Friday, April 27, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Books

Today I'd like to try something a little different. I won't be posting elegant synopses of writing techniques guaranteed to spark your creativity (not that I ever did that!), and I won't be writing about the specifics of a fantasy world--the people, the places, the colors, the things.

Instead, I'd like to hear from you. Remember how, in my last post, I talked about reading books in your target genre? Well, today I'd like to explore the genre of fantasy. What are some of your favorite fantasy books? Just a simple list or a few titles will do. Tell me your favorites, please!

And here's my own list, for good measure. If you haven't read these books yet, I definitely recommend you try!
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien (a must for every fantasy writer)

The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling (Even though many people find problems with the magic, this series is one of the most popular young adult series of our time. It's important as writers to know what our audience loves to read.)

Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke (The sequels weren't quite so good, but Ms. Funke certainly has a gorgeous way of spinning words, and the story here is fabulous. Worth a read. Also, Funke's story Dragon Rider is a heartwarming and humorous tale. Definitely read it.)

Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine (Hilarious twist on a classic fairytale)

Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale (A compelling world with vivid characters, and thankfully free of objectionable material. If you're female, I'd definitely suggest reading it.)

The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge (An older story, true, with all the delicate beauty of the 18th century. However, in terms of Christ-honoring fantasy that's well-written, this book is one of the best that I've found.)

The Blackbringer, by Laini Taylor (An unexpected gem. One of the absolute best modern fantasies I've read, and again, nicely free from objectionable stuff. An awesome villain and an excellently crafted world, complete with a hilarious heroine named Magpie.)

The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper (A story that feels older than it is, with lots of Celtic and Welsh legends interweaving throughout. Somewhat mystical and packed with symbolism. Cooper's unique voice definitely makes it worth a read.)

The Complete Fairytales, by George MacDonald (These were inspirations for both CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, and they're absolutely lovely stories. They felt like they'd leaped straight out of the brothers Grimm. Also, MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin is lovely too.)

Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia C. Wrede (A laugh-out-loud twist on every cliche known to man. Read it as a family! The sequels are good as well.)

The Percy Jackson series, by Rick Riordan (I don't know how you feel about ancient Greek gods, but despite the strange premise of the story, I love Riordan's sometimes sarcastic and always funny voice. It's good to learn how to write for a modern audience. Also, the series also scores points for teaching ancient Greek mythology.)

Something by Robin McKinley (I especially enjoyed The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown. Also quite worthwhile are her two Beauty and the Beast retellings, Rose Daughter and Beauty. Probably most appropriate for 13 and above.)

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (I guarantee that this book will make you look at the world in a whole new way. A boy takes a journey through a land where words grow on trees, sounds take shape, and Rhyme and Reason are the damsels-in-distress. Awesome read for the family.)

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis (If you haven't read these yet, there must be something gravely wrong with you. At any rate, I envy you, because reading these treasures for the first time is a pleasure that few other books can bestow. Plus, the spiritual undercurrents in Narnia are excellent to observe and imitate as Christian writers.)
I suppose that sums up my list, at least for now (I may add to it later as more titles come to mind). At any rate, I believe the books listed above represent a wide range of fantasy, both new and old, tried and true, Christian and non-Christian, popular and unknown. Each of these books is certainly worth your time.

Now, come, tell me your favorites!


  1. A few of my favorite books are:
    The Door Within trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson(one of the first fantasy books I ever read, it was one of the first books I couldn't put down. I was ten when I read the first one, it seemed so big when I read it because it was nearly three hundred pages. The trilogy is Christian fantasy)

    The Inkheart trilogy was really good too(I just wish it didn't have so much bad language in it).

