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Gush: Literature
  • Ayn Rand. Disagreements about Objectivism aside, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead were two novels that I could not put down. In a world surrounded by cynicism and pessimism, discovering her works was a breath of fresh air. Not to mention the fact that her protagonists, are, in this troper's humble opinion, some of the greatest heroic literary characters of the 20th century. Or any century following that. As a guilty secret, I have a huge amount of respect for Ellsworth Toohey. Sure, he was the villain, but so compelling as to touch Magnificent Bastard territory. This troper dreams of the day when he'll be able to write reviews and critiques with that much flair, or that much wit.
  • Since this very wiki was the one to introduce me to Markus Zusak's The Book Thief I'm happy to say here and now that it made my 10 percent immediately. Seriously. I wish I knew more people just so I could tell them about this heartbreaking, breathtaking, wonderful experience of a book.
    • Agreed. That book made me cry even after I'd read it a million times over. It is possibly the saddest books I've read, but it's still uplifting.
  • HARPER LEE. To Kill a Mockingbird is just beautiful. Scout is a patient story-teller, introducing you to the little town of Maycomb gradually, and pointing out the little quirks of each person. It also points out the injustice and irrationality of racism as you see the world through a child's eyes, and is NEVER Anvilicious. And this troper is sure there are many girls who were (and still are) just like Scout, being told to be "proper" and "ladylike" when all they want to do is roll around in the dirt with their friends and have fun.
  • Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy is the topic of this troper's University dissertation (it's literary on top of being gripping and involving!). Peake's character's are bizarre, but they're also incredibly human; not since reading the Harry Potter novels as a kid has this troper been so emotionally involved in a piece of literature - some of the deaths in the books haunt him to this day. Titus Groan is a bit of a slog at first, but once you hit the half-way point you'll be reveling in Peake's elaborate prose - I've never came across another writer who cares so much for the aesthetic quality of words and their sounds: reading Peake's descriptions is like, if you'll excuse me, sex for the mental ear. And the atmosphere... This troper harbours ambitions of being an author, and after finishing Titus Alone was despondent, knowing he'll never write half as well as Peake.
    • Oh God. *sigh of relief* I thought I was the only one enjoying this book for all the beautiful, captivating, detailed prose which can only be compared to baroque music or an elaborated, tenderly-woven tapestry. Who cares about fast-paced plot and action when you can have this instead? I only wish Peake had lived to finish all the seven books he had planned.
    • Just the novels? Forget Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft—"Boy in Darkness" is the most terrifying thing ever written.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire, easily one of the greatest fantasy epics ever written. The characters are awesome, even the evil ones, the dialogue is snappy and the world is so well realized you can forget its a fantasy sometimes...
    • God yes. A roaring second to you on that puppy. My reaction was somewhat like watching a Joss Whedon show: "Omigod, I love this man! But wait, he's killing off my favorite characters. But I can't stop... the story is so compelling...the characters so brilliant..." Martin manages to weave a tale of fantasy that doesn't seem like a fantasy, and the magic is revealed only when you really think about it; things as marvelous and mystical as dragons are bargaining chips and weapons, assassinations are carried out by shadows birthed by a priestess, and the faceless enemy that besieges our heroes could be human, if not for their black hands and shining ice-blue eyes. Young crippled boys can become their pet wolves, and warlocks can make the dead live for thousands of years... and yet when you read it, you say to yourself, "Why isn't this in the history books?" because the world seems so terribly real that he has to be documenting facts, not creating a fiction.
    • It almost seemed to me like reading a historical work—because as in real life, there's no moral. Good people get hurt. Bad guys win. And little things spin off and have big consequences. It's such a well-built world as far as that goes; you can imagine it as being a real place, not just existing within the confines of Martin's mind. And all the characters seem like real, breathing people.
    • I would like to point out that "Valyrian steel" is an Fictional Counterpart of Damascus blades, which are made with a special technique recently rediscovered. They exist in real life, and are capable of cutting through a falling piece of silk!
    • Just have to chime in here. While there are other works and authors on here that I absolutely love and would definitely recommend, A Song of Ice and Fire is the first one that's left me with such a bad case of Awesomeness Withdrawal while waiting for the next installment.
  • Two words: Good Omens. If you haven't read it yet, get thee to a library! It's worth it.
    • Well worth it. Or if you need to bootleg it.... we have ways.
      • Psh, all you'd have to do is ask a Good Omens fan to borrow a copy. I'm on my third one by now, mostly because the first one is still touring another state and the second one got left in the car one time too many. And the third copy is currently in another city being passed around by friends of friends...
      • So... your second copy turned into a Queen album?
      • You can buy it new and be confident you're not wasting your money.
    • Best apocalypse story This Troper has ever read. Ever.
      • The thing I love is all the semi-obscure references to history and literature. I didn't get them the first time I read it. It didn't matter. Then I got interested in the history of witch hunting and discovered that, for example, the Malleus Maleficarum is an actual book. Gaiman and Pratchett are a couple of geniuses who did way more researchthan they needed to.
    • If you like Good Omens, pick up The Sandman and/or a Discworld book. There are many, many reasons why they're so popular.
    • Mmmmmm, Good Omens. Pratchett and Gaiman: two great tastes that taste great together.
  • While we're at it, let's have some love for the Discworld books in general. Perfect dry humor, characters that captivate you, incredible plots... Pratchett is a genius. My favorite bit is in Men at Arms, where several characters, talking about kings, bring up the sword-from-a-stone legend and say "Now, a man who can put a sword into a stone, now, he's a king." At the end of the book, the "lost" heir to Anhk-Morpork's throne does exactly that - and he puts it through a bad guy on the way to the stone... Just absolutely, perfectly done.
    • I'm not afraid to say this. I don't care if people thought it was heavy-handed and irritatingly preachy, I loved Monstrous Regiment. It was my gateway Terry Pratchett and I will always have fond memories of it.
    • Terry Pratchett is a genius and should be knighted. The end.
    • While we're at it, this troper feels obliged to put in a word for Small Gods, which she feels does not come up nearly often enough in discussions of Discworld despite being one of the best books not just in the series but quite possibly in the whole world. If it hadn't been the second Discworld book she'd read, after The Colour of Magic, she might have dismissed the whole series as a lot of clever nonsense (not that there's anything wrong with that).
    • This troper has to add her own for Carpe Jugulum. It's her favorite, mainly due to the awesomeness of the vampires and it being the second book (after Reaper Man) she read, introducing her to the awesomeness that is Granny Weatherwax.
    • This one screamed it on the top of her lungs on a different forum after going "This is coming at me from everywhere, might as well read it." One person borrowed it from a library, another then pointed her to Reaper Man specifically.
    • A Hat Full of Sky introduced me to the fact that it is possible to find funny, well-written fantasy. It will forever have a special place in my heart for that reason.
    • As soon as I opened up Hogfather, and read the dedication - "To everyone who ever wanted to believe" - I knew that I'd stumbled on something truly magical. And I wasn't disappointed. How Sir Pterry can be so right about everything - about the depravity and sheer indifference of so much of humanity and life, and yet its beauty and goodness and hope at the same time, will forever baffle and delight me.
      • Seconding Hogfather. For me, as I mentioned on the character gushing page, it's the scene where Death rescues the little match girl. Yes, the one from the Tear Jerker poem. Best. Scene. EVER.
      • Hogfather is the best book I have ever read. That's it.
      • The sheer amount of awesome, funny and heartwarming in Hogfather can hardly be expressed in words.
    • Vetinari Vetinari Vetinari Vetinari Vetinari. And just to one-up Cosmo Lavish, once more Vetinari.
    • I'd like to give a special mention to Night Watch for being the first Discworld book I bought for myself (as opposed to getting from the library), for being the first book I cried at, and for just being a damn fine book. The rest of the City Watch books are also amazing, hilarious, heartwarming and tearjerking, often at the same time. And Vimes is just awesome.
      • I knew I'd have to chime in when Night Watch was mentioned. I have a special bookshelf specially designated for all 39 discworld books, and Night Watch is the only one that has never rested on it, as it never left my bedstand to begin with. I have read and reread it so many times that the spine is more lined than Gordon Ramsay's forehead.
  • Harry Potter itself is truly amazing. Honestly, how many of you can't say you were disappointed when you didn't get your acceptance letter to Hogwarts at age 11? It combines a well-moving plot, good writing, and absolutely amazingly realistic characters with a truly magical setting that I would love to be a part of more than almost any other.
    • I got disappointed. I actually half-believed I would, and actually believed in wizards for a short while. Of course, I wasn't even in 5th grade, and I was even more of a Cloudcuckoolander than I am now.
    • I was VERY disappointed. Still, I read the first book at age 5, so I got 6 whole years of waiting for a Hogwarts letter. 6 amazing years.
    • Me too...* sheepish* And I held on a little teeny bit longer after reading Hermione got hers at "almost twelve."
    • Absolutely; and the books were clearly extremely well planned - Rowling seems to have had pretty much every detail planned out from Philosopher's Stone. Well, aside from perhaps the Deathly Hallows relics themselves, but I'm quite wary of crying asspull on Rowling's part.
    • Rowling's world-building ability is pure genius. That is all.
    • Rowling is a true inspiration for me - I love and respect her books, I respect her imagination, I respect her success and opinions... she is the reason I aspire to be a successful author.
    • I had a hard time putting down all seven of the books. They were just so happy and fun. In particular, the scene in Book Five where Dumbledore tells Harry why he never told him about the prophecy until now is my favourite in the series. It's just so incredibly heartwarming and adorable that it makes me smile every time. But all of HP is really great.
    • The dedication of this book is split seven ways: to Niel, to Jessica, to David, to Kenzie, to Di, to Anne, and to you, if you have stuck with Harry until the very end.
    • Not only was Harry Potter a major part of my childhood, but after finishing it, this troper was hit with a case of Awesomeness Withdrawal so bad that even to this day I've still found relatively few books, let alone a full book series, that measure up to it in terms of quality.
  • I Am Legend the book, is probably one of the best vampire novels, one of the best apocalypse and novels, and the absolute best Vampire apocalypse novel ever written.
  • I love all of Connie Willis's novels and short stories. However, reading them all one right after the other can lead to quite a case of Mood Whiplash. Take the two novels in her "Fire Watch" series (not really a series, but set in the same universe): Doomsday Book is a haunting Tear Jerker that finds new ways to break your heart, while To Say Nothing of the Dog is a light-hearted time-traveling romp with romance! Both excellent, by the way.
  • The Terror, by Dan Simmons, is absolutely incredible and sadly does not get nearly the amount of attention it deserves. It's dark, terrifying, and exciting. The amazing thing is that even though the tone is unendingly bleak and depressing, it doesn't fall victim to Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy due to the number of heroic characters that you actually want to root for. Even if they die often.
  • Jorge Luis Borges is a creative gen ius. Shall I go on? I have no need.
    • Seconded. My collection of his short stories is my favorite book by far. Nothing else even comes close.
    • Oh, holy hell, yes. Definitely thirded. Borges's fiction is just so out there, so gripping and intellectual yet so tight and freaking hilarious that it's pretty much my mainstay for whenever I want to read a short story these days. I've read Orbis Tertius like, what, six times now, and I keep finding new things to love about it. And he's even better after reading him!
  • House of Leaves is such a me book that I couldn't help but love it. The Postmodernism added to the story and the atmosphere rather than just being there to be strange, the characters in each segment of the book were interesting and likable for the most part and the events of the book always found a way to unnerve me on a psychological level. This book helped get me into Postmodernism, and it was worth every penny.
    • House of Leaves is so fantastically clever and strange and complicated and labyrinthine and YES. I still can't figure out what it's about. I love it anyway.
  • Any novel by Diane Duane is bursting at the seams with win, awesome, win, tear jerkers, heartwarming, and win. Especially her Star Trek novels. Go. And. Read. One. Now.
    • Non-Trekkies in the audience (yes, both of you) should pick up her Young Wizards series. Massively enjoyable, fun reads from start to finish.
    • She gets extra Awesome points for occasionally dropping by Fandom Wank. This troper uses an icon she made for the "My ponies hate you now!" post.
      • She gets a truly enormous pile of Awesome points for occasionally dropping by here and leaving the odd edit or two. (And gets points taken off for still not having finished The Door into Starlight, Dark blast it.)
