My regular week off from MW coincides with Thanksgiving week, which is convenient, because I will be traveling with my daughter to look at colleges in NY and New England, so I wouldn’t really have time to post anyway. But that means that my Thanksgiving post comes a week early this year.
As always I am thankful for so much — I’m a very lucky man. I love my family, and they seem to love me back, which is always good thing. I enjoy my job, and have had a successful year, revolving around the release of THIEFTAKER, which has done well both commercially and critically. And I have friends and colleagues here at MW and elsewhere whom I respect and care about a great deal. Are there things I would like to improve in my life — in particular in my career? Of course. I’m not claiming that all is perfect. But as I say, I have much for which to be thankful. And I hope that all of you can look over your lives, balance the good with the things you’d like to change, and feel that you are, on the whole, doing well. I would also add that this year I am acutely aware of the blessings my family and I enjoy, and I offer my support and warm wishes to all who are still without heat and power in the wake of Sandy, as well as to those who are struggling to feed their families and make ends meet in this tough economy.
But for today’s post I wanted to write about books for which I am thankful. These are not necessarily new books. Some of them are quite old, actually. But all of them have shaped my writing life in some way. And so, in no particular order . . .
I am thankful for THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS, by J.R.R. Tolkien, which introduced me to fantasy and the idea of “alternate worlds.” Upon reading Tolkien, I knew that I wanted to read every fantasy novel I could get my hands on.
I am thankful for the DUNE books by Frank Herbert, which introduced me to written science fiction, and showed me that there was way more to SF than “Lost in Space” reruns.
I am thankful for the first and second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson. I read these in my late teens, and though I found them disturbing and dark, though I hated Covenant himself for the terrible things he did, I found the books intriguing, challenging, and gripping. They opened up new fictional possibilities to me — never before had I encountered a “hero” like Covenant, and in so doing, they made me want to write.
I am thankful for the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay (THE SUMMER TREE, THE WANDERING FIRE, THE DARKEST ROAD) which to this day remains one of my favorite trilogies of all time. I am also thankful to Kay for TIGANA, A SONG FOR ARBONNE and, most recently, YSABEL. Kay writes magnificently, he creates memorable flawed heroes and heroines, and villains who are both terrifying and sympathetic. His worlds are rich and real and lovely. Early in my career, I tried to emulate his writing style. Now that I feel more comfortable with my own voice, I simply admire it.
I am thankful for AMERICAN GODS, ANANZI BOYS, and NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman, which are so much fun to read, and which have inspired me to try new elements of voice and plotting and worldbuilding in my own work.
I am thankful for ENDER’S GAME and SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD, by Orson Scott Card, which I still go back and re-read on a regular basis.
I am thankful for the Tamir trilogy by my friend Lynn Flewelling (THE BONE DOLL’S TWIN, HIDDEN WARRIOR, THE ORACLE’S QUEEN), which may be the best fantasy series that you have never read. I am thankful for the Illumination trilogy by my friend Terry McGarry (ILLUMINATION, THE BINDER’S ROAD, TRIAD), which is so beautifully written that every time I go back to the books I wonder if maybe I should just give up writing, because I will never, ever be as good as Terry. I am thankful for Faith’s Jane Yellowrock books, A.J.’s Will Hawthorne duology, Misty’s MAD KESTREL, Carrie’s THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, Lucienne’s Latter Day Olympian books, and Catie’s Inheritors’ cycle, because working with authors whose work I respect is one of the greatest gifts I can imagine. I am thankful for Kalayna’s books, and John’s, and Mindy’s, because, while I haven’t read them yet, I intend to soon, and I know that I will enjoy them immensely.
I am thankful for Paolo Bacigalupi’s THE WINDUP GIRL, Kat Richardson’s GREYWALKER, and Patrick Rothfuss’s THE NAME FOR THE WIND; for Michele Lang’s LADY LAZARUS, Mary Robinette Kowal’s SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY, Alethea Kontis’s ENCHANTED, E.C. Ambrose’s ELISHA BARBER, Max Gladstone’s THREE PARTS DEAD, and new books by dozens of other writers, because I cannot help but be impressed and, yes, more than a little motivated, by the excellent work being done by so many younger authors.
We often hear people complain about the amount of mediocre fiction that has flooded the market in recent years, and I suppose there is some truth to this; there is a lot of junk out there. But the fact is, there are some marvelous books being published by big presses and small ones, in epic fantasy and urban, in science fiction and horror. These are hard times to be a writer. There is no doubt about it. But this is also a great time to be a reader. And I am thankful for that.
What about you? What five titles are you thankful for this holiday season?David B. Coe http://www.DavidBCoe.com http://www.dbjackson-author.com http://magicalwords.net
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