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[Recommend on!] I love to read, but I can't pick a book!

silence1186silence1186 Character shields down!As a wingmanRegistered User regular
edited May 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
Hello fellow forumites, as the thread title suggests, I'm looking for some recommendations on what to read next. I tend to consume a given series slowly at first, reading a few chapters until I get fully immersed, after which I can't put it down. Once I've finished, I then have a "cooling off" period in which I reflect on what I just read and painstakingly research what next to read. The reason for this is that once I pick up a series, I will not abandon it unless I've made a mistake in choosing genres/the author developed syphilis midway through writing and banked hard into crazy. On to specifics:

I am highly angst averse. Real life is bad enough, I don't need to read anything that will make me MORE depressed. Horror/gore is totally off the table. In my opinion, a good writer can make you think things can't possibly turn out well, and yet they still do, in a satisfying fashion.
I greatly enjoy Science Fiction/Fantasy genres. Wheel of Time (great), Song of Ice and Fire (read it without knowing anything about it, way darker than I preferred. Still, as above, I'm resolved to finish it), most stuff by David Eddings, most stuff by Terry Brooks (found later stuff less good than earliest stuff), and I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but I'm at work and can't check my bookshelves.
While I don't mind romance (spice of life and all that), I've read a few books where it was clumsily added in just to pair up the main character, and was totally unnecessary. Characters that make actual emotional connections, that's more to taste.
I love libraries, so anything that's a little old and could easily be gotten at the library rather than the bookstore would be nice. I have some Barnes and Noble gift cards, but books add up. I do NOT own any kind of tablet or e-reader.
As a frame of reference I do also read a fair bit of action/adventure manga (still fantasy/scifi stuff), which, while I'm not really looking for recs on that, might color your book recommendations, so I thought it was worth noting.
I like order. Which is to say, a series which has sequential ordering is much more attractive than a series where the books are interchangeable or some are merely tangents.

Mmmmmmmm, scratching my head on what else to note. If anyone has any questions, feel free to note them.

Thanks in advance!

V wrote:
Words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.

silence1186 on

Posts

  • Rhesus PositiveRhesus Positive GNU Terry Pratchett Registered User regular
    Have you tried the Discworld series? They started off as a parody of the fantasy genre but have evolved into their own thing now. The early books are a tad hard going, but they have continuity and enjoyable characters.

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  • TheBigEasyTheBigEasy Registered User regular
    For the moment the first thing that comes to mind are Naomi Noviks Temeraire books. Its the Napoleonic Wars - with Dragons. It would fit your "no depressing stuff" criteria.

  • FyndirFyndir Registered User regular
    Jasper Fforde is a fantastic writer who is well worth checking out, seek a synopsis of a couple of his books before diving in though, because the setting won't suit everyone.

  • TheBigEasyTheBigEasy Registered User regular
    I'll second the Fforde suggestion. I love his Thursday Next series - but Fyndir is right, the setting is pretty weird and not for everyone.

  • rockmonkeyrockmonkey Registered User regular
    Brandon Sanderson. Seriously.
    Only downside is that some of his stuff is stand alone-ish.
    Elantris
    The Mistborn trilogy along with the new mistborn book Alloy of Law which takes place 300 years after the first series
    Warbreaker
    and last but not least The Way of Kings

    I love all of those but Warbreaker and Way of Kings are my personal favorites.

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  • EntriechEntriech Registered User regular
    I'd highly recommend Douglas Adams' Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series of books. I'd also advocate starting a goodreads.com account. I've found it invaluable in helping me determine what to read next, and I'm primarily a library reader such as yourself.

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  • FyndirFyndir Registered User regular
    Another excellent writer (in a very different style from Fforde) is Conn Iggulden, who has written two separate series of fictionalised / novelised / sensationalised history, tracking the lives of Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan, with some relatively extensive notes at the back of each book detailing key points where he moved away from the academically accepted history (generally for reasons of compressing or simplifying events somewhat to help with the plot and pacing of the books).

  • noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
    The fact that you like Wheel of Time makes your taste a bit suspect :P

    As always, if you haven't, try some Neil Gaiman. My favorite work of his is Good Omen, which he cowrote with Terry Pratchett, but American Gods, Neverwhere, Graveyard Book, and Anansi Boys are also really good-and can probably be found in most libraries.

    Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind is really good. Sadly, the second book was a bit of drop in quality, and it's still a a continuing story, so you might be better off holding until it's finished.

    I really liked Simon R. Green's Deathstalker series of books. There is a bit of gore/sex, but I would say it straddles the line between PG-13 and R. It's entirely a space opera kinda book, so it's more swashbuckling and clear good guys/bad guys than complex, real science type of read.

