T-shirt available from giftcatalog.com
Recreational ReadingI enjoy reading, mostly mysteries, fantasy, and similar fiction. My taste in mysteries runs more to the "cozies" (ordinary person solves murder, murder happens in an ordinary setting). I'm not very fond of spy novels or thrillers. I do enjoy some of the private detective series but sometimes the settings can get a little too gritty... I prefer my fiction, well... fictional :-)
Someone I know says I seem to prefer "Escapist fiction". I can only quote from another t-shirt
"... you say that as if it's a bad thing...".
Well, Duh!. What better kind of fiction is there? I read books to escape to other places, other times, and to meet other people. If I want "the real world" I have it outside my front door -- or worse, on my television if I should choose to turn it on.
I read some science fiction but I prefer the kind without too many rivets :-) I enjoy fantasy immensely, mostly the epic Good vs Evil (Order vs Chaos) sorts of plots, although the simple "magic works" plots can also be quite good. It's not so much that the fairies and mermaids leave me cold, but I prefer them if they seem to be real people. I'm also a little tired of the "earth human happens onto / is kidnapped through an enchanted portal to a world where magic works"; I'll read them but they have to be extremely well written and, well, novel in their approach.
So many books... so little time!Note that this is not an extensive list. I really like to read; to list everything would take more time than I plan to spend. This is a taste. If some of these are out of print, try these places to find out of print and used books
Herewith, a list of authors and books (generally series) that I like and would recommend without pause. If you've read some of these, and think we might share the same tastes, feel free to send me your recommendations for authors I haven't listed. I like trying new authors.
- Margot Arnold
Margot Arnold has written at least 10 mysteries featuring archaeologist Toby Glendower and his friend, anthropologist Penny Spring. These are real people, with the bumps and warts of personality. They frequently travel around the world, on various archaeological or anthropological expeditions, and somehow someone generally ends up dead...
- Marian Babson
Marian Babson doesn't particularly write series, but she has written a lot of books! They're all fun and well written. Many contain cats. Start with any one and then read them all.
- Carola Dunn
Step back in time to 1923 England. The Hon. Daisy Dalrymple is a working girl with a recent habit of tripping over crimes. Daughter of a viscount, Daisy's cousin inherited the title and lands after her father died in the influenza epidemic of '19. (Her older brother was killed in the trenches, during the war.) Rather than live with her mother (horrors!), Daisy is supporting herself as best she can as a writer. But on her first assignment (a Stately Homes series for Town & Country magazine), one of the house guests is killed. A spiffing series!
- Aaron Elkins, Charlotte Elkins
Aaron Elkins has a terrific series featuring Forensic Anthropologist, Gideon Oliver. If you like your mysteries with lots of details, you'll love these. They're not gory, but they definitely have detail. They're also fun.
Another (shorter) series features Chris Norgern, specialist in Renaissance and Baroque art at the Seattle Arts Museum.
Charlotte Elkins joins her husband in writing yet a third series, this one featuring golf pro Lee Ofsted.
- P. N. Elrod
Mix mystery, fantasy, and gangsters - Jack Fleming is a former journalist, now a detective in 1940's Chicago. Jack is also a vampire. The series title is The Vampire Files Start with Bloodlist.
- Julie Kaewert
Booklovers' mysteries. The protagonist, Alex Plumtree, is a publisher, owner of a 100+ year old small publishing house in London. He is also an old book collector and bibliophile. I envy Alex his library... and the libraries of his friends and acquaintances; I think of an "old" book as one printed before 1900. Alex's "old" books pre-date the printing press! I don't envy Alex his life, however; too much danger and intrigue! As is so often the case in stories like this, he keeps getting into trouble with politics, enemies, danger, and dead bodies all around :) The books are interesting as well as informative; characters are real and likable. Series so far: Unsolicited, followed by Unbound, Unprintable, Untitled, Unsigned, and Uncatalogued.
- Charlotte MacLeod
Charlotte MacLeod has two series. One features Peter Shandy, a botany professor at Balaclava College in Maine. The other (my personal favorite) features Sarah Kelling Bittersohn, her detective husband, Max, and her somewhat unusual family. I miss Max and Sarah between books...
Sadly, Ms. MacLeod is now retired.
- Patricia Moyes
Patricia Moyes wrote 19 novels featuring Inspector Henry Tibbet (and his wife Emmy) all excellent (in my opinion).
- Kate Ross
From the cover of the first book, "Intrigue, murder, and the charm of Regency London - introducing detective Julian Kestrel". There are four books in this series; I wish there were more; unfortunately, Kate Ross died in 1998, less than a year after publication of the fourth book.
