The actual prompt for today was “Books I Decided to DNF Too Quickly,” but I don’t know if there are books I regret not finishing because
So instead, I will tell you about 10 difficult or frustrating books that I almost gave up on, but I’m glad I didn’t.
The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser: It’s Middle English poetry, it took me 84 years to read, but it’s a compelling story with a lot of weird bits, plus I met Britomart, dashing and competent lady knight of my heart.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque: This novel set in World War I is a real downer, but it made me think and gave me more perspective on a big event in history.
Deerskin by Robin McKinley: If I had known what I was getting into, I never would have read it. Some really dark trauma happens to the protagonist, and there’s some oddly-slow bits in the middle, but overall it’s a tremendous story, it’s brilliantly crafted, and the way the main character empowers herself and overcomes is wonderful to watch.
Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales edited by Kelly Link: I got this book solely for the Sarah Rees Brennan story, but there were a lot of other gems in this collection.
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman (volume 1): Okay, so full disclosure is that I haven’t finished this series yet. I’ve read the first two and to be honest I’m amazed that I’ve gotten that far considering how dark and horrific it is. But it’s just so good? and I love the characters? And I want to read more? It’s confusing. Damn it, Neil.
Inheritance by Christopher Paolini: I almost didn’t finish this series because it is wild and free and had a really long release schedule, but overall I’m glad I stuck with it.
God-Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert: Part of me wants to take a pair of scissors and cut out chapters worth of philosophizing that the characters in this novel get up to, but the rest of me thinks this book is a trip and I loved every word of it.
Middlemarch by George Eliot: This book is one of my favorites ever, and I don’t think I was ever in danger of NOT finishing it, but it is insanely long and it took me months to finish it. I’m glad I put the work into it.
This week’s prompt for Top 10 Tuesday is Bookish Worlds I’d Want to Live In. For me personally, there are SO MANY. I narrowed my favorite fictional worlds as best as I could.
Middle-Earth (The Lord of the Rings): Specifically I’d love to live in Rivendell, Rohan, Minas Tirith, Lothlorien, Buckland, or the Grey Havens. I’m not picky. Not at all.
Ingary (Howl’s Moving Castle): The land of seven-league boots and invisibility cloaks! Plus, if I want to go in between normal Earth and Ingary, I can just hire a wizard to make me a portal.
Dinotopia (Dinotopia series): I probably haven’t talked about my secret weakness for Dinotopia before, but I just love dinosaurs so much and when I was a kid I wanted for Dinotopia to be real S O. B A D. I want dino pals and dino steeds!
Earthsea (Earthsea series): Yes, Earthsea sounds terrifying, but on the other hand they have dragons and an insane magic system and a much better magic school than Hogwarts. Yeah, you heard me.
Atlanta, Georgia (Kate Daniels series): In this series, the technological age is OVER and is being slowly eaten by a new magic age. I’m pretty okay with this and while I don’t think I would survive longer than a week, it would be a GOOD MAGICAL WEEK.
Temeraire’s alternate history world (Temeraire series): My reasons for this are pretty similar to those for Dinotopia: I want dragon friends and dragon steeds and tiny dragons and giant dragons, just a part of nature, totally normal, nothing to see here except DRAGONS.
Camp Halfblood (Percy Jackson and the Olympians series): I don’t need demigod powers, I just want to visit and take notes for the science. And make genealogical trees for every single camper.
Naboo (Star Wars): Star Wars is more of a movie franchise than a book franchise but this is reminding me that there are NOT ENOUGH BOOKS set on Naboo. I’m planning to move there as soon as I complete my lightspeed rocket.
The Reaches (The Books of the Raksura series): This is another one of those places that I would probably get eaten by a giant predator in a matter of days. But if I could finagle my way into a Raksuran colony tree, everything would be fine and I’d have the best time ever making jewelry or something and convincing giant winged lizards to fly me around.
Astreiant (Astreiant series): I’m reading the most recent installment, Point of Sighs, right now and this series is the best combination of perfect fantasy worldbuilding, fun characters, casual matriarchy, drama, and murder mystery. And yes I would definitely live there.
