in bitter irony:

“and that war
While in itself natural and necessary, has, thanks to the
Unduly uninhibited and positively inhuman
Way in which it was conducted on this occasion, been
Discredited for some time to come”.

Or Sir Walter Raleigh, in “Even such is time”, his own epitaph:
“Even such is time, which takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, and all we have”
to end with
“And from which earth and grave and dust,
The Lord shall raise me up, I trust”
which can be read straight as a doornail, but which I always felt should be read with a question mark, changing the entire meaning of the poem.

I could go on, and on, and on, and probably shall in another comment. But for me poetry is a great love, a great comforter, and reading poetry aloud was a way I overcame slight dyslexia and great self-consciousness. Everyone has the poet and poem for them, and some of us have various comforts for various occasions. So I could never recomment a list. A few anthologies, as a starting point, maybe.

Comment by Robin

A few anthologies, as a starting point, maybe.

********* Yes. And yet even there . . . I ‘discovered’ poetry as a comparatively small child with a rather awful anthology called Best Loved Poems of the American People. Ah, the Face on the Barroom Floor . . . (misogynist git). But it’s what made me seize onto poetry as GOOD and so I was all excited when I read, you know, Keats and Donne and Yeats and so on . . .

 
Comment by Susan from Athens

Keats, so far, has never done if for me: Another indication how personal poetry choices can be. I love Hardy’s poetry and Yeats and used to adore Wilfred Owen, but now can’t read him. I think when you are 15 and untouched by pain and death you can wallow in it, but as you grow older and have death reach out and take your loved ones, it gets far harder to read poetry like this – it just hurts too much.

Comment by Robin

Love Keats. Literary/lingual chocolate. :) I still love Yeats but Hardy gets me down a bit. Gloom is also very personal; Hardy’s gets me worse than Owen’s, although I certainly know what you mean. But Hardy’s gets me nearer where I live while Owen’s a kind of pure clarity that muddy me does not know.

 
 
Comment by Susan from Athens

I can live with Hardy, but Owen hurts. But there is a side of me that enjoys melancholy, in poetry and in music – Bach over Mozart (not that Bach doesn’t have his light side). And there is a side of me that likes A.E. Housman and Walter de la Mare, Wordsworth’s Prelude and the sexual innuendoes of the Reformation poets.

Comment by Robin

I can only bear short swift doses of Housman and his self pity. And I run screaming from Wordsworth. :)

 
 
Comment by sarah;cincinnati

Great point, Susan, about how the life-experiences change what you can stand to read – references to cruelty to children would just blow by me when I was fifteen (hey, I was a child myself at that point), but now (having my own personal children(deeply loved and cruelty-free) as reference points) are so horrifying I can’t read any more and wish I had never picked the book up. And it isn’t a graphicness issue; my own imagination fills in all the details (screaming). It just didn’t matter much before, and now it really, really does.

Comment by Robin

Yes. I’ve missed what came previously on this thread, but (childless as I am) this is very much my experience. In my case it just has to do with getting older and being more aware of the world–as bad as well as good. I can’t *bear* stories about the betrayal of trust and/or innocence.

 
 
 
 
Comment by Sulis

Ooh, so many wonderful books mentioned! I may have missed it, but I haven’t seen any mention of Good Omens. Coauthored by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, how could you go wrong? Funniest book about Armageddon I’ve ever read.

And not happy, at all, but thought-provoking and wonderfully written, I LOVE The Handmaid’s Tale. Of course, all of Margaret Atwood is like that, wonderfully written and breathtaking to read, but not happy. This is the book of hers that I keep rereading.

For something more lighthearted, I love Olivia Goldsmith. She reminds me of a modern Jane Austen. Her novels are invariably hilarious, with a liberal application of satire for conventional social behaviors. First Wives’ Club is a MUCH better book than movie, but isn’t that always the case?

And Lindsey Davis! I love her books. They’re set in Ancient Rome, and wonderfully historically accurate, without being overly “look at me! I did my research!” And though the main character in her books is almost always male, strong women abound. NO ONE crosses Helena.

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Comment by Robin

I **adore** GOOD OMENS. :)

Comment by Grace

Is it REALLY possible not to?

Try The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. It makes the end of the Odyssey so FRUSTRATING when you read it again.

So, this book is YA, but is such a wonderfully, beautiful book that it really can’t go unnoticed. It’s called A Girl Named Disaster, by Nancy Farmer, and it is hugely compelling. (It’s a great book for those days when all you can think is, oh woe is me, oh sorrow, etc., because it says, well, it could be worse…)

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Do NOT read in winter, but in blazing hot sunshine on the beach by civilization and lots of things around you to remind that it ISN’T. REALLY. HAPPENING. Absolutely the most terrifying book I have ever read. (Really. It sort of knocks the entire horror genre off the shelf.)

The Children of Hurin, by J. R. R. Tolkien. And, while you’re at it, pick up The Silmarillion and The Lost Tales.

 
 
Comment by Kristen

My favorite Lindsey Davis is Course of Honor, about the Emperor Vespasian and his friend/lover Caenis. She’s a great character, as a freed slave she details the noble Roman life from a much different perspective. Davis has such a wonderfully sly sense of humor!

Kristen

Comment by Anonymous

That was the first book of hers I read, and ever since, I’ve been on a mission to get any of her books I can get my grubby little hands on.

 
 
 
Comment by kellbell

A lot of old favorites on this list (Yay! Diana Wynne Jones! Yay! Zilpha Keatley Snyder! and Connie Willis! And Sheri Teper! and all the rest…)
One book that my shared with my sister and me when we were little was “No Flying in the House” by Betty Brock. We lost our copy of it in one of our many moves, and couldn’t remember the title of it! (Thank God for the internet and the Loganberry Books website!) We finally found the book (which wasn’t even out of print!), and my sister and I were able to share this book with our daughters. My sons enjoyed the book, too.

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Comment by AJLR

I was re-reading one of Dornford Yates’ ‘Berry’ books the other evening, and thinking how funny the dialogue is even though the social attitudes displayed are about as un-acceptable as it’s possible to get in every way one can imagine. Reading a little about his life, he seems to have been – even to his biographers – a singularly (trying to think how to put this in a Pollyanna-ish way) ‘difficult’ personality. Some of his adventure stories are really enthralling though, in an old-fashioned way. Was there a nice person inside I wonder, trying to re-imagine his life through the stories…

Another favourite for re-reading at the moment is Ngaio Marsh. I like the way Troy just gets on with her painting, through all the ups and downs of her husband’s various investigations.

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Comment by Robin

Dornford Yates. Golly. Yes, we’re showing our age. . . . :)

 
 
Comment by Carla

Everything above, and anything by Alan Garner, too.

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Comment by Vicky

Great list, I’m noting down a lot of new names! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who still cries at Rilla of Ingleside or The Lions of Al-Rassan (Ysabel also made me a bit sniffly, although there were some irritating historical inconsistencies – how does someone who presumably appears of of nowhere become married to Ceaser’s aunt?), and my all-time favourite Georgette Heyer is Cotillion- I’m trying to slowly replace the collection I inherited from my grandfather with the new series from Arrow, whose covers are not quite as bodice-ripping. I also love Jasper FForde, even though I never got very far with Dickens for some reason. I have small children, though, so the Nursery Crimes are hilarious after bedtime stories.

Susanna Clarke creates a world I get lost in (Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen meet magic) and her short story collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu has more female protagonists than Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Sharan Newman is another favourite whose I haven’t seen her mentioned here yet. I especially like her early Catherine Levendeur series- set in Paris at the time of Heloise and Abelard. I haven’t read her Guinevere series for a long time, but I remember it being very funny.

Also, sorry to be irritating, but I remember reading about 20 years ago a couple of books which sound a lot like the Hounds of Morrigan- two books about modern (American?) children time-travelling back to Ireland, one to the time of Cúchulainn, the other to the clash between the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fomorians. From what I can remember of my childhood library, the author was a woman, and her last name was probably towards the middle of the alphabet. Does this ring any vague bells? If so, thanks!

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Comment by Kristen

OOHHH.. I remember reading those books about traveling in time to ancient Ireland. I loved the one about Finn McCool. Using Amazon (’cause my memory is shot), I came up with the Wizard Children of Finn by Mary Tannen. Apparently they are completely out of print. I wonder if my mom still has our copy…

I think I started reading the Morgan Llewellyn books because I read these as a kid. Her version of Grania should definitely be part of this list… pirate queens, hooray!

Kristen

 
Comment by beth

Maybe the author was O.R. Melling. Your description reminds me of two of her books: The Singing Stone and the Druid’s Tune. Sadly both appear to be out of print.

Comment by handyhunter

I wonder if they’ll come back into print soon? I’ve been seeing revamped versions of Melling’s Hunter’s Moon and The Summer King on bookstore shelves.

 
 
 
Comment by Susan from Athens

On childhood loves, one book that had me laughing my head off is Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. As an adult I love the fact that the mother of this large clan was one of the first women engineers with a Ph.D., that she went on working all the time she raised her family and used her pregnancies to correct her galleys for her books. A woman who did things indeed.

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Comment by Robin
 
 
Comment by Brad K.

I adore Wen Spencer. Tinker was mentioned, but I didn’t see “A Brother’s Price”.

Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series was mentioned. I particularly liked the romance novellette, Nerilka’s Story. Also her science fiction The Ship Who Sang. Get Off The Unicorn was a collection of short stories – A Proper Santa was an inspiring story, about magic and the difference between what works, and how we let others define our world. A Stitch in Snow is a nice modern romance.

Someone mentioned Tamora Pierce’s Magic Circle books. That are a simpler story, in some ways, but I find them interesting character studies, and the follow on quarted The Circle Opens and then The Will of the Empress let me follow the characters and the world from Magic Circle. A comforting, enjoyable read. And re-read. Pierce’s ‘Trickster’s Choice’ and ‘Trickster’s Queen’ are more complex, and probably a few years older, than Protector of the Small. Did I mention I like this author? Then there is Beka Cooper, Terrier. Great!

Jean Auel wrote her Earth’s Children series, starting with Clan of the Cave Bear. But I like Valley of Horses best.

David Weber created a female military science fiction hero, Honor Harrington. The story starts with On Basilisk Station. Two recent spinoff stories are great reads (as is the rest of the series) – Crown of Slaves, and Shadow of Saganami.

Mike Shepherd’s Kris Longknife books don’t have the grand scope of Weber’s Honor Harrington, and he takes a bit more humorous look at life and his heroine. Kris Longknife: Mutineer, Deserter, Defiant, Resolute, and Audacious are each fun to read.

Mercedes Lackey has written a number of story lines. Arrows of the Queen was mentioned (I love Talia!), also By The Sword and Magic’s Pawn. I liked her Bardic Voices series a lot.

Duranna Durgin has a number of novels out. Each bridge the modern world to an alternate. Dun Lady’s Jess has a wizard in another world create a spell to reach ours – that happens to translate a rider and horse into a rider – and lady. A Feral Darkness has a dog groomer grinding away at her Pets! store job when an old childhood shrine brings her a Corgi from the future.

Piper at the Gate, sequel to the Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West, by Mary Stanton.

Shaman, Sandra Miesel. Otters!

From a few years back, C.J. Cherryh’s Pride of Chanur and the rest of the series has long been a comfort and delight.

I enjoy the Lois McMaster Bujold Vorkosigan stories. One of the spinoff books was Falling Free – an interesting premise and a great diversion from the Vorkosigan military SF stories. Leo is a welder. In space. Hired to teach welding. His students are younger than he is used to – and handier.

Melissa Scott, Five Twelfths of Heaven, Trouble and Her Friends, Point of Hopes.

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Comment by ichimunki

Just to extend the list a little further since we are allowed to list other media (let me know if I am overstepping) – some TV series and movies:

- Buffy the Vampire Slayer

- Angel

- Freaks and Geeks

- Heroes

- Lost

- Arrested Development

- Masterpiece Theater Complete Jane Austen

- Legend

- Labyrinth

- Neverending Story (Movie and Book although they were very different)

- Howl’s Moving Castle (Movie)

- Like Water for Chocolate (Movie)

- Lord of the Rings (Movie and Books)

- The Little Prince (TV series and book)

- Firefly/Serenity

- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (I know this movie was misogynistic but I really loved the dancing and the singing).

- Battlestar Galactica

- My So Called Life

And has anyone seen “The Fall” by Tarsem Singh? The movie is ehh – not great but the imagery is beautiful – exactly how I imagined the terrain in some YA books:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0460791/

Susie from NY

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Comment by Aerin Starwalker

Hooray for Firefly/Serenity!

 
Comment by welkinawe

The Neverending Story has been my favorite movie my whole life. I just read the book and it was very strange to me. I liked it but it is very different from the movies.

LOVE Firefly and Serenity. Saw the movie first and now have everything I can get my hands on including the “money” replications. Love the soundtracks.

Spirited Away (Movie by the artist that did Howl’s) Amazing. My 4yr old’s favorite movie.

My So Called Life! That series was so good and so perfect for me to relate to.

Any version of Pride and Prejudice (Book, Movie, Series) Couldn’t put the book down. Her insite and sharp wit are unmatched.

The Other Boleyn Girl (movie was good / book was awsome)

I like movies made from books and do not stress if they are not perfect. They usually help visualize the characters and plots both ways. This is not always a successful venture, but still worth checking out.

 
 
Comment by Diane in MN

Reading new posts here sends me off to Barnes & Noble’s search page to look things up!

Susan from Athens mentioned Cheaper by the Dozen for a fun read. I should add Betty MacDonald to the humor list–most people know The Egg and I, but perhaps not The Plague and I, an extremely funny account of her time recovering from TB in a sanitarium (really), and Anyone Can Do Anything.

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Comment by Robin

Oh golly–I don’t know The Plague and I either. On the list!

