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So a while ago I started this list of book recommendations. It was supposed to be just pure real fiction, but I...love fantasy so that one sort of failed. Here's what I ended up with today after I was thinking of things and browsing amazon. I'll probably post up a part two when I've come up with more, or I've finalized some thoughts and things on others. BUT FOR NOW: enjoy and hopefully you'll find something YOU'VE BEEN WAITING FOR ALL THIS TIME.

These are in no particular order, just as they came to me.

Watchmen by Alan Moore and David Gibbons
I started out making this list going, right, fiction. And then I realized that I love too many books that are somehow or another related to fantasy, so this will include some books that tend to lean towards the unexplainable, or at least the bizarre. You can call Watchmen a comic book (though I suggest you refer to it as a graphic novel whenever around anyone remotely geeky) and then say that it’s in some sort of way related to fantasy. But here’s the truth, Watchmen is more gritty and real than many of the completely real books out there. It’s set in the 1950s (sort of) and then 1980s. Post WWII world, Cold War era, but slightly different universe. Nixon is President and has been for a very long time. Our heroes are not necessarily heroic, and our villains are not necessarily evil. It’s pure brilliance, very, very shocking at some points. I cannot recommend anything more highly (well there are others but seriously, it’s amazing). If you didn't know it's set to be released as a movie on March 6th...well, now you know!

K2, The Savage Mountain: The Classic True Story of Disaster and Survival on the World's Second-Highest Mountain by Charles S. Houston and Robert H. Bates
Technically it’s nonfiction, but I can’t really help myself, because this book is just so powerful and gripping. It’s written as sort of a diary account, because that’s what it is, but it talks about one of the greatest moments in mountaineering history. For anyone that’s not really aware of what K2 is, it’s Karakorum 2, the second highest mountain and the world, but the hardest mountain in the world to climb. The account is that of the second American Expedition in 1953. It’s just very, very good, sad and somewhat scary (no gore, just the wow aspect). It’s sort of a book where I guess the only thing I can say is: just read it, you’ll see what I mean.

The Power of One: A Novel by Bryce Courtenay
My grandmother gave this to me for Christmas once. It was really, really good. Heartbreaking at some points, gripping at others, and now that I look back at it, I very interesting commentary. Publisher Weekly puts it more elegantly and review-like: “Episodic and bursting with incident, this sprawling memoir of an English boy's lonely childhood in South Africa during WW II pays moderate attention to questions of race but concerns itself primarily with epic melodrama," There’s a sequel but I never could find it, it always made me mad, because I recall that I desperately wanted to read the sequel.

Abarat (Abarat, 1) by Clive Barker
I guess the first thing I should tell you is that this book is weird. Really weird. Sometimes you find yourself wondering whether or not that it’s a good or a bad thing, but I think the important thing is that it always keeps you intrigued, it’s never boring and it’s really quite clever. Clive Barker also illustrated it himself, and I think that’s half the fun of it. It begins with the Candy Quackenbush who stumbled upon a ‘derelict’ lighthouse in the middle of the prarie and soon fins herself in Abarat, a series of 25 islands: 12 of daylight, 12 of night, and then one mysterious island. The first book is partly a teaser of what is to follow, is terrifying at many points, filled with all sorts of interesting characters and very very strange.

Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier
I wrote a teaser on this last year for my school newspaper so I’ll show that and then elaborate: “A somewhat forgotten, but still brilliantly written novel, Rebecca, was made into Alfred Hitchcock’s award winning, first American made film. Beginning with the soon to be second Mrs. De Winter, the unnamed narrator meets and falls in love with the handsome and very wealthy Maxim De Winter, marrying him only to later deal with the haunting past of his deceased wife, Rebecca. Written in 1938, the book was used by the Nazis in World War II for a code source.” Mystery. Romance. Intrigue. Thriller. Mrs. Danvers, the creepiest of all creepy women. Just know I’m very strongly attached to this book, it always has me on edge whenever I read it.

Little, Big by John Crowley
First things first: I put this down the first time I read it. I don’t think I was in the right mindset. I was ready for something…something that wasn’t this book. I probably needed to be a bit mellow, a bit pensive, and a bit open to not knowing all of the answers. And then one day I was, and I couldn’t put this book down. This is the tale of Smoky Barnable. It is a tale of Edgewood, a five sided house built by an architect so that he could showcase all of the side. The house has four floors, 365 doors and 12 staircases. This is a tale that borders on faerie and reality. It is a saga, and I spent 300 dollars on the 25th anniversary version of it. It is my favorite book and I absolutely adore it. I wish more people would read it, because it’s truly something special.

