November is the national novel writing month (NaNoWriMo), and since Katy of Modly Chic and organizer of FBFF (Fashion Beauty Friend Friday) has been working on her next young adult book for the last several months with very little progress it got her thinking...what's everyone reading?
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I tried to narrow it down to 5, but I kept adding things on and not being able to remove things- and I had a hard time picking favorites even within authors, so you're getting more than 5 (and the knowledge that I'm terribly indecisive). I don't want to overwhelm you any more than this, so I'm cutting myself off, but please feel free to continue the discussion if you're interested :) I tried to put them in roughly the order that I read them in, but while some of the earlier books are aimed at a younger audience, they're still books I read and enjoy to this day.
A Wind in the Door and The Arm of the Starfish: Madeline L'Engle
-One of the most influential authors on my life, since I'm pretty sure that A Wind in the Door sparked my fascination with science and The Arm of the Starfish was one of the first things that interested me in Neuroscience (my chosen field of study). Many of the same themes come up in a lot of her books (science, music, family) that I really appreciate, and I love her style. Honorable mentions for this author are The Small Rain/ A Severed Wasp, which I didn't read until I was older, and act as beautiful bookends on one character's life (and were written at the beginning and end of MLE's career).
Court/Crown Duel: Sherwood Smith
-This is one of the first books that I remember loving as a kid. Also, saving up my pennies to buy it at Crown Books (and those went out of business a long time ago). I've later realized that my early attempts to write the next great novel were almost attempts at fan-fiction, before I even knew what that was. Strong female lead, political intrigue, and one of those antagonistic romances that are great on paper (but would probably suck in real life). It was originally published as two hardback books, so I even wound up buying a second copy (paperback and had both books= way easier to transport).
The Black Swan: Mercedes Lackey
-A revisionist look at one of my favorite ballets (the music for Swan Lake makes me feel alive like almost nothing else). It's got magic, love, and some sweet outfits, and I love that it turns the traditional story on it's head and the personalities it brings to life.
Hexwood: Diana Wynne Jones
-A little unusual in formatting, but very worth re-reading even after the novelty of the first time through wears off. This is one of my long-time favorites, and even though I'm probably pretty close to memorizing the book at this point, it's still a comfort read for me that often gets taken on trips. I'd like to choose honorable mentions for her, since she was a great and a prolific author, but I don't think I can pick.
The Salmon of Doubt: Douglas Adams
-Most well known for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (which is hilarious and smart), but for some reason this odd posthumous collection of bits has been what's stuck with me most- first read when I was starting to think more carefully about certain things (like religion), and it really helped thinking through serious things.
Anything by Terry Pratchett, but particularly Small Gods and Night Watch:
-It would be hard for me to not include him on this list, since the bf and I have now amassed an almost complete collection of his Discworld books. Most of his books are set in an alternate universe (much like our own except completely flat and balanced on four elephants on a turtle flying through space), which means that it falls under the sci-fi/fantasy umbrella, but in addition to being hilarious, these books are some of the smartest discussions of serious issues I've ever read. Small Gods is probably the best one and Night Watch sticks out as one of my other personal favorites. Also, the bf loves them, allowing me to live out my lifelong fantasy of reading in bed next to my bf.
The Eyre Affair and Thursday Next books: Jasper Fforde
-Much like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, this author uses the fantasy/sci-fi genre to make smart commentary, and I actually laughed out loud while reading it. It also involves more literary jokes than you can shake a stick at and allows the main character to do what I've always wanted to do: literally lose herself in a book.
Enchantment: Orson Scott Card
-Revisionist (theme, I've got one) Sleeping Beauty. I love that it pulls from history and Russian folklore influences. Honorable mention for this author is Ender's Game/Shadow, which were super influential on me when I was younger.
Robin McKinley, particularly Sunshine, but also Spindle's End and Chalice:
-Her books have this magical hold on me, where I feel as though I'm being totally consumed by the book's world while reading through it (more so than even other good authors). She does a lot of revisionist fairy tale/ mythology type things (which I love), but it's the way she writes and not just the content that puts her here. It doesn't hurt that Sunshine (along with the TV show Pushing Daises) are among what I cite as influencing my love of baking.
Neil Gaiman: American Gods
-Dark, gritty, and pulls together a lot of different mythologies- both the gods that we've forgotten and the gods that we've unknowingly set up in modern times. I'm also a huge fan of Stardust (both book and movie) and Mirrormask (more so the movie than the book).
For what it's worth, I'm currently reading:
The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt- an odd but mostly engaging read that I don't know how to summarize well (think steampunk mixed with elder gods and human sacrifice).
The Tortall books of Tamora Pierce- I'm not sure if anyone else was enthralled by the world of Alana the female knight, but it come up in conversation with friends over a few drinks, and it made me realize I was totally ready for a re-read (strong female lead! coming of age! fighting and magic!) Unfortunately I read through them much faster now than I did the first time.
For more people's thoughts about books, check out today's link-up post on Modly Chic