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message 1: by Bryony, Circumnavigation Mod (new)

Bryony (bryony46) | 1058 comments Mod
I hope I'm posting this in the right folder, please let me know if not and I'll delete it.

One of my goals for this year is to read books from genres that are new or less familiar to me. I really want to read books that are "good" examples of those genres so I can work out if it's a genre I would like to read more of. So, I was wondering if anyone who is a fan of these genres could recommend good books in some of the genres I'd like to explore.

Genres on my list are:
* Fantasy (I've read pretty much no fantasy at all!)
* Cozy mysteries (a genre I'd never heard of until this year)
* Science fiction (I've read two Philip K. Dick books which I loved, would appreciate any recommendations for other authors to read)

If anyone is looking for recommendations in my favourite genres I'd be happy to suggest some. I read mostly classics, historical fiction and contemporary "literary fiction" (though I hate the term literary fiction!).

message 2: by Zaz (new)

Zaz | 3034 comments For scifi, especially if it's maybe not really your thing, I think I'd recommend The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which is social scifi (or space opera) rather than high tech one. It can be a little difficult to enter in, so if you try, give it some chapters to introduce everything. Ender's Game is also a good one and it can be read as a (popular) standalone.

Fantasy is vast. Uprooted and Seraphina are good choices for modern fantasy (the first focus on magic, the 2nd more on dragons and powers). I think The Emperor's Soul is also a good entry with not a lot of things to digest and it's short.

message 3: by Katie (new)

Katie | 2369 comments The 3 genres you listed as favorites are also my favorites. I'd love to hear some of your recommendations.

message 4: by Jody (new)

Jody (jodybell) | 3491 comments I'm not a sci-fi reader either so will be watching this for recommendations! I loved Flowers for Algernon, if you haven't read that yet.

Katie, have you read A Fine Balance? It's *amazing*, but very bleak. One of the best books I've ever read.

message 5: by Perri (new)

Perri | 781 comments I don't read a lot of sci-fi but I loved Ender's Game and more recently The Martian

Love fantasy and agree with Zaz. that's a huge one. How about Neverwhere ,The Night Circus, Watership Down ?

Also not a cozy mystery fan mostly because they're usually series I prefer stand alones but I really liked The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency-what a hoot! I think that would be considered a cozy. Sometimes those labels confuse me. What is Literary Fiction?

message 6: by Thegirlintheafternoon (last edited Jun 03, 2017 09:01AM) (new)

Thegirlintheafternoon Hi Bryony,

One suggestion about fantasy reading: do a little digging into whether you think you'd prefer high fantasy or non-high fantasy. The former tends to involve a completely different world/society, usually with very elaborate social structures (think Lord of the Rings), while non-high fantasy often includes more recognizable ties to our own world. I thought I just didn't like fantasy, period, but through wider reading I found out that I actually just don't care for high fantasy (though there are exception to the rule even there). I've found several examples of non-high fantasy that I've really loved!

There's also urban fantasy, which isn't my thing, but tends to have a grittier feel and usually contrasts a contemporary city setting with a magical world that underlies it.

ETA: These are my takes on these genres as someone who doesn't read widely within them - I would bow to the expertise of others!

message 7: by Peter (last edited Jun 03, 2017 09:03AM) (new)

Peter | 0 comments Sci-fi and Fantasy are two of my favourite genres! Here are some of my favourite books in each.

The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown (Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star - Lots of action, but light on the technical details and easy to read with tons of plots twists and surprises.

Timeline by Michael Crichton - Quantum physics, time travel and medieval France. One of my favourites, and one of his best.

11/22/63 by Stephen King- Quite a large book, and outside the normal genre tropes from King, but maybe up your alley; light sci-fi and time travel mixed into a historical fiction. An extremely well crafted story that immerses the reader into 1960s era America.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie - Quite possibly my favourite sci-fi novel. Definitely a "heavy" sci-fi book, but such a refreshing and unique take on the genre. The author uses gender terms ambiguously and the perspective takes a little time to wrap your head around before things start making sense. But once things start clicking it is so worth the effort.


The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - If you're looking to get into the fantasy genre, this is one book you don't want to miss. Possibly my favourite fantasy novel. It's got magic, intrigue, mystery, rivalries, danger and adventure all thrown into the story of a young musician and his quest to learn the magics of his world. However, be warned... Book three has been awaiting publication for going on 7 years now.

Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko - Urban supernatural fantasy in modern day Moscow. Vampires, magicians and other supernatural people known as Others choose either the Light or the Dark. The Night Watch (Consisting of Light Others) and the Day Watch (consisting of Dark Others), are two pseudo-police forces made up of Others to monitor the actions of the other side. The novel is made up of three "books" within it; the first two are seemingly unrelated to start until things are tied together in the final act of the novel. A few minor translation errors, but a strong fantasy series.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab - Select individuals are capable of travelling between parallel worlds, each with the same geography but vastly different political landscapes. Some Renaissance era flair is present, with some interesting characters and a unique magic system.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch - Another of my favourite series, this alternate-world fantasy series follows the exploits of con-artist Locke Lamora and his band of thieves as they pull of heists to get rich and navigate the criminal underworld of their city. It takes a little to get into because there are points that are a little slower moving in order to set up for coming events, but about halfway through the momentum picks up and doesn't stop until the end.

message 8: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia (anastasiaharris) | 1331 comments For Science Fiction you could try

Alan Dean Foster he writes Alien
and A Call to Arms

Something a little deeper, current and longer is The Circle or Dark Matter

For a saga that is very immersive City of Golden Shadow - it is a 4 book series that deals with virtual reality

Since you enjoy literary fiction and historical fiction you may like the series by Melanie Rawn - Dragon Prince It is high fantasy but focuses on politics and relationships. The world has a historical feel with horses etc, and the "magic" is more psychic then witch craft.

Many fantasy books draw from the classics or history for plot lines and world building so it can be an easy jump. Another way to start stretching into the genre is to read fractured fairytales like those by Robin McKinley.

message 9: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia (anastasiaharris) | 1331 comments Thegirlintheafternoon wrote: "Hi Bryony,

One suggestion about fantasy reading: do a little digging into whether you think you'd prefer high fantasy or non-high fantasy. The former tends to involve a completely different world..."

Your advice is spot on.

It applies for science fiction too.

message 10: by Peter (new)

Peter | 0 comments The above comments are true about testing things out to see what you like within each genre. Fantasy and Sci-fi are both very broad terms that allow for a lot of personal taste and variation within each genre. When I was making suggestions above I tried to give options for some of the differences within each - each of them fall in slightly different places on the sci-fi/fantasy spectrums.

message 11: by Katie (new)

Katie | 2369 comments Jody, I've never even heard of that book, but I just went & put it on my TBR. I actually tend to favor depressing books, so that is another draw for me. I'm going to look right now to see if my library has it on audiobook.

message 12: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Brown | 379 comments I am a big Sci Fi fan, and I agree with Dark Matter as an excellent example from Blake Crouch. He is one of my favorite Sci Fi authors, along with Hugh Howey. Hugh Howey has the Wool trilogy, Sand, Beacon 23, among others. Susan Kaye Quinn is another great sci fi author that has a few different types of series. One that I absolutely love is her mindjack series. She also has a steampunk series which would fit under your fantasy genre.

message 13: by Jody (new)

Jody (jodybell) | 3491 comments Same here, Katie, although it might just be that there are so many well-written depressing books, and far fewer well-written funny & uplifting books. I hope you're able to find a copy, and if you do, I hope you enjoy it!

message 14: by °~Amy~° (new)

°~Amy~° (amybooksit) | 2926 comments For what it's worth, I second Zaz's recommendation of A long way to a small angry planet for a character oriented sci-fi (I love space operas!) Ender's Game was also really great. Peter is so right about the Red Rising and Locke Lamora series.....they are both amazing and probably some of my favorite reads ever. Oh and someone mentioned The Martian....yes, so many times yes! :-)

I am reading Hugh Howey's Sand right now. Hugh Howey is amazing, but start with Wool. The entire Silo series (Wool, Shift, Dust) is another of my all time favorites.

Well I am off to check out some of the other sci-fi recommendations from this thread. My tbr keeps getting longer and longer....and I love it!

message 15: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Sterling | 452 comments Following for some suggestions, as well. Of the books I've read that people have mentioned so far (The Martian, Timeline, 11/22/63), I really enjoyed them all.

message 16: by °~Amy~° (new)

°~Amy~° (amybooksit) | 2926 comments Cozy mysteries, now those are fun. My personal favorite is more mystery and less cozy but I highly recommend the A-Z series by Sue Grafton. She is amazing. For strictly cozies though. I suggest picking a hobby that you love and searching for a cozy about that. I guarantee, no matter what hobby you have, you WILL find a cozy mystery (or 100) about it. For instance:

Cooking: Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder or Catering to Nobody

Pets: The Cat Who Could Read Backwards or Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter

Knitting: Knit One, Kill Two

Reading: Miss Zukas and the Library Murders

Matchmaking: Truly, Madly

Ghost hunting: Ghost a la Mode (adorable!)

Collecting antiques: Antiques Maul

It goes on forever and they are all fun and quirky! Enjoy!

message 17: by Katie (new)

Katie | 2369 comments I totally agree, Jody! I'm in a book club & one of the rules is we can't pick depressing books. Every time it's my turn to pick the book, I struggle because I want to choose awesome, well-written meaningful books, and to me, those are usually depressing, or at least have some deep real conflict.

message 18: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Brown | 379 comments Amy wrote: "For what it's worth, I second Zaz's recommendation of A long way to a small angry planet for a character oriented sci-fi (I love space operas!) Ender's Game was also really great. Peter is so right..."

