Top Ten Tuesday: The Books I Recommend the Most

March 26, 2013 fantasy, Top Ten Tuesday 16


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most.

The list of books I recommend most is constantly changing, as I’m sure most people’s do, though there are some classics that stay on the list.  There’s also the thorny question: recommend to whom?  What I recommend is always colored by whom I recommend it to.  For instance, I wouldn’t suggest a steamy romance for a thirteen-year-old, though I might suggest a MG or YA book to an adult. With that in mind, here are my picks.  If the title is a link, you can click it to read my review.

The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien.  The grandaddy of all fantasy (not the first, but surely one of the most influential.)  If you love epic fantasy, you should read Tolkien. 

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis.  I love some of the later books, too, but the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia is the best.  Recommended for family read-alouds and for MG readers. 


The Protector of the Small series, by Tamora Pierce.  A fantastic YA series for girls or boys.  To my mind, it’s some of her best work, and the heroine is awesome.  (The first two books could also be considered MG; the third and fourth need a little more maturity.)

The All Souls trilogy, by Deborah Harkness.  Calling this “Twilight for adults” is too easy.  Harkness’s paranormal fantasy series about a witch and a vampire — of which only the first two, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have yet been published — is rich in atmosphere, detail, and meticulous research on everything from alchemy to DNA to old wine.  The second book takes place almost entirely in the Elizabethan era (via time travel), and is as well-researched and well-written as the best historical novels.

The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley. There are other McKinley books I love (Beauty and Spindle’s End jump to mind), but there’s just something about The Blue Sword that makes me recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy and even some people who don’t.  To quote from my Top Ten Beach Reads review: “One part fantasy, one part Lawrence of Arabia, and set in an analog of Northern India/Pakistan/Afghanistan, this book is pure magic.”


The Kingkiller Chronicle, by Patrick Rothfuss. Mindblowingly detailed worldbuilding, incredible intricacy (there are clues and hints you may not pick up until the second, third, or fourth reading), fantastic storytelling, and writing that veers between poignantly beautiful and earthily irreverent.  Not to mention a main character who will alternately charm your socks off and infuriate you.  People either appear to love or hate this series, of which only the first two books, The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, have been published thus far.  Count me among the former.


The Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling.  Granted, there aren’t too many people I need to recommend these to, since anyone who hasn’t heard of them must be living in remotest Siberia.  But when I do come across someone who hasn’t read them, I recommend the HP books wholeheartedly.

The Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Laurie R. King King has managed not only to recast Holmes in a way that is both consistent with and simultaneously deviates from the original stories, she has given him a partner who is his intellectual equal.  I love the entire series (well, there are one or two I merely like), but the first novel, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, is phenomenally good.

Aunt Dimity’s Death, by Nancy Atherton.  Only because this is one of my “comfort” books — the sort you turn to when you need the mental equivalent of a nice cup of tea.  It’s a mystery without a murder, a ghost story without chills, and a romance between ordinary people, and it’s utterly charming.  (I love this book so much that my daughter knitted me a Reginald — the pink stuffed rabbit on the cover — for Christmas.  He sits on my desk.)  [I reviewed this book briefly in my Top Ten Beach Reads and the series as a whole in my review of Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch.]

 The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey.  Another atypical mystery, in which a bedridden detective, intrigued by a portrait of Richard III, tries with the help of a young researcher to examine the contemporary evidence and determine whether the infamous king was in fact guilty of murdering his young nephews (aka the Princes in the Tower.)  Eye-opening for anyone who has never questioned the veracity of history as commonly taught. 

16 Responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: The Books I Recommend the Most”

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Talk about coincidence — I was just about to read your Top Ten when I thought I should check my comments… and here you are!

