Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Even if it’s not a holiday that you celebrate, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year anyway, I think, before the craziness of the holiday season starts in full. Though, honestly, in America, it starts before Halloween even ends, which is just a tragedy and offense.
Anyway! I thought I’d do a quick post about some books and series I’m thankful for. These helped shape my love of reading (and desire to eventually write a novel of my own – kinda failed hard at that NaNoWriMo thing, if you couldn’t tell, whoops). Also, this post is going to contain some Amazon affiliate links, just in case you’re inspired to buy any. I’m sure you all know how that works now, so I won’t bother explaining more unless asked!
I was always a pretty voracious reader growing up. This comes from my mother, who was always reading something and had a pretty large collection of books. I remember diving into adult books pretty early, reading some Stephen King novels pretty early, then switched over to Anne Rice (mixed with some Babysitter’s Club books, because I loved them so much) but I never really cared about any of those stories. They didn’t resonate with me much, I just read them because I was in 5th or so grade and reading adult books was cool (I was such a nerd).
The first series that really hit me and inspired my love of fantasy was the Harry Potter series, especially Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The first two books in the series were cute and easy reads, but Azkaban is really where the series takes a turn, and I realized that you can really pair cute and whimsical with dark and dangerous to create something amazing. I was about to go into my junior year of high school when this book came out, and I used to reread the series at least once per year until a few years ago. I think one thing I love about this series is how immersive it is. The books are amazing, but the film adaptations add a lot more to it. I’ve never been one of those people who flip out over film or tv adaptations of beloved books. I recognize them for what they are – another vision of the story to be celebrated on its own. I don’t think the film adaptations take away from the books at all. And the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal is a destination that any HP fan should visit. I’ve only been once, last year, but a few months ago I moved down to Florida, so now I’m less than 2 hours from it (and will be even closer in the spring) and I plan on visiting often. Anyway, this series is definitely one of the first major series to shape my love of fantasy and reading, and it’s been beloved ever since,
The next book that I think shaped a lot of my love of reading is Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I had read a few of Gaiman’s books before coming across this one, but this was the first that really resonated with me. I absolutely adored the humor in this series. It’s so absurd and wonderful. I know a lot of that comes from Pratchett, and I’m ashamed to say I haven’t checked out any of his other works (he just has SO MANY), but I’m sure if I did, I’d quickly add him to a favorite author list. I’ve had a story idea kicking around for years that sort of mirrors the tone of this book, which hopefully doesn’t come off as copying so much as honoring. I’m also super looking forward to the BBC adaptation of this. From what I’ve seen, it looks like it’s going to be amazing.
The next series I’m thankful for is Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy, starting with Kushiel’s Dart. I have read this entire series (the original trilogy, the Imriel trilogy, and the Naamah trilogy) several times, and every single time I find something new to love about them. The world Carey built is so lush and descriptive. The characters are so incredibly detailed and nuanced. It just feels so real and alive. I just love everything about this series, which is probably why it keeps drawing me back for re-reads. This is how you write a love story. This is how you write sex scenes. This series really showed me how beautiful fiction can be, especially when the author is just magical with words. This series is a very good palette cleanser when the LKH gets to be too much.
Next up is Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. Wait, nonfiction? I do sometimes read more than terrible paranormal romance and urban fantasy, promise! A friend gave me this book a few years ago when I first got into running, which then prompted me to start reading a lot of running memoirs. I still reread this book occasionally, because its just such an interesting story. I also read a lot of long form news articles, and this has that same sort of feel to it. This book helped to prompt my desire to eventually run an ultramarathon, which is absolutely crazy in its own regard. I should reread this again soon, because I’m somewhat missing that feeling I got when I’d run, and I need something to spark that love of running again.
It’s no surprise to anyone that I am super into urban fantasy lately. I guess you can consider the early Anita Blake books part of the urban fantasy genre, but it veered wildly into the paranormal romance genre around book 5-8. So, really, the first series that I read, or well, listened to, since I started with the audiobooks before I actually read the novels, was the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. Storm Front isn’t the best of the books, but it does help to set the stage for this epic, sprawling series. Upon rereading, it’s not that bad of a book, honestly (I think the second book, Fool Moon, is worse), and really helps give a feel for what’s to come with the series. Like many Butcher fans, I’ve grown kinda… I guess annoyed by the long wait for the next book in the series, but not every author can pull a Craig Schaefer and release a new book every few months, and life does happen. But I’ll always be thankful for Butcher and Harry Dresden for introducing me to my favorite genre and all the amazing series I’ve discovered in it that I can read while waiting.
And finally, if you didn’t expect me to put my absolute favorite series on this list then I don’t know what to tell you. The Crippled God is the final story in the original ten book Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson, and it is fucking amazing. It was everything I needed the conclusion of that series to be. The entire Malazan series hit me with feels in so many different ways, that there’s no way I could not be thankful for it. Erikson (and Esslemont) created this insane world with characters who will always stay with me.
Oh and, I suppose
It would be pretty wrong of me to not be at least somewhat thankful for Laurell K. Hamilton. After all, without her, I would never have even thought to create this blog. I would never have been inspired to try to write better fiction. I would never have found myself actually enjoying hate-reading both her Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series. I still read each book she releases, but mainly because I’ve stuck with both series for so long that it just feels natural to read them, plus I’m a completionist and it always bothers me to not actually finish something. I do still really love the first few Anita books, and every so often I’ll find something to like about the latter books. But she is the author I super love to hate, and these are the stories I’ll gladly hate-read for everyone on this blog.
Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And if you don’t celebrate this holiday, I hope you’re having an excellent day! I’m happy to be writing this blog and am really thankful for anyone who has taken the time to read, like, or share mine and Sarah’s posts. You are all the best 🙂