 
 
Comment by LRK

There’s a theme to this list – but I’m not happy with anything I can come up with, so…

The Westmark trilogy by Lloyd Alexander (“Westmark”, “The Kestrel” and “The Beggar Queen”)
“Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo
“A Tale of Two Cities” & “Barnaby Rudge” by Charles Dickens
“La Vendée” by Anthony Trollope

And non-fiction:

“The French Revolution” by Thomas Carlyle; written 40 years after the events described it is (I think) remarkably fresh and deliciously subjective. For facts (dry or otherwise) look elsewhere – for excitement, heroes, villains, drama, tragedy and even a bit of humour, try this. Even when one knows the outcome it can be quite suspenseful – as in the flight of the royal family; I love how Carlyle seems personally annoyed with von Fersen and the royal family for fleeing in an eye-catchingly new carriage (I suppose it would be like trying to sneak away stealthily in a Rolls Royce), taking walks, admiring the scenery etc.

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Comment by Susan from Athens

May I also put in a plea for swashbucklers in the form of The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope and The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy and The Three Musketeers (am I spelling this correctly? I keep thinking the French Mousquetaire) by Alexandre Dumas?

And also referring back to childhood memories Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster and to a lesser extent Dear Enemy, both of which have to be read with an eye on them being books of their time – i.e. some views would horrify a number of people today.

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Comment by Robin

Daddy Long Legs is darling. Politically incorrect, but darling. I loved all of these–but don’t read Musketeers after the first one, it’s all horribly downhill from there! They get old! They die! This is not what I want in my swashbucklers!

 
Comment by sarah;cincinnati

Definitely good ones, though I wonder whether the Scarlet Pimpernel would have been a real pain in the neck as a husband. Like many Regency heroes. Of their time.

Comment by Robin

If he just gave me lots of money and showered me with presents and left me alone, I could cope. :)

 
 
 
Comment by Gardening in Maine

Laurie Colwin — nearly anything she ever wrote because I fell in love with her writing about food. Her books HOME COOKING and “More Home Cooking” are ALMOST as good as introducing my niece to “Blue Sword”. Our age is showing. I know it sounds unlikely, but something wonderful there is in reading about a liberated woman who loved to cook before lots of us felt free to enjoy it! A little like my refusal to learn to type lest I become a secretary? Oddly, “Home Cooking” is nearly as comforting as a good fantasy when I’m down with flu on a rainy weekend…

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Comment by librarykat

Some more graphic novel recommendations:

I really love a lot of Joann Sfar’s work (he’s French) – for younger readers he’s done the delightful Little Vampire (a collected edition has just been released by First Second Books); for teens there’s The Professor’s Daughter – a twisted romance if ever there was one, the titular character has fallen in love with a mummy; this one is set in Victorian times (also from First Second). For adults, I highly recommend The Rabbi’s Cat (published by Pantheon).

Papercutz is publishing two different Classics Illustrated series. Classics Illustrated Deluxe is a series of longer graphic novels, about 144 pages long; the first two volumes are Wind in the Willows and Tales from the Brothers Grimm. The other series is actually reprinting books originally published in the early 1990s by First Publishing/Berkeley – Great Expectations was the first one.

Paul Sizer is a self-publishing comics creator. I love his books. The first one is Little White Mouse, a science fiction story of a young teen girl, the only survivor of a space liner disaster who is trying to survive on a mining asteroid whose computer system detects her as a pest to destroy. Moped Army is another science fiction story set in the same universe as Little White Mouse. A young woman of privilege runs away from her abusive boyfriend and ambitious parents to live on the planet’s surface with a group of young rebels who use old technology (and live in the deserted public library).

Jane Irwin is Paul’s wife; she’s also a self-published comics creator. Her books are Vogelein: Clockwork Faerie and Vogelein: Old Ghosts.

Jim Ottaviani is Paul and Jane’s friend; he’s a science librarian at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (Paul and Jane live in Kalamazoo). Jim has been writing graphic nonfiction about science for years. Two-Fisted Science profiles Richard Feynman among others; Dignifying Science has short bios of women scientists. He’s done gn biographies of Oppenheimer (Fallout) and Niels Bohr (Suspended in Language), and Bonesharps, Cowboys and Thunder Lizards – about the late 19th century dinosaur fossil wars in the American West. One of his most recent books is Wire Mothers: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love. I had to watch an old NBC special about Harlow and his experiment using baby monkeys deprived of their mothers. That film, that I watched as a high school junior back in the early 1970s, made me swear to myself that I would love my children and pick them up and hold them as much as I could. Which I have done with both my sons. The book is amazingly wonderful and brought back all those old feelings from 36 years ago.

I know Paul, Jane, and Jim – we correspond via email a lot, and we meet at library conferences and comic book conventions whenever we can.

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Comment by Robin

I will have to pursue these. I know zilch about graphic novels, still. Thanks.

Comment by Bailey

Why would you commute to Ann Arbor from Kalamazoo? Why not just work at Western Michigan University?

 
 
 
Comment by Rebecca WinkleBeam

This site is dangerous for my career. I was just going on a ‘short surf’ to see if the new book was out yet. (It’s been out for a while, boy am I behind.) And I found this site, blog and book list. Thankfully my Great Dane reminded me that it was time to walk so I didn’t completely forget reality and miss getting into work on time. As it was, I almost went without a lesson plan. ;)

So many books and so little time.

At the moment the English books I read tend to be limited to nice dry titles like: ‘the Grammar Book’ (Great if you want to learn all the find nuances of the English Language or if you need to fall asleep fast) or ‘teaching techniques for the esl/efl class room’. Most of my recent readings have been German authors and I don’t believe there are English translations of them.

Almost all of my favorite books have already been mentioned, so I can’t add much. From my childhood/teen years I have to add:

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell . One of the first books I ever read. (Really. I picked out every ‘it’, ‘and’ ‘but’ and any other word I could get.)

Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden. A love story about two teenage girls, given to me by a wise teacher who knew before I did.

Recently:

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert . A non-fiction book about a writer who takes a year off to put her life back together. It’s a book that made me almost cry at times and at other times had me laughing so hard that Luscious Lips (the Dane) had to check to see what kind of fun she was missing out on.

Rebecca WinkleBeam

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Comment by Robin

I loved Annie. It created a bit of an uproar when it came out–I believe it was one of the first simply lesbian ROMANCES for YAs where while the plot is certainly about the grief the world was giving them it was still a ROMANCE it was not a hit you over the head PROBLEM NOVEL.

Comment by looby lou

Betwixt is brilliant–Esp. to a native Portlander, haha

(by Tara Bray Smith–Jake the Girl wrote about it somewhere up there :D )

-LL

 
 
 
Comment by looby lou

I have to give a nod to “Jake the Girl”‘s choice of “BETWIXT” by Tara Bray Smith. Best YA book I’ve read in EONS!

-LL

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Comment by Arleigh N.

I loved “Red Moon and Black Mountain” by Joy Chant as a teenager.

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Comment by JM

I read “A Wrinkle in Time” when I was 7 — I have no idea why except the paperback cover intrigued me at my school library. That got me set for reading as much Madeline L’Engle as I could.

I also liked Nancy Drew and read the series compulsively throughout grammar school. I loved finding older versions and smelling the pages, reading the different story lines, and comparing the illustrations.

I found Zilpha Keatly Snyder with “The Egypt Game.” She is one of my favourite authors. I loved “Black and Blue Magic,” “The Changeling,” “Witches of Worm,” “Season of Ponies,” and “The Headless Cupid.” I adored “The Velvet Room.”

I also like rereading childrens’ books like “The Witch of Blackbird Pond,” “The White Witch of Kynance,” “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” “The Girl Who Knew Tomorrow,” “Escape to Witch Mountain,” “Children of Morrow,” “Flight of the Doves,” “Caddie Woodlawn,” “The Lame Little Prince,” “The Phantom Tollbooth” (one of the best. books. ever!), “The Thirteen Clocks,” “Shadow Spinner,” “Owl in Love” (Patrice Kindl). Gail Levine’s “Ella Enchanted” is wonderful fun but I think I like “The Wish” better.

Series by Fank L. Baum (especially “The Magical Monarch of Mo”), Laura Ingalls Wilder, JRR Tolkien (our whole family reread it once a year), Chronicles of Narnia, E.S. Nesbit, George MacDonald, Mollie Hunter (“The Kelpie’s Pearls,” “A Stranger Came Ashore,” “I’ll Go My Own Way,” “Sound of Chariots”), Lloyd Alexander, just about everything by Ursula LeGuin, Garth Nix (especially his Abhorsen series). The Lewis Barneveldt & RoseRita Pottinger books by John Bellairs.

I don’t want to forget Peter S. Beagle (I really like “The Last Unicorn” and “Tamsin”) and Dorothy L. Sayers (I have a soft spot for “Gaudy Night” and I love the way she paints an rich picture with just a few words). Jane Austen; what delicious humour. Stephen King (guilty pleasure — scare me; “Rose Madder” just stays with me). P.C. Hodgell’s Jame books; that girl can kick a**. Douglas Adams; ANYTHING by Douglas Adams. “Contact.”

I am the only person I know of who planned my first trip to the UK on the book “Travels Without the Tardis,” the series “The Prisoner,” and my senior year of english (Brontes & Carlyle, and James Herriot for e.c.). Well, and Susan Cooper’s “The Dark is Rising” helped too.

My grandmother got me reading Mary Stewart (I really like “Thornyhold,” her Merlin series and “Touch Not the Cat”) and the Anne of Green Gables books. I actually like “Anne of the Island” best. My grandmother is also the reason I read “The Agony & the Ecstasy” in Florence.

I liked O.S. Card’s Series about Alvin Maker, and really enjoyed his “Enchantment.” Um, I had fun with “I Capture the Castle.” Sorry! I love books.

I think one of my happiest times ever was when I discovered letterpress printing in college. Our last project was to create a 1×2-inch book. I did “Beauty & the Beast,” based on my favourite book of fairy tales. Did lino cuts for illustrations and everything. It’s my favourite fairy tale, which is how I found Robin McKinley (well, that and Dark Carnival bookstore in Berkeley, CA).

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Comment by Aerin Starwalker

Oh, you have mentioned so many of my faves! Green Gables, and Island of the Blue Dolphins, Nancy Drew, (what a heroin!) ,“Escape to Witch Mountain,” “Caddie Woodlawn,” “The Lame Little Prince,” Gail Levine’s “Ella Enchanted”, (have you read “Fairest?”) I adore that book.

Series by Fank L. Baum, Laura Ingalls Wilder, JRR Tolkien (I reread it at least once a year), Chronicles of Narnia, E.S. Nesbit, George MacDonald, (love his books!). All fantastic!

I also love Louisa May Alcott. Beautiful stories all around.

And has anyone heard of The String in the Harp by Nancy Bond? Wonderful story, it’s so detailed, and what an ending!

 
Comment by welkinawe

I don’t know where to begin with this extensive list.

I love the Little Lame Prince and have reread it many times.

My mother told me the stories of Narnia as a little girl and I remember reading them for the first time. We don’t get much snow here in Memphis and I wanted to go through my closet to a winter wonderland so badly. The Magician’s Nephew is my favorite.

I have always loved the story of Beauty and the Beast and recomend both of Robin’s versions. Beauty and Rose Daughter. The part where the beast shows her the paintings on the roof in Rose Daughter made me cry.

I love L’Engle especially A Swiftly Tilting Planet and Many Waters.

And I know exactly what you mean by the Nancy Drew and older versions. The Hardy Boys were great too.

I have read “Enchantment” by Card like five times. So believable and engrossing.

This could go on all night.

 
 
Comment by Diane in MN

I don’t think anyone has mentioned Alan Garner–The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Moon of Gomrath, The Owl Service, Elidor, and others. And on an entirely different track, there’s Angela Carter’s reworking of various fairy tales in The Bloody Chamber. I like her other books, too, but that one best.

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Comment by Angelia

Wow! What a list.

I’ll add Jonathan Carroll–especially his The Land of Laughs (though all of his books are good)–magical realism and such a unique writing style.

Someone mentioned Robin Paige–one of the husband/wife pair who makes up Paige, Susan Wittig Albert, does a mystery series about a character named China Bayles. I’m not crazy about the mysteries, but the character runs an herb shop, and the books are chock-full of herb info and lore plus recipes.

Someone mentioned Meredith Ann Pierce– The Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood is a Persephone retelling.

Betty MacDonald (The Egg and I) also wrote a sequel to it called Onions in the Stew.

Shirley Jackson’s family books, Life among the Savages and Raising Demons, always make me laugh out loud–to the point I nearly sprain myself!

Oldies I re-read nearly every year(my comfort books–the equivalent of others’ ice cream or mashed potatoes or chicken soup or chocolate)–LOTR, Atlas Shrugged, Middlemarch (I always want to sit down and plan communities on paper after reading this!), Jane Eyre, Beauty, Rose Daughter. . .

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (and Through the Looking-glass)–I wrote my masters thesis on Alice and I am forever finding new things and interests in the books.

My favorite McKinley book is Deerskin, though I love Beauty and Rose Daughter very much.

I teach children’s lit, so I get the opportunity to read lots of kid’s books–*serious tone* It IS my job after all. *grin* Favorites–The Watson’s Go to Birmingham, 1963; Becoming Naomi Leon; Wind in the Willows; Pooh; The Hobbit; Mary Poppins; Sarah Plain and Tall; The Secret Garden; The His Dark Materials series; yikes, I must stop!

Book people’s recommendations for others can get out of hand in a hurry.

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Comment by Anonymous

This list is like finding a treasure trove. It’s comforting to know that other people read what I read. I just moved to New York and had to leave most of my books in boxes for the moment, but i took the essentials with me:

Georgette Heyer – any really, but Cotillion, The Grand Sophy and Arabella are my personal favorites, which I read and reread.

