40 Years of Favorite Part Three: My Favorites From My Thirties

14 Feb

In honor of my milestone 40th birthday I created lists of books I loved as a child/teen and 20 something.  I’m finishing out my 40th year with a look at favorite books in my thirties.

31. Little, Big by John Crowley

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One of the member of the library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club, recently brought up this work and I remember how much I enjoyed reading it as an enjoyable escape while stuck in bed while recovering from the flu. Little, Big features a charming extended family living in a 19th Century mansion surrounded by a fairy filled forest. The enchanting novel is told from multiple family members perspectives.

32. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

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I’ve talked in previous posts about my love of Neil Gaiman.  Another of his novels besides American Gods and Neverwhere that I have enjoyed is Stardust, which was adapted as a film in 2007 starring Claire Danes. The novel has a charming fairy tale like quality, with its story about a young man’s search for a fallen star to give to his beloved and is surprised to learn that star has a human form.  You have the option with the novel of the illustrated version or an updated version without illustrations.

33. Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair and 34. Shades of Grey

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Jasper Fforde is one of my favorite authors. His work is uniquely quirky, which I love. His Thursday Next series beginning with The Eyre Affair, is about a literary detective who can literally jump into books and interact with the character there.  She has a pet dodo bird and a relative who travels through time.  For teens and adults who enjoy YA fiction, check out his Last Dragonslayer series.  I am eagerly awaiting the next in the Shades of Grey series, the original book of that name is now subtitled in later editions The Road to High Saffron, imagines a dystopian reality where everyone’s social class is determined by the specific colors they can see.

35. Fantasy Works of Kage Baker

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I had previously written in another post about one of my favorite Science Fiction series, The Company by Kage Baker, about immortelle cyborg who live forward perpetually in time. Besides that series, Baker also wrote several novels set in a fantasy world including The House of the Stag, The Anvil of the World, and The Bird of the River which can be checked out from BCCLS libraries. Like her science fiction works, the characters in her fantasy novels are complex and the stories thought provoking.

36. Donna Andrew’s Meg Langslow Mystery Series

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I love Meg Langslow’s quirky mysteries. Like many in the cozy genre they all have a theme, in this case all in some way involve birds, which is unexpected considering that Meg isn’t an ornithologist, but a blacksmith. I discovered Andrews, after she had written several books in the series and I remember spending one summer reading one book after another.  Andrews had two new books out last year Gone Gull at the beginning of August and How the Finch Stole Christmas at the end of October, both of which I highly enjoyed.

37. Kerry Greenwood’s Mysteries

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Kerry Greenwood is my favorite mystery author so though I have written about her previously, I can’t resist mentioning her again.  Check out her fabulous Phryne Fisher series about a flapper in Australia or her contemporary series about baker Corrina Chapman.  Quirky characters are found throughout both.  Greenwood went on a bit of a writing hiatus, but she is currently working on her next Corrina mystery and fellow Phryne fans can check out her short story “Taking the Waters” in her American Publisher Poisoned Pen Presses 20th anniversary collection Bound by Mystery published last year.

38. Gail Carriger’s Steampunk Series

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I’ve probably written more about Gail Carriger’s works than any other author for this blog. I love the humor that infuses her cool supernatural steampunk, which also features a dash of romance. Check out her Parasol Protectorate series, Custard Protocol series, and Finishing School series and see if you agree!  The latest in the Custard Protocol series Competence is scheduled to be released in July.

39. Robin Paige’s Victorian/Edwardian Mystery Series

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Robin Paige is the pen name of William and Susan Albert Wittig. In one of my first blog posts back in 2013, I discussed Susan Albert Witting’s Darling Dahilia series which is set in the 1930’s. I had discovered the Victorian-Edwardian Mysteries after the series had been completed and was re-released in paperback.  Although it can be sad when you learn there won’t be any more of something you love, it can also be delightful getting to binge on a series that has been completed.  I found the couple at the center of the mysteries charming and there is something sweet about knowing they were brought to life by a married duo of writers.  Part of the reason the series was ended was the amount of research it took the authors to achieve the authenticity of the books and you will come away with interesting knowledge of different aspects of the eras.

