This list has not been an easy one to write, which is why instead of trying to write a general fantasy list, I decided to hone it down a wee bit to teen fantasy. And believe me, it will still be hard work then. :)
So let's begin, shall we? Oh, I should say, these aren't in order, because, my God, that would be impossible for me to do. Oh, and if you haven't read most of these novels... Well... chances are you weren't born until after 1995.
- CS Lewis -This is the first fantasy I ever read, as I think with most people my age. Yes, I admit it, I was born before the age of Harry Potter. I am officially old, because let's face it, that will be the first fantasy book most kids read now. Anyway, my mom read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe when I was about 9, I think. Up until then I'd read a lot of Nancy Drew and Louisa May Alcott. I hadn't even read Alice and Wonderland. That book is still one of my best memories. It's not the same, reading it now, but there is a special place in my heart for Lewis. He is one of the reasons I fell in love with reading. Favorites of his books: LLW, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Horse and His Boy, and The Magician's Nephew
- Tamora Pierce -She was the second fantasy author I'd ever read. I can't say enough good things about her, especially as a woman. Her character in the Alanna series taught me, as a young girl, that I could do anything and break any boundary. It sounds sappy, but those type of books, combined with parents who were the supportive people they were, led me to go on and major (and succeed) in a field that was less than 10% women. Favorites: Alanna series, The Immortals series, and Trickster's Choice series.
- JK Rowling -Yes, yes, of course. Fabulous, imaginative. I read these as a 22 year old and I was still enchanted enough to buy the whole series. Rowling is the reason both of my brothers read now, and I bless her for it! I am excited to introduce my son to the series when he gets old enough (Alas, it won't happy for several years yet. *sigh*). Favorite: Order of the Phoenix I always come under fire for that one, but really, it's the first time that Harry realizes that he is ready to fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters. It's when the DA is founded. It's when Harry starts to realize that this will be a battle he ultimately fights alone.
- Anne McCaffrey -A classic writer whose work is found mostly in the adult section, but many of her books feature teenagers. The Pern series has several teenagers featured as main characters. True, many of them grow up, but it doesn't change the fact that they are all about finding yourself and overcoming hardships. Side note: When I was a teenager and my parents went through their whole, "Let's take a road trip to see Mt. Rushmore" phase, I packed a TUB full of her books and I read them from California to South Dakota while my siblings watched Aristocats over and over on the little TV in our van. Good times. Favorites: Dragonsinger, Dragonsong, Dragon Drums, Dragons Dawn, The White Dragon. Excellent, all.
- Robin McKinley -You can't tell from some of her new books, yes, I think she has faltered, but she did for fairy tales, what Gail Carson Levine has tried to do. I can't remember the first time I read Beauty. It might have been the third or fourth fantasy book (or series) I've read. I was enchanted. I devoured every other book she wrote, with mixed results. Not of a fan of The Outlaws of Sherwood. And even though I enjoyed Rose Daughter, I still wonder what the heck she was thinking. Favorites: Beauty, The Blue Sword, The Hero and The Crown, The Door in The Hedge, A Knot in The Grain.
- Philip Pullman -I didn't read these until I was an adult, but wow. The story is so wide in scope, reaching across worlds and beliefs and at the center is this poor little girl who's been abandoned by both of her selfish parents and then used brutally by them, as well. I also loved the idea of a soul that could be seen. I wish it were like that here and you'd know what people are like when you meet them. Favorites: probably the first in the series, The Gold Compass
- Diana Wynn Jones -I can't remember how I stumbled across these books. I think it must have been when I was working as a nanny for two little boys. I was in the children's section a lot, and read The Christomanci Quartet. Then I found out that her books were in the YA section and I was thrilled! Favorites: I think my favorites would be Howl's Moving Castle (also one of my favorite Animes of all time) and The Game -which is a novella she wrote that uses Greek Mythology.
- Piers Anthony -Another adult writer whose books feature mostly adolescents. To read these books, you must like puns and you can't mind some goofiness. I think he was the first writer I read and realized, fantasy can be funny! That's a big deal. Favorites: A Spell for Chameleon, Heaven Scent, and The Color of Her Panties
- Christopher Paolini - I was blown away when I first read Eragon. I couldn't believe it was written by a 16 year old, although I was less surprised after I found out he was homeschooled. (Shout-out to my fellow house prisoners!) Though it is obvious to me that he was strongly influenced by Tolkien, there is no denying that his story and characters follow their own design. The first two especially, I could not stop reading. Very good. I wish I could say the same for Brisingr. *sigh* That book DID remind me of Tolkien, in that I would have liked to trim about 300 pages out of it. Seriously, the dwarf wedding? A waste of paper! I'm hoping for redemption in the next book. Favorites: I'm still quite partial to the first, Eragon. It was so nice meeting Sapphira.
- Stephenie Meyer -I debated whether or not to include Meyer, especially when I'm not including Cassandra Clare. But in the end, I couldn't help myself. You can hate vampires, you can hate teen fantasy, heck, you can even hate Meyer's writing, but you can't deny her story grabs you. That is why I put her here. Even though I thought her books were badly written (editors, where are you??), her story had me buying book after book, and let me tell you, I don't spend money on new books. I'm the cheapest reader on the planet. :) Favorite: New Moon, hands down, because Edward is such an asshat in most of the books. If a man ever tried to "protect" me like that, I'd kick him in the balls.
How I decided on what to include. Well, I picked authors that have a large body of work, because I think that's how you can properly judge how good they are. That is why there are a lot of "older" authors on the list.
Why I didn't choose some of the obvious... well, Tolkien bored the crap out of me. Those books were written for boys, no question. I think there are girl characters in about 4% of those books, compared to all the men warriors and travelers. That's fine. They were written for boys. They didn't do it for me, and this is MY list after all. Cassandra Clare... ah, Cassandra, I have a whole entry about her and some others (entitled "Where are all the Writers???") First of all, the whole, "I might be sexually attracted to my brother" thing is just gross. And your writing is subpar. The story was interesting enough to carry me through to the end, but then the ending was SOOOO predictable. The Bartimaeous Trilogy... well, read that entry I just listed. The Lightning Thief... I just couldn't get past the first chapter. I can't give a personal opinion about that series, but I obviously can't include them in my favorite books.
I have a lot of new authors that I would love to include, but they have only 1 or 2 books out as now, so I'm going to give it some time and see how they end up.
The inevitable question comes up... why don't I have any indies on my list? Even Amanda Hocking has 2 series out. They cost money and right now, I'm unemployed, so I've only read a couple of them(the super cheapies). The only books I read come from the library. I could pirate her books, I'm sure, but how is that supportive of an industry I'm involved in? So, until the library has her books or my book starts raking in the dough, it's not going to happen yet.
That being said, if ANY indie author wants to send me a digital file of their work to read, I'll do it, for sure!
Hope you enjoyed my list. :)