Tanya Huff – The Fire’s Stone. A stand alone novel, but she also has a series, the name of which I cannot recall, but it’s about bards and all the titles have ‘quarter’ in them and again, I’ve read and reread them.

Eva Rice – The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets. A lovely, gentle, British novel, which I borrowed and read, and then bought and read and then reread, and am now in the process of rerereading.

Pamela Dean – Tam Lin

Also, I was skimming through the list and I saw all the Diana Wynne Jones references. She is absolutely fantastic. I wish I had an imagination anywhere near that rich and varied. My favorites are Fire and Hemlock and Howl’s Moving Castle.

I suppose I should stop there. I just got really excited reading everyone else’s lists.

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Comment by Angelia

Sorry–I cannot believe that an apostrophe crept into Watsons in my previous post. *blushing* I’m forever telling my students that it doesn’t belong there.

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Comment by Jeanine

Just a few suggestions for books other people might like to read, or if not to read, to remember…

I highly recommend anything by James Schmitz (The Witches of Karres, the Telzey Amberdon series, the Trigger Argee series, etc) These are all entertaining science fiction novels or short story collections with a sense of humor. He seems to be one of the rare men who could write entire novels centered around strong female protagonists before the last few years (he wrote in the 50′s to 70′s) and could do so naturally with, seemingly, little or no condescension about the “weaker sex” which was unusual for his time. Unlike Heinlein- a great writer but really really sexist in my opinion. (For example, he thinks all women should love being pregnant just because they’re women).

Dorothy Dunnet has been mentioned before but mostly for her historicals I think. I really like her modern spy mystery novels with Johnson Johnson (Dolly and the Singing Bird, Dolly and the Cookie Bird, Dolly and the Bird of Paradise, etc. although I know they have different titles in the UK). Great female characters galore. Great sense of humor.

I must absolutely endorse everything by Eliizabeth Peters (also known as Barbara Michaels). She writes both historical suspense and modern day suspense and some supernatural chillers. If you love gothic romances she did some fun ones under the Michaels name. All her books are good suspense though and there’s usually a good romance involved to boot. She doesn’t take her self seriously so her writing is more enjoyable. She has a series involving a great female protagonist, Vicky Bliss, and there’s a new one coming out this fall. Run, don’t walk, to the bookstore to pick up a copy.

I like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden wizard (the Dresden Files) series. Male hero certainly, but lots of great female characters also.

Laura Anne Gilman (the Retrievers fantasy novels)

C.J. Cherryh (The Merovingian Nights science fiction series)

Haven’t seen much, if any, mention of Marion Zimmer Bradley. The Darkover novels are, of course, science fiction/fantasy classics although the medieval patriarchial society on Darkover can get very frustrating for me at times. (It’s bad enough in real life- why continue it in your novels????)

And, on the topic of childhood flashbacks, I used to read the Nesbitt novels as a kid (Five Children and It, etc). Still remember those fondly.

Anyone remember or mention Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglass Wiggin? Not the best literature ever but certainly a childhood classic.

Charlaine Harris (writes both mystery (Aurora Teagarden series) and fantasy – the Southern Vampire series, etc). She’s got that southern lady sensibility but still interesting.

Someone already mentioned Jennifer Crusie and I’d like to second that mention. She does romances (Bet Me, Strange Bedfellows, Manhunting, Getting Bradley, etc) that leave me absolutely hysterical with laughter and yet are really sweet (in a good way).

Isabelle Holland (modern gothic romantic suspenses llike Moncrieff, Grenelle, The deMaury Papers. She also does childrens’ books like The Man With No Face but I like her adult novels better)

Susanna Kearsley (modern romantic suspenses with supernatural or fantastic elements – The Shadowy Horses, Season of Storms, Mariana, etc)

Nina Kiriki Hoffman who writes fabulous fantasy novels and short stories like The Silent Strength of Stones, The Thread That Binds the Bones, Past the Size of Dreaming, etc. – I HIGHLY recommend all her stuff. I think if you like McKillip and McKinley, you’ll like her.

Roger Zelazny’s the Amber series, and heck, everything he wrote. He died far too young.

Ann Maxwell (also known as Elizabeth Lowell and A.E. Maxwell) long ago wrote a fantasy/sf series about a Firedancer (there are three books). They are really interesting. Wish she’d kept the series going.

Jayne Castle (also known as Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick) wrote a SF series or two about a futuristic world known as Harmony (After Dark, etc.). I don’t care for the straight up romance she writes under her other name but this sf/fantasy stuff is fun. There’s a new Harmony novel due out shortly.

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Comment by Robin

Good, someone has finally mentioned Nini Kiriki Hoffman. And *I* remember Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm! :)

Comment by Wenna

I only have one novel by Nina K. Hoffman (Fistful of Sky, I think?) – but it was excellent. I found it (to my sorrows) at our local grocery store and haven’t seen her anywhere else.

I guess I will have to look harder. Good to know it wasn’t a one off.

 
 
Comment by Aerin Starwalker

I love Rebbecca of Sunnybrook farm!

 
 
Comment by Anonymous

What about Mary Gentle’s fabulous White Crow, Ash and Ilario (Ilario is not strictly speaking female, but then not strictly speaking male either. Makes reading it a challenge as one keeps wanting to slip into male/female stereotypes and being pulled up by the author. Be interested to hear from anyone who felt Ilario was more one gender than the other…Hmmm.)

Yay to Dorothy Dunnett – love a BIG read.

Also anything by Terry Pratchett but you can’t go past 1) Monstrous Regiment 2) Small Gods 3) Feat of Clay and the more recent Going Postal and Making Money for the chainsmoking Ms Dearheart and Gladys the Golem.

Hi Jane in Sydney. Linda

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Comment by Mary Beth

Those are some of my favorite Terry Pratchett’s as well. I am so sad that we may be losing an absolutely wonderful “world” with Terry’s Alzheimers diagnosis. I feel like a selfish brat, but “oooh, the loss!”

Comment by Robin

I don’t see it as selfish. You also feel horrible for *him.* Awful. Unspeakable.

 
 
Comment by AJLR

Yes, I love Terry Pratchett’s list too, particularly Mort, The Fifth Elephant, Night Watch, and….and…

I like the three ‘Science of the Discworld’ books, too.

Yet another reason to give as much as possible to research into Alzheimer’s.

 
 
Comment by Angelia

Yes to Terry Prachett. My favorites are the Tiffany Aching books: The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and the newest, Wintersmith.

I also suddenly remembered 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff–a must for book-lovers and those interested in the aftermath of WW2 in Britain.

Another painfully funny book (thinking of the Shirley Jackson books I mentioned earlier) is by Patrick Dennis( of Auntie Mame fame) entitled This Joyous Season–just thinking about this book makes my stomach muscles hurt! :)

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Comment by Thinks Too Much

Oh yes! 84 Charing Cross Road! I also liked Duchess of Bloomsbury and Q’s Legacy, also by Hanff. She writes like she would be a delightful friend.

I also want to put in a plug for Rowing to Latitude by Jill Fredston. It’s an account of her treks with her husband along northern coastlines like Alaska and Greenland. Great tale, but underneath is a wonderful paeon to the way two smart people can process information very differently, and how to embrace it.

And Edward Abbey for people who enjoy cranky non-fiction about wild spaces.

 
 
Comment by Incognita

New Amterdam by Elizabeth Bear is a great alternate-history/mystery book with the wonderful charactor of Crown Investagator and forensic sorceress Abigail Irene Garrett (there is also an intersting wampyre Sebastien de Ulloa).
Undertow (also by Elizabeth Bear) is also a very good read.

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Comment by Kate

So many excellent recommendations! I’d like to add a few of my favorites that I don’t think have shown up yet.

The Far Pavilions, by M.M. Kaye’s is one of my top ten favorites of all time. Set in India (where Kaye grew up), this book has it all: history, romance, war and adventure. Kaye also wrote a series of mystery novels set around the world (post WW2 in former British colonies) which are very enjoyable.

The Last of the Wine, by Mary Renault, is an amazing story of a boy coming of age in ancient Greece. Renault is incredible in the way she manages to leave modern perspective behind and really take the reader into the mind-set of the era. The Mask of Apollo and The Persian Boy are also fantastic.

I loved John Marsden’s Tomorrow series, about a group of Australian kids who are away on a camping trip when the country is invaded. For reasons I don’t understand, Marsden’s books aren’t always available in the US. I had to order half the series over the internet from Australia, but it was worth it!

For a great fantasy novels, I am currently awaiting the third book of Sherwood Smith’s Inda series. Crown Duel and Court Duel (YA) are also good reads.

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Comment by Mary Beth

This is the BEST list of book recommendations I have EVER come across! It is great that we all have such similar tastes…and that I am finding new authors to try.

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Comment by Robin

Yes, I’m having much the same reaction. And the pile(s) on/beside my bed are getting EVEN MORE ALARMING.

 
 
Comment by elanova

I finally remembered the name of a particularly hilarious literary family that I met a couple of decades ago. Bagthorpe! Helen Cresswell’s Bagthorpe Saga (starting with Ordinary Jack) is one of the funniest things I have ever read. Try it – I think you’ll like it.

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Comment by Robin

I *adore* the Bagthorpes.

Comment by Julia

ME TOO!

But I think we had this conversation already….. back on OLD blog… hmmm-

[I am so pathetic. I just went back through all the entries I had bookmarked, and wasted a good hour looking. But I was right! And I found it! http://robinmckinley.livejournal.com/41679.html ]

Bagthorpian awesomderfulness.

:)

–Julia

 
 
 
Comment by Angelia

I put Ordinary Jack on reserve… there isn’t much that I like better than funny family chronicles.

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Comment by Elizabeth B

I can’t believe I forgot this one, but I hadn’t read it in ages. The Printer’s Devil, by Chico Kidd. It even features change-ringers! And Fabian Stedman! Also Chico Kidd rides horses! Do I have enough exclamation points yet?!

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Comment by Mary Beth

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! to those of you that recommended Lois Masters Bujold! I have been ripping through the Vorkosigan series and have just started on the Sharing Knife series. This is absolutely WONDERFUL stuff!

I haven’t been to impressed with the Liaden universe though (also recommended by someone). Maybe I just don’t get it??? Or, I’m skipping around too much? (My local library seems to own every other copy in the series.)

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Comment by Julia

Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris is a delightful collection of short essays in praise of books, and one that I have read and reread many a time.

I just finished a new novel by Jiane Johnson called The Tenth Gift, which is very good indeed.

Also, Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale is marvelous.

Markus Zusak– I Am The Messenger is definitely worth reading, and The Book Thief is marvelous… for someone who said that she was getting sick of WWII novels, this book was everything the other ones aren’t, and well- told tale at that.

Scott Westerfeld, Jane Yolen, Diane Duane, Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones….Lloyd Alexander, Patricia C. Wrede.
Who else?

Snowfall, by K.M. Peyton, is a book that I have reread many times.

Fun mystery novels- To Spite Her Face, Beauty Sleep, and Please Omit Funeral by Hildegarde Dolson.

Also the Mrs. Polifax series by Dorothy Gilman is absolutely wonderful.

Oh! Nonfiction-
ANYTHING by Bill Bryson. Travel, science, language- almost anything, and all amusing and informative. witty.

Simon Winchester! Books about the OED!!! — Professor and the Madman. Also, The Meaning of Everything.
Fabulous books.

I think that is all for tonight. I am tired.
And I keep having to stop myself from typing Robin McKinley… my fingers did so automatically at least twice just now. As dioes my brain, when ever I begin to list authors. But that is a good thing, I suppose, considering whose blog this is!
:)

–Julia

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Comment by Robin

Thank you! :)

 
Comment by Wenna

The Flambards series, including Flambards, The Edge of the Clouds, Flambards in Summer and Flambards Divided by K.M. Peyton are another good set.

Edwardian girl comes of age stuff – LOTS of horses in the first, third and last. Planes reign in the Edge of the Clouds. There is mention of fox hunting though – which might bother some. It is historically accurate, though.

 
 
Comment by RachelDryden

What a great list!

A couple that haven’t been mentioned yet (amazingly enough):

Zenna Henderson. She wasn’t terribly prolific, but her books touch my soul. There are two novels (well short stories connected by a frame story) and two story collections, many of which feature The People, a race that looks human but can fly and communicate mind to mind and other magical stuff, that crash landed on Earth in the 1800s. Many of them were persecuted as witches, and the stories follow various of them from the crash date to the 1950s. Beautiful stuff. Her books were out of print for years but they’ve recently released Ingathering: the Complete Stories of the People, which pulls them all together.

Ray Bradbury. If he’s been mentioned I missed it, but talk about your beautiful prose! And he has great plots too! Science fiction, but glorious, reveling science fiction. Some of the concepts he comes up with, like the story Frost and Fire, inspire me when I write. And I just love his descriptions for setting mood.

Speaking of mood, he’s been mentioned at least once but I have to give a shout out to Mervyn Peake for the Ghormenghast books (did he write anything else? If so I missed it). A contemporary of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, his fantasy universe is wholly unlike theirs. His characters are deeply flawed in every possible way; physical, mental, emotional. Yet they manage to be endearing, and he’s another one that can really DO descriptions. I often hate wadges of description in books and will skim, but not his!

Another one I didn’t see on the lists is Dorothy Cannell. She writes modern cozy mysteries, but hilarious ones! Start with The Thin Woman. It’s about a woman of a certain age who’s gotten quite plump over the years; years where she has managed to avoid her extended relatives seeing her. Now a family reunion forces her to emerge, and to bolster her courage she rents a date to pretend she can get a man. It’s very very funny, and the sequels keep it right on coming.

