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Recommended Reading List

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by CeNedra, Aug 4, 2001.

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  1. CeNedra

    CeNedra Jedi Youngling star 1

    Apr 9, 2001
    Hey all. Just some books that I really like that . . . how shall I put it? Affected my writing? Had a unique/interesting style? Or, just good books in general. Please, please add on . . . I love book discussions. Don't we all? *Grin*

    Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul (Come on, you saw that one from a mile away. *Great* book. I'd call it a must-have.)

    Eyes of the Dragon (hrmm, not sure about that title, by Stephen King)

    Song of the Lioness Quartet, Immortals Series, Magic Circle, The Circle Opens, and Protector of the Small. (All are series' names, all by Tamora Pierce. Prolly in the Young Adult section. I /love/ these books--if you're looking for a good fantasy read, check 'em out)

    Ergh . . . my mind is going blank. Well, there's the start of it, anyways.
  2. Melyanna

    Melyanna Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 19, 2001
    Well, if we're going to discuss non-Star Wars books, I'll throw in the non-sci-fi ones.

    Brave New World: I suppose this could technically be considered sci-fi, but oh well. The society that has arisen from a war that nearly anihilated the human race now has a completely different moral standard and reproduces through giant cloning facilities. The masses are kept at bay through a caste system and a drug called soma. Aldous Huxley's 1930's novel is surprisingly prophetic about the future of humanity.

    Grendel: Remember reading Beowulf in high school? This is the story of the warrior, as seen by the first monster he defeats. It's a wonderful example of a rewrite from the opposite perspective. John Gardner also explores the development of civilization, and how far humanity has progressed (or rather, hasn't progressed) in the time since Beowulf's great deeds.
  3. Melne_Crtor

    Melne_Crtor Jedi Youngling star 2

    Jul 9, 2000
    I have two buy-on-sight authors:

    Orson Scott Card
    Anyone I've ever recommended him to has adored his books. If you like sci-fi, start out with Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead and move on from there. If you prefer fantasy, I recommend Enchantment or Hart's Hope. He's also written some horror novels.
    Visit his []website[/link] for more information and a forum.

    Robert J. Sawyer
    He's a Canadian sci-fi writer whose books are fantastically science-oriented. My picks are The Terminal Experiment, Calculating God, and the Quintaglio Trilogy (if you can find them). Actually, read anything he's written -- they're all off-the-scale great.
    Visit his []website[/link] for all of his short stories, which are posted there.
  4. CeNedra

    CeNedra Jedi Youngling star 1

    Apr 9, 2001
    For some wildlife books . . .

    Jean Craighead George. On the topic of buy-on-sights, she's one of mine. Julie of the Wolves is just the beginning of her talented dips into the world of wildlife and human interaction. My Side of the Mountain, The Firebug Connection, and Dipper of Copper Creek would have to be my favorites.

    Jim Kjelgaard is another good author--Big Red, Irish Red, Snow Dog, and Wild Trek. And anything else he writes :)

    James Oliver Curwood's Kazaan: Father of Baree, and Baree: Story of a Wolf-Dog, are very good.


    Ella Enchanted. An amazing rewrite of the Cinderella story. Recommended to all, by Gail Carson Levine.

    Four series, The Belgariad, The Mallorean, The Elenium, and The Tamuli are all good fantasy. David Eddings claims these.

    The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley. Wonderful book.

    Black Unicorn, by Tanith Lee. Nicely done, though I didn't like the sequels as well.

    Into the Land of the Unicorns, by Bruce Coville. Coville has some other good books out, but I like this one best.

    The Girl with the Silver Eyes. Not truly fantasy, this modern-setting book is still one of my favorites. By Willo Davis Roberts.

    Robin Hood, by Antonia Fraser. One of my favorite Sherwood books so far :)

    That's it for now :)
  5. Vee

    Vee Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Jan 16, 2000
    I call these "the books I bother to pack up and take with me to college." :D

    On Writing, by Stephen King. A very honest book about what makes a writer and what mistakes writers make, intermixed with autobiographical bits about the author as a child and an aspiring writer. Some advice I don't feel should be taken to heart. (Four hours a day, to read, when you're a full-time student? Where will you find time to write? You're doing plenty of reading. Just be sure to read a book on the weekends.)

    Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. I hated it in tenth grade, then re-read it in eleventh and have loved it since. It is full of poetry and symbolism, the scarring and healing of both the people and landscape of South Africa.

    The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
    Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk
    and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig. Excellent tales of madness, two of which are autobiographical. Shows how much sense the insane mind can make. Bell Jar is very focused on a young poet fitting into the world; Fight Club is about single young professionals making sense of the world; and Zen... is mostly Taoist, focusing on Phaedrus's search for the definable-through-undefinability Quality.

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt. Great Southern milieu and an interesting trial drama.

    Anywhere but Here, by Mona Simpson. Outshines the movie greatly, I'm sad to say (because Portman and Sarandon played their characters to the tee, but had to do so through a mangled script). A Wisconsin mother and daughter head west to Los Angeles in 1970.

    Ghostwritten, by David Mitchell. Nine interconnected stories from around the globe form a novel.

    Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut. Wonderfully imaginative. I am entertained by the aliens' theories on time and gender.

    an underachiever's diary, by Benjamin Anastas. Focuses mostly on the narrator's early childhood as an identical twin.

    The Thomas Merton Reader. A collection of writings by a Catholic monk. Very Eastern, like an evolved Saint Augustine.
  6. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 3, 1999
    Vee... I sometimes think Stephen King doesn't sleep. That's the only explanation for the time use. :) Other than that, I totally second the nomination of On Writing,, and add Danse Macabre. For his fiction, It, 'salem's Lot, and -- especially for writers of popular style fiction -- Misery. Aside from being a gripping story, it has phenomenal reflections on the process of writing and the power of story.

    Orson Scott Card -- I second that one, too. Ender's Game is one of my all time favorites, and I love the voice in Seventh Son. For nonfiction, I'd add How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy and Characters and Viewpoint. One caveat for Star Wars fans: OSC is very much not among our number. He wrote a scathing criticism of SW in USA Today, and it's very insulting to fans, imho (because the subtext is that we're all mindless drones who've had this pushed down our throats and don't know any better). But that's really a minor irritation. He's a very good writer, and he teaches writing well.

    Dracula, by Bram Stoker. Another one that's just a plain good read, but also the best use I've seen of epistolary form.

    Hmmm... I'm at work now and don't have my personal writing library to look at (I read about writing far too much!), but when I get home, I'll get back to this. :)

    Oh, yeah... Nancy Kress' Fiction column, every month in Writer's Digest, is terrific.

    Oh, one more quick one that I think should be required reading, and is a great feel-good piece for lovers of fairy tale type stories like SW: "On Fairy-Stories", an essay by the one-and-only J.R.R. Tolkien, is a wonderful defense the genre, and -- incredible as it may sound -- a rousing endorsement of Escape (and escapism) as a revolutionary aspect of reading. It can be found in several places, probably most easily in Tree and Leaf, or in The Tolkien Reader.
  7. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    Orson Scott Card, definitely. Ender's Game is absolutely brilliant, and the rest of the series is also great.

    The Lord of the Rings (which I'm re-reading now) should be required reading.

    Anyone who likes Timothy Zahn's SW books should check out his Conquerors' trilogy, starting with Conquerors' Pride. I love these books.

    Hyperion and its sequels by Dan Simmons are wonderfully written, fascinating sci-fi novels that touch on many aspects of what it is to be alive and human.

    Don't forget the classic sci-fi works by Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. I would especially recommend Asimov's Foundation books and The Gods Themselves, and Clarke's "Odyssey" and "Rama" series.
  8. Melyanna

    Melyanna Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 19, 2001
    How could I have forgotten Tolkien? Anyone who speaks English should read his works.

    For some good non-fiction, I prefer Plato's Heirs, a somewhat eclectic collection of essays from Plato to modern times. It's got everything from humor to history to horror. (How do you like that alliteration there? Purely unintentional.)
  9. Melne_Crtor

    Melne_Crtor Jedi Youngling star 2

    Jul 9, 2000
    Oops. Forgot Foundation. I should hang my head in shame. Fantastic read, but y'all probably know that already. I could never get into LotR for some reason.

