(In honor of World Book Day. Part 1 is here.)
Catspaw by Joan Vinge. — This book makes me cry like a wibbling ninny, and I love it beyond reason, but godDAMN, did it teach me something about the meaning of the word Sacrifice.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. — I pull this one off the shelf and read it about once every couple of years. Lizzy Bennet was my role model for more years than I can count, and I love this book unironically and without reservation — even the excruciating parts.
Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmund Rostand (trans Brian Hooker) — One of my greatest disappointments in life is that I will never play this title role. It is my favorite of All Things Ever, I’ve written fanfic pastiches of it, I can practically recite the whole damned thing on command, I even went and dug up that horrid, half-decent Broadway adaptation that, Thank Dionysos, Frank Wildhorn never actually produced. I will die loving this book/play, even if Rostand did totally erase Cyrano’s gayness from his text. (Yes. Really.)
Riddle Master : The Complete Trilogy by Patricia McKillip. — This was one of my childhood favorites, and I’m proud to say it’s stood the test of time and adulthood pretty goddamned well, really. I don’t feel the need to explain this one — it’s so good that it just sells itself, really. All it usually takes is half an hour with the first book, and if a reader’s going to like it at all, they’re already in love.
Chronicles of Amber 1-5 by Roger Zelazny. — This book taught me to write. It so strongly influenced the beginnings of my craft that I can’t imagine what my work would be like now if I had never read it. This is another one that made me make an idiot of myself when I met the author. He was gracious beyond belief though, which is just another reason to love him and his work.
World War Z by Max Brooks. — Simply put, the best book involving Zombies that’s ever been written. The movie did not come even close to the goddamned ballpark. Friends who HATE horror, and who NEVER read fiction have gotten bowled over by this one.
Song for a Dark Queen by Rosemary Sutcliff. — Another childhood book. My first Historical Fiction, as I remember, and just as powerful now as it was then. Don’t contradict me. I will fight you.
Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez. — This book made me stay up way past my bedtime, laughing like an idiot. Turns out that laughter is a hallmark of Martinez’ books, but this one, the first I encountered, is still my favorite. It’s about the housekeeper of a wizard called Margle the Horrendous, trying to keep things rolling along when her employer disappears, and his enemies start to wonder why. Oh, and she’s a kobold, too.
The Starlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. — Yes, really. Quit lookin at me like that, I was eleven goddamned years old!
The Heaven Tree Chronicles by Edith Pargeter. — Another gorgeously written historical novelization, by an author who, under her pseudonym, wrote the amazing Brother Cadfael Mysteries. The history is bang on, the people are real, human, and vibrant in their struggles. Flawed and gorgeous and mesmerizing.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore. — I can’t really say why this YA book stands out so far from the crowd for me, but I can say I loved it. It’s incredibly well written, and it made me really wish that the sequels had involved the same character, instead of just being written in the same universe. Ah well. I’ll still read them someday, but this frontrunner is quite a favorite for now.
Those Who Walk In Darkness by John Ridley. — Every time someone defends Tony Stark’s actions in Civil War to me, I think of this book. It’s a Cop’s Eye view of an America in which Supers are hunted down and deported — once. And if they come back, they’re hunted down and killed.
Anno Dracula by Kim Newman: — In case you’ve ever wondered what might’ve happened had Van Helsing et-al failed in their quest, this is the book for you. It is AU fanfic of the choicest kind, and I am shameless in my adoration of it. The cameo appearances of every damned Victorian horror figure, from Varney to Dr. Jeckyll to Oscar Wilde and Rudyard Kipling make it a history buff, true crime fan, and Victorian classics reader’s treasure hunt. Truefax, I loved this book so much I turned into a That Fan the instant I realized Kim Newman was close enough for me to throw myself at his feet. It was awful. I’m pretty sure he thought I was gonna eat him.
The Wraeththu Chronicles by Storm Constantine. — There’s something that readers of this series need to know before they begin: The wraeththu are a human mutation. They do not act like gay human males because they are NOT gay human males. They are hermaphrodites whose mutation from the human strain is more than physical. As stated in the book, they appear to combine ‘the best of a man and the worst of a woman’, and so long as you don’t forget that, despite being addressed with male pronouns, they are not MEN at all, I think you stand a good chance of loving this series as much as I do. One of the things I adore about this world, and this author, is that she not only openly embraced the fanwriters and artists who seized on her work, she actually published anthologies of the best Wraeththu fan stories she came across. With full credit. And pay. Yes, really.
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip. — Another formative years favorite, and another that I’ve all but memorized. Come on — TELL me you know a single teenaged girl who wouldn’t love to call fantastic beasts to do her bidding and live with her, and I’ll call you a liar. Here’s the thing though — the story’s just as good when you’re an adult.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. — Don’t even. I read these books, and the Silmarillion some twenty times or more before I graduated High School. I could read and write in Elvish. I went through a phase of refusing to let people call me ‘human’. I’d have been Tried as an Adult for sure, if I hadn’t had the escape of Middle Earth at my fingers, and I will not accept any shit for unironically loving the books that kept me functionally sane until I could reach adulthood.
Aaaand I think that’s enough for now. Hope there’s one or two on this list that interest you — books are a lot more awesome than, say, surprise, non-con Calculus.