And I can’t believe no one has mentioned James Harriot? The ultimate animal-lovers writer. I almost became a veterinarian after reading his books, and still consider it from time to time. Lovely heart warming stories about being a vet in England for much of the 20th century. You’ll laugh so hard you cry in many spots, and he never hesitates to expose his own weaknesses on the page, but he’s very endearing all the same. Start with All Creatures Great and Small.

I’m deliberately NOT listing my dittos, much as I might want to. But many authors I already love have been listed at least once, which is wonderful. I’ll try to keep thinking of soul-forming ones for me that haven’t been listed yet.

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Comment by Creek

Oh my! This list has me looking up and ordering books every time I go to work! (I work in a bookstore)

I just wanted to mention a few (sorry for the repeats!):

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Shakespeare – pure magic through and through.

“Hamlet” by Shakespeare – I have been obsessed with since high school, most specifically with Ophelia’s storyline. I wrote my Shakespeare final in college on Ophelia. I have always wished that there was more of her in the story so how excited was I when I found “Ophelia” by Lisa Klein. Klein’s Ophelia doesn’t let the danger and intrigues of King Hamlet’s court push her around, she takes her destiny into her own hands. I absolutely loved it!

“Briar Rose” by Jane Yolen – a splendid retelling of Sleeping Beauty. When I discovered this book in high school I became so engrossed in it that I was reading it instead of paying attention to my government teacher. It was only when he threatened to take the precious book away that I put it down.

“Lost” by Gregory Maguire – I don’t remember the last time a book gave me chills the way this one did.

Books that I reread every year: “Peter Pan”, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass”, “The Blue Sword”, “The Hero and the Crown”, “Persuasion”, “Mansfield Park”, “Beauty”, “Spindle’s End”, and “Sunshine”. (the last three I reread MULTIPLE times in a year)

“Sunshine” is currently my staff rec at work.

Oh, and thank you to those who have mentioned “The Blue Castle”! I absolutely loved it.

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Comment by Robin

This list has me looking up and ordering books every time I go to work! (I work in a bookstore)

*********** Oh dear! I’m so sorry! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha! :)

 
 
Comment by Sarah O/scosborne

I didn’t see it listed on LibraryThing yet although it may have been suggested here, but The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (the only book I really like of his) was a great adventure, and I particularly liked the full-rigged ship diagram at the back of the book (my one caveat: I’ve come to question the ship’s cook character. Does he or doesn’t he fit into the “magical negro” trope that Spike Lee talks about?). TCoCD and Treasure Island probably laid the groundwork for my love of sailing. Oooh, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

In the same vein, I didn’t notice any C.S. Forster on the list. I’ve never read the Aubrey/Maturin books, but I particularly like the first 6 (?) Horatio Hornblower books – e.g. the first two omnibuses currently in print. I gave up on the third omnibus when Hornblower becomes a cheater, didn’t find it consistent with his character and I apparently don’t have book-sympathy for cheaters (or Amy from Little Women, can’t stand that girl). However, a caveat about Hornblower is that part of the fun is in figuring out what the heck is happening on the ship, and if you don’t care for sailing, there goes half the enjoyment. In that case, the miniseries with Ioan Gruffudd is more than sufficient.

Finally, The Nymph and the Lamp by Thomas H. Raddall. It’s considered a Canadian classic, although it’s not so popular as it once was, even on uni reading lists. It’s about a radio station in 1921, when ships still relied on isolated stations to pass the news on down the line – and most of the talk happened at night. The station is on Sable Island (called Marina in the book), a long sandy island off the coast of Nova Scotia inhabited by wild horses who arrived by shipwreck. Okay, so the book isn’t about the horses (but I have a blog post about the island here if you don’t mind my self-promotion), but the island is awesome and Raddall (given what I know of his bio) is surprisingly even-handed with the heroine.

This is a bit long, but I feel the need to tell people why. That’s just the historian in me. :)

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Comment by Robin

I also like taking lots of notes. :) Sometimes I illustrate them too.

I personally think the more the merrier about both recs and the whys behind recs, so long as it doesn’t drive our book OH! Maren round the twist.

And there are quite a few islands that were colonised by shipwrecked horses. Chincoteague and Assateague (sp?) come to mind.

And I assume you’ve read AFRICAN QUEEN? :)

Comment by Sarah O/scosborne

I haven’t read African Queen, perhaps I should – although, Humphrey Bogart as a Canadian sounds even MORE entertaining, so maybe I should just watch the movie? I want to find out if he bleeds maple syrup or says “eh” a lot…

I googled the Assateague horses and see they were initially put there to avoid taxes – didn’t the Americans have some sort of Revolution b/c of that too? – and I find it strange that some are still sold off every year. They used to do the same with Sable Island horses, but that was in the 1930s-1950s. Sable Island horses have been unmanaged since 1961.

Okay, and I have to ‘fess up, I reread the write-up by the Green Horse Society, and the Sable Island horses have a similar rather mundane history of arriving on the island as the Assateague horses – although, I feel obliged to add that being so much farther north, S.I. horses are clearly much hardier, and therefore, to my Canadian eyes, also cooler. :)

Comment by Robin

I really liked both the book AFRICAN QUEEN and the film, but they are pretty well two totally different stories and I feel should be approached and enjoyed as such. Any similarity purely coincidental.

 
 
 
 
Comment by Jennie

I’m sure Nick Bantock must have been mentioned, although he’s not in the librarything library. His books are a wonderous combination of art, artifact, and prose and are really a whole-body experience. Many of the books have faux letters to unfold and read from envelopes or postcards to slip out of pockets and look at. This combination of fiction and the thrill of reading someone else’s love letters is incredible.
Start with the Griffin and Sabine trilogy, I think.

Also wonderful, is 84 Charing Cross Road–by Helene Hanff. If you liked “Ex-Libris”, you will probably love this collection of letters written from Helene to a used (but fine!) bookseller in England. It’s a charming little book, and one I return to often. Plus, it contains tons of titles of interesting sounding books and will have you wandering the stacks of the library in no time…

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Comment by Julia

Ex Libris the Anne Fadiman book or Ex Libris the Ross King ( I think… just know it from shelving books around it) book?

Either way… 84 Charing Cross has been on my to-read list for a while now, and I think I may have to move it up to number one. I will get it when I go in to work tomorrow.
So –

Thank You!

:)

–Julia

Comment by Julia

THANK YOU for recommending 84, Charing Cross Road!!!
You were right.
I loved it.
I meant to thank you earlier, but life has a way of getting in the way of things. So this is a slightly belated but definitely heartfelt ‘thanks!’

–Julia

 
 
 
Comment by Katja

I’m in the middle of reading The Kin by Peter Dickinson. This is truly excellent stuff, anybody interested in reading a good story should read it.
I especially like the bits of mythology between each of the chapters and the way Peter Dickinson manages to keep the writing evocative of how these first humans might have talked, without dumbing down the reading.

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Comment by Robin

Go for it. These books never did as well as they should have and Peter is rather wistful about it.

Comment by Katja

I continued loving the book(s) and I’ll go get the German translations next and start handing them to the nephews and nieces.They can’t read English, but since there already exist translations …. I might even get my husband to read them.

 
 
 
Comment by MelissaJane

The Hounds of the Morrigan, by Pat O’Shea. I just discovered this, though it’s more than 20 years old. She seems to have only written this one amazing long novel and then some shorter, far less spectacular children’s books afterwards. She weaves Celtic gods and two wonderful children – especially Briget, the world’s spunkiest five-year-old – into an Irish tale that reads like a brilliant retelling of an ancient story, though it isn’t. It’s YA, and a little too Pollyannaish in some ways (could do with a bit more tension and danger), but it’s very funny and has an incredible feel not just for Celtic myth – which everybody does to death – but for the Celtic triads and storytelling style.

Forgive me if this has been mentioned already – I read about halfway through this page and got so excited about sharing this lovely book that I couldn’t wait to see if someone beat me to it.

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Comment by Robin

We’re all in favour of repeat recs. When you’re reading for ideas, the more people and the more articulate the recs, the better. I really liked HOUNDS too.

 
Comment by Julia

Loved that book!
Hmmm…. may have to grab it when at work tomorrow [as well as the 84 Charing Cross book].
Time to reread!

… now I know why I have 83 books checked out on my account . Oh well, it is good for the circ stats!

–Julia

 
 
Comment by MelissaJane

Oh, so many fabulous recommendations here. I can’t believe my luck in stumbling across the page! Yay!

Someone mentioned Cornelia Funke, but it ought to be reinforced. Inkheart and Inkspell are a long love song to Books – can’t wait for the final in the trilogy.

Connie Willis wrote a hilarious time-travel novel, To Say Nothing of the Dog, that pays homage to Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat. It’s screwball comedy vibrating between two Oxfords, Edwardian and five-minutes-in-the-future. I then read The Doomsday Book, which makes use of the same Oxford in which time travel is being perfected, and it is breathtaking – a heart-breaking picture of the Black Plague.

I recently read Lord Dunsany’s King of Elfland’s daughter, because some book or other that I loved (but now can’t identify) mentioned it as seminal, which it clearly is. Beautiful, elegant, Classic Fantasy prose. Yum.

One of my personal Most Important Writers is Dorothy Sayers. I love that she created a brilliant comic set-piece character, and then couldn’t stand not to let him grow into a human being. Her fans pilloried her for it, but the four novels in which Lord Peter meets Harriet, courts her, wins her, and finally marries her are some of my greatest comfort reads. I think I have Gaudy Night memorized.

Oh, and that reminds me of EC Bentley’s two great mystery novels of the same period, Trent’s Last Case and Trent’s Own Case. They play with the conventions of the genre in a way unexpected for their time and still wonderful to read.

I see that Sharon Shinn has been mentioned. She’s another favorite in what I think of as aspiring to the McKillip/McKinley pantheon. I keep rereading Summers at Castle Auburn, a beautiful little fantasy-romance.

And since I mentioned McKinley, I have to say that while I deeply love Blue Sword, Hero & the Crown, and Sunshine, which have been mentioned several times here, I was blown away by Outlaws of Sherwood, which I think is less well known. Such a smart, thoughtful usage of that material. Also I read Door in the Hedge years and years ago, probably when it was published, and it completely turned my world upside down. It was my first experience with a writer taking the old fairy tale material and making it come alive in a new, complex way. I read my copy into tatters. I picked up…hmm…probably Blue Sword years later, and fell in love with this writer and started reading everything I could find, and even so it was some time before I came across (a reissue, perhaps?) Door in the Hedge again and with one of those thunderclaps when worlds collide, put my old love and the new writer I’d discovered together. Door in the Hedge still makes the world look magical to me.

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Comment by Aerin Starwalker

I loved Outlaws of Sherwood, Mariam is so awesome in it! And I still need to read Door in the Hedge…..I’m rather annoyed because I’m looking for a book that I swore was called by the same name, but now I don’t think it is…it’s about a young girl, poor and miserable, who works in a sewing factory, she go through a door in a wall or hedge or something, and stows away on a barge. She learns barge work, and how to paint, and ends up much happier. It’s a great story, and I can’t find it.

Anyone?

 
 
Comment by Alison

Most of the books I love have already been listed, but ehre are a few that I think haven’t yet

Mary Doria Russell – The Sparrow, Children of God, aThread of Grace, and a new one I can’t remember the name of, really excellent in my opinion

Hugh Lofting – The Twilight of Magic (not a Dr Doolittle one)

Eleanor Frajeon – Martin Pippin in teh Daisy Field, Martin Pippin in teh Apple Orchard

Elizabeth Pewsey – a children’s series and an adult one, for fun.

Victoria Clayton – a good writer of romance and social comedy, well observed, sort of like I Capture teh Castle, but set int eh 70′s.

Will Shetterley, to go with the Emma Bull books.

what a wonderful list this is!

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Comment by Robin

what a wonderful list this is!

Yes it is, thanks to all you people. :) I like Eleanor Farjeon’s Little Glass Slipper probably best.

 
 
Comment by Alison

Forgot to say Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series

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Comment by lindsay

Someone mentioned Alison Croggon’s Pelinor books earlier, but I’m surprised that they haven’t gotten more attention here. The first has, I will admit, owes a little too much to Tolkien (nearly all fantasy does, but the parallels are glaring here), but the writing is lovely and the second book is wonderful. These books also offer a different look into emotional intimacy than we usually see in YA — it’s not all about romance here, but also about intense friendship.
Hilari Bell’s “Fall of a Kingdom” (and the books that follow) is a nice quick read — non-stop plot movement, and the characters are refreshingly unlikable, if that makes sense. Not life-altering reading, certainly, but a nice way to pass the time.
I also have to mention Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses books — I stumbled across them last week and I’m already out of material. They’re funny and exciting and the second book made me cry quite a bit. I’m a softie, though, that shouldn’t deter anyone looking for a nice diversion from heavier fantasy.
Anyone have any brand-new finds? I know that quite a few favorite authors (McKinley among them, of course) have new titles coming out in the next couple months, but what about new faces?

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Comment by Mary Beth

Thanks for mentioning Sharon Shinn. I just read Archangel and loved it! I am going to be a happy reader as I devour the rest of her books.

 
 
Comment by AJLR

Just found the books of Pat McIntosh, a small (so far) series of mediaeval crime stories, set in Glasgow in the late 1400s. Very good strong characters and what seems to be a well-researched setting. I’m just halfway through the second one at the moment and enjoying it a lot. I’m not a fan of the many quasi-Cadfaels that came out following the success of that series but I’m finding the McIntosh books are different and interesting so far.

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Comment by Jennie

To continue with the Connie Willis recommendations:

She is also an amazingly accomplished short story writer–one of her best collections is “Impossible Things”, but I would have to say my absolute favorite book of hers is Bellwether. It’s a meditation on fads, and human nature, and fairy tales–and absolutely hilarious at the same time.

