Reading Block

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.

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January 22, 2014

Massive reading block here. Haven’t read anything all month.

Any recommendations? I’m in the mood for fluff, so let that be your guide.

Tell me what to read!

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  1. Liz Bourke

    I binge-read space opera when in quest of fluff. I’m not sure David Drake’s RCN series is exactly the kind of fluff you’re looking for…

    Have you any particular kind of fluff in mind? Fluff with vampires? Fluff with space explosions? Mystery fluff?

  2. aegtx

    Have I blithered at you about the Mageworlds series, by Doyle and Macdonald? It’s what Star Wars should have been, except better–the protag of the first trilogy is a remarkably badass Leia analogue.

  3. Barb in Maryland

    Oh Natalie, I feel your pain, as I have been bringing home loads of books from the library and then turning around and sending them back un-read.
    I can agree with Liz Bourke that David Drake’s RCN series is great space opera and well worth a read.
    For mystery fluff there’s always the “In Death” series (I, myself, am not a big fan of ‘cozy mysteries’, but you can’t get any fluffier(*snerk*) than the “Cat Who…” books.
    Back to space opera, the first handful of Liadan Universe books (‘Agent of Change’ through ‘I Dare’) have been re-read so many times my paperback copies are in danger of falling apart.
    For romance fluff I usually fall back on two or three old Jayne Ann Krentz titles: ‘Silver Lining’, ‘Trust Me’, ‘Family Man’.

    If what I’m looking for is straight up comfort-reading then it’s the Chalion books by Bujold or the Ile-Rien books by Martha Wells. They live on the shelf closest to my reading chair!

    Good luck with breaking out of your slump!

  4. Gail

    When I’m in a slump I switch to reading nonfiction. It seems to use different reading muscles.

  5. Lis

    Have you read Wen Spencer’s “Brother’s Price”? I recently reread it, realizing that it had become one of my comfort reads.
    My husband describes it as a “swashbuckling cowboy romance novel set in a polygamous gender-swapped alternate universe.”

  6. Lis

    And one rec inspires another. Have you read Jo Walton’s “Tooth and Claw”? Trollope with a cast of dragons. Or how about her recent Hugo winner, “Among Others”?

  7. Natalie Luhrs

    @Liz Bourke: Anything that doesn’t require me to think too much! Probably not Drake, though. Perhaps I’ll go looking for a nice cozy…

    @aegtx: You have not. Tell me more!

    @Barb in Maryland: The Chalion books are my comfort reading, too–especially Ista’s book. I’ve discovered that I rather like listening to the “In Death” books while I’m driving, so that’s something.

    @Gail: I’m even blocked on non-fiction–I’m halfway through a fascinating book on Scientology and just mehhhhh. But definitely something to consider!

    @Lis: Thanks for the recs–I’ve read all those books and, er, I even have an ARC of Walton’s new novel (coming out in May) and she’s one of my favorites and you would THINK I’d be all on fire to read it.

    Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions. I think what I’m going to do is look at what’s on my Kindle and unread and pick books at random until something sticks. Or I go mad from not-reading, whichever come first! (Part of the problem here is that we’re in the middle of buying a house and it’s eaten a lot of my brain. House house house. House.)

  8. --E

    Since I know you know about women writers and will get lots of recs, I’m going to be contrary and rec stuff by men. CONTRARY, I TELL YOU.

    (Actually, both guys recommended below are clearly down with the idea of women being equal.)

    For essay fun, I recommend Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, by Chris Kluwe.

    Kelly McCullough’s “Blade” series is not exactly light, but is good low fantasy–the stuff that isn’t epic in scale, but deals in a well realized 2ndary world with an interesting POV character.

    Okay, a female writer:

    Gaie Sebold’s Babylon Steel (and sequel). There’s a serious story in there, but much of it feels somewhat light, because the POV character is a woman with a sense of humor.

  9. --E

    Argh, bad HTML forgetting to close out the italics!

  10. Natalie Luhrs

    @–E: Fixed it! I have the Kluwe book in my Kindle. And Babylon Steel sounds interesting–will have to check it out.

  11. aegtx

    Really, I’ve never gone on and on and on about Mageworlds? How careless of me! I’m afraid the margins of this internet are too small to contain my love for it. It’s right up there with Ile-Rien.