    • I will hold onto Young Wizards being real forever, and will hold onto a Manual finding its way to me for another year or two. I'm still not too old for one, damnit!
  • Lawrence Miles's novel Dead Romance will break your mind into itty-bitty pieces... and you'll love it.
  • Bridge of Birds is my favorite fantasy novel of all time, possibly even my favorite book of all time, because of Barry Hughart's gorgeous power of description and the masterful way he assembles the plot. The events of the book seem episodic almost to the point of being stand-alone short stories until about nine-tenths of the way through, when everything suddenly comes together and makes sense in the context of everything else. And the finale is a Crowning Moment Of Awesome, a Crowning Momentof Heartwarming, and a Tear Jerker all at the same time.
    • Yes, yes, and YES to everything said above. The world of Bridge of Birds is so richly and sumptuously detailed that I could see the lush scenery and hear the music of the bells crystal clear in my mind, and seeing all the loose ends and seemingly nonsensical/throwaway details tie together to form a truly epic ending was one of my most joyous reading experiences ever. If I could, I'd worship the ground at this website's feet for directing me to this wonderful book that I would not have heard of otherwise, though I sadly have no pearls or jade to offer. Yes, this book is really THAT awesome, but I shall stop here before I give others unfortunate cases of Hype Aversion.
    • Good gracious, yes. As if the rich detail and complex, brilliantly woven plot weren't enough, Hughart peppers the book with some of the most dazzling witticisms and funny bits I've ever read in a fantasy novel. The way the tone can seamlessly blend outrageous humor, poignant drama, and riveting high adventure is probably the strongest of its many strengths.
  • In case you haven't noticed, I love Diana Gabaldon. She seems to honestly LIKE her fans and the writing process, has no problems with huge Door Stopper EPICS, and has a unique understanding of the little things— and in her main series, she manages to pull off Happily Married despite horrific violence, many quarrels, many scars, and more issues than a subscription to National Geographic. And her characters function. Like people, they move on. The plots are neat, her research is always fun, and hell... um... she reminds me of all my favourite people. Hearing her podcast about male readers of her books (which were initially treated as romance novels) was a serious moment of heartwarming for me. (Plus, for this asexual troper... the sex scenes? Read just fine as scenes by themselves. Doesn't matter if you aren't in it for the heaving bosoms. Still fun.)
  • I don't care what you say, the Fight Club novel is motherfucking amazing and I will always prefer it to the movie. The reason the movie was so good is that it perfectly captures the idiom of the novel. The ending is a mind screw, but a perfect mind screw that fits with the dark tone and the out-of-control nature of Tyler's plans. Also, it hammers home the point that the protagonist is just, well, insane.
"Yeah, well, whatever. You can't teach God anything.
Because every once in a while, somebody brings me my lunch tray and my meds and he has a black eye or his forehead is swollen with stitches, and he says: "We miss you Mr. Durden." Or somebody with a broken nose pushes a mop past me and whispers: "Everything's going according to plan." Whispers: "We're going to break up civilization so we can make something better out of the world." Whispers: "We look forward to getting you back."
  • I don't care what people say, I love the Wheel of Time, always will. Its plot line is the most epic I've ever read and it never talks down to the reader. It assumes you'll figure it out as you go. Sure it has some pacing problems but that's more than made up for by the fact that it is one of the richest fictional universes ever created.
    • Absolutely, Robert Jordan may have had some distinctive views that filter through to the text which can bug people but the action is mesmeric and feels realistic, the detailed politics involved in being a divisive Chosen One with hugely varied types of friends, enemies and neutrals make it seem so much more intense and believable. The characters have frustrating aspects that are central and unchanging for them but Character Development is among the best this troper has seen;, some improvements may been unlikely for the heroes but they themselves have been changed by their experiences in a way that is all too often sadly lacking.
    • He also walks the fine balance of realism and fantasy. He's shown his work in the authentic details, but at the same time realises that it is a fantasy world and adjusts accordingly.
  • This Troper's first fantasy trilogy was David Eddings's Elenium, and to this very day he adores it. Sparhawk is directly responsible for his personal ideal knight- dedicated, calm, and devoted, the very essence of the Knight in Shining Armor.
    • Mine too! Eddings at his best (both here and the Belgariad universe) is everything a Gateway Series should be: accessible, entertaining, and most of all leaving you wanting more.
    • This troper's first introduction to "real" literature was the Belgariad. One of my fondest memories is sitting in my room by my window reading through all twelve books in the 'verse in a summer, at the age of twelve. Elenium was even better. And now, the love for this author (well, these authors - his wife Leigh cowrote just about all of his stuff) is one of the few things I still have in common with my father. Eddings is basically Trope Overdosed done very, very right.
    • Polgara and Ehlana are two of this troper's favorite characters in literature, ever. And not for the obvious reasons (he's gay)...but because they're awesome, complicated characters with rich personalities and fascinating histories.
  • The Lord of the Rings is one of the best fantasy stories ever written, and This Troper will cut anyone who says otherwise.
    • The Silmarillion took all the problems I had with The Lord of the Rings and fixed them. The elves aren't perfect and angelic. There are plenty of female characters. And the sheer amount of story and effort that Tolkien put into it is mindblowing, plus practically all the characters are Badass. It's like LOTR with awesome x1000.
      • Agreed. 'In the twilight of autumn the ship sailed out of Mithlond, until the seas of the Bent World fell away beneath it, and the winds of the round sky troubled it no more, and borne upon the high airs above the mists of the world it passed into the Ancient West, and an end was come for the Eldar of story and of song.' I wish I could meet that man.
    • I'm not that violent, but will agree. "No onslaught more fierce was ever seen in the savage world of beasts, where some desperate small creature armed with little teeth, alone, will spring upon a tower of horn and hide that stands above its fallen mate." No matter how you take that phrase, it's still beautiful writing.
    • I love both, but please let's not forget The Hobbit. Among other virtues, it possesses what may be the single best opening chapter in the entirety of fiction — drawing you into the realm of magic and inviting you to dream. Tolkien's use of language is just incredible, even when you remember he was a professor of English literature.
    • Will the Tolkienites just unite and say that Tolkien will melt any opposition with his sheer awesomeness? Because I can't even pick a favorite story.
    • Could Tolkien fail at anything in the realm of literature? Well, obviously the answer is yes . . . if he tried really hard to. Thank God he never did.
    • I discovered Middle-earth at age 12 and since then everything Tolkien has ever written, plus the film adaptations, have been my all-time favorites. When The Hobbit movie was announced, I squeed for four hours straight.
    • This troper was introduced to Tolkien not through his fiction, but through his essays "On Fairy-Stories", "A Secret Vice", "English and Welsh", "Beowulf: The Monsters and The Critics" and his letters. I believe that his fiction, as deep and moving as it is, doesn't contain one percent of the talent he possessed; it's these pieces where he really shines. I only regret that he and Lewis didn't finish that book on language they were considering for a while.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a brilliant Deconstruction of, well, Real Life. It revels in its own Fridge Logic and to say It Runs on Nonsensoleum is an understatement. It jets faster than the speed of light on Nonsensoleum and doesn't even pretend that is rational. The characters are entertaining by themselves, but the real joy is how the entire Fridge Logic universe is juxtaposed to them, and how human reason pales in comparison to the wide, wide universe. A massive subversion of Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale if there ever was one. And of course, you learn the answer to the ultimate question of Life, The Universe and Everything.
  • The Malazan Book of the Fallen series has magnificent depth and hordes of interesting and distinct races and individuals, as well as a fascinatingly different magic system and complex mythology and ascendant culture. The story is well written even in its unusual style and the various arcs are paced nicely. Abundance of Wangst (particularly later on) notwithstanding, it is still a great read and a standout in a genre with too many bad formulaic stories (good formulaic ones too of course).
  • Erin Hunter's Warriors series Needs More Love on this wiki! Sure, it's a series about cats for pre-teens, and sure, it has plenty of flaws, but there's something about it that charms and captivates me like no other book series. I love these kitties.
    • Agreed! Especially since some of the books are Darker and Edgier than even some adult novels...
    • I'm not even finished with Bluestar's Prophecy and I already adore it. Either because Bluestar is one of my favorite characters, because of the fun in reading a prequel, or because it's just enjoyable overall—perhaps all three of those. It's one of my favorite Warriors books.
    • The Darkest Hour has been my favorite book for six years, and it probably always will be. Firestar's nine lives ceremony was breathtaking, Tigerstar's death was horrifying, and the battle with BloodClan was just all-around awesome. There are several moments which will stay with me forever. I feel this way about many books in Warriors, but The Darkest Hour really takes the cake.
      • I got shivers from how awesome chapter 28 was.
    • For all the hate it gets, Power of Three was really very good. It was well written, and though it didn't have as many Tear Jerkers as the previous series, it was dark and depressing in the best way possible. The main characters were developed and easy to feel for. It introduced many new elements to the series and challenged the way things had always been done—Jayfeather's lack of respect for StarClan, for example. And then it introduced a threat on a scale we'd never seen before, leading into Omen of the Stars, which continued to be awesome in all the same ways as Power of Three.
  • Before I discovered Neil Gaiman's works, I read A Wrinkle in Time and it was pure magic for me as a child. Looking back, I believe it was the book responsible for making fantasy and science fiction my two favorite literary genres. Ten years later, it still holds up even with its high idealism factor; sometimes you just need a break from all the True Art Is Angsty out there.
    • Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet are some of, to this troper's mind, the most sublime and beautiful science fiction she's ever read. Perhaps at its heart it's more like fantasy, but the fact that her work is filled with a reverence and a joy for science and scientific discovery must give her a place among Asimov and Bradbury.
    • Madeleine L'Engle just exudes happiness and peace with the world. She's been enough of an influence on my worldview since I first read one of her books that I actually wrote my college application essay on A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
    • This troper loves Wrinkle, but A Wind in the Door is her personal favorite on Proginoskes alone.
      • Seconded
    • This troper found A Wrinkle in Time when she was a quiet, too-smart, mousy-brown-haired, glasses-wearing ten year old. Meg Murry was a hero that looked like her and wasn't pining over a boy - the brilliant popular jock ended up pining over her! Wrinkle was also responsible for troper's love of quotes and love for a happy - but hard-fought - ending. And she just kind of adores the Happy Medium.
  • This Troper loves everything he's ever read from Clive Barker. Barker just knows how to weave a wonderful yarn. He also possesses a rare ability to combine the beautiful with the horrific, and all of his creations are compelling.
    • Dude, The Thief of Always needs more love. Creepy, delicate, with nary a word too many, a great story told masterfully. And if the ending doesn't warm your heart... well, you work for Mr. Hood, don't you?
  • James Clavell's Shogun is absolutely without peer. A novel on the scale of Les Misérables, set at a crux in Japanese history as seen through the eyes of a real-life Badass English pilot, the Anjin-san. With its incredibly real and moving characters and layers and layers of intrigue that I know are going to take me at least three readings to even begin to understand, this novel is, I repeat, without peer.
    • Agreed. Shogun is my favourite novel due to everything you mentioned. The characters and their interaction, the world and culture, the sheer scale; all of these things come together in a truly epic novel.
    • James Clavell's Noble House is everything Shōgun was, but ten times more of it. The depth, the character development, the intrigue, the drama, the joy, everything.
  • And can we get a little love for Lloyd Alexander in the house? To cite one of his lesser known works, The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen is just a darling, heartwarming and entertaining, wise without being smarmy, the true Hero's Journey distilled into its finest form.
    • And to cite one of his (slightly) more well-known works, the Chronicles of Prydain are pretty much made of awesome.
    • Lloyd Alexander was one of the fantasy authors I cut my teeth on, and every time I go back and re-read any of his books (especially Gypsy Rizka, The Rope Trick, or the Westmark trilogy) I find something new to love about them.
  • The Prince Of Nothing trilogy is incredible. It's a series so dark it makes A Song of Ice and Fire look idealistic. It's about what Nietzsche's ubermensch would actually be like and he's just fascinating to read about. Lastly, it's a brutal, no-holds-barred study of what it really means to be conscious, and the illusions that we all operate under.
  • Jane Austen. Romantic comedy done right.