You know, I just mailed my library across the Atlantic (I’m moving to England), and my husband was hoping I would stop at the books I already own, but I now have a list of a few more…

And as another book for people who love to read about someone writing about books (what a category that would be at barnes and nobles), I just read Nick Hornby’s “Complete Polysyllabic Spree”–a collection of essays he wrote when all he had to do was write about which books he had read that month that he enjoyed. Fantastic. And yet more books were added to the list.

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Comment by Anonymous

I don’t think that anyone has mentioned them yet, so I’m going to recommend the Stravaganza books by Mary Hoffman. They’re fantastic stories that set teenagers from our world into a 16th century otherworld Italy (Talia). City of Masks is the first, I believe, then City of Stars and City of Flowers. And now, looking on Amazon, it seems like there’s a new one! I’m excited to go find it!

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Comment by Kathryn

WHAT a wonderful book list! I can’t wait to get started on the two pages worth of recommendations I’ve noted down so far (and I was SKIMMING!)

A couple of people have already mentioned K.M. Peyton and I have to say that I love her Pennington books best,-
‘Pennington’s Seventeenth Summer’,
‘The Beathoven Medal’, and
‘Pennington’s Heir’.
I read the Beathoven medal first, a really brilliant book about Ruth, who at 17 falls in love with the dangerous looking boy who drives the bread delivery van, and finds that going out with him makes her life much more complicated than she expected.
The characters are so real, and, like K.M. Peyton’s other books these have realistically happy endings, not perfect ones.

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Comment by Robin

It bothers me that her women tend to end up subservient to their men–they know it, they don’t like it, but they are Slaves to Their Hormones. And Pennington turning on Ruth and accusing her of making him weak. Ouch! I see that this is one way to look at it–and I’m a huge Peyton fan–but it still bothers me.

 
 
Comment by Megan

A book I have read and recommended many many times is Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn. This book not only captures the untapped power of a child’s innocence, but is fascinating in its simplicity. Its so short, but so very expansive. I think its a great read for any fantasy reader, even though it isn’t in the genre.

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Comment by Julia

Probably mentioned SOMEWHERE on this wonderful list, but if so, it is worth re-mentioning… Daphne DuMaurier– The House on the Strand.
fabulous novel. My first DuMaurier. Won’t be my last.
Huzzah!

–Julia

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Comment by Southdowner

I have just uncovered my copy of Eva Ibbotson’s A company of swans, which I haven’t read for several years, and picking it up I am unable to put it down
again.
If you like Eva Ibbotson’s writing already, or if a corner of your soul requires occasional ladling helpings of slushy gorgeous romance, then this is a book you will love. Written with Eva Ibbotson’s usual intelligence and her awareness of how women fit (or are made to fit) into their society, it can be warm, gentle, sad and mordantly humorous (Edward dissecting a fish while he considers his wedding proposal comes to mind) in turn.
About a girl for whom ballet is an island of delight in a joyless life, and a ballet company who travel up the Amazon to perform in Manaus early in the 20th century, it is a precursor of Journey to the river Sea by almost 20 years, but by no means a lesser book; rather a completely different (but with family resemblances) animal.

Philippa Pearce – a dog so small
Haunting writing about wishes coming true and not being what you thought they would – a very evocative tale of the sense of loss that growing up entails as innocence is faced with reality, and responsibility. I read this when very young and have loved it ever since

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Comment by Robin

Yes. Both of these. Me too. :)

 
 
Comment by Southdowner

And another book I have unearthed from my childhood – Monica Edwards’ Wish for a pony (illustrated by Anne Bullen)
You know from the start that there will be a happy ending, girl will want pony, girl will get pony, pony and girl will both be smitten, but it is so gently and charmingly told, beautifully illustrated and has a period feel that I enjoy, even though a couple of minor things did slightly interrupt the flow for me. I still love this book and this author brings clearly to mind the smell and texture of horsey life, and for me are a time machine to the late sixties when I too wanted a totally pony room and a real live pony of my own above all things…

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Comment by Robin

Oh no! SUMMER OF THE GREAT SECRET is the best of that series!!!! :)

 
 
Comment by Southdowner

Rats! Can’t find SUMMER OF THE GREAT SECRET – these are books I’ve had stacked up for decades. I’ve uncovered Cargo of Horses, so that’s next and then I’ll go hunting for Summer :)

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Comment by Robin

They’re all wonderful, that whole series, with Tamzin and Rissa. I liked it the best of all her stuff–Punchbowl Farm was okay but the Romney Marshes were the BEST. I dreamed about them for years. Er. Still do, occasionally. –I should make a Life Influences list. It would be WEIRD. :)

 
Comment by welkinawe

If anyone is looking for books you MUST try half.com, by ebay. I keep a window open whenever I read this booklist and search books I have never heard of or sound interesting. It’s great. I found Summer of the Great Secret on Barnes&Nobles out of print link on their website.
I have now been told by my husband not to buy any more books until we have more room for them. I am exploring my local library now :)

 
 
Comment by Teresa

Read a recently released book called GARDEN SPELLS by Sarah Addison Adams. It’s a charming comtemporary romance full of magic and whimsey. Definitely out of the ordinary. And also reread for the umpteenth time a spendid young adult fantasy THE CHANGEOVER by Mahy.

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Comment by Robin

May is terrific. CHANGEOVER is only the beginning. :)

 
 
Comment by AJLR

Recently bumped into the books of Charles Stross, starting with ‘The Atrocity Archive’. I liked the mix of techno/reluctant spy with attitude/sheer imagination he brings to it and am now delving further into his writing.

Oh, and have also just read ‘Mistress of the Art of Death’, by Ariana Franklin. One website I’ve seen says that this is another pen name for Diana Norman, in which case yay! However, the biog on the jacket seemed to be throwing out a very red herring if that is really the case. Anyway, the book is descriptively set in Cambridge in 1170 and seems to me very well written, although the subject matter is sometimes not of the easiest (a medieval forensic pathologist – yes, I know there was no such thing then but that comes closest – helping to track down a serial murderer of children). I will certainly look out for her next one too.

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Comment by Robin

A publishing friend sent me MISTRESS. Must get to it. Don’t know Stross. Would refuse to pick it up on the title, I’m afraid, if I saw it unknown in a bookshop.

Comment by AJLR

“Don’t know Stross. Would refuse to pick it up on the title, I’m afraid, if I saw it unknown in a bookshop.”

Yes, I was a bit wary even though it had been recommended to me. But it’s not how it sounds. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Atrocity_Archives)

You may well like MISTRESS. I found the main character very engaging though I’m always a little unsure about how many of the ‘medieval woman with attitude’ there really were. Not that this one comes over as some sort of social time traveller – more resigned and hating it but coping.

Comment by Robin

Quite right about ATROCITY. Now on the list. :)

Yes, agree about medieval women. But there is some grounds for believing that medieval woman was the LAST till comparatively recently who DID have some independent self determination.

 
 
 
 
Comment by Southdowner

I LOVE The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones. It combines our young hero & heroine saving the world, humour, compassion for that age when you feel that no one listens yet have the burden of saving the world, myth, magic and above all, a need/pleasure in relating to the natural world… Syracuse is a fantastic character, as is Klartch, and I really empathised with Marianne who lacks self belief, and tries so hard to be heard. A novel which I loved so much that, from a few pages in I was already sad that it was going to end. A heart and comfort book.

Thank you everyone for recommending DWJ :)

Has anyone mentioned Miss Smilla’s feeling for snow by Peter Hoeg? A great read, which is evocative and atmospheric; I enjoyed the prose as well as the plot, which kept my interest, definitely one I’ll reread.

A recent read – The book of lost things by John Connolly. Fairy tales and folklore are blended with reality in a tale of a young boy’s loss, anger and his discovery of a new future. I enjoyed the twist given to some of the tales, and the end notes which give information on the original tales. I would have enjoyed it more had the female roles have been less two-dimensional and stereotyped – enchantress, seductress, harpy, victim to be rescued… Overall a good read and recommended.

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Comment by Robin

I have to buy DWJ’s new one so I can go ahead and *read* PINHOE. (Always have to have one left . . . :))

I liked the first half/three quarters of Miss Smilla enormously. The end kind of lost me.

Comment by Southdowner

Yes, the journey at the end did feel like a different book, but I liked the first part so much that I would go back and read it again. Curate’s egg – but mainly good.
Same thing happened with a novel I read last year about a woman in last century Canada who trekked after her vanished son, and whose (book’s) name forsakes me…

I like all the Chrestomanci – how many are there? I’ve read 6 now, and I can’t find many more :( – but Pinhoe is very definitely my favourite. How lovely to have it ahead of you – I like the idea of keeping a book back, but don’t know if I could resist. Hmm!

Comment by Robin

liked the first part so much that I would go back and read it again. Curate’s egg – but mainly good.

********* I agree. Very well worth it. And I’ve known other authors to write endings readers disapproved of. :)

Kindness of Wolves. I liked it a lot, but I liked it a lot before it became the biggest thing since sliced bread. I found this level of attention a trifle baffling. I think I liked the ending better than you did however. The anticlimax of it felt right to me.

I don’t count the Chrestomancis–or the DWJs–or the P Dickinsons–I don’t wnat to know the limit!! :)

 
 
 
 
Comment by Cheryl S

I searched my bookshelf, and actually found a few books I don’t see listed here.

“Emergence” by David R. Palmer
This is my one of my top 3 favorite kick ass heroines, (up there with Anita and Harry and Tinker) and she’s 12. If you like the sound of an 8th degree black belt genius with a sense of humor, check her out.

I second (or third?) the Wen Spencer “Tinker” and “Wolf Who Rules” recommendations. She also wrote the Ukiah Oregon books (Alien Taste etc.) which I loved.

Neil Stephenson’s “Snowcrash”. This is probably the only book he wrote that is action packed from the first to last page, and it is NOT a doorstop like Cryptonomicon. This is closer to futuristic sci-fi than fantasy, but it’s great fun.

Thank you Soooo much for all these great recommendations! There are a bunch here I have never heard of and I am psyched to dig them up.

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Comment by Ulrike

A book I discovered as an adult and absolutely adore is Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield. It’s just a lovely story.

Fantasy but aimed at a younger audience is Nurk by Ursula Vernon. Vernon has the most incredible imagination.

Of Gail Carson Levine’s books, I prefer The Two Princesses of Bamarre and her novellas (The Princess Tales volumes 1 & 2).

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Comment by Amanda

Hmm, thanks for all you guys’ recommendations; I’ll certainly grab a couple of series books on the way… lols. I’d better go check at the local library or bookstore soon. There are some books that I love as well. For YA readers, the Twilight Saga (Consisting of Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn) by Stephenie Meyer is quite good; I’ve just read it and it’s awesome. Others I might recommend, well, I’m a Jane Austen fan. I’m not sure who else, but yeah. Artemis Fowl series as well as Airman (I think the latter is a standalone book) by Eoin Colfer isn’t too bad. And Book of a thousand days by Shannon Hale is lovely. Go catch it! :)

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Comment by Susan from Athens

Inspired by a visit to the Skeletons exhibition currently on at the Wellcome Trust in London, I am now very much enjoying Catharine Arnold’s Necropolis: London and its Dead. Neither the exhibition not the book are anything like as morbid as they sound, but full of small tidbits of fascinating information, making us see the timelessness of the human condition, yet the different aspects some cultures emphasise over others. Non-fiction at its fascinating best.

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Comment by Julia

Has anyone read Elizabeth Nunez’s novel Prospero’s Daughter?
I just [as in literally JUST -- ten minutes ago] came back from hearing her read from and speak about this book, and she was fabulous and [typical Julia here] was so excited, so desperately needed to buy it that I SPRINTED across campus to my dorm room, and up two flights of stairs, but not before slipping and falling and getting mud and grass stains all over my pants and scraping my arm- just to get money that I told myself I wouldn’t spend, unless it was something really wonderful [which is why I didn't bring the money with me in the first place, so determined was I not to spend it] and then sprinted back there to buy my very own copy, which Elizabeth Nunez signed.

Of course, I still have hours and hours of work ahead of me, so I can’t stay up reading it as I would have liked, but even just from the bits I heard tonight, I would recommend this book. [More to follow, though, once I have actually read the whole thing]

–Julia

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Comment by cgbookcat1

I haven’t seen anyone specifically mention Diane Duane’s two cat wizard books: The Book of Night with Moon and To Visit the Queen (I believe the second has a different title in the UK). They are set in the same universe as her young wizard series. She is self-publishing the third book, The Big Meow.

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Comment by Sarah from Costa Rica

Soooo many good books listed here, but there are a few I haven’t seen…

“The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin is phenomenal, I’ve been reading it at least once a year for the past fifteen years. It’s a mystery, but not really in any conventional sense of the word.

And “The Historian,” which I picked up because I thought the cover looked interesting. Very good story about a girl hunting for her father who disappeared in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. Plus it has vampires, which make everything better.

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Comment by Hannah

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Great and Terrible Quest by Margaret Lovett
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien
The Once and Future King by TH White

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Comment by Creek

I highly recommend the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

The Ancient Greek gods and goddesses are alive and well and living in America! The series follows Percy Jackson as he discovers that he is a demi-god and goes to hero summer camp. He and his fellow demi-gods are sent on quests where they must battle such monsters as the Minotaur, Cyclops, Medusa and also manage to stay out of the way of the gods. What a fabulous way to get people interested in Greek mythology!
This is a highly entertaining series that I am recommending to everyone. I could hardly put the books down. You’ll find it in the Young Adult section. There are four books in the series so far: The Lightning Thief; The Sea of Monsters; The Titan’s Curse; and The Battle of the Labyrinth. The fifth and (according to bn.com) final book, The Last Olympian, is coming out in May 2009. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of this book! (though not quite as anxiously as the release of a McKinley work!)