I love Hugh Howey too! Sand was the first book of his I read. We could probably start a thread just about him and his books, and we could have a good discussion. :-) I know Zaz is a Sand fan. I know a few others love Howey too.

message 19: by Jody (new)

Jody (jodybell) | 3491 comments What a weird restriction, Katie! I'm actually struggling to think of books that I've really loved that haven't been depressing ... umm ...

message 20: by Bryony, Circumnavigation Mod (new)

Bryony (bryony46) | 1058 comments Mod
Thank you so much for your advice everyone! I'm adding lots of these books to my TBR now and really looking forward to reading them. The advice about high fantasy vs non-high fantasy is great too, I really hadn't given that any thought but I think I'll try out a book from both 'sides' to help me get a good idea of what the genre is like.

Perri, I think there are probably as many definitions of literary fiction as there are readers of it. I dislike the term because I think some people use it in quite a snobbish way, as if to identify "good" or "worthwhile" books from more popular bestsellers. I think the term is often taken to mean non-genre fiction, but to me it just means a book that is intended to be thought provoking or pick up on some big themes - as distinct from say a crime thriller which is intended more to entertain the reader rather than make them think carefully about the subject of the book. I think use of language is also part of it, so in literary fiction you might quite often read a sentence or paragraph that makes you pause and admire the author's use of language. Part of the reason I think the term is rubbish is because lots of books that are considered classics today would have been the equivalent of bestsellers by Dan Brown or John Grisham in their time!

Katie (and anyone else who's interested), these are a few ideas from my favourite genres.

Where do I begin! I tend to read a mix of twentieth century classics and older books, I'll try to pick out a few top recommendations.

I'm a huge fan of James Joyce and Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man are two of my favourite books ever. One day I will be brave enough / have enough reading time to tackle Finnegans Wake. Another favourite twentieth century author of mine is F. Scott Fitzgerald, my favourite book of his is The Great Gatsby.

Thomas Hardy is another author I love. Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure are my two favourites but I've never read a book of his I didn't enjoy. Jane Eyre is also a great read, to my shame I haven't read much else by any of the Brontes.

If you like drama then Waiting for Godot is absolutely fantastic. It's hilarious and yet very thought-provoking at the same time.

Quite a few years ago I went on a bit of a Russian classics reading spree, and a couple of my favourites are Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. Long and quite complex but very enjoyable too.

A classic author I've only started reading this year is Jack London and I've been so impressed by his writing. The Scarlet Plague is (I think) one of his less well-known books but I loved it. The People of the Abyss is a non-fiction book of his about life in the East End of London at the turn of the century. It's not easy reading but it's very powerful writing.

Historical fiction
I've recently read Wolf Hall and would definitely recommend it. I'm looking forward to reading Bring Up the Bodies later this year.

If you like historical fiction about royalty then I think Philippa Gregory is another good author and her books are a bit less dense than Wolf Hall.

Sebastian Faulks is one of my favourites for this genre. I haven't read that much of his work, but I also like C J Sansom.

It might be a bit odd to recommend something I haven't read yet, but I've heard such great reviews of J.G. Farrell's Empire trilogy and I can't wait to read it soon.

Literary fiction
Iain Banks is one of my favourite authors. The Crow Road is a great one to start with if you're new to his writing. Cormac McCarthy is another of my favourites. Ian McEwan is always worth reading too.

I read The Green Road by Anne Enright earlier this year and loved it. I'm looking forward to reading more of her books already. And I'm currently reading A Brief History of Seven Killings which is fantastic but quite heavy going.

There are definitely lots more books I'd recommend in this category but I'm running out of time so I'll try to add some more later.

Thank you so much again everyone, this is such a friendly and helpful group. :-)

message 21: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (sawphie) | 2920 comments Jody wrote: "What a weird restriction, Katie! I'm actually struggling to think of books that I've really loved that haven't been depressing ... umm ..."

Harry Potter! ;)

message 22: by Zaz (new)

Zaz | 3034 comments As Peter recommended the doorstop Name of the Wind and as you like historical fiction, maybe Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell could be a good idea too. It's set during Napoleon's wars, from England perspective and there's magic involved. I'd define it as "urban fantasy + fantasy of manners". If I remember well, the author is an historian so it shows in how everything is depicted. Slow moving and huge book, but maybe something you could enjoy because of the historical atmosphere.

message 23: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 114 comments I second The Name of the Wind for fantasy.

If you are looking for epic fantasy with good world building I would also suggest either The Way of Kings or The Fifth Season. The latter is part of a trilogy and the 3rd book is set to release this year.

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