    • Pride and Prejudice quickly became one of my favorite books the first time I read it. Although I don't like the plot or characters of Northanger Abbey as much, the Genre Savvy narrator's snark, wit, and Conversational Troping just make it so enjoyable to read — I actually fell in love with that book purely because of the writing style! I didn't care what she was writing about — before that, I didn't think it was possible for writing to literally do that for a book. Yet, I think I found a new Austen favorite this past winter... Mansfield Park. Why? Because the heroine is the anti-Elizabeth Bennett (physically weak, quiet, depressed, no confidence in herself or her opinions, and madly in love with her love interest from the start), but she's more real and familiar. She's a victim of emotional abuse, starved for parental and familial love, and the damage this causes to one's psyche is not disguised or glossed over but neither is it dwelled on; the hardships and injustices of her life are actually shown, not told. In spite of all that, she still has the strength to stand her ground when it really counts, which makes her rejection of Henry Crawford far more impressive than Lizzie's rejection of Mr. Collins. Plus, in its comparison of the hardships faced by rich families and poor families, the novel averts the condescending Aesop of "the rich have more money, but no love, thus you're lucky if you're poor and should feel sorry for the rich." No, way! The heroine and the narrator both know that, no matter how many problems the rich have, it's definitely preferable to be rich than poor. Jane Austen, you never cease to amaze me!
    • Pride and Prejudice will always be This Troper's favourite book and Darcy and Elizabeth her favourite couple. Them being verbal sparring partners at first, Darcy's quiet admiration of Elizabeth and suddenly proposing, Darcy then trying to remould his character after getting a good calling out by Elizabeth and then her finding herself falling in love and the ending they get makes This Troper forget all the prejudice she's ever held against love for a few days after another re-read every time.
    • Strangely enough, this troper's favourite novels are Emma and Persuasion. I'm absolutely in love with the others, too, but these two show the author at her best: mature, elegant and highly entertaining, presenting the most believable love affairs of all of her stories.
    • Yes! I tried reading all Austen's books again a few months ago, and finally was able to get past the language and realize it was hilarious.
  • Robin McKinley. Lush, beautiful, absorbing, compelling, feminist fantasy.
  • Ray Bradbury. Imaginative science fiction with an evocative, non-Purple Prosey style that drips with human emotion.
    • Seconded! This troper picked up a 50 cent copy of The Illustrated Man on a whim and totally fell in love. She doesn't consider it science fiction so much as, well, poetry. It's so unique.
    • I am shocked by how little-known The Martian Chronicles is. Even if "There Will Come Soft Rains" seriously creeped me out.
  • Carrie Vaughn gets a mention for the Kitty Norville series. A fun First-Person Smartass romp through the worlds of things that go bump in the night. Easy to get into, and definitely worth your time.
  • After hearing so many references to "Lolita complex" (although it was a line in a Katy Perry song that put me over the edge), I decided I had to read the novel. Like I am often prone to do, I stayed up late to finish it in one day. Then I went back and bought more of Nabokov's work. The man just has a talent for making readers root for what should be Squicky pairings, both with Humbert and Lolita (although he himself thought Humbert to be deplorable) in Lolita, and with Van and Ada in Ada, or Ardor. (Yes, I realize that's a redlink right now; but I promise I'll make a page for it soon.) I actually liked this book even better than Lolita. And for those who haven't read it, the pair is squicky because they're Kissing Cousins—on both sides of their family, as their respective fathers are brothers and their respective mothers are sisters.) Or at least, that's what they think...
  • This Troper likes pretty much every Dragonlance novel he owns (which is a lot). Sure, the series may get disparaged some for being based off of Dungeons & Dragons, but the books are generally quite fun reads.
    • Seconded. Amazing series— though perhaps I'm biased, as they were my introduction to fantasy, which is now my life. Special mention to the Legends trilogy, which is... incredible.
  • Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy cannot become a quartet fast enough. The world is engaging and engrossing, the characters are realistic and relatable, every detail is precise, and he uses more Tropes than Shakespeare, but he uses them brilliantly, dammit.
    • Seconded. Those books manage to touch on dark themes without being depressing, and manage to use humour without ever destroying the drama. And the characters are complex, the heroes are likable (and not Mary Sueish in the least), the villains are appropriately villainous and don't come across as cheesy and overdone in the process.
    • You completely neglected to mention that these books are the most awesome and engaging take on zombies in fantasy EVER. Step aside, Seth Grahame-Smith. Garth Nix did it first, and he didn't have to satire anyone else's source material to do it.
  • The Lone Wolf books are probably the best gamebooks this troper has read. You get a sense of Character Development from the author as the books go on, but at the same time there's still enough space to let you put your own spin on the character. And the Sommerswerd is just pure, undiluted awesome.
  • Neil Gaiman is a master of creating darkly beautiful and mesmerizing worlds that you'll find yourself wonderfully lost in. It doesn't hurt that he's also got some highly creative ideas and plots to go with them, but his Signature Style is what makes his stories so engrossing and memorable. I love rereading Stardust and Neverwhere, and can appreciate the extensive research and detail poured into American Gods even if the mythology angle didn't click with me as it did for others (if you're a mythology buff, however, you'll have a great time reading it).
    • I am a mythology buff. Holy shit, is American Gods fun for us. Hunting down references and seeing if you can name all the mentioned gods is a heck of a lot of fun.
    • Murder Mysteries will forever be one of this troper's favourite short stories— or indeed, favourite stories, ever.
      • Seconded. And while we're on the topic of his short story work, "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the House of the Night of Dread Desire" is also ungodly awesome.
    • It has been briefly mentioned above, but this troper cannot rave enough about Neverwhere. Most people cite American Gods as Gaiman's best book, but I disagree. Neverwhere may not have the masses of research poured into it, but is amazing in a simpler kind of way, in that the story is just a brilliant kind of awesome.
    • Coraline and The Graveyard Book are two of the best children's books in recent history—and like all the great children's books, are thoroughly enjoyable no matter how old you are.
    • For this troper, it's American Gods for the brain food and mythology-nut in her, and The Sandman for her inner writer. "The Sound of Her Wings" is what this troper aspires to write like when she grows up.
  • Tom Robbins mixes absurd silliness with Author Filibuster and it comes out awesome. Even Cowgirls Get The Blues is a work of genius, wonderful start to finish, with the best rants and digressions ever put to paper.
  • Temeraire is everything this troper loves in stories and more. Dragons, action, logic and physics (sort of) in the dragon designs, historical fantasy, fantastic and memorable characters, and some very genuinely touching or funny moments... Before it gets 100% badass again.
    • Seconded, so much. Reading His Majesty's Dragon for the first time was like being a child, astonished with the impossible things that could happen in books.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia! C. S. Lewis introduced me to fantasy, for which I will always be grateful.
    • I wholeheartedly agree. What's great about this series is that, while the Christian messages start to become more evident, the stories could still be told without them. As a child I never saw them and the books were still awesome because of this. Lewis never delves away from the actual plot. Although, those books are good too.
    • "Years later, they were so used to quarreling and making up again, they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently." Why can't more romance be written like that?
    • This non-religious troper hearts The Screwtape Letters. Anvilicious? Maybe. But damn if it doesn't work.
  • The wit and British witticism of Diana Wynne Jones were what instilled proto-Troperism in this troper, after Dark Lord of Derkholm made her sit up and think, "Wow! There's a lot of stuff that tends to happen a lot in fantasy novels, and she, like... made them all funny and weird! That's awesome!" Nine years later, she's still one of this troper's favorite authors, and she will read all of her books some day. (Current status: Getting there.) She's consistently funny, her characters are all massively charming, and she always manages to come up with unique, clever plots that blend pure fantasy, myth, and, more often than not, sci-fi into one creamy, delicious package of fantasy goodness. Also, this troper things Deep Secret should be required reading for anyone planning on attending a Fan Convention.
    • I don't suppose you've ever read The Tough Guide to Fantasyland? It's kind of the tour guide for Dark Lord of Derkholm and a whole lot of fun for any troper.
    • Also? The Dalemark books, especially The Spellcoats. I figured I was already familiar with her style, and I knew what to expect, then... I read Dalemark. It's totally different from anything else she's written, and, in fact, any other fantasy I've read. I'd say it's the only truly original high fantasy I've read since The Lord of the Rings.
      • This troper thinks Dalemark is better than The Lord of the Rings. In a lot of ways, it's not even high fantasy. The characters are all incredible, and the final book makes you sit back and realize that history—the history you learn in school—is so far from the reality, and that was so much deeper and more real than even historians think. I would proudly say that I think The Dalemark Quartet is one of the best series ever written.
    • This Troper has an eternal love for the Chrestomanci books. They're what taught her that fantasy doesn't always have to be on a vast scale, filled with epic battles between good and evil... no, it can just be about normal people muddling around in worlds which just happen to be filled with magic and dragons and griffins and all that. Witch Week was one of the biggest influences on the novel she is currently writing.
    • Where is Howl's Moving Castle??? Nearly one and all DWJ fans will agree that it's far from being the author's best book, but that doesn't mean it isn't anything short of fantastic. It takes fairy tale convention and gleefully turns it on its head, and a number of next-gen DWJ fans can point to HMC as being the book that got them started. Sophie and Howl's relationship is deliciously bizarre, and if you've only seen the movie but haven't read the book, you have not lived.
    • The very first book this troper ever bought for herself was DWJ's Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume one (with Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant). She had to beg her mother to go back to the store the very next day to pick up the second one (Witch Week and Magicians of Caprona). Since then DWJ has been one of her favorite authors. Specifically, though, there isn't nearly enough love for Eight Daysof Luke or the Madgid's books. EdoL was the first book this troper ever read with mythology other than Greek in it. It was FANTASTIC and played a role as a gateway book, introducing her to a world of new mythology.
    • And yet for me the most magical book was The Merlin Conspiracy. I read it as an eleven year old, and it was an intriguing, ensnaring novel that left me simultaneously confused and in love. I set the book down, thought about the strange twist ending, then picked it up again immediately, trying to fully understand the complicated time loop. Five years later, I've read the cover off it. The characters are far from sympathetic, (Nick especially) and yet somehow I found myself falling in love with all of them. Amazing novel from an amazing author.
    • Not to mention Dogsbody — I think I read that about 36 times.
    • Hexwood should be required reading for MENSA. If you understand it the first time you read it, you get automatic membership. It's SO GOOD.
    • The Power of Three is pretty subtle, too. It really grew on rereading.
    • Anyone who finds themselves enjoying DWJ's works should read The Time of the Ghost. Not because of the plot, which is vague and ends anticlimactically. But because the book itself is essentially a fictionalized version of Jones' own childhood, with most of the events and characters in it being pulled directly from her own life. It gives you a greater understanding of Jones as both a person and a writer, and it shows (both in-story and out) that even a sucky childhood can go on to become an awesome adulthood.
  • P. C. and Kristen Cast's The House of Night series is so amazing, it totally saddens me that it is not more popular and well-known. It's everything Twilight wanted to be but failed at; it has a real, complex, flawed heroine who is spirited and immensely likeable, a very strong supporting cast of friends, non-stop action, brilliant use of Chekhov's Guns, a unique twist on the vampire world that doesn't come across as begging to be mocked, multiple solid, believable romances and an amazing sense of humour that all fill out an incredibly detailed and well-realized alternate world. It's like the early seasons of Buffy if the main character was a vampire instead of a Slayer. If you haven't read these books, go read them now. Seriously, I'll wait.
  • Kelley Armstrong's "Women of the Otherworld." A series featuring an array of great heroines, with an age and species to appeal to just about anyone. Enough romance to make it interesting, not so much that it becomes sleazy. She has a knack for explaining the rules of magic in her world that makes them consistently fascinating, instead of boring exposition. Plots that are interlinked enough that readers of the entire series get little in-jokes and references to previous volumes, but separate enough that you can start anywhere and feel comfortable. Armstrong makes magic part of everyday life with ease and grace, and truly accomplishes one of the most difficult tasks, that of creating a believable magical world within modern society. Think early Laurell K. Hamilton meets a grown-up Harry Potter - awesome, funny heroines in a world were magic is a catalyst for exploration of bigger themes such as friendship, love, devotion, and femininity.