      I like the Alanna books, too, but for some reason the Kel books just speak to me a bit more. I think it’s because Kel is an ordinary girl — by which I mean that she’s not magically gifted, or particularly favored by the gods, or a “Chosen One”. She’s the sort of girl the reader might be, or at least know. It makes her easier to relate to, in a way, as well as a more attainable role model. And she is a role model for me, even though I’m decades older than Kel.

      Now I’m off to check out your list!

    • Kristen

      The Kel books are great, I just love Alanna, she’s so kick-butt! And I love how she has romantic choices within the series, but not like the stupid love triangles we see in modern YA pararomance.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I totally agree, especially regarding the ubiquitous love triangles. They can work well, but recently, they seem to be the sort of thing that writers feel they have to include to sell their book — or because it’s an easy way to introduce conflict, romantic tension, and (if the readers are lucky) character development. I really, really like how Pierce handles romantic/sexual involvement in almost all her books. Her heroines choose with their heads as much as their hearts.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Thanks, Kimba! I haven’t tried those yet — actually, I’ve only rarely come across them. But I just checked out your review of the first one on Goodreads, and they definitely do look good. *heaves huge sigh, with wry smile* Time to add another series to my to-read list! (At least I won’t run out of things to read!)

  1. Susan

    Even though I’m not huge into fantasy, I’ve read HP (of course!), THE LION, THE WITCH … (although none of the others) and LOTR (SO good!). They’re all classics that should be read by everyone!

  2. Diana Leigh

    Fantastic list! I’ve heard many wonderful things about the The All Souls trilogy. I must get started on them!

    I second Kimba’s recommendation of the Graveyard Queen series. So, so good!

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Thank you, Diana — I’m glad to have your input, too! I’ve put the first one on my Goodreads to-read list, though heaven knows when I’ll get around to it. My to-read list is approaching 500 books. I’d have to declare a moratorium on all new books for several years, just to get through them all — and we all know how likely that is! But I will move it up in the queue!

  3. Jessica Leigh

    HP and LOTR- definitely! I adored Harry Potter! LOTR was harder to get through because I saw the movies first and I kept getting stuck in the book going, ‘when’s this gonna happen?’ LOL

    Thanks for stopping by my TTT!

    Jessica@Lovin’ Los Libros

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I read the books when I was in elementary school (I won’t tell you how long ago that was!) and re-read them at least twice a year from 6th grade through college graduation. (OK, I did start skipping the bits I didn’t like — Old Man Willow, the barrow-wights, and Shelob. But still, it was a whole lot of repetitions.) Eventually I slowed to only once a year, then stopped re-reading altogether for a while. I went back for a grand re-read after watching the movies, but this time on audiobook. It took a lot longer than reading it on my own, but I enjoyed Rob Inglis’s reading.

  4. Nicole

    Oo I am happy to see The Kingkiller Chronicles and A Discovery of Witches on your list because these have been on my radar for quite some time and I hope to get to them soon. A few “classics” are gracing your list too, nice!

    Thanks for visiting!
    Nicole @ The Quiet Concert

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Kingkiller Chronicles are awesome, but be forewarned — people seem to either love them or hate them. They are VERY long, and episodic, and a lot of the story is about his everyday life (more or less — though very little of Kvothe’s life is what I’d call “ordinary.”) The writing is magnificent.

      I love the All Souls trilogy so far, even though I’m not generally a vampire fan. Harkness’s writing ranges from good to excellent; on the second read-through of ADoW, I did spot a few clunky sentences, but on the whole, I love the scholarship and attention to detail she brings to the stories, and the two main characters are wonderful!

      So definitely, give them a try!

  5. Ems

    Oh, I could have added some from your list to mine! I ADORE LOTR and LWW. I could never get enough of those. And then there’s Harry Potter…I didn’t put the series on my list, but it definitely belongs there.

    Great list! I think I’ll be adding some of these to my TBR list.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      As I recall, you’ve got some great books on your list too, and not a few that I’ve either read or want to. You’ve got me curious about the River of Time series — I’ve added book one to my TBR list!