I love reading and learning on my own - much better than I ever did in
school, in fact, where sometimes even the best books were hindered by dislike
for the teacher who made me read them. Here are books and authors I
recommend. The books are largely fiction, but some non-fiction as
well. The authors, sadly, are almost all fiction. This reflects my
reading habits. They are (somewhat deliberately) listed in no particular
order, except for the order I noticed them on my book shelves as I compiled this
list. Neither list is comprehensive, but they're good starting points.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - Betty Edwards
This book teaches you to draw with a series of exercises and explains why
most people in western culture stop drawing at about age 10.
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austin
Possibly Austen's best work. I recommend not reading it until you're
in college at least. I would not have understood, or even noticed, the
type of humor it has if I had read it in high school. (Mind you, you
can try if you want. If you don't like it, try reading it about 5
What Color is Your Parachute - Richard Nelson Bolles
This book helps you decide what it is you want to do and what you're good
Beauty - Robin McKinley
McKinley's first novel and first retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
The title also describes the lyrical prose of the book.
Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
A fun romp, just like all of DWJ's books.
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
No movie does justice to the light humor of this book. Forget every
adaptation you've ever seen, and read the book.
Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery
This book, and the series that follow it, may well be responsible for the
change in attitude towards red hair, which used to be looked down upon and
The Lady - Anne McCaffrey
Read this only if you love horses. Otherwise, try Dragonsong,
Dragonflight, or Crystal Singer.
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline L'Engle
....just read it, ok?
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
James Joyce's (semi-?)autobiographical tale. The narrator believes he
has killed someone (he hasn't) and feels "destined" to break all
of the ten commandments. Unfortunately, he doesn't know what all of
them mean. I particularly love the scene of him "coveting his
neighbor's wife". How can he help it if she's 80 and he's
The Third Policeman - Flann O'Brien
A very, very odd tale. Remember while reading it that it was written
just as atomic theory was being developed. To most people, atoms were
not logically possible.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces - Joseph Campbell
This is one of the books that helped to shape the first Star Wars
series. George Lucas not only read with the book, he consulted with
Campbell to find out what made heroes heroic.
Hand Knitting Techniques - from Threads Magazine
This is the best knitting book I've found. Instead of giving specific
patterns, it teaches the theory behind constructing your own patterns, and
teaches the basic stitches you need.
The Complete Stitch Encycolopedia - Jan Eaton
This is a wonderful book to own if you do embroidery. It gives ideas
and teaches you more stitches than you probably dreamed existed.
The House of the Seven Gables - Nathaniel Hawthorne
This is about as spooky a book as I like to read, ending with three pages of
fluffy romance which I can only imagine the publisher insisted upon.
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
A chilling tale that makes one re-think how we casually treat historical
figures when discussing their lives.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
It is said that J. R. R. Tolkien converted C. S. Lewis to
Christianity. It is said that Tolkien always regretted it. When
I was young, it took me until the last book in the series to be absolutely
certain that the Christian parallels were deliberate.
Lords and Ladies - Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett is a very subtle author. His books are written on at
least two levels - on one, it's a light and funny story. On the other,
it is a deep look at people and society. I like all of his
books. I chose this one because of the theme of people only having
confidence in themselves if they think someone else is in charge, and
because of the tracing of the development of words like
"terrific". Elves are terrific.
The Cartoon History of the Universe - Larry Gonick
A fun way to learn about history in this very well researched high-level
view history. With pictures!
Entrevistas: An Introduction to Language and Culture - Davis,
Siskin & Ramos
This is the very fine textbook used in the Spanish classes I took for
fun. There is a textbook, a workbook, a CD Rom and CDs with listening
exercises. This way, you get to hear how Spanish is spoken by native
speakers all over the world. One correction: a busy street is un calle
transitada, not traficada. That's something quite
Grania - Morgan Llewelyn
This book and Shaun Davey's Granuaile suite are what inspired me to write my
honor's thesis on the use of Granuaile (Grace O'Malley) in literature
throughout the centuries.
Granuaile - Anne Chambers
Here's the book I used as a source for the historical data about Gania Ni
Maille (don't you love the non-standardized spellings of the 16th century?)
Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
Watch the BBC six episode miniseries of Pride and Prejudice. Watch the
movie Bridget Jones' Diary. Then READ Bridget Jones' Diary. Both
movie and book have their fine points. However, the character in the
movie is an idiot, and the one in the book is not. If you read the
book first, you'll miss the good bits of the movie. If you don't watch
P&P, you won't get a lot of the jokes in both the movie and the
book. The casting of the movie was brilliant. The man who played
Darcy plays Darcy. The man who played the villainous sweetheart in
Sense & Sensibility (another Austin novel) plays the villain boyfriend
Long Hot Summoning - Tanya Huff
Note that I haven't read this book yet, though I've enjoyed the other
two books in the series. However, I do make a cameo appearance on pgs
329-331, a thank you from the author for jump starting her truck at the end
of a science fiction convention.