  • I seriously don't understand why The Heir Trilogy by Cinda Williams Chima has no recognition in the world. Not only does each book have its own fantastic storyline, with the third one tying everything neatly together, but the woman can write. It is one of my favorite series, mainly because of the fantastic characterization, the writing, the ability to describe things without everything seeming Mary Sue, and the fact that she isn't afraid to kill off who she wants. The plot twists are fantastic and it shames me that there aren't more people who've read them. While you're up there reading the The House of Night series, go and take out these books too. I'll wait with that same troper, don't worry.
  • "The night was starless and very dark. Without doubt, somewhere in the gloom an angel was standing, wings outstretched, waiting for the soul." Complain about the Author Filibusters on a level like none seen before, or the Contrived Coincidences, or anything you like, but Victor Hugo gets something, he strikes at something, something that makes the heart bleed and soar, engages the mind and the spirit, and leaves one with hope for the future of our race.
  • This Troper loves, LOVES Robin Hobb. All of her work, but especially her latest (and seemingly least appreciated) series, the Soldier Son trilogy. It is quite simply one of the most unusual fantasy stories This Troper has read.
  • Sometimes you have read the synopsis of a classic, read it and then go "meh". Sometimes you've read the synopsis of a classic, read it, and discover how frickin' beautiful the language itself is. This was This Troper's reaction to Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath
    • And this troper's to As I Lay Dying. It's like if Finnegans Wake made sense.
  • If your only knowledge of The Princess Bride comes from the movie, you are missing out! (Not that the movie isn't awesome.)
    • This is an example of the tone of the movie being much different than the book, but no one cares, because that is exactly what the author would have wanted. An exact and serious rendition of the book would have defeated its entire purpose.
      • It should be noted that both the book and the screenplay were written by William Goldman, which helps explain why this is one of the best examples of Adaptation Distillation out there.
      • Furthermore, William Goldman was on the set the entire time to make sure everything was perfect. In other words, the movie was done the way he wanted it. Yes, there is more to the book, but the movie was done in concert with the author. Besides, there is always more to a book than there is to a movie. The whole point of authors allowing their books to be made into movies is that you should always read the books of the movies you see. Movies based on books are advertisements for the books. They get you to read the book so that you get more in depth.
  • The Brothers Karamazov has some of the most heart-wrenchingly human characters in all of literature, and that the planned sequel will never be written is a tragedy that cannot be overstated.
  • The Once and Future King has a great recreation of the Arthurian legend, including everything that makes a book great. Granted, it's little more than Arthur Filibuster, but that's one of the reasons This Troper loves about the book.
  • To this troper, Sword of Truth = Good. There I said it. <insert evil laughter here> Right, sorry, this is not the place for evil.
    • I agree. However, you could probably just read Wizard's First Rule, Chainfire, Phantom, and Confessor. The only problem with that approach would be the question of why Richard became a Randroid with superpowers.
      • And I say you're good if you just avoid Naked Empire and skim through Soul of the Fire.
      • For me, Soul of the Fire was one of the high points of the series. The Anderith subplot was a welcome diversion from the main plotilne. Dalton Campbell was by far the series's most sympathetic villain, committing atrocities for political gain rather than For the Evulz, and the Crapsack World it shows is considerably more believable than the Straw Dystopia in Faith of the Fallen.
  • Snow Crash. High speed katana swordfights on motorcycles on the internet? Supersonic Mafia-run pizza delivery? Cyborg hypersonic virtual reality attack dogs? This book is just plain awesome.
    • The best part, though, is that all of the above not only makes sense in context, but is actually even more awesome than it sounds.
    • Hell yeah.
    • Neal Stephenson in general is just plain awesome. The best part is, though, that his books work on so many levels. For example, This Troper has read Cryptonomicon four times in as many years, and has found something new each time.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin. Her Hainish cycle works are jaw-dropping books of genius. The Left Hand of Darkness is one of very few science fiction books to explore themes of gender and queerness from a feminist perspective. The Dispossessed is also a masterpiece of speculative fiction.
    • Always Coming Home may be the most amazing creative work I have ever been exposed to. Ye gods, the complexity, the detail, the reality in the fiction...
  • Gaunt's Ghosts is a series that not only manages to make the Imperial Guard competent, dangerous, and respectable, but also brings much-needed humanity to the wild insanity of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Its funny, its heartrending, its just plain awesome....and unlike other aspects of the fiction, the characers don't need to be space elves, super soldiers, genetically engineered warrior fungi, or deathless automotons to be awesome.
  • Winnie the Pooh seriously needs a mention on here. They are some of the best stories for young children I have seen, and I still read them even in college. It's hard for me to believe that more people haven't read these books, they're so good.
  • This Troper will always remember His Dark Materials as one of the most vibrantly imaginative fantasy greats.
    • And whatever your stance on the religion - which can be read as simply a stand against tyranny and totalitarianism in any shape, and I'll stand for that - his idea of the daemon is genius on a variety of levels - fascinating, thought-provoking, and endearing. You will want your own daemon when you've finished the book.
    • Many of the concepts in the books are simply too interesting to ignore. The mulefas, Dust, the cliffghasts... Not to mention the resident bad ass bear Iorek!
    • No pithy comments, just seconding - there is something for everyone in HDM. Daemons. Mulefas. Dust. The panserbjorne. The subtle knife. Lee Scoresby and his hot-air balloon. Lyra and Jordan College. Mrs. Coulter and the Magisterium. Lord Asriel. Mary Malone. Will Parry. It's just so lovely and dense and brilliant.
    • His Dark Materials. Now that's an epic. My father isn't even a fantasy fan, and he's hooked. The Book of Dust, wherefore art thou?
  • The In Death series Needs More Love. If you like the Law & Order series at all, you'll like this. Interesting plots, likable characters with funny interplay, and two mains who a genuinely in love with each other, in one of the best uses of the Happily Married trope around (i.e., it doesn't weaken or subvert the character of either one). It's great.
  • The Dresden Files is brilliant, funny, dark, and the absolute essence of postmodern Urban Fantasy. Hell, just the zombie T. Rex and the guided frozen turkey missile are enough to make it one of the most awesome things ever.
    • Seconded by this Troper. The amazing thing about this series is not only does it give amazing characters and situations, but no matter how Crazy Awesome the last book was, somehow the next one tops it. The series manages to out-awesome a ZOMBIE T-REX!!
    • It says a lot about this series that the first thing everyone mentions when saying how awesome it is the ZOMBIE T-REX!!Zo
    • Supported, oh so much. Philosophical without being Anvilicious and absolutely beautiful in its portrayal of virtually everything, and the blending of morality is done in a fascinating manner. To be honest, bringing up Harry may lead to a long paragraph of borderline incoherency, but God, talk about a real, likable character. The series can get dark, but damn if Harry doesn't manage to remain nice, funny, and heroic without getting sue-ish— and really, how many fantasy novels can say that these days? Ladies and gentleman, this is Urban Fantasy done right.
  • Codex Alera by Jim Butcher, the same guy who writes the Dresden Files, is equally awsome. If only Ancient Rome really was this awsome.
  • Jim Butcher in general seems to have an amazing talent for maintaining suspense and emotional intensity, putting his characters into nearly hopeless situations and then having them find some sort of... um... "inventive" way out of it with very few resources to go on. He also manages a density of CMoAs on par with the end of Fullmetal Alchemist.
    • Seconded. Too much for words.
  • I gotta say, I love the books The Sight, Fell, and Fire Bringer, all by David Clement-Davis. Sure, The Sight and Fire Bringer may have veeery similar plots (WITH WOLVES! or DEER! depending on which you read first), by the characters are all written beautifully, and thanks to the rule of Anyone Can Die, as well as a twisty-turny plot, you never quite know what's going to happen next.
  • Dragaera. Probably some of the most amazing worldbuilding this side of Tolkien, very well-written, intelligent, often smart-alecky characters with very well-portrayed personalities, and a very cool mixture of EPIC and relatively mundane. Steven Brust is one of the relatively few modern authors I would say is not just a good writer, but a freaking genius. Since this list also includes Terry Pratchett, this should tell you something.
  • The Dark Is Rising. Specifically, the book by that title in the series. All of it, but if one moment is to be picked - the "Good King Wenceslas" scene. One of the best in children's fantasy, just for the sheer atmosphere.
    • Oh, oh, but what about the scene where Hawkin retrieves the Book of Gramarye? He's so utterly drained and horrified and every time she reads it this troper desperately wants Merriman to turn around and say something to him, even just "Well done". And all this is filtered through Will's eleven year old perspective.
    • The Grey King. If not the scene where Cafall is killed, then the scene directly afterwards where Bran rejects Will is devastating. It's noted a lot throughout the books that Will is disconcertingly alien, not just for a child but for any human being, and Cooper conveys that perfectly - and the consequences of that disconnect.
    • Any and all scenes involving Owen Davies have an exquisite painfulness to them - from his strained relationship with Bran to the description of him after Gwennie disappeared, going mad with worry on the hillside.
    • The intense beauty of the language and the description of the landscape are just as awesome as the fantasy and human elements.
  • Oscar Wilde. Just...Oscar Wilde. Beautiful writing, and possibly the sharpest wit ever to exist.
    • Yes I was totally looking for someone to mention Oscar Wilde. ♥ Bless that man's soul. Dorian Gray'' is a wonderful book.
  • I just reread my battered copy of Moscow - Petushki for - I've lost count, but at least the dozenth time. It's one of my very favorite books and I really wish it was remembered as the classic of modern Russian literature that it is. I just dashed off a page for it hoping it'll interest a few more readers. (By the way: although it's not subverting Russian Guy Suffers Most anytime soon, it's fucking funny. It's written in such a unique way that I can recommend it both to people wanting a dark, angsty, philosophical piece of Russian lit and those wanting a light comedic read.)
  • Dragonsong, from the Dragonriders of Pern series. Brilliant storyline, and it's just so entertaining.
    • The entire series, especially the older ones. I picked up Dragonsong when I was nine years old and was hooked from then on. Then when I was in fifth grade, I saw a huge, brown, tattered volume titled simply The Dragonriders of Pern... let me just say that my excitement at the revelation that OTHER Pern books existed has yet to be surpassed.
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Lisbeth is pure awesome.
  • The Thursday Next and Nursery Crime books are fantastic. Jasper Fforde must be a troper. Anyone who contributes to TV Tropes should read these books. They are made of win.
    • Yeah, the only way this troper could think to describe the Thursday Next books after reading them was "Yo dawg, I heard you like books so I put some books in your books so you can read a book while you read a book." It's packed with literary references, and is one of the handful of series that actually makes me laugh out loud.
  • Although this is a childrens/young teens book series, I have to nominate the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. For being a fantasy series about owls it got suprisingly deep and brutal. The world was developed well as were the chracters. There were even references to WWII and Hitler's desire for a pure race (or in this case a race of only barn owls).
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach is the single greatest work of anything ever written.
    • Well, possibly. It is extremely intricate with its wordplay and depreciates itself and goes into impressive meta-logic and explores wooleyisms and all sorts of things a troper would be impressed at.
  • Warbreaker is an excellent book. A fantastic book, even. The characters, the relationships, pace, storytelling and plot are all excellent, the magic system is simple, logical and consistent, the twists are genuinely shocking, and the characters are all three-dimensional, likable and believable. In fact, two hundred pages in Mistwalker is enough for this troper to nominate Sanderson as one of the best fantasy writers as all time. He may not be as iconic as some, but damn if he doesn't deserve to be.
    • Agreed, this troper is convinced that Sanderson has a literary Midas touch, everything he writes is made of pure gold. She is eagerly awaiting the publishing of the last Wheel of Time book which he is going to write, and secretly wishes for him to get a contract to re-write all the other books as well, since Jordan sucked at characterization (especially of females) and Sanderson rocks at it. If he rewrote the entire series, the awesomeness level would be even better, with RJ's complex plots and Sanderson's skill at characters.
  • Foucaults Pendulum by Umberto Eco. It's both deep philosophically and deeply heart-touching.
  • George Orwell's 1984 was one of the best things I've read for school. It had meaning AND it was a thriller. Wow.
  • Swallows and Amazons. The whole series. They are VERY old, and not very well known these days, but I thank Arthur Ransome for the presence of his novels in my childhood. These books taught me that yes, it is possible to have an EPIC adventure using the power of imagination. They also taught me that if you suck it up and go outside sometimes, it's very likely that you won't NEED all that imagination to have an epic adventure... just to make it even better. I advise everyone here to look it up. There's a film of the first book, which is also very good, but if you really want a treat, read it.
