List by Danielle
The eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.
~ Margaret Atwood
This is a shout-out for all of us out there who might not be celebrating a grand romance this Valentine's Day, but who have happy, bookish, geekish memories to treasure anyway.
Sharing books can be a real expression of love... there's the excitement you get when you stumble on something you think your sweetie will enjoy, because you know some of what ticks their fiction-lovin' boxes... the pleasure if you get it right, and they pick it up and run with it... the lingering discussions of favourite characters and plot points afterwards... the race for sequels, prequels, the author's entire back catalogue. Usually I'd end up in a queue for the library copy while he raced ahead with a stealthily purchased ebook, but he's a faster reader anyway, and he knows better than to spoiler me (though I swear he gave away at least one of the key events in A game of thrones without meaning to).
Here are just some of the books we've shared over the years.
Pawn of prophecy (The Belgariad, book 1) / David Eddings
Long ago the evil God Torak sought dominion and drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, the men would be safe. But Garion did not believe in such stories. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved.
Get together with a fellow fantasy-loving geek or nerd of a certain age, and chances are you've got some childhood books in common. In our case, we grew up on Dragonlance and the Belgariad, Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey. Archetypal quest adventures with beloved characters, we've read and re-read these books over the years. We didn't meet till we were 22, but when we did, authors such as Eddings, Hickman and Weis gave us instant common ground.
The Sandman series / Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman's brilliant graphic novel series about Dream of the Endless and his immortal siblings filled the 90s with crazy, colourful imagery (I recently rediscovered my stash of Sandman trading cards! and wish we still had the old, beautiful black-and-white poster of goth gal Deedee/Death). Like a lot of fantasy readers, we both love myths and legends, and Gaiman as ever has an original twist for everything he appropriates and creates.
Elantris /Brandon Sanderson
Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling. Arelon's new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping -- based on their correspondence -- to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow.
Sanderson's debut novel was a magical 'whatdunnit', a mystery surrounding the failure of Elantrian magic. It showcased one of Sanderson's strengths, the ability to build a new and intriguing magical system, with consistant rules and consequences. We went on to devour the Mistborn series, though I couldn't get through standalone Warbreaker - characters too annoying - and instead got the important plot points synopsized in dramatic form by my other half :) much more entertaining that way!
Freakangels / story by Warren Ellis, art by Paul Duffield
23 years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at exactly the same moment. 6 years ago, the world ended. This is the story of what happened next.
Thanks ever so much to Kelly and her guest post 'Top 5 graphic novels for grown ups' for putting us onto the wonderful, snarky, rude, magical world of Warren Ellis. We eagerly read this both on and offline, as Ellis and Duffield posted it weekly to the web. Freakangels is gorgeous and funny and fabulously soapy, and the merchandise (he has a cool black and purple laptop bag) is pretty awesome as well.
Ready player one : a novel / Ernest Cline
It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune - and remarkable power - to whoever can unlock them.
We both enjoyed this ultimate love story to geekdom, which a friend described as 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Ender's Game'. Well worth a read if you have fond memories of 80s music and movies, early gaming consoles, or just have a thing for giant robots. And, come on, who doesn't have a thing for giant robots??