I skipped last week’s Top Ten Tuesday because TV in general is not my thing (ask my wife how long I’ve been vaguely intending to watch all of NCIS…), and this week’s theme is so hard it makes me tempted to skip it too: “Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books Of X Genre”.
I mean, what genre do I even pick? (Well, fantasy, obviously.) And then how do I narrow it down? But here’s a bash at it…
- The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. And absolutely no one is surprised. I just love the hopefulness in it, the mindfulness of the main character, the clever linguistic stuff, all the characters and their flaws… I saw someone describe a five star read as being the sort of book where you love it even for its flaws, and I think that’s a very apt description of how I feel about The Goblin Emperor.
- The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I like The Hobbit, but I don’t love it in the intellectual way I love unravelling LotR. I studied Tolkien’s work during my degree, I’ve read the source texts and inspirations, I’ve gone a full circle from loving to hating to accepting and appreciating Tolkien’s style… Again, a book I love with its flaws and all.
- The Grey King, by Susan Cooper. It’s difficult to choose a single book of this sequence, but I think The Grey King is my favourite, for Bran. I love the atmosphere, the background lore and mystery, and I appreciate that we see a few more shades of grey in this book than in the others.
- The Summer Tree, by Guy Gavriel Kay. The first book by GGK that I read, and one that has stuck with me more than the others, even when it isn’t stylistically, objectively the best. It’s a homage to previous fantasy, including Tolkien, and it includes characters whose loves and hates tear me apart. It’s another one I definitely love despite its flaws, and maybe even because of them.
- The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula Le Guin. A Wizard of Earthsea probably means more to me, in that I connect with Ged’s self-discovery more than Tenar’s, but I’ve always loved the style of this one, the world it describes, the slow rituals of the Nameless ones, and the quiet moments of clarity Le Guin is so good at writing. I’m not sure I admit of any flaws possible in this book…
- Chalice, by Robin McKinley. This one snuck up on me, and I never expected to love it as much as I do. But something about the world McKinley created, the domestic aspects, the homeishness of the way it feels… This is one I wouldn’t necessarily recommend to someone else, but it found a corner of my heart to live in.
- Among Others, by Jo Walton. Needless to say, really. I connect so strongly with Mori, her love of reading and imagining, and with some of her difficulties of identity too.
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin. The first time I read this, I settled down to read a chapter — and promptly read the whole book. I love the world Jemisin created.
- In the Labyrinth of Drakes, by Marie Brennan. Or this whole series, really — I just found the latest installment so satisfying that it went immediately on my favourites shelf. The books have grown on me since the first time I read the first one, and now I think I’d happily devour them over and over.
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. I hesitated about this one, because it’s not the same sort of love I have for the other books. Instead it’s a kind of appreciation of how it was put together, the cleverness and care of it — not a passionate caring about the characters or even the world. It was the experience of reading it that I loved, more than the book itself.
That was easier than I thought — whew. What would be on your list?