This Is My Genre, Now Tell Me Yours (A Book Tag)

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I’ve been steering away from book and blog tags since slowing my blogging pace to once a week. But after Sarah J. Higbee nominated me for the This Is My Genre, Tell Me Yours Book Tag, I couldn’t resist picking this one up. (Thanks, Sarah!) So, let’s have some fun with this today – and I bet NO ONE can guess what genre I’ve picked. 😉

Questions for the This Is My Genre, Tell Me Yours Book Tag

Question #1: What’s your favorite genre?

Fantasy! I enjoy both adult and YA fantasy equally, and tend to prefer epic or high fantasy stories set in secondary (fictional) worlds. But I’m not opposed to urban, historical, and other subgenres if the story is well-told on all fronts (quality of writing, world-building, character development, etc.).

Tales From Earthsea blueQuestion #2: Who’s your favorite author from this genre?

Ursula K. Le Guin, author of the Earthsea Cycle. I’ve written about her impact on me as a reader and writer here and here. So I’m not sure what else to say without repeating myself… But in short, she’s an incredible world-builder and one of the most lyrical, precise, and versatile writers I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of reading. Her science fiction is just as wonderful, too.

Other favorite fantasy authors include J.R.R. Tolkien (my gateway author to fantasy), J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, N.K. Jemisin, Leigh Bardugo, and Laini Taylor.

Question #3: What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

I’ve always loved the genre’s inventiveness. You get to visit a world entirely different from ours, or corners of our world that could only exist in our imagination. I’m very much a “visual” reader, so anytime a story is dynamic enough to spark a full-color movie in my mind’s eye, I’ll want to sink into it for hours. The immersion in otherworldly cultures, peoples, and places also enhances that experience. I was mainly a historical fiction fan as a teenager. (I didn’t start reading fantasy until my early 20s.) So once I realized that the qualities I enjoyed most about that more factual, reality-grounded genre are also crucial to fantasy, I fell in love.  ❤

But it’s not all about escapism. As an adult, I’ve found a second reason to come back to this genre again and again: Fantasy offers a unique window into the real world. It’s not just about violence, magic, and entertainment. Many of the conflicts, dangers, and character relationships in certain stories offer stunning insights into our own lives and our world at large. In that way, it can move readers on a deep, meaningful level just as stories from other genres can. That last idea is part of what I hope to accomplish as a fantasy writer.

LOTR book trilogyQuestion #4: What’s the book that started your love for this genre?

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I blogged about how I was led to read LOTR here as well as at Pages Unbound last year. But to sum it up: I had watched Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of the trilogy first, then decided I should read the books. When I did, not only did Tolkien’s world-building dazzle me, but his series reignited my love for reading in general. That led to me reading more of Tolkien’s books, then reading other fantasy authors, and finally to me writing my own fantasy stories.

Question #5: If you had to recommend at least one book from your favorite genre to a non-reader / someone looking to start reading that genre, what book(s) would you choose and why?

Only one book?? I refuse! (*lol*) It’s impossible to recommend just one novel to fantasy newcomers, so I’ll offer four instead:

Wizard of Earthsea coverUrsula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea: Surprised? No? 😉 This first installment to UKLG’s beloved series may not be as well-known as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but the worldbuilding is just as impressive, the characters just as believable, and the conflicts just as memorable. A Wizard of Earthsea follows the young mage Ged Sparrowhawk as he discovers his powers and enrolls in a prestigious school of wizardry. This premise might remind readers of Harry Potter, but there’s a big difference: Ged’s dangerous ambitions lead him into a magical duel where he conjures a shadow creature – a creature that later pursues Ged across Earthsea, and whom Ged must confront if he wishes to be rid of it. The archipelago setting, with its diverse peoples and influences from Taoism and the Bronze Age, also makes this series a standout.

Name of the Wind coverPatrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind: One of fantasy’s modern classics. It’s the first book in Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles, where each book represents one of three days where the main character Kvothe tells his life story to a chronicler in hopes of putting all myths and legends about him to rest. At 700+ pages it’s a hefty tome (though not quite as hefty as its 1000-page sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear), but it’s well worth your time. Apart from the intricate worldbuilding, the stars of The Name of the Wind are Kvothe, a musically inclined university student who’s too clever for his own good, and Rothfuss’s writing. This man is a master of incredible, verging-on-poetic prose. He’ll take your breath away every time you read his work.