    The Auralia Thread series by Jeffrey Overstreet(they are very very well written and Jeffrey Overstreet is a Christian and though the books weren't meant to be an allegory, I found some in there, although the Keeper does not represent God, I should tell you that before you begin. The writing technique is unique and I think they are the best series I've ever read style-wise, and they are original. I highly recommend them although there is some violence in some places. It's easy to skip over though)
    And of course C S Lewis and Tolkien(they were good friends) are great authors.
    Another book series that I really like is called the Wingfeather Saga(another fantasy series written by a Christian author) that is aimed toward tweens but I like them because they remind me of Tolkien's style but with the innocence that children could read them. The Igiby Children live in a little cottage on a cliff, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness(first book, it's funny).

    1. Ooh, wow, thanks for all the titles!

      Let me see now... Door Within trilogy. I started it last year, but I think it was intended for a younger audience so I never fell in love with it. That's so cool, though!

      Oh, I've heard a lot about the Auralia Thread series. I really need to put that on my to-read list!

      The Wingfeather Saga? *does quick Google search* Oh! I've heard of that one too! I'll jot that one down on the list too.

      Thanks sharing! I've gotten several ideas already :)

  2. Many good titles here, Sienna! I love The Phantom Tollbooth. Several years ago I rearranged my bookshelf and packed up most of the "children's books" that had been there, but I kept Tollbooth out. It's such a darling book.

    Have you ever read The Gammage Cup? Another favorite of mine. I suppose it's intended for younger audiences, but, like Tollbooth, it's really timeless.

    Let's see... A Wrinkle in Time is a favorite. At the time I read its sequels I enjoyed them, too, but looking back I think the "theology" is just too messed up. I've read Susan Cooper's books and enjoyed them, although I felt that the last book got a little strange - surreal, in a way. I love Lewis' books - both The Chronicles and his Space Trilogy. Oh, and of course I can't forget Dianna Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle. Classic!

    Also, have you read Anne Elisabeth Stengl's Tales of Goldstone Wood series? She's a contemporary and I don't tend to like modern books, but her series is gorgeous - beautifully written and just chock full of talent. The third book just released: Moonblood. I'm still waiting impatiently to get it.

    I think that sums up my favorites! I really need to buy and read some McKinley novels; I've heard so much about her, but I've yet to read any of her books. The Little White Horse, too. So many books, so little time...!

    Thanks for sharing! I love seeing what books inspire other writers; it's so much fun.

    1. Oh yay! I'm so happy to hear I'm not the only one who likes The Phantom Tollbooth.

      Hmm, the Gammage Cup? Sounds rather familiar...I must hunt it down and read it! :)

      Ooh, yes, I love A Wrinkle in Time! I decided to keep it off the list, though, because I think strictly speaking it's supposed to be science fiction (although, personally, I think it's got a lot of fantasy to it too). Anyway, definitely a favorite.

      Oh, Howl's Moving Castle! I forgot all about that one. It's definitely good (even if I had preconceived notions about it, since I watched the movie first :P ). True!

      Tales of Goldstone Wood? Hmm, no, not yet. That definitely sounds amazing--I must read it!

      Oh, definitely read some of McKinley's books. They're absolute gems.

      I totally agree; there's not enough time in the whole world for all I want to read!

      Thank you for sharing, too, Abigail! I can't wait to start reading some of those! :)

  3. Howl's Moving Castle and its sequel House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones are both excellent and a lot of fun. The magic in it might offend some people, but they're definitely worth reading.

    I also love Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier. The magic system is very interesting. I highly recommend it.

    I had another one in mind, but I forgot what it was.

    1. I think you loaned me Howl's Moving Castle one time, and I did love it a lot. Diana Wynne Jones has such a whimsical voice; how can you help but like it? I definitely liked those (I think I forgot about them when I was writing the list!).

      Hmm, Magic or Madness? Okay. *writes on list* Sounds good.

      Well, tell me when you remember! (I keep having that feeling too whenever I write up a list of books!)

  4. Hi, my name is Kaycee. I have never commented on your blog before but I read it all the time! :)

    I love all Wayne Thomas Batson books, but I have especially enjoyed his new "Dark Sea Annals" series. His writing is very good and his world-building is awesome!