I also enjoyed the Twilight Saga. I couldn’t put down the first three, Breaking Dawn I wanted to pitch across the room. It left me underwhelmed.

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Comment by Anonymous

Shamefully i found this site by googling my name (yes, we all do it) Wonderful, but it delayed my starting work for AGES…. darn it!!
So to add my little bit, I absolutely must recommend “Fly By Night” by Frances Hardinge. Wonderful world, Lyra-esque heroine, floating coffeefouses, deep dark intrigue and a homicidal goose — what’s not to like?
Chico Kidd

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Comment by southdowner

Imaginary Lands, a fantasy anthology edited by a certain R McKinley :)
An enjoyable collection of short stories by various authors – McKillip, Dickinson, McKinley, Joan D Vinge (sp?) – which I reread regularly. Bought for the Stone Fey, which I still adore, but it introduced me to various other authors who I now have decorating my shelves (their works, not their hides lol). Can’t give more author details as I’ve lent it to a good friend today who hasn’t read any of the contributors… (She’s getting my 3rd copy of Spindle’s end next ;))

Has anyone mentioned Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons? Flora Poste is orphaned and arrives at Cold Comfort Farm*, to stay with her rural relatives, the Starkadders, who are varying shades of peculiar. Will Flora remain sane? Who knows what will happen when the sukebind flowers in the hedges again? And what exactly DID Ada Doom see all those years ago in the wood shed which sent her raving mad? If you’ve ever waded through Hardy (some of whom I love btw) you’ll enjoy this very funny book.
* set on the south downs!

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Comment by Robin

I ADORE Cold Comfort Farm. ADORE, ADORE, ADORE. (I’m also a big fan of Hardy, but I don’t think you **have** to have read too many muddy ruralists to go for Cold Comfort. What about Mary Webb??) I’VE NEVER NOTICED IT’S THE SOUTH DOWNS. I knew the book before I moved over here, and I’ve never made the connection!!!!!! ****Blushing****

Comment by southdowner

****** I’VE NEVER NOTICED IT’S THE SOUTH DOWNS.

Pah! You Hampshire people! You just have hills*, so I’ll excuse you ;) If I ever live on a farm, I’m tempted to call it “Howling” – it resonates in so many ways lol

* the tail end of the South Downs way is the exception that proves the rule, needless to say …

Comment by Robin

Yes, I was about to protest that WE are part of the South Downs. Hmmph. :)

Howling is good. Snork!

 
 
 
Comment by AJLR

In Cold Comfort Farm I particularly like the matter of fact way with which Flora gradually sorts out her peculiar relatives. I can’t help fearing I would have been a bit more of a wuss than she was with the interpersonal relationships (even if I eventually reached similar points of resolution…).

Comment by Robin

It’s just totally wonderful. Full stop. Oh, I wonder if it’s time for a reread. . . . I think I have a beat up paperback copy suitable for carrying around in a knapsack too.

 
 
 
Comment by AJLR

Re the ‘Artemis Fowl’ books by Eoin Colfer (I particularly like the first two or three of these), I see that he has just been commissioned by Douglas Adams’ widow to write an instalment in the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ series – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7619828.stm . That should prove an interesting read.

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Comment by Constance

In addition to many favorites already listed, I recommend:

Time at the Top, Edward Ormondroyd
Edward Eager’s books – not sure if my favorite is Seven Day Magic or The Time Garden but all his books are delightful
Has no one mentioned E. Nesbit? Some better than others. My favorites are House of Arden and Harding’s Luck.
Shadow Castle, Marian Cockrell – Robin, surely you have read this? And it is back in print.
Masha, Mara Kay. This is a little known novel about a Russian orphan sent to a boarding school for daughters of the nobility. Forever. As in she never goes home again!
The Lark in the Morn and The Lark on the Wing, Elfrida Vipont. These are fabulous but long OP.
And Both Were Young. My favorite L’Engle.
Autumn Term, Antonia Forest. My favorite boarding school story.

I am about to read the Black Stallion to my 6 year old nephew, which I know he will enjoy. He is loving all the Oz books but I want to take a temporary break and try something different.

One adult recommendation:
Angels and Men, Catherine Fox. First in a trilogy set in Durham about a group of graduate students struggling with various types of angst.

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Comment by Robin

No, but I love Edward Eager and E Nesbit . . . and I didn’t know Angels and Men was the first of a TRILOGY. The first one made me hoot with laughter . . . you know the scene I mean . . . :)

 
Comment by Susan from Athens

“Masha, Mara Kay. This is a little known novel about a Russian orphan sent to a boarding school for daughters of the nobility.”

I loved that book. I used to re-read it once a year from the library throughout my youth. Also gave me an inkling into Russian history of that time.

“Autumn Term, Antonia Forest. My favorite boarding school story.”

I liked several of the Mallory stories by Antonia Forrest. Autumn Term and Cricket Term were so good because the characters had real flaws and were difficult and the school was not all perfect and fair, but neither was it all misery and bullying either. By far my favourite boarding school stories and I gobbled my way through all the Enid Blyton and the Chalet School books in my day.

 
 
Comment by Wahlee

I just read two new books that I haven’t seen mentioned here anywhere but are absolutely delightful: The Penderwicks and The Penderwicks of Gardam Street, by Jeanne Birdsall. Middle reader books about a family of four sisters, their Latin-quoting widowed father, and their dog, Hound. They reminded me of those good old-fashioned English children’s stories like Frances Hodgson Burnett and Edith Nesbit– or like Louisa May Alcott. But not as preachy. You can read both of them in a couple of hours. Definitely worth it.

I’ve been re-reading Bujold, too. A Civil Campaign is one of my comfort reads. Except when I’m feeling lost and confused, and then I read Memory instead.

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Comment by handyhunter

A Civil Campaign and Memory are my favourite Miles books. I have a soft spot for Cordelia’s Honor too.

 
 
Comment by FD

Sarah Zettel hasn’t been recommended yet has she? The Isavalta books in particular.
If you like Catherine Fox, Robin, you will likely also like Hazel Hucker. The rest of the trilogy will make you laugh too, I promise, although I still like Angels best.

I have a vivid fantasy trilogy in mind – with Atlantis, the Morrighan, modern day England, Beowulf, mazes, devil’s bargains, paintings, and lord knows what else – but darned if I can remember the author off the top of my head. Will come back.

Stella Riley anyone? If you like Georgette Heyer I can guarantee that you will like “The Marigold Chain”. The scene with Danny make me cry every time and I can’t recall how many times I’ve re-read it over the years.
Sadly out of print – she also wrote as Anna Marsh and Juliet Blythe, and all her books… sparkle.

Paula Marshall also writes good “comfort” historical romances, if that’s your cup of tea.

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Comment by MelissaJane

That Atlantis-etc trilogy is by Jan Siegel – Prospero’s Children, The Dragon Charmer, and The Witch Queen. The first two are spectacular. The third one spoiled the entire trilogy for me, no mean feat. Its ending still makes me angry; it doesn’t work logically or emotionally and it negated the character development of its (previously) interesting heroine.

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Comment by Robin

Oh dear. I *hate* when that happens. I really liked Prospero’s Children . . . and in my slow and absent minded way hadn’t noticed the other two were out.

 
 
Comment by Sarah

i have to separate my favorite works of fiction into specific categories, because my literary pursuits are wildly out of control.

a certain slant of light
- laura whitcomb

one of the most brilliant love stories ever penned. i do adore my romances infused with the supernatural. and of course, my knees go weak at the ever-so-casual nod to emily dickinson.

lonely werewolf girl
- martin millar

horrifyingly hilarious. a laudanum-addicted werewolf, moping about london, has a series of awful accidents that are laced with humor, but always cringe worthy. far too believable for being about werewolves.

just in case
- meg rosoff

terrifying. a coming-of-age story where it becomes increasingly problematic to determine what is real and what is imagined. you find yourself willingly following david/justin’s venture into insanity.

the rose and the beast
- francesca lia block

the best collection of rewritten fairy-tales (cinderella, snow white, thumbelina, bluebeard, little red riding hood, sleeping beauty, the snow queen, and beauty and the beast) i’ve yet to come across. alternatively to mrs. mckinley’s approach (which lures the reader into a past, which through some erroneous error, didn’t make it into our history text-books), flb pulls the reader very solidly into the here-and-now. her stories are laced with a magic that seems oddly familiar.

looking for alaska
- john green

this book defined my high-school years. incredibly intelligent and witty in the face of death. one of those intruding books that actually worms its way into your heart despite your best efforts to keep the pain at arms length.

gods behaving badly
- marie phillips

i am addicted to greek mythology. this book did not help my obsession. funny and bizarre, it reads like a surprisingly well-written sitcom. a few chapters in, when eros is explaining to venus why jesus really is a better role model than any of the classic olympians in their family, i was hooked.

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Comment by Robin

I instantly have to read all of these: I only know two, and have had two more recommended before . . . but PLEASE. I am NOT MRS MCKINLEY. I’m Robin McKinley. Or Ms McKinley if you must. The only MRS I am is Mrs Dickinson, and only my dentist calls me that. . . .

 
 
Comment by southdowner

Skellig by David Almond – a short poetic book which asks more questions than it answers. What or who is Skellig, and what impact will he have on Michael’s life? Mystical and down to earth, this is a book which I remember long after reading it. A joy.

Animals and other people by Louis Bromfield. How could I resist a book about an author who lives on a farm and allows his eight or ten boxers to sleep in his bedroom? Louis Bromfield writes expertly and well, drawing you into his rural life, and treating the country and animals as characters in their own right. A pleasure to visit and relax with for anyone who loves animals and country life (this is America in the 50s).

Wise Children by Angela Carter. I love Angela Carter’s books, and have picked this as it is one I am rereading at the moment. It is funny and thought provoking, sad at times, and rich in references, ideas and creativity. A comedy of errors about a family with a multitude of twins and theatrical talent… Hugely enjoyable.

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Comment by handyhunter

May I recommend a TV series? You know how there are books that make you stay up all night to finish it even though you know better? Slings & Arrows is the TV equivalent. (It helps that it’s a completed series.)

It’s actually more of a mini-series (in three parts) than a regular TV show. It ran from 2003 to 2006: three seasons of six episodes each. It’s Canadian, with Canadian actors and writers and accents, and Canada as Canada, not masquerading as a different location. Slings & Arrows is set in fictional New Burbage, in which there is a struggling Shakespeare theatre and festival.

But it’s not necessary to be familiar with or even like Shakespeare to watch S&A. It’s not about Shakespeare’s plays so much as it’s about the characters putting on the plays. The writing is wonderful — smart, witty, and presents the characters as real people, albeit sometimes on the extreme side. And it’s overall a love letter to the madness and frustrations and joys of working in a theatre.

And Paul Gross as Geoffrey Tennant is. . .quite remarkable. *hearts him and his shirttails and overcoat and voice and DUELING* He’s very quickly landed on my favourite characters list.

I don’t think I’ve fallen for a TV show quite like this before. It’s awesome.

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Comment by Hallie

Yay more books to read! (Although… this is going to put a SERIOUS dent in my next pay check. It’s all for a good cause, though, right? Of course right.)

So I love most of the ones mentioned already, especially Dianna Wynne Jones, although I was surprised no one mentioned her Dalemark books (that I saw, it is a long list so far). “Spellcoats” is still my favorite of hers.

Garth Nix – “Sabriel”, “Lirael” and “Abhorsen” are wonderful and dark. They’re about a family of necromancers who put the dead back to sleep. Or his “Keys to the Kingdom” (“Mr. Monday” “Grim Tuesday” “Drowned Wednesday”…) are very interesting as well, about an asthmatic boy who is about to die, and then is given a very odd key.

Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle Trilogy is flat out amazing. As said before, Victorian girls at a finishing school discover the magical “realms” and become embroiled in the war going on there while trying to lead normal lives as good little Victorian women. “The Sweet Far Thing” had me in tears for about an hour after I finished it.

Deanna Raybourne – Lady Julia Gray mysteries, starting with Silent in the Grave. Again, Victorian Era, a well-to-do lady realizes her husband was murdered a year after his death. Pretty fun, suspenseful and interesting.

Anything by Jane Austen, especially “Persuasion” and “Pride and Prejudice”. (If you like JA books, some enjoyable spin offs are the Diaries by Amanda Grange. All JA’s books from the men’s point of view, which is new. Or Elizabeth Newark’s “The Darcy’s Give a Ball” about a ball where the kids from all the books’ main characters meet and flirt. It’s a silly and fun way to spend the afternoon.)

Kristen Britain – Green Rider series. Enjoyable and suspenseful from page 3 when an unknown Rider is shot in the back and asks a school drop-out to carry a life or death message for King and Country.

Patricia C. Wrede – all of those mentioned, plus her “Lyra” books. My favorites were “Caught in Crystal” and “Shadow Magic”.

Margret Wies and Tracy Hickman – The Death Gate Cycle. A race escapes from the prison their enemies threw them into thousands of years ago bent on revenge. Only now that they’re out, the enemy is nowhere to be found.

Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy – “The Forever King” and ”Broken Sword” are King Arthur retellings. Gripping and fast paced. The last book in the trilogy (“Third Magic”) was not co-written, and nowhere near as good. “World Without End” is also very good, a tale of Atlantis where the rulers are actually the Greek Gods.

Elaine Marie Alphin – “Ghost Cadet” deserves a mention, if only because it’s the only book I own other than the Blue Sword which I read to the point it fell apart. It’s for children, but I love it anyway. An unpopular boy is sent to spend his spring break with his grandmother in Virginia. While trolling around the battlefield in town, he meets and befriends the ghost of a VMI cadet who died there.

Tamora Pierce – Any of her books. “The Lioness Rampant” is with out question her best, but the “Trickster” books are a close second. Give the “Circle” books a chance and you’ll fall in love with them as well. “Will of the Empress” is amazing.