  • GrimmyTOAGrimmyTOA Registered User regular
    noir_blood wrote: »
    Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind is really good. Sadly, the second book was a bit of drop in quality, and it's still a a continuing story, so you might be better off holding until it's finished.

    Wandered in here to post this. I'm not sure that A Wise Man's Fear (the second book) was so precipitous a drop as to scare you off the series, though. I still liked it quite a lot -- it's just that Name of the Wind was very, very good.

  • silence1186silence1186 Character shields down! As a wingmanRegistered User regular
    Entriech wrote: »
    I'd highly recommend Douglas Adams' Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series of books. I'd also advocate starting a goodreads.com account. I've found it invaluable in helping me determine what to read next, and I'm primarily a library reader such as yourself.

    Oh yes. Read the first one, haven't rustled up the other four(?). I heard he died after completing the fifth book in a sad sort of place in his life, and the book reflected that.

    V wrote:
    Words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.

  • RadicalTurnipRadicalTurnip Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Terry Goodkind isn't a great writer (at first) and is pretty preachy, but he has some cool ideas. But his books are The Sword of Truth series.

    Terry Pratchett is awesome, but I can't say that it's really a "series", there are lots of spinoffs and tangents, and it's difficult to read the books in order.

    By far my #1 recommendation is a trilogy that isn't finished yet: The Kingkiller trilogy, by Patrick Rothfuss. The first book is The Name of the Wind and the second is The Wise Man's Fear. The third book is being edited and will probably come out in a yearish? Maybe less? Possibly more? I also enjoyed the Wheel of Time, and this book...well, it's not as sweepingly epic, but the relationships are *real*, they're not there because the main character has to have relationships, they're organic like real relationships (Not to say that WoT's weren't...but these relationships seemed even *more* real). The books aren't comedies, but the main character is supposed to be a funny guy...but when he tells a joke, it's *actually funny*. Seriously, pick up The Name of the Wind.

    If you just can't go for a series that isn't finished yet, then Tad Williams's Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn 'trilogy' was pretty good, it's pretty old, so a library should have it. There are some "this is in here because it's a staple of the fantasy genre" especially in the first book, but it's still definitely worth reading.

    Obviously The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (but I assume you've read those).

    I would recommend Hyperion to you, but it's a bit darker than the average book. Not *dark* but darker. They're excellent books, though.

    RadicalTurnip on
  • mightyjongyomightyjongyo Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    If you havent read it yet, Dune by Frank Herbert is widely regarded as a classic in sci fi, and the rest of the books in the series are quite excellent as well, even the ones written by his son (which were based off of manuscripts left by Frank Herbert)

    mightyjongyo on
  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    there is always the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Dark, but not as dark as George Martin

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  • FrozenzenFrozenzen Registered User regular
    If you want something "easy" and rather enjoyable check out trudi canavans the black magican series, and age of the five series. Not very dark, and overall just somewhat enjoyable light reading.

  • GriswoldGriswold (a superset of all possible mathematics) (his body disintegrated)Registered User regular
    Neal Stephenson

    I'd recommend any of the following, in descending order of accessibility (though not necessarily awesomeness):
    -The Big "U"
    -Snow Crash
    -Reamde
    -Cryptonomicon

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  • BurtletoyBurtletoy Registered User regular

    If you just can't go for a series that isn't finished yet, then Tad Williams's Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn 'trilogy' was pretty good, it's pretty old, so a library should have it. There are some "this is in here because it's a staple of the fantasy genre" especially in the first book, but it's still definitely worth reading.


    I like Tad Williams's stuff, but haven't read Memory Sorrow and Thorn, but I have read the Otherland series and the first two books of Shadowmarch series.

    Are Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn significantly different from those other two series? Cause Otherland and Shadowmarch are pretty dark/bleak/whatever in theme, which the OP said he didn't want.

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    rockmonkey wrote: »
    Brandon Sanderson. Seriously.
    Only downside is that some of his stuff is stand alone-ish.
    Elantris
    The Mistborn trilogy along with the new mistborn book Alloy of Law which takes place 300 years after the first series
    Warbreaker
    and last but not least The Way of Kings

    I love all of those but Warbreaker and Way of Kings are my personal favorites.

    Seconded. His stuff is just so good.

  • dresdenphiledresdenphile Watch out for snakes!Registered User regular
    Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series (Urban Fantasy) and Codex Alera ("High" Fantasy, I suppose) are both really good reads. I think they'll fit your above criteria fairly well.

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  • noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
    GrimmyTOA wrote: »
    noir_blood wrote: »
    Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind is really good. Sadly, the second book was a bit of drop in quality, and it's still a a continuing story, so you might be better off holding until it's finished.

    Wandered in here to post this. I'm not sure that A Wise Man's Fear (the second book) was so precipitous a drop as to scare you off the series, though. I still liked it quite a lot -- it's just that Name of the Wind was very, very good.

