Before I’ve written on 8 Obscure Books I Thoroughly Enjoyed, (some of which I should have classified as popular; oh, well) but today I’m here to talk about some of the popular ones. Obscure books are fun to introduce, sure, but popular books can help people find fellow readers with similar tastes, and you can talk with your bookworm friends about your favorite stories for hours on end. Here goes!
The following books are not books from my Treasured Books list. I originally had the books listed on this post, but the list got too long for one post. I rant enough about those anyway, so here are just a few books I may not mention much but deserve notice. Book are organized by author’s last name.
Though lesser known than his fellow Inklings and writer friends J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain are still read and enjoyed today with over 66,000 ratings on Goodreads. The second book, The Black Cauldron, was probably my favorite of the series, but The Book of Three does an excellent job introducing this strange yet endearing world.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Can we just take a moment to appreciate the author’s last name with the book’s title? I was one of those kids who grew up watching the movies, wishing I could be a great warrior like Atréju and befriend a luck dragon. In college I read the book and fell in love with the story all over again, and more so. While the movies wrap up their plots with a neat little bow, the book just keeps going, reinforcing the title in a new way. The book is much better than its adaptations.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Pretty sure I rant about this one a lot. A really quirky and kinda dark fantasy with one of those movies that’s just as good as the book, though listening to Gaiman read his own book is rather enchanting! I particularly enjoyed the way the story included multiple types of fairytale tropes from the hapless (and somewhat idiotic) romantic to clever women (not all of whom are good) and greedy princes, all within the land of Faerie.
A magical realism novel that left me wondering what was real and what was magical—this book is heartbreakingly beautiful. The story combines the myths surrounding Russian folklore of the snow child with the harsh reality of winter—and life—in rural Alaska. Not only is it an excellent portrayal of the harsh beauty of nature, but it’s also a profound story about the loss of a child and found love.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
I enjoyed this one way more than I thought I would, considering it’s length and how I initially didn’t make it past the prologue. But I’m glad I made the effort to read it. Like The Naming, the story features a musician, but from there on the stories differ. The main character Kvothe, as it turns out, is a troublemaker but will still go to extreme measures to help people. The only problem is that I didn’t care as much for the sequel, and the third book still isn’t out yet.
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Do you ever have those go-to authors? You know the ones, when you don’t quite know which genre you’re in the mood for, but you always enjoy X’s work? Sanderson is one of those authors for me.
While his writing style gets better with each book in the series, The Final Empire is still my favorite because the magic system is so well thought out, the characters are incredibly dynamic, Elend is a cinnamon roll, Vin is a beast, and Kelsier kinda scares me but I like him.
But let me warn you before you start… EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW IS A LIE! All right. You’ve been warned. Enjoy!
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Never judge a book by it’s cover. Hahahaha! (That is 12% authentic laugh.) I may have read this book because I saw it’s cover in England, thought it was so intriguing, then went back to my library in Italy and checked it out. That right there is effective marketing at work.
While the book reminded me a little bit of The Lord of the Rings—beware the evil trinket—and an even tinier bit of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell—haven’t we met this mad king of England before?—A Darker Shade of Magic also manages to have an intricately-built world. Or shall I saw worlds? There are four Londons after all.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
"I'm not a girl. I'm a shark!"
This graphic novel was an impulse read at my local library and later an impulse buy. 99% of the time my impulse reads or my impulse buys, when I haven’t read the book yet—those impulses are terrible. Nimona was that brilliant 1% exception. The art is quirky yet beautiful, and I enjoy the way the story confronts the definition of what a villain is and what a hero can be.
Let’s chat! What are some of your favorite popular fantasy novels? How about favorite characters? Enjoy any of the ones I listed?