Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Book Thread

I have a great admiration for Robin Mckinley, who has a fabulous blog that I read regularly. She's real and human and funny; it makes me glad that one of my favorite authors turned out to be someone that I can truly like.

One of the things she has on her blog is an interactive book list--people are welcome to comment on favorite books they have and what they like to read, etc. As I've got a pretty decent readership base (there are between 350-500 of you visiting each day, depending on your moods), I figured, why not do the same for LIT SOUP? It is *ostensibly* about books after all. =)

(And soup, but we'll get to that in a few days, when I next make miso soup, make it properly the Japanese way with fresh dashi, and give you the pictorial tour of me doing so.)

Anyway, getting back to the books. In the comments to this thread, feel free to post what you like to read: favorite authors, favorite books, mini book reviews, anything book-related. In fact, consider it an open pimping thread for all things books. Tell me what I should be reading, if I won the lottery, and was rich enough to do nothing but read all day. I'll be linking to this on the sidebar later today, so it will be always accessible for new comments and discussion.

And to start us off, I'll mention that I'm currently slowly reading KUSHIEL'S SCION by Jacqueline Carey, which I'm totally digging. Imriel's voice in the book is very real, and while he's not quite as fascinating a character as Phedre, I like his story so far.

Now have at it!


BuffySquirrel said...

I could blether on about books all day!

One of my favourite authors, who I'm slowly pursuing through his entire 20-book series, is Patrick O'Brian. I strongly recommend starting with Master and Commander. If you don't like that, then you probably won't like the rest, either :). But it's great naval adventure--meticulously researched and unwilling to make concessions to modern sensibilities.

On the more SFFy side of books, I've recently bought two more PKD's--Voices from the Street and The Cosmic Puppets. I'm now about eleven or twelve books away from owning/reading his entire published oeuvre. Whether it's eleven or twelve depends on if Lies, Inc. and The Unteleported Man can be regarded as the same book, or two (or even three) separate ones!

One day I will complete my collection. Somehow!

Dannie said...

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan.

It's a YA about a boy who finds out he is the son of Poseidon. I picked it up because I really love Greek mythology and Riordan does his research. I think he really effectively mdoernizes the ancient myths. I mean who can't picture Ares as a biker dude!

Lisa Iriarte said...

Well, I have read a lot, but now am exclusively reading kick-ass female protagonist science fiction since that is what I am writing as well. My favorites?

1. Elizabeth Moon - Vatta's War series
2. Tanya Huff - Valor series
3. Linnea Sinclair - everything she has written so far
4. Ann Aguirre - Grimspace
5. Kristin Landon - both her novels
6. S.L. Viehl - Stardoc series
7. Laura Anne Gilman - not science fiction, but a great paranormal urban fantasy with strong female main character
8. Debra Doyle and James McDonald - the Mageworlds series
9. Anne McCaffrey - Sassinak

Mary Paddock said...

My tastes are dictated by the mood I'm in when I walk into the book store, but I generally reach for "soft" sci-fi, some horror, and mysteries. Every once in a rare while I'll reach for chick-lit or love stories, but it's rare.

My newest find is F. Paul Wilson's the "Repairman Jack" series. I can't say that the writing in and of itself is brilliant (In fact, I found it to be occasionally clumsy), but the premise just great and he does a fine job of interweaving supernatural events and everyday life. Jack "repairs" things. Have a blackmailer bothering you? Jack, for a sum of money, can make them go away. Have a son or daughter who's disappeared into a cult? Jack will find them (though he claims he hates to get personal). A rich mafia guy trying to drive you out of your home or business? Jack will give them a reason to look for other real estate. Have a house haunted by the avenging spirit of a small girl, Jack will (somewhat unwillingly) help you exorcise her. Meanwhile he's trying to balance a perfectly normal relationship with the(very pregnant) love of his life and her small daughter, and rebuild his relationship with his estranged father, while still staying "off the grid" and out of the public eye. However, it really doesn't help that the Powers that Be have dubbed him the savior of the world (oft represented by elderly women and small dogs) and he regularly battles the "Others" (some truly nasty creatures) for control.

I have a half a dozen other favorites (Simon Haynes, Terry Pratchett, Juliett Marillier), but I think that will work for now.

Sprizouse said...

Well I love The Brothers Karamazov, Hemingway, Faulkner and all the Romantic Poets (especially Blake). There's not a lot of current fiction I read, but here are two:

1.) We Need to Talk About Kevin -- Lionel Shriver.
2.) George RR Martin's current series.

