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.
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