"In Bed" with Laura MillerDecember, 2008
Did you ever dream of visiting Narnia? Laura Miller, cofounder of Salon.com and regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review, was enchanted by The Chronicles of Narnia as a child. Her new book, The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia (enter now to win an advance copy »), explores the life and times of C.S. Lewis. She tells Goodreads, "C.S. Lewis would probably insist that no true FON (Friend of Narnia) can ever entirely outgrow it, but most adults acquire a taste for stronger stuff. Here are five suggestions for people who spent their childhoods peeking hopefully into wardrobes."
Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
"Almost any Murakami novel will do (The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is another good bet), but this one, I think, comes closest to unfolding the mystery at the heart of his entrancing, addictive fiction. The strange landscapes that Murakami's heroes explore—other worlds that are also inner worlds, often remind me of the Wood Between the Worlds from The Magician's Nephew."
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
"How do you translate the powerful motifs of European and British myth to America, a nation where the culture is historically shallow? By grafting them onto our own home-grown folklore: the tough-guy detective story and the Stephen King-style horror epic. A star-crossed ex-con named Shadow gets mixed up with a motley crew of decommissioned gods who are looking to make a comeback, led by the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday. You can figure out who he is if you really try."
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
"Of all the contemporary fiction writers who incorporated fairy tales into their work, none did it better than Carter in this sumptuous collection of short stories. Carter understood that the essence of those old, old tales was not the happily ever after but the implacable and often arbitrary power of sex and death, over which only a stout heart and a cunning mind can ever hope to triumph."
Little, Big by John Crowley
"Smokey Barnable falls in love with Daily Alice Drinkwater, whose extended family lives in a large, peculiar house north of New York City and has a past and certain connections they'd prefer to conceal. This novel is meandering and hypnotic, and while I was reading it I wasn't always entirely sure how much I liked it. Afterwards, I couldn't stop thinking about it, until the idea of it seemed to entwine itself around my imagination like ivy. Ineffable and unforgettable."
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
"In the early decades of an alternate 19th century, two rival magicians practice their craft against the background of the Napoleonic Wars. A potent cocktail combining the cool, ironic wit of Jane Austen with the heady imagery of Lewis, this is the sort of book that leaves some readers cold but strikes others as the very thing they've been waiting for all their lives and can never get quite enough of, the literary equivalent of enchanted Turkish Delight."