    Here’s the cover of the first one:

    and here’s the prologue:

    The cover is an accurate portrayal of Beka, after she fakes her death and pretends to be a dandyish pirate/assassin. Also, her brother is a Jedi-analogue and her other brother was fostered on the Wookiee-analogue planet. And one of the other main characters is a dark-skinned woman, also a Jedi-analogue, whom I now fancast as Abbie from Sleepy Hollow. I mean, this is all very reductive because it’s put together MUCH MUCH better than Star Wars! I’m rather fond of the villains–they’re not evil, they just have opposing goals. And there’s history! It’s what happens after the Republic wins, with all the politics that implies. And the three siblings push each other’s buttons in a very realistic way while loving each other and their parents. And the secondary characters aren’t made of cardboard.

    Also, the three cars I’ve owned in my life have been, in order: Delenn, Ivanova, and Beka.

    It might not sound very fluffy, but it’s space opera in the finest tradition. I got some bad news last Friday, tried several books, and this was the one that I was able to fall into.

    If it doesn’t work for you right now (seven books is kind of a lot, but you can stop after the first trilogy) (although I’ve never managed it) may I suggest Karen Lord’s new one? I forget the name but it’s wonderful space opera–I think I said on Twitter that it’s everything I like in 21st century sf. If I were nominating for the Hugos I’d put it on my list.

  12. Selki

    My favorite Jayne Ann Krentz is *After Dark*, paranormal romance fantasy. Fluffy? It has an alien dustbunny in it! đŸ™‚
    Or Connie Willis’ Bellwether, for modern times romance in a corporate setting.

  13. Barb in Maryland

    Natalie–You are buying a house? Well, it is official–your brain is fried (been there, done that, got the shirt to prove it!). Prose is now beyond you. If your brain is even remotely like mine, you are now good only for Sudoku, crosswords, needlework, binge tv watching, but not real reading.
    Good news! after the house is settled, you will discover that reading is exciting and wonderful again. (The above to be read very tongue in cheek!)
    Good luck on your house.
    And, hey!, now you’ve got lots of book suggestions!!

  14. janstra

    Have been reading along here for a while, but this is my first comment. I love book sharing ideas.
    When my brain melts I turn to Jane Austen, P G Wodehouse (especially the Blandings Castle novels), and Diana Wynne Jones (she’s wonderful if you’re up for YA fantasy – my favourites are Howl’s Moving Castle, Archer’s Goon, and A Tale of Time City, and anything with Chrestomanci).
    Recently, I’ve been working my way through Mary Stewart’s gothic novels. Nine Coaches Waiting does interesting things with a governess heroine who both loves and mistrusts the hero because she’s interpreting him as if he’s a real-life gothic hero. And Airs Above Ground has a terrific roof-top chase.
    And I find that Jennifer Crusie’s books are a good quick funny read if I’m really stuck. I reread Faking It and Maybe This Time…

  15. Liz Bourke

    Seconding recommendation for Babylon Steel.

  16. Shannon C.

    This is counterproductive for your purposes, but I’m reading Rosemary Kirstein on your recommendation from a few Linkspam posts ago. It is fabulous fluff! I also second the suggestion of Bujold. For paranormal romance, I love Nalini Singh and Meljean Brook–they have really good world-building and interesting, multi-faceted heroines.

  17. Katharina

    How about a over-the-top screwball mystery? Try P.A. Taylor: Beginning with a Bash.
    Not exactly fluffy, just one-of-a-kind comforting: Barry Hughart: Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox
    Some old-fashioned fantasy with a sorceress I’d very much like to read more of (she’s deliberately delightfully obtuse): P.C. Wrede: The Seven Towers
    A romance where the romance as such is irrelevant – it’s the goofball entanglements that matter: Georgette Heyer: The Talisman Ring
    Fluffy horror, anyone? Simon Green: Blue Moon Rising
    Lighthearted contemporary fantasy (with a likeable slacker heroine): Tanya Huff: Enchantment Emporium

  18. Joopdeloop

    I discovered Zen Cho from a review on DA by Sunita. I liked that one, but I really loved her short story, House of Aunts. Can read online and also lovely audio version. It restored flavors to my reading world… Malaysian undead teen, not at all sparkly or glamorous.

  19. Selki

    Wow Joopdeloop, great story! Thanks for posting the link.


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