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Books

Posted by Calvirick , Nov 09 2012 · 195 views

Stories Life
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So I'm at work as of right now. Sitting, as usual.

And I've really wanted to get back into reading fiction. (I think I came to this conclusion cause I was having a huge moment of nostalgia last night. Seriously guys, I had no idea how many great memories I had playing Hotwheels, and Eyewitness Virtual Reality Museum tours. The dino one was the BEST! My childhood was beast man.)

But see, the only thing that really makes me read a story is when I begin reading, but I still have in the back of my mind that there's something more than what meets the eye. (Or at least I hope for that.)
A story where they latch you by the neck and pull you closer the more you read. And soon or later you realize what a mess you've gotten yourself into, and now you can't stop reading!

Tolkien was pretty successful with that, though, the poetry parts made me yawn. (No, I will not get into an argument about the significance of Tom Bombadil.) Poetry's just not my thing.

I am very much into science fiction/fantasy. So....

Could you recommend something for me? That would be awesome...

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You ever read any of the Skulduggery Pleasant books? I believe they count as urban fantasy, and they're very good. Quite gripping.

- Vorex
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Haven't read much Sci-Fi myself, so I can't really recommend anything there (though I've heard Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, is amazing), but in the fantasy realm I'd recommend:

The Hobbit, if you haven't read it.

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. I'm not sure what genre I'd classify it as, but it is seriously an amazing book. It's hard to put it into words, but it's definitely worth a read. It's only about 200 pages, and those pages aren't very long at all (and there are also a lot of pictures [my banner/avatar are from the book]), but it's an amazing story about a kid having to deal with his mother having cancer. It is truly a heart-wrenching book, and one of my favorites.

The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher -- an awesome urban fantasy series about a modern-day wizard/Private Investigator solving crimes of the supernatural. I'd never been a fan of this type of stuff, but I read the first book in this series and was hooked. I've since read every single one and enjoyed all of them. Harry Dresden is perhaps one of the most awesome main characters ever, as is "Bob the Skull".

A Song of Ice and FIre, by George R. R. Martin. You've probably heard of the Game of Thrones TV show if you haven't heard of this book series, but that TV series is based off of these books. I've only read the first and part of the second, but they are extremely well written and extremely enjoyable. Be warned, though, the writing is quite dense and can be hard to get through at times. But if you take the time to sit down and slowly read the book, it will be extremely enjoyable. But it's not really a turn-pager -- it's a series to get lost in completely.

Harry Potter -- You've probably read these already, but I only read them for the first time this past August over the course of two weeks, and I really liked them. If you haven't read them, I'd definitely recommend you do.

I'd also recommend The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, and the Artemis Fowl series, by Eoin Colfer. The former speaks for itself I'm sure, but for the latter, it's a great series about a kid genius. I haven't read one in a few years, but I did greatly enjoy them when I read them.

Aaaand that's about all I've got. I haven't read too much fantasy (I'm more of a Detective/Espionage Thriller type), but I really, really enjoyed all of those, and as such hope to read more soon.

Have fun reading!

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I'm currently enjoying The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (BZP blogs aren't allowing accent marks for some reason; there's supposed to be one over the i), which I'm reading in my English class. It's more like magic realism than traditional fantasy, but it's chock full of sci-fi and fantasy reference, both pop-culture-related and literary.

But I can't recommend it without warning that it's tremendously profane. There is probably not a page in the book without swearing, and probably very few pages without some type of sexual reference. So yeah... not something I can really discuss in detail on BZPower. Plus, most of the people in my English class hate it, so I can't say it's something everyone can enjoy even if they can put up with the amount of mature content. Personally, I just enjoy it because the mix of fantasy and realism reminds me of the book Holes, which I also thoroughly enjoyed.

For something that I think has more universal appeal, I can pretty much recommend everything by Neil Gaiman. Most of his books are aimed at adults, so they also have their share of BZP-inappropriate content, but they're a lot less profane than Oscar Wao. If you want something largely wholesome (but still enjoyable, I recommend Coraline or The Graveyard Book. If you're OK with something edgier, I recommend his graphic novel series The Sandman or his novel American Gods. These are both very modern-day fantasies-- if you want Tolkien-esque "high fantasy", Stardust is the book to look for (though it does have a few R-rated scenes).