    The Wingfeather Saga is excellent too! I'm actually reading it out loud to my two little sisters and they love it! Funny, I've read Ella Enchanted out loud to them too!

    Donita K. Paul's "DragonKeeper" series is pretty good. The first three books are the best, the last two are a little boring.

    I can't really think of any others right now, I probably will as soon as I publish this comment. ;)

    1. Hey, Kaycee!! So glad to see you commenting, and thanks so much for reading! I'm absolutely delighted!! :)

      I've heard so many great things about Wayne Thomas Batson. I'll definitely put those on my reading list!

      Oh, and Wingfeather Saga? Someone else recommended that too. Gotta read that, for sure! (Aren't family read-alouds so fun? I love it!)

      I think I started Donita K. Paul's series, but I don't remember finishing it (oh, the woes of libraries with not enough books). I better re-read that and see how I like it.

      I totally felt the same way as I published the post--there's so many books I love, so I must be forgetting some! Do let me know if you think of any others :)

      And thanks again for the comment!!

  5. This is a fun question :D I'll have to check out a few of your favs. Here are a few of my favorite fantasy books. All of them are Christian... I don't read too much secular.

    The Birthright Project
    Book One: Outriders
    Book Two: Trackers
    by Kathryn Mackel

    This series is what got me into Christian fantasy. They are excellent, but sadly the third and final book never got published. They are still worth reading though. I believe someday we will get the final book... :-) All of Kathryn Mackel's books are awesome!

    The White Lion Chronicles
    Book One: Rise of the Dibor
    Book Two: The Lion Vrie
    Book Three: Athera's Dawn
    by Christopher Hopper

    These books were life changing for me. So touching and beautiful. I HIGHLY recommend them. I recently did a blog post on them all...

    The Door Within Trilogy
    Book One: The Door Within
    Book Two: Rise of the Wyrm Lord
    Book Three: The Final Storm
    By Wayne Thomas Batson

    My favorite out of all the great books from Mr. Batson. Really loved this series!

    A Krintary Në Clemèntiós: The Clash of Worlds
    By Taylor J. Beisler

    A dear friend of mine wrote this lovely series. She is a very talented young lady. Her writing is unique and beautiful. The way she uses her words, warms your soul. Love her heart.

    Kestrel's Midnight Song
    By J. R. Parker

    Another friend of mine :-) Really good book with a great twist of surprise at the end. Looking forward to his next tale.

    The Sword of the Dragon
    Book One: Sword of the Six
    Book Two: Offspring
    by Scott Appleton

    He has written some of the best female characters I have read. Very beautiful series! The third one is getting ready to come out... I think there will be five books in this series.

    Have a blessed week.
    In His Grace~

    1. Whoa! Look at the size of that list! And I love that they're all Christian; that's wonderful. There's certainly a lot to learn from Christian writers! Thanks, Ryan!

      The Birthright Project...sounds very intriguing. But the third book never got published? *gasp* How could they do such a thing to poor readers!

      Ooh, now those do sound good! I've heard a lot about Christopher Hopper and read his blog, but not his books. I'll definitely check those out. And your blog post is so thorough, by the way. It had everything I needed to/wanted to know about the series; thank you!

      Oh wow, your friend published books? *looks them up* How cool! That sounds absolutely lovely! Thank you for the recommendation!

      You certainly seem to know a lot of authors, Ryan; good for you for promoting them! :) Ooh, and that book looks great too! Kestrel's Midnight Song--just the kind of book I love to read.

      Hmm, that one also sounds great! I'm going to have a lot of catching up to do on my reading list before long!

      Thanks so much for all the suggestions and titles, Ryan! It's great to find more Christian fantasy works already out there.

  6. Anything by Marrion Zimmer Bradley, Mercedes Lackey, and George R. Martin.

    1. Oh, I've got to read The Mists of Avalon (by Bradley). I've heard so much about it--just got to find it at the library :) .

      And, oh, Mercedes Lackey? Why haven't I heard of her work! What a prolific author! Again, I must read!

