Good thread, everyone! Comments on this discussion are closed as of 9/14.
Sorting through and packing up my books for moving, and asked for book recommendations by a friend, I realized that there is a short list of titles & authors that I repeatedly find myself shoving into people’s hands (usually after being lucky enough to have them shoved into my hands). And I thought, who do I know who likes reading? And who do I know who recommends great stuff to me?
So let’s have a thread. Having been around the Fannish Moderation block a time or two, allow me to set some ground rules:
- List no more than 5 creators.
- If you like, give a brief, spoiler-free description of the work. Edited to Add: If you want to warn for violence or other potentially trigger-y stuff, word on the Tweet is that posters would greatly appreciate it.
- SRSLY NO SPOILERS
- The spam queue will get extra hungry for linky posts, so I recommend that you link only to works that exist solely online. We can GooBingle something that interests us.
- If you didn’t enjoy something that someone recommends, please do not use your words.
To elaborate on that last point, this is an enthusiasm thread, not a critique thread. People are saying “Here is stuff I love and recommend to people all the time.” They are not saying “and you should feel the same way I do about it” or even read it.
- Correct: “If you enjoy that, you’ll probably enjoy x thing, too – I thought it did y aspect really well.”
- Incorrect: “I did not enjoy x thing because….” “Y thing is way better…” “I wanted to like x but I was disappointed because….” “All the hype over x really put me off….”
…and if you find yourself typing the word “overrated” at any point, just delete your comment, ok? Come back when you like something. We are to an extent ignoring potentially problematic elements of the works in this discussion, but that’s because the basis of the discussion is subjective enjoyment, i.e., What stuff do you like?
EDITED TO ADD: Ok, based on some heated feedback on Twitter that I admit I am not handling all that well, let’s change this up slightly.
–If you want to give content notes about elements in something you are recommending, for example, if you enjoyed Swamplandia! but want people to know that it gets rapey before they pick it up (soooooooooo rapey), it would be appreciated by many readers. I feel like a lot of people are doing this anyway and do this here in general.
–If you are reading the thread, please know before you go in:
a) This was not the rule or request from the beginning, and my post +
177 192 comments and counting are already through the net.
b) So if something caught your eye and you want to read it but you have known triggers or stuff you are trying to avoid, ask the person who recommended it directly and/or do a little due diligence on Goodreads, etc. before picking it up. Script: “That sounds neat. I’m trying to avoid stuff with x and y. Am I likely to encounter it?” I really, really don’t want to trick you into reading stuff that will harm you.
Even if we’d done this right from the start, people might warn for all kinds of stuff and still miss the thing that would bother or trigger you. So ask or do as @staranise recommends: GooBingle “title” + “sexist”, & etc. or “title” + “problematic” as a failsafe, because even the most conscientious of rec’rs won’t catch everything.
c) CAVEAT EMPTOR. These are not necessarily “safe” books on any level. Many of mine have murder & really chilling portrayals of sociopaths in them. (& bonus historical inaccuracies!) Before you go in the thread, before you read anything that anyone here has recommended, know that these books are not being screened for anything but “some stranger on the internet really liked it.”
Against all odds, I am still trying to avoid conversations like this:
Poster A: “I cannot wait for Dr. Who to start back up!”
Poster B: “I loved it until (yep, totally problematic) thing…” or “Here are all the (legitimate!) ways that Stephen Moffat is doing it wrong…..”
…as the call-and-response here.
:quietly checks BBC schedule for any announcements re: Sherlock Season 3:
I think critical engagement with media is vitally important, and it’s not the general policy of the blog (in other threads, discuss problematic shit away, we do it all the time) to gloss it over. Also, I believe that the forums, when they are fully operational, will have areas specifically devoted this kind of analysis.
But for purposes of this particular thread on this particular day, I want to know what people enthusiastically love, even if it has problematic elements, even if it is not literary or cool or critically acclaimed. lf you are like “I really love Flowers In the Attic” I will say “Cool, did you see this interview with the editor who acquired it? Because it is fascinating, and knowing that she was physically immobile makes the claustrophobia and isolation of the characters much more interesting. Also, how weird is it that all of our moms were reading it at the same time?”
There are legitimate reasons to avoid certain works beyond subjectively not liking them, and it is a privileged position to equate the two and gloss over “isms.” After taking a Twitter break (thanks to people looking out for me who said ‘stop being an ass’!) I see why people were upset and how I was equating the two things incorrectly. However, today, in this thread, I am okay with a potentially “bad” book getting through the net. It is okay if you don’t like something and just quietly go on not liking it. It is okay if you quietly lower your opinion of someone based on their taste without engaging.
So what do you love? That’s where I wanted to hang out today. Can we still do it?
Without further ado (Edited to Add: Ha!) , the things I always end up recommending to people:
1. Tana French, IN THE WOODS & THE LIKENESS.
Detective novels that are really about friendship/family and critiques of late-stage capitalism.
2. Scott Lynch, THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA.
Thieves, lies, deceipt,murder, true friendship, capers, comebacks, love, death, heroism. The sequel has badass lady pirates. And yes, October 8 is marked on my calendar, why do you ask?
3. Robert Goolrick, A RELIABLE WIFE
Wealthy, lonely man orders bride through the mail. What happens next is…Pulpy. Overwrought. Melodrama. I could not put it down.
The next two are series anchors:
4. FIRE WATCH (short story, free to read online) by Connie Willis, and the novels take place in that world, especially DOMESDAY BOOK and BLACKOUT/ALL CLEAR. Someone here put me on her trail, so, congratulations – you made a convert.
5. CORDELIA’S HONOR by Lois McMaster Bujold. If you like it, happy reading for the next 6 months or so as you follow her son, Miles, to the ends of the universe.
So what are the books you always recommend/give to people?