Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Boooooored now

Dear readers, I would like to solicit book recommendations. I read voraciously and fast, to the tune of 300 books a year (I spend a lot of tie nursing) and... I'm reduced to rereading Gaudy Night for the 67th time right now.  An excellent novel, but 67 times...

Books and authors I like because I think they are good writers who produce engaging stories: Margery Allingham, Dorothy Sayers, Patrick Rothfuss, Kelly McCullough, Kevin Hearne, Ann Leckie, Marie Brennan, Neil Gaiman (though not his last novel), Robin Hobb (though not the dragon stuff), Lois McMaster Bujold (though not the Sharing Knife stuff), Robin McKinley (though REALLY not the Pegasus stuff), John Scalzi, Ian MacDonald, Ilona Andrews (mostly), Charles Stross, the Anatomist's Wife series, Emma Bull, Wen Spencer, Seanan Macguire, Ruth Downie, some Tim Powers, Benedict Jacka.... You get the idea.

Books and authors I like for entertaining fluff: Chloe Neill, Mercedes Lackey, Deanna Raybourn, Diana Gabaldon (in this category for the shark jumping nature of the last one), Kowal, Carrie Vaughn, Kim Harrison....

Things I generally find abhorrent or boring: steam punk, violence, Terry Good kind, Shananananara, dear god no more Robert Jordan/ Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card (except Ender's Game which is, you have to admit, super creepy), Modesitt, Thomas Whatever Covenant, most nonfiction, 'paranormal romance', really depressing stories (the last edition of year's best sf nearly did me in), Joe Abercrombie, Laurel Hamilton,  Simon Green...

So tell me what to read next!  I reserve the right to tell you I've already read it though.  100 to 150 new books a year times twenty years adds up.


  1. How's your children's literature? Upside: finish one book in a day! Downside: child protagonists. At least, according to Patrick. I happen to like child protagonists. I am not certain that I ever grew up...

    Patricia Wrede, practically everything she's ever written. Colin is reading his way through the Percy Jackson books. Entertaining fluff, if you like Greek mythology. I believe there are 3 series of 5 books each, the first series is only 250 pg/bk, but the later series are 500+ pg/bk.

    Have you read all of Agatha Christie? I realize they're murder mysteries, but the violence is minimal and the British-ness is charming. I love Miss Marple.

    I recently re-read the Little Women books, and Anne of Green Gables series, and Pollyanna. They're different as an adult! When I run out of things to read I like to browse the classics on the kindle, since there is so much that's free.

    For a book club last year I read The Night Circus. Very good! But only one book.

    I'll keep thinking. I haven't read much fiction lately because I forget to feed the children if I have a good book... I usually have some nonfiction handy, since that's easier to put down. Recently, it was Smart Money, Smart Kids. Now it's The Happiness Project (again). The Market Gardener had some interesting information on growing food to sell at market, and made me really not want to be a farmer.

    Have you read Ready Player One? It might not be as awesome for you, since you didn't play video games. It does have lots of 80's music and pop culture references, though.

    1. I forgot Octavia E. Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy!

    2. Love/ have read all of Pat Wrede and Agatha Christie (in all its racist, sexist, dated, anti-Semitic glory, yes, I like it anyways). Will have to have another go at Percy Jackson and try Night Circus and Butler. I feel like I read something else of Butler's a long time ago and it was great!

  2. Anonymous11:27 PM

    Connie Willis: doomsday book, to say nothing of the dog, blackout and all clear are my favorites.

    1. Love Connie Willis! Have read all of those but perhaps time to read again. nice and long.

    2. Bionic8:58 AM

      That was my first suggestion. I have found Blackout/All Clear particularly worth rereading.

  3. Guy Gavriel Kay; I like Fionaver, Tigana, and Song of Arbonne; you might like the more historical, less fantasy with more of an edge in the other books (i.e. everything doesn't end well).

    Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour bookstore (only one book)

    Can't see if it's here as a like or dislike, but Cashore, Grace, Fire, and Bitterblue.

    Total fluff/soap opera: the Ivy series, about Harvard and final clubs

    I love Agatha Christie, too, and it can be fun to read all the books in series (something I do every 5-10 years; yes, I'm old enough now to say that). I feel the same way about the Anne series (and also some of Montgomery's other books, some of which are out of copyright and thus are available for free). I've also recently re-read the Betsy-Tacy books and the teen books by Beverly Cleary (as well as Cleary's autobiography).

    Oh and the Claudia & David books, by Ruth Franken (most available at Open Library). Sexist but kind of fun.

    BTW, check out Open Library --to browse and look for borrowable ebooks.

