Summer Reading Recommendations

I recently had a friend ask me for summer reading suggestions, and we went back and forth for a bit on interests and what they’d already read. Out of that came a list of things I gave them, and I thought it might be fun to pass it along here as well as suggestions of things you may want to try. Let me know what you think and if I should do this kind of thing again down the road.

The first book I’m recommending to everyone these days is Mary Robinette Kowal’s Ghost Talkers; it’s a World War I historical fantasy with ghosts and a spy thriller, and also happens to have a fascinating romance sub plot. I nominated this for a Hugo, and I think it’s incredibly well written and a lot of fun. I covered this in Occam’s Fireaxe #3 if you want more detail.

My current read is David Levine’s Arabella of Mars. I’m about three quarters done and enjoying it a lot. I could argue it’s both Fantasy and SF, but it’s really a fascinating steampunk fantasy about Victorian era travel to mars on sailing ships (seriously). I’ve known David a bit since the days of paper fanzines and my annual trips to Orycon, so I was really looking forward to this, and it’s a fast-paced adventure romp that’s really met my hopes and expectations.

I’ve talked about it before, and I’ll talk about it again, but I think my favorite literary style is Arthurian fiction, especially writing about the historical Arthur instead of the mythical one. Roman Britain is a fascinating time and when authors handle it well lead to fascinating stories. The classic is Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Sword at Sunset, which I also discussed in Occam’s Fireaxe 3. I also really like a more modern take by Jack Whyte in his Camulod Chronicles; first book in that series is Dream of Eagles.

More historical fiction, this time ancient chinese culture: Guy Gavriel Kay’s River of Stars. Set in around 9th Dynasty. I’ve got this in queue to talk about on Occam’s Razor, and I just fell in love with it; I’ve been meaning to read it for literally over a decade and now I’m annoyed I waited so long.

If you want Really Epic Fantasy, I’ve just started reading Brandon Sanderson and quite like it, but it’s quite long and multi-book (subject of Occam’s Fireaxe #1). Terry Goodkind did a series that I like as well called Sword of Truth, the first book is Wizard’s First Rule.

Neil Gaiman’s American Gods was a fascinating take on what happens to gods when they lose their followers and new gods are created as society changes.

Science Fiction Space Opera stuff: I love John Scalzi’s work. Old Man’s War is his most famous series, about interstellar war. He’s got a new one out called Collapsing Empire which is effectively colonial era Trading House earth shoved out into space and book one was a lot of fun (it’ll be in my next podcast, if I ever catch up enough to get it recorded).

IF you haven’t read Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind you should. If you haven’t read Steve Brust’s Vlad Taltos series you should (start with The Book of Jhereg, a compendium of the first three books in the series), although I have to admit this series is starting to feel a bit long in the tooth to me and the latest book, Hawk, seemed to be more about going through the paces than about telling an interesting story. Still, if it’s taken me ten-plus books in to get a bit tired of a series, that’s a lot of really good reading for you if you haven’t discovered it.

How’s that for a start?