My Favourite Books/Series
I often compare the books I read to the ones I enjoyed before, so I figured I would compile my favourite books here as a reference.
It was difficult for me to choose my "favourite" books, because most readers tend to judge how much they like a book by how many times they've read it. Unfortunately I'm not a big re-reader. While there are a few books I've read multiple times, there are also others I've only read once and they still gave me a phenomenal reading experience. I included those in my list as well.
None of these are in order, by the way. (Well, with the exception of the first one! That one really is my favourite book of all time!)
Books I've read multiple times
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
The King of Attolia is the third book in Turner's The Queen's Thief series. It follows a guard named Costis Ormentiedes as he becomes entangled with the political machinations of Eugenides, the new king of Attolia.
The Queen's Thief is my favourite series of all time, and it's much easier to appreciate the contents of KoA when you've seen Eugenides in action in the previous two books. However, I don't think you would enjoy KoA less if you start with it, as each book in the series is almost self-contained. I love KoA best because of how we, the readers, regain a sense of awe towards Eugenides from the perspective of an outsider. The romance in this book (and the series in general), is also unique and difficult and profound.
The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron
This is a series of 5 books about a thief wizard named Eli, and his friends, Josef and Nico, who steal increasingly absurd things to inflate the bounty on Eli's head. Although my favourite book is The Spirit Eater, the story gets more complex with each book, and you get the most out of the series by reading it in its entirety.
The Legend of Eli Monpress has an interesting tone and atmosphere that I can only compare to shonen anime or manga. You get the upbeat scenes with plenty of comic-relief, the action-packed adventure, and the serious situations that force character development. This series is what introduced me to adult fantasy, and I think its anime-like storytelling is one of the reasons it resonated with me first.
Lockwood and Co. by Jonathan Stroud
Lockwood and Co. is a 5-book series about teenaged ghost-hunters in an alternate England infested with the spirits of the dead. Each book deals with multiple cases for Lockwood and his company to solve.
A new favourite of mine, I only read this series in 2018. My favourite book in the series is The Creeping Shadow, but I recommend reading the entire series to really appreciate the character growth and world development. Lucy Carlyle's narration is one of the best first-person narrations I've read with its ability to hook you in and keep the tension up. The atmosphere is cozily creepy, but not too scary. The character dynamics are fun, and the ending is open-ended enough to suggest more adventures for the group.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Goose Girl is a retelling of the fairy-tale by the same name and the first book in the Books of Bayern series. The series centers around a girl named Ani and her friends, each of whom become acquainted with a specific elemental magic.
The Goose Girl was the reason I became an avid reader of books. I read it when I was sixteen years old and could really empathize with Ani's inability to stand up for herself. There was so much about her character that I also saw in myself, and that was why it was so inspiring to see her overcome the things that held her back. And let's admit it, a fairy-tale ending, when done right, can really make you feel warm and cozy. Since then, this book has become one of my go-to comfort reads.
The other books in the series are good too, but they didn't quite have the same impact on me as the first book did.
Spellhunter by RJ Anderson
Spellhunter, also known as Knife in some versions, is about a group of fairies who live in somebody's backyard. It's the first in a two trilogy series that follows the adventures of these fairies and the humans they befriend. In the second trilogy, we are introduced to other creatures like piskies and spriggans.
It's hard to describe this series, because it explores many different themes. Yes, on one hand it's about magical creatures that exist among us and the adventures they have. On the other, these books also explore deeper issues of identity, community, family, humanity, and redemption. They do this with such aplomb and nuance that are so rare in books that explore similar themes.
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Howl's Moving Castle is about a girl named Sophie who was cursed to be an old woman. She runs away from home, and inadvertently becomes the maid for a wizard named Howl.
I saw the Ghibli adaptation first and fell in love with it. However, after I read the book, I was astounded at its clever writing it was. The book focuses more on Sophie's domestic activities and how she subtly weaves her magic through everything without her knowing. I must admit that I didn't catch this at first until I read an explanation online, but knowing what clues to look for makes this book such a fun one to reread.
Books I've read just once
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn is about a man named Kelsier, who is a "Mistborn" -- someone who can manipulate his surroundings by ingesting certain metals. He trains a young girl named Vin after he finds out she is also a Mistborn. They live in a world where skaa people like them are mistreated constantly by nobles.
Mistborn was my first Sanderson book, and its magic system blew me away. I love worlds where magic has rules, because magic with rules prompts characters to rely on their own humanity and creativity. I was impressed with how Mistborn, and the books that follow, constantly show how characters circumvent those established rules.
Farsala by Hilari Bell*
The Farsala Trilogy is about three teens who are caught up in a Hrum invasion of their homeland.
While the story takes its time to pick up, by the last book, readers are treated to so many political machinations, plot twists, and character development. There are characters you hate at the beginning that you will love by the end. Farsala also shows how legends are born and how they come to life in a way I haven't seen done by another book.
Any book by Frances Hardinge
It's hard to choose a single book by Frances Hardinge, because I like the ones I read almost equally. She's one of those rare writers these days who writes mostly standalone books. My favourite ones by her are The Lost Conspiracy, The Lie Tree, and A Skinful of Shadows.
Frances Hardinge's writing is strange and quirky. Her stories demonstrate loneliness, isolation, and injustice effectively without making you feel that the characters are pitiful. The atmosphere of her books border on creepy and unnerving, but can also be very whimsical. The endings of her stories always signal a bit of hope. What I like best about her books is that because they are standalones, you get the full emotional impact of the character arcs, which makes for a very rich reading experience.
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
The Goblin Emperor is about Maia, a young half-goblin, half-elf who suddenly finds himself as the ruler of elfdom after the emperor and all his successors died in a freak accident. He has to navigate politics after having been in exile all his life.
I read somewhere that The Goblin Emperor is one of those rare adult books where kindness actually pays off. And I think that's what I love about this book. It's ultimately about how Maia gives and experiences kindness, and how he turns a hostile political environment into something he can handle. It is a very warm, optimistic book.
I was going to do a runner-up section, but I think by that point, I can hardly call them "favourites." After all, I have to save the special treatment for just a few books, don't I?
Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? Do you think I have a book "type"? What are your favourite books?