Daughter Smoke Bone coverLaini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone: If you’re looking for a YA fantasy that balances the genre’s necessities with a love story, this would be my pick. This inventive spin on the “angels and demons” concept centers on Karou, a blue-haired art student who struggles with her sense of identity, and Akiva, a seraphic warrior haunted by his past. The worldbulding is astounding, from the chimaera’s animal-hybrid appearances and resurrection techniques, to the portals between Earth and the “other world” known as Eretz. And Laini Taylor’s prose…. oh my goodness, is it exquisite. Evocative and vivid, with a heightened vocabulary that’s reminiscent of that in literary fiction without it being too challenging for teen readers. As for the love story… well, you’ll have to read Daughter to see how it plays out. But let’s just say the ending left me haunted and devastated for days – and aching for its sequel.

Fire Kristin Cashore coverKristin Cashore’s FireWhile I also enjoyed Kristin Cashore’s more well-known YA fantasy Graceling, this companion novel struck a deeper chord in me. Here, a half-human, half-monster girl with mind-reading abilities is summoned by her king to help with espionage and interrogation efforts as their country teeters on the brink of war. But Fire’s relationship with herself is complicated: She despises herself for being what she is and fears that only harm can come out of her powers. Out of my four recommendations in this post, Fire is the only one where writing and worldbuilding (though they’re wonderfully done) are secondary to the story, characters, and major themes (identity, compassion, finding one’s purpose, and self-acceptance). Sometimes I revisit passages from this book and lose myself in the same spellbinding power that it held over me when I first read it. That, I think, is the mark of exceptional storytelling.

Question #6: Why do you read?

I read so I can learn. I read so I can feel. I read because it instills empathy for other people in me. I read so it can open my eyes and maybe change my perspective on something. I read because my life would be boring without stories. I read because the act of it brings me unabashed, childlike joy. (You should see me when I get books for birthday or Christmas gifts. *lol*)

Basically, I read for more reasons than I can count with my fingers, and all those reasons have inspired me to write. 🙂

My Nominations for the This Is My Genre, Tell Me Yours Book Tag

  1. Jeneca @ Jeneca Writes
  2. Jessica @ ellDimensional
  3. Victoria Howell @ Wanderer’s Pen
  4. YOU – basically, anyone who wants to participate and talk about their favorite literary genre, regardless of what it is

What’s your favorite literary genre? If it’s also fantasy, who are some of your favorite writers? If not, what genre would you choose? In either case, how would you answer any of the above questions?

28 thoughts on “This Is My Genre, Now Tell Me Yours (A Book Tag)

  1. I read quite widely, and probably more non-fiction than fiction at the moment. But I do love fantasy. My own WIP is a Young Adult Dieselpunk Trilogy according to today’s categories, though I originally came up with my own label for it, EF, Engineering Fantasy, which would also encompass Steampunk. Both Steampunk and Dieselpunk, and much else that is now classed as Fantasy, would have been classed as Science Fiction years ago, so SF in the older broader sense is really much more popular than people think, since so much of it has been hived off into Fantasy and newer categories.

    I read THE HOBBITT and LOTR only in the last few years and was much impressed by both. I’ve read none of your four recommendations. YET! They are now on my ever lengthening TBR list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read other genres besides fantasy as well, but fantasy is the one I read most. (Which reminds me: I want to do a post in the future about the benefits of reading outside one’s favorite genre…) And if you enjoyed LOTR and The Hobbit, then I think you’d like Ursula K. Le Guin’s books, too.

      Your WIP sounds really interesting! There isn’t much YA dieselpunk out there – or if there is, then it’s flown under my radar. What is your story about?

      Btw, do you follow Sarah Zama’s blog? She’s a historical dieselpunk fantasy writer from Italy, and her stories are set during the Prohibition Era.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah, you’re brave to ask another writer what their story is about, because there’s always a danger they’ll answer the question in full! But I’ll be as brief as I can, and it’s good practice.