      George RR Martin--definitely.

      What great authors you've listed! Thanks so much for mentioning them. It helps even out my list above to have a few more modern adult fantasy titles here.

  7. Wow, lots of mention of the Door Within trilogy. I read the first few books, but found them too dry for me. Interesting plot, but couldn't push myself through them.

    Anyways, enough of the negative! I really enjoy the Beka Cooper series by Tamora Pierce, even though there is some questionable content. It's nothing graphic and for a mature reader, it's over look-over-able (to me at least) because it's such an amazing setting. The characters and world is VERY developed. It takes place in the lower city so it's got a nitty gritty feel to it, that made me fall in love with it.

    I also enjoy Artemis Fowl, I don't know if you'd call that fantasy, it's more urban fantasy I guess. It's for a younger audience, but the voice is just too funny for me to stop reading them. Very minor language, and very interesting plots (Criminal masterminds and fairies!)

    Of course I love Harry Potter, but I won't ramble about that since you already know. Eragon is also good, if I remember correctly. I read that a long time ago.

    There are so many fantasy books that I love, but hardly any of them Christian. I have just found it hard to find fantasy books by Christian authors that aren't incredibly cheesy or about dragons. The best Christian fiction that I've read is historical and all the Amish books Wanda Brunstetter. Oh, and Ted Dekkar! I find it helpful to allow myself to read any genre, but of course that's not the point of this blog, tehe.

    Glad to see all of those suggestions. I'll be sure to check them out!

    1. I kinda-sorta-pretty-much agree with you about the Door Within books, Sunny. They were okay, but I ended up reading some other library book instead :P .

      Ooh, Tamora Pierce! I love her work, honestly, even though some of it is definitely not very appropriate for younger readers. I debated putting some of my favorites of her books on my list...but then I couldn't decide which one(s) to include! So thanks for adding that :)

      Ah, yes, Artemis Fowl. Absolutely love that series (minus the last two books). Personally, I've always thought of them as science fiction with strong fantasy undertones, which is why I didn't put them on my list, but really, they're one of those crossover books that doesn't quite fit in any category! I love em :)

      Eragon...I have a long history with that book. I loved the first one a ton back when it was first published. Then I pretty much loved Eldest and Brisingr when they came out. But when I read the last book...well, I'll just say I was vastly disappointed. So that series did not make it on my list :P.

      I mostly agree with you, too. I have found few Christian fantasy books that allow me to suspend my "present reality" enough to jump into the story. Too many of them bring in Bible crossovers that leave me nervous of accepting extrabiblical revelation and suchlike! Ted Dekker...I enjoyed his Circle series quite a bit. Not enough to rank it among my absolute favorites, but certainly a lot.

      Thanks so much for your suggestions, too! I see that we read alike :D

  8. Hey There
    Glad you didn't ask about sci-fi, my list would never end :)

    My favorite fantasy books list is somewhat shorter, fortunately...

    The Hobbit
    The Lord of the Rings

    Servant of the Empire
    Daughter of the Empire
    Mistress of the Empire
    (Even if it is a fantasy version of 'Shogun,' which also love, btw)

    The Phantom Tollbooth is right up there,
    Bottersnikes and Gumbles (awesome Aussie classic)

    Threshold by Sara Douglass

    That's about it :(


    1. Hmm, the Empire series sounds good. And Bottersnikes & Gumbles? Can't say I've heard of it, but even the title sounds hilariously wonderful.

      Thanks so much for adding to the list! :)

    2. Hi Sienna
      Seriously, if you liked the Phantom Tollbooth, you'll simply adore 'Bottersnikes and Gumbles,' its a timeless classic. I've read it to my daughters and they loved it too. I mean, how do you pick up a hole by its corners and put it somewhere else?! And all set in the Aussie outback, what more could you ask for?

    3. Ooh, then I simply must read it! Sounds hilarious! And, considering I haven't had too much experience with the Aussie outback, I'd better improve my experience by reading it :)


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