So a guy on Formspring asked me what books I would recommend to kill time between Dresden Files stories, and I figured I’d reproduce it here. Here’s what I read to ease the pain between hits of beta smack, in convenient alphabetical order!
Douglas Adams — everyone I know has read his “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series, right? Okay, just checking.
Lois McMaster Bujold — the Vorkosigan saga is some of the best sci-fi I’ve read, and I’m very picky with my sci-fi. The books focus on Miles Vorkosigan, descendant of a long line of war heroes on a planet obsessed with military honor, who was born horribly deformed as a result of an assassination attempt on his mother. He has the mind of a brilliant leader in an all-too-fragile body, and his adventures are suitably grandiose in scale. One of the best part of these books is that the characters grow and evolve over the course of the series, and the tone of the books changes accordingly. Bujold also wrote “The Curse of Chalion,” which I hear is excellent, and “The Sharing Knive” series, which is mind-searingly dull.
Jim Butcher — I know this list started as “recs for people who love Jim Butcher,” but I felt silly leaving him off a list of my favourite authors. Oh, and there’s a map in book 6 of The Codex Alera I hear is pretty cool.
Shannon Butcher — There is altogether too much talent in that household. I’ve only read two or three of her books, as I’m not a big Romance reader, but she has a mind for creating fantastic monsters, and she writes fantastic suspense–I missed my bus stop because I was too engrossed in “Love You To Death.”
Eoin Colfer — his Artemis Fowl series is riotously fun fantasy enjoyable by a wide spectrum of ages.
Jasper Fforde — a genius madman. A worthy heir to Douglas Adams. He creates worlds that are gloriously absurd, but still internally logical and well developed. His Thursday Next series are deliciously clever and demonstrate a real love for literature. His most recent book, “Shades of Grey,” is “a cult classic for people who crave a rich brew of dystopic fantasy and deadpan goofiness,” to quote the Washington Post.
Neil Gaiman — needs no introduction.
Mira Grant — an alias of Seanan McGuire. Not sure why she or her publisher felt the need for the pseudonym, but oh well! Her book, “Feed,” is the first in a trilogy about bloggers following a Presidential election after the zombie apocalypse. This description will either compel you to buy the book instantly or send you fleeing the room, so if you’re in the latter group, I will add that I don’t generally care for most zombie stuff (“Sean of the Dead” being the near-sole exception), but I loved this. It’s much smarter and more thematic than your average campy gorefest. It’s more than a book about zombies–it’s about friendship and family and the politics of fear.
Lev Grossman — I feel the whole “Harry Potter for Grown-Ups” label has become overused, but it’s rather fitting in this instance, “Mixing the magic of beloved children’s fantasy classics (from Narnia and Oz to Harry Potter and Earthsea) with the sex, excess, angst, and anticlimax of life in college and beyond” (Amazon.com Best of the Month).
Nick Harkaway — You need to read “The Gone-Away World.” Right now. I freaking love this book. I don’t know how to describe it, so I’ll use Publisher’s Weekly’s description: “simultaneously a cautionary tale about the absurdity of war; a sardonic science fiction romp through Armageddon; a conspiracy-fueled mystery replete with ninjas, mimes and cannibal dogs; and a horrifying glimpse of a Lovecraftian near-future.”
John Hodgman — “The Areas of My Expertise” and its sequel, “More Information Than You Require,” are an exercise in the very best sort of madness.
N.K. Jemisin — “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” is a complex, beautifully-written book about politics, racism, and religion. Her world’s gods are fantastically eerie and absolutely magnetic. I can’t wait for the next in the trilogy!
Scott Lynch — his “Gentleman Bastard” series could be a bit sadistic for my taste, and the book’s constant pinballing between different times in the hero’s life could be confusing, but I still really enjoyed them. Think “Ocean’s 11” in Renaissance Italy. Great stuff. The third book in a planned seven-book cycle has been delayed, which is rather agonizing, considering how the second ended, so I’m sending good vibes in Mr. Lynch’s direction!
Seanan McGuire — I want to be this woman when I grow up. Her filks are among the best I’ve encountered, and her urban fantasy series has me clamoring for more. The Dresden Files are an easy comparison to make, as both heroes are blue collar private investigators with one foot in the mortal world and one in the supernatural community, though half-fae changeling October Daye has significantly less magical muscle to hurl at enemies than Harry Dresden. The world is richly developed from Celtic folklore, and her characters are memorable and lovable. (Tybalt! Quentin! Toby herself! *flings love at them*) I’ve found the endings of the series’ two books somewhat predictable, but the journey there is so enjoyable, it’s more than worth it.
Robin McKinley — I’ve only read a handful of her books, but I’ve adored each of them. Some of her novels re-envision fairy tales like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Donkeyskin,” while others create new worlds that capture the same timeless magical quality that drew us in fairy tales in the first place. “Sunshine” and “Deerskin” are two of my favourites of hers, and yes, I know I need to read “The Blue Sword” already!
Terry Pratchett — his Discworld series is unmissable. His novels ride the line between parody and satire, and his characters you’ll grow to adore. Discworld is actually a collection of a variety of sub-series: the Wizards, the Witches, the City Watch, Death, and a number of stand-alones. My favourites are the Watch and the handful of stand-alones folks quasi-categorize as “industrial revolution”, but you could ask a room full of fans and get a different answer every time. I’d suggest starting with “Guards! Guards!” And I totally need to redo the Angua costume I made in high school.
Pat Rothfuss — “The Name of the Wind” is one of my favourite books to recommend. I’ll lend it to a friend, she’ll disappear for a few days, and then she’ll emerge a frantic wreck, wailing, “YOU SUCK YOU SUCK YOU SUCK WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK COMING OUT?!?” This is the first in a trilogy chronicling the coming-of-age of a young man, who will grow to be a hero of legend. It’s a beautifully crafted story you just want to curl up with and disappear into for days at a time. I resented my job for taking me away from it.
J.K. Rowling — If you haven’t read Harry Potter, you live under a rock. Under a bigger rock. Under an even bigger rock. Under a tectonic plate. Under a sheet of impermeable metal three feet thick, built to withstand the brunt of time and man. Seriously, how?
Brandon Sanderson — Man, this guy is versatile. Hallmarks of his work include strong character development arcs, deliciously creative magic systems, wonderfully twisty plots-within-plots that are complex without feeling overly contrived, and a real sense of consequence to one’s actions. I adore his “Mistborn” series and plan to cosplay as his heroine, Vin, at my earliest convenience, and “Warbreaker” is also excellent. I couldn’t get into “Elantris,” but I feel it deserves a second chance. He’s also finishing Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” saga, but as I don’t care much for Jordan, I’ll have to trust the positive reviews my friends have given Sanderson’s continuation.
Geoffrey Willans (author) and Ronald Searle (illustrator) — Rede MOLESWORTH, gratest book in the history of man as any fule kno. Quite simply, this is the best book no one I know has ever heard of. It’s written from the point of view of Nigel Molesworth, “Terror of St. Custards,” a British schoolboy with a boundless imagination and a complete disregard for spelling and grammar. This book “contanes the full lowdown on skools, swots, snekes, cads, prigs, bulies, headmasters, foopball, weeds, and various other chizzes-in fact THE LOT.” When I moved to New York, I was living out of my suitcase for several weeks, so I only allowed myself to bring two books: the one I was reading at the time (Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”) and Molesworth. That is how much I love this book.
I’m sure there are scads of great writers I’m forgetting, but those are the ones jumping out at me. That should get him through to “Side Jobs,” at least. :D