Books are a writer’s (or just a person’s) best friend. They provide inspiration, expand your vocabulary, introduce you to new characters and worlds that don’t exist outside of the imagination… So here’s a list of some of my favorite books. Please note that while I would recommend the majority of these, they are simply my personal favorites and there are a couple that I can’t comfortably recommend.
#1 The Shannara series by Terry Brooks
This is an epic (in multiple uses of the word) fantasy series. There are around thirty books so far, and Brooks is still writing. I’ve read almost all of them, and they’re mostly clean. There is romance in them, but the only one I would be inclined to warn again is in Bearers of the Black Staff and The Measure of the Magic, and even that one doesn’t go far enough that I was particularly uncomfortable with it, though some people might be.
The series goes all the way from a post-apocalyptic world to at least a dozen generations down a line in a fantasy world. It’s really cool, and you get to see almost all of those generations. There’s a bit of a gap between the end of the post-apocalyptic world and the fantasy world, but after that the line is nearly unbroken. It’s really interesting seeing the world and the line develop as time goes on. If you’re looking for something to keep you busy for a while, definitely check out the Shannara series.
#2 The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson
This is only the first of four trilogies I’m going to mention by Wayne Thomas Batson, because his books are awesome.
The Door Within is the first trilogy of his I read, and it’s really good. He’s a Christian author, and all of the books of his I’ve read are clean and have positive messages. The Door Within is an MG/YA portal-fantasy trilogy following a young man named Aidan as he finds a land he didn’t know existed and becomes a hero in a war between good and evil.
I love the characters in this trilogy, because they’re really real. They felt to me like family as soon as I read it, and coming back to reread it was like a family reunion, except without the awkwardness of having those relatives over that you see, like, once a year and don’t really know. It’s comfortable being with the characters, and the whole thing is just a really great read.
#3 Dreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson
This is obviously the second trilogy I’m sharing by Wayne Thomas Batson. This one is my declared favorite series (though really, who can pick a favorite?), and the second trilogy of his that I read. It’s sort of a portal fantasy, but not exactly. The main character, Archer Keaton, is a Dreamtreader, meaning that he can explore the world of dreams and keeps it safely separate from the waking world. It’s super cool, and the characters are amazing. Kaylie… Dude, I love Kaylie. You’ll have to read it to see what I mean, but she’s the most precocious, amazing child character I think I’ve ever read.
#4 The Isle Chronicles by Wayne Thomas Batson
This one is a pirate trilogy (though it’s planned to be more than three books, I believe), but it’s nearly as good as the others. I need to reread it, ’cause it’s been a while and my memory of it is growing a bit hazy, but I do know I loved the two main characters and if you ever mention iguana soup I will immediately imagine a one-armed man running after iguanas on a beach.
#5 The Berinfell Prophecies by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper
Characters. Guys, I love the characters in all of Batson’s books, and this collaboration series is no different. I’ve only been able to read the first of these so far, because my library is lacking the second book, but I read the first one and it’s amazing. There are a myriad of characters, and yet I only ever mixed up two of them. They’re all distinct enough to tell apart, whether that distinction is in their voice, their appearance, or their personality. And I liked nearly all of them. One of them actually seemed like he could totally be the kid of my character Braedyn and my best friend’s character Jess, which was really cool, lol.
#6 The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
If you like seeing fairytales twisted into new shapes, you’ll like my short story series the Mirror-Hunter Chronicles- Hey wait a minute… We’re talking about other people’s books here. I meant you’ll like The Lunar Chronicles. Sheesh. The Lunar Chronicles is actually way better than the Mirror-Hunter Chronicles (and more than a thousand pages longer), and it’s a set of sci-fi fairytale retellings. All of the stories weave together, some of them aren’t really what they seem like at face value, and all of them are excellently written with incredible characters. This is another series that expertly balances a large cast of characters, all with distinct voices and personalities. Thorne and Cress are the greatest, with Iko next and everyone else behind them, but they’re all amazing and I love reading about them and what they get themselves into (and then out of). Plus the plot is really interesting, with twists and turns that most people probably wouldn’t see coming. (I’ve inherited my dad’s knack for seeing plot twists a mile away, which is both a blessing and a curse.)