    1. Thanks for the recommendations! I'm okay with everything not ending well but find George R.R. Martin-levels to be too depressing (excellent writing, but SO DEPRESSING). Don't know if I could handle anything about the Ivies; makes my blood pressure rise with flashbacks to grad school!

  4. If you like Kim Harrison my friend has published her first urban fantasy in that genre. It's called owl and the Japanese circus by Kristi Charish

  5. fizzchick1:09 AM

    I second the Connie Willis suggestion. I got so caught up in Rosemary Kierstein's Steerswoman books that I am way short on sleep this week. You probably are familiar with Ursula LeGuin and Ngaio Marsh, but I'll mention them for completeness in the worldbuilding and cozy British mystery categories, respectively. Along the lines of the latter, have you tried Kerry Greenwood's Phyrne Fisher mysteries?

    1. I've read all of those authors' books! I have a whole Ngaio Marsh section on my bookshelf. Have you seen the TV series of Phryne Fisher? I thought it was actually quite good, and the hats are AMAZING.

    2. Anonymous4:25 PM

      I just started watching the Phryne Fisher series, after someone recommended Greenwood when I last asked for boo recommendations! The costumes are AMAZING.

    3. Such good costumes. They give me a serious desire to go steal them all.

    4. fizzchick2:32 AM

      well ok then. How about C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner series, for a nice character study disguised as a set of scifi novels? That's a good long one if you haven't read it yet - 16 hefty novels and counting. Lots of anthropology, little gore, and the dead are always minor side characters. And yes, I watched several of the TV Phyrne Fisher's the last time I visited my parents. Still waiting for Amazon Prime to make it available... Rita Mae Brown has a couple different mystery series set in VA (I prefer the Mrs. Murphy to the Sister Jane ones). They get repetitive after a while, as do the Cat Who books, but again, there's a lot of them. While I'm recommending cozy mysteries: Rhys Bowen (I prefer the 1st several Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness ones to the Evan Evans ones); Emily Brightwell; Elizabeth Peters (and Ellis Peters, for that matter); Rett MacPherson; and Charlotte Macleod/Alisa Craig (love Madoc Rhys and Sarah Kelling Kelling Bittersohn; meh on Peter Shandy and the Grub n Stakers, some are better than others). About half are set in the British Isles, none are gory, all get repetitive if you read too many in a row, but are worth switching among.

  6. Yes, yes, yes to Connie Willis and Rosemary Kirstein, if you haven't already read them.

    If you haven't already read them, anything by Tamora Pierce. You might have more patience with the Keladry and Beka Cooper books than some of her earlier stuff, but I love pretty much everything she's written. These are targeted to young adult readers, but I enjoy them quite a lot. She's got several series, so even though they're quick reads, they might keep you going for a few days.

    How do you feel about Elizabeth Moon -- ? She's got some fantasy/speculative fiction and some space opera, and feels different from Bujold.

    If you like Bujold (but not the Lakewalker books), you might like Heather Rose Jones, and her two books are new enough, you might not have read them yet. Like much of Bujold's work, there's a romance included, but despite Jones' marketing they're not just romances; there's lots more tucked in there. I read both her books and then had to go back and re-read them because I knew I hadn't gotten it all in the first reading. Alternate-Europe historical fiction, maybe -- ? http://www.alpennia.com/

    Here's a short story as a sample: http://podcastle.org/2015/02/20/podcastle-351-hoywverch/

    Speaking of Bujold, you know she mentions Georgette Heyer as an influence. After I read some Heyer, I could see it, and I started seeing layers in Bujold's Barrayar work I never had before. However, Heyer's work, though it's got a bit of social commentary, is really very fluffy. And a bit formulaic. I can do it only in doses, but I enjoy those doses. (That sounds like such a ringing recommendation, doesn't it!)

    Another favorite author is Molly Gloss. Oh my goodness, yes. She's another one who's hard to categorize. (When she won the Tiptree Award, she was rather shocked, because she hadn't realized she was writing science fiction...) I believe she describes her focus on women's untold stories, especially in the Pacific Northwest. No two of her books are alike, though her last two might be the closest kin to each other. She is totally fabulous and not well-known outside the PNW, perhaps because her work defies genres so much. http://mollygloss.com/

    I hope this quest provides you with a new and very enjoyable bounty!

    1. Have read ALL THE THINGS by Elizabeth Moon including Speed of Dark! Very good! I started reading Tamora Pierce when I was a wee nine year old sprog. :)

      Heather rose Jones, will have to try! And historical fiction, I do like in general though some of it DRAAAAAAAGS along so much that I'm all like BORED NOW BYE.

      I've enjoyed Heyer, though more the Regency-era ones and less the extremely.... ruffle-filled.... French-themed ones.

      Molly Gloss, a new one!