  • Hey, you! You like fantasy, pal? Then let me do you a favor: Go and read the Fablehaven series right this instant. Don't let the cutesy-sounding name and glittery fairy-laden covers put you off. The first book is a cheery, whimsical and oftentimes charmingly silly romp that will make you wish your grandparents were that cool. And then the later books? They get dark. Not only does the series paint a unique view of the traditional Fantasy Kitchen Sink, but the characters are wonderful, the web of constant turncoats and chancey plans will keep you on your toes—and who knows? You might just come to think of those glittery fairies as occassionally, capably Bad Ass.
  • A Separate Peace is quite possibly the most moving, beautifully written book of all time. It single-handedly made me a happier, better person. Most people find the ending depressing, but I thought it was uplifting and inspirational. It's also hilarious in a way that's difficult to describe. Everyone should read it!
  • I know reading books for school can be really tedious if you just don't want. But nonetheless the standard "world" literature is not around for so long without a reason. Most of those classics are really awesome. Shakespeare. Homer. Milton. This troper would like to give special mention to Goethe's Faust, the only must read in every German class. It's just crowning and she loves it to bits.
  • Every time I read Paradise Lost, I find something else to love about it. Say what you want about Milton's high-falutin epic language, but it just WORKS, dammit! Also, Stupid Sexy Satan...
    • Paradise Lost made me cry, and it is one of only three works of fiction ever to make me do so (yes, yes, I'm a horrible person, moving on). And I don't even normally enjoy/read a) poetry and b) anything that old. Satan is. Just. So. Damn. Sympathetic. *sobs*
  • David Brin: his Uplift Wars series is one of the best science fiction I've read, and his other stories such as Kiln People and The Postman are also entertaining and thought provoking.
  • Artemis Fowl. The books are very original, very funny, very exciting and at times, very moving. What more could I possibly ask for?
    • This troper has to add to the appalling lack of love for Artemis Fowl. Butler. Full stop. Walking, talking, Crowning Moment Of Awesome and Heartwarming all at once.
    • Well, if we're going into characters, this troper has always had a soft spot for Teen Genius Manipulative Bastards that can regularly pull off a a clever plan. Not to mention, of course, a few genuinely wicked plot twists (the ends of The Opal Deception and The Lost Colony come to mind) and more than enough humor. Really, add in the complexity and development of most characters and... well, sometimes I wonder how I can enjoy a kid's series so much.
  • This troper is ordering you to go and check out The Naked and the Dead from your library. The book is made of awesome. It doesn't even matter if you're into war epics or not, because this book focuses so much on human character. Gawd! I'm so in love with this book.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby, This Side Of Paradise, hello?
  • The Sherlock Holmes stories still hold up after all this time. There's a reason we haven't yet stopped adapting them; they're ALWAYS relevant. And awesome.
    • Ah you haven't done it justice. Come on guys, it's Sherlock Holmes! Holmes with his wit and Watson with his loyalty, their close close relationship, every time Watson saves Holmes and Holmes shows him a bit more of how much he means to him... This Troper must admit she reads about the three Garridebs just to read the part about 'the depth of loyalty and love that lay behind that cold mask'.
  • Speaking of awesome, Mark Twain. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in particular, has all his deadpan hilarity on display, yet still immerses the reader in Huck's Mississippi River adventure to the point that the classic line, "All right, then, I'll go to hell," induces spontaneous cheers. The humor is distilled and intensified in his short stories and sketches—don't forget to gasp for air in between laughs.
    • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain was a surprising read that I wasn't sure I would like the first time I read it. It's a pretty interesting premise of a Yankee named Hank Morgan unknowingly traveling back in time to mid-evil era, where he tricks King Arthur to think he is a wizard. It completely tears down the often romanticized image of the Mid-evil Era. Merlin, the Knights of the Round, even King Arthur himself, is shown to be total imbeciles or even just downright corrupt. Yet there is a few optimistic kernels where Morgan tries to introduce modern (by his era anyway) technology in this world that is both accepting him and getting wary of him as well. This leads to a fantastic climax that involves gatling guns, Morgan taking on an army of knights, and actually leading to a sort of depressing ending, but not aggravating at all.
  • I don't understand how anyone can hate Eragon. Cliché Storm? Tropes Are Not Bad! It's really the classic distillation of A Boy and His X on The Hero's Journey.
    • Eragon was a really awesome book, considering the age of the author at the time. It was the book that completely changed this troper's view of dragons from mindless monsters to wise, human-like beasts. Forget that elf chick, Saphira's the real badass babe in this book. Even Eldest was really good; it gave a nice break from the action to delve deeper into the characters and the world of Alagaesia.
    • The series got even better with Brisingr, where it is incontrovertibly revealed that the elves' Atheism is incorrect. This is anathema to most of this wiki, who hate the series for the crime of being not as good as Discworld.
    • I always enjoyed the series, myself. Did I catch some serious LOTR parallels? Yeah. But no one else has Eragon, or Roran, or Angela - easily my favorite character in the series - and Paolini's hardly the first to draw off LOTR. He's just not quite as good at hiding it. And you know something? The reference to a "lonely god" in Eldest? He himself admitted it was a closet Doctor Who reference, and that just amused the hell out of me. Gotta love a fellow geek.
    • THANK! YOU! The Eragon Series were my favorite books growing up. I read them before Lot R so I didn't catch the similarities, but I did catch some to Star Wars, and it works just as well in Fantasy. My favorite character has always been Eragon, but Roran and Saphira are also awesome. It's truly a great series and I can't wait for the fourth book. Best part, my new kindle solves my only problem with the series!
  • Margaret George is amazing. So far I've read three of her novels and all of them have left me wanting more. Mary, Called Magdalene has an interesting spin on the Jesus/Mary Magdalene idea that is more plausible than them having a secret kid but still shows that love could have existed. The Memoirs of Cleopatra restores the reputation of a queen who's been so long portrayed as nothing but a slut, and shows her as the passionate woman, intelligent leader, and sly politician she really was. The Autobiography of Henry VIII really seems to capture the Henry of historical record, helping us see his perspective for once on the events that have left him labelled a monster, while the notes by his Fool, Will Somers, add a dry wit and a somewhat more objective perspective on everything.
  • On Twilight, I may not go as far as to say that every book is amazing, but I think the reason the Twilight series is so popular (besides legions of fangirls wanting their own "Edward Cullen") is because Meyer took a concept and molded it into her own. Sure, she made the vampires sparkle and turned them from beasts to happy invincible creatures (then again, Anne Rice started this), but you can't deny that she has a entertaining plot. Even with the haters, you will find that they have at least one favorite character from this series, be it Alice, Jasper, or even James. Meyer's characterization may be off, but she leaves it for the reader to decide, in a way.
    • Say what you want about Twilight - paper thin characters, purple prose, no literary value - it's still ridiculously fun to read in all it's absurd glory.
    • As someone who considers them a guilty pleasure more than anything else, this troper WILL say that Meyer is good at creating interesting side characters. I'd read a book completely about what Carlisle and his family get up to when Edward and Bella are away.
      • If by "away" you mean a diferent book where we got ALL the juicy details where Edward finally let go 90 years of sexual abstinence and sexual tension on every position the Kamasutra (or any other book written on history about the subject) portrays and paying up Bella from all the times he couldn't please her like she wanted, on all posible and phisically enhanced ways a vampire can, without neither of them ever getting tired. Then be my guest.
    • When I first read Twilight, I thought the series was the best thing to ever happen. Since re-reading and stepping away from the books to gain a little more perspective, I have come to accept that it has large flaws: it has a Mary Sue protagonist, the sparkly vampire thing IS rather silly... etc. Yet I still don't believe it deserved the beating it gets, I genuinely enjoy the experience of reading it, and I truly think Alice Cullen is the best character.
      • Plus... come on! My absolute favourite complaint about the series is that the vampires are "disco balls". Who WOULDN'T want to marry a walking, sentient disco ball?!
    • The thing about twilight (for me at least) is this: I know that the books suck. I know that the characters are flat, and that the purple prose doesn't even make sense, and that the plot is not really that interesting, and vampires differ from the accepted image that they have formed today, but... I love the books.
  • The Neverending Story. More like the story everyone needs to read at least once in their life. The book Momo, by the same author, is also simply wonderful.
  • Cold Mountain is as compelling and epic a Civil War story as Gone with the Wind, with protagonists that could be cliche, but turn out as anything but. And it was the only novel I have ever read for school that made me cry.
  • The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. Pseudo-history with epic politics, war, romance that by all rights should be dysfunctional but is instead amazing, and just the slightest hint of magic in the form of a Greek-styled pantheon (but with less dallying and more governing). As someone on the series's page said:
    It's pretty much agreed on by all of the fans that everything Gen does qualifies for this. He eats Awesome Flakes for breakfast...in your rafters.
  • Ender’s Game. This troper didn't care for the sequels, but the first novel is amazing and does fine as a stand alone novel. It seriously deconstructs the usual child hero story and has plenty of great characters and interesting plot twists. Any sci-fi fan should include this in their personal library.
    • Book two, Speaker for the Dead, is amazing as well. The title concept and the way it's carried out in the novel is one of those things that will stay with you long after you put the book down.
    • Read the book multiple times in my young. It's the only book (other than HP) that has actually influenced my choices and decisions in life. Especially with military service. Just brilliant.
    • Absolutely agree. I read this book in sixth grade, and it led me to the rest of science fiction. In fact, it led me to fiction in general. If I hadn't read this book, I'd be a completely different person, and certainly would never have found this site. The best part is the way the series treats the child characters. Say what you will about children not thinking like adults, I thought exactly like those kids when I was younger. I love this book.
  • Virginia Woolf. One of the most brilliant literary minds ever to have existed. Though she falls in and out of vogue in academic circles, her novels, especially Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, The Waves and Orlando, are life-changers. It's easy to dismiss her because she's often seen as a humourless feminist (her suicide doesn't help her image much either), but to do so will only make you miss out on some of the most beautiful prose ever printed. And she's actually pretty damn funny!
    • I'll second this. Mrs. Dalloway is an absolute gem if you love stream-of-consciousness and novels about ordinary people versus high-society, mythical heroes, ridiculously important people, et cetera.
  • Robin Maxwell is one of the best novelists ever to tackle the Tudor period. Her books - which focus primarily on Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I - are some of the most historically accurate I've ever seen, but unlike a history book, the characters come to life. You're right there in Mademoiselle Boleyn as Anne grows from child to young woman, learning how to find power in a patriarchal world, and the same is true of the other books. (MB is my personal favorite, which is why it gets special mention.)
  • Sylvia Plath. The Bell Jar perfectly describes not just how she felt when she was severely depressed and suicide, but, by extension, how others have felt and how later people will continue to feel. Her poems from the last six months of her life are harrowing in their ability to make you feel as empty as she did before committing suicide; Lady Lazarus made me want to cry. She wrote with, for mere journals, surprisingly excellent prose in the intensity that she confronted her personal demons. Also, she loved to pick her nose.
  • There is just not enough hard drive space in the universe to explain all of the things I love about Mistborn. I read it earlier this year and just loved it thoroughly.
    • How about the fact that it starts out with a fascinating magic system, has a veritible Chekhov's Armory, and just keeps getting crazier and crazier as it gleefully tackles quite a few fantasy tropes head-on?
  • In this troper's opinion, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is one of the most beautifully-told stories ever. Susie Salmon is just such an endearing character that it almost makes you wish she didn't have to die for the story to be told in the first place.
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora is a book that not enough people have read. Locke is a Loveable Rogue and Con Man who pulls off schemes of Magnificent Bastard proportions. The setting is interesting and well-thought-out. You can tell the author is a clever man, since the prose itself is often very witty. The characters are funny and endearing, the story is action-packed and at times jaw-dropping, there are Chekhov's Guns aplenty, and the sequel is only an improvement.
    • Agreed. Leave your computer right now and go check these books out of the library.