    JediGaladriel, I totally disagree with many of OSC's personal opinions -- not just on Star Wars, on nearly everything -- but I adore his books. They transcend opinion and get into fundamentals of truth and humanity. I could go on about him, but just check out the []Hatrack forum[/link] and you'll get plenty.
  10. Talon Squad Leader

    Talon Squad Leader Former Manager star 5

    Dec 22, 1999
    Read the classic authors like:

    Jules Verne - Journey To the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, etc

  11. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 3, 1999
    Melne --

    I used to hang out at the Hatrack forums all the time (particularly at Hatrack 1830 and the Virtual Battle School). Good setup over there, and most of the folks aren't afraid to disagree with him, and he certainly doesn't object to disagreement there. And he does a writing column there that's also very good. Like I said, his personal opinions of a subject we all share here are something of an irritation sometimes -- I didn't want people to come on them unawares -- but I think he's one of the best writers around. Especially for character issues.
  12. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 9

    Mar 26, 2001
    I recommend two authors:

    Leon Wieseltier--author of an autobiographical book called Kaddish that is a very very fantastic personal insight into Jewish post-mortal philosophy and a study of our purpose here on earth. I'm a christian and it touched me!

    and of course,

    Jean Anouilh--a writer in the early-to-mid 20th century, he took classic tales from Greek mythology or literature and retold them with propaganda undertones. Antigone is an anti-nazi diatribe that he premiered to an all-nazi house without them realizing it. Eurydice is an absolutely amazing retelling of the Orpheus tale.

    Other than that, read Victor Hugo and whatever else you want, but NEVER EVER Julie of the Wolves!
  13. craigrr

    craigrr Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jun 8, 1999
    I might as well add the books that've influenced me, both past and present.

    Tolkien- Anything. "The Hobbit" is what got me hooked on reading for fun at age 8.

    "Johnny Got His Gun"- Dalton Trumbo. Amazing book. His use (or lack) of punctuation and run-on sentences really creates a feeling of panic and despair. A very powerful book.

    The Harry Potter series- J.K. Rowling. My wife got me hooked on these. I love the way they're written; especially the dialogue. It fits the characters perfectly. I really can't wait for the movie. It'll be great when my daughter gets old enough for us to read these to her.

    The Dinotopia series- James Gurney. I have to admit, I read these mostly for the pictures. The stories can be a little lame (well at least in the most recent one, "First Flight"), but the imagery is simply spectacular. I find myself staring at the pictures for hours just studying them.

    The Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series- Tad Williams. Awesome fantasy trilogy. Williams has also written the "Otherland" series which I have yet to read. The author has an amazing ability to make you genuinely care about the characters. When a certain character was killed, I got a lump in my throat.(honestly)

    The Wizard's First Rule series- Terry Goodkind. Another fantasy series. Sometimes a little graphic as far as the gore factor, but as near as I can tell, it's never been gratuitous. Goodkind also throws a few twists in you'd never see coming.

    Edgar Allen Poe- Anything. An amzing and gifted writer. His horror stories are what true horror is about. "Cask of Amontillado" and "Premature Burial" are two of my favorites, though "The Tell-tale Heart" is great too. If you have a chance, pick up "Closed on Account of Rabies". It's a recorded collection of various celebrities reading some of Poe's work. Iggy Pop's reading of "Tell-Tale Heart" captures perfectly the mania of the narrator. Diamanda Gallas' reading of "Black Cat" is truly spine tingling. If nothing else, see if your local library has it and CHECK IT OUT! :)

    The Wheel of Time series- Robert Jordan. A huge, sweeping epic series. I'm only on the third book right despite having started reading it ten years ago. Still, it's an incredible, intricate work.

    I know there's others that I just can't think of right now, but the above authors have made a huge impact on me, both as a writer and a reader.

  14. womp_rat208

    womp_rat208 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Nov 8, 1999
    Let's see, what writing has influenced me.

    Tom Clancy. I've only read one book by him, Rainbow Six, but the detail and stratagies he uses are excellent. Some of the planning details I've used in the game Rainbow Six work excellently. So it is quite nice to have around for when I'm writing those squadfics.