Again, thanks for all the great recommendations; I’m really looking forward to trying some of them (“Hound” is at the top of my list now). I hope you find my list helpful.

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Comment by Lynn in Vancouver BC

I was so happy to find Pollyanna’s Book List that I may have been too hasty with my first post (I received a message telling me I was trying to post too quickly). This leads me to believe that the first one never went through. If it did, please excuse this second post, which has some duplicate information.

I ended up with five pages of books to find after reading the list. I’ve already been to the library and snagged my first Georgette Heyer, The Devel’s Cub, which I enjoyed. I would never have thought to try these books without Pollyanna’s List.

I got my copy of Chalice on the 20th of September and stayed up all night reading it; there’s much I love in this story. I look forward to rereading it. Wish I could be in London for the reading!

I haven’t seen John Crowley’s Little Big on the list. It’s the story of Smokey Barnable and Daily Alice and the magic world that intersects our own. This is one of my favourites to reread and rediscover every few years. The story starts as Smokey makes his way out of the great City, on foot, to a town called Edgewood, to get married to Daily Alice. Walking is one of the special conditions placed on his coming to Edgewood. The book is full of enchanting places, great section titles and characters.

Here is another Martin Millar title, recommended by Neil Gaiman, which made me laugh outloud. The Good Fairies of New York is a fine outlandish tale about the collision of two Scottish Thistle Fairies who are punk fiddling maniacs and about as far from flower fairies as two young female fairies can get, and a disgusting young man who is the worst violinist in New York.

If you loved Pam Houston’s Sight Hound then you might enjoy Lost & Found by Jacqueline Sheehan. A large wounded black lab named Lloyd helps a young woman recover from the loss of her husband as she find herself on a tiny island off the coast of Maine.

And one more book for dog lovers, The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. Enzo’s human is Danny, a race car driver. Enzo tells us Danny’s story, and his own, as he reflects on his life as a dog on the eve of his death. Enzo’s huge heart and courage bring tenderness and sweetness to the story of a life lived honour and wisdom.

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Comment by southdowner

Yes! John Crowley’s Little Big is wonderful isn’t it? I bought it years ago, liking the cover and read it straight through. The images have lingered in my mind ever since. A truly magical book.

I’ve enjoyed several recommendations by Neil Gaiman and The Good Fairies of New York sounds great. Plus more dog related books. My list of “wish” books is getting longer, not shorter thanks to Pollyanna :)

Have you read Abigail Thomas’ autobiographical “A Three Dog Life”? Beautiful, moving and one of the best books I’ve read concerning the place dogs can have in our lives.

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Comment by Robin

Yes. What particularly impressed me was the almost throwaway quality of her *not* blaming the dog for her husband’s accident. Not everyone would have been that fair and clear.

Comment by southdowner

****** her *not* blaming the dog for her husband’s accident.

Her honesty, and the clarity of her emotion-centred writing make this book immensely moving without being irritating or depressing. I found it uplifting much of the time; she dealt with very difficult subject matter beautifully. Losing a relationship with the person still present is immensely disturbing for those involved…

Comment by Robin

Yes. It’s why Alzheimer’s is worse than death.

 
 
 
 
Comment by Hilary in Seattle

I don’t know if anyone has mentioned Elantris by Brandon Sanderson yet. It is another one of those books where you have to ignore your presuppositions if they are based on the cover. The characters are wonderful, the cultures of the different countries are well thought out, and the plot sucks you in so effectively you will ignore the rest of your life till you are finished (but be glad you did).He has written other books which I am told are also wonderful but I have not read them.

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Comment by Kilaani

I’ve come across a wonderful author recently that I don’t think has been mentioned. His name is Gilbert Morris and the series is the Squire’s Tales; basically, a retelling of the Arthurian legends. :) The Squire’s Tale is the first one and there are at least 8 – I keep gobbling them up as fast as I can get them!

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Comment by Julia

You mean GERALD Morris? Yes, I agree- there a great many of his retellings which are just wonderful! Actually, I think several have been mentioned somewhere here. But this list is so long [and marvelous] that I don’t suppose repeats would be unwelcome, but rather serve to reinforce that something is particularly good!

:)

–Julia

Comment by Robin

I think that’s how Maren’s setting it up on librarything–repeats go in too so you can see something is popular.

 
 
 
Comment by Sarah

Oh wow, this list is utterly amazing. I’ve got Pollyanna up on one tab in Firefox and Amazon up in the other and am constantly looking up books and adding them to my pad of paper sitting next to me.
And I’m only halfway through the list! Thanks so much for sharing everyone.

As I said I haven’t finished reading the list, so apologies if I’m repeating any.

I haven’t seen Sherwood Smith get a mention yet and thought I’d throw her name out as I think she is massively under-read and under-appreciated. The Crown/Court Duel duology (republished recently as one novel) is one of my comfort reads. It’s aimed for YA but I’m 25 and every time I read it I see something new – the subtle politics of her world-building are brilliant and it’s always so nice to see characters recognize their own faults and grow through the story. I automatically buy anything of hers that I come across.

I’m not sure is this counts as ‘Pollyanna’, in fact I’m sure it doesn’t, but I’ll say it anyway. The series that I have read and re-read and bought new copies of to replace the ones that I’d worn to nothing and then read and re-read and re-read and have just bought e-book versions because I won’t be able to read them to death, is Modesty Blaise by Peter O’Donnell. They were written in the 60′s, aren’t graphic in the slightest (yet contain the most visual, well choreographed fight scenes I’ve *ever* read) and talk about a woman who *$%&)@^ DOES SOMETHING. She’s smart and tough and loyal and completely feminine and they were written by a MAN in the 60′s!? It boggles the mind.

Last but by no means least, the other author whose books I will always automatically buy is Connie Willis. The woman’s imagination seems endless. A cup of tea, a banket and ‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’ will cure me of any illness or heartache. Her dialogue is so sharp and witty, her characters perfectly well drawn (and sooo English! =) and I have never read a book or short-story by her that I thought mediocre.

Right! That’s my two cents. Now that my writing hand has uncramped I’m going to go back to reading this list =)

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Comment by Tea

I’ve spent way too long reading this so many old favorites listed. Streatfeild! Arthur Ransome! Alan Garner! (Owl Service is the perfect YA fantasy.)

I’ll try hard not to just repeat lists.

Someone mentioned Beth Hilgartner’s Murder for Her Majesty, but I think her forte is fantasy. I loved Colors in The Dreamweavers Loom and Feast of the Trickster. I particularly enjoyed the sequel where the characters from the fantasy world end up in our world. Cat lovers *have* to read Cats in Cyberspace, wildly silly but perfectly done, even the dogs and I am really more of a dog person. And I love the world of A Business of Ferrets and A Parliament of Owls.

Someone mentioned briefly the Liaden Universe – I’m surprised more people don’t know about Sharon Lee and Steve Millers very enjoyable sci fi books, full of high adventure and romance.

Somewhat similar, where sci fi meets fantasy are the Mageworld books by Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald. My kids complain that the geography of the universe makes no sense, but they I notice they reread them anyway.

My favorite Barbara Hambly books are the three in The Darwath Trilogy (the others in the same world are less interesting) and the two Silicone Mage books.

Nancy Bond’s book Another Shore, is an extraordinary time travel book about a young woman who is spending the summer in a reconstructed 18th c. village and finds herself back in the original village not the restoration. I’ve always liked her understated A String in the Harp as well.

Books I reread: Bujold’s Vorkosigan books (like others here Memory and A Civil Campaign are my favorites.) The Blue Sword – had to mention it! – it’s the landscape of my childhood in Somalia. KM Peyton’s Pennington books. (Pennington does grow up.) Dorothy Sayers. Georgette Heyer.

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Comment by Robin

I’m glad to see Nancy Bond mentioned. A hugely undervalued writer.

 
 
Comment by LRK

Some of the books I’ve read lately:

Eva Ibbotson: “The Star of Kazan”

Georgette Heyer: “Arabella” (Re-read)

Patricia Bray: “Dragon Bones”

Maria Gripe: “Josephine” – This I read in the original Swedish, but I understand it has been translated into English – as have its sequels “Hugo and Josephine” and “Hugo”. These are lovely children’s books. She wrote with a magical tone, whether the books were realistic like these or more fairy tale-like, as in “The Glassblower’s Children”. Well worth reading – if found!

John Masefield: “The Box of Delights” – Sequel to “The Midnight Folk”

Rhoda Broughton: “Rhoda Broughton’s Ghost Stories and Other Tales of Mystery and Suspense” (Re-read) – My favourite story was ‘Mrs Smith of Longmains’, the heroine not only takes the risk of facing a killer, but also of looking really, really – silly… In fact the lady she’s trying to help thinks she’s insane:
“I think that she would not have been at all surprised if I had at any moment risen, and playfully buried the carving-knife in her breast.”

Anthony Trollope: “Castle Richmond” – (My odd reading-rules mean that I had a “new” Trollope to read – yay! – which of course is one of the reasons for having them in the first place.)

Terry Pratchett: “Moving Pictures” – Dreams of Holy Wood…

Ngaio Marsh: “A Man Lay Dead” – Her first novel, and introduces Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn (Oh, a bonus for me was that the person who I hoped would be murdered was the one killed off; I didn’t like him at all – an absolute cad, in my opinion.)

Kate Douglas Wiggin: “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” (Re-read)

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Comment by Anonymous

this is a trilogy called the bitterbynde trilogy by cecelia dart-thornton. the first book is the ill made mute. this trilogy contains such vivid imagery and cliff-hanger endings. you won’t want to put it down once you begin. this is a fantasy series in which celtic lore and fairy tales are explored. although you won’t realize the fairy tale until the second book.

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Comment by Lucy Coats

This is Part 1. Otherwise the poor Mod will get mental indigestion….

Ok, going to jump right in here and put up my all favourites, trusting that you guys won’t go ‘Booooring–been there, read that etc’ and that you will skip the ones you already know. There will be some duplicates, I know, but maybe a surprise or two:

The usual fantasy suspects and more:
Tamora Pierce–Alanna and all Tortall books (as if you didn’t know about them!)
Robin Hobb–Assassin/Liveship Traders/Fool/Shaman series’
Melanie Rawn–Dragon Princee etc
Guy Gavriel Kay–Fionavar Tapestry series. Actually I’m amazed at how many people haven’t come across this. Hugely brilliant, I think, though I don’t like much else he’s written since.
Katherine Kerr–Deverry series
Jennifer Fallon–Wolfblade, Demon Child and the new Tide Lords series. The latter has to be ordered from Australia, which is a pain in the butt as well as costly. But worth it.
Trudi Canavan–Magicians’ Guild
Kate Elliott–Crown of Stars series and new Crossroads, which is even more promising.
Diana Wynne Jones–any and all but specially the new Pinhoe Egg.
Ursula le Guin–I worship at the shrine of Earthsea, and her new series is excellent too (The Gift etc)
Terry Pratchett–didn’t get it at first, but then I met Terry and told him I was puzzled by this as I am a huge fanfan. He suggested ‘Carpe Jugulum’ and I was hooked forthwith I treasure my signed copy with ‘Go for the throat, why don’t you, Lucy?’ written in it.
David (and Mrs) Eddings: Belgariad and Malloreon only–the rest is just recycled plot.
JKR–Potter. It does what it says on the tin–and it gets kids reading.
TH White–The Once and Future King. I do love that Wart.
Lucy Coats–Hootcat Hill. Yep. I know. I wrote it, I’m proud of it, and to all those of you who like strong teenage heroines, I’m recommending it. Feel free to ignore if you feel this is out of order!
Robert Jordan–Wheel of Time. Unfinished, but hoping his poor wife will be able to decipher the notes he left before he died.
I’m not even going to mention Tolkien….

That’s it for now. And about time I shut up, I hear you say. It’s just that there are so MANY–and I could go on ALL NIGHT. This may be why I have 10,000 books plus strewn all over my house!

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Comment by LRK

Brandon Sanderson is completing “A Memory of Light” (the last Wheel of Time-novel), and according to his website he’s 65% through the first draft…

 
Comment by Brynne

“Ursula le Guin–I worship at the shrine of Earthsea, and her new series is excellent too (The Gift etc)”

I believe you mean “Gifts”. Yes, I love that series and it’s a great example of completely different stories set in the same world with intersecting characters…I really do love that.

 
 
Comment by Aerin Starwalker

So many suggestions I’ll have to check on! I’ve left some random comments interspersed here, so I’ll simply add some of my other loves that I didn’t see.

Some of them are technically for younger children, but who cares?
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter and Wladyslaw T. Benda
Anything by Francis Hodges Burnett, (The Secret Garden anyone? C’mon!)
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Misty books and all others by Marguerite Henry.
Dancing shoes, Traveling shoes, and etc by Noel Streatfeild
The Search for Delicious and Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit.
Hawksong and others by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
The Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard

Oh, and anything by Lois Lowry. Her books are works of art, and they promote serious thoughts.

And then of course I adore Robin, Tolkien, JKR, Lewis, McDonald, Jane Auston, AA. Milne (have you seen his story about a Princess?), and Alcott.

What fun!

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Comment by Eriu

Has anyone mentioned Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Avalon? Talk about women doing something…

This is a fantastic list – reminds me of books I’ve loved and provides wonderful new titles!

Some of my recent reads have been the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris (for fun), Pride and Prejudice for the first time in years (this time it made me laugh) and Sunshine by dear Ms. Mckinley. When I finished Sunshine I ran to the computer to see if there was a sequel and nearly had a melt down when I couldn’t find one! Please please I need more!!! :)

Someone wrote earlier that their husband has banned them from buying more books – mine has made similar threats. Too bad for him I work in a book store and operate on a ‘one for you, one for me’ policy when it comes to shelving…

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Comment by Eriu

Good grief I made it sound as though I were stealing – I assure you I am quite broke as a result of book buying!