  • Vorkosigan Saga. Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan's brillant and epic CMOA aside, there is so much more to it. Miles and his endless narrow escapes and brilliant escapades with the Dendarii Mercenaries. Simon Illyan, Alys Vorpatril, and Ivan Vorpatril's interpersonal issues. Barrayaran warfare and politics, and Betan psychological and sexual intrigue and whatever the Cetagandans get up to (look, troper is getting around to them, give her time). Aral and Cordelia's epic love and happy marriage - there is no better pair of Deadpan Snarking badasses in literature. Kou and Drou, Gregor and Laisa, Miles and Ekaterin - the course of love never did run smooth. And seriously, I've mentioned Cordelia, right? Because there's probably not a more awesome woman in sci-fi.
    • Oh God, yes. The Vorkosigan series just plain rocks. Memory and A Civil Campaign are especially epic.
    • I like how Bujold combines sci-fi with other genres that SHOULD NOT WORK with sci-fi, and it still ends up mind-bogglingly good. This is especially true in Komarr and A Civil Campaign.
    • On the subject of Cordelia as the most awesome woman in Sci-Fi, Bujold is officially the queen of writing subtle power. In an still very misogynistic society, Cordelia and Alys wield more power than just about any other characters. Gregor, Aral, and Miles are all powerful, independent, important characters, but you can see Cordelia's influence in everything they do. She has no official power in the empire (at least at first) but every second word out of the Emperor's mouth is something she taught him, or expected of him. As for Lady Alys, she may hold no vote in council, but why would she want one when she can get her lady-friends together and decide on any outcome she wants?
  • Bujold writes fantasy as well, ya know. The Sharing Knife Quartet is possibly the best romance/defeating Fantastic Racism story ever. I spent the first book and a half thinking Dag was way too badass for Fawn, then she saved him and a half dozen others from malice magic and I realized that Bujold had stuck to her goal of SHOWING how characters are perfect for each other, not telling.
    • Same feelings for Miles and Ekaterin here. Okay, she foiled the terrorists plot. Big deal, all of his past girlfriends could've done that. But then in A Civil Campaign, she shows she can handle Vor politics as well...
    • Chalion! All of them! I really, really, REALLY want a fourth book, please?
      • Yes! I thought I didn't like Bujold's fantasy at first, then I went back and reread the Chalion series and oh my god. The character development alone makes these books worth reading; the plot is by no means forgettable, but seeing all the main characters grow into their true potential, and even the side characters being well-rounded real people (a common factor in all her books) is where the wow factor is.
  • P. G. Wodehouse's books in general, but especially the Jeeves and Wooster books. Whether you see them as bright and sunny like they're portrayed or not, whether the plots are somewhat repetitive or not, you can't pretend they're not some of the funnest, funniest, books around. The scene when Gussie Finknottle gives his speech to the boys' school in Very Good, Jeeves will have you in tears every time you read it. Also, the great relationship between Jeeves & Bertie. You have the genius servant, always ready with a drink and a good quote of poetry to calm his master down and fish him from the soup, and you have the idiotic, but still somehow totally charming, master, who is forever willing to do anything for his friends, no matter how stupid or cruel they can be, and when you have the two of them together, you have two characters who are really devoted to each other in the most awesome way, whether you see them as Yaoi Guys or just good ol' fashioned Heterosexual Life-Partners.
    • And don't forget about Psmith, who is sort of like Jeeves and Bertie put in a blender, and Mike, who is sort of like a teenage Bertie without the aunts.
    • Yeah, Wodehouse used pretty much the same plot for almost all of his books. And that's where his brilliance lies - that despite this, every single one of them is interesting and funny.
  • The Road to Mars. I'm tired of being the only person who seems to have read it, so here comes the pimping: It's a book about two comedians traveling through space with their robot, who looks like David Bowie and is trying to understand comedy. There are plot twists abound. The narrator is a character all on his own. The story is gripping. The characters are entertaining and lovable. The author is Eric Idle. Go. Read. It. NOW.
    • This book is terribly underrated, worth a read if only for the "comedy thesis" plot thread. And the descriptive prose has moments of great beauty (the destruction of the spaceport comes to mind).
  • Poison by Chris Wooding is my favourite book, no matter how many others I read. The whole idea of the Hierophant is incredibly ingenious and the take on fairy tales in the story is amazing. I just adore this book and it will continue to be my favourite for a long time I’m sure.
  • The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Possibly the best mystery novel ever written by anybody. Tey's main character Alan Grant spends the entire novel lying on his back in a hospital bed. How can that be any good? Out of sheer boredom he ends up investigating a sensational crime, the death of two boys, supposedly by their uncle. Only it's a modern police investigation of a murder centuries old: did Richard the Third kill his two nephews in the Tower? If you like detective stories or historicals, you must read this book.
  • Toni Morrison's Beloved is absolute pure genius. The writing, the story, just everything. Seriously, go read it.
  • The Farsala Trilogy by Hilari Bell is one of my favorite series ever. The characters are compelling, the world-building is phenomenal, the plot is classic, the societies are given strengths and faults, the morals are apparent without being too sappy. This is my go-to series for when I want a strong set of protagonists fighting realistically in a Low Fantasy setting. I can't even describe why I love these books, but I have read them all more times than I can remember. I just wish anyone else had heard of them, because they're some of her lesser-know works.
    • THIS. The series has lots of character development and moral complexity. The conflict is more than just two-sided, and Bell avoids painting any one side as completely good or evil. Hardly anybody I know has read it, which is a travesty, and I take the opportunity to reccomend them whenever I can.
    • Hilari Bell's only work of science fiction, A Matter of Profit, is another noteworthy all-around-fun book with surprising depth. It is still one of this troper's absolute favourite novels.
    • In fact, everything Hilari Bell ever wrote is awesome. If you haven't read one, go to your local library. If you haven't got a local library, buy one.
  • All right, I'm going to shame myself with my own geekery and bring Animorphs into the conversation. The quality in the ghost-written books varied wildly, I spent a lot of time yelling at the characters, and I personally wish the last half of the last book hadn't happened, but at the end of the day, it's a weirdly beautiful investigation of innocence and war and morality and childhood. And it's aimed at twelve-year-olds. (For reference, I was eighteen when I read the books.)
    • This Troper was nine when she started and loved them as a never-ending adventure that put some insight into morality and how minds can work. It's a 62-book-long war that is funny, scary, heart-warming and heart-wrenching all at the same time. To the point that I rarely read them anymore because it would just make me cry. Rachel died after being with me, in a sense, for one year. I'm thirteen and I still cry for her. Sorry if I'm being too sentimental.
    • Yes yes! I grew up with these and it's what got me into sci-fi. Six friends battle evil by turning into animals, plunging into battles that would horrify anyone, pulling off feats of bravery and derring-do all the while being funny as hell - the humour dark and otherwise is amongst the funniest I've come across before or since.
    • That's right, I scrolled down through this whole page to see if this series would be on here. And it is. And I second it. I grew up with these books, too, and the characters feel like friends.
    • For that matter, Everworld. I just love the subversion of your typical fantasy tropes (e.g. when the damsel in distress turns out to be a Manipulative Bastard), not to mention the whole Darker and Edgier aspect of fantasy as a whole, and the characters' snarky approach towards their ordeal is the icing on the cake.
  • This troper is disappointed by the lack of Jonathan Lethem here. His incredible futuristic looks at such human staples as drug use and dreams, his constant homages to Philip K. Dick, and his brilliant and heavy use of tropes in new and interesting ways make him an absolutely incredible author. If you haven't read Amnesia Moon or Gun, With Occasional Music then you're missing out.
  • ...This unknown tropette is deeply disappointed in all of you. There is a sad, pathetic lack of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on this page. If you've seen the movie, read it. It's just so wonderfully, lovingly written, and one can tell that L. Frank Baum was trying very hard to make a Fairyland that the audience would enjoy (very obvious in the foreword) , and succeeded with that. He also seemed to be enjoying himself as he wrote it. You can see everything the book describes as though you've known it all your life. The illustrations, both in their style and in their color, are fantastic. And the CHARACTERS, good lord, the characters. You love everyone you're meant to like almost right off the bat. This tropette hasn't read the sequels, and quite frankly, she doesn't want to. She's so completely, utterly satisfied with the current ending that she doesn't want to hear about Ozma or whatever. She reads it all the time and never gets tired of it. She can't get tired of it. It's her absolute most favorite book in the world.
    • It's a pity you won't read the other books. While the first is excellent, books three, six, and fourteen are pretty much CMoAs for Dorothy, Glinda, and Ozma respectively. And some of the most unique ideas come in the later books (like the Glass Cat, who's made of spun glass but is entirely too vain to do anything except preen in front of a mirror all day) and the various towns and civilizations deep in Oz that bring on much of the adventure.
  • OK, I'm going to piss off a large portion of this wiki and bring up the Anita Blake series. Are there a lot of issues with it, especially as Anita becomes a succubus? Yeah, there are. But you know what? I. Don't. Care. Hamilton still managed to create a supernatural world based on our own, where lycanthropes and vampires are just part of life, another issue to be handled by Washington and the cops just like the new budget or a street gang. The LKH world feels like ours, just with a twist. The world works, and as for Anita, call her a Canon Sue. But if so, she's the only one to show that sometimes that "popularity" goes a little wrong in ways that are truly nightmarish, not "Oh poor me, everyone loves me!" Not to mention, any series that consistently gives a pair of friends enough conversation fodder for hours clearly has a lot in it to talk about (and my friend and I have been theorizing about AB for years). And then there's Edward (alias Death) who is the best thing in the series.
  • Last winter, I read Wuthering Heights, and I loved it. This summer, I read Jane Eyre, and I loved it. A few weeks ago, I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and I was aghast. It is the most cruelly underrated novel I have ever come across! Why do I find the most obscure and neglected Bronte novel to be the best and most engaging of the sisters' works?! With no exaggeration, The Tenant is truly the most gut-wrenching novel I've ever read. It shakes me to my very core in a way no book has ever come close to. Never before have I almost been unable to bear reading a book for its power. It's also only the third book in my life note  that actually brought on an unstoppable torrent of tears as I read. The First Feminist Novel desperately Sugar Wiki Needs More Love, and Anne Brontë, you'll always have my vote as the best writer in your family.
    • Tears up. HOLY CRAP! This troper thought they were the only one who felt that way about this book! Loved Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, planning on reading the rest of Charlotte's stuff and Anne's other novel, but MY GOODNESS, this troper never thought they'd find someone with similar interest in the Brontes on this site. The above statement is So Cool It's Awesome for this troper.
      • Just want to second both your comments. Anne Bronte knew where it was at. So much further along in feminism than her sisters.
  • The Little Prince. Antoine de Saint Exupery was a GENIUS. Not just because he managed to make a story about a World War pilot whose plane goes down in the desert who then meets a boy from outer space who wants the man to draw him a sheep so said sheep will eat tree sprouts but a not a rose COMPLETELY HEARTBREAKING, but also in that he is able to convey Growing Up Sucks like no other.
  • No Super Hero story or comic book in the twentieth century and beyond has been able to recreate the excellency that is The Scarlet Pimpernel. For one thing, the eponymous invincible hero is the Big Good, but the protagonist, who grows and develops, whom the reader follows and sympathizes with, who undergoes an arduous Hero's Journey and an awakening and disillusionment just as painful is his wife. For another, the romance and adventure plots are perfectly interwoven and really display that marriage just may be as difficult a task to undertake as saving the world (so to speak). It's also one of those rare works that show how Bad Ass The Power of Love can be. Who wins in the end — Chauvelin, who controls his men so thoroughly with fear that they're scared to death to disobey the Exact Words of his orders even at the expense of common sense, or the Scarlet Pimpernel, whose 19 devoted followers are willing to die for their beloved leader and proud of it? Exciting, gripping, and impossible to put down until I finished it, The Scarlet Pimpernel is everything a good adventure novel romance should be.
  • Matthew Reilly's books are action movies distilled into novels. They move at a hectic pace, his characters have a Crowning Moment Of Awesome daily, and the action scenes would make Michael Bay drool. They don't even have Excuse Plots - they're well thought-out, complete with believable characters; Schofield, for example, has a hard time asking a girl out, even though he's fine with driving a plane into a massive elevator shaft. There's the added tension of Anyone Can Die, too. He even manages to pack his books with over-the-top stunts without them getting old - Ice Station has a thirty-page hovercraft [[strike:ChaseScene]] High Speed Battle, and it never seems to fall into "Just finish it already!"