  7. I'm sure you've read it, but if you haven't, Wolf Hall? I finished it then started it again the next day. There's so much there, and it's such a good story. Have you read Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon? And I haven't gotten to The Goldfinch yet, but Donna Tartt really puts a story together well. I am floored by your ability to read AND be a parent. I'm down to one book a year at this point, I think.

    1. Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies kept me up until 2 AM. So good. The other two, I'll have to look into, thanks! (I'm a terrible housekeeper and incredibly lazy as a point of both feminism and, er, personality. I'd rather read and garden than do anything else... so I do. Plus, baby nursing for 4-5 hours a day during daylight hours = a LOT of time to read. I do more stuff when I'm not trapped with the baby, I swear. But I always read for about an hour at night. I've been doing it since I was seven and I literally can't fall asleep otherwise. Re-reading not terribly exciting things is great for bedtime, to avoid Wolf Hall until 2 AM, followed by lurid dreams. I recently went on a Charles Stross re-reading bender and had the very strangest dreams in ever.)

  8. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Oooh! I'm a long-time lurker, but also a voracious reader, and I see a lot of my favorites in your list. I would second the suggestion of Kristen Cashore's books, especially Graceling and Fire. Sharon Shinn's The Twelve Houses series is really fun fantasy (some of her more recent books suck). Also, Anna Dean's mysteries remind me of Deanna Raybourn. I'm sure there's more, but these are some of my favorites. I'll be checking back to see others' suggestions

    1. I like Sharon Shinn a lot, and Raybourn! Fluffy in my cosmos, but entertaining. I checked- our library only has one of the Anna Dean books (which I've read) but I'll have to ask them to buy the rest! I think I read Cashore's but they've evaporated out of memory. I remember them as a little past my too-depressing threshold (I am a delicate flower and cannot handle ANYTHING).

  9. Johanna1:55 PM

    Terry Pratchett isn't on any of your lists?

    Also, I recommend Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series. Maisie is a private investigator in Britain in the 1920s and 30s, and the entire series has the shadow of WWI over it. It's very well written, and Maisie is a lovely person who I would both like to and be afraid to meet.

    1. List was truncated by typing one-fingered on a tablet, while exhausted late at night! I have in fact read almost everything Terry Pratchett every wrote, and all the Maisie Dobbs novels! Your recommendations are excellent!

  10. Anonymous4:20 PM

    Because I can't seem to read it if it's not about Britain...
    Entertaining fluff, but well written and perhaps not as terrible as you might think from the website/cover art: JoJo Moyes. Often a parallel story thing, one in the past, one in the present. Try http://www.jojomoyes.com/books/the-last-letter-from-your-lover/

    Also far from literary but very satisfying, often set around WWII, ALL THE BOOKS of Mary Wesley. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Wesley
    I particularly like Part of the Furniture.

    I haven't counted the number of times I've read Gaudy Night, but I'm sure it's up there...

    1. OOOOOOH all new to me. :) Thank you! (I own all of Sayers' novels, naturally.)

      Literary is too much work. If I want my brain to be stimulated I'll read nonfiction. You will note that I don't read nonfiction (unless you count biomed journal articles, in which case I read a great deal of nonfiction, but it's all the same kind). I did go through an Interesting Biographies stage a decade or so ago, and I do love Feynman's memoirs with a passion, but otherwise, life is depressing enough, I don't need serious reading material to make me sad(der)!

  11. Pratchett, yes; but I think Neal Stephenson is maybe a bigger omission if you have not yet read his stuff.

    Early Larry Niven. Almost anything by Steven Barnes (skipping the recent co-authored stuff), and also by John Barnes (no such qualifier). Spider Robinson (a sadly limited oeuvre). Elizabeth Moon, which ranges from fluff to very much not, often reminds me of Bujold, I like her SF better than her fantasy.

    More risky: I like some of John Ringo's stuff as fluff, but a significant portion of his stuff is semi-porn with large elements of sadism and oft best avoided..

    1. Oops - most of the above comments weren't visible when I typed, sorry for the duplication!

  12. Part comedy of manners, part romance, part philosophy, part swashbuckling adventure, I highly recommend Daughter of Mystery and Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones: http://alpennia.com/

    If you're happy with children's fiction that is still satsifying, I recently picked up The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Boat of Her Own Making (by Catherynne....I can't remember her last name) and The Foreshadowing (by Marcus Sedgewick), the latter of which was a literal "cannot put down". I stayed up far too late too many nights in a row to finish it.

    [Unrelated note: Your "comment as" system appears to be buggered. Every time I tried to comment under my LJ handle, it redirected me and forced me to comment with google.]

