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.).
Question #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.
Question #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:
Ursula 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.
Patrick 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.
Laini 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.
Kristin Cashore’s Fire: While 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
- Jeneca @ Jeneca Writes
- Jessica @ ellDimensional
- Victoria Howell @ Wanderer’s Pen
- 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?