American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman
Well really everyone should read all Neil Gaiman books, but since its often rather difficult to pinpoint where to start I’m going to say start with this one. It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s a bit of a work of genius, it’s hilarious, it’s real, it’s full of mythology, and damn is it entertaining and stimulating. All the reviews online sort of ruin some of the reveals and tricks to it, so I’m not going to quote them. Shadow is released from prison two weeks early after his wife dies in a car crash. He reluctantly accepts the offer of a job from the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, and finds himself swept into something he doesn’t fully understand or comprehend: a war of gods. Oh, and Shadow’s dead wife Laura shows up and she’s a bit more than a ghost. The short version: read it.

The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel by Jasper Fforde
Amazon puts this really well, but I’d like to say that I have nothing but the highest recommendations for anything involving Thursday Next or Jasper Fforde. “Imagine this. Great Britain in 1985 is close to being a police state. The Crimean War has dragged on for more than 130 years and Wales is self-governing. The only recognizable thing about this England is her citizens' enduring love of literature. And the Third Most Wanted criminal, Acheron Hades, is stealing characters from England's cherished literary heritage and holding them for ransom.

Bibliophiles will be enchanted, but not surprised, to learn that stealing a character from a book only changes that one book, but Hades has escalated his thievery. He has begun attacking the original manuscripts, thus changing all copies in print and enraging the reading public. That's why Special Operations Network has a Literary Division, and it is why one of its operatives, Thursday Next, is on the case.
Thursday is utterly delightful. She is vulnerable, smart, and, above all, literate. She has been trying to trace Hades ever since he stole Mr. Quaverley from the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and killed him. You will only remember Mr. Quaverley if you read Martin Chuzzlewit prior to 1985. But now Hades has set his sights on one of the plums of literature, Jane Eyre, and he must be stopped.”

So yeah, you have to like books to like this one.

The Naming: The First Book of Pellinor (Pellinor Series) by Allison Croggon
Love the way this is told and invented: “Australian poet Alison Croggon brings an eye for sensual detail to this heroic fantasy that follows the genre's familiar formula: A humble person is caught up in extraordinary events and led (or sent) on a journey by a wise figure, only to discover eventually that he/she is destined to save the world in an ultimate confrontation between the powers of good and evil. In this case the young person is sixteen-year-old Maedra, who is rescued from slavery by the Bard Cadvan. They share an exhausting journey toward Innail, one of the Bard schools and strongholds that govern the land, and Maedra grows to trust Cadvan as he reluctantly reveals his magical powers in several ambushes from evil creatures. But under duress she, too, begins to discover that she has a Gift--and more. After she has learned to read, ride a horse, and handle a sword at Innail, they set out on another dangerous trek to the prestigious city of Norloch, where Cadvan hopes to consult with his mentor Nelac to confirm his conviction that Maerad is the One who was Foretold. Many other characters and creatures come into this tale, as well as mystical intimations and dreams, and lavish descriptions of landscape, food, clothes, and room furnishings. In the tradition of Tolkien, a whole history of an ancient language and culture undergirds the story, and Croggon has even provided appendices of that history, a pronunciation guide, and an invented bibliography of her sources.” It’s a series and I love it.

Date: 2009-02-14 02:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] absolutelybatty.livejournal.com

Date: 2009-02-14 05:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darlingdelovely.livejournal.com
i'm awful about reading as much as i love books so the fact that i've read something on your list (the power of one) is exciting.haha.

I had just witnessed the final move in a perfectly wrought plan where small defeats big. First with the head and then with the heart…I had learned the most important rule in winning-keep thinking.-the power of one

Date: 2009-02-14 07:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] invisibleforest.livejournal.com
Rebecca. <333

Date: 2009-02-14 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrslinus17.livejournal.com
Shamingly, I haven't read any of the books on your list. But it did get me in the book-reccing mood :)

Date: 2009-02-16 08:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] firstillusion.livejournal.com
Awesome list, I'll keep a few of these in mind for my birthday wish list.


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