Now Soliciting Summer Reading Suggestions

April 24, 2008 at 5:56 pm (books)

A lot of what I look forward to every summer is completing a ton of leisure reading, and spring fever has hit me hard, so I’ve started preparing myself early. This means strolling the city, stopping into each and every bookstore I happen upon and browsing the shelves while I should be doing end-of-school-year related things instead.

BUT. Complications.

The other day I set a goal for myself, which is to read only works of fiction this summer. This is a big deal for me. I rabidly consume almost only non-fiction on a variety of subjects. With non-fiction I’m not at all picky, indiscriminate almost to a fault.

But for some reason, I have the opposite problem when it comes to fiction. I don’t even know how to shop for fiction. I don’t know what sorts of fiction I want to read, and for some reason when looking at works of fiction, my ability to judge books I don’t know about by their covers and descriptions diminishes greatly (though not completely).

This is where you come in, dear reader. Help me out. What’s your favorite novel? Creative essay? Book of poems? Works of mass appeal, or that you suspect I’ll like from perusing the blog? I’m open to suggestions related to any and all topics, be they light and fluffy, challenging, disturbing, whatever.

It’s time to re-balance.



  1. Iz said,

    I’d recommend Middlesex (hermaphrodites and haunting fucked up shit) and Lamb (a fake Gospel), if you haven’t already run across them in your travels.

  2. Daran said,

    My favorite novel is “The Farthest Shore” by Ursula K Le Guin, third in the Earthsea cycle, though the whole series is brilliant. It has the most haunting, desolate, description of the afterlife I have ever read.

    If you’ve not already read them, do so in order.

  3. katkmeanders said,

    Agatha Christie’s Death Comes As The End might pique your interest. It is a murder mystery, set in Ancient Egypt. At the time, Dame Christie was married to a prominent archaeologist, and some of the events are based on letters that were found and translated.

    What about The Earthsea series, by Ursula K. LeGuin? You might especially like the character Dragonfly/Irian.

    They might be children’s books, but I still recommend them. Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet, and Diane Duane’s Young Wizard series, as well as her Book of Night With Moon and To Visit the Queen.

    You might also like some of Jane Yolen’s short stories, *GRAB* Dragonfield and Other Stories if you spot it. It has a very excellent story that explains just exactly what the concepts Heaven, and Hell really are. (Can be applied to this plane too…)

    (You don’t have to buy from here, but it was the first place I could find a picture of the book.)

    Andre Norton’s (editor) Catfantastic short story collections are good reads.

    (You can look inside the book here, get a feel for it.)

    So is Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress books.

    (I own this book, good read.)

    And her Lythande book, and her The Gratitude of Kings book.

    You need to be able to read the short story “The Secret of the Blue Star” to really be able to understand about Lythande, they are very complex. (Gender ambiguity purposeful there.) The short story is found in the Lythande collection.

    Going to hit submit, and if I think of others I’ll post again, with links.

  4. katkmeanders said,

    Missed a link! Death Comes As The End. (Careful, don’t want to spoil the plots, so don’t read the synopsis on these links.)

  5. katkmeanders said,

    Adding, for the Time Quartet, (there are more than four books in it now) I recommend at least A Wrinkle In Time, A Wind In The Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet to read.

  6. katkmeanders said,

    Here is another Sword and Sorceress book I own, and you can peek inside this one.

  7. katkmeanders said,

    For Science Fiction, how about Anne McCaffery’s The Talent Universe, particularily those books with The Rowan, or her children? Her To Ride Pegasus books are good too though. You can peek at each of her books via the links below.

    Andre Norton’s Wraiths of TIme is interesting, not hardcore Science Fiction, but good.

    I seem to recall Isaac Asimov’s Ugly Little Boy was a good read.

    So are his and Judy Asimov’s Norby books.

    I also liked his I, Robot stories, but it has been a *LONG* time since I read them. They set the standard for how AI would act though. (Rule Number One paraphrased: “Never hurt a human.”)

    Probably will be more yet to come. Hee, can you tell I love many different books?

