Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Top Ten Books I'd Give To Readers Who Have Never Read X

Hosted by the Broke and Bookish the topic for August 5 is Top Ten Books I'd Give To Readers Who Have Never Read X where X is an undefined variable that can be: New Adult novels, historical fiction, a certain author, books about a certain topic, etc.

I am so fried that I don't think I can come up with ten books in one particular category so X will be a random variable as well.

1) For people who are interested in trying Terry Pratchett but have either been scared off by, or were unimpressed with, The Color of Magic - the first published Discworld book - there are a couple of other good ways to become introduced. First, rather than starting with Discworld 'proper' you can come in with the Tiffany Aching books which I believe are considered Young Adult books these days - the first is The Wee Free Men, followed by A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight. These take place in the same universe but the stories are self contained and separate from events in the wider world. You get a taste of the Disc without getting overwhelmed by the huge cast of characters in the main series. While there are a couple of cameos it won't affect your appreciation of the books if you don't have their backstory.

Another way of getting into Discworld is to skip a few books (I know, I know - I am one of those obsessives who wants to start with the first book too) and start with a slightly later book. Pratchett's writing style evolves significantly from say the first five published books and the later ones. As one of the best starting points to one of the most popular story arcs I would suggest Guards! Guards! which is the first novel about the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. The writing is on even footing and you get introduced to several important characters in the Discworld universe.

A second approach is to read Wyrd Sisters the second book in the Witches story arc. Skipping Equal Rites won't be a problem, it is really different from the remaining witches books and since it was the third Discworld book Pratchett wrote it is still very similar to The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic. Ideally you would read the books in publication order and see how he evolved as an author, but if the first book is giving you trouble any of these suggestions should work to give you a better entry into Discworld. 

2) Dorthy L Sayers' Lord Peter Mysteries - this is another author whose first book in a series is quite different in style and tone than their later books.  Whose Body? can be a rough introduction and turn a person off to the rest of the books, which is shame. The characters are not fully formed yet, coming off more as caricatures than people and the tone is a bit confused. Rather than starting with the first published book, I find that it can be easier and more fun to start with Murder Must Advertise. While technically the tenth book, the story is extremely self-contained so that you get to know the major characters (excluding Harriet) without being overwhelmed by details. Another way in is to start with the first Harriet Vane book - Strong Poison, but Peter comes off as a little weird in that one - it might be better to get to know him first.

3) Barbara Michaels - these books are gothics or suspense with romance (not romantic suspense as currently conceived - the romance is there but not focus. Fans of Susanna Kearsley might like them. Technically speaking all of her books are stand alones, but some stand better than others. However there are few that link together and make for an interesting reading experience. In this vein I would suggest starting with Ammie, Come Home, which is followed by Shattered Silk, and Stitches in Time.

 4) If you are interested in Sherlock Holmes, I would suggest starting with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and not A Study in Scarlet, which is a much rougher book in style.

Sigh, I have run out of time and brain cells so I will stop here.

1 comment:

  1. Love the recommendation of starting the Peter Wimsey books with Murder Must Advertise. I always start people on Strong Poison because I am absolutely crazy about Harriet Vane, but you're totally right that he comes off a little weird in that book. Best to get them fond of Peter first, then go into Strong Poison.

    (Having said that, I read Strong Poison first myself and crazy loved it. I couldn't stop reading. I read it under my desk in calculus class.)


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