    Ok, not really influentaul, but another good author is Sir Arthur Connan Doyle. The Shirlcok Holmes books are EXCELLENT. They WILL keep you guessing until the end.
  15. Healer_Leona

    Healer_Leona Squirrel Wrangler of Fun & Games star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Jul 7, 2000
    Can't help but smile in recognition of some of my favorite books already listed. :) :)

    Anything by Stephen King is awesome, my favorites always changing as I reread them.

    The Enders series by Orson Scott Card, first introduced to me by my daughter is fabulous!!

    LOTR, another classic.

    I haven't seen DUNE listed yet and I've already worn out 3 paperbacks over the years. :) :)

    During my vampire stage I found a wonderful one called Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin--a tale of vampires on the Mississippi River.
  16. Liz Skywalker

    Liz Skywalker Ex-Mod star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jun 13, 2000
    I second basically everything on this list. I have a few to add.

    Robert A. Heinlein (those of you who know me saw that coming): He writes amazing sci-fi and actually has a lot of science in 'em. My fave is probably Time Enough for Love or Stranger in a Strange Land but anything by him is very good!

    Raymound E. Feist: His Riftwar and post-Riftwar stories are good. I didn't much like the 4 books that are set something like 40 years after all the other books, but it's all great.

    Frank Herbert: one word: DUNE! I have broke the binding on all 6 books with re-reading them over and over again. The 2 prequels are good, but are not really "canon" in my opinion. (this from an EU girl. rolleyes.gif)

    Vince Flynn: Not sci-fi. Term Limits, Transfer of Power, and The Third Option are awesome political thrillers.

    Speaking of political thrillers:
    Jeffrey Archer: If you haven't read anything of his, you are majorly missing out. Shall we tell the president? (old version, the one with Ted Kennedy, not Florentyna Kane) and A matter of honor are on my all-time favorites list. You can't go wrong with him. For Americans: Honor Among Thieves is a must-read. In it, Saddaam Hussain wnats to get the Declaration of Independance and burn it on the Fourth of July.

    The People's Choice (I can't remember the author) is an amazing book that teaches you a lot about the electoral process. I read it in 8th grade, just picked it off the shelves. That was 2 years before the Bush/Gore thing with the electors. READ THIS BOOK! The summery: The presidential-elect dies before the electors meet.

    Vampire books:

    Laurell K. Hamilton: Anything she has ever writen. The Anita Blake series is amazing and A Kiss of Shadows is a great start to her new series. I'm really anxious waiting for Narcissus in Chains, the 10th Anita Blake book, the come out this year (there is hope!).

    Elaine Bergstrom: If you can find her Austra Vampires books, you are very lucky. They're supposedly out of print. Check your local library. Shattered Glass[/b], Daughter of the Night and Blood Alone are great. I have been trying to find Blood Rites for over a year. No luck yet.
    She also wrote a sequel to Dracula called Mina, writen under a pen name. It has recently been republished under her real name.

    I know I'm leaving books out but these are the best ones I can think of right now.
  17. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Oct 31, 1999
    Good to see Heinlein and Herbert make the list.

    Here's a few authors whose books I've enjoyed.

    Stephen Lawhead His series of books dealing with the Arthurian legend has a grittier feel to it than most books about the same subject. The series includes Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, and Grail. And despite the more realistic feel of the time period, the mystical and religious aspects of the legend remain, albeit in a slightly different forms.

    Robert Silverberg I've enjoyed his Majipoor books. Though I wish the political aspect of the books had been more detailed, there is definitely some excellent swashbuckling adventure to make up for that deficiency. These books are really half fantasy and half sci-fi, but the balance between the two is quite well done.

    Dan Simmons Though I've only read four of his books, I was amazed at the breadth of their scope. The story begins with Hyperion, continues through Fall of Hyperion and Endymion to its conclusion in Rise of Endymion. Much like the Dune books, the series takes on a somewhat messianic tone. And the Shrike is one helluva literary antagonist.
  18. Darth Zane

    Darth Zane Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Apr 21, 2000
    Basketball Diaries by Jim Carrol: Tale of a teen basketball player's descent into Heroin addiction.

    Anyting by JANET EVANOVICH. She writes some of the funniest books I've ever read.

    And since I'm on funny: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and all it's sequels.

    YOu've gotta read THE GREAT WAR, WORLD WAR, and COLONIZATION series by Harry Turtledove.