  8. katkmeanders said,

    “You can peek at each of her books via the links below.” WRT to Anne McCaffery’s books, should mean “Links at the bottom of the article I link below.” *doh*

  9. katkmeanders said,

    Ah, left out Piers Anthony’s Incarations of Immortality books. It’s been a while since I read them, but they are an interesting look at what goes on “Behind the Scenes” for us mortals.

    Or, the Mr. really enjoys the Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind, who is an Objectivist. I’ve read some of them, and want to read more. Just, I got to waiting for the Mr. to finish them, and got caught up in other books. It isn’t that he is flying the “Objectivist” banner with the books, but it does show how the author thinks. Very good books, well written.

  10. katkmeanders said,

    Er, and…if you click on “The Author” at Terry Goodkind’s official site, you will see a “Philosophy” option so you can read for yourself. *smile*

  11. katkmeanders said,

    This: “but they are an interesting look at what goes on “Behind the Scenes” for us mortals.” should more properly read “but they are an interesting *TAKE* at what goes on “Behind the Scenes” for us mortals.” *DOUBLE DOH*

  12. katkmeanders said,

    I should note, that Terry Goodkind’s books are *THICK* at least six hundred pages on average.

  13. Emily said,

    Iz: I have read Middlesex, but haven’t heard of Lamb. It looks fun!

    And Daran and KatK, Ursula K. Le Guin came up twice right off the bat. Certainly says something.

    Also, KatK, I knew I could depend on you for an abundance of links! Heh. It’ll take me a while to look through all those.

    Thanks, all!

  14. Infra said,

    Danielewski’s House of Leaves is one I’ve mentioned before, and I’d still recommend it for the list. Strongly.

    I’d add Brian D’Amato’s Beauty and Greg Egan’s Distress, too… but I’m pretty sure that both are out of print. If you can find them, they’re definitely worth the time.

  15. Emily said,

    Ah yes, I think I remember you mentioning House of Leaves; I plan on picking that one up. And Beauty sounds fascinating from descriptions I just read briefly online…I’ll try to locate that one too. Thanks Infra.

  16. Dan (Fitness) said,

    Songs of Earth and Power is excellent, as is His Dark Materials. Anything by Tad Williams is a good read as well.

    But short stories really hit the spot like nothing else, and “Classic Folktales from Around the World” and a book of Hellboy inspired short stories (Odd Jobs, Even Odder Jobs) are both very satisfying.

  17. Iz said,

    Theres also always HP Lovecraft if you want some good horror :P

  18. arkhilokhus said,

    If you like fantasy, and have any interest in canines, Jane Lindskold’s Wolf series (starting with Through Wolf’s Eyes) is fantastic. She does a great job of drawing parallels between pack psychology and human politics.

  19. Infra said,

    Ah, horror stories.

    HPL’s great, of course, and I’d recommend the Call of Cthulhu DVD by the HPL Historical Society if you want to mix in a film. But in terms of reading suggestions, I’d highly recommend two stories by Algernon Blackwood, which you can find here in PDF: “The Man Whom the Trees Loved” and “The Willows.”

    Especially the second. I believe that HPL referred to it as the best weird tale ever written, and I have to concur.

  20. Tintu said,

    I would recommend Haruki Murakami if think something on a surreal side might hit the spot for you. Especially The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is super. If you are a friend of funnies, then I would love you to see how P. G. Wodehouse makes you feel. Hilarious!

    What ever you end up reading this summer I hope you’ll enjoy each and every text. Keep us posted on your journey to fiction.

  21. Emily said,

    I have read the Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. I liked it a lot right up until the end, but was then disappointed that the end didn’t really tie up like I wanted it to. Eh. I might try another Murakami book, though.

    I’ve got quite the list going now! Maybe I’ll post my official To-Reads a little later.

  22. Foray Into Fiction « Our Descent Into Madness said,

    […] 22, 2008 at 7:47 pm (books) As I mentioned a short time ago, I plan to read a lot of fiction this summer. Many of you, dear readers, gave me suggestions for […]

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