On the sci-fi side of things, how about books by William Sleator? The first William Sleator book I read was Interstellar Pig, and I've read a lot of his other books since then. House of Stairs is probably one of his most well-known books, and is severely unnerving. Other books of his I'd recommend are Marco's Millions and The Boxes. In the true spirit of sci-fi, William Sleator tends to form his narratives (aimed at young adults, so they're kid-appropriate but with a decent amount of depth) around various scientific factoids which are extrapolated into a more fantastic scenario. So, for instance, The Boy Who Reversed Himself involves dimensional travel, The Last Universe involves multiple universe theory, and Singularity involves... well, a singularity.

Mixing sci-fi and fantasy, the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer is an excellent series chock-full of suspense offset by frequent laughs. Characters in it are mostly defined by their moral ambiguity, such as Artemis himself who begins as a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind hoping to exploit the fairy people and develops over the course of the series. With its compelling characters and engaging stories, this is definitely one of my favorite series.

If you want a sci-fi series that's almost purely laughs, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is a fun read. Some mature content there but it usually is no worse than you'd find in a Monty Python skit. There are four other books Douglas Adams wrote for the Hitchhiker's Trilogy, and the aforementioned Eoin Colfer wrote a sixth installment just a couple years ago.

As for a similarly-hilarious fantasy story, The Princess Bride by William Goldman is a work of art, much like its movie adaptation. Full of humorous asides from the narrator and extremely quotable dialogue, it's difficult not to enjoy this-- even if you've seen the film.

Sorry for the long list of recommendations. I hope at least one of these descriptions inspires you to investigate further.
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It's a crime if you haven't read any of the Dune books. They're amazing -- both those written by the author and those his son wrote after his death. In total, that's quite a lot of reading, but it's a magnificent series.

And yes, I may have just painted a target on myself by endorsing the books not written by Frank Herbert, but I loved those too, and I don't care if people disagree.

~B~
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Princess Grr
Nov 09 2012 07:06 PM
If you're into the genres of fantasy and sci-fi, I'd recommend:

  • The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan - it's rich, extensive, and rather well-written, with a diverse and interest cast. Most fantasy authors just try to ape Tolkien's work, but I feel Jordan is of the rare breed that managed to match that scope and breadth with something original.
  • Works by Ursula LeGuin, particularly The Left Hand of Darkness, which explores an androgynous society on another planet and the symbolic ramifications it may have in regards to our own gendered culture.
  • The Einstein Intersection by Samuel Delany, which is a sci-fi metaphor of the Orpheus myth and also shows cracked perceptions of modern popular-culture (well, contemporary to when it was written, which was 1967) through the lens of a far-flung future society.
  • I wrote my college thesis on The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov (specifically on how it illustrates scifi-as-a-genre commenting on literature-as-an-art, but never mind that), which is basically a classic detective story set in the future and involving robots. It also has a sequel, The Naked Sun, which I also enjoyed. Asimov's writing style is not for everyone (terse, fast-paced, simple sentences mostly), but if you like immersive worlds like Tolkien's, Asimov was arguably his sci-fi equivalent in a lot of ways.
  • It's not sci-fi or fantasy, but if you want a novel that will grab your interest and literally keep you guessing as to how many layers it has, I've got to recommend The Trial by Franz Kafka. Kafka's work is famously weird and ambiguous and I feel this is his best. I guarantee you will not expect the ending, haha.
  • [i]Life of Pi by Yann Martel is a very recent novel that quickly became one of my favourites (and I'm a guy who reads a lot - I was an English major in college). It's about a boy who survives a shipwreck and is stranded on the ocean in a lifeboat with a full-grown bengal tiger. Lots of fantastical things happen and there's a rich wealth of thought dispensed throughout - though nothing may be quite as it seems (I can't say too much or it would spoil the ending)! It's a novel that very much involves the reader.

I could go on. Books are great!!
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