Each year my goal is to read 52 books. Since 2006, I have kept track of the titles, as I get to the end of the year, I’m usually working hard to make sure I complete my task. I almost always fall short, somewhere around the 39-42 mark is where I end, but a book a week is still the goal. This year I started to slack on writing them down and about midyear, I panicked. What had I read? How many have I read? I’m still trying to remember. I’m a big fan of great storytellers, in fiction, I only recommend authors who delight.
I don’t much care what I read, but it has to have a compelling story, and I prefer those who bring joy over dark and dreary, if I want that, I’ll turn on the news. If I find an author I like, I’ll read everything they’ve got and seek them out for years. 2018 became more non-fiction, so I reflected back on my favorite fiction novels and authors. Here is my list, they all seem to link together.
Jasper Fforde is my all time favorite fiction author, he combines my favorite topic: Books, with fantasy. The worlds he creates are truly fantastical and include all the characters I’ve ever read. Start with The Eyre Affair, the writing is superb, if you get to the end and wonder what happened, read it again, as you re-familiarize yourself with characters from the classics, it all starts to make more sense. Fforde’s magic takes me to the magic of Sarah Addison Allen.
Garden Spells was the first of Sarah Addison Allen’s beautiful stories, she draws you in until, bam, she throws some magic at you. Not crazy world magic, just a little light hand, a little sprinkle that makes you smile and believe. I love that. Her light hand with magic leads me to the heavier hand of Charli Holmberg.
Charli Holmberg is pretty new on the scene, my favorite series of hers is The Paper Magician Series, she has done an outstanding job of creating a world that looks similar to ours, but holds a few anomalies we wouldn’t recognize today. It’s early twentieth century and the world has magic in it. Graduates of the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined are entering their internships and being introduced to the dark side. Various characters are introduced in the series, but you’ll be pleased to once again add Ceony Twill to your list when she returns in The Master Magician. The magic ends here, but keeps you in the early twentieth century with Gemma Jackson.
Gemma Jackson creates a believable world of early twentieth century Ireland where hard times are plentiful, many without enough to eat, Ivy Rose Murphy is there to look after her neighbors. A story full of hope and innovation, it is the entrepreneur in me that loves the solutions she finds. No one gets a handout, but anyone can have a hand up. Next, we stay in Ireland to find Patrick Taylor’s doctor Barry Laverty.
Patrick Taylor, fictional Ireland finds his Irish Country Doctor all over the place, we get to grow up with Barry and his beloved village. The characters permeate the landscape as he goes from being an intern to being a full fledged doctor. The stories are about life and living, not medical mysteries, but the enjoyable story telling will have you wanting more. This series is prolific, start at the beginning, there is never a dull moment. And if you prefer Audio books, these are engaging. Now from country doctor to country veterinarian.
James Herriot joined us years ago with All Creatures Great and Small and continued to entertain with his Country practice. Again, about life and living, in a small town environment, you got to meet the people as well as the creatures he treated. Those creatures were the best part and lead me to Spencer Quinn.
Spencer Quinn introduces us to Chet and Bernie. Two of my favorite characters in books. Chet more than Bernie, while Bernie is laughable and easy to enjoy, Chet’s perspective matters more. He’s the storyteller, he’s also a dog. Spencer Quinn has a delightful series of books that only Chet can narrate. Chet is a police academy dropout who can not abide by cats, he and Bernie solve mysteries together.
The above series represent at least a year of books, if you’re looking for a positive 2019, you won’t have to look any further, all of these will keep you well entertained. After all, a little magic never hurt anyone.