- Good Omens is what happens when two brilliant authors collaborate: a hilarious take on the apocalypse you didn’t know you needed. It was Neil Gaiman’s first novel, and perhaps as a result the tone is distinctly Pratchettian. But hey, that’s no bad thing: Terry Pratchett’s work (bawdy, comic, and yet also deeply philosophical) has been called the closest thing to Shakespeare in our time.
- Robin Hobb’s The Liveship Traders trilogy is epic fantasy at its best. Book one is Ship of Magic. My favourite thing about this trilogy is how its third person narrative shows us so many different perspectives on the very same events.
- Persuasion is tied with Pride and Prejudice for my favourite Jane Austen. I find Anne compelling, and I just adore Admiral and Mrs. Croft (one of the only happily married couples in Austenland).
- The Princess Bride is the. best. book. ever. Watch out though: it’s so metafictional it will do your head in. If you’ve seen the film you have some idea of what you’re in for (William Goldman wrote the novel and the screenplay), but the book takes the complexities up a few notches.
- Neil Gaiman wrote Stardust because he wanted there to be more books in the world like The Princess Bride. It doesn’t quite have The Princess Bride’s humour, but it does have its magic, its fairytale grown-upness. I recommend reading a version with Charles Vess’s original illustrations.
- Waiting for Godot is a weird and wonderful masterpiece of absurdist theatre. One of my most cherished memories is seeing Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Patrick Stewart perform Waiting For Godot together in 2009. You probably won’t like it as much as I do. Nobody ever does.
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a magical, strange novel for adults written from the perspective of a child. Neil Gaiman again. (What can I say? I’m a fan of his particular blend of the fantastical and the literary.) One of my favourite features of Ocean is the gorgeous descriptions of farmhouse foods. My first reading of this book drove me to the kitchen, trying new recipes, and there’s a beautiful, heavy honey oat bread that still makes me think of The Ocean at the End of the Lane every time I bake it.
- The Magicians is like Harry Potter for grownups. I first read it when studying my Honours year and deeply related to the characters. Quentin and Alice and Janet and I, we were defining our adult selves while studying a discipline (them: magic, me: philosophy) which didn’t have any obvious real-life applications but felt like the most important thing in the world. Fair warning: if you like your characters likeable, this may not be the trilogy for you. (Though they do mature throughout the trilogy and by the third book Quentin and Eliot and Janet and I, we were comfortable in our adult skins.) If you like your magic with a heaping serving of grit, then read away.
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