Books I Love

I thought I’d share some of my favorite titles and authors with you. This will be a long and ever evolving list, because I read a lot.

Charles De Lint – Canadian fantasy author described by many as the ‘master of urban fantasy.’ I love his books and the way he mixes Celtic legend with Native American imagery to tell wonderful stories that stay with you. His short story collections are a great way to become familiar with his world.

Guy Gavriel Kay – Another Canadian fantasy author who reimagines ancient worlds and ideas. His Sailing to Sarantium series is highly recommended, as is the Fionavar Tapestry – one that I read and re-read. His stand-alone novels are also worth a read, Ysabel and Under Heaven are two of my favourites. He has a richness of language that makes his books a pleasure to read, and his ability to convey multiple viewpoints has been an inspiration to me in my own writing.

Ursula LeGuin – another fantasy giant. I recommend the Earthsea series, and of course Left Hand of Darkness is one of the best selling fantasy books of all time.

Phillip Pullman – His Dark Materials – The Golden Compass, the Amber Spyglass and the Subtle Knife. Read them. Read them now. If you don’t cry when Hester dies…

J R R Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings trilogy. There’s not really anything I can say about these books that hasn’t been said already. The Master. That is all.

C S Lewis – Tolkien’s great friend and contemporary. His Narnia books are as fresh and wonderful to read today as they ever were. Essential reading for any fantasy fan.

Gregory Maguire – I read Wicked years ago, before it became a musical (which I have seen and loved). He also does a great take on Cinderella in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and an alternate look at Snow White in Mirror Mirror.

Susan Cooper – The Dark Is Rising series of books – beautifully written and imagined. I remember the first time I read these as a kid – I’m still reading them today.

Bill Bryson – Always entertaining, always makes me laugh. One of the only writers, in fact, who has made me laugh to the point of weeping.

Kerry Greenwood – I lived in Melbourne for many years and Kerry’s Phryne Fisher mysteries, set in Melbourne in the 1920’s, are a hugely entertaining read. Phryne is wealthy, intelligent, young and beautiful and likes solving mysteries. She also has an array of young handsome lovers, likes to smoke, drink and drive fast. Loads of fun.

Deborah Harkness – I am a sucker for a good romance and Deborah’s All Souls Trilogy, about a love affair between a witch and a vampire, ticks all the boxes.

Diana Gabaldon – The Outlander Series – see above. Yes, another romance, but I think what sets both these women apart as authors is the dedication to historical detail and the richness of their story telling.

Charles Pellegrino – Charles is a scientist who also happens to be an extraordinary storyteller. His books cover events as disparate as 9/11, the sinking of the Titanic and the destruction of Pompeii, yet he manages to find the human side in everything, blending story with science to create a truly riveting read.

Douglas Adams – Gone too soon. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and his Dirk Gently books – amusing, amazing literary works.

Million Dollar Mermaid by Esther Williams and Swanson on Swanson by Gloria Swanson – I love old Hollywood biographies and these are two of my favourites. Neither of these women pull any punches with their storytelling and it makes the books so much more enjoyable than some sanitised ghost written biography. I also love David Niven’s ‘The Moon’s A Balloon’ and “Bring on the Empty Horses’. David was known as a great raconteur during his life, though he often didn’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. Still, vastly enjoyable.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – rumour has it this was the book Mick Jagger was reading when he wrote ‘Paint it Black’ and ‘Sympathy for the Devil.’ Whatever the case may be, this is a book I’ve read several time – Bulgakov’s imagery is wonderful.

Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers Of London series is a recent discovery, and I’ve read all the books in the series so far. One reviewer described them as ‘what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and became a London policeman,’ and I think that’s a pretty good description. River goddesses, magic, criminals and ghosts, all set against the backdrop of one of my favourite cities – highly recommended.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and On Writing by Stephen King. Both essential reads for any writer, as far as I’m concerned.

Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. These books are lush and romantic and detailed and wonderfully written. Read and re-read. Fall in love with Akiva. Or whoever you like 🙂

Leigh Bardugo – Her Grishaverse. All of it. Everything. Saints and witchhunters, grishas and kings. Oh, and the Darkling. I cannot WAIT to see this when it comes to Netflix.

