Fantasy and Sci-Fi Books I Love

Recently, someone close to me asked me to recommend them some good sci-fi/fantasy books, preferably ones that were skewed towards adventure. This is definitely one of those requests that falls under the category of “be careful what you wish for,” dear pond readers. When I looked over the list, I realized that given the amount of work I’d poured into it that I might as well turn it into a blog post. This is not a comprehensive list by any means. Some series I love like Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Lord of the Rings, were left off because the person I was recommending books to had already read them. I didn’t put them back on because I think that they are probably the only three series a lot of people have read and I want to bring some other titles forward. The list is skewed toward adventure and a “If you like Tolkien, you might like:” approach, and it leaves out some of my favorites as a result. But, I hope that it gives you some fun reading ideas as you approach the winter and hopefully some well-earned days off. If nothing else, my one to three sentence reviews/summaries might be amusing in their understatement.

A cuppa floral fun by E.A. Schneider

A cuppa floral fun by E.A. Schneider

  • Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
    • This is written in the style of Regency literature and it is about wizards contributing to the Napoleonic wars. It is a slow starter but absolutely fantastic, extremely well-written
  • The Ladies of Grace-Adieu by Susanna Clarke
    • A charming short-story collection set in the same world as Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell. If you like the one, you will probably like the other and it is very short.
  • Changing Planes by Ursula K. LeGuin
    • A splendid collection of short stories with an anthropologic/ethnographer bent kind of sci-fi. This is one of my very favorite books.
  • The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin
    • I love these books. A very cool fantasy adventure with a hero’s journey and wizards.
  • The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
    • This series just gets better and better with every book. Think urban fantasy meets film noir and magic just happens with compelling characters.
  • The Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher
    • I have devoured the first five books this winter. It is a high fantasy series with enough sophistication and political maneuvering combined with great combat to make this an addictive page-turner. When I found the final book,  book six, in the library today I let out an involuntary shriek of joy.
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
    • An epic space opera with great adventure, spice, and sandworms.
  • The Charwoman’s Shadow by Lord Dunsany
    • This is a short book with a poignant fantasy arc and a fascinating female lead.
  • The Well at the World’s End by William Morris
    • An epic tale of romantic fantasy, Morris inspired Tolkien a lot and I found this story to be incredibly beautiful. Also, the character named Ursula is amazing.
  • Brave Story  by Miyuki Miyabe
    • I love this story. It is an incredible adventure, a real page-turner. It was very comforting/inspiring when I really needed it.
  • The Never-ending Story by Michael Ende
    • The book is so splendid, way better than the movie. This is a favorite and I think it really touches a nerve for anyone who just genuinely loves Story.
  • Od Magic by Patricia Mckillop
    • This is my favorite of her books, a really fun fantasy about an incredible school for magic.
  • The Once and Future King by T.H. White
    • A wonderful interpretation of the Arthurian legend with some real poignant moments as wells as action.
  • The Worm Ouroboros by Eric Rücker Eddison
    • Eddison was a contemporary of Tolkien and this book is splendid though the ending was a tad irritating but in a mostly good way.
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
    • This is a great novel/short story collection that is filled with wonder.
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
    • A sweet, beautiful story of growing up that is absolutely charming and enchanting.
  • Nova by Samuel R. Delaney
    • A rip-roaring space adventure that is just lots of fun.
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
    • A space adventure with a nifty emphasis on tactics with great characters.
  • The Thursday Next Series by Jasper Fforde
    • I LOVE this series. It is an alternate timeline with librarians of action, a book world, dodos, neanderthals, and one of the most captivating heroines I have ever read. Also, it is an action packed page turner for the bibliophile who has a Monty Python-loving sensibility.
  • The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde
    • The start of his nursery crime series, this book is a fun combo of fantasy, comedy, and mystery. Even though nursery rhymes feature heavily, it is not a kids bookTurkey vultures in the blue by E.A. SchneiderTurkey vultures in the blue by E.A. Schneider
  •  The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
    • This is the start of his series for young people, the Chronicles of Kazam. It is a world not unlike our own with magic as part of everyday life and the protagonist is an orphan named Jennifer Strange. I have read all three books and they are fabulous.
  •  Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines
    • This is set in our world, in Michigan to be exact, but with magic based on books. I have read the entire trilogy and they are splendid. Hines does some bold things with his protagonist and it is action-packed without being shallow.
  • The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines
    • I have only read the first book in his Princess series but it is wonderful and set in a medieval style world. He turns convention around with some no-nonsense fairy tale heroines and uses the original fairy tales to good effect. I am super excited to read the sequels.
  • Shadows by Robin McKinley
    • I am a big fan of Robin McKinley. She writes fantasy books about female characters who do things and this makes me happy. Shadows is set in a world very like our own but there is magic and just a hint of physics.
  •   Sunshine by Robin McKinley
    • This is also set in a world very like our own, but with magic. The heroine is a baker and she meets vampires. A lot of critics call this book the anti-Twilight because it is smart, funny, well-written, and has pretty emotionally healthy characters. I like this a little better than Shadows but they are both good.
  •  The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
    • The first book McKinley wrote set in her magical fantasy land called Damar. I think this is a good McKinley gateway book and it is considered a classic.
  •     The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
    • While McKinley writes a lot of books in Damar in no particular chronological order, the Blue Sword is a direct sequel to the Hero and the Crown.
  •     Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley
    • This is my favorite of her novels. It is a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, which I generally dislike, but she makes it so interesting and thrilling. I also really like her characters and the fact that she lets them make difficult choices.
  •  Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley
    • This is set in our world, more or less, but with dragons. It is written in such a way that I kept wanting to google to see if the Makepeace Dragon Institute were real. I found the protagonist irritating in and of himself but it is a compliment to her writing that that did not put me off reading the book, indeed I couldn’t put it down.
  • The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
    • A classic of children’s literature with a lot of imagination, some adventure, and a charming ending.
  •  The Mrs. Quent trilogy by Galen Beckett.
    • This is a splendid Regency-England style fantasy trilogy that has witches and wonderful prose. It is also pretty short if you are looking for a fast to read series.
My haul from my last used-bookstore crawl. Who knows? Maybe a new favorite is lurking in that tantalizing pile of books.

My haul from my last used-bookstore crawl. Who knows? Maybe a new favorite is lurking in that tantalizing pile of books.

Happy reading, dear pond readers. Thank you for stopping by today and please, leave a comment with what you are reading.

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3 thoughts on “Fantasy and Sci-Fi Books I Love

  1. You make me want time and the ability to speed-read.

    Also, the image of vultures is absolutely gorgeous!

    “ending was a tad irritating but in a mostly good way.” O_o uh… I don’t know what this means. How can something be irritating in a good way?

    • I’m glad you like it! I hope you can find some new books to attempt in there, several of them are short. The ending was, in and of itself, irritating but it was good and forgivable because it made perfect sense for the characters and story. To me, if it is true to the story and characters, that is good even if I find it actually kind of irritating or had hoped for something else. Does that make sense? 🙂

      • My dyslexia makes reading very slow, especially when I don’t have good blocks of time to devote to it. I “read” more by listening to audio-books while I do house-work than I get to do read-reading. 😛

        Yes, that makes perfect sense. All in service of the story. It’s something I try to remember in my own writing. ^_^

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