    1. Thanks for the recs!

      Comment sys is unfortunately part of Blogger and so I cannot un-embugger it. The same thing happened to my LJ login elsewhere so perhaps it's a feature.

  13. Anonymous4:43 PM

    The "His Dark Materials" books by Phillip Pullman are technically for children/teens but I enjoyed them very much as an adult. Also in the children's category: I like to reread Watership Down every now and again.
    Another thought: how about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke? It's a little odd, but good fun.
    Also Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope is wonderful for some gentle fun. Lots of Margaret Atwood, especially the Blind Assassin. Hmm, this is making me want to read more books again!

  14. Very occasional commentator, passionate reader, and my tastes seem to overlap with yours a lot (I literally had to buy a new copy of Gaudy Night recently as my old one fell apart, the spine disintegrated), late to the party... apologies if duplicating anything the long list above.

    Read any Martha Wells? A bit Emma-Bull-like, and definitely as addictive (to me anyway)

    And an oldie, but have you read any John Buchan? The Hannay novels, Prester John, the Gorbals Diehards novels are really good. Oh, and Cold Heart River... I find his historical novels less appealing, preferring Trollope or Stephenson, but tastes vary. Despite all the datedness of the attitudes, I adore his books as excellent adventure yarns from a past age, well written, and for their time surprisingly human in their portrayal of non-western societies, I think. Anyway, a great read.

    Rudyard Kipling's novels - Puck of Pook's Hill and Kim are on my great young adult fiction list, and things like Plain Tales from the Hills and The Light That Failed are really, really good reads.

    Tanya Huff? Range of modern fantasy stuff
    Patricia Briggs? urban fantasy but done better than most
    Jennifer Crusie? "girly books" with a sense of humour and a dash of feminism and 3-D characters
    Christina Jones, magical villages series - English rural romances with a magical twist

    Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple books - light hearted detective novels set in the 1920s in Britain, remind me a bit of Dorothy L Sayers though not as good (but can anything really be as good as Gaudy Night? I mean...). Less gritty than Maisie Dobbs, but great fun.

    If you liked Wolf Hall, have you read the Shardlake series? SO SO GOOD. If you haven't get them NOW. Author's surname is Sansom.

    Anthony Price - twentieth century British/Russian spy type novels but the quality of the characterisation reminded me a lot of Sayer, and strong historical elements as one of the two main characters is a historian and parallels with history matter a lot to the author.

    Patrick O'Brien for well-characterised historical adventure and friendship stories, the Aubrey-Maturin Napoleonic war sequence draws heavily on original logs and documents and the characters are compelling (I would love to argue with Stephen Maturin...). And if you like that sort of thing, Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle is a good read too, although not fiction!

    And now I'm off to Amazon to see if there are any cheap copies of a few of the suggestions I didn't know that were made in the earlier comments...

    Oh, Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series is pretty neat

    Patricia Finney's Gloriana's Torch and a title that's got Unicorns in it (can't remember) were also good Elizabethan London mystery novels

    And some dated young adult but ones I re-read regularly are the Geoffrey Trease novels, Crown of Violets, a Load of Unicorn, Cue for Treason...

    Susanna Gregory - Matthew Bartholemew Chronicles (historic mystery stories set in medieval Cambridge, so academic setting which I find fun too) - I don't like her Chaloner series nearly as much but that's a matter of personal taste.

  15. Bionic9:04 AM

    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is my "treat" book ("if I finish this semester, I will let myself read that again.")

    Just read and very much liked Lev Grossman's Magicians series. There is some violence, including one very shocking scene in the second book, but it is not mostly violent. This may seem a strange thing to say about fantasy, but there is something about the way magic works in those books that I find appealing in a science-y way. Great characters and funny.

    All of Margaret Atwood. Okay, maybe the very early novels are better if you are already a fan, but basically, she is brilliant and I imagine would appeal to your brain. I can provide specific suggestions and précis if desired.

    I will forgive you for liking a book by my college frenemy

  16. Just lost a long comment. But look up Kate Eliot - Jaran series if you haven't read yet. I love this thread. I also read an inappropriate number of books (for a resident with 2 kids). Lots of new authors to try!

  17. Anonymous9:01 PM

    We have very similar reading tastes, especially the dislikes(!) I'm on a romance novel kick currently (GEORGETTE HEYER!!!!!!!!), so that's probably not of interest to you (except, you know, Georgette Heyer), but if you go back into our blog history on the book tag, there's good stuff in there.

    Of all the above recommendations, I second/third Martha Wells. Though you can skip her steampunk stuff (though it really pre-dates the steampunk craze and may not be technically steampunk). I assume you've read Lisa Shearin, but if you haven't, she's kind of like Carrie Vaughn + Seanan McGuire but with elves and goblins.


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