Other titles

Matthew Flaming – The Kingdom of Ohio

Geraldine Brooks – The Year of Wonders

Lauren Groff – The Monsters of Templeton

Scott Card – The Keys To Avalon

Shadow of the Wind

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women – four books in the series

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

31 thoughts on “Books I Love

  1. And a very interesting list! Some stuff I’ve not read, and which might appeal to my bookwormy grandson, aged 9, who’s very into fantasy (has devoured all of Potter and Pullman)

    • Thank you! I love reading (as you’ve probably guessed) and this is just a short list of my favourites. Would love to hear if your grandson does read some of them, and what he thinks 🙂

    • Thanks, Noemi! I loved ‘Home’ as well – I’ll probably end up re-reading it at some point. I just read his latest, The Road To Little Dribbling, which I also enjoyed. He does make me laugh 🙂

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  3. Inspiring list, Helen. I too love “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov. A fellow blogger introduced the work to me a few years ago and now it’s one of my all time favourites.
    Best regards, Dina

  4. Pullman, Aaronovitch, Douglas Adams – what great taste in books! And don’t get me started on Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series, because I really could rhapsodise to quite an irritating extent on the subject. My yellowed compilation sits on the shelf right now, and makes me wonder if I should reread The Dark is Rising on the run up to Xmas … 🙂

    • Oh, isn’t it just the best series! I’m so pleased you’re a fan too. Yes, I could rattle on for hours about it – I first picked it up when I was about eight, then went back to it over and over again. My copy is also in the bookcase – perhaps it’s time for a reread (once I tackle my TBR pile!)
      And Aaronovitch is a relatively recent find – I’m now awaiting the next instalment in the Rivers Of London series. Oh, and I just read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and felt quite inadequate as a writer for the next few days, always the sign of a good read 😀

      • Haha! Yes, finding a book that you love and admire is a mixture of pleasure and envy, isn’t it? Some days I feel adequate, then I read a short story or novel and wonder why I bother! The Dark is Rising were THE books for me when I was a kid. I loved Alan Garner and CS Lewis too but Susan Cooper just hit the perfect mixture of myth and magic and wonder and danger – I spent years wanting to be Will Stanton!
        I’ve really enjoyed the Rivers of London series, though Peter Grant is a bit of a man’s man, often talking about cars and women! I’ll look out for Six of Crows – it does sound good. Have your read Joe Abercrombie? The plot reminded me a little of the Blade Itself.

      • Lewis and Garner were two of my other favourites yet, like you, I longed to be an Old One, to have Merry come into my life and change everything 🙂 Susan Cooper is a master storyteller, she really is.
        And I agree with your comment about Peter Grant – it doesn’t distract too much from the story though, which is good. I’ve read The Shattered Sea by Joe Abercrombie, which I quite enjoyed – I’ll have a look out for The Blade Itself too.

      • Susan Cooper is magnificent but has a surprisingly low profile – perhaps it;s because her books never transferred (successfully) to the screen.
        You’re right about Peter Grant too. I’m writing an urban fantasy with a male protagonist at the moment myself, so revisiting the ‘Rivers’ books might be a good idea 🙂

      • I think that you’re right about that – I would love to see someone do a really good version, a la Lord Of The Rings.
        And your latest book sounds interesting… 🙂

      • Yes, wouldn’t a good version of the Dark is Rising be wonderful? I read that a Welsh production company is planning adaptations of the His Dark Materials books, which feels quite right and proper.
        As for my book, who knows whether it’s interesting to other people. I’m enjoying writing it though 🙂

  5. Love your inclusion of Douglas Adams and Bill Bryson. Both such legends and heroes of mine. Especially Douglas Adams. I wonder if you’ve been watching the TV series Outlander based on Diana Gabaldon’s book series. If so, did you think it’s been a decent adaption of the books? Also a huge fan of On Writing by King, would agree its basically essential reading. In a similar vein I’d add Politics and the English Language by George Orwell, a fantastic essay on writing style.

    • Hi Luke! Sorry for the slight delay in responding to your comment. Thanks so much for coming by, it’s nice to meet a fellow Adams/Bryson fan 🙂 As for the Outlander series, I think it’s been a reasonable adaption of the books, certainly the first season was good. And the three actors they chose to play Claire, Frank and Jamie are all excellent, I think!

      • I agree. I’ve lost interest a bit in Outlander since, I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m not its target market anyway to be honest. That said the acting is great and I loved the first season, I’m such a fan of the Highlands, it was great to see the Highland culture portrayed, even if it was through a bit of an american-tinted lens where every line ends with Ken.

      • Yes, agree with that – the first season was great but the second fell a bit flat, despite the excellent acting and cast. Not watched any more of it since then, to be honest! 😊

      • I did some of season 3 and actually that was a lot more fun than 2, imo. There’s a particularly good solo Jamie episode. I stopped watching for no particular reason. Will probably pick up again at some point. That said, there is plenty more riveting TV out there too.

      • Oh yes, there is! I don’t get much of a chance to watch TV, but I enjoyed Big Little Lies very much, and am fully into Game of Thrones 🙂

      • I don’t know BLL but Game of Thrones is amazing… naturally. Would also recommend checking Westworld is you’re curious for something philosophical and sci fi driven.

      • Oh yes, I’ve heard good things about Westworld! Might fill the void while we wait for whatever devastating conclusion the GOT writers are putting together… 🙂

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