A dozen books I’m trying to loan out

So, a friend of mine stayed at my house this past weekend, taking care of my dogs while I zipped off to Arkansas for a family reunion + my parents’ golden wedding anniversary. We had nice weather in Arkansas, thank heaven, and everything went beautifully, though I’m happy to be home and my dogs were as ecstatic to see me as though I’d been gone a month instead of just overnight!

But! My petsitting friend also likes SFF, but she is 25 years younger than me, so OF COURSE she has not read a ton of the older authors. I mean the people who were getting more buzz in the 80’s, even if they’re still active today, a lot of younger readers haven’t ever happened to try them because there are just so many new authors all the time and the buzz has moved on.

So I put out a dozen books I thought she might love that she might not have heard of.

My choices — and she is more into fantasy than SF at the moment, but I didn’t let that stop me — in no particular order:

1. The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip, because it’s perfect in every way and who wouldn’t love it?

2. Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart, because it’s also practically perfect, despite the slight flaw in Master Li’s character.


3. Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly, because it’s a great book for almost anybody who likes current-day vampire UF.

4. The Paladin by CJ Cherryh, because I know it’s not for everyone, it’s got rather a slow pace, but for someone who prefers fantasy to SF, well, what CJC novel would you recommend? This is a standalone and I really love it.

5. Cuckoo’s Egg by CJC because there’s no sense letting people think they dislike SF when they just haven’t tried the right books. This is a really good one.


6. Night Watch because it’s possibly my very favorite of Pratchett’s books and imo a good entry point into his series. It turned out that my friend had at least heard of Pratchett, but hadn’t read any of his.

7. Jhereg by Steven Brust, because no one does first person smartass better and it’s just so much fun.

8. Island of Ghosts by Gillian Bradshaw. Yes, yes, it’s historical rather than fantasy, but as far as I’m concerned, good historicals read just like good fantasy. Except without the magic, of course. But still, the reading experience is basically the same and I simply love Bradshaw.

9. The Curse of Chalion, because everybody ought to try Lois McMaster Bujold.

10. Shards of Honor, because ditto and there’s hardly a better entry into SF than this.

11. Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn, because it’s one of my favorite by Shinn, so comfortable and warm, I push it on everyone.

12. And the one she actually borrowed: Beauty by Robin McKinley. I’m sure she’ll love it! And I get the warm feeling of having introduced someone to McKinley.


If she loves Beauty, I’m going to feel a burning desire to press Sunshine on her next.

I know it’s hard to distinguish titles I love from titles I’m sure everyone else will love, but say you’re loaning books to someone who’s a couple of decades younger than you but has at least somewhat similar tastes in books. What’s a handful of books you would most want to loan that person? The authors and titles they might have missed that no one, or at least no one who loves SFF, should go through life without trying?

Please Feel Free to Share:


9 thoughts on “A dozen books I’m trying to loan out”

  1. As you said, Bujold. Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster books. DWJ. Anne McCaffrey – the first three Dragonrider books. Judith Tarr – Hall of the Mountain King and the rest of the Avaryan series. Or her medieval alternate history stuff. Some is great, some not so much, but worth picking the gems out. And Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series is getting to be a bit old school. I wish she’d write more and faster! Guy Gavriel Kay’s early stuff – I think my favorite of his is Tigana. Emma Bull – each of her books feels like it belongs in a different subgenre, but each is great. Again – I wish she’d write more.

  2. What about Zelazny’s Amber books? I haven’t read them in a long time, but at least in memory they were great – especially the first five. It’s too bad there don’t seem to be e-book versions.

  3. I read (and loved) so many books when I was younger. Occasionally, I’ve tried to re-read one that I remembered fondly, and that has usually been a mistake. So to answer this question, I need to recommend something that is as good now as it was then.

    One that comes to mind is Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg. It feels like fantasy, though the setting is actually SF. It’s a marvelous book with an engaging protagonist and a wonderful world to explore.

    Another set of books that I can re-read with pleasure is Patricia McKillip’s Riddle of the Stars trilogy. Just so much cool magic.

  4. I’ve had so much fun introducing my nieces (now aged 12 and 15) to fantasy and SF!

    I try to tailor the books I buy for them to their very different personalities. My sport-loving, tomboyish niece loves Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books, while my more girly niece is addicted to Shannon Hale.

    I’m looking forward to introducing them to some of my favourite adult authors as they grow up.

  5. Lotsa great suggestions! I know, I hovered between The Changeling Sea and The Riddlemaster trilogy for a while before I chose the former — because it is short and a standalone and utterly charming.

    I loved not only the first Pern trilogy, but also the Harper Hall trilogy. The others, eh, not so much. Amber, yes, those are fun and fast-paced and I loved them. Someday I’ll re-read them. Probably not the second set, as you say, Phineas. No ebook version is always a surprise to me these days and makes me wonder. It’s so easy to do; why not do it? The publisher should even if the author can’t or doesn’t.

    I liked Lord Valentine’s Castle quite a bit. Silverberg was never one of my autobuy authors, but that one I liked.

    So hard to narrow it down!

  6. Loving the recommendations! I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll find them at the local library. I just finished reading Cuckoo’s Egg (as a result of your earlier SciFi recs), and I really enjoyed it.

    Not sure how old school this one is, but Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest also comes to mind. Oh, and Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons.

  7. Oh, glad you found a copy of Cuckoo’s Egg! Yay!

    I loved Daughter of the Forest, but to me that seems recent. On the other hand . . . I kind of lose track, probably it’s been out for a while. *Checks*. Oh, 2002. Shoot, that was just yesterday.

    Dealing with Dragons is definitely a good choice, though!

  8. Tombs of Atuin. For some reason, that’s the one I fell in love with and read to pieces.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top