    Yeah, it wasn't a humongous drop or anything, but Name of the Wind is so good that any drop is kinda noticeable. I could also have done without the whole
    Faery/Monk warrior interlude

    Still, really good book.

  • RadicalTurnipRadicalTurnip Registered User regular
    Burtletoy wrote: »

    If you just can't go for a series that isn't finished yet, then Tad Williams's Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn 'trilogy' was pretty good, it's pretty old, so a library should have it. There are some "this is in here because it's a staple of the fantasy genre" especially in the first book, but it's still definitely worth reading.


    I like Tad Williams's stuff, but haven't read Memory Sorrow and Thorn, but I have read the Otherland series and the first two books of Shadowmarch series.

    Are Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn significantly different from those other two series? Cause Otherland and Shadowmarch are pretty dark/bleak/whatever in theme, which the OP said he didn't want.

    Somehow I couldn't get into Otherland, I tried. I tried for 1.5 books, but I couldn't. I haven't read Shadowmarch, but yeah, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn aren't all that dark for the most part, not nearly as dark as the first book and a half of Otherland, which still wasn't all that bad (does it get darker?). It's been a long time since I read M,S,T; and I have vague recollection of the end of the third book getting darker (shortly before the ending), but other than that, I mostly remember it being fairly upbeat and stuff.

  • A Dabble Of TheloniusA Dabble Of Thelonius It has been a doozy of a dayRegistered User regular
    I'll agree with FForde and Pratchett.

    I'll toss in a couple standalone Novels.

    Lamb by Christopher Moore
    Of Rice and Men by Richard Galli
    The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway


    I will also say no to the Malazan series. I love it to death but it's bleak as all hell.

    Also,
    Terry Goodkind isn't a great writer (at first) and is pretty preachy, but he has some cool ideas. .
    Man what the hell.


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  • badpoetbadpoet Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Your tastes are right up my proverbial alley. I'm actually re-reading some Eddings right now.

    Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan were a very good read. Judging from your taste, I'd say you'd enjoy the series immensely. I devoured these books.

    I'll second the Dresden Files and Codex Alera by Jim Butcher. The first two books of the Dresden series are disliked by some, but I found them to be pretty good with the series ramping up to great (as far as fantasy books go, we're not talking classic literature here). It's arguably my favorite book series. His Codex Alera series is quite good as well.

    If you start to like the whole Urban Fantasy thing, there are a few authors who I've come to like. Simon Green's Man with the Golden Torc is okay, as are Marc del Franco's Connor Grey books.

    Tom Deitz's series that starts with Windmaster's Bane is sort of young-adultish (before there was YA), but solid.

    Joel Rosenberg's Keepers of the Flame has eight books or so. They're fast reads and there's some great character interaction and classic lines, ala Eddings.




    badpoet on
  • wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    TheBigEasy wrote: »
    For the moment the first thing that comes to mind are Naomi Noviks Temeraire books. Its the Napoleonic Wars - with Dragons. It would fit your "no depressing stuff" criteria.

    I'm seconding this recommendation. The first book (His Majesty's Dragon) is just plain fun. It's such a unique take on fantasy & "historical" fiction, like Patrick O'Brian's Master & Commander series snuggled up with dragon fantasy. As a bonus, the first book works fine and dandy as a standalone if you aren't sure if you want to commit to the full series.

  • grouch993grouch993 Registered User regular
    Patricia McKillip's Riddle Master of Hed trilogy is a good read.

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    In my opinion, a good writer can make you think things can't possibly turn out well, and yet they still do, in a satisfying fashion.

    You have just described Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. He writes amazing fantasy. Even darkness is approached with some levity. He is a master at pulling characters and situations out of certain doom in creative ways without deus-exing.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited May 2012
    The First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie is incredible. I can't believe no one's recommended it yet. Dark, but humorous.

    Esh on
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  • A Dabble Of TheloniusA Dabble Of Thelonius It has been a doozy of a dayRegistered User regular
    I think it might be a bit bleak for him. Another series that I absolutely love, but it ain't happy.


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  • silence1186silence1186 Character shields down! As a wingmanRegistered User regular
    Thanks everyone for responding, I have a lot of good food for thought, though if anyone has any follow up recs, I'd certainly still appreciate them.

    V wrote:
    Words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.

  • Marie AugustMarie August Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Terry Goodkind isn't a great writer (at first) and is pretty preachy, but he has some cool ideas. But his books are The Sword of Truth series.

