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Bookish lists

Some years back, I tried to do a top fantasy list. The only way I could thin it down, was to pick books where I feel I would have lost something if I’d never read them. I was re-reading it and I think I'd make some changes now, but there so many more books that I don't want to drop...

I have to add Philip Pullman and Kim Stanley Robinson. That means dropping Paula Volsky (Luck of Relian Kru) and Steven S Boyett: The Architect of Sleep. There are people like Ellen Kushner and Terri Windling who I’ve still only read short stories by. Similarly, Borderlands is superb but pretty much all anthologies and Theodore Sturgeon and Henry Kuttner are (to my mind) strongest in their short stories. There’s no Tolkein; he’s wonderful but if I had Tolkein I’d want Umberto Eco and Jack Kerouac too and it’ll be a huge(r) list. No J K Rowling - the ideas of the Harry Potter books are superb but the writing is (to me) a little flat. So, without going down to the bookcase for inspiration, keeping it at 25 and in no particular order.

1. Barbara Hambly: Bride of the Rat God
2. Charles de Lint: Someplace to be Flying
3. Harry Turtledove: just about everything - oh, all right, if I can’t have the whole Videssos cycle, then The Case of the Toxic Spelldump
4. Iain Banks: The Bridge
5. Sean Stewart: The Night Watch
6. Phillip Pullman: His Dark Materials and the Sally Lockhart books
7. Philip Jose Farmer: the first three World of Tiers books
8. Robert Charles Wilson: Gypsies
9. Tom Holt: Expecting Someone Taller
10. Meredith Anne Pierce: The Darkangel
11. Joan Aiken: The Stolen Lake (hah! Book five so you’ll want to read the first four)
12. Kim Stanley Robinson: Years of Rice and Salt
13. Susan Cooper: The Dark is Rising
14. Ursula Le Guin: Earthsea
15. Tanith Lee: Night’s Master
16. Madeleine L’Engle: The Young Unicorns
17. Barry Hughart: Song of Stone
18. Keith Roberts: Kiteworld
19. Mary Gentle: Rats And Gargoyles
20. Emma Bull: The War for the Oaks
21. Steven Brust: Vlad Taltos, Assassin (cheating, I know, the first three books collected)
22. Michael Moorcock: Mother London
23. Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess: Stardust
24. L Sprague de Camp: Lest Darkness Fall
25. Diana Wynne Jones: most any of the Chrestomanci books

Also-rans: Nina Kiriki Hoffman: The Thread That Binds The Bones and the Matt Black Books like Red Heart of Dreaming, Elizabeth Hand: Waking The Moon, Robin McKinley: The Blue Sword.

If the list was science fiction instead, I couldn’t do core books so I’d go for personal favourites: Alfred Bester, Ian Banks, Connie Willis, Julian May, Spider Robinson, Joan de Vinge, Lois McMaster Bujold, H Beam Piper, Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, Ian McDonald (for Desolation Road) and Walter Millar (A Canticle for Leibowitz).

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
natf
25th Jul, 2002 16:52 (UTC)
I do like Ursula le Guin and I did enjoy the Earthsea books but my favorite book by her is "Always Going Home"...
sbisson
25th Jul, 2002 23:35 (UTC)
Oh yes, that is a wonderful book. I wish I had the tape of the music...
akicif
25th Jul, 2002 19:31 (UTC)
I think I'm going to print out that list, and keep it -- the ones on it that I know are pretty damn' wonderful, and as for the rest,I'll keep on looking until I find them.... Did I mention that some Edinburgh folk are talking about a small con the weekend before Glasgow in '05, btw?
marypcb
26th Jul, 2002 05:32 (UTC)
that would be a fun way to get started ;-)
tamaranth
26th Jul, 2002 04:21 (UTC)
Hmm, interesting selection. Plenty I've never actually read! And some intriguing choices. I'm not sure, y'know, that I'd class The Years of Rice and Salt as a fantasy. And may I recommend, as I'm sure many others have, Terri Windling's The Wood Wife?
marypcb
26th Jul, 2002 05:37 (UTC)
oh yes, I did enjoy the Wood Wife - but it felt so like a de Lint I didn't split it out... re-incarnation is fantasy enough to me to qualify Rice and Salt ;-) and it has the *feel* of a fantasy world rather than AH or SF to me, with the richness in the characters rather than the situation
owlrigh
26th Jul, 2002 05:41 (UTC)
top fantasy books
So much I have never read. I wonder what a similar list of stuff for myself would look like, or even if I'd be able to limit myself down to things in specifics.

Definitely going to use this list to track stuff down for future reading. I have had my fill of bad reads of late.
eleccham
26th Jul, 2002 11:59 (UTC)
That explains it...
I'm kinda disconnected today, and I was reading this list without paying attention to who was speaking. After starting in surprise at some of the books on the list, I thought... this must be someone on the Other Side Of The Pond(tm).

Sho' nuf...

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find Diane Wynne Jones books here? She's catching on, finally... slowly. Many of her books that I own were either special-ordered or purchased for me by friends/relatives who were visiting in England.

I might also add that finding L'Engle other than the Wrinkle In Time series is also fairly difficult.

OTOH, we now have something very close to everything that LeGuin has written... including the Catwings books. We're also pretty close on Tepper - I think the only things we're missing are the Mavin Manyshaped books, and the second of the three Marianne books (good f'ing luck - even Alibris and ABE can't get it.)

Why the hell hasn't someone started a print-on-demand system yet?!? <mumbleswear>
marypcb
30th Jul, 2002 05:01 (UTC)
Re: That explains it...
I have 3 of the Marianne books, I think - took several trips to Hay on Wye (sadly we're not close enough to invite folks over and take them there any more). Diana has really benefited from Harry Potter and there are quite a few on Amazon now; when Howl's Moving Castle gets made into a film that should help even more... but then we can't get Francesca Lia Bloch over here... I should have mentioned the Weetzie Bat books!
eleccham
30th Jul, 2002 09:21 (UTC)
Re: That explains it...
<pause>

There are only three of them...
Guard that middle one carefully. You're probably unlikely to find another... and if you do, I know a significant list of folks (myself included) who'd be more than ecstatic to buy it!
marypcb
30th Jul, 2002 10:34 (UTC)
Re: That explains it...
momentary gods, manticore and malachite mouse.. I'll keep an eye out for duplicates when I work out which is the middle one ;-) I spent a long time looking for the second Walls of Air book by Barbara Hambly and the missing middle book is a familiar plaint!
eleccham
30th Jul, 2002 10:56 (UTC)
Re: That explains it...
Momentary Gods is the middle one.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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