I also think there's a lot of really good non-fiction out there that's informative and well-researched without being overly rigorous.

1.) The Omnivore's Dilemma
2.) The Long Tail
3.) Everything Bad is Good For You
4.) The Black Swan

Anonymous said...

OK, since you asked, I have to put in my two cents for my favorite author (almost of all time). Georgette Heyer. I know, I know, romance. However, really, really, good romance with funny characters. It's like Austen, but better (am I even allowed to say that without being shot??? Still, Heyer is funnier). I also read a lot of YA fantasy and love that a lot.

Jenny Rappaport said...

shariwrites, you're totally allowed to include romance. I adore Georgette Heyer too!

Kristin Laughtin said...

Mmm, miso soup. I know what I'm making for dinner now.

My current book is THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, by Ursula K. Leguin.

Favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut, and this has not changed since high school. He's the one who made me really want to write, and showed me just what a book is capable of doing, even though I was very well-read before him. Other than that, I like a lot of classics.

The best book I've read this year, and have been pimping non-stop, is SPIN, by Robert Charles Wilson. It's very hard SF, but extremely literary at the same time, and I cannot find a single thing to dislike about this book. The writing is *amazing*--one of those books that makes me want to cry "no fair!" and stop writing, but in the best way possible, if that makes sense. (No, I don't really stop writing; I'm usually more inspired even through the intimidation.)

Selene said...

When speaking about novels to read, and fantasy novels in particular, I'm always wondering why no one's ever read Laura Resnick? Is she obscure? Never marketed? What happened??? :-)

Her novels are about the best epic fantasy I've read in years. Superb characterizations, believable conflicts, no great evil Dark Lord... The first one is called "In legend born". I'm just saying. :-)


Alter said...

Favorite Author: Roger Zelazny. Not so much the Amber books, though the first Amber series was nothing short of brilliant, but the stand alone novels: Lord of Light, This Immortal, Isle of the Dead, and so on. I've got a warm spot in my heart for Glen Cook, as well; the early Black Company books are brilliant, and I quite like some of the other stuff he's done.

Who else? I've recently gone through a collection of Raymond Z. Gallun shorts, which hold up surprisingly well. He's not quite Kuttner and Moore, but he's not bad at all.

I can go on about this stuff for hours, but if you want an unannotated list of authors, I can do that: C.J. Cherryh, Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, Sean Russell, Sean Stewart, Michael Swanwick, Stephen Brust, Leigh Brackett, and, and. It'd probably be a good idea to cut things off at this point, or even this will go on for hours. And that's without going for Herbert or Heinlein or Asimov or various other people that everyone knows about, and has opinions on, one way or another. Well, okay, just a bit: The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath is an excellent read, and doesn't have that much in common with the general perception of Lovecraft.

Jenny Rappaport said...

alter, who is Raymond Z. Gallum?

Priscilla G said...

You said we could pimp romance, so I'm going to do it. I'm not usually a romance reader - much prefer fantasy like George RR Martin or Lois McMaster Bujold, but this one was recommended to me, and I was pleasantly surprised!

Pam Rosenthal's "Almost A Gentleman" is set in the Regency period and her characters are very well drawn - their problems sucked me right in.

TerriRainer said...

I am a sucker for a series. That being said, here's a few of my favorites:

Diana Gabaldon-Outlander series and Lord John Gray books. She is hard to put in a catagory, sci-fi/paranormal, romance, historical.

C.L. Wilson-The Tairen Soul Series, sci-fi/fantasy, romance.

Stephenie Meyer-The Twilight series, YA paranormal, romance.

Those are just my top three.

:) Terri

Jenny Rappaport said...

Just as a note of clarification, you are allowed to pimp books of ANY GENRE, even literary fiction. This is an all-inclusive book thread, after all. =)

Nancy D'Inzillo said...

One of my favorite authors since the fourth grade (I read her YA series starting with Black Unicorn, then grew to read her adult fiction) is Tanith Lee. Biting the Sun and Silver Metal Lover are two of my favorites. (If you read Black Unicorn, I wouldn't necessarily bother with the rest of the trilogy.)

Margaret George is the most impressive historical fiction writer I've encountered, but I love LONG books. (She does her research, which means I don't think I've seen a novel of hers that was less than 500 pages.)

And if you like magical realism, Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiongo is pretty awesome.

P.S. Since you posted this thread in the sidebar, I'm assuming you'd like us to keep posting with titles we like as we remember and/or find them?

Wendy said...