#7 Graceling by Kristin Cashore
This is one that I can admire for the plot as well as the characters (not because any of the other plots are bad, just because I don’t tend to notice plot as much and this one caught my attention more than the others did), and which I can appreciate for having a deep, complex, personal villain. The characters all have their own struggles and strengths (as do the characters of all the past mentioned books), and the relationships between them are really interesting. (Ooh, I should have mentioned that specifically for The Lunar Chronicles, too. Character relationships are the best.)
The villain was possibly my favorite thing about this book, just from a writer’s perspective. He was terrifying (as much as I’m terrified by any villain in a book that’s not my own. If it’s your own there’s a whole different dynamic with that…), and best of all he was personal to the characters. He impacted them all personally in different ways, and so he seemed like more of a threat, even though he had very little “screen time.” You didn’t get the impression that he was just some faceless evil that had to be defeated. He needed to be defeated because he was hurting the main characters even when he wasn’t there. He posed an ever-present threat.
The worldbuilding was also really interesting, and I wished I could see more of it.
I’ve written a full review here.
(Warning: there are a couple of vague mature scenes, which may need to be glossed over depending on your sensitivity to that sort of thing.)
#8 Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Another that I can appreciate in all aspects (except, unfortunately, mature content). The plot is intriguing and mysterious, the characters are distinct and have fascinating relationships with one another, and the world seems – from what I’ve read so far – incredible.
I’ve only read the first two books of this series, and they do grow more mature as they go on. The first had a few crude comments in it, as well as some semi-graphic gore; the second one had a mature scene. I think there may be mild occasional language. I’ve heard that the maturity level goes up the further into the series you go, so use discretion when deciding whether or not to read these.
#9 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This is an old book, but a good one. The artistry of the fire motif had me hooked from the first paragraph. (No, literally, in just a paragraph I could tell that the fire motif was going to be amazing.) While the characters weren’t very deeply developed by current standards, they were still intriguing, and the message of the book was incredible. And I got through it pretty fast, too. I definitely recommend it.
#10 Echoes by Miranda Marie
Okay, so maybe I’m a tiny bit biased since I know the author and she’s an amazing person, but this book was just downright good on its own, no bias required. The characters are deep and complex; the relationships between them are dynamic; and the writing style, though not for everyone, is stunningly gorgeous. I mean wow. Like, take the description of Adrae’s otherworldly, stunning beauty and you have the description for this book. It’s gorgeously amazing. I’ve written a full review here.
#11 The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers
All right, so picture this: The biblical David in a fantasy world. That’s what this book is, and it’s awesome. I’ve read it two or three times (three, I think) and I enjoy it every single time. It never disappoints or misses the high expectations that memory gives it. The world is fascinating, particularly when you understand the story that he puts into it, and the new take on David is really interesting.
#12 The Truth series by Dawn Cook
(I apologize for the blurry pictures on some of these things.)
I’ve read this quartet (is that the right word if it’s books?) two or three times. It’s a fantasy series in a really interesting world that you only really see one corner of, and I love the majority of the characters. There was only one that I really disliked and found annoying, and that was the villain of Lost Truth. Otherwise, they were all really cool, and the plot is interesting.
#13 Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker
This one is historical fiction that felt to me like contemporary. It’s a great book by a homeschooled Christian author (in other words, similar to me), and this book was the most relatable that I’ve ever read. Like, even down to some of the minor details. I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t written on psychic paper. (Kidding, obviously.) I wrote a full review here.
#14 The Fault In Our Stars
To even things out (and obviously because it’s a good book), The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. This is a beautifully written book in an entirely different way from anything else I’ve read. Hazel’s voice comes across more thoroughly than I would have thought possible, and the philosophy is really deep, even if I don’t necessarily agree with all of it.
Some of the writing techniques that Green employed I found really interesting, and the end of The Imperial Affliction was an excellent use of a plot device within the confines of fiction, lol.
(Content warning: There’s one mature scene, as well as occasional language.)
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What are some of your favorites?