    His books are very angst filled and depressing though. His formula is to spend 90% of the book with everyone hopelessly miserable, and then somehow manage to resolve it in the last 10%.
    I'll second the Dresden Files and Codex Alera by Jim Butcher. The first two books of the Dresden series are disliked by some, but I found them to be pretty good with the series ramping up to great (as far as fantasy books go, we're not talking classic literature here). It's arguably my favorite book series. His Codex Alera series is quite good as well.

    I'll third this recommendation. And I do agree, the first couple books are weak, mostly because a lot of the best characters aren't introduced yet. Jim Butcher is a really sophisticated writer who is able to plan out a huge, consistently epic story. Most people who create a series as large as the Dresden Files make it up as they go. But it's obvious Jim Butcher knew what he was doing from the start. It's a quality series that can keep someone entertained for awhile.

    I enjoy David Eddings and many books from the fantasy genre as well. A series that I think is very under read is called "A Man of His Word" by Dave Duncan. The charactes, the world, the dialogue and the magic system are all incredible (though the descriptions can be a bit wordy). It's my favorite fantasy series. The first book is called "The Magic Casement."

    Marie August on
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  • EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    edited June 2012
    It's supposed to be sort of a "young adult" series, but I've always liked the series The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. Since it IS a "young adult" set of books it shouldn't really get too angsty or dark, but it's really well-written and compelling. It's one of my mom's favorite series as well, even though it's supposed to be for younger audiences (and she's always been big on fantasy and sci-fi). I need to start reading it again, it's been way too long! They made a movie based on it a couple years back, but I'd avoid it since it looks like they actually made the author mad with some of the changes they made.

    My mom's favorite fantasy series, though, has got to be Mary Stewart's series The Crystal Cave (the original trilogy is the first three books under "Historical" there on her site, and two side stories are listed below them I guess? I haven't read those). It's a brilliant retelling of the Arthurian legend that follows Merlin instead of Arthur. Everyone my mom has ever lent her copies to loves the series, seriously. The books aren't insanely dense (they're not as thick as LotR or A Song of Ice and Fire is what I mean to say) but the story and characters are amazingly rich, and the books are definitely among my own fantasy favorites. No real angst that I can remember, just epic adventures and all that.

    Both of these were released quite some time ago, so it shouldn't be too tough to get these from a library. Don't forget that you can always request books your library doesn't have through interlibrary loans though!

    Essee on
  • LadyMLadyM Registered User regular
    "Howl's Moving Castle" by Diana Wynne Jones.

    Actually, expand that to "anything written by Diana Wynne Jones". I especially like Dark Lord of Derkholm.

  • .jarmis.jarmis Registered User regular
    I really hadn't been listening to fantasy much but I just listened to the audio books of the Deathgate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and I was really impressed. Dragon Wing, the first book, has a nice mix of classic fantasy and interesting world building ideas. I think that might be right what you are looking for.

  • MaguanoMaguano Registered User regular
    I'm currently reading the Way of Shadows (actually the Night Angel Trilogy) by Brent Weeks. Its gritty and there are some dark themes, but overall its not that "dark" of a story so far. Good pacing, and some good twists so far.

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  • swoxswox Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    My favourite Sci-Fi authors are Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, The Man in High Castle, VALIS, A Maze of Death, etc.) and Kurt Vonnegut (The Sirens of Titan, Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions).

    I think that most people would agree that Dick's work is, at least at times, dark and depressing, but it's also profound and exceptionally deep. Blade Runner was loosely based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (while I love the look of the film, after reading the book I couldn't help being very disappointed with the story, which is probably a common experience with a book you love).

    Some people seem to think that Vonnegut is depressing, but I've laughed more at his books than any others. There is something... crusty about his work, but I love it.

    Both are seminal American Sci-Fi authors that have had a huge influence on both their literary and film counterparts.

    swox on
  • DehumanizedDehumanized Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Entriech wrote: »
    I'd highly recommend Douglas Adams' Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series of books. I'd also advocate starting a goodreads.com account. I've found it invaluable in helping me determine what to read next, and I'm primarily a library reader such as yourself.

    Oh yes. Read the first one, haven't rustled up the other four(?). I heard he died after completing the fifth book in a sad sort of place in his life, and the book reflected that.

    Sort of. He finished the fifth book in 1992 and died in 2001, but was certainly on record as saying that he was unhappy with how bleak the series ended and that 6 sounded like a way better number of books to have in a trilogy. It's a massively depressing ending, but honestly still pretty fantastic. There's a 6th book in the series that was written by a different author after he died, but I have not read it and can't recommend it for that reason.

    After reading those five books, you should also read the two Dirk Gently books (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul).

    Then, you can track down a copy of Salmon of Doubt-- a posthumous collection of short stories and the unfinished manuscript for the third Dirk Gently book -- DNA mentions that he felt the ideas he was pursuing in that book probably would have fit better as a HH2G novel.

    Dehumanized on
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