        My trilogy is about a ship-borne expedition to find a fabulous lost city, seen through the eyes of teenage cub reporter Jimmy Fort, who strives to get on the expedition, stay on it and survive when it is threatened by obstacles and dangers both natural and man-made, the latter in the form of a rival expedition from a totalitarian empire. Both the empire and Jimmy’s home, a (wildly!) democratic city-state, are at a 1930s level of technology and culture, hence Dieselpunk.

        The empire sends a fleet of giant airships, which are a classic Steampunk trope, though there were only a handful of small airships prior to 1914, which I take as the watershed between Steampunk and Dieselpunk (opinions differ on that). No practical airship was ever powered by steam. Both the HINDENBERG and Britain’s R101 were diesel powered.

        Opinions also differ on what is or is not Dieselpunk. It may be more popularly represented by movies like the Indiana Jones series than by novels thus far.

        Scott Westerfeld’s LEVIATHAN trilogy and Kenneth Oppel’s AIRBORN trilogy are somewhat like my trilogy with their teenage aviators.

        ‘Sarah Zama’ drew a blank at first until I googled and realized she is ‘Jazzfeathers’ whom I knew from the DIESELPUNKS website. I followed her ‘8 SENTENCE SUNDAYS’ but got distracted from the site, among other things, by illness. Her own site looks most impressive and a veritable mine of information about the 1920s.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t read either the Leviathan or Airborn series (though I really should at some point), but – wow! Your story sounds really interesting, John. Especially the combination of dieselpunk and steampunk elements in a wartime setting. Are you working on the first book, or are you further along at this point?

        Yes, Jazz Feathers = Sarah Zama! Sorry for the confusion. (*blushes*)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m going to be honest. I scrolled down to the bottom of the post to see if I was tagged and I was so happy to see that I was. This is an awesome tag and awesome answers. Tolkien is the best. I can never say that too many times. Thank you for tagging me!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you so much for taking up the challenge, Sarah:). Apologies for my tardy response – I’m STILL not recovered from this wretched headache that has wiped me out. I loved your responses – particularly as to why you read and your recommendations. Your passion for reading your genre pings off the page:)).

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Sarah. 🙂 I actually wrote my answer to Question #6 after reading a post about why it’s important for writers to read. (It was written by an author / freelance editor who seems to frequently run into clients who prefer not to read despite being a writer.) The thought of not reading at all… it boggles my mind. And I think that’s why I wrote my answer to #6 in the way I did.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t pick up LeGuin until my early twenties (legasp!) and indeed, her stories are addicting. LotR, always a classic. Have you read Silmarillion? And if you have, what are your thoughts? I really want to sink my teeth into that book, but I feel like I need to be in a patient sort of mood to fully enjoy it. I did start to read it way back in the day, but my first impression from that time was “This is heavy stuff, I don’t think I’m ready for it yet.”

    And yes, I believe this is why artists turn to fantasy: because it’s a way to creatively parallel this world, but give it our unique twist to what is and what should be — or should never be. This is really the reason why I love to write fantasy… but the parallel is easier said than done!

    Absolutely ecstatic to be tagged, thank you!! I love this questionnaire, so up my alley, especially being that I’ve been on a reading binge as of this week past.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I didn’t pick up LeGuin until my early twenties (legasp!)…”

      Neither did I. In fact, I think I started reading UKLG… maybe 10 years ago? Might be less than that, actually.

      I did read The Silmarillion, maybe a year or two ago. And yes, you do need to take that monster one chapter at a time. Otherwise, it’s a bit much to process all at once.

      Oh YAH. Creating those parallels in our own fantasy stories isn’t easy, especially with all the fantastical elements that make a fictional world so different from our own. I remember my mother once saying that she doesn’t like fantasy stories or movies because “they’re not real.” Well, sure, some of it isn’t real… but that doesn’t mean that the characters, relationships, and underlying themes aren’t.

      You’re welcome! Consider it an early thank-you for the tag you recently nominated me for. 😉 Plus, I thought you’d like this one. Looking forward to reading your answers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the Silmarillion tip! Kudos for you reading it! I’ve a feeling his worldbuilding skills are going to make me give up writing altogether, lol!

