I’ve read fifty-five books so far this year; I’m going to see how many more I can fit in by year’s end. The plan is rereading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, then reading Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox. (Yes, I am a woman of widely varying reading interests.)
I’m going to pick a few of my recommendations from what I’ve read over the past year, and then you can have a go in comments! There can never be too many reading recommendations.
Small World by David Lodge is a really funny and engaging look at academia. It’s full of clever literary theory play. There are, however, issues, shall we say.
I love everything that comes out of Karen Joy Fowler’s mind, and The Sweetheart Season was no exception. It’s set post-war, about a group of women who work at a cereal factory in a small town in Minnesota. They form a baseball team called the Sweetwheat Sweethearts. If you’ve read any Karen Joy Fowler, you’ll be anticipating the beautiful turns of phrase that will mark her slightly surreal plot and exactly right insights into the way people work.
Julia Alvarez’s How the García Girls Lost Their Accents is about a Dominican family who immigrate to the Bronx, and how the four daughters live their lives. It’s told sort of backwards, which really worked well, and I wish it had gone on for much longer than it did!
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton is a classic, of course. It won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize, and is about the workings of 19th century New York society, duty, and a really moving love story. The Martin Scorsese film is well worth watching, as well.
How to Ditch Your Fairy is my kind of YA, from Justine Larbalestier. It’s set in New Avalon, where everyone has a fairy. Charlie is not happy with her parking fairy as she can’t drive and people keep borrowing her so that they’ll get good parking spaces. She swaps fairies with a classmate, and it goes very, very wrong. It’s a great premise, but, more than that, I’m pleased to see YA where queer characters are a norm! Also, Larbalestier is that rare white writer who writes main characters of colour – and well – and doesn’t feel a need to make whiteness a default characteristic.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire could have been so much better than it was. It rehabilitates the image of the Wicked Witch, for sure, but, well, the disability politics of Wicked are appalling and the racial politics are so close and yet so far. A real pity that I couldn’t just sit back and enjoy it, because there was some very well done characterisation and world-building.
And, lastly, I read a tonne of Tamora Pierce, whose writing I have adored for years. You want feminist fantasy heroines? She has you covered, time and again.