I saw that this was the prompt for this week and I HAD TO DO IT. One thing I noticed while putting together this list is that often the best names in books, from a functional standpoint, are the most simple; a long, beautiful name can be distracting and/or hard to pronounce. But on the other hand, those long beautiful names can be so fun!
Here are my top 10 favorite character names (from books):
Misty of Chincoteague. As a kid one of the first proper names I ran to figure out how to pronounce was Chincoteague. I still love saying it and reading it. Plus, the horse is called Misty. This just a genius combination and I don’t care if you disagree, you are wrong.
Betsy-Tacy. Besty and Tacy are such epic BFFs that they go by a single name, and I love it.
Rodian Romanovitch Raskolnikov. I mean, if you’re going to have a moral breakdown and murder an old lady with an ax, you might as well have as epic a name as possible.
Kamala Khan. It really rolls off the tongue and can sound both cute and badass (which is impressive, just like Kamala).
Fai D. Flowright. It’s ridiculous and flowery, just like Fai. But appearances can be deceiving!
Tristen Conn. Elizabeth Bear is the one of the best at beautiful and usable character names.
Jane Fairfax. I love all Jane Austen names equally but Jane Fairfax is my favorite.
Atomic Robo. I sometimes enjoy names that teach you about the character’s key physical traits. Plus Atomic Robo is simply fun to say.
Newland Archer. Nobody does illustrative names like 19th century authors. Edith Wharton’s are more fun than, say, Thomas Hardy’s or Henry James.
Winnie-the-Pooh. There is no reason on God’s green earth that a name like “Winnie-the-Pooh” should work, and yet it does.
Today’s theme was a “Summer Freebie,” intended to help us recommend books for summer vacation, on the beach, or whatever. Personally I don’t think my reading increases during the summer, and I don’t think I understand the term beach read, but hey! Freebie! Gonna do what I want!
And what I want is: classics.
I love classics. Sure, a lot of them are boring. Sure, a lot of them are real downers. Sure, a lot of them use weird techniques like stream-of-consciousness so you don’t know which way is up much less which character is doing what.
But all of them are significant in some way, and more importantly, a lot of them are just plain entertaining, good books. “Some of my favorite books are classics!” she protests while clutching her totebag.
Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle: Detectives! Crime! Occasional murder!
The Europeans by Henry James: Romance! Snobby relatives! Summer?
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons: Woodsheds! Reform! Romance?
Another Country by James Baldwin: James! Effing! Baldwin!
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson: Pirates! Treasure! ISLAND!
Kim by Rudyard Kipling: Spies! India! SPIES?
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery: Found family! Romance? Nature!!!
Hamlet by Shakespeare: Ghosts! Murder! Duels!
Beowulf: Monsters! Mayhem! Madness!
Persuasion by Jane Austen: Love! Friendship! Persuasion???
When I pick up a book that I know nothing about, what things on the cover, blurb, or in the pages immediately draw me in and make me want to read it?
Competency: I love me some competency, whether it’s at politicking, face-punching, or basket-weaving. Example: anything by Timothy Zahn
Dragons: especially shape-shifting dragons! Examples: the Wings of Fire series by Tui Sutherland and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Moral person thrown into court intrigue: Best when mixed with 1 and 2. Example: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Beauty and the Beast retellings: I mean, I really like fairy tale retellings in general, but I’m a sucker for B&B. Example: Beauty by Robin McKinley
Bodyguards: I will drop everything to read any sort of bodyguard story. Just accept it. Example: King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (although I would love that book anyway)
Hate-to-love romance: Typical, I know, but they’re just always so entertaining. Example: the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
Victoriana with magic: I don’t care for historical fiction, but I love adding magic to a historical era and seeing what happens – especially Victorian England or Regency England. Example: A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede
Complex family stories where they fight but also love and support each other: especially if romance is secondary and as long as the characters are well-drawn. Example: Sarah Dessen’s books
Banter: If someone throws quotes at me from a book that make me laugh, I am very likely to pick it up to read myself. Example: anything by Sarah Rees Brennan
School stories: especially if its fantasy but really any as long as it’s about making friends and following your dreams (although what’s confusing about this is that I don’t care much for Harry Potter). Example: Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce