I often compare the books I read to the ones I enjoyed before, so I figured I would compile my favourite books here as a reference.
It was difficult for me to choose my “favourite” books, because we tend to judge how much we like a book by how many times we’ve read it. Unfortunately I’m not a big re-reader. While there are a few books I’ve read multiple times, there others I’ve only read once that still gave me a phenomenal reading experience. I included those ones in my list as well.
None of these are in order, by the way. (Well, with the exception of the first one! That one really is my favourite book of all time!)
Books I’ve read multiple times
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
The King of Attolia is the third book in Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. It follows a guard named Costis Ormentiedes as he becomes entangled with the political machinations of Eugenides, the new king of Attolia.
The Queen’s Thief is my favourite series of all time, and it’s much easier to appreciate the contents of KoA when you’ve seen Eugenides in action in the previous two books. However, I don’t think you would necessarily enjoy KoA less if you start with it. Each book in the series is almost self-contained. I think I love KoA best because of how we, the readers, regain a sense of awe towards Eugenides from the perspective of an outsider. The romance in this book (the series in general), is also unique and difficult and profound.
The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron
This is a series of 5 books about a thief wizard named Eli, and his friends Josef and Nico, who steal increasingly absurd things to inflate the bounty on Eli’s head. Although my favourite book is The Spirit Eater, the story gets more complex with each book, and you get the most out of the series by reading it in entirety.
The Legend of Eli Monpress has an interesting tone and atmosphere that I can only compare to shonen anime or manga. You get the upbeat scenes with plenty of comic-relief, the action-packed adventure, and the serious situations that force character development. This series is what introduced me to adult fantasy, and I think its anime-like storytelling is one of the reasons it resonated with me immediately.
Lockwood and Co. by Jonathan Stroud
Lockwood and Co. is a 5-book series about a teenage group of ghost-hunters in an alternate England infested with spirits of the dead. Each book deals with multiple cases for Lockwood and his pals to solve.
A new favourite of mine, I only read this series in 2018. My favourite book in the series is The Creeping Shadow, but I recommend reading the entire series to really appreciate the character growth and world development. I really loved Lucy’s narrating style; she has a way of pulling in the reader and not letting go. The atmosphere is cozily creepy, but not too scary. The character dynamics are fun to read about, and the ending was satisfactory but open-ended enough to suggest more adventures for the group.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The Goose Girl is a retelling of the fairy-tale by the same name, and the first book in the Books of Bayern series. The series centers around a girl named Ani and her friends, each of whom become acquainted with a specific elemental magic.
The Goose Girl was the reason I became an avid reader of books. I read it when I was sixteen years old, and I could really empathize with Ani and her inability to stand up for herself. I admired her growth and her strength, and let’s admit it, a fairy-tale ending, when done right, can really make you feel warm and cozy. This book has become one of my go-to comfort reads.
The other books in the series are good too, but they didn’t quite have the same impact on me as the first book did.
Spellhunter by RJ Anderson
Spellhunter, also known as Knife in some versions, is about the fairies who live in somebody’s backyard. It’s the first in a two-trilogy series (so 6 books in total, though there are only 5 currently published) that follow the adventures of these fairies and the humans they befriend. In the second trilogy, we are introduced to other creatures like piskies and spriggans.
It’s hard to describe this series, because it explores many different themes. Yes, on one hand it’s about magical creatures that exist among us and the adventures they have, but these books also explore deeper issues of identity, community, family, humanity, and redemption.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Howl’s Moving Castle is about a girl named Sophie who was cursed to be an old woman. She runs away, and inadvertently becomes the maid for a wizard named Howl.
I saw the Ghibli movie first and fell in love with it. However, after I read the book, I was astounded at how cleverly written it was. It’s very different from the movie; it focuses more on Sophie’s domestic activities and how she subtly weaves her magic through everything even without her knowing it. I must admit that I didn’t catch this at first until I read an explanation online, but knowing what clues to look for makes this book such a fun one to reread.
Books I’ve read just once
(I’ve reread certain passages in some of these books, but haven’t reread the books in their entirety.)
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn is about a man named Kelsier, who is a “Mistborn” — someone who can manipulate his surroundings by ingesting certain metals. He trains a young girl named Vin after he finds out she is also a Mistborn. They live in a world where skaa people like them are mistreated constantly by nobles.
Mistborn was my first Sanderson book, and its magic system blew me away. I love worlds where magic has rules, because it’s more interesting when magic is limited, and you are pushed to think outside of the box. Ultimately, magic with rules prompts characters to rely on their own humanity and creativity. I was impressed with how Mistborn, and the books that follow, break and circumvent those established rules.
Farsala by Hilari Bell
The Farsala Trilogy is about three teens who are caught-up in a Hrum invasion of their homeland.
The story takes a while to pick-up, but by the last book, we are given so many political machinations, plot twists, and character development, that they really make up for the slower, calmer beginning. Farsala also shows how legends are born and how they come to life, in a way I haven’t seen done by another book.
Any book by Frances Hardinge
It’s hard to choose a single book by Frances Hardinge, because the ones I’ve read, I have liked almost equally. She’s one of those rare writers these days who writes standalone books. My favourite ones by her are The Lost Conspiracy, The Lie Tree, and A Skinful of Shadows.
Frances Hardinge’s writing is strange and quirky. Her stories demonstrate loneliness, isolation, and injustice effectively without making you feel that the characters are pitiful. The atmosphere of her books border on creepy and unnerving, but can also be very whimsical. The conclusion to her stories always signal a bit of hope. What I like best about her stories is that because they are standalones, you get the full emotional impact of the character arcs in a single book, which makes for a very satisfactory read.
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
The Goblin Emperor is about a young half-goblin, half-elf who suddenly finds himself as the ruler of elfdom after the emperor and all his successors died in a freak accident. He has to navigate politics after having been in exile all his life.
I read somewhere that The Goblin Emperor is one of those rare adult books where kindness actually pays off. And I think that’s what I love about this book. It’s ultimately about how Maia (the protagonist) gives and experiences kindness, and turns a hostile political environment into something he can handle. It is a very warm, optimistic book.
I was going to do a runner-up section, but I think by that point, I can hardly call them “favourites.” After all, though there are many books that I love, I have to save the special treatment for just a few, don’t I?
Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? Do you think I have a book “type”? Let me know what you think!