40. Jennifer Arena’s 100 Snowmen

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To end this list I decided to pick a recent favorite picture book read that I enjoy sharing with my son, since I know my love of books started early with my mom reading to me as a child and my dad passing on worn copies of his favorite speculative fiction when I was a teenager. My son loves math so much he is even fond of doing addition problems before bed along with me reading to him. Jennifer Arena’s 100 Snowmen combines his love of math with my love of reading as on each page there are simple addition problems to add up the Snowmen doing fun activities from snowball fights to hide and seek.  A fun read to checkout this winter with the kids in your life.

Tell us about some of your favorite reads from the various decades of your life in our comment section!

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

40 Years of Favorite Part Two: My Favorites From My Twenties

9 Feb

You may remember I started a list of my favorite books or series of books through the years in honor of my milestone 40th birthday with books I loved as child and teen.  I thought I’d finish out my 40th year with part two and three of that post and look at favorite books from my twenties (and in the next post my thirties).

21. The Works of Tanith Lee

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I went through a period as a teen into my early twenties of being a huge fan of the dark fantasy of Tanith Lee and it would be impossible for me to pick only one of her works as a favorite from that time period; unfortunately not all of her prolific work is currently in print.  For vampire fans check out Personal Darkness available from BCCLS libraries.  For those who enjoy retellings of Fairytales, like I do, check out a very adult retelling of Snow White, White as Snow.  You can borrow her Lionwolf Trilogy as eBooks from Hoopla.

22. Ray Bradbury’s From the Dust Returned

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Ray Bradbury’s prose always hooks me into his stories. From the Dust Returned is composed primarily of a series of short stories Bradbury wrote decades earlier, centering on a family of monsters, vampires, and ghosts named the Elliotts. When I was in college I remember being on a Goth Music Discussion email list (these were the days before Facebook and even Myspace) where one of the participants was in love with one of the stories in From Dust Returned and encouraged everyone to check it out; I did and it remains a favorite. The cover art for the novel was provided by Charles Addams, who created his own macabre family, The Addams Family.

23. Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls and 24. Drawing Blood

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Poppy Z. Brite, pen name of transgendered author Billy Martin, was known in the early 90’s for his horror stories.  My two favorites from that time are the haunted house tale Drawing Blood and the vampire novel Lost Souls.  Brite then went on to write several dark comedies in the late 90’s/early 2000’s set in the culinary world of New Orleans in the Liquor series.  Hopefully Martin will chose to come out of authorly retirement and start writing again sometime soon since I’d be curious to see what he has for his next chapter.

25. Spider Robinson’s Callahan Series, 26. John DeChancie’s Castle Perilous Series, and 27. Alan Dean Fosters’s Spellsinger series

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Following my dark fantasy period, there was a time in the 90’s where I couldn’t get enough of funny fantasy and science fiction.  Spider Robinson’s Callahan series is set in a bar where the regulars include a talking dog, a time traveler, and alien life forms; many puns and shenanigans ensue.  Several of Robinson’s books are available from BCCLS Libraries.  John DeChancie’s Castle Perilous series features a castle with thousands of doors, each of which opens onto another dimension; those who enter often receive surprising magical abilities.  Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger series features a student who is pulled into a world where animals talk and behave like humans, and the protagonist gains the power of using music to cast spells.  Books in these series are all available from Hoopla as eBooks or digital audiobooks.

28. Connie Willis’s Bellwether

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You may remember my post about Connie Willis’s terrific books about time travel; our book discussion group even read Doomsday Book one month. The book of hers I first picked up my freshman year of college when it came out was Bellwether which looks at a group of scientist who are attempting to study what causes and how to create a fads. Looking back on it now Bellwether seems predictive of the current fad of viral marketing and social media influencers, though at the time I just fell in love with the funny, quirky book.

29. Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic

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I have written previously about my love of my Alice Hoffman’s magical fantasies which feature bold female heroines either in historical or contemporary settings. My first and still one of my favorites is her novel Practical Magic. It is definitely worth rereading since she just published in 2017 a prequel The Rules of Magic, where she writes about an earlier generation of the Owens family: Franny, Jet, and Vincent, set in the 1960’s.

30. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

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Speaking of Dystopian works, The Handmaid’s Tale was shocking and thought provoking to me when I read it as a college freshman. The story has gotten a renewed buzz with its adaptation as a streaming series. I also enjoyed Atwood’s other fiction and poetry.  I got to see her at a reading/Q&A when I was in graduate school at a Non-for-Profit Theater in Brookline, MA, which for a book nerd was practically a holy experience at the time.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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