- S. J. Rozan
If you like detective fiction, try S. J. Rozan's Bill Smith and Lydia Chin series. The stories are told in the first person with the perspective alternating from Lydia to Bill and back from book to book. The settings are interesting, the plots are intriguing and the dialogue os terrific.
- The Adept
(series by Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris)
These books could, perhaps, be termed "occult fiction". But I've found that much of that genre also seems to have "horror" overtones that I don't like. Besides, it's all "fantasy" at some level!
Adam Sinclair is an "Adept", chief of a "Hunting Lodge", whose members are sworn to fight the dark. Your classical fantasy plot, but these stories happen here, in 20th century Scotland (OK, maybe it's a parallel universe; is that Sci Fi? :-).
There are currently 4 books in the series. The series contains elements of astral travel, reincarnation, the Knights Templar, various occult themes. Good stuff :-)
- John Bellairs
John Bellairs has written quite a few terrific "children's" fantasy novels. Try them yourself for fun reading, or introduce them to a child who likes fantasy. Start with The House with a Clock in its Walls.
The standard "good vs. evil" plotlines apply. You may find a Hand of Glory but you won't find any fluffy fairies in these books.
- Marion Zimmer Bradley (ed.)
Marion Zimmer Bradley writes a lot of fantasy; somehow, much of it isn't quite what I want to read. However, I think she is one of the finest editors of fantasy anthologies around! Her Sword and Sorceress is now past its 19th year. I've met some fantastic authors and some wonderful (fictional) people through these volumes.
- Terry Goodkind
Terry Goodkind got off to a running start; his debut novel, Wizard's First Rule was interesting, impressive, and coherent (and nearly 600 pages long!) with well-drawn characters and a very real world. The "Sword of Truth" series is now up to 8 books. (If you like these, try Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time...)
- Charles de Lint
Modern "urban fantasy" set in on present day Earth. Many of the stories are set in Newbury, a "typical" city somewhere in North America, or in Ottawa.
- David Eddings
David Eddings has two sets of 6 books that I really like: The Belgariad and The Malloreon. The first set follows our hero, Garion, and his companions as they set out to save the world. Yes, it's been done before, but I like it and these are well-done tales. I really like the people.
When you finish these, look for Belgarath the Sorceror and Polgara the Sorceress, which give some of the pre-history behind the other books.
- Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan is responsible for a magnificent epic: the (currently) 10 book series set in the World of the Wheel of Time. These are truly impressive books. The characters are real people, the storylines mesh, cross, separate, and re-weave. OK, so, 10 books. Each one is at least 700 pages! And he never loses the plot! (I have the distinct feeling he's telling about real events, or at least, real to him).
The first book is almost complete in itself; I think he wasn't sure if the concept would take off. The later books have some plotlines that end and others that continue into the next book. This is one of the best worlds I've visited and a set of books I can't recommend highly enough if you like serious Light vs. Dark fantasy. (If you like these, try Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth...)
- Lynne Flewelling
Lynne Flewelling introduced Seregil of Rhimenee' and Alec of Kerry in Luck in the Shadows. This is one of the best books, with some of the most vivid characterizations, that I have ever read; if you don't believe me, check out the customer comments on amazon.com. These are incredible books! I began to wonder what the characters were up to during the times when I wasn't reading!
The story continues in Stalking Darkness; the continuation is as good as the introduction. Lynne refers to these as books 1 and 2 in the Nightrunner series; I look forward to meeting up with Seregil and Alec again!
- Sharon Green
I loved the 5-part The Blending series (and its 3-part sequel). Much of Sharon Green's previous work is out of print but available from used bookstores. Again, I feel I know the characters.
- Laurell K Hamilton
I really like the Anita Blake, Vampire hunter series. They are a bit disturbing in spots, also sexy, weird, and attention grabbing. Your Mileage May Vary.
- Tanya Huff
Is it a detective novel or a fantasy novel? Vicki "Victory" Nelson is an ex-cop and a private detective. Henry Fitzroy is a 450-year old vampire (and a nice person, most of the time; he writes historical romances (bodice rippers); you'll like him ;). There are 5 in the series so far; I hope there will be more! Start with Blood Price. Read them in sequence; there are back references.
Tanya has also written Summon the Keeper and a sequel The Secnd Summoning (there is a hole into Hell in the basement of this dilapidated hotel!) and a number of other fantasy novels.
- Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey is prolific; she writes trilogies, novels, and short stories; many books and stories are set in Valdemar, Karse, and the surrounding lands and kingdoms. Then there are the novels set here, in 20th century earth, where magic works and elves are real (but these are not the little foot-high guys in green outfits...)
If you haven't found her yet, start with Arrows of the Queen, her first Valdemar novel (one of three). Valdemar is a wonderful place, where "mind magic" is more common than the usual kind. Actually, there used to be "real" magic in Valdemar; The Last Herald Mage trilogy explains what happened. I consider the Herald Mage trilogy to be one of the best. But I recommend starting with "Arrows" first, even though it is (chronologically) set considerably later in the history of Valdemar. It will give you the feel of the place.
- Madeline L'Engle
If you somehow made it through childhood without discovering Madeline L'Engle, you've missed out. Go back and read A Wrinkle in Time, followed by A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Then try Many Waters, the "normal brothers'" adventure!
If you've read these, you may be interested to know that Meg (the protagonist of A Wrinkle in Time) grows up. Her children's adventures (more mundane but also interesting) make the subject of a few more books; try The Arm of the Starfish.
- Harry Potter
(series by J. K. Rowling)
Everybody loves Harry; I do too! Nuff said.
- Martha Wells
Martha Wells skillfully combines fantasy and mystery in well-realized worlds with believable characters. Try Element of Fire (if you can find it), City of Bones, Wheel of the Infinite, and Death of the Necromancer (my favorite so far).
I don't read much science fiction too many rivets!
That is, so much of it concentrates more (and often not
very well) on the technology and less (too little) on the story, the
characters, and the world they inhabit. These are different.
- James Alan Gardner
I best like his books about the League of Peoples and the Explorers. Start with Expendable. The most recent book, Trapped is set on earth and is a good genre-bending tale, complete with SciFi, Mystery, a little Fantasy (ghosts, sorcery) and a lot of humor..
- Harry Harrison
Harry Harrison has written (nearly?) a dozen novels, about Slippery Jim DiGriz, aka, The Stainless Steel Rat. Jim is fun, if not, shall we say, necessarily someone you would want to introduce to your mother!
(series by Debra Doyle and John D. MacDonald)
Action and Adventure in space. Throw in some magic and some fun characters. Start with The Price of the Stars.
- Nocturne for a Dangerous Man
I wish Marc Matz would write a sequel; so far, this is his only book. The hero is Gavilan Robie, retired from a covert 3-letter agency, now a private investigator preferring to recover missing art works. But he's been hired to locate a kidnap victim, the lover of the influential CEO of a high-powered conglomerate. Set in mid-21st century Los Angeles with a ruthless, brilliant, dangerous but ethical, and very likeable protagonist.
- Star Wars
(on-going series; multiple authors)
You might call it fantasy or "space opera" but I think of Star Wars as being Science Fiction. In Fantasy, there are "worlds"; in Science Fiction, there are planets. All the rest is implementation detail.
If you loved Star Wars, try some of the novelizations. I think the earliest sets are the best. I was happy to find out what the people I knew had been doing since the emperor was killed!
A satisfying fantasy novel that crosses the boundaries into SciFi without missing a beat. Take a semi-medieval, non-spacefaring culture with gods and monsters, add a sprinkling of ancient history (this was originally a terraformed colony planet), AI, nanotech, and off-world visitors from a more advanced society. Excellent world-building and characterization.
- The Bear Went Over the Mountain
(by William Kotzwinkle)
This is a very funny book. The protagonist, Hal Jam, is a large brown bear. Really. Finding a manuscript in a briefcase (he was hoping for pie), the Bear steals some clothing, invents a name, and heads off to Manhattan to sell "his" book. No one seems to notice that he's a bear... (but he gets compared to Hemingway a lot).
Read the amazon.com reviews. Better yet, read this book!
- Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand is an excellent author. If other authors work in watercolors, she works in 3-dimensional oils on very large canvas. The Fountainhead is the only book I ever finished and immediately started reading again, just to see what I may have missed the first tme. Also, if you didn't "have it" in High School, read Atlas Shrugged.
- A Cook's Tour
(by Anthony Bourdain)
Chef Anthony Bourdain (aauthor of Kitchen Confidentail) convinced his publishers that it would make an interesting book if he set out to "eat around the world" in search of the "perfect meal". From Portugal to Vietnam to Japan, Cambodia, Morocco, California, and Scotland, the book "chronicles the unpredictable adventures of America's boldest and bravest chef". Irreverent, funny, and well-written; I really enjoyed this. Some strong language - and some very strange food!