        You know, I never understood the folks who are disinterested in fantasy, of whom I know quite a few. I try to psychoanalyze this, but have yet to come up with something logical. One common link I do find in them is that they do have a preference for films and romance/drama, apart from their turning their noses up at LOTR, Star Wars, etc. Horrifying, I know. They’re just as well-grounded in politics and relationships as creative types, so I’m at a loss to understanding their preference other than they like to see real humans in real situations. Anything unrealistic turns them off. Have you found any common traits to these nonfantasy types?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Awwww, don’t feel that way. *lol* We’ll never feel adequate as worldbuilders if we compare our skills to the greats. We can only say, “I want to be as good as [Insert Name], in my own way,” and then do our best to work toward that goal.

        Honestly, I haven’t tried to analyze why some people don’t like fantasy. Some people just don’t gravitate toward imaginative or surreal things like magic, otherworldly creatures, and worlds that are different from ours. So I’ve learned to accept the fact that fantasy doesn’t appeal to everyone – but I’m always happy to advocate why fantasy is more than an entertainment genre.

        Hey, that sounds like a good idea for a future blog post!

        Like

  5. No apology needed Sara. I should have guessed. There can’t be that many Italians writing Dieselpunk in English (a credit to Sarah given how difficult our language is). And sorry for adding a ‘h’ to your name!

    I completed my trilogy some time ago but got distracted by life. I hope to query soon.

    Both the LEVIATHAN and AIRBORN trilogies are easy and well worth reading. AIRBORN is a trilogy in the sense of three separate but related novels. LEVIATHAN is a single story told in three books, like LOTR and my trilogy, and therefore not a trilogy at all according to some people. The hardcover LEVIATHAN I first read gave no outward indication that it was anything other than a single complete story, but I didn’t mind when I came to the end and realized there was more to come. Incidentally, the LEVIATHAN trilogy is beautifully illustrated, an unusual and very welcome feature in YA.

    My reaction to THE SIMARILLION was similar to that of Jessica M, but I thought for years I would never read LOTR or even THE HOBBITT and then I did, quickly and easily.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Glad to know I’m not the only one who liked Fire over Graceling (I was shocked to discover it was a rather unpopular opinion). 🙂 I promise I’ll complete The Wizard of Earthsea this year. Right now I have too many books that need to be reviewed, so I think I’ll get to it in March. But definitely this year, after all the praise you’ve given Le Guin’s books.
    I kept nodding to myself when I read about why you enjoy fantasy. It was like someone clearly wrote down all my jumbled thoughts about my love for this genre. Most of the time, I get odd looks from people who think fantasy isn’t a genre for grown-ups and I’d like to share this post with them all. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny, because whenever I hear or read people’s thoughts about Kristin Cashore’s works, it’s almost always about Graceling. I enjoyed it, but Fire was a more compelling story, IMO. So I’m glad to hear you (or someone else in general) agree with me there. 🙂 And yes yes yes! Do read Wizard of Earthsea when you have a chance.

      “I kept nodding to myself when I read about why you enjoy fantasy.”

      That was actually the hardest question for me to answer. I’m not sure why… Maybe because I’ve never consciously thought about why I enjoy fantasy literature, even though I know why I love certain books, series, or authors from that genre. But I’m happy to hear the answer resonated with you – and, again, that we’re of the same mind about why it’s an important genre. 🙂

      Thank you for commenting, Nandini!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great post Sara! I love learning more about your fantasy inspirations (if only because fantasy is the only genre that exists in my small world… not true, but sometimes I feel like it’s the only thing I read and write… sometimes 😉 – wow that became rambly.
    It’s such a great tag. I might just take it on myself, if you don’t mind! 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely! That’s why my final nomination was to everyone who wanted to participate. 😉

      And ha ha, don’t worry about the rambling. I get so involved in catching up with fantasy stories that I often forget to make time for other genres, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This looks like a fun tag! Of course my choice would be fantasy too; I love it for the same reasons you mentioned, it transports you somewhere completely new and foreign and yet teaches you valuable life lessons. I must read Earthsea this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, right? *lol*

      Yeah, A Wizard of Earthsea is a good place for UKLG newcomers to start, especially since it’s the start of a series. She also did a more YA-oriented fantasy series more recently, but I haven’t bought the first book (Gifts) yet. But I’m glad I read her Earthsea novels first, then branched out to her science fiction.

      Like

  9. Pingback: This is My Genre, Now Tell Me Yours (Book Tag) « ellDimensional

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