Can we recommend mysteries? I love the series by Peter Robinson and Ian Rankin.

And has anyone read Gregory Maguire? Wicked is well known but his children’s books are fun too – What the Dickens was great.

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Comment by Maureen E

A few childhood favorites I don’t think have been mentioned–and if they have, they deserve another recommendation!

Roller Skates and The Year of Jubilo by Ruth Sawyer. These are companion books, although they are very different in tone and style, mostly because there’s a good seven years difference in internal chronology. Also, The Year of Jubilo is MAINE, which is always a recommendation for me.

Downright Dencey by Caroline Dale Snedeker. I haven’t read this in some time, but I really enjoyed it when I did. It’s the story of a young Quaker girl on Nantucket.

The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. Just pure joy, in my opinion. I grew up reading the first four and eventually made the leap to the later books. I never enjoyed Betsy was a Junior or Heaven to Betsy as much as the others, but Betsy and the Great World is lovely, as are Betsy and Joe and Betsy’s Wedding.

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Comment by Joyce

What a great, great, list! Along with Ms. McKinley’s books (which once I can stop rereading continuously I put on a shelf and only let myself reread when I’m sick), with Halloween coming up I can’t help thinking of Sarah Monette’s The Bone Key- precise Lovecraftian stories, with heartrending pathos and every word perfect.

(I will never forget the expression on my husband’s face as he tried to get me to turn the light off and stop reading one of the Mirador books and then to get his head around my explanation of,”It’s like the Earthsea trilogy…if Ged was gay, and kind of bitchy.”)

Margaret Mahy’s “The Changeover” – a compelling version of magic, and an inexperienced young heroine with hidden ferocity.

And from my childhood, “Jane-Emily” by Patricia Clapp, a chilling, wistful ghost story where the ghost never actually materializes but still haunts me after 30 years.

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Comment by diane

I love this list and am amazed at how many of us have found and loved the same books. I’d like to add Barbara Hambly’s “Stranger at the Wedding” about a young woman who defies her family to follow magic. I like her early books, like this one and Windrose Chronicles, not so much her later ones.
and Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake-I am snake phobic and I loved this book. talk about girls who do things instead of waiting around for things to happen!
Has anyone mentioned Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood and Lavondyss?fantasy set in the English woods.
Ursula Leguin-everything
R.A. McAvoy-has she been mentioned?
and of course Thank you Robin for writing.

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Comment by Shannon

First of all, I’d like to say that my favorite book ever is Sunshine! I have re-read it so many times that I often find myself quoting it in everyday conversation.

I’d also like to whine a little bit about how long and delicious this list is. As soon as I finish reading every Robin McKinley book I can get my hands on, I have about fifty other books I have to devour. But that’s later. Right now my eyes aren’t up to even finishing my Italian homework. Speaking of homework, I have a feeling my grade in oceanography is going to suffer because of all the books I have to read. (I hate science. With a passion.)

Anyway. This is my contribution to the list (sorry for any repetitions):
Non-fantasy (sorry there isn’t more of it):
MAID MARIAN by Elsa Watson
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO by Alexandre Dumas
THE BLACK TULIP by Alexandre Dumas
PIRATES! by Celia Rees

Fantasy:
THE SOUTHERN VAMPIRE SERIES by Charlaine Harris
ALPHABET OF THORN by Patricia McKillip
ELVENBANE and ELVENBLOOD

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Comment by Shannon

Wait! I wasn’t done! I hate typing!

GREEN RIDER and it’s sequels by Kristen Britain
DHAMPIR and it’s sequels by the Hendees
THE MAGICIAN’S GUILD and it’s sequels by Trudi Canavan
RHAPSODY and it’s sequels by Elizabeth Haydon
THE BLACK JEWELS trilogy and SEBASTIAN by Anne Bishop (if you have a strong stomach and are over 18)

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Comment by Shannon

I forgot to mention that I think the Green Rider books are the best ones on my list and the Anne Bishop are the worst. Also, The Black Tulip is not a typical Dumas book, as it’s set in Holland and it’s hero and plot are not what Monte Cristo and the Musketeers had prepared me for. I didn’t add the Musketeers to the list because I haven’t read them in so long. What else am I missing? Oh, Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey wrote the Halfblood Chronicle (which are unfinished). Elvenbane and Elvenblood are, I think, better than Elvenborn. Anyway, I hope someone enjoys at least some of these books.

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Comment by LRK

Our world – elsewhere

“The Soprano Sorceress” by L E Modesitt
“Beyond the Pale” by Mark Anthony
“A Sorcerer’s Treason” by Sarah Zettel

“Phantastes” by George MacDonald

“Alice in Wonderland” & “Through the Looking-Glass” by Lewis Carroll
“At the Back of the North Wind” by George MacDonald
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L Frank Baum
“The Magic City” by Edith Nesbit
“The Chronicles of Narnia” by C S Lewis
“A Tale of Time City” by Diana Wynne Jones

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Comment by Katherine

I have a few fairly obscure but totally worth the trouble YA books to recommend.

A favorite book from my childhood just popped into my head and I’m going to have to read it again (luckily, I own TWO copies). I highly recommend “Behind the Attic Wall” by Sylvia Cassedy. It’s poignant and a little eerie and so odd, but very good. I haven’t seen it on here before with a quick scan through, but maybe it will become a favorite.

I mentioned “Shadow Castle” by Marion Cockrell over on the forum, but it’s worth mentioning again. All-time favorite book. (And if you go and read the Amazon reviews for this, you’ll see I’m not alone. Five-star reviews pretty much across the board). It’s one of those that, if you’ve been fortunate enough to find it and love it, you and I are completely kindred spirits.

Finally, “The World Around the Corner” by Maurice Gee is wonderful. I remembered it from my childhood almost like a dream–couldn’t remember the title or the author, just that there was this girl who found a pair of glasses that let her see a different world. When I finally found out two years ago that it really did exist, I was SO happy. I was even happier when my sister tracked it down and got it for me for Christmas. :)

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Comment by Katherine

Oh! I almost forgot– “Magic Elizabeth” by Norma Kassirer and Joe Krush (illustrator). Great illustrations and a magic doll that leads to time travel…sort of.

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Comment by Ella H.--Michiganian

Anybody read “Dear American Airlines” by Jonathan Miles? Call me crazy but i find the character’s dry humor, well…humorous. (ha!)
The Stephenie Meyer books are doing great here in the states (movie coming out in november) i’ve read them all…they’re pretty good, but i find the main character, a bit needy and annoying. They’re still a good read.
Umm…. oh! (brain cell just fizzled out), has anybody read the Libba Bray books…?

I may not be a teen anymore, but for some comfort on sick days (or maybe some snowy winter day with a mug of hot cocoa) i TOTALLY reccomend all books by Gail Carson Levine, and it’s not just because of one of her books has my namesake (Ella Enchanted) but because it’s stinkin AWESOME.
**the movie does not bring the book justice, and please make an effort to read the book if you’ve seen the movie already!

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Comment by Ella H.--Michiganian

AHHHHHHHHHH! Totally forgot to mention one of my alltime favorite authors (and obviously you, Mrs. Mckinley….errr robin? huh. )

EVA IBBOTSON !!

-The Countess below stairs
-The Morning Gift
-A song for summer
-A Company of Swans
………………………………there are more but these are my fave 4.

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Comment by tea

My sister-in-law just made me read a terrific book – A Part of the Furniture by Mary Wesley. It’s a sweet story of a May-December romance set in World War 2 Britain. Quirky characters, even the annoying ones end up being somehow lovable.

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Comment by Laurel in NYC

Try the audiotape/CD version of “A Part of the Furniture”, read by Samuel West! He read the novel with warmth and charm, and his delivery of Robert and Priscilla’s dialogue was dazzling, reminded me of Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde.

 
 
Comment by Laurel in NYC

…And while I’m thinking of WWII stories, with bright young women, humor and gentle romance, let me recommend “Not a Swan” by Michelle Magorian.

It was published in the UK as “A Little Love Song”–but for the American market, Magorian streamlined the dialogue, added a much-needed character, and created a better–or at least, a different–book.

Whether in the UK or US version, the heroine, Rose, is a compulsive truth-teller of the Jane Eyre variety. The author must have had a lot of fun, looking at the idiosyncrasies of British culture through her eyes.

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Comment by Helen

I am new to this page and love it, and I feel compelled to contribute. So here’s my list. It’s probably at least a little repetitive, but it’s my list and I feel bad leaving things out. For brevity’s sake this will be mostly authors, because otherwise I will never finish.

Charles de Lint. He’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Urban fantasy, utterly believable characters, and seamless integration of folklore.

Diana Wynne Jones in general, and “Deep Secret” in particular, because it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Tamora Pierce in general and the “Trickster” books in particular. Her writing just keeps getting better and more complex. I love it.

Susan Cooper’s “The Dark is Rising” sequence, which I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned here, and that surprises me.

Sherwood Smith, who is hugely under appreciated. “Crown Duel”. She’s also published a large number of books in the last three years that I only found this summer because they were NOT well-advertised, and they, particularly the “Inda” books, are quite good and very entertaining.

Emma Bull. “War for the Oaks” is amazing. Go find it.

Lloyd Alexander, of course. I keep going back to the Prydain chronicles year after year. There’s just so much truth in there, on top of the wonderful stories.

Carol Kendall’s ” The Gammage Cup”. It’s not particularly well known but it gets reprinted periodically because it won a newberry honor almost 50 years ago. I love this one, and I’ve wondered many times if Rowling doesn’t also, because of a certain word I’ve seen in only two places (and now you’re all going to go find it. hah.)

Hope Mirrlees’ novel “Lud-in-the-Mist”. This was published in 1926, and it’s not very widely known, but somebody else out there knows it’s good because I started seeing it on shelves recently (I read my dad’s copy from a mid-70′s reprint). It’s possibly the most singular book I have ever read, and it’s a great deal of fun.

Suzette Haden Elgin- The Ozark Fantasy series (“Twelve Fair Kingdoms” is the first and best). The author is a linguist, and the system of magic has it’s roots in forms of grammar. They’re distinctly odd, but I love them.

Pollyanna reminds me of something I haven’t read in a long time, but really loved. “Caddie Woodlawn”, by Carol Ryrie Brink. It’s historical semi-fiction about a big family in Minnesota just before the civil war, and I loved it.

Also, I am absurdly fond of the short story collections “Firebird” and “Firebirds Rising.” Everything in them is really amazing writing. And they’re also good for finding new authors. Speaking of which . . .

Nina Kiriki Hoffman is the only author who still has the power to keep me up until two in the morning on a school night. Even when I’m rereading.(If it’s say, a Robin McKinley novel, I can usually talk myself into saving some of it for later and getting sleep now, but somehow that doesn’t work with Hoffman). She’s good.

Sylvia Louise Engdahl had the power to keep me up until two in the morning when I was in the fifth grade. “Enchantress From the Stars” and “The Far Side of Evil” are my favorites. I think it was the second one that made me forget about the whole bedtime concept, but that was largely because it was, you know, second. I should read these again.

Gail Carson Levine. Specifically “Ella Enchanted,” but she’s good in general.

Bruce Coville. Very funny sci-fi and fantasy. Probably the most kid-oriented on this list, and that’s saying something, but good anyway.

Also Roald Dahl. Specifically “The BFG”

LOTR.

Harry Potter (not that they’re any better than any of the above, but it was nice to be able to talk about books with OTHER PEOPLE MY AGE for once).

And of course, the one and only Robin McKinley. I love everything she’s published (I can say this now because I finally went back to Deerskin this summer — I was 13 when I first tried it and emphatically TOO YOUNG), and I reread them constantly.

This is what happens when I write lists of books. They get very long very quickly. And I probably still forgot something. But that’s enough for now.

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Comment by cgbookcat1

Have you read Emma Bull’s Territory? It’s also excellent.

 
Comment by Michaele Shapiro (artemis527)

I think if Susan Cooper (I love her _Seaward_, by the way – has *ANYONE* else read that? I feel sometimes I am the only one!) was not mentioned, it has to be because so many of us can’t imagine she hasn’t yet been written up here! She’s wonderful! Perhaps since the movie has come out a new generation will discover her ‘Dark is Rising’ series. I can still remember the first time I curled up with it, in the eighth grade, in an early-dark afternoon in the Pacific Northwest…

 
 
Comment by Anonymous

This is a great resource for our Mother/Daughter Book Club since we are constantly looking for books that appeal to a wide variety of readers that feature strong female characters. Thank you!

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Comment by Beauty/Anna

Have any of you heard about, or read, A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson?

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Comment by Mary Beth

Yes. I recommend Eva Ibbotson.

 
 
Comment by Mary Beth

I just read “Assassin’s Apprentice” by Robin Hobb. It was spectacularily good!

If I got the recommendation from someone upthread, Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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Comment by Beauty/Anna

I have just finished Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey. I Loved it!!!! It is a VERY different version of Cinderella. And its part of the Once upon a Time series. I think that book will be ingrained in my memory for ever.

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Comment by Michaele Shapiro (artemis527)

I have to shout to the world how in love I am with Geraldine McCaughrean’s _The White Darkness_.. I just finished it and thank goodness she’s written another 130+ books for those of us fallen under her spell. Perhaps this has been mentioned already – I’ve been working too many hours to have kept up lately with the booklist-
but the writing in this book has given me renewed interest to look at modern-day bookshelves again (usually I spend my time re-reading books I know are worth my time, since I’ve been so disappointed in the last decade or so with newer reads by newer authors trying to impress the ipod generation).

It’s not just Obama that’s bringing us all hope, in other words.. I’m pleased to say it still exists in the new generations who BUY these books and are sophisticated audiences for our courageous writers..

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