  • I feel it's my duty to spread to the world of Anglophone nerds knowledge of the 16th-century Italian poem Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto. Really, if you like knights-and-wizards fantasy, this is for you; it's a huge, rambling epic with about a million characters and intersecting subplots, which it jumps between at whim. It's like Lord of the Rings, if Tolkien had (a) been a 16th-c. poet, and (b) done a whole lot of crack. It's wonderful. Anyone know a good translation?
    • As a matter of fact I do. Translated by Richard Hodgens, it was put out by Ballantine's amazing "Sign of the Unicorn's Head" fantasy series of the 1970s. The first of that series I ever read, and one of the last ones published. They were going to do the entire story in something like three or four volumes, but the series was cancelled in '73. Sex! Dragons! Sea monsters! Genderbending sorceresses! Sex!
  • Dune. Because it had gladiatorial battles and political intrigue and people riding giant freakin' SANDWORMS. (This explains a lot about this troper, who thinks Herbert Jr should be skinned with crysknives for what he did to his father's legacy.) The later books were a bit 'meh', but that first one blew me away, a scale of world-building I'd only found with Tolkien and LeGuin before.
  • Brian Jacques's Redwall series. This troper can honestly say that Redwall is the best fantasy series she has ever had the pleasure of reading. She is teased constantly by her parents about how much she loves "her little furry animals with swords and nut bread", but is not bothered by this, considering it's the truth. Each and every one of Jacques' characters is unique in his or her own way, from the warrior mice to the villainous foxes and wildcats. The world is beautifully fleshed out, the plots may be formulaic at times but are nonetheless engaging. The Smurfette Principle is averted left and right, and most of all the characters and situations are realistic (besides the fact that they're all Talking Animals). This troper loves these books and will continue to love them.
    • I second the notion. I think it is no exaggeration to claim that Jacques is as great a writer as C. S. Lewis or, dare I say, J. R. R. Tolkien himself? Just like Tolkien, Jacques has created a world full of diverse creatures, each with their own cultures and dialects, and like Lewis, Jacques has crafted unique stories and characters that defy expectations. Yes, his books began to get a bit repetitive, but it's worth noting that, in his most recent books, he appears to have noticed this and made pains to avert, subvert, or otherwise avoid the very tropes his works are known for. And the books are better for it.
  • Stephen King is best known for writing terrifying scenes. He's great at that, but not just that. He creates interesting and lovable characters. He describes the events in his stories with a form of realism; he writes about things that don't exist, but you believe that if they existed, that's how people would react to them. He can write funny scenes, tear-jerking scenes, heartwarming scenes. He's just a great writer.
    • Seconded. I have read nearly all of Stephen King's books, and I read them young. The characters are moving, tragic, heroic, and human, and the stories blend old and new mythology into a personal epic of love, trust, friendship, and hope in the face of evil.
    • Thirded. He is one of the best authors I have ever read, and his style...just makes it feel real, I don't know what to say.
    • Fourthed. In particular the "Ritual of Chud" section of "It" became one of the integral parts of both my adolescence and my adulthood. I have never read a book where King is credited as author on the cover that I didn't like.
  • Anything David Gemmell has ever written. The man was a master of Heroic Fantasy, and even if he had a total of four storylines written over 30+ books, he nevertheless managed to bring something new to the tale every time. Special mention goes to the Drenai Saga.
  • Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant Series is another ostensibly "written for children" series that manages to be darker and edgier than most adult fiction. Tuxedo wearing magic skeletons, Eldritch Horrors and a dry sarcastic wit throughout. Wonderful.
  • The Railway Series, by the Reverend Wilbert Vere Awdry and later continued by his son Christopher. I love it. Simply by reading one gains a working knowledge of railways. The characters... Being introduced to them a few at a time, watching as they develop... becoming attached to them. Watching as the whole of it all unfolds. Crowning Moments of Funny, Heartwarming, and Awesome may be found, as well as Tear Jerkers. The TV series, in its older days, before Seasonal Rot took hold (cue Henry's sad theme)... I grew up watching the old episodes and reading The Railway Series. In fact, that's probably why I turned out as alright as I have. Although the Thomas stories told nowadays are largely insults to the classic stories we loved, they have not erased those tales from existence. They remain, in our books, on our video tapes and DVDs, on YouTube... And next year, a new Railway Series book is coming out. The true Thomas isn't out of steam yet. He will always be there when needed. For Thomas is, after all, a Really Useful Engine. *cue classic outro riff*
  • The Pillars of the Earth was one of the best books I'd read in a while. I was wary at first because it was so long but it kept me hooked to the end with a rich plot and characters that are so real you feel for them when they fail, and celebrate their triumphs
  • The Hunger Games was a book series that got this readers attention. action/fantasy done oh so right. even though the world was one that i didn't know, by the end 1 could understand everything.It's one of those books where i can't even fathom how an adults mind could work like that.
    • Yes, yes, YES. "Here it's safe, here it's warm, here the daisies guard you from every harm..." *fans start to cry* The characters are perfect, and the plot... hard to describe what makes it so awesome.
    • It is indeed such a good series. I've never seen anyone who does social commentary with the nuance that Collins does it. Mockingjay in particular brings me to tears every time I read it.
  • Memoirs of a Geisha is a book I've read many times. the woes of a young girl being torn from her family and forced into slavery/prostitution and then theres the rich love tale interwoven within the pages and the jump-off the page characters.
  • Flowers for Algernon Made this troper cry at the end, it touched me in a way that i want to treaure and savor this story for a lifetime
  • Perelandra. Which is the best book I have ever read. C. S. Lewis took the story of Eden, infused it with imagination, shot it into space, and somehow it blossomed into one of the most exquisitely beautiful epics in the English language. Here is the power of myth in modern language with modern characters, yet undiluted by them. The story is such that it only serves to make it more potent. God, the Devil, sin, suffering, redemption, and the purpose of the human race are written in ways that will turn your worldview inside out. Because Lewis knew how to write the scale of the universe that didn't make us smaller, but made it bigger. And richer, and more complex, and more extraordinary, and absolutely breathtaking. I read it again and again because every time I get to the end, my soul is awake and singing.
  • I first saw The Man Who Was Thursday in a library, and was immediately caught by its charmingly wacky title. (And only by the title, given that I'd never read anything from Chesterton until then.) And my trust has paid off: it was one of the most captivating, beautiful, mesmerizing piece of literature I've ever stumbled upon. It can be read as a fast-paced and highly surreal thriller which never ceases to surprise the reader - and, at the same time, it brings up some of the most disturbing questions about human nature, faith and existence that someone can ask himself. No wonder that Chesterton himself called it a 'nightmare' - but it's a nightmare that I wish to re-live again and again.
    • Glad to know I'm not this book's only fan. You should also read Chesterton's The Napoleon of Notting Hill; a very different work but worth reading for pretty much exactly the same reasons as TMWWT.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events. Engaging characters, hilarious narration, and a beautifully woven plot.
    • Seconded. You have to have the right sense of humor, but if you do, you will love them. This couldn't have been written successfully by anyone other than Lemony Snicket (or David Handler if you prefer), he has just the right voice for it, and an amazingly unique writing style. Seriously, I think this series gets so overlooked sometimes. Its supposedly a kids book, which I did love it as a kid, but the older I get the more I love it. Its funny but it also tells a good story.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's "The Gold Bug", arguably the first detective story, has secret codes, a treasure hunt, and created a trope of its own, "bitten by the ___ bug".
  • Anything, anything, ANYTHING, by Tamora Pierce. Her strong female heroines are all complex and kickass and relatable, her worldbuilding is amazing in both her Tortall Universe and Circle of Magic series, and the stories she tells are all epic, from the Song of the Lioness to the Beka Cooper series to the Circle quartets.
    • This. Good God, this, seconded so much. Circle of Magic helped get this troper through major RL upheaval, because the world she created was a wonderful place to go hide in.
    • Thirded. Circle of Magic especially, because it's just so darn adorable.
    • This troper adored all of the books in her early teens and only just reread the Circle books in her early twenties, and... I'm astonished at how completely economical it is. Not a scene is wasted, and yet details about the world and the characters are packed in without making any book seem heavy or rushed. There are no Ass Pulls anywhere in the writing; set-up and foreshadowing are constant but unobtrusive. All characters are flawed in one way or another and some are corrected, others stay. A theme of empathy and compassion permeates the entire quartet. I love them as stories still, but now that I have perspective, I also love how well they're put together.
  • Dennis Lehane, I believe, is one of the most brilliant minds to ever grace the mystery genre. His Kenzie And Gennaro books (A Drink in the War, Darkness Take my Hand, Sacred, Gone Baby Gone, Prayers for Rain, Moonlight Mile) are brilliant and genre-transcending, full of mindblowing twists and turns and mindboggling mysteries that kept me GLUED to the page and guessing till the end, heartbreakingly authentic characters, and perfect depictions of a dark and gritty Boston. I had to put down the books several time when I was reading them in order to not explode from awesome. Also, he wrote Mystic River and Shutter Island, two other books made of fucking win.
  • I'm usually not much of a fan of fantasy novels, but even today I have fond, fond memories of Jules Feiffer's The Phantom Tollbooth. The settings are detailed and engaging, highlighting Jules' incredible imagination and wonderfully unique sense of humor; and the characters, even the minor ones that only make brief appearances, are all colorful and memorable enough to leave a permanent, long- lasting impression.
    • Thoroughly seconded. This troper's English class even did a play version of the book, which still brings about fond memories.
    • While Jules Feiffer is indeed wonderful, and did illustrate the best-known edition of "The Phantom Tollbooth," the novel was written by Norton Juster, and just passed its 50th anniversary of publication.
  • White Oleander is my favorite novel. It's realistic fiction, which is not my genre of choice, so how'd it manage that? By being raw and real and having a haunting quality to the writing that stays with you long after you close the book. No one, not even the protagonist, is wholly sympathetic, but they are believable people. Astrid Magnussen is a self-labeled survivalist, and survive she does. Her mother, Ingrid, is fascinating, dangerous, and repulsive all at once, but even she has a moment when you see what good remains in her.
  • Mogworld Oh my god Mogworld. The book is simply brilliant and I broke down laughing at the ending. I declare Croshaw to the second coming of Pratchett.
  • Alice in Wonderland. Seriously, Lewis Carroll is a brilliantly hilarious writer with a witty imagination. The characters, while parodies of Victorian society, have aged well enough to garner both entertainment from children and adults alike with their eccentric personalities and entertaining stories. There's a reason why there's been so many adaptations and inspirations coming from these books.
  • Holy mother of god, The Bartimaeus Trilogy. Snappy, witty, stemming from a simple and clever world-building device (what if politicians were magicians?) and creating a world both like and unlike ours. Handles the two (and then three) narrators deftly, never revealing too much or too little, and creates strong, believable voices for each one. Plants multiple Chekhov's guns as early as the first book, and does a beautiful job of each book being a satisfying episode within a larger arc. Ranges from absolutely hysterical to frighteningly dark and brutal with ease, and manages to tackle issues of slavery, personhood, and ambition without being heavy-handed. The protagonists are all beautifully grey, they're wrong a lot of the time, and you still love and root for them. And THAT ENDING. One of the best and most daring this troper has ever read.
  • Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series of books. Although they may be difficult to get into at first, they represent literature at its finest. The characters are unique (some of the most original and stereotype-challenging this troper has ever encountered), realistic, and fleshed-out; Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin themselves are probably the most relentlessly badass fictional people this troper knows, and their loyalty to each other is completely adorable. The writing is incredible, there is plenty of action, drama, intrigue, heartbreak, and humor to be had (this troper literally laughs out loud whenever Aubrey mixes his metaphors, especially if Maturin is there to mischeviously confuse poor Jack further; not to mention Maturin's unrelenting land-lubberness and the endearing patience of the seamen who are constantly pulling him out of the water or catching him when he plunges out of the rigging). The attention to detail and research O'Brian put into the books is mind-blowing; if you're into history and tall ships, particularly the Napoleonic Wars era, you can't miss out on this series. Plus it inspired the devastatingly fantastic movie [[Master and Commander Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World]].