    Also, Read James Patterson's first four Alex Cross books and Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme books for awesome suspense/thrillers.

    ANIMAL FARM by Orwell

    There's so many other books that are escaping me right now, but the above books will get ya started.
  19. Jeff 42

    Jeff 42 Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 14, 1998
    How could I forget Hitchhiker's Guide?
  20. Gandalf the Grey

    Gandalf the Grey Jedi Knight star 6

    May 14, 2000
    I don?t think anyone has mentioned them yet, but George R. R. Martin?s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire is mind-blowing. I was once a huge Tolkien fan, but even the Lord of the Rings pales in comparison to Mr. Martin?s epic. OMG it?s good. The first book is A Game of Thrones, the second is A Clash of Kings, and the third is A Storm of Swords. Three more books left to go. And it?s brilliant, the third book no less than the first. The last two hundred pages of a Storm of Swords are in my mind the greatest fantasy writing ever.

    The language is often course (to say the least), it?s bloody, it?s violent, and it gets quite nasty at times. This has all the dark stuff in it- it is not a warm and fuzzy story. Murder, betrayal, treachery, incest, plots and counterplots, victory and defeat. Everything. The good guys rarely win- they tend to get stabbed in the back. But all throughout, it?s simply brilliant.
  21. Renton Kenobi

    Renton Kenobi Jedi Master star 4

    May 24, 2000
    "Eye Of The Beholder"-Marc Behm
    "Menmoch the Devil"-Anne Rice
    "Where the Heart Is"-Billie Letts
    "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"-Ken Kessy
    "Catcher in the Rye"-J.D. Salinger
  22. Sticks

    Sticks Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jan 27, 2001
    Some of my all-time favorites:

    Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn. An amazing look at culture, humanity, and just what's wrong with the world.

    Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. This should undoubtedly be required reading for the entire human race.

    Centaurus: The Best of Australian Science Fiction, edited by David G. Hartwell and Damien Broderick. Those Aussies can write, man.

    My Favorite Science Fiction Story, edited by Martin H. Greenberg. Another awesome anthology, with stories by the old standbys, as selected by today's more famous authors.

    The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger. So it's not exactly fiction, but you wouldn't know that by reading it. Junger makes this story absolutely riveting, when any other author would have failed miserably.

    Mysterium, by Robert Charles Wilson. An entire Michigan town gets swept into a parallel universe, and... well, you'll just have to read it. Heckuva good read.

    There's just a few of mine; I'll post some more when it comes to mind.

    EDIT: The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. Okay, so you might think it's a children's book. You're wrong. This is an amazing work, with very grown-up undertones. Not just for bedtime stories anymore.
  23. Sreya

    Sreya Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 7, 2000
    Couple of contributions here:

    The Seafort books by David Feintuch (first book named Midshipman's Hope, series follows in that vein). Excellent 1st person POV series, in which you really see the main character through his own eyes. I love it because he's such a big hero, but he can't see that himself. However, I wouldn't recommend it for children.

    Bruce Coville is good, and he's finally put out the sequel to Into the Land of the Unicorns. Sounds like he'll be continuing the series, too.

    If you're into non-fictions to help with writing, I'd suggest Joseph Campbell for studying myth. Or, if you don't have the patience for reading through an academic work, pick up the Magic of Myth sourcebook that was done up for the Smithsonian exhibit. The book does a good job of summarizing the important points.

    My biggest suggestion is to just browse through the bargain bins at bookstores and pick up unknown authors. They usually have unique styles and perspectives that aren't really well-known yet. (That's how I first found Feintuch!)

  24. Gandalf the Grey

    Gandalf the Grey Jedi Knight star 6

    May 14, 2000
    A more expanded list of my favorite books is:

    Lord of the Flies by William Golding (one of the greatest novels ever written, and in my mind one of the scariest)
    Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice (her first book and her best)
    MacBeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and other (bloody) Shakespeare
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (another great novel)
    The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien ('nuff said)
    The Fionaver Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay (comparable to Tolkien)
    The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (it's long, and it's fun)

  25. Melyanna

    Melyanna Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 19, 2001
    I'll second most of those, and add that Hemingway is probably the most overrated author of all time.
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