Books you should read

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Gen is a thief coerced by the King of Sounis into helping his magus steal something that might not even exist. The magus thinks Gen is just a street urchin, and just a tool – but Gen has other ideas.
That’s pretty much a paraphrased version of what you’ll find on the back cover of this book. What it won’t tell you is that Gen is brilliant, cunning, lazy, insufferable, snarky, slippery as an eel and clever as a general; that the world he lives in has a rich culture and past that play a surprising part in the story; and that the character development is just fantastic. What it also won’t tell you is that this author is master of secrets great and small. She’ll give you a thousand clues too small for you to pick up on, then turn everything on its head – and you don’t mind. If you’re me, at least, you just think it’s awesome and can’t wait to read more.
Speaking of more, the sequel to this book is The Queen of Attolia, followed by The King of Attolia and A Conspiracy of Kings. DO NOT GO LOOKING FOR THESE BOOKS YET. Read them in order. You will regret it if you don’t. When you get the next books, do not even look at the back cover. The copy I have of The Queen of Attolia ruins the whole book on the back cover.

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Princess Cimorene does not enjoy being a princess. Princesses are never allowed to do interesting things, like magic or swordfighting or cooking, or indeed to have any common sense at all. If there is one thing Cimorene does not lack, it is

 common sense. One day she discovers she is to be betrothed to the airheaded Prince Therandil, so she runs away. Soon she finds herself living with a dragon named Kazul, befriending a witch who loves cats, rescuing a stone prince, and uncovering a plot to murder the Dragon King.

This book turns traditional fairy tale tropes on their heads, presenting a sensible princess who thinks of logical solutions to the predicaments she finds herself in (instead of screaming for help and fainting, or even roaring defiance and doing something stupidly brave that would get her killed if she weren’t the protagonist). The world she lives in is still one of magic, danger, and destiny, but Cimorene decides that she does not wish to be a damsel in distress. This is a small book, excellent for young readers or those without much time or patience, but also for those who love the fantasy genre and want something hilarious. It is the first book in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
Do I seriously need to say anything? It’s Harry Potter.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones
In the land of Ingary, where fairy tales come true, Sophie knows she will never amount to much because she is the eldest of three. She is content to work in her family’s hat shop. Until one day the dreaded Witch of the Waste enters the shop and curses her, changing her appearance to that of an old woman. So Sophie leaves home, not wanting to upset her family, and finds herself knocking on the door of the equally dreaded Wizard Howl, whose moving castle has been lurking ominously about the moors outside Sophie’s town for some time now.
Howl is not what Sophie expects. Howl’s fireplace is not what she expects. Howl’s world is not what she expects. Most importantly, Sophie finds that she herself is not what she expects.
This book is thrilling, touching, hilarious, magical and surprising. If you’ve already read it and enjoyed it, allow me to direct you to its sort-of sequel, Castle in the Air, and its official sequel, House of Many Ways.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
This is the story of a revolution. It’s a story of love, fighting, politics, friendship, strategy, survival, passion, and freedom. It’s the story of a peculiar and fascinating society that could not exist anywhere else, and of what happens when that society matures. It’s the story of how Luna fought back.

The Wall and the Wing by Laura Ruby
In a sparkling city where the impossible is commonplace and nearly everyone can fly, Gurl lives in a sad and dreary orphanage, condemned to sad and dreary tasks, until she is rather sad and dreary herself. She cannot fly – not even a foot off the ground. She cannot do much of anything. Most people don’t even notice she’s there.
One day she runs away for a night of freedom, and finds, to her shock, that she can turn invisible. She also finds a cat. The simultaneous discovery of these two things puts her in more danger than she’s ever been in before in her sad and dreary life, and that’s before the murderous gangster shows up.
Why should you read this book? Because of the wildness and color and vibrant imagination of this world. Because of alligators in the subway and rat-men in the sewers and midnight dancing in Central Park. Because of a pen that can grow flowers in a penthouse and a Professor with grass for hair and kittens in his pockets. Because it’s wild and impossible and believable anyway.

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