I must put a word in for Dick Francis, whom nobody else has mentioned thus far. Dick was a steeplechasing jockey for many years, and rode the Queen Mother's horses. His novels are slim in paperback, they all involve horse racing in some way (sometime directly, sometimes very peripherally indeed), and they are all taut, character-driven mysteries. The protagonists are seldom repeated (though former jockey-now investigator Sid Halley appears three times), and the stories all stand up to re-reading.

Jenny Rappaport said...

Nancy, the intent is for people to keep posting.

Anonymous said...

So many books, so little time...

Lindsey Davis's Marcus Didius Falco mysteries. In Emperor Hadrian's Rome, Marcus is an enforcer, which is presented as being roughly like a PI. He's usually sent on missions by Hadrian without any kind of official power or authority, which means he has to rely on his quick wits to get himself out of the situations he finds himself in. He's quite the wise-ass, but has a great heart.

Davis, it seems to me, does her research but doesn't take it too seriously, which makes the series lively and fresh. I'm always curious to see what's happened next.

Seconding the recommendation of Heyer. Also recommending Loretta Chase for wit, clarity of writing, interesting settings (Albania, Egypt, Venice, as well as England).

Anything by Ursula K. LeGuin. Or Patricia McKillip.

Jenny Rappaport said...

katycooper, I like Loretta Chase too, although I was disappointed in her latest one set in Venice. It didn't feel like it had the usual charm to it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Venice one wasn't one of her strongest -- though I totally admire the way neither she nor Francesca apologized for the way Francesca was living -- I still enjoyed it.

My absolute favorite Chase? Lord Perfect. That's one I'm going to have to pick apart and study -- I want to see if Peregrine's and Benedict's journeys mirror each other as much as I suspect.

Least favorite? The Last Hellion.

stacie3 said...

I loved "The Post Birthday World" by Lionel Shriver. It was interesting how she was able to weave two divergent narratives for the protagonist and manage to keep the characters interesting and the plot thought provoking. It could have been gimicky but I think she pulled it off. I also always recommend "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett. I think it is her most literary work, a lyrical and emotional story the ending of which had me riveted.

Alter said...

Raymond Z. Gallun had one of the odder careers in SF, a field not known for its normality, in careers or otherwise.

He wrote most of his short fiction in the 1930s; his best known story is probably "Old Faithful", about a Martian scientist who works out a system of communicating with the people of Earth, and then leaves Mars for Earth, but "Seeds of the Dusk" gets anthologized pretty widely as well -- it's about the post-human Itorloo and a sentient crow fighting against a plant from outer space.

He continued writing into the fifties, but pretty much stopped then, with the exception of a couple of novels, until the seventies. Then he started writing again, mostly novels, with Bioblast, a reasonably well received novel, written in the eighties. I believe that he died in the early nineties, but I could be wrong about that.

The stuff from the thirties is certainly of its time, but it's got a certain democracy of spirit that a lot of Campbellian SF lacks -- there's no reason to assume that humans are stronger, tougher, smarter, or morally better than any of the aliens out there. And there is an occasional bit of unfortunate gender based stereotyping, but he's nowhere near as bad as say, Stanley G. Weinbaum in that regard.

The collection I was reading was The Best of Raymond Z. Gallun, published by Del Ray in 1978.

Okay, here's a quote, most notable for it's "the way the future was" sort of charm:

"The device was a microrobot, or if the trade name was to be used, a Scarab. The task of constructing such a tiny and incredibly intricate fabrication was a matter involving infinite skill, patience, and precision. The most powerful microscopes had to be used, and the most delicate of tools. The nervous waver of a finger, during the process, was enough to ruin much of the fragile workmanship that had so far been completed"

From "A Menace in Miniature", 1937.

Jenny Rappaport said...

alter, thanks for the explanation!

katycooper, my favorite Chase novel would have to be THE DEVIL'S DELILAH, I think. Although I do like LORD PERFECT very much too.

Nicole said...

This is wonderful! I love just rattling on about the books I read, but I usually have a limited listening audience. :)

I like to read in just about every genre, but since I was a kid I've loved the SFF stuff, especially fantasy. Ironically, when I was younger I tended to read a ton of adult fantasy, and now I read more young adult fantasy. That market has just exploded with interesting titles.

One of my favorite authors is Tamora Pierce. A long time ago I read her Circle of Magic series and the Immortals series, but just recently I rediscovered her. I was reading through some old books on my shelf that I had never read and I decided to try the Protector of the Small series. I remembered why I liked her stories so much in the first place. She always has strong female characters who overcome amazing, usually magical, obstacles. I read the first two books in the quartet right in a row.