I need book recommendations!

So I’m headed off to the library tonight to return my books, but I forgot to include my list of books I want to check out in my back-pack (for some reason I was very distracted this morning as I got ready for work).

I have the last Tamora Pierce Lioness book on my list to check out, and I jotted down a note to look for Gaiman’s “American Gods” even though most likely all the copies will be completely checked out and I’ll have to reserve a copy.

Harry Potter vols 1-4 are on order with amazon.co.uk, and there aren’t any English language copies available at the libraray anyway (American or British).

So that leaves me with just one Pierce book to come home with. I would like to expand my reading list now that I’ve discovered The Place with the Free Books, but I’m drawing a blank about what to do next. My taste in books is generally: fiction, sci-fi/fantasy. The books I like should have at least some connection to the real world and/or the human race. In general, I am turned off by books that take place entirely on another planet/fantasy place with a completely alien race and no humans.

Exceptions to this are Star Wars, in which for some inexplicable reason the human-looking characters refer to themselves as “human” even though they live in a galaxy far, far away, and Lord of the Rings, even though I spent countless exacerbated hours trying to figure out exactly where “Middle Earth” was on Earth.

It’s not so much that I am conventional when it comes to my reading tastes, as I am looking for something very specific in my sci-fi/fantasy: the illusion that this could be real. If it’s happening to Earth-humans (say, like Star Trek, in the future), I can imagine that this could really be our future. If it’s happening on our Earth in the present day, I can imagine its real no matter how fantastic it actually is (BtVS and AtS are good examples of this, since they continue to cling to the idea that this is taking place on our Earth, and most people are ridiculously ignorant of the demons and magic around them).

So generally speaking, I don’t like alternate dimension stuff unless people cross over to our world from there or to there from our world. Same for complete alien society stuff (I don’t get much into the “this is metaphorically about the human race” stuff. I’m rather literal).

All those caveats aside, any suggestions? I need a good distraction……

10 thoughts on “I need book recommendations!

  1. My favorite “people from our world crossing into another world” is Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Fionavar Tapestry (Summer Tree, Wandering Fire, Darkest Road). I like every Gaiman has written… Neverwhere (by him) also has a normal Londonite crossing over into a strange, murky world. If you like Douglas Adams-style humor, Good Omens, by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Ummmm… I love Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters trilogy (Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, Child of the Prophecy), but I’m not sure if you will. It’s set in Celtic Ireland and has the Fair Folk and prophecies (obviously) and romance and a rewritten fairy tale. Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks is one of the first urban fantasies with the Seelie Court and rock musicians.
    Sorry.. have no idea what your tastes may run to, but these are just hodgepodge books that I absolutely love.

  2. Thanks
    I’ve read Neverwhere and Good Omens. Both are in my personal book collection.
    In general, I’m not fond of historical fiction, fantasies or not.
    But thanks for the other recommends!

  3. Hmm, it is set in ancient China but Barry Hughart’s fantasy Bridge of Birds is one of the funniest and ultimately sweetest books I’ve ever read. The humour feels modern even if the setting is not.
    I haven’t read a lot of Charles de Lint’s books but Moonheart was great. And Kelly Link’s short story collection Stranger Things Happen goes off into the horror/fairy tale end of the genre but she has a very interesting style.
    Have you ever read Haruki Murakami? He writes in a very detached, deadpan manner about fantastical situations but I find reading his books like sliding into a swimming pool on a hot day. Sputnik Sweetheart or Wild Sheep Chase might be good books to read to see if you like his style.

  4. Seeing that you enjoyed those 2 Neil Gaiman books…
    I’d suggest one of my favorite books, American Gods, which takes place in the present day, and like Buffy is plausible as the “real world” that reveals itself to have a lot more magic than most people realize. Basic concept is that all of the gods (lowercase on purpose) and mythologies that different cultures brought to America with their immigrants are still alive in the present day, in physical form. They are being threatened, however, by the new American gods: internet, television, the media, etc. The characters are very realistic, and even the gods behave like everyday people. Think Manny and other similar characters from AtS. Mixture of the mundane and supernatural is great in this book. I’ve read it three times already. Really fantastic on many levels: travelogue of America, quest fantasy, modern-day satire, character study, mythology study, etc. Very imaginative and funny and at times quite dark. Also fun moral ambiguity galore!

  5. I have no idea how this fits or doesn’t fit into your caveats, but I am reading The Sparrow (and its sequel, Children of God) by Mary Doria Russell. It’s about a Jesuit mission to a newly discovered planet, and evokes parallels between the European explorers of the sixteenth century and how we might end up handling things, in hindsight, less than well with a First Encounter.
    I tend to favor philosophical, introspective, tell-me-something-about-the-human-condition fiction, sf or otherwise, over “techie” sf, though I am more inclined to metaphor than literalism myself, so you’ll have to look at the book and decide for yourself if it looks interesting. Should be at the library.
    BTW, the reviews on Amazon.com (contain spoilers, don’t read till you’ve read the book) are interesting: Seems people either really love the book or really hate it and think it’s crap. On that count alone, it’s worth reading. 😉

  6. Thanks!
    And whizzing by amazon for recommendations is a good idea. As long as I keep my finger off the “Add to shopping cart” button! : )

  7. Wicked
    You have probably already read this, but if not, you might really enjoy it. It retells The Wizard of Oz with the Wicked Witch of the West as its intelligent, misunderstood heroine. Interesting commentary on society and the way people affect each other without realizing it. And Elphaba the witch? She’s truly glorious. The book’s a classic page-turner.

  8. I may be too late for this library run, or early for the next….
    I highly recommend the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. They’re well written, funny, sad and hooked me right away. The first one is Storm Front.

  9. Re: I may be too late for this library run, or early for the next….
    I have a revolving library queue. Thanks!

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