  • Watership Down isn't here yet? For shame- I found the book as a teenager, thought it would be an amusing tale about cute little bunnies, suitable for killing a couple of hours, and was very happy to be disillusioned. For one thing, I enjoyed seeing a psychic who didn't whine about his gifts, and was only cryptic because he sucked at explaining things. And the big strong hero wasn't the guy in charge- it was the guy with common sense.
  • Donna Andrews's Meg Langslow series is worth reading. It's a wacky hijinx mystery series with the heroine and her husband teaming up as the Only Sane Man, using many of the cliches of the genre and making them work. And the heroine is a blacksmith.
  • The Pendragon Adventure is seriously awesome. It seriously needs more love.
    • Agreed.
  • The Stone Dance of the Chameleon. How this isn't more recognised as a classic modern fantasy epic is beyond me. The setting is amazingly developed, taking elements from several different cultures while still having its own flavour; the Con Lang is one of the best I've seen (the language itself and some heiroglyphs? Get in!); and Carnelian is a truly sympathetic and brilliant main character. Needs More Love.
  • Serial Killers' Club is a great work of literature that Needs Love. The Morbid Humor, and Lemony narration mix very well.
  • Why hasn't Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy gotten a mention?! A brilliant, unique take on a dystopian future, with deeply nuanced characters. I've never read a villain quite as fascinating as Mayor Prentiss - his actions are monstrous and manipulative, yet he shows a desperate need for love and you can't help but sympathise just a little with this batshit crazy man.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • I know some people hate the constant interjections of technical minutiae, but I love that Weber actually worked out all the details of how his warships work, and what makes for an advantage in combat, to the point where someone who actually pays attention to all that stuff can reasonably tell ahead of time who is in a good or bad position in any given battle without being told.
    • There does tend to be some definite political favouritism from the author in each of the various nations, but there are good and bad people on both sides of the war. I was almost as upset when Giscard died, leaving Eloise alone as I was about Alistair Mckeon, and the former wasn't even that likeable. Even the political views and parties that were originally demonised are starting to get some decent representation (Cathy Montaigne and Michael Oversteegen.)
    • Also, tell me a treecat wouldn't be the ultimate childhood best friend. Honestly.
  • Anyone heard of The Avatars Trilogy? It's a series that is highly underrated...almost no one has heard of it, but I absolutely freaking adored it. It's a brilliant mixture of mythology with modern characters and settings, and the entire prospect of it is incredibly intriguing and addicting.
  • Seeing the above made me remember...Percy Jackson and the Olympians! Kids series, my ass...I read them at 17 and absolutely loved all of them.
  • Anything by Sarah Dessen is extremely quality.
  • Before I Fall...holy shit, that book. I didn't like it in the beginning...the characters were so mean that I couldn't stand to read about them. But as the book went on, I could not put it down...and by the end, I was absolutely sobbing. The ending was perfect. This book was seriously moving, it's really worth reading.
    • Oh, so seconded. It's a virtually unheard of event, folks . . . a book about teens . . . is written by somebody who understands teenagers. The well rounded characters sound like somebody at your school, and nobody slips into stereotypes. These people sound and act like teenagers, and the ending is so beautiful and amazing . . .
  • I'd like to mention the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. Every single one of them is a gem, especially Zahn's and Stackpole's work. Though many people would like to disagree (vehemently), I thought that LoTF was brilliant, and excellently chronicled the fall of a hero, from Well-Intentioned Extremist to an almost-Complete Monster who just didn't know it. I'd also like to profess a profound liking of Karen Traviss's novels, Mary Sue-Mandos or not.
  • The Uglies series. Although the fourth book was a bit disappointing, the story and mythos as a whole were among the most engaging that I've ever read, and most of the characters were incredibly well-developed and likeable.
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. The first novel in a planned 10 part epic fantasy series, and by God it is EPIC. Set on a world hit by hurricanes every couple of weeks, Brandon manages to create an entirely new ecology for most of the world - and it is described to us without relying on As You Know. From the opening chapter where we see Szeth, a One-Man Army assassin, use his incredible powers to kill a king and start a war, to the brutal warfare on the Shattered Plains half a decade later, we feel like we are a part of this world. The interludes show us glimpses of the rest of the continent, so even though the three main characters are all from the same culture, and the action only takes place in one part of the world, it feels like there is so much else out there. And dear Lord, the characters. I've rarely seen such compelling and interesting characters in a fantasy novel, all of which have their own personal conflict. Kaladin was once a warrior, but is now a slave in the army, forced into the dangerous job of carrying bridges, and struggles between his desire to save everyone and the despair of inevitable death as a bridgeman. Shallan is torn between her love of learning under her teacher, Jasnah, and her need to steal Jasnahs valuable soulcaster for the sake of her family. Finally, we have Dalinar, the General of one of 10 armies fighting on the Shattered Plains, he is torn between the pressures of the divided, carefree military upper class he is a part of and his personal compulsion to be an honorable man and a good soldier - all the while fearing he is being driven insane by vision he receives each highstorm. The ending of the book is just fantastic, with an epic battle that doesn't detract from the characters internal conflict. And after that, in the epilogue, while most books may have one Wham Line, this book has half a dozen incredible ones that shake up all we thought we knew about the world. A truly fantastic book, which is only the first part of a 10 part series. I can't wait for the rest.
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It has several plots side by side and manages to not tie up the loose ends without feeling lame. Plus it's an absolutely beautiful story about people trying to cope with loss, and I am so not doing it justice here.
  • Peter Hopkirk's series. Spies, explorers, fabled lost cities, deserts, mountains, ruins, battles, nomads, caravans, and tons and tons of badasses. And it's true too.
  • The Foundation trilogy is one of the best books this troper has ever read (The later books are another story...). Isaac Asimov is a genius.
  • How has nobody mentioned Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera? No, not the stage musical, the book. There is something about the character of Erik, deformed and absolutely insane, but still with the capacity to love another person to the point of living out the rest of his days alone without another living soul, just so that one person can be happy. There is something about this character that is so multi-layered, so fascinating that one can't help but be drawn to it.
    • And, let's not forget Susan Kay's adaptation Phantom, the story of his life. A beautifully written novel about a man, a genius, but really nothing more than a man. His life will make you weep; what he's done will make you gasp. There is nothing about this book that doesn't build up the character perfectly. Susan Kay understands so very deeply the characterization of this person who, at his simplest, is nothing but a genius with an ugly face, doomed from the beginning.
  • Tales of the Frog Princess. Just, that entire series. Even the books that were bad had some element of good in them. They're short, sweet, optimistic, and embodies everything I love about the fairy tales I grew up with: magic, quests, and true love. They can get a bit corny, but corny can be a good thing to have when you're feeling down.
  • Solaris is my favourite book. It combines the most fascinating concept that I've ever seen in my entire life (the eponymous planet) with a deeply psychological story about communication, identity, memory, love and madness. It's a masterpiece, one of the greatest achievements in the history of science fiction and literature in general.
  • It's simply illogical that no one mentioned the Matthew Swift novels by Kate Griffin. Great characters, imaginative world that puts the mystical in the mundane, brilliant poetic writing... Suffice to say that when I discovered that there's a fifth book about to be published (as of this writing), I immediately clicked to an online bookstore to order it. The best Urban Fantasy ever written.
  • Dinotopia, anyone?
  • Goosebumps, wonderfully written, great tension, and it will always, always, surprise with a Twist Ending. This Troper promises you will never see those endings comeing. On a more personal note, these books are what got me hooked on reading, and what got me to want to be a writer. If you have kids, show them these books! Hopefully, they will love them as much as I did when a first read Monster Blood in my school library in 3rd grade.
  • Monte Walsh is everything great about the cowboy Western jammed into one book: the depth of the friendship between 'pards' on the trail; the collision between encroaching civilization and the frontier lifestyle; the code of honor that exists between men; and the importance of a man's horse. It opens the first chapter with "a boy and his horse" and the last with "a man and his horse" and explains the journey from one to the other beautifully against the maturing backdrop of the footloose, cattle-driving West. On top of all that, one of the funniest books I've ever read; one of the few that made me both laugh and cry.
  • Goosebumps, Fear Street, etc. ... there's a reason R. L. Stine's books being sold in millions of copies has gotten him into the the Guinness Book of Records.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid isn't as "glamorous" as other best-selling kitlit of late, but its Slice of Life comedy is a howl for all ages. Greg's an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist who's still easy to identify and empathize with because Jeff Kinney understands a middle-schooler's self-centered mindset so well. From Book 5 onward, they've been on an uphill trajectory in terms of quality, too, as the setting is fleshed out and the minutae of the lives of kids ever more keenly observed.
  • Nothing about Jodi Picoult???
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an amazing book. Sure, on the surface it might just seem like a pretentious, overly dark and edgy take on adolescence, but it's really more like that. Charlie is an amazing, human, relatable narrator and the book offers some of the most insightful dwellings on love, friendship and family to date. It's really just beautiful.
  • The Call of Cthulhu IS. FUCKING. AWESOME. I'm talking about the collection of Lovecraft's short stories into one volume. In the book, they've got the finest monsters and craziest characters the man ever created. And it is so, so hard to pick a favourite. The Call of Cthulhu's probably the most action packed story and the best one in the book, but there's also Dagon, which is AMAZING and fucks with your mind at the end, Cool Air will give you the heebie-jeebies when someone turns on the air conditioning, and Herbert West is the most hilarious story in the entire book-a mix of Black Comedy and Nightmare Fuel-The Wild West Pyro
  • The Heroes of Olympus. It's ten billion times more awesome than the original series. You've got a Badass Crew of Greek and Roman demigods who are going to stop Kronos's mother, Gaea and can take on giants, who are more powerful than the gods themselves, seven amazing characters, the first LGBT character in the PJO series and all of the main characters take a level in badass. Especially Percy, who's gone from being a One-Man Army to being a Crazy Awesome Bad Ass-The Wild West Pyro
  • All Quiet on the Western Front. The finest account of World War One This Troper ever read. You've got Tearjerkers, Heartwarming Moments, funny moments and incredibly detailed action scenes narrated from a brilliant and engaging narrator.
  • BioShock: Rapture is a wonderful prequel to the game, showing the beauty of the underwater city and soon, the Start of Darkness it has. The main character, Rapture's chief engineer, Bill Mcdonagh, is a WONDERFUL protagonist who goes from fixing leaks to fighting Splicers in a second. You get to see all your favourite villains in the game become evil, and they even show the New Year's Eve massacre of 1959, which is only referenced in the game and never really show-The Wild West Pyro
  • Michael Grant and K. A. Applegate in general. Animorphs, Remnants, Gone, The One and Only Ivan and Eve and Adam were all so amazing, and I can't even begin to describe how much I love them. It's all so original, the characters are always incredibly human and relatable, the morality is always complex and thought-provoking, the plots are fast-paced and engaging, but most of all, they get kids and teenagers. They know exactly how to write and think on their level, exactly what captures their imaginations and what makes them sad. (Yes, I'm referring to the ending of Animorphs. I will never get over that.) It really makes me sad that Animorphs and Everworld (which I'm hardly even sure I'll be able to get my hands on) and Remnants are out of print, because there are so many kids today who would've enjoyed them that'll never get to experience them.
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of Universe. A story about Unresolved Sexual Tension between two teenage boys of color in the 1980s? It's Tumblr's dream come true! Adding to that, every character, even the side characters, are all realistic and believable. One of my major pet peeves about YA literature is how the parents tend to either be horrible or practically non-existent. Both of the boys have kind, loving parents with their own personality and unique voice—Ari's father even gets a small subplot of his own, dealing with his PTSD from the Vietnam war. Ari's interactions with his mother are both realistic and "awwwww" worthy, and Dante's parents are both such nice, wonderful people that you grow attached to them even though they're secondary characters. The romance is a subtle one, but it doesn't come out of nowhere, either, and Ari's narration ranges from hilarious to tearjerking to deep and thought-provoking.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the great modern day Fairy Tale in the classic tradition of Andersen and Grimm, and just as adaptable and malleable as any of those are. There's always a fresh spin that can be brought to it by readers, illustrators, and adapters, thanks to its plethora of timeless themes and wonderful characters. (For those who only have time to go through it once, the 2013 audiobook narrated by Douglas Hodge is the one to get — his reading brings out the pure fairy tale spirit like nobody's business.)

Hmm, I feel like going to the library. Care to join me?

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